Every-Day Book
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August 19.

Sts. Timothy, Agapius, and Thecla, A. D. 304. St. Lewis, Bp., A. D. 1297. St. Mochteus, A. D. 535. St. Cumin, Bp. 7th Cent.


On the 19th of August, 1823, Robert Bloomfield died at Shefford, in Bedfordshire, aged 57. He was born at Honington, near Bury, in Suffolk, where he received instruction in reading and writing at a common school, and became a "Farmer's boy;" which occupation he has related with simplicity and beauty in a poem under that title. He wrote that production when a journeyman shoemaker: under the auspices of the late Mr. Capel Llofft it was ushered into the world; and Bloomfield, unhappily for himself, subsequently experienced the unsufficient and withering patronage of ostentatious greatnesss. His first poem was succeeded by "Rural Tales," "Good Tidings, or News from the Farm," "Wild Flowers," "Banks of the Wye," and "May-Day with the Muses." In his retirement at Shefford, he was afflicted with the melancholy consequent upon want of object, and died a victim to hypochondria, with his mind in ruins, leaving his widow and orphans distitute. His few books, poor fellow, instead of being sent to London, where they would have produced their full value, were dissipated by an auctioneer unacquainted with their worth, by order of his creditors, and the family must have perished if a good Samaritan had not interposed to their temporary relief. Mr. Joseph Weston published the "Remains of Robert Bloomfield," for their benefit, and set on foot a subscription, with the hope of securing something the Mrs. Bloomfield for the exclusive and permanent advantage of herself and her fatherless children. It has been inadequately contributed to, and is not yet closed.


Thou shouldst not to the grave descend
   Unmourned, unhonoured, or unsung;—
Could harp of mine record thy end,
   For thee that rude harp should be strung;
And plaintive sounds as ever rung
   Should all its simple notes employ,
Lamenting unto old and young
   The Bard who sang THE FARMER'S BOY.

Could Eastern Anglia boast a lyre
   Like that which gave thee modest fame,
How justly might its every wire
   Thy minstrel honours loud proclaim:
And many a stream of humble name,
   And village-green, and common wild,
Should witness tears that knew not shame,
   By Nature won for Nature's child.

It is not quaint and local terms
   Besprinkled o'er thy rustic lay,
Though well such dialect confirms
   Its power unlettered minds to sway;
It is not these that most display
   Thy sweetest charms, thy gentlest thrall,—
Words, phrases, fashions pass away,
   But TRUTH and NATURE live through all.

These, these have given thy rustic lyre
   Its truest and its tenderest spell;
These amid Britain's tuneful choir
   Shall give thy honoured name to dwell:
And when Death's shadowy curtain fell
   Upon thy toilsome earthly lot,
With grateful joy thy heart might swell
   To feel that these reproached thee not.

How wise, how noble was thy choice
   To be the Bard of simple swains,—
In all their pleasures to rejoice,
   And sooth with sympathy their pains;
To paint with feelings in thy strains
   The themes their thoughts and tongues discuss,
And be, though free from classic chains,
   Our own more chaste Theocritus.

For this should Suffolk proudly own
   Her grateful and her lasting debt:—
How much more proudly—had she known
   That pining care, and keen regret,—
Thoughts which the fevered spirits fret,
   And slow disease,—'twas thine to bear;—
And, ere thy sun of life was set,
   Had won her Poet's grateful prayer.—

Bernard Barton.


Branched Herb Timothy. Phleum panniculatum.
Dedicated to St. Timothy.