BLOOMFIELD, ROBERT (1766-1823)
AUTOGRAPH MANUSCRIPT OF HIS UNPUBLISHED POEM 'EMMA'S KID', signed ('R Bloomfield'), 76 lines in 19 four-line stanzas, 5 pages, quarto, plus blanks and endorsed page, watermark date 1801, dated at the end 12 January 1802
Full was the Moon, and climbing high
Beamed soft on Emma's flowing hair;
And rival Stars along the sky
Were sparkling through the frosty air...
The poem was 'Humbly address'd to Lady Buchan with a pair of Kid-Leather Shoes', the words 'Lady Buchan' changed to 'The Countess of Buchan' in the same hand as has repeated the title (as corrected) on the verso of the fourth leaf and added 'By the Author of The Farmer's Boy'. The hand is probably that of David Erskine, eleventh Earl of Buchan.
UNPUBLISHED: not in The Collected Poems, 5 volumes in one, 1971. This charming poem was inspired by Bloomfield working on a pair of kid-leather shoes. It tells the story of Emma, a poor girl, discovered in tears on a winter's night, who relates the tale of her pet kid having to be killed to supply her ailing father with meat, the skin being sold to a travelling peddler.
Bloomfield, known as the shoemaker poet, was at first a shoemaker and later manufactured Aeolian harps. He unsuccessfully entered the book trade. The Farmer's Boy sold 26,000 copies. No poetical manuscripts by Bloomfield have been sold at auction in the last forty years at least.
PROVENANCE: Edward Spencer.
- We are grateful to Dr. Sam Ward, of the Robert Bloomfield Society and Assistant Editor of The Letters of Robert Bloomfield and His Circle, for informing us that the manuscript was published in the May 1810 number of the Edinburgh Magazine, and in The Remains of Robert Bloomfield (London, 1824), 1, pp. 42-46.
PROVENANCE: we are also informed that the manuscript at one point belonged to the noted antiquarian Dawson Turner (1775-1858); see item 60 in the Catalogue of the Manuscript Library of the Late Dawson Turner (London, 1859), p. 23.