Letter 14: 17 October 1803

Letter 14: 17 October 1803

  • Physical form: One sheet folded into 2 leaves (18.8 x 23 cm)
  • Cover: Miss Rickards / Church Row / Hampstead / Middlesex
  • PM: 12o’Clock / OC 18 / 1803 N.EY[?]
    [x]o’Clock / OC 18 / EV
    TwoPyPost / Unpaid / Stoke Newing[ton]
  • WM: S LAY / 1800
  • SM: Misc MS 4355

My dear Miss Rickards,

When I thank you for the letter which I received from Ramsgate, [1] I am conscious that you have a right to chide me for not having yet answered it. For some time past indeed I have been on the point of writing, but thought it better to wait till I knew you were returned lest between both places, I should miss you. I am very glad you have ^had^ so pleasant a party at Ramsgate, & enjoyed yourselves in so much security. I daresay the resident inhabitants of the watering places take as much care to keep off alarms ^of invasion^ [2] as the inhabitants of Philadelphia or New York do to suppress or mitigate the notices of the yellow fever, when it is among them— Mr Barbauld & myself spent one week of quiet & domestic enjoyment, which was also brightened by fine weather, at Epsom [3] with the Carrs. I verily believe the air from those fine open downs is as bracing & healthy as any sea air between Scarborough & Dover—the country is not equal in beauty to the Paradise of

[fol 1v] Leatherhead or Norbury Park, [4] yet the extensive sheep walks & open corn fields, the beautiful turf of the race ground, & the neighbourhood of a park or two afforded excursions sufficiently pleasant. One day we dined in the open air upon Box hill [5]—The Ibettsons [6] have got a very pretty house at Dorking.— We are all here pretty well, except my niece who however is not worse. Hannah Kinder [7] is returned; very opportunely to chear the spirits of her sister, who was very low after parting with your Cousins. [8] They carried along with them our cordial esteem & sincerest wishes for their happiness wherever their future lot may be cast— We dined to day with Mr Belsham, [9] I am glad to find he will have eight pupils this half year, among which will be Mr Berkeley’s two youngest sons [10]— And now let me proceed to the request I have to make, which is that you, & Mrs Rickards & Miss Harrop would spend a day with us, now you are returned. Will Tuesday the 25th be convenient? I have written to Mr Ward [11] to ask the same favour, thinking that you might come together, & therefore if that day should not suit either of you, & you can fix together any day in that week, Monday & Saturday excepted

[fol 2r] let me know & it will be the same thing to me—I hope to see both Mrs Rickards & you improved by your excursion, but improved or not I long to see you & you must come, so for the present Adieu. Mr Barbauld joins me in affe Compliments to Mrs Rickards & Miss Harrop. I am dearest Lydia

Affectionately Your’s

AL Barbauld


[1] Ramsgate, on the coast of Kent, was then a fashionable "watering place." BACK

[2] "alarms of invasion": See note 3 to Letter 13. ALB regarded invasion alarms skeptically (ALBVE, 460–61). BACK

[3] Epsom: A spa in Surrey, site of fashionable horse races. BACK

[4] Leatherhead is a town near Dorking and hence near Box Hill. Norbury Park was the estate of William Lock (see Note 3 to Letter 1). BACK

[5] Box Hill: See Note 1 to Letter 1. ALB recorded her fondness for Box Hill in a poem (Poem 119 in The Poems, Revised). BACK

[6] Not identified. A Mr. and Mrs. "Ibetson" attended a Barbauld evening party on 11 June 1802 (RB, Diary). BACK

[7] Hannah Kinder was a daughter of ALB's in-law John Kinder, draper. To her ALB addressed Poem 140 (The Poems, Revised). BACK

[8] "your Cousins": Not identified. BACK

[9] "Mr. Belsham": The Rev. Thomas Belsham. See Note 7 to Letter 11. BACK

[10] Mr. Berkeley: Not identified. BACK

[11] A Mr. and Mrs. Ward took tea with the Barbaulds and Mr. Belsham on 22 June 1802 (RB, Diary). BACK