Letter 15: 29 March 1804

Letter 15: 29 March 1804

  • Physical form: One sheet folded into 2 leaves (18.7 x 23.4 cm); fol 2r is blank, 2v is cover
  • Cover: Miss Rickards
  • PM: None
  • WM: Crest [center lost to tear] / 1802
  • SM: Misc MS 4356

My dear Lydia,

Had you rather receive a scrap of a letter than none? Yes you say. then the scrap you shall have, just to thank you for yours, & to tell you that we are all well, but I am very busy, being, as I believe you know, deeply engaged in the job I have, perhaps rashly, undertaken. Indeed I have at present a charming opportunity, which I think I might as well use, of getting clear with all my correspondents at little expence of my own invention. For cannot I send them some brilliant paragraphs from Richardson, from Sheridan, from Mrs Carter, from Dr Young, all whose letters lie before me at my mercy[?] [1] And for elegant compliments in which I never dealt much, I might sprinkle every page with them—The elegance the delicacy of my dear Miss Lydias mind, her

[fol 1v] amiable grateful attentions to her respectable parent—the diversified employments which fill up her well spent day the social ease & comfort enjoyed at her fireside—No, hang it, this will never do! I thought I was going on very currently in the complimentary strain, & I perceive my stupid brain has only stumbled upon downright truths. Well, I ought to conclude with making an apology for my scribble not scrawl that word seems to have succeeded it—unfortunately this will be founded in truth also. Before I do conclude however let me tell you that I found your letter, I knew I had not burnt it, & so I inclose it— [one word x’d] [four full lines x’d] Lydia. [remainder of line x’d] [2]

Adieu, adieu, Love Compts &c

Yours truly

AL Barbauld


[1] In February 1804 ALB was engaged by the publisher Richard Phillips to edit the enormous correspondence of novelist Samuel Richardson (1689–1761) with, among others, Thomas Sheridan the elocutionist and father of the playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan, Elizabeth Carter, and Edward Young; see ALBVE, 412–19. Phillips pressed her to work fast, and there is evidence that she resented being rushed by him: See William McCarthy, "Editing Samuel Richardson by Tug-of-War: Anna Letitia Barbauld and Richard Phillips in 1804" (Eighteenth-Century Fiction, 29.2 [Winter 2016–17], 263–76). The words she deleted, below, may have referred to their bad relations, or to the contents of the letter she here returns to Lydia. BACK

[2] The deleted words appear to include, in this order: xxxx
xxxxxable & xxxxxxmaginable, xxxxxxxx, xxxd [2 or 3 words heavily x’d]
[entire line heavily x’d]
[5 or 6 words heavily x’d] & What [4 words heavily x’d]
xxxxxx & [5 or 6 letters heavily x’d] xxxxxxxyxxxxxxxxxing & xxxLydia
Lydia. xxxxxxIxxx to first impressions!— BACK