Letter 28: 16 March 1808

Letter 28: 16 March 1808

  • Physical form: One sheet folded into 2 leaves (18.2 x 22.5 cm)
  • Cover: Miss Rickards / Crescent / Birmingham
  • PM: None
  • WM: Undated crest and pendant
  • SM: Misc MS 4368

My dear Miss Rickards,

You & Mrs Rickards, I know well, have too truly sympathized with me in my heavy affliction, to wonder at my not having addressed you by letter for some time past. Yet to such friends I should have written, but that I knew Charles had given you an account of our then situation, & I have now waited in hopes to give you a better account than you had at that time—And I have the satisfaction to tell you that my dear Mr Barbauld is materially better, nay I may say well in every particular but one—If you see Mr Laurence [1] I apprehend he will tell you that he dined with him, & that he did not exhibit any thing in his behaviour different from a perfectly sane man.—He has been now for some weeks free from attendance or restraint, except the influence which Charles as a medical man assumes over him. He has been to see Cooke in

[fol 1v] the Man of the World [2] & was as much delighted as, at any time he could have been, & has seen several of his friends—He is not at all low, neither at present is there any violence in his manner—Yet in one circumstance, most distressing to me, he is not materially altered. His alienation from me still continues, & has the appearance of being strongly fixed— Oh my dear Lydia could you have thought when you last saw us that I should ever have to lament the decay of affection in him who loved me so well—I do not feel less affection for him, for I know malady is alone the cause; but I feel wounded in the tenderest part, a part for which I had provided no armour, & what grieves me the most is that I can be of no service to him. In any other calamity I could have soothed, attended nurst him, in this, absence from him can alone have a chance of being serviceable. In a temporary absence however I have great hopes; he is to go to Norwich to spend two or three months ^in lodgings there^ & he will be there surrounded with kind friends. God grant a complete restoration——I know you love us so well that I make no apology my dear Lydia, for thus clouding your opening

[fol 2r] prospects, when all with you ought to be joy & hope, with the sympathetic tear for your poor friends—But this is so mixed a state that we can none of us say “Here will I build my tabernacle, & no sorrow shall come nigh me” [3] & well is your pious mind aware that all stable happiness must be looked for in a better state—I may however, I suppose, now congratulate you on the near prospect of a connection so agreeable to yourself & all your friends. Happy when it takes place may it be to the [u]tmost extent of happiness in this life, & may it shed beneficial influence on the next! You & dear Mrs Rickards see that accepting your kind invitation is, for either us, totally out of the question now——I assure you I do all I can to keep up my spirits—my friends here are very kind to me, & hope & employment of some sort or other enable me to get tolerably through the day; but there is a lonely & desolate feel in the evening which sometimes I find it difficult enough to bear, but enough of this God bless you my dear Lydia, & your dear Mother. I am her’s & your

Obliged & affectionate

AL Barbauld


[1] Mr. Laurence is not identified. BACK

[2] Perhaps William Cooke (d. 1824), writer for and about the stage (ODNB). The Man of the World was a comedy by Charles Macklin. BACK

[3]Although this sounds like a Bible quotation, it does not appear in The New Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. BACK