Letter 29: to Mrs. Rickards, 21 August 1808

Letter 29: to Mrs. Rickards, 21 August 1808

  • Physical form: One sheet folded into 2 leaves (18.2 x 22.6 cm)
  • Cover: Mrs Rickards / Crescent / Birmingham
  • PM: [x]o’Clock / AU 22 / [xx]
    TwoPy Post / Unpaid / West – Ham
    AU / 29[?] / 808
  • WM: 1806 [no manufacturer’s name]
  • SM: Misc MS 4369

My dear Mrs Rickards,

I learn from the very obliging attention of a piece of wedding cake, which has been sent me in the names of Mr & Mrs Withering, that the happy knot is at length tied, & I should not have so long delayed to wish you joy upon it, if I had not been for some time ignorant whither [1] you might not be gone with the wedding folks. Accept dear Madam, my sincerest wishes, & earnest prayers, that all the happiness this uncertain state can afford may be their lot; unabated affection, health, prosperous circumstances & a promising offspring, & may you long enjoy the sight of all these blessings. I do not know what your own plans are, but I hope you will not long be separated from one another—Do let me hear from you soon . As to my own prospects they are very dark at present. The absence of three months (a long one I thought it) has not had the effect which

[fol 1v] was hoped for from it in removing the unhappy alienation from me which has taken possession of his mind, & I fear I must at length be obliged to submit to the heart-breaking expedient of a separation. The state of irritation he is in when with me, evidently does him hurt, & if he is, which is certainly the case, much better at a distance from me, I must not any further attempt to keep ^him^. You will, my dear friend, enter into my feelings sufficiently without my dwelling upon them—On running over these sentences I find I have said he & him without mentioning Mr Barbauld, but that is ^all one,^ it can require no explanation—Since I began this letter, some days have passed, & I am now for a week at Westham with Mrs Gregory whom you know, at least by character. [2] She is mourning the loss of a beloved husband, a loss which I daresay she will never thoroughly get over, but she has good & promising children—For myself it is now quite determined. My brother & Charles both say I must not return to my own house, while Mr Barbauld is there—What plan I shall follow, where I shall be & where he will be I know not yet. I shall endeavour to keep up my spirits as well as I can, & must seek for something of employment & something of company, but I can form no scheme yet—I spent a day sometime ago at Hampstead

[fol 2r] it was a pleasant day, for it was at the Carrs, but I looked with a wistful eye at your former habitation, & wished, selfishly wished, that you were there still. I came, literally, the day after the fair, [3] which had been a very rainy one, which hurt the sale of the things— Miss Baillie’s are returned to their house, but poor Joanna does not look well at all—— When you write to Mrs Withering pray give my affectionate Compts; I hope to write myself after a while, but at present I do not know where they are.—Farewel my dear Madam; Mr Barbauld, if with me, would, I know, express his cordial regards, & in that would still unite with,

Your ever affte

AL Barbauld

Direct to me at Newington as usual


[1] ALB wrote "whither", although "whether" may have been her intended word. BACK

[2] At West Ham ALB is visiting Betsy Nunes Gregory, whose husband, the Rev. George Gregory, has recently died. See Note 2 to Letter 6. BACK

[3] West End Fair. See Note 4 to Letter 13. BACK