Letter 4: 14 August 1799

Letter 4: 14 August 1799

  • Physical form: One sheet folded into 2 leaves (18.9 x 23.4 cm)
  • Cover: Miss Rickards / at Mrs Hunt’s / Crescent / Birmingham
  • PM: None
  • WM: L[V]G / 1794
  • SM: Misc MS 4340

My dear Lydia,

I am much obliged to you for your friendly & entertaining letter, & sincerely glad I am, that at length, after all your troubles & hindrances you have been able to fix your journey. I hope it has been a happy one, & that your dear invalid has been able to bear the exertion without detriment— Our rambles are drawing near a close, as perhaps you will say it is time they should. We hope to see Hampstead [1] again on Friday evening. I wrote to you, I think, from Wales. We fulfilled our intention of crossing the water to Minehead from whence it is but 40 miles of very pleasant country to Exeter; but we had such an unfavourable passage that we more than once repented our arrangement, as we were four & twenty hours in very bad weather, [2] & in a vessel without accommodations, performing a little trip which is generally done in three or four. We got safe however, but so deranged was I with the sickness, that my stomach did not recover its tone all the while I was at Exeter——From Minehead to Dulverton & from thence to Tiverton is a charming country, finely wooded with little rural streams foaming over the pebbles, a striking contrast

[fol 1v] to the grand but bleak sea views we had just left— We found our friends at Exeter very well; they enquired much after you & Mrs Rickards, & desired to be kindly remembered to you both. Mrs Kenrick I think is more active than ever, her powers seem to encrease with the demand for them, which is pretty great, considering that the children, five in number, are all at home, & that (Mr Kenrick & Mr Bretland having begun an Academy at Exeter) she is again called upon to receive boarders. [3] Exeter is not at [“at” written over “all”] all a pretty town, but the country about it is rich fruitful & well wooded. The weather did not favour us here much more than in Wales, therefore we only made one excursion, which was to Exmouth, a place, you know, I believe, better than myself, [4] & will no doubt agree with me in thinking a most chearful beautiful spot. To walk thro a corn field by the sea side was new to me, & almost reconciled me to the element which had lately appeared so formidable. We left Exeter yesterday, the day was completely fine, & we were much gratified with the view of Taunton Glastonbury

[fol 2r] & Wells as well as the delightful & varied country we passed thro. Taunton Church, a fine tower, is like a piece of filligree work, so light & elegant is it, tho the windows are all worked in stone— We got to Bath after dark & the various buildings by the light of the lamps looked like a nest of glow worms— You will give me the pleasure of hearing from you when you have fixed your return, which I hope however our’s will not hasten, as you [tear]t off so much later— Affectionate compts to Mrs Rickards & all who remember us at Birmingham

Your ever afft friend

AL Barbauld


[1] Hampstead: The village northwest of London where the Barbaulds lived from 1787 to 1802. BACK

[2] A severe storm with hail and lightning pounded Bristol and its environs on 25–26 July. See ALBVE, 398. BACK

[3] Before her marriage to the Rev. Timothy Kenrick (see note 7 to Letter 3), Elizabeth Belsham had kept house for her brother, the Rev. Thomas Belsham, also a schoolmaster. Kenrick's partner in his new school was the Rev. Joseph Bretland (1742–1819). BACK

[4] Why Lydia would have known Exmouth better than ALB did is not known. BACK