Letter 6: 6 September 1800

Letter 6: 6 September 1800

  • Physical form: One sheet folded into 2 leaves (18.4 x 22.7 cm)
  • Cover: Miss Rickards / at Mrs Hunt’s / Crescent / Birmingham
  • PM: Penny Post Pd 1d [Ha]mpstead S.O. [twice]
    7o’ClockNight SP 8 PENNYPOSTPAID
    C S E 8 80[0]
  • SM: Misc MS 4342

My dear Miss Rickards,

Tho I hope so soon to see you again I cannot, especially as you desire another letter, deny myself the pleasure of writing to you once more[.] We returned from Norfolk last Tuesday the 26th, & after having spent a couple of days at Newington, [1] & one at Low Layton with Mrs Gregory, [2] returned hither. Willing still to enjoy the fine weather, we went last Thursday to Richmond, & in order to improve the time of your absence, & because also (to let you into a secret) I find Hampstead dull without you, we are going to Dorking [3] on Monday next, & shall return when you do, within a day more or less. I spent a day since I wrote to you with a farmer who was in the middle of his harvest. It was an interesting sight, fifteen or sixteen men, grasping the sickle, & taking as

[fol 1v] even & measured strokes as if they had been regulated by music, others setting up, & binding the sheaves—the children of the family playing about in high delight, & the gleaners eagerly treading on the heels of the harvest men—all these presented un tableau bien riant, & tho I could not absolutely discern any Lavinias among the gleaners, the master of the farm was a very respectable Palemon [4]—I saw Mlle Julien at Norwich; [5] Mrs John Taylor [6] is very fond of her. We found most of our friends at Diss & Palgrave [7] much as we left them last. Indeed you will think it is a part of the country where people remain stationary a good while, when I tell you there are two couple whose ages make above 330. I see by the papers we have lost a lady in good old age, who has been equally distinguished in the splendid circles of fashion & the walks of literature; I mean Mrs Montague. [8] As an author, she was indeed satisfied with the reputation which her first & only publication procured for her, but her house was long ^the^ resort of whoever was distinguished

[fol 2r] in the court or the college; & the wit & charms of her own conversation were surpassed by none of those she entertained—The Hoares [9] go to Norwich on Wednesday for two months. I met with an anagram at Norwich which I think very curious—

Revolution Francaise. From these two words
throw out veto & it makes, Un Corse la [tear] [10]
We are watching with anxiety the weather, wh[ich] at this moment seems to preclude the hope of much enjoyment at Dorking, but should it be so we must be content with the glorious summer we have had, & resign ourselves to the approach of winter, as, after having enjoyed the gay season of youth & the vigour of maturer life, the wise man acquiesces in what he cannot prevent, & submits to the deprivations & languour of age. May you my dear Lydia enjoy the appropriate pleasures of every Season of life, & in every season cultivate those Hopes which extend beyond it. Remember us most affly to Mrs Rickards

Your ever affte

AL Barbauld


[1] Stoke Newington, north of London, perhaps to visit JA, who had settled there in 1798 on his return from Dorking. In 1802 the Barbaulds would settle there. BACK

[2] "Mrs. Gregory": Betsy Nunes, a friend from Palgrave School days who married the Rev. Dr. George Gregory (1754–1808), a feminist, liberal, and prolific writer (ODNB). At this time the Gregorys lived at Low Leyton, east of Stoke Newington. BACK

[3] Dorking: See Note 1 to Letter 1. BACK

[4] ALB alludes to the story of Lavinia and Palemon in Thomson's Autumn, lines 177–310. BACK

[5] "Mlle Julien": Not identified. Probably ALB saw her perform at the Theatre Royal in Norwich. BACK

[6] Mrs John Taylor: Susannah Taylor (nee Cook, 1755–1823), friend of ALB and mother of Sarah and Susan Taylor, ALB protegees. See Note 4, Letter 5. BACK

[7] Diss and Palgrave: See Note 7, Letter 5. BACK

[8] Elizabeth Montagu (1718–1800), author of An Essay on the Writings and Genius of Shakespeare (1769) and famous for hosting intellectual salons. In the early days of her literary celebrity ALB had been invited to join Montagu's circle. BACK

[9] The family of Samuel Hoare, banker, of Hampstead, friends of the Barbaulds. BACK

[10] "Un Corse" is Napoleon Bonaparte, who in 1800 was not yet emperor of France. What the anagram makes is not clear. BACK