Letter 8: 1 June 1802

Letter 8: 1 June 1802

  • Physical form: One sheet, folded into 2 leaves (16 x 20 cm)
  • Cover: Miss Rickards / Hampstead / Middlesex
  • PM: 7o’Clock / 1 JU / 1802 N.T
  • WM: None
  • SM: Misc MS 4349

Greatly rejoiced was I on receiving a letter, & so kind & affectionate a letter, from my dear Lydia, on whom she rightly judges my thoughts often dwell, & give me leave to add, with all that complacence affection & esteem which naturally results from so intimate a knowledge of her character, & so long an experience of her partial attachment.—Mr Barbauld & myself accept with pleasure Mrs Rickard’s invitation, & will wait upon her on Tuesday. I will write to Charles & Arthur [2] since they are not to be favoured with a note from your own fair hand— I wish I could give you a better account of myself since my being in London than I am able to do, but the fact is, I have not read more of Gibbon than you of Hume, [3] & between calls that we receive, & calls that we make, & a few engagements, my time is completely swallowed up; so that I cannot help reflecting if I who have comparatively so few connections, & go to hardly any ^public^ places find my time melt away without

[fol 1v] knowing well what becomes of it, how must it be with those who are in the full vortex of pleasure & dissipation. I was gratified last Tuesday with seeing the distribution of the medals at the Society for the encouragement of arts, the Duke of Norfolk was President, he filled the office with much grace & contrived to say something obliging to every body; there were more women than men who received prizes for the arts, & as there are few occasions on which a young lady has to exhibit herself as an object of public attention, I could not help feeling greatly interested for the females who, with palpitating hearts, were to receive the reward of their talents [4]—The institute was closed the week before by a very elegant lecture from Mr Davy, [5] who leaves off a high favourite with the public & especially the ladies— You have not

[fol 2r] told me any thing about your health, I hope I shall see you look a little stouter than when I saw you ^last^, as to Mrs Rickards I cannot wish her to look better.— Charles has been here since I began my letter, & desires me to say, with his thanks for your obliging attention, that he & Arthur will wait on you on Tuesday. His [fa]ther is so well, that he & my Sister an[d] [one word obscured by seal residue] on a little tour as far as the isle of Wight [6]—they meant to have set out to day, as believing it to be the first of June, but perceiving it to be nearer the latitude of Christmas, they have put it off till the real June shall arrive— I should be sorry I am so near the end of my paper if I did not hope so soon to see you—In the mean accept the most affectionate Remembrances of Mr Barbauld & myself, & with best Compts to Mrs Rickards & Miss Harrop, also to Mrs Cook [7] believe me dearest Lydia Your obliged & ever affectionate

AL Barbauld


[1] Chapel Street: In Belgravia, London. Whether the Barbaulds were staying with a friend or renting a house for the month is not known. This letter and Letter 9 show that the surviving portion of RB's Diary, 1–22 June 1802, records this stay in London, not, as I assumed in ALBVE, in Stoke Newington. BACK

[2] Charles and Arthur: CRA and his brother, Arthur (1773–1854), who had just engaged to edit the Annual Review. BACK

[3] "Gibbon" is presumably The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776–88). Which of David Hume's many works LR was reading is not known. BACK

[4] The Society for the Encouragement of Arts gave annual awards for achievement in seven categories: Agriculture, Chemistry, Polite Arts, Manufactures, Mechanics, Colonies & Trade, and Navigation. In 1802, nine women and eight men received awards in Polite Arts. (ALBVE erroneously dates this letter to 1805 or '06, when women prizewinners also outnumbered men.) From 1794 to 1815 the President of the Society was the Duke of Norfolk, a younger son of King George III (Transactions of the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce, (London: The Society), Vol. 20 (1802): 384–91). BACK

[5] Humphry, later Sir Humphry, Davy (1778–1829), chemist, inventor, poet, and popular lecturer at London's Royal Institution (ODNB). As a young man he had assisted Thomas Beddoes at the Pneumatic Institute in Clifton, where the Barbaulds tried nitrous oxide (ALBVE, 403); perhaps they met Davy then. BACK

[6] "His father" and "my sister" are JA and Martha, his wife (born Jennings). ALB's remark that they put off their tour to the Isle of Wight (in the Channel, just off Portsmouth) "perceiving it to be nearer the latitude of Christmas" alludes to exceptionally cold weather in the Spring of 1802. BACK

[7] Unidentified. A Mrs. Cook took tea with the Barbaulds in June 1802 (RB, Diary). BACK