Anna Letitia Barbauld

Poetess Archive: Anna Barbauld's Prose Works

"Letters to Smith" (1803-1806)     TEI-encoded version


Page Images


Letters to Mrs. Smith

Stoke Newington, Feb. 26, 1803.

1.          Dear Madam,

2.         It would have given me great pleasure to have been among those friends who crowd about you to congratulate your arrival again on English ground; but the distance, -- first the severity of the weather, and then indisposition consequent upon it, prevent my having that pleasure. I cannot content myself, however, without writing a line to welcome you all home. We hear you have been very much pleased with Paris, which indeed was to be expected. The canvass people and the marble people must be sufficient to make a rich voyage of it, even if the French people had not opened their mouths .....

3.          We are apt to accuse some of you travellers of bringing us over an influenza from Paris, softened indeed in passing over the Channel, but severe enough to set us all a-coughing. We try to amuse ourselves, however, with reading; and among other things have been greatly amused and interested with Hayley's Life of Cowper, which I would much advise you to read if it comes in your


way. Hayley, indeed, has very little merit in it, for it is a collection of letters with a very slender thread of biography; but many of the letters are charming, particularly to his relation Lady Hesketh; and there is one poem to his Mary, absolutely the most pathetic piece that ever was written. We have also read, as I suppose you have done, Madame de Stael's Delphine. Her pen has more of Rousseau than any author that has appeared for a long time. I suppose you have heard it canvassed and criticized at Paris ......

1.          Page Images

Stoke Newington, Jan. 7, 1806.

1.         Dear Madam,

2.         I think there is a spell against our profiting by your kind invitations. The occasion on which you now ask us to Pardon is a very interesting one, and we should have had great pleasure in keeping with you your silver feast, as the Germans call it when a couple have lived happily a quarter of a century together. But at present it is impossible ......

3.          It is perhaps after all as well for me that there is a circumstance which imperiously says "You cannot go;" because, apart from that consideration, if I were tempted by my inclination, a violent cold which I have upon me would, I fear, make me unequal to a winter journey. Meantime my heart is with you, and Mr. Barbauld's, and most cor-


dially do we join in congratulations and wishes that the latter half of your lives may be as happy as the former; for more I think it cannot be, as you seem to me to have all the ingredients, external and internal, of which that precious compound happiness is composed; for a compound I maintain it to be, and of a vast many ingredients too, -- begging Mr. Harris's pardon, whose dialogue on the subject I read at sixteen with great edification. But your happiness may be multiplied, however, as your numerous family spreads abroad into the world, and you have the pleasure of seeing them acquire for themselves in their own families, that esteem and consideration which they now derive from yours. May this and every succeeding year increase your satisfaction in them, and find and leave you both happy! &c. &c.

1.          Page Images

Date: 1825 (revised 01/28/2005) Author: Anna Letitia Barbauld (revised Zach Weir).
The editing on this page is copyrighted; this page may be used according to the rules of fair use.