Anna Letitia Barbauld

Poetess Archive: Anna Barbauld's Prose Works

"Letter to Miss Taylor" (1804)     TEI-encoded version


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Letter to Miss Taylor,

Now Mrs. Reeve

Turnbridge Wells, August 11, 1804.

1.         I may call you dear Susan, may not I? for I can love you, if not better, yet more familiarly and at my ease under that appellation than under the more formal one of Miss Taylor, though you have now a train to your gown, and are, I suppose, at Norwich invested with all the rights of womanhood. I have many things to thank you for: -- in the first place for a charming letter, which has both amused and delighted us. In the next place, I have to thank you for a very elegant veil, which is very beautiful in itself, and receives great additional value from being the work of your ingenious fingers. I have brought it here to parade with upon the pantiles, being by much the smartest part of my dress. O that you were here, Susan, to exhibit upon a donky -- I cannot tell whether my orthography is right, but a donky is the monture in high fashion here; and I assure you, when


covered with blue housings, and sleek, it makes no bad figure: -- I mean a lady, if an elegant woman, makes no bad figure upon it, with a little boy or girl behind, who carries a switch, meant to admonish the animal from time to time that he is hired to walk on, and not to stand still. The ass is much better adapted than the horse to show off a lady; for this reason, which perhaps may not have occurred to you, that her beauty is not so likely to be eclipsed: for you must know that many philosophers, amongst whom is ----, are decidedly of opinion that a fine horse is a much handsomer animal than a fine woman; but I have not yet heard such a preference asserted in favour of the ass, -- not our English asses at least, -- a fine Spanish one, or a zebra, perhaps ....

2.          It is the way to subscribe for every thing here; -- to the library, &c.: and among other things we were asked on the Pantiles to subscribe for eating fruit as we pass backwards and forwards. "How much?" -- "Half-a-crown." "But for how long a time?" -- "As long as you please." "But I should soon eat half-a-crown's worth of fruit." -- "O, you are upon honour!"

3.         There are pleasant walks on the hills here, and picturesque views of the town, which, like Bath, is seen to advantage by lying in a hollow. It bears the marks of having been long a place of resort, from the number of good and rather old-


built houses, -- all let for lodgings; and shady walks, and groves of old growth. The sides of many of the houses are covered with tiles; but the Pantiles, which you may suppose I saw with some interest, are now paved with freestone.

4.         We were interested in your account of Cambridge, and glad you saw not only buildings but men. With a mind prepared as yours is, how much pleasure have you to enjoy from seeing! That all your improvements may produce you pleasure, and all your pleasures tend to improvement, is the wish of

5.         Your ever affectionate.

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Date: 1825 (revised 01/26/2005) Author: Anna Letitia Barbauld (revised Zach Weir).
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