Anna Letitia Barbauld

English author (1743–1825)

Anna Letitia Barbauld (June 20, 1743March 9, 1825) was an English poet and miscellaneous writer.

It is to hope, though hope were lost.


  • Child of mortality, whence comest thou? Why is thy countenance sad, and why are thine eyes red with weeping?
    • Hymns in Prose for Children (London: J. Johnson, 1794), Hymn 10, p. 83.

Poems (1773)

Poems (London: Joseph Johnson, 1773)
  • Man is the nobler growth our realms supply,
    And souls are ripen'd in our northern sky.
    • "The Invitation", p. 22.
  • O gently guide my pilgrim feet
    To find thy hermit cell;
    Where in some pure and equal sky
    Beneath thy soft indulgent eye
    The modest virtues dwell.
    • "Hymn to Content", p. 54.
  • It is to hope, tho' hope were lost.
    • "Song I", p. 68
    • Compare: "Who against hope believed in hope", Romans iv, 18; "Hope against hope, and ask till ye receive", James Montgomery, The World before the Flood.
  • Flowers, the sole luxury which nature knew,
    In Eden's pure and guiltless garden grew.[…]
    Gay without toil, and lovely without art,
    They spring to cheer the sense, and glad the heart.
    • "To a Lady, with some painted Flowers", pp. 96.
  • I read his awful name, emblazon'd high
    With golden letters on th' illumin'd sky.
    • "An Address to the Deity", p. 128.
  • With Thee in shady solitudes I walk,
    With Thee in busy, crowded cities talk,
    In every creature own Thy forming power,
    In each event Thy providence adore.
    • "An Address to the Deity", p. 129.
  • This dead of midnight is the noon of thought,
    And Wisdom mounts her zenith with the stars.
    • "A Summer's Evening Meditation", p. 134.

"The Mouse's Petition" (1773)

Dedicated to Joseph Priestley - Full text at Wikisource
  • Oh! hear a pensive captive's prayer,
    For liberty that sighs;
    And never let thine heart be shut
    Against the prisoner's cries.
  • If e'er thy breast with freedom glow'd,
    And spurn'd a tyrant's chain,
    Let not thy strong oppressive force
    A free-born mouse detain.
  • The cheerful light, the vital air,
    Are blessings widely given;
    Let nature's commoners enjoy
    The common gifts of heaven.

    The well-taught philosophic mind
    To all compassion gives;
    Casts round the world an equal eye,
    And feels for all that lives.

    If mind, as ancient sages taught,
    A never dying flame,
    Still shifts thro' matter's varying forms,
    In every form the same,

    Beware, lest in the worm you crush
    A brother's soul you find;
    And tremble lest thy luckless hand
    Dislodge a kindred mind.

  • So when destruction lurks unseen,
    Which men like mice may share,
    May some kind angel clear thy path,
    And break the hidden snare.

The Works of Anna Laetitia Barbauld (1825)

The Works of Anna Laetitia Barbauld, ed. Lucy Aikin (London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, Brown, and Green, 1825)
  • Life! we've been long together,
    Through pleasant and through cloudy weather;
    'Tis hard to part when friends are dear,;br>Perhaps 'twill cost a sigh, a tear;
    Then steal away, give little warning,
    Choose thine own time;
    Say not Good night, but in some brighter clime
    Bid me Good morning.
    • "Life", Vol. I, p. 261.
  • So fades a summer cloud away;
    So sinks the gale when storms are o’er;
    So gently shuts the eye of day;
    So dies a wave along the shore.
    • "The Death of the Virtuous", Vol I, p. 315.
    • Compare: "The daisie, or els the eye of the day", Geoffrey Chaucer, Prologue of the Legend of Good Women, line 183.
  • It would be difficult to determine whether the age is growing better or worse; for I think our plays are growing like sermons, and our sermons like plays.
    • Letter to Miss E. Belsham (Feb. 1771), Vol. II, p. 59.
  • If an author would have us feel a strong degree of compassion, his characters must not be too perfect.
    • "An Inquiry into Those Kinds of Distress Which Excite Agreeable Sensations", Vol. II, p. 224.
  • We may think all religions beneficial, and believe of one alone that it is true.
    • "Thoughts on the Devotional Taste, and on Sects and Establishments", Vol. II, p. 259.
  • It is, in truth, the most absurd of all suppositions, that a human being can be educated, or even nourished and brought up, without imbibing numberless prejudices from every thing which passes around him.
    • "On Prejudice", Vol. II, p. 326.
  • Let us confess a truth, humiliating perhaps to human pride;—a very small part only of the opinions of the coolest philosopher are the result of fair reasoning; the rest are formed by his education, his temperament, by the age in which he lives, by trains of thought directed to a particular track through some accidental association—in short, by prejudice.
    • "On Prejudice", Vol. II, pp. 326–327.
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