Letter from JAMES BARRY to CHARLES JAMES FOX, written 5 October 1800, at Castle Street, London

Source: MS James Marshall and Marie Louise Osborn Collection, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.

This transcription is a draft MS of Barry's letter to Fox that is printed in Fryer, Works of Barry, i. 285-88. This longer version is substantially different: it contains several interesting details not in Fryer, notably about Barry's membership of the Dissenters' Club in London. In Fryer's version, certain ideas mooted here are expanded upon, such as Barry's thoughts on the place of art in national affairs and patronage.

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As I have thought it a necessary matter & of a piece with my whole work at the Adelphi […] [gap in transcription (illegible), words: 1] & the prints wch which have arizen arisen from it, to make use of your Name in ye the Inscription1 under ye the figures of Las Cases Casas, Isabella of Castile & Magellanus,2 wch which you will find in the second strip of the roll of paper, or print wch which goes with this Letter wch which I pray you to accept wch which I pray you to accept I could not refuse to my own feelings this indulgence of employing your Name, altho although I had no opportunity of obtaining your permission for it, as the distance is too great for my waiting on you at St Ann’s hill & it would be no less difficult than troublesome sufficiently to explain ye the matter by letter.

Altho Although it has doubtless escaped your recollection, yet, permit me to mention that I had ye the honour of being a little known to you formerly at M.r Edmund Burke’s3 & that you once came with him to see my pictures at Suffolk S.t Charing Cross, where you met D.r Goldsmith4 & could not tempt him to say anything on Litterary Literary property about wch which there was some dispute at that time both in & out of Parliament, the poor Dr. tho though he loved dispute, yet he was then out of spirits, it was a little before his death & it does seem as if his visit that day to me & to Doctor Nugent who lived opposite to me, arose from some of those strange, unacountable unaccountable presentiments that it was to be his last: & also as little people are apt to seize upon every circumstance of eclat & in some measure to identify it with their own existence I must add, also that you were at Rome in my time5 & altho although I had not ye the honour of being known to you, yet I heared heard much concerning you from my ingenious friends Alexander & John Runciman6 (two Scotch Artists) who often boasted of hearing your opinions & discussions; & upon these occasions, we Romans, or wch which is ye the same thing, we who have been cotemporaries at Rome, never fail to assume something ofsomething of ye the same Kindred recognized by ye the boys of Eaton Eton or Westminster7 or even by those more adult, bred up at our Universities. These little circumstances may also in some measure hep help to account for another liberty wch which I had taken with your name in ye the dedication of the Story of Polemon, published a long time agoe ago ,8 indeed, very shortly after my arrival from Italy, altho although I never thought it of sufficient consequence to make you acquainted with it: I shewed it to your Uncle ye the Duke of Richmond9 & to your most affectionate freind friend (as I found him to be) Sir George Saville & I sent one of them to M.r Burke with another print. print of Jobof Job its companion: This dedication to you arose from a circumstance wch which as I have no small pleasure in recollecting, shall be mentioned here.

Early after my arrival from Italy it was my good fortune to be acquainted with some of ye the principal Dissenters in London, who made me a member of their Clubb Club , at S. Pauls Coffee house,10 where Dr. Price occasionally came & where I had frequently ye the opportunity of hearing interesting Constitutional questions honestly & ably discussed. About this time your Political conduct upon ye the American questions was much distinguished & could not fail of being frequently upon ye the Tapis, at our Clubb Club . For a long time it gave me no small mortification to observe that, in certain matters relating to those grand questions, some of my excellent freinds excellent excellent dissenting freinds friends , whose very religious education & severe habits of life qualified them so well, for judging soundly of certain parts, were notwitstanding notwithstanding , & perhaps from these very qualities& perhaps from these very qualities so liable to be frequently mistaken & to conclude erroneously, in certain others, & that they knew not how to make ye the necessary allowances for ye the fashionable follies of young men of rank & fortune, more especially, those suchsuch of them most conspicuous for those Talents & genious wch genius which will ever take give themgive them ye the lead in all things whateverwhatever they meddle with. & accordingly & accordingly In one of my discussions on this subject at ye the Clubb Club , I urged took occasion to urge took occasion to urge that as M.r Fox’s excentricities eccentricities were in common with all ye the young men of high rank of his time & that as his Genious Genius & fine qualities were not in common but were peculiar & his own; I pledged myself to them, that I would adopt all their objections & even much more, & would notwitstanding notwithstanding dedicate to him as to ye the hopes of ye the Country a Story relating to one of the distinguished characters of Antiquity, & very shortly after I produced at ye Clubb the Club an Etching of ye the Story of Polemon from Valerius Max: addressed to you: In ye the Character of Zenocratis11 I endeavoured also to adumbrate something of ye the general figure of M.r Edmund Burke & I had ye the satisfaction to receive ye the congratulations of my friendly opponents on having carried ye the point: however after subsequent experience of ye the muchmuch more general propensity to invidious malignity than to candid, generous, affectionate admiration, it is now some years since I thought it necessary to take out that Dedication.

Altho Although I should be sorry to tresspass trespass tootoo much on your time, yet I cannot refrain from requesting your acceptance of ye the second Edition of my Letter to ye the Dilletante Society, with a hope that you will find time to read it, there are many matters areare agitated there wch which deserve your attention & wch which are of more importance to ye the Country, at least to ye the reputation of it, than they can be now to me, contented as I am, with having discharged my duty, wch consisted in […] [gap in transcription (ilegible), words: 1] merely executing ye in ye anan honest unreserved & necessary& necessary exposure, wch which was honour sufficient & all that could […] [gap in transcription (ilegible), words: 1] fairly be expected from me in fairness ye the Art & ye the Nation were entitled to expect from me I thank God for it I thank God for it that done, ye the remaining concerns therefore what remains to do complltion completion of this matter so interesting to ye the National reputation therefore what remains to do complltion completion of this matter so interesting to ye the National reputation were & are now, to be looked for from others, who ought well to consider ye the reputation that must follow from ye the liberality of removing or ye the illiberality of conserving & even multiplying & giving stability to those obstructions that may prevent ye the application & employment of ye the Universal Language of Art to the great Ethical & Political purposes for wch which it is so admirably calculated: we have already entered ye the lists & with much boasting of Patronage, abilities & so forth & formalities of & formalities of a Royal Academy & so forth are so far pledged & engaged that we cannot now retreat from ye the struggle without a more than ordinary disgrace. but But why retreat from what is so much within ye the compass powerpower of ye British Genious Genius to Effect let it be but furnished with that necessary Pabulum wch it is a of a publick collection wch which it has been ye the unremitting object of my endeavour to obtain for them & ye the end is answered whether there be any RoyalRoyal Academy or not & whether ye the patronage be well or ill directed, upon […] [gap in transcription (illegible), words: 2] those manly liberalmanly liberal Characters whose education & talents & talents […] [gap in transcription (illegible), words: 1] will do […] [gap in transcription (illegible), words: 1] to it for altho although it may be as usual thrown away upon ye the impotent, sycophant servility & consequently come to nothing, yet without patronage or perhaps struggling against patronage some noble generous characters, thus furnished with ye the properproper materials of an Artists an Artists education may be enabled to raise ye the reputation of ye the Country even in spite of ye the patronage of it.

I remember two or three years since when I saw you at ye the Dinner of ye the Royal Academy how much M.r Townley12 & I regretted your being accidentally so misplaced, so surrounded with some trifling Members of ye the Academy, that it was impossible to get at you & to draw you out into some of those Symposiums wch which might administer to those thethe exalted associations of Art with Intellect & high utility & would be very different from those wch which remain to us of Zenophon & Plutarch13 gifted as you are with ye the accumulated acquisitions of an Age very superior to ye the times in wch which they lived. It is indeed of ye the last importance to Society that great Statesmen should look deep into Art & to its extensive, possible application & they cannot too sedulously they cannot too sedulously remove themselves from ye the every day consideration of mere common things.--- But begging your kind & well known indulgence for […] [gap in transcription (ilegible), words: 1] so much forwardness inso much forwardness in thus trespassing on your time & without

I shall proceed no further than […] [gap in transcription (illegible), words: 1] have & have ye the honour toshall proceed no further than […] [gap in transcription (illegible), words: 1] have & have ye the honour to have ye the honour […] [gap in transcription (illegible), words: 1] subscribing myself your sincerely devoted & very humble servant. James Barry


I shall proceed no furtherI shall proceed no further than to subscribe myself wch which I do very sincerely
Your devoted humble serv.t

J. Barry

N. 36 Castle S.t Oxford Market Sep.t October 5. 1800

P.S. As I know that your Freindships Friendships are eternal, though your enmities are not, ye the little matter that occurs in page 93 of ye the Dilletante Letter, tho though very inadequate, will I hope perhapsperhaps induce you to read over ye the whole Letter & Apendix Appendix without suffering yourself to be offended by ye the little tecknical technical jargon wch which occurs at ye the outset in ye the first & second pages & I believe only there