Letter from ANN BROOKES to JAMES BARRY , written 27 May 1800 , at London

Source: MS James Barry, Papers and Letters. The Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University. Endorsement on the reverse: 'Taken up at Mr Towgood 1/ 101.8.2. May 27. 1800.

The letter is endorsed 27 May 1800; since this day was a Tuesday, it is presumed the 'Tuesday morning' mentioned at the end of the letter was the same day. The letter has no addressee, but since it is among the Barry papers it may well be addressed to Barry. Ann Brookes has not been identified.

From the internal evidence of the letter we can deduce that the recipient had sent her a present of a book or a pamphlet written by himself; he appears to have been a man of intelligence, ability and 'of high moral worth', who was frank with his friends. Ann Brookes is well aware he has a temper and resolution not to be trifled with.

The contents and the tone suggest a relationship between Ann Brookes and the recipient that resonates with Barry: from the letter of Keable to Barry while he was in Italy through to the letter of Burroughs it is clear that Barry was excited by certain women: he was no misogynist, yet he seems to have been awkward in the company of women.

Full display

Sir,

Permit me Sir to thank you for your valuable present, 2 for so it is to me however lightly your generous mode of estimation may lead you to think & speak of it. I am afraid to indulge myself in expressing my opinion either of it, or its Author, lest I should cause those unpleasant sensations that arise from the praise of […] [gap in transcription (illegible), words: 1] such as are incapable of appretiating appreciating justly that of which they pretend to judg judge , but if the respect approaching to veneration of a simple, untaught, but feeling & I hope upright mind may be mentioned by way of self gratification it is all that is wished.

In your writings I find myself not only possessed of much comprehensive eloquent instructive matter for present entertainment, but also a resource, benign & dignifying to which I may resort when my mind is vexed & wearied with trifling subjects and trifling people. Above all I hope the example of high moral worth I have the privilege of beholding will not be thrown away.

My heart yearns to make its acknowledgements for the frank conversations & confidence with which I have been treated but I will only say I am your very sensibly obliged

Ann Brookes

Forgive my troubling you to read this, I knew if I said one word on the subject you would not suffer me to proceed to a second, and in truth it is unpleasant to say, what is unpleasant to be heard.
Horsleydown3 Tuesday morning