Letter from LORD BUCHAN to JAMES BARRY, written 12 July 1805, at Dryburgh Abbey, St. Boswell's Green

Source: Fryer, Works of Barry, i. 297-98.

David Steuart Erskine, earl of Buchan (1742-1829), Scottish antiquary, art collector and great admirer of Barry, lived at Dryburgh Abbey in Berwickshire, Scotland; he had been working for some years to persuade the Society of Arts to set up a fund to assist Barry in his old age. [img]

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Dry-Burgh Abbey, St. Boswell's Green, July 12, 1805

My Dear Sir,

I have had the pleasure to receive and carefully to peruse your excellent letter of the 3d current, 1 which by some accident came to my hands only this day. The subject you discuss in that letter is extremely interesting to me, and I wish with all my heart that there was a better prospect of the refined view you take of your noble and useful art being more extensively diffused, and consequently more perfectly relished and understood.

"Non omnia possumus omnes."2 In the mean time let us, like wise men, and, what is better, like good men and good Christians, avail ourselves, with resignation to the Divine administration of human affairs, of those advantages which are afforded by the present circumstances, to render the evening of your day calm and tranquil in the renewed exercise of your eminent talents.

Let us purge our recollection of those disagreeable and unavailing regrets, which are connected with past events, and set ourselves to co-operate with the enlightened and meritorious individuals who have come forth with a brotherly love, and fatherly care to shew you their kindness, and to place you in such a state as to pursue without interruption or insult the "jucunda oblivia vitae," 3 and at the same time the beneficial use of that genius with which all, however prejudiced by party, must allow you to be eminently endowed, and as I earnestly desire that every thing relating to your present posture should be conducted in the way most agreeable to your feelings and most honourable to your virtuous and independent character, so, if agreeable to you, and to the respectable committee of the members of the society and others, I would with deference suggest the naming of a small sub-committee to procure, under your eye, a proper residence 4 fit to answer the purposes which the practice of your art demands or requires; and in such a situation as may be least exposed to the shameful and deplorable invasions from an ignorant rabble, which you have suffered in Castle-Street.

If you do me the honour to communicate this letter to my friend Mr. Whitefoord,5 the present chairman of the committee, with my affectionate compliments, I think that worthy gentleman may think it not improper to lay it before the gentlemen conjoined with him in the attainment of the common object we have in view for your honour and happiness. I remain, my dear sir, with sincere esteem, yours,


P. S. I shall be anxious to know of the safe arrival of this letter, and of its consequences.6