Letter from FRANCIS BURROUGHS to JAMES BARRY, written 6 October 1804, at Nottingham Street, London

Source: MS James Barry, Papers and Letters, f. 17. The Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University.

Little is known about Barry's close friends, but this letter shows he had in Francis Burroughs a close friend who was very concerned for him. Burroughs was the author of A Poetical Epistle to James Barry, Esq. Containing Strictures upon some of the Works of that Celebrated Artist. With an Appendix (1805) for which Barry engraved the frontispiece.1 [img] A reviewer of the poem remarked, 'Mr. Burroughs is a catholic, and seems to believe in the fabulous history of Ireland!' (The Annual Review, and History of Literature, iv (1805), 579); another remarked on 'an unmeaning frontispiece that libels the figure of Minerva' (The Critical Review, 3rd ser., v (1805), p. 328).

The diarist Joseph Farington mentions a Mr Burroughs who called often to his house in London (Diary of Joseph Farington, 16 vols.(Yale, 1978-98), eds. Kenneth Garlick and Angus Macintyre, vii. 2524, 25 February 1805 and 2529, 7 March 1806).

Full display

Nottingham Street Oct.r 6 th 1804

My Dear Mr Barry

Not withstanding all my own troubles, dissapointments disappointments & vexations (& God knows I have had, & still have enough of them to shake a firmer soul & turn a stronger brain than I can lay claim to.) Your situation has often diverted my thoughts from my own calamities. & latterly in particular, made a deep impression on my mind. All that friendship & admiration of your heart & talents can inspire I feel for you - & thatthat such a man is not to be lost to himself & Society - As the winter approaches I shudder at the thoughts of what you must suffer from cold & privation of every kind in that miserable mansion2 You have livd lived long enough for postumous posthumous fame & posterity - make an effort my Dear friend. To live for your self & those few that love & honour you. I know you have a proud spirit & an independent mind - but Alas! These will not feed or cloath clothe us, nor will the winters winter's blast respect those virtues - I am fearful to alarum or offend, intentionally, You of all men & if, inadvertantly inadvertently I have been savage You have been severe. But that can never occur again - I beseech you therefore, (with all the ardour of affection which I feel & powerful interest which I take in all that concerns you,) to lay aside these chimerical hopes of finding what I fear is not to be found - a fit companion & disinterested female friend!3 Bestir yourself a little about self - Make a little present provision for your immediate health & Comfort, by the sale of some of your Engravings or Pictures or Even by withdrawing something from the Principal in the funds. Remove from your present habitation to one less ruinous or - if it must be in the alternative - make your self a little more comfortable4 where you are & live meagurly meagerly - & I here solemnly pldge pledge myself to raise you above your hopes without lessening your dignity by a project which need only be promulgd promulgated to be complatly completely successful. At least so my sanguine Soul suggests.

Both Fanny & myself were much agitated after you left us, more than I have ever been before - It would be superfluous to expatiate here why or how far imagination as well as painful retrospect heightend heightened our anguish. Suffice it to say these reflections have impelld impelled me to write this & to intreat your serious reflections upon what I now suggest. -

You must give up Mad, Guidon5 to morrowto-morrow & eat beef with us & we will chat over matters of more moment to us. than the fall of Empires & the empire of fools6 -

Adieu7 & believe me ever Your sincere & affectionate friend

Fra.sFrancis Burroughs.