Letter from EDMUND BURKE to JAMES BARRY, written 26 April 1767, at London

Source: MS F.W.Hilles, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale. Printed: Fryer, Works of Barry, i. 91-93; Burke, Correspondence, i. 307-309.

Burke does not say where he is writing from, but news of parliamentary debates on the East-India Company in which Burke spoke often makes it clear he is writing from London.

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My dear Barry, I am rather late in thanking you for your last Letter,1 which was like all your others, friendly sensible, & satisfactory. We have had a pretty stirring Session hitherto; & late as it is, I dont don't think we have got through three parts of it.2 The opposition to the present Ministry has been carried on with great Vigour; & with more success than has of late years usually attended an opposition to Court Measures;3 you know too much of our Situation & temper, not to see, that we mustmust have taken a pretty active & sanguine Part. You will rejoice to hear that our friend William4 has exerted himself two or three times in publick with the highest Credit. This hurry of Businesshurry of Business will account in some measure for the Languor of our Correspondence. There was another Event which engaged us very unfortunately for some time; but thank God the Effects of it are now in a great measure over. My Brother5 about nine weeks ago had the misfortune to break his Leg by a fall in the Street. Both bones were broken, & in two places; but they were speedily & well set. After a long confinement, born with a very good humourd humoured patience, he is now on his Legs again, upon Crutches indeed. But there is an appearance prospectprospect that all will be as well as ever, in appearance, as well as in Effect. You feel so much for your friend, that I am glad to be able to give you the account of his accident & recovery together. All others are as you Left them. The Exhibition will be opend opened tomorrow.6.Reynolds,7 though he has, I think, some better Pourtraits8 than he ever before painted, does not think meer mere heads sufficient; & having no peace of Fancy finished, sends in nothing this time. Barret9 will be better off than ever. He puts in a Night piece in a very noble Style, & another very beautiful Landscape with a part of a Rainbow on a Waterfall. They seem both to be excellent Pictures. Jones10 who used to be Poet Laureat11 to the exhibition, is prepared to be a severe & almost general satirist upon the exhibition exhibitors. His ill behaviour has driven him from all their houses; & he resolves to take revenge in this manner. He has endeavourd endeavoured to find out what Pictures they will exhibit; & upon such information as he has got, has before hand given a poetic description of those pictures which he has not seen. I am told he has gone so far as to abuse Reynolds at guessat guess as an exhibitor of several pictures, though he does not put in one. This is a very moral poet. You are, my Dear Barry, very kind in your offer to copy some Capital Pictures for me;12 & you may be sure that a Picture which united yours to Raphaels Efforts would be particularly agreeable to us all. I may one time or other lay this Tax upon your friendship. But at present I must defer putting you to the trouble of any such Laborious Copies. Because, until we have got another house13 it will be impossible for me to let you know what size will suit me. Indeed in our present house, The the best picture, (of any tolerable size) would embarrass me. Pray Let us hear from you as often as you can; your Letters are most acceptable to us; All all your friends here continue to Love & constantly to enquire after you.

adieu Adieu Dear Barry & believe me most sincerely yrs yours


April 26th. 1767.

[…] [gap in transcription (illegible), words: 1]few14 days before my receipt of your Last Letter I wrote you a very long one.15 I spoke of the Course of your Studys,16 I fear with more freedom & copiousness, than Judgment Judgement . but But your friendship, I dare say, will induce you to bear with my presumption in a Matter I understand so little. Poor Dick Sisson17 is dead I have lost a very dear & deserving friend.