Letter from EDMUND BURKE and WILLIAM BURKE to JAMES BARRY, written 24 August 1767 , at London (environs)

Source: MS F.W. Hilles, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale. Printed: Fryer, Works of Barry, i. 93-96; Burke, Correspondence, i. 322-24.

The first paragraph is in Edmund Burke's hand; the post-script, in William Burke's hand, is included by Fryer, but is not printed in Burke, Correspondence, i. 322-24. The MS gives no place, nor a year; however, the context indicates it is a reply to Barry's letter of [July] 1767, written while Richard Burke was recovering from his broken leg that summer. Burke's mention that the family is 'in a pretty retired spot about three miles from Town' indicates that he was writing from somewhere near London.

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My dear Barry, It is with shame I find myself so late in answering a Letter which gave me such sincere pleasure as your Last.1 Whatever you may think of my delay, be persuaded that no want of regard for you had the least share in it. We all remember you with much esteem & affection; & I hope we are not, any of us, of a Character to forget our friends, because they are fifteen hundred miles distance from us, & away a year or two. I did indeed strongly flatter myself, that Will & I might possibly have taken a trip to Rome in this Recess; But but the Session ran to a very unusual & mortifying length; & as soon as it closed, a political Negotiation for bringing in my Lord Rockingham to the administration2 was opend opened ; & thus our Summer insensibly slid away; & itit became impossible for me, either in his Company, or alone, to begin an Enterprise that would demand four good months at least. The mention I have made of this Negotiation has, I dare say, put you a little in a flutter. It came to nothing; because it was found not practicable with honour to undertake a Task like that, until people understand one another a little better; & can be got to a little cooler temper & a little more fair dealing. At present there is no prospect of a sudden Change; therefore we remain as we are; but with all the content, which consciences at rest, & circumstances in no distress, can give us. We are now in the country in a pretty retired spot about three miles from Town. Richard3 is at Southampton for the Benefit of sea Bathing which has already been useful to his Leg; & he gathers strength in that Limb every day. This is our situation. As to your other friends Barret4 has got himself also, a little County house; His his Business still holds on; & indeed he deserves encouragem.t encouragement for independent of his being a very ingenious Artist; he is a worthy, & a most perfectly good humourd humoured fellow. However he has had the ill luck to quarrell quarrel with almostalmost all his acquaintance among the Artists; with Stubbs, Wright, & Hamilton;5 They they are at mortal wars; & I fancy he does not stand very well […] [gap in transcription (illegible), word: 1] eveneven with West. As to Mr Reynolds6 he is perfectly well; & still keeps that superiority over the rest which he always had from his Genius, sense, & morals. You never told me whether you received a long, I am afraid, not very wise letter from me, in which I took the Liberty of talking a great deal upon matters which you understand far better than I do.7 Have you the Patence Patience to bear it? You have given a strong, & I fancy a very faithful Picture of the dealers in Taste with you. It is very right that you shd should know & remark their little arts; but as fraud will intermeddle in every transaction of life, where we cannot oppose ourselves to it with Effect, it is by no means our duty or our Interest to make ourselves uneasy or multiply Enemies on account of it. In particular you may be assured, that the Traffick in Antiquity & all the Enthusiasm, folly or fraud which may be in it, never did nor never can hurt the merit of living Artists. Quite the contrary in my opinion; for I have ever observed that whatever it be that turns the minds of men to any thing relative to the arts, even the most remotely so, brings artists more & more into Credit & repute; & though now & then the meer mere broker, & dealer in such things runs away with a great deal of Profit, yet in the End ingenious men will find themselves gainers, by the dispositions which are nourished & defused in the world by such Pursuits. I praise exceedingly yr your resolution of going on well with those whose practices you cannot altogether approve. There is no living in the world upon any other terms. Neither Will8 nor I were much pleased with your seeming to feel uneasy at a little necessary encrease increase of expenceexpence […] [gap in transcription (illegible), word: 1] on your settling yourself.9 You ought to know us too well, not to be sensible that we think right upon these points. We wishd wished you at Rome, that you may cultivate your Genius, by every advantage which the place affords; & to stop at a […] [gap in transcription (illegible), word: 1] littlelittle expence10 might defeat the Ends for wch which the rest was incurred. You know we desired you at parting never to scruple to draw for a few pounds extraordinary; & directions will be given to take your drafts on such occasions. You will judge yourself of the propriety; But but by no means starve the Cause. Your father11 wrote to me sometime ago. The old Gentleman seems to be uneasy at not hearing from you. I was at some distance in the Country; but Mr Burke opend opened the Letter & gave him such an account as he could. You ought from time to time to write to him.12 And pray let us hear from you. How goes on your Adam & Eve.13 Have you yet got your Chests.14 adieu!15 Let us hear from you & believe us all most truly & heartily yours.

24th Augst August

I happen to be16 in town for a day, & Ned17 has sent me this18 to forward; which, I cannot do without saying a word for my self, to a far distant & very dear friend; I must confess that I partake in the blame due to our Edmund, for the long silence that has been held here; which, is the more improper as the letter seemed to call for an immediate answer; & I am sure was such an one, as deserved an early and hearty acknowledgement, and most certainly we have fifty times resolved to write; but, that vile fiend, that foe to all good conduct, that damned Procrastination by a promise of a tomorrow still kept us idle to day;19 you who are pursuing your studies with your Eye fixd fixed on Fame, have I dare say little acquaintance with this Hob Goblin Procrastination, the vilest consumer & devourer of our time & deceiver of our hopes; but, there is another Spirit of better temper, & better nature, Partiality to your friends, & kind Indulgence to their Errors, with which you are well acquainted, & this will easily induce you to overlook any slip or omission of ours, but let not even our Errors deprive us of the pleasure of hearing frequently from you – Ned has told you all the nothings that concern us, so I shall only add that we wish earnestly to hear soon & often of you – ADieu - & […] [gap in transcription (illegible), word: 1] beleive believe us affectionately yours -