Letter from JAMES BARRY to ROYAL ACADEMY, written 16 April 1799, at Lyceum, London

Source: Fryer, Works of Barry, ii. 631-32.

Barry was expelled from the Academy at the meeting of 15 April; on receiving the news the next day, he visited a close friend to say he had no inclination to respond. However the friend, who remains unnamed, persuaded him to write so as to forestall the next stages of expulsion which included a meeting to ratify the decision and to draw up a document for King George III, patron of the Academy, to approve. The friend drafted this letter for Barry to sign (Letter to the Diletttanti Society, 2nd. edn. (1799) in Fryer, Works of Barry, ii. 631).

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Sir,

I am informed that, after my departure from the general meeting of the Royal-Academy yesterday evening, the Academy proceeded to a vote,1 tending to my expulsion from their body, and that the professed ground of that measure was the admission imputed to me of the charges on which it was founded. As that resolution, according to the forms of the Academy, must undergo further discussion at another meeting, the interest I take in the good opinion of my fellow academicians, obliges me to lose no time in applying to you for information, whether such be the fact, and if it be, I am to request that you will take the earliest opportunity to demand from the proper authority, in my name, an authentic copy of the articles exhibited against me; which were publicly and repeatedly refused to me at the two last general meetings. It will afford me extreme satisfaction, if, by my timely possession of that paper, as well as of all others in your custody, which may be necessary to the fair and full discussion of the case, I shall be enabled to offer such a defence as shall induce my colleagues immediately to recall their most severe and unmerited sentence. But if, unfortunately, I shall be disappointed in that expectation, you will be pleased to acquaint those gentlemen with my most unwilling determination to lay myself at his Majesty's royal feet, with the humble but assured hope of obtaining redress from his Majesty of an oppression drawn upon me only by my zeal for that institution of which his Majesty is the great founder2 and constant indispensible protector, and inflicted upon me with a contempt of the forms practised in every well-regulated society towards the most atrocious offenders.

I am, sir, your very humble servant,

James Barry.

P. S. I expect you will favour me with a written answer to this letter, as soon as may be.3

To John Richards,4 Esq. Secretary to the Royal-Academy, dated from the Lyceum in the Strand,5 Tuesday, April 16, 1799.