I have made a design for a picture and an engraving on the subject of the happy union of Great Britain and Ireland, 1 which union has been long the desideratum 2 of all well informed and good people, and was unfortunately overlooked and neglected in the reign of James the 1st, 3when the abilities of Sir John Davies were employed in settling the affairs of that kingdom.4 However, by the long withholding and delay of this great national blessing, in being reserved for our times, and for the glory of your administration, the most desirable opportunity is thus afforded to me of employing my art, and such abilities as I may happen to possess, in the commemoration of this glorious achievement, and of the hero by whom it was achieved. Surely there never was nor could be a Holy Union more pregnant with felicity and blessings of every kind, and made up of more naturally cordial and coalescing materials, than that which you have thus happily effected. As my mind has been strongly impressed with this persuasion and those feelings, the above-mentioned design for a picture, and an engraved print, has emanated from me, accompanied with more venustas,5 unction, and happy adaptation, than will be found in any thing else which I have hitherto done.
Letter from JAMES BARRY to WILLIAM PITT, written post July 2, 1800 , at London
Source: Fryer, Works of Barry, i. 284
The text is an extract cited by Fryer from a letter by Barry to the prime minister William Pitt (1759-1806) about Barry's drawing to celebrate the Act of Union. The original MS has not been found.
The Act of Union did away with the Irish parliament and incorporated the Kingdom of Ireland into the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland; it was passed in the Irish parliament on 28 March 1800, by the British parliament on 2 July 1800, and came into effect on 1 January 1801. Barry's letter was probably written after Westminster had approved the Act.