Letter from JAMES BARRY to SOCIETY OF ARTS, written November 1791 , at London

Source: MS Pierpont Morgan Library and Museum, New York.

The letter gives no date or place, but is written and signed in Barry's hand. The Society of Arts had recorded the gift of busts of Benjamin Franklin and Jean-Rodolphe Perronet on 9 November 1791: 'The Secretary reported that monsieur de la Blancherie had delivered him a bill of loading for three cases containing the Bust of Dr Franklin in terracotta, a bust of Monsieur Peronnet in plaster and a pedestal in scagliola which Monsieur de la Blancherie begs the society's acceptance' (Society of Arts Minutes, 1791-92, vol. 37, p. 17); the Society did not respond until after its meeting of 23 November 1791, which suggests Barry's letter may have been written a weeks or so before.

Full display

Respecting this affair of the Busto's Bustos 1 of D.r Franklin2 & Mons.r Perronet3 & the Scagliola4 Pedestal: What I apprehended had been agreed to by the Committee respecting this affair of ye the Busto's &c respecting this affair of ye the Busto's &c Was, To Recommend to the Society to order immediate payment of the three guineas wch which remained due for the packing Cases &c. And, that a polite Letter be written to Mons.r de la Blancherie5 expressing the Society's regret that this matter had not come to their knowledge sooner;6 & if in addition to this, the Society was also to give order (& I now humbly move by way of Amendment, that they do give order) that either by an Inscription under the Busto's Bustos or rather by an acknowledgment in their printed Transactions it be notified it be notified that these Busto's Bustos & Pedestal were presented to the Society by M.r De la Blancherie Agent General for Foreign Correspondence,7 by whom the Society had also been obliged in his unremitted & early Communication of the Volumes of his valuable Correspondence which had been published at Paris between the years 17 […] [gap in transcription ()] & 17 […] [gap in transcription ()] . 8

If this matter should be so ordered, (as I hope it will,) there will be some gratification in reflecting, that, this liberal, honourable & just acknowledgement on the part of the Society, might perhaps at this time afford some consolation to a Man of genius of genius whose Talents have been long, actively, zealously employed in the general furtherance & circutation circulation of whatever knowledge knowledge is interesting to Society, altho although , from the present convulsed state of Europe,9 the exertion of those Talents is suspended,10 or, what is worse, perhaps mischievously corroding & preying upon the vitality of the tenement in which they are to ye the great loss of ye the publick thus unhappily to ye the great loss of ye the publick thus unhappily pent up,11 to ye the great loss & loss & injury of useful communication

If any Gentleman will second MotionMotion this second this MotionMotion I shall be obliged to him.

James Barry