Letter from JAMES BARRY to WILLIAM BURKE, written 2 November 1766, at Rome

Source: Fryer, Works of Barry, i. 65-66.

Barry has received the letter of introduction to the British envoy in Florence, Sir Horace Mann (1706-86), from William Burke, but wonders how to thank those responsible and when he should deliver it.

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Rome,November 2, 1766

Dear Sir,1

The receipt of your two letters,2 the day before yesterday, made me extremely happy, as I will do myself the justice to say, that I feel as I ought to do every thing that concerns and is interesting to the few friends God has blessed me with. I am now almost ashamed to write to Mr. Macleane3, lest it may be thought that the desire of honouring myself with the acquaintance and connexion of the Secretary is more prevalent with me than any love for his person or sense of the favours he has conferred upon me. There is all the apparent reason in the world to be shocked at my baseness and ingratitude in never writing to him, even after he desired it; but as I have no thought of concealing any part of my conduct from you, I shall out with the truth, though I may suffer by it in your opinion. Mr. Macleane, with his usual warmth and good nature, has been often interrogating me upon my allowance,4 and insisting upon adding to it annually. He used every different mode of friendly persuasion, telling me how much it would be obliging him to have an opportunity of being serviceable to any body you interested yourselves about, and I avoided writing to him, merely to take away any opportunity of his doing what in my opinion I ought not to have accepted of. There is no longer any reason for this disagreeable conduct in me, now that I find I shall be able, with God's help, to live very happily upon about forty pounds a year, whilst in my studies; though for the present year my voyage and the buying of furniture and other necessaries, will unavoidably make it more. I am exceedingly distressed to know what to do about Lord Shelburne's letter.5 It is five or six weeks since I have left Florence,6 and did not know any thing of this letter till the day before yesterday: if you tell me by the return of the post, that it is necessary to go back to Florence and deliver it, I shall do it directly, or in a month, or two months, just as you think it may be proper. A good part of my time may be excellently employed at Florence after the antique7 and other things there, and it is but 150 miles off: the journey will not be very expensive,8 and I shall set off the very instant you appoint for it. You will be so kind as to let me know about this by the return of the post, as I perfectly agree with you in thinking that such a letter ought to be minutely attended to.

I am, dear sir,

J.B.James Barry