Letter from RICHARD BURKE SNR. to JAMES BARRY, written 11 February 1766, at London

Source: Fryer, Works of Barry, i. 45-46; also printed: Burke, Correspondence, i. 237-38.

Burke's brother Richard Burke (1733-94) had visited Barry in Paris and wrote to him immediately after his return to London. Edmund Burke had made his maiden speech in the House of Commons on 17 January in support of a petition against restrictions on trade with the North American colonies brought by the merchants of Manchester. His successful début was a matter of much family excitement which Richard now conveys to Barry.

Full display

London, 11th February 1766

My Dear Barry.

Partly to keep my promise, but more to gratify a very worthy fellow, I sit down to write you a few lines. As I am of the most importance (to myself I mean) I shall begin by telling you that I arrived here safe and sound this morning at (I am an Irishman) midnight. I must tell you also, that this pleasure was seasoned by a delay of five days at Calais, from whence I wrote to you.1 You begin now to be impatient to know what the gratification is which I proposed to give you; why, sir, I flatter myself that you will have some little pleasure in knowing that I am well, and I will increase it by telling you that I found all here perfectly well, and perfectly your friends.—There are two courses for you without either cray fish or oysters, and you shall have an excellent desert.

Your friend has not only spoke, but he has spoke almost every day;2 as to how, I shall leave you to guess, only saying, that to a reputation not mean before, he has added more than the most sanguine of his friends could have imagined. He has gained prodigious applause from the public, and compliments of the most flattering kind from particulars;3 it will add to what I know you already feel on this occasion to be told, that amongst the latter was one from Mr. Pitt, who paid it to him in the house House in the most obliging manner and in the strongest terms.4 It is fit that I should tell you the little, very little, which I know of the question which has been the subject of the late debates. The ministry assert the right of taxing the colonies,5 but propose to repeal the stamp act as inconvenient, impolitic, and detrimental to this kingdom, as well as oppressive to the colonies. This you will say is a very imperfect and unsatisfactory account—so it is, but I make you as wise as myself, and what more can you expect? the The affair is not yet decided, nor is it very certain how it will be decided. Though unsatisfactory the account, yet you must allow me some merit in telling you even this little so immediately after my arrival.—Ned is at the house House 6—Will at the opera—the Doctor, Jane, Jack Nugent, and I at home7—but wherever we are, be assured that we are very much yours. Farewell, dear Barry, take care of yourself, but not too much; dispute, but not too much; be a free-thinker,8 but not too much; drink, but not too little. Whilst I am yet writing, Macleane9 is come in, and desires to be cordially remembered to you.—Adieu10, again, and believe me,

Yours sincerely,

Richard Burke.

Compliments to Colonel Drumgold.11