Letter from WILLIAM BURKE to JAMES BARRY, written 8 November 1765, at St. James's, London

Source: Fryer, Works of Barry, i. 28-29.

William Burke (1728-98) had studied law at the Middle Temple with Edmund in the early 1750s and his father John Burke (d.1764) had gone surety for Edmund to study there. The two became very close friends, referred to one another as ‘cousin’ or ‘kinsman’, although there seem to have been no blood ties between them. William, educated at Westminster School and Christ Church, Oxford, had recently been appointed Under-Secretary of State and had offices in St. James’ (see George C. McElroy, ‘Burke, William’, DNB [go] ). Along with Edmund Burke, he was helping to finance Barry's studies on the Continent.

This letter crossed with Barry’s of 6 November; post from Paris to London took about a week.

Full display

St. James's,Nov. 8, 1765

Dear Barry,

How comes it that we1 have not heard from you yet; if you were here, I, who am a sort of scold, should say it was not right to have not given us a single line since you left us. I think we begged to hear from you even before you got upon the sea; which you must now have passed, and really it would not be doing us justice to think us indifferent to know any thing concerning you: but we are too far asunder now to discuss and canvass2 the point. Conversation makes jangles, which conversation explains and removes, but letters can't remove, and therefore must not admit a complaint. I will not therefore say it was unkind not to write to us, but I will, as a favour, beg you to remember us as your friends, and consequently will not omit what you know will give us a real satisfaction. We have some apprehensions that some accident may have occasioned your silence, but remembering well that our friend has sometimes a little way of his own, we venture to suppose, and have a pleasure to suppose, he is rather to be blamed than pitied.

Ned, the Doctor, Dick young and old, are yours,3 and so indeed am I; remember to write soon. I am, Dear Barry, most cordially,

Your friend and servant,

William Burke.

IncloseEnclose your letters to your friends to me, and remember to bid them incloseenclose theirs to me and not to Ned.

Mrs. Burke,4 I know not how omitted by me, desires to be remembered cordially to you.

Direct to me, Wm. Burke, Esq. Secretary of State's Office, 5 St. James's, London.