Letter from WILLIAM BURKE to JAMES BARRY, written 26 October 1765, at London

Source: Fryer,Works of Barry, i. 27-28.

William Burke (1728-98) had studied law at the Middle Temple with Edmund Burke 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(see George C. McElroy, ‘Burke, William’, DNB [go] ). William was educated at Westminster School and Christ Church, Oxford and was later called to the Bar. Edmund addressed a poem to him, ‘The Muse Divorced’ (c1750) and wrote a character of him ‘Phidippus’ (post-1750) (Burke, Early Writings, pp. 45-49, 54-56); together they produced An Account of European Settlements in America (1757). When Lord Verney offered William the parliamentary seat for Wendover that was in his gift, William persuaded him to offer it to Edmund who was elected on 23 December 1765 (F.R. Lock, Edmund Burke, i. 214-16; Burke, Correspondence, i. 223).

Barry had long wanted to go to the Continent to continue his studies, but lacked the money. When in July 1765 Edmund Burke was appointed private Secretary to Lord Rockingham (1730-82) and William Burke Under-Secretary to Secretary of State Henry Seymour Conway (1721-95), at a salary of £500 a year (Lock, Edmund Burke, i. 212), their long discussed plans to help Barry pursue his studies on the Continent became feasible. They provided about £40 per year for his expenses (see Barry to Burke, 23 May 1767) and he left London late in October for Paris where he spent ten months. Will Burke writes to Barry who was now in Paris just when changes at the British embassy there were taking place in keeping with the new Rockingham Administration in London.

Full display

London, Oct. 26, 1765

Dear Barry,

Idle as it may seem, I really did not think when I left you that you would depart the next morning, and I am vexed not to have given one hearty parting squeeze. I need not say our warmest and heartiest good wishes attend you every where; I need not specify our regards by naming us separately, for we all and one love you and esteem you with one voice and heart.1

I have mentioned you to Mr. Morrison, secretary to the Duke of Richmond, who will deliver you this, and will, I believe, shew show you some civility;2 inclosedenclosed you have the proper letters upon Paris and Rome. You can find no difficulty in finding them respectively at Paris and Rome. If any difficulty, even ideal, occurs to you, you will, at least you ought, and therefore I the more think you will acquaint us with it immediately, for you know we have too well grounded hopes of your finding the thoroughest advantages of your tour, and being one day a credit to your country; and therefore you will rely that you shall have no let or impediment in your studies.

Ned3 meant to have said a word to you, but you know his little leisure, and therefore will know that his silence is not a want of love and attention to you. Mrs. Burke4 has, I think, as many good wishes for you as any of us; I need not say the Doctor is not coldly your friend;5 Richard6 is always warm; even the little Dick,7 I think loves you, and I think it, because I love to suppose that the little fellow will do what in gratitude and honesty he ought to do.

Farewell, remember us all to Mr.Macleane,8 and believe them all what I am, Dear Barry, your sincere friend and servant.

Wm. William Burke.

I should not omit that poor Creagh,9 who is here, loves and esteems you; if there are little particularities, they are by no means of a bad mind, he loves you, and the regard of a good man is always valuable.