13 November 2013

Mr. Pitt & the country gentlemen

An incident is related in Captain William Jesse’s biography of George (aka Beau) Brummell of a dinner at Lord Mulgrave’s in 1805 which Mr. Pitt attended. The dinner was preceded by a trial on the banks of the Thames to see a vessel called the Gemini which was constructed by Sir Sidney Smith for use against the Boulogne flotilla. During the dinner that followed, Mr. Pitt “was in great spirits, and amused those near him exceedingly, conversing with them on a variety of subjects politics apparently never entering his head, and he was no flincher at his wine” (Jesse, 1844: 72-3). After the dinner, the cloth was removed, and Colonel (later Lord) Dillon started speaking about the good old times of Sir Robert Walpole [18th century British politician] and the country gentlemen. “”What’s that you say, Colonel,” said Pitt,”of the good old times?” The Colonel repeated his eulogium, finishing of course with a still more splendid peroration. “Ah,” replied Pitt, in his deep sepulchral voice, “ah, Colonel Dillon, those were indeed the good old times, - for they were days when country gentleman were even more ignorant and more obstinate than they are at present!”” (Jesse, 1844: 73). 

Hahaha! Pitt’s sarcastic wit was notorious.

Reference:

Jesse, W. (1844) Beau Brummell, Vol. 1. London: Saunders and Otley, pp. 72-73).

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