13 November 2013

Pitt's love of Port-wine

"Mr. Rogers has left these reminiscences of the statesman’s [Pitt’s] port-drinking: During his boyhood, Pitt was very weakly; and his physician, Addington (Lord Sidmouth’s father) ordered him to take port-wine in large quantities; the consequence was that when he grew up he could not do without it. Lord Grenville has seen him [Pitt] swallow a bottle of port in tumblerfuls before going to the House. This, together with his habit of eating late suppers (indigestible cold veal pies, etc.), helped, undoubtedly, to shorten his life. Huskisson, speaking of Pitt, said that his hands shook so much that, when he helped himself to salt, he was obliged to support the right hand with the left. Stothard, the painter, happened to be one evening at an inn on the Kent Road, when Pitt and Dundas put up there on their way from Walmer. Next morning, as they were stepping into their carriage, the waiter said to Stothard, "Sir, do you observe these two gentleman?" "Yes," he replied, "and I know them to be Mr. Pitt and Mr. Dundas." "Well, sir, how much wine do you suppose they drank last night?" Stothard could not guess. "Seven bottles, sir!""(ed. John Timbs, 1864: 58). I don’t necessarily agree with the authenticity of these ‘anecdotes,’ however it is certain that Pitt enjoyed his port to an unhealthy extent. In fact, that is the understatement of the century!

Reference:

Timbs, J. (ed.) (1864) A century of Anecdote from 1760 to 1860, Volume 1. London: Richard Bentley, p. 58.

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