7 June 2014

The 'Bond-street lounger'

William Wellesley-Pole by Sir Thomas Lawrence
On 10th June 1801, four months after Pitt's resignation as First Lord of the Treasury, the London opposition newspaper The Morning Post was having a field day remarking on Pitt's alleged idleness after over 17 years at the helm of state affairs. The paper described Pitt as 'a Bond-street lounger,' [1] as he had been spotted there on several occasions - mostly on his own. Indeed, William Wellesley-Pole wrote to his brother Richard, the 1st Marquess Wellesley (both were brothers of Arthur Wellesley, the future Duke of Wellington), on 3rd July 1801 in a similar vein:

"It would surprise you to see Pitt lounging through the streets in a morning, generally by himself, and seeming not to have anything to do. His friends cry him up more than ever, and say he never was in better spirits. He is dreadfully distressed in his circumstances and Holwood is to be sold. It is surprising how little sensation his going out has made in the country, nobody speaks of him, no address, no subscriptions, no stir of any kind anywhere.” [2]

Of course, Pitt was indeed in a dire financial predicament, and his estate at Holwood would soon have to be sold to cover the most pressing - although not even close to all - of his debts to spare him from complete embarrassment.

What exactly Pitt was doing on the multiple times he was spotted as the "lounger" [3] on Bond Street is unknown, although Pitt was then renting a house nearby on Park Place


References:

1. The Morning Post, 10th June 1801.

2. Butler, I. (1973) The Eldest Brother: The Marquess Wellesley, The Duke of Wellington's Eldest Brother. London: Hodder and Stoughton, pp. 262-3.

3. Ehrman, J. (1996) The Younger Pitt: The Consuming Struggle. London: Constable, p. 540.

Image Credit:

William Wellesley-Pole by Sir Thomas Lawrence. Image Source

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