7 July 2014

'My poor Father's Memory': Pitt to Pretyman on The Death of the Earl of Chatham

William Pitt's father, the first Lord Chatham, died on May 11, 1778 at his beloved Hayes Place. On Saturday, May 16, 1778, William found a few moments to write to his Pembroke tutor George Pretyman. It seems that Pretyman had sent the Pitt family a letter of condolence, and William responded with the following:

"Dear Pretyman,

I am truly oblig'd to you for your friendly and affectionate Concern for me, on this distressful Occasion. The Loss I have sustain'd is indeed irreparable, and my Feelings in Consequence are what no Words can convey. At the same Time, the Shock was the less dreadful, as I had so long been prepar'd to expect it. It has had no bad effect on my Health, and tho I know how vain it is to resist the first impressions of Sorrow, I do not suffer my Mind to be dejected. Every Consideration that can raise and support it, under such afflicting Circumstances is afforded me, by the public Steps that have been taken, to confer the most signal Honors on my poor Father's Memory [Pitt the Elder was to be interred at Westminster Abbey at the beginning of June], and the most distinguished Benefits on his Family. I am doubly oblig'd to you for extending your friendly Anxiety to all my Family, and have the Comfort to tell you that they are all in good Health. You shall hear from me again as soon as i have it in my power to determine when I may expect the Satisfaction of seeing you at Cambridge. In the mean Time, Be persuaded that I am inexpressibly sensible to your Goodness, and am with every Sentiment of Friendship and Affection, Faithfully Yours, W. Pitt." [1]

Reference:

1. William Pitt to The Reverend Mr. Pretyman. May 16, 1778. Ipswich Record Office, Pretyman MSS: HA119:562/659.

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