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1916.

A NEW AND GENERAL

BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY.

PITT (William), earl of Chatham, one of the most illustrious statesmen whom this country has produced, was the son of Robert Pitt, esq. of Boconnock in Cornwall, and grandson of Thomas Pitt, governor of Madras, who was purchaser of the celebrated diamond, afterwards called the Regent. The family was originally of Dorsetshire, where it had been long and respectably established. William Pitt was born Nov. 15, 1708, and educated at Eton; whence, in January 1726, he went as a gentleman-commoner to Trinity-college, Oxford. It has been said, that he was not devoid of poetical talents, of which a few spe. cimens have been produced; but they do not amount to much, and of bis Latin verses on the death of George the First, it is natural to suspect that the whole merit was not his own. When he quitted the university, Pitt was for a time in the army, and served as a cornet; but his talents leading him more decisively to another field of action, he quitted the life of a soldier for that of a statesman, and became a member of parliament for the borvugh of Old Sarum, in February 1735. In this situation his abilities were soon distinguished, and he spoke with great eloquence against the Spanish convention in 1738. It was on the occasion of the bill for registring seamen in 1740, which he opposed as arbitrary and unjustifiable, that he is said to have made his celebrated reply to Mr. Horatio Walpole, who had attacked him on account of his youth (though then thirty-two), adding, that the discovery of truth is little promoted by pompous diction and theatrical emotion. Mr. Pitt retorted, with great severity, “I will not undertake to determine whether youth can justly be imputed VOL. XXV.

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