This is one of the things I found so interesting today when I went to Maidstone for the archives. It’s a letter from William Pitt to his older brother John, Earl of Chatham, dated 12 October 1778. John was in Gibraltar at the time, having left with his regiment (the 39th) shortly after the death of his father in May. I had initially thought there was little or no correspondence during the early years between the two brothers, but it seems I was wrong, although this letter suggests why I might have got that impression.
What I find so sweet about it is that Pitt is completely aware that his letter might never get to its intended recipient, so he has this awkward air of almost talking to himself. The letter says nothing really beyond “Dear John, I miss you and want you to know that”. I find it poignant, particularly given the relationship the two of them had later in life.
To The Earl of Chatham, Gibraltar
12 October 1778, Hotel, King Street
My dear Brother,
I shall scarcely send you more at present than a single Line, which may perhaps never reach you. If it does, it will at least inform you that I am in the Land of the Living. Nothing has happen’d the least interesting since I wrote last to you, but I am afraid that very few of my Letters have yet reach’d you. I have been writing repeatedly ever since June, thinking to convey my Letters by Col. Mawhood, whose departure has been postponed from Day to Day, and I at least hear that he is not to go at all. He has made over our Letters to another Officer, by whose means, I hope you will at length receive them. At all Events, most of what those Letters contain is by this Time obsolete, besides which I have entirely forgotten most of it; so that I shall not attempt to send you Duplicates. One of my Dispatches has, I find, been intercepted by the French, having been committed to the Helena which unluckily fell in with their Fleet; and I know not how many more may share the same Fate. I left all well at Burton about a Fortnight since, and found Ld and Lady Mahon well at Hayes. I am now immediately going to Cambridge for about a Month. If I have any opportunity, you shall not fail to hear from me soon, whatever may occur.
Your most affectionate Brother, W Pitt.
[PS] I have sent the Stockings and Hats written for by Wood.