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Very cute, John

Third post today, but why the hell not?

Without giving too much away (…….. if you want spoilers just check out the passages from Volume 2 of Ehrman’s biography of Pitt the Younger that first inspired my novel), the second Earl of Chatham and his brother had a relationship that was at times quite troubled. Lord Ashbourne wrote that “relations between the two brothers remained on the most affectionate and harmonious basis” (Pitt: Some chapters of his life and times (1898), p. 178), but Ashbourne can’t have read any of John’s correspondence because John was anything but subtle in expressing his feelings.

The breach was patched up well enough, and by September 1795 the two brothers were corresponding, perhaps ever so slightly stiltedly as the following signature from a letter from Chatham to William on 29 September 1795 suggests:

(PRO 30/08/122 f 137)

It’s not as sweet, though, as this letter from Chatham to Pitt on 20 May 1799. The first half of the letter is devoted to political ruminations and thoughts on upcoming cabinet discussions, and then all of a sudden Chatham comes over all “um, ah, I’ve run out of things to say” and starts talking about the weather:

“It is a good while since I have seen so much of the Spring in ye Country, and I have had but a bad specimen of the weather, as I think, with the exception of two or three days, it has been uncommonly bad, but the heavy rains of yesterday and today will I hope bring about, a favorable change”.

(PRO 30/08/122 f 142)

I presume John realised he had a page and a half of paper left to write on and wanted to make it worth his brother’s while, but still, pahahahaha, I had to laugh when I read that.

At least he signs off in a slightly less abrupt and self-conscious way:

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