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ACCORDING to the desire expressed on his deathbed by Mr. Pitt, the papers which he left were in the first instance delivered to his early friend Dr. Tomline, Bishop of Lincoln. After the decease of the Bishop and of the last Lord Chatham, these MSS. devolved to my cousin, William Stanhope Taylor, Esq., grand nephew of Mr. Pitt. When Mr. Taylor also died, the papers came into the possession of another grand nephew of Mr. Pitt through his younger sister—Colonel John Pringle, who has in the kindest manner and without the smallest reserve placed them in
The Bishop of Lincoln, in his examination of these MSS. and in pursuance of the discretion assigned him, appears to have destroyed nearly all the letters addressed to Mr. Pitt by members of Mr. Pitt's family. Among those that now remain in the collection there is not one from his mother, from either of his sisters, or from either of his brothers, until the time when his eldest brother became his Cabinet colleague. The letters addressed to him by the Bishop himself, and by several other personal friends, have also been removed.
On the other hand, there still exists the series of letters which Mr. Pitt wrote to his mother. These from the first she appears to have carefully preserved, and they were,
presume, returned to him after her death. A few blanks in the series may, indeed, here and there be traced, and some accident appears to have befallen the concluding portion. Since October, 1799, only one letter to Lady Chatham is left, bearing the date of January 5, 1802, besides another of September 17 following, to her companion, Mrs. Stapleton. There are also very confidential letters addressed by Mr. Pitt to his brother, Lord Chatham, though some are missing from the series, and though none among them bears an earlier date than 1794. Of these letters, both to his mother and his brother, which will be wholly new to the public, I have inserted the greater portion in my narrative.
I have also largely availed myself of the series of MS. letters addressed to Mr. Pitt by King George the Third. This is, I believe, quite complete, although on the other hand there are now preserved very few drafts of Mr. Pitt's own communications to the King.
There are in this collection many letters from Mr. Pitt's colleagues and other men of note in politics; and also drafts or copies, although not equally numerous, of his letters to them.
In 1842 my much valued friend the late Duke of Rutland entrusted to me, in the original MSS., the correspondence between his father and Mr. Pitt, and gave me leave to put it into type. The copies, of which the number was fixed at one hundred, were confined to a circle of friends; but I had the Duke's sanction to insert some considerable extracts in the Quarterly Review, No. 140, and in my own collected Essays.
In 1849 I had an opportunity, through the kindness of the late Lord Melville, to examine the papers at Melville Castle, and to take several transcripts. No letter from Mr. Pitt of an earlier date than 1794 is, so far as I preserved. In 1852 I obtained permission from the present Lord Melville to print for private circulation the most important of these papers
saw, there in a small volume, which I entitled “ Secret Correspondence connected with Mr. Pitt's Return to Office in 1804.” I may
observe that the letters of Mr. Pitt to his friend before the peerage begin “ Dear Dundas,” while on the other side it is always “My dear Sir."
I have also obtained some communications of considerable value through the kindness of the Duke of Bedford, of Lord St. Germans, of Mr. Dundas of Arniston, and of other gentlemen, to whom my warm thanks are due; and I need scarcely advert to the great interest and importance of several published collections, more especially the Malmesbury, the Buckingham, and the Cornwallis Papers, and the biographies of Lord Sidmouth and Mr. Wilberforce.
Chevening, January 23, 1861.