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THE younger Pitt was the second son of Lord Chatham, and was seven years of age when his father in 1766 was admitted to the peerage. The boy's earliest peculiarity was an absorbing ambition to become his father's successor as the first orator of the day. His health, however, was so delicate as to cause the gravest apprehensions. Stanhope tells us that before he was fourteen “half of his time was lost through ill health," and that his early life at Cambridge was "one long disease." There is still extant a remarkable letter that reveals better than any thing else the fond hopes of the father and the physical discouragement as well as the mental aspirations of the son. Chatham wrote: “Though I indulge with inexpressible delight the thought of your returning health, I cannot help being a little in pain lest you should make
more haste than good speed to be well. How happy the task, my noble, amiable boy, to caution you only against pursuing too much all those liberal and praiseworthy things, to which less happy natures are perpetually to be spurred and driven. I will not tease you with too long a lecture in favor of inaction and a competent stupidity, your two best tutors and companions at present. You have time to spare; consider, there is but the Encyclopædia, and when you have mastered that, what will remain ?" The intimations of precocity here given were fully justified by the extraordinary progress made by the boy notwithstanding his bodily ailments.
He entered the University of Cambridge at Хі
fourteen, and such was his scholarship at that time that his tutor wrote: “It is no uncommon thing for him to read into English six or eight pages of Thucydides which he had not previously seen, without more than two or three mistakes, and sometimes without even one."
At the university, where he remained nearly seven years, his course of study was carried on
strictly in accordance with his father's directions
sion. The finest passages even of the obscurer poets he copied with care and stored away in his memory; and thus he was also qualified for that aptness of quotation for which his oratory was always remarkable.
With his classical studies Pitt united an un
usual aptitude and fondness for the mathemat. Xics and for logic. To both of these he gave
daily attention, and before he left the university, according to the authority above quoted, he was master in mathematics of every thing usually known by young men who obtain the highest academical honors. In logic, Aristotle was his master, and he early acquired the habit of applying the principles and methods of that great logician to a critical examination of all the works he studied and the debates he witnessed. It was probably this course of study which gave him his unrivalled power in reply. While still at Cambridge it was a favorite employment to compare the great speeches of antiquity in point of logical accuracy, and to point out the manner in which the reasoning