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First Impressions: Edmund Burke on William Pitt the Younger

William Pitt the Elder, Earl of Chatham, Tory MP for Old Sarum, statesman and war leader had a brilliant and precocious son who at the age of 24 became Britain's youngest ever Prime Minister, writes Catriona Luke.

It was just two years before, in 1781, that William Pitt the Younger entered Parliament. His reputation had gone before him and the House was keen to get the measure of him.

On 26 February 1781 he was called, out of the blue, to make his maiden speech. He rose without a trace of nerves and spoke fluently and persuasively, silencing a boisterous Commons in minutes and concluding to deafening applause. Charles James Fox and Lord North of the Whig Opposition ran to congratulate him; Edmund Burke, the political philosopher and Whig MP, remarked to a neighbour: