His corruption, his mean submission to a tyrant wife, his greed, his pale face and lean person, which had succeeded to the handsome features and comeliness of earlier days,' were the subject of ridicule, f:om the witty sneers of Halifax to the coarse jests of the anonymous writers of innumerable lampoons.
Voltaire (Dictionnaire Philosoplzique, " Quaker," " Toleration ") described the body, which attracted his curiosity, his sympathy and his sneers, with all his brilliance.
A charming style, a vivid fancy, exhaustive research, were not to be expected from a hard-worked barrister; but he must certainly be held responsible for the frequent plagiarisms, the still more frequent inaccuracies of detail, the colossal vanity which obtrudes on almost every page,'the hasty insinuations against the memory of the great departed who were to him as giants, and the petty sneers which he condescends to print against his own contemporaries, with whom he was living from day to day on terms of apparently sincere friendship.
The best-known specimen of Pitt's eloquence, his reply to the sneers of Horatio Walpole at his youth and declamatory manner,which has found a place in somanyhandbooks of elocution, is evidently, in form at least, the work, not of Pitt, but of Dr Johnson, who furnished the report to the Gentleman's Magazine.
He neither sneers nor rages; the rire immense which distinguishes him is altogether good-natured; but he is nearer to Lucian than to Swift, and Lucian is perhaps the author whom it is most necessary to know in order to understand him rightly.