Wellington

LORD ROSEBERY gives us the Last Phase of Napoleon. Sir Herbert Maxwell gives us a new Life of Wellington, in a notice of which the Quarterly Review, the last place in which we should have expected to see the Tory hero freely handled, gives us what has been paraphrased as the ungilding of the Iron Duke.

The two masters of war who met at Waterloo to decide the destinies of Europe were as strongly as possible contrasted in character. Napoleon, a man of extraordinary genius as well as of marvelous fortunes, was as devoid as it was possible for any human being to be of any idea of duty except that of the duty of others to himself, and as regardless as it was possible for any human being to be of the restraints of honor and of truth. Wellington can hardly be said to have been a man of genius, unless consummate good sense deserves that name ; but he never swerved from honor, never swerved from truth, never swerved from that which to him was the path — always rather a narrow and sometimes a mistaken path — of duty. The character of each man had, of course, been largely formed by his breeding and his surroundings. Wellington had been brought up at an English public school and among English gentlemen, who, with all their vices, were loyal and feared to lie. Napoleon was a Corsican who had taken service under the Jacobins, then under the Directory. He said himself that he had imbibed none of the revolutionary enthusiasm. Self - advancement, pure and simple, had been his guiding star.

Few would compare Wellington with Napoleon as a general. He can hardly be compared with Marlborough, of whom it was said that he “ never fought a battle which he did not win; never besieged a city which he did not take; never made a movement which was not successful.” Fuentes Onoro and Toulouse were doubtful victories, and Wellington besieged Burgos, but did not take it. Yet if it had been Napoleon’s lot, at the outset of his career, instead of the old Austrian generals with their wooden armies, to encounter Wellington or Suwarrow, it seems not certain what the sequel would have been. Wellington probably was not capable of such brilliant combinations as Napoleon, but he was cool, wary, and indomitable. Nor was he wanting in enterprise. It is unjust to say, as Thiers does, that he was capable only of defensive war. This could hardly be true of the man who forced the passage of the Douro, swooped like an eagle upon Marmont at Salamanca, marched through Spain, shattering the French army at Vittoria, forced the barrier of the Pyrenees, and stood victorious in southern France.

That war is hell Wellington knew as well as General Sherman. But in justice it must be said that he did what in him lay to keep it within the bounds of humanity. He is not responsible for the outrage which soldiers, maddened by the fury of storm, committed at Badajos and St. Sebastian.

Account must be taken of the political element in war power. Napoleon, Frederick the Great, Cæsar, Alexander, combining political supremacy with military command, had, as generals, a perfectly free hand. When Wellington said that Napoleon’s personal presence in Spain would be equal to twenty thousand men, what he meant was, that whereas the marshals were trammeled by superior authority or divided command, Napoleon’s war would be controlled by a single will, which would at the same time be master of all the resources of the state. Wellington had to contend with the attacks of the Opposition in Parliament and of its press, and with the shortcomings of the government, which, though it showed aristocratic tenacity by its persistence in the war, was feeble in its war policy and in its support of its commanders. His brother, Lord Wellesley, was a support to him. When all was over, Wellington loyally refused to lend his name to aspersions of the government. He even went so far as to bestow upon it high praise. But at the time he had bitter complaints to make, and bitter reason for making them. After Vimeiro, the fruits of victory were plucked from his grasp by the safe seniorities whom the government had put over the head of capacity. He had always to walk warily, and could hardly give his genius fair play, because there would have been nothing to sustain him if he had fallen. Napoleon answered for his miscarriages to nobody. After the Russian campaign and Leipsic he remained master. Nor had Wellington the power of promoting capacity even among those who served under him. He complained that he could not appoint a corporal. The provisional government of Spain, with which it was his hard lot to coöperate, was literally worse than worthless ; its conduct was so imbecile, so fatuous, and so faithless that Wellington’s self-control must have been adamantine, or it would utterly have broken down. Wellington had to see his men starving while the Spanish government had abundance of supplies. The Spanish generals were almost as bad as the government. Their conceit and fractiousness were equal to their incapacity. One of them, by a wayward act of disobedience, threw away half the fruits of Salamanca. Whatever there was heroic, patriotic, or even respectable in Spanish resistance had its seat, not in the government, the commanders, or the upper classes, but in the people. From that same quarter perhaps regeneration may one day come to Spain.

Carlyle’s description of the officers of the British army as valiant cocked hats upon a pole was generally applicable to those whom Wellington had under his command, though the trials of the war, forcing capacity to the front, gave him some able lieutenants, such as Crawfurd, Hardinge, Pakenham, and Graham. He was himself about the only man in the British army who had received even a smattering of military education. The officers generally, appointed by patronage, were wholly uninstructed, and, moreover, according to the fashion of the times, largely given to drinking. They often got their commissions when they were very young. A boy went at fourteen from Eton to Waterloo. His letter from the field to his mother was : “ Dear mamma, cousin John and I are all right. I never saw anything like it in my life.” It is true Wellington had no right to complain of the results of patronage, for he upheld the system on aristocratic grounds.

Macaulay, in his description of the battle of Landen, expatiates on the bodily infirmities of the two generals, William of Orange and Luxemburg, which he deems a striking proof of the extent to which strength of body had been superseded by powers of mind as the qualification for leadership in war. “ It is probable,” he says, “ that among the one hundred and twenty thousand soldiers who were marshaled round Neerwinden under all the standards of western Europe, the two feeblest in body were the hunchbacked dwarf who urged forward the fiery onset of France, and the asthmatic skeleton who covered the slow retreat of England.” A modern commander is not required, like Achilles or Ajax, to distinguish himself by his personal prowess; to wield arms which no other mortal could wield, or to hurl stones bigger than any other mortal could hurl. The telescope, to the general of to-day, is sword and spear ; his charger is a hack, though sculpture persists in representing its military subjects as bestriding rampant steeds. Still, a modern general must have physical vigor enough to sustain great and protracted exertion, bodily as well as mental. Napoleon, as Lord Rosebery tells us, had physical vigor enough to fight Alvinzi for five days without taking off his boots. His stomach, as the same authority assures us, was capable of enduring the severest trials. BrillatSavarin, in his Physiologie du Goût, has alluded to the unwholesome haste with which the great conqueror swallowed his meals.

In vigor Wellington vied with Napoleon. He started, Sir Herbert Maxwell tells us, at seven A. M., rode to a place twenty-eight miles distant, here held a review, and was back at the place from which he had started, for dinner, between four and five P. M. He galloped twenty-six miles and back to see whether damage had been done to a pontoon train. He rode seventeen miles in two hours from Freneda to Ciudad Rodrigo, where be dined, gave a ball, and supped ; was in the saddle again at three A. M. ; galloped back to Freneda by six, and was doing business again at noon. He rose regularly at six, and wrote till nine ; and after dinner wrote again from nine till twelve. It must be essential to every general, and indeed to every man who is bearing a heavy load of anxious business, to be a good sleeper. Napoleon was a first-rate sleeper ; so was Pitt; so was Brougham ; so was Mr. Gladstone ; so was Wellington. At Salamanca, Wellington, having given his order for the battle, said to his aide-de-camp: “ Watch the French through your glass, Fitzroy. I am going to take a rest. When they reach that copse near the gap in the hills, wake me.” Then he lay down, and was fast asleep in a minute. In the midst of the critical operations before Waterloo, feeling weary, he laid himself down, put a newspaper over his face, and took a nap. In the Pyrenees, an officer who had got into a dangerous position with his guns came to the commander in chief for advice, and found him sleeping, with a box for a pillow. Wellington told him he must get out of the scrape as well as he could, and in a moment was asleep again. As if his military exertions were not enough, Wellington kept a pack of hounds in the Peninsula, and keenly pursued the sport, provisions for which are curiously intermingled with the cares of a commander in chief. It is suggested that all the time his mind was at work on his campaign. But if it was, he must have exceeded in his powers of mental abstraction all other men who have followed a fox. It is remarkable that he never was a good rider, and when he rode with hounds in England he was often parted from his saddle. He did not like this to be noticed, and turned his back upon a friend who, seeing him thrown, came up to express his hope that he was not hurt. He made the mistake of riding across country in military fashion, with long stirrups. A farmer, one day, seeing him thrown, came up to him and said: “ I see yer Grace often parted from yer saddle. You should tak’ yer stirrups up shorter, and ride as I do.” The reply is not recorded.

It would be the height of imprudence in a civilian to touch the everlasting controversy about the Waterloo campaign. Wellington was reticent on the subject. It appears to be admitted that he had reasons for his reticence, and that it has never been thoroughly explained why, when all manifestly depended on the result of a pitched battle, he and Blücher allowed themselves to be caught apart. All critics seem agreed that if d’Erlon’s corps, on the day of Quatre Bras, instead of being bandied to and fro between Quatre Bras and Ligny, had been brought to bear on either of those fields, the result must have been disastrous to the Allies. It is generally admitted, also, that Wellington would have been in great peril had Napoleon, after Ligny, instead of lingering on the field and talking about Parisian politics, pressed on with the vigor and celerity of his early days. On the other hand, it is a platitude to say that Waterloo would not have been won by Wellington if the Prussians had not come up, since it was in well-founded assurance of Blücher’s junction with him that Wellington accepted battle. Wellington was certainly not taken by surprise. He knew that the enemy had passed the Sambre and was advancing. But he admitted that Napoleon had “ humbugged ” him ; that is, probably, that he had been deceived as to Napoleon’s line of advance. Blame is laid on the Prussian General Zieten, who, it is said, left Wellington for twelve hours without the intelligence which he ought to have given.

In numbers there was no great disparity between the two armies, but in other respects the disparity was great, and allowance must always be made for Wellington on that ground. Napoleon’s seventy-one thousand men were all Frenchmen, and probably as good soldiers as he had ever commanded. Of Wellington’s sixty-seven thousand, twenty-four thousand only were British, and of these a part were raw. The rest was made up of other nationalities, including seventeen thousand Dutch Belgians, who were untrustworthy, and most of whom ran away. An attempt has been made to rehabilitate the Dutch Belgians on the strength of their returns of killed ; but it seems that in the killed they included the missing. Napoleon was vastly superior to Wellington in artillery, having two hundred and forty-six guns, while Wellington had only a hundred and fifty-six. He was greatly superior, also, in cavalry.

It is pretty evident that Wellington, at the critical juncture, felt that the situation was grave. Nevertheless he kept his head, remained cool as usual, and when he felt sleepy could take his nap. That on the evening before the battle he rode from Waterloo to Blücher’s headquarters, to receive from Blücher an assurance of support, is a story long current, but evidently without foundation. It is “ a lie with a circumstance; ” for a part of it is that when, after the long ride, Wellington, dismounting from his horse, Copenhagen, gave the horse a slap on the flank, Copenhagen showed his bottom and mettle by kicking at him. Copenhagen ended his days as a discharged veteran, in a paddock at Strathfieldsaye. His portrait hung on the wall in the mansion. A visitor asked Wellington’s heir whether that was not Copenhagen. “ Yes,” was the irreverent answer, “ a d-d low-shouldered brute.” Copenhagen was a half Arab, and horses of that breed, it is believed, are apt to be low in the shoulder.

Wellington freely exposed his person at Waterloo, had narrow escapes, and was forced to take refuge in a square. When a cannon shot took off Lord Fitzroy Somerset’s right arm, he was riding with his left arm touching the duke’s right. When Lord Uxbridge lost his leg, the cannon shot passed over the withers of Copenhagen. “ By God, I’ve lost my leg! ” cried Uxbridge. “ Have you, by God ? ” was the duke’s reply. 41 The finger of Providence,” he afterward said, 44 was upon me, and I escaped unhurt.” His biographer observes that this is one of the very few cases in which he paid the Almighty the compliment of a pious reference, though he often swore by his name.

The late Lady Dukinfield, niece of Crawfurd, Wellington’s commissary general, and named “ la belle Anglaise,” — justly, as all who see her portrait will own, — was one of the last two survivors of the ball at Brussels. Her memory remained perfectly clear. Her testimony was conclusive as to the fact that the advance of the French was known at the ball, and that the duke had wished the ball to take place to prevent a stampede such as afterward occurred at Brussels. On the day of Waterloo, she, with her father, who was a diplomatist, was dining with the Prince de Condé, when news came that the British had been totally defeated, and the French were advancing on Brussels. The prince at once left the table, and ordered his carriage. Lady Dukinfield’s father hurried her to their lodgings, and ordered his. But the horses had been stolen. Later in the day they got horses, and were on their road to Ghent when authentic news arrived of the British victory. The road, Lady Dukinfield said, was crowded with fugitives. The scare is commonly ascribed to the rush into Brussels of Dutch-Belgian runaways from the field. Another account is that a portion of d’Erlon’s corps, having been taken prisoners early in the day, were passed to the British rear, and being seen in their French uniforms on the Brussels road, were supposed to have carried the British position.

It never occurred to the writer to ask Lady Dukinfield where the ball had taken place, he not supposing that there could be any doubt upon the subject. Since her death there has been a controversy on the question. Some have supposed that it was held in a great loft over a coach house. But if this had been the case, Byron, who must have known, could hardly have made “ Brunswick’s fated chieftain ” sit “ within a windowed niche of that high hall,” — a phrase inapplicable to a loft over a coach house.

As a statesman, Wellington is generally held to have been a failure, and he is cited as a notable example of the unfitness of camp training for political life. Curiously enough, he is the only military Prime Minister that England, an old war power, has ever had, for Stanhope, though a soldier, was not distinguished in war; while in the United States, an industrial community, military distinction has made several Presidents, and the other day was not far from putting Admiral Dewey, without any civil qualification, at the head of the state. Wellington, however, was no mere son of the camp. In his earlier days he had sat in Parliament and had been Irish Secretary. In the Peninsula he had proved himself a first-rate administrator and man of business, and had shown great diplomatic skill and temper in his dealings with the Spanish and Portuguese governments. More than this, as a European statesman he had played a leading part in the resettlement of Europe after the overthrow of Napoleon, and had enjoyed in a supreme degree the confidence of the allied sovereigns, who continued to pay the utmost deference to his judgment. The wisdom of his European policy, which was undoubtedly Bourbonist and Tory, is a different question. If he erred, as the sequel certainly showed that he did, he erred not only with Metternich and Pozzo di Borgo, but with Talleyrand. Nor was he the most reactionary of that conclave. His good sense penetrated their hypocrisy and repelled their chimeras. When, under the inspiration of the sentimental Czar, they proposed to reorganize the world on Christian principles, his answer was that the British Parliament would require something more distinct. When victory brought him into the South of France, he steadfastly refused to declare for the Bourbons, or to accept any advances of their party, before the question of resettlement had been determined by the Allies. He never gave way to military ambition, or did anything to inflame the military spirit. His foreign policy as a minister was pacific, and he strongly opposed the fatal Afghan war.

Some time before his acceptance of the premiership, he had said that he would be mad if he ever did accept it, — a declaration which, when he had become Premier, his adversaries did not allow him to forget. But this was little more than an exaggerated disclaimer of ambitious intentions at the time. His fame as well as his popularity would probably have gained if he had never left the Horse Guards for Downing Street. He was by no means inclined to sabre sway ; suspicions of that kind were wholly unfounded. He was thoroughly loyal to the constitution as he conceived it, and to the supremacy of the civil power. But he was accustomed to military methods of dealing with situations and with men. Though not a political reactionist, like Polignac, whom he regarded as a fool, he was a thoroughgoing Tory, and an opponent of all change, upon the eve of an inevitable reform. Nor did he ever clearly recognize the existence of parliamentary government. He always regarded himself as the servant of the crown, — not of the people ; and he was ready, at the call of loyalty to the crown, to hold or assume office in the most desperate situation against the declared will of the nation and the principles of the parliamentary constitution. On the other hand, he had the good sense, unlike Croker and the more fanatical reactionists, to accept the new order of things, and, in coöperation with Peel, to use his supremacy in the House of Lords for the purposes of inculcating submission to the inevitable and averting dangerous collisions. This he did notably in regard to the questions of municipal reform, reform of the Poor Law, and afterward of the Repeal of the Corn Laws. His power over the House of Lords was almost absolute. In those days of voting by proxy he had sixty proxies in his own pocket. The wave of his baton was enough. To an anxious inquiry as to the probable fate of Catholic Emancipation, when it went up from the Commons to the Lords, the answer was : “ There is no fear; the command will be given, 1 Attention ! Dress ! Right about face ! March ! ’ and the thing will be done.” As it happened, Wellington’s military habits proved, in a certain sense, advantageous to him as a statesman. Recognizing Peel as his commander in chief, he was ready to do what Peel pronounced necessary, even against his own sentiments and convictions. This he did on the great issue of the Repeal of the Corn Laws, clothing his submission in his usual phrase, that the question was, “ not about the Corn Law or any other law, but how the Queen’s government was to be carried on.”

Though a ready writer, the duke was not a ready speaker, and in debate was much beholden to the reporters. Those who have little command of language are apt to say sometimes less, sometimes more, than they mean. Wellington probably said more than he meant when, at a critical juncture of the question of parliamentary reform, the true policy of his party being the introduction of a moderate measure, he, excited in debate, vehemently declared that the constitution was as perfect as the wit of men could make it; that if he were called upon to frame a constitution, that was the constitution which he would frame ; and that he would oppose to the uttermost any sort of change. He did not himself understand the sensation which he had made, and when he sat down asked Lord Aberdeen what it meant. Lord Aberdeen replied with words and a gesture of despair.

This, however, must be said with regard to his opposition to parliamentary reform : that he did, at all events, in his antiquated way, look into the heart of the matter. He asked how, when the sweeping change had been made, the Queen’s government was to be carried on. That was a question with which even a political philosopher like Macaulay forgot to deal, while he proved with brilliant lucidity that it was absurd to give representatives to Gatton and Old Sarum when they were denied to Manchester and Birmingham.

Wellington’s resistance to Catholic Emancipation did not arise from religious bigotry ; it was purely political. There was therefore no violation of conscience in his concession. Nor can he be truly said to have been swayed by fear ; that was not his weak point. He must have known that he had the means of physical resistance. But he saw that the state of things could not last, and, like a man of sense, gave way. As Irish Secretary, he had deplored the divided state of Ireland, and had dwelt strongly on the necessity for union of parties, though he failed to see that the first condition of union was justice.

Though devoted to the service of the crown, which may be said almost to have been his religion, the duke was no courtier. He thoroughly despised George IV., whose unveracity must have been particularly hateful to him. The story was current that the King, in his last years, became the dupe of his own inventive imagination so far as to fancy that he had commanded a regiment at Waterloo, and used to appeal to the duke for confirmation ; and that the duke used to reply, “ So your Majesty has often told me.”

The belief that Canning had been slyly insinuating himself into the good graces of George IV., with a view to the premiership, was probably the main cause of Wellington’s quarrel with him. The duke showed himself on this occasion, as he too often did, captious and suspicious. It must be owned, on the other hand, that in Canning there was, with all his brilliant qualities and titles to admiration, a certain tendency to intrigue. Nothing could be more uncongenial to the duke, who might have said with Achilles that he hated like hell the man who uttered one thing, and had another in his mind.

From Peel, also, Wellington was for some time estranged, though there was no quarrel. Both were somewhat touchy and suspicious. There was, however, a perfect reconciliation in the end. Wellington’s hearty acceptance of Peel as a leader, and loyal coöperation with him, after having been Premier himself, are a fine trait in his character. The continuance of his military supremacy would no doubt help to reconcile him to his political subordination.

A high aristocrat, in a certain sense, Wellington was, but it was not as a duke ; it was as an English gentleman, a member of that social caste. “ More than all I am an English gentleman,” was his winding up of his list of titles to consideration, when he suspected an affront. The badge and the religious obligation of that caste, when its honor was touched, was dueling. Pitt fought Tierney ; Canning fought Castlereagh ; and Wellington, when his honor seemed to be questioned by Winchelsea called him out. But on the last occasion dueling, at least between people of that rank, was nearly out of date.

The unpopularity caused by the duke’s resistance to parliamentary reform soon passed away, when his good sense had led him to accept the change and make the best of the new system. He became once more a national idol. Only the iron shutters which had been put up at Apsley House, to prevent the windows from being broken by the mob, remained monuments of former unpleasantness, and mute protests on the duke’s part against popular injustice. Looking out from the windows of Apsley House, he could behold his equestrian statue surmounting the arch at the top of Constitution Hill. A Frenchman seeing that statue might have felt that Waterloo was avenged.

Wellington was wholly devoid of literary interests and sympathies. There has seldom been a more ridiculous piece of servility than that of which the Tory University of Oxford was guilty in electing him its chancellor. To mark the absurdity, at his inauguration he put on his academical cap wrong side before, and made false quantities in reading his Latin speech. He paid the penalty of his incongruous elevation by being, to use his own phrase, “ much exposed to literary men,” who pelted him with their dedications and petitions. He was equally devoid of taste. The church at Strathfieldsaye, which is in the park, had been put up by the former owner, Lord Rivers. It was a strange cruciform structure, in a highly unecclesiastical style, surmounted by a cupola. The duke’s nephew, Gerald Wellesley, was the rector. Being a man of ecclesiastical tastes, he had often begged the duke to put up something more like a church ; but the duke had always refused. At last, one day, at luncheon, after service, the duke said : “ Gerald, I begin to think you are right. That building does not look like a church. I ’ll tell you what I ’ll do : I ’ll put a steeple upon it.” Gerald recurred no more to the subject.

Once, at least, Wellington said a good thing. When he first went to the court of Louis XVIII., the French marshals whom he had defeated turned their backs upon him. The King apologized for their rudeness. “ Never mind, your Majesty,” replied Wellington ; “ they have got into the habit, and they can’t get out of it.”

As a writer, however, the duke was, in his own line, excellent. A selection of his papers may be read with advantage, not by military men alone. They bring you into contact with a strong character, thoroughly upright and veracious, a clear intelligence, and firmness of purpose, all expressing themselves in a calm but vigorous style.

The quantity which he wrote in miscellaneous correspondence and otherwise, we are told by Sir Herbert Maxwell, was astounding. Mr. Croker having sent him a number of pamphlets on foreign affairs, with a request for his criticism, the duke replied on sixty sides of large letter paper. It is computed that he used up hundredweights of giltedged letter and note paper, the drafts being duly retained, indorsed, and filed, usually in his own handwriting. To an unknown quack who sent him a box of salves he replies : —

SIR, — I have received your letter and the box of salves, etc., which you have sent me. This last will be returned to you by the coach of Monday. I beg you to accept my best thanks for your attention. I think that you and I have some reason to complain of the Editors of Newspapers. One of them thought proper to publish an account of me, that I was affected by a Rigidity of the Muscles of the Face. You have decided that the disorder must be Tic douloureux, for which you send me your salve as a remedy. I have no disorder in my face. I am affected by the Lumbago or Rheumatism in my Loins, shoulders, neck, and back, a disorder to which many are liable who have passed days and nights exposed to the Weather in bad Climates. I am attended by the best medical Advisers in England, and I must attend to their advice. I cannot make use of Salves sent to me by a Gentleman however respectable of whom I know nothing, and who knows nothing of the Case excepting what he reads in the Newspapers.

To a lady who sent a box to Apsley House the reply is : —

WALMER CASTLE, 3rd November, 1849.

Field Marshal the Duke of Wellington presents his compliments to Miss Jane Fyffe. He has this morning received in a deal box her letter of 3rd October. He has long been under the necessity of preventing his house being made the deposit of all the trash that is manufactured or made up. Giving money is one thing — receiving into his house all the trash made up is quite a different one ! To the latter he will not submit. He invariably returns everything sent to his house without his previous permission, if he can discover the mode of doing so. But there is no direct communication between this place and Edinburgh. The deal case was brought down here from the duke’s house in London, the duke is ignorant in what manner. He desires Miss Fyffe to inform him in what manner it is to be returned to Edinburgh. He gives notice that if he does not receive an answer by return of post, the box and its contents will be thrown into the fire. He will not allow things to be sent to his house without his previous consent.

It is difficult to understand how a powerful mind can have stooped to such trivialities. But the most astonishing thing of all is the correspondence with Miss Jenkins. Miss Jenkins was a young lady, fashionably educated, beautiful, emotional, and a religious zealot. Having converted a murderer, she thought she had a mission to convert public characters, and first of all the duke. The result was a correspondence, alternating with interviews, of a most absurd and twaddling kind, which lasted for seventeen years. Doubts have naturally been raised as to the authenticity of the letters ; but Sir Herbert Maxwell is satisfied the letters are authentic. As the duke was far from religious, the only explanation suggested is amatory, and he was certainly weak on that side. Failing intellect must also surely have played a part.

There is not much character in his handwriting; at last it grew illegible. He wrote to his household at Strathfieldsaye, bidding them get from the neighboring town, Reading, something, — the word for which they could not read, — and put it up before his arrival. His household, fearing to tell him that his writing was illegible, imitated the mysterious word as well as they could, and said that it was not to be had in Reading; whereupon there came down from London a set of bell ropes.

His irreligion once brought upon him a pastoral exhortation from Dr. Philpotts, the Bishop of Exeter, whose own religion was rather pugilistic. The duke replied at length and in a style of Christian humility ; saying that he was not ostentatious or a Bible Society man, but that he gave large sums in charity, and went to church wherever his presence could operate as an example, — never being absent from divine service at Walmer, or at Strathfieldsaye, or in any place in the country where his presence or absence could be observed. The last place at which the present writer saw him was at the door of Strathfieldsaye church, after service. One of the party told him of the death of an old general who had served with him. He looked for a moment rather grave, as if he felt that death had knocked at his own door. Then he cheered up, said, “ Ah ! He was a very old man,” put his arm in that of Lady Douro, and stumped away with an air of physical reassurance. A religious enthusiast he was far enough from being. Recommending his old army chaplain for preferment, he said that Methodism had more than once broken out in his army, but, by the judicious exertions of his chaplain, had been suppressed. He did not know how Methodists had fought at Fontenoy.

The duke had no sentiment and little affection. As a husband and father he was cold. His marriage had been one of honor. As a youth, in Ireland, he had won the heart of a very pretty but frivolous girl. After twelve years of absence abroad, he came back to find her, as he was assured by a matchmaking lady, waiting for him, though she had rejected him before, and to renew the offer of his hand. That her beauty had been marred by the smallpox seems not to have been the fact; but it was the sort of beauty that would be greatly marred by years. As much affection as he could feel for anybody he felt for his daughter-in-law, Lady Douro. Female connections he had, and this is a part of his life over which biographers throw a veil. Allowance must be made for the habits of the eighteenth century, in which his notions had been formed. The most unamiable feature of his character, and the most aristocratic in the worst sense, was his want of feeling for the soldiers to whom he owed so much. He would even speak of them in almost brutal terms, as a pack of vagabonds who cared for nothing but drink, and could be kept in order only by the fear of corporal punishment. They naturally, while they thoroughly trusted him, and hailed the appearance of his hooked nose as a pledge of victory, loved him not. During his long reign at the Horse Guards he did little to promote their comfort, which very greatly needed promoting. He stood up obstinately till the last for the brutal and degrading punishment of the lash, which was carried to an extent incredibly cruel, and which experience has since shown to have been totally needless. He failed to see that the practice must deter decent men from enlisting. In his parsimony of medals and military decorations there may have been more reason. He was laughed at for saying that you would have every fellow trying to distinguish himself. But what he meant was sensible enough : it was that, in striving after individual distinction, men would cease to be faithful to the common plan. There were, in fact, instances of this, if we were not misinformed, in the American Civil War. There was something, at all events, to be said for parsimony, against the prodigality which at present prevails. Medals are now solicited and given for a campaign without an enemy, and even for a defeat in a petty skirmish.

Wellington’s personal tastes and habits, like those of most great men, were very simple. He cared not for show or pomp of any kind. Instead of building a counterpart of Blenheim, for which money had been voted, he bought and improved Strathfieldsaye, a common country gentleman’s house. In his diet he was very abstemious, even to the injury, it appears, of his health. He of course kept a first-rate French cook for his guests. The cook, it was said, one day suddenly resigned. The duke, in astonishment, asked the reason. Was his salary insufficient? “No, my salary is very handsome. But I am not appreciated. I cook your dinner myself, — a dinner fit for a king. You say nothing. I go out and leave the undercook to cook your dinner. He gives you a dinner fit for a pig. You say nothing. I am not appreciated. I must go.”

The duke punctually fulfilled every duty of life, that of country gentleman among the rest. When, business permitting, he came down to Strathfieldsaye, he entertained his neighbors, visited the gentry, and showed himself to his people. Familiar to the present writer, who lived in the next parish, is the figure of the F. M., with a little cape over his shoulders, riding about, making his calls and leaving his cards of ample size. As a landlord, he was not only upright, but generous in his dealings. Being told that he could buy a farm which jutted into his domain, and which he had desired, at a low price, in consequence of the pecuniary embarrassments of the owner, he answered that he did not want to take advantage of any man’s pecuniary embarrassments, and directed that a fair price should be given for the farm.

At the time of the railway mania, he did not, like too many landowning members of Parliament, notably of the House of Lords, use his parliamentary influence to extort compensation for damage. He did exact a condition, which was that there should be no station within four miles of his house. This was wrong, and hard upon his poorer neighbors, who lost their stage, but it was not blackmail.

His last years as commander in chief were a senile autocracy which it would have been thought profane to disturb, though it was fatal to improvement, and had partly to answer for the breakdown in the Crimean War. When a regiment was going out to fight Kaffirs in the bush, he met the proposal to arm it with the new rifles by saying that he had done well enough with Brown Bess at Waterloo. He did not like to feel that he was growing old. His hunting stud was still kept up at Strathfieldsaye, and nobody was allowed to ride the horses but himself. When the hounds met at his place, as they did when he entertained the judges, he got upon a hunter and rode to cover. He was offended when, on account of his age, his name was omitted from the royal hunting parties.

Though he had been long declining, his death made a profound sensation. He was buried with immense pomp, which somehow rather failed to express the sentiment. Many thought that the huge catafalque was less suitable for a hero than a gun carriage. A. P. Stanley, whose taste for the moral and historical picturesque was supreme, said that the only part of the ceremony which greatly touched him was the last wave of the plume on the cocked hat, as the coffin, on which the hat lay, was lowered into the vault. It seemed to wave the farewell of a world.

Goldwin Smith.