Wellington: A Personal History

By Christopher Hibbert | Go to book overview

1 Eton, Dublin and Angers 1769-87

'My ugly boy Arthur is food for powder and nothing more.'

AMONG THE new boys whose baggage was set down at the gates of Eton in the autumn of 1781 were two of the five sons of the first Earl of Mornington. The elder, the Hon. Arthur Wesley, was twelve years old, the younger, Gerald, was nine. Neither had yet shown much aptitude for scholarship and they were not expected to shine at Eton in the glittering manner of their eldest brother, Richard, who had mastered Greek and Latin with equal facility, had, afterwards at Oxford, won the Chancellor's Prize for Latin Verse, and would, no doubt, have taken an excellent degree had not the early death of his father necessitated his presence at home.

His father, Garret Wesley, Lord Mornington, had not been a practical man. Descendant of an ancient English family which had been settled in Ireland for generations, he had been a member of the Irish House of Commons before passing to the Irish House of Lords. But he had been more interested in music than in politics. His own father, Richard Colley Wesley, had been a musician of sorts, playing the violin quite well, so it was said, 'for a gentleman'. 1 There was an organ in the hall of the Wesleys' country house, Dangan Castle, in the county of Meath, another organ in the chapel there and a harpsichord in the breakfast room. But Richard Colley Wesley had been essentially an amateur, whereas his son, a composer as well as performer from his early youth, had been able to take his place among the virtuosi of Dublin's musical world and had been appointed Professor of Music at Trinity College. His godmother, Mary Delany, however, while acknowledging Garret Wesley's musical talents, found him rather deficient in 'the punctilios of good breeding', and had consequently been much gratified when he announced that he was to marry Lady Louisa Augusta Lennox, daughter of the second Duke of Richmond. Unfortunately,

-3-

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Wellington: A Personal History
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations vii
  • Author's Note and Acknowledgements xi
  • I - 1769-1815 1
  • 1 - Eton, Dublin and Angers 1769-87 3
  • 2 - An Officer in the 33rd 1787-93 9
  • 3 - The First Campaign 1794-5 13
  • 4 - A Voyage to India 1796-8 17
  • 5 - The Tiger of Mysore 1799 23
  • 6 - The Governor of Mysore 1799 30
  • 7 - The Sultan's Palace 1800-1 36
  • 8 - Assaye 1802-5 41
  • 9 - Return to London 1805-6 47
  • 10 - Kitty Pakenham 1790-1806 54
  • 11 - Ireland and Denmark 1806-7 58
  • 12 - Portugal 1808 66
  • 13 - Board of Enquiry 1808 77
  • 14 - Across the Douro 1809 82
  • 15 - 'A Whole Host of Marshals' 1809 - 10 92
  • 16 - From Bussaco to El Bodon 1810-11 101
  • 17 - Life at Headquarters 1810-12 108
  • 18 - Badajoz, Salamanca and Madrid 1812 117
  • 19 - Retreat to Portugal 1812 126
  • 20 - From Vitoria to the Frontier 1812-13 133
  • 21 - St Jean De Luz 1813 144
  • 22 - In London Again 1814 151
  • 23 - Paris and Vienna 1814-15 160
  • 24 - Brussels 1815 167
  • 25 - Waterloo 1815 174
  • II - 1815-52 187
  • 26 - The Ambassador 1815 189
  • 27 - Cambrai and Vitry 1815-18 202
  • 28 - Stratfield Saye 1818-20 213
  • 29 - King George IV and Queen Caroline 1820-1 220
  • 30 - Husband and Wife 1821 226
  • 31 - Vienna and Verona 1822-4 241
  • 32 - St Petersburg and the Northern Counties 1825 - 7 251
  • 33 - The Prime Minister 1828-9 264
  • 34 - Battersea Fields and Scotland Yard 273
  • 35 - The Death of the King 1829-30 278
  • 36 - Riots and Repression 1830-2 287
  • 37 - A Bogy to the Mob 1832 296
  • 38 - Oxford University and Apsley House 1832-4 306
  • 39 - Lady Friends 1834 313
  • 40 - The Foreign Secretary 1834-6 319
  • 41 - Portraits and Painters 1830-50 326
  • 42 - Life at Walmer Castle 1830-50 338
  • 43 - The Young Queen 1837-9 348
  • 44 - Grand Old Man 1839-50 357
  • 45 - The Horse Guards and the House of Lords 1842-50 367
  • 46 - Hyde Park Corner 1845-6 373
  • 47 - Disturbers of the Peace 1846-51 378
  • 48 - Growing Old 1850-1 385
  • 49 - Last Days 1851-2 394
  • 50 - The Way to St Paul's 1852 399
  • References 405
  • Sources 426
  • Index 439
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