Wellington: A Personal History

By Christopher Hibbert | Go to book overview

9 Return to London 1805-6

'What, child! do you think that I have nothing better to do than to make speeches to please ladies?'

MAJOR-GENERAL Sir Arthur Wellesley sailed home in the Trident, walking briskly about the deck in the morning, reading the novels he had bought in Madras in the afternoon, writing papers on farming and famines in India and on the possible uses of Indian troops in the West Indies and of West Indian slaves in India. He went ashore at St Helena where he was much taken with the beauty of the island, its 'delightful climate' and much amazed by the Governor, a most eccentric gentleman 'of a description that must have been extinct for nearly two centuries'. Sir Arthur had never seen 'anything like his wig or his coat'. 1

The Trident reached England in September 1805; and the General listened eagerly to detailed accounts of what had happened in the world in his absence. He heard and read about the Treaty of St Petersburg by which Britain and Russia, later joined by Austria, had agreed to form a European coalition for the liberation of the northern German states; he learned that Napoleon, who had assumed the title of Emperor the year before, had been crowned King of Italy in Milan Cathedral, that the soldiers of the Grande Armée had abandoned their camps around Boulogne and, turning their backs on the English Channel, had marched towards the Danube, and that Lord Nelson had chased a French fleet under Admiral Pierre de Villeneuve across the Atlantic to the West Indies and back again, forcing Villeneuve to seek shelter in Cadiz.

One of his obligations on landing was to settle his debts now that he was in a position to do so, being in possession of what he called 'a little fortune'. Already in India he had been generous in his unaccustomed wealth, lending over 9,000 rupees to the son of an old friend, a junior employee of the East India Company, who had got himself into trouble by extravagance in bad company. Now, so George Elers

-47-

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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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