Wellington: A Personal History

By Christopher Hibbert | Go to book overview

44 Grand Old Man 1839-50

'There is not an affair of any kind in which I am not required to be a party.'

AS WELL AS OPPOSING the Government when he felt that opposition was called for, the Duke continued to write reports and memoranda for their guidance upon matters on which he considered himself to be peculiarly or uniquely qualified to speak. He had not been at all disposed to take a Cabinet post of any sort again, though when the Queen asked him if he would consider becoming Foreign minister, ha had intimated that his sense of duty might oblige him to undertake such a responsiblity. Would not the work be too much for him? the Queen wondered. 'I' m able to do anything,' he said as he always did when his health and strength were questioned.

He was thankful, though, that he had not been required to take up office again. As it was, he was still constantly being bothered and badgered by people who wanted his help or advice in one way or another. 'I am the Duke of Wellington,' he was much given to complaining, 'and an officer of the army. But there is not an affair of any kind in which I am not required to be a party . . . There is not an Individual who wants anything of any description; particularly money, who does not apply to me for it. If a church or chapel, Glebe or School House or even Pagoda is to be built, I must patronise and subscribe for it: the same for Canals, Rail Roads, Harbours . . . Rest! Every other animal -- even a donkey, a costermonger's donkey -- is allowed some rest, but the Duke of Wellington never! There is no help for it. As long as I am able to go on, they will put the saddle upon my back and make me go . . . Every Animal in the creation is allowed some relaxation from Exertion . . . except for the Duke of Wellington . . . It is like everything else. Nobody else will do it. The Duke of Wellington must . . . They forget that the Duke of Wellington has only one pair of eyes, and only a certain number of hours in the day like other people

-357-

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