Wellington: A Personal History

Wellington: A Personal History

Wellington: A Personal History

Wellington: A Personal History

Synopsis

A brilliant general, remembered most for his defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo, Wellington was also a politician of commanding presence. Elected Prime Minister in 1827, he was an influential adviser to kings and queens, and became deeply involved in all the major scandals of the time, delighting in mixing himself up in other people's affairs. Celebrated for his sardonic humor and savage rages which alternated with irresistible charm, he concealed a deep humanity behind a veneer of aloofness that gained him the sobriquet "the Iron Duke". Filled with fresh insights on aspects of Wellington's life and character, Christopher Hibbert has shown once again why he is one of our finest popular historians.

Excerpt

'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'. 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 . . .

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