'He was in the best of spirits, genial and sans cérémonie; in fact, just like a genuine country squire.'
IN TH0SE WINTER months of 1811 when the fighting died away and the guns were silent, Wellington remained with his army in Portugal. He showed no inclination to go home as so many of his senior officers had done from time to time: he had, after all, no pressing reason to return, no one whom he could not wait patiently to see again, no brother or sister whom he sorely missed, nor wife whom he longed to hold in his arms.
To those who did want to go home, he listened without much sympathy, whether it was business that called them, or family ties or illness. One morning when James McGrigor was with him and he was in a particularly bad humour after listening to various gloomy reports from the heads of other departments, two officers came in to request leave to go to England. 'One of them, an officer in the Engineers, first made his request; he had received letters informing him that his wife was dangerously ill, and that the whole of his family were sick. His Lordship quickly replied, "No, no, Sir! I cannot at all spare you at this moment." The captain, with a mournful face and submissive bow retired. A general officer of a noble family next advanced, saying, "My, Lord, I have of late been suffering much from rheumatism --" Without allowing him time to proceed further, Wellington rapidly said, "And you must go to England to get cured of it. By all means. Go there immediately." The general, surprised at his Lordship's tone and manner, looked abashed, while he made a profound bow; but to prevent his saying anything in explanation, his Lordship immediately addressed me.' 1
Wellington had no objection to officers going off to Lisbon for a day or two; once cheerfully giving leave to an officer to do so for forty-eight hours 'which is as long as any reasonable man can wish to stay in bed with the same woman'. 2 But when he received a letter from England