'There is nothing so improper as for one government to interfere in the internal affairs of another.'
BEFORE HE LEFT for the Continent the Duke had a duty to perform as Master-General of the Ordnance, an office which required him to supervise the Army's equipment, armaments, fortifications and barracks. Various howitzers were to be tested at the beginning of August and his presence was required by the Artillery. There had been a deafening explosion dangerously close to where the Duke was standing and a month later he was still suffering from earache and a ringing, such as that caused by tinnitus, in his left ear. Wellington's physician was Dr J.R. Hume, the uncomfortably hearty Scotsman now living in Curzon Street who had served with distinction in the Peninsular War and at Waterloo. Hume, unable to cure the complaint himself, called in Dr John Stevenson, a well-known aurist who had been apprenticed to his father, a surgeon, at the age of sixteen and had attended both Queen Caroline and the Duke of Saxe-Coburg. Stevenson treated the Duke's ear with so strong a caustic solution that the patient suffered such distress from inflammation for forty-eight hours that he could neither sleep nor eat. 'I don't think I ever suffered so much in my life,' he said. 'It was not pain: it was something far worse. The sense of hearing became so acute that I wished myself stone deaf. The noise of a carriage passing along the street was like the loudest thunder, and everybody that spoke seemed to be shrieking at the very top of his voice.'1
Dr Hume called the next morning and was shown into the Duke's room where he found his patient sitting at his table, 'unshaved and unwashed with blood-shot eyes and a flushed cheek and he observed that when he rose he staggered like a drunken man. His whole appearance, indeed, to use Dr Hume's expression, "was that of one who had recovered from a terrible debauch?".' 2
'Indeed, I never was so unwell,' he wrote to Mrs Arbuthnot when he was slightly better. 'I do not remember before in my life having