'I really believe that there is not a youth in
London who could enjoy the world more than
HAVING EXPRESSED strong reservations about the whole concept of the Exhibition, the Duke was pleased to be able to say that, while the show's usefulness might still be questioned, it was certain that 'nothing could be more successful'. He went to it frequently himself, on the last occasion getting 'such a rubbing, scrubbing and mashing' from the other visitors that he expected at 'every moment to be crushed' and had to be saved by the police. 1 He was fascinated by the strange exhibits, the ingenious inventions, the collapsible piano, the knife with three hundred blades and the assorted timepieces.
He was particularly interested in clocks and watches, and always had six or seven ticking away in his room. He was particularly fond of three of his watches: one was an old English one which had belonged to Tippu Sultan, another had been Marshal Junot's, the third, with a map of Spain on the back, had been made by the Swiss watchmaker Abraham Louis Bréguet for Napoleon who gave it to his brother Joseph. Bréguet, who was always a welcome visitor at Apsley House, made him a watch with small knobs on the dial by which he could tell the time without giving offence by taking it out of his pocket. 2
Intrigued as he always was by such contraptions as were displayed in the Crystal Palace, he was extremely wary of newfangled inventions which upset the traditional tenor of the country's life. He could not bear railways, for example, and railed against them often in his letters to his lady friends.
In my opinion people never acted so foolishly as we did in allowing
of the Destruction of our excellent and commodious [post roads] in
order to expend Millions Sterling on these Rail Roads! [he wrote to
Miss Angela Burdett-Coutts, who was investing heavily in them in
September 1848]. It appears to me to be the Vulgarest, most indelicate,