I am happy that you are using this web site and hope that you found it useful. Unfortunately, the cost of making this material freely available is increasing, so if you have found the site useful and would like to contribute towards its continuation, I would greatly appreciate it. Click the button to go to Paypal and make a donation.
Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington, was born in Dublin in 1769. He had little interest in education and in order to find something which "poor Arthur" could do, his parents purchased a commission for him in the British army in 1787. Wellington seemed to be in favour of Catholic Emancipation as early as 1793, when he took his seat in the Irish Parliament as Member for Trim, in Co. Meath. Two of his speeches early that year deal with the subject of Catholics and their rights. The first was in January, soon after he had taken his seat.
Wellington served in Europe and in 1797 his regiment was sent to India where his brother became Governor General later that year. In India, Wellington saw active service until he returned home in 1805. He sat as an MP for Rye between 1806 and 1809, becoming Irish Secretary in 1807.
In 1809 he was sent to assume command in Portugal. Wellington gained military distinction in the Peninsular Campaigns during the French Wars, culminating in the victory at Waterloo. He was raised to the peerage as the Duke of Wellington in recognition of his achievements and he sat in the House of Lords for the rest of his life.
In 1818 Wellington joined the administration of Lord Liverpool as Master-General of the Ordnance; in 1827 he became Commander-in-Chief of the British Army, an office in which he was confirmed for life in 1842. Wellington led the Tories in the Lords and threw his weight behind most of the administrations between 1818 and his death in 1852.
In 1827 Wellington formed his first ministry and appointed Robert Peel as his Home Secretary and William Huskisson as President of the Board of Trade. The major pieces of legislation of his ministry were the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts in 1828 and the passing of the Catholic Emancipation Act in 1829. Following these pieces of legislation, the political supremacy of the Church of England was broken.
Wellington had declared himself in favour of Catholic Emancipation as early as 1825 and, since he had many influential contacts in Ireland, he was well aware of the activities of Daniel O'Connell and the Catholic Association. It is difficult to explain why he provoked Huskisson into resigning over a modification of the Corn Laws in 1828, or why Wellington chose Vesey Fitzgerald to replace Huskisson. Fitzgerald had to stand for re-election in what was O'Connell's heartland. It might be that Wellington deliberately exacerbated the situation in 1828 in order to force parliament's hand over Catholic Emancipation
Following the passing of the Catholic Emancipation Act in 1829, Wellington went on to win the general election that was precipitated by the death of George IV (1830). His ministry fell over the question of parliamentary reform in November 1830. Charles Greville wrote in his diary just after the collapse of the Duke's ministry:
His is one of those mixed characters which it is difficult to praise or blame without the risk of doing it more or less than justice. He has talents which the event has proved to be sufficient to make him the second (and, now that Napoleon is gone, the first) general of the age, but which could not make him a tolerable Minister. Confident, presumptuous, and dictatorial, but frank, open, and good-humoured, he contrived to rule in the Cabinet without mortifying his colleagues, and he has brought it to ruin without forfeiting their regard. Choosing with a very slender stock of knowledge to take upon himself the sole direction of every department of Government, he completely sank under the burden. Originally imbued with the principles of Lord Castlereagh and the Holy Alliance, he brought all those predilections with him into office... When he found that the cause he advocated was lost, the Duke turned suddenly round, and surrendered his opinions at discretion... He has not been thoroughly true to any principle or any party; he contrived to disgust and alienate his old friends and adherents without conciliating or attaching those whose measures he at the eleventh hour undertook to carry into execution...
Taken from Sir Lesley Stephen & Sir Sidney Lee (eds.), Dictionary of National Biography: from the earliest times to 1900 (London, Oxford University Press, 1949).
Arthur Wellesley was fourth son of Garrett Wellesley, first earl of Mornington by Anne, eldest daughter of Arthur Hill, viscount Dungannon. He was born in 1769, less than four months before Napoleon. There is some doubt about the exact date and place of his birth. His mother gave 1 May as his birthday, and he himself so kept it, but the nurse affirmed that he was born on 6 March at Dangan Castle, co. Meath. The registry of St. Peter's Church, Dublin, shows that he was christened there on 30 April 1769, and the May number of ‘Exshaw's Gentleman's Magazine’ has: ‘April 29. The Countess of Mornington of a son.’ The ‘Dublin Gazette’ of 2-4 May dates the event ‘a few days ago, in Merrion Street.’ On the whole the evidence points to 29 April, and to 24 Upper Merrion Street, Dublin. He signed himself ‘Arthur Wesley’ till May 1798, when he adopted the form ‘Wellesley.’
Wellesley received his earliest education at Brown's preparatory school at Chelsea. Thence he was sent to Eton, where he boarded at Mrs. Ragueneau's. As a boy he was unsociable and rather combative. He had no turn for scholarship, but, like Napoleon, he had the power of rapid and correct calculation. His father died in 1781, and in 1784 his mother, straitened for means, withdrew him from Eton, where he had only reached the remove, and took him with her to Brussels. There he was the pupil of Louis Goubert, a barrister, at whose house they lodged. According to a fellow-pupil he was extremely fond of music and played well on the fiddle, but showed no other sort of talent. His mother, a clever but hard woman, came to the conclusion that her ‘ugly boy Arthur’ was ‘fit food for powder,’ and in 1786 he was sent to Pignerol's military academy at Angers, which was principally a riding-school. He was ‘rather of a weak constitution, not very attentive to his studies, and constantly occupied with a little terrier called Vic’. He remained there about a year, made friends in the neighbourhood, and gained a facility in French which was of service to him afterwards.
On 7 March 1787 he was gazetted ensign in the 73rd (Highland) regiment. His brother, Lord Mornington, obtained this commission for him, declining one in the artillery. The regiment was in India, but Wellesley did not join it. It must have been on joining a depôt that, as he afterwards related, he had a man weighed with and without his arms, accoutrements, and kit, that he might know exactly what weight the men had to carry. On 25 December he was made lieutenant in the 76th, from which he was transferred to the 41st on 23 January 1788, and thence to the 12th light dragoons on 25 June. He obtained a company in the 58th foot on 30 June 1791, and was transferred to the 18th light dragoons on 31 October 1792.
But he did little, if any, duty with these regiments, for from November 1787 to March 1793 he was aide-de-camp to the lord lieutenant of Ireland - first, the Marquis of Buckingham, and afterwards the Earl of Westmorland. Mornington, in thanking Buckingham for his appointment, said: ‘He has every disposition which can render so young a boy deserving of your notice’. But life was expensive at the viceregal court; his private income was only £125 a year and it is said he had to borrow money of the bootmaker with whom he lodged. In April 1790 he was returned to the Irish parliament as member for Trim, and he held that seat till the dissolution of 5 June 1795. According to Mornington, he restored the interest of his family in that borough ‘by his excellent judgment, amiable manners, admirable temper, and firmness’. On 10 January 1793 he seconded the address in reply to a speech from the throne announcing preparations for war with France and recommending consideration of the catholic claims. He supported the government bill giving catholics the franchise, but opposed an amendment admitting them to parliament.
On 30 April 1793 he purchased a majority in the 33rd foot, Mornington lending him the money, and afterwards refusing to accept repayment. On 30 September Wellesley became lieutenant-colonel of the regiment, and in June 1794 embarked with it at Cork for Ostend. In consequence of the French victory at Fleurus (26 June) the allied armies retired behind the Dyle, the British being on the right between Antwerp and Malines. The 33rd, sent round by sea to Antwerp, joined the army there about 10 July. The allies soon separated, the Austrians going eastward, and the Duke of York retreating to the line of the Dutch fortresses. In September Pichegru advanced into Holland. On the 14th the post of Boxtel, near Bois-le-Duc, was taken by the French, and the reserve corps, to which the 33rd belonged, was sent to recover it next day, but found the enemy in too great strength. This was Wellesley's first engagement. Seeing that the troops in front of him were retiring in some confusion, he deployed his regiment, let the others pass through, and drove back their pursuers by a volley.
Outnumbered by four to one, York retreated, but maintained himself behind the Waal till the end of the year. On 20 December Wellesley wrote: ‘We turn out once, sometimes twice, every night; the officers and men are harassed to death. I have not had my clothes off my back for a long time, and generally spend the greatest part of the night upon the bank of the river’. Frost made the Waal passable at any point, and on 4 January 1795 the 33rd was attacked at Meteren, and had to fall back on Geldermalsen, where, with the aid of two other regiments, it repulsed the French. The army retired to the Yssel, and thence across North Germany to the mouth of the Weser, where it embarked for England in April. During the retreat the command of a brigade in Dundas's corps fell to Wellesley by seniority, but the brigades were below the normal strength of regiments. The hardships of this winter campaign were extreme, the disorder and disorganisation were without example. Wellesley learnt ‘what one ought not to do,’ and made acquaintance with the new French tactics.
He came home in advance of the army, and on 13 March spoke in the Irish parliament. On 25 June he asked the new lord lieutenant, Lord Camden, to appoint him to the revenue or treasury board. He took this step owing to ‘the necessities under which I labour from different circumstances.’ He added that it was a departure from the line which he preferred, but he knew that it was useless to ask for a military office. The application proved fruitless. He joined his regiment at Warley in Essex, and embarked with it in October for the West Indies. Heavy gales dispersed the expedition of which it formed part, and it returned to England. It was four months at Poole, and was sent to India in April 1796. Wellesley, who became colonel in the army on 3 May, was unable to accompany it, but he overtook it at the Cape, and landed with it at Calcutta on 17 February 1797. His colonel, Lord Cornwallis, introduced him to the governor-general as ‘a sensible man and a good officer'.
At this point his published correspondence begins, and the light on his character and actions, hitherto scanty, becomes abundant. He had already made it a rule to study by himself for some hours every day, and he gave up cards and the violin as waste of time. His earliest papers show his breadth of view and the influence he at once gained. He was given command of the Bengal portion of an expedition against Manilla, which reached Penang in September, but was then recalled on account of the attitude of Tippoo Sultan of Mysore. Wellesley had strongly urged his brother Mornington to come to India as governor-general. He did so, reaching Calcutta on 17 May 1798, and the younger brother became the unofficial adviser of the elder. The first question was how to act towards Tippoo, and here Wellesley discouraged Mornington's inclination to meet danger half way. He had paid a two months' visit to Madras in the beginning of the year, and was well acquainted with the situation there. He thought that war with Tippoo, though amply justified, was inexpedient, and that his dealings with the French should be ignored. This was the course adopted at that time.
In August the 33rd was transferred to the Madras establishment, and Wellesley was to have gone as envoy to Seringapatam, but Tippoo refused to receive the mission. In December he was given command of the troops assembled near Vellore, and General Harris, when he arrived in February 1799, praised him for the state of his division, and for his ‘judicious and masterly arrangements in respect of supplies’. In the invasion of Mysore Wellesley had the direction of the nizam's auxiliary corps, to which the 33rd was attached. It consisted of ten battalions of sepoys, ten thousand miscellaneous horsemen, and twenty-six guns. It formed the left of the army in the action at Malavelly on 27 March. The army arrived before Seringapatam on 5 April, and an attack was made on the enemy's outposts that night by two detachments, of which one, under Wellesley, was repulsed with some loss. He determined ‘never to suffer an attack to be made by night upon an enemy who is prepared and strongly posted, and whose posts have not been reconnoitred by daylight’. He had no share in the storming of Seringapatam, being in command of the reserve in the trenches; but he was sent into the town next day to restore order, and was appointed governor by Harris on 6 May. General (Sir) David Baird, who had led the assault, was much mortified at this choice, but there were good reasons for it.
On the withdrawal of the army in July the command of all the troops left in Mysore fell to Wellesley, and he also controlled the civil administration of Tippoo's successor. He had written in May: ‘I intend to ask to be brought away with the army if any civil servant of the company is to be here, or any person with civil authority who is not under my orders’. In August he had to take the field against Dhoondiah Waugh, a freebooter who had gathered a large following. Wellesley drove him across the frontier and dispersed his bands; but they resumed their incursions in April 1800, mustering forty thousand men. Having obtained leave to pursue them into the Mahratta territory, Wellesley crossed the Toombuddra, near Hurryhur, on 26 June, took some forts, and, pushing on with four regiments of cavalry, overtook on 30 July part of Dhoondiah's army, encamped on the Malpoorba. The camp was stormed and the guns and stores taken. After chasing the remainder for several weeks, and following them into the nizam's dominions, Wellesley fell in with them at Conahgull on 10 September Dhoondiah himself was killed, and his bands, reduced by this time to five thousand horse, were scattered. His son fell into the hands of Wellesley, who provided for him till his death.
In May the governor-general had offered Wellesley the command of an expedition which was to be sent against Batavia, but he declined the offer, as it was not for the public interest that he should leave Mysore just then. In November he was sent to Trincomalee to take command of a force of 3,500 men for a descent upon Ile de France (Mauritius) and Bourbon; but on 7 January 1801 he learnt from his brother - now Marquis Wellesley - that this force might have to form part of an expedition to Egypt, in which case a general officer must be placed at the head of it. On the 24th Baird was appointed to it, and its destination was changed to Batavia. Before this news reached Trincomalee Wellesley had set out for Bombay with his troops. He had learnt that despatches from England were on their way to Calcutta, desiring that a force should be sent to Egypt, and, in spite of the remonstrance of the governor of Ceylon, Frederick North (afterwards fifth Earl of Guilford), he decided to anticipate the orders of the governor-general. The latter at first disapproved his action, but was satisfied by the reasons given for it.
On 6 April the expedition, numbering over six thousand men, left Bombay for the Red Sea under Baird. Wellesley was very sore at his supersession, and complained bitterly of it, with too little allowance for the circumstances. He yielded to his brother's wish, in which Baird joined, that he should go as second in command; but he was disabled by illness at the last moment. The Susannah, in which he was to have sailed, was lost with all hands in the Red Sea. He sent Baird a careful memorandum containing such information as he had been able to gather bearing on the intended operations.
In May he returned to Mysore, and for the next year and a half he was busily occupied there, bringing the country into order, making roads and fortifications, forming a good bullock-train, and organising the departments. He became major-general by seniority on 29 April 1802. At the end of that year the peshwah, the titular chief of the Mahratta confederacy, signed the treaty of Bassein, by which he accepted the position of a protected prince, and steps were taken to reinstate him at Poonah, whence Holkar had driven him. Wellesley had already furnished a ‘memorandum upon operations in the Mahratta territory’, and as soon as he learnt that Madras troops were to be used, he offered his services, pointing out that his pursuit of Dhoondiah had made him well acquainted with the country and people. On 28 November he was appointed a major-general on the staff of the Madras establishment, and on 8 February 1803 he left Seringapatam with his division.
By the end of the month the Madras army, under General James Stuart, was assembled on the frontier at Hurryhur, and Wellesley, with nine thousand men, was sent forward to Poonah. Learning that the place was to be set on fire on his approach, he made a forced march of forty miles with his cavalry and one battalion, and was in time to save it. He reached it on 20 April, and the peshwah returned to his capital on 13 May.
For some months the attitude of Holkar and Scindiah was doubtful. Wellesley was made on 26 June chief political and military agent in the southern Mahratta states and the Deccan, and did all he could to preserve peace, but in vain. On 7 August war was declared against the two chiefs, and they were attacked by Lake in the north, by Wellesley in the south. The latter had under his orders, besides his own division, some Bombay troops in Gujerat, and the nizam's corps of eight thousand men under Colonel Stevenson, which was near Jaulnah, covering the nizam's dominions. The fort of Ahmednuggur, reckoned one of the strongest forts in India, was taken by Wellesley after a two days' siege. Marching northward, he reached Aurungabad on the 29th; but meanwhile Scindiah and the rajah of Berar had slipped past Stevenson and were advancing on Hyderabad. Wellesley moved down the Godavery to intercept them, and they turned back. On 21 September Wellesley and Stevenson met at Budnapoor, and arranged to attack them at Bokerdun on the 24th, Stevenson falling on their right, Wellesley on their left. When the latter reached his camping-ground on the 23rd, he was told that the Mahrattas were within six miles, but were moving off. Sending word to Stevenson, he marched on, and about 1pm found himself in presence of their whole army.
It was drawn up behind the Kaitna, with its left near the village of Assye, past which the Juah flows to join the Kaitna. On the right were thirty thousand horsemen, on the left ten thousand infantry trained by European officers, with over a hundred guns. Having left some of his troops to guard his camp, Wellesley had with him only 4,500 men - viz. six battalions and four regiments of cavalry, two battalions and one regiment of cavalry being European. He had seventeen guns and about five thousand Mysore and Mahratta horsemen, not much to be relied on. But ‘he fully realised the supreme importance in eastern warfare of promptitude of action and audacity in assuming the offensive, even though the enemy might be enormously superior in number’. He decided to turn their left, seize Assye, and fall upon their flank and rear. To do this he must cross the Kaitna, and he was told there was no ford. But he noticed that, a little above its junction with the Juah, there was a village on the left bank opposite a village on the right bank, and he directed his troops on this point, confident that they would find some means of passage there. He found a ford, and, leaving the irregular horse on the right bank, led the rest of his army across, and formed it between the two streams, whose nullahs covered his flanks. His infantry were in two lines, his cavalry in a third.
The formation was carried out under a heavy fire from the enemy's guns, while their infantry changed front with surprising precision, and placed their right on the Kaitna, their left on the Juah at Assye. ‘When I saw that they had got their left to Assye, I altered my plan; and determined to maneuvre by my left and push the enemy upon the nullah, knowing that the village of Assye must fall when the right should be beat’. By a misunderstanding the British right attacked Assye; it was exposed to ‘a most terrible cannonade;’ the cavalry had to be sent forward to cover its withdrawal, and could not be used afterwards for pursuit. The battle was obstinately contested, but the victory was complete, the enemy leaving nearly all their guns on the field. The loss of the British was a third of their strength, and included 640 Europeans. Wellesley had a horse shot under him and another bayoneted. One of his staff wrote: ‘I never saw a man so cool and collected as he was the whole time, though I can assure you till our troops got orders to advance, the fate of the day seemed doubtful’.
Scindiah retreated westward, and Wellesley watched him while Stevenson took Asseerghur. The two divisions then marched into Berar to besiege Gawilghur. Scindiah, having learnt that his best troops had been routed by Lake at Laswarree, opened negotiations with Wellesley, and on 23 November a suspension of hostilities was agreed upon so far as he was concerned. But he did not observe it, and his cavalry joined the troops of the rajah of Berar in resisting Wellesley's advance on Gawilghur. On the 29th a battle was fought on a plain in front of the village of Argaum. Some sepoy regiments were disordered by the enemy's artillery fire, and Wellesley wrote: ‘If I had not been there, I am convinced we should have lost the day’. But the Mahrattas soon broke and fled, leaving thirty-eight guns on the field, and the victory cost the British under 250 men. Gawilghur was stormed on 15 December; and treaties of peace, negotiated by Wellesley, were signed with the rajah of Berar on the 17th, and with Scindiah on the 30th.
Wellesley received the thanks of parliament. A sword of honour was presented to him by the inhabitants of Calcutta, and a service of plate, embossed with ‘Assye,’ by the officers of his division. He visited Bombay in March and received an address. He was now anxious to return to England: ‘I think I have served as long in India as any man ought who can serve anywhere else; and I think that there appears a prospect of service in Europe in which I should be more likely to get forward’. His health had suffered by life in camp, and he was aggrieved that the Duke of York had not confirmed his appointment to the staff of the Madras army. He advised the governor-general also to resign because of the hostility of the directors and the want of support from the ministry.
The peace turned adrift bands of freebooters who made raids into the Deccan, and in February 1804 Wellesley went in pursuit of one of these bands. He set out on the morning of the 4th with all his cavalry, three battalions of infantry, and four guns, and in thirty hours (including a halt of ten hours) he marched sixty miles. He overtook the band, which was near Perinda, and dispersed it, taking its guns. This was his last service in the field in India. He watched with some uneasiness the course of the governor-general, fearing that it would lead to a fresh coalition of the Mahratta princes: ‘The system of moderation and conciliation by which, whether it be right or wrong, I made the treaties of peace, and which has been so highly approved and extolled, is now given up’. Orders had already been given for hostilities against Holkar, but these fell mainly to Lake. On 24 June Wellesley bade farewell to his division at Poonah, and went to Calcutta. He meant to go home from there, but the disaster to Colonel Monson's force made it necessary for him to return to Seringapatam in November. He was told that the command of the Bombay army would be offered him, but he wrote: ‘Even if I were certain that I should not be employed in England at all, there is no situation in India which would induce me to stay here’.
He resigned his civil and military appointments on 24 February 1805. At Madras he was invested with the order of the Bath (K.B.), which had been conferred on him on 1 September 1804; he received addresses from the officers of his late division, from those of the 33rd regiment, and from the native inhabitants of Seringapatam, and he was entertained by the civil and military officers of the presidency. In the middle of March Sir Arthur sailed for England in the Trident, and arrived in the Downs on 10 September His eight years' service in India had been excellent training for the varied business he was afterwards to be engaged in. In addition to the ordinary duties of command, he had been engineer, commissariat and store officer, as well as civil administrator and diplomatist. Always ready to accept new functions and clinging to those he already had, he was in command of more than fifty thousand soldiers in different parts of southern India at the beginning of 1804. It must have been within two or three days of his landing that the only meeting between Wellesley and Nelson took place by chance at the colonial office, for Nelson left England on 13 September for the last time. Lord Castlereagh, who was then secretary of state for war and the colonies, had been president of the board of control, and Wellesley made it his first business to explain and justify his brother's Indian policy to him and to Pitt. The latter was struck with his reticence about his own actions, and a few days before his death he told Lord Wellesley: ‘I never met any military officer with whom it was so satisfactory to converse. He states every difficulty before he undertakes any service, but none after he has undertaken it’.
Wellesley was appointed to the staff of the Kent district on 30 October, and a month afterwards he was given command of a brigade in the expedition to Hanover under Lord Cathcart. The victory of Austerlitz caused the withdrawal of this expedition, and on 25 February 1806 Wellesley was appointed to a brigade at Hastings. On 30 January he had succeeded Lord Cornwallis as colonel of the 33rd, of which he had continued to be lieutenant-colonel up to that time.
On 1 April 1806 Wellesley was returned to parliament for Rye, a government seat which he accepted in order to reply to the charges brought against Lord Wellesley by James Paull. He spoke on this and other Indian subjects, and wrote a full memorandum on it at the end of the session. Parliament was dissolved in October, and on 15 January 1807 he was returned for Mitchell, Cornwall. In March 1807 the Grenville ministry resigned, on the king's demand that he should hear nothing more of concessions to the catholics. The Portland ministry succeeded it, the Duke of Richmond becoming lord lieutenant and Wellesley chief secretary of Ireland. He was sworn of the privy council in London on 8 April, and at Dublin on the 28th. He held this office for two years, but he had stipulated that it should be no bar to his employment on active service, and he was twice absent on that account. The lord lieutenant grumbled, but did not wish to part with him. The state of Ireland was such as to call for the whole attention of its chief secretary. The people were looking eagerly to a French invasion, and among the first things to which Wellesley turned his thoughts was how to guard against it. ‘The operations which the British army would have to carry on would be of the nature of those in an enemy's country, in which the hostility of the people would be most active. - I am positively convinced that no political measure which you could adopt would alter the temper of the people of this country’.
The tithe agitation soon became vigorous. He held that exorbitant rents, not tithes, were the real grievance; but he suggested that the clergy should be enabled to grant leases of their tithes and should be obliged to reside in their benefices. He recommended increased expenditure on canals, which would lower rents and improve agriculture. He reorganised the Dublin police, and so laid the foundation for the Irish constabulary. He had been re-elected for Mitchell on becoming chief secretary, but parliament was dissolved soon afterwards, and in May he was returned for Tralee, co. Kerry, and Newport, Isle of Wight. He chose the latter seat. He was given command of the reserve in the army sent to Zealand under Lord Cathcart, to secure the Danish fleet, and embarked at Sheerness on 31 July. As the crown prince refused to surrender the fleet, the army landed on 16 August, Wellesley leading the way with the light troops; and Copenhagen was invested next day. A Danish force of regulars and militia soon threatened the rear of the army, and on the 26th Wellesley was sent against it with five battalions, eight squadrons, and two batteries of artillery. The Danes fell back before him to Kiöge, where they had some intrenchments. He attacked them on the 29th and routed them, taking fifteen hundred prisoners. On 7 September Copenhagen surrendered, Wellesley being one of the commissioners who arranged the terms of capitulation. By the 30th he was in England again, and on 1 February 1808 he received the thanks of the House of Commons in his place. He was promoted lieutenant-general on 25 April, having already, on 12 November 1807, had that rank given him in Ireland in case of invasion.
He had been frequently consulted by the ministers, especially by Castlereagh, about schemes for attacking the colonial possessions of Spain, and had written several memoranda. But the change of dynasty and the uprising of the Spaniards against Napoleon in May 1808 altered the situation. He saw that ‘any measures which can distress the French in Spain must oblige them to delay for a season the execution of their plans upon Turkey, or to withdraw their armies from the north,’ and he recommended that all the British troops that could be spared should be sent to Gibraltar to act as circumstances might suggest. General (afterwards Sir) Brent Spencer was at that time off Cadiz with a force of five thousand men, having been sent out to do what he could to hinder the French plans of naval concentration. On 14 June Wellesley was given command of a force of about nine thousand men, assembled at Cork, with general instructions to assist the Spaniards or the Portuguese.
He sailed on 12 July, and put into Coruña, where the junta of Galicia informed him that they needed only money and arms, and advised him to take his troops to Portugal. He went on to Oporto, and, having consulted the bishop and the Portuguese generals, and the British admiral off the Tagus, he decided to land his men in Mondego Bay, and sent orders to Spencer to join him there. It was a bold step, for the French army under Junot, which had been in occupation of Lisbon since November, numbered nearly thirty thousand men. But Wellesley knew that they were scattered and had to find garrisons, and supposed the total to be under eighteen thousand. The Portuguese, who had promised co-operation, would be discouraged if his troops remained on board ship, and he expected to be soon reinforced. On the 30th he learnt that five thousand men were on their way from England, that ten thousand under Sir John Moore would follow, that the whole army was to be commanded by Sir Hew Dalrymple, and that he himself would be fourth instead of first. ‘I hope that I shall have beat Junot before any of them shall arrive, and then they will do as they please with me,’ he wrote to the Duke of Richmond.
The disembarkation was not completed till 5 August, on which day Spencer arrived. On the 8th the army advanced, and on the 12th it was joined at Leiria by six thousand Portuguese under Freire. Freire refused to march on Lisbon, but he allowed Colonel (afterwards Sir) Nicholas Trant to accompany the British with fourteen hundred foot and 250 horse. Junot, while gathering his troops, had sent forward Delaborde with five thousand men to delay the British advance. Delaborde chose a position at Roliça, and was attacked there on the 17th by Wellesley with nearly fourteen thousand men. This superiority in numbers enabled Wellesley to threaten both flanks while pressing the French in front; Delaborde was forced back to a second position, and then had to retreat altogether, after losing six hundred men. But the front attack had been premature, and the British loss was not much less.
Wellesley meant to march next day on Torres Vedras, to secure the pass, but learning that the brigades of Acland and Anstruther were off the coast, he took a position at Vimeiro to cover their disembarkation. On the evening of the 20th a senior officer, Sir Harry Burrard, arrived, and refused to allow any offensive movements till Moore's troops should have joined. On the morning of the 21st the British army was attacked in its position by Junot, and Burrard left Wellesley to conduct the action. Junot had fourteen thousand men, including thirteen hundred cavalry, and 23 guns. The British numbered sixteen thousand, of which only 240 were cavalry, with eighteen guns, besides Trant's Portuguese. Their position was convex, the right resting on the sea, and Junot's plan was to turn the left. But Wellesley moved four of his eight brigades from right to left by the rear, and Solignac's division, which made the turning movement, was driven back and separated from the rest of the army. The columns sent against the British front were also repulsed. Wellesley had said of the French when he was leaving England, ‘if what I hear of their system of maneuvres be true, I think it a false one as against steady troops’. The columns failed, as he anticipated, before a volley and a charge in line. The French loss was over two thousand men, about three times that of the British, and thirteen guns.
Wellesley wished to follow up his victory, but he was stopped short. ‘Sir H. Burrard, who was at this time on the ground, still thought it advisable not to move from Vimeiro; and the enemy made good their retreat to Torres Vedras’. Sir Hew Whitefoord Dalrymple took command next day, and the convention of Cintra followed. Wellesley concurred in the principle of it, thinking that, as the French had not been cut off from Lisbon, it was best to allow them to evacuate Portugal; and on 22 August he signed, by Dalrymple's desire, the armistice which was the prelude to it, though he disapproved of some details. In the further negotiations his advice was disregarded. Castlereagh had strongly recommended him to Dalrymple's particular confidence, but he found that it was not given to him; and he soon came to the conclusion that ‘it is quite impossible for me to continue any longer with this army’. It was suggested that he should go to the Asturias to report on the country, but he replied that he was not a topographical engineer. He also declined a proposal that he should go to Madrid. Leave of absence was given him, and he arrived in England on 6 October The convention had raised a storm there, and as Wellesley had signed the armistice, and was wrongly said to have negotiated it, much of the blame fell on him. A court of inquiry met at Chelsea on 17 November, and Wellesley laid before this court some masterly statements vindicating his conduct and forming a full record of the campaign. In its final report (22 December) the court approved of the armistice, one member dissenting; with the convention Wellesley was not concerned. The inquiry prevented his rejoining the army, which was then advancing into Spain under Moore. He received the thanks of parliament for his conduct at Roliça and Vimeiro, those of the House of Commons being given to him in his place. He also received addresses from Limerick and Londonderry, and a piece of plate from the commanding officers who had served under him at Vimeiro.
The hopes built on intervention in Spain were dashed by the result of Moore's campaign and by the masses of French troops (over three hundred thousand) poured into the Peninsula. But at the end of January 1809 they began to revive. Austria's preparations for war recalled Napoleon to Paris, and obliged him to withdraw forty thousand men. The Portuguese regency asked for a British officer to organise and command their troops, and at the suggestion of Wellesley, who himself declined the post, Beresford was sent out. In a memorandum to Castlereagh, which was laid before the cabinet, Wellesley maintained that ‘Portugal might be defended, whatever might be the result of the contest in Spain’. There still remained some British troops near Lisbon, under Sir John Francis Cradock. It was decided to raise them to twenty-three thousand men, and on 2 April Wellesley was appointed to the command, superseding Cradock. Samuel Whitbread had called in question the propriety of a man holding office and drawing pay as chief secretary while absent from the realm, and Wellesley, though he justified himself, had declared that if again appointed to a military command he should resign. Accordingly he resigned both his office and his seat on 4 April, embarked on the 16th, and landed at Lisbon on 22 April 1809.
He was warmly welcomed, for ‘the nation was dismayed by defeats, distracted with anarchy, menaced on two sides by powerful armies’. Soult, with more than twenty thousand men, was in the north of Portugal, having stormed Oporto on 27 March. Victor, with thirty thousand, was at Merida, having beaten the Spanish general, Cuesta, at Medellin on 29 March, and driven him into the Sierra Morena. Wellesley decided to deal first with Soult, and on 27 April, the day on which he took over the command, orders were issued for the troops to assemble at Coimbra. He had thirty-seven thousand men, of which nearly half were Portuguese. Leaving twelve thousand to guard the Tagus, in case Victor should approach, and directing eight thousand under Beresford on Lamego, to pass the Duero and descend the right bank, he moved with the remainder on Oporto. The advance began on 6 May. Soult, hemmed in by insurgent bands, had been forced to scatter his troops, and had only ten thousand men with him in Oporto. He knew nothing of the danger threatening him until the 10th, when a French division on the Vouga was attacked and driven in. He then destroyed the bridge over the Duero, seized all the boats near Oporto, and made arrangements for retreat. But on the 12th Wellesley forced the passage of the river. Three boats were obtained by Colonel John Waters, and three companies were thrown into the Seminary, a large building on the right bank. More troops followed them, while others passed the river three miles higher up. After trying in vain to recover the Seminary, the French retired in disorder from the city. Soult found that his intended line of retreat was barred by Beresford; so he destroyed his guns, abandoned his stores, took a path over the mountains, and on the 19th crossed the frontier into Galicia.
Wellesley, learning on that day that Victor had sent a division across the Tagus at Alcantara on the 14th, abandoned further pursuit, marched southward, and by 12 June was on the Tagus at Abrantes. The army remained there a fortnight for rest and re-equipment. Its lax discipline drew from Wellesley the first of many complaints: ‘We are an excellent army on parade, an excellent one to fight; but we are worse than an enemy in a country; and take my word for it, that either defeat or success would dissolve us’. Having asked for and received authority to invade Spain, he now concerted arrangements with Cuesta for attacking Victor, who had retired on his approach.
On the 27th the British army passed the frontier, about twenty thousand strong. Beresford was left near Almeida, with one British brigade, to organise the Portuguese troops and guard the only vulnerable part of the frontier. As the Spanish government had pressed for British co-operation, Wellesley supposed that it would help him to obtain transport and provisions; but he was disappointed, and by the time the British and Spanish armies met at Talavera on 22 July, the former was so short of supplies that it could move no further. Cuesta had thirty-eight thousand men under his immediate command, and the corps of Venegas, eighteen thousand men, was also under his orders. This corps was to threaten Madrid from the south-east, and so distract the French forces; but it did not play its part, and Cuesta, having advanced a few miles towards Madrid, was driven back.
King Joseph had joined Victor with reinforcements, raising his numbers to fifty thousand men, and on 27 and 28 July the French attacked the allied armies at Talavera. The British, who were on the left, bore the brunt of these attacks, which were vigorous and obstinate, and were directed against both front and flank. There was a critical moment, when the English guards, following up too eagerly some troops they had repulsed, were met by the French reserves and driven back in confusion. But Wellesley, foreseeing what happened, had brought the 48th regiment from the left, and its steady fire gave the centre time to reform. At length the French retired, leaving seventeen guns on the field and having lost over seven thousand men. The loss of the British was 5,400 and of the Spaniards 1,200. ‘Il paraît que c'est un homme, ce Wellesley,’ was Napoleon's remark when the news reached him at Vienna.
Meanwhile Soult had reorganised his troops, had been joined by Ney, and had made his way unopposed through passes which Wellesley believed to be well guarded, with fifty-three thousand men. Four days after the battle of Talavera he reached Plasencia, where he was upon the British line of communications. The allied armies now lay between two French armies. Wellesley, believing Soult's strength to be only half what it was, determined to march against him, leaving the Spaniards at Talavera to face Joseph. But Cuesta, perverse and incapable throughout, abandoned Talavera, and then opposed the only course open to them, to pass the Tagus at Arzobispo. This was done, however, by the British on 4 August, and the Spaniards followed next day. A large number of the wounded had to be left behind.
The allied armies took up positions to dispute the passage of the Tagus at Arzobispo or Almaraz. At the former the Spaniards were surprised on the 8th, but the French did not follow up their success, and on the 12th Cuesta resigned. On the 20th extreme destitution obliged the British to fall back on Badajoz. The Spanish junta complained loudly, but Wellesley refused to co-operate any longer with their armies after his experience of their breaches of faith and misbehaviour in the field. ‘They are really children in the art of war,’ he wrote. He warned them to avoid pitched battles, but in vain; their best army was routed at Ocaña on 19 November, and another under Del Parque was beaten at Alba de Tormes before the end of the month. Wellesley's position at Badajoz saved Andalusia from invasion, and, in spite of great loss from sickness, he remained there till the middle of December. The exposure of northern Portugal by Del Parque's defeat then led him to move his army to upper Beira, leaving one division under Hill at Abrantes.
The supreme command of the Portuguese army had been given to him on 6 July with the rank of marshal-general, and in August he had been made captain-general in the Spanish army. For the victories of Oporto and Talavera he was raised to the peerage on 4 September as Baron Douro of Wellesley and Viscount Wellington of Talavera. The title was chosen by his brother William, apparently to minimise the change of name. He received the thanks of parliament (26 January and 1 February 1810) and an annuity of £2,000. But the vote of thanks was opposed in both houses, and Lord Grey and Lord Lauderdale entered a protest. The common council of London asked for an inquiry into Wellington's conduct. He was used as a means of attacking the ministry, which was weak and divided. It had been discredited by the Walcheren failure, and had lost Castlereagh and Canning. Perceval, the new head of it, was inclined to withdrawal from the Peninsula, while Lord Wellesley had joined it as foreign secretary in order to counteract such a policy.
But it was not mere party spirit that found fault with Wellington. Talavera had shown that sixteen thousand British infantry could hold their ground against thirty thousand French, but otherwise it had borne no fruit; and the army had escaped disaster only by the faults of the French leaders. It had suffered much and had lost faith in its general. The Moniteur had expressed the hope that he would always command the English armies: ‘du caractère dont il est, il essuiera de grandes catastrophes’. Napoleon had made peace with Austria, and even before it was signed had given orders (7 October 1809) for the formation of a fresh army of a hundred thousand men, which he meant to lead into Spain at the end of the year. As Lord Liverpool afterwards wrote, ‘All the officers in the army who were in England, whether they had served in Portugal or not, entertained and avowed the most desponding views as to the result of the war in that country - and not a mail arrived from Lisbon which did not bring letters at that time from officers of rank and situation in the army - avowing their opinions as to the probability and even necessity of a speedy evacuation of the country'. But Wellington himself never despaired. He remained convinced that the Bonaparte system was hollow and must collapse. In October he had carefully examined the country near Lisbon, and had started the works afterwards known as the lines of Torres Vedras. In reply to the anxious inquiries of the government, he assured them that the French armies would need to be very largely reinforced to subjugate Spain, and until that was done an army of thirty thousand British and forty-five thousand Portuguese, aided by militia, would be able to hold Portugal. If it came to the worst, the British could embark. ‘I may fail, I shall be most confoundedly abused, and in the end I may lose the little character I have gained; but I should not act fairly by the government if I did not tell them my real opinion, which is, that they will betray the honour and interests of the country if they do not continue their efforts in the Peninsula’. He would not ask for more men, being sure he should not get them, and it would only give the ministers an excuse for withdrawing the army.
In the middle of January 1810 the French invaded Andalusia, and met with little resistance. Joseph entered Seville on 1 February, and on the 4th Victor invested Cadiz. The aid of British troops, hitherto declined, was now asked for by the Spanish regency, which had replaced the central junta. Wellington sent four regiments, and in a few months the force was increased to a division of 8,500 men under General Thomas Graham. The French success increased the anxiety in England, and Liverpool wrote to Wellington that he would be more readily excused for bringing the army away too soon than for staying too long, adding, ‘I could not recommend any attempt at what may be called desperate resistance’. Wellington was ready to accept the responsibility thus thrown on him, if only the government would trust him and leave him to exercise his own judgment; but if they were going to take other people's opinions instead of his, let them send him detailed instructions, and he would carry them out.
Napoleon changed his mind about going to Spain himself, but he sent 150,000 men there, or to the frontier, in the first half of 1810. He wrote: ‘The English alone are to be feared in Spain; the rest are mere partisans, who can never keep the field’. To drive ‘the hideous leopard’ into the sea, an army of Portugal was formed on 17 April, consisting of the 2nd corps (Reynier), the 6th (Ney), and the 8th (Junot), and numbering eighty thousand men. Masséna was appointed to the command of it, and 35,000 men in the northern provinces of Spain were also placed under his orders. He was to spend the summer in taking frontier fortresses, and not enter Portugal till after the harvest. To oppose this powerful army, Wellington had only about fifty thousand regular troops, half of which were Portugese, and he was very weak in cavalry. His object was ‘to make the French move in masses, and to gain time; time to secure the harvest and complete the lines; time to discipline the regulars, to effect the arming and organisation of the ordenança, and to consolidate a moral ascendancy over the nation’. He meant to lay waste the country as he fell back, to starve the enemy if they kept together, and beat them if they scattered.
When Masséna joined his army on 27 June, the 6th and 8th corps were besieging Ciudad Rodrigo; the 2nd corps was at Merida, and Hill with twelve thousand men was at Portalegre, south of the Tagus, to watch it. Wellington, whose headquarters were at Almeida, was pressed both by Spaniards and Portuguese to raise the siege, and was taunted by the French with his inactivity; but he would not risk a battle in open country with such odds against him. Ciudad Rodrigo surrendered on 11 July, Almeida on 27 August Wellington had fallen back as the French advanced, and the sharp action on the Coa fought by Robert Craufurd on 24 July was against his orders. In the middle of July Reynier had crossed the Tagus near Alcantara, and Hill had made a parallel movement, crossing at Villa Velha, and taken a position near Castel Branco. Behind him, on the Zezere, there was a reserve corps of ten thousand men, under Leith; for Wellington was uncertain as to the line of invasion, and the Serra de Estrella was an obstacle to prompt concentration. On 4 August he issued a proclamation to the Portuguese, warning them that they must remove themselves and their property on the French approach.
On 16 September Masséna assembled his three corps west of Almeida. He had decided to march by the right bank of the Mondego, and hoped to reach Coimbra before Wellington could be joined by Hill. But he had chosen the worst road in Portugal; his march was harassed, Leith and Hill joined Wellington on the 21st, and the allied army was taking up its position on the ridge of Busaco, twenty miles north-east of Coimbra, when the head of the French army appeared on the 25th. The strength of this position, the moral effect of a victory, and the wish to gain time for clearing the country, determined Wellington to fight there. The French army was now reduced to 65,000, and its cavalry was of no use. Napoleon had told Masséna not to be over-cautious, but to attack the English vigorously after reconnoitring them; and, though a letter to this effect could not have reached him, Masséna acted as Napoleon would have wished. He would not allow Ney to fall on at once, as he wished to do, but spent the 26th in examining the English position, which, though steep and difficult of access, was extended and shallow. On the 27th he directed Ney's corps against the left and Reynier's against the centre, holding Junot's in reserve. Ney's attack was promptly repulsed by Craufurd's division. Reynier's troops fell upon Picton's division, and met with some success, but reinforcements were brought against them from the right, and they failed to keep their footing on the ridge. The French lost four thousand five hundred men and the allies only thirteen hundred. Learning that there was a road over the hills by which the left of the position could be turned, Masséna marched by it next day, gained the Oporto road, and entered Coimbra on 1 October It was deserted, and he found no means of subsistence but growing crops. Leaving his sick and wounded there, to be made prisoners in a few days by the Portuguese militia, he followed the allied army, which had fallen back towards Lisbon. He crossed the Monte Junto into the valley of the Tagus, and on 12 October found himself in front of the lines of Torres Vedras.
These works, of which Masséna had first heard five days before, though they had been in progress for nearly a year, consisted of two chains of redoubts across twenty-four miles of rugged country between the Tagus and the sea. The inner chain, about fifteen miles north of Lisbon, started from Alhandra and ran by Bucellas, Mafra, and the San Lorenço river to the coast. The outer chain also had its right at Alhandra, but, passing by Monte Graca and Torres Vedras, it followed the course of the Zizandra to the sea. The number of redoubts was 126 when the allied army took shelter within the lines, and 427 guns were mounted in them. There were also other works below Lisbon, to cover an embarkation at St. Julian's in the last resort. These were garrisoned by English marines, the works of the two advanced lines mainly by Portuguese militia. The regular troops, raised by reinforcements to sixty thousand, were quite unfettered by the works; while the French were cramped by Monte Junto and its spurs, which made lateral movements slow and difficult.
Masséna carefully examined the outer line from end to end, but made no serious attempt to force it; and in the middle of November he fell back to Santarem. The country behind it had not been wasted, and he was able to maintain himself there till the spring, though constantly harassed by partisans in his rear. He had asked for large reinforcements, and at the end of December he was joined by about twelve thousand men, but they did not make up for his loss by sickness. Soult was ordered to march to his assistance from Andalusia, but occupied himself in besieging Olivença and Badajoz as a preliminary. Meanwhile Wellington had his own difficulties. The people crowded round Lisbon suffered terribly, and forty thousand are said to have died from privations. Some members of the Portuguese regency, especially Principal Souza, obstructed him in every way and threw on him all the odium of the plan of defence. But before Busaco he wrote: ‘The temper of some of the officers of the British army gives me more concern than the folly of the Portuguese government. - There is a system of croaking in the army which is highly injurious to the public service, and which I must devise some means of putting an end to, or it will put an end to us’. Among these croakers were Brent Spencer, the second in command, and Charles Stewart (afterwards Lord Londonderry), the adjutant-general. The best officers were constantly asking for leave to go home, many others were inefficient, and where he met with zeal and ability he could not reward it.
The Perceval ministry did not seem to have ‘the power, or the inclination, or the nerves to do all that ought to be done to carry on the contest as it might be’. When invasion was imminent, Wellington had asked (on 19 August) for all available reinforcements, but he received only five thousand men in the autumn, and five thousand more in the following spring. He was told that this increase could only be temporary, for ‘it is absolutely impossible to continue our exertions upon the present scale in the Peninsula for any considerable length of time’. In reply, he reminded Liverpool that their only choice lay between fighting the French abroad or at home, and argued that the cost of the war in the Peninsula, subsidies included, was really five, instead of nine, millions a year.
There seemed every reason to expect that in the spring of 1811 the French advance on Lisbon would be resumed in greater force, and Wellington was urged to be beforehand and drive Masséna out of Portugal; but failure would have been disastrous, the gain doubtful, and he would not run the risk. He continued to strengthen his lines, and made new lines at Almada, opposite Lisbon, to protect the city and the fleet from bombardment from the left bank of the Tagus. He had to keep a corps of fourteen thousand men on that side of the river, while Masséna was at Santarem, to check operations in Alemtejo by him or by Soult.
On 2 March 1811 five thousand British troops landed at Lisbon, and on the night of the 5th Masséna began his retreat. He meant to hold the line of the Mondego, as Napoleon reckoned on his doing; but on reaching Coimbra he found it occupied by Portuguese militia, and, mistaking them for the newly arrived troops, he continued his retreat up the left bank of the river. Wellington followed him up as closely as supplies would permit, and sharp rearguard actions were fought at Pombal, Redinha, Cazal Novo, and Foz d'Aronce (11-15 March). Having reached the head of the Mondego, Masséna held his ground at Guarda till the end of the month, but was then forced back behind the Coa. On 3 April an action was fought at Sabugal between the light division and Reynier's corps, which was ‘one of the most glorious that British troops were ever engaged in’. On the 5th Masséna recrossed the frontier of Portugal and fell back on Salamanca to recruit his troops. The invasion had cost him thirty thousand men.
This was the turning-point of the war. Napoleon was already preparing for a breach with Russia, and could ill spare more men for Spain, while Wellington gained strength from the realisation of his forecast. In future he had not to fight against despondency about the war in the Peninsula, though he had often to oppose schemes for transferring some of the British troops, or even himself, to some other field. The thanks of parliament were voted to him on 26 April for his successful defence of Portugal, Grey seconding the motion in the lords; and Samuel Whitbread wrote to him frankly owning that his opinion about the contest in the Peninsula was changed.
It was now Wellington's first object to recover the frontier fortresses. He had hoped to save Badajoz, but it surrendered prematurely on 11 March; and Soult, hearing of Graham's victory at Barrosa on 5 March, returned to Andalusia. On the 15th Beresford was detached across the Tagus with twenty-two thousand men to retake Badajoz before the breaches were repaired, and to raise the siege of Campo Mayor, on which Mortier was engaged. The latter place fell on the 21st, but was recovered on the 25th, and, passing the Guadiana on 6 April, Beresford retook Olivença on the 14th. Wellington, having invested Almeida with the main army, left his troops under Spencer, and went to Elvas in the middle of April to arrange for Spanish co-operation in the siege of Badajoz; but he was soon recalled to the north by the advance of Masséna with forty-five thousand men to relieve Almeida. Wellington had only thirty-five thousand, and in cavalry the French were four times his strength. He drew up his army behind the Dos Casas stream, between Fort Conception and Fuentes de Oñoro; and on 3 May the French attacked the village, while demonstrating along the whole front. On the 5th the attack on the village was renewed, and having shifted the 8th corps from right to left, Masséna sent it forward to turn the British right. In anticipation of such a movement Wellington had extended his line, so that Fuentes de Oñoro had become the centre instead of the right; but the extension had weakened it, the new right was soon forced back, and had to form a fresh front at right angles to the line. This it was allowed time to do, and the French attack was not pushed further; but Wellington owned ‘if “Boney” had been there, we should have been beaten’. On the 10th Masséna fell back to Ciudad Rodrigo, claiming a victory though he had failed in his object; but that night Brennier, the governor of Almeida, blew up part of the works and brought off his garrison. Wellington was much vexed at his escape: ‘I am obliged to be everywhere, and if absent from any operation, something goes wrong’. Masséna now handed over his command to Marmont, who had been sent to succeed him, and who withdrew most of the troops to Salamanca.
The siege of Badajoz had been begun on 8 May 1811, but Soult advanced to raise it. He was defeated by Beresford at Albuera, owing to the extraordinary tenacity of the English infantry, but at the cost of nearly two-thirds of them; and he retired to Llerena. On the 16th, the day on which the battle was fought, Wellington had set out to join Beresford, and he arrived at Elvas on the 19th, followed by two British divisions. The siege of Badajoz was begun afresh; but the means were scanty, the guns bad, and on 10 June it had to be raised, for Marmont was marching southward to join Soult. The two marshals met at Merida on the 18th, and next day their combined armies reached Badajoz. Wellington had retired across the Guadiana, and taken a position near Elvas, where he was joined on the 24th by Spencer with the rest of his troops. He was prepared to accept battle, though he had only fifty thousand men to meet sixty-four thousand. The French contented themselves, however, with relieving Badajoz. Soult was drawn back to Andalusia by threats against Seville, and in the middle of July Marmont retired across the Tagus to Plasencia.
Wellington determined to try a stroke at Ciudad Rodrigo, believing that he would not find the enemy in such force in the north. Leaving Hill with fourteen thousand men south of the Tagus, he marched back to the neighbourhood of that fortress and invested it in the beginning of August. A powerful siege-train, newly come from England, was secretly sent up the Duero to Lamego. But he was again confronted by a combination more powerful than he had reckoned on, and confined himself to a blockade. In the middle of September, when the supplies of Rodrigo began to run short, Marmont and Dorsenne (who commanded the army of the north) advanced to revictual it with sixty thousand men. Wellington had only forty-four thousand, and could not prevent them; but, wishing to make them show their force, he stood his ground south-west of the fortress, his troops being extended over twenty miles. A vigorous attack would have been disastrous to him; but he took the measure of his adversary, and showed a bolder front than circumstances warranted. His centre was forced back at El Bodon on the 25th, but he retired slowly, making a stand at Guinaldo and at Aldea Ponte, and so gained time to concentrate his troops on the Coa. Marmont then fell back, and returned to the valley of the Tagus.
Wellington's plans had been baffled, but he had engaged the attention of the enemy's main armies and had saved Galicia. He had found great difficulty in feeding his men; he was obliged to import wheat from Egypt and America, and to use commissariat bills as a paper currency in default of specie, to pay the muleteers on whom he depended for his transport. The British troops in the Peninsula had been raised to nearly sixty thousand men, but one-third of them were sick. The Portuguese suffered even more, for their government would make no exertions. It considered all danger past, and regarded the war as the concern of England, not Portugal. Yet Wellington, hard pressed for means as he was, still continued to strengthen the works for the defence of Lisbon, to meet a possible turn of fortune. He was given the local rank of general on 5 August, and received the grand cross of the Portuguese order of the Tower and Sword, with the title of Conde de Vimeiro.
At the end of the year French troops to the number of sixty thousand men were withdrawn from Spain, the military divisions were rearranged, and Marmont was told to send troops to help Suchet in Valencia. This favoured an enterprise for which Wellington had been secretly preparing. He had brought his siege-train to Almeida, as if for the armament of that place, and on 8 January 1812 he appeared before Ciudad Rodrigo. That night a redoubt on a hill from which the walls could be breached at a range of six hundred yards was stormed. Batteries were built there, and on the 19th, there being two practicable breaches, a general assault was made at five points. At the main breach the defence was obstinate, but the defenders were taken in rear by the men of the light division, who had carried the smaller breach. Along with the fortress, and its garrison of seventeen hundred men, Marmont's siege-train fell into Wellington's hands. The loss of the besiegers was thirteen hundred. Marmont, whose head-quarters were now at Valladolid, was not aware of the siege till the 15th, and by the time he had assembled his army he learnt that the place had fallen.
In reward for this brilliant stroke Wellington was made an earl (18 February), and received the thanks of parliament (10 February), with an additional annuity of £2,000. The Spanish government created him Duke of Ciudad Rodrigo and a grandee of the first class. He hoped to get possession of Badajoz also before the French, who had to live upon the country, could take the field. He remained near Rodrigo till its works were repaired; then putting a Spanish garrison into it, and trusting the defence of the frontier to the Portuguese militia and the Galicians, he took his whole army to Elvas in the beginning of March. On the 16th he invested Badajoz. The garrison numbered five thousand men, and the works were stronger than those of Rodrigo; but there was again a hill from which the walls might be breached at a distance, and that side was chosen for the attack. The Picurina redoubt, which occupied this hill, was stormed on the 25th; and on 6 April, breaches having been formed in two bastions and the curtain between them, orders were given for the assault. The obstacles and fire encountered at the breaches proved insurmountable; but a brigade of the fifth division under General George Townshend Walker escaladed the works on the opposite side of the town, and advanced along the ramparts towards the breaches. The castle, too, was escaladed by the third division under Picton. The troops defending the breaches dispersed, and the place was taken and sacked. It cost Wellington nearly five thousand men, of whom more than two-thirds fell in the assault. When he learnt the extent of his losses, ‘the firmness of his nature gave way for a moment, and the pride of conquest yielded to a passionate burst of grief’.
He wrote next day to Lord Liverpool begging that the British army might be provided with a corps of trained sappers and miners, as every foreign army was; adding that it was a cruel situation for any person to be placed in to have to sacrifice his best officers and men in carrying such places by vive force. But if he had had the means, he had not the time for systematic approaches. Soult was advancing with twenty-four thousand men, and a second battle of Albuera was imminent, when the place fell. Marmont had meant to send three divisions to help Soult, but he received orders from Napoleon that if Wellington should make the mistake of attacking Badajoz, he was to march on Almeida and push out parties to Coimbra. Accordingly he entered Portugal at the end of March.
Learning this, and that the Spaniards had neglected to provision Rodrigo, Wellington gave up his intention of following Soult, who had retreated into Andalusia, and in the middle of April recrossed the Tagus, leaving Hill on the south side as before, with seventeen thousand men. On his approach Marmont fell back, having done nothing beyond gathering supplies. The invasion of Andalusia had been Wellington's plan for the campaign. Forced to abandon it, he determined to invade Castile, feeling sure that if he could beat Marmont he should indirectly deliver the south of Spain. As a preliminary, he caused Rowland Hill to seize and destroy the double bridgehead at Almaraz which Marmont had built to secure his communication with Soult; and he made this capture seem to threaten Soult, strengthening his disinclination to detach troops to the north. Wellington shortened his own communication with Hill by repairing the bridge at Alcantara. The British sea-power not only helped him in feeding his troops, but enabled him to give occupation to the other French armies while he was dealing with the army of Portugal. The east coast was to be threatened by an expedition from Sicily, the coast of Biscay by a squadron under Sir Home Popham acting in concert with the Spaniards, while the troops at Cadiz and Gibraltar were to hinder Soult from concentrating against Hill. North of the Duero the Portuguese militia and the Galicians were to invade the Asturias and Leon, and to co-operate with his own army.
On 13 June Wellington passed the Agueda with nearly fifty thousand men and marched on Salamanca. Some convents which had been converted into forts detained him there ten days. On the 20th Marmont brought up twenty-five thousand men, and was joined two days afterwards by fifteen thousand more. A good opportunity of bringing him to action seems to have been missed, and when the forts fell on the 27th, he retired behind the Duero. The two armies remained in observation of one another on that river till 16 July, when Marmont, being joined by six thousand men, took the offensive. His skilful manoeuvres and the greater mobility of his troops forced the allied army back to the Tormes, and across it.
On 22 July that army was drawn up on the hills south-east of Salamanca, and its baggage was already on the road to Rodrigo. King Joseph was marching from Madrid with fourteen thousand men to join Marmont, and there was now nothing to hinder their junction. Some cavalry, in which arm Marmont was weak, were also on their way to him from the army of the north. But from vanity, as Napoleon not unfairly said, he gave the opportunity for which Wellington was anxiously watching. Fearing that his enemy would escape him, he pushed out two divisions of his left towards the Rodrigo road without waiting for all his army to come up. They were met and repulsed by the third division, under Pakenham, while several other divisions advanced against their flank. A mass of British cavalry fell on the disordered troops, and, as a French officer put it, forty thousand men were beaten in forty minutes. Marmont was wounded, and Bonnet. Clausel, to whom the command then passed, made a brave stand at the Arapiles, and drew off his troops after nightfall across the Tormes. In this he was aided by the withdrawal of the Spaniards, unknown to Wellington, from the fort of Alba de Tormes. This battle was Wellington's masterpiece: ‘There was no mistake; everything went as it ought; and there never was an army so beaten in so short a time’. The loss of the British and Portuguese was 5,224, that of the French more than twice as much.
Clausel made a rapid retreat to Valladolid, and thence to Burgos. He was not hard pressed, for ‘the vigorous following of a beaten enemy was not a prominent characteristic of Lord Wellington's warfare’; but his army was so disorganised that a fortnight afterwards only twenty-two thousand men had been brought together. Wellington followed him to the Duero, and occupied Valladolid; then, leaving one division and some Spanish troops to watch Clausel, he marched with twenty-eight thousand men upon Madrid. Joseph had been within a few miles of the retreating army of Portugal on the 24th, but, on learning of its defeat, he retired towards Madrid. On Wellington's approach the court quitted that city, and, with the army of the centre, went to join Suchet in Valencia. On 12 August Wellington entered Madrid. He was received with an enthusiasm which he tried to turn to some practical account by a proclamation issued on the 29th. His object still was to force Soult out of Andalusia, and he was prepared, if necessary, to march there himself. But on 25 August, the day on which Joseph joined Suchet at Almanza, Soult, in obedience to the king's reiterated orders, raised the blockade of Cadiz, and began his march to Murcia. Wellington remained at Madrid till 1 September By that time he was satisfied that Soult was not moving on the capital, and he had learnt that the army of Portugal had reoccupied Valladolid. Leaving Hill to cover Madrid, he marched northward with three divisions, hoping to dispose of Clausel before the armies gathering in the south-east were ready to advance. But the Galicians kept him waiting, and Clausel fell back slowly and skilfully behind Burgos, giving no opportunity for a decisive action.
Wellington reached Burgos on 18 September, and before going further he thought it necessary to take the castle. It was a poor place, but situated on a steep hill with three successive lines of defence, and it had an excellent garrison of two thousand men. He was doubtful of success from the outset. The want of guns, ammunition, and trained men was even more marked here than before, and he was unwilling to sacrifice British soldiers to make up for it. An outwork was stormed on the 19th, but a month afterwards the main works still held out, though four assaults had been delivered, and the loss of the besiegers exceeded the number of the garrison. The assaults were made by too small parties, and the troops employed were inexperienced. Meanwhile the army of Portugal, joined by the army of the north and by other reinforcements, had grown to forty-four thousand men. Souham, who was now in command of it, advanced from the Ebro. Wellington prepared to meet him with thirty-three thousand, more than one-third of whom were Spaniards, and on 20 October a battle was imminent. ‘Fortunately they did not attack me: if they had I must have been destroyed,’ he wrote. Souham received orders from the king not to fight, and Wellington had news next day from Hill which determined him to retreat. He raised the siege, disengaged himself skilfully, and by the 30th he was holding the line of the Duero opposite Tordesillas.
By that time the king, with Soult and fifty-eight thousand men, had reached the Tagus, so that Wellington had on his hands more than a hundred thousand of the enemy as the result of his victory at Salamanca. The expedition from Sicily, which had landed at Alicant under Maitland, though not in such force as had been promised, detained Suchet on the coast; but the Spaniards, as usual, had failed to do their part. The cortes had appointed Wellington generalissimo of the armies of Spain on 22 September; but Ballesteros, instead of threatening the flank of Joseph's army, as he was ordered to do, remained at Granada, and published a protest against the degradation of serving under a foreigner. On the 30th Hill received instructions from Wellington either to join him or to retreat down the Tagus. He chose the former, and when he had passed the Sierra Guadarrama fresh orders directed him on Salamanca, to which place Wellington had been obliged to fall back.
On 8 November the whole army assembled there, consisting of fifty-two thousand British and Portuguese and sixteen thousand Spaniards. The united French armies numbered ninety thousand, some troops having been sent back to the north. Nevertheless, Wellington hoped to maintain himself on the Tormes, and was prepared to fight on his old battlefield. Jourdan, the chief of Joseph's staff, wished to attack him; but Soult thought it better to turn his right flank, like Marmont, but with a wider sweep. This threatened his communications, and on the fifteenth he continued his retreat to Rodrigo. The troops then went into cantonments for the winter. There was no fear of an invasion of Portugal, for the French had lost their ordnance and magazines. In the course of the year nearly three thousand guns had been taken, and nearly twenty thousand French prisoners had been sent to England.
There had been much misconduct during the retreat, and Wellington issued a general order (28 November) in which he spoke of the discipline of the army as worse than that of any army he had ever read of. This severe and undiscriminating censure of troops whose discipline, as he afterwards declared, was infinitely superior to that of the French was resented. He received the thanks of parliament (27 April) for the capture of Badajoz, and again (3 December) for the subsequent campaign and especially the victory of Salamanca. He was created Marquis of Wellington on 18 August 1812, and £100,000 was voted for the purchase of estates for him. Wellington Park was bought with part of this grant, the manor of Wellington having been already acquired for him. He was given ‘the Union Jack’ as an augmentation of arms, rather to his annoyance, as it seemed ostentatious, and it would scarcely be credited that he had not applied for it; but he was glad at any rate that Lord Wellesley's suggestion had not been adopted - ‘a French eagle on a scutcheon of pretence’. The prince regent of Portugal made him Marquez de Torres Vedras and Duque da Victoria, and the Spanish regency gave him the orders of San Fernando and the Golden Fleece. On 1 January 1813 he was made colonel of the horse guards, which ended his long connection with the 33rd; and on 4 March he received the Garter, made vacant by the death of Lord Buckingham, whose aide-de-camp he had been.
In December he went to Cadiz, and with the assistance of his brother Henry, the British minister there, he brought about some improvement in the condition of the Spanish armies. The hostility and obstruction which he met with at Lisbon when preparing for the campaign of 1813 obliged him to appeal once more to the prince regent in Brazil. The war with the United States restricted his supplies of corn, and he was near losing his best soldiers for want of money to re-engage them. ‘No adequate notion of Wellington's herculean labours can be formed without an intimate knowledge of his financial and political difficulties’. Yet with all this on his hands, we are told by his judge-advocate-general: ‘He hunts almost every other day, and then makes up for it by great diligence and instant decision on the intermediate days’. As the result of his efforts, and of Lord Wellesley's complaints of the sluggish support which the British government had afforded him, Wellington was ready to take the field in May 1813 with a well-equipped army of forty-three thousand British and twenty-seven thousand Portuguese, which was to be assisted in the north by twenty thousand Spaniards; while fifty thousand, including the Anglo-Sicilian force, now under Sir John Murray (1768?-1827), were to give occupation to Suchet on the east coast. During the winter the French troops had been harassed by guerilla warfare, and they had been reduced in numbers, and still more in quality, by drafts to replace the army which had been destroyed in Russia. Soult, whom Napoleon spoke of as ‘the only man who understood war in Spain,’ had been recalled at Joseph's wish. The king had transferred his court by the emperor's orders to Valladolid, and spread his troops from the Esla to Madrid, though he believed the latter to be the threatened point. Out of 110,000 men, forming the armies of the south, the centre, the north, and Portugal, half were engaged with the revived insurrection in the northern provinces.
Wellington's real intention, which he took care to conceal, was to invade the north of Spain, where he would have the assistance of the Galicians, the insurgent bands, and the British fleet, and would strike the French communications. To turn their positions on the Duero, which had checked him in 1812, part of his army was to cross that river in Portugal, and advance on the north side of it. On 22 May he passed the frontier, waved farewell to Portugal, and moved with his right wing on Salamanca. Driving out a French division, he went on to the Duero, which was reached on the 28th. The left wing, forty thousand strong, under Graham, had great difficulties to overcome in marching through the Tras os Montes and crossing the Esla; but by 3 June the whole army was united at Toro, on the right bank of the Duero. Wellington afterwards said that this was ‘the most difficult move he ever made - that it was touch and go, and required more art than anything he ever did’. But the French were too weak and scattered to hinder the junction. By 3 June 1813 Joseph had brought together fifty-five thousand men on the Pisuerga; he had summoned troops from the north and east, and hoped to make a stand at Burgos. But he was overmatched and out-generalled.
Abandoning Burgos, he fell back to the Ebro; and Wellington pushed on, against the advice of his staff, hoping to ‘hustle’ the French out of Spain before they were reinforced. Adhering to his system of turning their positions by the right, he passed the Ebro above Frias, and provided himself with a new base at Santander. To give time for his detached troops to join him, and for his convoys to get away, Joseph took up a position near Vitoria, behind the Zadora. The army of the south under Gazan fronted west, with the army of the centre behind it; while Reille, with two divisions of the army of Portugal, barred the roads which led to Vitoria from the north. The line of retreat to Bayonne was in prolongation of Reille's front. On 21 June Wellington attacked Gazan with fifty thousand men, while Graham with thirty thousand attacked Reille, and seized the Bayonne road. The French fought well, but pressed on two sides, and still encumbered with a huge train, they were forced to retreat on Pamplona by a bad road, and in extreme confusion. Their loss in men was not much greater than that of the allies, about five thousand; but they left behind them nearly all their guns, their stores, and treasure. Joseph's private papers and Jourdan's baton were among the spoil, and a large number of pictures, including many Spanish masterpieces from Madrid, which were afterwards given to Wellington by King Ferdinand.
The beaten army continued its retreat across the Pyrenees. Of the French troops not present at the battle, seventeen thousand under Foy retired by the Bayonne road, followed by Graham; fourteen thousand under Clausel, pursued by Wellington, marched down the Ebro to Zaragoza, and crossed the Pyrenees by Jaca. Only the armies of Aragon and Catalonia remained in Spain, numbering nearly sixty thousand men. Murray had failed badly at Tarragona; but Suchet, on learning Joseph's defeat, concentrated his troops on Catalonia, and did not interfere with Wellington's operations. The victory and the expulsion of Joseph from Spain came most opportunely; they influenced the negotiations at Prague and the course of Austria. The Prince Regent sent Wellington the baton of field marshal in return for that of Jourdan (3 July); the thanks of parliament were voted him (7 July); and the Spanish regency bestowed on him the estate of Soto de Roma, near Granada, reputed to be of much more value than it actually proved.
French garrisons had been left in Pamplona and St. Sebastian. Wellington blockaded the former and laid siege to the latter, as he needed a good port. But the truth of Vauban's saying, that precipitation in sieges often means failure and always bloodshed, was shown once more. The batteries opened fire on 14 July, and on the 25th the breaches were assaulted. But the guns of the fortress had not been silenced, the assault was repulsed, and next day the siege had to be suspended. As soon as Napoleon learnt that the allies had passed the Ebro, he had sent off Soult from Dresden as his lieutenant. Soult reached Bayonne on 12 July, and reorganised the troops on the frontier as ‘the army of Spain.’ It consisted of three corps - Reille's, D'Erlon's, and Clausel's - and a reserve, and had a strength of seventy thousand men. Wellington had eighty-two thousand regulars, but one-third were Spaniards, and, while blockading two fortresses, he had fifty miles of the Pyrenees to guard.
Soult decided to relieve Pamplona first, not St. Sebastian, as Wellington expected. On 25 July D'Erlon forced the pass of Maya, and Reille and Clausel the pass of Roncesvalles. The two latter, following up the right of the allies, were within a few miles of Pamplona on the 27th. But Picton, who commanded the right, took a position east of Sorauren covering Pamplona. Wellington rode up and was recognised by both sides, and Soult deferred his attack till the 28th. By that time troops had arrived from the left, and after very hard fighting the attack was repulsed.
On the 30th Soult, who had been joined by D'Erlon, while Wellington's divisions had also drawn together, gave up his attempt on Pamplona and moved off to his right, hoping to turn the left of the allies and relieve St. Sebastian. But Wellington fell upon the French left, which remained behind to cover this movement, and drove it in disorder over the mountains; and Soult himself, giving up his plan, regained French territory with difficulty on 2 August by way of Echalar. In the nine days' fighting, known as the battles of the Pyrenees, the loss of the allies was 7,300; that of the French was about twice as much.
The siege of St. Sebastian was renewed. A more powerful siege-train was used, and some trained sappers were employed for the first time; but the attack was still unsystematic, and the naval blockade had not been close enough to prevent aid reaching the garrison. The town was stormed on 31 August, and the castle surrendered on 9 September; but they cost the besiegers 3,778 men. On the day of the assault Soult, pressed to do something to save the place, sent some of his troops over the Bidassoa. ‘They were beat back, some of them even across the river, in the most gallant style by the Spanish troops,’ Wellington reported; but this was said to encourage the Spaniards rather than as an accurate account. Wellington was strongly urged on political grounds to invade France, and he so far complied as to throw his left across the Bidassoa on 7 October and force the French back on the Nivelle. Further than this he was not prepared to go while Pamplona held out, and the course of the war in Germany was doubtful. He knew that Suchet could bring at least thirty thousand men to co-operate with Soult if he chose to do so; and he had thoughts of going himself to Catalonia before undertaking any serious invasion of France. He had trouble to keep his own army together, for the Spaniards starved their troops, and the Portuguese wanted to withdraw their brigades from the British divisions and combine them under a Portuguese commander. There was bitter hostility to the English both at Lisbon and Cadiz, and at the latter place it was inflamed by reports that they had burnt St. Sebastian by order, out of commercial jealousy. The minister of war, O'Donoju, who spread these reports, so persistently violated the conditions on which Wellington had accepted the command of the Spanish armies that he resigned that command on 30 August. His resignation was accepted by the regency but not by the cortes, and the dismissal of the minister improved matters. Pamplona capitulated on 31 October 1813.
The battle of Leipzig had decided the war in Germany, and Wellington was now ready to invade the south of France with ninety thousand men. He issued a proclamation to the French people on 1 November assuring them of good treatment if they took no part in the war. On the 10th the battle of the Nivelle was fought. The French right was very strongly posted in front of St. Jean de Luz, and Wellington's object was to force the centre and cut off the right, like Marlborough at Blenheim. He did not succeed entirely; but the French were driven from positions which they had been intrenching for three months, and which Soult believed to be impregnable. They fell back on Bayonne, having lost four thousand men and fifty guns.
The Spanish troops, neglected by their own government, plundered and ill-used the French peasantry, so Wellington sent them back to Spain, except Morillo's division. Bad weather kept him inactive for a month, but on 9 December he forced the passage of the Nive, and placed Hill's corps between the Nive and the Adour. This restricted the French field of supplies and enlarged his own. Soult, seeing the allied army divided, took advantage of his central position at Bayonne to assail first one part and then the other. On the 10th he attacked the left and centre, but with no great vigour or success. He continued demonstrations against them on the 11th and 12th; and having drawn the British reserves to that side of the Nive, he fell with twenty-eight thousand men upon Hill, who had only fourteen thousand. There was a hard-fought battle at St. Pierre on the 13th, but Hill held his ground till reinforcements came up.
The state of the roads obliged Wellington to suspend his further advance till the middle of February 1814. By that time Napoleon had drawn largely on Soult and Suchet for troops; while Wellington, having at length received money to pay his way, was able to bring some of the Spaniards to the front again, though he could not cure them of pillaging. The French government tried, but with small result, to raise the peasantry against the invaders: ‘the natives - are not only reconciled to the invasion, but wish us success’. Soult, not wishing to be shut up in Bayonne, left a garrison of fourteen thousand men there, and took up the line of the Bidouze. Wellington, by threatening his left, forced him to fall back, and drew him away from Bayonne, in front of which Sir John Hope remained with twenty-eight thousand men. On 23 February Hope sent a division across the Adour below the town, and by the 26th a bridge of boats was made, ‘a stupendous undertaking which must always rank among the prodigies of war’. The width of the river was nearly three hundred yards, and the rise of tide fourteen feet. Bayonne was then invested on all sides.
Meanwhile Soult had fallen back behind the Gave de Pau, and concentrated his troops at Orthes, where he was attacked on the 27th by Wellington, who had passed the stream lower down with the bulk of his troops. There were nearly forty thousand men on each side, and the battle was obstinate. Wellington was himself struck by a bullet above the thigh - his only wound, and not a serious one. The French were at length driven from their position, and as Hill, who had been on the left bank, had by that time forced a passage above Orthes, Soult was obliged to retreat northward. His retreat soon became a flight, in which he lost thousands of stragglers, and he had to abandon his magazines. After crossing the Adour he marched up the right bank, and hoped to deter Wellington from moving on Bordeaux or Toulouse. But Wellington sent Beresford to Bordeaux with twelve thousand men; the Duc d'Angoulême entered the city, and Louis XVIII was proclaimed there. Wellington refused, however, to identify himself with a Bourbon restoration, as the allies were at that time negotiating with Napoleon.
Wellington remained on the defensive at Aire till he was rejoined by Beresford and by other troops, bringing up his numbers to forty-six thousand men. On 17 March 1814 he advanced upon Soult, who had been threatening him, but who now retreated rapidly by Tarbes on Toulouse. He was prepared to defend that city when Wellington, who followed more slowly, arrived there on the 26th. As the country to the south proved impassable, Wellington crossed the Garonne below Toulouse, and made his attack from the north and east; though the Canal du Midi formed a line of defence on these sides, and on the east, beyond the canal, the heights of Calvinet had been intrenched. In numbers Soult was inferior by ten thousand men, but his works and his central position more than made up for this. Bad weather delayed the battle till 10 April. While Hill threatened the St. Cyprien suburb on the left bank, and two divisions on the north threatened the posts on the canal, the real attack was made by the fourth and sixth divisions upon the heights of Calvinet, after a hazardous flank march under fire. Morillo's Spaniards co-operated with them. The heights were at length taken, and the French fell back behind the canal, though their loss was only two-thirds of that of the allies, which was 4,660 men. On the night of the 11th Soult, fearing that he would be shut in, left Toulouse and marched towards Carcassonne. Next day news reached Wellington of Napoleon's abdication, and a convention was signed on 18 April 1814 by which hostilities ceased.
Wellington was summoned to Paris to confer with the allied sovereigns about Spain. On 10 May he set out for Madrid, to smooth matters between the restored King Ferdinand and his subjects. He left Madrid on 8 June, having effected little; issued a farewell order to his army at Bordeaux on the 14th, and landed in England on the 23rd. His journey from Dover to London was a triumphal progress, and his carriage was drawn by the people from Westminster Bridge to his house in Hamilton Place. Fresh honours now fell thick upon him. He was created Marquis of Douro and Duke of Wellington on 3 May. An annuity of £13,000, or in lieu of it a sum of £400,000 for the purchase of estates, was voted by parliament, in addition to former grants, on 13 May. The thanks of parliament had already been voted for St. Sebastian (8 November) and for Orthes (24 March). On 28 June the duke took his seat in the House of Lords, and received the thanks of that house and of the House of Commons. On 1 July he made his acknowledgments for the latter in person, the procedure following closely that which had been adopted in the case of Schomberg a century and a quarter before. The speaker remarked in his reply that the nation ‘owes to you the proud satisfaction that, amidst the constellation of great and illustrious warriors who have recently visited our country, we could present to them a leader of our own, to whom all, by common acclamation, conceded the pre-eminence’. On the 7th he took part in the thanksgiving service at St. Paul's, bearing the sword of state, and on the 9th he was entertained by the city, which four years before had demanded an inquiry into his conduct. The orders of Maria Theresa of Austria, St. George of Russia, the Black Eagle of Prussia, and the Sword of Sweden were conferred on him.
On 5 July Wellington was appointed ambassador at Paris - a strange choice. On his way there he examined the defences of the Netherlands; he recommended the restoration of the barrier fortresses, and opposed the destruction of the works at Antwerp which the British government contemplated. Among the field positions which he indicated in his report was that of Waterloo, and a special survey was made of it. He arrived at Paris on 22 August, where the house of Princess Borghese, still the British embassy, had been bought for him. His chief business as ambassador was to negotiate for the suppression of the slave trade, which was then being urged in England ‘with all the earnestness, not to say violence, with which we are accustomed to urge such objects, without consideration for the prejudices and feelings of others’.
Some of the French marshals showed much irritation at his appointment, and, as the general discontent in Paris increased, the British government became alarmed for him. They proposed, therefore, to send him to North America, to replace Sir George Prevost (1767-1817), who had failed at Plattsburg. He replied, ‘You cannot at this moment allow me to quit Europe,’ and added that to withdraw him from Paris in a hurry would do harm, ‘although I entertain a strong opinion that I must not be lost’. It was then arranged that as Castlereagh must return to England for the session, Wellington should take his place at Vienna. This he did on 15 February 1815. The main business of the congress was over; but his presence there and his absence from Paris were alike opportune when Napoleon returned. The news that he had left Elba reached Vienna on 7 March. Wellington at first thought his enterprise would fail, but was none the less for prompt and vigorous measures in support of Louis XVIII. On the 13th he signed the declaration of the powers, that Napoleon had ‘placed himself outside civil and social relations, and handed himself over to public justice, as the enemy and disturber of the peace of the world,’ and on the 25th he signed a treaty, based upon that of Chaumont (1 March 1814), for the combined action of the four great powers, each contributing 150,000 men . The British government ratified the treaty, though it had not thought at first of going so far.
After signing it, Wellington set out for Brussels, and on his arrival there, on 4 April, received his commission (dated 28 March) as commander of the British and Hanoverian forces on the continent. He at once concerted measures with the Prussians at Aix la Chapelle for the security of Brussels, and he sent to Vienna a plan for the invasion of France which he hoped to see taken in hand at the beginning of May. But it soon became clear that the Austrians and Russians would not be ready till July. In May the command of the Netherland troops was given to him, with the rank of field-marshal. By the middle of June his army had grown to 106,000 men, of which one-third were British, the rest being Dutch-Belgians or Germans. Most of the troops were raw and many half-hearted. His ‘Spanish infantry,’ as he called the regiments which had served in the Peninsula, had been sent for the most part to America. He organised the infantry in three corps: two were under the Prince of Orange and Lord Hill; the third, or reserve, he kept in his own hands. To each corps two British divisions were assigned, and each of these divisions included a Hanoverian brigade, except the guards. Instead of being left free to choose his own staff, he found himself ‘overloaded with people I have never seen before’.
The Prussian army under Blücher, 117,000 strong, was echeloned on the Sambre and Meuse, from Charleroi to Liège. Its base was Cologne, while the British base was Antwerp, so that the lines of communication diverged. At a conference on 3 May at Tirlemont, Blücher and Wellington seem to have arranged that, in case Napoleon should aim at separating the two armies by an advance through Charleroi, they should concentrate near Ligny and Gosselies respectively. Wellington thought it more likely that Napoleon would try to turn his right, to cut his communication with England and Holland, and get possession of Ghent and Brussels. For this reason the cantonments of his first and second corps were spread over forty miles, to the west of the Charleroi-Brussels road, while the reserve was kept at Brussels. But, in spite of rumours, he did not expect an immediate attack, and wrote, ‘I think we are now too strong for him’.
Napoleon had assembled on the frontier an army of 128,000 men, excellent troops, though hastily organised. He joined it on 14 June, and next morning, at daybreak, attacked the Prussian outposts at Thuin, near Charleroi. The news reached Wellington at Brussels at 3pm, and he sent off orders for his troops to be in readiness to move. At 10pm - when reports from Mons had satisfied him that the attack was not a feint - he directed them on Nivelles and Quatre Bras. He then went to the Duchess of Richmond's ball to allay anxiety; this famous entertainment was held, not in the Hotel de Ville, as Byron's well-known lines would imply, but in a coach-maker's depot in the Rue de la Blanchisserie. A brigade of Perponcher's Dutch division was engaged that evening near Quatre Bras, but held its ground, and was reinforced by the other brigade before morning.
Wellington reached Quatre Bras about 10am on the 16th, and, seeing little of the enemy rode over to Brye, where he met Blücher at 1pm. Three Prussian corps, eighty-two thousand men, were drawn up behind the Ligny brook, in a position which made Wellington sure they would be ‘damnably mauled’. He did not hide his opinion, but he promised that he would bring his troops to their support if he were not attacked himself. He had sent a note to Blücher at 10.30am., stating generally the situation of his troops at that time. The statements were inexact, for his staff were over sanguine in their calculations; but there is nothing to show that they influenced Blücher's decision to accept battle, or led him to count on assistance, much less that they were deliberately misleading, as Dr. Hans Delbrück has alleged. On his return to Quatre Bras Wellington found that the troops there had been attacked by Ney, with about eighteen thousand men, at 2pm. They were being overpowered when Picton's division arrived, followed by the Brunswick and Nassau troops. In spite of brilliant charges by the French cavalry, in one of which Wellington narrowly escaped capture, Quatre Bras was held, and by evening Ney was outnumbered and forced back. D'Erlon's corps, which had been allotted to him, was afterwards diverted towards Ligny, and then, on his urgent summons, marched back to join him. It took no part in either action, but nevertheless Wellington could claim that he had relieved his ally of one-third of the French army. He lost nearly five thousand men.
Next morning he learnt that the Prussians had been beaten and had retreated on Wavre, and he fell back to the position in front of Waterloo which he had caused to be surveyed in 1814. Except for a cavalry skirmish, his retreat was unmolested; but it was made under heavy rain, which lasted all night. He had sent word to Blücher that he would hold his position if he could count upon the support of one or two Prussian corps, and in the night of the 17th he received a reply promising two corps and perhaps more. He is said to have mentioned long afterwards that he himself rode over to Wavre that night and saw Blücher. The Prussian commander was over seventy, and had been badly bruised at Ligny, but his energy was unabated; he wrote next morning that, ill as he was, he should put himself at the head of his troops, to attack the right wing of the enemy as soon as Napoleon should attempt anything against the duke. This letter was to Müffling, the Prussian representative at the English headquarters; and Gneisenau, the chief of the staff (who had previously warned Müffling that Wellington surpassed Indian nabobs in duplicity), added a postscript begging him to find out whether Wellington really meant to fight, as his retreat would place the Prussian army in the greatest danger.
Wellington believed that only one corps instead of two had been detached under Grouchy to follow the Prussians, and that he had all the rest of the French army before him; but he was still so anxious lest his right should be turned that he kept nearly fifteen thousand men, including one British brigade of two thousand four hundred men, at Hal and Tubize, eight miles to the west. He reckoned on early help from the Prussians to enable him to hold his ground, and he had no reason to suppose that Napoleon was unaware of their position or would disregard it. He always afterwards maintained that Napoleon should have turned his right instead of taking the bull by the horns. Reille, from large experience in Spain, warned the emperor that English troops in a good position were ‘inexpugnable’ by front attack, and advised him to maneuvre; but Napoleon was incredulous. His only fear was that Wellington would retire, and it was with equal satisfaction that the two commanders saw on the morning of Sunday, 18 June, that the issue was to be settled on that ground. Wellington would not allow the front of his position to be intrenched lest he should deter Napoleon from direct attack, and the latter satisfied himself that there were no intrenchments before he issued his orders.
Napoleon had on the field seventy-two thousand men, of which fifteen thousand were cavalry, with 240 guns; Wellington had sixty-eight thousand, of which twelve thousand were cavalry, with 156 guns. Of British infantry (not including the king's German legion) there were fewer than fifteen thousand. The position taken up was two miles south of Waterloo, and extended a mile to the right and a mile to the left of the Charleroi road. A ridge, along which ran the cross road to Wavre, formed its front, and gave shelter to the reserves. The right was thrown back at a right angle to a ravine near Merbe Braine. The château of Hougoumont, the farm of La Haye Sainte, and the farms of Papelotte and La Haye were held as advanced posts, in front of the right centre, left centre, and left respectively. In front of the right there was a division at Braine l'Alleud. The guns were on the ridge. The cavalry was mainly on the reverse slope, behind the centre, and was entirely in the hands of Lord Uxbridge.
After half an hour's cannonade the battle began at noon by an attack on Hougoumont by Reille's corps. The wood was taken, but the buildings were held throughout the day. At 1.30 D'Erlon's corps advanced against the left, but, repulsed by Picton, and charged by Ponsonby's heavy cavalry, it was driven back in disorder, with a loss of five thousand men. From 4 to 6pm the French cavalry, to the number of twelve thousand, wore themselves out in repeated but fruitless charges on the squares of the centre. At the end of six hours' fighting the French had gained no serious advantage, and their reserves had been largely drawn upon. Napoleon had become aware at 1.30 of the approach of the Prussians. He thought for a moment of changing his plan, and turning Wellington's right by the Nivelle road; but he was unwilling to increase his distance from Grouchy, and he sent Lobau with ten thousand men to the right to keep the Prussians in check. Their leading corps (Bülow's) had been told to halt at St. Lambert ‘till the enemy's intentions were quite clear’, and it was not till 4.30 that it began to press heavily on Lobau. Before six the latter had to be reinforced by seven thousand men of the guard.
About that time La Haye Sainte was taken, the garrison having exhausted its ammunition, which was of special pattern. This gave the French a footing close to the main line, and the fire of their guns and skirmishers was so destructive that some of the squares broke, and there was a gap in the left centre. Captain Shaw (afterwards Sir James Shaw Kennedy), who brought this startling news to Wellington, was struck by the coolness with which he received it and the precision of his reply. Wellington himself led forward the Brunswick troops to fill the gap, and ordered up the Nassau troops. The latter fired on him, when he tried to rally them shortly afterwards: ‘in fact,’ he said, ‘there was so much misbehaviour that it was only through God's mercy that we won the battle’. But it was not against this weakened part of the line that Napoleon directed the imperial guard when he made his last bid for victory, about 7.30; but against Maitland's brigade of guards, which was more to the right. The accounts differ widely, but there seems to have been a first attack by two battalions (grenadiers), which was repulsed by Maitland's brigade, and a second attack by four others (chasseurs), of which the two leading battalions were taken in flank by Adam's brigade and driven across the Charleroi road, while the rear battalions retired in good order. These attacks were part of a general effort against the whole position, which came to an end with their failure.
Wellington was behind Maitland's brigade during this crisis, though there is no good authority for ‘Up guards and at them.’ He now ordered the whole line to advance, sent forward the light cavalry, and joining the 52nd, the leading battalion of Adam's brigade, pressed it on against such troops as tried to make a stand. By this time Bülow's and Pirch's corps were forcing the French out of Planchenoit; Blücher with Ziethen's corps had joined Wellington's left and recovered Papelotte and La Haye. The French army dissolved, and before nine Napoleon left the field. Blücher met Wellington on the Charleroi road, and it was arranged that the Prussians should undertake the pursuit. Their meeting place was not La Belle Alliance, according to Wellington, and he did not accept the Prussian suggestion that the battle should bear that name. He was not inclined to magnify the Prussian share in the victory, though he did justice to it. Their loss, nearly seven thousand men, shows how substantial that share was. The loss of Wellington's army was fifteen thousand; that of the French has been reckoned at over thirty thousand, with two hundred guns. Wellington himself was untouched, but most of his staff were hit. He wrote next day: ‘The losses I have sustained have quite broken me down, and I have no feeling for the advantages we have acquired.’ The tears ran down his cheeks as he listened to the surgeon's report.
The two allied armies crossed the French frontier on the 21st, and marched on Paris. They left detachments to deal with the fortresses on the frontier, except Cambrai and Péronne, which were taken by assault. Napoleon had tried to gather together a fresh army at Laon, but Wellington's opinion was ‘that he can make no head against us, qu'il n'a qu'à se pendre’. In fact, having returned to Paris on the 21st, he found himself driven to abdicate next day in favour of his son, and on the 25th he retired to Malmaison. After a vain offer to lead the French once more against the rather scattered forces of the allies, he set out on the 29th for Rochefort. The executive commission appointed by the chambers sent envoys to ask for an armistice, but Wellington and Blücher refused to suspend their advance. The Prussians pushed on more quickly than the British, but by the end of the month both armies were before Paris, the Prussians on the south-west, the British on the north. Blücher wished to storm the city, but Wellington dissuaded him, for there were seventy thousand French troops in it under Davout, and there would have been much needless bloodshed. On 3 July a convention was concluded by which the French army retired behind the Loire. The Prussians occupied Paris, and twenty thousand British troops encamped in the Bois de Boulogne. The restoration of the Bourbons, about which the allies were far from unanimous, seemed to Wellington to offer the only hope of a permanent settlement, and he acted with Fouché, who brought it about. Louis XVIII, who by his advice had followed the British army, re-entered Paris on the 8th. The allied sovereigns arrived two days afterwards, and negotiations were begun, in which Great Britain was represented by Castlereagh and Wellington.
Several differences of opinion had occurred between Wellington and his impetuous colleague Blücher, and were handled by the former with a happy mixture of strength and suavity. Blücher wanted to get Napoleon into his hands, and meant to shoot him on the spot where the Duc d'Enghien had been shot. Wellington insisted that Napoleon must be disposed of by common accord, and added, with what Gneisenau termed ‘theatrical magnanimity,’ that both Blücher and himself had played too distinguished parts in these transactions to become executioners. He also interfered to prevent the levying of a heavy contribution on the city of Paris and the destruction of the Pont de Jéna; in the latter case he posted English sentries on the bridge.
When Ney was brought to trial in November, he claimed Wellington's intervention under the twelfth article of the convention of 3 July, which provided that no one should be interfered with on account of his past position, conduct, or opinions. Wellington showed in his reply that this article was not, and could not be, intended to prevent a French government acting as it might think fit, but only to prevent measures of severity under the military authority of those who signed the convention. Accordingly he did not take, and the British ambassador was forbidden to take, any official steps to save Ney; but Wellington did all he could for him privately.
In the discussion of the terms to be imposed on France, Wellington argued forcibly against any considerable cession of French territory, such as the Prussians aimed at, and in favour of an occupation for a term of years. The Emperor Alexander shared his views, and they prevailed. The second treaty of Paris, signed on 20 November, made only minor alterations of frontier, but provided that an army not exceeding a hundred and fifty thousand men should occupy the north-east departments at the cost of France for a term of three, or if necessary five, years. It imposed an indemnity of seven hundred million francs, of which one-fourth was to be spent on the frontier fortresses of the neighbouring states. This was to be in addition to the payment of individual claims against the French government, provided for in the treaty of 1814. In the case of the Netherlands fortresses the works were carried out under Wellington's direction. He was appointed on 22 October to command the army of occupation, which consisted of five equal contingents furnished by England, Russia, Austria, Prussia, and the minor states of Germany.
Five days after the battle of Waterloo parliament had passed a vote of thanks to Wellington, and made him an additional grant of £200,000. At his suggestion a Waterloo medal was given, not only to the higher officers, but to all ranks alike, a thing unprecedented. More than thirty years afterwards a medal was similarly granted to all who had taken part in earlier battles and sieges from Egypt to Toulouse. The king of the Netherlands created Wellington Prince of Waterloo, with an estate which made him one of the largest landowners in Belgium. Louis XVIII offered him the estate of Grosbois, but substituted the order of the Saint-Esprit set in diamonds. Many other foreign orders were conferred on him.
The troops of the army of occupation took up their cantonments in January 1816, and Wellington fixed his headquarters at Cambrai. He entertained largely, and kept a pack of hounds which he hunted regularly, as he had done in Spain. He maintained strict discipline, but insisted on reparation if the French were aggressors. He went to England in the summer of 1816, and again in 1817, being present at the opening of Waterloo Bridge on 18 June. In October 1817, at the request of the Emperor Alexander, he consented to act as referee for the settlement of the claims against the French government, and succeeded in reducing them by three-fourths. His share in the restoration of works of art to the countries from which they had been taken had given great offence in Paris, and he incurred the animosity of democrats and reactionaries alike. On 25 June 1816 an attempt was made to set fire to his house in the Rue Champs-Elysées, where he was giving a ball; and on 10 February 1818 a shot was fired at him as he drove into the courtyard at night. Cantillon, a sous-officier of the empire, was brought to trial for this attempt, but was acquitted. A legacy of ten thousand francs was left to Cantillon by Napoleon I, and paid to his heirs by Napoleon III.
A reduction of the army of occupation was proposed by Louis XVIII in 1816, and was supported by Russia, which posed as the special friend of France. Wellington resisted it, but in April 1817 he agreed to the withdrawal of thirty thousand men; and in November 1818, when the term of three years came to an end, he thought the remainder might be withdrawn. He took part in the conferences at Aix-la-Chapelle, where the evacuation was decided on, the quadruple alliance was renewed, and other questions were settled. He was made field-marshal in the Austrian, Russian, and Prussian armies on 15 November On the 21st his command of the army of occupation came to an end, and he returned to England.
The parliamentary commissioners had bought for him the estate of Strathfieldsaye in Hampshire, on 9 November 1817, for £263,000: a bad investment, which he used to say would have ruined any man but himself. He enlarged and improved it, spending on it for many years all the income he derived from it. Cobbett owned, ‘according to all account, he is no miser at any rate’. Apsley House, at Hyde Park Corner, was also bought for him from Lord Wellesley; and in 1828, when he had an official residence in Downing Street, he faced it with stone, and added a west wing in which the Waterloo banquet was held annually.
In order that Wellington might lend his weight to the government, the master-generalship of the ordnance, with a seat in the cabinet, was given to him on 26 December, being resigned by Lord Mulgrave. The ministry was substantially the same as that of which he had been a member ten years before. Various shades of toryism were represented in it. His own was of the deepest, though he was well aware that ‘this country was never governed in practice according to the extreme principles of any party whatever.’ What has been said of Pitt may be more justly said of Wellington, that he was ‘the child and champion of aristocracy’. In the army he favoured ‘sprigs of nobility,’ held that family and fortune should have their influence on promotion, and distrusted officers (as a class) who had to live on their pay . In Spain he had tried to graft on the new constitution ‘an assembly of the great landed proprietors such as our House of Lords,’ to guard the rights of property; and he had inquired ‘whether, if I should find a fair opportunity of striking at the democracy, the government would approve of my doing it’. He despised alike the cheers and the clamour of the mob, and had the worst opinion of those who aimed at a ‘low, vulgar popularity.’ ‘Trust nothing to the enthusiasm of the people. Give them a strong, and a just, and if possible, a good government; but, above all, a strong one,’ was his advice to Lord William Bentinck for Italy. He complained much of ‘the ignorance and presumption and licentiousness’ of the English press. As regards the Roman catholic claims, on which the cabinet was divided, he was against concession. ‘Ireland has been kept connected with Great Britain by the distinction between protestants and catholics since the Act of Settlement. The protestants were the English garrison. Abolish the distinction, and all will be Irishmen alike with similar Irish feelings. Show me an Irishman and I'll show you a man whose anxious wish it is to see his country independent of Great Britain’.
The immediate results of peace and retrenchment in England had been depression of trade, surplus labour, distress, disturbances, and repressive legislation. The rough handling of the Peterloo meeting on 16 August caused exasperation; the six acts followed, and the Cato Street conspiracy of Arthur Thistlewood. Among Wellington's first duties was to advise as to the use of troops in dealing with mobs. On 29 January 1820 George III died, and this raised the question of Queen Caroline. In June Wellington and Castlereagh on behalf of the ministry held conferences with Brougham and Denman, but no agreement was come to. The bill of pains and penalties was brought in, but was dropped after the second reading. Without going far enough to please the king, the government had gone too far for many of its supporters, and Canning resigned. Wellington was made lord lieutenant of Hampshire on 19 December 1820, and soon gave offence by speaking of ‘the farce of a county meeting,’ with reference to an address to the queen from that county.
He was lord high constable at the coronation of George IV, as at the two subsequent coronations. The tone of public opinion had become, as Peel remarked, ‘more liberal - to use an odious but intelligible phrase - than the policy of the government’. To strengthen the latter, Liverpool wished to bring back Canning, but the king was obstinate; and Liverpool had to content himself with ‘the rump of the Grenvilles’ and with Peel, who became home secretary in January 1822. It was suggested that Wellington should go to Ireland, where outrages were on the increase, but he was against it, and Wellesley was made lord lieutenant.
Castlereagh, who had become Lord Londonderry, committed suicide on 12 August 1822. Wellington had noticed that his mind was unhinged, and had warned his doctor. He persuaded the king to accept Canning as foreign secretary, and he himself took Londonderry's place as British representative at the congress which met in September at Vienna and transferred itself to Verona. His instructions, drafted by Londonderry for himself, were supplemented but not substantially altered by Canning. The main subjects for discussion were Turkey, Italy, and Spain; and it was the latter that chiefly engaged the attention of the congress. Wellington stated his case for non-intervention with singular force. But Alexander was bent on putting down ‘Jacobinism,’ of which he considered England the supporter, and Austria and Prussia followed his lead. The three powers came to an agreement with France that, in case of need, she should send troops to help Ferdinand against his subjects, and that they should support her. On other points Wellington was more successful. He left Verona on 30 November, and at Paris on his way home he made a formal offer of British mediation between France and Spain. This was done against his own opinion, and it was declined, as he anticipated.
As a last effort, Lord Fitzroy Somerset [Lord Raglan] was sent to Madrid in January 1823, to urge the moderates on Wellington's behalf to come to terms with the king, not only to prevent the invasion of their country, but to save their colonies. His mission proved fruitless; and in April a French army entered Spain to restore absolutism. Attacks were made in parliament both on the policy of the government and on Wellington's course at Verona. Wellington defended himself, and the government obtained large majorities, for few thought that England should have gone the length of war. The re-establishment of absolute monarchy in Spain by France hastened the recognition of the revolted Spanish colonies by England. This was the work of Canning, and was strenuously opposed by Wellington. He had little sympathy with the flashiness which coined the phrase about calling a new world into existence, or with the trade motives which lay behind. He held that ‘in a view to our own internal situation, to our relations with foreign powers, to our former and our existing relations with Spain, considering the mode in which the contests with these states has [sic] been carried on, and to our own honour and good name, the longer the establishment of such relation is delayed the better'. He even tendered his resignation, but did not insist on it. In his own department Wellington had taken two steps of importance: he had brought about the transfer of the charge of barracks and stores from the treasury to the ordnance, and he had started the ordnance survey of Ireland. His health at this time caused anxiety; he ‘looked extremely ill, withering and drying up’. In 1822 he had had an operation to improve the hearing of the left ear, with the result that he became permanently deaf on that side, and was never quite well afterwards.
Ill-health notwithstanding, he went to St. Petersburg in 1826 as bearer of the king's congratulations to the Emperor Nicholas on his accession. Russia was believed to be on the verge of war with Turkey on behalf of the Greeks, when Alexander died; and Wellington's real mission was to ascertain the views of the new emperor, and induce him ‘to forgo, or at least suspend, an appeal to arms.’ He was to propose that England should offer to mediate between the Greeks and Turks, either alone or jointly with Russia; and to mention that the Turks had been warned that the barbarous scheme of expatriation attributed to Ibrahim Pacha would not be tolerated. He reached St. Petersburg on 2 March, and remained there till 6 April. In his conversations with the emperor he found him disinclined to interfere with the Porte in favour of ‘rebellious subjects,’ but bent on satisfaction for grievances of his own, while disclaiming all thought of aggrandisement. He would not be dissuaded from sending an ultimatum to Constantinople, but he extended the term for compliance. The Russian minister, Nesselrode, showed more interest in the Greek question, and at his instance a protocol was drawn up on 4 April by which the two powers agreed to recommend the formation of a self-governing but tributary Greek state, if the Porte accepted the offer of mediation. If that offer were declined, and war should occur between Russia and Turkey, any settlement of the Greek question was to be on this footing. The other powers were to be invited to join in the recommendation.
The Porte yielded to the Russian demands, and in August the Russian government inquired what action England had taken, or proposed to take, under the Greek protocol. Canning and Wellington were here at cross-purposes. The object of the latter was to preserve peace, or at any rate restrain Russia, while Canning was eager to do something for the Greeks. He had been ill-pleased with the results of Wellington's mission, and had sent a rather captious criticism in a despatch which was afterwards cancelled. He now carried the government a step further towards intervention by proposing that the settlement agreed upon should be pressed upon the Porte by all the powers, and, if it were not accepted, they should recall their ministers, and should recognise the independence of that part of Greece which had freed itself from Turkish dominion. Prussia and Austria declined to join in this course; but France associated itself with Russia and England, and suggested that the protocol should be replaced by a treaty, with a secret article providing for armed interference. Wellington strongly objected to this as long as he remained in office, but it was afterwards concluded in July. It led to Navarino (20 October), which was spoken of as an ‘untoward event’ by Wellington in the king's speech at the beginning of 1828, and which he afterwards said was ‘fought by our admiral under false pretences’.
It was with Wellington's full concurrence that five thousand men were sent to Lisbon in December 1826 to assist in repelling the incursions made from Spain in the interest of Dom Miguel. He had in fact recommended it three years before, when the French troops were in Spain. But while he held that England should fulfil her treaty obligation to defend Portugal against invasion, he was steadily opposed to any interference in her internal disputes. He refused to leave the British troops at Lisbon when there was no longer danger from outside, and after Miguel's usurpation Wellington would not allow England to be used as a base for attacks on him. On 28 December he was made constable of the Tower, and resigned the governorship of Plymouth, which had been given to him on 9 December 1819. The Duke of York died on 5 January 1827, and the king, when he found that he could not take the command of the army himself, offered it to Wellington. He was appointed commander-in-chief on 22 January, remaining master-general of the ordnance. He was made colonel of the grenadier guards, instead of the horse guards, but continued to be colonel-in-chief of the rifle brigade, a post which had been given to him on 19 February 1820.
A stroke of paralysis disabled Liverpool on 17 February, and his long administration came to an end. Peel suggested to Canning that Wellington should be his successor, but Canning was resolved to hold no other place himself. He had made friends at court, and in April he was charged with the reconstruction of the ministry. Six members of the cabinet resigned their offices, including Wellington. He considered that Canning, being distrusted by Liverpool's followers, would have to look elsewhere for support, and ‘to obtain that support he must alter the course of action of the government;’ while his hot and despotic temper, and ‘his avowed hostility to the great landed aristocracy of the country,’ were additional objections to him as a chief. Affronted by the tone of one of Canning's letters, which had been approved by the king, Wellington resigned, not only the ordnance, but the commandership-in-chief, on 12 April. The king complained bitterly of his desertion, and he was charged by Canning's supporters with dictating to the king and seeking to be first minister himself. He scouted this charge in the House of Lords, saying: ‘His majesty knew as well as I did that I was, and must be totally, out of the question.’ He added that he would have been worse than man to think of giving up the command of the army for ‘a station to the duties of which I was unaccustomed, in which I was not wished, and for which I was not qualified’.
Canning died on 8 August, and Lord Goderich was made head of the government, which remained a coalition of Canningites and whigs. Wellington was invited to resume the command of the army, and accepted, without blinking his political differences. He was reappointed on the 22nd. Lord Anglesey, who was the bearer of the invitation to him and brought back his answer, said to the cabinet: ‘Mark my words, as sure as you are alive, he will trip up all your heels before six months are over your heads’. But it was the king, not the duke, and its own dissensions that brought the Goderich administration to an end. On 9 January 1828 Wellington was commissioned to form a ministry. He agreed with Peel, who was to lead in the commons as home secretary, that they could not fight a party and a half with half a party, and the cabinet included four Canningites - Huskisson, Dudley, Grant, and Palmerston. Wellington became first lord of the treasury on 26 January Peel convinced him, much against his will, that he must give up the command of the army, and Hill was appointed to it, as senior general officer on the staff, on 14 February. Wellington accepted a situation which was disagreeable to him, and for which he still declared he was not qualified, at the cost of ‘the greatest personal and professional sacrifices’; but he was never deaf to a call on him for help, especially from the crown.
There was soon friction in the cabinet. Russia declared war against Turkey in February, and called on England to act on the treaty of July 1827. Wellington was prepared to do so, though he disapproved the treaty, but he would not give it a construction so favourable to the Greeks as the Canningites desired. In 1827 he had defeated Canning's corn bill by an amendment that foreign corn should not be taken out of bond till the price reached 66s.; and it was only after long discussions that a fresh corn bill was agreed upon, with a sliding scale, substituting protection for prohibition. In fact, the members of the cabinet differed on almost every question, ‘meeting to debate and dispute, and separating without deciding’. The king and others began to say that the duke ‘was no doubt a man of energy and decision in the field, but that in the cabinet he was as weak and undecided as Goderich’; while his colleagues complained that he was too domineering.
On 20 May William Huskisson and Palmerston voted against the government on the East Retford question, and the former thought it right to tender his resignation. He was not invited to withdraw it, as he expected to be; and Wellington's answer, when Dudley came to him to explain matters, was, ‘There is no mistake, there can be no mistake, and there shall be no mistake’. The other Canningites followed Huskisson, and the government became purely tory. Vesey Fitzgerald, appointed to the board of trade, had to seek re-election for Clare; and this enabled the Catholic Association to give a signal proof of its strength and discipline. Fitzgerald was very popular, and had always been a staunch advocate of the catholic claims; but Daniel O'Connell , though disqualified as a catholic, stood against him, and was returned by the votes of the forty-shilling freeholders. This brought the catholic question at once to the front.
Wellington had long realised that it must be dealt with, and had sought in vain for a safe solution by a concordat with Rome. His speeches on the repeal of the test and corporation acts, and on the catholic question itself, were taken to show a disposition to compromise. But the Clare election, and the alarming reports that soon followed it from Ireland, convinced him that something must be done without delay ‘to restore to property its legitimate influence.’ The Catholic Association not only controlled elections, but could raise a rebellion when it pleased; yet it was out of reach of the law as it stood. The House of Commons, which had shown a majority of six in May for the removal of catholic disabilities, would not pass measures of coercion without concession. By a dissolution the government would lose more seats in Ireland than it would gain in England. Hence there was a deadlock, as Wellington explained to the king; for the first step was to gain his consent to the consideration of a question which had been tabooed to all ministries since 1810. In a second memorandum the duke gave an outline of his plan, which included proposals for the payment and licensing of the priests, afterwards dropped because of the objections of the English bishops. But it was not till 15 January 1829 that the king gave the cabinet leave to consider the question.
The Duke of Cumberland was even more ‘protestant’ than the king, over whom he had great influence. Always a mischief-maker, his opposition to the government was so violent and unscrupulous that Wellington had at length to make formal complaint of it. The Duke of Clarence was ‘catholic,’ but his vagaries as lord high admiral had to be restrained, and after much trouble he resigned. ‘Between the king and his brothers the government of this country has become a most heart-breaking concern,’ Wellington wrote to Peel (26 August). He had other embarrassments. Peel quite agreed with him on the catholic question, but wished to resign, and only yielded when he was assured that the difficulties could not be got over without him. Secrecy was indispensable while the king held out, and even the lord lieutenant, Lord Anglesey, was left in the dark. Anglesey had become a strong advocate of emancipation, and was indiscreet in his dealings with the agitators. Sharp letters passed between him and Wellington, and on 28 December he was told that he would be relieved. His recall was hastened by some comments which he published three days afterwards on a letter from Wellington to Dr. Curtis, the Roman catholic primate.
On 20 January 1829 Wellington succeeded Liverpool as lord warden of the Cinque ports, and from that time he lived much at Walmer Castle. On 5 February the king's speech asked parliament for fresh powers to maintain his authority in Ireland, and invited it to review the laws which imposed disabilities on the Roman catholics. On the 10th a bill was brought in suppressing the Catholic Association, and this having been passed, Peel introduced a bill on 5 March which swept away all catholic disabilities, with some few exceptions, and another which disfranchised the forty-shilling freeholders. The bills passed both houses by large majorities, and on 13 April they received the royal assent. But the emancipation bill was passed with the help of opponents and in the teeth of friends. At every step Wellington had had to fight against the intrigues of the Eldon section and the king's shiftiness. No one else could have done it, and never did he deserve better of his country than in this, which he described fifteen years afterwards as ‘the most painful act of my long life’. He lived ‘in an atmosphere of calumny,’ and the charge of dishonesty, openly made against him by Lord Winchilsea, led to a duel between them at Battersea. The duke fired wide; Winchilsea fired in the air, and then apologised.
Having broken with the liberal tories, and made the ultra tories ‘sullen and sour,’ the government survived only by the divisions of its opponents. Dulness of trade and a bad harvest promoted discontent. At the beginning of the session of 1830 amendments to the address were moved from tory benches, and the government was forced to cut down the estimates. Its foreign policy, especially as regards Portugal and Greece, was attacked by the whigs and Canningites, who were primed by the Russian ambassador Lieven and his wife. The treaty of Adrianople, which ended the war between Russia and Turkey, was in Wellington's view the death-blow to the independence of the Porte. He would rather have seen the Russians enter Constantinople, for then the other powers would have taken part in the disposal of the wreck of the Turkish empire. He sought to undo the effect of this separate negotiation, to make Greece the creation of Europe, not of Russia, to restrict the limits of what he believed would be a ‘focus of revolution,’ and, above all, not to play into the hands of Russia by weakening Turkey. His solicitude on this last point was inherited by some of those who were most opposed to him at the time, especially Palmerston and Stratford Canning.
George IV died on 26 June, and parliament was dissolved on 24 July. Two days afterwards the July revolution began in Paris, and on 7 August Louis-Philippe was proclaimed king of the French. Wellington had thought Polignac an able man, but he had had nothing to do with the choice of him as minister, as was falsely reported, and he had strongly objected to the expedition to Algiers. The British government promptly recognised Louis-Philippe, and when the outbreak at Paris was followed by one at Brussels, the first step in the separation of Holland and Belgium, Wellington fell in with the French proposition that England and France should act in concert in tendering advice to the king of the Netherlands. It seemed to him to offer the best chance of escaping war, but he strongly objected to the subsequent development of this policy of joint action.
The current of liberalism at home was quickened by its successes abroad, and a large proportion of the members of the new parliament were pledged to retrenchment and reform. Attempts had been made to strengthen the government, especially in the commons, and Wellington offered to retire, to give Peel a free hand in this respect. In the autumn he made overtures to some of the Canningites. Huskisson was killed at the opening of the Liverpool and Manchester railway on 15 September 1830; the accident took place a few moments after he had been in conversation with Wellington. Lamb (who had become Lord Melbourne) and Palmerston declined to join individually; but they and others were willing to join a reconstituted ministry, on the basis of moderate reform, from which Peel and other members of the government were not averse. But Wellington was not prepared for a second surrender, and when parliament met in November he took the earliest opportunity of declaring himself on this question.
He affirmed that the existing system of representation had and deserved the confidence of the country, that no better legislature could be devised, and that as long as he held office he should oppose any measure of reform. To a friend who found fault with this uncompromising attitude, he replied: ‘I feel no strength excepting in my character for plain, manly dealing.’ He was convinced that the ‘moderate reformers’ had no firm footing, and that if disfranchisement were once admitted, without proved delinquency, it would be pushed to lengths which would rob the upper classes ‘of the political influence which they derive from their property, and possibly eventually of the property itself’. He had no private interest in the matter: ‘I have no borough influence to lose, and I hate the whole concern too much to think of endeavouring to gain any'.
Wellington's declaration caused great excitement both in and out of parliament. The funds fell four per cent. next morning, and he was unsparingly denounced . The king and ministers were to have dined with the lord mayor on the 9th, but the unpopularity of the government and of Peel's newly formed police made a riot so likely that the royal visit to the city was postponed. On the 15th the government was beaten on the civil list and resigned.
The Grey administration was formed, and on 1 March 1831 a drastic reform bill was brought in by Lord John Russell. Throughout the year of conflict which followed, Wellington did his utmost to bring about the defeat of a measure which he believed would be the ruin of the country, and to knit together what now began to call itself the conservative party. He made light of the threats of mob violence or insurrection: ‘I am much more apprehensive of the lingering, but more certain, mischief of revolutionary legislation’. But when he learnt that the Birmingham political union was procuring arms, he wrote to the king, and his letter called forth the proclamation of 22 November He hoped that this proclamation would separate the government from the radicals, and owing to this hope he did not discourage the negotiations which were then beginning between the ‘waverers’ and the government, though he would be no party to them himself. But he was soon convinced that no substantial concessions would be made, and a week before the second reading of the third Reform Bill was carried in the lords by help of the waverers, he wrote, ‘They have ruined themselves and us’.
Seeing that there was no longer any chance of throwing out the bill, he turned his mind at once to mitigating its evils. It was his rule to make the best of circumstances, and he could afford to disregard the charge of swallowing principles for place. William IV, who had so long held on with Grey untired, had begun to hang back, and on his refusal to create peers enough to overcome the opposition in committee, Grey resigned on 9 May. The king consulted Lyndhurst, and sent him to Wellington, and the duke felt bound to make an effort ‘to enable the king to shake off the trammels of his tyrannical minister’. He consented to take office, either as head or member of an administration pledged to bring in an extensive reform bill. But Peel refused; Manners-Sutton, the speaker, was scared and drew back; and on the 15th Wellington and Lyndhurst informed the king of their failure. To avert the creation of peers, they promised to absent themselves from the further discussions of the bill. Grey resumed office; peers enough followed Wellington's example to allow the bill to pass; and on 7 June it received the royal assent.
The odium incurred by all opponents of the bill fastened especially on Wellington. The windows of Apsley House were broken by the mob on 27 April 1831, three days after the death of the duchess, though her body was still lying there; and they were broken again on 12 October Wellington left them unmended, and subsequently put up iron shutters, which remained till his death. On 18 June 1832 he was threatened by a mob as he was riding home from the mint, and had to take shelter at Lincoln's Inn. But his unpopularity did not last long. The university of Oxford, which had created him D.C.L. on 14 June 1814, elected him chancellor on 29 January 1834, and he was received with the wildest enthusiasm when he went there to be installed on 9 June. His election helped to cause a temporary coolness between him and Peel, who had declined an invitation to stand, but was nevertheless sore on the subject.
Not one-fourth of the members of the reformed House of Commons were conservatives; but the weakness of the opposition lessened the cohesion of the government, and Ireland proved a stumbling-block. In November 1834 Melbourne (who had taken Grey's place in July) laid before the king the difficulties of the situation caused by the removal of Althorp to the lords. William IV seized the opportunity to change his ministers, and sent for Wellington. The duke advised that Peel should be prime minister; but Peel was at Rome. Messengers were sent off to him; and, to prevent counter-maneuvres during his absence, the outgoing ministers were called upon to give up their seals. Wellington was sworn in as home secretary on 17 November, and was also appointed first lord of the treasury. For the next three weeks he carried on the government almost alone, in order that Peel might be free to form his own cabinet. He passed from one department to another, and took care that there should be no arrears. Grey complained that he was ‘uniting in a manner neither constitutional nor legal the appointments of first lord of the treasury and secretary of state’, but the country was more amused than irritated. Peel arrived on 9 December, and Wellington then became foreign secretary.
The administration, born prematurely, lasted only four months. The election of 1835 strengthened the conservatives, but left parties so balanced that O'Connell's followers could turn the scale; and after three defeats on the Irish church question, Peel resigned on 8 April. Wellington damaged the ministry by choosing Londonderry as ambassador at St. Petersburg; but though he had disapproved of the foreign policy of Grey and Palmerston, the latter, on returning to the foreign office, wrote: ‘The duke has acted with great fairness and honour in his administration of our foreign relations; he has fulfilled with the utmost fidelity all the engagements of the crown, and feeling that the existence of his government was precarious, he made no arbitrary changes in our system of policy’.
Peel and Wellington resumed their former line of conduct in opposition; not trying to turn out the government, but to mend its measures, and to support the whigs against the radicals. They followed this course for six years, though with increasing difficulty as their party gained strength. The conservative majority in the lords was often restive under Wellington, and he himself differed on some questions from Peel especially as to the Canada bill. He was opposed to the union of the upper and lower provinces because he thought it was a step towards severing their connection with Great Britain, while Peel had no great repugnance to such a result. The bedchamber question, on which the duke went along with Peel, saved the conservatives from office in 1839; and the Melbourne ministry continued to lose ground till it was brought to an end on 30 August 1841 by a vote of want of confidence carried by a majority of ninety-one in the new parliament. In 1838 he had received with warmth his old adversary, Marshal Soult, who came to England as ambassador at the coronation of Queen Victoria; at that ceremony, as well as at the queen's wedding, Wellington figured prominently as lord high constable of England.
In Peel's second ministry Wellington, at his own suggestion, had a seat in the cabinet without office, with the leadership in the lords. Since 1837 he had had several epileptic fits, usually brought on by cold or want of food, for he often went twenty-four hours without a meal. As Sir James Graham said, a conservative government without him could not stand a week; but it was his name and weight rather than his active participation that was wanted. Peel's was a one-man administration, and when he sought advice it was from Graham or Gladstone. He was ‘passionately preoccupied’ with the state of the working classes, while Wellington was more concerned for the prosperity of agriculture.
On Hill's death Wellington was reappointed commander-in-chief by patent for life (15 August 1842). He had pointed out, in December 1839, that an increase of the naval and military establishments was required; but the question now began to take more hold of his mind, and he urged it officially in December 1843. No one was more anxious for peace; he anticipated the late Lord Derby in the saying that peace is the first of British interests. But he was not disposed to trust the safety of the country to foreign friendship or alliances, and he held that the progress of steam navigation had aggravated the danger of invasion. The naval preparations of France and differences with her and with the United States made the matter very serious, and Wellington again pressed it upon Peel in December 1844. He owned that ‘all the administrations since the peace of 1815 may be more or less to blame for the state in which the defences of the country are found;’ and as a member of cabinets bent on ‘dishing the whigs’ in retrenchment he must bear his share of the blame. Little came of his remonstrances. The subject was distasteful to a ministry intent on financial reforms; Aberdeen, the foreign secretary, feared that France would take umbrage, and the entente cordiale would suffer; and the corn-law question soon absorbed attention.
Wellington was far from sharing the conclusions about the corn laws to which Peel came in the autumn of 1845. He was a staunch partisan of the sliding scale, and saw no reason to modify or suspend it on account of the potato disease. But when Peel, after resigning on 6 December, resumed office on the 20th, because the whigs could not form a government, Wellington unhesitatingly supported him. ‘The existing corn law is not the only interest of this great nation,’ he said, and Peel's downfall ‘must be followed by the loss of corn laws and everything else.’ The question of questions to him ever since the Reform Bill had been how to maintain a government, as opposed to a set of ministers who were the servants of a parliamentary majority made up of mere delegates from the constituencies. ‘All I desire - all I have desired for some years past - is to see a “government” in the country - to see the country “governed,”’ he had said in 1839. He hoped at first that Peel would soften the blow to the agricultural interests, and that a schism of the conservatives might be avoided. He was disappointed; and on the second reading of the corn bill he could say nothing in its favour, but he advised the lords - as his last advice to them - to accept it.
On 26 June the government, having passed the corn bill, were beaten on their Irish bill. The duke recommended dissolution, but Peel preferred to resign. This ended Wellington's career as a party politician. It would have been well, perhaps, for his reputation if he had stood aloof from party altogether, but that was impossible. His weight and capacity made the politicians turn to him for help; and he was himself a man of strong and definite convictions - what Thiers called narrow, and Stockmar one-sided - not a man of ‘cross-bench mind.’ At the end of 1846 Palmerston, who was again at the foreign office, brought the question of national defence before the Russell cabinet. Sir John Fox Burgoyne had furnished him with a memorandum, and sent a copy of it to Wellington. This drew from the duke his letter of 9 January 1847, which, much to his annoyance, was published in the Morning Chronicle of 4 January 1848. In spite of Cobden's suggestion that the duke was in his dotage, the letter made a deep impression, and its main recommendation, organisation of the militia, was proposed to parliament in February, though not carried till 1852.
As commander-in-chief, as in other positions, Wellington was averse from change. He held that the British army must always be recruited from ‘the scum of the earth,’ and that corporal punishment was indispensable for it. He regarded old soldiers as the ‘heart and soul’ of a regiment, and was against passing them into an army reserve. He was not a friend to military education: the public school and the regiment were the best training for officers. Improvements in weapons did not meet with ready acceptance from him, yet it was in his time and with his approval that the Minié rifled musket was introduced. He was very desirous that Prince Albert should succeed him in the command of the army, in order that it might ‘remain in the hands of the sovereign and not fall into those of the House of Commons,’ but he admitted the force of the prince's reasons against it. The queen remarked at this time (6 April 1850), ‘How powerful and how clear the mind of this wonderful man is, and how honest and how loyal and kind he is to us both’.
When London was threatened by the chartists on 10 April 1848 he personally planned the measures for protecting it and saw to their execution. His consultation with the cabinet was described by Macaulay as the most interesting spectacle he had ever witnessed. He gave much attention to Indian affairs. He was opposed from the first to Lord Auckland's policy in Afghanistan, but, as it could not be stopped in time, he would not have it attacked as a party question. He laughed privately at Lord Ellenborough's proclamations, but he gave him strong support and blamed his recall. After Chillianwallah he said to Sir Charles Napier, ‘Either you must go out or I must;’ but when Napier quarrelled with Lord Dalhousie and resigned, Wellington's opinion was against him.
He was elected master of the Trinity House on 22 May 1837, having become an elder brother on 9 May 1829; and was made ranger of Hyde Park and St. James's Park on 31 August 1850. His many functions were no sinecures to him, and outside of them he had a large correspondence. ‘He was profuse, but careless and indiscriminating in his charities, and consequently he was continually imposed upon,’ says the brother of his private secretary. It was his habit to open and answer all letters himself, though sometimes this became impossible. An instance is to be found in the Letters of Wellington to Miss J., published in 1890. A stranger to him, but a religious enthusiast bent on his conversion, this young lady wrote to him in 1834 and interested him. They seldom met, but the correspondence was carried on actively, especially on her side, till 1851, when her pertinacity and self-assertion at length exhausted his forbearance. He had other and closer intimacies with ladies, which caused reports that he meant to marry again; but he once said emphatically, ‘no woman ever loved me; never in my whole life’. In 1850 he stood godfather to the third of the queen's sons, and he was painted in 1851 in the well-known group by Winterhalter with his godson, the queen, and Prince Albert, and the exhibition building in the background.
He was a frequent visitor to the Great Exhibition of 1851, and Cobden noted with vexation that when he entered ‘all other objects of interest sank to insignificance.’ He was in his usual health till September 1852, and on the 13th he drove over to Dover from Walmer. He returned to dinner two hours later than usual, was very hungry, and ate hastily and heartily. He had a fit in the night, and in the course of the 14th he gradually sank, and died in the afternoon. Palmerston who so often differed from him, wrote:
Old as he was, and both bodily and mentally enfeebled by age, he still is a great loss to the country. His name was a tower of strength abroad and his opinions and counsel were valuable at home. No man ever lived or died in the possession of more unanimous love, respect, and esteem from his countrymen.
But the finest tribute, and the best picture of him, is Tennyson's ode on his death. He was buried with unexampled magnificence at St. Paul's on 18 November After lying in state at Walmer, the body was brought to Chelsea Hospital on the night of the 10th, and lay in state there till the 17th. On that night it was taken to the Horse Guards, and next morning the funeral procession passed by Constitution Hill, Piccadilly, and the Strand to St. Paul's, in the presence, as was estimated, of a million and a half of people. Out of £80,000 voted, there remained £20,000 for a monument, of which nearly one-third was spent in the choice of an artist. The commission was given to Alfred Stevens in 1858, and the work was worthy of the man and the place; but it was not till forty years after the duke's death that it was erected in St. Paul's Cathedral in the position for which it was designed, in one of the arches on the north side of the nave.
|Meet the web creator||
These materials may be freely used for
non-commercial purposes in accordance with applicable statutory allowances
and distribution to students.
Last modified 9 August, 2014
|American Affairs 1760-83||The Age of the French Wars 1792-1815||Irish Affairs 1760-89|
|Economic Affairs in the Age of Peel||Irish
|Primary sources index||British Political Personalities||British Foreign policy 1815-65||European history||