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Thread: The Duke of Wellington’s Writing Style.

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    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    The Duke of Wellington’s Writing Style.

    The Duke of Wellington’s Writing Style.

    I’m currently re reading, (for perhaps the third time), Lady Longford’s book on the Iron Duke, titled “The Years of the Sword.”

    What particularly struck me this time was extracts of notes written by the Duke during the Peninsular Campaign, prior to the Waterloo finale.

    Although a bit of a voluptuary in a very English, discreet kind of way when it came to the ladies; in the professional execution of war, his mode of correspondence combined both terseness in form, with an ability to express the crux of the matter, sometimes with a sensitivity that seemed alien to his haughty exterior.

    Thus, in a quite cutting manner regards some cavalry actions that did not go well:

    “I entirely concur with you in the necessity of inquiring into it. It is occasioned entirely by a trick our officers of cavalry have acquired of galloping at everything, and then galloping back as fast as they gallop on the enemy. They never think of manoeuvring so little that one would think they cannot manoeuvre, excepting on Wimbledon Common. All cavalry should charge in two lines, of which one should be in reserve.”

    And yet, when he wrote to Lady Sarah Napier after the battle of Badajoz that her son’s arm had been amputated, he showed himself to be the master of the right approach.

    “Having such sons, I am aware that you expect to hear of those misfortunes which I have more than once had to communicate to you.”

    He had divined her feelings perfectly, for she replied with deep emotion a month after the storming:

    “I can with truth assert that nothing has had so much the power of consolation to me as your letter; for the very cool composure of mind evinced by the admirable style of a letter, written to a simple individual by a General at the very moment of victory, shews me what firmness may be attained by those who have such an example constantly in view.

    Unalterably yours Sarah Napier.”

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    Ecurb Ecurb's Avatar
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    My favorite Wellington story (I forget where I read it): Besmirched with mud, Wellington and an aide were returning to camp after surveying the enemy lines. Just then, a company of new recruits came marching into camp, all spit and polish.

    "I don't know what effect they may have on the enemy," Wellington told his aide, "But they scare the hell out of me."

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    Registered User Jackson Richardson's Avatar
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    When he was Warden of the Cinque Ports his official residence was Walmer Castle. Somebody noticed his bed there was a camp bed and asked how he managed when he wanted to turn over. The story I remember is that he replied "When it's time to turn over, it's time to turn out".
    Previously JonathanB

    The more I read, the more I shall covet to read. Robert Burton The Anatomy of Melancholy Partion3, Section 1, Member 1, Subsection 1

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    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    Thanks Jackson. I'd not heard that one before.

    He died at Walmer Castle I believe?

    I know he was a great one for cat naps during the Peninsular Campaign. If he saw a lull, he could just throw himself on the ground in his cape and grab 40 winks.

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