The Duke of Wellington Just Doesn’t Care

According to the QI elves on Twitter, "After beating him at Waterloo, Wellington slept with two of Napoleon's mistresses and hung a picture of Boney's sister in his bedroom".

The thing that I love about Wellington is that, yes, he was a national hero, and yes, he had the conservative dignity of a politician of such high status, but he was also a magnificent bastard who just did not give a crap about anything. As evidenced in the story of his one-time lover, the famous courtesan Harriet Wilson.

Beating Napoleon was pretty much the only thing that made him show emotion. According to Michael Glover's The Peninsular War 1807–1814: A Concise Military History, after the Battle of Toulouse, he got word of Napoleon's abdication. Wellington broke into an impromptu flamenco dance, spinning around on his heels and snapping his fingers.

Sir_Arthur_Wellesley,_1st_Duke_of_Wellington
"I don't care about you, I barely care about myself, and I only maybe care about this fabulous red coat because it's made out of Napoleon's favorite horse. That's just how I roll."

Even when he was not at war or on the march, he slept in a camp bed and rose at dawn. "I'm a Duke. Creature comforts? What are those? Hell, I'll sleep on the floor. I'll never sleep again. Whatever."

When he was elected Prime Minister (the first time), he said of his new Cabinet, "“An extraordinary affair. I gave them their orders and they wanted to stay and discuss them.” He also refused to move into 10 Downing Street (the official residence of the Prime Minister) because even though it was a huge honor, the house was too small and moving is such a pain and also, meh.

Around the time of his second term as Prime Minister, England was hopping over the issue of voting reform (to paint this in verrrry broad, simplistic strokes, Wellington and the Tories wanted to keep voting power amongst the aristocracy and gentry, while the Whigs wanted to give the vote to more white men with property people). When the Reform Bill passed and Parliament met again after the first election where "lower orders" were allowed to vote, Wellington looked around the room, saw his life's work ruined, shrugged and said, "I never saw so many shocking bad hats in my life".

When his wife died, he went, "Hey, that's kind of sad." So he became friends with the diarist Harriet Arbuthnot. She died not long thereafter and he went, "Hey, that's kind of really sad." So he moved in with Harriet's husband and they had a swinging bachelor pad for the rest of their lives.

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3 Responses to The Duke of Wellington Just Doesn’t Care

  1. I have to say, I do love Harriette Wilson’s memoirs. Good for you, Wellington, for refusing to be blackmailed. πŸ™‚

    I was reading about this recently:

    http://www.riskyregencies.com/2012/09/17/the-duke-of-wellington-and-miss-j/

    The D. of W. certainly led a full life!

    Like

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