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“Kingston House, March 27th, 1840. “MY DEAR Lady BLESSINGTON --Being anxious to obey your ladyship's kind command, I send you some verses which I have lately addressed to my dear and highly respected friend, Lord Chief Justice Bushe (though nominally to his granddaughter, Miss Fox). You will not understand them unless you first read the packet (No. 1) containing a letter from the chief justice, with some verses from Miss Fox.
“If your ladyship thinks my verses worth notice, they are at your disposal.
“They have been sent to Ireland, of course, but with a notice that they are not published. It is, however, to be expected that the chief justice will be desirous of communicating them to his friends.
“ If your ladyship should think them worthy of your notice, I think I could obtain permission from the chief justice to publish his letter, and his granddaughter's verses, and my original letter to his lordship at the same time....
“Kingston House, 10th May, 1840. “My dear LADY BLESSINGTON,—You must think me very insensible, or worse, to have left your beautiful poetry unpraised for so long a time; nothing less than absolute inability to write could excuse me; but the sad truth is, that I have been in such a state of suffering from pain for some time past (although my complaints are said not to be dangerous) as to be quite disqualified for human society.
“I am restrained from giving utterance to all estimation of your verses by their excessive kindness to me, although I know your sincerity so well that I am sure you think all you say; and I have too much respect for your judgment to be disposed to dispute its justice when pronounced in my favor.
“Military laurels, by common consent of mankind, occupy the pinnacle of the temple of living fame; and no statesman should envy a living hero, particularly if the great captain should happen to be his own brother. But the page of history is wide enough to contain us all, and posterity will assign his proper place to each.
“I think Mrs. and Miss Fox a great deal too squeamish. The verses are really creditable to the young lady's genius, and the publication of them is my act, and not hers; therefore, there is no question affecting her modesty.
“Mrs. Malaprop (the original from whom Sheridan drew his character) resided at Bath; and there, somebody having mentioned a young lady, twelve years old, who was perfect in all accomplishments, she observed, “For my part, I don't like those praycooshus young ladies.' This day the chief justice told me in the council chamber, Dublin Castle.
“ Your ladyship may be assured that I will omit no effort to obtain the chief justice's consent, and if I should fail (which I do not expect), you may rely on my endeavors to make ample amends, and fully to discharge so clear a debt of honor. Ever, my dear Lady Blessington, your truly devoted servant,
“Kingston House, 3d August, 1841. “My dear LADY BLESSINGTON,—I return the verses, with a high sense of the value of your approbation ; they were an Etonian exercise in the fifth form, which was sent up for good. I translated them the other day (or rather sleepless night), at the desire of Lady Maryborough.
“ I am very much better, but I shall never think myself recovered until I have been able to pay my duty to you. Ever, dear Lady Blessington, your grateful and devoted servant,
THE DUKE OF WELLINGTON. Arthur Wesley, third son of the Earl of Mornington, was born May the 1st, 1769, but not at Dangan Castle, county Meath, Ireland, as Burke erroneously states.*
* In the Public Register, or Freeman's Journal, of Saturday, May the 6th, 1769, there is the following brief announcement : “ Birth. In Merrion Street, the Right Hon. the Countess of Mornington of a son."
This newspaper was half-weekly, and only one publication could occur between Saturday, the 29th of April, and Saturday, May the 6th.
In Enshaw's Gentleman's Magazine, a monthly periodical published in Dublin, in the number for May, 1769, the following entry in the list of births is to be found : “April 29, the Countess of Mornington of a son.”
In the Dublin Mercury of Thursday, May the 4th, 1769, the same announcement is made, in the same words.
The parish books of St. Peter's Church, Dublin, contain the registry of the baptism, in the following words, at the foot of a page headed “Christenings, 1769." “ April 30, Arthur, son of the Right Hon. Earl and Countess of Mornington;" and signed, Isaac Mann, Archdeacon. The east side of Upper Merrion Street was then, as it now is, included in the parish of St. Peter.
The house No. 24, about the centre of the east side of Upper Merrion Street, now occupied by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, was formerly the town residence of the father of the late Lord Cloncurry, who in his Memoirs makes mention of an entertainment given by his father to the lord lieutenant “at Mornington House, a residence in Merrion Street, which he had purchased from Lord the late Marquess Wellesley."
Mr. Burke, in his Peerage, erroneously records his grace's birth at Dangan Castle, county Meath, on the 1st of May, 1769; and in Dublin it was a generally received opinion that his grace was born in a house that formerly stood on the site of the late Royal Irish Academy House, in Grafton Street.
The fact of the birth of the late Duke of Wellington at No. 24 Upper Merrion Street has been clearly established, in a pamphlet on the subject, by John Murray, Esq., A.M., LL.D., published in 1852.
Young Wesley was sent to Eton, afterward to the Military College of Angers.
Whatever proficiency he may have made in military studies, in classical and literary attainments no pretensions to progress have ever been set up for him. The natural bent of his genius was in the direction of the former pursuits.
He entered the army at the age of eighteen, and the Irish House of Commons before he was twenty-two. In 1790, being then a captain in the army, he was returned for the borough of Trim.
The 10th of January, 1793, the Hon. Mr. Wesley made his maiden speech, seconding a motion for an address to his majesty, returning most cordial thanks for the royal message, recommending among other matters for consideration the situation of his majesty's Catholic subjects to the serious attention of the Irish Parliament.
Mr. Wesley said: “At a time when opinions were spreading throughout Europe inimical to government, it behooved us, in a particular manner, to lay before our gracious sovereign our determination to support and maintain the Constitution. He took notice that, under the present reign, this country had risen to a state of unexampled prosperity. He said that the augmentation of the forces, as mentioned in the speech, had, from the circumstances of the times, become necessary. He reprobated, in very severe terms, the conduct of the French toward their king, and their invasion of the territories of sovereign princes, and their irruption into the Austrian Netherlands. He applauded the conduct of the administration of this country for issuing the proclamation of the 8th of November, and he condemned the attempt of a set of men, styling themselves National Guards, and appearing in military array—a set of men unknown in the country, except by their attempts to overthrow the government: the conduct of the administration on that occasion entitled them to the confidence of the people. In regard to what had been recommended in the speech from the throne respecting our Catholic fellow-subjects, he could not repress expressing his approbation on that head; he had no doubt of the loyalty of the
Catholics of this country, and he trusted that when the question would be brought forward respecting that description of men, we would lay aside all animosities, and act with moderation and dignity, and not with the fury and violence of partisans."'*
Between the first effort in the Irish Parliament in favor of the Catholic claims in 1793, and the final successful one in the British House of Commons in 1829, a great military career was accomplished, and a vast renown achieved.t
From 1817, the duke's services, being no longer needed in the
* Irish Parliamentary Debates, p. 5. 1793.
+ In 1787 he had received his first commission of ensign. In the list of promotions, 1792, we read, “Honble. Arthur Wesley, from 58th Regiment of Foot, to be captain, vice Crofton, in the 13th Regiment of Dragoons." After various promotions, he was appointed lieutenant colonel of the 33d Foot in 1793. He served on the Continent, at the head of a brigade, in the Low Countries, and at Malines in 1794, and in 1797 joined his regiment in India.
After triumphant campaigns in the Mysore, the Nizam's territories, those of the Mahratta chiefs in the Deccan, Major General Sir Arthur Wellesley resigned his command, and returned to England in March, 1805.
He married Lady Catherine Pakenham, third daughter of the Earl of Longford, in 1806 ; accepted the office of chief secretary for Ireland, with special privileges, in April, 1809, the Duke of Richmond being then lord lieutenant. Was second in command under Lord Cathcart, in the expedition to Copenhagen, still retaining the office of secretary of Ireland, in the summer of 1807. Landed in Corunna with the rank of lieutenant general, and the title of Sir Arthur Wellesley, 20th of July, 1808. After the treaty of Cintra, at the end of this campaign, returned to England in disgust in the latter part of 1808. Resumed the duties of chief secretary for Ireland, and his seat in Parliament, January, 1809. After Sir John Moore's defeat, was appointed to the chief command of the army for the defense of Portugal, resigned his Irish office, and arrived in the Tagus in April, 1809, in which year he was created Baron Douro of Wellesley and Viscount Wellington.
Having driven the French out of Portugal, gained victory after victory, and well-deserved honors and rewards, he entered Madrid with something like regal triumph in July, 1812, in which year he was created Earl of Wellington, and a few months later, Marquess of Douro, Duke of Wellington. The decisive battle of Vittoria was fought the 20th of June, 1813. A brief and brilliant campaign ended in the expulsion of the French army, 120,000 men, from Spain, in October, 1813. The British army, under the Duke of Wellington, bivouacked triumphantly on the soil of France in November, 1813.
At the dissolution of Napoleon's empire, the duke was dispatched to Paris, and appeared at the Tuileries as British embassador in the early part of 1814. Six months later, he represented his country in the great congress of the Continental allied sovereigns.
On Napoleon's escape from Elba in 1815, the command of the English army destined for the invasion of France was given to him.
field, were called into activity in conferences and congresses with the statesmen and sovereigns of foreign powers. In 1818, he and Lord Castlereagh attended the Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle. As plenipotentiary from the British government, the duke assisted at the Congress of Verona in 1822. He was appointed Master General of the Ordnance in 1819. He succeeded the Duke of York as commander-in-chief in 1826.
Being accused of having sought the office of Premier when held by Mr Canning, he declared, in his place in the House of Lords, in 1827, he was "sensible of being unqualified for such a situation,” and that he “ should have been mad to think of it.”
Eight months later he was prime minister of England. At the opening of the session, the policy of the duke's government in favor of Catholic Emancipation was announced from the throne, 5th February, 1829. The Relief Bill passed both houses, and received the royal assent within two months of that period. The declaration against Parliamentary Reform was made at the commencement of the session, November, 1829. The downfall of the old Toryism forever, and of the Wellington party for ten years, dated from 1830.
The 7th of June, 1832, the royal assent was given to the Reform Bill, and on the 18th of the same month the Duke of Wellington was assaulted by the populace in Fenchurch Street, and nearly dismounted; and, for the first time in his life, turned his back on assailants.
On the fall of the Whigs, he resumed his place in the cabinet, but without special office of any kind, in 1841.
On the accession of the Whigs to power, the command of the army again reverted to him on the death of General Lord Hill. He gave no factious opposition to any government except to that of Mr. Canning. He said that “ he knew the queen’s government must be carried on," so he assisted the Whigs when he thought they deserved support; and whenever the court was
The crowning victory of the great duke was gained at Waterloo, in June, 1815. Foreign honors and distinctions innumerable-a principality—a field-marshal's baton--liberal grants, and unparalleled popularity and pre-eminence at homemarked the general sense of his great services.