Frances (Winckley) Shelley.

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Emperor to the dinner at Merchant Taylors' Hall ; and,
afterwards, to the Guildhall. At the dinner she was
the only female present. At the Guildhall the citizens
were prepared for her being of the party. Although
her antipathy to music is well known, the citizens
would not omit the National Anthem. As the nerves
of the Grand Duchess bore the music so well I begin
to doubt Lord Pembroke's information, and believe
that she is as fanciful as are most women on the

Long before the departure of the Sovereigns public
curiosity had been completely satisfied, and their stay
became, at last, a positive nuisance.

When the date for their return home was fixed, the
joy felt by the higher ranks of society was universal.

Previous to their final departure, the Emperor of
Russia and his sister made an excursion to Oxford.
They both disdained to occupy the fine beds prepared
for them, but passed the greater part of the night
a causer; they then threw themselves on the floor
until daybreak !

As soon as it was light they sallied forth to view all
the curiosities of the city. On their return to town, I
heard Lord Rosebery ask the Emperor if he was not
much pleased with the buildings at Oxford ? The
Emperor expressed himself less warmly than I had
expected, saying " qu'il n'aimait pas ce genre gothique."
With the magnificence of Blenheim he expressed him-
self highly pleased ; and, on being asked if he was not
fatigued with being up at balls till five or six o'clock,
and out at eight in every part of London, he said :
"Ah, c'est impossible d'etre fatigue quand il yatant de
belles choses a voir." Another expression of his was
repeated in socic'td : " Que les Anglais etaient une nation
de princes, qui vivaient dans des cabanes."

The improvised saloon at Burlington House the


Emperor thought fine, and said it was exactly the
size of the ball-room at St. Petersburg. I danced in
the same set with him at White's Club in an English
Country Dance. He seemed to enjoy that quite as
much as valsing, and, as all the Princes, except the
King of Prussia danced, it made the performance very
superior to what we have seen of late years, when
a few Eton boys, aping manhood, supplied the
place of young men. (All those who were good for
anything were at that time better employed with the
arm}' in Spain ; and the Dandies were far too super-
fine to exert themselves, by giving the pleasure of
dancing to girls who were too modest to exhibit
themselves in a valse. That new dance was then con-
demned by the old for indelicacy, and by the young
for awkwardness. For that reason the valse was, in a
great measure, tabooed.)

I cannot resist copying into my diary the following
speech, made by the Speaker of the House of Commons
to the Duke of Wellington, on July i, 1814 :

" My Lord Duke, since last I had the honour of
addressing you from this place, a series of eventful
years has elapsed, but none without some note and
mark of your rising glory. The military triumphs
which your valour has achieved on the banks of the
Douro and the Tagus, of the Ebro and the Garonne,
have called forth the spontaneous shouts of admiring
nations. Those triumphs it is needless on this day to
recount. Their names have been written by your
conquering sword in the annals of Europe, and we
shall hand them down with exultation to our children's

" It is not, however, the grandeur of military success
which has alone fixed our admiration, or commanded
our applause ! It has been that generous and lofty
spirit, which inspired your troops with unbounded
confidence, and taught them to know that the day of
battle was always a day of victory ! That moral and
enduring fortitude which, in perilous times, when
gloom and doubt had beset ordinary minds, stood,








nevertheless, unshaken ; and that ascendancy of
character which, uniting the energies of jealous and
rival nations, enabled you to wield, at will, the fates
and fortunes of mighty empires.

" For the repeated thanks, and grants bestowed
upon you by this House, in gratitude for your many
and eminent services, you have thought fit, this day,
to offer us your acknowledgments. But this nation
well knows that it is still largely your debtor. It owes
to you the proud satisfaction that, amidst the constel-
lation of illustrious warriors who have lately visited
this country, we could present to them a leader of our
own to whom all, by common acclamations, accorded
the pre-eminence ! And when the will of Heaven,
and the common destinies of our nature, shall have
swept away the present generation, you will have left
your great name an imperishable monument, exciting
others to like deeds of glory, and serving at once to
adorn, to defend, and to perpetuate the existence of
this country amongst the ruling nations of the



At last the Sovereigns have taken their departure,
and the joy we feel is increased by the expected
arrival, to-morrow, of our own hero, Wellington,
whom we are to meet at dinner on Tuesday at
Wanstead. As we returned on horseback, through
the Park, from Holland House, a loud hurrah
announced the Duke's arrival. We galloped to
Hamilton Place, but arrived too late — he had entered
the house, and for some time we waited with impatience,
hoping that the cheers of a collected crowd would
bring him to the balcony. The Duke of Wellington,
after staying a few moments, made his escape through
the Park, and went to call on his mother in Upper
Brook Street. We greeted Mr. Wellesley Pole, who
had travelled with the Duke through Spain, and who
became interesting from having been so long with him.

The Duke's carriage, a remarkably heavy one, was
drawn by six horses. Some people found fault with
this, thinking that he sought popular applause ; but
they were soon undeceived. The next day brought a
disappointment. The Prince Regent had sent for the
Duke and asked him to go to Portsmouth to meet
the Sovereigns. So the party at Wanstead was de-
prived of his presence, to the great disappointment
of the assembled multitudes, who had long waited
to cheer his arrival. We had a ball in the evening.

On Monday the 18th, I gave a party; and old Blucher
(who with Platoff remained after the departure of
the Sovereigns) came to it. To my great joy, Mrs.



Wellesley Pole had invited the Duke of Wellington,
whom I saw for the first time at my own house.

The Duke's manner is formal, and, at a first intro-
duction, very imposing. He seldom speaks until he
is well acquainted. He greeted Shelley with the
utmost cordiality— having known him before he went
to Spain. After an absence of six years, during
which time the Duke had gained victories, and
received honours enough to turn the brain of an
ordinary great man, he retains that simplicity of
character, and manner, which is still his distinguish-
ing excellence. He remembers his old friends with
the same interest as ever ; and the youngest of his
subordinate officers enjoys his society, and is indeed
much more an object of his attention, than are those
of a more exalted station in life. In the course of
the evening, when I had lost something of the awe
which the Duke's presence inspired, I ventured to
converse with him. From that time, our acquaint-
ance increased, till it has almost become intimacy.
The night he dined with us happened to be the
Prince's Fete. 1 This compelled the Duke to wear
his full uniform, with all his orders. We thus
had an opportunity of examining the Spanish Order
of the Golden Fleece, given to him by the Princess
of the Peace, 2 an order which descended to her
from her father, and which she had previously
given to her husband, the celebrated Godoy. It is
superb, being composed entirely of diamonds,
suspended by a red ribbon. The other orders are
less splendid ; but the one most valued is the register
of his own triumphs, which was given to all those
officers who had been in one of the eight victories.
The Duke possesses the whole number, having been

1 July 21, 1814.

2 Maria Theresa De Bourbon, niece of Charles IV., King of Spain, married,
in 1797, Manuel de (Jodoy, Duke of Alcudia, who, in July 1795, received the
title of Prince of the Peace, for having negotiated, at Basle, a Treaty of
Peace between France and Spain.


in, and gained them all. 1 The Order consists of a
Maltese cross, upon which the names of five of the
victories are engraved ; the other battles are engraved
on plain bars of gold. Wellington, and the Duke of
York both wore the new Field-Marshal's uniform. The
rest of the party consisted of Mr. and Mrs. Wellesley
Pole, Lord and Lady Burghersh, Lord Westmoreland,
Lord Stewart, the Duchess of Wellington, Lord
Apsley, and my eldest son. But 1 am anticipating.

We met the Duke at Wanstead, 2 where the Prince
Regent, the Dukes of York and Cambridge and ninety
people — including the whole Wellesley family and
all the foreigners who were still in London — sat down
to the most magnificent banquet that I ever saw. The
royal table — laid for thirty people — was raised on
a platform at the end of the room. Above it stood
a Buffet, laden with gold plate, and surmounted by a
bust of the Prince Regent. At the other end of the
room stood a table laden with silver plate, surmounted
by a bust of the Duke of Wellington. Down the centre
of the room stood two tables for the remainder of the
company. I sat near the top of one of these tables,
between Lords Westmoreland and Buckinghamshire ;
Lord Stewart and Shelley sat opposite.

After the King's health and that of the Prince
Regent had been drunk, the latter proposed the health
of old Lord Mornington, which was drunk with en-
thusiasm. The Prince then proposed the health of the
Duke of Wellington, in a very neat speech. When the
Duke rose to reply, he had a broad smile on his face and
seemed to regard all the pageantry, and the honours of

1 Vimiera, 1808 ; Talavera, 1808-9 ; Torres Vedras, 1S09 ; Ciudad Rodrigo,
1812 ; Badajos, 1812 ; Salamanca, 1812 ; Vittoria, 1813 ; Toulouse, 1813-14.

2 Wanstead House, Essex, the property of William Wellesley Pole, brother
of the Duke of Wellington. Created Baron Maryborough 1821, and succeeded
as third Earl of Mornington 1842. He assumed the name of Pole on succeeding
to the estates of a cousin. His son married Miss Tylney Long, an heiress of
fifty thousand a year, all of whose fortune he squandered, and was dependent
in his last years on an allowance from his cousin, the second Duke of Wellington.


that day as nonsense, and fun. It seemed as though all
these honours concerned any one rather than himself.

At last the Duke began : " 1 want words to express

" The Prince Regent promptly interposed : " My

dear fellow, we know your actions, and we will excuse
your words, so sit down."

This the Duke did, with all the delight of a schoolboy
who has been given an unexpected holiday !

The Prince then drank Lord Wellesley's health, who
made an elaborate, and eloquent speech, attributing the
success and prosperity of his family to the protection
of the King, and the Prince Regent ; a protection which
had given them a fair field to display whatever talents
they happened to possess.

In the evening there was a ball ; and the Duke of
Wellington danced a polonaise. Blucher joined in that,
and then danced a country dance in the German fashion,
with an allcmand, skipping down the middle of the
room with Lady Burghersh. Old Platoff 1 performed,
what he called a national dance, with Miss Fitzroy. It
consisted in stamping his feet like ahorse, and nodding
his head. The whole thing was exquisitely ludicrous,
and the Duke could not help joining in the general
laughter. During the whole evening the Duke was
making jokes with his nieces, and appeared to enjoy
the ball quite as much as they did.

The Duke of Wellington, during the evening, said to
Shelley : " I think if Bonaparte had attacked in person
when first we entered Spain, we should have been beat.
But latterly, if there had been any sort of equality in
numbers, we should have conquered in any event — I
mean, whether Bonaparte had commanded in person
or not."

He also said, that if the option were given him of
fighting Bonaparte with an equal number of troops, or
any other general with 20,000 more troops, he should
choose the latter.

1 The Ilctman of the Cossacks, one of the heroes of the war of 1814.


To return to July 21, 18 14, the day when the Duke
dined with us. When Wellington entered the room,
my son John, blushing up to the eyes, went up to him
and said : " I am so glad to see you, Duke of Wellington.
I have wanted to see you such a long time ! " The
Duke appeared very much pleased with the boy, and
kissed him on both cheeks.

After dinner we all went to Carlton House, and I
walked about with Wellington from supper-time until
we went away at five in the morning. We watched
the dancing for some time, and the Duke appeared to
enjoy seeing all his aides-de-camp dancing. He said :
" How would society get on without all my boys ? "

Georgiana Fitzroy's 1 marriage was announced. It was
to take place on the following Monday, when the Duke
was to give her away. I hope that it will turn out
well, but I have my doubts ! Lord Worcester is only
twenty-one, and very wild.

The Duchess of York, the Duke of Cambridge, and
the Prince of Saxe-Coburg dined with us on Friday,
July 22. In the evening I gave a party which everybody
pronounced as perfect. There was no crowd. At the
close of the evening Grassini sang arias, ballads, etc.
The Duke of Wellington talked to me of poor Colonel
Cadogan. 2 He said they would not tell him of Cadogan's
death for some time after the battle of Vittoria. He
expressed sincere regret for his loss, and praised his
conduct most highly.

The other night, when the Duke was taking care of
me, after the opera, the crowd made a way for us with
the greatest respect. The Duke turned towards me,

1 Georgiana Fitzroy, a niece of the Duke of Wellington, married July 25,
1814, Henry Marquis of Worcester, eldest son of the Duke of Beaufort.

2 Colonel Cadogan had been sent by Lord Hill with the 71st, and a battalion
of light infantry, to the support of the Spanish General Murillo, who had been
wounded. Hardly had Cadogan reached the summit of the craggy heights
where the French were in force, than that noble officer fell, while cheering on
his men to charge the enemy. Though mortally wounded, he refused to be
taken to the rear, and watched, with dying eyes, the advance of his heroic
Highlanders along the ridge. r


and said in the gayest tone : " It's a fine thing to be a
great man, is not it ? "

The next morning he set off, at half-past four, to see
a place in Wiltshire which he had heard would suit
him. Half an hour after his arrival there, he decided
against it. He stopped at Salisbury one hour to dine,
and was back in town by twelve o'clock that night.
The distance was 89 miles ; so that in about lgh hours
the Duke travelled 178 miles, and decided upon the
merits of the place as a residence. Mr. Wyatt accom-
panied him. He told me that it was most gratifying to
see the respect with which the Duke was everywhere
greeted — old men standing at a distance bowing, and
bare-headed gazing at him, with tears in their eyes. At
Salisbury the mob got out of hand, and pressed upon
the carriage in an unruly manner. Owing to some
want of arrangement on his servant's part, the Duke
was obliged to sit for ten minutes in the carriage, his
arms almost pulled off in the eagerness of the people
to shake hands with him ! The Duke seems to have
borne all this with the most perfect good humour.

On August 5, 1814, the Duke dined with his regiment
at Windsor, and on the following morning returned to
town to be present at Emily Pole's marriage with Lord
Fitzroy Somerset. 1

While passing through Brentford the wheel of his
carriage came offtwice. The Duke immediately sprang
into a market cart, in full costume as he was, and
arrived at the church only a few minutes after the time
fixed for the wedding. He gave the bride away, and
then dressed for the opera. 1 met him there, and he
took care of me to the carriage.

On August 7 the Duke set off for Paris, and we
returned to Maresfield.

I have thus minutely noted the chief opportunities

1 Emily Harriet, daughter of William Wellesley Pole (afterwards Lord
Maryborough), married August 6, 1814, Lord Fitzroy Somerset, youngest son
of the sixth Duk« of Beaufort.


we have had of studying Wellington's character and
disposition. I am convinced that the more he is known,
the more will he be loved ; and that he forms an excep-
tion to the old maxim, that " no man is a hero to his
valet de chambre."

The adoration felt for the Duke by his family, his
children, and, above all, by the Duchess, are proofs of
his goodness of heart, and disposition.

He is, undoubtedly, the finest character that any age
has produced. But on this subject it is unnecessary
to expatiate, for Mr. Abbot, the Speaker of the House
of Commons, has recorded the feelings of every
English heart in such language as truth alone could
have dictated, and eloquence supplied.

August 1 8 14. — I have become acquainted with Mr.
Abbot, 1 who is an agreeable neighbour to us in
Sussex. He is full of anecdote, and most eloquent.

Lord Sheffield has told me many anecdotes of Gibbon,
who died at Sheffield Place. Amongst others, he
expressed his firm belief that Gibbon had no idea of
disseminating atheistical opinions ; but, surrounded by
a bad set, among whom such opinions were daringly
broached, Gibbon was rather less irreligious than his
companions. This, however, is no excuse ; and I
doubt whether it could have been made in his life-
time without exciting Gibbon's anger.

November 24, 18 14. — General Walpole, who was
private secretary to Charles James Fox, to-day told
me that when Mr. Fox came into office, writers of
various newspapers, in accordance with custom,
applied to him for employment. There were, at that
time, a large number in the pay of the Government.
Mr. Fox, in an interview with these writers, told them
that they must never expect either money, or en-
couragement from him, and desired that they should

il Charles Abbot (1757—1829), M.P. for Helston 1795. He introduced the
first Census Act in 1800. Became Speaker of the House of Commons in 1802,
and was created Baron Colchester in 181 6 .


all be paid up to that day. He then discharged

I regard this as another proof of this great
statesman's want of judgment. If he really thought
that it was for the good of his country that his
measures should be followed, he could not afford
to despise the usual methods of recommending those
measures to the public.

On the other hand, I cannot but admire the fine
feeling which Fox exhibited ; and regret that the
irritated newspaper-mongers should have possessed
the power — which they used to the full — of thwarting
that statesman, and rendering the Administration of
11 All the Talents " so unpopular in the country.

Althorp, January 1815.— I have just heard an
interesting account of Bonaparte, which may be relied
upon. Mr. Bobus Smith tells me that he saw a letter
from Mr. Vernon (the Archbishop's son), who, with
Mr. Douglas, 1 visited Bonaparte at Elba.

Napoleon Bonaparte received them courteously,
and spoke with great freedom of the affairs of Europe.
He said that England had humbled France sufficiently,
by imposing the Bourbon yoke upon her, without
attempting to circumscribe her limits. He considered
this would be impossible, because France is so fertile
in resources, " avec une jeunesse brulante pour la
guerre," that however it may be compressed, the
slightest impulse would cause it to boil over. " Mais,"
said he, " cela ne me regard plus."

Bonaparte received them in a shabby room, lighted
by one lamp. Among other things, he expressed
his surprise at the Regent's taste in beauty, and asked
if Lady Hertford could be " mere de ce Yarmouth que
nous avons vu a Paris?" and added jocosely, "11
parait done, qu'en Angleterre on admire les vieilles."

In speaking of balls, he suggested to Mr. Douglas

1 Frederick Douglas (179 1 — 1819), M.P. for Banbury, a son of Lord


that he was not of a dancing age. This caused great
annoyance to Mr. Douglas, who is barely twenty-six,
and piques himself upon being un beaugargon!

Bonaparte expressed great dislike of the Emperor
Alexander. When asked his opinion of Metternich,
he said : " II ment trop. On peut mentir quelquefois,
mais toujours, c'est trop."

I have seen a letter from Lady Hood x to Lady
Spencer. She has been making a journey into the
interior of India, where she was adopted by the Great
Mogul as his daughter ! She went on an elephant
hunting tigers. She shot a lioness through the
heart, and also a tiger. A most enterprising woman !

Mr. Tierney 2 tells me that when he was in France
he went to see General St. Cyr's 3 castle at Mont
Capel, where he has an estate worth .£20,000 a year.
He is the son of a low person in the town. The
only good that 1 ever heard of him is, that he is
kind to his father. Mr. Tierney asked the servant
who showed the place, how he had contrived to get
so fine an estate ? The concierge replied with perfect
sang froid, " Mais, je crois qu'il a ete un peu voleur
dans sa jeunesse." A most prejudiced account !

The Lytteltons 4 give the following accounts of
Russia : They declare that the Emperor's char-

1 Susannah Linzee, married in 1749 Admiral first Viscount Hood — a cele-
brated British seaman — who commanded the Van Division, under Sir George
Rodney in August 1782, when the Count de Grasse and his fleet were so
memorably defeated. Lady Hood died in May 1806.

2 George Tierney (1761 — 1830), a statesman who fought a duel with Pitt.
He was Member for Colchester 1788, and Southwark 1796. He became
Treasurer of the Navy in the Addington Ministry, in 1802. He
joined Canning as Master of the Mint, and finally quitted office with
Goderich in 1828.

5 Laurent Gouvion St. Cyr, Marshal and Peer of France, was bora 1761.
His talents for war were remarkable. He possessed the complete
confidence of Bonaparte, and left scientific and luminous military memoirs
on the campaigns in which he was engaged, from 1792, to the Peace of
Campo Formio. He distinguished himself especially during the campaigns of
Moscow, and Germany, in 1812 and 18 13.

1 Mr. and Lady Sarah, daughter of the second Lord Spencer.


acteristic is weakness and inconsistency. Pure
despotism in practice, with injudicious attempts to
give the peasantry a love of liberty, for which they
are at present unfit. Democratic pamphlets are
printed at Petersburg, and circulated by the
Emperor's authority. He represses merit in his
officers of State, and military officers, by distributing
rewards to the undeserving, and by jealously with-
holding them from those who are distinguished.
Mr. Lyttelton 1 informed us of the received opinion
concerning his quarrel with Witgenstein. At the
Battle of Bautzen, the forces of the French and Russian
armies were so nearly matched, that, to the desertion
of the Emperor with his bodyguard of ten thousand
men, near the end of the battle, Witgenstein attributed
its not having been a decided victory for the Russians.
Exasperated at the weakness of the Emperor,
Witgenstein, after the battle, told him that if he had
remained at Petersburg, victory would have been with
his arnry ! For this plain speaking Witgenstein was
disgraced, and perhaps it is a merit in a Czar of
Russia that he was not sent to Siberia. Witgenstein's
reputation in Germany is so high that feasts were
given, and towns illuminated where he passed. Mr.
Lyttelton was an eye-witness of this. Woronzow,
who is certainly one of the Emperor's best officers,
has received no other recompense than an Order, 2
while Panin, who is a mere drudge (though a useful
man for details) was made a Field-Marshal. Mr.
Lyttelton, at the same time, says that it is difficult to
ascertain the character of any of the Royal Family.
This one can understand. In Russia, where adulation

Online LibraryFrances (Winckley) ShelleyThe diary of Frances lady Shelley (Volume 1) → online text (page 6 of 33)