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THE LETTERS OF
LORD AND LADY WOLSELEY



• • •••
! • •• '



THE LETTERS OF
LORD AND LADY
W O L S E L E Y

1870— 1911

EDITED BY

Sir GEORGE ARTHUR

AUTHOR OF ' ' THE LIFE OF LORD KITCHENER "




LONDON: WILLIAM HEINEMANN






lA'



t^'1



EDITOR'S NOTE

Shortly before her death. Lady Wolseley asked me to read,
sift and arrange, for the purpose of publication, the corre-
spondence between Lord Wolseley and herself which had ex-
tended over a period of more than half a century. Of these
letters, upwards of two thousand in number, some have been
reserved for the Life of Lord Wolseley, for which Sir Frederick
Maurice and the present Editor are responsible ; some are of a
purely domestic character or otherwise inappropriate for pubHc
perusal ; some, written by Lord Wolseley in his latter years,
show all too sadly how heavy had been his military burden, how
strained and sore the shoulders which had accepted and carried
it. Of the remainder, endeavour has been made to choose those
which seem most apt to illustrate the relations of Lord and Lady
Wolseley with one another, and with the world in which they
moved. Of their own relations it can be briefly said that they
were wholly and continuously interdependent. The closest
scrutiny of their correspondence must fail to detect the shghtest
puff of cloud overhanging a union of unalloyed happiness and
unstinted love. Lady Wolseley never allowed herself to intrude
by a single step or for a single moment into the arena of her
husband's official duties, but she enjoyed his unreserved con-
fidence ; she was his partner in all his hopes and cares, in his
triumphs and in his troubles.

Among his difficulties there seems to have loomed largely
the opposition offered by the Commander-in-Chief to military
changes which Wolseley held to be imperatively and immediately
necessary for the well-being of the British Army.

The Duke of Cambridge, rooted ahke in the confidence of
the Sovereign and the affection of the Army, stood four



5371]'j3



vi EDITOR'S NOTE

square for military methods which even the Crimean War had
done little to disturb. He took infinite pride in parade drill,
infinite pleasure in "set " field-days ; he distrusted the modem
idea of a General Staff; he deprecated any promotion other
than by pure seniority. While he urged the importance of an
army on battle footing, he seemed — so Wolseley thought — ^little
disposed to fit that army for the battlefield.

Wolseley hung all his weight on to the opposite end of the
rope. He had read much and thought more, and his own
experience had burnt into him that the real metier of an armed
force is to fight, and that its true training is for the front.

The Cardwell reforms had refreshed his thirst for military
efficiency, and to Army Reform he eagerly dedicated himself
from the day that Mr. Cardwell summoned him to the War
Office. He knew that his path would be stony and uphill —
every step of it ; he would incur opposition and almost invite
unpopularity ; he would meet with obstruction at many turns ;
the winds of social influence would whistle in his teeth. But
nothing daunted, nothing deterred him.

With the abolition of purchase ^ in 1871, cash was no longer
the passport to promotion. But Wolseley urged that merit,
and merit only, should secure military advancement ; the work
must be entrusted to the best workman available ; to selection,
not to seniority, should be due all important appointments,
and more especially the nominations to commands in the field.
Here perhaps, and in the dominating subject of short service,
lay the rock differences between two soldiers, both of whom had
love of country equally deep down at heart. And if the elder
man was unhappily arriere in outlook, the younger was perhaps
unduly impatient in enterprise. The one wished to stand fast
altogether, the other could not brook a moment's halt. Each
may have exaggerated the supposed tendency of the other, and
the Duke of Cambridge honestly feared — ^and so advised — ^that
all prerogative of the Crown would be threatened if free rein

* The measure received the Royal Warrant after being vetoed in the
House of Lords.



EDITOR'S NOTE vii

were given to the ardent soldier who was, as a matter of fact,
the Crown's entirely devoted servant. Misapprehensions and
misunderstandings marked, although they did not altogether
mar, the official relations between the Commander-in-Chief and
his restless subordinate. Yet all the while there was a strong
undergrowth of a feeling which was little other than warm
affection and which asserted itself when the cares of office were
laid aside. In his hour of supreme bereavement the first person
to whom the Duke addressed himself was Wolseley ; the Duke's
declining years were solaced by Wolseley 's dutiful attentions,
and his death provoked from the man who had constantly with-
stood him expressions of almost passionate regret.

The last ten years of Wolseley's life were spent in retirement
from military business, his latest duties being associated, as
Colonel of the Royal Horse Guards, with the Gold Stick which
King Edward gracefully insisted on his retaining for some time
after Wolseley had proferred his resignation of office. His
activities were little affected by the march of time except in his
last years with a curious loss of memory in so far as that memory
was appHed to recent occurrences. The mist which conse-
quently arose between him and current events caused him
towards the end to shrink from general society, and served to
draw closer and closer the bond between Lady Wolseley and
himself. He had always looked for her advice, and leant largely
on her judgment ; now he could hardly bear her to be out of
his sight. When they were together, every hour without her
actual presence seemed to him an hour lost ; in the rare cases of
absence, her letters furnished the one happy event of the day.

As she had stimulated and strengthened him in his feverishly
busy noon, so she cheered and made easy his quiet evening.
Thus it may not be amiss, just before the publication of the
official " story " of a very great soldier, to throw over some of
the arcana of his life the light of what was surely its happiest
influence.



CONTENTS



I.


I870-I872


II.


I873-I875


III.


1875 .


IV.


1878 .


V.


I879-I880


VI.


I880-I882


VII.


1882 .


VIII.


1882 .


IX.


1883 .


yx.


1884 .


XL


1884 .


XII.


1885 .


XIII.


1885 .


XIV.


1885 .


XV.


1885 .


XVI.


1885 .


kXVII.


1885 .


XVIII.


1 886-1889


XIX.


1890-1891


XX.


I 890- I 893


XXI.


I 892-1893



FAGB
I

9
20

29

39
61

69
85
94
114
I3«
153
166

177
203
211
221
232
263
235
3o4



X


CONTENTS










CHAP. PAGE


XXII. 1894












315


XXIII. 1894












327


XXIV. 1895












331


XXV. 1895












342


XXVI. 1896












352


XXVII. 1896












356


XXVIII. 1897-1898












360


XXIX. 1898












371


XXX. 1899












375


XXXI. 1900












379


XXXII. 1901












388


XXXIII. 1901












402


XXXIV. 1902-1903












408


XXXV. 1904-1905












418


XXXVI. 1906-1907












427


XXXVII. 1911












434




^



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[The rebellion at the Red River was one of the causes which
interfered with the British policy of withdrawing troops from
the Colonies, and in May of 1870 the Canadian Government
decided to send an expedition against Louis Riel, who had
proclaimed himself at the headquarters of the Hudson Bay
Company President of the Republic of the North-West. A
column consisting of one battaUon of Infantry, two of Canadian
Mihtia, and a small party of Artillery and Engineers under Colonel
Wolseley — ^then serving as D.Q.M.G. — ^was detailed for what
proved a very rough task. Between the head of Lake Superior
and the Red River about 500 miles had to be traversed of a
region composed of forest, swamp, bush-covered rocks, and little
lakes of difficult navigation, many of the portages being more
than a mile in length. From the Lake of the Woods to Fort
Garry was only about 100 miles in direct line, but for nearly
half the distance there was no road, and a circuitous move had
to be made down the Winnipeg River. Wolseley reached Fort
Garry on the 23rd of August without the loss of a single man,
a result largely due to the care with which the expedition was
undertaken. Riel had fled, the hitherto disaffected groups



CORRIGENDA

Footnote on page 206— /o/ 1890 rciid 1895.

Footnote on page 243-/01 Mr. rccui Mrs.

First footnote on page 404— incorrectly printed.

Page 221— for "reserve" read "resume."

The letter of i8th February, 1880, on page 59 should occur on page 46.



Axct^ Lu uu bu mucn taiKmg tnat my throat becomes sore.

I



VY otsciey.



XXVI I.


1896


XXVIII.


I 897-1 898


XXIX.


1898


XXX.


1899


XXXI.


1900


XXXII.


I90I


XXXIII.


I90I


XXXIV.


I 902- I 903


XXXV.


I904-I905


XXXVI.


I 906- I 907


KXXVII.


I9II



356

360
371

375
379
388
402
408
418
427
434



THE LETTERS OF

LORD AND LADYWOLSELEY

1870-1872

[The rebellion at the Red River was one of the causes which
interfered with the British policy of withdrawing troops from
the Colonies, and in May of 1870 the Canadian Government
decided to send an expedition against Louis Riel, who had
proclaimed himself at the headquarters of the Hudson Bay
Company President of the Republic of the North-West . A
column consisting of one battaUon of Infantry, two of Canadian
Militia, and a small party of Artillery and Engineers under Colonel
Wolseley — ^then serving as D.Q.M.G. — was detailed for what
proved a very rough task. Between the head of Lake Superior
and the Red River about 500 miles had to be traversed of a
region composed of forest, swamp, bush-covered rocks, and little
lakes of difficult navigation, many of the portages being more
than a mile in length. From the Lake of the Woods to Fort
Garry was only about 100 miles in direct line, but for nearly
half the distance there was no road, and a circuitous move had
to be made down the Winnipeg River. Wolseley reached Fort
Garry on the 23rd of August without the loss of a single man,
a result largely due to the care with which the expedition was
undertaken. Riel had fled, the hitherto disaffected groups
joined with the loyal party in greeting the soldiers, order was
re-established, Manitoba was added to Canada, and the total
bill was under £100,000.]

CHAPTER I



RiDEAU Hall, Monday, 2^th April 1870.

I have just returned from the parliament building, where I ^^Lord
have to do so much talking that my throat becomes sore.



Wolseley,



THE LETTERS OF



.The Geheial: cons.ults me upon everything, and sits heavily
upon that greasiest of commissaires, Ittol Martindale. No
one yet has been able to give me any information about our
Governorship — I have in vain tried to pump Col. Barnard, who
is Sir John A. Macdonald's brother-in-law. Sir John has been
closeted all day with the Red River Delegates, in hope of
settling affairs amicably. If I am to be Gk)vemor and to
remain there for the winter, I will telegraph to you that
" Barkis is willing/*

(Extract of letter from Sir J. Michell to Sir E. Lugard with
reference to proposed Expedition to Red River :

"They are going, I believe, to send in command the best
officer for the purpose that I know of (Colonel Wolseley).

** Whatever can be done by every foresight, good sense and
judgment, and for having the perfect confidence of his troops,
will be done by him.")

This almost makes me afraid when I hear what others
expect from me.



RiDEAU, 2yth April, Wednesday,

Lord In the strictest confidence I have this moment been un-

v\/oiseiey, Qg^^^j^lly informed that I am not to be the Lt. -Governor. I

am to come back from Red River in autumn. I will tell you

more hereafter. I am disappointed. Never mind ; I shall meet

you to-morrow evening,

RossLYN House, Toronto,
Tuesday, ^rd May 1870.

Lord I have passed the most wretched time since I returned from

oseey* Q^^g^^g^^ knowing that we were so soon to part again, and I
could not help reproaching myself for going away. I felt as if
I were about to commit some crime. The fact is, that soldiers
should never marry. The bubble reputation which I seek, not
at the cannon's but at the mosquito's mouth, is the light that
beckons me on. I trust it may not prove an ignis fatuus that
will leave me stuck in some swamp near Winnipeg.



LORD AND LADY WOLSELEY 3

RossLYN House, Tuesday, 10th May 1870.

Another stupid day over without any result : I am to-night Lord
as ignorant as I was yesterday. The Government have been ^^'°^^^^^y-
so dilatory that one might almost think time was no object at
all. General Lindsay left yesterday evening, and I am in hopes
that he is now in Ottawa, where I trust he may be able to tackle
all the Ministers to-morrow.

I cannot bear the idea of you all alone in Montreal, and I am
very sorry that the Stephens ^ are going home. By the bye, the
money he owes me for my books amounts to twenty dollars for
sixteen copies. I shaU to-morrow send you a New York Herald,
with an amusing description of me. Send it home when you
have read it.



Sault Sainte Marie, 2'^rd May 1870.

We arrived here this morning in a violent thunderstorm. The Lord
camp is pitched three-quarters of a mile from the upper end of the ^^^^^^^y-
rapids, at the old Hudson Bay Government House, now fast f aUing
into ruin. Everjrthing is very green and pretty. Ford Brody,
on the Yankee shore, is merely a wooden barrack, surrounded
by palisades, having four parrot guns for drill purposes. The
Yankee Commandant is an officer of the Regular army, as I hear
all the others there are also. He asked Bolton and the officers
here to dine with him. They went, and the Yankees tried to
make the Britishers drunk, but failed. They sang ** God save
the Queen " and other National airs, and drank champagne out
of goblets. On the 19th the Commandant heard from Washing-
ton that our Expedition was simply a movement of British
troops from one part of H.M. Dominions to another, and as the
emeute at the Red River had been amicably settled, we could
use the Canal, and take an5^hing through except soldiers and
munitions of war. Colonel Offley says he does not consider
that horses or boats come under that head.

The Americans have warned us to look out for Fenians, as
those worthies may try to destroy some of our vessels. The
Chikaluma has been delayed two days in getting the Wauhuno
off a rock ; as she is paid by the day, the master is in no
hurry.

1 Afterwards Lord and Lady Mount Stephen, ^



4 THE LETTERS OF

Fort Francis,
Saturday, 6th August 1870.

Lord I hope to leave this on the 9th instant — so as to overtake

Wolseiey. ipeMen before he gets to Fort Alexander on the Winnipeg
River. There I shall halt for three or four days to collect
the Regular troops before I make my triumphal entry into
the Red River Settlement. I have letters from several people
there, the English Bishop (Monroe) of Rupert's Land amongst
the number. They all beg of me to lose no time, but to push
on with all possible speed, as affairs there are in a sad state,
every one being in a dread of the Indians, who have become
disturbed by the late troubles there. A large number of them
have assembled at the mouth of the Winnipeg River to await
my arrival. Their Chief has written to me two or three times
expressing devoted loyalty to their great Mother (the Queen),
and abusing Riel's party — all the Indians naturally say, " You
never would allow us to steal or to murder, and always punished
us when we did so, but here is this man Riel who has already
murdered one man, and who steals whatever he likes." This
Fort Francis is a very pretty place : all around is beautifully
green with luxuriant grass, finer than I have ever seen any-
where in America. Some eight or ten wigwams filled with
filthy Indians add to the artistic effect. These Indians are
dreadful beggars, and expect a present from every newly-
arrived person. I have to give away tobacco, flour, pork to the
infidels after every interview their leading men honour me with.
The Chief has one half of his face painted yeUow and the other
black. Fort Francis is a favourite resort of theirs in summer,
as the river here abounds in fish, upon which they live and
grow fat. Below this the sturgeon are caught in great quan-
tities, fifty pounds in weight being nothing for one fish. I
have eaten it fried, and it is remarkably good. They have
not yet arrived at the art of making caviare, but I suppose that
by the time they have been decimated by civilisation, there may
be a manufactory here for making that precious preparation.
Their medicine dances take place here every summer. The
women's part is to slaughter all the white dogs they can find,
which are then cooked and eaten by the men. There is some
species of freemasonry gone through ; the men are initiated into
the mysteries of medicine, the use of several plants being imparted



LORD AND LADY WOLSELEY 5

to them. I believe that there are five degrees, one of which
can only be taken each year ; the last consists only in learning
the uses of the poisonous plants, and is very select. There are
a good many Indian groves about here, all are surrounded by
paUngs, and some have a flagstaff with a piece of white cotton
nailed to its top, erected over them. The chiefs are not buried,
but are placed in cofl&ns upon a raised platform. When the
next in succession dies the remains of the father are taken off
the platform and buried, the son*s body being put upon the
platform in its place. There are two or three of such coffins
here at present close to the fort.

The Franco-German War, of course, deprives this expedition
of all possible interest : who on earth will care two straws for us,
or for news from Red River, when great events are being enacted
on the Rhine.

Fort Alexander,
Sunday, 21st August 1870.

Mr. Smith 1 has just informed me that he has named the Lord
Hudson Bay Post at the mouth of the Winnipeg River, Fort ^"^^^^^y-
Louisa, after you — ^that at their great council he had proposed
this arrangement, and that it had been unanimously agreed to.
Another post, at the north-west comer of the Lake of the Woods,
has been named Fort Wolseley, so you see your fame is being
recorded geographically. I leave this place with all the Regulars
to-day at 3 p.m., and hope to be in the Red River Settlement to-
morrow evening ; and, please God, I shall hoist up the Union
Jack over Fort Garry on Thursday morning, or at least some
time during the day. I hope Riel will have bolted ; for although
I should like to hang him to the highest tree in the place, I
have such a horror of rebels and vermin of his kidney, that
my treatment of him might not be approved by the civil powers
in these puling times of weak measures and timid policy.



Fort Garry, 26th August 1870.

I marched in here with all the honours of war this morning. Lord
It poured all last night and all to-day. When we heard that ^o^^^^'^y-
Riel and his army ! ! ! were still in the Fort, we all forgot the
* Afterwards Lord Strathcx^na.



6 THE LETTERS OF

rain, and every one was eager to have a shot at him. I cannot
tell you how disappointed all are that we have not had a chance
of ridding the world of this cowardly murderer. We drew up
in battle array in front of the Fort, hoisted the Union Jack,
saluted it with twenty-one guns, presented arms, and gave three
cheers for the Queen. Then the men gave three cheers for
Colonel W. I have not had any sleep for twenty-four hours, and
only a few hours' sleep for the last forty-eight hours, so I can
scarcely see. It is now nearly three in the morning, and I have
been writing all night. This goes by a special messenger to St.
Cloud in Minnesota in an hour's time — also a telegram to you.
I hope they may not faU into the hands of Riel ; he would be
as much amused by them as I have been by the letters and
high-flown proclamation which he left behind him on his table.
He bolted in such a hurry that he had not time even to finish his
breakfast, which was devoured by our servants. I am sure to
have the Regular troops back by ist October.



Fort Garry,
Thursday, ist September 1870.

Lord The last detachment of the 50th Rifles left this afternoon on

Woiseiey. ^j^gjj. j-gtum joumey. The small detachment of Royal Artillery
and Engineers wiU start on Saturday. I shall wait here until
about the 9th or loth, and then hope to bid a long adieu to
Fort Garry and Red River affairs. The troops, with the
exception of one company, return by the same route as that
by which they came. One company has gone by road to the
Lake of the Woods (about 100 miles) and will embark there.
I intend doing the same. I shall wait at Fort Louisa for my
canoe ; at any rate, I shall wait at Fort Francis until I hear
that aU the Regulars have got there safely.

I have this moment received a telegram from General Lindsay
that CardweU ^ had declined to aUow any Regular troops to re-
main here for the winter. I am glad of this for their sakes.
Besides, I have already sent away all the 60th, and I should not
like to have to recall any. Gov. Archibald has just arrived ;
he is loud spoken in his praise of what we have done.

^ Edward CardweU [1813-86] ; created Viscount Cardwell. War Secre-
tary, 1868-74.



LORD AND LADY WOLSELEY 7

[On Colonel Wolseley's return from Canada he was appointed
A.A.G. at Headquarters, and was closely associated with Mr.
Cardwell's Army Reforms.]

At Manceuvres, 19/8/72.

I seldom have five minutes to myself : I shall be interrupted Lord
in this note many times, men coming to say that their wives ^°^^^^'
are very ill, or their eldest child has the pip, and that they want
leave, etc. etc. There is Uttle or nothing to tell you, for our
thoughts and hourly work here are all upon soldiering, and I am
sure you would not care to hear my views upon field-work, or
the latest ideas regarding field artillery, etc. Yesterday we
had a quiet time and gave our horses a rest. Our Controller
evidently considers himself to be a man of great importance,
and has an air about him as if he commanded the Army. I am
to dine in Blandford this evening, to meet Sir Richard Airey
and the Quartermaster-General, so you see I am quite " in
society '* here. Don't send me any grouse if you get any —
one of the General's A.D.C.'s, a young fellow of ten thousand a
year, has a moor of his own, and we get as much as we can eat.



Camp, near Blandford, 27/8/72.

We have had a grand show for the Japanese ambassadors Lord
to-day, which went off very well — ^they looked such guys in ^^^^y-
European dresses ; in fact, they looked like Methodist ministers
out for a holiday. Your bottle of stuff has not turned up. I
am very much obliged to you for the trouble you have taken
about it, but you know my nose is accustomed to this exciting
state of affairs, and although I have been similarly affected
about twice in every year of my life, I have never found out
anything that did me any good. Dear old Sir John ^ is as fussy
as ever. I am very fond of him, but he tries my temper occasion-
ally by his benevolent wish to have his finger in everybody's
pie. But I contrive to " manage " him very fairly and we get
on very well together. I am glad to find that the essay which
gained the Wellington Prize quotes The Soldier*s Pocket Book
frequently ; I consider that not only a compliment but a good
advertisement for the great work.

* Sir John Michell, G.O.C. troops on manoeuvres.



8 THE LETTERS OF LORD AND LADY WOLSELEY

Camp, Blandford, 29/8/72.

Lord Our battle of to-day was a grand affair and, as a spectacle,

Woiseiey. ^^^^y ^^^y pretty. I have, I know, made numerous enemies

by being called upon to give decisions as an umpire. Mrs.

and her sister attend all our field-days. She looks badly

on horseback, having a very round back and being fat and
ungainly ; her sister is decidedly good-looking ; will she go the

same way of life ? Mrs. 's income is about £500 a year,

and yet we find them everywhere living in the best way. The
Prince of Wales, the Duke of Cambridge, and a large party
come down here to stay with Sturt ^ at Crichel, on Saturday, so



Online LibraryGarnet Wolseley WolseleyThe letters of Lord and Lady Wolseley, 1870-1911; → online text (page 1 of 38)