Wellington and the mob

Posted by Helen Monday, May 15, 2006

Having conservative correspondents in the United States has enormous advantages. One of them, Lexington Green, who has also commented on the blog, called my attention to a posting he did some years ago on Chicagoboyz.

Lex periodically puts together a summary of his most recent reading matter and all of us rush off to the nearest library or second-hand bookshop to find the books he writes about.

One of the books he mentions in this posting is G.R. Gleig's “Personal Reminiscences of the Duke of Wellington”. This is not one of the great books of reminiscences about the Iron Duke but it is difficult to write anything consistently dull about the man.

There is a wonderful account of the Duke’s behaviour during the riots and disturbances that led up to the eventual passing of the Great Reform Act of 1832.

“He remained a tough old bird, long after he left the army. At the time he was opposing the Reform, there was a lot of "agitation" in the country, "mobs burnt towns and sacked gentlemen's houses". Gleig warned Wellington to be careful coming out to his country house. Wellington responded, "I suspect that those who will attack me on the road will come rather the worst out of the contest, if there should be one." Gleig, with a few gentlemen from the area rode out, each armed with "a heavy hunting whip, and pistols", to meet the Duke: "I found him in his open caleche, provided with a brace of double-barrelled pistols, and having his servant likewise armed, seated on the box." No mob emerged, so the Duke did not have to work the execution of any rustic miscreants with his own firearms.”
One wishes that our legislators now had one tenth of the old boy’s courage and spirit. They might feel ashamed at the gadzillions spent on yet more layers of security that are being put up around the Houses of Parliament.As MPs who demanded protection after the assassination of Spencer Perceval in 1812 were told, it is unmanly to crave security from the state if you chose to enter public life.


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