Saturday, June 6, 2015

When Wellington Met Nelson

From Making History:
Yes, history has a few examples of when two such great people met; sometimes as old friends, sometimes as old enemies, but the cases are very rare indeed, and none more so than when two of Great Britain’s most venerated and iconic military leaders met one day for an hour; Sir Arthur Wellesley, later to become Duke of Wellington, and Horatio Nelson, the greatest Naval commander of all time.

Luckily, Wellington later recalled the meeting one day at Walmer Castle on October 1st 1834 in a conversation with the noted diarist John Wilson Croker, who asked him if he had ever met the great Admiral, and what his thoughts were concerning the great man’s reputation for egotism and vanity, which conversation was recorded in the Croker papers for posterity.

It was September 1805; Wellesley had just returned from India where he had won the outstanding Battle of Assaye, and was arrived at the Colonial Office in Downing Street where, on the same day, Nelson had arrived to be given the Naval commission which would see him dead within a month at his greatest victory at Trafalgar.

In answering Croker’s question, Wellington recalled the meeting:

“Why,” said the Duke, “I am not surprised at such instances, for Lord Nelson was, in different circumstances, two quite different men, as I myself can vouch, though I only saw him once in my life, and for, perhaps, an hour.”

“It was soon after I returned from India. I went to the Colonial Office in Downing Street, and there I was shown into a little waiting-room on the right hand, where I found, also waiting to see the Secretary of State, a gentleman whom, from his likeness to his pictures and the loss of an arm, I immediately recognized as Lord Nelson.” (Read more.)

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