Monday, June 16, 2008

Roberts and Wellington


The Lord Puts on Record His Estimate of the Iron Duke.

Lord Roberts has put on record his estimate of the great Duke of Wellington. "A study of Wellington's life and writings," he writes, "leads me to the conclusion that he has been somewhat overrated as a man and greatly underrated as a commander. Stress is often laid on the strict sense of duty by which he is supposed to have been specially actuated, the inference being that personal ambition had little to do with his efforts to succeed in the tasks intrusted to him. That Wellington was honorable, straightforward, resolute and patriotic none can deny, but there appears to be no instance in his military career of adopting a course where his duty was opposed to his own interests, or of his being called upon to sacrifice the latter in order to carry out the former.

"In his case the paths of duty and of personal advancement were identical, and it seems, therefore, hardly reasonable to assume that he differed from other great military leaders — such as Caesar, Marlborough or Napoleon —in being devoid of that desire for distinction and power which is one of the most potent incentives to exertion. At the beginning of the peninsular war his own words were, 'The ball is now at my foot, and I hope I shall have strength enough to give it a good kick!' and the principal reason he gave for wishing to leave India was that he would be more likely to get on in Europe. Possessed of many admirable qualities, Wellington gained the esteem and confidence, but not the affection, of his soldiers. By nature reserved and unsympathetic — perhaps a little selfish — he regarded his army in the light of a fighting machine. When its task was performed and peace established, he ceased to associate with the officers who had been most intimately connected with him in the field, and he did little or nothing to promote the welfare of his soldiers or to make the nation understand what a debt of gratitude it owed them." — Scottish American.

Note: The last word in the original article was "him," which doesn't make any sense in the context.

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