Wellesley, Arthur (1769–1852)

Pre-eminent British soldier of the nineteenth century, created Duke of Wellington in 1814. In later life he was a Tory politician, and Prime Minister 1828–1830, 1834. Southey’s relationship with Wellington was deeply ambiguous. He passionately supported Wellington’s aim of defeating the French invasion of Spain in 1808–1813, but was often critical of Wellington’s tactics, especially his caution and unwillingness to rely on Spanish help. In 1815 Southey was alarmed to find that an article he had written for the Quarterly Review on Wellington’s role at Waterloo had been personally censored by the general to remove unflattering references to his conduct of the battle. Southey’s History of the Peninsula War (1824–1832) retained a guarded attitude towards the Duke. In 1829, Southey was horrified by the decision of Wellington’s government to support Catholic Emancipation.

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