Help support TMP

"Favorite Wellington Quote" Topic

43 Posts

All members in good standing are free to post here. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the posters, and have not been cleared with nor are they endorsed by The Miniatures Page.

For more information, see the TMP FAQ.

Back to the 19th Century Discussion Message Board

Back to the Napoleonic Discussion Message Board

Action Log

14 Feb 2018 12:06 p.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

  • Removed from TMP Poll Suggestions board

1,177 hits since 27 Jul 2017
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian27 Jul 2017 11:26 a.m. PST

What is your favorite historical quote from Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington?

Personal logo herkybird Supporting Member of TMP27 Jul 2017 11:38 a.m. PST

Being born in a stable does not make one a horse

Is my personal favourite.

Sho Boki27 Jul 2017 11:51 a.m. PST

Stop this useless noise! You hurt yourself.

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP27 Jul 2017 11:52 a.m. PST

Not sure he ever said that, discussed here before.

Equally dodgy is the "humbugged, by God" quote. It suggests that he knew when he had been hoodwinked, but could, equally, rise to the occasion. I would choose that, if he said it.

My favourite tho' is the missing quotes. If only, indeed, he could "have given more praise" (a well attested quote). If he had just acknowledged the decision by the DBs at Quatre Bras to not move to Nivelles, as ordered by him, as inspired. If only he had continued ,in the spirit of the Waterloo Despatch, to record the Prussian contribution, in the years to come.

Would history have thought any the less of him? Surely not. To the contrary I think. But they were different times and before the Victorian tendency to deliberate modesty (whilst absolutely ensuring that your contribution was recognised by others…but not you).

He was like Montgomery, or Patton, or poor old Rommel (who does not fit in entirely with the following comments). Massive ego, but with the right army, at the right time, with overwhelming superiority….and real talent too I admit. But not likeable characters. Slim, maybe Longstreet, maybe Zhukov, maybe Giap, for real generalship any day.

Personal logo 22ndFoot Supporting Member of TMP27 Jul 2017 11:57 a.m. PST

The horse quote was not said by Wellington but by Daniel O'Connell, the Honourable Member for Dublin and Lord Mayor of Dublin, about Wellington in 1844.

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP27 Jul 2017 12:00 p.m. PST

There you go…the horse's mouth, from the stable!

Great topic idea. we need a bit of stimulation. The forum has gone quiet………

Osterreicher27 Jul 2017 12:21 p.m. PST

My heart is broken by the terrible loss I have sustained in my old friends and companions and my poor soldiers. Believe me, nothing except a battle lost can be half so melancholy as a battle won: the bravery of my troops hitherto saved me from the greater evil; but to win such a battle as this of Waterloo, at the expense of so many gallant friends, could only be termed a heavy misfortune but for the result to the public.
- His Grace, the Duke of Wellington

Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP In the TMP Dawghouse27 Jul 2017 12:27 p.m. PST

I'm not saying Napoleon is over compensating for something, but he does like his tall grenadiers.

Personal logo piper909 Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member27 Jul 2017 12:45 p.m. PST

"Sparrow hawks, ma'am."

Liliburlero Supporting Member of TMP27 Jul 2017 1:12 p.m. PST

"Railroads will only encourage the common people to move about needlessly."

steamingdave4727 Jul 2017 1:19 p.m. PST

@deadhead- " overwhelming superiority"? not always, perhaps at his first European battle at Rolica, but his army at that battle was not that good- inexperienced, fatigued and, in the case of certain units, poorly trained. His victorues in Indua were often against far numerically superior opponents. And as for "the right army", it became the right army because of the way he handled it.

Cerdic Supporting Member of TMP27 Jul 2017 1:21 p.m. PST

"Publish and be damned!"

Hie response to being threatened with blackmail!

Lambert Supporting Member of TMP27 Jul 2017 1:30 p.m. PST

A story I heard when visiting Apsley House some years ago. Wellington was having the house redecorated and was intensely irritated by the man in charge of the work, I think because he was being overcharged. This man asked Wellington what colour of silk he wanted hanging on the walls. Wellington asked what he would recommend, and the man said "Anything but yellow, your Grace". Wellington's reply – my favourite quote – was "Then yellow it is".

Bravo Two Zero27 Jul 2017 1:31 p.m. PST

"I'm too drunk to taste this chicken!"

That is my favorite at least. I could be confusing colonels again

Ed Mohrmann Supporting Member of TMP27 Jul 2017 1:43 p.m. PST

'They won't run away and it will take a long time to kill
them all.'

farnox27 Jul 2017 1:51 p.m. PST

" Where the hell is Blucher!"

Timbo W27 Jul 2017 2:04 p.m. PST

I never saw so many shocking bad hats in my life.

Personal logo Mserafin Supporting Member of TMP27 Jul 2017 2:06 p.m. PST

"That's alright, madam, I have seen their backs before."

In reply to the hostess of a Parisian ball, who was apologizing for some French marshals who had turned their backs on him as an insult.

Artilleryman27 Jul 2017 2:45 p.m. PST

'I gave them their orders and they wanted to stay and discuss them!' Apparently said after his first cabinet meeting as prime minister

John Armatys27 Jul 2017 2:53 p.m. PST

I'd go with "publish and be damned", with "Try sparrow hawks, ma'am" a close second.

Wackmole9 Supporting Member of TMP27 Jul 2017 3:17 p.m. PST

Wellington: What in the name of Bonaparte's balls is this fellow doing?

The Duke of Wellington: There's only one way to win a campaign: shout, shout and shout again!

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP27 Jul 2017 3:24 p.m. PST

"Let my lawyer go over the contracts for these boots. I just lend my name and get how much per pair sold?"

Nine pound round27 Jul 2017 4:52 p.m. PST

"Stand fast- we must not be beat- what will they say in England?"

And, perhaps more profoundly,

"D--n the fellow- so he is a mere pounder after all."

Nine pound round27 Jul 2017 4:57 p.m. PST

Also, in a lighter vein, his response to the young Queen Victoria's question about the peculiar smell she noticed from a passing battalion of the Guards: "Esprit de corps, ma'am."

21eRegt Supporting Member of TMP27 Jul 2017 6:04 p.m. PST

Mserafin got my favorite, but a close second is: "to beat the French!"

Brechtel19827 Jul 2017 6:50 p.m. PST


Whilst marching to Portugal to a position which commands the approach to Madrid and the French forces, my officers have been diligently complying with your request which has been sent to HM ship from London to Lisbon and then by dispatch rider to our headquarters.

We have enumerated our saddles, bridles, tents, and tent poles, and all manner of sundry items for which His Majesty's government holds me accountable. I have dispatched reports on the character, wit, spleen of every officer. Each item and every farthing has been accounted for, with two regrettable exceptions for which I beg you indulgence.

Unfortunately, the sum of one shilling and ninepence remains unaccounted for in one infantry battalion's petty cash and there has been a hideous confusion as to the number of jars of raspberry jam issued to one cavalry regiment during a sandstorm in western Spain. This reprehensive carelessness may be related to the pressure of circumstances since we are at war with France, a fact which may have come as a bit of a surprise to you gentlemen in Whitehall.

This brings me to my present purpose, which is to request elucidation of my instructions from His Majesty's Government, so that I may better understand why I am dragging an army over these barren plains. I construe that perforce it must be one of two alternative duties, as given below. I shall pursue one with the best of my ability but I cannot do both.

1. To train an army of uniformed British clerks in Spain for the benefit of the accountants and copy-boys in London, or perchance

2. To see to it that the forces of Napoleon are driven out of Spain.

Your most obedient servant,


Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP27 Jul 2017 6:57 p.m. PST

Brechtel198. +1
Kind of long, but…

langobard Supporting Member of TMP28 Jul 2017 2:59 a.m. PST

Probably apocryphal but I always liked the idea that when asked what he would like a sermon to be about, he is supposed to have replied "about ten minutes".

Arcane Steve28 Jul 2017 4:50 a.m. PST

I've always liked this quote.
The history of a battle, is not unlike the history of a ball. Some individuals may recollect all the little events of which the great result is the battle won or lost, but no individual can recollect the order in which, or the exact moment at which, they occurred, which makes all the difference as to their value or importance. ..
I know that people like certainty in history but it perhaps explains why this is not always so.

4th Cuirassier28 Jul 2017 5:26 a.m. PST

"White officers."

- his apocryphal reply when asked what it would take to make first class soldiers out of the Irish.

Ramming28 Jul 2017 7:07 a.m. PST

All the business of war, and indeed all the business of life, is to endeavour to find out what you don't know by what you do; that's what I called "guessing what was at the other side of the hill.

People talk of their enlisting from their fine military feeling – all stuff – no such thing. Some of our men enlist from having got bastard children – some for minor offences – many more for drink, they are the scum of the earth Sir – but see what fine fellows we make of them.

Greystreak28 Jul 2017 7:11 a.m. PST

"A French officer will slit your throat if you tell him is not a gentleman. But that, sir, will not make him one."

"If there's one subject I know absolutely nothing about, it is agriculture."

Old Wolfman28 Jul 2017 7:25 a.m. PST

The one about a battle won being as much of a downer as one lost. Or the one when asked if his troops looked like they would frighten the enemy,and he was supposed to have said that he was unsure of that (frightening the enemy), but they certainly frightened him.

Personal logo 22ndFoot Supporting Member of TMP28 Jul 2017 7:56 a.m. PST

"Madam, if there is one thing about which I know absolutely nothing it is horticulture."

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP28 Jul 2017 8:48 a.m. PST

So Henny Youngman beat the French at Waterloo?

Eleve de Vauban Supporting Member of TMP28 Jul 2017 10:00 a.m. PST

Some years ago, I read a quote but cannot remember the source. A young officer going into battle for the first time, asked Wellington for advice. Wellington thought for a few seconds, then said, "Always make water when you can". This has lead to my partner and I when, for example, before going into a theatre, we always go for a Wellington.

rmaker28 Jul 2017 10:24 a.m. PST

"By God, Sir, so you have!"

Personal logo piper909 Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member28 Jul 2017 10:52 a.m. PST

"That's alright, madam, I have seen their backs before."

That's a great one, and new to me!!

Personal logo piper909 Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member28 Jul 2017 10:52 a.m. PST

"You never miss your Waterloo til your Wellington runs dry."

huevans01128 Jul 2017 3:57 p.m. PST

Upon reading Beresford's all too accurate account of the Battle of Albuera:

"Write me up a victory, Beresford, for what you have written will not do at all in London."

Echo 128 Jul 2017 5:00 p.m. PST

1) I believe I forgot to tell you I was made a Duke. (In a letter to his brother.)

2) We always have been, we are, and I hope that we always shall be detested in France.

Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP29 Jul 2017 8:32 p.m. PST

My plan is to defeat the French.

If my hair knew what my brain was thinking. I would shave it off.

Now's your time! Maitland

If there is anything I know nothing about it is agriculture.

Nothing except a battle lost can be half so melancholy as a battle won.

The only thing I am afraid of is fear.

Being born in a stable does not make one a horse.

The battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton.

Next to a lost battle, nothing is so sad as a battle that has been won.

Be discreet in all things, and so render it unnecessary to be mysterious about any.

Educate men without religion and you make of them but clever devils.

When my journal appears, many statues must come down.

The Lord's prayer contains the sum total of religion and morals.

The whole art of war consists of guessing at what is on the other side of the hill.

I don't know what they'll do to the enemy; but, by God, they frighten me.

They're coming on in the same old style.

Scum. Nothing but beggars and scoundrels, all of them. Gin is the spirit of their patriotism.

On the field of battle his hat is worth fifty thousand men; but he is not a gentleman.

But he is very good when he is dancing with the French.

Up, Guards, and at them again.

It has been a damned nice thing — the nearest run thing you ever saw in your life.

The history of a battle, is not unlike the history of a ball. Some individuals may recollect all the little events of which the great result is the battle won or lost, but no individual can recollect the order in which, or the exact moment at which, they occurred, which makes all the difference as to their value or importance.

There is no mistake; there has been no mistake; and there shall be no mistake.

You must build your House of Parliament on the river: so… that the populace cannot exact their demands by sitting down round you.

I should have given more praise.

Give me night or give me Blücher

HairiYetie30 Jul 2017 12:06 a.m. PST

My father was a gunner in the Royal Malta Artillery back in the 50s. He did a map reading course which from what I can gather was more like tactical map reading including reconnaissance and such. He had this saying which he said learned at the course and was attributed to Lord Wellington … goes something like this:

More dangerous than that which we do not know,
is that which we do know,
which is not so.

Meaning it's better to not know something and taking wide ranging precautions, than thinking you know something eg that there's no ambush ahead, and blundering into one because you did a shoddy job of finding out in the first place.

Sorry - only verified members can post on the forums.