I remember a wooden legged soldier, whom I once saw defend the Duke
in a mob. But I must tell you the story.
In the spring of 1827 I was spending an extra vacation in London
, and thus I witnessed the mobbing of this great man. I suppose you have thought the Iron Duke
had only successes, and lauciations, and honors in this world.
Not so. He had not been the Iron Duke
, if he had not been hardened by moral conflict, as well as by warlike compact.
At the time I was in London
had given his voice for Catholic emancipation, consequently he had made himself obnoxious to the bigoted rabble.
Sectarian preachers preached against him day and night, from pulpit, stand and stump, about treason, Popery, and the like, until the poor ignorant masses imagined that they must be bitted and bridled by a Pope and Priesthood, and to the death, if Catholics
were treated like human beings.--Wellington
had thrown his great influence in the scale for emancipation; consequently, the mob determined to revenge what they considered their wrongs on him. The animas of a mob is more frequently a mistake than a wickedness.
One morning in February I noticed threatening crowds near the Pall Mail
gate, not far from the statue of Achilles
This statue was cast from cannons taken in the Iron Duke
's various battles, and was dedicated ‘"To Arthur
, by the Women of England
."’ I determined to watch the Duke
, and see what was going to be done.
Punctual to the moment, he descended the steps of the Apsely House
, his residence.
His appearance was imposing.
He was at the head of the Cabinet
, Premier of England
, and he was, par excellence,
the first men in England
I was drizzy morning.
He wore a blue flock coat, buttoned up to the chip, a military stock, and brown pan aloons.
His falcon eye surveyed the excited groups about the Park
gate, with a sort of pleasant contempt.--The mob were either awed by his appearance and prestige, or they had not yet screwed their courage to the insulting point.
passed on horseback, attended by his faithful valet.
Nobody molested him till he reached his office.
There the mob hissed him, hat when he turned around and faced them, the hissing ceased.
He then quietly entered his office.
As I knew the hour he would leave Downing street to return to the Park
, I was there in due season.
The neighborhood of the Horse Guards
probably deterred a good many of the excited fanatics from gathering about the Office
, but numbers were gathered.
, who was punctuality itself, came on at the appointed moment and mounted his house, amid groans and hisses.
After he passed the Horse Guards
, the rotes increased to shouts.
When he passed Charling Cross and entered Pall Mall, the mob began to throw missiles and dirt.
Near Pall Mall gate, there was a whirlpool of human beings eddying round in strange, wild, and yet in a sort of symmetrical confusion.
I feared they would mercer him there.
As he approached the gate, a good deal spattered with mud and dirt, the mob, as if compelled by some higher power then that of earth, made a lane for him to pass.
For a moment he was very pear them.
For that moment they seemed awed, and appeared to relent.
But when he had entered the gate, their violence rose to fury.
He dismounted with difficulty, placed his back against the rails of the statue of Achilies, and calmly faced his furious assailants.
I shall never forget that moment.
Thoughts and feelings took a mastery of my nature then, that have swayed me ever since.
Not one word did he utter.
There was no shrinking — not even a cloud of apprehension upon that glorious face Oh, how infinitely small and contemptible his assailants looked!
How great is man!
How little are men!
There was a full in the storm of shouts and missiles and dirt, and an old Irishman, with a wooden peg, hustled his way to the side of the Duke
This man sold apples and oranges by Hyde Park
gate, and his basket had been upset by the mob. When he had reached the Iron Duke
he stood by his side, and unbound his wooden leg, and made a speech that immediately subdued the monsters.
‘"My curse on you for cowardly scoundrels!
I've have pluck come and fight me. Let there be two of us against you all. B gorra, come and kill us both.
This is English justice!
Thousands against one.
Think of Waterico.
But for him and uz. Boney would have beaten ye. I've got my wooden leg for fighting for ye, ye vilons — and ye are goin' to pay him by murderin' him, ye bloody scoundrelst Come on, but come one at a time, not like cowards and ruffians, as ye are, altogether"’
The speech was a mighty success.
The mob was a shamed and calmed, and began to speak away.
gave a smile or recognition to he man who had saved his life, and ever afterward he amply provided for him as he did for many others, out of his own private for one in his own quiet, noisiest way.