Okay, you are going to read the response the Duke of Wellington – the British Prime Minister and war hero who won the battle of Waterloo against Napoleon – wrote when the British government asked him for specific accounts. I’m not going to lie, you’re probably going to think the first paragraph is boring. Keep reading. If you are a heterosexual woman (or gay man), and, by the end of this letter your head is not tilted back and you are not muttering, “Marry me, Duke of Wellington”, I’m not sure we can be friends anymore.
Whilst marching from Portugal to a position which commands the approach to Madrid and the French forces, my officers have been complying diligently with your requests which have been sent by H.M. ship from London to Lisbon and thence by dispatch 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 and spleen of every officer.
Each item and every farthing has been accounted for, with two regrettable exceptions for which I beg your 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 reprehensible carelessness may be related to the pressure of circumstance, since we are at war with France, a fact which may 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 across these barren plains. I construe that perforce it must be one of two alternative duties, as given below. I shall pursue either one to 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 from Spain.
Your most obedient servant
Oh, my God, if I lived in the 19th century, all I would do is try to persuade the Duke of Wellington to marry me. Just break out every possible seductive trick and ploy and maybe wear some disguises like in Shakespeare. The hideous confusion over the jam alone leads me to this pursuit.
It’s sort of incredible that the Duke of Wellington was all witticisms, all the time. Upon being told that people often mistook a “Mr. Jones” for him (the Duke of Wellington was super famous), Wellington replied,
“Mistaken for me, is he? That’s strange, for no one ever mistakes me for Mr. Jones.”
This is a line that should probably be employed by all famous people forever.