|Proverbs, aphorisms, quotations (English)||by Linux fortune|
Whilst marching from Portugal to a position which commands the
approach to Madrid and the French forces, my officers have been
diligently complying 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 the 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 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 over these barren plains.
I construe that perforce it must be one of two alternative duties, as
given below. I shall pursue either 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.
-- Duke of Wellington, to the British Foreign Office,