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August 24 1812: Wellington Complains



On August 24, 1812, Wellington is writing to the Secretary of State, the Earl of Bathurst,  complaining about his pay. He writes that he receives a ten pound per diem which after deductions leaves him with about eight guineas. He bluntly tells the Secretary of State that if this continues he will be "ruined". Wellington is in Madrid. It is during this period that his portrait, which is reproduced above, is painted by Francisco Goya. His letter to the Earl of Bathurst is reproduced below:

General the Marquis of Wellington, K.B., to the Earl Bathurst, Secretary of State. 
My Dear Lord, 'Madrid, 24th August, 1812.

I have been going on for more than three years upon the usual allowance of a Commander in Chief, that is ten pounds per diem, liable to various deductions, among others of income tax, reducing it to about eight guineas; but it will be necessary that Government should now either give me an additional pay under the head of table money, or any other they please, or that they should allow me to charge some of the expenses, such as charities, &c., which I am obliged to incur, in the existing state of this country, or I shall be ruined.

It is not proper, probably, to advert to other services, but I believe there is no service in which a Commander in Chief, with such a charge as I have, is so badly paid as in the British service. Indeed, as far as I can learn, there is no instance of an officer holding a permanent command in the British service, whose receipts have been confined to ten- pound per diem, with deductions. They all receive either the allowance of a Government with that of a Commander in Chief, or an allowance of some other description; but I doubt that the trouble or responsibility or the expenses of any at all equal mine. However, I should not have mentioned the subject, knowing that the public expect in these days to be well served at the lowest possible rate of expense, if I did not find that I was in a situation in which I must incur expenses which I cannot defray without doing myself an injury. 

'Believe me, &c.
Wellington.

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