Page 9 - 5 June
P. 9

ACCOUNTABILITY IS A PRESSURE NOT UNKNOWN
     TO PREVIOUS GENERATIONS!

               MESSAGE FROM THE DUKE OF WELLINGTON TO
                  THE BRITISH FOREIGN OFFICE IN LONDON
                        written from Central Spain, August 1812


                                  Gentlemen,

                                  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 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 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.

     Your most obedient servant,
     Wellington




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