THE DUKE’S FUNERAL
The grave has closed over
the mortal remains of the greatest man of our age, and one of the purest-minded
men recorded in history. Wellington and Nelson sleep side by side under the dome
of St. Paul’s, and the national mausoleum of our isles has received the most
illustrious of its dead. With a pomp and circumstance, a fervour of popular
respect, a solemnity and a grandeur never before seen in our time, and, in all
probability, never to be surpassed in the obsequies of any other hero hereafter
to be born to become the benefactor of this
country, the sacred relics of Arthur Duke of Wellington have been deposited in
the place long since set apart for them by the unanimous decision of his
countrymen. All that ingenuity could suggest in the funeral trappings, all that
imagination and fancy could devise to surround the ceremonial with accessories
that most forcibly impress the minds of a multitude, all the grace that Royalty
could lend, all the aid that the State could afford in every one of its great
departments, all the imposing circumstances derivable from the assemblage of
great masses of men arrayed with military splendour and in military mourning,
together with the less dramatic but even more affecting grief expressed by the
sober trappings of respectful and sympathetic crowds, all the dignity that could
be conferred by the presence of the civil and legislative power of a great and
ancient kingdom; and, lastly, all the sanctity and awe inspired by the grandest
of religious services performed in the grandest Protestant temple on the
world, were combined to render the scene inside and outside of St. Paul’s
Cathedral on Thursday last [November 18, 1852] the most memorable in our annals.
Nor in the popular estimation were these, great and imposing as they were, the
only circumstances that invested the funeral of the great Duke with
extraordinary interest. To the minds of the people, and to the superstition
of thousands who would be loth to confess, although they would find it
impossible to deny, the hold of such feelings upon their imagination, “the
signs and the portents of nature” were added to the commemorative deeds of
men, to render the last scene in the history of the hero more awe-inspiring than
it might otherwise have been.
Amid the rise, and perhaps the fall, of empires, amid “fear of change perplexing the nations,” amid earthquake and flood, a trembling earth and a weeping sky, Wellington was conveyed from his lonely chamber at Walmer to the more splendid halting-place of Chelsea, and from thence to his grave, in the heart of London. The very elements seemed to sympathise with the feelings of living men at the loss of one so mighty as he had been in his day and generation.
But the hero is entombed, and the voice of his contemporaries has spoken his apotheosis. Every incident in his long and honourable life has been sought for and recorded. Every trait in his simple, direct, and manly character has found its chronicler. The stores of his wisdom have been arranged and classified into apophthegms, brilliant as epigrams, and many of them as immortal as his victories.
The Hero sleeps well. May we never miss in a future day the guiding hand and the clear judgement of him who gave nearly for years’ peace to Europe, who was the be factor of every kingdom in it; who gave France constitutional liberty—since lost but sure to be regained; and who raised his own country to a height of power, influence, and true glory she had never before reached. No Caesar ever approached such deeds as these; and all Greek and Roman fame are but small and mean compared with the pure fame of the GREAT DUKE OF WELLINGTON!
Illustrated London News 1852
see also Garwood's The Million-Peopled City - click here
see also David Bartlett in London by Day and Night - click here
(University of Southampton Archives, http://www.archives.lib.soton.ac.uk/)