Copy Book Archive

Wellington’s Secret The future hero of Waterloo dealt with political ambush as comfortably as he dealt with the military kind.
Music: John Marsh

Via Wikimedia Commons. Source

About this picture …

Major-General Arthur Wellesley, during his time serving in India, painted by Richard Home (1752-1834).

Wellington’s Secret
Arthur Wellesley spent the years 1797 to 1804 in India. He went out as a Colonel in the British Army’s 33rd regiment of Foot, and was soon being addressed as General Sir Arthur. On 23rd September 1803, he secured a significant victory over the Maratha Empire at Assaye in the state of Maharashtra, western India.

SHORTLY after the Battle of Assaye, one morning the Prime Minister of the Court of Hyderabad waited upon him [Sir Arthur] for the purpose of privately ascertaining what territory and what advantages had been reserved for his master in the treaty of peace between the Mahratta princes and the Nizam.* To obtain this information the minister offered the general a very large sum — considerably above £100,000.**

Looking at him quietly for a few seconds, Sir Arthur said, “It appears, then, that you are capable of keeping a secret?”

“Yes, certainly,” replied the minister.

“Then so am I,” said the English general, smiling, and bowed the minister out.

That is, the Maratha Empire and the Nizam-ul-Mulk of Hyderabad, monarch of the Hyderabad State.

In terms of purchasing power, £100,000 in 1804 would be roughly equivalent to £8 million today. See Measuring Worth.


When Arthur Wellesley was serving in India, he brokered a truce between two Indian princes, one of whom was the Nizam of Hyderabad. The Nizam’s Prime Minister offered Wellesley a vast bribe to betray the details, but Wellesley, having raised the minister’s hopes by asking him if could keep a secret, promptly dashed them by saying that he could, too. (60 / 60 words)


From Self-Help by Samuel Smiles (1812-1904).

Suggested Music

Conversation Symphony in E flat for Two Orchestras (1778)

3: Allegretto

John Marsh (1752-1828)

London Mozart Players, directed by Matthias Bamert.

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