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Commentary for Volume 1, Prologue
The original source is Tomkinson’s Diary for 25 September 1811 p 117 ‘Circumstance of two privates of the Light Division being drunk, and when ordered to march of by one of Wellington’s staff, said they knew who it was that ordered them – “It was that long-nosed beggar that licks the French.” However modern retellings have frequently changed ‘beggar’ to ‘bugger’ on the assumption that Tomkinson’s version was made more acceptable for a Victorian audience before publication; and this has, perhaps, suggested changing ‘licks’ to ‘beats’ for fear of ambiguity. Atty (or even Arty) is an even later addition.
Ellesmere, in his Personal Reminiscences of the Duke of Wellington (p 129) records a story, told by Wellington himself in 1826, of a corporal at Sorauren, in July 1813 who greeted Wellington’s arrival with the words “There goes the little blackguard what whops the French.”’
© Rory Muir