display | more...
The famous reply of Arthur Wellesley, First Duke of Wellington (1769 - 1852), to the attempts of a former mistress Harriette Wilson to blackmail him into paying her money to remove all mention of him in the scandalous memoir she intended to publish. He supposedly scrawled the words on the letter containing her demand and sent it back to her.

Some have suggested that the story is apocryphal, but it's none the worse for that. Wilson did indeed publish her memoirs of a life as a lady of pleasure with a track record of countless affairs with (mostly married) members of London's beau monde. She portrayed Wellington as looking like a ratcatcher in a witty bestseller (published in 1825) which dished the dirt on those of her past amours too proud or stingy to pay for her silence.

Apparently the Duke of Beaufort once bribed her to stay away from his son and heir, who had become infatuated with the much older Harriette. The Duke promised her 500 pounds a year if she would retire quietly to Paris. It has been suggested that she resorted to blackmail when Beaufort reneged on his deal, and to keep body and soul together as she aged and her charms began to fade.

One of fifteen children of a Swiss clock maker, Harriet became mistress to the Earl of Craven at the age of only fifteen. She was later said to have "changed her lovers as easily as she changed her shoes".

Wellington was a veritable quote machine in his long career as a soldier and statesman. One of my favourites is his comment that he had "never seen such a collection of bad hats" when entering the House of Commons.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.