The Duke of Wellington's funeral caused as much of a stir in the mass media of 1852 as did Sir Winston Churchill's in the middle of the twentieth century. The Illustrated London News devoted columns of print and a plethora of large- and small-scale plates not merely to the Iron Duke's funeral in London's St. Paul's Cathedral (he was carried through the streets on the same funeral car used for Lord Nelson years before and Churchill over a century later), but also to a retrospective of his illustrious military career, the apogee of which, of course, was his triumphing of the greatest military genius the world had produced since Julius Gaius Caesar, Napoleon Bonaparte, on the field of Waterloo in Belgium. Here is what The Illustrated London News had to say:
The grave has closed over the mortal remains of the greatest hero 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 our of isles has received the most illustrious of its dead. With pomp and circumstances, a fervour of popular respect, a solemnity and a grandeur never before seen in our time, and in all probability, not to be surpassed in the obsequies of any other hero heretofore 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 by the unanimous design of his countrymen. . . . all the sanctity and awe inspired by the grandest of religious services performed in the grandest Protestant temple in the world, were combined to render the scene, inside and outside of St. Paul's Cathedral on Thursday last, the most memorable in our annals. . . . .
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. To the popular apprehension — felt, if not expressed — it seemed as if the great funeral of that great man were only to fitly celebrated amid mystic voices predicting —
A time of conflict fierce and trouble strange,
When Old and New, over a dark abyss,
Fight the great battle of relentless change;
And when 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. — Saturday, 20 November 1852 [on the same page as the picture "The Lying in State at Chelsea Hospital"]
These are but some of the illustrations:
3 November 1852. Preparations in St. Paul's Cathedral for the Funeral of the Duke [of Wellington] — The Nave by Gaslight
20 Nov. 1852: "The Lying in State at Chelsea Hospital. — The Vestibule."
20 Nov. 1852: "The Duke's Funeral. — Temple -Bar." (p. 429)
20 Nov. 1852: "The Duke of Wellington's Funeral Car. — (Drawn on the wood, at The School of Design, Marlborough House.)" (p. 440)
11 Dec. 1852: "Batons [of] The Late Duke of Wellington." (p. 532)
20 November 1852. Medal of the Late Duke of Wellington, by Pinches.
18 September 1852. Field Marshall His Grace the Duke of Wellington by Sir Thomas Lawrence
20 November 1852: "The Late Duke of Wellington. — From a Miniature by Sir George Hayter." (p. 429)
20 November 1852: The Late Duke of Wellington — Painting by Pelligrini (p.429)
11 December 1852: "'The Hero and His Horse on the Field of Waterloo, Twenty Years After the Battle.' — Painted by B. B. Haydon. — Engraved by Permission." (p. 532)
11 December 1852: "First School of the Late Duke of Wellington, At Trim." (p. 533)
Sinnema, Peter W. The Wake of Wellington: Englishness in 1852. Athens: Ohio University Press, 2006.
Last modified 9 October 2006