[September 14; 1852]
Mrs. Arbuthnot, who was often the Duke’s adviser, and gave him her clear and honest opinion on matters of which others were afraid to speak – views inspired by her clear brain – was invaluable to the Duke. Their intimacy may have given gossips an excuse for scandal; but I, who knew them both so well, am convinced that the Duke was not her lover. He admired her very much – for she had a manlike sense – but Mrs. Arbuthnot was devoid of womanly passions, and was,, above all, a loyal and truthful woman. She had, from her childhood, been accustomed to live in the society of clever old people. She married, when very young, old Arbuthnot, who found her so perfectly discreet, that he and Lord Castlereagh – when in office – talked openly in her presence, with a sense of absolute security. The Duke of Wellington fell into the same habit at her house, and would see people there, without the fuss of an interview which would have found its way into the newspapers. We three together formed a perfect union, where no jealousy or littleness of feeling ever intruded to destroy its harmony.
When I recovered my health Mrs. Arbuthnot and I were much together. One day I told her that she need never be afraid of my taking the Duke’s friendship from here, although I was far more devoted to him than she was. Mrs. Arbuthnot used to laugh at my reverence for, and my shyness with the Duke: she had no such feeling.
—The Diary of Frances Lady Shelley, 1818 – 1873, edited by Richard Edgcumbe, p. 310 et seq.