Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Peel, Robert (1788-1850)
PEEL, Sir ROBERT (1788–1850), second baronet, statesman, was born on 5 Feb. 1788, probably at Chamber Hall, near Bury in Lancashire. He was the eldest son of Robert (afterwards Sir Robert) Peel (1750–1830) [q. v.] His mother, Ellen Yates, was eldest daughter of William Yates, a partner in the firm of Haworth, Peel, & Yates, cotton manufacturers of Bury. The boy took lessons with James Hargreaves, curate of Bury, but learned more from his father, who had marked him out to be a statesman, and who, by way of training, would set him on Sunday evenings to repeat the morning and afternoon sermons of the day. At the age of ten he removed with his family to Drayton Manor, near Tamworth in Staffordshire, and was placed at school with Francis Blick, vicar of Tamworth, where he was judged ‘a good boy of gentle manners, quick in feeling, very sensitive.’ In January 1801 he went to Harrow, entering the house of the Rev. Mark Drury. According to Byron, his schoolfellow, ‘there were always great hopes of Peel amongst us all, masters and scholars.’ In 1804 the two friends declaimed together, Byron taking the part of Latinus, and Peel that of Turnus. Another schoolfellow remembered him as ‘the light-haired, blue-eyed, fair-complexioned, smiling, good-natured boy, indolent somewhat as to physical exertion, but overflowing with mental energy.’ At Christmas 1804 he left Harrow, and spent the ensuing season at his father's house in Upper Grosvenor Street, being very regular in his attendance under the gallery of the House of Commons, where Pitt and Fox still held sway.
In October 1805 he entered Christ Church, Oxford, as a gentleman-commoner. At the time Cyril Jackson [q. v.] was dean. His tutor was at first Thomas Gaisford [q. v.], and subsequently Charles Lloyd (1784–1829) [q. v.], afterwards bishop of Oxford, who was always his closest friend. Oxford had recently awakened from that lethargy which is the theme of Gibbon, and under the new system of 1807 Peel won, in 1808, a double first class in classics and mathematics, his viva voce examination being the first of his public triumphs. After he had taken his degree his father bought him the seat of Cashel in Tipperary, and he entered the House of Commons in April 1809, at the age of twenty-one. A tory ministry, with the Duke of Portland as prime minister, was in power, and the whigs, utterly wrecked since the death of Fox, were in opposition. Peel, fresh from a tory home and a tory university, naturally gave his support to the government. In 1810 he seconded the address, in a speech of about forty minutes, which the speaker (Charles Abbot, afterwards Lord Colchester) and others judged to have been ‘the best first speech since that of Mr. Pitt.’ Soon afterwards he accepted the under-secretaryship for war and the colonies. The secretary of state was Lord Liverpool, and the main business of the office was to direct the military operations against the French. According to the testimony of Lord Liverpool, Peel acquired in this post ‘all the necessary habits of official business,’ and showed ‘a particularly good temper and great frankness and openness of manners.’ Upon Perceval's murder in May 1812 Lord Liverpool became premier, and Peel accepted the post of chief secretary for Ireland in July. At the same time he exchanged the seat of Cashel for Chippenham.
Peel held the Irish office for six years, until 1818, and served under three viceroys—the Duke of Richmond, Lord Whitworth, and Lord Talbot. The duties were threefold. He had in the first place to administer the patronage of Ireland on behalf of the English government. Here his principle was to yield as little as possible to the influence of powerful individuals, to consult always the interests of his government, and never his own. He made no distinction between catholics and protestants in appointments open to both, and opposed the practice of selling public offices and of dismissing civil servants for political action. The success of the government in the Irish elections of 1812 and 1818 was ascribed to his vigour and prudence in distributing patronage. Secondly, he was bound to maintain order in Ireland. The young minister had to meet the Goliath of agitation, O'Connell, who in 1811 had organised the catholic board, and was rapidly ousting Grattan from popular favour. It was Peel's general desire to rule by the existing law, but disorder rose to such a height that in June 1814 he had to suppress the catholic board, and immediately afterwards carried two acts, one reviving in part the repealed Insurrection Act of 1807, and the other establishing the peace preservation police, vulgarly termed ‘Peelers,’ a body afterwards consolidated into the royal Irish constabulary. These measures were successful, and Ireland sank into an uneasy repose. Thirdly, Peel had to maintain in parliament the cause of protestant ascendency. Those who favoured catholic emancipation comprised the whig party and a section of the tories, led by Canning and Wellesley, besides Vansittart and Castlereagh in the English cabinet, and within the Irish government itself William Vesey Fitzgerald (afterwards Lord Fitzgerald and Vesey) [q. v.], the Irish chancellor of the exchequer, and Charles Kendal Bushe [q. v.], the solicitor-general. Four times in three months during 1813 did the House of Commons resolve that concessions should be made. But Peel was too firm, O'Connell too virulent, and the catholic party too divided on the question of imposing the royal veto on the appointment of bishops for anything to be done. In 1817 Peel sealed the victory by his first really great speech delivered on 9 May against the catholic claims.
Peel's policy did not solve the Irish question, but he ruled Ireland. Throughout his tenure of office O'Connell pursued him with excessive rancour, and in the course of 1815 Peel challenged the agitator to a duel. He crossed to Ostend to meet his opponent, but O'Connell was arrested in the Strand [see O'Connell, Daniel].
Among the whigs Peel's attitude to Irish questions at the same time gained him the reputation of being the ‘spokesman to the intolerant faction.’ The stalwart tories viewed his conduct with unbounded favour. In 1817 Oxford acknowledged his services to protestantism by making him her member, an honour that Canning himself had coveted in vain. In the same year fifty-nine Irish members signed a remarkable memorial urging him not to retire from a post which he had administered with masterly ability. But he was weary of the work, and on 3 Aug. 1818 laid down his office and quitted Ireland.
From 1818 to 1822 Peel was a private member. He married in 1820, and both in that year and in 1821 he declined offers of cabinet rank. But within this period falls one great political achievement. In 1819 the House of Commons appointed a ‘committee of secrecy to consider the state of the Bank of England with reference to the expediency of the resumption of cash payments,’ and though such men as Canning, Tierney, and Huskisson sat with him, Peel was chosen chairman. In 1811 he had voted against Horner's resolutions based on the report of the bullion committee of 1810 recommending resumption. Now he became convinced that the system of paper currency pursued since 1797 resulted in a fall of the foreign exchanges and a rise in the price of gold—that is to say, in a depreciated currency. On 24 May he introduced his resolutions in a memorable speech, and upon them was founded ‘Peel's Act,’ which provided that the acts restraining cash payments should finally cease on 1 May 1823. The young man of thirty-one thus achieved what Canning called ‘the greatest wonder he had witnessed in the political world,’ and gave the country the inestimable benefit of a sound system of metallic currency.
It was at this epoch in Peel's career that his political views underwent a subtle change. Although still as strongly opposed as his fellow tories to such measures as catholic emancipation or reform of the House of Commons, and although he still fully recognised the exigencies of party warfare, he began to perceive that it was the duty of politicians to study the condition of all classes of the people, and to bring parliamentary policy to some extent into harmony with the wishes and needs of the constituencies, even at the risk of ignoring many preconceived opinions. The earliest sign of his suspicion that toryism of the rigorously unchanging type might move in his case an inadequate creed is supplied by a letter to Croker dated 23 March 1820. ‘Do you not think,’ he asks, ‘that the tone of England is more liberal than the policy of the government?’ And again: ‘public opinion is growing too large for the channels that it has been accustomed to run through.’
While out of office his influence was steadily increasing. In 1820 it was noticed that ‘his talents, independent fortune, official habits, and reputation, and, above all, general character both in and out of parliament, have disposed more men to follow and more to unite with him than any other person’ (Buckingham, Memoirs of George IV, i. 102). On 17 Jan. 1822 he rejoined Lord Liverpool's government, accepting the seals of the home office and cabinet rank. In August Lord Londonderry died by his own hand, and the question at once arose whether Canning or Peel should succeed him as leader of the House of Commons. Canning had the prior claim, and became foreign secretary and leader of the house. Peel wrote: ‘I have no difference with Canning on political questions except on the catholic question,’ and, readily acquiescing in the appointment, he turned to consider the state of the criminal law. Since 1818 Sir James Mackintosh had advocated reform in that branch, but he now in 1823 resigned the project into the hands of the home secretary. Peel, though he had entered at Lincoln's Inn in 1809, had scarcely studied law. But his particular method in office was to summon experts from all quarters, and he thus always appeared before the House of Commons with an encyclopædic knowledge of his subject. Thus armed, he was able to pass in the next five years eight acts mitigating and consolidating the criminal law, and repealing in whole or in part more than 250 old statutes, not to mention another great measure dealing with the law of juries. His plan of legislation was to steer a middle course ‘between the redundancy of our own legal enactments and the conciseness of the French code;’ and the change that he wrought was so great that Mackintosh used to declare that he could almost think that he ‘had lived in two different countries, and conversed with people who spoke two different languages.’ Peel's administration was marked by the repeal or expiration of every law imposing extraordinary restrictions on the liberty of the subject (Speeches, i. 509). In the view of Canning, he was the most efficient home secretary that this country ever saw.
In February 1827 Lord Liverpool, the prime minister, was struck down by paralysis, and, after much negotiation, Canning succeeded to his office. In April Peel resigned, on the ground that he was opposed to Canning on catholic emancipation. That question had now risen into a position of pressing urgency. In 1823 O'Connell had organised the Catholic Association; in 1825 Peel had been ‘left in minorities on three different questions immediately connected with Ireland—the catholic question, the elective franchise, and the payment of the catholic clergy.’ He had offered to resign, and had only consented to remain when told that his resignation would break up the ministry. In 1826, at the general election, the Irish priesthood had for the first time thrown themselves into the popular cause. Further than this, Canning, the new prime minister, was the most powerful advocate of the catholics, as Peel was their most powerful opponent. Meanness suggested that there was jealousy between the two. But, though divided by public duty, they remained united in friendship. On 2 July, meeting in Westminster Hall for the last time, they talked arm-in-arm with cordiality and good will. On 8 Aug. Canning was dead. Goderich became premier. Peel since his retirement had taken little part in politics, but he now worked energetically to reunite the two sections of the tory party. His efforts met with success, and on Goderich's resignation Wellington was able, in January 1828, to form a ministry out of the reunited party. Peel joined the new government as home secretary for the second time, and as leader of the House of Commons for the first time.
An extraordinary drama followed. On 26 Feb., and again on 12 May, the government was beaten—first, on a motion for the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts, and, secondly, on a motion for the settlement of the catholic question. Peel resolved to resign; but Huskisson and the other Canningites anticipated him by themselves resigning when the majority of the cabinet declined to enfranchise Birmingham at the expense of East Retford. Had Peel withdrawn too the government would have fallen at once. He therefore determined to support the duke. Such was Peel's position when, at the end of June, Fitzgerald, who had sought re-election at Clare as the new president of the board of trade, was defeated by O'Connell. Fitzgerald at once wrote to Peel that ‘the country is mad.’ Lord Anglesey, the lord lieutenant [see Paget, Henry William, first Marquis of Anglesey], also wrote, on 26 July, that Ireland was on the verge of rebellion, and urged concession to the catholics. The mind of Peel soon arrived at a like conclusion; for he held, with his master Pitt, that to maintain a consistent attitude amid changed circumstances is to be ‘a slave to the most idle vanity’ (Pitt, Speeches, iv. 77). During nearly twenty years he had opposed emancipation on ‘broad and uncompromising grounds.’ Those grounds may be summed up in a sentence of his own: ‘May I not question the policy of admitting those who must have views hostile to the religious establishments of the state to the capacity of legislating for the interests of those establishments?’ He now, on 11 Aug., felt that the crisis overrode all such arguments, and wrote to Wellington that, though emancipation was a great danger, civil strife was a greater. At the same time he stated that he felt bound to resign on his change of policy. Again he was thwarted; a new factor entered into the case. Though the duke thoroughly agreed with Peel, the king was violently opposed, so much so that the duke informed Peel on 17 Jan. 1829 that ‘I do not see the smallest chance of getting the better of these difficulties if you should not continue in office.’ On the same date Peel consented to remain. From that time till the opening of parliament Peel was engaged in preparing three bills—one for the suppression of the Catholic Association, another for catholic emancipation, and the third for the regulation of the franchise in Ireland. When the first of these bills had been read a third time, Peel placed himself in the hands of his constituents by accepting the Chiltern Hundreds (20 Feb.). He was defeated on seeking re-election at Oxford by 146 votes, but was elected for Westbury, and took his seat on 3 March. Next day the king saw the leading ministers, informed them in an interview lasting five hours of his disagreement with their policy, gave them ‘a salute on each cheek,’ and accepted their resignations. But the same evening he changed his mind, and recalled them to office. On 5 March Peel, in a great speech of over four hours' duration, introduced his bill for catholic emancipation. As he moved from point to point in his exposition, cheers broke out so loud as to be heard in Westminster Hall. For the measure was broadly based on equality of civil rights, and Peel assigned the honour to those to whom honour was due. ‘The credit belongs to others, and not to me. It belongs to Mr. Fox, to Mr. Grattan, to Mr. Plunket, to the gentlemen opposite, and to an illustrious and right hon. friend of mine, who is now no more.’ All three bills passed eventually into law, but the author of them was overwhelmed with abuse as a traitor and an apostate. Yet, having changed his policy, he had acted rightly—first, in offering to resign his place in the cabinet; secondly, in seeking re-election from his constituents; and, thirdly, in justifying his course before the House of Commons by submitting a practical proposal. His own words best describe his conduct: ‘it was no ignoble ambition which prompted me to bear the brunt of a desperate conflict.’
Emancipation disposed of, he hastened to accomplish three other signal reforms. In 1828 he revised and consolidated the laws of offences against the person, and in 1830 dealt in the same way with the laws of forgery. Secondly, he created the metropolitan police force in 1829, thus solving a difficulty that had been felt by English statesmen for more than half a century. With true foresight he stated that by thus preventing the increase of crime he was paving the way for a still further mitigation of the criminal code. Thirdly, he carried in 1830 two important measures of law reform, notable as the first successful attempts in this country to improve the judicature. In November 1830 Wellington's government was defeated on Parnell's motion to revise the civil list [see Parnell, Henry Brooke, first Baron Congleton]. It was succeeded by the reform government of Lord Grey. On 22 Nov. Peel, who had succeeded to the baronetcy, a fine estate, and a great fortune at the death of his father on 3 May, and had become member for Tamworth at the August elections, took his place for the first time in his life on the opposition bench. Though he refused to pledge himself against all reform, and avowed ‘that there might have been proposed certain alterations to which I would have assented,’ yet, in a series of great speeches delivered on 3 March, 6 July, 21 Sept., 17 Dec. 1831, and 22 March 1832, he vigorously opposed the ministerial plans of parliamentary reform as an ill-advised reconstruction of the constitution. He was also a close critic of details, and between 12 and 27 July 1831 spoke no less than forty-eight times. His main arguments were that the plan in question would totally disfranchise the lower classes, that the rotten boroughs had given special opportunities to distinguished men of entering parliament, and that the existing constitution gave no hindrance to any necessary reforms. Early in April an amendment was carried in committee against the government, and Peel was the chief actor in the historic scene on 22 April 1831, when he was interrupted in the full tide of unwonted passion by black rod suddenly summoning the commons to hear the dissolution of parliament. In May 1832, after the lords had carried a motion in committee adverse to the Reform Bill, and the ministers had resigned, Peel's professions were put to the test by an offer of the premiership, ‘on the condition of introducing an extensive measure of reform,’ but he unhesitatingly declined. His conduct in this crisis won him back the tory allegiance which he had forfeited over catholic emancipation.
When Peel entered the parliament of 1833 as member for Tamworth his position was unique. He was the representative of an extinct system and the leader of a shattered party. For the tories, if nominally about 150 in number, rarely mustered one hundred on a division, and they were so dispirited that they even allowed their leader to be pushed from his place and made to sit nearer the speaker. On the other hand, he was incomparably the first man in the House of Commons. He had held office for sixteen years altogether, and had carried a long series of reforms. His weight was such that the whole house listened with an ‘unutterable anxiety’ to anything that he said or did. He was rid of embarrassing questions and an unmanageable party, and at once announced that he would accept the new order and act in the spirit of moderate reform. On this principle he constantly voted with Lord Grey's government against the extreme radicals and repealers, so that, out of the twenty important domestic questions dealt with during the sessions of 1833 and 1834, he sided on no less than sixteen with the government.
In July of the latter year the king tried to induce Peel to coalesce with the government on Lord Grey's resignation, but failed, and Lord Melbourne became prime minister. In November William IV abruptly dismissed Lord Melbourne and his colleagues. A romantic episode followed. The Mercury of the court, ‘the hurried Hudson,’ was sent to find Peel. He was found on 25 Nov. 1834 at Rome, at a ball of the Duchess of Torlonia, and he posted back to England to accept, on 9 Dec., the double office of first lord of the treasury and chancellor of the exchequer. He made his first appearance the next day, ‘full of spirits and cordiality,’ and at once took full responsibility for the king's action, although he disliked it. Then, having issued a manifesto to his Tamworth constituents in explanation of his past and future policy, he dissolved parliament, and thus added some hundred to the strength of his party. Toiling incessantly from seven in the morning till long past midnight, the minister prepared, against the meeting of the house, four great measures dealing with the church, three of which—the Dissenters' Marriage Bill, the English Tithe Bill, and the Irish Tithe Bill—were eventually carried, with additions, in 1836 and 1838 by the whigs. But the whig majority was merciless, and six times in six weeks Peel suffered defeat. At last, on 8 April 1835, having been outvoted on a resolution of Russell to appropriate the surplus revenues of the Irish church to non-ecclesiastical objects, the minister laid down his arms. As he announced his decision a tide of generous emotion swept through the ranks of his opponents. In his short term of office he had only actually done one thing: he had established the ecclesiastical commission. Yet he had proved himself, in the phrase of Guizot, ‘the most liberal of conservatives, the most conservative of liberals, and the most capable man of all in both parties.’ The shrewd remark of ‘old Sir Robert Peel’ was remembered, that his son would never display his talents in their fulness until he held the supreme place.
Peel now retired again into opposition and resumed his former attitude of ‘a great, prudent, wary leader who was fighting after a plan’ (Dalling, p. 87). That plan was concisely described by himself in May 1838: ‘My object for some years past has been to lay the foundations of a great party, which, existing in the House of Commons, and deriving its strength from the popular will, should diminish the risk and deaden the shock of collisions between the two deliberative branches of the legislature.’ This was the party which bore the name, first used in 1831, of conservative. For the formation of such a body there were needed young men, and tried men, and men in numbers. Since the death of Pitt the tories seemed to have alienated political ability; in 1828 it was held that there was not a single young tory of promise in the House of Commons. In a cartoon of 1830 by ‘H. B.,’ Wellington and Peel are drawn looking over ‘the Noddle Bazaar’ for ‘a few good heads.’ Now the most brilliant young men in England gathered under the banner of the conservative chief, among them Sidney Herbert and the future Lord Canning, and, above all, Gladstone and Disraeli, who entered parliament in 1837. To the latter Sir Robert seems to have shown marked kindness and attention (Beaconsfield's Correspondence with his Sister, pp. 9, 10, 55, 59, 72, 79, 121, 148, 171). When Disraeli rose to make his maiden speech ‘no one backed me with more zeal and kindness than Peel, cheering me repeatedly, which is not his custom.’ When they talked of failure, Peel said: ‘I say anything but failure; he must make his way’ (ib. p. 79). The author of the ‘Letters of Runnymede’ dedicated them to the opposition leader and summoned him to come from ‘the halls and the bowers of Drayton’ to ‘rescue the nation.’ As for tried men, Peel succeeded in winning over two men in the House of Commons of first-class ability—Stanley and Sir James Graham. They had seceded from the whigs soon after the Reform Bill. He had in vain offered them places in his government of 1835; now in 1838 they openly avowed that they had thrown in their lot with his. As for numbers, his party had risen at the two successive elections of 1832 and 1834 from about 150 to about 250. In the first parliament of Queen Victoria's reign (November 1837) Peel's party numbered nearly 320. For half a century no such opposition had been gathered together.
The policy that united this opposition was that of maintaining intact the established constitution of church and state, and found its best expression in the indignant question of Sir Robert: ‘Is the British constitution a standing grievance, to be redressed and abolished?’ This was enough for an opposition, but not enough to be the policy of a government. Accordingly Peel laboured to infuse into the mind of his party that respect for the opinions and wishes of the nation as a whole which had grown to be the rule of his own mind. It was impossible, of course, to wholly restrain or exorcise bigotry and party spite. Peel sometimes found himself forced ‘to keep his party in wind,’ as he expressed it. But as a rule he was the master. His action over the question of privilege raised by the case of Stockdale v. Hansard brought upon him the wrath of his own side. But it ‘appealed straight to the innermost heart of Sir Robert Peel, than whom our constitutional and representative system never had a more loving child or a more devoted champion’ (Mr. Gladstone in the Nineteenth Century, xxvii. 40). Again, when the lords, led by Lyndhurst, had mutilated the English Municipal Corporations Bill, Peel boldly stood by the government, in the spirit of a patriot, not of a partisan. Mr. Gladstone has recorded that there never was a period when the struggle of parties was ‘so intense, so prolonged, and so unremitting.’ But he has added that the struggle was sharp because Peel on one side and Russell on the other ‘were strong men and earnest men,’ and that ‘it was perhaps the best time I have ever known’ (ib. p. 40).
On all sides there were symptoms of the expanding influence of the opposition chief. In 1836 he was elected lord rector of the university of Glasgow, and at a great banquet given in his honour at that town in the following January he expounded the new conservative faith. In 1838 he was entertained by 313 members of the House of Commons at Merchant Taylors' Hall, where he reviewed the power and the patriotic conduct of his party, and, probably for the first time, laid down the duties of a constitutional opposition. In the same year he forced the government to omit from their settlement of the Irish tithe that very principle of appropriation which they had adopted as the main object of their policy in 1835. So puissant had he become that a political opponent declared soon after in the House of Commons that ‘the right honourable member for Tamworth governs England.’
In 1839 Lord Melbourne's government resigned on the Jamaica question. Peel was summoned to form a cabinet, and submitted a list which was approved by the queen. But when he proceeded to claim permission to recommend certain changes in the household, by which he meant that some few ladies of the bedchamber closely connected with the outgoing ministers should be superseded, the queen declined to entertain the proposal, and Lord Melbourne and the whigs resumed office. Peel held that his view was not only constitutional, but also that the whigs had hitherto been so much in favour with the court that some overt act was needed to inform the public that the conservatives enjoyed an equal measure of the royal confidence. The ‘bedchamber question’ was settled in 1841 by the intervention of Baron Stockmar, who supported the view of Sir Robert Peel, and by the mediation of Prince Albert.
It is important to trace the steps by which Peel at length attained power. At the commencement of 1841 it appeared that the coming financial year, 1841–2, would result in a large deficit. It was proposed to avert this deficit in two ways. Firstly, the timber and sugar duties were to be modified in the direction of free trade. Further, a fixed duty of 8s. a quarter on wheat was to be substituted for the existing sliding scale of duties. But the opposition defeated the former proposal by carrying an amendment against the reduction of the sugar duties, on the ground that this step would encourage the production of slave-grown sugar. The government, though the budget was ruined, did not resign; but before their second proposal as to the corn law could be reached, Peel himself moved and carried a vote of want of confidence. The ministers dissolved, and were returned in a minority of upwards of ninety. They met parliament in August, were defeated on an amendment to the address, and at once resigned. Thereupon Peel formed a ministry.
The new government had to face difficulties in all directions. A war with China and an invasion of Afghanistan were in progress. The late administration had drifted into serious antagonism with France, Canada was at open enmity, and the United States were contemplating active hostilities. But the domestic affairs of the country were no less critical. There was the open feud between the two houses. Two great organisations, the anti-corn law league and the chartists, were thundering against established laws. Deficits had become as annual as the harvest. There was intense distress among the working classes. Worst of all, the British government was discredited abroad.
The party that now found itself in power under Peel's guidance contained political talents unparalleled for splendour and promise. It could show seven men who had been or were to be prime ministers—Peel himself, Wellington, Ripon, Stanley, Aberdeen, Gladstone and Disraeli. It possessed five future viceroys of India—Ellenborough, Hardinge, Dalhousie, Canning, and Elgin. But all these looked to the leader alone for a policy. His career up to 1841 may be divided into two unequal parts. From 1810 to 1832 it had been an attempt on a great scale to maintain and justify the aristocratic system of government. That attempt, though nominally foiled by the passing of the Reform Bill, had resulted in catholic emancipation, a revised penal code, an excellent police system, and a restored currency. After 1832 he had worked for a new object. Perceiving that the whigs depended for place, and therefore to some extent for policy, on the Irish repealers and on the radicals, and desiring to defeat the aims of the two latter parties, he had organised conservatism. Hitherto that party had confined itself to defending the constitution; henceforth it was to be the instrument of a series of great social reforms.
The cabinet was formed of fifteen members, too large a number in Peel's opinion for the proper despatch of business. But the effectual ruler was the premier himself, assisted by his two especial allies, Sir James Graham as home secretary, and Lord Aberdeen as foreign minister, with Lord Lyndhurst as lord chancellor. Peel held no post beyond that of first lord of the treasury. But in the general direction of finance he superseded Goulburn, the chancellor of the exchequer, and himself introduced the great budgets of 1842 and 1845. Further, the position of foreign affairs was so critical that it was arranged that Peel should fulfil in the House of Commons the duties of an undersecretary in that respect. He had also an intimate acquaintance with the business of the home office and with Irish policy. Thus nothing of importance escaped him; it was, in Mr. Gladstone's phrase, ‘a perfectly organised administration.’
In the house he at once assumed a supreme position. His main principle of conduct, constantly avowed both in and out of office, was that on entering into power he ceased to represent a party because he represented a people. Thus in 1829, for example, he said: ‘As minister of the crown I reserve to myself, distinctly and unequivocally, the right of adapting my conduct to the exigency of the moment, and to the wants of the country.’ He held that a statesman is bound to study the new sources of information open to him as minister, and is not less bound to modify previous opinions if circumstances should warrant or demand it. Accordingly, during the brief autumn session of 1841 he declined to declare his policy until he had devoted the coming months to a complete survey of national necessities. During his second ministry (1841–6) Peel's attention was mainly occupied with the four subjects—finance, banking, Ireland, and the corn laws.
On 11 March 1842 he introduced the budget in a speech that ‘took the house by storm.’ During the five preceding years there had been annual deficits, averaging about a million and a half. The position was the more grave from the fact that these had been due more to deficiency of income than to excessive expenditure. It was therefore necessary to increase the revenue, four-fifths of which came from the customs and the excise. Additional revenue might be obtained from these taxes in one of two ways. The rate of charge might be raised, or it might be lowered. But the former method would make consumption so expensive, and therefore check it to such a degree, that the higher rate might produce a lesser revenue. If, on the other hand, the tariff were lowered, increased consumption would no doubt eventually make good the loss immediately resulting. But that recovery would be a matter of several years. In a great passage Peel addressed ‘an earnest appeal to the possessors of property, for the purpose of repairing this mighty evil.’ He proposed an income-tax for three years at sevenpence in the pound. This resource would not only make good the balance of revenue and expenditure, but it would also leave a surplus. This surplus was to be devoted to ‘great commercial reforms,’ and, above all, to the reduction of ‘the cost of living.’ In other words, the burden of indirect taxation was to be lightened. At this announcement the funds at once rose from 89 to 93. The prime minister in his closing words had appealed, not in vain, to the patriotism of the House of Commons, and his scheme was passed into law. The budget of 1845, opened on 14 Feb., was scarcely less momentous than that of 1842. In 1842 duties had been reduced on 769 articles, on the principle that the more nearly an article of import approached to the character of a raw material, the less should be the duty imposed. By 1845 it was found that these reductions in the rate of levy had almost been made good by the increase of consumption bringing more articles into charge. Peel, however, decided not to remit but to renew the income-tax for three more years, and to employ the considerable surplus thus provided ‘for the purpose of enabling us to make this great experiment of reducing other taxes.’ In one sense Peel had been long a free-trader. In the debates that preceded the downfall of Melbourne's ministry in 1841 he had said: ‘If by the principles of free trade you simply mean the progressive and well-considered relaxation of restrictions upon commerce, I can say with truth that there was no man in this house from whom Mr. Huskisson derived a more cordial and invariable support than he derived from me’ (Speeches, iii. 754). He held, however, that special circumstances prevented the application of this system to the sugar duties or to the corn duties. Accordingly, no less than 522 duties were now totally repealed, with the avowed object of giving ‘a new scope to commercial enterprise, and occasioning an increased demand for labour.’ Including 1846, the total number of duties reduced during the five years was 1,035, while 605 duties were totally repealed. When he left office in 1846 he had remitted taxation at the rate on balance of two and a half millions a year, yet had secured a series of surpluses; he had improved the credit of the country so much that the funds had risen from 89 to nearly 100; he had ensured for our trade the first position in the world, by enabling it to procure with unfettered ease the raw materials of commerce; and, finally, he had gone far towards accomplishing his great object of making this country a cheap place in which to live. His friend Guizot some years before had remarked his constant preoccupation with the condition of the working classes, and, indeed, it is not too much to say that Peel's finance was in one of its aspects a profound and far-seeing policy for the improvement of their lot.
But the measure of which Peel himself was most proud was his reorganisation of the banking system of the country, and particularly of the Bank of England. The speech in which he expounded his policy, on 6 May 1844, is a masterly survey of ‘the great principles which govern, or ought to govern, the measure of value, and the medium of exchange,’ opening with the question—What is the signification of that word, ‘a pound’? Turning to the practical side of the question, he asked how far a state should enforce proper principles upon banks. The reply he gave was, ‘we think that the privilege of issue is one which may be fairly and justly controlled by the state, and that the banking business, as distinguished from issue, is a matter in respect to which there cannot be too unlimited and unrestricted a competition’ (ib. iv. 361). Viewed more in detail, Peel's banking policy may be reduced to the following propositions: (1) The Bank of England was constituted a ‘controlling and central body’ in the matter of the issue of bank notes; (2) it was divided into two branches, an issue and a banking department, the latter branch being wholly free of government interference, except only that it was obliged to publish its accounts; (3) the issue department was allowed to utter notes, such notes to be secured as follows: ‘The fixed amount of securities on which I propose that the bank of England should issue notes is 14,000,000l., the whole of the remainder of the circulation to be issued exclusively on the foundation of bullion’ (ib. p. 360).
As for Ireland, Peel always considered it the great difficulty of his life, and a cartoon of ‘Punch’ represented him as the modern Sisyphus rolling uphill a huge stone, the head of O'Connell, while the whigs look on smiling at his discomfiture. He was a strong supporter of the union, and on 25 April 1834 had given a final pronouncement on that subject in a speech the peroration of which is among his best. Now O'Connell resolved to measure himself once more against his old rival, and announced that 1843 was to be the repeal year. Agitation and crime grew side by side, and in 1843 the government carried an arms act. Still O'Connell defied them, and a great meeting was summoned to be held in the autumn at Clontarf. It was proclaimed and prohibited; O'Connell was arrested and imprisoned for conspiracy. The verdict was, however, set aside in September 1844 by the House of Lords on a technical plea, and he was released. But his influence had been broken, and was not to revive. Peel, however, was not the minister to rest satisfied with so barren a triumph. Hitherto he had not had an opportunity of dealing with Ireland in a comprehensive manner, for it was his maxim that a government should only undertake one great measure at a time. But he now took two important steps as the introduction to a wide scheme of Irish policy. In 1843 he appointed the well-known Devon Commission to inquire into the ‘state of the law and practice in respect to the occupation of land in Ireland.’ The report, presented in 1845, revealed to the public, for the first time, the real state of Ireland. The second step was to send, in Peel's phrase, ‘a message of peace to Ireland.’ He adopted in 1845 the measure of increasing the annual grant to Maynooth, a college for the education of the Irish priesthood, from 9,000l. to about 26,000l., and of establishing certain queen's colleges on a non-sectarian basis. Again, as in 1829, the minister was assailed by all the bigotry of protestant England. The tory portion of the conservative party, to the number of about one hundred, voted against him; and Disraeli, a member since 1843 of the Young England party, seized his opportunity and, fomented by his exertions, ‘the disgust of the Conservatives and their hatred of Peel kept swelling every day’ (Greville, ii. 277). On the other hand, Peel haughtily declined to notice these personal attacks. The measure was not of any magnitude in itself. It is remarkable, however, as an indication of Peel's tendency, that, in private conversation at Nuneham a few years later, he recommended as a measure fit to be adopted the endowment of the Roman catholic church in Ireland (Earl Russell, Recollections, p. 213). But this by no means exhausted his scheme of policy. In offering to William Gregory the conduct of Irish business in 1846, he used these words: ‘It will hereafter be a matter of pride to you to be associated with measures of a wide and generous character, which may entirely change the aspect of Ireland to England’ (Gregory, Autobiography, p. 129). Unhappily Peel fell in 1846, before he could mature his plans. Too late, he pressed a portion of them on the whig ministry in the debate 30 March 1849. He then stated that at the root of the Irish question were ‘the monstrous evils which arise out of the condition of landed property,’ and he pressed for a commission with powers for ‘facilitating the transfer of property from insolvent to solvent proprietors.’ Something, but not much, was done, and twenty years passed before another scheme was carried to its fulfilment by Mr. Gladstone, Peel's arduous disciple.
Lastly, there were the corn laws. The principle of the acts of 1815 and 1822 had been the total prohibition of the importation of foreign corn until the price had risen very high in the home market. But the act of 1828, passed while Peel was a minister, abolished prohibition and substituted a duty varying inversely with the price of corn—in other words, a sliding scale. After the Reform Act the question slowly rose into prominence. But it remained open until the whig government, on the eve of its fall in 1841, had declared for a fixed duty of eight shillings the quarter. On the other hand, Peel declared for the existing law subject to certain necessary amendments, and during the winter of 1841 brought the matter before the cabinet in two memoranda. For his method of business in the cabinet was to prepare and read to his colleagues an exposition of his views on any subject, and subsequently to circulate the paper among them. Accordingly in 1842 a measure was carried, altering in two important details the act of 1828. In the first place, the scale was so revised as to tend to secure the price of wheat at fifty-six shillings a quarter, a figure considerably lower than that aimed at by the law of 1828. In the second place, experience had shown that hitherto the sliding scale had actually encouraged the foreign importer to keep back his corn until corn in our market reached famine prices, at which point the law allowed him to import free of duty. Peel now devised a highly complicated plan. The chief point was that there were to be certain resting-places in the downward movement of the scale of duties, and it was hoped that at such resting-places the importer would send his corn into the market instead of waiting for the total abrogation of the duty in consequence of the famine price. The measure was moderate, and yet it encountered fierce opposition in four quarters. In the cabinet there was considerable dissension (Memoirs, pt. iii. p. 101), and the Duke of Buckingham resigned. In the party ‘nobody expected such a sweeping measure, and there is great consternation among the conservatives. It is clear that he has thrown over the landed interest’ (Memoirs of an ex-Minister, p. 139). The abolitionists, led by Cobden, were incensed on exactly opposite grounds. But Peel was opposed to total repeal for the twofold reason that protection duly compensated the agriculturists for the heavy burdens on land, and also that it would be wise as far as possible to make ourselves independent of foreign nations in respect of the supply of corn. Finally, he resisted the whig plan of a fixed duty. ‘I think the sliding scale preferable to a fixed duty,’ he had said in the debates of 1841 (Speeches, iii. 794). For it was obviously better that in time of famine the duty should fall to nothing, as it did under a sliding scale, than that it should remain rigid at its original figure. The fixed duty was a tableland ending in a precipice.
At the close of the session of 1845 in August the government was held, in spite of the opposition to the Maynooth grant, to be of immovable strength. Cobden said that neither the Grand Turk nor a Russian despot had more power than Peel, who himself told the Princess Lieven that he had never felt so strong or so sure of his party, and of parliament. Yet even as he spoke the rains of July had fallen that were to ‘rain away the corn laws.’ In England the harvest had been spoilt; in Ireland the disease of the potato crop had appeared.
The corn law of 1842 stood unaltered. But during the three years 1842–5 Peel's mind had changed, and he no longer believed in protection for agriculture. To the general principles of free trade he had, with certain reservations, avowed himself favourable on taking office. The attitude which he had uniformly maintained since in the House of Commons on the question of protection was that the act of 1842 was an experiment; that he had no present intention of altering it; that if it proved a failure, it should be carefully revised. Attentive to Cobden's reasoning and to the successful free-trade budget of 1842, he was conscious of a growing conviction that the experiment had been a failure. He was accordingly prepared ‘to apprise the Conservative party, before the corn law could be discussed in the session of 1846, that my views with regard to the policy of maintaining that law had undergone a change’ (Memoir, pt. iii. p. 318). Famine intervened, and during August, September, and October, Peel watched and collected information, with feelings of which Wellington said ‘I never witnessed in any case such agony.’ He found that some three million poor persons in Ireland who had hitherto lived on potatoes would require in 1846 to be supported on corn. But, as the English harvest was bad, corn would have to be freely imported in order to avert starvation. Peel saw that the corn law should be at once suspended, and he resolved never to be a party to its reimposition. On 15 Oct. he wrote: ‘The remedy is the removal of all impediments to the import of all kinds of human food—that is, the total and absolute repeal for ever of all duties on all articles of subsistence’ (ib. p. 121).
From 31 Oct. to 5 Dec. a series of cabinet councils were held, at which Peel endeavoured to impress three things on his colleagues: that the crisis was urgent, that an order in council should at once be issued to suspend the duties on grain, and, that once those duties were suspended, they could never be reimposed. But the cabinet shrank from the vista of policy thus opened before them. No decision was taken. At last on 2 Dec. Peel clenched the question by stating that he himself was willing to introduce a measure ‘involving the ultimate repeal of the corn laws’ (ib. p. 221). Stanley and Buccleuch could not agree to this proposal, and on 9 Dec. Peel resigned. Lord John Russell, who, by a letter dated from Edinburgh on 22 Nov., had declared for total repeal, tried to form a government, but failed owing to a dissension between Lords Grey and Palmerston. On 20 Dec. Peel resumed office, feeling, in his own words, ‘like a man restored to life.’ All his former colleagues stood by him, with the exception of Stanley.
Parliament met in January 1846, and the government introduced a protection of life (Ireland) bill in the lords, and a corn bill and customs bill in the commons. Peel's friends were astonished to observe how, in that extreme crisis, the spirits of youth revived within him. Never had he been so unerring in debate, or so splendid in exposition. He knew that his time was short; all but 120 of his followers announced their intention of disowning him, but the flower of his party remained faithful to him, and he was assured of victory. In a series of speeches delivered on 22 and 27 Jan., 9 Feb., 27 March, and 15 May, he expounded the theory and practice of free trade. It was in the first of these that he made the declaration that, as a conservative minister, he had done his best ‘to ensure the united action of an ancient monarchy, a proud aristocracy, and a reformed constituency.’ It was of the third that Bright said it was the most powerful ever made within living memory. The peroration contains the passage opening with the words, ‘This night you will select the motto which is to indicate the commercial policy of England.’ It is noticeable that Peel did not recommend free trade on the ground that other nations would imitate us. He considered hostile tariffs ‘an argument in its favour’ (Speeches, iv. p. 601).
On the other hand, the protectionists were ready with personal abuse and skilful obstruction. Thus on one occasion they refused during some five minutes to allow the prime minister to so much as begin his speech (Greville, ii. 380). On another they assailed him ‘with shouts of derision and gestures of contempt’ (ib. p. 392). But the minister was reckless of himself, and continually pointed to the common good and to the verdict of the future. He did not attempt to stem the torrent of Disraeli's abuse; ‘every man has a right to determine for himself with whom and on what occasions he will descend into the arena of personal conflict. I will not retaliate upon the hon. gentleman’ (Speeches, iv. 709). Emboldened by their impunity, Bentinck and Disraeli now drew nearer and accused him of having hounded Canning to death in 1827. Then at last they felt to the full the weight of Peel's hand. He made his defence, and crushed the insidious charge.
Nor did obstruction avail much against ‘the greatest member of Parliament that ever lived’ (Disraeli, Bentinck, p. 231), and on 25 June the corn bill and customs bill passed the lords. But on that same night the whigs and protectionists in the House of Commons who had supported in May the first reading of the Irish bill now, in June, combined to defeat it.
On 29 June Peel announced his resignation, and intimated at the same time that his last outstanding diplomatic difficulty, the Oregon question, had been settled satisfactorily. He declared that the name to be associated with free trade in corn was not his own, but that of Richard Cobden. Finally he said that ‘it may be that I shall leave a name sometimes remembered with expressions of goodwill in the abodes of those whose lot it is to labour, and to earn their daily bread by the sweat of their brow, when they shall recruit their strength with abundant and untaxed food, the sweeter because it is no longer leavened by a sense of injustice.’
On the news of his fall from office there was consternation in Europe; long after (12 March 1851), the king of the Belgians wrote to Lord Aberdeen: ‘I still think with dismay of your letter by which you informed me of the breaking up of Sir R. Peel's administration; then was the beginning of those awful events which not only nearly upset all the governments of Europe, but even civilised society itself.’ For the government of Louis-Philippe was supposed to rest on the sage counsels and the unswerving friendship of Peel. It is said that when, on the night of 24 Feb. 1848, the news of that monarch's fall and flight reached the House of Commons, Hume crossed over to inform Peel, who was seated on the front opposition bench. ‘This comes,’ said the ex-minister, ‘of trying to carry on a government by means of a mere majority of a chamber without regard to the opinion out of doors. It is what those people—and he pointed to the protectionists behind—wished me to do, but I refused.’ Four years of life remained to Peel after his retirement. During that period, though surrounded by a small band of Peelites, he organised no party, but constituted himself the guardian of the policy of free trade, and the mainstay of the whig government. He would accept no honours, and declined the Garter.
Yet these were years of profound happiness, for Peel lived in hope of the future. Writing to Stockmar in March 1848, he said: ‘The times are in our favour—that is, in favour of the cause of constitutional freedom under the ægis of monarchy’ (Stockmar, Memoirs, ii. 427); and again: ‘A victory of communistic theories over the institutions of property I consider as altogether impossible’ (ib.). His advice was not to fight with phantoms, but to hasten and pass on; ‘let us suppress every desire for crusades against principles and elements which are only those of anarchy and madness’ (ib.)
On 28 June 1850 he spoke for the last time in the House of Commons, on the affairs of Greece and the foreign policy of Lord Palmerston. His voice, as usual, was raised for peace and good will among the nations: ‘What is this diplomacy? It is a costly engine for maintaining peace. It is a remarkable instrument used by civilised nations for the purpose of preventing war.’ Next day, as he was riding up Constitution Hill, his horse grew restive, and he fell, sustaining mortal injuries. He was carried home to his house in Whitehall Gardens. The dying statesman asked to see Sir James Graham and Lord Hardinge; and these tried and true companions attended him. Dr. Tomlinson, the bishop of Gibraltar, performed the services of the church of England. He died on the night of Tuesday, 2 July 1850. He was buried in the church of Drayton-Bassett. The queen wrote that the nation mourned for him as for a father.
In June 1820 Peel married Julia, youngest daughter of General Sir John Floyd, bart. Though in her own phrase ‘no politician,’ she became in time the closest or the only companion of the statesman in his inmost thoughts. She survived her husband till 27 Oct. 1859. They had two daughters and five sons. The eldest son, Sir Robert Peel, G.C.B. [q. v.], the third baronet, and the third son, Sir William Peel, K.C.B. [q. v.], are separately noticed; the second son, Sir Frederick Peel, K.C.M.G. (1823–1906), was chief railway commissioner; the fifth son, Arthur Wellesley, was speaker of the House of Commons from 1884 to 1895, and was created Viscount Peel on his retirement. About the date of his marriage Peel began to form a famous collection of pictures, a large portion of which is now in the National Gallery. It consisted in its final shape of some seventy specimens, each a masterpiece, of the Dutch school of the middle of the seventeenth century, together with a few of the Flemish school. Besides these were nearly sixty pictures of the best English masters, the most notable being portraits of statesmen, such as Canning, or of authors, such as Johnson. The third portion consisted of eighteen original drawings by Rubens and Vandyck, from the collection of Sir Thomas Lawrence. Peel did not spare money, giving three thousand five hundred guineas for the ‘Chapeau de Poil’ by Rubens, 1,100l. for the ‘Triumph of Silenus’ by the same, 1,270l. for the ‘Poulterer's Shop’ by Dow, and nine hundred and twenty guineas for the ‘Music Lesson’ by Terburg.
The best portraits of Peel are: (1) by Sir Thomas Lawrence in 1826; (2) Peel in the queen's first council, 1837, by Wilkie; (3) by Linnel in 1838; (4) by Partridge, date unknown. There are miniatures by Ross, Thorburn, and A. E. Chalon, and busts by Noble, Sir John Steell, and Gibson. Many monuments were erected to his memory; among the chief is a statue by Gibson in Westminster Abbey; another stands at the head of Cheapside.
Sir Robert Peel had a tall commanding figure, and a frame so strong as to endure the labours of prime minister at the rate of sixteen hours a day. Deliberation and public care were at the close of his life deeply engraven upon a countenance that in its prime had worn a radiant expression, as may be seen in the portrait by Sir Thomas Lawrence, painted in 1826. His nervous organisation was highly strung, so that he felt physical pain acutely, and was keenly sensitive to the insolence of an opponent. The fire of his spirit was backed by a cool and prompt courage, and a readiness to run all risks in defence of honour. But as a rule his emotions and purposes lay hid under an exterior that was cold even to a proverb, and this was largely due to the guard that he had deliberately put upon himself in early life, when he was cast into the boisterous uncongenial society of Dublin, or was associated with the proud and vehement tories of the older school. Yet in his hours of ease he could charm his companions with the endowment of a vast and ready memory, a fine sense of humour, and a dramatic power in the narration of anecdote. And again the sense of authority or of success would warm him singularly, so that with the accomplishment of each great reform his spirits rose, as though the good of his country were the measure of his private happiness.
But his native place, so to speak, was the House of Commons. It was there that his reserve would change into ease and expansion, since he had in a strong degree the quality of a statesman which sympathises more naturally with the character of great assemblies than with that of private individuals. Hence the references to his own views and feelings which recur in his speeches, and which his enemies affected to ascribe to egoism, are more rightly attributable to an opposite cause—the open terms on which he stood with the House of Commons. Not that there was no trace of the art whereby an orator invests the dry details of business with the attraction of personal feeling, for no one was a more refined master of persuasion than Sir Robert Peel.
To the reader his speeches may appear encumbered with a weight of matter, and embarrassed by the necessity of exact statement in the presence of inveterate foes. But from the hearer this was concealed by the triumphant march of the argument and the masterly disposition of detail. In expounding a policy he delighted in an exhaustive form of argument, wherein the possible courses of action were in turn reviewed and rejected, until the last remaining appeared to be dictated to his audience by necessity rather than to have been chosen for them by the minister. Nor was he less eminent in reply when he combined promptitude with prudence. If the occasion suited, he could be witty, and with a look or a phrase could effectively convey contempt. But what was most admirable was the temper in which his speeches were cast. From instinct or from experience, or both, he infallibly knew where to take his stand with the House of Commons, and could mingle in the exact proportions which the occasion demanded the spirit of combat with the scope and dignity of a statesman. His finest efforts are those of the latter period of his ministry, when the consciousness of his coming fall gave him freedom and the strength of conviction inspired him with the splendid assurance of victory. Of the orators of that period, it may be said that Plunket was the most brilliant, and Canning the most charming, but that the weightest was Peel.
The motives of his life were simple. Among the chief was the excellence of civil government. In his view that end was to be attained by amending the laws without altering the constitution, so that the same minister who revolutionised the penal code could oppose the reform of parliament. At an age when most men are entering upon a profession he was set to rule Ireland. Thus early placed in the routine of office, he had often to decide later between old pledges and new ideas. But when once the choice was taken—and it was always a masculine and unbiassed reason that eventually chose—no one was more adverse to half measures and halting instalments of policy. He became as bold as before he had been cautious.
But what most impressed those who knew him was his unvarying sense of public duty, which was carried by an iron will into every detail of action, and round the whole circle and sphere of conduct. Thus the colleague who had stood by him in his greatest trials could say, ‘I never knew a man in whose truth and justice I had a more lively confidence’ (Wellington, 4 July 1850). This sentiment was shared by the people at large. He had first attracted their attention by his policy in regard to catholic emancipation in 1829, and as time went on he won their complete confidence. His repeal of the corn laws, though it alienated the majority of his party, was recognised as a sacrifice made for the public good.
In an age of European revolutions, Peel may alone be said to have had the foresight and the strength to form a conservative party, resting not on force or on corruption, but on administrative capacity and the more stable portion of the public will. As for his more specific achievements, they are the mitigation of the rigour of the penal laws, a sound financial system, a free unrivalled commerce, the security of our persons from civil disorder, and the cheapness of our daily bread. Other political leaders may be credited with a more original eloquence, a greater obedience to the ties of party, or a stricter adherence in age to the political principles which animated their youth. But no other statesman has proved more conclusively that the promotion of the welfare of his countrymen was the absorbing passion of his life.[By far the most important authorities are: The Collection of the speeches delivered by Sir Robert Peel in the House of Commons, 1853, in 4 vols.; Memoirs by Peel, published by Earl Stanhope and Lord Cardwell, 1856–7, in 2 vols. and 3 pts. (pt. i. The Roman Catholic Question; pt. ii. The New Government, 1834–5; pt. iii. The Repeal of the Corn Laws, 1845–6); Sir Robert Peel, his Life from his Private Correspondence, published by Viscount Hardinge and A. W. Peel (Viscount Peel), at one time speaker of the House of Commons, edited by C. S. Parker, 1891, in 1 vol., two more to follow. Of biographies previously issued, the chief are: Life and Times of Sir Robert Peel, by W. Cooke Taylor and Charles Mackay, in 4 vols.; The Political Life of Sir Robert Peel, an analytical biography by Thomas Doubleday, 1856, in 2 vols.; Leben and Reden Sir Robert Peel's, by Von Heinrich Kunzel, 1851, in 2 vols.; Sir Robert Peel, Étude d'Histoire Contemporaine by Guizot, 1856; Life and Character of Sir R. Peel, by Sir Lawrence Peel, 1860; Sir R. Peel, an historical Sketch, by Lord Dalling, 1874; Peel, in the Twelve English Statesmen Series, by J. R. Thursfield, 1891; Sir Robert Peel, in the Prime Ministers of Queen Victoria Series, by Justin McCarthy, 1892; Peel, in the Statesmen Series, by F. C. Montague, 1888; Sir Robert Peel, by G. Barnett Smith, in the English Political Leaders Series, 1881; The late Sir Robert Peel, a critical biography, by G. H. Francis, 1852; A Personal Sketch of Sir R. Peel, by Cap- tain Martin, 1850. Other works on the subject are: The Opinions of Sir R. Peel expressed in Parliament and in Public, by W. T. Haly, 1850; Speeches by Sir Robert Peel during his Administration, 1834–5, also his address to the electors of Tamworth, and speech at the entertainment at Merchant Taylors' Hall, 11 May 1835; Inaugural Address of Lord Rector of the University of Glasgow, 11 Jan. 1837; The Peel Banquet at Merchant Taylors' Hall, 12 May 1838; Speech of Sir R. Peel at Tamworth, 28 July 1841; Peel and O'Connell, by G. Shaw-Lefevre, 1887; The Prime Ministers of Queen Victoria, article on Sir R. Peel, by G. Barnett Smith, 1886; Biographical Studies, the Character of Sir Robert Peel, by W. Bagehot, 1856; The Commercial Policy of Pitt and Peel, 1847; Sir R. Peel's Essay on Sir R. Walpole, 1833, published in Miscellanies collected and edited by Earl Stanhope, 1863; Encyclopædia Britannica, article on Sir R. Peel, by Goldwin Smith. See also: Greville's Memoirs; Croker Papers; Wellington's Despatches and Correspondence, &c., new ser. vols. vi. vii. viii.; Baron Stockmar's Memoirs, vol. ii.; Walpole's Hist. of England, vols. i.–iv.; Life of Sir James Graham, by McCullagh Torrens, 1863, vol. ii.; Life of Lord G. Bentinck, by B. Disraeli, 1872; Life of Prince Consort, by Sir Theodore Martin, 1875–6, vols. i. ii.; Recollections and Suggestions, by Earl Russell, 1875, especially as to government of 1834–5, and the Maynooth grant in 1845; Life of Richard Cobden, by John Morley, 1881, vol. i.; Finance and Politics, by Sydney Buxton, 1888, vol. i.; Twenty Years of Financial Policy, by Sir S. Northcote, 1862; Cartoons, by H. B.; Cartoons, by Punch; The Administrations of Great Britain, 1783–1830, by Sir G. C. Lewis, 1864; The Runnymede Letters, 1835–6; Lord Beaconsfield's Correspondence with his Sister 1832–1852, 1886; Waagen's Treasures of Art in Great Britain; Mrs. Jameson's Private Galleries of Art; History of Toryism, article on Sir R. Peel, by T. E. Kebbel. The more important magazine articles are: Revue des Deux Mondes, vol. iv. 1874; Deutsche Zeitung, 16 July 1850; Quarterly, vols. lviii. lxx. lxxii. lxxviii. lxxxi. clxxiii.; Westminster, vol. lviii. (or ii. in new ser.); Edinburgh, vols. xlviii. clviii. clxxiv.; Macmillan, vols. xix., xxxi.; Blackwood, vol. cl.; Fraser, vol. xlii.; Nineteenth Century, vols. xi. xv. xviii. xxv. xxvii.]