PEEL, Robert (1788-1850), of 12 Stanhope Street and 4 Whitehall Gardens, Mdx. and Drayton Hall, Fazeley, Staffs.
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Sir Robert Peel, 2nd Baronet (5 February 1788 – 2 July 1850) was the Conservative Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 10 December 1834 to 8 April 1835, and again from 30 August 1841 to 29 June 1846. He helped create the modern concept of the police force...
Family and Education
b. 5 Feb. 1788, 1st s. of Sir Robert Peel†, 1st bt., of Drayton Manor and 1st w. Ellen, da. of William Yates, calico printer, of Springside, Bury, Lancs.; bro. of Edmund Peel*, Jonathan Peel*, Laurence Peel* and William Yates Peel*. educ. by James Hargreaves, curate of Bury, until 1798; Rev. Francis Blick, vicar of Tamworth, Staffs. 1798-1800; Harrow 1800-4; Christ Church, Oxf. 1805; L. Inn 1809. m. 8 June 1820, Julia, da. of Gen. Sir John Floyd, 1st bt., of Mansfield Street, Mdx., 5s. 2da. suc. fa. as 2nd bt. 3 May 1830. d. 2 July 1850.
Under-sec. of state for war and colonies June 1810-Aug. 1812; chief sec. to ld. lt. [I] Aug. 1812-Aug. 1818; PC [GB] 13 Aug. 1812, [I] 5 Sept. 1812; commr. of treasury [I] 1814-17; sec. of state for home affairs Jan. 1822-Apr. 1827, Jan. 1828-Nov. 1830; first ld. of treasury and chan. of exch. 10 Dec. 1834-18 Apr. 1835; first ld. of treasury 3 Sept. 1841-6 July 1846.
Capt. Manchester regt. militia 1808; lt. Staffs. yeoman cav. 1820; rect. Glasgow Univ. 1837-8.
When George III died in January 1820 Peel, ‘a remarkably good-looking man’, tall, red-haired and fastidiously dressed, was a week short of his 32nd birthday.1 He was heir to most of the great wealth which had accrued from the Lancashire and Staffordshire cotton textile manufacturing business founded by his grandfather and expanded by his formidable Pittite father, who had received a baronetcy in 1800, and to the substantial Staffordshire estate at Drayton, near Tamworth. (Peel himself had no personal involvement in the firm.) Having entered Parliament as an Oxford prodigy at the age of 21, he already had over eight years’ experience of efficient office in the Tory ministries of Spencer Perceval† and Lord Liverpool, which had instilled in him the conception of ministers as servants of the crown and won him a high reputation for diligence, probity, administrative efficiency and ‘business habits of the first order’. He had also proved himself to be an accomplished parliamentary debater.2 He had served for six years in the demanding post of Irish secretary, which had enhanced his pessimistic and cynical view of human nature and contempt for the avarice and self-seeking of irresponsible backbench politicians. It had also had a direct bearing on his emergence as the Commons leader and ‘spokesman’ of ‘the intolerant faction’, as the Whig Sir James Mackintosh* called him,3 who were implacably opposed to Catholic emancipation. This was symbolized by his prestigious position as one of the Members for Oxford University since 1817, and had been reinforced in 1819 by his support for an increase in the allowance for the anti-Catholic duke of York and resistance to Grattan’s renewed relief motion. Despite having been out of office for eighteen months, Peel, who had acquired a personal following, was in a potentially strong position given the divided state of the ministry and its supporters on the question. Yet he was intelligent enough to perceive that emancipation could not be resisted indefinitely and that he had to some extent put himself into a false position.4 His urbane manners concealed an irritable temperament and keen sense of superiority over less able men. His intelligence, though considerable, was of the mechanical kind, with ‘not the slightest pretension to genius’.5 A devotee of logic, he lacked creative imagination and, beneath his self-centred and often pompous exterior, was acutely aware of this deficiency; dogmatism was his refuge on many issues.6 Lady Holland, a partisan opponent, likened him in 1821 to ‘a boy brought up at a small academy, who has been considered a sort of prodigy with great assistance in private from the master’.7
A week before his unopposed return at the general election of 1820, Peel became engaged to the beautiful Julia Floyd. From his sister Mary’s home at Bognor, 23 Mar., he wrote to his friend John Croker*, secretary to the admiralty, about the unsettled state of public affairs:
Do not you think that the tone of ... public opinion is more liberal than the policy of the government? ... that there is a feeling ... in favour of some undefined change in the mode of governing the country? ... Can we resist for seven years reform in Parliament ... And if reform cannot be resisted, is it not more probable that Whigs and Tories will unite, and carry through moderate reform, than remain opposed to each other?8
He married Julia in early June and had impregnated her by the beginning of August. He largely ‘kept aloof from Parliament’ in the 1820 session, but was present on 12 July to criticize the Irish chancery bill. On 28 June Edward Littleton* noted an apparent attempt by James Daly* and ‘the Peel faction’ to persuade Charles Grant, Peel’s successor as Irish secretary, to renew the Insurrection Act, with the aim of increasing ‘the weakness of the government at this moment of vacillation in their councils’.9 Before going to the continent with Julia in September, despite the indifferent health which had bothered him for a year or so, Peel commented to Croker that the Queen Caroline affair was a ‘very formidable ... ingredient in the cauldron which has been bubbling for some time’, and that ministers had made matters worse by omitting her name from the liturgy, which had ‘degraded her’.10 During November, when they had to abandon the prosecution of the queen, to the fury of the king, there was speculation that Peel was likely soon to be back in office.11 On Canning’s resignation from the board of control in protest at the hounding of the queen in December 1820, Lord Liverpool, prompted by George IV, invited Peel to replace him. It came as no surprise when he declined, on the pretext that he disapproved of ministers’ initial treatment of Caroline and, while not inclined to ‘take a hostile part against the government’, wanted to be free to act ‘unfettered by any official connection’. According to the patronage secretary Charles Arbuthnot*, who had it from Liverpool, he ‘expressed a great disregard for office generally’, but seemed not to rule it out for the future.12 The radical Whig Sir Robert Wilson* commented that Peel ‘positively refuses to embark in the foundering Tory vessel’.13 The Grenvillite Charles Williams Wynn* observed:
It is perfectly true that his irritability, and a certain arrogance which the want of family and connection renders less tolerable, have during the last two years rendered the House (particularly the ministerial men) less favourably disposed to him, but still he combines advantages of general character in the country, of talents and habits of business which place him higher than any man in the House.
In response to his leader Lord Buckingham’s denigration of Peel, Williams Wynn wrote:
He cannot supply the effect of one of Canning’s glittering speeches ... [but] he combines greater advantages ... than any other man in the House. Talent, independent fortune, official habits and reputation, and, above all, general character ... have ... disposed more men to follow and more to unite with him than any person ... I do not deny the objections arising from want of family and connection, the irritability he has shown of late ... but ... you can name no one who has not greater difficulties to encounter, and fewer advantages to assist him.14
Peel left the House before the division on Hamilton’s motion condemning the omission of the queen’s name from the liturgy, 26 Jan. 1821, when his brother William voted with opposition.15 On Lord Tavistock’s motion censuring ministers’ conduct, 5 Feb., he deplored the liturgy slight and the denial to her of a palace and a navy ship to bring her to England, but said he could not have concurred in Hamilton’s motion because ‘it was of an intricate and indistinct character, and ... would have prejudged the question’. He argued that the Commons should not ‘stand shivering in every fitful breeze of popular feeling’, criticized the queen’s advisers and declared his support for the government’s handling of the affair after their early blunders; he voted in their majority on the 6th. The radical Whig Member Henry Grey Bennet thought his speech was ‘prosy and pompous’, and his fellow ‘Mountaineer’ Thomas Creevey that it was ‘as feeble as be damned’.16 Von Neumann heard that it was ‘very fine’, Lady Granville judged it ‘a very useful one for the government, but not in any way striking’, and Mrs. Arbuthnot noted that he spoke ‘powerfully and well’.17 Williams Wynn subsequently detected ‘symptoms of some understanding’ between Lord Castlereagh (later Londonderry), the pro-Catholic foreign secretary and leader of the House, and Peel, the ‘most decisive’ being Peel’s ‘abandonment of Pitt’s old Hill Fort ... and returning to his former position in the rear of the treasury bench’.18 From there he backed a call for repeal of the Irish Union trade duties, 16 Feb., and opposed inquiry into the conduct of the sheriff of Dublin in calling in troops to break up a pro-queen meeting, 22 Feb. On 28 Feb. he led the opposition to Plunket’s motion to consider Catholic relief, which he said would ‘not harmonize contending and conflicting feelings’ in Ireland. Mrs. Arbuthnot perceived that he ‘certainly did not oppose the consideration of the subject so stoutly as he did last year’, and Buckingham thought Plunket had ‘driven’ him ‘off his ground’ with his pre-emptive strike.19 Williams Wynn had earlier guessed that Peel was ‘not ill-inclined to back out of the Catholic question’; and Grey Bennet recorded in his diary:
Peel, in reply, was bad and weak, evidently labouring under the weakness of his case, and showing an inclination to back out as soon as he could: no spirit or zeal, and very different in tone, sentiment and manner from what he exhibited last time ... His speech was good as to diction, choice of words and clearness of exposition, but very poor in knowledge, and exhibiting no power of thought or strength of mind.20
Peel voted in the minority and opposed the subsequent relief bill, though in the prevailing mood of ‘great forebearance’, 16 Mar., he conceded that the exclusion of Catholics from power was ‘an evil’ and said that if the measure became law he would strive to reconcile Protestants to it.21 His amendment to extend the designated exclusions to the privy council and judicial offices was rejected by 163-120, 27 Mar. He spoke against the third reading, 2 Apr. He favoured a £20 householder franchise for Leeds if it received Grampound’s seats, because a wider scot and lot one would lead to ‘an abstraction of the people from their habits of industry’, 2 Mar. On 19 Mar. he insisted that the 1819 select committee on bank restriction, which he had chaired, ‘could have come ... to no other conclusion’ than recommending the resumption of cash payments. He was in the ministerial majority against repeal of the additional malt duty, 3 Apr. 1821.
The Grenvillite Joseph Phillimore* thought that Peel’s line on the Catholic relief bill indicated that he was ‘paving the way for a junction with government’, but he believed that he had not ‘gained ground by his conduct’ and had ‘lost rather in the estimation of the House’.22 Arbuthnot sounded Londonderry on the notion of Peel’s becoming chancellor of the exchequer in the room of Nicholas Vansittart, who would move to the board of control (temporarily held by Charles Bragge Bathurst). Londonderry would not hear of it, arguing that it would enable Peel, who ‘had never done anything to entitle him to so high a place’, to threaten his own supremacy as leader. While this was largely fatuous, concealing personal animosity and paranoia, Liverpool evidently took Londonderry’s side.23 Yet in early May 1821, according to Mrs. Arbuthnot, Liverpool tried to persuade Londonderry to acquiesce in such an arrangement, for which Canning was said to be ‘extremely anxious’. Liverpool got nowhere, and Londonderry additionally satisfied the duke of Wellington, master-general of the ordnance, that ‘it would never do’. Lord Melville, first lord of the admiralty, evidently took the same view.24 Liverpool now considered renewing the offer of the board of control, but when he saw Peel on 30 May he merely invited him to take unspecified cabinet office. Peel, who told Croker that ‘it was done in a strange, shuffling, hesitating sort of way’, had little doubt that the board of control was intended and ‘gave an answer as vague as the application’. Arbuthnot told his wife that Peel
expressed himself well-disposed towards the government, but stated that, from the state of his health, office was not a matter of much anxiety or importance to him ... He said his eyes were so bad that he could not read at all at night and very little in the day time, and that consequently he was much incapacitated for business. He said, however, as he was going away, that he should like to know what changes were to be made and what office offered to him before he made a more decisive answer.25
To a letter from Lord Bathurst, the colonial secretary, pressing him to join the government, Peel replied, 1 June, that ‘many considerations induce me to prefer ... idleness to the occupations of public life’, but that hostility to the ministry was not one of them: ‘I shall never persuade myself to exchange Cannon Row [the location of the East India office] for Lulworth [his rented holiday home in Dorset] as a summer residence’. Bathurst interpreted this as a rejection of ‘the particular office’, while Wellington thought Peel would accept something ‘if his friends endeavour to prevail upon him or are neutral’.26 Peel informed Croker that he was inclined to bring Liverpool to the point and that he did not want the board of control, partly because he had already refused it ‘when the government was in danger’ and felt that ‘it might look shabby to take it now’, and, more importantly, because he did ‘not think he could be of use’, having ‘no taste or turn for debate unless when obliged by his office to take part in it’. Croker urged him not to reject any return to office, though he suspected that Liverpool was merely trying to keep Peel ‘under his lee’ in case ‘some hitch’ occurred in his preferred plan to recruit Canning, which the king was resisting. On 4 June Peel, whom Croker had tried to ‘convince ... that, if not in government, he would soon be in opposition’, saw Liverpool and ‘verbally and positively refused’ the board of control. He told Croker that he believed that Liverpool was
playing a game, and ... not quite a fair one. When Peel said he came to decline the India board, Lord L. said hastily, ‘And anything else I should offer?’ Peel begged to say that, when anything else should be offered, it would be time enough to decide on it ... He thought Lord L. was peevish and embarrassed.27
Croker, who reckoned that Peel would not settle for less than the exchequer or the home office, and the Speaker Manners Sutton, an adherent of Peel, agreed that while they would have liked him to take the board of control, they could not blame him for turning it down ‘upon his own view of the awkwardness in which he thinks an office without parliamentary business would place him’.28 Liverpool, reporting Peel’s refusal, ‘in which his health bore the principal part’, to the king, who was wrongly reported to be ‘angry’ with Peel, commented that his ‘consequence’ would not have been diminished by acceptance.29 Canning told Wellington that ‘it was a bad thing not having ... Peel, as he would be trying to make a party of young men against the government’; but Mrs. Arbuthnot thought Canning was judging Peel by his own devious standards.30 In the House, Peel opposed Maxwell’s slaves removal bill, 1 June, and deplored the repeal of the tax on husbandry horses, 18 June, when he voted to include arrears in the duke of Clarence’s grant. He was named to the select committee on the ninth report of the Irish judicial commission, 26 June, and voted against Hume’s call for retrenchment, 27 June 1821.
The king’s reluctance to see Lord Sidmouth removed from the home office and refusal to accept Canning’s return to the cabinet continued to block Peel’s way during the summer.31 In the second week of November 1821, when he was at Lulworth with Julia, now two months pregnant again after the birth of their first child in April, Croker informed him that on the king’s recent return from Hanover there had been a ‘complete and cordial’ reconciliation with Liverpool and that the premier was almost certain to offer him the home office as part of a general reshuffle to bring in the Grenvillites and send Canning to govern India. A fortnight later Liverpool duly did so, and Peel accepted with alacrity.32 He was sworn in on 17 Jan. 1822. The Tory Henry Bankes* considered his appointment ‘most judicious’ and sure to ‘give the government great strength in debate, where alone they want it’.33 Von Neumann wrote that Peel
is a young man of many accomplishments, clever and learned, a good orator and full of ambition. He has consistently refused second-rate places, knowing very well that they would be obliged to turn to him on account of his oratorical gifts ... It is not impossible that one day ... [he] will be first lord of the treasury.34
Mackintosh considered Peel’s ‘accession ... as a step to a higher Toryism and consequently to a more undistinguishing resistance to all novelties’ and was unsure whether or not to press on with his parliamentary campaign for reform of the criminal law.35
In fact Peel showed willingness to co-operate cautiously in some of this work. When unsuccessfully opposing on a technicality Mackintosh’s motion for early consideration of reform of the criminal law, 4 June 1822, he explained that he was planning or hoping to bring in measures to establish a ‘vigorous preventive police’, improve prison discipline and regulate transportation; but he assured Mackintosh of his support for the principle of his motion. He had on 14 Mar. 1822 secured the appointment of a select committee to investigate the policing of the metropolis, where crime was increasing. Although he himself chaired it, its report, presented on 17 June 1822, was a disappointment, declaring against ‘improvements in police, or facilities in detection of crime’.36 On prison reform, he had more immediate success. He left the government-approved consolidation and reform measure inherited from Sidmouth in the hands of William Courtenay; it passed the Commons but was thrown out by the Lords. In 1823 Peel convinced lord chancellor Eldon of the bill’s importance, and it was reintroduced and became law as 4 Geo. IV, c. 64: it established common gaols in every county or riding, in London, Westminster and 17 provincial towns, financed from local rates and administered by local justices, answerable to the home office. It also prescribed a system of discipline. Peel’s Acts of 1823 (4 Geo. IV, c. 47) and 1824 (5 Geo. IV, c. 85) respectively dealt with transportation of convicts and extended the home office’s authority to a further 150 small gaols.37 On the wider question of legal reform and mitigation of the criminal code, Peel made some careful progress in his first spell at the home office. In October 1822 he initiated a process of reform of the Scottish courts, leaving the work to the Scottish professionals. A modified juries bill, based on the measures introduced by the Whig Thomas Kennedy, became law in 1825 (6 Geo. IV, c. 22), as did one regulating the sheriff and burgh courts (6 Geo. IV, c. 23). On 21 May 1823 Mackintosh proposed nine resolutions for mitigation of the criminal code, which included the abolition of the death penalty for forgery, various types of larceny, and stealing of farm animals, and of a number of obsolete statutes. Peel was unwilling to accept a commitment to general resolutions and successfully moved the previous question, but not before, in a long and well- prepared speech, he had indicated how far the government was prepared to go in reform: capital punishment would be abolished for several common law misdemeanours and for larceny in shops and on canals, but not from dwelling houses, and the punishments for forgery would remain unaltered. By the end of the 1823 session five bills abolishing the death penalty for these offences, empowering judges to withhold it in all capital convictions except murder and ending the practice of burying suicides on the highroad were on the statute book (4 Geo. IV, cc. 46, 48, 52-54). Peel was motivated not so much by humanitarian zeal as by a desire to streamline and rationalize the criminal law in order to make it more efficient and to ensure that it was applied with greater certainty and consistency. It is now clear that while he simplified the criminal law, it was applied no more leniently under his aegis than previously, and that the significant mitigation of its severity was carried out by the Liberal ministries of the 1830s.38 In March 1825 Peel introduced a bill to consolidate into one 85 statutes governing the empanelling of juries and to reform qualifications, appeals and selection procedures. It became law as 6 Geo. IV, c. 50. On 9 Mar. 1826 he secured leave to bring in a bill to consolidate the laws relating to theft and one to make the administration of criminal law more efficient. The latter became law as 7 Geo. IV, c. 64, but the former, on which Peel had second thoughts arising out of the close connection between malicious destruction of property and theft, he set aside for review until the next session.39
As home secretary, Peel’s days were filled with a demanding plethora of business, including the maintenance of law and order: there were serious outbreaks of unrest in various manufacturing districts in 1822, and strikes by textile workers and colliers in the west of Scotland, Lancashire and the Midlands, and London and north- east shipwrights in late 1824. In 1825 Peel, who used troops where necessary, brought in a bill to repeal parts of Hume’s half-baked 1824 Combinations Act in order to prevent the abuse of power by unions and protect individual employers and workers.40 There was above all the continuing problem of Ireland, to which Peel paid close attention. He had friends and reliable allies in Henry Goulburn*, the new Protestant Irish secretary, and William Gregory, under-secretary at Dublin Castle; but the lord lieutenant, the quixotic, vainglorious and idle pro-Catholic Lord Wellesley (Wellington’s brother), proved difficult and frustrating to work with. Mounting sectarian tension and, from 1823, the rise of the Catholic Association under Daniel O’Connell* and Richard Sheil*, dominated Peel’s Irish correspondence.41 The accelerating campaign for Catholic emancipation, the dominant single issue of the 1820s, had particular relevance for Peel, whose position within the reconstructed Liverpool ministry was a paradoxical and awkward one. While he generally supported in cabinet the more liberal foreign and trade policies pursued by Canning, Frederick Robinson* and William Huskisson*, and endorsed by Liverpool, and thus was emphatically one of the progressive group within the government, who subscribed to contemporary laissez faire economic doctrines, he was still ‘Orange Peel’, the acknowledged leader of the reactionary Protestants. On the Catholic question he was isolated among Commons cabinet ministers, though he had the support of Liverpool and Wellington.42 The Whig George Tierney* thought in January 1822 that ‘we shall soon see some attempt made by Peel and his partisans to counteract Wellesley’s operations’; while Mackintosh noted that Peel was ‘said to be haughty, passionate, and ill tempered, and to be in the highest degree thin skinned - a quality sure to make an English minister miserable’.43
Peel’s well-intentioned attempt to bring forward his brother William by offering him the home office under-secretaryship backfired, and he appointed George Dawson*, his brother-in-law.44 On the eve of the 1822 session he anticipated most ‘trouble’ from ‘the country gentlemen and agriculture’.45 Securing the appointment of a select committee (on which he did not sit) on agricultural distress petitions, 18 Feb., he defended the 1819 Bank Act (already known as ‘Peel’s Act’), dismissed a return to a paper currency and said that no legislation could effectively relieve distress. He spoke in the same terms, 17 Apr., 13 May, when he replied to Alexander Baring’s condemnation of the 1819 settlement as ‘iniquitous’, 12 June, 10 July, defeating Western’s motions for inquiry into the currency. He was against reduction of the salt tax, 28 Feb., arguing that there was no scope for remissions without a breach of public credit. He opposed inquiry into the assault on Alderman Robert Waithman* at the queen’s funeral, 28 Feb., and defended the organization of that event, 6 Mar. On 13 Mar. he deplored the proven acts of cruelty in Ilchester gaol, but insisted that his enquiries had convinced him that Henry Hunt* was being well treated there; and in what the radical Whig Member John Cam Hobhouse described as ‘a poor pompous speech, calculated for the days of French terror’, he opposed Burdett’s call for a remission of Hunt’s sentence, 24 Apr.46 The Tory backbencher Edward Bootle Wilbraham commented to Lord Colchester, 2 Apr., that Peel was ‘of the greatest use in Parliament, and saves Lord Londonderry and Van[sittart] much speaking and explanations, as he is concise and clear in what he says’.47 Peel opposed as too vague Newport’s motion on the state of Ireland, 22 Apr., when he declared his support for education ‘without reference to ... religion’ and hostility to interference with tithes. On 30 Apr. he presented his constituents’ petition against Catholic claims before giving his ‘decided negative’, in what the Whig George Agar Ellis* thought an ineffective speech, but which Mackintosh reckoned was ‘dextrous and cunning’, to Canning’s bill to relieve Catholic peers. The Hollands’ son Henry Fox*, who heard it, reckoned it was ‘good in some parts’, but went on, ‘his manner is odious, and it is impossible not to hate him’. Mrs. Arbuthnot thought he performed ‘very ably’.48 He spoke against the second reading, which was carried by 235-223, 10 May,49 but did not divide the House against the third, 17 May. According to Lady Spencer, after the government’s defeat by disgruntled country gentlemen on the abolition of one of the joint-postmasterships, 2 May, Peel took a strong line in cabinet in favour of stout resistance to pending Whig motions criticizing diplomatic expenditure, which were attacks on the Grenvillites, who had joined the ministry as part of the reshuffle of January 1822. She claimed to know that Peel ‘declared that if the question [of Henry Williams Wynn’s† appointment to the Swiss embassy, 16 May] was lost, he would resign; that it was impossible to go on losing ground every day in Parliament and allowing the opposition to gain their objects ... that he did not covet office at any time, but much less under such disgraceful circumstances’. He got ‘the better’ of Londonderry, who wanted a more conciliatory approach. Charles Williams Wynn, president of the board of control and head of the Grenvillites in the Commons, wrote approvingly of Peel to Buckingham:
Peel shows ... more spirit and good judgement ... than any man in the cabinet ... He has lately taken a much bolder and more decided tone both in Parliament and cabinet, and I have little doubt means to run for the lead of the ... Commons. It appears to me very probable that his object is to break up the government, in the expectation that it will be impossible for the opposition to substitute anything which can stand three months, and that he may then mould and form it at his pleasure. He has ... spoken to me of the advantage which would result from our retiring, and the certainty that we must return to power within three months. Does he think that period would be sufficient for opposition to pass the Catholic question?50
Peel said that the Greenhoe reform petition was couched in ‘insulting’ language and must therefore be rejected, 3 June, and on the 14th alleged that the Kent reform meeting had been dominated by William Cobbett† ‘because he had not been manfully resisted’ by the Whigs and said that Burdett and Grey Bennet were undermining public credit with their demands for a reduction of the interest on the national debt. Hobhouse considered his speech proposing renewal of the Aliens Act, 5 June,’very wretched’, and remarked that ‘he has been lately very flippant, and particularly to Burdett’.51 Peel replied contemptuously to Denman’s implied questioning of his motives in rejoining the ministry. He supported Goulburn’s Irish constables bill, 7 June; said that the prospect of famine in Ireland took the problem of aid ‘above the ordinary rules of financial calculation’ and explained the government’s efforts to implement relief measures, 17 June; opposed Hume’s call for reform of Irish tithes, 19 June, and endorsed the Irish insurrection bill, 8 July. He opposed Brougham’s motion alleging an increase in crown influence, 24 June 1822. Next day he defended the conduct of the lord advocate Sir William Rae* in the Borthwick affair.52
In mid-July 1822 Williams Wynn reported to Buckingham that Peel and Bathurst were ‘strongly’ of opinion that the government would be well rid of Canning, if, as seemed likely, he went as governor-general to India. He had also heard that Peel had vouchsafed the view that ‘things would not go on well until they had got rid of the Grenvilles’; but he did not believe this, ‘as he is far too cautious to commit himself by such a speech’, though ‘the coldness and reserve of his manner to me make me think that the opinion ... is not unlikely to be entertained by him’. Buckingham’s acolyte William Fremantle* observed that Canning was wanted by ‘no part of the government’, for they ‘find the strength and power of Peel have completely answered their purpose, and with more popularity and feeling of the House than the other would have done’.53 Peel was obliged (with Julia) to accompany the king on his visit to Scotland, 10-30 Aug. When the news arrived on the 14th of Londonderry’s suicide he was the one to inform George, on board his yacht in the Forth. Five days later the king told him that he had already written to Liverpool to tell him that he wished the arrangement for Canning to go to India to be effected forthwith. Peel declined to commit himself on the question of the leadership of the Commons (which the king may have pressed him to take, as chancellor of the exchequer); and on his return to London, 1 Sept., when he found Liverpool sure that the position must be offered to Canning, he made clear his perfect willingness to acquiesce in whatever was decided, though he laid what Bathurst thought was significant stress on his ‘ill health’ (his eyes were troubling him again, and he was weary) as a bar to his own appointment. Croker encouraged him to believe that he could conduct the business of the House without Canning or with Canning in opposition; but even had he wanted to, Peel knew that he could not reasonably object to the promotion of Canning, who was by some way his senior in parliamentary experience. The king was stubborn for a few days, but his objections to Canning were overcome by Liverpool and Wellington; and on 8 Sept. 1822 it was finally arranged that Canning would become foreign secretary and leader of the Commons.54 There was some surprise in Whig circles, where Tierney had been confident that Peel would be made leader; Henry Brougham had hoped that the choice would fall on ‘the damaged prig’, ‘the low miserable Spinning Jenny’, whom he was confident of besting in debate, and Lord Essex had observed that ‘some of the high bred country gentlemen won’t like to pull on Peel’s cotton stockings every day’.55 James Macdonald* commented that ‘although Peel has got through his first session pretty well, it has been by selecting his occasions of coming forward, and sometimes even pettishly declining to do so when against the grain: it would be therefore very nervous work for Liverpool to risk the whole fate of the ministry on such an experiment as Peel himself’.56 If Peel did feel any chagrin at having been robbed of the second position in the ministry by an accident of timing, he kept it well hidden; and to Goulburn he wrote that ‘that which has been done is the best that could be done’, though he anticipated ‘much perplexity and debate’ when the Catholic question came again before Parliament with himself and Canning on opposite sides.57 Lord Palmerston*, the secretary at war, thought Peel had ‘behaved ... in the handsomest possible manner’; but William Henry Lyttelton† reported to Canning’s friend Bagot a theory ‘amongst the exoterics that Peel, whose early prudence and premature worldly wisdom made him always peculiarly odious in my eyes, looked with his habitual caution upon the dangerous honour of leadership and declined it’.58 Peel was at Sudbourne in October 1822, when Lord Hertford told Croker that he was ‘in great force but strikes me as being very thin, I am sure two stones lighter’.59
In January 1823 Liverpool countenanced a proposal from Canning that he should be allowed to occupy the house in Downing Street customarily used by the chancellor of the exchequer, if the prime minister did not want it. According to Henry Hobhouse, the premier failed to realize how much this was ‘calculated to excite ... Peel’s jealousy’, as it would imply that Liverpool regarded Canning as his natural successor. When this was pointed out to him, the idea was abandoned.60 The Whig leader Lord Grey heard of ‘dissensions in the cabinet’ and that ‘Peel and his friends ... talk without reserve against both Wellesley and Plunket’, the Irish attorney-general, who had created a potential source of difficulty by prosecuting ex-officio Dublin Orange rioters involved in an attack on the viceroy. An Irish Member observed that Peel was ‘the real lord lieutenant’ and that none before Wellesley had had ‘so little power’, largely because ‘there never was before a secretary of state ... who was the leader of a party of Irish Members in the ... Commons’.61 To his colleagues Peel made clear his exasperation with Wellesley’s inefficiency and capriciousness, and Mrs. Arbuthnot noted in late February that he had told Wellington that ‘he must really retire from office for he cannot bear the way in which things are going on in Ireland’, and that Wellington intervened with Liverpool to stop this ‘nonsense’. Williams Wynn, however, found him ‘in general more fair, more manly, and more statesmanlike in his views than I had at all hoped’, while Fremantle heard that despite the denigration of Wellesley by ‘every hanger-on and agent of the Protestant part of the government’, Peel ‘behaves very well indeed, and is perfectly moderate and well-judging upon the whole question’.62 On the address, 4 Feb., he defended ministerial non-intervention in the Franco-Spanish conflict and held out hopes of tax remissions. Creevey, who speculated that he and Canning could not go on together much longer, claimed that he ‘could scarcely make himself heard’. After his brief intervention on the case of the Irish chief baron O’Grady, 12 Feb., the Whig John Lambton* told Grey that Peel had already ‘shown himself utterly incompetent for the situation of leader, even if Canning were out of the way, and has fallen, as I expected always he would, much lower in public estimation’.63 On 20 Feb. he opposed Lord John Russell’s motion for information on the borough franchise, which would ‘prejudice the question of parliamentary reform’. He told carping agriculturists, 26 Feb., that on the currency he ‘maintained every opinion on the subject which he had advanced in 1819’; he gave his ‘unqualified negative’ to Western’s motion for inquiry, 12 June. According to Agar Ellis, he ‘got into a passion’ when opposing Hume’s motion for inquiry into the Irish church, 4 Mar., and was ‘very well’ answered by the knight of Kerry.64 Sir John Nicholl*, who thought Peel had been an ‘excellent second’ to Canning so far that session, was pleased with his performance against Abercromby’s motion for the suppression of Orange lodges, 5 Mar., when he avoided any Protestant acerbity.65 He refuted Brougham’s allegation that ministers were guilty of ‘apathy’ on agricultural distress and deplored Hume’s ‘charges vaguely brought forward’ against Sir Thomas Maitland† for his government of the Ionian Isles, 24 Mar. That day he opposed Barry’s motion for information on the prosecution of the Dublin rioters. On 26 Mar. he confirmed that he had advised the king not to release the blasphemous libeller Mary Ann Carlile and argued that Hamilton had made out ‘no case’ for his charge of irregularity in the crown warrant for Inverness council elections. Williams Wynn reported that Peel had ‘with great difficulty’ kept Dawson from resigning over Plunket’s ex-officio prosecutions, and that at a meeting of government supporters before the debate on Brownlow’s motion for papers (which in the event was withdrawn after the debate), 15 Apr., he ‘distinctly stated that if the result ... was to be an opinion on Plunket’s conduct, he should not hesitate one moment in giving his heartfelt and sincere opinion in favour of the proceeding he had adopted’.66 On 17 Apr. he appealed to Brougham and Canning to draw a veil over their furious row on the Catholic question. On the 22nd, responding to Williams Wynn’s statement on the 17th that he and the Grevillites had come into office in 1822 on being given a pledge that Ireland would be governed fairly, Peel, perceiving an implied censure of the previous Irish regime, said that the administration of justice had been ‘impartial’ in his time in Dublin and that he would not have entered the ministry in 1822 had he conceived that any of his colleagues thought otherwise. Next day he wrote privately to Williams Wynn to the same effect. This episode created a minor crisis, which Liverpool and Wellington nipped in the bud.67 Later on the 22nd Peel opposed Burdett’s successful motion for inquiry into the prosecutions. He stated on 25 Apr. that the current wages of Manchester cotton weavers were such that they could ‘live in comparative comfort’. A few days later Creevey recorded the observation of Canning’s acolyte John William Ward* that ‘Peel was lower and lower every day, quite incompetent’, and no support at all for Canning.68 On 29 Apr. Peel opposed Macdonald’s ‘severe criminatory resolution’ on British policy towards Spain, arguing that it would make it appear to Europe that the House ‘condemned the policy of neutrality, and were advocates of war’. Next day he opposed as ‘a dangerous experiment’ Grey Bennet’s motion for the abolition of whipping for minor offences. He defended continuation of the Irish Insurrection Act as ‘a necessary’ but ‘only a temporary’ measure, 12 May. He supported the Irish tithes composition bill, which, if it ‘should not produce universal harmony and conciliation’, would do ‘much substantial good’. He was, as Henry Bankes told Colchester, ‘partly disposed to accede’ to Lord Nugent’s bill to put British Catholics on the same footing as Irish. At a small meeting of Protestant Tories at Bankes’s, Peel stated that he and Liverpool were willing to allow British Catholics to vote in parliamentary elections, but not to exempt them from the Test Acts. He said as much in the House, 28 May, when Nugent got leave to introduce his bill.69 On the second reading, 18 June, he raised further objections to details, notably its dispensing with the oath of supremacy for office-holders. (Lord chancellor Eldon had recently told Colchester that ‘he would undertake in a quarter of an hour to satisfy ... Peel that he does not understand’ the bill; Colchester asked himself, ‘Why do they not talk together?’)70 The measure was divided into two, and Peel supported the enfranchisement bill, 30 June, having concluded that there was no ‘danger’ in it. He defended the Irish insurrection bill and opposed inquiry into disturbances there, 24 June; dismissed Hume’s motion for abolition of the lord lieutenancy, 25 June, and spoke against Brougham’s bid to refer the petition of Irish Catholics complaining of biased administration of justice to the judicial commission, 26 June. Fremantle told Buckingham that ‘Canning does nothing in the House, and I think suffers Peel to take completely the lead’; and a fortnight later he reported that Peel and Robinson, now chancellor of the exchequer, had risen much beyond ... [Canning] in estimation as general speakers and men of business’. Yet on 21 July 1823, Williams Wynn reckoned that Peel ‘continues very glum and sulky’.71 According to Henry Hobhouse, Peel at this time was ‘resolved ... to resign his office’ if the king, influenced by Lady Conyngham and Sir William Knighton (whom Peel distrusted, and who disliked Peel) persisted in his bid to obtain a reprieve for a convicted forger sentenced to death.72
Peel was obliged to go to London from Lulworth, where Julia, expecting their third child, was unwell, on departmental business in mid-August 1823, when he inspected the progress of his new town house, building in Whitehall Gardens, and hid from his prospective neighbour ‘Chin’ Grant*, a great bore. He was reassured, Arbuthnot told Bathurst, to find that Canning ‘was not making way with the king’, but Arbuthnot saw that he ‘has great suspicions of Canning, and it annoys him not a little that Lord Liverpool should be under such subjection to him’.73 In early October, according to Mrs. Arbuthnot, her husband spoke at Windsor with the king, who praised Robinson, but ‘said Peel had not heart enough for him!!’.74 Later that month Williams Wynn wrote to Buckingham:
I am quite alone in town, for every one of my colleagues, with the exception of Peel, is absent, and you know that he hath no particular pleasure in communicating with me more than is necessary to avoid any public rupture, besides which he is at present otherwise engaged, as his wife is just brought to bed ... Since writing the above I have seen Peel, who gives me a very encouraging account of the success of the tithes bill.75
At this time, according to Mrs. Arbuthnot, Peel ‘talked very confidentially’ to her husband ‘about Canning’: ‘He appeared to have the worst possible opinion of him, said he had no objection to do business in cabinet with him and that they were civil together in the ... Commons, but that he was the sort of person he should be very sorry to have a tete a tete with’.76
On the address, 6 Feb. 1824, Canning, goaded by Brougham, affirmed his undiminished support for Catholic relief, which prompted Peel to declare his unabated hostility, ‘with some display of bad temper’, as Fremantle thought.77 He opposed Curwen’s motion for papers on the criminal justice of the Isle of Man, 18 Feb., and Grattan’s for information on Catholic office-holders, 19 Feb. On 24 Feb. he replied to and secured the withdrawal of Williams’s motion for inquiry into chancery delays and defended Eldon personally. The speech was a great success, but Peel was not blind to the problems of chancery administration, and soon afterwards he set up a commission of inquiry, in which he took a close personal interest, trying to force it to reach a coherent conclusion.78 He opposed Martin’s motion for the appointment of a select committee on the curbing of cruel sports (as he did all Martin’s attempts to legislate on this and related issues), 26 Feb.: his view was that it would result in partial and inappropriate legislation, and that ‘the growing intelligence and refinement of the country’ would put a stop to these ‘evils’ (11 Mar. 1825). On 1 Mar. 1824 he made what Fremantle considered an ‘admirable speech’ in opposition to Abercromby’s motion accusing Eldon of a breach of privilege in court, which ‘in the early part ... caught the House and carried it with him’, though his case was a flimsy one.79 He contended that contrary to the prayer of silk workers’ petitions, 5 Mar., prohibition had harmed that industry, and it was essential to put commerce on ‘sound principles’. He said that acquiescence in Lord Althorp’s call for information on Irish ribbon societies would set a ‘fatal’ precedent, 11 Mar. He denied that ministers were temporizing on the abolition of slavery, 16 Mar. He got leave to introduce the aliens bill, defeating two opposition obstructive amendments, 23 Mar. On 25 Mar. he expressed his support for the Irish education commission and restricted the remit of Russell’s proposed select committee on the payment of wages from poor rates. He challenged Hume to demonstrate how savings could be made in the military establishments of Guernsey and Jersey, 2 Apr., and endorsed the granting of an additional £500,000 for the building of new churches, 9 Apr. He supported the bill brought into amend the 1823 Irish Tithes Act, 3 May. He opposed William Maberly’s motion for an advance of capital to Ireland, 4 May, and Althorp’s for inquiry into the state of that country, 11 May, supporting Goulburn’s amendment to confine the investigation to the disturbed areas and arguing that ministers had done their best to improve the magistracy and the police and stop illicit distillation. A week later Williams Wynn told Buckingham that at a cabinet meeting Peel, like Liverpool, Wellington and Huskisson, looked ‘extremely ill and invalid’.80 He thought Stuart Wortley’s game bill had merit, but urged him to withdraw it for the session and carried this by 120-103, 31 May. He defended the treatment of the unrepentant and provocative blasphemer Richard Carlile in Dorchester gaol, 11 June. On 14 June 1824 he justified renewal of the Irish Insurrection Act. About a week earlier Wellington had consulted him about the Irish militia, and, as the duke told Mrs. Arbuthnot, 7 June
he took the opportunity of letting out his discontent with the state of affairs, particularly in Ireland, of declaring his repentance that he had ever accepted the ... [home office] and that it would be much better if the four persons concerned in the Irish government were of the Catholic opinion rather than that they should be divided ... I think his feeling is more one of disgust at what passes in Parliament and at his being obliged to be silent when he hears Papists praised and Orangemen abused than it is with anything serious. I ... endeavoured to convince him that if he was out of office his own prudence and sense of duty would induce him to be silent upon such occasions ... I ... urged him to put himself as he ought manfully at the head of Irish affairs and to suggest the measures which his own good sense might suggest to get the better of the evil which is now an impending Roman Catholic rebellion, and to confide in the support of his colleagues; and that as to his inferiors, he must remove them ... if they don’t implicitly obey his directions. I fairly scolded him, but I don’t think I made much impression or did much good, excepting that I hope he will not take any important step without first consulting me.81
Peel was not in the best of mental and physical condition at this time, as Plumer Ward told Buckingham, 4 July:
Lord Maryborough ... thought that ... [Peel] would not be long an object of speculation ... It is certain that he is a very shadow, and there are great fears of his lasting. His looks at present are those of a scarecrow, but this is owing partly to an operation ... upon his eye, the small veins of which he was persuaded to have cut in order to remove a tumour, instead of which the blood has extravasated, and he looks as if he had been in a row in St. Giles’s. People, however, say he is only too fond of his wife ... Many ... agree with Lord Maryborough, and place him hors de combat as to futurity.
Two weeks later Ward wrote of Peel’s supposed jealousy of Robinson’s success as chancellor: he ‘is, they say, evidently moody and ungracious with his colleagues; in fact in ill health ... The subalterns have noticed a sort of indifference of manners, by no means concealed, on the part of Peel towards Canning’. Yet when he related Canning’s complaint in September of `personal impropriety and unkindness’ towards him in cabinet from the Protestants, he stressed that Canning ‘always excepts Peel, who, he says, though he has opposed him, has always done it in a fair, open, manly manner’.82 It was at about this time, according to Denis Le Marchant†, writing seven years later, that Peel told his Oxford tutor Dr. Charles Lloyd that he
considers a revolution at no great distance - not a bloody one and perhaps not one leading to a republic, but one utterly subversive of the aristocracy and of the present system of carrying on the government. He thinks we may get on quite well after this change as before, but he considers it inevitable.83
On 19 Nov. 1824 the king, agitated by the growing influence of the Catholic Association and thinking that his own stance on emancipation was being misrepresented, warned Peel that if things continued as they were he would no longer tolerate leaving the question open in cabinet. As commanded, Peel showed this potentially destructive letter to Wellington, who favoured ignoring it, whereas Peel felt that they must either show it to Liverpool or return it to the king. Arbuthnot persuaded the duke that it was vital to inform the premier, and, after Wellington had contacted Knighton, the king instructed Peel to put the letter into Liverpool’s hands. When he did so, Liverpool agreed with him that it was best to take no notice of it; but to ensure that the situation was kept under control Peel secured an audience with the king and successfully asked him not to say anything which would upset the existing state of affairs when he saw Liverpool. There the matter rested.84 Alerted by Goulburn at the end of October to the pressing need to curb the Association, Peel considered the problem and consulted colleagues, but was initially frustrated by Wellesley’s failure to say whether or not he thought legal action might be taken. Eventually Wellesley pronounced in favour of referring the question to the select committee on the disturbed districts. Peel dismissed this option, preferring a vigorous executive measure, and from 14 Dec. 1824 until 20 Jan. 1825, when the draft was laid before the cabinet, he worked on it with Goulburn, Plunket and the English law officers. The strain under which he was working was noticed on 2 Jan. by Charles Long*, who told Lord Lonsdale that ‘judging from his manner it is impossible to suppose anything but that the state of ... [Ireland] annoys him much’; but he was in a better mood the following week.85
On the address, 4 Feb. 1825, Peel asserted that the continued existence of the Association was ‘not consistent with the popular principles and liberties’ of parliamentary government. He spoke in support of the bill to suppress it, 10 Feb., when he drew a distinction between the Catholic and Constitutional Associations. Fremantle thought he ‘did very well’, as did Bankes, and Nicholl reckoned that his low-key speech was ‘excellent, varied in manner, good in matter’.86 There was a curious episode on 15 Feb., when Canning, proclaiming that his devotion to the Catholic cause had cost him ‘the first wish of his heart, the representation of Oxford [University]’, ‘laid hold of Peel’s shoulder awkwardly, and wished him "a long possession of the mistress he had lost"’. Peel, according to Hobhouse, ‘apparently not prepared for the familiar wishes of his colleague, shrugged his shoulder and looked uncomfortable’.87 Nicholl liked his ‘animated and excellent speech’ against Brougham’s motion to allow the Association to be defended by counsel at the bar of the House, 18 Feb., but Hobhouse recalled how he ‘got into a lamentable scrape’ by denouncing the Association member Hamilton Rowan, a former United Irishman, as ‘an attainted traitor’. In reply Brougham, supplied with information by O’Connell and Sheil, who were under the gallery, pointed out that Rowan had been pardoned and appointed a magistrate:
Never did minister get such a whipping ... Peel looked so red and so silly ... and we so ... cheered ... [Brougham], that a bystander would have thought the opposition certain of a majority; yet when ministers came to divide, after the exposure of their secretary, they had a majority of 222 ... to 89.
Hobhouse recorded that at the end of the debate ‘Peel actually came up to Brougham and told him he was much gratified by his speech’ and that Burdett explained this ‘scarcely credible’ act by surmising that Peel ‘was so stunned and stupefied by the blow, that he scarcely knew what he said or did’. Wilson, who ‘never saw a being, a thing so prostrated as Peel’, attributed it to ‘false taste’. Subsequent enquiries by Peel revealed that Rowan had not been made a magistrate, and he threw this information back in Brougham’s face on the third reading of the bill, 25 Feb.88 On 1 Mar. Peel opposed Burdett’s motion to consider Catholic claims. The motion was carried by 13 votes, and a relief bill was brought in. Peel recorded his hostility to it, 22 Mar., but reserved his opposition for the second reading. Meanwhile he discussed by letter with Gregory and others in Ireland the proposed securities or ‘wings’, namely the disfranchisement of the Irish 40s. freeholders and payment by the state of the Catholic priests. He told Gregory that while there was ‘apathy’ in the country at large about emancipation, he was ‘not prepared to make any compromise’. On balance, he concluded that these measures would harm rather than safeguard Protestant interests, and he told the House as much, 28 Mar.89 He presented several anti-Catholic petitions, including one from Bolton Dissenters, 18 Apr., and the synod of Glasgow, 19 Apr. Agar Ellis thought he spoke ‘tolerably’ well against the second reading of the relief bill, 21 Apr., when he said that it ‘diminished the security of our Protestant establishments, and thereby threatened the foundations of civil and religious liberty’.90 Opposing the Irish franchise bill, 26 Apr., he stated that he was ‘reluctant to begin his career as a parliamentary reformer by disfranchising, almost without examination, a large portion of the electors’ of Ireland. He maintained that payment of the priests had been similarly under researched, 29 Apr. On 10 1825 May he spoke against the third reading of the relief bill, which was carried by 248-227. Meanwhile, there had developed a serious crisis in the cabinet, for, as Liverpool had feared, on 29 Apr. 1825 Peel, feeling completely isolated on the front bench, where Canning, Huskisson, Robinson and Williams Wynn all supported emancipation and seemed to him to be ‘leaguing with the most factious of the opposition’, tendered his resignation to Liverpool. Discussions, negotiations and arm-twisting continued for over two weeks, with Liverpool threatening to resign if Peel did and advise the king to send for Canning, though he was willing to stay in office if Peel relented. Wellington and, decisively, Bathurst, worked on Peel and weakened his resolve, arguing that he would wreck the government entirely, ruin his reputation as a statesman and fatally undermine the Protestant cause. In a last turn of events following the bill’s rejection by the Lords, 17 May, Canning tried to persuade Liverpool to end cabinet neutrality on the Catholic question. At the decisive discussion, 24 May 1825, Peel insisted that he would resign rather than compromise. Canning got no support from the pro-Catholic ministers, and two days later he gave way. Peel agreed to stay in office at least until a new Parliament had given a verdict on the issue.91
On other issues in the 1825 session, Peel defended the grant for the Irish linen board, 18 Mar., secured an increase in London police magistrates’ salaries, 21 Mar., agreed to go into committee on William Smith’s Dissenters’ marriages bill, 25 Mar., and persuaded Peter Moore to drop his measure to repeal the Bubble Act, 29 Mar. He acquiesced, as prearranged, in Hobhouse’s motion for leave to introduce a bill to shorten children’s hours of cotton factory labour, 5 May, but on 16 and 31 May voiced doubts about it and recommended Hobhouse to confine it to ‘making his [Peel] father’s bill operative’.92 That day he supported the government’s resolutions on judges’ salaries, but on 20 May he opposed Brougham’s motion to make puisne judges immoveable. He said that Alderman Wood’s London tithes bill ‘attacked private rights’, 17 May, got rid of Spring Rice’s motion for copies of correspondence with Wellesley on religious animosities, 26 May, and supported the grants for the duchess of Kent and duke of Cumberland, 27, 30 May. On 28 May he reluctantly attended the Pitt Club dinner, where his health was drunk with acclaim.93 On 31 May he replied to Williams’s criticisms of chancery administration and denied that the appointment of the commission, which had not yet reported, was ‘a mere parliamentary manoeuvre to stifle effective inquiry’. He opposed and defeated Burdett’s motion for production of the commission’s existing evidence, 7 June, but Burdett carried motions for information on arrears and bankruptcy commitments, 30 June, 5 July. Eldon was ‘offended’, but Peel told Liverpool that he could not resist such motions indefinitely unless the commissioners’ report was completed and laid before Parliament. By the end of February 1826 his pressure had had the desired effect, and he then initiated legislation. A chancery regulation bill was brought in in May 1826, but it was overtaken by the dissolution. (He was reported in June 1825 to have ‘offended’ Eldon by taking this ‘reforming ground’.)94 He backed Canning’s resistance to Hume’s motion for inquiry next session into the Irish church and tithes, 14 June 1825. In late July, when Peel was holidaying near Margate, the king vindictively inconvenienced him by changing at the last minute the date of a privy council meeting, observing to Knighton that he hoped this would be ‘a useful lesson to him for the future’.95
During the financial crash of late 1825, Peel discussed the currency problem with Thomas Attwood†, who was recommended to him by Sir Robert, and, although he had no faith in the small note circulation which they advocated, he took Attwood to see Liverpool and Robinson. Keen to seize the opportunity of rationalizing the banking system, he played a leading part in the cabinet deliberations of January 1826 which produced bills banning the issue of new notes under £5 and authorizing the establishment of joint-stock banks beyond 65 miles from London and of branches of the Bank of England.96 He endorsed these in the House, 13 Feb., arguing that ‘to stand gazing at the bank in idle expectation, now that the river was passable, would be an irreparable mistake’. Abercromby judged this speech to be ‘about the best I ever heard him make’ and that he and Huskisson had outshone Canning and Robinson.97 On 17 Feb. Peel reported to Wellington, who was abroad:
We carried our [banking] measure through the ... Commons very triumphantly ... Great surprise was very generally felt ... for it was supposed that the country bankers had a great influence in the House and would exert it. The opposition supported the measures very fairly, with the exception of Baring and one or two of the commercial Whigs. Hume will give as much trouble as he can on the estimates, but I think we have every prospect of an easy session. It is quite clear that the Catholic question will not be brought on ... I trust we shall hear less than usual about Ireland ... The House seemed quite satisfied with the assurances which we gave about the measures recommended in the two reports of last year. The opposition in the ... Commons seems particularly slack.98
He supported of the promissory notes bill, 20, 27 Feb., 7 Mar. He successfully opposed Hume’s attempt to abolish the volunteer corps, 3 Mar. That day he informed Wellington that Canning and Huskisson had spoken effectively on the silk trade, but that ministers had been ‘placed in a very unpleasant predicament’ on the question of an issue of exchequer bills, for which there was a clamour in commercial circles, and had been rescued by the Bank’s offer to lend money on deposit of goods. He also explained that, alarmed by Liverpool’s apparent threat, echoed by Canning in the House, to resign if the government was defeated on this, he had gone to the premier and ‘told him I thought him very wrong in using such language, that if he resigned when the country was in a crisis of financial difficulty ... he would lose all the credit he had gained’ and that ‘the country would right itself in two or three months, that the man who succeeded him would get all the credit, and he personally all the blame’. He had added that if Liverpool went, he would follow suit. He remained convinced that ministers had been ‘right in refusing’ to issue bills ‘and that had we had consented, we should have defeated our other measures, and not impossibly have had to answer for another bank restriction’.99 His speech detailing his criminal laws and administration of justice bills, 9 Mar., greatly impressed Tierney, who derived ‘infinite satisfaction’ from the notion that Eldon ‘very much disapproves of what he is doing’.100 Abercromby, surveying ‘the strangest times I have ever seen’, perceived Peel’s uncomfortable position within the Tory party:
The only friends that Canning and Huskisson have are a few of the Whigs. The Tories hate what they vote for, and their embarrassment is greatly increased by Peel being pledged to Huskisson’s measures ... I always expect that the Tories will trip up any ministry who attempt to act upon liberal policy, and yet it is very difficult to do it, unless the king should die and the duke of York ... reign. Then it would turn upon Peel, who I hear does not feel at ease, although it is quite in his character, being pledged, to go through with it. The greatest proof he gives of his sense is in showing that he is perfectly aware that he has not talents to play a difficult or doubtful game, and that he can only win by steadiness and show of principle that confidence which he has not the genius or the talents to command.101
Williams Wynn observed that many of the government’s supporters were disgruntled with ‘our liberal and conciliatory measures’, but that they were made powerless by ‘the knowledge that ... [they] have not in their ranks a singe individual of weight and ability to stand forward’ in the Commons, and that ‘the person whose opinions on the Catholic question would naturally point him out for that purpose, is upon every other subject ... disposed to participate to the fullest extent in the line of policy adopted by his colleagues’.102 On 20 Mar. Peel spoke against Spring Rice’s motion affirming the principle of non-denominational education in Ireland and defended the activities of the Kildare Place Society. He vindicated the president of the board of trade’s ministerial salary, 6 Apr., and on the 20th secured leave for the aliens registration bill. Next day he rejected Spring Rice’s additional clause to the Irish church rates bill intended to empower Protestant vestries to raise money for maintaining Catholic and Presbyterian churches. He was against George Lamb’s proposal to allow defence by counsel in felony trials, 25 Apr. Mrs. Arbuthnot recorded at this time that her husband had recently found Peel suspicious of the motives behind Canning’s visit to the Whig Lord Lansdowne at Bowood:
He is generally dissatisfied with the state of affairs, but then he is generally a great frondeur. He does not care for office, and every other word with him is always, ‘If they want my office, let them take it. I don’t want it’. In this he is sincere, but he is now more than usually irritated. Having refused to enter into intrigues with the king and Knighton, the king has quite cut him and never sees him; Lord Liverpool never sees him because he never sees anybody when he can possibly help it; so ... Peel is left entirely to the duties of his department.103
On 1 May he explained how he had sent troops to restore order in the distressed manufacturing areas, but at the same time expressed sympathy and admiration for those who were suffering patiently and urged the wealthy to reach into their pockets. He fully endorsed the government’s emergency proposals to open the ports to bonded and foreign corn, 5, 12 May. Creevey commented:
If a good Ultra Tory government could be made, Canning and Huskisson must inevitably be ruined by this daring step. You never heard such language as the old sticklers apply to them; and, unhappily for Toryism, that prig Peel seems as deeply bitten by ‘liberality’, in every way but on the Catholic question, as any of his fellows.104
He replied to Williams’s motion on chancery administration and praised Eldon, 18 May. On 26 May 1826 he advocated the postponement of Russell’s resolutions condemning electoral bribery until next session, but they were carried by the Speaker’s casting vote. He also brought up and defended the report of the select committee on the Scottish and Irish banking systems, which he had chaired, and which he had brought to recommend no significant change.105 According to Mrs. Arbuthnot, he was ‘still more angry’ than Wellington at the peerages which Canning obtained for his friends Charles Ellis* and James Stuart Wortley*:
He told Arbuthnot ... that he quite felt for the state of degradation into which Lord Liverpool was fallen ... but that he had no words to express his contempt and abhorrence of ... Canning ... [whose] conduct this session in staying away whenever unpleasant subjects ... were to be discussed was quite pitiable, and that his dirty intrigues with the king and Knighton were disgusting ... Peel almost said he would not remain in a government of which ... Canning was the head, but he said he made it a rule never to make up his mind until the time came. The king wanted to make ... Peel believe that he had attended to his interests, meaning the Protestant cause, in these ... peerages; but ... Peel turned off the conversation and would not discuss the subject with him.106
He politely declined a fanciful invitation to allow himself to be nominated for Westminster as the champion of the Protestant cause, and was again returned unopposed for the University.107
He told Lord Liverpool, 9 July 1826, that while he was ‘well aware of the immense importance of making every possible reduction in the estimates next year’, he considered it ‘absolutely necessary to maintain a very strong military force in the manufacturing districts’, where continued unemployment was breeding discontent.108 In mid-August he was busy in Whitehall, and told Julia that ‘the absence of all those I wish to see on the state of crops in Ireland keeps me in constant occupation, as I am obliged to write to them all instead of settling the business in conversation’.109 The appalling state of Ireland, where the Catholics had scored some notable successes in the elections and ‘party animosities never were higher’, was his main concern. As well as directing Goulburn to give him accurate details of the actual and potential military and police forces at the disposal of the government, he indicated to John Leslie Foster*, 3 Nov., that he was becoming resigned to the inevitability of Catholic emancipation, though he still could not persuade himself that it would end sectarian violence. Asking Foster to try to ascertain the ‘whole truth respecting Irish popery and its adjuncts’, he commented, ‘When I see it inevitable, I shall (taking due care to free my motives from all suspicion) try to make the best terms for the future security of the Protestant’. But he assured Sir George Hill*, who feared that ministers were allowing the revived Catholic Association to run amok in the hope of persuading English Members of the necessity for a settlement to end the chaos, that he was ‘no party to any preconcerted forbearance towards the ... Association’ and knew ‘nothing of compromise’: ‘I am as unfettered on the ... question, as able to offer unqualified opposition to further concessions, as I ever was at any period of my life’.110 When the cabinet decided in December to divert troops from Ireland to the Portuguese expedition, Peel calmed the agitated Goulburn with assurances of support for any emergency measures he might have to adopt; and after several weeks of frustration waiting for Wellesley and the Irish law officers to supply accurate information as a basis for deciding whether to prosecute the Association, he was relieved to find the balance of opinion firmly against such action.111 In the House, 22 Nov. 1826, he opposed ‘not the principle but the expediency’ of Althorp’s resolutions condemning electoral bribery. He expressed sympathy for the distressed weavers of western Scotland, 5 Dec., but declined to raise ‘false hopes’ of government aid. He advised Hume against ‘precipitate’ legislation to end the ban on the export of machinery, reminding him of the mess created by his hasty intervention on the Combination Acts, 6 Dec. Next day he called for consideration of the tricky question of subsidized emigration to be shelved until the select committee’s report and evidence were to hand and persuaded Hume to drop his motion for information on Lord Charles Somerset’s† conduct at the Cape. On 9 Dec. Abercromby wrote to Lord Carlisle:
I am very much struck with the industry and good sense of Peel ... On all the topics, whether it be emigration, machinery or corn laws, he is always ready to take his part with promptitude, decision and good knowledge of what has been said or written ... He bids fairly to be the minister of England, more so than any of his competitors, the Catholic question once got over; and then I think his tone and principles will be on a level with the age.
On 13 Dec. 1826 Abercromby reported the striking ‘cordiality’ with which Peel had the previous night ‘cheered’ Brougham’s reply to Canning’s exposition of the Portuguese issue.112 At Sudbourne at Christmas Peel told Arbuthnot that he was ‘very much disgusted’ with Robinson’s expressed desire to retire from the exchequer, but said that if he was pressed to take the office
he would undertake it for the very reasons that made Mr. R. decline it, namely that there were difficulties, which he should not the least mind; that otherwise he should certainly prefer his present office ... Peel told Arbuthnot he was quite certain the king did not care a farthing for Canning ... and only valued him as the greatest and best jobber to do his dirty work. He said that a short time ago he was with the king, who said to him, ‘Ah, Peel, what a misfortune it was that I had not a private conversation with you and misunderstood your sentiments before you left Edinburgh [in August 1822]. All the misfortunes that have happened since would have been avoided’.113
After the death of the duke of York, 5 Jan. 1827, Peel was ‘heart and soul’ for the successful effort to have Wellington appointed his successor as commander-in-chief, despite the king’s ‘monstrous’ attempt to renege on a promise.114 After attending the funeral at Windsor, 20 Jan., he went with Wellington to Stratfield Saye, where he told Arbuthnot of his suspicions that Canning (who had fallen ill) disapproved of the appointment, was hoping to get Liverpool to persuade Wellington to quit the cabinet and was even ‘in some sort of communication with some of the opposition’.115 Holland, noting a mounting ‘clamour’ against Canning, remarked that ‘unless Peel is earnestly and eagerly with him on all other points but that of the Catholics, I should think his power ... is very precarious’.116 On 7 Feb., the day before Parliament reconvened, Peel sent Huskisson a letter from distressed handloom weavers attributing their ‘unmerited distress’ to ‘the discovery of the power loom’, and reflected that he had ‘better tell them the truth in the kindest manner in which I can’, that technological progress could not be arrested, though their suffering was ‘very lamentable, and I fear very irremediable’.117 Canning’s illness had made Peel acting leader of the House, and on 12 Feb. he moved the address of condolence on the death of York: ‘not in very good style, weakish, and thin blooded’, thought John Evelyn Denison*, while Greville deemed his performance ‘poor and jejeune’.118 He acquiesced, with ‘certain reservations’, in the renewal of the emigration select committee, 15 Feb. Next day he defended the proposed grant to the duke of Clarence, and he voted thus, 16 Mar. Mrs. Arbuthnot recorded in mid-February that Liverpool and Peel were again talking of being ‘driven out’ on the Catholic question and that Peel was ‘perfectly sincere and would be glad to go’, knowing that time was on his side for a return to office ‘in a more agreeable position than his now is in the government’.119 Liverpool’s incapacitating stroke on 17 Feb. took the matter out of his control and changed the political landscape. After a cabinet deliberation, Peel went to Brighton to see the king and Canning, who was recuperating there; and it was agreed to give no public indication that the premier’s recovery was out of the question and to continue with business in the normal fashion.120 On 21 Feb. Peel, disclaiming party prejudice, agreed to a full inquiry into the allegations of electoral interference against Northampton corporation. (His brief dealings with a deputation from the borough who had invited him to recommend his brother Jonathan as a government candidate gave the committee’s Whig members some ammunition.)121 He got leave to reintroduce his bills to amend, simplify and consolidate the criminal laws on a basis of ‘reason and common sense’, together with one abolishing benefit of clergy, 22 Feb. They became law that session as 7 & 8 Geo. IV, cc. 27-31. He opposed Althorp’s proposal to establish a permanent select committee to consider all election petitions alleging bribery, 26 Feb., and next day, endorsing the attorney-general Sir John Copley’s bill to separate bankruptcy from chancery administration, defended Eldon against Whig attacks. He presented and endorsed petitions against Catholic relief from his constituency and the Protestant noblemen, gentry and landowners of Ireland, 2 Mar., and on the 6th spoke in his usual terms against Burdett’s motion to consider Catholic claims. Agar Ellis thought he ‘spoke tolerably well, but heavily’, while Denison judged that he performed ‘poorly’. The anti-Catholic Sir Robert Inglis* enjoyed his ‘lecture’ to Plunket on the danger of stirring popular passions in Ireland, but Hobhouse assessed the speech as ‘unfair and affectedly candid’.122 The motion was unexpectedly defeated by four votes, but any pleasure which Peel might have felt was subsumed in the uncertainty created by the unresolved problem of the succession to Liverpool, for which he and Canning were widely seen as the main contenders. On 9 Mar., according to Mrs. Arbuthnot, he told her husband that he ‘did not care one straw about office, and that ... when he spoke ... on the Catholic question, he did so in the firm belief that he should resign next morning’, but that the result of the division had in some ways strengthened Canning’s hand.123 On 8 Mar. he defended the government’s adjustment of the corn laws against protectionist complaints. On the 12th he refuted Wood’s assertion that ministers had been ‘bullied’ by the landed interest to overprotect barley and replied to Hobhouse’s rant; and on 19 Mar. he saw off Newport’s motion for a fixed duty on foreign flour by 152-116. He opposed inquiry into supposed electoral malpractice by Leicester corporation, 15 Mar., when the Whig Member Lord Howick told his father Grey that his speech was ‘so exceedingly unfair and so well answered that the feeling of the House was entirely changed’, and there was loud cheering from the opposition benches when the motion’s defeat by only 24 votes was announced, which made Peel appear ‘very angry’.124 He said that the charge that the Kildare Place Society was trying to convert Catholics to Protestantism was ‘grossly exaggerated’, 19 Mar. When Russell asked him if he would support repeal of the Test Acts, 23 Mar., he refused to answer, for ‘sufficient unto the day was the vote thereof’. He was inclined to set up a commission of inquiry into the laws of real property, 27 Mar., said an ‘experiment by a partial operation’ of legitimizing the sale of game might be beneficial, 28 Mar., and opposed the motion for information on the Lisburn Orange procession, 29 Mar. He justified the calling out of the military to restore order at the Carlisle election, 3 Apr., when he urged Newport to withdraw his resolutions on the laws concerning the rebuilding of churches in Ireland and enshrine them in a bill, indicating that he was not averse to the notion of exempting Catholics from unfair burdens. That day he persuaded Hume to confine his proposed inquiry into the laws of imprisonment for debt to the limits set by previous investigations. He opposed Whittle Harvey’s motion for information on chancery administration, 5 Apr. 1827, and next day defended against Trench’s tirade the decision not to prosecute the Catholic Association. A week later, when Hobhouse noted that he ‘seated himself on the corner of the treasury bench, but ... did not look at all tranquil or magnanimous’,125 he resigned from the home office, having, along with his cabinet colleagues Wellington, Eldon, Westmorland, Bathurst and Melville, declined to serve in Canning’s new ministry. He did so, essentially, because he did not trust Canning personally, even though the Catholic question was to be left open in cabinet and the king had given him a personal guarantee that it would not be pressed as a government measure. While he would have been willing to remain in office with Canning under a reputable ‘Protestant’ peer (he had rejected Canning’s offer of the foreign secretaryship with a peerage), he argued that he could not act under a premier whose personal views were notoriously favourable to Catholic claims, especially at the home office, where he would wish to remain, with ultimate responsibility for Ireland: he wished above all to preserve his ‘character as a public man’. In truth, he was still trapped in the strait jacket of his increasingly uncomfortable position as the champion of the Tory anti-Catholics.126 The episode caused a breach between Peel and Croker, who remained in as secretary to the admiralty; it was patched up in the autumn, but their relations were never again as cordial as before.127
In mid-April 1827 Goulburn urged Peel to ‘take some opportunity of having it distinctly known why you declined continuing in office’, as ‘the activity of Canning’s friends has created a general opinion even among some of the country gentlemen that your decision was part of a cabal against Canning and the king’. Mrs. Arbuthnot also noted this development.128 Lord Londonderry reported that Wellington had told him that he and Peel wished ‘to remain as the great Tory party ready for the king to fall back on’; but the Whig Lord Tavistock* did not believe that Peel ‘will ever incur the fearful responsibility of shutting the door for ever upon the Catholics, and thus driving Ireland into rebellion, by taking the reins of a government exclusively Protestant’.129 In the House, 1 May, Peel made a statement of his reasons for resigning, which he assigned to the incompatibility between his and Canning’s views on the Catholic question. He defended himself and his fellow seceders, especially Wellington, against the charge of intrigue. Mrs. Arbuthnot thought ‘nothing could be more triumphant or more perfect’, and Agar Ellis considered it ‘a good and temperate speech’; but the duke of Rutland commented that the peroration boasting of his achievements in office was ‘too much trumpeting forth of his own public services’.130 Tavistock’s father the duke of Bedford considered it ‘in some respects a manly and straightforward statement’ but also ‘an able and an artful one’, in that it had conceded that emancipation was ‘nearer its accomplishment by the appointment of the coalition ministry’: ‘it clenches the nail, and leaves Canning without retreat’.131 On 3 May, however, Peel made what Canning reported to the king as ‘a violent attack upon the supporters of the ministry’, specifically Brougham and Burdett, who had criticized him for his opposition to reform and seized on his ‘propensity to self-praise’. Canning thought he had thrown away ‘all the moderation which he had professed ... on the first night’, and Hobhouse that it ‘showed the Peelites and Peel himself resolved upon opposition’.132 On 7 May Peel opposed, with ministers, Gascoyne’s motion for inquiry into the shipping interest.133 The staunch anti-Catholics Lords Colchester, Kenyon and Mansfield and Inglis, who thought Peel had been utterly ‘wrong’ in resigning, wanted to move a resolution in the Lords in support of the ‘Protestant constitution’, but Peel talked Mansfield out of it.134 When Tavistock criticized the Tory opponents of the ministry, 11 May, Peel denied being ‘one of a factious and rancorous opposition’, but said he could not place confidence in the government until its final composition and policies were known, even though it seemed unlikely that it would promote reform or repeal the Test Acts. Canning thought Peel’s tone was ‘greatly moderated’, but the Whig Charles Richard Fox* commented that although he had ‘declined twice being head of the opposition’ he ‘still sits with his brother-in-law Dawson and his own brothers close to him, all of whom are loudly and outrageously violent’.135 Hobhouse and Huskisson, a member of the cabinet, agreed that ‘Peel had been let off very easily’ for his devious conduct, and Littleton informed his friend William Leigh, 19 May, that
Peel is feeding his forces, consisting of no matter what complexion, provided they differ with the government. While he is professing neutrality in the House, he is doing all he can covertly to organize an opposition. But I really do not see what he will find to quarrel about, he is so pledged by his past conduct.136
Peel did not oppose the introduction of the Coventry magistracy bill, 22 May, but on 18 June he spoke and voted in the minority against its third reading. He presented but dissented from the prayer of petitions from Norwich weavers and manufacturers for legislation to fix local wages, 31 May, when he endorsed the attorney-general Sir James Scarlett’s refusal to repeal the Newspaper Stamp Duty Act, but remarked on the absence of some ministerial Whigs who had opposed it in 1819. On 18 June he opposed Western’s protectionist resolutions on the corn laws and supported Canning’s proposal to admit warehoused corn as a temporary expedient, but, as Mackintosh saw it, on the anniversary of Waterloo ‘worked himself into a paroxysm of enthusiasm for Wellington’, whose amendment in the Lords had forced Canning to abandon the original bill, reproving Alexander Baring for his attack on the duke.137 On 22 June he presented a bill, which was subsequently set aside for future consideration, to facilitate the recovery of small debts in county courts. On 14 July 1827, just returned from the country ‘in high spirits’, according to Arbuthnot, he concurred in Wellington’s decision not to obey the king’s summons for a talk: ‘Peel ... is now convinced that the duke’s conduct upon the corn bill has been productive of great good, and ... that we must have a systematic opposition next session, and keep no terms with the government’.138
Peel was shocked by Canning’s premature death, 8 Aug. 1827, but, anxious to avoid ‘the appearance even of being in the way’, he brought forward by a day his departure with his family to Maresfield in Sussex (rented from the Shelleys). Kept informed by Arbuthnot, Sir Henry Hardinge* and others of the negotiations for the formation of a patched-up coalition ministry under the hapless Lord Goderich, he wrote to Arbuthnot, 17 Aug.:
I have long foreseen that the Catholic question must place me in the position in which I am at present. If Lord Liverpool had lived, the great probability is that he and I would have been out of office at this time. I do not at all regret either that the king did not send for me after Canning’s death; still less ... that I have received no communication from Lord Goderich. It would not have been an easy matter for the duke of Wellington and for me to form under existing circumstances a strong government in the ... Commons ... I should think it not improbable that the king had made my exclusion from office a sine qua non on the appointment of ... Goderich. It is very natural in a man, and particularly when that man is a king, to hate another who declines to trust him.
He thought that as a soldier Wellington could not ‘with propriety’ have refused the king’s offer to resume the command of the army, and insisted that ‘I view all that passes with very great complacency ... quite satisfied that no course of action would either be justifiable or successful that was not founded on public principle’.139 Billy Holmes* and Lord Lowther* lamented that ‘a regular Tory opposition cannot be formed, because there is no leader’, and Peel, the only feasible one, ‘though able, honest and high-minded’, was ‘too selfish, too proud and haughty in his manner to have a personal following’, and, being without ‘good manners or any courtier-like character’, was ‘disliked by the king’.140 In mid-November Peel had ‘a long political conversation’ with Colchester, to whom he expressed his abhorrence of the wanton destruction of the Turkish fleet at Navarino and remarked on ‘the incongruous composition of parties in the present administration, which rendered its duration impossible’; but when Colchester encouraged him to ‘put himself at the head of an army of observation’ and told him that ‘the country would think itself safe ... if he were the leading minister in the Commons, and ... Wellington head of the government’, he ‘listened in silence and with much complacency’, and then ‘professed, very unaffectedly, to disclaim all ambition for power, or the common appendages of office, but did not disclaim such a situation if really called upon by the country’.141 In early December 1827 Peel and Huskisson exchanged conciliatory messages, brokered by Littleton, expressing mutual satisfaction that Huskisson’s reported statement that he would resign if Peel entered the ministry was a fiction.142 At the end of the year Mackintosh was under the impression (probably mistaken) that ‘Peel confidently assures his followers of his speedy and triumphal restoration’.143
On the collapse of the Goderich administration in early January 1828, the king turned to Wellington, who on the 9th summoned Peel to London. In the ensuing discussions he insisted on placing the new ministry on as broad a basis as possible, convinced that an exclusively Protestant government could not stand and also anxious to secure some able backing in the Commons, which he was designated to lead as home secretary: ‘I cannot undertake the business of the ... Commons without more assistance than the mere Tory party ... would afford me’, he told Julia, to whom he confided that ‘my heart is set upon home and not upon ambition’. He made clear to close friends his contempt for the ‘blockhead’ Tory extremists: ‘I care not for the dissatisfaction of the Ultra Tories. This country ought not, and cannot, be governed on any other principles than those of firmness ... combined with moderation.’ After the successful termination of painful negotiations with Huskisson and the leading Canningites, who agreed to join the ministry, Peel asked the former Irish under-secretary Gregory:
What must have been the inevitable fate of a government composed of Goulburn, Sir John Beckett, Wetherell, and myself? Supported by very warm friends, no doubt, but no [more] than warm friends, being prosperous country gentlemen, fox-hunters ... most excellent men, who will attend one night, but who will not leave their favourite pursuits to sit up till two or three o’clock fighting questions of detail on which ... a government must have a majority. We could not have stood creditably a fortnight.144
Mrs. Arbuthnot blamed Peel, ‘whose fault is not being courageous in the ... Commons [and] wishes to surround himself with all the speakers’, for the inclusion of the hated Huskissonites, and thought Wellington at bottom shared her repugnance to the arrangement; but Croker told Hertford that the duke had admitted that ‘what Peel said is perfectly true - that those who are for forming an exclusive ministry, expect that I am to go into the House of Commons with half a party to fight a party and a half’.145 On 23 Jan. 1828 the king had a long interview with Peel in which, he informed Knighton, he ‘had given a very strong lecture respecting his conduct both as to the past, as well as to the future, and which ... [Wellington] not only highly approved of, but was delighted at it’.146 Peel entertained 32 prominent supporters of the ministry in the ‘very handsome’ picture gallery of his house on the eve of the session to give them a preview of the king’s speech.147
At the home office, Peel continued his work of legal reform. His bill of 1828 for the recovery of small debts ran into problems over the compensation of holders of patent officers in the higher courts, and he abandoned it for the session, 23 June. He referred the question to the common law commission set up on Brougham’s initiative in 1828, and on 18 Feb. 1830, in a review of the direction which legal reform might take, he got leave for a measure to regulate the fees of patent office-holders. He subsequently supported Brougham’s plan to reform local jurisdictions. In May 1828 he brought in two bills, inherited from his predecessor Lord Lansdowne, to change the method of receiving evidence (allowing Quakers and Moravians to give evidence on affirmation and other relaxations) and to consolidate the laws governing offences against the person. They became law as 9 Geo. IV, cc. 31 and 32. By his consolidating Acts, 1825-8, 278 statues were repealed and their surviving provisions enshrined in eight Acts.148 On 18 Feb. 1830 Peel outlined a number of measures to promote further rationalization, relating to the laws governing justices of the peace, the coinage and forgery offences, of which the latter, the subject of long discussions with the attorney-general Scarlett, William Gregson, the legal draftsman, and a few senior judges, was the most important. The bill which Peel introduced on 1 Apr. 1830 reduced the tangle of existing legislation to four clauses, one of which specified the offences for which the death penalty was to be retained: forgery of negotiable securities, bank notes, wills involving personal estate, the great seal, privy seal and sign manual. Brougham, Mackintosh, Russell and others pressed for a greater mitigation of penalties and were backed by a strong petitioning movement from bankers and company directors, but Peel would not give way, as he declared on 24 May. On the third reading, 7 June, in a thin House, Mackintosh carried by 13 votes an amendment replacing transportation for the death penalty for all forgery offences except that of wills. Peel was annoyed, but the cabinet decided to let the measure go to the Lords as it was. There the amendment was successfully opposed by lord chancellor Lyndhurst and others, so that the bill was passed into law as 11 Geo. IV & 1 Gul. IV, c. 66.149 Peel’s most lasting achievement in his second spell at the home office was the establishment of a rationally organized metropolitan police force for London, where crime was increasing at a frightening rate. On 28 Feb. 1828 he secured the appointment of a select committee, whose report recommended a restructuring of the police; and on 15 Apr. 1829 he brought in a bill to unite all the existing forces under one authority and meet costs from local taxation. It became law on 19 June 1829 as 10 Geo. IV, c. 44, setting up a force with jurisdiction within a ten-mile radius from Charing Cross (except the City), initially under the supervision of two magistrates and a receiver. It set the pattern, as Peel wished, for the establishment of similar forces in large towns in the rest of the country over the next 25 years.150
In the House, 12 Feb. 1828, Peel warned against divesting the lord chancellor of ‘political consequence’ when Taylor moved for information on chancery administration. He opposed and secured the withdrawal of Hobhouse and Burdett’s motion for a vote of thanks to Admiral Codrington for Navarino, 14 Feb. In cabinet the previous day he had spoken ‘of the absolute necessity of reducing expenditure, as we have no surplus and cannot impose taxes’, and got Melville to concede that there might be scope for reductions in the number of seamen. In moving the appointment of the finance committee (on which he did not himself sit), 15 Feb., he reviewed the state of the finances ‘as they really are’, as his cabinet colleague Ellenborough noted, and gave an assurance of ministers’ desire to promote economy in public expenditure. He had persuaded Sir Henry Parnell, a Whig, to chair the committee, and Littleton, who was also a member (and on 17 Feb. witnessed Peel being seized with an alarming ‘fit of the whooping cough’ at Sir Thomas Lawrence’s house in Bedford Square, where ‘his countenance was full of disappointment’ at the portrait of Huskisson) ‘thought it "a fair one"’.151 He sarcastically thanked Waithman for his unwitting endorsement of the wisdom of appointing it, 22 Feb., and on the 25th explained that it had been impossible to include army and navy officers without making it too unwieldy. On 18 Feb. he claimed to know nothing of ‘any secret influence’ which might have brought down the Goderich ministry.152 Next day he welcomed ‘Bum’ Gordon’s bill to regulate lunatic asylums and made suggestions for its improvement. Agar Ellis thought he ‘spoke wretchedly’ when ‘most foolishly’ opposing Russell’s motion for repeal of the Test Acts (his view was that ‘there was no practical grievance’ and that it was best to ‘continue this sort of quiet’), which was carried by 44 votes, 26 Feb. The cabinet reached no immediate decision on how to respond. On 28 Feb. Peel urged the House to adopt some measure short of full repeal, and, when this was rejected, to postpone further consideration for a few days. Lord Milton accused him of trying to wreck his opponents’ success by obstruction. Peel lost his temper, retorted that he would now refuse any postponement and stalked out of the House to eat his dinner. When informed that Sir George Warrender, a ministerialist, was attacking him, he returned to the chamber and said that he had no intention of voting on the question. His petulant behaviour did him no good.153 When the cabinet renewed discussion of the problem, he appeared to be ‘indifferent’, but after consultation with the two archbishops and several bishops he came up with an alternative declaration binding the taker not to injure the Church of England, which was adopted by the cabinet. At the prelates’ request, Peel reluctantly agreed to propose this himself, and he did so on 18 Mar. 1828, when he successfully moved the insertion of the declaration, which Russell later described as ‘useless and feeble’, in the bill. In doing so, according to Canning’s nephew Lord George Cavendish Bentinck*, he ‘disgusted and enraged many of his followers’ among the ‘High Tories’, who had attended in the expectation of a fight being made. Rutland complained that Peel was ‘speaking too much for popularity’ and that the declaration ‘must furnish a most embarrassing precedent for the Catholic question’, and Croker deemed it ‘another step to Catholic emancipation’; but Bedford remarked that ‘Peel behaves most handsomely’.154 The measure went through the Lords with only a minor change to the wording of the declaration, which Russell accepted.155
Peel said that Irish Catholics had no claim on Parliament by the Treaty of Limerick, 6 Mar. 1828. He opposed as ‘impracticable’ Sykes’s motion for inquiry into the franchise in boroughs with a county jurisdiction, 11 Mar., and persuaded him to bring in bills to deal with individual towns, such as Kingston-upon-Hull. That day he observed that unless the existing system of Irish education could be improved, it was best not to tinker with it. On Greene’s tithes commutation bill, ‘pregnant with injustice to the Church of England’, he moved and carried by 81-29 an instruction to the committee to consider limiting the duration of agreements to tax stipends. On 15 Mar. Mrs. Arbuthnot recorded the first in a litany of criticisms of Peel as leader of the House and the Tory party:
There never was such folly as ... [his] anxiety to have speakers on the treasury bench, and he enjoys now the full consequence of his sacrifices; not one of the Canning party have said five words since the session began ... The same cowardice and want of confidence in himself makes him court the liberals, and in point of fact he is more liberal than any of them. He is for giving up everything, and as the duke is anything but a liberal or a coward, he is for fighting everything, and it produces very unpleasant discussions in the cabinet and, what is still worse, Mr. Peel is daily losing ground in the opinion of the public.
Two days later she commented that ‘the Tory party find him ill tempered and cowardly’ and ‘we hear from everyone that he offends everybody by his arrogance’.156 While this was to a large extent dictated by Mrs. Arbuthnot’s reactionary Toryism and partiality for Wellington, there was clearly a serious problem. Hobhouse heard from a friend of the premier that he was ‘sensible he had got together a very poor cabinet, especially in the Commons’, and blamed this on Peel’s stipulations of January.157 Ellenborough recorded that ‘Peel does not much like his position in the Commons. He is not sufficiently well supported. He will fight anything, but then, he says, if he is defeated, he will resign’. Peel told Croker that ‘the country gentlemen complained if ministers yielded, complained more if ministers were in a minority, but would not take the trouble of attending to put them in a majority’.158 Colchester thought there was ‘amongst the Members ... a general feeling of dissatisfaction at the wavering and unsettled state of the House ... without sufficient authority in the leading minister’.159 Peel’s quick temper, sulkiness, arrogance and coldness made matters worse. Wellington and John Herries* told Mrs. Arbuthnot that in cabinet on 19 Mar. he was ‘in such a furious passion that he became as pale as death, and that really it was impossible to argue any question with him’. On 23 Mar., she wrote, Arbuthnot and Bathurst called on Peel, who had been ‘so cross they did not either like to encounter him alone’:
He was very sulky when they first went in, and at last began talking of the House ... and his own position there, which he said was painful and distressing to him ... He said he was anxious to take a high tone and to fight the liberal principles, but that, all the time a debate was going on, his colleagues on the treasury bench were urging him to give up every point that was at all contested by the liberals ... In the meantime not one of them will say a word ... Holmes was on the same story, bitterly complaining of ... Peel’s conduct which, he says, disgusts the Tories in the House to such a degree that they will not stay and vote ... He ended yesterday with Mr. A. and Ld. Bathurst by having talked himself into good humour; and one cannot but feel that his position must be very painful with such colleagues, but then why would he have them? ... Already the Tories are beginning to suspect ... Peel of acting unfairly by the duke, and of adopting this low tone out of jealousy. This is very unjust, for ... Peel is an honest, honourable, upright man; all his faults proceed from a want of political courage.160
From a Whig perspective, Holland was sure that Peel, ‘if he in some degree disarms hostility by an appearance of moderation, loses ... authority and influence in the House’; and Bedford agreed that he had ‘not the calibre necessary to lead the ... Commons in such times as these’, but praised him as ‘an honest man’ who was ‘hardly dealt by, by the disciples of Canning. If he acts ill, you say he is intolerant; if he acts well, he is hypocritical!’.161
Peel’s peevishness owed something to the tensions within the cabinet. There was a potentially destructive wrangle over the proposed corn bill, with Wellington, Aberdeen, Bathurst and Ellenborough wishing to incorporate the duke’s successful amendment of 1827 or increase duties and Huskisson and his associates, but also Peel, Goulburn and Melville, favouring the adoption of a modified version of Canning’s original measure of relaxation. Peel worked for compromise and, after an initial stalemate, persuaded Wellington to drop his warehousing proposal and Huskisson to accept a higher rate of duties than in the 1827 measure. The continued intransigence of Charles Grant*, president of the board of trade, threatened to destroy the coalition, but Peel continued to promote conciliation and, after many frustrations, succeeded at the last minute in preventing the resignations of Huskisson and Grant. Their colleague Palmerston, secretary at war, commented in private that ‘Peel is so right-headed and liberal, and so up to the opinions and feelings of the times, that he smoothes difficulties which might otherwise be insurmountable’.162 After Grant had moved the corn resolutions, 31 Mar., Peel made clear his own preference for a permanent settlement to prevent fluctuations in imports and prices, with a duty rather than a prohibition, forming ‘an equitable adjustment ... calculated to secure the interest of all parties’. He thought the ‘agriculturists were well satisfied’, but Hobhouse fancied that he enjoyed Huskisson’s discomfiture in trying to justify his abandonment of Canning’s proposal.163 Peel saw off protectionist amendments, 25 Apr., and Hume’s for a fixed duty, 29 Apr. He persuaded Wilbraham to drop his motion instructing the law commissioners to consider the county palatine courts of Chester, and with many misgivings acquiesced in Warburton’s for the appointment of a select committee on the study of anatomy, 22 Apr. He opposed inquiry into chancery administration, 24 Apr. He presented his constituents’ petition against Catholic relief, 29 Apr., and on 9 May spoke against Burdett’s motion, which was carried by six votes on 12 May, when he was said to have been ‘much annoyed by the division’. Croker thought he ‘made a good argument on the Treaty of Limerick’, but reflected that ‘one might as well, at this time of day talk of Noah’s flood’; and Hobhouse noted that he talked, ‘as usual, a good deal of his own purity’.164 Mrs. Arbuthnot asserted that Peel, ‘the most short-sighted politician I ever knew’, acted with ‘his usual shabbiness’ on the grant for Canning’s widow and son by trying to persuade Wellington to let him decide on whether to confer it for two lives, as the Huskissonites wished, ‘according to the feeling shown by the House’.165 In the event, 13 May, he supported the pension and denied Althorp’s insinuation that it represented ‘some compromise between the members of the present administration’. He opposed Otway Cave’s motion to summon the municipal leaders of Leicester to the bar of the House for failing to produce requested information, 14 May. On 16 May 1828, when Hume and John Maberly raised objections to the navy estimates, Croker claimed that he ‘whispered to Peel, whose act it was’, of ‘the folly, as we before saw the cowardice’, of putting them on the finance committee, which had made them ‘more troublesome than ever’: ‘he was very little pleased with the remark ... But it is the turn of his mind to get over adversaries by concession. He always gives more importance, and weight even, to a public enemy than to his own supporters’.166
On 12 Mar. 1828 Peel raised in cabinet the problem of what to do about the proven corrupt boroughs of Penryn and East Retford. They settled on the line that provided there were two boroughs to be dealt with, one should have its seats given to a large unrepresented manufacturing town and the other be thrown into the neighbouring hundreds. He put this arrangement to the House, 21 Mar., indicating his preference for giving Penryn’s seats to a large town and sluicing East Retford. Huskisson stated his wish to transfer the representation even if only one borough was available. When the opposition in the Lords to the transfer of Penryn’s seats to Manchester forced Lord Carnarvon, who was handling the bill, to give notice that he would drop the proposal, considerable confusion arose in the cabinet and the Commons. Following inconclusive discussions on 17 and 18 May, it was decided on the 19th, the day of the resumed debate on the East Retford bill, that the government would stick to the original plan until the Lords reached a final decision on Penryn. Peel went to the House under the impression that Huskisson and his associates agreed with this. In the debate, both he and Huskisson were charged with inconsistency in advocating the sluicing of East Retford rather than the transfer of its seats to Birmingham, even though the Penryn to Manchester proposal was known to be a dead letter. While Peel stuck to his guns, despite a mauling from Edward Smith Stanley, Huskisson became increasingly uncomfortable and perplexed. Peel refused his request for an adjournment, and when the division was called Huskisson stayed in the chamber with Palmerston to be counted among the minority for transfer to Birmingham. Peel was taken aback, but said nothing. In the early hours of 20 May Huskisson wrote a letter of resignation to Wellington, which was clearly only meant as a step towards apologizing and patching things up. But Wellington, sick of the Huskissonites’ intransigence, took it at face value, showed it to Peel, who agreed with him, and laid it before the king. In the exchanges and interviews which ensued, as Palmerston and Lord Dudley tried to persuade the duke that Huskisson had not meant to resign, but merely to place his office at Wellington’s disposal, Peel made no serious effort to mediate and prevent the entirely avoidable breach. He was out of patience with Huskisson and his associates, though he remained on good personal terms with Palmerston, who, with Dudley, Grant, William Lamb* and a few others joined Huskisson in resigning about a week after the East Retford fiasco.167
The secession worsened Peel’s position in the House. He pressed Wellington to fill as many of the vacancies as possible with Members of the Commons, but the promotion of Sir George Murray, and John Calcraft to the front bench offered little prospect of effective assistance in debate. Ellenborough, who feared that Smith Stanley would ‘terrify him’, thought Peel took this too far, and told him to his face that ‘I thought he had managed ill, that he had united the opposition, and made a weak government’. Mrs. Arbuthnot again bemoaned his ‘arrogance and ill temper’, which discouraged his juniors from speaking for fear that they would incur his displeasure by blundering, and alleged that ‘he is detested by all the young men, and the House is ... under his management, in a more wild, disorderly state than I ever remember’.168 When Huskisson delivered his explanation of his resignation, 2 June 1828, Peel followed him with his own account, professing regret at the breach, but denying any ‘paltry subterfuge’ by himself and Wellington, insisting that it had not been caused by any difference of policy or principles and promising to ‘persevere to the last’ in ‘the spirit of moderation’ in which the ministry had been formed. Hobhouse considered this ‘one of the best speeches I ever heard him make. He was temperate and firm, and at the same time that he spared Huskisson, did not forget what was due to the duke of Wellington and himself’; but Bankes could ‘not recollect to have ever seen ... Peel so much ruffled and nettled’.169 Lamb conceded that Peel had spoken ‘in a very fair, moderate and conciliatory tone’ and had no doubt of the sincerity of him and Wellington, only fearing the latter’s ‘high opinions and strong prejudices’, which could be exploited by such as Harriet Arbuthnot.170 On East Retford, Peel said that if the Lords decided to sluice Penryn, he would ‘redeem ... [his] pledge’ to give the seats to a manufacturing town. The following day the Huskissonite Lord Binning* informed Sir Charles Bagot that ‘in the Commons Peel [is] losing ground and at a discount, suspected by the Ultras, his friends, and not having conciliated the liberal Tories or the Whigs, disliked by the young men, and having shown upon various occasions that his temper was too strong for him’.171 On 5 June Peel confirmed to Brownlow what he had told him in private, that an advance of public money to promote employment in Ireland was undesirable, and that absentee landlords ought to contribute, but he approved of the principle of Foster’s proposal to encourage bog drainage. Later that day he opposed inquiry into the currency and bank restriction, defeating Graham’s motion by 154-49; he resisted Hume’s wrecking amendment to the Scottish notes bill, 16 June. When Burdett urged the government to take up Catholic relief next session, 12 June, Peel said that the question remained open in the cabinet and his own views were unchanged. He supported Stuart Wortley’s game bill, without much hope that it would ‘produce all the effects anticipated’, 13 June, and opposed Taylor’s call for inquiry into alleged misappropriation of public funds for the refurbishment of Buckingham House, 23 June. Next day he persuaded Wilmot Horton to lay aside for the time being his emigration scheme. On 27 June he declared his support for throwing East Retford into the hundred of Bassetlaw, now that the Penryn to Manchester proposal was no longer feasible, and responded heatedly to Tennyson’s accusation that ministers had used the issue as a pretext to get rid of the Huskissonites, in ‘a base ... compact’. The exchange ended amicably after Tennyson’s apology. He insisted that nothing had been ‘done by the British government calculated to imply the slightest approbation of the course pursued by Dom Miguel’ in Portugal, 30 June. He defended the Foreign Enlistment Act and refuted a suggestion that Pitt’s first ministry had pledged to carry Catholic emancipation as a quid pro quo for the Union, 3 July. He had clashed in cabinet with Wellington over the office of lieutenant-general of the ordnance, which he and Goulburn were willing to sacrifice in deference to a pending opposition motion. Ellenborough, who took the duke’s side, wrote in his diary:
Whatever I say against his opinion annoys him. He answers captiously ... Perhaps I did not meet him with enough cordiality, but he does not suit me. I get on better with all the other members of the government than with him. The duke seemed much annoyed at Peel’s indisposition to fight the question.
(A month later Ellenborough showed Peel some pictures at a cabinet dinner at his house and elicited in him ‘a cordiality of manner’, which led him to conjecture that ‘he is only rather a proud, touchy man, and that the least attempt at management would make him very cordial’.) Mrs. Arbuthnot wrote that Peel ‘runs sulky and talks of resignation’, and wished the duke would ‘take him at his word’. Peel eventually agreed to contest the point in the House, but Ellenborough remarked that he ‘certainly has not the character suited to the leader of a party, or to the command of a popular assembly’, and Mrs. Arbuthnot claimed that he was ‘very sullen and cross’ and that ‘the duke abused him to me a good deal and said no man ever had such a confounded temper’.172 Peel duly defended the office, 4 July, when the opposition motion was crushed by 202-95. He justified the grant for Canadian water defences, 7 July; defended the government’s superannuation allowance proposals, 8 July; supported Fyler’s amendment to alter the silk trade regulations in order to keep faith with interested parties, 14 July; opposed inquiry into the Leicester ratepayers’ allegations against the corporation, 17 July; endorsed Huskisson’s motion for information on tariff negotiations with the United States, advocating ‘a commercial intercourse with all nations in a spirit of friendly co-operation, and on principles of sound and liberal policy’, 18 July, and refuted Fowell Buxton’s allegation that Wellington was reneging on the 1823 pledge concerning the amelioration of slavery, 25 July 1828.
On 15 Aug. 1828 Bathurst wrote to Arbuthnot that Peel would never
be a good head of a party. He is undoubtedly the first man in the House of Commons, and his influence, backed by a good character and a large fortune, must always be very considerable; but he seems to want that cordiality of manner, and that elevation of mind, one of which wins the affections, and the other commands the respect, of a popular assembly; and without one of these qualities no man can long be a formidable leader in the ... Commons.173
Bathurst was speculating whether Peel would resign and lead an opposition to the concession of Catholic emancipation, which it was accurately rumoured that Wellington had decided could no longer with safety be resisted. Peel was facing the biggest crisis of his career so far, the resolution of which liberated him from his increasingly irksome obligations to the Protestant diehards, though at a painful short- term cost to himself, the Tory party and the government. He shared Wellington’s worries over the implications of O’Connell’s election victory in county Clare in July 1828, which not only defied the authority of the government but confirmed the mounting influence of Catholic voters in Ireland, under the influence of the priests and the Association. In a memoir composed in the last years of his life, Peel described the problem not as a threat of imminent civil and sectarian conflict in Ireland, which could have been met with force, but as a long-term challenge to British power there: ‘the real danger was in the peaceable and legitimate exercise of a franchise [in which] was involved a revolution in the electoral system of Ireland - the transfer of political power ... from one party to another’.174 When in August 1828 Wellington told him that he had decided that emancipation must be conceded, Peel broadly agreed, but throughout the discussions which occupied much of their time during the next five months his position was that his only honourable course would be to resign from office and support emancipation as a private Member. However, when Wellington’s bid in early January 1829 to win over the senior clergy, which was made partly in the hope of undermining the king’s objections, failed, Peel concluded that as no other ministry could hope to carry the measure through the House, he could not abandon Wellington for the sake of his own political consistency and thereby endanger the government. He told Wellington of this decision on 17 Jan. 1829.175 He confirmed it to the cabinet later that day, when he submitted a plan for the settlement of what he said was now ‘a question of detail’. Ellenborough thought he had ‘acted nobly as well as wisely’, and later wrote him ‘a note to tell him ... so’, at which he ‘was much pleased’.176
As Peel worked out the details of the relief bill and its accompanying measure to disfranchise the Irish 40s. freeholders and raise the county qualification to £10, he ‘spoke of the thunderclap the announcement in the king’s speech would be, and the very doubtful effect of it on public opinion’. Ellenborough reflected that he ‘must expect to have strong things said against him’, as ‘the high Protestants, misled by the recall of Lord Anglesey [the Irish viceroy], imagine the government is Protestant’.177 On 31 Jan. he informed Croker, who was pleased but feared he would ‘individually lose some of the public confidence’, of his ‘conversion’, and showed him the relevant documentary evidence, as he did two days later to Lord Lowther*, a member of the government, to whom he ‘enumerated all his difficulties in having a divided government upon the state of Ireland’. Lowther, taken aback, was ‘not convinced’, and, observing to his father Lord Lonsdale that the king, Wellington and Peel had ‘wheeled around, grounded upon the opinion that the government cannot meet the systematic opposition in Ireland and the ... Commons’, complained that ‘it is hard to be thrown over so suddenly after maintaining a good fight for the whole of my parliamentary life’. Croker reckoned that many of Peel’s dinner guests summoned to hear the king’s speech, 4 Feb., ‘did not believe’ in stories of his volte face until they heard it from his own lips.178 He had decided to resign his seat for the University and stand for re-election, which Croker thought was ‘a democratical and unconstitutional proceeding’.179 On the address, 5 Feb., Peel confirmed and explained the decision to concede emancipation and his own role in the deliberations of the past six months. Croker wrote that he was ‘only cheered by the opposition, as Canning used to be in 1827’. For the Whigs, Hobhouse recalled it as ‘a lame speech’, and that ‘we could not help smiling to hear from his mouth arguments which he had so often opposed’. Greville, who was present, thought Peel ‘was very feeble, and his case for himself poor and ineffective’; but Littleton conceded that after ‘seventeen years of uncompromising opposition to the question’ he had ‘a difficult task’, though it was impossible to forget his declaration of 1 May 1827 of his sole reason for declining to join Canning’s ministry. Agar Ellis also found his performance ‘lame’, while John Denison wrote:
Peel made a pitiful exhibition. His conduct has naturally created no measured disgust in the minds of his whole party. I think he has more to undergo than his touchy temper and his thin skin can endure. I think him myself a very disagreeable man. He did not attempt to produce one word of argument that did not apply in full force two years ago.180
At the Speaker’s dinner, 7 Feb., according to Croker, Peel
made a joke about old [Ebeneezer John] Collett, who, not knowing Peel’s conversion, had written to him to say he was hastening up to support the good old Protestant cause. This gaiety shows that Peel is sincere and cordially converted, but in a moment he seemed to recollect himself, and looked very grave and almost discomposed at his own mirth, and sat silent and frowning the rest of the evening.181
Many of the Tories were outraged by what they considered as a betrayal by Peel, whose brother Jonathan ‘declared himself an anti-Catholic’ on 9 Feb., when Peel, ‘apparently unmoved’, ignored him and said that in time ‘justice’ would be done to the purity of his and Wellington’s motives. (The episode did hurt Peel, but Jonathan assured him that he had not intentionally set out to wound him.)182 Mrs. Arbuthnot, who was now singing Peel’s praises for acting so ‘handsomely’ by the duke, witnessed his clash with Henry Bankes and Sir Edward Knatchbull, 10 Feb., when he secured leave to introduce a bill to suppress the Catholic Association; like most observers, she thought he had the better of the exchanges. His speech on the bill was essentially moderate, designed, as Hobhouse perceived, to ‘please the Whigs’, and it certainly had this effect on Creevey, who conceded that ‘Peel makes a great figure’. Littleton had concluded that Peel ‘has done himself great honour, and ... should be stoutly supported’; and Lord Sandon* felt that he ‘seems to fight his battle well and deserves infinite credit, though not for the quickness of his view into the seeds of things’.183 Peel presented Oxford University’s anti-Catholic petition, 13 Feb., and insisted to Gascoyne that the situation in Ireland had demanded action, 17 Feb. On 26 Feb. polling began in the University by-election, where Inglis, sustained by the support of country clergymen, beat Peel by 755-609. Ellenborough noted at the close, 28 Feb., that Peel was ‘perfectly indifferent, and ... has shown himself a great man by his equanimity in all that has taken place’.184 He was quickly accommodated at Westbury, where the patron and Member, Sir Manasseh Masseh Lopes, made way for him. Holmes represented him at the formalities, 2 Mar., when there was a demonstration of anti-Catholic anger. He was sworn in next day and gave notice for the 5th of a motion to consider Catholic relief.185 By then the king, who had been worked on by his brother Cumberland, seemed about to throw a spanner into the works by behaving erratically and threatening to withhold his consent. Matters reached a head on 4 Mar., when Wellington, Lyndhurst and Peel were summoned to Windsor, where an unsatisfactory interview took place, in which Peel told George that he would resign if he would not endorse the measure. It was thought at one point that he and his colleagues were out, but the king, influenced by Knighton and the Conynghams, was brought to his senses and the crisis averted at the eleventh hour.186 The four-hour speech in which Peel, addressing a House ‘crammed to suffocation’, moved to go into committee to consider emancipation, 5 Mar., was considered by Ellenborough, Hobhouse and Greville and others as ‘by far the best he has ever made’. He declared that he was yielding to ‘a moral necessity which I cannot control’, but, while he was not especially optimistic about the future prospects of tranquillity in Ireland, he expressed a hope that the measure would at least encourage a more harmonious spirit. Greville thought the speech was ‘full of his never-failing fault, egotism, but certainly very able, plain, and statesmanlike, and the peroration very eloquent’. It was ‘enthusiastically’ received by the Whigs, who liked the simplicity of the plan, and the motion was carried by 188 votes on 6 Mar.187 On the 10th Peel introduced the relief and freeholders bills, which he defended against Brownlow. On the second reading of the relief bill, 18 Mar., he replied to the ‘personal charges and invective’ levelled against him by Sir Charles Wetherell, the attorney-general (who was about to be dismissed) and proved that he had been guilty of a breach of cabinet confidence; ‘he was bursting with passion’, Greville wrote, ‘but restrained himself’. He denied any personal involvement in the ‘inhuman cry’ against Canning and paid tribute to him, Fox, Grattan, Plunket and veteran champions of emancipation. This part of his speech made Lady Bathurst ‘a little sick’, for ‘those prodigious encomiums upon his dear departed friend Canning is [sic] too great humbug’.188 On 19 Mar. he said the freeholders bill would ‘raise up a real, substantial and independent yeomanry in Ireland’. He refused to accept Lord Duncannon’s amendment to make the measure ‘prospective’, 20 Mar., and on the 26th successfully opposed George Moore’s attempts to allow Protestant 40s. freeholders to continue to vote and to raise the qualification to £20. (He privately argued to Londonderry that this would give ‘an undue influence to the town in county elections, and materially diminish the power of the landed aristocracy’.)189 Supporting the third reading of the relief bill, 30 Mar., he stated that ‘it does not always follow that the pilot is bound to steer the same course to guard the ship from danger’, and ended with a quotation from Cicero: ‘Neque enim inconstantis puto’. It was carried by 320-142, to the accompaniment of loud cheering. The freeholders bill was passed later that night. Next day Peel and nearly 100 Members took the relief bill to the Lords. Hobhouse wrote that ‘to see Peel with a Catholic emancipation bill in his hand was not to be conceived within the possibilities of chance, but there he was’.190 There were a few minor difficulties with the Lords and the king, but the measure received royal assent (which Peel described to Croker as its ‘most difficult stage’) on 13 Apr.191 Mrs. Arbuthnot recorded that two days later he was ‘in very good humour ... [and] very happy at the Catholic bill having passed and, I think, disposed if possible to make a junction with the Grey party’.192 Charles Grant thought ‘the effect ... has been to shake all trust in public men and confound all notions of right and wrong’ and reported that ‘the general notion’ was that ‘Peel’s character’ would ‘never recover’.193 Lowther told his father, 24 Mar. 1829, that ‘many people’ believed that Wellington and Peel ‘have contrived to separate themselves from their old and staunch supporters’ and would ‘resign when the bill passes the Lords’.194 The independent Whig Sir Robert Heron* reflected that he had always thought that Peel was ‘really favourable to the question, and that his opposition arose merely from the selfish views and narrow calculations of a feeble mind; but the opponents relied upon him, and his happily timed desertion contributed much to weaken their defence’.195 The young Richard Monckton Milnes† reckoned that his father was ‘too hard on Peel
who, in his miserable lack of genius, has enough of sound sense ... [and] must have perceived that by remaining in place he vacated that stronghold in which he had rested invincible for so long, his ostentatious honesty, his integrity of principle. Now, is it probable he would have thrust himself forward with the poor covering of his own ability into the pelting storm of irritated popular feeling, unless he had believed himself able not only to justify himself to his own heart, but to come forth with good report again before men?196
Brougham was not disposed to blame Peel, as some did, ‘for not giving sufficient thanks to the opposition’, but was ‘a little spleened at both him and others giving the chief part of carrying the question to Canning’. He and Wilson agreed that Peel was ‘far more to be trusted’ than Wellington ‘for liberal courses’.197
Peel warned Hume that he would resist any renewed motion for ‘the spoliation of church property’ in Ireland, 2 Apr. 1829. He acquiesced in Hobhouse’s motion for an inquiry into select vestries, 28 Apr., as a means of checking wasteful expenditure, but dissented from his other allegations against them and call for their abolition in London. In cabinet he raised the ‘difficulties’ in which Britain might be placed by her ‘moral obligation towards the Greeks’ and argued that a select committee on the East India Company, pending renewal of its charter, should be conceded: Ellenborough, president of the India board, thought he was ‘for free trade, and unreasonable towards the Company’. He was against extending the deadline set for abolition of the Brazilian slave trade by six months, because, as Ellenborough saw it, he ‘does not like awkward questions in the House’.198 There on 4 May he agreed with Slaney that the practice of paying wages out of poor rates was pernicious, but recommended a careful approach to the problem. He supported the sluicing of East Retford, 5 May, and opposed the Ultra Lord Blandford’s reform scheme, 2 June, dismissing his argument that free trade had been advanced and Catholic emancipation carried by a corrupt and unrepresentative Commons. He said that any attempt to regulate wages by legislation would do more harm than good to the workers, 7 May. He acquiesced in Hobhouse’s proposal to obtain the names of the owners of cotton factories employing children, 19 May, but asked him not to make it an annual ritual and said that on a recent visit to some Lancashire mills he had been pleased by the good conditions in the larger ones, though he admitted that there were abuses in the smaller. While maintaining in the Commons and in official correspondence his line that legislation could do nothing to relieve distress in the manufacturing districts, and making sure that disorder was not allowed to get out of control (as he explained in the House, 2 June), in the late summer he clandestinely sent home office agents to Lancashire to investigate distress and gave them authority to relieve the worst cases.199 On 15 May he argued that O’Connell was not entitled to be heard in support of his case for taking his seat without swearing the oath of supremacy, but on the 18th he announced that he had changed his mind and proposed that he should be heard at the bar. He subsequently voted against his being allowed to take his seat unimpeded.200 In the aftermath of the Edinburgh Westport murders, he supported the anatomy bill to protect ‘the lower classes of society’, 19 May. Responding to some captious resistance by Hume to the ecclesiastical courts bill, 21 May, he complained:
I have been entirely employed from nine o’clock yesterday morning, and am kept here until three o’clock ... It is too hard upon ... ministers to be thus obstructed by the opposition of one ... Member, and that opposition ... the most vexatious within the memory of the House.
He supported the Maynooth grant next day. When Rae dropped his controversial Scottish gaols bill for the session, 27 May, Peel exhorted Scottish burgh Members to consider its proposals ‘on general principles’ and disregard their constituents’ hostility. Agar Ellis thought his reply to Mackintosh’s motion on Portugal, 1 June, was ‘but a sorry apology for the disgraceful conduct of our government in maltreating the ... refugees’.201 On 4 June he waved aside Attwood’s currency nostrum and denied reports that he had used his influence to procure a large grant of land in New South Wales for one of his brothers, explaining that the recipient was in fact his second cousin Tom, who had been legitimately granted the Swann River holding by the colonial office. On 12 June 1829 he opposed the clamour of the Ultra Sir Richard Vyvyan and others for inquiry into manufacturing distress, arguing that ‘the unequal distribution of wealth’, though an ‘evil’, was `unavoidable’. An outbreak of disorder in Ireland during the marching season and evidence of sectarian bitterness thereafter engaged the attention of the cabinet, where Peel, who sent some troops from Scotland, advocated the creation of an efficient police force, to be paid for by the landowners. In a letter to John Leslie Foster* he suggested the possibility of setting up an Irish education board to supervise national education and ways in which the religious schism might be got over in teaching; but Foster’s reply was not encouraging. At least by the end of the year the country, apart from Tipperary, was more or less tranquil.202
In the summer of 1829 Brougham, on the northern circuit, noted the undiminished ‘fury’ of ‘the provincial Ultras’ with Peel; and in parliamentary circles Vyvyan, Knatchbull and the disaffected Ultras were fantasizing about coalition ministries with Whigs and Huskissonites.203 Peel, buoyed by the initial success of his new police, was full of ‘pride, pomp and ceremony’ at Drayton in mid-October, according to General Dyott.204 Despite the ministry’s obvious weakness in debating talent and, given the fractured state of parties, potentially in numbers in the Commons, Wellington made no move to strengthen or broaden it. Tom Grenville† mused in September that perhaps the duke was ‘so well satisfied with his House of Lords that he will leave Peel to shift for himself with his Commons in the same unsatisfactory manner which distinguished the last session’; and in late December Abercromby (the beneficiary the following month of act of ‘rare generosity towards a political opponent’ by Peel, who recommended his appointment as lord chief baron of the exchequer) surmised that Peel, ‘the person most concerned in that matter ... must have changed his nature as well as his conduct on the Catholic question if he is [indifferent] in respect of maintaining a single-handed war against all against the host of assailants who may attack him’.205 The illness of his friend and ‘bottle-holder’ William Vesey Fitzgerald, which forced him to resign as head of the board of trade before Parliament met, was seen, especially in Whig circles, as a ‘great loss’ to Peel, who seemed now to be ‘nearly alone’ on the government front bench. (But according to Mrs. Arbuthnot, Vesey Fitzgerald had complained in October of ‘Peel’s coldness and bad management and said it was impossible to get on unless some of the speakers on the other side were brought upon the treasury bench’.)206 Yet neither Wellington nor Peel, who a week before Parliament met told Ellenborough that he had ‘apprehensions’ about ‘the state of the country’ and that ‘the authority of the duke alone kept things quiet’, seemed unduly worried.207 On 4 Feb. 1830 he opposed Knatchbull’s amendment to the address condemning the omission of any reference to distress in the king’s speech, defended ministerial foreign policy and said ‘rash experiments with the currency’ would do no good. Mrs. Arbuthnot, deploring the small majority, wrote the first of many denunciations of Peel’s management deficiencies with which she punctuated her commentary on the session:
The mode he has ... will never do. He is always complaining that nobody speaks and that the whole weight falls upon him and, sure enough, not one man in office uttered a word except a few sentences from ... Goulburn. And why is this? Because ... Peel’s system is to place confidence in no one. He will not let the official men know what the intentions of government are; they therefore cannot speak with safety and, if one does speak and says anything the least indiscreet, instead of backing and encouraging them he leaves them in the lurch to the tender mercies of the opposition and rather takes part against them. The consequence is, those who can speak won’t and those young men who might be inclined to try, dare not.208
Ellenborough thought the tone he adopted when stalling on the question of his embarrassing leaked letter to Sir John Malcolm*, 5 Feb., was ‘too apologetical’, and after discussions with him and the chairs of the East India Company concluded that he ‘did not seem to have looked much into the subject’.209 Holland reckoned he had spoken ‘with his usual mediocrity’ in the opening days, but Lady Granville felt that ‘if Peel is not alarmed and does not refuse to wade through the dirt of the session’ the ministry would survive.210 He secured the appointment of the East India Company select committee, 9 Feb., and tried to dispel suspicions that it would produce a whitewash. After supporting the sluicing of East Retford, 11 Feb., he expressed a hope that ‘I shall not hear the name of this borough again’. He successfully defended the 1819 currency settlement against Graham’s attack, 12 Feb., when his hint that ministers would dissolve if defeated seemed to Ellenborough to ‘have had a good effect’, though Lord Durham (Lambton) commented that it ‘affected no one as it is quite notorious ... [they] would lose in that event’.211 Even Mrs. Arbuthnot liked his speech against Hume’s motion for tax reductions and a return to 1797 salary levels, 15 Feb., when he ‘alluded strongly to the factious opposition of the Ultra Tories caused by his conduct on the Catholic question’, for which he did not repent. Abercromby commented that the treasury bench in the Commons was ‘Peel, and Peel alone, without even a decent second’. He interpreted the speech as an indication that ministers wished to court the Whigs without admitting them to high office. Holland now conceded that Peel, ‘left as he is entirely to himself ... improves in spirit and speaking’.212 On 18 Feb. he opposed Blandford’s reform scheme, stating that he would never be a party to such a ‘wholesale depreciation of the elective franchise’. Yet after he had opposed Russell’s motion for the enfranchisement of Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester and Sandon’s amendment to commit the House to the principle of transferring the franchise from corrupt boroughs to large towns, 23 Feb., Littleton thought he saw in his display ‘the germ of another Catholic question’:
Peel, who has always been shy of committing himself on reform, was remarkably temperate, and said nothing that will make it dishonourable in him to take another line hereafter. My firm belief is that if he were prime minister, you would see a reform carried by him, and grounded on a basis that would disarm, for a century at least, any attempt on the part of the country for more extensive change.
Mrs. Arbuthnot, too, thought he ‘does not oppose reform ... with any sort of energy’.213 In reply to Gascoyne’s explanation that he had withdrawn his support from the government because of its espousal of free trade doctrines and concession of emancipation, 23 Feb., Peel said that ‘a minister should neither make himself the tool of a party, nor ... by courting popular applause, too much lose sight of the interests of the country’. He opposed inquiry into the duke of Newcastle’s eviction of recalcitrant tenant electors at Newark, maintaining that ‘property ... should always enjoy an influence in this House’, 1 Mar. He again supported the sluicing of East Retford, 5 Mar., when he opposed O’Connell’s motion for adoption of the secret ballot. He endorsed the ministerial amendment to Newport’s motion for a commission on the Irish church and dismissed the ‘impudent sarcasms’ of the Ultra Trant, 4 Mar. Having told Ellenborough that he was ‘disposed to take a high tone, and thinks men will follow him better when he does than when he temporises’, he opposed Stewart’s motion for information on the board of control’s alleged interference with the Bombay judicature, 8 Mar.214 He spoke against Palmerston’s motion for information on relations with Portugal, 10 Mar. Agar Ellis thought he ‘made a dextrous speech, but his case is so bad a one, that it was uphill work for him’, but Grey reckoned that he had ‘made rather a good case for himself against his old colleagues’.215 He conceded the appointment of a select committee on the Irish poor to Spring Rice, 11 Mar., but declared his opposition to the introduction of English poor laws. On 12 Mar., ‘excited more than usual’, as Hobhouse recalled, he dismissed the opposition motion attacking the recent appointment of a treasurer of the navy as ‘a proposition to visit with condemnation and censure those by whom this appointment was made’. He was particularly effective in criticizing Huskisson (who had once held the office), and Grey thought he ‘had much the best of it’. Mrs. Arbuthnot wrote that his speech was ‘so excellent that many voted with us who intended to be against us, and we carried our question by above two to one’:
Holmes and ... Hardinge told me it was quite astonishing how much ... Peel improved in speaking and in his management of the House, and ... if he went on in the spirited way he has done ... we should soon have a good stout party. It is a pity he makes himself so unpopular, for he can be very agreeable when he likes it, and he is really very good and amiable, but his manners are quite odious. He asks immense parties of the ... Commons to dinner every week and treats them so de haut en bas and is so haughty and silent that they come away swearing they will never go to his house again, so that his civilities do him harm rather than otherwise.216
Peel, who opposed Hume’s motion for army reductions and forced him to explain his ‘wild and senseless’ encouragement of resistance by force to excessive expenditure, 22 Feb., was very keen on the adoption of a ‘modified property tax’ to enable the government to reduce the burden of taxation ‘on the industry and the comforts of the labouring poor’. He argued his case in cabinet, saying that he wished to ‘reach such men as Baring, his father, Rothschild and others, as well as absentees and Ireland’, but ‘most fairly’, in Ellenborough’s words, accepted his colleagues’ majority opinion against the proposal.217 He announced this to the House, 19 Mar., when opposing Davenport’s motion for inquiry into the state of the nation. Like Herries, he believed that the Commons was ‘in favour of an income tax’ and that there must be one next year, and Ellenborough thought he ‘rather unwillingly’ agreed in cabinet, 24 Mar., to oppose Poulett Thomson’s motion for inquiry into a revision of taxation the following day.218 He did so forcefully enough, securing a majority of 167-78. He said that the Bathurst and Dundas pensions were ‘not a job got up for the purpose of serving the sons of cabinet ministers’, 26 Mar., but the case was a poor one, and ministers were placed in a minority of 18 against their abolition. He endorsed the ministerial Scottish judicature bill, 1 Apr., and next day answered Russell’s questions about Greece. Three days later John Allen commented to Charles Fox that in Brougham’s absence on the circuit Peel ‘has been gaining ground ... and having no one to support him and no very formidable rival to oppose him has put forth his strength and acquired apparently more confidence in himself than he ever possessed before’.219 Arbuthnot told Lord Cowley that although he had ‘had terrible difficulties to encounter’, Peel had ‘done a great deal better this session then he ever did before, and he has risen amazingly in public estimation’.220 His father was dying at Drayton, and Peel visited him in the first week of April, so missing the debate and division on Robert Grant’s motion for leave to introduce a Jewish emancipation bill, which was unexpectedly carried by 18 votes.221 He opposed O’Connell’s motion for a bill to allow Irish Catholics to vote on church rates at vestry meetings, 27 Apr. He defended the conduct of the government on the Terciera incident, taken so that ‘we may not be fooled, gulled, bullied, cheated, deceived into hostilities’, 28 Apr. On 3 May 1830 he was summoned urgently to Drayton, but he arrived at midnight to find that his father had died a few hours earlier. By his father’s will he inherited all the entailed estates in Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Lancashire, and a very handsome fortune.222
During his absence Croker wrote that the government had been left ‘not only without a general to lead us’ in the Commons, but even without one fighting man; for he is himself our host’:
I am quite aware of the extreme difficulty of going on in the ... Commons without help, but I much doubt whether Peel wishes for any ... I do not think he will change that feeling - for such it is, rather than an opinion - till he shall begin to feel the personal pressure of adverse debate. He has not yet been attacked, and his single speech has every night, supported the whole debate on our side.223
A month earlier Hardinge, who complained that Peel was ‘cold and never encourages anyone’ (a refrain later echoed by John Stuart Wortley*), had suggested to Ellenborough that Wellington would not ‘remain in office above a year more, and that Peel will then be minister’. On 9 May Wellington, according to Mrs. Arbuthnot
repeated more positively than ... ever ... his determination to quit office. He said that ... Peel complained that he could not go on in the House of Commons with the government constituted as it is, that not one of the ministers says a word ... and that he must have more assistance. The duke says that ... every office in the ... Commons has been filled by Peel himself, that he says himself he cannot join with Lord Grey and that, if he looks to the Huskisson party, which he suspects, he, the duke, cannot and will not be a party to such a junction ... He said he had not the proper weight and influence that, as head of the government, he ought to have, that the members of the cabinet had no respect or deference for him; that, if he gave an opinion, it was unattended to, whereas anything ... Peel said was immediately considered as law.
She claimed that Wellington ‘was determined to write to Peel in a few days and resign the government into his hands’; she implored him not to do so. The duke did agree not to resign, but he composed a memorandum suggesting that Peel was better equipped and placed than himself to form a strong government. He seems not to have sent it to Peel, who must, however, have been aware of such speculation in Tory circles.224
He made his first appearance in the House as a baronet on 17 May 1830, when he said that Birmingham was not, as Davenport would have it, in a ‘state of extreme suffering and depression’ and opposed the second reading of the Jewish disabilities removal bill, which was thrown out by 228-165. Brougham claimed that Peel’s speech was ‘as great a failure as could be’ and was cheered by ‘only a few hacks’.225 On 24 May (when Mrs. Arbuthnot wrote that he had resumed business ‘as usual, sour and dissatisfied’, and that he was blatantly courting ‘the Liberals’) he gave what Agar Ellis considered a ‘shuffling’ reply to Russell’s question about the resignation of Prince Leopold.226 He spoke against Labouchere’s resolutions on Canada, 25 May, and defended the sending of troops to Rye to restore order, 27 May. On the 28th he argued that O’Connell’s plan for the adoption of the ballot and universal suffrage would ‘overthrow every valuable institution’ and, opposing Russell’s more moderate reform scheme, insisted that ‘the popular voice’ was able to exert its ‘due and legitimate influence’ in the House as things stood. He opposed inquiry into the divorce laws, 3 June, Attwood’s currency reform motion, 8 June, repeal of the Irish Vestry Acts, 10 June, and reductions in the colonial estimates, 14, 15 June. After a cabinet dinner next day he spoke to Ellenborough
with much ennui of his position in the Commons ... that it really was not worth any man’s while to be there for so many hours every night. The sacrifice was too great. He said the radicals had brought the House into such a state that no man could do business but themselves. He seemed not well, and thoroughly out of humour.
This was partly a reaction to the success of Mackintosh’s amendment to his forgery punishment bill on 7 June: John Campbell II* reported that ‘Peel declares himself so disgusted with the House of Commons, that it is doubtful whether he will sit there again’.227 He opposed and defeated by 182-144 Huskisson’s motion for a reduction in the sugar duties, 21 June, but privately was not certain that the ministerial arrangements would answer; they were in fact abandoned.228 He supported Littleton’s truck abolition bill, 23 June. At the swearing in of Members after the death of the king, 28 June, he wore ‘the Windsor uniform’, in which Tom Macaulay* likened him to ‘a good boy’s beau ideal of human happiness, the reward of doing as you are bid and shutting the door after you’.229 He favoured making provision for a regency and prolonging the session, but was overruled in cabinet. Ellenborough recorded that he was ‘put out of humour’ by this: ‘He sees all the difficulties of our position, and does not meet them with energy and élan. He certainly is not an agreeable person to transact business with, but he is a very able man’. When Ellenborough went with Lord Rosslyn to show Peel the Lords’ address on the king’s death, 29 June, he ‘hardly looked up’ from his reading, ‘hardly took any notice of us or it’ and ‘seemed really ill, and quite broken down’.230 Later that day he presented William IV’s message about the death of his brother and the dissolution. Ellenborough had alerted Wellington to his apparent illness, but the duke merely observed that Peel ‘did not like the position he stood in in the House’ and that ‘no government was ever beaten by its enemies, but many have been by their friends’.231 He moved the address in answer to the message next day and explained what legislation would be persevered with. An inebriated Brougham denounced ministers as the ‘fawning parasites’ of Wellington, for which Peel demanded an explanation. Brougham blustered, but, according to Hobhouse, Peel, who physically prevented Hardinge from creating a scene, ‘with infinite skill and coolness said he had no doubt that Brougham did not allude to him’, suggested what he had really meant to say and brought the episode to a close; he was generally thought to have humiliated Brougham.232 He defended various grants, including the one for Windsor Castle, 2 July. On 6 July he opposed Robert Grant’s motion on the regency, which was crushed by 247-93.233 He got rid of Hume’s attempt to reduce judges’ salaries, 7 July, and on 13 July 1830 told Lord Killeen that there would be no advance of money to relieve Irish distress and successfully opposed as too binding Brougham’s bid to pledge the House to consider the immediate abolition of slavery in the next session.234
At the beginning of July Stuart Wortley and Hardinge told Ellenborough that ‘there must be a change’ in the Commons, where Peel was in desperate need of support. Hardinge, who ‘talked again of making Peel first lord of the treasury and chancellor’, had spoken to Wellington on the matter, and the following day Arbuthnot, presumably at Wellington’s behest, wrote to Peel of Wellington’s ‘admiration of the great efforts and display which you have made’ and wish to ‘consult ... your wishes alone in all that relates to the ... Commons’:
You will gratify him ... beyond all measure if you will state to him fully and most openly what your feelings are upon the subject. That strength must be obtained for you in the ... Commons part of the cabinet is necessary, not only for your own comfort and relief, but also to enable you to protect the king ... You have done wonders, but impossibilities cannot be expected of you ... I know very well that the duke is now holding the government with a strong feeling that it should come hereafter into your hands, and that he has a deep sense of what he owes to you for your immense exertions.235
According to Mrs. Arbuthnot, when she and her husband raised the problem with the duke on 14 July, he
put himself into a furious passion, said he would not meet ... Peel about it for that it was all his own fault and his own bad management and that, if he turned these people out and took whoever ... Peel chose, he should have him coming in a fortnight’s time with exactly the same complaints ... I said all that he complained of in ... Peel was perfectly true; but ... that now he positively had cause; that the whole of this session the treasury bench in the ... Commons had been a disgrace ... The duke said he knew it would never do till he retired and Peel had the head. I [said] he was really talking rank nonsense, for ... he knew perfectly well Peel could not go on a day without him. He has no party in the country and, in spite of his talents, is the most unpopular man in it.
Wellington, who had seemingly given up his intention of handing over the reins to Peel, mellowed subsequently, and on 16 July talked to Arbuthnot and Peel about the situation. Mrs. Arbuthnot wrote:
They seem to have settled to do nothing at present. Peel said ... Palmerston, who we have had a sort of intimation would be glad to return, would be too discreditable and unsafe ... It is curious ... considering the sacrifices the duke made to please Peel in forming the government to have men who could speak, to find that literally nobody utters except himself ... but ... if Peel knew how to encourage, the official people would inform them and make them speak ... but he won’t ... I am persuaded that he has a strong feeling of jealousy about anyone approaching him in speaking.236
She condemned Peel as ‘a nasty sour-tempered creature’ when he failed to thank Wellington for reinstating Wilson in the army ‘to please him’.237 He turned down an offer of ‘a quiet seat ... without trouble or expense’ from the duke of Northumberland, having already arranged to replace his brother William at Tamworth. He dissociated himself from the action of some of William’s supporters in starting him in the hope of turning out the Whig Townshend, with whom he was returned unopposed. On the hustings he defended the concession of Catholic emancipation.238 He felt partly responsible for the defeats of his brothers Edmund and Jonathan at Newcastle-under Lyme and Norwich, which intensified his dissatisfaction and ill humour; and Hardinge got the impression in early September 1830 that he was ‘much depressed’ and ‘vigilantly looking out for an honourable pretence to withdraw’.239
According to Dyott, Peel at Drayton in mid-August said ‘how joyously he looked forward to becoming settled as a country gentleman’. He observed in Brougham’s return for Yorkshire a sign that ‘the lawyers were getting the upper hand in the ... Commons by frightening the country gentlemen, bullying the government, and paid by the commercial and monied interest’. He considered it ‘most unexpected and unaccountable’; but ‘what he thought equally so was the outrageous conduct of the deputation from the Birmingham Political Union in their daring attempt to overawe the nomination ... at Warwick’.240 He felt ‘most strongly’ that the exiled French king should be allowed to stay in England as a political refugee, but not ‘if intrigues were allowed by him’. In mid-August he advocated the immediate recognition of Louis Philippe as the surest way of helping to stabilize the new regime and avert war. Six weeks later, at a cabinet meeting on the Belgian crisis, the Dutch king having asked his allies to join in crushing the revolt, he argued that the foreign secretary Lord Aberdeen’s draft letter to the British ambassador in Paris was a virtual invitation to use force, and suggested changes to make it more anodyne. He produced next day a superior version, which was duly adopted.241 As analyses of the election returns indicated the potential weakness of the ministry in a fragmented Commons, Peel, having been sounded by Arbuthnot on Wellington’s behalf, agreed that it was necessary to consider how they could strengthen themselves, preferably through a junction with the Huskissonites. Like Wellington and Huskisson, he attended the opening ceremony of the Liverpool and Manchester railway, 15 Sept., partly with a view to opening negotiations. He witnessed Huskisson’s fatal accident, which put things on hold.242 In some respects, however, it removed an obstacle, and, again prompted by Arbuthnot, Peel on 22 Sept. hosted at Drayton (a ‘frightful’ house, Mrs. Arbuthnot thought) the prearranged conference with him, Wellington, Aberdeen, Goulburn and Holmes to discuss their options. They decided to make an initial approach to Palmerston alone, offering him the colonial secretaryship. Palmerston indicated that he could not singly join the government as it stood, implying that places must be found for Charles Grant, Lord Melbourne and others. Wellington suggested to Peel that Herries, master of the mint, might be asked to step aside, but Peel, who valued Herries’s financial expertise, successfully resisted this, and the negotiation stalled in the second week of October.243 By then Peel had declined an invitation from some Liverpool Tories to stand there in Huskisson’s room.244 Towards the end of the month Greville had some talk with Arbuthnot, who lamented that there was ‘nothing like intimate confidence’ between Peel and Wellington and criticized Peel’s ‘indisposition to encourage other men in the ... Commons’. When Wellington decided to make another approach to Palmerston at the end of October, Peel, who seemed to Arbuthnot to be ‘in good heart and spirits’, was not keen on the recruitment of the idle Grant, and wanted Robert Wilmot Horton* to be brought in. The negotiation foundered, 30 Oct. 1830, when Peel agreed perfectly with the duke that ... we must make up our minds to fight the battle as we are’.245
In cabinet, 25 Oct. 1830, Peel read letters from magistrates and manufacturers of Manchester which gave ‘an alarming account’ of the state of the area, where colliers were on strike and mills had been stopped. Anxious to avoid a spread of conflict and unsure of the adequacy of the local military force, he counselled non-resistance by the authorities. The ‘Swing’ disturbances in the southern agricultural districts prompted Peel, who believed that they were ‘in many cases perpetrated for stock-jobbing purposes’, to send police officers and troops to the worst affected area and place General Dalbiac in overall command.246 On 31 Oct. he proposed the insertion in the king’s speech of ‘a paragraph referring to the disturbed state of the country’, which he concocted next day: it declared determination to punish sedition and expressed ‘a firm reliance on the loyalty of the great body of the people’.247 On the address, 2 Nov., he denied that the speech had ‘charged the people with disaffection’; admitted that there was local distress, but said that people were ‘not in a starving condition’; defended the ministry’s foreign and Irish policy, and declared that repeal of the Union would be lunacy. Agar Ellis reckoned that he ‘spoke feebly’, but Ellenborough wrote that he was ‘very much cheered’. Next day he accused Hume of trying to ‘dictate to me the manner in which I ought to transact the business ... [of] my department’ and, at the Speaker’s behest, recommended that in future upstairs committees should meet at eleven o’clock rather than noon and the House assemble at three rather than four, in order to expedite public business. After a cabinet dinner that day he voiced his disgust at the failure of any other minister to back him up on the address.248 Campbell, remarking on ‘the degraded state of the House of Commons’, where Peel was ‘quite a second-rate performer and his colleagues ... much below mediocrity’, understood that he and Wellington were ‘both desirous of retiring’; but Peel himself a year later dismissed as a fiction the story related by Croker, who had it from Arbuthnot, that he had told the duke in November 1830 of ‘his fixed determination not to continue in office beyond the approaching Christmas’.249 After Wellington’s declaration in the Lords against all reform, 2 Nov., Peel next day told the Commons that while he thought a ‘moderate’ scheme might be introduced ‘with advantage’, he could ‘not see the bounds to which the limitation is to be fixed’ and there was therefore ‘little prospect of the adoption of any such system of reform as I could consider safe’. Mrs. Arbuthnot commented that Wellington opposed reform because he ‘honestly’ feared it, whereas Peel did so ‘from feeling that he would be thought shabby if he lent himself again to a measure he had hitherto opposed’.250 On 5 Nov. Peel told Kenyon that he had no intention of appointing an inquiry into agricultural distress and crossed swords with Hume, to whose rant for tax reductions he retorted that Hume had ‘the vulgar opinion of the motives of public men ... that they are influenced only by a desire of emolument, and that they are utterly regardless of the interests of the public’. He also reproved Hume for using ‘expressions which may tend to inflame and excite the minds of the misguided people to whom he alludes, when he has characterized the whole population of England as being a people in a starving condition’ and spoken of ‘the day of vengeance’. Reports from the City authorities that the traditional lord mayor’s day dinner for the king and his ministers, 9 Nov., would probably see major disorder prompted Wellington and Peel (who had both received death threats) to cancel the visit. In the House, 8 Nov., Peel, ‘looking very pale’, explained and defended this decision. Ellenborough heard that he ‘did admirably’, but Hobhouse recalled that ‘the excuse was very ill received’.251 Peel stayed at the home office until midnight on the 9th to oversee the precautions and counter measures against disorder.252 Next day he responded tartly to Brougham’s complaint that he had not been in his place at three o’clock, but he acquiesced in the introduction of Brougham’s bill to establish courts of local jurisdiction. On 9 Nov. he told Ellenborough that the terms of Brougham’s pending reform motion ‘did not signify’, for it was a question of ‘reform, or no reform’, and ‘he never would undertake the question’; and in cabinet the following day he reported that he had told the vacillating king that ‘by opposing all reform in the first instance the government would be able to make better terms afterwards’.253 He was for opposing Parnell’s motion for inquiry into the civil list, and did so on 12 Nov. In cabinet on 14 Nov., according to Ellenborough
he said he was satisfied that, whatever might be the division on reform, the question was carried ... If the county Members did [vote for it], and it was thrown out by the representatives of Scotch and English boroughs, it was impossible to stand much longer ... I cannot understand his reasoning; if he thinks reform must be carried, surely it is better to vote a general resolution, and to fight the details. By objecting to the general resolution, we shall probably be turned out ... It seems to me that obstinacy, and the fear of being again accused of ratting, lead to this determination to resist when resistance is, in his own opinion, fruitless.254
On 15 Nov. Peel assured Holme Sumner that he was spending at least four hours every day trying to identify and bring to justice the perpetrators of the ‘abominable’ rural riots, and had a tetchy exchange with Hume, whom he again accused of inciting disaffection. After the ministerial defeat on the civil list by 233-204 (which Le Marchant believed he had considered ‘absolutely impossible’) he remained silent when Hobhouse asked him if he and his colleagues intended to remain in office.255 In talks with Wellington, he agreed that it was better to go out immediately rather than meet Brougham’s reform motion, and on the 16th they and the other leading ministers put their resignations into the king’s hands. That afternoon, as Hobhouse remembered, Peel entered the House, ‘looking very pale indeed, and talked with the Speaker’ before announcing the resignations in a matter of fact way.256
Peel, ‘completely broke down’, as Mrs. Arbuthnot saw it, ‘by the fatigue and wear of mind consequent upon having no help’ in the Commons for so long, was ‘delighted at having so good an opportunity for resigning’.257 He told Henry Hobhouse that
it was much better that ... this should happen than that we should continue to administer the government in difficult times without the requisite support. I personally could not have long continued to discharge the rapidly increasing duties of the home office and the business of the ... Commons. Our own party saw no injustice in requiring the same persons who did the effective business of the government should also do the mere drudgery of attendance in the House ... and remain three or four hours every night with a miserable attendance. Four cabinet ministers have sons in the Commons ... But on the night which terminated the official existence of their fathers, not one ... voted ... Can I personally regret the end of such a government?258
Greville perceived that Peel, with his ‘youth (for a public man), experience, and real capacity for business’, could afford to ‘form his own plans and avail himself of circumstances’.259 On 22 Nov. he and his former colleagues took their seats on the opposition benches, from where he insisted that during the ‘Swing’ disturbances ‘every species of civil, military and legal aid’ had been ‘promptly despatched to the local magistracy’.260 At meetings soon after his resignation he had, according to Hardinge, given ‘a damping answer’ to request that he should take the lead in opposition. Croker elaborated:
He announced that he meant to retire into private life, to give no opposition and not to lead the party - in short, to be his own unfettered man. We did not much like that ... However, on this reaching the duke, he has announced that he means to keep the party together. This, I hope, will warm the cold caution of Peel into some degree of party heat; but if he won’t lead us, there are others who will ... make the attempt.
In truth, the Tories could not do without Peel; and Ellenborough assured Hardinge that he would ‘be in opposition in a fortnight, as soon as he recovered his health and his spirits’.261 A week after his resignation his brother William reported that he ‘thinks an attentive opposition desirable, and will not desert those who have looked up to and supported him’; and Croker found him ‘much more cordial and zealous’ than at first.262 At a meeting with Wellington, Aberdeen, Ellenborough and others, 27 Nov., he explained that his
great fear was that we should not be able to keep them in. He had little doubt of being able to turn them out. He wished them to disembarrass us from the question of reform. He said he would make no declaration, but his wish was never to be obliged to come into office again. The fear was they should dissolve ... which would bring on the most imminent danger of revolution in England and rebellion in Ireland.
A month later Thomas Gladstone* heard that Peel’s ‘private opinion is that the revolution is not very far distant’.263 He favoured inquiry into the state of the disturbed rural districts, 6 Dec., and opposed the subsidization of Irish public works, 9 Dec. He was named to the select committee on the reduction of salaries, 9 Dec., but said next day that he would rather give evidence to than sit on it. He welcomed Littleton’s bill to abolish truck payments, 13, 14 Dec. On 13 Dec. he warned abolitionists in the House against exciting among colonial slaves ‘expectations of speedy benefits which it will not be in our power to confer’; Gladstone told his father, a slave owner, that he was ‘much pleased with Peel’s speech last night. He is the best speaker I have yet heard in the House’.264 On 16 Dec. he ‘carried the feeling of the House with him completely’ on the suspension of the Evesham writ, on which ministers dithered. This, thought Greville, ‘proved that he has more consideration out of office than any of the ministers, and much more than he ever had when he was in. Men are looking more and more to him, and if there is not a revolution he will assuredly be prime minister’. Lyndhurst agreed, but confirmed that Peel’s relations with Wellington, whose ‘little cabinet (the women and toad eaters) hate’ him, were strained and that there had never been ‘any real cordiality between them’. Russell dismissed the episode as ‘a sham fight, which does not signify one farthing’.265 On 20 Dec. 1830 Peel intervened in a row provoked by Dawson’s ‘injudicious’ attack on the Irish appointments to deplore retrospective attacks on the Wellington ministry for their supposed indifference to distress and lecture their successors to the effect that they would soon find that ‘they have been too precipitate in pledging themselves to effect reforms and retrenchments which they will find themselves unable fully to realize’. At the same time, he professed general moderation, welcomed the government’s determination to uphold the Union and, as John Hobhouse thought, ‘spoke equivocally of the conduct of the French’. His remarks on the ‘covert design’ of some sections of the press ‘to degrade and lower all the constituted authorities’ and ‘subject this country to ... the tyranny of an ungovernable mob’ provoked a heated exchange with Hume. Hobhouse considered it ‘a strange speech, half reproving his friends for indiscreet attacks on the new ministry and half attacking those ministers’. Tories were generally pleased with it, but Lord Carlisle, a member of the ministry, heard that it was ‘too self-denying for some of his eager friends’. Russell condemned him in private as ‘a most atrocious fellow’.266 Holland, however, took Peel seriously, as he told the Irish viceroy Lord Anglesey, 3 Jan. 1831:
The conduct of Peel is so judicious and skilful that I am not sure it does not suppose something formidable behind. It is implied if not asserted that his line is distinct from Wellington’s. He does not mean to oppose reform but to propose some more moderate plan of his own and many of his partisans affect to be confident of carrying it and thereby forcing the present ministers to resign or dissolve.267
The latter speculation was well wide of the mark.
Peel went to Drayton for Christmas and kept out of the activities of the party veterans who sought to organize for opposition and promote the Tory cause in the press. He poured cold water on the second project, prompting Herries to recommend to his coadjutors a suspension of ‘all operations whatever until we have carefully reconsidered the subject’. Croker wished he ‘would lead us with vigour and firmness’.268 In January 1831 he entertained Charles Ross*, Sir George Clerk*, Croker, Murray, Herries and Holmes at Drayton, where he was having a new house built, but he resisted Croker’s attempt to ‘pledge himself, like the duke, against all parliamentary reform’: ‘though he will oppose anything, he will pledge to nothing’, and ‘said, good humouredly, that he was sick with eating pledges’. At the end of the month, when he declined to attend a party meeting at Statfield Saye, pleading ‘his wife’s illness and business with his architect and gardener’, Croker, who thought he ‘would not venture to what would look like a political reunion’, treated Ellenborough to a bitter outburst about Peel’s
wish to remain alone, unconnected with others, of his selfishness, etc. He exaggerated a good deal, but still there was a fond of truth. In fact Peel does think chiefly of himself, and has not the manner or the character to become a popular leader of a party.269
Herries, who had ‘made no impression on him with respect to the press’, reported to Mrs. Arbuthnot, 26 Jan. 1831, that Peel was ‘much as usual, extremely circumspect in all that he says and does’, but was ‘acting very imperfectly the character of a country gentleman indifferent to office and politics’. (Peel `made himself very agreeable’ as the host of a party of neighbouring squires five days later.)270 Herries believed that he was
much more hearty in the anti-ministerial cause than he acknowledges to others or even avows to himself ... I think he is very well disposed, and will pursue a firm and prudent line in the ensuing session. He is more of an anti-reformer than I expected to find him. But he must cultivate his party with more warmth or he will lose it. The younger Tories will not cling to a cold and over cautious leader; the less so, to one who is suspected, more than he ought to be, of an inclination towards liberalism.271
Peel’s failure to attend the opening day of the new session, 3 Feb. 1831, put a ‘damp’ on the Tory activists,272 but his subsequent performances considerably raised his stock in the House. On 8 Feb. he declared his determination to ‘support the king’s government in every extremity of preserving inviolate the Union’; Lord Camden notified him of the king’s approval.273 The leaked news of the ministerial budget made him, according to Ellenborough, ‘most indignant’, so that he ‘now speaks of this revolutionary ministry. He was walking with Holmes before the debate and made himself so hot by his excitement that he was obliged to change his clothes before he went to the House’, 11 Feb. There he looked ‘as black as thunder’ before speaking.274 He welcomed the proposed repeal of the duty on seaborne coals, but criticized that on steamboat passengers and urged Althorp to drop the controversial tax on transfers of funded property, which was ‘at variance with public honour, public morals and sound policy’. He had his wish, but on 28 Feb. he regretted the decision to tax raw cotton rather than printed calico. On 18 Feb., supporting the army estimates, he made what Ellenborough deemed ‘a capital speech’ on economy and retrenchment, extolling the Wellington administration’s record, observing that the new ministers were becoming increasingly aware of the difficulty of fulfilling promises and exhorting them not to be goaded by the taunts of radicals into going too far on reform. Smith Stanley, the Irish secretary, admitted privately that Peel had spoken ‘very well’, though in truth ‘too well’, by ‘showing at the same time, not saying, that the moment he was a little less frightened about the prospects of the country, we should have in him a formidable and dangerous opponent’. Gladstone commented that ‘the more I see of Peel, the more I regret that he is not leading the House with efficient fecklers. He seems to me to stand alone for the combination of leader’s points’. When Ellenborough, who suspected that the removal of Brougham from the Commons had given Peel ‘a feeling of security’, so that he ‘speaks better’ and was ‘now pre-eminent there’, congratulated him on the speech, it ‘thawed him and he spoke glowingly of the debate’.275 When Lord Chandos’s motion for reduction of the sugar duties threatened to leave ministers in a minority on ‘a question of public credit’, which would have precipitated a resignation crisis, 21 Feb., Peel baled them out by persuading Chandos to withdraw.276 On 28 Feb. he presented without comment two petitions for Scottish and general reform. Gladstone told his father, 1 Mar., that Peel had ‘risen in the estimation of the House. Opposition has brought him out, and he has acted with temper and moderation’.277 Ellenborough noted that Lord Dacre ‘admitted that Peel had been rising greatly’ and that ‘a government might go on under him’. Hardinge also thought ‘a better government could be formed under Peel than under the duke, but he wishes the duke to be restored for the session and then give up to Peel’; but Ellenborough believed that
Peel would succeed best in the present state of public affairs. Hardinge thinks Peel keeps himself rather aloof from the duke, that he knows no ministry can be formed without him, and feels indignant at the conduct of the Ultra Tories and resolved to make them come on their knees to him.278
The exultation of the opposition is unbounded, and Peel plays with his power in the House, only not putting it forth because it does not suit his convenience; but he does what he likes, and it is evident that the very existence of the government depends upon his pleasure. His game, however, is to display candour and moderation, and rather to protect them than not, so he defends many of their measures and restrains the fierce animosity of his friends, but with a sort of sarcastic civility, which, while it is put forth in their defence, is always done in such a manner as shall best exhibit his own authority and contempt for their persons individually. While he upholds the government, he does all he can to bring each member of it into contempt, and there they are, helpless and confused, writhing under his lash and their own impotence.279
The tables were about to be turned.
At a meeting of Commons Tories at Peel’s house, 20 Feb. 1831, and of commoners and peers at Apsley House a week later, it was decided not to oppose the introduction of the ministerial reform scheme.280 When its sweeping and shocking scope was revealed by Russell, 1 Mar., Peel sat silent amid the uproar, but according to Hobhouse ‘looked serious and angry, as if he had discovered that the ministers, by the boldness of their measure, had secured the support of the country’. Le Marchant claimed in retrospect that Peel ‘sat pale and forlorn, utterly at a loss how to act. His countenance at times looked convulsed. The workings within him were evidently beyond his control. He was completely mastered’.281 Yet the argument that Peel was paralyzed and missed the chance of defeating reform by dividing the House against the proposal is nonsense.282 At the close of the debate he sought confirmation from Russell that the proposed uniform £10 householder borough franchise meant that scot and lot voters were to be disfranchised after the expiration of current lives. There was intense speculation about his response to the scheme, which some thought would determine its fate.283 He spoke on 3 Mar., following Palmerston, the foreign secretary, a reluctant reformer. He declared his opposition to the scheme in limine, deploying the customary arguments in defence of the existing system, but asserted that as a private individual he would have been willing to support ‘certain alterations ... founded on safe principles’. He accused ministers of practising ‘vulgar arts of government’ by starting an auction for popular support in which they would eventually be outbid by others more radical still, and said that by bringing forward the proposals at a time of national excitement they had ‘lighted three hundred brands, and scattered through the country discord and dismay’. His effort was loudly cheered, and most Tories liked it, though, significantly, Wetherell and the Ultras appeared ‘angry’ at his profession of support for some measure of reform. Hobhouse later conceded that it was ‘a most effective address ... in favour of the present system’, but was surprised when he read it objectively to ‘find that there was so little in it’. The reformer Sir Henry Bunbury* thought that ‘as a specimen of eloquence and oratorical effect, it was splendid; but his arguments were more captivating than solid’. The ministerialist William Ord* judged it ‘too solemn and too pompous’ while Charles Russell*, a reformer, described it as ‘magnificent’, but consisting ‘more of moral invective than of dry argument’.284 Peel opposed going into committee on the timber duties, 18 Mar., when ministers suffered a defeat.285 He presented anti-reform petitions from Cambridge and the Isle of Ely, 21 Mar., but ‘took flight’ from the debate on alleged breach of privilege by The Times provoked by Inglis.286 Although Peel, who was reported to believe that ‘the Movement’ for radical reform had begun, was determined to divide as strongly as possible against the second reading of the English reform bill, the opposition seemed divided and confused. The breach with the Ultras, some of whom, such as Chandos, Knatchbull and Vyvyan, preferred an amendment in favour of a moderate reform scheme, with which Peel would have no truck, persisted, leading Robert Clive*, for one, to complain ‘bitterly’ to Greville
of the bad tactics and want of union of the party, and especially of Peel’s inactivity and backwardness in not having rallied and taken the lead more than he has; he is in fact so cold, phlegmatic, and calculating that he disgusts those who can’t do without him as a leader; he will always have political but never personal influence.
Croker found him ‘sore perplexed’, perhaps because ‘his conscience tells him that he is the primary source of all the mischief’.287 In the event, the second reading was met with a direct negative, and Peel did not speak. According to Macaulay, ‘the jaw of Peel fell’ when the result of the division, a one-vote majority for the measure, was announced.288 On 24 Mar. he delivered what Hobhouse considered ‘the speech he ought to have made on the English bill’, ostensibly replying to the ineffectual lord advocate Francis Jeffrey on the Scottish measure, but arguing that the scheme overall would damage the legitimate influence of the aristocracy and could not possibly be a final settlement, and arguing that by invoking the king’s name in support of reform ministers had dangerously raised the stakes.289 The following day, when he agreed to act on Ellenborough’s suggestion of setting up ‘an election committee with a view to the dissolution’, he made good capital out of the discrepancies and inaccuracies in the 1821 census figures used as the basis for disfranchisement.290 But for all his pre-eminence in the House, he remained subject to Tory complaints of ‘his coldness, incommunicativeness and deficiency in all the qualities requisite in a leader, particularly at such a time’; and Campbell thought he was ‘very much cast down, for he cannot stem the torrent’.291 Mrs. Arbuthnot wrote, 29 Mar.:
Peel feels very strongly that the king, having so far sanctioned the measure ... has rendered it very difficult for any minister to prevent all change in the representation. Our difficulties in opposing reform are, however, all aggravated by Peel’s character ... The Conservative party ... know he will yield some points on reform, and the consequence is they all have their own crotchets, all want to gain popularity with their constituents by advocating at once that which, from Peel’s nature, they feel will be yielded sooner or later ... Peel, saying he does not wish to return to office while he enjoys the discomfiture of ministers ... treats all the Tory party with arrogance and insolence, affects to consider himself as an individual and not the leader of the party, and has hitherto positively rejected all the advances of the Ultra Tories. He told Arbuthnot that he knew ... they wanted to reunite themselves with us, and that he was determined never to consent to; and yesterday, when ... Herries went to him, deputed by Wetherell and Lord Stormont* to express their desire and that of their party to be led and directed by him, all he repeated twenty times over was, ‘These are the fellows who turned us out three months ago’. ‘Very true’ ... Herries said, ‘now they want to get you back, and if we are to save the country, you must take them’. Peel threw his chin in the air, said if a government was to be formed they would expect places and he could not throw over those who were with him before, he did not want to return to office.292
Yet Goulburn found Peel ‘in good heart, determined to resist the bill most manfully and to do all that may be most likely to effect its rejection’, when he returned to London on 12 Apr.293 That evening he supported the civil list grant against Hume’s amendment for a cut. Next day he ascertained from Althorp that he would allow a division on the reform bill’s proposal to reduce the number of English Members. He subsequently explained to Croker that whereas other contemplated amendments seemed unlikely to succeed, which would put the anti-reformers on the back foot:
I think we shall beat them on that question ... Give us another month, and there is an end of the bill, positively an end of it. It could never be carried except by the dread of physical force ... One month hence, if the bill is still in suspense, there will be an enforced natural union between aristocracy and disfranchised population, against a vulgar privileged ‘Pedlary’, as in a letter I have ... received, a farmer, trembling for the fate of the corn laws, calls the new voters.294
On 15 Apr. Peel opposed Fowell Buxton’s motion to commit the House to the immediate abolition of slavery, recommending a cautious approach in accordance with the 1823 resolutions.295 He evidently gave some credence to reports that the king had refused to dissolve Parliament in the event of the reform bill’s defeat, and he spoke forcefully in support of Gascoyne’s amendment against the proposed reduction in the number of English Members, 19 Apr., when he asserted that he would not propose an alternative ‘safe’ reform scheme ‘because I am certain that if I did, I should be taunted with adopting that course as a means of getting back into office’, and said that the ministerial proposals held out ‘the melancholy prospect of seeing the interests and affairs of this great country committed to misrule and anarchy’.296 The amendment was carried by eight votes, and Peel, according to Ellenborough, who thought he would be willing to form a government if sent for, seemed to ‘think that the majority was decisive against the bill’.297 When the dissolution was announced in the House, 21 Apr., Peel, who Hobhouse noted ‘preserved his temper, but looked exceedingly foolish’, called it unjustified and a threat to public order, especially in Ireland.298 Next afternoon, in a hot and excited chamber, as the guns signalled the king’s approach, Peel got possession of the House, ‘completely lost his temper’ and produced a torrent of furious, semi-incoherent invective against ministers who had already shown ‘more incapacity, more unfitness for office, more ignorance of their duties, more deplorable imbecility than ever was exhibited’. He predicted that if the reform scheme was enacted ‘there will be established one of the worst despotisms that has ever yet existed. We shall have a Parliament of mob demagogues’. He was cut short in mid-rant by the arrival of Black Rod. Hobhouse recalled that this performance had
completely unmasked him: all his candour, all his moderation, all his trimming, shifty policy disappeared, and he displayed his real vexation, and true feelings of disappointment and rage in a harangue of sound and fury, signifying nothing but his own despair, and hatred of those who had overreached him by calculating on the good sense of the people, and the firmness of the king, with more accuracy than himself ... He was doing harm to himself, and injuring the character of the country ... I was more sorry than angry; I could scarcely have supposed such an incident possible. But Peel was not the only over-excited performer on that day.
He had apparently recovered his equanimity by the time he arrived in the Lords.299
Peel was re-elected for Tamworth in ‘perfect tranquillity’.300 He interrupted his canvass to go to London to consult Hardinge as to how he should react to Hobhouse’s reported reference to his ‘debased’ exhibition at the prorogation and allegation that he had subscribed large election funds in a bid to deceive the people. Peel wrote a firm request for an explanation, which took Hobhouse aback; but the affair was settled with the cool counsels of Hardinge and Dacre.301 A notion of his being put up for Liverpool in harness with Gascoyne came to nothing.302 He was not surprised by the reformers’ sweeping successes at the general election, which seemed to guarantee the reform scheme’s passage through the Commons.303 He remained isolated and self-absorbed, and frankly told Wellington on 24 May 1831 that he was ‘much disinclined to be a party to any distinct proposition of reform’, as there was ‘a clear distinction between mitigating the evil of the bill in committee and originating a scheme of reform’, quite apart from the fact that no plan he could endorse would be accepted by the new House.304 He begged off the Pitt dinner at the end of the month, discountenanced the proposed eve of session opposition dinner intended to promote reconciliation with the Ultras and refused to have his name attached to circulars for an early attendance.305 He was extraordinarily sensitive to current press allegations that his tactics on the first reform bill had been intended to facilitate his own return to power; and he told Croker, 28 May:
I detest the thought of office, and am not ready to join O’Connell in effecting my return to it. If the Tory party is gone to pieces, I doubt whether the new Parliament is to blame ... There are two parties among those who call themselves Conservatives: one which views the state of the country with great alarm ... sees a relaxation of all authority, an impatience of all that restraint which is indispensable to the existence ... of all government [and] is ready to support monarchy, property and public faith ... Another party ... by far the most numerous ... has the most presumptuous confidence in its own fitness for administering public affairs ... would unite with O’Connell in resisting the Irish coercion law ... sees great advantage in a deficit of many millions, and thinks the imposition of a property tax on Ireland and the aristocracy a Conservative measure ... and which, never having dreamt ... of the question how they could restore order, prefers chaos to the maintenance of the present government. Now to this latter section I do not, and will not belong. I will not play that game, which, played by the Ultra Tories against us, is the main cause of present evils. A radical and a republican avowed are dangerous characters; but there is nothing half so dangerous as the man who pretends to be a Conservative, but is ready to be anything, provided only he can create confusion.306
A week later he wrote confidentially to Goulburn in broadly the same terms, expressing his willingness to ‘co-operate with any persons of any party in resistance to the bill’, in principle or detail, but his refusal to ‘form a party connection with the Ultra Tory party’, adding that ‘I would not abandon any one opinion I entertain in order to conciliate Ultra ... support ... I [also] feel a want of many essential qualifications which are requisite in party leaders, among the rest personal gratification in the game of politics, and patience to listen to the sentiments of individuals whom it is equally imprudent to neglect and an intolerable bore to consult’. He observed that he had ‘no wish to slight the offers of new party adherents, or to offend those who make them’, but would be ‘very cautious in contracting any new party engagements.307 Mrs. Arbuthnot noted that Peel, who was already giving thought to the problem how the Lords would react to the reform scheme, ‘appears to hate everybody and everybody hates him, but he showed consummate ability and powers of speaking of the highest order during the late ... session, and it is not possible for anyone to lead but him, but he is cross-grained, timid, afraid of committing himself, afraid of having followers and a party for fear they should be a clog upon him in any future arrangements’.308 Smith Stanley heard that ‘Peel throws cold water upon the notion of an opposition to everything a tort et a travers, and that the Ultras are ... very angry with him’. Yet Arbuthnot told Lord Farnham that with an opposition able to muster over 250, ‘a vast deal may be done’.309
At a pre-session meeting Peel ‘recommended moderation very earnestly’ on the address, arguing that there should be no amendment provided it did not imply ‘approval either of the reform bill, or the dissolution’.310 On 21 June 1831 he retrospectively condemned the latter and the appeal to popular support, and suggested that ministers now seemed to be retreating from the full extent of their original plan. Hobhouse recalled it as a typical effort, ‘professing candour and moderation, but losing no opportunity of saying sly and injurious things to his opponents’.311 He was ‘temperate’, as Creevey saw it, on the motion for leave to reintroduce the English reform bill, 24 June, but Hobhouse, who thought he looked ‘a little uncomfortable’ under Russell’s attack on ‘moderate reformers’, reckoned that he was ‘half-angry’ and ‘spoke out most decisively against the bill’.312 Peel told Robert Clive, who was unhappy with the decision to divide against the second reading, that it would be impossible to prevent someone from forcing a division and that ‘no successful opposition could be made to a bill of this kind, if there was that acquiescence in the principle of it, which must be inferred from consent to the second reading’.313 Opposing this, 6 July, he pointed out that since the present government came to power, more people had died in clashes with the military than during the whole of his time at the home office. He reiterated his objections to the measure, ridiculed the hasty changes made to some of its details, notably the mechanics of the £10 franchise and, repelling Macaulay’s taunts of inconsistency the previous day, insisted that he had always ‘opposed reform upon principle, because I was unwilling to open a door which I saw no prospect of being able to close’. It was reckoned an impressive effort, but the second reading was carried by 367-231.314 Holland considered that so far Peel ‘plays his cards artfully and is much more adventurous in debate now ... Brougham is not there to check his pride, than he was wont to be’; but he expected that Smith Stanley and perhaps Macaulay would ‘soon learn the art of keeping him in order, for in different ways I think both are his superiors or were destined to become so’.315 On 11 July Peel outraged many Tories by walking out of a debate on the wine duties in the middle of a speech by Herries. He compounded matters the following night when, after speaking in support of Appleby’s right to be heard by counsel against its proposed disfranchisement, for which opposition had mustered in strength, he went away at midnight from the adjournment wrangle, observing that he would be ‘no party to anything like a vexatious opposition’, leaving a dwindling ‘rabble’ to force repeated divisions until eight in the morning.316 Ellenborough lamented that ‘no party can be kept together unless they are well and gallantly led’, and Wellington thought his behaviour was ‘inexplicable’ and ‘complained much that the party could neither do with him, nor without him’. Althorp told his father that Peel had ‘acted very shabbily’ towards his followers: ‘He cannot lead an opposition party; he has not decision enough for it, and he has now lost all hold upon them’. Ellenborough got Ross and Hardinge to try to persuade Peel to ‘say something to tranquillize the party’, but he was unaccommodating, and indicated to Lord Mahon* that he was ‘exceedingly annoyed’ by the conduct of those who had persisted with the obstruction. Walking to the House on 13 July, he met Littleton, who ‘reported ... the lamentations about his absence’. He replied, ‘Parties are likened to serpents in which the heads are moved by the tails. Now I do not choose to be moved by the tail. I shall take my own line, and act for myself’.317 That evening he mocked ‘the inconceivable absurdity’ of using outdated and inaccurate 1821 census figures to determine borough disfranchisement, when the 1831 census was almost to hand, and predicted that reform would send to the Commons ‘an undue proportion’ of ‘men of popular habits’ at the expense of those of ‘retired ... literary and philosophic habits’. At a meeting at Chandos’s, 19 July, he proposed the appointment of a committee of 11 ‘to direct the movements’ of the party; but two days later George Bankes* moaned to Ellenborough that ‘Peel’s dinners do harm. He asks by Holmes’s list, and his manner is not conciliatory’. At Croker’s on the 23rd he seemed to Ellenborough to be ‘very low about public affairs’ and of opinion that opposition would have ‘done better in the Commons to have made the discussion [on the disfranchisement schedules] shorter and taken only the great points’; he perceived that ‘the majority will vote blindly for the bill’.318 Yet he continued steady attendance, though the opposition to the details and technicalities of the bill was effected mainly by Croker, Wetherell, Sugden and a few others. On 22 July, to the disgust of Creevey, who though ‘nothing could be more low’, he made much of the defection of 40 reformers on the case of Downton the previous evening. Littleton reported to friend:
We march slowly in the reform bill. All sorts of unfair tricks are practised to clog and defeat it ... Peel affects to dislike it, but never tells his friends privately not to delay it. This is always his way, and gets him the character of a Jesuit. He wishes to defeat the bill and upset the government.
Mackintosh admitted, however, after Peel had robustly questioned Palmerston about the problem of the Belgian frontier forts, 27 July, that ‘Peel has undoubtedly risen and ... has converted more people than will dare to confess it. We are certainly outspoken in daily speaking’.319 On 27 July Peel made what Ellenborough thought ‘a capital speech’, in which he argued, with the aid of a map, that the disfranchisements would damage the agricultural interest, to support his motion to allow all the schedule B boroughs to retain two Members; he was defeated by 182-115.320 When Althorp on 29 July proposed at short notice that the House should sit next day, a Saturday, to compensate for the loss of Monday, 1 Aug. on account of the ceremony to mark the opening of the new London Bridge, Peel responded ‘in a fury’, but to no avail. He ostentatiously stayed away.321 At the ceremony, which he attended ‘in his barge with his name in large letters’, he was ‘much hissed, but not otherwise ill treated’.322 Russell accused him of changing his view on the enfranchisement of large manufacturing towns since 1828, 2 Aug., but Peel retorted that Althorp, Palmerston and other ministers had for years been hostile to reform. Next day he made what Hobhouse conceded was ‘a good speech’ against giving Members to the metropolitan districts, which would ‘create a new order of men in this House, who will alter in character and increase in power with each successive election’; he was in a minority of 188 to 295.323 He supported Littleton’s motion to give Stoke two Members and Milton’s to do likewise for the schedule D enfranchisements, 5 Aug. On 9 Aug. he deplored O’Connell’s provocative comments on recent Orange outrages in Ireland. He urged ministers to set up an objective inquiry, 10 Aug., and next day opposed printing the Waterford petition for disarming the Irish yeomanry. At the behest of some of the party, he reluctantly opposed the proposed division of counties, which was likely to benefit the landed interest, 11 Aug., but left the House before the division, in which government had a majority of 109.324 Hardinge reported to Arbuthnot, 17 Aug., that although ministers seemed to be in trouble, both at home and abroad, Peel thought ‘they are not ready for the coup de grace, and certainly until the foreign policy is more fully developed and reform has become more unpalatable, it would be desirable to allow them to consummate their own defeat and disgrace’. Hardinge liked his ‘most admirable bitter speech’ against ministerial policy on French aggression towards Belgium, 17 Aug., when he clashed with and got the better of O’Connell and Hume, ‘evincing more than ever ... [his] complete mastery over the House’.325 But Peel was weary of the constant attendance and late hours in ‘that infernal place’ and late hours, and was aching for Julia, whom he told on 22 Aug. that he had ‘hinted to the [Charles Street] committee that I cannot go on staying here to fight the tedious battle, and that they must choose some other leader if the House is to go on sitting much longer’. Having failed to get a straight answer that evening from Althorp about an adjournment, he went on the morning of the 23rd to Charles Street
and told the persons assembled there that I could not continue in town, that in my opinion there is very little use in protracting the debates and that I could not remain here to conduct the battle. I found several people ... dissatisfied with this and prepared to go on interminably in the present system. Others were disposed to agree with me ... We parted not in very good humour. I said I should stay a few days longer, and would then go into the country, and come back for the third reading.326
In the House that day, he ‘went away with many of his followers’ before the division on the motion of censure on the Irish government’s alleged interference in the Dublin election.327 On 25 Aug. he welcomed Althorp’s statement that the French army had left Belgium. He reiterated his determination to ‘abandon the bill to its fate’ and next day, inviting Goulburn to Drayton for shooting the following week, observed that ‘I see no reason why we should labour to perfect the machinery by which a principle of which we disapprove is to be effected. But we should labour in vain, for the majority is now become unassailable by reason’.328 He stayed to support his brother Edmund’s vain attempt to preserve resident freemen’s voting rights, 30 Aug. 1831, and then went to Drayton.
There he told Dyott that he thought the reform bill would be rejected by the Lords, but ‘could not answer’ his question as to whether that would ‘throw out the ministry’.329 He was anxious to get the bill to the Upper House as soon as possible, fearing that ‘the danger to the Lords would be increased in dark long nights of winter, and with workmen thrown out of employment’.330 He returned to London on 15 Sept., and in the Commons next day questioned the wisdom of empowering Irish grand juries to spend money on improvement projects. His speech against the passage of the reform bill, which closed the debate, 21 Sept., was widely praised. Lowther and Greville considered it the ‘best ... he ever delivered’, Ellenborough thought it ‘splendid’ and ‘unanswerable’, and Campbell reckoned it ‘very good’ and such as ‘would have made you hesitate about carrying this bill into a law’. Hobhouse recalled that it was ‘thought a very brilliant speech, foretelling the downfall of the monarchy and many uncomfortable events’, but he judged that Peel failed in his effort to ‘be smart upon Macaulay’, who had accused the late ministry of abandoning their responsibilities. Greville, however, wrote that he had ‘cut Macaulay to ribbons’.331 He defended the Hampshire magistrates who had arrested the Deacles, 27 Sept., dismissed De Lacy Evans’s motion for information on the preparations made by the Wellington ministry to preserve public order in November 1830, 4 Oct., and next day approved the imprisonment of the Rev. Robert Taylor for blasphemy. On 10 Oct., when Hardinge told Ellenborough that ‘Peel would be rather cut in pieces than have the responsibility of bringing in a measure of reform’ following the bill’s rejection by the Lords, he opposed the motion of confidence in the ministry, accusing Macaulay, O’Connell and Sheil of trying to incite ‘the rabble’ against Wellington and the Tory peers. He seemed, however, to be below his usual form: the reformer John Hawkins had ‘never heard ...[him] at such a disadvantage’, and Littleton recorded that ‘Peel’s countenance was dejected in the extreme. An allusion of Macaulay’s to his having bowed his head into the dust, when he recanted his error on the Catholic question, seemed to combler him with suffering. His speech was one of almost unconditional surrender’.332 ‘Not quite easy’ at his children being alone at Drayton, ‘with Birmingham political unions on one side, and Derby and Nottingham on the other’, Peel went there on 12 Oct., and wrote to Croker next day:
If there are any persons dreaming that either an anti-reform or a moderate reform government could at this time stand one hour in the present House of Commons, the division of ... [the 10th], but far more the feeling manifested in the debate, must ... dissipate the delusion. The greatest misfortune, accompanied with the greatest disgrace, that could befall any of us anti-reformers would be the attempt under present circumstances to originate reform in any shape. I never will. Dissolution would make bad worse ... [and] in the present state of the three kingdoms would be a rapid step in advance towards utter ruin.333
There was ‘an absurd report’ in London on 31 Oct. that ‘Peel had killed himself’.334 Disgusted but not surprised by ‘the progress of our moral contagion’, which he considered ‘the inevitable consequence of a king and government hallooing a ten-pound mob against the House of Commons, in the stupid belief that they could have the hunt to themselves’, he favoured the formation of ‘quiet unostentatious associations for the sole purpose of defence against unprovoked aggression ... and concerted resistance to any aggressive demonstration of force on the part of reforming mobs’.335 He returned what his critics described as a ‘stiff, dry and reserved’ answer, 23 Nov., to the Tory ‘Waverer’ Lord Wharncliffe’s ‘very vague and unsatisfactory’ letter inviting him to endorse and join in the attempt to find a compromise solution to avoid a mass creation of peers to force reform through the Lords. He did not think ministers would make meaningful concessions.336 He urged the party organizers to secure a good muster for the start of the new session and was ‘stout-hearted’ before leaving Drayton and ‘not in bad spirits’ when he arrived in London, still believing that the reform crisis would end in ‘a coalition between the higher and the lower classes’.337 On the address, 6 Dec. 1831, he made what Mahon considered a ‘powerful’ speech reviewing ministerial foreign and domestic policy and warning them to take heed of the fate of France between 1789 and 1792.338 He described the changes made to the revised English reform bill, 12 Dec., as ‘a complete answer to the calumnies ... about the factious delays of those who sought to introduce those very modifications’, but, ‘at the top of his anger, and voice’, promised determined opposition to the second reading. His bitter tone was ‘disavowed’ by Baring, Clive, Chandos, Sandon, Warrender and other more conciliatory Tories, and he was said to have left the chamber ‘evidently chagrined at his position’.339 On 15 Dec. he acquiesced in the appointment of a select committee on Irish tithes (to which he was named), advised ministers to produce ‘a specific plan’ and welcomed their professed intention of upholding the property rights of the church. Holland interpreted this as ‘artfully’ trying to ‘sow dissension between the government and the Catholics’; but Stanley believed that he would ‘go along with us, and having already the load of the rotten boroughs hanging to his skirts, has no idea of augmenting the weight by the addition of the tithes’.340 On the second reading of the reform bill, 16 Dec., Macaulay delivered a ‘caustic’ personal attack on Peel, strong enough ‘to blister a rhinoceros’, in which, responding to Peel’s taunting of ministers for incorporating the Tories’ suggestions into the new bill, he reminded him of his recantation on Catholic emancipation and the support which the Whigs had then given him. Hobhouse noted that Peel ‘looked as if sweating blood. I never saw him so scalded, not even in the days of Brougham’. Next day Peel ‘showed he had been touched to the quick’ by spending half an hour in giving what Hobhouse considered an ‘unnecessary’ vindication of his conduct on the Catholic question. Ord thought he had produced nothing but ‘the old and stale encomiums upon himself, and which were no answer at all to the really unanswerable attack ... and which he had richly earned ... This was really satisfactory to me, who have been long sick of ... [his] pompous self-conceited and affected candour’. Greville saw it as another example of Peel’s ‘egotism, with which he is so much and justly reproached’. Peel made no attempt to defend Croker from Smith Stanley’s humiliating attack (which he seems to have inwardly relished), and ended his speech with a declaration that he would oppose the bill as ‘the first step’ to the establishment of a republic.341
Peel supported the foundation of the Conservative Carlton Club in early 1832.342 Believing the reform bill to be ‘replete with mischief and trickery’, he went to London in mid-January ‘resolved to place himself firmly at the head of the constitutional party’, as Ellenborough put it.343 In an ‘angry speech’, he backed Croker’s objections to going into committee on schedule A without full information, 20 Jan.;344 and on the 23rd, after being interrupted by a deranged onlooker in the gallery, supported Goulburn’s amendment against schedule B and moved one of his own, which was negatived. Earlier that day he got Althorp to dispute Hume’s ‘doctrine’ that the Irish clergy’s legitimate right to tithes was a dead letter; and he divided with Althorp and Smith Stanley against Hobhouse’s vestry reform bill. On 26 Jan. he spoke and voted against government (who at one point seemed to be heading for defeat) on the Russian-Dutch loan, but Hobhouse believed that his declaration that even if the censure was carried ‘he should not think himself precluded from paying the money ... gave an excuse to the economical Members to vote for ministers’. Smith Stanley felt that he was ‘evidently alarmed at the probability of a victory’; and according to Sir John Walsh*, Peel said he was not sorry that ministers survived, for ‘as none of the money votes or the Mutiny Act had passed, we should have been unable to have formed a ministry, and they must have returned to office with added power’.345 He now supported the division of counties, 27 Jan., though his suggestion that if all urban freeholders were excluded from the counties they might all return four Members was rejected; he ‘good naturedly’ allowed Ellice to whip him into the ministerial lobby as he was leaving for dinner.346 On 1 Feb., when he welcomed retention of the Chandos clause enfranchising £50 tenants-at-will and spoke for Mackworth Praed’s unsuccessful bid to confine urban freeholders to the boroughs, he approved of the restriction of factory hours for children, but not of any of the other details of Sadler’s regulation bill; he was added to the committee on it, 28 Mar. In response to the `Waverer’ Harrowby’s letter of 4 Feb. suggesting that the Conservative peers should give the reform bill a second reading and try to amend it in committee, Peel contended that the only sensible course (though he admitted that there were strong arguments on the other side) was to try to throw it out, regardless of the threat of peerage creations:
My great object ... for the last six months has been to vindicate the authority and maintain the character of the House of Lords ... [as] the institution most exposed to danger from the short-sighted folly of the times, and also the institution which, if it remain erect in character, is most likely to serve as a rallying point for the returning good sense and moderation of the country ... Why have we been struggling against the reform bill in the Commons? Not in the hope of resisting its final success ... but because we look beyond the bill ... [and] know the nature of popular concessions, their tendency to propagate the necessity for further and more extensive compliances. We want to ... teach young inexperienced men charged with the trust of government that, though they may be backed by popular clamour, they shall not override on the first springtide of excitement every barrier and breakwater raised against popular impulses; that the carrying of extensive changes in the constitution without previous deliberation shall not be a holiday task; that there shall be just what has happened - the House sick of the question, the ministers repenting they ever brought it forward, the country paying the penalty for the folly and incapacity of its rulers. Mine is a melancholy view, as it excludes the prospect of success. It excludes, however, participation in the crime, and gives to the present House of Lords the honours of determined though fruitless resistance.
Harrowby showed Peel’s letter, which was not well received by his followers, to Greville, who considered it ‘an able production, well expressed and plausibly argued, with temper and moderation’, but, seizing on its essential ‘contradiction’, he deemed it ‘neither statesmanlike nor manly to throw up the game in despair, and surrender every point ... in order to preserve the consistency of himself and his own party’. He suspected that this was ‘not his real feeling, and that he promises himself some personal advantage from the adoption of such a course’.347 In a conversation with Littleton, 5 Feb., Jeffrey ‘expressed his great admiration of Peel’s powers of debate’, but Littleton thought that ‘the coolness of a practised gambler’ was ‘not ... quite a correct description of his manner, as coolness, though frequently well acted by him, is not his characteristic. But still, ill-tempered and vehemently excited as he frequently is, he seldom loses his judgement’.348 On 6 Feb. Peel, reviewing the national finances, observed that the small surplus was ‘alarming’ and that ‘the prospects of the country ... are most melancholy’. Later, he welcomed the preservation of resident freemen’s voting rights, as proposed by his brother the previous year. He seemed to Littleton to be ‘dreadfully out of temper, as he always is now’, when he spoke against government on relations with Portugal, 9 Feb., and ‘winced’ under Smith Stanley’s reply.349 He took credit for prompting Grey’s declaration on the enforcement of the payment of Irish tithes, but resisted Duncannon’s desire for a pledge in the committee’s report that ‘the name and character of tithes should be done away’. In the House, 14 Feb., he criticized Grey’s most recent pronouncement holding out the prospect of a permanent provision for the clergy, because it would raise false hopes and ‘preclude enforcement of the law’. Anxious to back the government as far as possible on this question, he supported going into committee on the ministerial resolutions and opposed Brownlow’s attempt to postpone consideration of the report, 8 Mar., when, according to Littleton, he ‘well taunted’ the Irish Members ‘with their insincerity’. On 13 Mar. he made what Greville considered an ‘excellent’ speech, ‘smashing Sheil, taking high ground and a strong position, but doing nothing towards settling the question’, in support of the resolutions, subject to receiving an assurance that the law would be upheld and the property of the church safeguarded.350 He was against a major reconstruction of the House - ‘our debates should be carried on in this ancient apartment’ - and argued that the cost of enforcing the cholera prevention bill should not fall on the parishes, 14 Feb. 1832. Next day he welcomed the concession of empowering the privy council to assist impoverished parishes.
On 21 Feb. 1832 Croker told Hertford that although Peel shared Wellington’s sense of the potential ‘danger’ after the enactment of reform, he ‘feels, or seems to feel it, infinitely less. It does not affect his spirits, though I think it does his judgement. He is very reluctant to attend the House, and anything like a bold course he entirely rejects’. Two weeks later Croker noted that although Peel ‘seems very stout-hearted, and in good health, and makes every now and then a display against the bill ... he seems ... inclined to consult his own personal ease, and people are not satisfied with his sincerity, but I really believe it is only the weariness of being eternally defeated, and the conviction that no good is to be done’. Princess Lieven confirmed that unlike Wellington, he ‘does not believe that everything is lost, but even thinks that it will be quite possible to have a tolerable government in England’.351 Peel, who assured Lord Malmesbury that if the English reform bill was ‘bad enough’, the Irish measure was ‘in itself an Irish revolution as far as the transfer of power from Protestant to Roman Catholic and from the proprietors of land to the mob is concerned’,352 showed plenty of spirit when claiming that comments by Althorp on the case of Petersfield proved that ministers accepted that the reform bill could not be a final settlement, and opposing the enfranchisement of Tower Hamlets, 28 Feb. He was concerned that multiple occupancy of houses in some boroughs would put the franchise in ‘hands in which it cannot properly be confided’, 4 Mar. He mocked the ‘lopsided mathematics’ which determined that Whitby should be enfranchised and Doncaster ignored, 9 Mar. He argued that if Merthyr was to be given its own Member, the seat should be taken from Gateshead rather than Monmouthshire, 14 Mar. Next day he dismissed Hunt’s motion for a retrospective inquiry into Peterloo. Opposing the third reading of the reform bill, 22 Mar., he predicted that the new system, ‘established upon the £10 enfranchising principle, will make it impossible for any government to refuse to yield to popular demands’, accused ministers of having ‘put rancour in our hearts and sown dissensions in our homes’ and concluded with a self-righteous vindication of his own conduct. Littleton judged it ‘a very eloquent speech, the most so I ever heard from him, though by no means effective in argument’, and noticed ‘the extreme deference with which he treated Macaulay’; and Hawkins reported that he ‘was unable to give a satisfactory answer’ to Macaulay’s ‘perfectly just’ attack.353 Peel backed Vyvyan’s criticism of the government’s foreign policy, 26 Mar., and next day urged caution before sanctioning Ewart’s proposal to abolish the death penalty for non-intimidatory stealing from dwelling houses, for ‘as civilization increases, the facility for the commission of crime increases more rapidly than the facility for the prevention of it’. He supported the anatomy bill, 11 Apr., called for a generous grant for the National Gallery, 13 Apr., and urged recognition of Dom Miguel as the legitimate ruler of Portugal, 16 Apr. 1832.
After the Lords had given the reform bill a second reading by nine votes, Peel told Croker that ‘I now see nothing left ... but a strenuous concerted effort on the part of all those who deprecate such a reform ... to mitigate the evil of it’. Having kept out of the Conservative peers’ tactical deliberations, ‘thinking the Lords might be jealous, and fearing to differ from the duke’, he ‘approved most cordially’ the plan, disclosed to him by Ellenborough, to seek a reduction in the number of disfranchisements and enfranchisements, restrictions on the £10 franchise and the exclusion of urban voters from the counties.354 During the crisis which followed the defeat of the bill in committee and ministers’ resignation, 7-14 May, Peel consistently refused to form or take office in an administration pledged to carry a wide measure of reform. He said so to Lyndhurst, the king’s emissary, to William IV himself and Croker. He did, however, suggest that Speaker Manners Sutton might become titular head of such a ministry. In the House, 10 May, he opposed as ‘unconstitutional’ the motion asking the king to appoint only ministers who would carry undiluted reform, but he cut an unusually ‘feeble’ figure, as Hobhouse thought, and was ‘roughly’ handled by O’Connell. Next day he said, in reply to Tom Duncombe’s question, that he had not been invited to take office. (This was not strictly true.) In the fiasco of a debate which spelled the end of the project to form a Conservative reform ministry, 14 May, ‘in a very subdued manner’ he tried to damp the excitement generated, insisted that he did not want office and praised the ‘sense of public duty’ which had prompted Wellington to try to rescue the king from the mess.355 Later that night, after talks with Croker, Goulburn, Hardinge and others, he went with Manners Sutton to Wellington and persuaded him to inform the king that no alternative government was feasible and that he would withdraw his opposition to the bill to avoid the creation of peers.356 He was mightily relieved to be out of the scrape, and told Ellenborough that ‘the Tory party would have been disgraced by accepting office to carry the reform bill after all that had been said by them against it’. But he was widely criticized in the party for cowardice, selfishness (Baring ‘supposed that Peel, as usual, thought chiefly of Peel’, Littleton observed that ‘his prudence is always more conspicuous than his generosity or courage’ and ‘his talent is eminently fitted for turning things to his own account’, and Ellenborough that he ‘wants moral courage, and has not a great mind’) and disloyalty to Wellington. He was suspected in some quarters of having put up Manners Sutton as a stooge whom he would replace when reform was out of the way.357 More importantly he and Wellington, whose relations had been strained since November 1830, were now virtually alienated, a state of affairs which lasted for two years. In his explanatory speech in the Lords, 17 May 1832, Wellington made ‘a sort of covert attack upon Peel’, to which he replied in the Commons the following evening, when he regretted their temporary separation, but defended his own conduct. According to Hobhouse, Althorp’s ‘humiliating testimony’ to his honour ‘made poor Peel look very foolish and sulky; he did not acknowledge Althorn’s civility, but blushed, and fidgeted, and was silent’.358
On 21 May 1832 Peel challenged Denman’s assertion that the sincerity with which libellous opinions were expressed should protect the authors from prosecution. He supported the government’s temporizing amendment to Fowell Buxton’s motion for the abolition of slavery, 24 May, when Howick, accusing him of ratting on the 1823 agreement, threw his recantation on the Catholic question in his face. Peel retorted that ‘to affirm the principle of the extinction of slavery, before we possess the means of carrying our intentions into effect, is fraught with danger’. Opposing the second reading of the Irish reform bill, 25 May, he asserted that it would ‘undermine the security of he established church ... diminish the influence of property’ and strengthen the repeal movement. On the Lords’ amendments to the English bill, 5 June, he said that the peers had ‘consented to this bill under a menace’; accused ministers of whipping up popular excitement from the outset and recalled Russell’s ‘whisper of a faction’ comment; said that reform would seal the fate of the corn laws; urged ministers to suppress the unions, who if left unchecked would establish a ‘degrading and oppressive tyranny; reminded Russell of his assertion in 1827 that the people had become so ‘indifferent to reform’ that he would never again propose it, and defended the Wellington government’s attempt to reform Irish tithes. He wanted working men’s unions regulated, 14 June, when he acquiesced in the introduction of the ministerial bill to suppress Irish party processions, provided it was even-handed, and said that if Orange parades were to be outlawed, so too must be the roving gangs, ‘led by priests’, who were impeding the collection of tithes. At this time he dined with Lady Cowper, who told her brother that
he did not seem very desponding at the state of affairs, said nobody could tell how things would turn, they might be better than he expected, or much worse than he feared. He said ... that the present government must stay in, and that if they tried to resist the radicals, they should have his support. One thing he said must be done, without which no government could stand ... was to curb the licence of the press.359
He clashed peevishly with O’Connell and Hume on the Irish reform bill, 18 June, accusing the latter of justifying the use of physical force to overawe Parliament. On 20 June he seconded the address to the king condemning the attack on him at Ascot races, but blamed this and the recent assault on Wellington on the ‘intemperate language of the press and speeches in Parliament’ by the likes of Hume. Hobhouse wrote that he was ‘very bitter, but ... made no figure at all’, and others reckoned that the castigation which he received from Smith Stanley put him in his place.360 He had Walsall replaced by Lichfield as the nomination venue for the new South Staffordshire constituency, 22 June. He accused Jeffrey of giving in to pressure from the unions to abandon the proposed property qualification for Scottish county Members, 27 June, when he spoke and voted for Baring’s bill to exclude insolvent debtors from Parliament. He deplored any hasty action on behalf of Poland, 28 June. He urged Irish Protestants to behave themselves on the 12th of July, 29 June, supported the introduction of the Irish tithes bill, 10 July, and endorsed Russell’s condemnation of the illegal ‘conspiracy’ against collection, though he dissented from his views on Irish church reform in general, 13 July. He spoke and divided against ministers on the Russian-Dutch loan, 12 July. He described Hume’s bill to ban the recorder of Dublin from sitting in the Commons as ‘an act of oppression’ and voted accordingly, 24 July. He was inclined to give lord chancellor Brougham the benefit of the doubt over the ‘provisional’ appointment of his brother to a chancery sinecure due for abolition, 25 July, but on the 27th joined in the condemnation of Brougham’s offensive personal attack on his accuser Sugden. That day, in his last Commons speech in this period, Peel said that he did not consider the financial state of the country to be ‘so lamentable as many persons would suppose’, though a deficit was undesirable, and observed that reform was ‘not calculated to produce an increase in the revenue’. He called for a swift settlement of the currency problem and criticized aspects of the government’s foreign policy. He went to Drayton a few days later, having warned the minister Sir James Graham that the Conservative peers intended to throw out the tithes bill on the second reading and said that it would not surprise him to see O’Connell appointed Irish attorney-general before the next session.361 On 10 Aug. 1832 he wrote to Croker from Drayton, where his new house was ‘rising before the windows of the old’, that to ‘read of the House sitting till three o’ clock, and abortive attempts to amend the reform bill in the present session’ gave him ‘no feelings but that of satisfaction that I am a hundred miles from the scene of contention’.362
In November 1831 Horace Twiss* had given the following assessment of Peel to Littleton:
The best man of business and best debater in England, but always thinking of his reputation and his outward character, content to ‘dwell in decencies’, never decided and courageous, thinking more of getting well through a business into which he had been led by circumstance, than bold and decided in his pursuit and assertion of great principles and worthy objects. With great show of affability and condescension (which is always offensive when seen through, especially in a ‘new man’), he was in reality selfish, cold, and unconciliatory ... [Twiss] doubted whether his conduct on the Catholic question, and on ... reform, would not throw him out of office for some years.363
Yet early in the first reformed Parliament, to which Peel was returned unopposed for Tamworth, Poulett Thomson perceived that his ‘prodigious superiority over everybody in the House was so evident ... that he must draw men’s minds to him’. Greville, no admirer of Peel at this stage of his career, wrote that he had ‘hitherto been encumbered with embarrassing questions and an unmanageable party’, but that ‘if his great experience and talents have a fair field to act upon, he may yet, in spite of his selfish and unamiable character, be a distinguished and successful minister’.364 So he became, but not without irreparably splitting the Conservative party on repeal of the corn laws. He died, aged only 62, in early July 1850, of internal injuries sustained in a fall from his horse on Constitution Hill. His death, which Campbell described as ‘a very heavy blow to the Whigs’, was nationally mourned.365 He was succeeded in the baronetcy and estates by his eldest son Robert Peel (1822-95), Conservative Member for Tamworth, 1850-80.366
Ref Volumes: 1820-1832
Author: David R. Fisher
- 1. [J. Grant], Random Recollections of Commons (1837), 108-9.
- 2. Ibid. 109; Shelley Diary, ii. 21.
- 3. Mackintosh Mems. ii. 347.
- 4. Jenkins, 2, 11-15.
- 5. Grant, 116.
- 6. Hilton, 585-9.
- 7. Fox Jnl. 62-63.
- 8. Croker Pprs. i. 170.
- 9. Hatherton diary, 28 June; The Times, 13 July 1820.
- 10. Peel Letters, 42; Croker Pprs. i. 176-7.
- 11. Bucks. RO, Fremantle mss D/FR/51/5/5; Arbuthnot Jnl. i. 52.
- 12. Croker Pprs. i. 175, 184; Arbuthnot Jnl. i. 55-56; HMC Bathurst, 490-1; Add. 38288, f. 386; 40304, ff. 4-5; Buckingham, Mems. Geo IV, i. 93, 95, 100; Colchester Diary, iii. 202.
- 13. Add. 30123, f. 233.
- 14. NLW, Coedymaen mss, Wynn to Lord Grenville, 26 Dec. 1820; Buckingham, i. 102.
- 15. Broughton, Recollections, ii. 140.
- 16. HLRO, Hist. Coll. 379, Grey Bennet diary, 13; Creevey Pprs. ii. 12.
- 17. Von Neumann Diary, i. 50; Countess Granville Letters, i. 205; Arbuthnot Jnl., i. 69.
- 18. Buckingham, i. 121-2.
- 19. Arbuthnot Jnl. i. 80; Fremantle mss 46/12/134.
- 20. Buckingham, i. 102; Grey Bennet diary, 28.
- 21. Buckingham, i. 132.
- 22. Ibid. i. 142-3.
- 23. Arbuthnot Jnl. i. 82; J.E. Cookson, Lord Liverpool’s Administration, 308-9.
- 24. Arbuthnot Jnl. i. 90, 92, 94.
- 25. Ibid. i. 97; Croker Pprs. i. 187.
- 26. HMC Bathurst, 497-8.
- 27. Croker Pprs. i. 187-90.
- 28. Hobhouse Diary, 62; Croker Pprs. i. 191.
- 29. Croker Pprs, i. 190-1; Parker, Peel, i. 299-300; Arbuthnot Jnl. i. 100.
- 30. Arbuthnot Jnl. i. 101.
- 31. Hobhouse Diary, 65; Arbuthnot Jnl. i. 102; Buckingham, i. 173; Croker Pprs. i. 213; Cookson, 313.
- 32. Croker Pprs. i. 217-18; Add. 38195, f. 104; Geo. IV Letters, ii. 969; Arbuthnot Jnl. i. 130; Hobhouse Diary, 81.
- 33. Hobhouse Diary, 85; Colchester Diary, iii. 242.
- 34. Von Neumann Diary, i. 90.
- 35. Lansdowne mss, Mackintosh to Lansdowne, 28 Dec. 1821.
- 36. Gash, Secretary Peel, 312-14.
- 37. Ibid. 314-18; Jenkins, 29-30.
- 38. Gash, Secretary Peel, 326-4; Jenkins, 26-29; Beales, 879-80; Hilton, `The Gallows and Mr. Peel’, in History and Biography ed. T.W. Blanning and D. Cannadine, 92-97, 109-10; V.A.C. Gatrell, Hanging Tree, 554-65, 568-9, 576-8.
- 39. Gash, Secretary Peel, 334-9.
- 40. See ibid. 344-51.
- 41. See ibid. 367-95.
- 42. See Jenkins, 34-41.
- 43. Grey mss, Tierney to Grey, 23 Jan. 1822; Add. 52445, f. 31.
- 44. Gash, Secretary Peel, 296-7; Add. 40605, ff. 121, 125, 127, 129.
- 45. PRO NI, Hill of Brook Hall mss D642/A/14/22; Gash, Secretary Peel, 300-1.
- 46. Broughton, ii. 182-3.
- 47. Colchester Diary, iii. 251.
- 48. Northants. RO, Agar Ellis diary, 30 Apr. ; Add. 52445, f. 83; Fox Jnl. 114; Arbuthnot Jnl. i. 161.
- 49. Buckingham, i. 323.
- 50. Add. 75937, Lady to Lord Spencer, 13 May 1822; Buckingham, i. 325-6; Arbuthnot Jnl. i. 162.
- 51. Broughton, ii. 187.
- 52. NLS mss 3895, f. 28.
- 53. Buckingham, i. 350-1, 353.
- 54. Hobhouse Diary, 95; Croker Pprs. i. 227-32; Greville Mems. i. 127; Buckingham, i. 365-6, 371; Arbuthnot Corresp. 27, 28; Add. 38575, f. 32; 38743, f. 197; 40319, f. 57; 40349, f. 187; 40351, f. 13; Wellington mss, Wellington to Mrs. Arbuthnot, 31 Aug., 2, 3, 6 Sept. 1822; Gash, Secretary Peel, 301-7; Jenkins, 25.
- 55. Bessborough mss, Tierney to Duncannon, 14 Aug., Brougham to same [19 Aug.]; Add. 51586, Tierney to Lady Holland [30 Aug., 4 Sept.]; 51596, Essex to same, 16 Aug. 1822; Creevey Pprs. ii. 44-45.
- 56. Lansdowne mss, Macdonald to Lansdowne, 18 Aug. .
- 57. Gash, Secretary Peel, 307.
- 58. Powis mss (History of Parliament Aspinall transcripts), Palmerston to Lord Clive, 13 Sept. 1822; Bagot, Canning and Friends, ii. 134.
- 59. Add. 60286, f. 278.
- 60. Hobhouse Diary, 101-2.
- 61. Grey mss, Grey to Holland, 22 Jan. 1823; TCD, Donoughmore mss F/13/73.
- 62. Arbuthnot Jnl. i. 219-20; Buckingham, i. 432, 434-5.
- 63. Creevey Pprs. ii. 62; Creevey mss, Creevey to Miss Ord, 21 Feb.; Grey mss, Lambton to Grey, 13 Feb.; NLS, Ellice mss, Grey to Ellice, 23 Feb. 1823.
- 64. Agar Ellis diary, 4 Mar. .
- 65. Fox Jnl. 157; Merthyr Mawr mss F/51/4.
- 66. Buckingham, i. 448, 451
- 67. Arbuthnot Jnl., i. 229; Buckingham, i. 457; Parker, i. 342-3; Gash, Secretary Peel, 401.
- 68. Creevey Pprs. ii. 69.
- 69. Colchester Diary, iii. 280-1; Dorset RO D/BKL, Bankes jnl. 145.
- 70. Colchester Diary, iii. 289.
- 71. Buckingham, i. 469, 475, 479.
- 72. Hobhouse Diary, 104; Arbuthnot Jnl. i. 255.
- 73. Peel Letters, 46-47, 53; HMC Bathurst, 542-3.
- 74. Arbuthnot Jnl. i. 262.
- 75. Buckingham, ii. 11-14.
- 76. Arbuthnot Jnl. i. 271.
- 77. Buckingham, ii. 42.
- 78. Gash, Secretary Peel, 323-4; Agar Ellis diary, 24 Feb. .
- 79. Buckingham, ii. 53.
- 80. Ibid. ii. 78.
- 81. Arbuthnot mss; Arbuthnot Jnl. i. 321.
- 82. Buckingham, ii. 99, 105-6, 126.
- 83. Three Diaries, 118.
- 84. Parker, i. 349-51; Add. 40300, ff. 17, 21; 40306, ff. 72-81; Arbuthnot Jnl. i. 356-8; Wellington Despatches, ii. 345-6. See Gash, Secretary Peel, 401-2.
- 85. Gash, Secretary Peel, 388-92; Parker, i.345-9, 354-7; Add. 40330, ff. 310, 372; Lonsdale mss.
- 86. Buckingham, ii. 209-10; Bankes jnl. 152; Merthyr Mawr mss F/2/8 (10 Feb. 1825).
- 87. Broughton, iii. 88.
- 88. Merthyr Mawr mss F/2/8 (18 Feb. 1825); Broughton, iii. 88-90; Add. 30124, f. 139; Grey mss, Tierney to Grey, 21 Feb. 1825.
- 89. Add. 40334, ff. 118, 135, 140; 40372, f. 189; Parker, i. 369-70; Gash, Secretary Peel, 413-16.
- 90. Agar Ellis diary, 21 Apr. .
- 91. Arbuthnot Jnl. i. 381, 392-4, 397-8, 400-1; HMC Bathurst, 579-82; Broughton, iii. 98; Peel Letters, 69; Arbuthnot Corresp. 67, 68; Hobhouse Diary, 115; Gash, Secretary Peel, 417-20; Jenkins, 42-43.
- 92. Broughton, iii. 98-99.
- 93. Peel Letters, 69.
- 94. Gash, Secretary Peel, 324-6; Castle Howard mss, Abercromby to Morpeth, 24 June, 5 July 1825; Wellington mss WP1/849/5.
- 95. Geo. IV Letters, iii. 1207-8.
- 96. Gash, Secretary Peel, 354-6; Wellington mss WP1/849/5.
- 97. Castle Howard mss, Abercromby to Carlisle, 15 Feb.; Add. 51574, same to Holland, 16 Feb. .
- 98. Wellington mss WP1/850/9.
- 99. Ibid. WP1/851/3.
- 100. Add. 51584, Tierney to Holland, 12 Mar. 1826.
- 101. Add. 51574, Abercromby to Holland, 7 Mar. .
- 102. Buckingham, ii. 300.
- 103. Arbuthnot Jnl. ii. 21.
- 104. Creevey Pprs. ii. 100.
- 105. Nottingham Univ. Lib. Denison diary, 4, 19 May; Add. 51659, Whishaw to Lady Holland, 14 May 1826.
- 106. Arbuthnot Jnl. ii. 28-29.
- 107. Add. 40387, ff. 71-76.
- 108. Add. 40305, f. 192.
- 109. Peel Letters, 89.
- 110. Parker, i. 414-27; Jenkins, 45.
- 111. Gash, Secretary Peel, 397-9; Parker, i. 427-32.
- 112. Castle Howard mss.
- 113. Arbuthnot Jnl. ii. 69-70.
- 114. Ibid. ii. 72; HMC Bathurst, 627; Parker, i. 433-7; Wellington Despatches, iii. 551-3.
- 115. Peel Letters, 91-99; HMC Bathurst, 627.
- 116. Lansdowne mss, Holland to Lansdowne, 31 Jan. 1827.
- 117. Add. 38748, f. 242.
- 118. Denison diary, 12 Feb. ; Greville Mems. i. 168.
- 119. Arbuthnot Jnl. ii. 79.
- 120. Parker, i. 448-51; Canning’s Ministry, 1-10.
- 121. Add. 40392, ff. 152, 154.
- 122. Agar Ellis diary, 6 Mar.; Denison diary, 6 Mar.; TCD, Jebb mss 6396/275; Broughton, iii. 174-5; Grey mss, Howick to Grey 7 Mar.; Derby mss 920 Der (14) 2/3 (6 Mar. 1827).
- 123. Arbuthnot Jnl. ii. 87.
- 124. Grey mss, Howick to Grey, 16 Mar. 1827; Macaulay Letters, i. 219.
- 125. Broughton, iii. 183.
- 126. For Peel’s part in the negotiations of March and April 1827 see Canning’s Ministry, 21-23, 27-28, 51-56, 60, 66, 73-74, 77, 95, 101-2, 114, 116, 124; Parker, i. 452-68; Twiss, Eldon, ii. 589-92; Geo. IV Letters, iii. 1296, 1304-6, 1311; Arbuthnot Jnl. ii. 89, 98, 103; Hobhouse Diary, 127-8; Colchester Diary, iii. 477, 482-3; Gash, Secretary Peel, 429-36; Jenkins, 44-45.
- 127. See Gash, Secretary Peel, 442-4; Croker Pprs. i. 374
- 128. Add. 40332, f. 319; Arbuthnot Jnl. ii. 108-9.
- 129. Rutland mss (History of Parliament Aspinall transcripts), Londonderry to Rutland, 16 Apr.; Lonsdale mss, Lowther to Lonsdale, 23 Apr.; Add 76380, Tavistock to Althorp, 25 Apr. 1827.
- 130. Denison diary, 1 May; Arbuthnot Jnl. ii. 113; Agar Ellis diary, 1 May ; Shelley Diary, ii. 156.
- 131. Add. 51663, Bedford to Holland, 5 May .
- 132. Geo. IV Letters, iii. 1322; Agar Ellis diary, 3 May; Denison diary, 4 May ; Broughton, iii. 191.
- 133. St. Deiniol’s Lib. Glynne-Gladstone mss 123, Gascoyne to J. Gladstone, 9 May 1827.
- 134. Colchester Diary, iii. 490, 497-8, 503-4; Jebb mss 6396/279, 280.
- 135. Geo. IV Letters, iii. 1328; Add. 52058, C. to H. Fox, 13 May 1827.
- 136. Broughton, iii. 193; Hatherton mss.
- 137. Add. 52447, f.82; Broughton, ii. 204-5.
- 138. HMC Bathurst, 640.
- 139. Arbuthnot mss, Peel to Arbuthnot, 10 Aug. 1827; Arbuthnot Corresp. 87, 91; HMC Bathurst, 643.
- 140. Arbuthnot Corresp. 89; Lonsdale mss, Lonsdale to Lowther, 6 Sept., reply, 7 Sept. 1827.
- 141. Colchester Diary, iii. 526-9.
- 142. Hatherton mss, Huskisson to Littleton, 4 Dec., Littleton to Peel, 6 Dec., reply, 9 Dec. 1827.
- 143. Add. 52447, f. 129.
- 144. Croker Pprs. i. 402, 404; Peel Letters, 103-7; Add. 38754, f. 80; 40334, f. 197; Parker, ii. 26-36; Peel Mems. i. 11-18; Gash, Secretary Peel, 451-7.
- 145. Arbuthnot Jnl. ii. 158-60; Croker Pprs. i. 404
- 146. Geo. IV Letters, iii. 1480.
- 147. Croker Pprs. i. 406
- 148. See Gash, Secretary Peel, 477-8.
- 149. See ibid. 478-87.
- 150. See ibid. 487-507; Jenkins, 30-31.
- 151. Ellenborough Diary, i. 32, 33; Hatherton diary, 15 Feb. ; Add. 40307, f. 50; 40395, f. 244.
- 152. Broughton, iii. 246.
- 153. Ellenborough Diary, i. 39, 43, 45; Broughton, iii. 246; Fitzwilliam mss, Milton to wife, 29 Feb. 1828.
- 154. Russell, Recollections, 58; Nottingham Univ. Lib. Portland mss PwH 147; Rutland mss, Rutland to Mrs. Arbuthnot, 28 Mar.; Croker Pprs. i. 412; Colchester Diary, iii. 553, 555; Add. 51669, Bedford to Lady Holland [26 Mar. 1828].
- 155. See Gash, 460-5.
- 156. Arbuthnot Jnl. ii. 170-2.
- 157. Broughton, iii. 254.
- 158. Ellenborough Diary, i. 63-64; Croker Pprs. i. 413.
- 159. Colchester Diary, iii. 553-4.
- 160. Arbuthnot Jnl. ii. Ii. 173-7.
- 161. PRO NI, Anglesey mss D619/27A/14; Add. 51663, Bedford to Holland, 31 Mar. 1828.
- 162. Ellenborough Diary, i. 51-52, 58, 69, Add. 38755, f. 269; Arbuthnot Jnl. ii. 178; Ashley, Palmerston, i. 132.
- 163. Cent. Kent. Stud. Stanhope mss U1590 C355, Pusey to Mahon, 8 Apr. 1828; Ellenborough Diary, i. 74, 80; Broughton, iii. 257; Gash, Secretary Peel, 465-9.
- 164. Ellenborough Diary, i. 105; Croker Pprs. i. 418-19; Broughton, iii. 260.
- 165. Arbuthnot Jnl. ii. 186.
- 166. Croker Pprs. i. 418.
- 167. Croker Pprs. i. 409-11, 420; Ellenborough Diary, i. 63-64, 106, 112-13; Broughton, iii. 270; Wellington Despatches, iv. 449-72; Ashley, i. 149-62; Gash, Secretary Peel, 469-75.
- 168. Ellenborough Diary, i. 124, 126, 129-30; Arbuthnot Jnl. ii. 187, 189-90.
- 169. Broughton, iii. 276; Bankes jnl. 164 (2 June 1828).
- 170. Anglesey mss 31A/77.
- 171. Bagot mss (History of Parliament Aspinall transcripts).
- 172. Ellenborough Diary, i. 154-5, 156, 157, 175; Arbuthnot Jnl. ii. 196.
- 173. Arbuthnot Corresp. 108.
- 174. Peel Mems. i. 116-17.
- 175. See Peel Mems. i. 1-297; Wellington Despatches, v. 61 76, 80-81, 87, 92, 252-68, 324-6, 356-82, 413; Parker, ii. 46-81; Colchester Diary, ii. 579; Croker Pprs. i. 427-8; Ellenborough Diary, i. 171, 182, 200, 284, 293; Arbuthnot Jnl. ii. 200-2, 206-7, 210, 224, 228-31; Arbuthnot Corresp. 108; Greville Mems. i. 216, 238; Fitzwilliam mss, Scarlett to Milton, 30 Oct. 1828; Gash, Secretary Peel, 520-50; Jenkins, 49-51.
- 176. Ellenborough Diary, i. 299-300; Peel Mems. i. 296; Colchester Diary, iii. 595.
- 177. Ellenborough Diary, i. 308, 311-13, 347-51; Arbuthnot Jnl. ii. 233, 235-6; Add. 40323, f. 31.
- 178. Croker Pprs. ii. 7-8; Lonsdale mss, Lowther to Lonsdale, 2, 4, 5 Feb. 1829.
- 179. Croker Pprs. ii. 7, 9; Add. 40398, ff. 174, 188, 237; 51584, Tierney to Holland [3 Feb.]; 52011, Stuart Wortley to H.E. Fox, 8 Feb. 1829.
- 180. Croker Pprs. ii. 8; Broughton, iii. 302; Greville Mems. i. 249; Hatherton diary, 5 Feb.; Agar Ellis diary, 5 Feb.; Harrowby mss, Denison to Sandon, 6 Feb. 1829.
- 181. Croker Pprs. ii. 8.
- 182. Add. 40398, ff. 146, 148, 167, 169, 220, 250; Agar Ellis diary, 9 Feb.; Lonsdale mss, Lowther to Lonsdale, 10 Feb. 1829; Greville Mems. i. 250; Broughton, iii. 303.
- 183. Arbuthnot Jnl. ii. 239-40; Broughton, iii. 303-4; Croker Pprs. ii. 9; Creevey Pprs. ii. 195; Hatherton mss, Littleton to wife, 10 Feb.; Harrowby mss, Sandon to Harrowby, 12 Feb. 1829.
- 184. Broughton, iii. 306; Ellenborough Diary, i. 366; Add. 40398, f. 313; Gash, Secretary Peel, 560-4.
- 185. Add. 40320, f. 117; 40399, ff. 25, 27; Gash, Secretary Peel, 564-5.
- 186. Arbuthnot Jnl. ii. 243-4, 247-8; Ellenborough Diary, i. 376; Wellington Despatches, v. 482-519 Peel Mems. i. 349-50; Gash, Secretary Peel, 565-70.
- 187. Greville Mems. i.265; Broughton, iii. 308; Ellenborough Diary, i. 380; Von Neumann Diary, i. 198; Arbuthnot Jnl. ii. 249; Lady Holland to Son, 98; Agar Ellis diary, 5 Mar. ; Gash, Secretary Peel, 570-6; Jenkins, 50-51.
- 188. Broughton, iii. 311; Greville Mems. i. 274 Ellenborough Diary, i. 405; Keele Univ. Lib. Sneyd mss, Lady Bathurst to Sneyd [19 Mar. 1829].
- 189. Add. 40399, ff. 77, 79, 86, 90.
- 190. Broughton, iii. 314-15.
- 191. Ellenborough Diary, ii. 2, 9; Croker Pprs. ii. 14.
- 192. Arbuthnot Jnl. ii. 269
- 193. NAS GD23/6/746/121/1.
- 194. Lonsdale mss.
- 195. Heron, Notes, 175.
- 196. Reid, Monckton Milnes, i. 60-61.
- 197. Add. 30115, f. 92; 51562, Brougham to Holland, Wed. [?8 Apr. 1829].
- 198. Ellenborough Diary, ii. 25, 30, 37, 47.
- 199. Gash, Secretary Peel, 601-3.
- 200. Hatherton mss, Littleton to Leigh, 19 May 1829.
- 201. Agar Ellis diary, 1 June .
- 202. Ellenborough Diary, ii. 64, 68, 73, 78-79, 87, 134, 136; Parker, ii. 115-39; Add. 40308, ff. 209, 211, 217, 250; 40327, f. 76; 40337, ff. 40, 49, 61, 74, 92, 123, 181, 212; Wellington Despatches, vi. 31, 37-38, 52, 60, 198, 253-4; Gash, Secretary Peel, 603-8.
- 203. Add. 51562, Brougham to Holland, Sunday [?July], Wed. [?5 Aug.], Sat. [?22 Aug.], Mon. [?24 Aug.]; Cornw. RO, Vyvyan mss, Knatchbull to Vyvyan, 26 Aug. 1829.
- 204. Croker Pprs. ii. 17-20; Peel Letters, 116-17; Dyott’s Diary, ii. 64.
- 205. Add. 51534, Grenville to Holland, 8 Sept.; 51574, Abercromby to same, 20 Dec. 1829; NLS acc. 10655, memo.
- 206. Creevey Pprs. ii. 146; Add. 51534, T. Grenville to Holland, 14 Jan.; 51580, Carlisle to Lady Holland, 7 Jan.; 51785, Holland to C.R. Fox, 11 1830; Northumb. RO, Middleton mss ZMI/S/77/3/1.
- 207. Add. 51785, Holland to C.R. Fox, 18 Jan. 1830; Ellenborough Diary, ii. 177.
- 208. Arbuthnot Jnl. ii. 331.
- 209. Ellenborough Diary, ii. 184.
- 210. Add. 51785, Holland to C.R. Fox, 7 Feb. 1830; Countess Granville Letters, ii. 57.
- 211. Ellenborough Diary, ii. 195; Grey mss, Durham to Grey, 13 Feb. 1830.
- 212. Arbuthnot Jnl. ii. 334; Bessborough mss, Abercromby to Duncannon, 16 Feb.; Add. 51785, Holland to C.R. Fox, 20 Feb. 1830.
- 213. Sneyd mss, Littleon to Sneyd, 24 Feb. ; Arbuthnot Jnl. ii. 342.
- 214. Ellenborough Diary, ii. 198.
- 215. Agar Ellis diary, 10 Mar.; Grey mss, Grey to Howick, 14 Mar. 1830.
- 216. Broughton, iv. 12; Grey mss, Grey to Howick, 15 Mar. 1830; Arbuthnot Jnl. ii. 344-5.
- 217. Arbuthnot Corresp. 131; Ellenborough Diary, ii. 199; 203, 213, 215; Arbuthnot Jnl. ii. 335, 343, 345.
- 218. Ellenborough Diary, ii. 215, 216.
- 219. Add. 52176.
- 220. Arbuthnot Corresp. 134.
- 221. Peel Letters, 119-20; Arbuthnot Jnl. ii. 349; Add. 40400, f. 154.
- 222. Croker Pprs. ii. 57; Peel Letters, 121-2; Ellenborough Diary, ii. 236; Broughton, iv. 20. Gash, Secretary Peel, 627-9.
- 223. Croker Pprs. ii. 58.
- 224. Ellenborough Diary, ii. 220; Broughton, iv. 25; Arbuthnot Jnl. ii. 355-6, 358; Wellington Despatches, vii. 106-8; Gash, Secretary Peel, 633-5; Jenkins, 54.
- 225. Broughton, iv. 22; Add. 40607, f. 137; NLS mss 24748, f. 89.
- 226. Arbuthnot Jnl. ii. 358-9; Agar Ellis diary, 24 May
- 227. Ellenborough Diary, ii. 270, 274-5; Life of Campbell, i. 470
- 228. Ellenborough Diary, ii. 274.
- 229. Macaulay Letters, i. 275.
- 230. Ellenborough Diary, ii. 280-1, 288-9.
- 231. Ibid. ii. 291-2.
- 232. Broughton, iv. 35; Ellenborough Diary, ii. 295, 297; Arbuthnot Jnl. ii. 366; Creevey mss, Sefton to Creevey, 2 July 1830.
- 233. Agar Ellis diary, 6 July
- 234. Ellenborough Diary, ii. 307.
- 235. Ellenborough Diary, ii. 297-8; Add. 40340, f. 223.
- 236. Arbuthnot Jnl. ii. 372-3, 378.
- 237. Ibid. ii. 374.
- 238. Add. 40327, f. 185; 40401, f. 70.
- 239. TNA 30/12/7/6; Ellenborough Diary, ii. 360.
- 240. Dyott’s Diary, ii. 86-87.
- 241. Ellenborough Diary, ii. 334, 378, 380; Gash, Secretary Peel, 638-40.
- 242. Add. 40301, f. 175; 40340, f, 230; 40401, ff. 127, 140, 179.
- 243. Add. 40320, f. 236; Arbuthnot Jnl. ii. 389-91; Powis mss 173; Hatherton mss, Palmerston to Littleton, 12 Oct. 1830; Bulwer, Palmerston, i. 362-3.
- 244. Peel Letters, 125; Parker, ii. 162-3.
- 245. Greville Mems. ii. 51-52; Arbuthnot Jnl. ii. 392-5; Bulwer, 363-4.
- 246. Ellenborough Diary, ii. 400-1, 406, 432; Arbuthnot Jnl. ii. 396; Gash, Secretary Peel, 647-8.
- 247. Ellenborough Diary, ii. 409-10.
- 248. Agar Ellis diary, 2 Nov. ; Ellenborough Diary, ii. 413-14; Add. 52453, f. 194.
- 249. Life of Campbell, i. 483; Parker, ii. 171-2.
- 250. Arbuthnot Jnl. ii. 398.
- 251. Ellenborough Diary, ii. 415, 418-21, 424-5, 427; Broughton, iv. 62-63.
- 252. Parker, ii. 168-9; Gash, Secretary Peel, 649-51.
- 253. Ellenborough Diary, ii. 426, 428.
- 254. Ibid. ii. 432-3
- 255. Three Diaries, 1-2.
- 256. Broughton, iv. 67-68; Life of Campbell, i. 487-8.
- 257. Arbuthnot Jnl. ii. 401, 403.
- 258. Add. 40401, f. 292.
- 259. Greville Mems. ii. 66, 77-78.
- 260. Broughton, iv. 70-73.
- 261. Ellenborough Diary, ii. 441; Life of Campbell, i. 488; Croker Pprs. ii. 77-78.
- 262. Greville Mems. ii. 66; Croker Pprs. ii. 79-80.
- 263. Three Diaries, 27; Glynne-Gladstone mss 196, T. to J. Gladstone, 21 Dec. 1830.
- 264. Glynne-Gladstone mss 196.
- 265. Ibid. T. to J. Gladstone, 17 Dec. 1830; Greville Mems. ii. 91, 93-94; Add. 51655, Mackintosh to Lady Holland [18 Dec.]; 51680, Russell to same, 20 Dec. 1830.
- 266. Broughton, iv. 78; Three Diaries, 37; Ward, Letters to `Ivy’, 366; Add. 51534, T. Grenville to Lady Holland, 21 Dec.; 51578, Carlisle to Holland, 21 Dec.; 51659, Ord to Lady Holland, 21 Dec.; 51677, Russell to Holland [22 Dec. 1830].
- 267. Anglesey mss 27A/90.
- 268. Aberdeen Univ. Lib. Arbuthnot mss, Herries to Mrs. Arbuthnot, 3 Jan.; Add. 57370, f. 69; Lonsdale mss, Croker to Lowther, 2 Jan. 1831.
- 269. Croker Pprs. ii. 97, 99, 101; Three Diaries, 43.
- 270. Dyott’s Diary, ii. 104.
- 271. Arbuthnot mss.
- 272. Goulburn mss 67B, Goulburn to wife [5 Feb. 1831]; Anglesey mss 31D/13.
- 273. Three Diaries, 48; Add. 40402, f. 11.
- 274. Three Diaries, 50; Add. 51569, Ord to Holland [11 Feb. 1831].
- 275. Three Diaries, 54; Anglesey mss 31D/20; Glynne-Gladstone mss 197, T. to J. Gladstone, 19 Feb. 1831.
- 276. Add. 34614, f. 119; Glynne-Gladstone mss 197, T. to J. Gladstone, 22 Feb. 1831; Three Diaries, 56-57; Croker Pprs. ii. 108.
- 277. Glynne-Gladstone mss 197.
- 278. Three Diaries, 59, 61.
- 279. Greville Mems. ii. 118.
- 280. Three Diaries, 13, 57; Croker Pprs. ii. 108.
- 281. Broughton, iv. 87; Three Diaries, 13.
- 282. Three Diaries, 13; Broughton, iv. 93; Gash, Sir Robert Peel, 13-14.
- 283. Greville Mems. ii. 123; Parker, ii. 176; Three Diaries, 62; Glynne-Gladstone mss 197, T. to J. Gladstone, 3 Mar. 1831.
- 284. Three Diaries, 14-15, 63; Broughton, iv. 89-90; Bunbury Mem. 159-60; Greville Mems. ii. 125; Life of Campbell i. 506; Add. 51569, Ord to Lady Holland [4 Mar.]; Glynne-Gladstone mss 197, T. to J. Gladstone, 4 Mar; Rutland mss, Mrs. Arbuthnot to Rutland [4 Mar. 1831]; Bodl. MS. Eng. lett. d 153, f. 76.
- 285. Glynne-Gladstone mss 197, T. to J. Gladstone, 19 Mar. 1831; Croker Pprs. ii. 112.
- 286. Add. 51573, Spring Rice to Lady Holland [21 Mar. 1831].
- 287. Bagot mss, Maryborough to Bagot, 11 Mar; Kenyon mss, L. to Lord Kenyon, 19 Mar.; Three Diaries, 66, 70; Parker, ii. 179-80; Greville Mems. ii. 131; Croker Pprs. ii. 112.
- 288. Broughton, iv. 96; Macaulay Letters, 10.
- 289. Broughton, iv. 97; Glynne-Gladstone mss 197, T. to J. Gladstone, 25 Mar. 1831.
- 290. Three Diaries, 72.
- 291. Greville Mems. ii. 135; Broughton, iv. 99; Life of Campbell, i. 509.
- 292. Arbuthnot Jnl. ii. 415-16.
- 293. Goulburn mss 67B, Goulburn to wife, 12 Apr. 1831.
- 294. Croker Pprs. ii. 114-15.
- 295. Glynne-Gladstone mss 198, T. to J. Gladstone, 19 Apr. 1831.
- 296. Broughton, iv. 102; Glynne-Gladstone mss 198, T. to J. Gladstone, 20 Apr. 1831.
- 297. Three Diaries, 82-83.
- 298. Broughton, iv. 103.
- 299. Le Marchant, Althorp, 307; Greville Mems. ii. 137-8; Broughton, iv. 105-6; Glynne-Gladstone mss 198, T. to J. Gladstone, 22 Apr. 1831; Life of Campbell, i. 511-12.
- 300. Peel Letters, 128-9.
- 301. Parker, ii. 182-4; Broughton, iv. 110-12; Add. 40313, f. 145; 40402, ff. 21-31.
- 302. Glynne-Gladstone mss 224, G. Grant to J. Gladstone, 23 Apr. 1831.
- 303. Add. 40402, f. 43; Gash, Sir Robert Peel, 18.
- 304. Parker, ii. 186.
- 305. Add. 57402, ff. 84, 87.
- 306. Croker Pprs. ii. 116-17.
- 307. Parker, ii. 170-1, 187; R. Stewart, Foundation of Conservative Party, 58-59; Gash, Sir Robert Peel, 19.
- 308. Arbuthnot Jnl. ii. 422-3.
- 309. Anglesey mss 31D/42; NLI, Farnham mss 18602 (2), Arbuthnot to Farnham, 2 June 1831.
- 310. Cent. Kent. Stud. Stanhope mss U1590 S4, Peel to Freshfield, 18 June; Le Marchant mss, Althorp to Le Marchant, 21 June 1831.
- 311. Broughton, iv. 115.
- 312. Creevey Pprs. ii. 233; Broughton, iv. 117.
- 313. Powis mss 178.
- 314. Broughton, iv. 119-20; Three Diaries, 100; Greville Mems. ii. 159.
- 315. Anglesey mss 27A/122.
- 316. Three Diaries, 104; Greville Mems. ii. 163-5; Lonsdale mss, Croker to Lowther, 11 July ; Anglesey mss 31D/46.
- 317. Three Diaries, 104, 106; Broughton, iv. 122; Berks. RO, Pusey mss D/Ebp C1/45, Mahon to Pusey [July]; Le Marchant mss; Hatherton diary, 13 July .
- 318. Three Diaries, 108-9.
- 319. Creevey mss, Creevey to Miss Ord, 23 July; Hatherton mss, Littleton to Leigh, 26 July; Add. 51655, Mackintosh to Lady Holland, 28 July .
- 320. Three Diaries, 113.
- 321. Broughton, iv. 125; Hatherton diary, 29, 30 July .
- 322. Holland House Diaries, 21; Hatherton diary, 1 Aug. .
- 323. Broughton, iv. 127.
- 324. Hatherton diary, 11 Aug. .
- 325. Arbuthnot Corresp. 147; Arbuthnot mss, Hardinge to Mrs. Arbuthnot, 19 Aug. .
- 326. Peel Letters, 130-4.
- 327. Anglesey mss 31D/57.
- 328. Peel Letters, 134-6; Parker, ii. 188.
- 329. Dyott’s Diary, ii. 115.
- 330. Add. 40402, f. 102; NLW, Ormathwaite mss FG 1/5, p. 199.
- 331. Lonsdale mss, Lowther to Lonsdale, 22 Sept. 1831; Three Diaries, 133; Life of Campbell, i. 521, 526; Greville Mems. ii. 203.
- 332. Three Diaries, 147, 150; Cornw. RO, Hawkins mss 10/2172.
- 333. Greville Mems. ii. 209; Parker, ii. 189.
- 334. Add. 51590, Dover to Lady Holland, 1 Nov. 1831.
- 335. Croker Pprs. ii. 137.
- 336. Croker Pprs. ii. 139; Parker, ii. 194-6; Holland House Diaries, 84; Greville Mems. ii. 215; Sheffield Archives, Wharncliffe mss, Peel to Wharncliffe, 23 Nov., Harrowby to same, 25 Nov. 1831; Arbuthnot mss 3029/1/2/37; Powis mss 182.
- 337. Lonsdale mss, Croker to Lowther, 1 Dec. 1831; Parker, ii. 196-7; Three Diaries, 162.
- 338. Stanhope mss C318/2, Mahon to Lady Stanhope, 7 Dec. 1831.
- 339. Broughton, iv. 154-5; Three Diaries, 167-8; Greville Mems. ii. 229; Holland House Diaries, 93; Hatherton diary, 12 Dec.; Add. 51573, Spring Rice to Lady Holland [12 Dec. 1831]; NLS mss 24762, f. 49.
- 340. Holland House Diaries, 96; Anglesey mss 31D/77.
- 341. Holland House Diaries, 97; Hatherton diary, 17 Dec. 1831; Three Diaries, 170, 172; Broughton, iv. 156-7; Cockburn Letters, 365-6; Greville Mems. ii. 242.
- 342. Gash, Sir Robert Peel, 25; Stewart, 72-73.
- 343. Dyott’s Dairy, ii. 122-3; Three Diaries, 175.
- 344. Add. 51573, Spring Rice to Lady Holland, 20 Jan. ; Hawkins mss 10/2178.
- 345. Broughton, iv. 163; Three Diaries, 189; Ormathwaite mss FG 1/6, p. 15.
- 346. Hatherton diary, 28 [Jan. 1828].
- 347. Parker, ii. 198-202; Holland House Diaries, 127; Greville Mems. ii. 250-2.
- 348. Three Diaries, 189.
- 349. Hatherton diary, 9 Feb. .
- 350. Three Diaries, 193, 195, 199; Hatherton diary, 8 Mar. ; Greville Mems. ii. 271.
- 351. Croker Pprs. ii.151, 153; Lieven-Palmerston Corresp. 35.
- 352. Hants RO, Malmesbury mss 9M73/G2536/6.
- 353. Three Diaries, 213; Hawkins mss 10/2190; Add. 52058, C. R. to H. E. Fox [c. 23 Mar. 1832].
- 354. Croker Pprs. ii. 175; Three Diaries, 236-7.
- 355. Broughton, iv. 222, 225; Three Diaries, 253.
- 356. See Gash, Sir Robert Peel, 28-35; Three Diaries, 247-58, Croker Pprs. ii. 153-69, 177-81; Greville Mems. ii. 293-4, 303.
- 357. Holland House Diaries, 178; Lady Holland to Son, 137; Greville Mems. ii. 293-4, 303; Three Diaries, 253, 256, 258, 260-2; Broughton, iv. 228.
- 358. Greville Mems. ii. 91, 94; iv. 233.
- 359. Lady Palmerston Letters, 194.
- 360. Broughton, iv. 243, 248; Holland House Diaries, 193; Hatherton diary, 20 June .
- 361. Sir James Graham mss (IHR microfilm XR 80), 14, Graham to Smith Stanley, 29 July 1832.
- 362. Croker Pprs. ii. 188.
- 363. Three Diaries, 157.
- 364. Greville Mems. iii. 18-19.
- 365. Life of Campbell, ii. 281.
- 366. Oxford DNB.