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conciliatory. Many of his suggestions for the amelioration and relief of this distracted country have since been carried out with success, and those calumnies which he so manfully, but unsuccessfully, endeavored to disprove, he was spared to outlive.
It is an important and growing belief among medical men that the physical system cannot have free course and development except in an atmosphere of proper temperature. Congenial warmth is necessary to the full play of the animal energies. And it has been shewn from a careful comparison of the weather tables kept at Greenwich, and the statistics of mortality in and around London, that the number of deaths invariably increases in a large ratio when the thermometer falls much below forty degrees of Fahrenheit. Now just what this warmth is to the body, a happy independence is to the mind. Unless the pecuniary circumstances of an individual place him above temptation, he cannot, or at all events he will not, act with that spontaneity and promptness, which are required of him. His vision is obscured, and his convictions are often blunted by the fear of consequences. In the case of Mr. Peel this stumbling block was entirely removed. His father was a man of immense wealth-his personal property, at his death, having been sworn at one million two hundred thousand pounds; and although this event had not taken place at the time of which we are now speaking, the ample resources of his son, in possession and expectancy, were such as to render him entirely his own master, and allow his honest convictions to speak out. In 1811 he had warmly supported a series of resolutions on the subject of the currency, brought forward in opposition to the views he afterwards adopted. But when, in 1819, he saw reason to alter his opinion, he had no hesitation in confessing his error, and actually voted against his own father, who had espoused the opposite cause. “I am free to say," said Mr. Peel, “ that in consequence of the evidence we received, and our discussions on it, my own opinions with regard to the general question have undergone a considerable change. I am ready to avow, without shame or remorse, that I went into committee with very different opinions from those which I at present entertain. My views on the subject were materially different when I voted against the resolutions
brought forward in 1811, but, having gone into this enquiry, determined to dismiss all former impressions, and to obliterate from my memory the vote which I gave some years back, I resolved to apply to the subject my undivided and unprejudiced attention, and to adopt every inference that authentic information or mature reflection could offer to my mind.”
This was true manliness. “Former impressions," sealed as they were by a public vote, were as nothing against the omnipotence of facts, discussions, and the evidence laid before a committee of enquiry. We do not pretend to understand the difficult and complicated question of the currency, but we do understand and admire the majesty of that mind which could act up to its convictions, in a matter so fraught with unpleasant reminiscences, and unprofitable opposition. But this was the great characteristic of his life. If he could only lay hold of what he conceived to be the truth—and this he seemed to do through the power and brightness of an express revelation, though really by the patience of severe investigation, and a well schooled judgment—if he could but do this, he was immoveable, except as he advanced towards the completeness of his victory.
The next great measure, if we are to estimate greatness by the movement it produces in the political and religious world, in which we find Mr. Peel engaged, was the removal of the Roman Catholic Disabilities in 1829. We are aware that we are here trenching upon dangerous ground, and shall say nothing of the merits or demerits of this undertaking. Our business is entirely with the mental phenomena involved in the life of this astonishing man. And here we see these phenomena assuming a different character, although working to the same great end, the good, real or imaginary, of the commonwealth. On the 12th April, 1827, Mr. Peel, with six others, resigned office under the late lamented Mr. Canning, because his government was strongly committed to the removal of these very grievances; but in less than two years afterwards, on the 5th March, 1829, he rose in the House of Commons to propose a measure for relieving them. Here, however, his conduct was not, as in the other case, the result of any omnipotent conviction of the abstract truth or justice of these claims,-it was as he himself confessed, entirely a question of expediency. The circumstances of Ireland appeared imperatively to demand it. The speech in which this declaration was made is very important in our parliamentary history, as well as in the personal history of Sir Robert Peel, as having been the first emphatic avowal of that much-maligned doctrine of “expediency” which has so much contributed to prevent collisions between the legislature, the executive, and the people. While, however, that Mr. Peel adhered to his objections, in principle, to the measure, he did not fail to hold out to the House and to the public the hope, that by the passing of the measure, the differences that had so long prevailed in Ireland might be appeased. With the same sense of honor that characterised his conduct many years after, when speaking of his share in repealing the Corn-laws, Mr. Peel refused to accept the merit of having conceded Catholic emancipation; he said, “ the credit belongs to others, and not to me. It belongs to Fox, to Grattan, to Plunket, to the gentlemen opposite, (the Whigs) and to an illustrious friend (Mr. Canning) who is now no more. By their efforts, in spite of my opposition, it has proved victorious.” It subsequently transpired that the Duke of Wellington and Mr. Peel, having come to the conclusion that emancipation must be conceded, found it impossible to persuade the King to give his assent: and indeed, up to within a month of their introducing the measure, they were not quite sure that they would have the authority of the Crown for so doing. Even so late as the very day before Mr. Peel proposed the measure in the House of Commons, the Duke of Wellington, Lord Lyndhurst, and himself were compelled to tender their resignations-to use Mr. Peel's phrase, “ they retired from Windsor out of office," before they could obtain the assent of the King,
We are too often apt to regard martyrdom in any cause as a test of its truth. It would be wiser, perhaps, to consider it merely as a proof of sincerity in the victim, though even this inference is not always the right one. But we think in Mr. Peel's case, there could be no doubt that, however mistaken he might be, his love of country, his loyalty, and patriotism, were the sole causes of those repeated trials-severe and agonize ing as in many cases they must have been--to which he volun
tarily submitted, for the sake of carrying out his principles. The Duke of Wellington spoke advisedly, and with his usual sententious cautiousness when he said of him, “I never knew a man animated by a more earnest love of truth, a stronger sense of justice, or a more invariable desire to promote the public service.” We have seen already how the carrying out of these principles brought him, in 1819 into collision with his own father, and the party with whom he had hitherto acted. The Bill of 1829 cost him infinitely more. To retract the most solemn pledges, to confess frankly and fully his mistaken policy, to forfeit the political esteem, and in many cases, the personal friendship of many of his colleagues, to endure the unparalleled odium of a vast body of the nation, and lastly, to give up, as he was compelled to do, his seat for the University of Oxford, to which he had been elected in 1817_were things of no little account. Yet they were all counted as nothing by this dauntless statesman. Still zealous in the cause of his country, he soon after brought forward, and carried through against the most vehement and unaccountable opposition, the well known act for creating and regulating an organized police, in place of the old, defective, and decrepid system of watching.
In 1830 Sir Robert Peel died, and his son, our present subject, succeeded to the baronetcy About this time the Reform Bill was brought forward, and though strenuously opposed by Sir Robert, was ultimately carried. After many changes in the administration, Sir Robert Peel came again into power, towards the close of 1841. His scheme for the repeal of the Corn-laws, which has been described as the culminating point of his ameliorating measures, affords another instance of this great statesman's openness to conviction, and ready homage to the force of truth, or what he certainly conceived to be such. Rising in this house to confront and oppose almost all his former friends, he stated most manfully his inability to stand before the tremendous array of arguments brought forward by the Anti-Corn-Law League, and again sacrificed all that was dearest to him in his political life, and very much that affected his social and personal interests.
Of the character of those measures which were furthered or opposed by Sir Robert Peel, we have purposely said nothing; we present him to our readers simply as a model in one respect his anxiety to know the right and do it, fearless of all consequences. For this, we think, his name deserves a record here, and in this respect we commend the study of his life, to all who wish to be really great, and leave the world better than they found it.
On one point touched on in the opening of this sketch, we have said little--the amazing power of that persuasive eloquence, to which Sir Robert owed the ability to carry out his measures. To frame a law, the consent of hundreds is necessary. No man but Sir Robert, could have counted his supporters by scores on the two measures of Catholic Relief and Free Trade in Corn. But all things seemed possible to him; and his own mind once made up, he had no difficulty in ruling the minds of others. “In influence over the House of Commons as a debater,” says a cotemporary, “ Sir Robert Peel was unsurpassed by any speaker of his time. Orators who prepare compositions in the closet, which they deliver with simulated fervour and labored spontaneity in the Senate, produce speeches, which, when listened to, delight for their vivid brilliancy, and which when read, charm by the splendour of their diction, and the symmetry of their form. Sir Robert Peel, while always bestowing great care in the preparation and arrangement of his materials, and shaping out with more or less defined purpose the general scope of his argument, and the purely rhetorical portions of his speeches, aimed always at the attainment of practical and permanent results, which militated against their symmetry and beauty as works of oratorical art. Sir Robert Peel's speeches were, like himself, practical. Their eloquence consisted in their persuasiveness,—in the skill with which the arguments were evolved, and in the illustrations, generally familiar and tangible. Nowhere will his loss be more deplored than in that House of Commons, where he was accustomed to rule by the power of his persuasive eloquence, with almost absolute sway.”
Such was the 'eloquent orator,' who has been so lately taken from us. A mourning more unfeigned or more general it has never been our lot to witness. The voice of God's providence in his removal says loudly to us all,—“ Think, Work, and Dare." Let us hear the rod, and Him who hath appointed it.