A History of Modern England - Vol. 1

A History of Modern England - Vol. 1

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A History of Modern England - Vol. 1

A History of Modern England - Vol. 1

Read FREE!

Excerpt

The dramatic close of Sir Robert Peel's official career marks a turning-point in English history. It broke up political parties, and disorganised public life. Toryism disappeared for a generation, and for some years the Whigs held the field as the only possible Government. No Minister ever had a more glorious fall. Sir Robert Peel left office (power he could not leave) with an alacrity equal to Falstaff's. But he did not sink. He fell to rise, and that immediately, upon the crest of the wave. He has himself described the final scene in a letter to his intimate friend, Lord Hardinge, then Governor-General of India, which has become justly famous. "The moment," he wrote on the 4th of July 1846, "the moment when success was ensured, and I had the satisfaction of seeing two drowsy masters in Chancery mumble out at the table of the House of Commons that the Lords had passed the Corn and Customs Bills, I was satisfied." He might well be satisfied. He had restored the finances of his country, which, when he became Prime Minister in 1841, were in great and grievous peril. By the simple expedient of Free Trade he had given the people bread, putting, as Mr. Bright said long afterwards, the Lord's Prayer into an Act of Parliament. He thus saved England from the danger of revolution, then no vague or imaginary peril, for it broke a few months later upon . . .

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