CHAPTER VIII
THE ADMINISTRATION OF 1841

1841-1846

THE political emancipation of the English middle class was accomplished by the Whig party and its leaders; its economical emancipation was accomplished by the Tory leader in spite of his party. In the Parliament elected in 1841 Peel could reckon on a majority of 90, but only 112 of his followers voted in favour of the repeal of the corn laws in 1846, the rest of the majority being supplied from the Opposition. The explanation is not far to seek. The Tory party, though now called Conservative, and partially permeated with the more liberal ideas of Peel, was still the party of the aristocracy. The Reform Bill had deprived the aristocracy of its predominance in the State. But it had not changed its nature, nor purged it of its characteristic ideas, sentiments, interests, prejudices, and predilections. Peel, on the other hand, was no aristocrat. It was his pride, as he once boasted in the House of Commons, to lead and represent the "gentlemen of England." But he belonged himself by birth and temperament to the new social order which the economical expansion of the last century

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