Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

He com

- no more

25+
A Sketch of the Life and Character of

[Sept.
what was then considered to be a younger, the_brother-in-law of Ro-
rich dower for maidens of their class, bert Peel. He learned the art in
Robert Peel gave to his younger son London, whither the stuffs fabricated
a college education, and fitted him at Blackburn used in former years to
thereby for holy orders. His elder, be sent in order to be printed ; and
called after himself Robert, inherited he came back to his own county, re-
a sum of money, wherewith he pur- solved, if possible, to practise what
chased the small estate of Peelfold, he had learned there.
near Blackburn, which has remained municated his design to Mr Peel, who
in possession of the family ever fell in with it cordially, and they took
since.

account of their combined means, There is a saying among the Peels, with a view to commence operations. that their house, in its generations, But these proving inadequate, they produces one drone for every two or found out Mr Yates, the keeper of at the most three working bees. Ab

a small inn in Blackburn called the sit omen, so far as the living arc con- Black Bull, who had saved some cerned ;

but in reference to the dead, money, and who agreed to embark the statement appears to have been with them in a scheme of which the substantially correct. William, the promise appeared so inviting. From son of this Robert, for example, these beginnings arose the firm of proved a drone. He earned nothing, Hayworth, Peel, and Yates, which and spent

all that he could. Hence was destined, in another generation, his son Robert found himself, on to assume a foremost place among the his father's death, master of the great houses in Lancashire. Yet the paternal acres —

the es- partners did not win their way, even timated value of which did not to the first stages of success, withexceed £100 a-year. But he seems out passing through all the difficulties to have possessed all the energy of which beset, in those days, the prothe best of his race. He adapted his gress of invention, whatever shape style of living at once to his circum- it might assume. Every step which stances, made the most of his land they took, they were forced to take by farming it himself; and though in secret. Their machinery, after married to a lady of gentle blood, one they set it up, was broken by crowds of the Hayworths of Hayworth, he of handloom weavers; and even the set up, like many other cultivators of improvements introduced by them the soil round about him, handlooms into the patterns and colours of in his own house, and added to his printed goods, were resented as income by weaving. And here it wrongs

done to their rivals. To such may be well to remind the reader a height, indeed, was persecution that the cotton manufacture, which carried, that they were glad to transforms at this day the staple product fer their business to Staffordshire, of British industry, was then only in where, at Burton - upon-Trent, Mr its infancy. Partly through the mis- Peel took a lease for three lives, taken course in which legislation ran, from the Earl of Uxbridge, of some partly because skill was wanting to land well placed upon the river. It spin the cotton thread of strength is of this Robert Peel and bis family enough to sustain the wear and tear that Sir Lawrence gives the followof the warp, pure calicoes were not ing characteristic sketch :woven to any extent in England till “ He understood thoroughly every after Sir Richard Arkwright had branch of the cotton trade. He instructworked out his great invention : and ed his sons himself; he had no drones in even then, they would have stopped his hive. He loved to impress on their short of 'the point of competition minds the great national importance of with the muslins of India, had not

this rising manufacture. He was a reCrompton's mule come subsequently spoken, simple - minded man; not illi

flecting man who looked ahead; a plain. into play, and carried all before it.

terate, nor vulgar either in language, An opinion prevails, and we believe it to be well founded, that the print- refinement in his tastes; free from af

manners, or mind, but possessing no ing of calicoes was first introduced fectation, and with no desire to imitate into Lancashire by Mr Hayworth the the manners or modes of life of the

class above his own. His sons resembled him from London by the coach. Nor him, and a strong likeness pervaded the was he content to imitate. He bewhole family. They were, without one came an inventor as well as a copyexception, hard - working, industrious, išt, and was ever on the alert to plain, frugal, unostentatious men of observe and to apply the inventions business ; reserved and shy; nourishing of others to the machinery, which a sort of defensive pride, and hating all drove his mills. A mind so vigorous, parade ; shrinking perhaps too much from public service and public notice, and at the same time so fertile in and, it may be, too much devoted to the resources, soon caused its influence calm joy of a private station. They were to be acknowledged by all who came loyal men, Tories in politics—a party on in contact with it. The junior partwhich their opponents have since dex. ner in the house of Hayworth, Yates, terously affixed the un-English name of and Peel, became almost from the aristocracy; a kind of moral retribution first the pole-star of the firm ; and certainly, since it was first applied by when Mr Hayworth retired, its authe Tories to the heads of the Whig thority was frankly acknowledged. party—a party whose strength neverthe: To every remonstrance which the less has commonly been derived from the best supports of a party, the middle

innovations of young Robert Peel ranks of the people. Tories, however, excited amongst the older hands, Mr as the Peels generally were, they were

Yates-now the senior partner-used at all times rare samples of the English to give invariably this answer, “The national spirit of self-reliance and sturdy will of our Robert is law here." independence."

That Mr Peel should marry the

daughter of the head of the house, The third son of this Robert Peel, seems to have been a sort of convenwho afterwards became the first ba- tional arrangement. The marriage ronet in the family, was the father did not take place, however, till the of the subject of our present sketch. bridegroom had reached the mature He gave early indication of that age of thirty-six; the bride was only strength of character which rarely eighteen. Yet, notwithstanding this fails of raising such as possess it to disparity in their years, and the still eminence. Impressed with the con- more striking lack of similarity in viction that he was destined to ac- their tastes, the marriage proved to quire vast wealth, and to found a be an extremely happy one. Miss family, he seems never to have lost Yates no sooner became Mrs Peel sight of the object for which he be- than she abandoned all her devotion lieved that he had been called into to society, and, obeying the impulses existence. When yet only eighteen of great good sense and of a most years of age, he proposed, if his fa- affectionate temper, she became to ther would give him £500, to go out her husband exactly the sort of wife into the world, and work his own of which such a man had need. For way through it single-handed. The Mr Peel was ambitious in no common proposal was not then acceded to; degree. Sober, grave, and averse to but no great while elapsed ere his gaiety, he loved money not so much uncle, Mr Hayworth, struck with his for its own sake, as because it was steady business habits, selected him an instrument for attaining to power; from among all the sons of his bro- and money seemed to accumulate in ther-in-law to be a junior partner in his hands as if by magic. Whatever the house. From that hour, the ball he undertook to do, he did successwas at the young man's foot, and he fully; and it is but fair to add that, never permitted it to lie still. He in following up his purposes, he gave his whole soul to the manage- seems never to have deviated from ment of the concern. His life be- the strictest line of integrity. Poor came one continued strain of hard Compton, the wayward but not welllabour. He would get out of bed, if used inventor of the mule, charged the weather seemed to threaten, and him indeed with pirating his invenvisit the bleaching - grounds at all tion; and, as men of Compton's temhours; and one whole night in every perament are apt to do, attributed week he devoted to the study of such Peel's success to that act of plagiarpatterns as were brought down to ism. But Compton's statement is little to be trusted. The fact we we do not believe that, in making up believe to be, that Peel, having heard his mind to throw his eldest son into of the invention, made Compton two the arena of politics, he thought about proposals, both of which were re- them at all. It is much more projected—first, that he should become bable, as it seems to us, that, seeing the superintendent of the works farther into a millstone than most at Oldham, with a large salary; men, he determined to attempt next, that he should join the firm directly what other novi homines as a partner. And by-and-by, when endeavour to accomplish indirectly. Compton's secret ceased to be a Instead of purchasing a cornetcy in a secret, he availed himself of improve- heavy-dragoon regiment, and trustments, of which the monopoly was ing to the accidents of military sernot secured by patent. The conse- vice for gaining admission within the quence was that he grew rich, while aristocratic circle to his descendants the improver ended his days 'a pen- of the second or third generation, sioner on the bounty of strangers. he adopted the wiser and readier

Mr Peel had become a millionaire, course of making his son a politician. and was the father of two daughters, For it was as well known to Robert when his eldest son was born. The Peel the elder as to Lord Byron, that event occurred on the 5th February politics, and politics only, level the 1788, in Chamber Hall, a house near distinctions of social life in this counBury, which he had purchased and try. Do we blame him for this? By fitted up for himself. He happened no means. He was working out in to be in his little business-room when the most legitimate manner the prothe consummation of a long-cherished blem of his own existence. He had desire was announced to him. He set a purpose before him when life befell at once upon his knees, and, re- gan, and now he made his grand move turning thanks to Almighty God, towards achieving it. The wealth made a vow that he would give his which was necessary to build up the son to the country. Never, under house of Peel he had acquired; there the old Law, was child more solemnly remained only the task of securing dedicated to the service of the for the holders of it a place of eminTemple; and never was the act of ence in the body politic. He was dedication more rigidly carried into fortunate in the selection which he effect. From his infancy the late made of the instrument wherewith Sir Robert Peel was trained to be- this great object was to be atcome a statesman, the fact being con- tained, and the results bave more stantly dinned into his ears that than realised his most sanguine antigreat things were expected of him, cipations. and that failure would be attended Mr Peel, the cotton-spinner, apby indelible disgrace.

pears to have been one of those men It is hard to judge of men's mo- who never do things by halves. Havtives. Sir Lawrence Peel, with excus- ing made up his mind to educate bis able partiality, attributes this pro- eldest son for the senate, he believed ceeding on his uncle's part to pure that he could not too soon begin love of country. “He knew,” it is the course of training which embryo observed, “to how hard a life he was senators require. Young Robert can destining his son. Labour, perhaps, scarcely be said ever to have been he accounted, and wisely accounted, treated as a child. Before he was a gain; but he knew the trials, the breeched, he had heard more of the sufferings, the anguish which such a sources of his country's greatness life involves, the thorns which are than most persons hear in the course planted with the laurel leaf.” With of a long life; and as years increased every respect for the recorder of these upon him, he learned to accept no opinions, we must crave permission statement as true, even from his to dissent from the opinions them- father, without first considering it in selves. It appears to us that Mr Peel all its bearings. We have spoken of was scarcely in a position to judge the elder Peel as a Tory. He was a in any degree of the harassments Tory of the school of Pitt, and Pitt he which wait upon a political career; held up continually to his son as the

[ocr errors]

was

true model of an English states- home and foreign markets, were calman. In particular, he used often culated rather to dwarf than to ento interest the boy with accounts large his views of things; and in of the manner in which that great order to counteract their influence, man was in the habit of receiving he was kept as much as possible in such deputations as waited upon a state of severe pupilage. Had he him. Pitt, he observed, seemed al- been naturally more gifted than he ways to know better than they what was, such a discipline could have such persons wanted. Whether pre- hardly failed to affect him almost as pared to accede to their requests or much for evil as for good. He had to refuse them, he never failed to do not a spark of genius about him, them justice. “He would state over but he possessed excellent abilities; our case for us better than we could and his memory, perhaps because it have stated it for ourselves, and then was constantly exercised, became exhe would give his answer.” But it tremely tenacious. On the other was the spirit of Pitt's commercial hand, the constant self-restraint to policy which mainly chimed in with which he was subjected, rendered the opinions of the successful manu- him reserved, shy, and sensitive. facturer; and this he did his best to He became so much of a casuist also, implant deeply in the mind of his that even as a boy he could never son. Without all doubt, the seed arrive at a conclusion till he had thus early sown never lost its vital- passed in array before his mind's ity. For many years after his en- eye all the reasons against as well trance into public life, Peel seemed to as for the object proposed to him. be carried away by the tide, which Lord Byron's description of his forhad set in strong in favour of a pro- mer schoolfellow cannot but be fatective system. But if ever the real miliar to all our readers. “Peel, the history of the man comes to be writ- orator and statesman,” says he, ten, it will doubtless appear that my form-fellow; we were on good even then he distrusted the wisdom terms; but his brother was my intiof the course which he was pursuing. mate friend. There were always

It will not do to institute a com- great hopes of Peel among us, masparison between William Pitt and ters and scholars, and he has not Robert Peel. Their abstract princi- disappointed them. As a scholar ples might accord, but the two men he was greatly my superior; as a were as unlike, in all the circum- declaimer and actor I was reckoned stances both of public and private at least his equal. As a schoolboy life, as any two men could well be. out of school I was always in scrapes, Pitt, born into the governing class, and he never.

In school he always and breathing from the outset an knew his lesson, and I rarely ; but atmosphere of politics, became of his when I knew it, I knew it nearly as own accord a politician; there was well

. In general information, hisno forcing in his case. The genius tory, &c., I think I was his superior." with which nature had gifted him, We accept this account of young took the direction into which all the Peel at Harrow as substantially corassociations by which he was sur- rect. It is in perfect accord with rounded turned it. The questions what he afterwards became, and is daily and hourly discussed before precisely such a result as his univerhim, were economical questions. He sity training might be expected to would lay down his Herodotus to produce. Nor does he appear to talk of the rights of nations; and have varied much after he entered while reading one of Cicero's Philip- the university. At Oxford, as at pics, would imagine that he listened Harrow, he was still the steady into his father declaiming in the senate. dustrious student; and he was more. Peel's situation was very different. He took to boating and to cricket, in The objects presented to his obser- both of which he held his own, and vation out of the schoolroom were his dress was in the mode. But at important doubtless, but they were Oxford, as everywhere else, Peel was mean. The mill, the bleaching- methodical as clock-work. There ground, the ledger, the prices in were no fits of hard reading and hard

“ Wil

[ocr errors]

idleness with him. One day exactly anecdote as an illustration of Croker's resembled another; so many hours words on this subject :devoted to classics, so many to ma- It chanced on a certain occasion thematics, so many to exercise. And that a party of Sir Robert Peel's method and diligence reaped their friends met at Drayton, among whom reward. In a remarkably good year, were Lord Hardinge and Mr Croker. in which the names of Gilbert, Hamp- After shooting in the morning, the den, and Whateley are registered, he guests assembled at dinner, when Sir took a double first-class degree. He Robert entertained them with an acwas the first Oxford man so distin- count of an accident which had hapguished. At the preceding examina- pened, while they were out, to a tions, under the system then new, young son of his brother William. no such honours in mathematics had The child, it appeared, had swallowed been earned.

a button, and the doctor being called Mr Peel is described, by those who in, there was a desperate attempt to knew him best, to have entered life eject the noxious matter. Warming with all the advantages on his side with his story, the Prime Minister, of a handsome person and an expres- arrived at this climax. “You never sive countenance. His father's name saw a child so treated ; in fact, we also did much for him with the Tory got everything out of him.” party, which at once took him up; liam,” exclaimed Croker across the for his father had won his own way the table, to the father of the sufinto the House of Commons, and ferer, “I wish that somebody would was in due time created a baronet, give Sir Robert a button.” Yet even those who most shut their Resolute to work out the fulfileyes to Peel's shortcomings, acknow. ment of his own views, Peel, the ledge that his manners were never elder, no sooner received his son generally engaging. In a circle of home, with all his university hointimate friends he would sometimes nours fresh about him, than he prounbend, though even among these posed to the Minister of the dayhis ordinary deportment was cold, the Duke of Portland—to bring the perhaps forbidding. As not unfre- young man into Parliament as a quently happens with men of his supporter of the Government. It temperament, he was far more agree- was to Ireland, in those days, that able during a brief than a lengthened all Prime Ministers, whether Whig interview; and he never failed to or Tory, looked for the great body of receive such persons as waited upon their adherents. The Irish Secrethim on matters of business with ary, Sir Arthur Wellesley, was acgreat courtesy. But the shyness cordingly, written to, to provide a which, besides being natural to him, seat; and we find, in the volume of had been confirmed and rendered in his correspondence lately published veterate by his early training, he by his son, a curious letter referring never succeeded in conquering. Sir to this circumstance. How little Lawrence Peel, scarcely admitting this could either of these great men antito be a fact, nevertheless says: "The cipate what was in store for both of late Lord Hardinge, who knew Peel them, when the one sought only to intimately, and loved him with a purchase his way into the House of warm and lasting affection, once Commons; and the other directed lamented to me, in India, Peel's un- his agent at Castlebar to secure the expansiveness (for those were his election of “a Mr Peel.” words) as the head of the Conserva- It may be doubted whether a tive party. He said that Croker had statesman gains or loses by becomcomplained il ne se déboutonne ing, at the commencement of his pas,' adding to it the remark, that career, connected with the executive his reserve impaired his usefulness, Government. The disadvantage is, and was injurious to the interests of that nine times out of ten his mind his party!

.* We trust that Sir Law- contracts to the measure of those rence will not consider that we with whom he is associated; and that are dealing lightly with so grave a in learning as a duty to support their matter, if we subjoin the following measures, he learns also to adopt

6

« AnteriorContinuar »