Thursday, 23 October 2008

Source: Peel on ‘Conservative principles’, 1838

Peel had identified what he called ‘Conservative principles’ in a letter to Henry Goulburn in 1833. In 1834, he had published the Tamworth Manifesto in which he stated his political views. In this extract, Peel again defines what he means by Conservative principles.

‘Sir Robert Peel ... We feel deeply and intimately that in the union of the conservative party in the country is one of the best guarantees for internal tranquillity and the maintenance of our ancient institutions... By that union we shall best be enabled to maintain the mild predominance of the Protestant faith in this country and in every part of the United Kingdom. By that union we shall be enabled and by that alone to promote what we call conservative principles. If you ask me what I mean by conservative principles... I will, in conclusion, briefly state what I mean...

By conservative principles I mean, and I believe you mean, the maintenance of the Peerage and the Monarchy the continuance of the just powers and attributes of King, Lords, and Commons in this country. By conservative principles I mean, a determination to resist every encroachment that can curtail the just rights and settled privileges of one or other of those three branches of the state. By conservative principles I mean, that co-existent with equality of civil rights and privileges, there shall be an established religion and imperishable faith, and that that established religion shall maintain the doctrines of the Protestant Church. By conservative principles I mean, a steady resistance to every project which would divert church property from strictly spiritual uses

By conservative principles I mean, a maintenance of the settled institutions of church and state, and I mean also the maintenance, defence, and continuation of those laws, those institutions, that society, and those habits and manners which have contributed to mould and form the character of Englishmen, and enabled this country, in her contests and the fearful rivalry of war, to extort the admiration of the world, and in the useful emulation of peaceful industry, commercial enterprise, and social improvement, have endeared the name of England and Englishmen in every country in the world to those who seek the establishment of liberty without oppression, and the enjoyment of a national and pure form of religion, which is at once the consolation of the virtuous man, and is also the best guarantee which human institutions can afford for civil and religious liberty. (The right honourable baronet then sat down, and the cheering, which had been frequent throughout his speech, was renewed with increased energy and enthusiasm.)

Lord Stanley rose and said... my right hon. friend has truly told you that our union is founded upon higher and more enduring motives. It is founded upon the strongest motives that can actuate private feeling, or influence public conduct. It is founded upon a sense of common danger, and a conviction of common interest; not the sordid, base, personal interest or profit of the individual, but a common conviction impressed upon our minds that danger is threatened to the interests of the country, and that union is the only means by which the danger can be warded off, and our institutions preserved.

The Peel Banquet at Merchant Taylor’s Hall, May 12th 1838.

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