On Friday night in the midst of the most intense and general interest and curiosity, heightened by the closeness and fidelity with which the government measures had been kept secret Peel brought forward his financial plans in a speech of three hours and forty minutes, acknowledged by everybody to have been a masterpiece of financial statement. The success was complete; he took the House by storm; and his Opponents (though of course differing and objecting on particular points) did him ample justice. A few people expected an income tax, but the majority did not. Hitherto the Opposition have been talking very big about opposing all taxes, but they have quite altered their tone. It is really remarkable to see the attitude Peel has taken in this parliament, his complete mastery over both his friends and his foes. His own party, nolentes aut volentes [whether willing or not], have surrendered at discretion, and he has got them as well disciplined and as obedient as the crew of a man-of-war. This great measure, so lofty in conception, right in direction, and able in execution, places him at once on a pinnacle of power, and establishes his government on such a foundation as accident alone can shake. Political predictions are always rash, but certainly there is every probability of Peel's being Minister for as many years as his health and vigour may endure ... There can be no doubt that he is now a very great man, and it depends on himself to establish a great and lasting reputation [Greville, Memoirs, 13 March 1842]

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Last modified 21 June 2002