Looking At History

Bentinck was sent neither to school nor to university but found a patchy education in the intervals of roaming freely about Welbeck.. In 1828, he succeeded his uncle Lord William Bentinck as MP for King’s Lynn, a borough where in fact the family acquired much impact and that he sat uninterruptedly until his loss of life. Bentinck’s short, turbulent, but influential political career has no parallel in British history. Bentinck was transparently honest in thinking that protectionism was right both in policy and principle.

He viewed the Conservatives’ electoral success in 1841 and the modified protection given by Peel’s corn laws of 1842 as committing the party and government to a policy that was now threatened by Peel’s new course. He previously been unswervingly loyal to Peel and acquired used no part in previous protectionist mutinies.

‘I keep horses in three counties’, he is reported to have said, ‘and they tell me that I shall save £1500 a season by free trade. I don’t look after that. What I cannot carry is ‘being sold’.’ He convinced himself that Peel must make ‘atonement’ for breaking the unwritten code of aristocratic honour. More practically, he thought, as he told Stanley (20th January 1846), that if one portion of the aristocracy, Peel off and his followers went in for ‘politics pledge-breaking’ and lying down, the legitimacy of aristocratic predominance would be gravely damaged.

These views, coupled with a lively single-mindedness and an insistence on political consistency, created the explosive imperatives of his politics. Uncompromising and authoritarian, he could be vindictive in his combativeness. His ferocious episodes on Peel and his ‘paid janissaries’ and ‘renegades’, most notoriously the unjust charge on 8th June 1846 that Peel acquired ‘hunted’ Canning to his early loss of life, increased the temperature of controversy in the Commons already.

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Bentinck soon demonstrated that his forte didn’t lie exclusively in destructive opposition. Of February 1847 for famine-stricken Ireland His programme, centring on his ambitious railways plan and including endowment of the Roman Catholic Church, tenants’ compensation, and fees on absentee landlords, was a impressive project in constructive unionism and public engineering.

Bentinck was persuaded that beyond the agrarian heartland that continued to be solidly protectionist in the general election of 1847, much support was waiting to be tapped in the metropolitan and commercial worlds. He accepted that the status quo ante 1846 had not been immediately realisable. The fiscal policy in his election manifesto (24th July 1847), a deliberate reply to Peel’s Tamworth apologia, called for a ‘revision and equalisation of taxation’ to place the overtaxed agriculturist ‘on a fair footing with the Manchester manufacturer’.

Excise responsibilities would be abolished and changed by revenue duties on international agricultural and produced products; free colonial imports would be allowed; and ‘the mischievous and absurd restrictions’ of Peel’s Bank or investment company Charter Act of 1844 would be handled. Overwork, the consequence of taking too much on himself, his habit of eating absolutely nothing after a light breakfast until he dined past due during the night at White’s, and recurrent, depressing bouts of influenza had broken his health, as he recognised. ’ and with a considerable body of support. Against the drive for even more instalments of free trade, the protectionists’ well-organised resistance at least bought time for endangered passions to adjust to new terms of trade.

At the finish of the 1848 program Bentinck transpired on 11th September to Welbeck, and two days later saw the Derby champion Surplice defeat Stanley’s Canezou to win the St Leger at Doncaster. September 1848 On 21st, he set out to walk the five mls from Welbeck to remain with Lord Manvers at Thoresby. Last seen position by a water-meadow gate, his mind as though reading down, he died on the real way of a center strike.

Curious local rumours of suicide or murder were dispelled by the autopsy which exposed ‘congestion over the complete system’, emphysema of the lungs, and a huge muscular center with the looks of ‘abnormal contraction’. He was privately buried on 29th September in the family vault in St Marylebone Old Church. British merchant ships in the Thames from London Bridge to Gravesend, in Liverpool, and in French and Dutch ports hoisted their flags at half-mast in tribute.

The major sources for Bentinck are B. Disraeli Lord George Bentinck: a political biography, 1852, Benjamin Disraeli letters, ed. J. A. W. Gunn while others (1982-), amounts 4-5, The Croker papers: the correspondence and diaries of … John Wilson Croker, ed. L. J. Jennings, volume 3, (1884), web pages 127-66, R. Stewart The politics of safety: Lord Derby and the protectionist party, 1841-1852, 1971, A. Macintyre ‘Lord George Bentinck and the protectionists: a lost cause?