In his study of valedictory statements, chiefly in poetry, Justin A. Sider quotes from Peel’s resignation speech as “a study in the dynamics of valedictory rhetoric,” pointing out that his rhetoric makes him into “a cultural form among workers grateful for the changes that cost him the office of prime minister” (4). — George P. Landow

In relinquishing power, I shall leave a name, severely censured I fear by many who, on public grounds, deeply regret the severance of party ties—deeply regret that severance, not from interested or personal motives, but from the firm conviction that fidelity to party engagements—the existence and maintenance of a great party—constitutes a powerful instrument of government: I shall surrender power severely censured also, by others who, from no interested motive, adhere to the principle of protection, considering the maintenance of it to be essential to the welfare and interests of the country: I shall leave a name execrated by every monopolist who, from less honorable motives, clamors for protection because it conduces to his own individual benefit; but it may be that I shall leave a name sometimes remembered with expressions of good will in the abodes of those whose lot it is to labor, and to earn their daily bread by the sweat of their brow, when they shall recruit their exhausted strength with abundant and untaxed food, the sweeter because it is no longer leavened by a sense of injustice. [4]


Sider, Justin A. Parting Words: Victorian Poetry and Public Address. Charlottesville and London: University of Virginia Press: 218.

Last modified 11 December 2019