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Young England

Young England was a small Tory parliamentary group of the 1840s, which included Lord John Manners, George Smythe, Baillie-Cochrane, and Disraeli. They were greatly concerned with the ‘condition of the people’ question and their vague solution was a restoration of the trust and respect which they believed had once existed between nobility and people and a reaffirmation of the position of the church. They drifted into hostility towards the Tory leader Sir Robert Peel, and dissolved with his fall in 1846. Disraeli wrote of the movement in Coningsby (1844), Sybil (1845), and Tancred (1847). It was not difficult to ridicule. Lord John Manners believed that a reintroduction of the practice of touching for the king's evil might raise the tone of society and produced the memorable couplet: ‘Let wealth and commerce, law and learning die, But leave us still our old nobility.’ Wordsworth, provoked by the name, wrote a sonnet denouncing ‘beardless boys’ and the Morning Herald thought the movement ‘tomfoolery and mental dandyism’. Yet their attitude to the poor, if condescending, was generous, and echoes of Young England survived as elements in Disraeli's later vision of Tory democracy.

J. A. Cannon

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