UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Young England : the medieval spirit in an industrial age, 1842-1850 Smith, David Lloyd


This thesis is an analysis of the writings and parliamentary activity of the Young England movement of the 1840s. Though dismissed by many historians as being well-intentioned but whimsically romantic, the movement, in fact, offered solutions to the dislocating effects of the Industrial Revolution which were often advanced for their time. Composed of young noblemen, under the titular leadership of Benjamin Disraeli, Young England sought to adapt the organic ideology of the Medieval Revivalists (Cobbett, Coleridge, Southey, and so on) to the realities of an industrialized society. The Young Englanders, on the whole, opposed the atomistic tendencies of laissez- faire Liberalism, and supported such progressive measures as the protection of the working conditions and hours of labour of the industrial worker, government sponsorship of agricultural allotments for the labouring poor, sanitary reform, and publicly-funded parks, museums, gardens, libraries, and baths which would be free and accessible to all. Though the movement fell apart over the Maynooth controversy and the repeal of the Corn Laws, several of its members continued to advocate Young England schemes until the end of the decade, at the very least.

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