ALTHOUGH DISRAELI achieved his ambition to enter Parliament in 1837, married, and wrote a novel which included one of the most famous descriptions in nineteenth-century literature (the rich and the poor in Sybil or two nations) this period was not without its frustrations. As his thirties slipped into his forties the realities of his situation fell short of the greatness to which he still aspired.
DISAPPOINTED WITH his lack of progress in Peel's Government (his early request for office was rebuffed), Disraeli became leader of the Young England group, all of whom had been elected in 1842. Here was another small group of aristocratic rebels, principally focused on George Smythe and Lord John Manners, Alexander Cochrane-Baillie and Richard Monckton Milnes, with whom Disraeli could identify. Their youth and admiration added to their appeal for him. Young England, like the Oxford Movement, faced the present by looking towards the distant past for inspiration and direction.
The group dissolved over the Maynooth Grant in 1845 - the same issue over which Gladstone resigned from the Cabinet - but their significance reaches beyond their opposition to Peel's policies and the erosion of aristocratic power. They later provided the model for the Fourth Party in the late 1870s led by Lord Randolph Churchill (1849-94) and the Primrose League founded by the Conservatives in 1883 in response to the extension of the (male) franchise.
IN THE MID-1840s Disraeli returned to novel-writing to explore his political and social ideas. Two novels, Coningsby (1844) and Sybil (1845), appeared in quick succession; the third, Tancred (1847), was delayed by the campaign against Peel.
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Last modified: 17 October 2005 by LwM