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workpeople were satisfied with the various new rules and regulations he adopted; and how, during the four years he remained there, he continually improved the output; how his salary was raised by agreement to £500 a year, to be followed the next year by his becoming a partner with one-fourth share in the whole concern-is one of the most interesting and remarkable incidents in modern biographical literature.
Owing to family arrangements Mr. Drinkwater wished Owen to withdraw from the partnership, but begged him to remain as manager, and name his own salary. This he declined, soon found another offer, built new mills, and carried them on successfully for several years, till, in the year 1800, he became partner and sole manager of the New Lanark mills, and married the daughter of Mr. Dale, the former proprietor.
Gradually, for many years, he had been elaborating his theory of human nature, and longing for an opportunity of putting his ideas in practice. And now he had got his opportunity. He had an extensive factory and workshops, with a village of about two thousand inhabitants all employed in the works, which, with about two hundred acres of surrounding land, belonged to the company. The character of the workers at New Lanark is thus described by Mr. W. L. Sargant in his work “Robert Owen and his Social Philosophy," when describing the establishment of the mills about fifteen years before Owen acquired them: "To obtain a supply of adult labourers a village was built round the works, and the houses were let at a low rent; but the business was so unpopular that few, except the bad, the unemployed, and the destitute, would settle there. Even of such ragged labourers the numbers were insufficient; and these, when they had learned their trade and become valuable, were self-willed and insubordinate." Besides these, there were about five hundred children, chiefly obtained from the workhouses of Edinburgh and other large towns, who were apprenticed for seven years from the age of six to eight, and these were lodged and boarded in a large building erected for the purpose by the former owner, Mr. Dale, and was well managed. But these poor children had to work from six in the morning to seven in the evening (with an hour and three-quarters for meals); and it was only after this task was over that instruction began. The poor children hated their slavery ; many absconded; some were stunted, and even dwarfed in stature; and when their apprenticeship expired at the ages of thirteen to fifteen, they commonly went off to Glasgow or Edinburgh, with no natural guardians, and trained for swelling the mass of vice and misery in the towns. “ The condition of the families who had immigrated to the village was also very lamentable. The people lived almost without control in habits of vice, idleness, poverty, debt, and destitution. Some were drunk for weeks together. Thieving was general, and went on to a ruinous extent. . . . There was also a considerable drawback to the comfort of the people in the high price and bad quality of the commodities supplied in the village."
When Owen told his intimate friends who knew all these facts that he hoped to reform these people by a system of justice and kindness, and gradually to discontinue all punishment, they naturally laughed at him for a wild enthusiast; yet he ultimately succeeded to such an extent that hardly any one credited the accounts of it without personal inspection, and its fame spread over the whole civilized world. He had, besides the conditions already stated, two other great difficulties to overcome. The whole of the workers and overseers were strongly antagonistic to him as being an Englishman, whose speech they could hardly understand, and who, they believed, was sent to get more money for the owners and more work out of themselves. They, therefore, opposed all he did by every means that ingenuity could devise, and though he soon introduced more order and regularity in the work and improved the quality of the yarn produced, they saw in all this nothing but the acts of a tool of the mill-owners some. what cleverer, and therefore more to be dreaded, than those who had preceded him. An equally fierce opposition was made to any improvement in the condition of the houses and streets as to dirt, ventilation, drainage, etc. He vainly tried to assure the more intelligent of the overseers and
workmen that his object was to improve their condition, to make them more healthy and happier and better off than they were. This was incredible to them, and for two years he made very little progress.
His second great difficulty was that his partners were business men, who expected him to carry on the works on ordinary business principles, so as to obtain for them at least as large returns as any other factories in the country. Generally, he was absolute and sole manager, but he knew that he could not make any large or extensive alterations till he had obtained a surplus revenue beyond what was expected. For the first two years he limited his improvements to the factory itself and its management, and to endeavours, mostly in vain, to obtain the confidence of the workers.
One thing, however, he did for the benefit of the workers which had some effect in disarming their enmity and suspicions. Instead of the retail shops where inferior articles were sold at credit for very high prices, he established stores and shops where every article of daily consumption was supplied at wholesale prices, adding only the cost of management. The result was that by paying ready money the people got far better quality at full 25 per cent. less than before; and the result soon became visible in their superior dress, improved health, and in the general comfort of their houses.
But what at length satisfied them that their manager was really their friend was his conduct when a great temporary scarcity of cotton and its rapid rise in price caused most of the mills to be shut, and reduced the workers to the greatest distress. But though Owen shut up the mills he continued to pay every worker full wages for the whole of the four months during which the scarcity lasted, employing them in thoroughly cleaning the mills and machinery, repairing the houses, etc. This cost £7000, which he paid on his own responsibility ; but it so completely gained the confidence of the people that he was afterwards able to carry out improvements without serious obstruction. Being wholly VOL. I.
opposed to infant labour he allowed all arrangements with the guardians to expire, built a number of better houses, and thus obtained families of workers to take the place of the children ; but difficulties with the partners arose, the property was sold to a fresh set of partners, Owen being still the largest shareholder and manager, and a few years later again sold to Owen and a few of his personal friends, who agreed to allow him to manage the property, and to expend all profits above 5 per cent. for the benefit of the workers. Among his co-shareholders were Jeremy Bentham, with Joseph Foster and William Allen, well-known Quakers. It may be here stated that the property was purchased of Mr. Dale for £60,000, and was sold to Owen and his friends in 1814 for £114,100. This great increase of value was due in part to the large profits made by cotton mills generally at this period, and partly to Owen's skilful management and judicious expenditure.
He was now at last able to carry out his plans for the education of the children, none of whom he would allow to enter the mills as workers till they were ten years old. He built handsome and roomy schools, playrooms and lecturerooms for infants from two to six, and for the older children from six to ten years old ; and he obtained the best masters
1; for the latter. The infant schools were superintended by himself, and managed by teachers he himself selected for their manifest love of children. His instructions to them were “that they were on no account ever to beat any one of the children, or to threaten them in any manner in word or action, or to use abusive terms, but were always to speak to them with a pleasant countenance, and in a kind manner and tone of voice; that they should tell the infants and children that they must on all occasions do all they could to make their playfellows happy; and that the older ones, from five to six years of age, should take especial care of the younger ones, and should assist to teach them to make each other happy.” And these instructions, he assures us, were strictly followed by the man and woman he chose as infant-school master and mistress.
No books were to be used; but the children were to be taught the uses and nature or qualities of the common things around them, by familiar conversation when the children's curiosity was excited so as to induce them to ask questions respecting them.” The schoolrooms were furnished with paintings of natural objects, and the children were also taught dancing, singing, and military evolutions, which they greatly enjoyed. The children were never kept at any one occupation or amusement till they were fatigued, and were taken much into the open air and into the surrounding country, where they were taught something about every natural object. Here we see all the essential features of the educational systems of Pestalozzi and Froebel, worked out by his own observations of child-nature from his own childhood onward, and put into practice on the first opportunity with a completeness and success that was most remarkable.
He tells us that his numerous visitors, latterly numbering two thousand every year, were more amazed and delighted with the schools than with any other part of the establishment; and that during the visit of "a lady of the highest rank of our own nobility-after inspecting the dancing, the music, and all the other lessons and exercises outof-doors, of the infants and children in their playground, while attentively witnessing their kindness of manner to each other, their unaffected, unrestrained, joyous happiness, and remembering their efficiency in their indoor exercises-this lady said to me with tears in her eyes, 'Mr. Owen, I would give any money if my children could be made like these.' And truly those who were trained from infancy through these schools were by far the most attractive, and the best and happiest human beings, I have ever seen. Their manner was unaffectedly graceful, and, when spoken to by strangers, naturally polite, with great innocent simplicity. The total absence of all fear, and full confidence in and affection for their teachers, with the never-ceasing expression of perfect happiness, gave these children of working cotton-spinners a character for their age superior to any I have yet seen." It was also noted how this training improved the physical