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Owen
Owen
447


(afterwards lord mayor), and Jeremy Bentham had one share a piece. Owen proposed that five per cent, should be paid on capital, and the whole surplus devoted to general education and improvement of the labourer's condition. Owen returned to Glasgow for the auction with Allen, Foster, and Gibbs, and, after an exciting contest, the business was knocked down to him for 114,100l. The net profit of the four years' partnership had been 160,000l. Owen was enthusiastically received, apparently at the beginning of 1814, by his workmen upon his return, and had now for a time a free hand for his projects. The population was about two thousand five hundred (own Life, p. 130).

Owen's new school system was to provide his 'living machinery.' He had been interested in the plans of Bell and Lancaster, which caused most of the educational discussion of the day, and had subscribed to both committees. He presided at a public dinner given to Lancaster at Glasgow in 1812 and made an impressive speech (given in the Appendix to his Life). His system at New Lanark showed much sense and benevolence. There were schools for all the children under twelve, at which age they could enter the works. Owen, however, was especially proud of his infant school, where children were received as soon as they could walk. He claimed to be the founder of infant schools. His ' institution for the formation of character,' which included schools of three grades, was opened on 1 Jan. 1816. His first principle was that the children should never be beaten ; that they should always be addressed kindly, and instructed to make each other happy. He took for teacher of his infant school a man who could scarcelv read or write, but was patient and fond of children. He used to teach by objects, avoided overstrain, and thought that books should hardly be used for children under ten. Dancing, music, and drilling were an essential part of the system, and he declares that his school children were the 'happiest human beings he ever saw' (own Life, p. 135). His infant school was imitated by Lord Lansdowne, Brougham, and others, to whom he transferred his master in order to start a new school at Westminster. The New Lanark institutions had now become famous. Owen says (ib. p. 114) that during the ten years preceding 1824 the annual number of visitors was two thousand. He lived from 1808, with his family and Mrs. Owen's four sisters, at Braxfield House, previously occupied by the well-known judge [see Macqueen, Robert], and there received his distinguished guests. His acquaintances included many clergymen, from the Archbishop of Canterbury (Sutton) downwards ; Wilberforce, Clarkson, and other abolitionists ; Malthus, Mackintosh, and the utilitarian group — Bentham, James Mill, and Francis Place. Owen's views were at the time in favour of paternal government, and showed no democratic tendency. He was opposed to Malthusian views, in which he observes (ib. p. 104) that Mrs. Malthus agreed with him, and to the laissez-faire tendencies of the economists. The tory government were disposed to take him up. Lord Liverpool received him ; and Lord Sidmouth had his essays circulated by government in order to elicit comments from qualified people. J. Q. Adams, then United States minister in London, took copies for the United States ; the ambassadors of Austria and Prussia consulted him ; and he declares that Napoleon was converted at Elba by reading his essays, and would have applied their principles if the sovereigns of Europe had not interfered in 1815 (ib. iii. 202 ; an unpublished letter of Place, communicated by Mr. Graham Wallas, notices the despatch of a pamphlet to Elba). The Grandduke Nicholas (afterwards emperor of Russia) visited him at New Lanark, and offered, he says, to take two million of the ' surplus population 'of England and establish a Russian New Lanark under Owen (ib. p. 140). He became acquainted with the English royal family, and especially the Duke of Kent. Owen thus became a prophet. He attributed his remarkable successes at New Lanark, not to the singular combination of good business qualities with genuine benevolence and mild persistence which seems to have attracted all who met him, but to the abstract principle which he began to preach as a secret for reforming the world. This doctrine, which he never wearied of repeating, was that, as character is made by circumstances, men are therefore not responsible for their actions, and should be moulded into goodness instead of being punished. He began to preach this with apostolic fervour. His first public action, however, was more practical. He called a meeting of manufacturers at Glasgow in 1815, and proposed a petition for removing the tax upon the import of cotton. This was carried unanimously. He then proposed resolutions approving a measure for limiting the hours of children's labour in mills. No one would second them, but Owen went to London to lay his proposals before government. The first Sir Robert Peel undertook to bring before the House of Commons a measure founded upon them. Peel consented to the appointment of a committee to investigate