Letter from James Rigby to Robert Owen

Scope and Content

In this manuscript letter Rigby provides Owen with a comprehensive update of progress made with tasks carried out on his behalf.

Rigby writes he considers all his work for the "Ministry" to be useless; it is all at "sixes and sevens" and the "high places and high personages are crumbling to pieces". He adds that the little knowledge the "People" have and the power of the press in letting their blunders be known are "shaking the throne itself".

A meeting held in Exeter by [Richard] Cobden and [John] Bright over the issue of the Newspaper Stamp is said to have been a "bumper" with thousands having to be turned away; the "Stamp" is said to be "virtually gone".

The recent deaths of Joseph Hume and [Francis] Place are mentioned, with Rigby remarking that while both could be considered "very useful men for the time". However, if they had lived a thousand years longer they would have been "useless for all future time due to their lack of understanding of "past principles".

Rigby recalls attending a dinner held in Manchester some 20 years earlier for the benefit of Joseph Hume. At this dinner he was invited to take the stage by John Fielden and on doing he chose not to speak on the "doctrine of Political Economy", but instead elected to discuss the " first aspirations of "Social Economy" which was in direct opposition to views espoused at the time by the "Harriet Martineau School". Hume was clearly opposed to Rigby's views, as after the dinner he was prompted to send Rigby a parcel of tracts in support of the Martineau theory and also wrote a letter to [George] Mandly in which he explained he "deplored the spread of the New Views". In the letter to Mandley he explained that Martineau had been engaged "for the purpose of destroying the effect" of Owen's views which were then spreading widely amongst "working men".

Note

Stamped number: 2350

Geographical Names