Letter from Richard Oastler and William Stocks to Robert Owen

Scope and Content

This manuscript letter opens with Oastler (writing on behalf of himself and Stocks) explaining that, due to previous commitments, they are unable to meet Owen in Bradford. However, he believes their presence unnecessary for the success of Owen's plans as, in all likelihood, Bradford people "may be willing to Co-operate for the real benefit of the Working Classes" [? with the introduction of an eight hour working day].

The news that John Fielden plans to take a "lively interest" in the matter causes Oastler to "rejoice" as he believes Fielden to be a man fixed with "undoubted confidence of the operative classes"; he will prove to be "most valuable auxiliary".

Oastler asserts that both he and Stocks have a "strongest desire to be co-workers" with Owen, this despite believing Owen's decision to call Public Meetings in different districts is "premature". However, they feel uneasy in proposing and defending a scheme they do not "thoroughly understand", and therefore they recommend Owen take a more cautious scheme. Owen is advised to make connections with individuals in different districts, and only once made should he call a central meeting where those gathered could "coolly and deliberately" discuss their views and "take counsel" from Owen. Oastler explains that more information of Owen's plans is required - both in terms of the "superstructure" he wishes to raise and also to establish of what "foundations" it will lay. With this information established, they would then be in a better position to explain the plans to others when questioned.

Oastler feels the "short Catechism" he presented to Owen at Huddersfield should be "generally circulated" prior to any meeting taking place, so that people may have their minds "prepared to receive the whole development of the scheme".

Oastler closes the letter by asking Owen not to judge it in an "unfriendly light", it is just the case that Stocks and he are wary of embarking on a plan without first thoroughly understanding it.

Note

Stamped number: 664

Geographical Names