Letter from James Rigby to Robert Owen

Scope and Content

This manuscript letter opens with Rigby reporting to Owen on the progress made with carrying out tasks on Owen's behalf.

Rigby writes of making a visit to a Dr. Evans, and whilst there becoming embroiled in a discussion on "doings in the next world". Rigby acknowledges his inexperience in the matters, but admits what he saw was "anything but conclusive to me of their Truth".

There then follows a long discussion regarding both the establishment of the John Street Institute, [London] and of current events which threaten to undermine the venue. Rigby explains that following the failure of "Co-operators and Socialists" to actually cooperate all of their properties [Halls of Science etc] fell into the hands of others. Only John Street remained, becoming an Institution which could "vomit forth popular discontent", but one where no more progress was made than from among "the ruins of Stonehenge". The Institute transferred from its original owners (Charles Green, William Saul and J. Brady) into the hands of a mixed group, consisting of "old Socialists with broken hearts, New Socialists with no hearts at all and [Ernest] Jones-ites and a remnant of [James] Bronterre-ites with the two latter the most noisy and impracticable".

A few weeks previous, a number of Jones' friends on the Committee of the Institute requested Jones be allowed to lecture there when his turn came around. However, this was disagreeable to the "Old Socialist[s]", with Charles Green at their head, as they believe Jones "mixes up a little Socialism with a great deal of violence" and therefore vetoed the resolution on Jones' lecture. In consequence, the "independent committee" met again and confirmed their previous resolution, but again Green and his associates stood firm. A General Meeting has now been called to sort out the matters.

Rigby asks Owen's opinion of the state of affairs, and for his own part expresses his despair at the lack of co-operation and unity amongst the members of the Institute when writing that "St. Pauls or Westminster Abbey, if given to a few dis-united Socialist tomorrow would not be worth a BrassButton".


Stamped number: 2224

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