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This is Carlylese, but it needs little transla- on which, in case of loss of work, they might tion in reference to a movement, some of the always fall back. The failure of the Rochdale permanent effects of which were apparent at savings-bank, recently plundered by its actuthe time of the cotton famine twenty years ary to the extent of £70,000, had destroyed afterwards. That movement began in the all faith in that hitherto popular institution. latter part of 1843 in an association which It was under these circumstances that twentyliad theoretically in view wider results than eight Rochdale flannel-weavers managed to those that were to be effected by merely com- scrape together a sovereign each for the purmercial or industrial co-operation. The first pose of establishing a shop in which they programme of the founders of the co-operative might purchase genuine groceries and other system at Rochdale included a provision “that necessaries at a moderate price, dividing among as soon as practicable this society shall proceed themselves whatever profits might remain at to arrange the powers of production, distribu- the end of the year. The views by which tion, education, and government; or in other they were actuated are very clearly exhibited words to establish a self-supporting home in an account which they afterwards pubcolony of united interests to assist other lished of the lofty aims with which they societies in establishing such colonies.” Some made this very humble experiment. of this may seem visionary, but there was “The objects of this society are the social enough of sound and solid fact remaining after and intellectual advancement of its members. what was merely visionary had disappeared, It provides them with groceries, butcher'sand when this and other co-operative associa- meat, drapery goods, clothes, shoes, clogs, &c.
, tions which had been established on its ex- There are competent workmen on the preperiences were consolidated and working, but mises to do the work of the members and not too freely, under the “ Friendly Societies execute all repairs. The capital is raised in Act" of 1852.
one pound shares, each member being allowed Various abortive attempts had been made to take not less than five and not more than from time to time to realize the ideas on a hundred, payable at once or by instalments which the co-operative societies were founded, of three shillings and threepence per quarter. but they had failed, chiefly through the moral The profits are divided quarterly as follows: and industrial defects of those by whom they first, interest at five per cent per annum on were tried. At length an attempt was made all paid-up shares; second, two and a half per at Rochdale by men who, though extremely cent off net profits for educational purposes; poor and almost destitute of book-learning, the remainder to be divided among the memwere endowed with the qualifications neces- bers in proportion to money expended. For sary for carrying the enterprise they under the intellectual improvement of the members took to a successful issue.
there is a library consisting of more than 3000 The example thus set was followed in all volumes. The librarian is in attendance every the large towns of the manufacturing districts. Wednesday and Saturday evening from seven But we shall best comprehend the nature of to half-past eight o'clock. The news-room is this great movement by fixing our attention well supplied with newspapers and periodicals, on the origin and progress of the Rochdale fitted up in a neat and careful manner, an society, which served as a pattern to the rest, furnished with maps, globes, microscope, teleby whom its rules and methods were almost scope, &c. The news-room and library are exactly copied. It was, as we have noted, at free to all members. A branch reading-room the close of the year 1813 that the Rochdale has been opened at Oldham Road, the readers Equitable Pioneer's Co-operative Store was of which meet every second Monday in Janfirst established. The new poor-law had pre- uary, April, July, and October, to choose and vented the working men of that town from sell the papers." looking, as they had previously been accus- Whatever may have been the opinions of tomed to do, to parochial relief as a resource those who strongly objected to the system of
co-operation, and who prophesied its ultimate 4. Let majorities rule in all matters of govfailure, there could be no doubt that the en- ernment. deavour to provide the means of education 5. Look well after money matters. Punish and of intellectual culture formed a promising fraud, when duly established, by the immefeature in the work that was then undertaken. diate expulsion of the defrander.
It has been claimed for the Rochdale pioneers 6. Buy your goods as much as possible in that one of the chief reasons why they became the first markets; or if you have the produce the advanced guard of a great and astonish- of your industry to sell contrive, if possible, ing progress was that they neither desired to to sell it in the best. pull down other classes nor to raise themselves 7. Never depart from the principle of buyout of their own class, but to raise themselves ing and selling for ready money. by elevating the class to which they belonged. 8. Beware of long reckonings. Quarterly “They were men of courage and men of busi- accounts are the best, and should be adopted
Their aim and ambition was that the when practicable. working classes should be well fed, well clad, 9. For the sake of security always have the well housed, well washed, well educated; in accounted value of the “fixed stock' at least a word, that in the highest and best sense of one-fourth less than its marketable value. the term, they should be respectable. If any 10. Let the members take care that the taint of the socialistic and communistic theories accounts are properly audited by men of their in which the society originated still adhered own choosing to them it was rapidly removed by the prac- 11. Let committees of management always tical realities with which they had to deal. have the authority of the members before The prodigious and rapid growth of the estab- taking any important or expensive step. lishment at the head of which they were 12. Do not court opposition or publicity, nor placed required considerable administrative fear it when it comes. ability, and it was forthcoming. To their 13. Choose those only for your leaders honour it should be mentioned that, far from whom you can trust, and then give them your being actuated by any desire to monopolize the confidence." advantages they enjoyed, they were animated As a proof of the rapid success which atby a generous spirit of proselytism, which led tended the institution we may refer to the them to put themselves to considerable trouble statistics compiled on the tables published in and expense in communicating to inquirers the almanacs of the Rochdale societies. The from all parts of the kingdom the results of number of members in 1844 was 28, and the their experience, and aiding them in the for- amount of the funds £28. In the following mation of new societies.” The following ex- year there were 74 members, the funds had tract from a paper they printed at an early increased to £181; and out of £710 which period of their history in order to send to all represented the amount of business done there those who applied to them for information was £32 on the side of "profits.” In 1850 with a view to the formation of new societies, the members had increased to 600, the funds illustrates the spirit of generosity and wisdom to £2299, the business to £13,179, the profits by which they were animated :
to £889. In 1855 there were 1400 members, “1. Procure the authority and protection £11,032 of funds; the business done was of the law by enrolment.
£44,902, and the profits £3106; and in 1860 2. Let integrity, intelligence, and ability be there were 3450 members, £37,710 in funds, the indispensable qualifications in the choice business to the amount of £152,083, and proof officers and managers, and not wealth or fits reaching £15,906. distinction.
After it had been carried on for seven years 3. Let each member have only one vote, it was found that more money was offered for and make no distinction as regards the amount investment than could be profitably employed of wealth any member may contribute. in the store. The directors, therefore, were SUCCESS OF THE CO-OPERATIVE INSTITUTIONS.
forced to consider what was to be done with balance always in the bank. It was univertheir surplus capital. They could not con- sally admitted to be one of the largest, besttinue to pay five per cent on it, as they were constructed, and best-fitted in the borough obliged to do by their rules, when it was not of Rochdale, a town which was by no means yielding them anything like that amount. behind its neighbours in the size and excellence They must therefore either find profitable of its factories. This great work was scarcely employment for it or refuse to receive it. finished when its owners found themselves in They determined on adopting the former of a position to commence another factory alongthese two alternatives, and as at the time side of the first. These two establishments great complaints were made of the quality of the together cost nearly £100,000, besides the flour that was sold in the shops, much of which amount of capital required for their working. was said to be adulterated, it was determined Before they were completed and filled with in 1850 to establish a new society, to be called machinery the American civil war broke out the Rochdale Co-operative Corn-mill Society, and prevented the experiment of a co-operative for which a substantial mill was erected in manufactory from having the same fair trial Weir Street, Rochdale.
that had been given to the other co-operative The spirit by which the first co-operators experiments, and which they had passed were animated is illustrated by the fact that through so triumphantly. The cotton famine they determined not to erect the building by rendered the newly erected factories almost contract, thus incurring an additional expense useless and entirely profitless. It compelled of about £1000, but they cheerfully paid this a great number of the shareholders to part difference, in the assurance that every man with their shares to persons who were not so who had laboured in the construction of their fully imbued as themselves with the original mill had received a fair day's wage for a fair spirit of co-operation, and who purchased them day's work, and they added that they believed simply as a speculation. One of the results the money had been well spent, because the of this change of proprietorship was, that a building was better and more substantial than rule of the society which gave the operatives it would have been if it had been erected by a share in the profits of the concern was abrocontract.
gated, and was not afterwards restored. The progress made by this second co-oper- But these works were far from absorbing ative scheme was shown by the fact that in the whole of the capital, which co-operation 1860 the funds amounted to £26,618, the multiplied to an extent that seemed almost business done to £133,125, and the profits to magical. In the year 1860, while the first £10,164. The success of these two societies factory was still incomplete, a co-operative produced great confidence in the co-operative sick and burial society, founded on thoroughly principle, and a general desire among the sound principles, and carrying on its operworking-classes to invest their savings in them, ations upon the extended scale necessary to which compelled the leaders of the co-operative ensure the successful working of such institumovement to consider what farther employ- / tions; a co-operative Turkish bath; and lastly, ment could be found for the funds thus forced in the year 1861, a land and building society
Accordingly, in the year 1854 were established. a manufacturing society was formed on the The capital of these various institutions in same general principles as the store and corn- the year 1861 was thus estimated :-Co-opermill society, which seemed likely to prove ative store, £39,335; corn-mill, £29,962 ; equally successful. At first they carried on manufacturing society, £71,695; land and their operations in rooms hired for the pur- building society, £1000; Turkish batlı, £350; pose, and on the 22nd of April, in the year total, £142,342. Deducting loans from the 1859, they laid the first stone of a cotton store to other societies, £16,613, there was left factory of their own, which they completed a net capital of £125,729. This capital conwithout borrowing a penny, and with a large sisted of money or stock purchased by money,
and worth considerably more than its cost Societies Act, which prevented them from price.
dealing with any persons except their own In the year 1844 the whole co-operative members. In that year they obtained an act capital was £28. In the year 1850, which entitled the “Industrial and Provident Sociewas the date of the commencement of the ties Act,” giving power to such societies to . corn-mill, it was £2299; in the year 1854, in carry on trade as general dealers, and to sell which the manufacturing society was founded, to non-members, but still maintaining certain it had increased to £11,144; and in the year disabilities, one of which prohibited them from 1861 it had risen to £125,729.
occupying more than a single acre of land. At the time when the American war com- In 1857 this act was amended by another, menced the example so successfully set in which, while it relieved them from some reRochdale had been followed in almost all the strictions, still prevented their holding more great manufacturing towns. They had pro- than an acre of land. This was in force till vided the working-classes who inhabited them 1862, when the prohibition as to land was rewith a safe investment for their savings, from mored; and it was not till after 1867, when the which they received five per cent regularly “ Industrial and Provident Societies Act” was paid to them besides profits; they had also passed, chiefly to explain some of the clauses taught them habits of frugality, temperance, of the preceding act relating to the payment patience, sobriety, and self-reliance, and to of income tax ly members, that remaining this it was in no small degree due that when disabilities were removed, and the societies the cotton famine did come upon the working- were placed on the same footing as individuals classes of the manufacturing districts it found with regard to land, building, and mortgages, them prepared to bear it with a firmness and as well as to trade undertakings.? resolution which extorted the admiration of the civilized world. During that famine the
Of course several attempts were made to original society flourished in spite of the heavy bring cargoes of cotton from the Southern Irain caused by the withdrawal of their de
: ports by ships breaking the blockade, and posits by many of the members, who were
some of them were successful; but the difficompelled by want of work to fall back on culty experienced and the expense incurred these resources. They, of course, underwent
in such enterprises made them of little service, some temporary inconvenience, and during
and of course so increased the price of the these trying years there was a diminution in
comparatively small quantity of cotton they the amount of their business and their profits
. brought, that it produced little or no effect on But this was merely a temporary reverse, and
the market, and only slightly increased the as soon as the famine ceased, and indeed even
supply. On the other hand, numbers of vesbefore it had ceased, the societies resumed
sels were fitted out in European ports as blocktheir onward course, doing more business,
ade runners, and several were equipped in our obtaining greater profits, and paying larger ship-yards for the purpose of breaking through dividends than ever. During the severest
the obstructions or evading the vigilance of distres when there was a kind of run on
the Federal war vessels, which prevented the them for money, there was never the slightest ingress of goods, arns, and medieines to the hesitation or delay in paying those who wished
South. Several of these succeeded, and the to withdraw their money in accordance with
trade their owners were able to do, was so the rules of the societies. And this was the
profitable that blockade - running became a case, not in Rochdale only, but in almost every
kind of excitement among some of the merpart of the manufacturing districts in which
chant captains and adventurers, who shared co-operative societies had been founded on the Rochdale model. We have seen that in 1852 co-operative
1 William Nassau Molesworth (History of agland), to
whom every student of the features of this phase of social societies were enrolled under the Friendly progress should be indebted.
their risk. This it was next to impossible to this kind appeared afterwards, and were furprevent, for of course it was pretended that nished by shipbuilders in England to the order the voyage was to be to some foreign port or of any person who could pay for them; for, to the North; but worse than this system of as was afterwards argued, the United States private adventuring was the construction, by government had not abolished privateering, some of our large shipbuilders, of ships of war and there was certainly no law to prevent our for the South, under the pretext that they shipbuilders, any more than those of foreign were for foreign governments. This of course nations, from taking orders for such vessels. was in direct contravention of the proclamation One of these, which was built at Birkenhead of neutrality, and our government was bound professedly for the Italian government, and to use every effort to prevent it. The Fede- was named the Oreto, was suspected by the rals had already bitterly complained that we American minister to be intended for the lid not use ordinary vigilance, and that any- Confederates; but though our government was thing like a careful inquiry would prove
that apprised of her probable destination there was vessels to be armed for the Confederates, and no law to detain her, and soon after she left alnost undisguised as vessels of war were our shores she became the Florida, Confederate' being built here under the shallowest pre- privateer. In three months she had destroyed tences, of agents, who scarcely took the trouble thirteen and captured two vessels. Other prito say more than that they were for a foreign vateers followed, and it was pretty well susorder; while the contractors knew perfectly pected that certain formidable rams and ironwell for what service they were intended, and clad vessels of war which were being laid connived at, or even invented, means for con- down were, in spite of prohibition and provealing their destination.
clamations of neutrality, to be completed for Perhaps a more close investigation would the Southern States, on the probably safe have taken place but for the irritating demands speculation that they would be suffered to made by the Federal minister. For instance, a slip out of English jurisdiction with little instrongly worded and angry remonstrance had quiry and no demand for proofs of their real represented that British subjects were being purpose. enlisted in the Southern ranks; and Earl It will be seen, of course, that the distinction Russell not unnaturally replied that it was between a privateer which might be supplied not with the knowledge and was against the by a British firm of shipbuilders, and an acinjunctions of the government, at the same knowledged vessel of war which might not, time asking whether the Federal authorities was disappearing, and at last a case occurred had taken care to exclude sailors and other which almost obliterated that distinction ensubjects of Great Britain from joining their tirely, and made it necessary to enter into forces.
prolonged and difficult arbitrations as an All this was provoking, but such misunder- alternative to actual hostilities. xtandings did not make it less the duty of our In the latter part of 1862 a vessel was being government to inquire keenly into the desti- completed in one of the dockyards of the nation of every vessel above a certain tonnage Mersey, and there could be no doubt that it and of a certain build—to say nothing of ships was intended for the Confederate service. obviously intended for hostile purposes, which The builders were the Messrs. Laird, a firm, were in course of construction in private dock- the former head of which, represented Birkenyards. The privateers which went out of head in the House of Commons, and was Charleston scoured the seas and did some urgent to induce the government to recognize damage to Federal ships here and there, and the Southern States of America as an indeone of them, the Sumter, under the command pendent nationality. There was little if any of Captain Semmes, was destroyed by a Nor- attempt at concealment. The progress of the thern war steamer after a short career of de- vessel, which was known by the somewhat mysvastation; but the really formidable vessels of terious name of the “ 290," was duly recorded