The Rochdale Pioneers (5)
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SEVERAL exclusive characteristics of the Rochdale Society have been, happily, introduced into other societies, and therefore are now common features of co-operative associations.  The determination to deal in pure provisions only, as far as they could get them, which all co-operative societies do now, required quite a propagandism to establish at first.  Many members were willing to give up the endeavour to sell only pure articles, from the impossibility of getting them.  To persist in trying to do what could not be done did seem absurd.  It was because it ought to be done that the better class of members persisted in attempting it.  It was this feeling that the pure provisions ought to be obtained that led to the working of the wholesale idea, which has since made it possible for every society to do the same thing.  It was up-hill work, hardly conceivable now, to keep up an agitation for pure food.  Everybody had an idea that pure food was the best; but, unfortunately, many did not like it when they got it.  They did not, as we have said, know the taste of it, and their taste had to be educated; and many people no more like having their taste educated than having their minds educated.  When it is done they are very glad, but they take very ill to the process.

    It was the honourable boast of the Pioneers' Almanac of 1861 that it was "a principle of the Rochdale Society to have no creditors."  That meant that they did not trust anybody—not even their own members.  Everybody had to pay cash down.  There was no going into debt.  Working people had never been accustomed to this, and did not at all like it.  Most of them had no ready money at all, and therefore found it difficult to pay when they bought.  They were all in debt to some local grocer, and the more honourable of them did not like taking ready money to the Store when they had not paid off their score at their next door neighbour's shop.  When the middle class of people and the families of gentlemen are in debt, which every tradesman unfortunately knows, it is a very difficult thing to learn the poor a lesson which their betters could not be taught.  But this is what the Co-operators of Rochdale did, and a very great merit it was to do it.  When Lord Westbury's wise Bill for rendering credit illegal was brought in, the Co-operators of Rochdale were restrained from supporting it, as we have told, by reluctance to embroil themselves with the shopkeepers who were their neighbours.  It is a stronger argument against shop-keeping than any co-operator ever invented—that it should be the interest of tradesmen to keep up a state of the law which affords facilities for poor people getting into debt.  It was, however, by the voluntary and peremptory abolition of credit by themselves that the Rochdale Co-operators attained their great commercial success.

    At the great Co-operative Festival in the Free Trade Hall, Manchester, in 1864, Mr. Thomas Bayley Potter, M.P, for Rochdale, presided, and gave important testimony to the character of co-operation.  He said:—"From my experience, at the head of what is, I believe, the oldest home-trade house in Manchester, I can say that we have no accounts that are more satisfactory than those with the co-operative societies.  We observe that they buy good and genuine articles only.  And this does not apply merely to the drapery trade, such as I am connected with, but I have reason to know, from friends in Liverpool, dealers in sugars and dried fruits, that the buyers from the co-operative stores invariably purchase sterling articles, such as will give satisfaction to their customers.  They devote £500 a year to education and recreation.  I can bear testimony to the excellence of the Rochdale flour.  I have not tasted better bread than that made from the Rochdale flour.  During the distress these two societies have distributed £1,529 in relief, and subscribed liberally towards local charitable institutions."

    By abolishing credit, co-operative societies taught saving, and saving made many rich.  To this, however, there is another side.  In many cases these societies, by imparting to men who never had anything, nor expected to have anything, the sweet taste of saving and possessing property, have demoralised some useful persons.  Many people under the influence of these societies have forsaken patriotism for profits.  And I know both co-operators and Chartists who were loud-mouthed for social and political reform, who now care no more for it than a Conservative Government; and decline to attend a public meeting on a fine night, while they would crawl, like a serpent in Eden, through a gutter in a storm after a good security.  They have tasted land, and the gravel has got into their souls.

    Yet to many others these societies have taught a healthy frugality they never else would have known; and enabled many an industrious son to take to his home his poor old father, who expected and dreaded to die in the workhouse, and set him down to smoke his pipe in the sunshine in the garden, of which the land and the house belong to his child.

    These fine instances of benefit are not to be obscured by cases of selfishness which always occur in the transitious state of men from bad to better.  As Tacitus says: "There are more willing slaves who make tyrants than there are tyrants who make forced slaves!"  There are always people who are born mean, and who like to crawl and to be kicked.  When such men get money they mostly turn out fools.  But this class of people are a good deal generated by the greed—which never knows when to stop—which they see in the classes above them.  And it is a great credit to any class of men who set a better example than they find around them.

    In the last letter I received from Mr. Cooper, he criticised a remark in the "History of Co-operation in Halifax," to the effect that in the Brighouse Society they had not an average of the intelligent working men join as members.  "If this be true, I conclude," wrote Mr. Cooper, "that the Brighouse—like some other societies—has made a mistake, for the very opposite of this ought to take place, and does in the best societies.  Where there are no news-rooms, libraries, or educational objects connected with a store, the intelligent workman may be expected to go elsewhere, if his needs are not met at the Co-operative Society, but stores wise enough to provide news-rooms, are sure to attract those who seek food for the understanding.  The libraries and reading-rooms of the Rochdale, Oldham, Bury, and some other societies draw a class of members which would not come for the money dividend alone."

    In the same letter, Mr. Cooper refers to a letter I had published for him in favour of continuing open the Rochdale news-room on the Sunday.  A member has made a motion that "I (William Cooper) be instructed to apologise to some half-dozen members of the Society who six months ago made a motion to close the Society's news rooms on Sunday.  However, the meeting did not pass the motion that I make an apology.  As our members are not anxious to be gagged themselves, so they agreed that I also might be allowed to speak or write.  I think those are misguided and misguiding members who wish to establish a censorship in co-operative societies to interdict freedom of speech or pen to servants and members thereof."

    Mr. Bamford, in answer to inquiries addressed to him by me, says:—"You ask me to write you, as if you were an ignorant outsider, understanding nothing, and wanting to know everything and see everything, as people on the spot see it.  I will endeavour to do so.  On the part of what has now become a large section in the Society there is a natural fear lest too much credit he given to a few individuals for having brought the co-operative system to what it is in Rochdale.  Those who come into a movement after the rough work has been got through, and who by their numbers give magnitude to it, are apt to claim more credit for its successes than is their due.

    "The early minute books are certainly an interesting study, and give to the student an idea of the type of men who carried this movement through its early struggles.  There was a spirit of earnest reality about them that found unequivocal expression in curt records.  The following minute, passed by the committee in June, 1854, is an apt illustration of this.  It is as follows:—'That Cooper, the cashier, be exempt from coffee grinding.'  What a curious combination of duties that would be thought to-day.  Fancy the smart cashier at one of our large stores taking his turn at the coffee mill.  Yet it appears these men had to fulfil the functions of clerks, committee-men, coffee-grinders, and shopmen.  I wonder, if circumstances required it, whether the present generation of co-operators would be found equal to that."

    About this period, twenty years after the formation of the Store, a new set of men appear to be brought upon the stage.  And there is about the records a different class of entries from those the Society has recorded before.  The storm is over, the battle has ceased, the ground won is being steadily occupied, and the new generation have chiefly to cultivate their inheritance and bury the old Pioneers.  Before we quit the field let us take a last look at the watercourses which brought it fertility.

    One of the skilful explorers for materials who have aided me in this final narrative has been, like Mr. Stanley, to the Ujiji of early stores—namely, to Rochdale, and investigated the archives there.  The minutes there kept may be likened to the tributary streams which fed from the first the great Nile of co-operation.  He first comes upon a curious little rivulet.  On April 4, 1861, a resolution of the Board decides that "William Cooper have a month's notice to leave."

    But at the next meeting he was re-engaged.  What follows no doubt sufficiently explains this.

    At a quarterly meeting, October 7th, 1861, the following resolution was passed:—"That the president of this Society be instructed to entirely repudiate the statement appearing in the Counsellor, September, 1861, which statement is said to have been furnished by Mr. Cooper, the secretary of the Society."  This repudiation prepared by the president (Mr. Howard), approved by the Board, read at the monthly meeting, and at the subsequent quarterly meeting, by a special resolution, was entered in the minute book.  It was as follows:—

    "Dear Sir,—You will excuse me while I draw your attention to an article which appeared in the Counsellor for September, headed 'The Sects among the Co-operators,' containing statements (said to be facts) leading your readers to believe that some sectarian influence has been brought to bear upon the discussion of a certain question [the Labour Question] which was a short time ago under consideration in this town, and warning new co-operative bodies from accepting members who are connected with certain religious denominations [no such warning was given] which are there named.  The article has been much condemned and deplored, so much so that, on its being submitted to the consideration of our quarterly meeting on Monday night, the 7th inst., a resolution was moved and carried—'That our president be instructed to entirely repudiate a statement said to be furnished by our financial clerk, Mr. Wm. Cooper, and which appeared in a publication denominated the Counsellor, for September, 1861, such statement being considered detrimental to the interests of this Society; also that the people of this country in forming new co-operative societies, be recommended to seek their members from all classes and conditions of men.'  I beg to inform your readers that the principles of the Rochdale Co-operators are—1st, not to inquire into the political or religious opinions of those who apply for membership into ours or any of the various co-operative societies in our town; 2nd, that the consideration of the various political and religious differences of the members who compose our societies should prevent us from allowing into our councils or practices anything which might be construed into an advantage to any single one of each sect or opinion.  The result of these principles has been that in the discussion and determination of all the great questions which have divided us, there might be seen ranged on both sides men of various creeds and opinions.  That our policy has been such I need only quote from an article which appeared in the Equitable Pioneers' Society's Almanac, for 1860, where the writer is, for the time being, the mouthpiece of the Society.  He says—'The present co-operative movement does not intend to meddle with the various religious or political differences which now exist in society, but by a common bond, namely, that of self-interest, to join together the means, the energies, and talents of all for the common benefit of each.'  The co-operator does not seek to inforce or carry out any particular doctrines of any particular individual.'  We think that all such statements and recommendations [Mr. Cooper made none] in your article of September can only be followed by mischievous effects, and ought not to have been made by those professing themselves the dearest friends of our hitherto successful principles.  I recommend, in the name of the Pioneers and Co-operators of Rochdale, all new societies never to inquire what politics or what religion the persona applying for membership are, but take all those who are willing to subscribe to the rules.—I am, dear sir, on behalf of the Society, yours most respectfully, ABRAHAM HOWARD, President."

    This letter was published by me for Mr. Howard, I being editor of the Counsellor, a quiet quarto journal, in which secular, co-operative, political, and religious writers endeavoured to give counsel to working men on public affairs, without dictation, assumption, arbitrary authority, or invective.  Those who gave advice or suggestions in it were understood to examine both sides of the question on which they presumed to offer an opinion.  At that time Mr. William Cooper, on my solicitation, wrote a paper on the Manufacturing Society in Rochdale, which was then a co-operative company, and which had for three years been regarded with satisfaction and pride as such.  But there had sprung up a set of Aaron-rod shareholders, who thought work should have bare wages, and capital swallow all the profits, just as that hungry rod of Aaron swallowed up all the other rods.  Mr. Cooper divided the capitalists into two classes—monopolising capitalists and participating capitalists.  He was afraid the monopolists would out-vote the participators, which they eventually did.  I asked him to give me an account of the sects among the co-operators in Rochdale.  Mr. Cooper did not volunteer the information, I asked him for it.  There was no concealment of the source, for I mentioned his name in the Counsellor.  None of us were underground agitators, we always worked above board.  I wanted to know how far different classes of Christians in the Rochdale Society were in favour of industrial partnerships, so that when you knew the religious composition of a society you might know what the prospects of the recognition of labour in manufacturing might be.  Mr. Cooper gave me this information, particularising the sects who supported the principle, and those who were against it.

    This was the little playful communication against which Mr. Howard levelled his grave official letter.  In a note upon it, I said, "It concluded with some sentiments I very cordially agreed with, and had never transgressed against."  There was not a word of criticism or inculcation of any sectarian principle in anything I published.  All I sought was an estimate of the tendencies of sects in regard to industrial partnerships, just as the chemist would estimate the specific gravity of the different liquids with the view to determine their value in different experiments. [67]  I always counselled co-operators to be tolerant of each other's opinions, and to remember, with Paul, that charity was greater than faith or hope.

    The other day a new café was opened near St Mary's Church, in  the Strand, by two clever Swiss gentlemen.  Probably a thousand pounds have been spent in fitting up the place, and no handsomer or completer café has been opened in London.  The interior is quite that of another country than this, yet it has only one penny ink pot, and a halfpenny pen in it, and if a visitor requires it he has to wait while the proprietor finishes his letter to his grandmother.  It is quite right the old lady should be written to, but it is a loss of time to have to wait every day while it is done.  I thought how often a splendid conception is marred by a small omission.  So it is with co-operative stores which have no propagandist department.  Rochdale would not be famous as it now is, nor would co-operation be what it is, had not the early Pioneers wisely provided for the propagation of their principles.

    In an open space on the left bank of the river Roche, and in the most public thoroughfare in the town, is a drinking fountain erected by the Society and made over to the town authorities on April 19th, 1855, in the following terms:—

"To the mayor, aldermen, and burgesses of Rochdale: On behalf of the members of the Rochdale Equitable Pioneers' Society we beg to present to you, for the use of the inhabitants of and strangers visiting the town of Rochdale, the bronze drinking fountain and lamp erected at the bottom of Drake Street, opposite the Wellington Hotel.  Hoping that you will accept the same in the spirit in which it is given, and that it may long be a use and an ornament to the town, is the sincere desire of yours, very respectfully, on behalf of the Rochdale Equitable Pioneers' Society,

 "JOHN COCKCROFT, President.
OBT. BRIGGS, Secretary."

    This gift was accepted.  The utilitarian monument stands on the spot proposed for it.  As the parched Oriental traveller from Egypt or India, visiting the earliest shrine of co-operation, enters the town of Rochdale, he passes by the Pioneers' fountain, and can quench his thirst before exploring the wonders of the great Store.



IT may seem to contemporary co-operators, who know how largely the present development and prosperity of the movement is owing to the new generation of advocates, that too much credit is given to the former generation, who set it going and laid down the lines upon which it has proceeded, and that these pages are of the nature of a partisan history.  But the reader will find that this is not so.  The Apostles never made Christianity what it is.  George Stephenson had no idea of the railway system as we now know it.  But had there been no intrepid and enthusiastic Apostles to travel and preach and suffer martyrdom, in evil days, there had been no Christianity; and had not George Stephenson thought and toiled and plotted for railways, amid ignorant capitalists and an unfriendly public, railways might now be regarded as a mere mechanical craze.  Not to give honour to these originators would be injustice; not to recognise the intrinsic merit of their successors would be blindness.  It happens to be a matter of historic fact that co-operation grew out of the famous social theories promulgated in the early part of this century, and the gallant and practical co-operators who first put their industrial scheme in operation planned its method of procedure and worked for it, stood by it and defended it against a world of unfriendly adversaries, until it was accepted and adopted by others—were themselves inspired and animated by the ideas of eminent theorists who went before them.  I did not invent them; I found them.  I did not derive their names from hearsay; I knew them.  They were of all religions and all opinions—political, social, and speculative; but all stood on the side of that socialism which sought social improvement by creating new arrangements of production and distribution, by honesty in trade, and equity in the distribution of profits.

    Mr. Charles Howarth died on the last day in June, 1868, and was buried in the Heywood Cemetery.  He had died at 28 Wilton Street, Heywood.  He went down in the mid-year time.

    There were present a concourse of his friends, mostly co-operators.  The Rochdale Equitable Pioneers' Society was represented by the president and two of the committee, beside some twenty other co-operators from Rochdale, who, with those from other places, formed a numerous procession.  The Rev. Mr. Fog (of Heywood) read the burial service, after which Mr. Councillor Smithies (of Rochdale) said that before the relatives and friends of the deceased separated, a few remarks would be made by Mr. William Cooper, at the particular desire of Mr. Howarth.  Mr. Cooper then spoke as follows:—

    "Our friend who is now interred here was known and respected by all of us, and we regret that he has not lived many years longer amongst us, who have held him in high estimation.  Our companion who now rests here has been distinguished by sound judgment, and for holding advanced opinions, and has laboured with steady earnestness in many causes for the freedom and benefit of himself and his fellow-man.  I have known him for upwards of thirty years.  He formerly was connected with the Radical movement, which aimed at obtaining political rights for the people of Great Britain and Ireland; and he just lived long enough to see the opinions which he long advocated when they were opposed by both Whig and Tory states men, become the law of the land.  At least, every householder is a citizen; but the ballot, which he also claimed, is not yet conceded.  Some of us may live to see this measure granted, to be freed from coercion and oppression by the capitalist and employer classes.  Let us look at what he did as a socialist reformer.  Having common sense and a strong desire to promote the welfare of the working class, he always laboured to reduce his plans and principles to practice for their benefit.  He became a disciple of the late Robert Owen, and an active member of the Socialist body, and assisted in the establishment of communities of united interest, or a New Moral World where each should work for the good of all, and knowledge and plenty reign, and ignorance and want be unknown.  But these noble objects being in advance of the people generally—could not then succeed.  Yet they remind those amongst us who are here, and who then made common cause with him in these objects, of the calm, temperate, and sound judgment which he brought to bear, and the dignified and steady perseverance which he applied to make the faith which was within him a living practice.  He was a warper by trade, in a cotton mill, and saw the hardships and injury to health which the long hours' system in tainted atmosphere produced.  He took a prominent part in the agitation for the Ten Hours Factory Act, making speeches at public meetings in its favour, and collecting subscriptions to defray the expenses of the short time movement.  He laboured mostly amongst his Rochdale townsmen.  He was sent as a delegate to London to confer with members of Parliament and watch the Ten Hours Bill while before the House of Commons.  In those days employers of labour were not in favour of legislation as between themselves and their workpeople.  On one occasion he was called into the office by his employers, and they made the proposal that he should remain in the office, and they would send for the hands one by one out of the mill and put the question to each whether he wanted the Ten Hours Bill with a reduction in wages corresponding with the shorter time.  By this means, said they, it could be ascertained whether a majority of their workpeople were in favour or against the proposed Ten Hours Factory Act.  Mr. Howarth agreed so to do, provided his employers would first consent for him to have a meeting with the workpeople in one of the rooms of the mill to explain to them the subject.  The employers did not assent to this, so there was no meeting of the work people or calling them into the office.  Our friend saw many evils in society, and like a skilful reformer, sought remedies for them.

    "The people's earnings were in part absorbed by middlemen; they were also in debt with the shopkeepers, and adulterations of food detrimental to their health were being imposed upon them.  To rectify these evils, Mr. Howarth propounded that the working classes should become their own purveyors and shopkeepers.  The Pioneers' Society's rules were mostly drawn up by him, and the principle of dividing profits on purchases in proportion to each member's trade was his proposal.  The rules further provide that the government of the Society should be in the hands of the members, the management being vested in a committee elected by and from amongst themselves.  Mr. Howarth also assisted in drawing up the constitution of the Rochdale District Corn Mill Society.  Later still he assisted informing the North of England Co-operative Wholesale Society, Limited, of 68 Dantzie St., Manchester, and was one of its first directors ; and up to the time of his death was a director of the Co-operative Insurance Company.  In life he was a useful citizen; a free-thinker in religion; in political and social questions an advanced and consistent reformer; a good husband and father; a true, constant, and faithful friend."

    Mr. Cooper, not long after, needed a friend to speak at his own grave.

    William Cooper was one of the "twenty-eight."  The Rochdale papers gave a long report of the proceedings at his grave.  The most complete narrative appeared in the Social Economist of London, then edited by myself and Mr. E. O. Greening (a journal which was discontinued by arrangement, that the Co-operative News might become the official and chief organ of Co-operation).

    It was in the October following the death of Mr. Howarth that Mr. Cooper died.  He was the first cashier of the Toad Lane Store. He carried the gold to the bank when it was so light a quantity that a rabbit might have drawn it; and he carried it when it was so heavy a load that it produced a rupture, from which the carrier suffered ever after. The classic athlete trained himself by carrying a calf daily as it grew, and his strength gradually increasing with the weight of his load, he was eventually able to carry the cow. But Mr. Cooper was not so fortunate. His death, however, came by typhus. He had lost a child by it; its nurse (a relative) then suffered; the mother was seized, but happily recovered; then Mr. Cooper was stricken. He got about again, when a relapse, thought to be occasioned by too early exposure, killed him on the 31st of October, 1868. He died at his residence in the Oldham Road, Rochdale. The Store salary did not do much for the cashier in its earlier days, and it always bore small proportion to his services. "His death," the Rochdale Observer said, "took the town by surprise," which meant that all the town knew him, which was true.

    He was interred in the Rochdale Cemetery, when a public funeral was arranged by the Society.  The day was most unfavourable.  Besides mourning coaches, almost every coach in the town was engaged to protect his friends from the pitiless rain; and the procession, as it passed from his residence through the town, was watched by crowds of people at the corners of the various streets.  The co-operative establishments were partially closed from the time of his death, and a flag, half-mast high, floated from the roof of the centre Store in Toad Lane.

    The funeral procession was as follows:—Mr. G. T. Holyoake, Mr. Lloyd Jones, Mr. James Smithies, Mr. Abraham Greenwood, Mrs. Cooper and family; the Clerks; the President and Committee of the Equitable Pioneers' Society; of the Library; of Mitchell Hey Mills; of the Corn Mill Society; Mr. Wm. Nuttall of Oldham and others; Committees, Managers of the various departments; and the co-operative workpeople.

    Mrs. Cooper wished me, as a near friend of her husband, to speak at his grave.  Owing to the heavy rain the address was delivered in the chapel of the cemetery.  Standing at the reading-desk, I said:—

    "We depart from the ceremonies usual on these occasions, from a preference for others which, to us of the school of thought to which Mr. Cooper belonged, are simpler and more sincere.  I have not for many years come to the interment of any one, not of my own blood, for whose death I have felt a sharper or deeper regret than for that of Mr. Cooper.  In this assembly there are many who will have honoured names in the history of co-operation, but I think I may say safely that there will be no one who will earn it by more patience, by more self-sacrifice, by more ceaseless toil, than Cooper has done.  I have been accustomed to regard him as the drudge of co-operation.  When visitors arriving in London from abroad have applied to me for information, or for a letter of introduction to him, I was always sure that Cooper would be at their service.  It was one of the satisfactions, it was part of the pride I had in Rochdale, that there were persons in this town, beyond those in any other town, who not only cared for the principles they had chosen to promote, but who would take trouble to diffuse them.  Cooper was not only the drudge, he was the newsman of co-operation.  He was always ready for service in any way.  I have wondered at the unwearied way in which he wrote letters.  That was his self-imposed mission.  It was his distinction that he had a passion for writing letters.  Whoever wanted information could obtain it from Cooper.  He spared himself no trouble; he gave the leisure of his mornings, of his mid-day, of his evenings, and of his Sabbaths, freely and ungrudgingly to sending replies to the most distant or unknown person in any part of the country, or in any part of the world, who asked him for co-operative news.  Now, that unnoticed work—that trouble which so few people think of, which so few perform, and fewer still regard—that sort of service it was Cooper's pride and pleasure and credit to render.  Knowledge of the equity of co-operation he cared to diffuse abroad.  He saw that equity was the soul of co-operation, and was anxious for it to prevail.  He thought much higher of the benefits co-operative principles would render morally, than of the mere pecuniary benefits they would confer.  Who now will do what he did so long and did so well?  His letters were of necessity often reiterative, but they were always direct, relevant, and instructive, written with a purpose; and they might always be relied upon.  He had also another claim upon our regard for services which must have been to him in his latter days a source of great personal satisfaction.  When the question of the freedom of the slave hung in the balance, and rested upon what was done by the working classes of this part of England, he had a zeal which an American abolitionist would have been proud of, to preserve a right public opinion on that question.  He had never seen those dusky millions of men who were held in slavery, and who might have been again precipitated into it but for the tone and feeling taken in this country; yet he cared for them with almost the vehemence and sympathies of a woman.  His zeal was personal and persistent.  Having chosen his own principles, he advanced them with singleness of purpose.  That must have been a satisfaction to him in the presence of death.  I do not know that better credentials could be presented by anyone hereafter than those of a life of earnest and sincere work intended for the benefit of others.  What we witnessed in this town as we came here—despite the dreariness of the day, and its inclement unfitness for any persons to be abroad—the number of people who assembled to witness his remains pass by, testify to the esteem in which he was held by his fellow-townsmen.  In other towns in Great Britain, in Germany, in France, in America—in all rising centres of co-operation—his death will be deplored by co-operative inquirers.  Those who were nearest and dearest to him may take some consolation in the consciousness that the services which he so generously rendered have been so widely useful, so widely known and regarded."

    The editor of the Co-operator, in a notice of the death of Mr. Cooper, quoted these apposite lines:—

"There is no death: what seems so is transition;
     This life of mortal breath
 Is but the suburb to the life Elysian,
     Whose portal we call death."

    Let us hope all this is true.  So hard-working and zealous a co-operator as Cooper had as good claims as anyone to be in Elysium.  And if there be a post-office on his side, and anyone in want of information about the movement on this planet, he will be very happy in furnishing it.

    Next, news came to me of the death of Samuel Ashworth in a letter from Mr. Nuttall.  Being characteristic of the writer, and containing facts honourable to Mr. Ashworth not otherwise mentioned, I quote it here:—

    "Samuel Ashworth is dead.  The youngest, I believe, of the Rochdale 'twenty-eight.'  He was only 46 years of age.  He was the buyer and manager for the Rochdale Pioneers for about twenty years, and gave up that position to take another still higher in the co-operative world, viz., the North of England Co-operative Wholesale, which he retained to his death.  In both positions he made many friends, and I question whether any enemies.  When he left Rochdale Society (in 1866) its figures stood thus:—members, 6,246 ; capital, £99,989; annual trade, £249,122; and profit, £31,931; while for 1870, four years later, the following decreases appear—members, 5,560; funds, £80,291; annual trade, £223,021; and profit, £25,209.  Ashworth's loss will be felt at the Wholesale many days.  He had the confidence of both buyers, masters, and servants.  His word of advice to the former was always relied on and respected, and rarely indeed was he mistaken.  When he undertook the buying at the Wholesale Society its annual trade was at the rate of £180,000; at his death it was £800,000.  Although he took no part in its formation, yet when placed in a position where his business tact, sterling honesty, sound judgment and firmness, without rudeness, enabled him to serve the movement, he did it thoroughly.  Reared in the 'market world,' he was no theorist, but some trouble to theorists until their plans were matured, when, being convinced, he was a good and useful supporter.  He hated changes and changers, had strong convictions, and long ones, which frequently troubled his best friends.  A more faithful servant never lived.  He died yesterday morning, and leaves nine of the active workers of the 'old twenty eight' who are known to have made the world move.  Within three years there have now passed from amongst us—

ILES ASHWORTH (Father), aged 76
AMUEL ASHWORTH (Son), aged 46."

    Mr. Nuttall has the genius of figures.  He marks Mr. Ashworth's merit by an exhibition of financial facts, showing declensions occurring in the Society which he left, and the growth of that which he next joined.  Had Mr. Nuttall been an apostle, he had estimated Christianity by the number of its miracles.  But he marks, in well chosen terms that we all well know, that Mr. Ashworth's death made another gap in the ranks of the famous Rochdale Co-operators.  Many men die and it does not matter; when a man like Ashworth dies it does matter.  Men miss him, and to be missed is distinction and praise.

    James Smithies, the chief, one may say, of the Fighting Pioneers, is also gone.  During the years 1855-6 there appears to have been a continuous struggle against the imposition of the Income-tax.  Mr. Smithies was always chosen to fight the battle in the courts and before the Commissioners.  The committee seem to have become tired of the fruitless representations made by them, and they passed the following resolution:—"That we do not pay the Income-tax until we are made."  The week following they entered a not less decisive minute, namely, "That the Income-tax Commissioner take his own course."  The said Commissioner did so, and desisted from his bewildered work.  To receive 6,000 letters demanding the return of the tax, to inquire into them and return the amount illegally gathered was a discomforting prospect. [68]

    James Smithies was the only one of the Pioneers belonging to the "twenty-eight" who obtained municipal honour.  He was one of the Town Council in his later years.  In some important respects he was the greatest of the Pioneers.  Without him, Mr. Howarth had devised principles in vain.  Without him, Mr. Cooper had had a limited sphere of propagandism.  Without him, Mr. Greenwood had had to labour much longer before he had got the Wholesale to go.  It was Mr. Smithies' measureless merriment which kept co-operation in good countenance in the evil days.  He laughed the Society into existence, gave the timid courage, and made the grim-faced members genial.  His happy nature, his wise tolerance, his boundless patience with dullness, ignorance, and discontent, made him to exercise the great influence which kept the Society together.  He was my first friend among the Pioneers.  In his house, among the wool, I had my home in all the earlier years when I was a wandering lecturer in Rochdale.  It was he also who caused me to maintain the theory that human nature was different in Rochdale to what it was elsewhere in England.  It was Smithies who made the difference.  What merriment we have had by his pleasant fireside!  Ah, how sad I was when I looked last in his bright face on his dying bed—which not even death could darken, nor dim the hope and generous ardour which inspired his last injunction to a friend, "Stick to Toad Lane."  What watchfulness, what fervour, what resources, what incessant toil, what ceaseless service, what radiant enthusiasm he displayed!  How generous, how self-denying, how self-regardless he was!  If portrait be painted or bust carved of the old Pioneers, Smithies should first be taken.  I hope that to Mrs. Smithies it may long be consolation to know that her husband's devotion to co-operation, which in earlier years cost her many attentions, and her pleasant hospitality to her husband's friends are not unregarded or forgotten.

    This narrative ought to include some notice of Mr. Alderman Livsey, one of the earliest public friends of the Pioneers.  In their service he was ready all the days of his life in counsel and defence.  As the speech made in the Public Hall after his burial took place mainly at the desire of the Pioneers as a public expression of their regard for him, I venture to include in this story some record of it, more especially as it affords glimpses of the local life of the town, which has notable features besides that of co-operation. [69]

    Mr. Alderman Livsey, born June 17th, 1815, the year of the Peace, died in January 25th, 1864.  For some time before his death there was a strong desire in the town to see him elected mayor.  Had it not been for his failing health the honour would have been accorded him.  A public meeting was held, at which the burgesses expressed their wish that the civic chair should be offered him by the Town Council.  The Tories, uniting against it, turned the balance against the proposal.  Livsey was not a favourite in that quarter.  On November 18th, 1863, at a great meeting at the Public Hall, an address was presented to him by his townsmen in acknowledgment of his public and political services, Mr. Bright bearing testimony to thirty years' knowledge of his exertions on behalf of the town and un-enfranchised classes.  His death two months later was really a matter of town sorrow.  Even the party politically opposed to him regretted the loss of the quaint, vigorous, original character, which had often won attention and respect for Rochdale, of which his qualities were taken to be representative.

    The Mayor, Mr. Samuel Stott, wrote a public letter to Mrs. Livsey and her daughter, expressing condolence and regret at Mr. Livsey's death.  Mr. Bright—who would have attended the funeral had he not been detained by political duties at Birmingham—wrote to say that "he would like to join in raising a sum of money to erect a modest memorial over the grave of a man who had been useful both to the town and country," and added, "Tom Livsey was a diamond, though not highly polished."  Mr. Cobden wrote from Midhurst valued words of tribute.  He said:—"It is not too much to say that during the last quarter of a century there were no working men in Rochdale who, if they believed themselves aggrieved by those in authority, did not turn their footsteps instinctively towards the door of Mr. Livsey for advice and assistance; and if their grievance was a just one, not otherwise, they found in him a self -sacrificing friend and protector."

    Mr. Cobden was a representative who took interest in every class of his constituents.  Mr. Alderman G. L. Ashworth, who spoke at the opening of the Central Stores, related that when he took Mr. Cobden to see the library and news-rooms of the Pioneers he said, "These co-operators have advantages which could hardly be surpassed by any club in London."

    In a letter I some time ago addressed to Co-operative Societies, I have mentioned that at one time I had views of obtaining a settlement in the parish of Rochdale.  The following passage in the life of Livsey in part explains this choice.  Mr. Livsey had the strongest aversion to the Poor Law, as subjecting holiest indigence to penal treatment, and he resisted any attempt to erect a "Bastile," as a poorhouse was then called, in Rochdale.  The Poor Law Inspector of that day, Mr. Mayne Waring, insisted upon this being done.  Mr. Livsey was equal to half-a-dozen inspectors, but impatient of wasting weeks of correspondence with red tapists he decided at once to appeal to Cæsar himself.  In the winter of 1858 he went to London, and by Mr. Bright, M.P., and Sir A. Ramsay, M.P., was introduced to Mr. Sotheron-Estcourt, the then president of the Poor Law Board.  It was to this interview that Mr. Alderman Livsey referred with so much just pride and gratification at the Public Hall, when presented with the address of the burgesses.  The Rochdale Observer said:—"We cannot do better than give the conversation in Mr. Livsey's own words—'Mr. Sotheron-Estcourt said to us, "Oh, but yours are not workhouses, you know; they are almshouses."  "Yes," I replied, "that is exactly the word; they are almshouses, and they are not intended to be workhouses in your sense of the word.  They are intended as homes for the homeless poor."  That was one of the most pleasurable moments I ever remember, to hear Mr. Estcourt acknowledge that our workhouses so called were almshouses.'"

    When his burial day came all the town was literally in the streets, showing regard to his memory.  A large assembly afterwards met in the Public Hall, when Mr. Alderman George Healey, a valued colleague of Mr. Livsey, presided, and I spoke upon Mr. Livsey's public character and services to social as well as political reform.  The following is the substance of what appeared in the forgotten or inaccessible newspaper reports of the time:—

Thomas Livsey

    "Our common friend, the late Mr. Alderman Livsey, loved public life.  Next to his home he was happiest on the platform.  Here the people were accustomed to meet him.  It is, therefore, fitting that we should here, in this hall, where we so lately greeted him in life, prove that the words then addressed to his own ear were not the mere political compliments of the hour, but the echo of feelings having that stamp of sincerity which exists beyond the grave.  We owe it to ourselves to show this; hearing no longer that hearty voice—missing evermore that co-operation, that untiring devotion, given to the good of others which we all knew so well in him.  "Never, except in London when some royal head was laid low, has there been witnessed such thronged streets as filled this town at his burial.  'Tom Livsey,' to use the affectionate term of Mr. Bright, 'was carried to his last home with honour.  He lived among the people like a man, he fought for them like a hero, and they buried him like a king.'

    "We all felt the earnestness and appropriateness of the addresses at the cemetery by the Rev. Mr. Lewis and the Rev. Mr. Burchell.  Nor do we pass unnoticed the pleasant Christian feeling with which the reverend vicar, Dr. Molesworth, cancelling the ancient Church Rate feud with our lost friend, Mr. Livsey, made calls of kindness upon him in his illness, and caused the muffled bells of the church to peal at his death; acts which carried with them the influence of many sermons.

    "The characteristic of Mr. Livsey was that he not only meant to do good—he did it.  He had not only the will, he had the power, to be useful.  He was a strong man in his place.  He was no fireside reformer.  He sacrificed his ease—he gave his time—he spent his means to accomplish what he thought beneficial to his townsmen and his countrymen.  He gave himself trouble to serve the people.  Many think they do a great deal if they take in a paper which tells them of public affairs.  Mr. Livsey helped to make the affairs.  He did rough work, without which no public affairs, worthy of the name, are made.  Having a manly and generous heart, he could never rest while he knew that any man was suffering from an injustice which he thought he could redress or abridge.

    "I think much of municipal service.  I wish to increase the respect in which municipal distinctions are held.  The Corporation is the wholesome part of our town life—it carries the soul over the counter and causes private men to take interest in public affairs—it converts the artisan, the tradesman, the merchant, into the citizen.  It is, therefore, in my mind praise to say that Mr. Livsey was, as an alderman, worth caring for, and was one who kept his principles with his elevation.  He always stood by the honest 'Old Charter.'  He loved men who meant something.  I know that when illustrious exiles—when Mazzini, or Kossuth, or Garibaldi, or Louis Blanc wanted the aid of English public opinion to raise an oppressed nation, Livsey was to be counted upon to aid, as were others here.  He was foremost among those who helped to connect the public men of England with the public life of the world—by the living bond of political sympathy.  The working men of this town have made Rochdale a place of mark.  I have myself given letters of introduction here to professors and political economists from France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Russia, and India.  When, however, the idea of co-operation was in its infancy in this place, Thomas Livsey was the first man of the master-class who gave it his encouragement and serviceable support; and he, until the last, fitly represented its sagacity, its perseverance, and cordiality, as he did, in his society and station, represent the best qualities of the intelligence and sturdy honesty of his native town.

    "Of the achievements of his active life two deserve special remembrance—his efforts to procure the Ten Hours Bill and to fix at a democratic amount the municipal franchise in this town.  The Ten Hours Bill has proved to be a signal act of domestic humanity.  For such a purpose as limiting the hours of labour of children no Act of Parliament ought ever to have been needed.  No parent of common sense and spirit ought to have ever permitted a child to be excessively worked.  But, since it was permitted, it was the right thing to put it down by force.  Mr. Livsey gave years of labour to aid in this.  The result has increased the health and the stature of this generation.

    "None but a democrat who knew what his principles meant would ever have fought the 'Three Wards' battle in this town, which ended in reducing the municipal franchise lower than in any other town in the kingdom.  By this measure Mr. Livsey extended the boundary of freedom in this country.  Democracy signifies respect for the equal liberty of others—its spirit is that of confidence in the good sense, the self-respect, and instinct of order in your own countrymen.  The more there are brought within the pale of the constitution the better.  He who is not recognised by the State is not responsible to it.  It is a crime in all who withhold the vote; it is a crime in all who do not wish for it.  The one party imposes slavery, and the other consents to it.  Who says the workmen of England are not to be trusted with the franchise?  The Government takes one or another of the common people from the streets.  In the dark day of Inkerman he turns up in the bloody defiles of that fatal field, and leaderless and alone he protects the honour of England with his solitary sword.  On the burning plains of Hindostan, in the swamps of China, at any lonely or distant post, the English plebeian pours out his blood with as much promptness and bravery as any nobleman—his courage is as high, his faithfulness as inviolable—neglect does not move him, death does not deter him.  Are not men of this order, whose swords carve our renown, who make our history, who save our empire, worthy of a vote in the choice or rejection of the titled charlatan who shall sit in the House of Commons to levy or dispose of our taxes, or plunge us into new wars?  It was against this discreditable exclusion that the late Alderman Livsey set his face with indignation.  He had 'that greatness which belongs to a life spent in struggling against powerful wrong.' [70]  He had an insurgent nature.  He regarded injustice as infamous, and as an imputation on all who submitted to it, and he conspired against it resolutely.  Prayer is well meant, and consolation is kind, yet holier are those acts which bring deliverance and make sorrow unnecessary.  To trample down some haughty wrong—to build up some generous improvement—bring good thoughts in death.  A thousand prayers are condensed in one material improvement for the good of humanity.

    "Let us not forget that there is one tribute which it is in the power of all to pay in some degree, and which, if neglected, would render all works of praise very poor, and that tribute is the continuance of the work upon which he set his heart. The best applause to give to a man of worth is to imitate him.

    "We live in the main under a government of reason—not in a very brilliant form yet, but that is what it comes to.  Denunciation of persons we do not want, but denunciation of wrong we do want.  Honest agitators are not demagogues, they are advocates; and advocates are very much wanted.  Revolution is no longer necessary in English politics.  We had some wise forefathers in old times, of whom modern Radicals in many towns know too little, who laid broad foundations of freedom in our midst.  It only needs that we build upon these resolutely, and the English educated classes, who always move in the grooves of precedent, will acquiesce; with a reasonable readiness.  Mr. Livsey had this knowledge.  With all his abruptness of speech at times, he had deference to the opinions of others, with the instinct of a gentleman.  I never witnessed a more conspicuous instance than when he last stood in this hall.  The manly, uncomplaining grace with which he alluded to and accepted his defeat of the mayoralty; his refusal to allow it to be a cause of difference in the Liberal party, which needs always to be united, struck me at the time as a sign of superior nature—jealous not to put himself or his personal claims in the place of his cause.

    "What could indicate higher practical quality in a reformer than his successful exertions in transferring the gas company from private hands to those of the Corporation?  This step, accomplished by three years of costly advocacy to himself, saved, as Mr. Alderman Healey computed on a late occasion, £30,000 to this town; and enabled valuable improvements to be effected without the imposition of taxes for the purpose.  In no town in England has the same thing been done to the same extent.  This example has a higher value than the saving even of so large a sum of money—it proves that Radicalism, in wise hands, is not declamatory, but practical; it proved that the most democratic corporation of England is the best capable of self-government—strengthening the argument in favour of trusting the people.  I am glad that Rochdale has wise honour to give to the memory of such a townsman as she has lost.  If good feeling did not prompt it, it would be good policy, in these days, not to let public and personal worth like his pass to the grave unrecognised.  Those do well who try to preclude degeneracy among reformers.  As I go over the towns of the empire, I find in many places that the sons are not equal to their fathers.  Families of whom the last generation honourably heard have no representatives in this.  The race continues, but the spirit is extinct.  It is necessary to give attention to the public education of young men.  Otherwise, Mr. Livsey caused Rochdale to be respected wherever he has acted in its name.  His townsmen, low and high, have profited alike by his exertions and his example.  His work will live after him, and his name become part of the best wealth of his native town.

    "I do not speak of him so because he shared opinions which I sometimes express.  We never spoke together upon religious topics.  We always met on those happier platforms where the common purpose of the common good, so far as we could promote it, was the sole creed exacted.  I always regarded him as an honest Christian gentleman, who saw in Christ the servant of the poor, and in Christianity the consecration of practical sympathy for the oppressed, whether near or afar of, of whatever colour or clime.  I knew him as one whose trust was in doing right—whose worship was work—whose grace and privilege were charity.  I have lived long enough to know that bigotry or intolerance is merely the outward sign of inward narrowness and self-distrust—warning you that there are men whom it is no moral good to know.  Mr. Livsey, like all men who have an intelligent honesty of their own, respected that of others.

They nothing know to fear,
And nothing fear to know.

    "Those of us who come from afar knew him as one of the forces of opinion in these parts.  Like your own great townsman, whose eloquence has given a new splendour to the English tongue, Mr. Livsey had 'firm words to put in slippery places that the country might be helped across into purpose and a definite policy of freedom.'  When the public occasion required men of purpose you looked around and you always saw Livsey well up in the front.  If all who meant work could count on his co-operation, all who meant public mischief had to count upon his opposition.  There are many men who have a conscience, but it totters in its steps; there are many who have a just will, but it is feeble.  The world is full of people who are not exactly ill-meaning; their fault is that they have no meaning, and when they act at all they act for themselves.  If a fellow creature is in the water they will help him out—if they can do so without much trouble.  They do not see why they should put themselves into his situation to assist him.  They are sorry for him, but they will run no risk to save him.  They see people struggling in poverty which will never end—in ignorance which will never be dispelled—in unhealthy circumstances which should be at once improved, suffering under pressure of unequal laws which bore upon their fathers and will depress their children, but these persons give no care, or money, or time, or trouble to alter all this.  Themselves comfortable or content, they leave things to alter as they may, and leave those to suffer who must, and those to help who will.  With the laborious meetings, the anxious agitations, the costly, unrequited exertions by which men are instructed and their social condition improved, these do-nothings will have nothing to do.  If you want to know how numerous these people are, think of any good cause and count up those who do not help it.  Go to any public meeting for a noble object and count up those you know who are absent, and then you will learn amid what a crowd of people without heart we live.  To such no man owes honour—for them we feel no love.  When they die we do not miss them.  We do not mourn them, and when they are buried none care where they lie.  Their unhonoured graves awaken no emotion that we wish to know.

    "Yet, in this Egyptian darkness of self and sordidness, no sooner does a man of nobler impulse appear than men discern him by the moral light which he diffuses.  The very path is, in a sense, luminous on which he treads.  His unselfish aims—his care for the good of others—make gladsome all places which know him.  His spontaneous words of sympathy for distress, which has no personal claims upon him, check crime in the ignorant and prevent despair in the educated.  His daily efforts of service to others, notwithstanding the weariness and thanklessness, loss and pain, are worship, song, and prayer.  The very grave is sacred where we lay him.  The visitor to it treads on the ashes of honest men.  The very spot is an inspiration in future time. In the unforeseen disappointments and sadness which beset our lives, we remember such men with relief, and turn from courts and conventionalities, and all the pomp and circumstance of fashion and greed, and give our best homage to the memory of the generous dead." [71]

    If I may speak of myself for once in this narrative it is to relate a circumstance I remember with pride.  When I next met Mr. Cobden in the House of Commons he spoke of Livsey with much regard, and mentioned having read this address in terms which gave me much pleasure, and he showed me frequent marks of friendship until the end of his life.  The last note I received from him was from the platform in the great mill in Rochdale where he spoke for the last time before his death.  I recall that on the night referred to at the House of Commons he said, "Come with me and allow me to introduce you to a young man from whom I think great usefulness is to be expected."  It was Mr. Henry Fawcett, whom the public have since known as Professor Fawcett, M.P.



BEING one of the speakers at the forty-fourth anniversary of the Rochdale Society, the large meeting then assembled passed unanimously on the motion of Thomas Cheetham, president, and Abram Greenwood, the following message of sympathy to Mr. Bright:—

    "That this assembly, celebrating the forty-fourth anniversary of the Rochdale Equitable Pioneers' Society, desires to send to Mr. Bright a message of regard for acts of neighbourly friendship and counsel to the early Pioneers, and for his aid in Parliament in procuring legal protection for societies of self-help in their unfriended days.  The Rochdale members send him their grateful wishes.  They know he is sustained by a simple and noble faith, and by a conscience rich in a thousand memories of services to those who dwell in cottages or labour in our towns.  The days of one who gave his strength for the benefit of the people ought to be 'long in the land,' and they who send him this message are glad to believe that his days will be yet long extended."

    This was the only message to Mr. Bright in his last illness which had no dash of the undertaker in it.  The usual resolutions of condolence sent him all had a foreboding implication in them.  It gave him pleasure to receive the Pioneers' message.

    On a visit to Rochdale shortly before I spent a few hours at One Ash.  It was the last time I saw Mr. Bright.  He showed me his presents from America—spoke of Wendell Phillips and others whom I had visited in America, and pointed out the portraits on his walls of members of his family whom I had known.  On the day of our message I went up to his home, arresting the cab outside the grounds, as I knew he would hear the sound of wheels at his door, ask questions and send a message when repose was better for him.  I wished that he should learn only incidentally of my call of inquiry.

    In 1892, forty-eight years after the formation of the famous Store in 1844, the Co-operative Congress, which had been since 1869 wandering over the United Kingdom, for the first time found its tardy way to Rochdale.


The Rochdale Observer related that, after the opening of the Congress Exhibition, on Saturday, June 4th, a party of about thirty earnest co-operators and Radicals, headed by Mr. and Mrs. Holyoake and Miss E. A. Holyoake, proceeded on a pilgrimage to the grave of the late John Bright, in the quiet unpretentious and secluded burial-ground of the "Friends," adjoining the meeting-house in George Street.  Standing at the foot of Mr. Bright's grave, Mr. Holyoake said:

    "There is the grave of the great Tribune.  I was once with him at the grave of his sister.  I found him, as we all knew him, simple and unassuming.  The reason why co-operators should pay a visit to this grave is that Mr. Bright was the ready and effective defender of co-operation in Parliament, and was the first who raised his voice there on behalf of that system.  He believed in the principle of competition, and thought that justice would come thereby, but if it came by other means which were honest he was content.  What he most cared for was the comfort and competence of the working class, as you may read on his monument in the Square we have just left.  The people for whom he spoke were not the rich, but the poor, who could make him no requital for his efforts on their behalf.  As Carlyle observes: 'A man cannot be a saint in his sleep.'  Serving his country as Bright served it could only be done by a saint awake.  What we want in co-operation is that good speeches shall be followed by consistent acts.  Mr. Bright was one of the few persons in Parliament of whom it could be said they had a conscience.  He, Gladstone, Cobden, Stansfeld, Trevelyan, were of this class.  I do not say that none others had consciences, but if they had it has been so little apparent in public affairs that we never knew it.  Mr. Bright was trusted because he had a conscience in public affairs.  In contests for principle, whoever wants inspiration let him come to this grave.  In the stormy battles against slavery and for the English franchise Mr. Bright was the chief person assailed.  For the last two years of the contest, I witnessed in the House of Commons that Tories and Liberals with Tory tendencies attacked him until it appeared to be a calamity to any public question that Mr. Bright favoured it.  Yet all the while his adversaries were convinced, and screamed their opprobrium to conceal their conversion.  How few are they who will beat trouble to obtain advantages they do not need for themselves.  Mr. Bright would do that.  What could be nobler than that he, a manufacturer, should seek to restore to workmen the participation in profit of which they had been deprived at Mitchell Hey Mill?  Had the principle been established in practice there we might have seen it introduced into his own mills at Conkey Shaw, as the son of his great friend Thomasson did at Bolton.  On personal as well as on public ground we do well to come to this grave to testify our regard.  His noble taste was to dwell among his own people, and it was by his wish that he was buried here among them.  He endowed Rochdale with his reputation and his country by his services."


    The next day, at the sermon in the parish church, the Rev. Vicar, the Venerable Archdeacon Wilson, courteously announced that at the close of the service Mr. Holyoake intended visiting the graves of the Old Pioneers, and invited the company of those like-minded to meet him at the church gates.

    The procession, on arriving at the cemetery, proceeded to the tomb of William Cooper, the first cashier of the Society.

    Mr. Holyoake said that yesterday he invited such delegates to the Congress as had honour in their hearts for Mr. Bright, to accompany him to the grave of the great Tribune, who put conscience into politics.  Cooper—and Smithies, whose grave they would next go to—put

Conscience into Co-operation in their sphere.

    They put principle first, of which we heard little now in Rochdale.  They cared not merely for the wages of workmen, they cared for the emancipation of labour.  Cooper ran more risks than others in those days.  He cared for the public more than he cared for friendship or himself.  He was always willing to go on to platforms, and speak or write, in defence of Liberalism of Co-operation and of Labour.  Twenty or more years ago a great number of people came to that place at his death to do honour to his memory.  They cared for him because he was entirely honest; because his principle of cooperation meant equity, not merely in the store but in the workshop.

    "Cooper! if thou canst hear our voices over thy tomb, we come to tell thee that thy protests for justice to the unrequited worker are not dead, that the memory of thy generous zeal still lives in our hearts.  Like the fire of Montezuma kept burning for three centuries in the temple of his followers, the light of thy example is still kept burning in the grim and unadorned, but not less sacred, Temples of Labour.

    "The great Lord of this Vale said to the Greeks:

You have the Pyric dance as yet;
Where is the Pyric phalanx gone?

    "The battles of labour though less classic are not less noble than those of war, and we over thy grave, Cooper, demand of thy townsmen who now profit by self-regardless efforts—

You have the Toad Lane Store as yet,
Where is the Toad Lane workshop gone?
Of two such lessons why forget
The nobler and the manlier one?

    "Let us hope that the co-operators of Rochdale who set the people a nobler lesson in the past will not forget the 'manlier one' in the future.  Now let us go to Smithies, whose grave I have not yet seen."

    Near the entrance to the chapel mortuary, said the Observer, is the grave of James Smithies—that containing the remains of Cooper is just at the back—and here the crowd went in response to Mr. Holyoake's last sentence.  Arrived there he proceeded:

    "Someone said the other day that Smithies threw himself into the movement, but he did more than that; he made the movement.  There was no movement for any man to throw himself into, in the days of Smithies and Cooper.  Smithies was the leader of the fighting Pioneers.  Whether on the platform or at our discussions, or in the meeting rooms of the Mitchell Hey Mills—wherever principle was to be upheld, or the enemy to be confronted, there Smithies was.  He often said that Smithies—such was his shadowless vivacity—laughed co-operation into existence.  A disciple of Robert Owen, he had learned that the errors and apathy of men proceeded less from malice of mind than from want of knowing more.  He understood that mankind are moulded by a destiny that went before them, and a wise man will look on his fellow-men with unexpectant eyes wondering what manifestation of taste, ideas and conduct they will make.  Thus to him a hateful manner was a misfortune to him who had it, to be met not with anger but compassion.  Error he confronted with instruction, not disdain; therefore he was always light-hearted and trusting.  When shareholders from the town came into the Mitchell Hey Mill, allured by interest being paid them twice over, they, aided by a few false co-operators, seized all the profits of the workers.  Smithies was the leader of those who withstood them, not alone in meetings, but in the town.  He, like Cooper, shortened his days by his zeal for the rights of industry.  Look down from this hill at quarters of the town where the smoke of factories ascend like the smoke of the bottomless pit.  Think of the infernal din, the dust, the grease, the poisonous air in which the workmen's days are spent.  Traverse the cheerless, hideous, hopeless streets and alleys in which the workman's family is reared.  It was for them Smithies cared.  It was to endow them with the right of profit of their labour that he devoted his unwearying energies.  It was to raise them as a class that he came to his grave before his days were spent.  Therefore we honour his memory—therefore we come here to tell him that the names 'Cooperation' and 'Perseverance,' which he gave to the engines of Mitchell Hey Mills, before they were perverted into a Joint-Stock Society—express principles in our hearts which we will vindicate as our best tribute to the honour of the dead.  Smithies would ask, Why should men spend their cheerless lives in making profit for others and have none for themselves?  We answer,  They shall yet have it.  Now, in all Rochdale there is not a single profit-sharing workshop.  But we came here to tell Smithies that the principle is not dead.  If he can hear us it will rejoice him that the sounds of equity and justice to labour are spoken over his grave.  Let none here believe that a principle will live because it is true—unless it is sustained.  Do not believe that justice always comes upper most. It never does until it is made to come.  The Old Pioneers knew this.  I told Smithies that if they stood their ground their story should be known to the world so far as I had power.  Now it is published in the six European languages.  Their heroism, unregarded in their day, has made Rochdale known to the workmen of the world, and though long years have elapsed since their death, we come to their graves to do them honour."

    On the assemblage leaving the cemetery, it stood before the monument to Thomas Livsey, which stands near the entrance; here the last speech was made.

    Mr. Holyoake said: "Here lies 'Poor Tom Livsey,' as Mr. Bright affectionately called him.  'He was,' said Cobden, 'an unpolished gem.'  Livsey was entirely that.  He had fire and light in him which, though no lapidary magnified, no circumstances could obscure.  He came up to London when meetings of resistance to Lord Palmerston's Conspiracy Bill were being held.  Everybody said, no speeches so English, so bold, so inspiring were made by any one.  Did you not all know him as the friend of the Chartists in this town when they had no friend else of official position?  He was the friend of the Socialists who preceded the co-operators, and he was the personal friend of the Pioneers.  He was one of those friends of the people who stood up for their interest, and forgot his own.  Like your great townsman, Bright, and your illustrious member, Cobden, Livsey had a private affection for public affairs.  Therefore we offer grateful homage to his memory.  Now we leave the dead Pioneers and their honoured friend.

They are gone,—the holy ones
    Who trod with me this lovely vale;
The strong, star-bright companions
    Are silent, low, and pale.


    On the last speaking night of the Congress it fell to me to deliver the last speech at the Conversazione in the great meeting hall of the Central Stores, when I said:  "It has long been my wish to live until our Congress met in Rochdale, where co-operation as we know it began.  The devices of the Pioneers gave to this movement commercial vitality which it had never known before.  They did more than that, they put conscience into co-operation—conscience which, though of slower growth than profit, is far more honourable and enduring.  In their day it was easy to get conscience into cooperation; our difficulty is to keep it there.  (Applause.)  It was the merit of the Equitable Pioneers that they sought not merely the better remuneration of labour, but its emancipation.  They did their best to establish co-operative industry in Rochdale, and though they were defeated their principle was not killed.  It is represented now at Hebden Bridge.  Thanks to Mr. Ruskin and Mr. George Thomson, it is established in Huddersfield.  It is seen in Coventry, in the hosiery and 'Eagle Brand' works of Leicester, in Kettering, and in many other places.  In Scotland it has notable official recognition.  Leaders of co-operation there discern principles where in England some see only an 'impracticable sentiment.'  But the sentiment of the emancipation of labour is real, and is part of co-operation itself.  Our stores give the principle not only of recognition, but sympathy, the sympathy of preferential purchases.  The inspiration of profit-sharing by labour belongs to this movement, to this town; and by this movement it is destined to be carried out.  We have done much to introduce honesty into trade.  We have yet to establish honesty in industry.  The adulteration and overcharges in provisions are as nothing to the adulteration of workmanship, and under payment of wages.  We who have done so much to stop the higgling of the market, have now to arrest the higgling of the workshop.  The cheating in trade can be avoided by intelligent buyers—the cheating in labour no man can avoid, whose wages are regulated by his destitution.  The hired hand must do fraudulent work if he is so ordered by his employer.  The workman is under hourly espionage.  Mr. Schloss has shown in his book on 'Industrial Remuneration' that the competitive workshop is a daily conspiracy by the employer to get from the worker the largest amount of labour for the lowest amount of pay.  Are we going to conduct a movement for the consumer only, and do nothing for the labourer?  Hard by here is the grave of Mr. Bright, who took a lion's part in destroying the monopoly in corn.  But the corn monopoly was not half so baleful and disastrous to the workman as is the monopoly of profit by capital.  The corn monopoly made bread dear—the monopoly of profit by capital makes wages low and keeps them low in every workshop in the land.  This we know, since every man who has a larger income than he could obtain by his own labour, must derive it from the underpaid labour of others.  Co-operation is intended—and if it be not a fraudulent thing it is pledged to put the fruits of work into the hands of the workers.  It is intended to do what Mazzini told the Italian workmen co-operation could do 'Unite Capital and Labour in the same hands.'  Addressing the artisans Mazzini said: 'You were once slaves—then serfs—then hirelings'—as workmen are now.  'The remedy,' he continued, 'is the association of labour and the division of the fruits of labour between the producers in proportion to the amount and value of the work done by each.'  What hinders this division being general now?  We are in the same position with regard to labour as the Americans were with regard to slavery.  Their constitution declared 'all men free and equal,' but they drew the line at colour.  Freedom was construed as applying only to white men, and it took a civil war to amend that infamous interpretation.  So, with us, co-operative principles declare that division of profits applies not only to purchasers but to producers.  Yet in our movement we see the official line drawn at labour.  It will involve a long contest to efface that line, but it will be effaced.  Two men in America—Wendell Phillips and Lloyd Garrison—effaced the line drawn against the equality of the coloured slave, and co-operation, in the name of equity, will efface the line drawn by capitalism against the white slave in our own country.  Profit-sharing is opposed by precisely the same arguments and in precisely the same language as were used against the emancipation of slave labour in America.  The subjection of the slave was defended by a pretended law of 'economic subordination.'  That was the way the philosophers of slavery put it at last.  We have all heard this doctrine of capitalism and cupidity defended in our movement in the name of 'economic science.'  Here Howarth and Smithies, Cooper and Kershaw plotted, and made countless speeches and journeys, to create for labour a better future than it knew in their day.  They created the movement which we celebrate, though we may not live out its spirit. Lord Tennyson said—

Our little systems have their day;
They have their day, and cease to be.

    "But no; they do not cease if they are necessary and just.  The Rochdale system of co-operation was the littlest, the obscurest, the most unfriended, the most disregarded, most contemned, the least hopeful, the least likely to succeed of any system ever devised by man.  Yet it has not 'ceased to be.'  On the contrary, it continues to grow, and it is even now the most prosperous system yet devised for the amelioration of the workers of England.  How did the Pioneers bring this to pass?  What was their inspiration?  They had no learning of the schools, but they had that genius which enters the hearts of honest men.  They knew as well as Archbishop Whateley that it makes all the difference in the world whether you put truth first or second.  They put principle first and profit second, believing that principle was the foundation of all honourable profit, and the only honest source of it.  It was not dividend which mainly inspired them, for they had never seen it, and they detested the competitive underhandedness by which they saw others acquiring profit.  Like Diogenes, they went in search of honest profit by the light of principle, and they found it in honest co-operation.  Let us keep to their methods and we shall see the day which they desired to see—when principle shall rule in this movement, when the humiliation of hired labour shall cease, when worker as well as purchaser shall share in the profits created, when the penury of the many shall terminate, and the scandalous fortunes of the few be impossible, under the co-operative law of the common interest, inspired by goodwill and governed by equity."




67.      What Mr. Cooper reported was that for the Recognition of Labour to participate in Profit "Secularists voted as one man, next the Unitarians, after them Churchmen.  Against the principle were a united party from the Milton Church (Independents), after them the Methodists, and a number from other sects ranked on the same side."—Counsellor, Sept., 1861.  What I added was that new societies seeking members who would vote for Labour, knew what sects to visit.

68.      What would be the effect, in the case of Rochdale, where there were then about 6,000 co-operators, of levying that tax upon the transactions of the Societies?  The managers would advise the members, the vast majority of whom were, by the smallness of their income, not liable to the tax, to apply for its return, as paid upon their proportion of the profits.  The collectors found that to levy this tax would give them infinitely more trouble than it was worth, and they wisely thought it better to take it from the people where they were liable to pay it, individually.—Speech of E. O. Greening, Society of Arts, London.

69.      An interesting record of the Life and Times of the late Alderman Livsey has been published by Miss M. R. Lahee.  Abel Heywood and Son, Manchester, 1866.

70.      George Eliot.

71.     Weiss—written of Theodore Parker.



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