Robert Owen and factory reform, pp. -28
I 2 ROBERT OWEN AND FACTORY REFORM and the reputed fanatics and disturbers of the world's peace are seen by the light of subsequent events to have been the saviors of a class, a nation, or a race. The present interest in the study of all phases of degeneration should alone call forth gratitude for the life-work of Robert Owen; since it is ac- knowledged that his personal experiments in factory re- form andthe legislation of which he was the originator and promoter rescued the youth of the English laboring classes from the suffering and slavery which encompassed them in the late eighteenth and at the beginning of the nineteenth century, and, in so doing, assured the following generations from the decay which then seemed to be the only legacy which could descend to them. To follow step by step the life of this apostle and martyr of social reform is an instruc- tive lesson, whether one seeks historical light upon a crit- ical period of human affairs, or whether the wish be to gain a supreme example of perseverance and devotion, and of success through apparent failure. For personally Robert Owen may be compared to the Swiss hero, Win- kelried, who, in the midst of battle, took to his breast a sheaf of hostile spears and broke a path for the oppressed. As a man he must be considered in his three-fold capacity of laborer, capitalist and econo- mist-statesman; which somewhat extended consideration demands a knowledge of the class in which he was born, of the world-events which occurred during the period of his activity, and of the ideals which rose before the ad- vanced minds of his time. The son of an artisan, and a member of a large family., he entered upon life among the people, and early came to know through association what sufferings arise from poverty and ignorance. He was thus practically trained for the pursuits of an object which, having begun in youth, he maintained, without once turning aside, until the close of a long career.
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