Criticism

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Daniel O’Connell—failed through ‘indecent rudeness’ to gain a hearing at one of several tumultuous meetings staged by Owen in April 1823. (Dublin Magazine, March 1813, NLI)

Daniel O’Connell—failed through ‘indecent rudeness’ to gain a hearing at one of several tumultuous meetings staged by Owen in April 1823. (Dublin Magazine, March 1813, NLI)

People may have been unrealistic in their expectations but this did not prevent Owen from being criticised openly as the papers and pamphleteers continued the debate. An anonymous writer supported Owen, saying that ‘the middle classes will aid this plan if the great and wealthy refuse to cooperate’, a prophetic observation as it proved. The critics were also ready with a series of rapid responses. He was attacked by another writer who criticised his ‘delusive system’ for improving the condition of the Irish people. A pamphleteer, evidently well informed about conditions in New Lanark, claimed that the ‘morality of the factory’ was due less to Owen’s system than to the fact that ‘by his own admission he dwells in the midst of the most religious people in the world’. The author did not believe that Owen’s ideas stood the test of experience at New Lanark and that the ‘exemplary character of the Scottish peasantry’ accounted for the orderly community.

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