Page images
PDF
EPUB

92

AND GROWING DISSATISFACTION.

peace in leaving the result in the hands of Infinite Wisdom.

As might have been expected, this connection was a source of perpetual uneasiness and anxiety. Owen published his plans in the newspapers, and appeared, more or less, to identify his partners with himself. Allen was alternately vexed, grieved, and desponding. Long and excellent letters, conversations, entreaties—all were in vain. The once promising and still amiable son-in-law of David Dale had become an avowed and determined infidel. With unwearied patience, Mr. Allen clung to the hope of winning him back again to the truth, and continued to receive him, when in London, as a guest. His apostolic mother, kindling with indignation when he appeared at her son's house, refused to remain in the same room with the denier of her Lord, and fled from his presence with grief and shame.

In the year 1818, fresh rumours of infidelity at Lanark reached London, and the partners at once determined to visit the mills, to spend a week or two among the people, and to ascertain, by strict personal investigation and inquiry, whether Mr. Owen's opinions had or had not spread amongst them. The visit, to a great extent, relieved their anxieties. They ascertained from the ministers in the neighbourhood that sceptical opinions had taken

HE LEAVES THE CONCERN.

93

no root among the population ; they received very favourable accounts of the morals of the people, and were delighted to discover in the general superintendent of the works a truly religious man. They also found a Bible Society established, to which both Mr. Owen and his family subscribed. Before they left, the people were called together: an admirable address, which was afterwards printed, and freely circulated among them, was delivered by Mr. Allen, and a deputation from the people expressed their gratitude.

In 1822, fresh difficulties arose. Owen came to London with new schemes, and unabated, if not increased hostility to revelation. Mr. Allen speaks of himself as being

rendered miserable,'—makes up his mind to have no more discussions with Robert Owen, that being clearly a waste of time,' and again meditates withdrawing from the concern. Another visit of inspection now took place, followed by a kind and earnest letter to Owen, praying for him, but determining to part from him; an event which, deferred from time to time by difficulties incident to the disposal of so large a concern, was at length, in 1828, happily accomplished.

6

CHAP. III.

PHILANTHROPY.- . -ALWAYS ABOUNDING.

The first intimation we have in Mr. Allen's journal of philanthropic movement is found under date of December, 1796, when he purposes, if he can get a little more at liberty, to lay some plan for the amelioration of the state of the poor. The following year, about the same time, William Phillips and himself united to form what was long after known as • The Spitalfields Soup Society.' Into this scheme he threw himself heart and soul. A large and effective committee was formed ; liberal contributions were secured; and a vast amount of suffering was alleviated, at a comparatively small cost. In March, 1798, his name was proposed on the committee of • The Society for Bettering the Condition of the Poor;' but he is in a strait about it,' as many of the members are of the nobility, and he is · fearful' that he may not keep his place as a Friend. This difficulty was, however, soon overcome ; no one being disposed to quarrel with the peculiarities of the Society to which he belonged. In 1800 and 1801, the Soup Society was again in operation, (bread was then sometimes seventeen-pence halfpenny the quartern loaf, and all other food

CLARKSON AND WILBERFORCE.

95

*

proportionably dear;) and day after day is devoted to the soup-house,' the soup committee,' domiciliary visits to the poor,' and such like labours of love.

Mr. Allen does not appear to have been actually elected a member of the committee for the abolition of the slave-trade until May, 1805, but in spirit he was united with it from his youth up:

His intimacy with Clarkson commenced in 1794, Plough Court being frequently the home of that apostle of humanity,' when in town, on the business of the slave-trade. In 1841, he paid his last visit to Playford Hall. They were then both old men, and they spent a happy hour in discoursing on old times. At parting, Allen, deeply affected could only say, The Lord bless thee!' Clarkson wept. They had been friends for half a century, and they had a mutual conviction that they should meet no more on earth.

* The little band of labourers who first formed themselves into a committee, to promote the great work of abolition, were- -William Dillwyn, George Harrison, Samuel Hoare, Thomas Knowles, M.I John Lloyd, and Joseph Woods. Their first meeting was held in 1783. The mode they pursued was, enlightening the public mind, and some of their efforts proved highly useful. In 1787 a society was formed upon a more extended scale, when the names of Granville Sharpe, Thomas Clarkson, and several others, were added to the committee.

96

PUNISHMENT OF DEATH.

The date of Mr. Allen's first introduction to Wilberforce is not given. He dines with him, apparently for the first time, in August, 1805, where he meets with Charles Grant, and others. From this time an intimacy subsisted between them which lasted for life. On the 30th July, 1833, Mr. Allen notes in his diary, · Yesterday, died William Wilberforce. His warfare is accomplished; his course is finished; he kept the faith. Those who regard him merely as a philanthropist, in the worldly sense of that abused term, know but little of his character; his philanthropy took its origin in love to God, it was kindled at the sacred fire of Divine love, and it burned with such bright and steady lustre only because it was duly replenished from its hallowed source.'

In July, 1808, a party of sevent dined together in Plough Court, and formed. The Society for diffusing Information on the Subject of Punishment by Death ;' Basil Montague undertaking to open a communication with Sir Samuel Romilly on the subject. Mr. Allen's anxiety for the amelioration of the criminal code was very great, and his efforts on behalf of criminals condemned

[ocr errors]

* These observations were adopted from a brief obituary of the deceased.

+ Basil Montague, Thomas Furley, B. M. Forster, R. Phillips, F. Smith, J. G. Bevan, and Luke Howard.

« PreviousContinue »