The Co-operative Movement was born in 1844 at Rochdale in Lancashire, when twenty-three working men opened the famous store and founded the famous Rochdale Equitable Pioneers Society in Toad Lane. But it is impossible to explain the real nature of the growth of Co-operation without some reference to the history of the working classes in the early years of the nineteenth century. The reason is that the movement grew out of the deep-rooted and almost unconscious ideals of those classes. The spirit which has won to so great a success in the last half of the nineteenth century had been moving—unsuccessfully it is true—upon the face of the waters during the first half. Owenism, Communism, Chartism, these were the first lights to which Labour turned to lead it out of the darkness and horror of the industrial revolution: these lights failed ; but it was a spark which had fallen from them that guided the first co-operators. Robert Owen is still rightly regarded by co-operators as the founder of Co-operation, although as a matter of fact there is practically nothing in the outward form and methods of the modern co-operative society and the Co-operative Movement which owe anything directly to the varied and peculiar doctrines of Owen. This remarkable man united the enthusiasm of a Hebrew prophet with the patient genius of a successful man of business, the prophetic vision of a great statesman with the credulousness and simplicity of a child, the reasonableness of a rationalist with mental blindness worthy of a bigot and a theologian, and finally the charm of a genius with the tedious verbosity of a bore. He approached from the standpoint of a producer the problem which the modern co-operator, approaching it as a consumer, may claim to have partially solved. That problem is the perpetual increase of poverty and misery in a world in which there is a perpetual increase of wealth.