Gambar halaman
PDF
ePub

THE BANK OF ENGLAND.

BY MERCATOR.

The story of the establishment of the Bank of England, and its subsequent remarkable career, has been so often related—and with so inuch ability and in such ample detail—that to attempt any new narrative of the subject may appear, in the opinion of a pretty large and enlightened class, more tedious and trite than a twice or even a ibrice told tale, and quite a work of supererogation. What the few have learned and are farmiliar with, they think to answer all useful puposes, particulariy if it be thought that the spread of knowledge would tend to inconvenience or danger. There is, however, an old adage that there are two ways of telling a story, and from the experience of most persons—with statesmen, historians, lawyers and witnesses-they would be apt to ariive at the conclusion that there are far more; and we may therefore reasonably obtain pardon if we have fallen into the error of believing that we might be able to give a brief and plain account ol the Bank of England, from the period it was founded down to the present time, interspersed with some observations and reflections of our own, which, if displaying no striking quality, may have the merit of leading such readers as are familiar with the subject into a path hitherto untrodden by them, and inducing them to contemplate the narrative from a new point of view. There is, however, a vast multitude—and it is to it we chiefly address ourselves-composing not only thousands, but millions, who are as ignorant of the Bank of England as they are of the invention of pounds, shillings and pence by William the Conqueror, and to whom, we trust, what we shall feel it our duty to recount, will be as interesting and serviceable as it will undoubtedly be novel.

There is no question that, sometime previous to the starting of the Bank of England, all classes, but more especeially the commercial class, required greater facilities in obtaining monetary accommodation than it was possible to procure under the existing state of things; and various plans had been proposed by projectors, in numerous pamphlets, tracts, and other publications, for the establishment of a national bank, which attract. ed much attention, and was received with considerable favor. The accommodation which the goldsmiths, who were then the only persons engaged in the business of banking in the country, had it in their power to afford, was so inadequate to meet the growing demands of cominerce, and they were, moreover, in the habit of applying " the screw”-to use a modern phrase well understood --with much severity, that a general desire prevailed for the abolition of this growing monopoly.

If the Bank of England had started into existence to supply this want, and had confined itself to assist and extend commercial enterprise, by a judicious employment of the enormous capital at its command, it would have been a real national blessing, and its founders would have been entitled to be regarded as benefactors of their country. But such was, unfortunately, not the case, and the bank, which was recommended to public patronage and support, as the means of securing for trade and com. merce substantial advantages, by an extinction of monopoly, and an equitable reduction of interest, became itself one of the most grievous and witbering monopolies with wbich the country has ever been cursed, and an engine in the hands of avaricious men to wring extortionate profits from the industrial classes of society. When James II., at the revolution of 1688, which Hallam, a distinguished constitutional historian, denies to have been a glorious one, left bis throne vacant for his ungrateful and undutiful nephew and son-in law, William III., and bis unnatural daughter. Mary Stuart, the affairs of the kingdom were in a happy and prosperous condition. The burdens were light upon the people, a tax-gatherer was almost unknown in England, a circumstance which will exeite little surprise when were collect that the national debt, which now amounts to about 900,000,0001, at the clo-e of the reign of the sovereign who was exiled for bis attachment to Popery and the Jesuits, though an Archbishop of Canterbury, and a large section of the clergy preferred to be reduced to indigence rather than take the oath of allegiance to his successor, did not exceed the modest proportion of 664,2631.

[graphic]

William Patterson, the projector and founder of the Bank of England, was a native of Scotland, and born in Traillilatt, in the county of Dumfries. He was educated for the church, and afterwards pursued for a length of time a course of life inconsistent with the profession for which he was intended. He was engaged in the Darien scheme, and was evidently a person of adventurous spirit and fertile imaginatio - just one of the class who are qualified by boldness, industry, perseverance, and originality, to become the pioneers in great social and political changes. He, however, does not deserve much credit upon the score of originality for having proposed the establishment of a Bank of England, as we had only to look to Hamburg, Amsterdam, Venice, and Genoa---where banking institutions, similar to the one he contemplated founding, existed and Hourished-to find models for his guidance. After Patterson generated his scheme, he became little more than an instrument in the hands of an intriguing aod unscrupulous man, named Michael Godfrey, who was one of the creatures of William 3d, and was appointed by him to the office of first Deputy-Governor of the Bank of England. The advocates of the scheme supported it upon political and commercial grounds, and among the most ardent of its champions, we find in the front rank Michael God. frey, stating in a pamphlet that some" pretended to dislike the Bank only 1or fear that it should afford their majesties the supplies required to be raised,” and after complaining that all the company of oppressors tortioners and usurors, were never 80 attacked as they were likely to be by it.” The course pursued by the Bank of England for more than 150 years has not tended to fulfil this prediction.

Smollet observes that the project had been recommended to the ministry for the following reasons : That it would rescue the nation out of the hands of extortioners, lower interest, raise the value of land, revive public credit, extend circulation, improve commerce, facilitate the annual supplies, and connect the people more closely to the government. The opponents of the movement, including the Goldsmiths and the Tory party —with more truth and reason-justified their resistance to it, upon the ground that the proposed Bank would become a monopoly, and engross the whole money of the kingdom, that it might be employed to the worst purposes of arbitrary power, that it would weaken commerce by tempting people to withdraw their money from trade, that it would enable brokers and jobbers to prey upon their fellow creatures, that it would encourage frauds and gaming, and corrupt the morals of the nation.

were

Thus advocated and denounced, the scheme was submitted to the Privy Council, and fully discussed in the presence of Queen Mary. The King, her husband, was absent at the time, but he was made acquainted with its details, and approved of it because he perceived that it would afford him the means of raising large sums of inoney to prosecute the war, in which he was engaged against France. Williain, however, with that habitual caution and foresight, for which he was distinguished, aware of the hostility which prevailed towards the measure, instead of introducing it boldly and prominently—to borrow the words of an able financiai authority-smug. gled it at the tail of an act of Parliament for raising money generally and in the preamble this statute is described, as a means for securing certain recompenses and advantages to such persons as should voluntary udvance the sum of fifteen hundred thousand pounds, to enable their majesties to carry on the war against France.

By the act of 5 William & Mary, it was declared that a royal char er should be granted, under the title of “The Governor & Company of the Bank of England," to such persons as should voluntarily advance a luin of £1,200,000 to the Government, at the rate of 8 per cent. per annuin interest, and £4 per cent. for management. This amount was to be sulij.ct to redemption, if Parliament should think it expedient to cancel it, by giving twelve months' notice after the 1st August, 1705—but, instead of repaying it, the debt has from time to time enormously increased, and it remains upredeerned to the present day. There was still £300,000 of the £1,500,000 deficient, and this was also to be raised by subscription, each subscriber receiving an annuity for one, two or three lives upon the following terms: Every subscriber who advanced £100 or one life, was to receive an annuity of £14; on two lives, an annuity of £12 for every

£100 advanced ; and on three lives, an annuity of £10 for every £100. There was a provision in the act that in case the sum of 1,500,0001. was not raised before October, 1694, the deficiency was to be made up by a loan at 8 per cent. In the space of ten days the entire amount was advanced, and 25 per cent. of the money paid down, and on the 27th July, 1694, the charter was duly signed and sealed. The Bank then immediately commenced operations in Grocers' Hall

, and consisted of a governor, a deputy governor, and a proprietary of holders of capital stock.

The property qualification of a Governer was, and still is, that he should possess 4,0001. on his own right ; for a Deputy Governor, 3,000); for a Director, not less than 2,0001. of the stock of the corporation; and every elector was obliged to have 5001. capital stock to entitle him to one vote. It is a remarkable circumstance-just as if the Governor of this corporation of money dealers would not be likely to take care of his own interest and that of bis associates—that he was required to make the following oath, which each of his successors has been obliged, down to the present time, also to do upon entering upon office:

“ I, A. B- being nominated or elected to be Governor of the company of the Bank of England, do promise and swear that I will, to the utnost of my power, and by all lawful ways and means, endeavor to support and maintain the body politic of fellowship of the Governor and company of the Bank of England, and the liberties and privileges thereof; and ibai in the execution of the said office of Governor, I will faithfully and honestly deinean myself, according to the best of my skill and understanding, so help me God."

It is difficult to reconcile this oath, which the chief officer of a national monetary institution is even now required to take, with a passage in the charter, wherein it is stated that the bank was established with a view of promoting the public good and benefit of the people.

In glancing at the history of the bank and consulting the testimony of distinguished individuals and numerous commercial bodies in the king. dom, it will be found that, in observing the letter and the spirit of this oath, the Governors of the Bank of England have, in numerous instances, inflicted serious injury upon society. We have now seen the bank fairly started, having lent its capital of 1,200,0001. at the handsone rernuner:tion of 100,0001., to be paid annually for the loan.

FOREIGN TRADE AT NEW YORK FOR MAY. The official Custom House figures showing the foreign trade at the port of New York for May have just been froished. We trust that many years (?) will not elapse before some way will be found of making up these returns earlier, so that they can possess a little more present interest. The figures now made public enable us to bring dowu .our tables to the close of the eleventh month of the fiscal year, and we give in comparison the same periods of previous years.

IMPORTS. For the month of May, as our readers have seen from our weekly tabl the inports were very large, being in fact this year more than twice the amount for May, 1865. The following are the impo'ts for May of each of the last three years:

1864.
1865.

1866. Entered for consumption..

$7,531,200 $6,592,157 $13,563,551 Entered for warehousing.

14,727,176 5,283,049 13,902,407 Free goods...

1,056,576 818,818 959,416 Specie and bullion

660,092 177,085 393,073 Total entered at port.....

$23,975,144 $12,876,109 $28,818,447 Withdrawn from warehouse...

659,869 10,277,170 9,450,591 From the above it will be seen that the total goods thrown on the market during each year in May was as follows:

FOREIGN GOODS MARKETED IN MAY.

1864.
1865.

1566. Entered for consumption....

$7,531,300 $6,592,157 $13,563,551 Free goods...

1,056,576

818,818 959,416 Withdrawn from warehouse..

659,869 10,277,170 9,450,591

$9,267,745 $17,688,145 $23,973,558 The total imports for the first five months of the year are as below: FOREIGN IMPORTS AT NEW YORK FOR THE FIVE MONTHS FROM JANUARY 1st.

1864.
1865.

1866. Entered for consumption...

$70,520,704 $29,583,127 $78,077,039 Entered for warehousing..

37,837.458 30,687,327 55,469,417 Free goods

4,793,780 4,070,456 6,027,296 Specie and bullion.

1,280,283 815,791 1,085,637 Total entered at port..

$114,432, 225 $65,156,731

$140,666.379 Withdrawn from warehouse.....

30,294,823 35,279,863 41,026,423 It will be noticed that the increase this year in imports is considerably more than 100 per cent., being $66,156 1,73 in 1865 and $140,606,379 in 1866. This is for the five months since January 1. If now we add the figures since July 1, we have as follows:

FOREIGN IN PORTS AND AMOUNT MARKETED AT NEW YORK FOR ELEVEN MONTHS.

-1865-66.

-1864-65 Total Total i hrown Total Total thrown

imports. on market. imports. on market. Six months..

$142, 780,367 $135,457,584 $79,767,221 $69,201,651 January

30,109,830 27,219,868 10,620,117 11,711,178 Februa y

30,692,557 26,560,301 11,473,668 11,472,456 March...

26,204,910 24,224,630 16,01 2,373 13,692,088 April..

24,840, 605 23,269,391 14,174,464 14,369,609 May....

28,818,447 23,973,558 12,876,109 17,688, 145 Total for 11 mos..

$283,396, 716 $259,705,332 $144,923,952 $138,135,127 Deduct specie

2,157,395

1,654,309 Total merchand'e.......

$281,239,651

$143,269,553 In the foregoing we have not only given the total imports each month, but also a columo showing the total amount thrown on the market.

WAREHOUSE MOVEMENT.

This year, about one balf of the imports ($13,902,407) were entered for warehousing, but as $1,246,288 was re-exported io bond, and $3,450,591 were withdrawn for consumption, the increase for the month in stock is only about three millions. Below we give a statement of the warehouse movement for May, with the stock on hand June 1 :

WAREHOUSE MOVEMENT AT NEW YORK IN MAY. Stock in warehouse May 1, 1866..

$30,135,543 Entered for warehou-ing in May.

13,902,407 Received from other po. ts in May..

166,186 Supply.....

$44,204,136 Withdrawn for consumption....

$9,450,591 Exported from warehouse.

1,246,288 Transported to other ports.

210,342— 10,907,221 Stock in bond June 1, 1866.

$33,296,915 do do 1865

24, 249,743 do do 186.

18,816,114 do

do
1863.

19,321,584
do
do 1062.

11,862,642

CUSTOM RECEIPTS,

On account of a large proportion of the imports being entered for warehousing, the duties collected are not in proportion to the increased imp rts. The followiug table gives the Custom’s receipts at this port for the eleven months : RECEIPTS FOR CUSTOMS AT THE PORT OF NEW YORK.

1864.
1865.

1866. Six months.

$35,042.976 45 $24,478,902 73 $65,007,328 87 January

6,180,536 09 4,231.737 47 12,437,474 16 February..

7,474,027 93 4,791,247 10 12,003,273 74 March

7,659,770 47 5,392,099 26 11,173, 154 62 April...

13,982,555 60 6,309,994 34 10,9: 0,896 78 May..

3,855,186 46 8,133,423 06 11,418,492 10 Total for eleven months...

$74,195,053 00 $53,332, 403 96 $123,065,620 27

EXPORTS.

The exports this year during the month of May have also been in excess of previous years, given in our comparati e table. It should be remembered, however, that they are recorded at their market currency value, wbile the imports are given in their in: voiced gold value, without freight and duty being added. The following will show the comparative exparts from this port for the month of May: VOL. LV.-NO. II.

9

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »