Imágenes de páginas

in case of need, and is to be binding on all parties till such rules shall be legally altered. The 14th clause, requiring all such sums of money deposited, as may not be called for by the immediate exigencies of the Institution, to be invested in the government funds of the United Kingdon, has met with great and, as we apprehend, wellfounded opposition. By several Scottish members it was combated as equally impracticable and impolitic, and it was chiefly, we believe, in consequence of this clause, that the bill was prevented from extending to Scotland. The advantages to be gained by this mode of investing the money deposited with Friendly or Saving Banks, are set forth in the Report of the Bath Provident Institution. These are chiefly two: the first is, that the Funds afford the best possible security. This is undeniable; but then it is an advantage which may be too dearly purchased. The 3 per cents., which were some time ago considerably below par, have lately proportionally exceeded it, and by purchasing at 65 or 70 there is a probability of an eventual loss upon the capital. If the value of the stock purchased with the money of the depositors is to remain always exactly equal to the purchase, whatever may be the rise or fall in the market, the depositors who may withdraw their money will indeed have reason to be satisfied, should the price of stocks have fallen below their purchase: but should the price have risen above it, when they withdraw, they will be apt to consider themselves as not only deprived of their legitimate profit, but, if they have purchased above par, even robbed of part of their property. We do not observe any regulation as to this point in Mr. Rose's Bill; nor is it a proper subject for legislation. But to prevent as much as possible the feelings of irritation likely to arise in the minds of the lower classes from the fluctuation of the public funds, and the gambling propensity which such a fluctuation sometimes excites, we are inclined to advise, that all the deposits of individuals which may be vested in the stocks, should be entered at par in the Friendly Bank's books. In this way there will be no eventual loss to the concern : and any present defalcation may be made good from the subscriptions of the benevolent, and surplus interest.

The other advantage predicted as likely to attend the investment of the money of the Friendly Banks in the Funds, is, that it will create a new bond of union between the government and the people, and render the latter doubly interested in the good order and stability of the state. Hence submission to their share of those public burdens, which are the means of ensuring to them the regular fruits of their savings, may reasonably be anticipated. And in manufacturing districts, where a crowded populatiou and high wages afford the best encouragement for Provident Banks, such a feeling of personal interest would be highly favourable to the public


peace. All this may be true, and in our Twenty-third Nuinber we stated this as one of the collateral benefits of the plan : but let self-interest, counselled by wisdom and experience, avail itself of this security in its own way and time. Compulsion, we apprehend, will injure the cause, and lead to suspicions that may be fatal to its success. The investment of money belonging to Friendly Banks should be left to the discretion of their members, or to that of the trustees whom they may appoint, and from whom they may require security for its proper application. The intercourse with the Funds, in Scotland especially, is difficult and little understood. But several of the publie banks, particularly the Bank of Scotland, which was established in 1097 by Act of Parliameut, and which, though in truth a private establishment, is considered as the national bank of that part of the kingdom, have acquired such strength and stability as to be very popular places of deposit, and it would be neither politic nor just to forbid individuals to avail theniselves of the benefits which they offer. We ist not force' men to be patriotic by legislative enactments. We have stated the fluctuation of the Funds to be one great objection to the monopoly which the bill proposes to give to them of the money of Friendly Banks; and we may now add that the delay in the sale of stuck may expose these Banks to claims from their creditors which they are not prepared to meet, and may prevent depositors from having that command of their money which is so great a motive to accumulation, and which they might have through the facilities afforded in the ordinary course of business by the public banks.

In the 20th clause of Mr. Rose's Bill, there is an oversight of some importance. It was certainly the design of the right honourable mover to enable the trustees to receive bequests as well as donations ; yet the latter only are meritioned.

There are several other parts of the Bill which require revision and amendment, and which we doubt not will be attended to when it is again brought forward. We cannot, however, pass unnoticed the parts of it marked 21 and 22. The former of these proposes to enact that the members of Provident Institutions shall not be debarred from parochial relief in case of necessity. The principle on which this clause is founded is at once liberal and politic; and without some such provision in a country like this, where poor-rates have taken deep root, and are contemplated as a certain resource against want, we cannot expect these institutions to extend generally through the lower classes. We are also of opinion with Mr. Rose, that the love and the habit of independence will in many instances prevent those who have saved much from applying for parochial relief. Yet the encouragement, we think, goes much too far; and the firm and able opposition which




this part of the Bill encountered in the House of Commons is just what we expected.--For it is to be observed in the first place, that there is no maximum fixed for the deposits of any individual ; and in the second, that though the interest or dividend may in certain čases be applied in whole or in part, by the authority of the justices of the peace, to the support of an applicant for parish aid,

yet the principal sum subscribed (deposited)" by such member shall not be affected or diminished thereby.' Now a person might have five or six hundred pounds in a Friendly Bank, who from age or accident might be rendered unable to work, or, from having a sickly family, might require considerably more than twenty pounds, (the annual income arising from five hundred pounds, at four per cent.) for their support. Would it not be unjust that a poor tenant, struggling to maintain his credit, and scarcely able to supply his family with the mere necessaries of life, should be taxed to make up the deficiency, while he knows that the person thus relieved has an untouched capital which appears in his eyes to be affluence? As the deposits are generally to be inade in very small sums, it will not be, perhaps, an easy matter to separate the capital from the interest; but surely it can be no hardship in any case to use the whole interest for the support of the individual and his family, as far as it will go. Here the justices of the peace need not be required to interpose their casuistry.-- If they are to have a discretion, let it apply to the capital, and let them have power to protect a part or the whole of it from the overseer's gripe, according to circumstances, as a reward for past care, and a stimulus to future exertion, should health and opportunity return. That part of the Bill (No. 22,) we consider as peculiarly harsh and inexpedient, which prevents the legal heirs of a depositor who may die intestate from receiving the sum due, otherwise than by letters of administration; except in the case of a wife and children, when the whole amount of principal and interest shall not exceed fifty pounds. Many members of Friendly Banks may have sums at the time of their decease too small to defray the expense of administration, but which would be highly serviceable to their legal representatives. This surely might be in all plain cases departed from, when the sum is under fifty pounds, upon a certificate from a clergyman and two church-wardens, and a letter of security against any future claimants from ope or two substantial persons. A clause should be inserted to exempt the Friendly Bank money from payment of ghe legacy duty.

Such are the reflections which a careful consideration of Mr. Rose's bill has suggested; but we are afraid that it is yet too early to legislate definitively on the subject, and it may be better to proceed with great caution, till, from the collision of different opinions, sime and experience elicit the light of truth. Should an act be passed during the ensuing Sessions, it ought not, in any degree, to be inquisitorial or coercive. Let it not attempt to lop and prune those tender plants which are spontaneously arising in every quarter of the land, but let it stretch forth a fostering hand to protect them from injury. The safest, perhaps, and most acceptable boon that could at present be given, would be simply to extend to those institutions for the savings of industry, whose regulations shall be approved of by the Quarter Sessions, the whole privileges granted to Friendly Societies by the judicious enactment in their favour (33 Geo. IIl.) In this case we can foresee no objection whatever to the extension of the act to Scotland. Pas trop gouverner is a maxim to which every wise legislator will pay due attention, and, in such cases as that before us, ought never to be forgotten.

We are not aware that establishments, similar in principle to our banks for the savings of the industrious, were ever introduced into any part of the continent. At Hamburgh, indeed, and in various parts of Holland, &c. there were institutions calculated to encourage and reward industry in the lower classes; but these partook of the nature of deferred annuities, and may more properly be classed with those benevolent establishments, which served as the model for some of the provisions of Mr. Pitt's bill. The fate of a very flourishing association of this kind in Hamburgh is more a matter of regret than surprize. The man, who lately grasped at the sceptre of the world, and is now paying the forfeit of his crimes on a solitary rock in the ocean, with that indiscriminating rage for plunder which marked his career, and which, perhaps, more than any other part of his conduct, proved his total want of ali the moral qualities of a hero, swept away, not only all the public property of this great commercial city, but also the funds raised for charitable purposes; and, amongst the rest, the little pittance of the industrious poor! This was a death-blow to the institution alluded to.

Deeply sensible as we are of the improved condition of the lower classes of our countrymen in civilization and social comfort, we are sometimes disposed almost to regret, on their account, the abolition of those feudal institutions, which, if they implied vassalage on the part of the peasantry, and were often made the instruments of oppression, yet were in general attended with feelings of reciprocal kindness and personal affection, between the superior and his depeudants, which gave to the latter an irresistible claim on the good offices of the former in the seasons of disease and of declioing life. We live in a commercial age, in which all classes of the community are eager in the pursuit of gain, and in which the relation of master and servant is too often considered inerely as a pecuniary contract, entered into and dissolved, without the slightest H 2


mụtual regard. It is painful to reflect how much this remark applies even to the cultivators of the soil, in whom the simplicity of nature and the kindness of affection may be supposed to have taken the deepest root. In proof of this we cannot help referring to the procedure of agricultural associations, who, while they offer a premium of thirty perhaps, or even forty pounds for the rearing of the best sheep, consider the tenth part of that sum as an ample reward for the fidelity of the servant who has remained longest in the employment of his master! The establishment of Friendly Banks is eminently calculated to supply the desideratum wbich this unfortunate change in our national character has produced.

We too often see the poor man who has spent the vigour of life in laborious industry, abandoned in age to poverty, or left entirely to the uppitying care of parish overseers. To rescue them from a condition so degrading is an act not more of humanity than of sound policy; and those who teach them how to 'gather up the fragments' which might otherwise be wasted or lost, are employed in no useless work. Liberality is the easy and delightful duty of the rich; while frugality, with its self-denying restraints, is a lesson which suits the humble condition of the poor.

We have thus fulfilled our plan: and if any of our readers feel disposed to complain that they have had less of speculation than detail, we can assure them that our labour would have been greatly abridged if we had taken an opposite course. We trust, however, that those who feel a real interest in a subject, humble and unpretending as it appears, will duly appreciate the value of this investigation. They, to whom this subject is indifferent, may censure our minuteness; but those who, like us, regard it as marking an era in political economy, and as intimately connected with the external comfort and moral improvement of mankind, will be gratified to trace the rise and progress of one of the simplest and most efficient plans which has ever been devised for effecting these invaluable purposes.

ART. VII. 1. Poems, by William Cowper, of the Inner Temple, Esq. in Three Volumes

, Vol. III. containing his Posthumous Poetry, and a Sketch of his Life. By his Kinsman, John Johnson, LL.D. Rector of Faxham with Welborne, Norfolk.

8vo. 1815. .. Memoir of the Early life of William Cowper, Esq. Written

by Himself, and never before published. With an Appendir, containing some of Cowper's Religious Letters, and other inte

resting Documents, Illustrative of the Memoir. 1816. 3. Memoirs of the most Remarkable and Interesting Parts of the Life of William Cowper, Esq. of the Inner Temple. Detailing


« AnteriorContinuar »