Page images

freedom from doubt, and fear, and sin; freedom from human dependence, above all freedom from dependence on ourselves. As pardoned sinners, through the redemption wrought for them, find, in the renewed nature, a restoration to that dignity they had forfeited, so those who are most destitute of the dignity which arises from this dependence, missing the reality, deceive themselves with the shadow.

"He who does not believe this fundamental truth, on which the other doctrines of the Bible are built-even he who does nominally profess to assent to it as a doctrine of scripture; yet if he does not experimentally acknowledge it; if he does not feel it in the convictions of his own awakened conscience, in his discovery of the evil workings of his own heart, and the wrong propensities of his own nature, all bearing their testimony to its truth-such a one will not pray earnestly for its cure-will not pray with that feeling of his own helplessness, with that sense of dependence on divine assistance, which alone makes prayer efficacious.

Of this corruption he can never attain an adequate conception, till his progress in religion has opened his eyes on what is the natural state of man. Till this was the case, he himself was as far from desiring the change, as he was from believing it necessary. He does not even suspect its existence, till he is in some measure delivered from its dominion.

'Nothing will make us truly humble, nothing will make us constantly vigilant, nothing will entirely lead us to have recourse to prayer so fervently, or so frequently, as this ever abiding sense of our corrupt natures,—as our not being able to ascribe any

disposition in ourselves, to any thing that is good, or any power to avoid, by our own strength, any thing that is evil.' ART. III.--Historical Sketch of the principal Banking Companies

of Europe.

[From Constable’s Edinburgh Magazine.] WHEN the public attention has been so much excited by the

discussions relative to the bank of England, the following historical sketch of the principal banking establishments throughout Europe, will, perhaps, not be unacceptable to our readers. With some slight variations, it is principally extracted from the •Cours d'Economie Politique,' of M. Henri Storch, published at Petersburgh, in 1815, but we have added a variety of particulars. In many points of view, this sketch will be found to be extremely interesting. It shows, by an almost universal experience, the ruinous consequences which have invariably resulted from permitting either the government, or private individuals, to tamper with the currency; while, by showing that the paper of the different continental governments constantly fell in value as its quantity was increased, and rose in value as its quantity was diminished, it affords a practical proof of the truth of the theory which teaches, that by



sufficiently limiting the quantity of paper money, its exchangeable value may be raised to any conceivable extent. We have annexed a short notice of the bank of England; and expect to be able, on an early occasion, to give our readers the most satisfactory account that has hitherto appeared of the bank of France.

Bank of Venice.—This was the most ancient bank in Europe. 'Neither the date nor the circumstances which led to its establishment are exactly known. Historians inform us, that in 1171, the republic being hard pressed by war, levied a forced contribution on the richest of its citizens, giving them in return a perpetual annuity, at the rate of 4 per cent. An office was established for the payment of this interest, which in the sequel, became the Bank of Venice. This might probably be effected in the following manner:- As the interest on the loan to government was always paid punctually, every registered claim in the books of this office might be considered as a productive capital; and these claims, or the right of receiving this annuity, must have been soon transferred, by de i mise or cession, from one person to another. This practice would, in the sequel, suggest to holders of stock, the simple and easy method of discharging their mutual debts by transfers on the of. fice books, and as soon as they became sensible of the advantages to be derived from this method of accounting, bank money was invented.

The bank of Venice was essentially a deposit bank. Though established without a capital, its bills bore at all times an agio, or premium, above the current money of the republic. The invasion of the French, in 1797, occasioned the ruin of this establishment:

Bank of Amsterdam.--This bank was founded in 1609, on strictly commercial principles and views, and not to afford any assistance, or to commix with the finances of the state. Amsterdam was then the great entrepot of the commerce of the world, and of course, the coins of all Europe passed current in that city. Many of them, however, were so worn and defaced, as to reduce their general average value to about 9 per cent. less than their mint value, and in consequence, the new coins were immediately melted down and exported. The currency of the city was thus exposed to great fluctuations; and it was chiefly to remedy this inconvenience, and to fix the yalue or par of the current money of the country, that the merchants of Amsterdam established a 'bank' on the model of that of Venice. Its first capital was formed of Spanish ducats, or ducatoons, a silver coin which Spain had struck in the war with Holland, and with which, the tide of commerce had enriched the very country it was formed to overthrow, The bank afterwards accepted the coins of all countries, worn or fresh, at their intrinsic value, and made its own bank money payable in standard coin of the country, of full weight, deducting a brassage' for the expense of coinage, and giving a credit on its books, or .. bank money, for the deposits.

The bank of Amsterdam professed not to lend out any part of the specie deposited with it, but to keep in its coffers all that was inscribed on its books. ' In 1672, when Louis XIV. penetrated to Utrecht, almost all who had accounts, demanded their deposits at once, and they were delivered to them so readily, that no suspicion could be left of the fidelity of the administration of the bank. Many of the coins then brought forth, bore marks of the confiagration which happened soon after the establishment of the bank, at the hotel de Ville. This good faith was inaintained till about the middle of last century, when the managers secretly lent their bullion to the East India company, and to government. The usual - oaths of office' were taken by a religious magistracy, or rather by the magistracy of a religious people, that all was safe; and the good people of Holland believed, as an article of their creed, that every florin which circulated as bank money, had its metallic constituent in the treasury of the bank, sealed up and secured by oaths, honesty, and policy. This blind confidence was dissipated in December, 1790, by a declaration that the bank would retain L. 10 per cent, of all deposits, and would return none of a less amount than 2,500 flurins.

Even this was submitted to, and forgiven. But four years afterwards, on the invasion of the French, the bank was obliged to declare that it had advanced to the states, and the East India Company, more than 10,500,000 florins, which sum they were deficient to their depositors; to whom, however, they assigned these claims. Bank money, which previously bore an agio of 5 per cent. immediately fell to 18 per cent. below current money.

This epoch marked the decay of an institution which had long enjoyed an unlimited credit, and had rendered the greatest services to the country. The amount of the treasure of the bank of Amsterdam, in 1755, was estimated, by Mr. Hope, at 33,000,000 of florins.

Bank of Hamburgh. The bank of Hamburgh was established in 1619, on the model of that of Amsterdam; its stock originally consisted of German crowns, called specie dollars. In 1770, in order to obviate the inconvenience arising from the receipt of bad coins, it was arranged that the bank should receive bullion as well as coin; and it soon afterwards ceased keeping any account in coined money. The bank now receives specie in ingots, or foreign coins, as bullion only, which renders the money or paper of this bank, the least variable standard of any in Europe. Its standard is 47 of pure metal, 1 of alloy. Those who deposit, pay less than onehalf per cent. for the security, and one to one and a half per cent. for refining; when they re-demand their deposit in the proper standard, which few do, but for a profit on the metal beyond this charge, preferring at all other times the bank money. The bank also lends on the deposit of Spanish dollars, by giving its receipts payable to bearer; the charge for this accommodation is only 3s.

4d. per month, or 2 per cent per annum. The loans are limited to three months, when the deposit is retired, or the loan renewed. The bank of Hamburgh is the best administered of any in Europe; its business and accounts are the most open and best known to the public. Its governors are responsible, and frequently renewed.

When marshal Davoust retook Hamburgh, (4th of November, 1813,) he seized on all the treasure he found in the bank, amounting to 7,500,000 marcs banco: part of this treasure has been restored by France.

Bank of Vienna—was founded by Maria Theresa, in the seven year's war. The empress issued simple bills of credit,' for twelve millions of florins, ordering a proportion of the taxes to be receive able in this paper only. This regulation, by obliging those who had taxes to pay to purchase bills, gave them at first, a value superior to metallic currency. But the necessities of government, having led to their excessive issue, gold and silver were gradually withdrawn from circulation. At length, in 1797, (a curious coincidence,) the bank became altogether unable to pay its paper in specie, on demand, and was relieved from this obligation, while at the same time its notes were ordered to be received as legal money. Their depreciation soon followed, but was accelerated and exaggerated by the expedient of creating a copper coinage, of little value; 100 lb. of copper being coined into 2400 pieces, and stamped as of the value of 600 florins, which were made the standard. During the subsequert years of the war, the government, fearing to add to the already exorbitant weight of taxation, and without credit, had no other resource but to add to the quantity of paper in circulation. In 1810, above 1,060,000,000 of paper florins had been issued, and a florin of silver was then worth no less than 12 or 13 forins in paper. The depreciation could be carried no farther, without risking the safety of the state; and in February, 1811, the government declared it would issue no more; and ordered the current paper money to be liquidated at ONE-FIFTH part of its nominal value, in a new paper money, called “ bills of redemption,' to be retired by a sort of sinking fund, formed by the sale of ecclesiastical property. The misery and destruction of property that was thus occasioned may be conceived, but cannot be described.

Though the new paper, in point of intrinsic worth, was no better than the former, the reduction of its quantity, alone served to assist its currency and support its value. In May, 1812, 100 florins of silver would exchange for only 186 of this paper, while the former had fallen below 12 to 1. From a statement, by Mr. Haldimand, of the value of Austrian paper money, in 1815, 1816, 1817, and 1818, printed in the Appendix to the Lord's Report on the State of the Bank of England, it appears, that in the month of April 1815, 100 silver florins were worth 489 paper florins; and that on the 12th of December last, 247 paper florins were worth

100 silver ditto. The value of paper has been gradually increasing since 1816.

Bank of Stockholm,-one of the most ancient, dates from 1657, and was established by the government. Its capital was 300,000 specie-crowns. It issued notes bearing interest, and payable to bearer. It borrowed at 4 per cent. and lent at 6. It was so well administered, that at the death of Charles XII. its capital had augmented to 5,000,000.

Another bank was afterwards established, and soon united to the first. They now made advances to the government and to the nobility, increased their paper to 600,000,000 of crowns of copper, or about L. 8,000,000 of our sterling. This issue was excessive. The bank paper could not be liquidated even in copper, and fell to the 96th part of its nominal value: In 1762, the government owed the bank more than 80,000,000 of silver crowns, or above L. 3,000,000 sterling.

Gustavus III, for a time, by strong and wise measures, remedied much of this disorder, but destroyed at last his own labours, by making war on Russia: from this time the country has been deluged by a paper-money without value, and has been so completely stripped of metallic currency, as to be obliged to use notes of the low value of sixpence!

Bank of Copenhagenwas founded by royal authority, in 1736, with a capital of 500,000 crowns: in 1745, in the tenth year of its establishment, it applied to government to be relieved from the obligation of discharging its notes in coin: it continued, however, to issue paper, and to make advances to the state, and to individuals. The public suffered; but the proprietors gained; their dividend was so large, that the shares of the bank sold for three times their original deposit. In 1773, when the bank had issued 11,000,000 of paper crowns, the king returned their deposits to the shareholders, and becoming himself sole proprietor, carried the issue to 16,000,000. Specie immediately disappeared, and government was obliged to issue paper notes of a single crown.

The evil being come to its acmé, a remedy was attempted. In 1791, all further emission was forbidden, and a progressive liquidation ordered. A new bank called the ‘Species Bank,' was created, with a capital, in shares, of 2,400,000 specie crowns. This bank is independent of the government; and the directors, sworn to be faithful, are, in all that relates to its affairs, relieved formally from their oath to the sovereign. Its issue of paper was limited to one and nine-tenths (less than double) of the specie in its coffers. The former bank was to retire annually, 750,000 of its paper crowns. By these means, it was calculated to relieve Denmark, in less than fifteen years, from its oppressive load of paper money; but the event did not justify this expectation. When once the gangrene of a forced state paper money has seized on a country, neither the government nor individuals can extirpate this caries' of the

« PreviousContinue »