« 上一頁繼續 »
From the time of the publication of the first edition of the Essay on Parish Banks; the second Report of the Edinburgh Society; and the Report of the Provident Institution of Bath, Saving Banks have sprung up on every side, and have been increasing with such rapidity, that we can hardly doubt that the benefit of the system will soon be brought within the reach of every town and village in Great Britain and Ireland. Kelso was the first place, in which, under the patronage of his Grace the Duke of Roxburgh, a Friendly Bank was introduced professedly on the plan of the Ruthwell institution. Liverpool, Exeter, Winchester, Hertford, Southampton, Bristol, Glasgow, Greenock, Paisley, Dumfries, Berwick, Dublin, Belfast, &c. are among the places already in possession of these establishments. The zeal of the able and public spirited conductors of the Edinburgh Bank has tended very materially to promote the plan both in Scotland and England, and has given to it a degree of éclat among strangers, which it would not have received through a less conspicuous medium. At the same time we cannot help regretting, that it was not made to stand upon its own basis, but was attached to the Society for the Suppression of Beggars.' This unfortunate association excited against it a natural and a very strong prejudice in the minds of the people, who could hardly fail to conclude that it proposed something both of a coercive and degrading nature. Accordingly, its progress at first was slow; but by the exertions of the managers, and particularly of Mr. John Forbes, (son of the late Sir William,) whose name is an hereditary pledge of active and intelligent zeal in the cause of humanity, the popular dislike has at length been overcome, and it is now rising into deserved eminence.
Of these establishments, one of the most extensive we have heard of, in the principle of its constitution, is that of Glendale Ward, in the northern division of Northumberland, containing a considerable number of parishes, of which Wooler is the central place. Local secretaries are appointed to receive monthly the deposits at the different parishes, by whom they are transferred to the general secretary.
Our readers will wonder perhaps that London has not yet been mentioned in our list, and probably impute the omission to inaccuracy or negligence. But it is a curious fact, that a place which should be, and generally is, among the first to lead in all matters of public interest, has, in the present instance, been among the last to follow, and that no institution of this kind, of any note, was opened in the metropolis till the end of January in the present year, when the London Savings Bank' commenced its operation.* We
After this article was ready for the press, an essay on 'Provident or Parish Banks fell
hope to see a general extension of it. For this purpose, handbills expressed in simple and popular language should be distributed; and an office opened in every parish in the city and suburbs, all of them connected with a central Bank, and placed under strict inspection and controul. We cannot compliment the treasurer, Mr. Taylor, on his Summary Account,' which is desultory, superficial, and flippant. But if he performs his trust with fidelity, some other person better qualified may probably address the public hereafter on behalf of the institution. We should regret that the unexpected length to which this article has already extended, obliges us to shorten the remainder of it, did we not hope, from the increasing interest and progress of the plan, and from the development of its effects, to be called on to supply what may now be deficient at some future time. We must, however, endeavour to give a succinct view both of the internal economy of the Banks, and of the legislative measure by which it is proposed to foster them.
For the sake of accurate distinction we shall point out the leading features of Mr. Duncan's plan, as embodied in the Dumfries Regulations, which were drawn up by him, and are published in the second edition of his essay; and, as we proceed, we shall take notice of the chief differences that exist between this scheme, and that of the Edinburgh Savings Bank,' and others formed on its model. First, with regard to the name of these societies, Savings Banks, introduced by the Edinburgh institution, we think it a barbarous innovation. Mr. Duncan feels a predilection for the title Parish Banks, and he has established so good a right to choose, that we feel some reluctance in demurring to this preference, and some doubt of the accuracy of our judgment on this point. The name Parish Bank seems to convey a false idea; for even in the Ruthwell Bank itself neither the office-bearers nor the depositors are confined to the parish, nor do we see any good purpose that could be promoted by such a restriction. It is true that the circumstance of a bank being established in a particular parish, and chiefly for the benefit of its inhabitants, may be thought to suggest this name as the most appropriate. But is not the name of the place pre
fell into our hands, written by Barber Beaumont, Esq. which contains a detailed account of a Provident Bank, recently instituted by himself in the parish of St. Paul's, Covent Garden. This is a work of some research, and we find in it many acute remarks on the Friendly Bank schemes of others; but it is easier to pull down than to build, and the provisions by which he proposes in his own establishment to obviate objections, seem themselves to be replete with danger. One part of his plan is, to deposit the funds of the Provident Bank in the hands of a number of treasurers, and to divide these funds in such a manner that not more than 3001. nor less than 100%. shall be in the possession of any one treasurer. We do not hesitate to say, that this is an Utopian scheme, complicated in the machinery, and impracticable in the execution.
fixed equivalent to this? Besides, may not the word Parish, which seems superfluous, have a tendency to make the people apprehend something compulsory in the plan, and to place the depositors in a degrading point of view? We are inclined to prefer the name, Friendly Bank, with the place prefixed, to any we have hitherto heard, not only because it expresses the agreeable idea of mutual aid and advantage, but also because it calls to recollection those societies which the people have been long accustomed to regard with approbation and favour. While we are on this topic, we must notice an error into which Mr. Rose has inadvertently fallen, and which we know, from his own authority, he anxiously desires to
Those who have opened the way,' he observes, for benefits to their country, almost incalculable, are entitled to the thanks of every person in it. To the gentlemen at Edinburgh and Bath, commendations are pre-eminently due; in other parts of Great Britain, however, the principle has been acted upon in a small scale, especially in Scotland, where the parochial institutions for savings are called Maneges; so full an account of which is given by Mr. Duncan, the early promoter of them, as to render it quite unnecessary to enter on any particulars respecting them here. But, however well intended they are, there are strong objections to them. In any event the extended establishments are infinitely more to be desired on account of the preferable management of them.'-Observations.
Now there is almost as little similarity between a Menage and a Parish Bank as between a billiard room and a counting house. The contrivance to which Mr. Rose alludes is a miserable expedient, long resorted to by the lowest of the people for supplying the want of such establishments as Parish or Friendly Banks. In Scotland it is not called Manege, but Menage, a French term, signifying frugality, or household economy, and which leads us to suppose that the thing, like the name, is of foreign growth. Any number of persons, say fifty-two, enter into an agreement by which they bind themselves to contribute regularly a certain sum, suppose a shilling, weekly, during as many weeks as there are members. The club assembles sometimes at the house of one of their own number, whom they remunerate for the accommodation; but more frequently at some low tavern, where they club for such cheer as they can afford to pay for. Dice are thrown by the company. He who throws highest gains the pool, that is, the whole of the fifty-two shillings, which we have supposed to be the contributions for the week. The winner is bound by the laws of plebeian honour to pay in one shilling a week during the other fifty-one weeks of the scheme, though he can gain no further advantage. The wheel thus goes round till every one has drawn his prize: the scheme is then closed and a new one perhaps engaged in.-Menages certainly are
the most harmless species of gambling that can well be imagined, aud, when placed under proper management, have sometimes been found useful:* but no interest is paid, no accumulation is admitted, no provision is made for futurity. Habits of waste and dissipation are often engendered. In all these respects, they are conducted on a different system from Parish Banks; and Mr. Duncan, so far from being the early promoter of them, has, in one of his publications on Parish Banks, warned the public against their dangerous tendency, and pointed out their evil consequences with eloquence and force. His object in mentioning them is to shew that they afford a fair opening for leading those who support them to a wiser and more profitable application of their savings, and his desire is to see them materially improved or altogether abolished.
We observe that the words Friendly Society' make a part of the title of the parent institution of Ruthwell, as well as those of Kelso, Dumfries, &c. This was to bring them within the scope of the Act 33 George III. for the protection of Friendly Societies, properly so called; and the regulations have accordingly been submitted to, and approved of by the Justices of the Peace of the districts. We applaud Mr. Duncan for his ingenuity in so framing the constitution of his little banks as to obtain for them the benefits which the law affords, and at the same time to place them under the inspection of the civil magistrate. We doubt whether the banks on the Edinburgh models can take advantage of this act, as the managers of them are a body altogether distinct from the depositors for whose benefit these banks are designed. The definition of a Friendly Society' is a voluntary association of a number of persons for mutual benefit: and the act expressly recognizes and establishes this principle. Accordingly all the depositors, who have made payments for six months, and have not less than one pound in the bank, are entitled to attend General Meetings; and, therefore, such associations seem to be brought fairly within the spirit and scope of the act. In order, however, to check any abuse which might arise from the affairs of the Society being committed to the care of low and inexperienced persons, it is wisely provided that though all such depositors as have been described are entitled to attend and vote at General Meetings, the persons to whom the whole detail of management is committed are to be chosen only out of those, whether they be depositors or not, who are donors
Clubs, similar in their principle to Menages, are frequently formed among the industrious poor, in which a certain sum of money is advanced weekly or monthly by the respective members, and each is provided, in the rotation of his fortune, with a watch, clock, chest of drawers, or such other articles as may have been previously agreed upon, and contracted for at a definite price.—Lord Selkirk is, at present, with admirable effect, actually applying this principle to the building of a village, in the neighbourhood of Kirkcudbright.
or annual benefactors to the Society. The higher classes are thus enabled to be at the head of the institution, while their contributions give them a claim of gratitude on the whole body,
This appears to be one of the advantages of the popular principle which enters into Mr. Duncan's plan; and there are others calculated to make us consider it, upon the whole, as preferable to the Edinburgh scheme, in which the depositors are excluded from all management. In the commencement of an institution there often exists a degree of zeal which cannot be expected to continue; and it may be apprehended, that if the managers have no interest, and no responsibility, they will, in the course of a few years, leave the whole care of the concern to one or two pensioned officers, who may, from heedlessness or design, bring the institution into disgrace, and blast the hopes of its supporters.
We have heard it alleged by some very acute persons, that the practice of our public banks, which daily transact business with their customers, but never admit them to any share in the administration, is favourable to the principle of excluding the depositors from any share of the management. The circumstances of the two cases, however, we apprehend, are by no means parallel, and, therefore, will not warrant the same conclusion. In the ordinary public banks the managers are proprietors of Bank Stock, and are strictly accountable to a Board of Directors selected from the whole. Hence the powerful and ever wakeful principle of selfinterest pervades the whole economy of the establishments, and affords to the public a strong pledge of the prudence and regularity of their proceedings. Here too, as in other things, competition gives additional security. But in these Friendly Banks the stimulus of private interest can be felt only by the industrious depositors, who ought therefore to have some voice in the management. The observations which we formerly made on the influence of the wealthy, and the disposition of the members to avail themselves of their aid in Friendly Societies, will apply in the case of Friendly Banks with still greater force, inasmuch as the details connected with these are necessarily somewhat more difficult, and therefore peculiarly require the aid of men of intelligence. Mr. Duncan, however, though favourable, perhaps in too great a degree, to the popular system of which we have been speaking, very candidly acknowledges, that in large towns the mixed and incongruous mass that forms the chief part of the population seems to render it expedient to give them the benefits of the institution without hazarding its safety by allowing them a share in conducting it. To this country, where the lower classes, we fear, are less instructed, and certainly less under the controul of moral principles than in Scotland, this exception seems particularly applicable; but it must be applied