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which they may make some provision for the exigencies of age. These Friendly or Benefit Clubs, are a great improvement upon the scheme of life-annuities commencing at a late period; and though they are but an approximation towards a perfect system for enabling the people to secure themselves from poverty and dependence, they have been productive of every important benefit. Mr. Rose, whose exertions in the cause of the poor hare been so unwearied and efficient, had a bill passed in 1793, granting some valuable privileges to Benefit Societies; and this encouragement, together with the growing intelligence of the people, caused these institutions to increase so rapidly, that the number of their members which, at the period of passing Mr. Rose's Bill, had been only 50,000, amounted in 1805, to 700,000. While the erroneous calculations on wbich these Benefit Societies, or Insurance Clubs, too frequently proceeded, and the narrow and compulsory principle which, from their nature, they necessarily involved, prevented them from accomplishing all the good which had been anticipated, their rapid and extraordinary increase held out an auspicious omen to those who speculated on the means of bettering the condition of the poor, and proved that the people were ripe to appreciate and adopt any efficient plan of self. support which might be offered.
In the year 1806, Mr. John Bone established in the metropolis an Economical Bank, for the purpose of affording to persons of all ages, trades, and descriptions, an opportunity of providing for their future wants by the payment of small sums. This institution was called 'Tranquillity. The bank consisted of several funds, the most useful of which was the juvenile or temporary deposite fund. The labourer might as often as once a week, place his sixpences and shillings in this fund, and afterwards withdraw the amount, increased by the compound interest upon it. An admirably simple mode of keeping the accounts was devised, which obviated all difficulties that might have arisen from the expense of management; and thus the advantages of banking, which had hitherto been confined to the opulent, were brought within the reach of the labouring classes. This was precisely what was wanted. As the Diodes of instruction proposed by Dr. Bell and Mr. Lancaster, render the advantages of education attainable by the poor, 50 the simple and uncostly method of banking devised by Mr. Bone, presents to them the certain means of acquiring property and independence; and the conjoint operation of these improvements promises meliorations in society, of which, at the present period, we can form but an inadequate conception,
The Economical bank, called Tranquillity, was discontioued for want of the means of defraying the incidental expenses which, at the commencement of such establishments, must
necessarily be incurred; but the simple and efficient principles upon which it was founded, were not likely to be lost. In the O tober Number of the former series of our Journal, for the year 1806, it was endeavoured to fix the attention of the public upon a plan which involved moral considerations of such general inportance; and in the year 1810, the Rev. Mr. Henry Duncan, as he informs us in his valuable publication, established at Ruthwell an economical bank on the principles of Mr. Bone. The temporary deposite fund which, in the bank of Tranquillity, was subordinate to an annuity fund, Mr. Duncan rendered the leading provision of the Ruthwell bank. This was a considerable improvement upon the original plan. The Economical bank of Ruihwell, succeeded beyond the most sanguine expectations of its benevolent founder, and became the model of similar institutions which now rapidly started into existence in Edinburgh, Bath, Bristol, Liverpool, Southampton, London, and various other places throughout the United Kingdomn.
In presenting our readers with this brief sketch of the history of Banks for Savings, we have been led almost involuntarily to express our opinion of their utility. Such incidental and general approbation, however, would be quite inadequate to convey a just conception of their beneficial tendency; and it therefore becomes necessary that we should en er into a full and more particular examination of the nature and extent of the advantages which such institutions are calculated to confer. As the wages received by the industrious classes must always be sufficient to keep the supply of labour up to the demand, it necessarily follows, that a man with the average number of children, will be just able to maintain his family, and that a single man, or a man with less than the average number of children, will earn more than is necessary to his support. To furnish a convenient and secure place of deposite, in which their surplus earnings may be laid up to accumulate at compound interest, and from which they may be withdrawn at the will of their proprietors, is the object of banks for savings. The whole difference between the sum which will support a family of
average pumber, and the sum which will inaintain a single person, is a disposable surplus which the young unmarried man may lay up as a provision for his future wants. In the most common species of employment, the surplus of the unmarried labouring man will be three shillings a week ; and this, accumulated in a bank for savings, at four per cent. compound interest, will, in the space of eleven years, amount to upwards of a hundred pounds. An unmarried labouring woman, may, in the same period, accumulate fifty pounds. Thus, by means of bauks for savings, the lowest species of labourers, if they begin to save at fifteen, and remain single until six and twenty, way,
at the period of marriage, have accumulated a fund sufficient, with their future earnings, to ensure comfort and independence in their after years.
From what we have already said, our readers will at once perceive, how superior Economical banks, in which small and irregular sums may at any time be deposited, to accumulate at compound interest, and to be withdrawn at pleasure, are, to all those plans for deferred annuities, and benefit clubs, which have from time to time been proposed for the benefit of the poor. Schemes for annuities to commence at a late period of life, never can become popular, or extensively beneficial. The advantages which they hold out are too remote and contingent to operate very forcibly upon the mind, or to counterbalance the desire of immediate enjoyment. The labourer cannot be expected to surrender that perfect empire over his little property, which is ever a source of pride and satisfaction ; or to postpone his union with the object of his affections, for the purpose of purchasing a deferred annuity which he may never live to receive. And even if the industrious classes could be prevailed upon to sink their surplus earnings in the purchase of annuities to commence at a late period of life, such annuities would neither afford aid in sickness and disaster, nor contribute to the support of an infant family. Benefit societies, or insurance clubs, (which such societies really are,) against the accidents which deprive the labourer of the power of earning bis own subsistence, were a great improvement upon the scheme of deferred annuities. But Benefit societies, though highly useful under the particular casualties against which they are intended to provide, are yet, when regarded as a general system for enabling the labouring classes to acquire comfort and independence, extremely defective and inoperative. Many of the objections which have been urged against them, such as their meetings being held at public houses, and their proceeding upon erronevus calculations, might be easily obviated; but the fixed and equal payments which they enforce, are essential to them as schemes of insurance; and these, while they often press in the severest manner on the poorer members, prevent the skilful and prosperous workman from investing the full amount of his surplus earnings. None of these inconveniences and deficiencies attach to an Economical bank, which has no stipulated periods of payment, and which receives any sum. But the great perfection of such institutions, and that in which they excel all other schemes for providing for the poor, is, that they are calculated to exert a salutary influence over marriage. Economical banks, in which the surplus tarnings of early life may be deposited to accumulate, and from which, at the option of the owner, they may be withdrawn, afford the labouring classes
the means of establishing themselves in comfortable independence with the partners of their affections, and of creating an available fund for supplying the wants of an infant and helpless family. Hence, of all human institutions, Economical banks hold out the most powerful inducements to industry and frugality. Nor is this all. As experience impresses the important and consolatory conviction, that the labouring classes possess the means of providing a comfortable and an independent support for their families, a considerable portion of discredit will attach to those who neglect to avail themselves of the resources placed within their reach. Hence, the force of public opinion will not only compel young persons to select partners who have been industrious and provident, but will constrain them to defer their union until their mutual savings shall bave amounted to a sum which, with their future earnings, may be sufficient to maiotain their families in decent indepevdence. Hence, one of the first, and certainly one of the most important effects of Economical banks, will be, to postpone marriages. This effect will, in its turn, become an efficient cause, and will be found to be the antecedent of the most momentous consequences. Deferring the period of entering upon the marriage state, will produce changes in the domestic affections, in the moral conduct, and political habits of the people; and it becomes necessary briefly to examine these, before we can attain an adequate conception of the operation of Economical banks.
Hitherto the hopelessness of being able to secure a decent independence for a family, has had two different and opposite effects upon society : it has driven persons of ardent affections, to rush without reflection into the inarriage state ; while it has appalled the cooler and more calculating, and altogether deterred them from the endearments of the conjugal union. Hence, in every street we are presented with two lamentable spectacles : bere, we see families unable to support themselves; and there, we behold the heartless depravity of promiscuous intercourse. These distressing scenes, produced in a great measure by the difficulty of procuring subsistence, will disappear as the iñeans of securing comfort and independence are presented to the people. Seeing that a little prudential restraint is sufficient to place them beyond the reach of want, the most thoughtless and impetuous will have an efficient motive for delay: confident that in due time they will be able to surmount the obstacles wbich deter them from a union with the objects of their affections, the calculating class will be won from vicious indulgence by the prospect of heart-felt happiness. Thus, the principal cause of poverty will be removed, and those incentives to vice, which human nature is of itself so little calculated to withstand, will in a great degree cease to exist. Indeed, we
cannot conceive a situation more friendly to virtue, and to the development of all the best and most delightful affections of the heart, than that of young persons yielding themselves to mutual attachment, in the confidence that after a due exertion of prudence, they shall be able to provide for their future offspring, and running a course of industry and frugality, under the animating hope of accelerating the consummation of their felicity. The protracted courtship which, under such circumstances, might become expedient, would give refinement and intensity to their affections; and when the period of marriage should come, poverty would not enter the home of wedded love, nor the difficulty of rearing a family turn parental affection into bitterness. The delayed and prudential marriages, to which Economical banks are powerfully calculated to give occasion, cannot fail to diffuse throughout the homes of the people a degree of comfort, independence, and happiness, the sum of which it would at the present period be impossible to calculate.
As a nation is but a collection of families, whatever increases the comfort and independence of domestic life, must promote civil and political improvement. The greater part of the disorders which disfigure and distract society, have their origin in the difficulty of finding employment and subsistence for the people. Population increases faster than food; the supply of labour exceeds the demand ; children are brought into the world before the funds for their maintenance have been provided ; and hence thousands, goaded by want to the perpetration of violence and fraud, continue for a time as a moral pestilence in the land, and then terminate in a workhouse or on à gibbet a
once hurtful to others and miserable to themselves. For all these disorders, the deferred marriages which Economical banks are so powerfully calculated to promote, aflord an appropriate and à radical remedy. The children born under such prudential wedlock, would be amply provided with all things necessary to their healthful existence; as they advanced toward vigorous manhood, employment and subsistence would readily be found ; and while the incitements to fraud and depredation ceased, and order and tranquillity were established throughout the land, a dignified independence, or rational liberty, would universally prevail. Feeling that they have something to lose, the people would be prompt to put down disturbance : under the control of an enlightened public sentiment, rulers would lose the inclination and the power to oppress. As the chaineleon borrows its hue from the objects which surround it, so those whom a love of distinction prompts to take a lead in public affairs, conform to the temper and spirit of the times in which they live. In proportion as ignorance