+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error

the old-fashioned class of merchants who
look upon a man's word as his bondand
a very good bond, toothere is never
any scrutiny demanded, or any troublesome
questions asked, and the very respectable
dividend always carries them through
triumphantly, with the presentation of a piece
of plate. Onceand once onlythey broke
the uniformity of their composition by paying
eleven shillings in the pound; but they restored
the balance the next time, by increasing
the dividend to fourteen shillings.

The next house is the well-known
manufacturing house of Lacker, Crane, and
Company, of Packingcase Yard, Lower Thames
Street, and Dunmist Mills, near Old Humdrum,
Inverness-shire. The premises in Packingcase
Yard are modest enough, and would
not seem to indicate a business of a very
extensive character; but, in this instance the
art of the engraver is called in, and we are
presented upon invoices and bill-stamps with
a flattering and highly suggestive view of the
important and busy Dunmist Mills, of which
the small office in London is only one of the
numerous agencies. There are water-power
and steam-power; high chimneys sending
forth volumes of smoke; long ranges of
outbuildings with groups of busy work-people,
and large, solid bales of merchandise; bridges
and tramways, and waggons loaded with raw
material, drawn by struggling horses of the
Flemish breed, towards the crowded gates of
this industrial settlement. The whole is a
work of imagination of the highest order,
alike creditable to the designer and the
engraver. When, in the usual course of things,
the house of Lacker, Crane, and Company is
compelled to call its creditors together, and
an inspection of the magnificent factory,
outworks, and plant, takes place by the order of
the assignees, the dissolving view of the
industrial hive, with its active work-people
and its din and clatter of machinery, gradually
recedes, and in its place stands the
pastoral simplicity of a couple of barns,
and a kilted shepherd tending his flocks.

My next paper-house is that of Baggs
and Company, of Nabob Buildings, Leadenhall
Street, in the East Indian trade. Baggs and
Company would have been commercially
defunct many years since, but for a most fortunate
occurrence,—they were joined at their
last gasp by young Mr. Curry, the only son
of the great East Indian director of that
name. The firm of Curry, Baggs, and Company
was a very different concern from
the languishing firm of Baggs and Company.
Its credit was good to any amount;
for many persons confounded the name of
Curry with old Curry, and they did not
stay to undeceive themselves. Others spoke
about the great wealth of old Currywealth
that he must have; spoke about young Curry
being the only son and a great favourite
a very great favourite; spoke about the
praiseworthy care of a father desirous of
seeing his son comfortably settled in commerce
before he finally retired from the busy
scene. Old Baggs made hay while the sun
shone. One morning old Curry committed
suicide. Upon inquiry it was found that he
was not only very much behind the world,
but that he had a large number of forged bills
in the hands of Longpaperand Company, who
rather prefer that exceptional branch of the
trade in paper, because they have found,
from a long experience, that forged documents,
as a rule, while they yield the
highest rate of interest, furnish the greatest
amount of security. Young Curry, instead
of taking any capital into the tottering firm
had, on the contrary, drawn a few thousands
out of it as a premium for the use of his
valuable financial name.

My next structure is the old historical
banking-house of Fossil, Ingot, and Bagstock,
in Bullion Alley. It was founded in the time
of Charles the Second. Take up any book
upon the Antiquities of London, and you will
always find a chapter devoted to the house
in which the business is carried on. Take
up any collection of commercial anecdotes,
and you will find how, in periods of financial
panic, the great house of Fossil alone stood
unshaken. You will read how the stout-hearted,
cool-headed Fossil, when his bank
was subjected to a severe pressure, during
the reaction of the South Sea scheme, stood
at his door and shovelled the sovereigns into
baskets out of a dust-cart. You will read
how he went to a neighbouring banker, who
was in sore distress, and, slapping him on the
back, said, " Centum, my boy, I have placed
a couple of millions to your credit, and if you
want any more, you know where to send for
it." When it was announced, the other day,
that Fossil, Ingot, and Bagstock had closed
their doors, the public could not credit it.
Although the fact was too plain to be denied,
they fell back upon the assertion that the
suspension could only be temporary, as old
Fossil's property alone would pay everybody,
and yield an enormous surplus. This flattering
supposition had also to be given up; for,
to the general consternation, it was found,
upon inquiry, that old Fossilin fact, all the
Fossilshad been dead about sixty-five years,
and that there had been none of their capital
in the bank for more than half a century.
Unlike his predecessors, who were all striving
to make something out of nothingJohn
Taster was equally energetic in trying to make
nothing out of something. By a long course of
industry and care in the wholesale cheese-trade,
John had amassed a fortune of about one
hundred thousand pounds. His life, dull and
monotonous enough, had been passed in that
very mouldy warehouse on the ground-floor of
one of the dampest houses in Lower Thames
Street, posting a greasy ledger in a small
box, called a counting-house, which was
lighted with gas the whole of the livelong
day. There was not much about John