« AnteriorContinuar »
annual accounts of the utility and success of his plan in provincial newspapers. He most readily answered the inquiries of gentlemen from various parts of the country, and established a correspondence with
many friends of the poor iu Great Britain and Ireland. Justice leads us to say that we have seldom heard of a private individual in a retired sphere, with numerous avocations and a narrow income, who has sacrificed so much ease, expense, and time, for an object purely disinterested, as Mr. Duncan has done. We feel it at once a satisfaction and a duty to pay this tribute to his merits, because, though, in the Second Report of the Edinburgh Society, they were not passed over in silence, yet the Ruthwell Bank was slightly mentioned, as a local and unknown institution. Many of the individual members of that Society, however, have expressed their sense of its value as an example; and Dr. Baird, Principal of the University, one of the Directors, has, in the most unequivocal manner, borne testimony to the ability and zeal of its founder.
Mr. Duncan remarks in page 36 of his Essay, that before the existence of Saving Banks, some clergymen had been in the habit of placing the little superfluous earnings of their parishioners in situations of security and profit ; and states it as a remarkable coincidence, that in the year 1807, three years before the establishment of the Ruthwell Bank, a similar institution had been formed at West Calder, of which he was entirely ignorant, till near the time of the publication of his second edition. It was founded by Mr. Muckersey, minister of the parish; its management is similar to that of Friendly Societies; and interest at the rate of four per cent. is allowed to depositors, with full liberty to withdraw their money at pleasure. As the rules had not been printed, nor any attempt made to extend the knowledge of its benefits beyond the parish, the advantages derived from it were entirely local.
Mr. Duncan will find in the preceding part of this article some important facts on the subject, in relation to England, of which he cannot have been aware; otherwise from the minute fidelity which he has displayed in doing justice to the claims of others, and the modesty with which he brings forward his own, we are confident he would not have failed to mention them.
We are warranted on the whole to conclude, that though some institutions, similar both in their principles and details, had been formed before the Parish Bank of Ruthwell, yet it was the first of the kind which was regularly and minutely organized and brought before the public: and further, that as that Society gave the impulse which is fast spreading through the kingdom, it is in all fairness entitled to the appellation of the Parent Society. If we spoke of the original society, we should, from our present knowledge, be disposed to conser that name on the Charitable Bank at Tottenham,
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 Bathi, 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 establishinents, 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 cepral place. Local secretaries are appointed to receive monthl: the deposits at the different parishes, by whom they are transfered to the general secretary.
Our readers will wonder perhaps that London has no yet been mentioned in our list, and probably impute the omissin to inaccuracy or negligence. But it is a curious fact, that place which should be, and generally is, among the first to learn all matters of public interest, has, in the present instance, beeramong the last to follow, and that no institution of this kind, I any note, was opened in the metropolis till the end of January, the present year, when the Loudon Savings Bank' commencediis operation.* We
hope After this article was ready for the press, an essay"
or Parish Banks
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 Aippant. 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 confind 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 "ank being established in a particular parish, and chiefly for the benfit of its inhabitants, may be thought to suggest this name as the met appropriate. But is not the name of the place prefell into our ands, written by Barber Beaumont, Esq. which contains a detailed account of a Pivident Bank, recently iustituted 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 semarks on the Flyndly Bank schemes of others; but it is easier to pull down than to build, and the pronions 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 he Provident Bank in the hands of a number of treasurers, and to divide these funds in sich a manner that not more than 300l. nor less than 100l. 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 correct.
· 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 manage. ment 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, and, when placed under proper management, have sometimes been found useful :* but no interest is paid,
no accumulation is admitted, 10 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 in proved 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 thein 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 thein 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 perşons 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 coinmitted 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 ont 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 effeci, actually applying this principle to the building of a village, in the neighbourhood of Kirkcudbright.