Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

but what will he say when I read the next item-winding up in chancery, 57. The truth is, that it is a subject which has both a comic and a tragic side. Ins. Com. Report, p. Jii.

In speaking of the "amalgamations,” which are also but too well known in this country, Mr. Gladstone remarks:

“ Such were the terms upon which those amalgamations took place. That is an illustration of what you will probably say is no better than wholesale robbery. Nay, more, I will go a step further, and say that a great many of those proceedings are worse than wholesale robbery, and there are many persons who have never seen the inside of a gaol, and yet who had fitter be there than many a rogue that has been convicted ten times over at the Old Bailey.--p. lv.

It can hardly be pretended that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was actuated by vindictive feelings against the underwriters. During the same debate a speech was delivered by the member for Guildford, from which thec ommissioners give an extract. From this also we take the following passage:

“One or two persons started a Life Assurance and Annuity Society, and published a flattering prospectus inviting domestic servants to invest their savings. Funds flowed in, but the whole of the moneys were appropriated by the managers and directors, and when the limited field which they cultivated was exhausted there was nothing to pay the insurers. It then appeared that the promoters had hired twelve directors, and had given them names of great distinction-he would not mention the names lest he should insult honorable members present—but the best names in the city of London were represented to be on the board. Those names were of great value in the prospectus, and the persons who represented them, he believed, were retired school-masters with bald heads, powdered wigs, and every artifice to inspire confidence. The rate of payment by the rules was 58. per head per day. Further, to insure a good personal appearance, coats, waistcoats, and trousers were supplied, and the directors were enjoined to wear expensive jewelry, such as diamond rings, which were also provided out of the funds, and for not wearing a ring the fine was 28.6d. Ludicrous as it might appear these facts were proved over and over again, and hundreds, nay thousands, of poor persons were in this manner defrauded of their savings."

That there are companies of this description in New York, Philadelphia, and Boston, is a fact as certain as that there are mock auctioneers in Chatham street, and certain other localities in that neighborhood. We know three life companies in New York, for whose policý we would not give one dollar; yet none put on more sanctimonious airs. Two of them issue their magic documents from small rooms up stairs, the other from à basement; it is but rarely that more than one of the officers" are present; but if inquired for, they are sure to be attending a meeting of the trustees, convened for the purpose of considering the percentage of dividends, which it would be advisable to issue at the proper time, consistently with the necessity of always keeping on hand a large surplus fund to meet extraordinary liabilities, such as occur during the prevalence of epidemics, &c.

! None in the habit of glaneing at our comments on insurance need be informed that we do not mean to attribute all the fraud to life companies; all other departments have companies equally unscrupulous; equally

-p. lvi.

[ocr errors]

ready to swindle on as large a scale as they can. But the fire and marine swindlers are much sooner found out than the life swini lers, for the obvious reason that those who insure with the latter can make no claim until they are dead, whereas, those who insure with the former, have a claim to make as soon as their ships, cargoes, residences, or stores, as the case may be, have met with the accidents against which they had been insured.

As the report of the superintendent for New York is not yet published, we should not have known it contains had that gentleman not been 8o polite as to favor us with some of the proof sheets. No one, indeed, is more willing to afford the press all necessary facilities to discuss the subject of insurance in all its bearings; and were he otherwise disposed, we could not say, as we now can, that Governor Fenton has acted judiciously in retaining him in office. We know no one better qualified for the position, although we think he is sometimes a little too enthusiastic, and not illnatured enough to snspect fraud where it really exists. That he makes no attempt to conceal it when he believes it does exist, but, on the contrary, does not hesitate to expose it, we readily admit; but we are convinced that there are several companies which make a good figure in his Report that belong to the spurious class. Nor can we agree with him in his estimate of the resources and character of certain new companies ; for we do not believe that more than two or three of them are worthy of the least confidence. But, although we are not quite so sanguine as he; we agree with him that considerable improvements have been made of late; what we mean by this will be better understood from the following remarks with which he commences his report for 1865 :

“ The solid foundations of our insurance companies are now being laid down deep and strong upon a broad basis, adequate to the transaction of a largely increased business in all departments, not only in the

state, but throughout the nation. Our capitals are being increased ; surpluses accumulated ; incompetent officers displaced ; our already numerous agencies are being largely extended and systematized; risks are criticised and carefully examined ; the laws of chance, governing fires and other events insured against, are more deeply studied and carefully tabulated; and on every side we find increased ability, resources, and appliances for conducting the business or profession of underwriting' 0. The superintendent reports that there has been a considerable increase in the business generally during the past year, and this is a fact in which he cannot be contradicted. We quote a brief passage:

**The Fire premiums of the New York joint-stock companies increased from $10,181,030.52 in 1863, to $15,618,603.82 in 1864--the ratio being 53.4088, which is the highest ever known in the history of these corporations. The number of policies issued by New York Life Insurance companies increased from 20,757 in 1863, to 20,782 in 1864, and the amount insured from $140,628,427.10 to $194,819,324.45. The gross assets of all the New York companies, Fire, Marine and Life, increased during the year from $82,488,056.07 to $103,453,772.76." 'p. lxxvi.

We know several companies ourselves, Fire, Marine, and Life, whose

success during the past year has been almost incredible. The example that first presents itself to our memory as most remarkable is that of the Morris Fire and Inland Insurance Company, which is little more than a year in existence altogether, which commenced with a capital of only $200,000, but whose assets on the first of the present month amounted to $803,137. The secret of this unusual success is, that if the company is new, its officers rank among our most experienced and most accomplished underwriters, and what is, perhaps, better still, none enjoy, to a larger extent, the confidence of our business men. In proof of this, it is sufficient to say that it is the same officers who, in a few brief years, secured a position and prestige for the Columbian Marine Insurance Company, second to those of no similar institution in this country.

The United States Life Insurance Company has issued its fifth tri. ennial dividend, which amounts to forty per cent. on the premiums of the three years ending March, 1865. The directors also announce an addition of twenty per cent. to the amount of all previous dividends and additions on policies in force at the same date, payable in cash, with the sums insured when the latter become due according to the charter. This is an encournging record for the policy-holders. The plan is the same as that of the old Equitable of London, which makes the insurance company perform the functions of a savings bank. Thus, the premiums paid to the United States are the same as deposits, the interest upon which may be drawn and replaced at pleasure. What is perhaps better than all, the officers of this company make no attempt to evade their liabilities, but pay promptly without putting the rightful claimant to any expense.

This is more than could be said of the Mutual Life, with all its high sounding pretensions; but perhaps the reason is, that if the policies of the latter do not afford entire immunity from death to their holders, they are at least said to possess the property of imparting a high degree of longevity. Yet the Mutual has lately been borrowing one or two of the peculiar fear tures of the New York Life, although Litherto it has made but clumsy use of them. It may ultimately succeed in assimilating them, but in the meantime we are bound to remember that, however much we may boast of our own ideas, if we purloin those of others, and give prominence to them, while at the same time we seek to conceal their origin, the inference is that, at heart, we recognise their superiority. Still, it must be confessed that there is nothing strange in seeing the ideas of a Franklin stolen by one who has scarcely any ideas of his own.

So far as we are aware, the life company which has done most business in one month is the Equitable Life Insurance Society of New York. During the month of May last it insured lives to the amount of $112,200, and received $37,000 for its policies. The most successful of all the new life companies, either in this country or in England, is the Globe Mutual. It was only one year in existence at the beginning of the present month, and it has issued 2,064 policies, for which it has received $25,656.13. The amount it has insured is $5,742,337, while it has only lost $2,000. Its expenses for the year have been about half those of the first years of companies in general; and its losses about one-ninth of the same. However, novices in insurances should not be deceived by this record; for although the company is new as such, its principal officers are veterans in the profession. We believe that Mr. Pliny Freeman, the President, is the oldest life underwriter in America; yet he is scarcely more accomplished than the Vice-President, Mr. R. G. Bloss; and be it remembered that in no profession can it be said that knowledge is power more emphatically than in life insurance.

It seems that all commissioners, superintendents, critics, policyholders, &c., at home and abroad, concur in assigning to the New England Mutual Life the first rank for its reliability and integrity ; nor have we any reason to doubt that they are perfectly right in doing so, but the contrary, for no company can boast. more intelligent officers. We are glad to learn, therefore, that its business in this city has largely increased during the last five months.

But why will not Mr. Barnes inform the public that there are many New York companies, especially life companies, that are far from being successful. Several of them stand in need of having their own lives insured. Since it is admitted on all hands that corporations have no souls, it can hardly be said that the truth can make them blush. There can be no harm, therefore, in expressing some concern, in a friendly way, for the condition of such life companies as the North America, the Security, the Guardian, and the Washington. We fear it may be said of each of these, with but too much trùth, that the world is not its friend, nor the world's law; that the world contains no law to make itself or its policyholders' rich. Supposing these four would amalgamate, combining their capital, stock, assets (8), furniture, blank forms, presidents, ledgers, daybooks, &c., might they not make one tolerable company- mone in which the public would have confidence? There are several tire and marine companies whose condition seems equally precarious, and which, we think, would do well to act on the same suggestion, or dissolve altogether; but we think that upon the whole it were better for all concerned that they would pursue the latter course. Petroleum Journals and Documents, June, 1865.

DOUBTLESS many thought that our sketches of the petroleum speculators and their prospects, in our March number, were grossly exaggera. ted, if not altogether erroneous; but where are all those inexhaustible wells now that yielded from fifty to five hundred gallons of oil per day? Has the warm weather dried them up? or will they only flow in war times, when cotton is scarce and shoddy plenty? Of about a thousand companies, each of which was capable of enriching half our people only three months ago, we only see one that shows the least sign of genuine vitality. As this, therefore, may be regarded as a curiosity, we think it proper to say that we allude to the New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore Consolidated Petroleum Company. But the officers of this institution are neither visionaries nor boasters, but shrewd, honest, business men, who save the hay while the sun is up; and, besides, they have been fortunate in finding a new well that is now yielding one hundred barrels of oil per day. Perhaps the numerous other wells that have so suddenly and mysteriously refused to run, will resume operations as soon as the weather grows cool.

Nephotherapy : the new system for the treatment of Diseases of the Throat,

&c., &c., &c. By Dr. BUNFORD LIGHTHILL. New York : Carleton,

1865. That performances of this kind should exercise any influence, or excitę any other feelings than those of contempt and scorn, is a sad commentary on our civilization. It consists of some crude odds and ends taken from different works got up in the interest of quackery. The whole affair is made to extend over some forty-four pages, about one third of which are blank. The "matter" is nothing more nor less than what the “Doctor has published for months in the newspapers, in the forın of ad vertisements; but however worthless and ungrammatical it is, the distinguished person whose name it bears, and who pretends to be the author of a half dozen other “works,” is not capable of writing a single paragraph of it.

The latest improvement in the science of quackery is this contrivance of book-making. Mr. Quack thinks he must be an author if bis specialty is only to cat corns, or cause the hair to wax luxuriant, or prevent it from growing grey, as the case may be ; that is, whether he calls himself a chiropodist, a dermatologist, an oculist, an aurist, &c., &c., he must get up a book. But why not? He finds his account in it; it is not he that is to blame, after all, but those who are so stupid and credulons as to permit themselves to be swindled by such shallow, vulgar tricks. 1. Merry Chimes : A Collection of Duets, Trios, and Sacred Pieces for Juvei

nile Classes, Public Schools and seminaries ; to which are prefixed Elementary Instructions and Attractive Exercises. By L. O. EMEB, son, author of “Golden Wreath,”

"“Golden Harp," &c., &c. 2. Eli : An Oratorio. First performed at the Birmingham Musical Fosi

tival, August 29th, 1855. The Words selected and written by WILLIAM BARTHOLOMEW. The Music composed by MICHAEL Costa,

Boston : Oliver Ditson' & Co. 1865..

WHAT Ticknor & Fields are to American literature, Oliver Ditson & Company are to American music

. The látter as well as the former stand at the head of their profession in this country, in all that is calculated to

« VorigeDoorgaan »