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were then ready; nor did we neglect to note such of his suggestions as seemed to us ought to be generally known and acted upon. There still remains much that is important locked up in his report. We cheerfully bear testimony to the marked improvement which every succeeding annual volume exhibits, and we regard it as a clear proof that he devotes no slight amount of thought and study to the duties of his office. We confess we shall not be entirely satisfied with him, however, until he criticises more than he has hitherto done; we would have him remember for the public benefit the fable of the good-natured paterfamilias who, when he caught a boy in one of his trees stealing apples, first told him to come down in a very gentle, polite manner, and then, when disobeyed, began to throw tufts of grass, until the young scamp began to laugh at his simplicity. Finally the good man tried what virtue there was in stones, and there was no more laughing but an exhibition of a different kind.
Mr. Barnes, too, will have to throw stones, or use the lancet instead of the salve, if he wishes to produce any salutary effect on our insurance swindlers, so as to protect the public from their machinations; and at the same time do justice to those underwriters who want to take no advantage of any one, but are always ready with their checks when the property, or the life they have insured has passed through the conditions that render them liable. That the superintendent has exhibited considerable improvement in this respect, too, far be it from us to deny. In his earlier reports he spoke of our insurance companies as a very tender patriot would of the government of his choice, which, in his eyes at least, had become venerable in its efforts to afford “the largest liberty to the largest number;" but now he acts more like a citizen, not subject, who while still loyal begins to think that, after all, the sovereign does not govern by the divine right to which he lays claim, and consequently that some little fault may be found, now and then, with some of his satraps, if not with himself, especially when those functionaries are caught in the act of picking the pockets of their neighbors.
But this is not sufficient. Let the superintendent speak out boldly, name the thief in plain English, without using any needless metaphor, for notwithstanding the great utility of our common schools, there are but few of our people who understand figurative language in any other sense than when the figures relate to the arithmetic of dollars and cents. The celebrated and amiable Fontinelle says that there is no better way to produce a reform than to propose a great many questions which will sometimes seem highly impertinent. think that if our insurance superintendents, commissioners, &c., would pursue this course insurance companies would not multiply half as fast as they do, and that so large a proportion of the new corporations would not be so much like those numerous petroleum companies which had millions of capital only six months ago, together with inexhaustible oil wells capable of enriching all VOL. XI-NO. XXII.
who invested their money in them, but which have now neither capital nor wells.
We suppose we need hardly say that we do not mean that all new companies are unreliable; there are seve ral which are entitled to as much confidence as the oldest. Thus, for example, if we had any doubt of the resources of the Morris Fire and Inland Insurance Company it would be readily removed by the report of the commissioners appointed by the superintendent, as required by law, to examine its capital, securities, &c.; which report is printed in full in the volume before us. The commissioners are Chas. E. Whitehead, A. W. Bradford, and F. S. Winston; these gentlemen “certify and report under oath,” “that the sum of two hundred thousand dollars ($200,000), the capital of said company, has been paid in, and is now possessed by the said company, in money, as required by the eighth section,” &c., &c. But be it remembered that this report was made in September, 1864, and that the paid in cash capital amounts now to nearly if not quite $900,000.
We spoke of the International Insurance Company when it was first started, more than a year ago, 'as likely to prove a permanent and successful institution; and its operations to the present time folly justify that prediction. Its capital is now over a million, and it has recently secured a charter which empowers it to write niarine as well as fire risks. It is now regarded as too close a neighbor to the Metropolitan Fire and Marine, which, we are sorry to learn, has fared rather unfortunately during the late war. We do not pretend to be always right in our opinions, but we thought it was not judicious for the president of the Metropolitan to have discarded his military title just at the time when even the name of a militia “ Brigadier-General" exercised great influence. We are informed that the gentleman is now about to resume that title, but we fear that some will be ill-natured enough to attribute the change (“as you were") to the wrong motive. In our opinion, it would have been a better plan to offer to go to the war at once as soon as certain contingencies hap pened, but forget to do so when the critical moment arrived ; although the only evidence we have of the fact, is, that if our memory is correct, this was the course pursued by the worthy vice-president of the Atlantic, who, we are told, has been doing a very good business since.
In speaking of mar ine affairs, in this part of Wall street, we are re-minded of underwriters who have recourse to no stratagems in order to secure the support of intelligent business men. It is hardly necessary for -as to mention whom we mean, or to say that we do not mean the insurers of the Sun, since none make a louder outcry than they, under pretence of saying their country, We mean very different men, the officers of the Mercantile Mutual, who have no ambition to make political speeches, or to be regarded as military chieftains; but who, like their equally unostentatious neighbors, of the Columbian Marine, hand out their check with a
good grace as soon as they ascertain that the insured vessel has really been wrecked.
The Croton Fire is still in a struggling condition ; we would suggest o the president that if he could get its life insured for seven years it would be the wisest sort of underwriting he has yet done. He would also do well to take a lesson in the art of making dividends from his sagacious neighbors of the Washington Fire. A few hints from the Hope, too, would be worth going another block or two for; and Mr. Reese is a benevolent gentleman who would help even his enemy out of the ditch, if so blind that he could not grope his own way.
Life insurance is beco:ning more and more popular, as it well deserve to be, when legitimately conducted; but the public cannot understand too well that it is not those companies that make the loudest pretensions and use the largest figures on paper that are readiest with their checks at the critical moment. Thus, for example, there are half a dozen companies whose policies we should much rather have than that of the Mutual, although Mr. Winston is a very pious man, one of the most active members of the great Society for sending the Bible to the heathen. We do not know that the president of the New York Life ever sings a psalm ; we are pretty certain that he rarely, if ever, attends political or sectarian meetings for the purpose of showing off, for the simple reason that he is always at his post; and yet we should much rather have his policy for $10,000, than that of the oratorical, pious president for $20,000.
How remarkable it is that it is those of our insurance people who can speak least to any purpose that are most anxious to display their eloquence, and vice versa! Those who can speak eloquently and with effect have the good sense to bear in mind that in becoming underwriters they are expected not to be talkers, but doers. Thus, for example, there is not one of the fraternity who knows how to hold his tongue better than the president of the Equitable Life, who has not only been a senator in a neigboring State, but also President of the senate, having won both positions by his eloquence. We will give one other instance: What underwriter in America has less to say, or makes less noise than the president of the New England Mutual Life k --& gentleman who has been brought up to the bar, and whose oratorical and legal talents secured him a seat on the bench. He regards the duties of a life underwriter as still more important, and more useful when faithfully discharged, than even those of a judge; he attends to them accordingly, and the triumphant result is notorious, for no other company anywhere has a higher prestige at this moment, or one better deserved, than his.
There is not one of our life companies which is making better progress in well-doing than the Knickerbocker. Much of this success is due to its judicious selection of agents; such as Mr. Nichols at Baltimore, and Mr. Johnson at Chicago. If all life underwriters would bear in mind, like the
President of the Knickerbocker, that in order to be efficient in the business of life insurance, the distant agent, as well as the home officer, should not only be an educated man, but one possessed of considerable talent, they would find it the cheapest plan in the long run, although expensive at the beginning.
It is the want of these qualifications, perhaps, quite as much as a scarcity of funds, that renders it necessary for the State Superintendent to speak as follows: “The North American Life Insurance Company, on the 11th day of April, 1863 (chap. 118), also procured an amendment to its charter, allowing that Corporation to insure against injury to persons while travelling. This privilege should be repealed, although practically it has remained a dead letter on the statute-book, and accident policies are not issued by the Company."* We believe the difficulty is, that very few, if any, bave asked for them in that quarter; and it may be remembered that we ventured to predict as much when the “amendment” referred to was proclaimed by the Company.
Nor can we speak in much more encouraging terms now of another accident affair, entitled, “ Travellers' Insurance Company of Hartford." We may be mistaken, but we should rather have our little finger safe than to have a $5,000 policy from the Hartford concern. By this we do not mean to allege that accident insurance may not prove a blessing to thoasands; on the contrary, none have more faith in the principle. We have no doubt, for example, that many a family which might otherwise suffer the severest privations, will obtaip substantial relief from a company like the National Life and Travellers' Insurance, of this city, which has the means as well as the disposition, to redeem its policies, whether on lite or limb, and whose President, Mr. Edward A. Jones, is no novice who has failed in other busiuess, bnt an experienced and accomplished underwriter.
As an instance of what life insurance can do, when really secured that is when obtained in the right quarter, we may mention that a lady with five children, who had just lost her husband, and had no other means of support left, recently received a check for eleven thousand dollars ($11,000) from the United States Life Insurance Company of this city, for a policy on the life of her husband, who, it seems, had been paying premiums only for three years. La Musique et les Instruments musicales. Par JAQUES DE LEMBERT, éleve
du Consistoire musicale. 16mo., pp. 227. Paris : Maynoud Frères, 1865.
In this little work there is much that is interesting to all who take an interest in “ the concord of sweet sounds," so much, indeed, that, had it reached us in time, we should have given an elaborate review of it. As
* Ins. Report, p. lxxxi.
it is, we must necessarily confine ourselves to a few general remarks ; merely sufficient to indicate the character of the work, so that the curious may know where to find good things if they only think proper to seek them. A very interesting feature in the book is the full and generally accurate sketches which it gives of the principal instrument manufacturers of Europe.
It takes notice of only one American house ; but this it ranks with the best of Europe. Since the work is edited by a musical artist who has made ample preparation for the task, it is almost superfluous to say that the one thus distinguished is that of the Messrs. Steinway & Sons, New York. He does not confine himself to merely noting the fact; among the evidences he adduces in support of it, are the medals they have received at more than one of the great European exhibitions, certain instruments imported from New York, by dealers in Berlin and Brussels, and one ordered to Mexico from the same house, by the Emperor Maxamilian, after his majesty had assisted at some performances on Steinway pianos by members of his court. Although it is no news to our readers that the instruments mentioned are the best manufactured in this country, and that they are not excelled in any country, it is nevertheless pleasant to learn that our ingenious and enterprising fellow-citizens receive abroad, as well as at home, the tribute of approbation which they so eminently deserve.
Sixth Annual Report of the Comptroller, exhibiting the Receipts and Ex
penditures of the County Government for the year 1864. Pamphlet, pp. 191. New York, 1865.
At first sight, this is not a very inviting document to the general reader; but on examination it proves much more interesting than its title or external appearance would lead the most sanguine to expect. That it possesses one recommendation, at all events, none will deny~ namely, that of giving a lucid and straightforward account of the financial affairs of the county during the past year. There is no attempt to conceal expenses or to magnify receipts; no effort to deceive the taxpayers by spurious principles of political economy. Almost the first idea that suggests itself to us, on turning over the pages of the Report, is the large number of high-salaried functionaries with whom the county is burdened. Those who glance at these salaries will scarcely wonder that the debt of the county amounts to nearly eleven millions ($10,804,900), although, had; all who received them done their duty, it would not have reached half that figure, even including the enormous claims for damages founded on the great riot of July, 1863, and amounting, according to the figures now before us, to $643,560.80.
None will deny that our District Attorney has enough to do, if he would only do it; still less will it be denied, we think, that he is pretty