Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

after health. Yet hope “ adorns and ginning has grown the present gigantic cheers their way." They may console establishment, which covers nearly three themselves with the expectation which acres, and employs in town and country physicians encourage, that the most nearly nine hundred officials. Upon the marked advantage of treatment at Karls. latest renewal of its charter, the Bank was bad is often reaped after many days. divided into two distinct departments, the Thus, both those who rejoice in renewed issue and the banking. In addition to health, and those who cipate a like these, the Bank has the management of blessing in the future, have good cause the national debt. The books of the varifor gratitude; and they may, with hearts ous government funds are here kept; here nearly as light as their purses, bid a hearty all transfers are made, and here all divi. farewell to Karlsbad, the beautiful and dends are paid. beneficent queen of Bohemian watering. In the banking department is transacted places.

the ordinary business of bankers. Here W. FRASER RAE. other banks keep their “reserve,” and

hence draw their supplies as they require them. The issue department is intrusted with the circulation of the notes of the

Bank, which is regulated as follows. The From Chambers' Journal.

Bank in 1844 was a creditor of the govern. CURIOSITIES OF THE BANK OF ENGLAND.

ment to the extent of rather over eleven CONSIDERING the world-wide reputation million pounds, and to this amount and of the Bank of England, it is remarkable four million pounds beyond, for which how little is generally known as to its in- there is in other ways sufficient security, ternal working, standing in the very the Bank is allowed to issue notes without heart of the largest city in the world – a having gold in reserve to meet them. Becentral landmark of the great metropolis yond these fifteen million pounds, every - even the busy Londoners around it note issued represents gold actually in the have, as a rule, only the vaguest possible coffers of the Bank. The total value of knowledge of what goes on within its the notes in the hands of the public at one walls. In truth, its functions are so many, time averages about twenty-five million its staff so enormous, and their duties so pounds. To these must be added other varied, that many even of those who have notes to a very large amount in the hands spent their lives in its service will tell you of the banking department, which deposthat, beyond their own immediate depart- its the bulk of its reserve of gold in the ments, they know but little of its inner issue department, accepting notes in exlife. Its mere history, as recorded by Mr. change. Francis, fills two octavo volumes. It will All Bank of England notes are printed be readily understood, therefore, that it in the Bank itself. Six printing presses would be idle to attempt anything like a are in constant operation, the same macomplete description of it within the com-chine printing first the particulars of value, pass of a magazine article. There are, signature, etc., and then the number of however, many points about the bank and the note in consecutive order. The paper its working which are extremely curious used is of very peculiar texture, being at and interesting, and some of these we once thin, tough, and crisp; and the compropose briefly to describe.

bination of these qualities, together with The Bank of England originated in the the peculiarities of the watermark, which brain of William Paterson, a Scotchman is distributed over the whole surface of – better known, perhaps, as the organizer the paper, forms one of the principal and leader of the ill-fated Darien expedi- guarantees against imitation. The paper, tion. It commenced business in 1694, its which is manufactured exclusively at one charter – which was in the first instance particular mill, is made in oblong slips, granted for eleven years only — bearing allowing just enough space for the printdate the 27th July of that year. This ing of two notes side by side. The edges charter has been from time to time re of the paper are left untrimmed, but after newed, the last renewal having taken place printing the two notes are divided by a in 1844. The original capital of the Bank straight cut between them. This accounts was but one million two hundred thousand for the fact, which many of our readers pounds, and it carried on its business in a will doubtless have noticed, that only one single room in Mercers' Hall, with a staff edge of a bank.note is smooth, the other of fifty-four clerks. From so small a be. I three being comparatively ragged. The

[ocr errors]

ment.

25

printing-presses are so constructed as to numbered consecutively ad infinitum, but register each note printed, so that the ma- in series of one to one hundred thousand, chine itself indicates automatically how the different series being distinguished as many notes have passed through it. The between themselves by the date, wbich average production of notes is fifty thou appears in full in the body of the note, and sand a day, and about the same number is further indicated, to the initiated, by are presented in the same time for pay the letter and numerals prefixed to the

actual number. Thus 26 90758 on the No note is ever issued a second time. When once it finds its way back to the face of a note indicates that the note in Bank to be exchanged for coin, it is im. question is No. 90758 of the series printed mediately cancelled; and the reader will on May 21, 1883, which date appears in probably be surprised to hear that the full in the body of the note. in like average life of a bank-note, or the time manner indicates that the note forms part during which it is in actual circulation, is of a series printed on February 19, 1883. not inore than five or six days. The re. In “taking the number of a note, there. turned notes, averaging, as we have stated, fore, either this prefix or the full date, as about fifty thousand a day, and represent stated in the body of the note, should ing, one day ivith another, about one mil. always be included. lion pounds in value, are brought into The library of cancelled notes – not what is known as the accountant's sort. to be confounded with the Bank Library ing office. Here they are examined by proper - is situated in the bank vaults, inspectors, who reject any which may be and we are indebted to the courtesy of found to be counterfeit. In such a case, the bank-note librariao for the following the paying.in bank is debited with the curious and interesting statistics respect. amount. The notes come in from various ing his stock. The stock of paid notes banks in parcels, each parcel accompanied for five years — the period during which, by a memorandum stating the number and as before stated, the potes are preserved ainount of the notes contained in it. This for reference — is about seventy-seven memorandum is marked with a certain million seven hundred and forty-five thounumber, and then cach note in the parcel sand in number. They fill thirteen thou. is stamped to correspond, the stamping sand four hundred boxes, about eighteen machine automatically registering how inches long, ten wide, and pine deep. If many are stamped, and consequently draw the notes could be placed in a pile one ing immediate attention to any deficiency upon another, they would reach to a height in the number of notes as compared with of five and two-thirds miles. Joined end that stated in the memorandum. This to end they would form a ribbon twelve done, the notes are sorted according to thousand four hundred and fifty miles number and date, and after being defaced long, or half-way round the globe; if laid by, punching out the letters indicating so as to form a carpet, they would very value, and tearing off the corner bearing nearly cover Hyde Park. Their original the signature, are passed on to the banko value is somewhat over seventeen hundred note library, where they are packed in and fifty millions, and their weight is boxes, and preserved for possible future about ninety.ope tons. The immense ex. reference during a period of five years. tent of space necessary to accommodate There are one bundred and twenty clerks such a mass in the Bank vaults may be employed in this one department; and so imagined. The place, with its piles on perfect is the system of registration, that piles of boxes reaching far away into dim if the number of a returned note be known, distance, looks like some gigantic winethe head of this department, by referring cellar or bonded warehouse. to his books, can ascertain in a few min. As each day adds, as we have seen, utes the date when and the banker through about fifty thousand notes to the number, whom it was presented; and if within the it is necessary to find some means of deperiod of five years, can produce the note stroying those which have passed their itself for inspection. As to the "pumber" allotted term of preservation. This is of a bank.note, by the way, there is some done by fire, about four hundred thousand times a little misconception, many people notes being burnt at one time in a furnace imagining that by quoting the bare figures specially constructed for that purpose. on the face of a note they have done all Formerly, from some peculiarity' in the that is requisite for its identification. ink with which the notes were printed, This is not the case. Bank.notes are not the cremated notes burotinto a solid blue

66

a

clinker; but the composition of the ink thrusts, one to the right, one to the left, has been altered, and the paper now burns but at slightly different levels. If the to a fine gray ash. The fumes of the coin be of full weight, the balance is held burning paper are extremely dense and in equipoise, and the right-hand bolt mak. pungent; and to prevent any nuisance ing its thrust, pushes it off the plate and arising from this cause, the process of down an adjacent tube into the receptacle cremation is carried out at dead of night, for full-weight coin. If, on the other when the city is comparatively deserted. hand, the coin is ever so little “light,” the Further, in order to mitigate the density balance naturally rises with it. The of the fumes, they are made to ascend right-hand bolt makes its thrust as before, through a shower of falling water, the but this time passes barınlessly benenth chimney shaft being fitted with a special the coin. Then comes the thrust of the shower bath arrangement for this purpose. left-hand bolt, which, as we have said, is

Passing, away from the decropolis of fixed at a fractionally higher level, and dead and buried notes, we visit the treas. pushes the coin down a tube on the oppoury, whence they originally issued. This site side, through which it falls into the is a quiet-looking room, scarcely more light-coin receptacle. The coins thus imposing in appearance than the butler's condemned are afterwards dropped into pantry in a West-end mansion, but the another machine, which defaces them by modest-looking cupboards with which its a cut half-way across their diameter, at walls are lined are gorged with hidden the rate of two hundred a minute. The treasure. The possible value of the con- weighing machines, of which there are tents of this room may be imagined from sixteen, are actuated by a small atmo. the fact that a million of money, in notes spheric engine in one corner of the room, of one thousand pounds, forms a packet the only manual assistance required being only three inches thick. The writer has to keep them supplied with coins. It is bad the privilege of holding such a parcel said that sixty thousand sovereigns and in his hand, and for a quarter of a minute half-sovereigns can be weighed here in a imagining himself a millionaire — with an single day. The weighing machine in income of over thirty thousand per annum question is the invention of Mr. Cotton, a for life. The same amount might occupy former governor of the Bank, and among even less space than the above, for Mr. scientific men is regarded as one of the Francis tells a story of a lost note for most striking achievements of practical thirty thousand pounds, which, turning up mechanics. after the lapse of many years, was paid In the bullion department we find anby the Bank twice over. We are informed other weighing machine, of a different that notes of even a bigher value than this character, but in its way equally remark. have on occasion been printed, but the able. It is the first of its kind, having highest denomination now issued is one been designed specially for the Bank by thousand pounds.

Mr. James Murdoch Napier, by whom it In this department is kept a portion of has been patented. It is used for the the Bank's stock of golden coin, in bags purpose of weighing bullion, which is pur. of one thousand pounds each. This chased in this department. Gold is amount does not require a very large bag brought in in bars of about eight inches for its accommodation, but its weight is long, three wide, and one inch thick. A considerable, amounting to two hundred bar of gold of these dimensions will weigh and fifty-eight ounces twenty penny: about two hundred ounces, and is worth, weights, so that a million in gold would if pure, about eight hundred pounds. weigh some tons. In another room of this Each bar when brought in is accompanied department – the weighing office are by a memorandum of its weight. The

the machines for detecting light question of quality is determined by the coin. These machines are marvels of in- process of assaying; the weight is genious mechanism. Three or four hun. checked by means of the weighing madred sovereigns are laid in a long brass chine we have referred to. This takes scoop or semi-tube, of such a diameter as the form of an extremely massive pair of to admit then comfortably, and self-regu- scales, working on a beam of immense lating to such an incline that the coins strength and solidity, and is based, so as gradually slide down by their own weight to be absolutely rigid, on a solid bed of on to one plate of a little balance placed concrete. The whole stands about six at its lower extremity. Across the face feet high by three wide, and is inclosed in of this plate two little bolts make alternate l an air-tight plate-glass case, a sash in

seen

which is raised when it is desired to use could accommodate. Such, however, is the machine. The two sides of the scale very far from being the case. The safe. are each kept permanently loaded, the guards against robbery, either by force or one with a single weight of three hundred fraud, are many and elaborate. At night and sixty ounces, the other with a number the Bank is guarded at all accessible of weights of various sizes to the same points by an ample military force, which amount. When it is desired to test the would no doubt give a good account of weight of a bar of gold, weights to the any intruder rash enough to attempt to amount stated in the corresponding mem- gain an entrance. In the event of attack orandum, less half an ounce, are removed from without, there are sliding galleries from the latter scale, and the bar of gold which can be thrust out from the roof, substituted in their place. Up to this and which would enable a body of sharp. point the beam of the scale is kept per- shooters to rake the streets in all direcfectly horizontal, being maintained in that tions. position by a mechanical break; but now Few people are aware that the Bank of a stud is pressed, and by means of delicate England contains within its walls a gravemachinery, actuated by water-power, the yard, but such is nevertheless the fact. beam is released. If the weight of the The Gordon riots in 1780, during which bar has been correctly stated in the mem- the bank was attacked by a mob, called orandum, the scale which holds it should attention to the necessity for strengthenbe exactly half an ounce in excess. This ing its defences. Competent authorities or any less excess of weight over the advised that an adjoining church, rejoicthree hundred and sixty ounces in the ing in the appropriate oame of St. Chrisopposite scale is instantly registered by topher-le-Stocks, was in a military sense a the machine, a pointer travelling round a source of danger, and accordingly an Act dial until it indicates the proper amount. of Parliament was passed to enable the The function of the machine, however, is directors to purchase the church and its limited to weighing half an ounce only. appurtenances. The old churchyard, If the discrepancy between the two scales tastefully laid out, now forms what is as loaded is greater than this, or if on the known as the Bank garden, the handsome other hand the bar of gold is more than “ court room," or bank parlor, abutting half an ounce less than the amount stated on one of its sides. There is a magnifiin the memorandum, an electric bell ringscent lime-tree, one of the largest in Lon. by way of warning, the pointer travels don, in the centre of the garden, and right round the dial, and returns to zero. tradition states that under this tree a So delicate is the adjustment, that the former clerk of the bank, eight feet high, weight of half-a-penny postage stamp- lies buried. somewhat less than half a grain - will set the hand in motion and be recorded on the dial. The stock of gold in the bullion vault

From The Athenæum. varies from one to three million pounds

EDMUND YATES. * sterling. The bars are laid side by side on small fat trucks or barrows, carrying

The device prefixed to these amusing one hundred bars each. In a glass case in and sprightly volumes is adapted, with all this vault is seen a portion of the war in. modesty and decorum, from the laureate's

Ulysses." demnity paid by King Coffee of Ashan.

“ Much have I seen and tee, consisting of gold ornaments, a little known,” says Mr. Yates, short of standard fineness.

cities of men One of the first reflections that strike And manners, climates, councils, governments; an outsider permitted to inspect the re: and here he skips a verse which, in pository of so much treasure is, “ Can all deed, he could hardly have quoted without this wealth be safe?' These heaps of a certain suggestion of egoisın — and goes precious metal, these piles of still more precious notes, are handled by the officials he has drunk delight of battle with his

on, very properly and prettily, to tell how in such an easy-going, matter-of-course way, that one would almost fancy a few and Robert Brough, and the correspon.

peers, as Thackeray, and James Hannay, thousands would scarcely be missed; and dents of divers enterprising journals. that a dishonest person had only to walk in and help himself to as many sovereigns Edmund Yates: his Recollections and Experior hundred-pound notes as his pockets 2 vols. Bentley & Son.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

ences.

men.

66

66

C

[ocr errors]

666

[ocr errors]

The device is perfectly appropriate as the rough, he spent his earliest years. well as skilfully and becomingly "miti. He was elected to the Garrick Club at gated.” Mr. Yates has had a larger share eighteen years of age; he knew the orig. of experience than falls to the lot of most inals of Foker and Shandon, Hoolan and

As the son of Frederick Yates and Doolan, Shindy and Tiptoff; he has lisElizabeth Brunton — the most popular tened to Hodgen in "The Body-Snatchactor-manager and perhaps the most er,” and gazed upon Wagg in the flesh, charming and sympathetic actress of their and watched the gifted Bardolph of day - he was free of the Adelphi in its Brasenose” drinking himself drunk, and palmy time – the Adelphi of Wright and all the rest of it; and the description he Bedford and the Keeleys, of " Victorine " gives of his call to literature “I read and “The Wreck Ashore,” of Buckstone Pendennis'- my fate is sealed”-seems the dramatist and the tremendous O. only natural. He could write a key to Smith. He knew the elder Mathews as Thackeray's novels; and one cannot help well as the evergreen Charles; he has wishing that he would. seen Harvey Leach, the Goome Fly of In after years Mr. Yates, while at work history, “creeping over the chairs and at the post office, became a denizen in tables with wondrous agility;" he has another Bohemia than Thackeray's, and passed from the society of Bihin, the Bel. grew familiar with the men and women of gian giant, to that of James and Horace another generation. He was the friend Smith; he has listened to the drolleries of Albert Smith and Robert Brough, of of Theodore Hook, and seen John Bra. Shirley Brooks and John Oxenford, of ham and Manager Bunn, and the Ains. Mortimer Collins and Frank Smedley, of worth of “Jack Sheppard," and Miss Charles Fechter and J. M. Bellew, and a Romer, "the original Bohemian Girl," hundred others. In place of the Cider and heard Mrs. Waylett and beautiful Cellars and “the little Adelphi” he got to Mrs. Honey " trying over their songs be an habitué of the Fielding and the at the little piano.” Wbat is almost as Lyceum. He began to write on his own much to the purpose, he has but to con- account verse and sarce and “personal sult his father's papers to find himself journalism; contributed to the Illusonce more in animated converse with the trated Times and Household Words, the men and women of a vanished generation. Inverness Courier and the Court Journal, In one letter he can talk with D'Orsay of the Daily News and the Morning Star; a two-act melodrama “écrit par un de mes founded the Comic Times and the Train; amis,” and adapted "d'un ouvrage de edited Temple Bar, and “entertained." George Sand, un des meilleurs auteurs the British public in the manner of AlFrançais de notre époque.” In another bert Smith, and went lecturing in Amer. he is face to face with Edmund Kean, ica, and wrote novels, and worked as the confessing that he “detests mixing with special correspondent of the New York the canaille" and that be “likes the pub. Herald; and he “done it all equally lic's money, but despises them.” In a beautiful,” like Master Harry Walmers's third, Miss Porter wants “an engagement papa. But, to us at least, the interest of for a person in whom I am greatly inter- his book - its anecdotes apart resides ested ... a leading comic actress in a in that section of it in which he describes small but respectable company, which and suggests his earlier years. He has used to come annually to Thames Ditton always plenty of stories on hand (some of and perform there during five or six years them new), and he tells them cleverly; of our residence in the neighborhood." and his portraits, if a little flimsy and A fourth, from Miss Mitford, encloses an superficial always, are very often enter

Incendiary story,” and inquires, "What taining. His experiences in what he calls would be the remuneration for a drama Bohemia, as chief of the Missing Letter such as you wish ?”. In a fifth, Miss Branch, and in connection with the “ Pur. Pardoe offers to translate for Mrs. Yates chase of the Telegraphs,” are varied and the Louise de Lignerolles” just then curious. But we cannot help thinking made famous by Mlle. Mars, the original his first half-dozen chapters the cream Doña Sol in “Hernani.” It is small won of his work. About Dickens, whom he der, we take it, that Mr. Yates grew up knew intimately, and whom he still reto think "Pendennis” the most impres. veres (as it seems natural in all that great sive and inspiring novel in the language. writer's friends to revere him), he has not Among actors and writers, in a society much of his own to tell us ; about Thack. which was simply so much Thackeray in eray, if we except his account of the fa

[ocr errors]
« VorigeDoorgaan »