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after health. Yet hope "adorns and
W. FRASER Rae.
ginning has grown the present gigantic establishment, which covers nearly three acres, and employs in town and country nearly nine hundred officials. Upon the latest renewal of its charter, the Bank was divided into two distinct departments, the issue and the banking. In addition to these, the Bank has the management of the national debt. The books of the various government funds are here kept; here all transfers are made, and here all dividends are paid.
In the banking department is transacted the ordinary business of bankers. Here 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 governCURIOSITIES 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 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 be readily understood, therefore, that it would be idle to attempt anything like a complete description of it within the compass of a magazine article. There are, however, many points about the bank and its working which are extremely curious and interesting, and some of these we propose briefly to describe.
The Bank of England originated in the brain of William Paterson, a Scotchman - better known, perhaps, as the organizer and leader of the ill-fated Darien expedition. It commenced business in 1694, its charter — which was in the first instance granted for eleven years only-bearing date the 27th July of that year. This charter has been from time to time renewed, the last renewal having taken place in 1844. The original capital of the Bank was but one million two hundred thousand pounds, and it carried on its business in a single room in Mercers' Hall, with a staff of fifty-four clerks. From so small a be
All Bank of England notes are printed in the Bank itself. Six printing presses are in constant operation, the same machine printing first the particulars of value, signature, etc., and then the number of the note in consecutive order. The paper used is of very peculiar texture, being at once thin, tough, and crisp; and the combination of these qualities, together with the peculiarities of the watermark, which is distributed over the whole surface of the paper, forms one of the principal guarantees against imitation. The paper, which is manufactured exclusively at one particular mill, is made in oblong slips, allowing just enough space for the print ing of two notes side by side. The edges of the paper are left untrimmed, but after printing the two notes are divided by a straight cut between them. This accounts for the fact, which many of our readers will doubtless have noticed, that only one edge of a bank-note is smooth, the other three being comparatively ragged. The
printing-presses are so constructed as to register each note printed, so that the machine itself indicates automatically how many notes have passed through it. The average production of notes is fifty thousand a day, and about the same number are presented in the same time for pay
No note is ever issued a second time. When once it finds its way back to the Bank to be exchanged for coin, it is immediately cancelled; and the reader will probably be surprised to hear that the average life of a bank-note, or the time during which it is in actual circulation, is not more than five or six days. The returned notes, averaging, as we have stated, about fifty thousand a day, and represent ing, one day with another, about one million pounds in value, are brought into what is known as the accountant's sort ing office. Here they are examined by inspectors, who reject any which may be found to be counterfeit. In such a case, the paying-in bank is debited with the amount. The notes come in from various banks in parcels, each parcel accompanied by a memorandum stating the number and amount of the notes contained in it. This memorandum is marked with a certain number, and then cach note in the parcel is stamped to correspond, the stamping machine automatically registering how many are stamped, and consequently draw ing immediate attention to any deficiency in the number of notes as compared with that stated in the memorandum. This done, the notes are sorted according to number and date, and after being defaced by punching out the letters indicating value, and tearing off the corner bearing the signature, are passed on to the bank note library, where they are packed in boxes, and preserved for possible future reference during a period of five years. There are one hundred and twenty clerks employed in this one department; and so perfect is the system of registration, that if the number of a returned note be known, the head of this department, by referring to his books, can ascertain in a few minutes the date when and the banker through whom it was presented; and if within the period of five years, can produce the note itself for inspection. As to the "number" of a bank-note, by the way, there is sometimes a little misconception, many people imagining that by quoting the bare figures on the face of a note they have done all that is requisite for its identification. This is not the case. Bank-notes are not
numbered consecutively ad infinitum, but in series of one to one hundred thousand, the different series being distinguished as between themselves by the date, which appears in full in the body of the note, and is further indicated, to the initiated, by the letter and numerals prefixed to the actual number. Thus 25 90758 on the face of a note indicates that the note in question is No. 90758 of the series printed on May 21, 1883, which date appears in full in the body of the note. in like manner indicates that the note forms part of a series printed on February 19, 1883. In "taking the number" of a note, therefore, either this prefix or the full date, as stated in the body of the note, should always be included.
The library of cancelled notes not to be confounded with the Bank Library proper is situated in the bank vaults, and we are indebted to the courtesy of the bank-note librarian for the following curious and interesting statistics respecting his stock. The stock of paid notes for five years the period during which, as before stated, the notes are preserved for reference is about seventy-seven million seven hundred and forty-five thousand in number. They fill thirteen thousand four hundred boxes, about eighteen inches long, ten wide, and nine deep. If the notes could be placed in a pile one upon another, they would reach to a height of five and two-thirds miles. Joined end to end they would form a ribbon twelve thousand four hundred and fifty miles long, or half-way round the globe; if laid so as to form a carpet, they would very nearly cover Hyde Park. Their original value is somewhat over seventeen hundred and fifty millions, and their weight is about ninety-one tons. The immense extent of space necessary to accommodate such a mass in the Bank vaults may be imagined. The place, with its piles on piles of boxes reaching far away into dim distance, looks like some gigantic winecellar or bonded warehouse.
As each day adds, as we have seen, about fifty thousand notes to the number, it is necessary to find some means of destroying those which have passed their allotted term of preservation. This is done by fire, about four hundred thousand notes being burnt at one time in a furnace specially constructed for that purpose. Formerly, from some peculiarity in the ink with which the notes were printed, the cremated notes burnt into a solid blue
clinker; but the composition of the ink has been altered, and the paper now burns to a fine gray ash. The fumes of the burning paper are extremely dense and pungent; and to prevent any nuisance arising from this cause, the process of cremation is carried out at dead of night, when the city is comparatively deserted. Further, in order to mitigate the density of the fumes, they are made to ascend through a shower of falling water, the chimney shaft being fitted with a special shower bath arrangement for this purpose. Passing away from the necropolis of dead and buried notes, we visit the treasury, whence they originally issued. This is a quiet-looking room, scarcely more imposing in appearance than the butler's pantry in a West-end mansion, but the modest-looking cupboards with which its walls are lined are gorged with hidden treasure. The possible value of the contents of this room may be imagined from the fact that a million of money, in notes of one thousand pounds, forms a packet only three inches thick. The writer has had the privilege of holding such a parcel in his hand, and for a quarter of a minute imagining himself a millionaire - with an income of over thirty thousand per annum for life. The same amount might occupy even less space than the above, for Mr. Francis tells a story of a lost note for thirty thousand pounds, which, turning up after the lapse of many years, was paid by the Bank twice over. We are informed that notes of even a higher value than this have on occasion been printed, but the highest denomination now issued is one thousand pounds.
thrusts, one to the right, one to the left, but at slightly different levels. If the coin be of full weight, the balance is held in equipoise, and the right-hand bolt making its thrust, pushes it off the plate and down an adjacent tube into the receptacle for full-weight coin. If, on the other hand, the coin is ever so little "light," the balance naturally rises with it. The right-hand bolt makes its thrust as before, but this time passes harmlessly beneath the coin. Then comes the thrust of the left-hand bolt, which, as we have said, is fixed at a fractionally higher level, and pushes the coin down a tube on the opposite side, through which it falls into the light-coin receptacle. The coins thus condemned are afterwards dropped into another machine, which defaces them by a cut half-way across their diameter, at the rate of two hundred a minute. The weighing machines, of which there are sixteen, are actuated by a small atmo spheric engine in one corner of the room, the only manual assistance required being to keep them supplied with coins. It is said that sixty thousand sovereigns and half-sovereigns can be weighed here in a single day. The weighing machine in question is the invention of Mr. Cotton, a former governor of the Bank, and among scientific men is regarded as one of the most striking achievements of practical mechanics.
In the bullion department we find another weighing machine of a different character, but in its way equally remark. able. It is the first of its kind, having been designed specially for the Bank by 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 purof 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 seen 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 dred sovereigns are laid in a long brass scoop or semi-tube, of such a diameter as to admit them comfortably, and self-regulating to such an incline that the coins gradually slide down by their own weight on to one plate of a little balance placed at its lower extremity. Across the face of this plate two little bolts make alternate
checked by means of the weighing machine we have referred to. This takes the form of an extremely massive pair of scales, working on a beam of immense strength and solidity, and is based, so as to be absolutely rigid, on a solid bed of concrete. The whole stands about six feet high by three wide, and is inclosed in an air-tight plate-glass case, a sash in
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 safeare 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 a stud is pressed, and by means of delicate machinery, actuated by water-power, the beam is released. If the weight of the bar has been correctly stated in the memorandum, the scale which holds it should be exactly half an ounce in excess. This or any less excess of weight over the three hundred and sixty ounces in the opposite scale is instantly registered by the machine, a pointer travelling round a dial until it indicates the proper amount. The function of the machine, however, is limited to weighing half an ounce only. If the discrepancy between the two scales as loaded is greater than this, or if on the other hand the bar of gold is more than half an ounce less than the amount stated in the memorandum, an electric bell rings by way of warning, the pointer travels right round the dial, and returns to zero. So delicate is the adjustment, that the 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 varies from one to three million pounds sterling. The bars are laid side by side on small flat trucks or barrows, carrying one hundred bars each. In a glass case in this vault is seen a portion of the war indemnity paid by King Coffee of Ashan. tee, consisting of gold ornaments, a little short of standard fineness.
One of the first reflections that strike an outsider permitted to inspect the repository of so much treasure is," Can all this wealth be safe?" These heaps of precious metal, these piles of still more precious notes, are handled by the officials in such an easy-going, matter-of-course way, that one would almost fancy a few thousands would scarcely be missed; and that a dishonest person had only to walk in and help himself to as many sovereigns or hundred-pound notes as his pockets
Few people are aware that the Bank of England contains within its walls a graveyard, but such is nevertheless the fact. The Gordon riots in 1780, during which the bank was attacked by a mob, called attention to the necessity for strengthening its defences. Competent authorities advised that an adjoining church, rejoicing in the appropriate name of St. Christopher-le-Stocks, was in a military sense a source of danger, and accordingly an Act of Parliament was passed to enable the directors to purchase the church and its appurtenances. The old churchyard, tastefully laid out, now forms what is known as the Bank garden, the handsome "court room," or bank parlor, abutting on one of its sides. There is a magnificent lime-tree, one of the largest in London, in the centre of the garden, and tradition states that under this tree a former clerk of the bank, eight feet high,
The device is perfectly appropriate as well as skilfully and becomingly "mitigated." Mr. Yates has had a larger share of experience than falls to the lot of most men. As the son of Frederick Yates and Elizabeth Brunton-the most popular actor-manager and perhaps the most charming and sympathetic actress of their day he was free of the Adelphi in its palmy time the Adelphi of Wright and Bedford and the Keeleys, of "Victorine" and "The Wreck Ashore," of Buckstone the dramatist and the tremendous O. Smith. He knew the elder Mathews as well as the evergreen Charles; he has seen Harvey Leach, the Gnome Fly of history, "creeping over the chairs and tables with wondrous agility;" he has passed from the society of Bihin, the Belgian giant, to that of James and Horace Smith; he has listened to the drolleries of Theodore Hook, and seen John Braham and Manager Bunn, and the Ainsworth of "Jack Sheppard," and Miss Romer, "the original Bohemian Girl," and heard Mrs. Waylett and beautiful Mrs. Honey "trying over' their songs at the little piano." What is almost as much to the purpose, he has but to consult his father's papers to find himself once more in animated converse with the men and women of a vanished generation. In one letter he can talk with D'Orsay of a two-act melodrama "écrit par un de mes amis," and adapted "d'un ouvrage de George Sand, un des meilleurs auteurs Français de notre époque." In another he is face to face with Edmund Kean, confessing that he "detests mixing with the canaille" and that he “likes the pub. lic's money, but despises them." In a third, Miss Porter wants "an engagement for a person in whom I am greatly interested a leading comic actress in a small but respectable company, which used to come annually to Thames Ditton and perform there during five or six years of our residence in the neighborhood." A fourth, from Miss Mitford, encloses an Incendiary story," and inquires, "What would be the remuneration for a drama such as you wish?" In a fifth, Miss Pardoe offers to translate for Mrs. Yates the "Louise de Lignerolles" just then made famous by Mlle. Mars, the original Doña Sol in "Hernani." It is small won der, we take it, that Mr. Yates grew up to think "Pendennis" the most impressive and inspiring novel in the language. Among actors and writers, in a society which was simply so much Thackeray in
the rough, he spent his earliest years. He was elected to the Garrick Club at eighteen years of age; he knew the orig inals of Foker and Shandon, Hoolan and Doolan, Shindy and Tiptoff; he has listened to Hodgen in "The Body-Snatcher," and gazed upon Wagg in the flesh, and watched the gifted Bardolph of Brasenose" drinking himself drunk, and all the rest of it; and the description he gives of his call to literature - "I read Pendennis'— my fate is sealed "—seems only natural. He could write a key to Thackeray's novels; and one cannot help wishing that he would.
In after years Mr. Yates, while at work at the post-office, became a denizen in another Bohemia than Thackeray's, and grew familiar with the men and women of another generation. He was the friend of Albert Smith and Robert Brough, of Shirley Brooks and John Oxenford, of Mortimer Collins and Frank Smedley, of Charles Fechter and J. M. Bellew, and a hundred others. In place of the Cider Cellars and "the little Adelphi " he got to be an habitué of the Fielding and the Lyceum. He began to write on his own account verse and farce and “personal journalism;" contributed to the Illustrated Times and Household Words, the Inverness Courier and the Court Journal, the Daily News and the Morning Star; founded the Comic Times and the Train; edited Temple Bar, and "entertained" the British public in the manner of Albert Smith, and went lecturing in Amer ica, and wrote novels, and worked as the special correspondent of the New York Herald; and he "done it all equally beautiful," like Master Harry Walmers's papa. But, to us at least, the interest of his book its anecdotes apart - resides in that section of it in which he describes and suggests his earlier years. He has always plenty of stories on hand (some of them new), and he tells them cleverly; and his portraits, if a little flimsy and superficial always, are very often entertaining. His experiences in what he calls Bohemia, as chief of the Missing Letter Branch, and in connection with the "Purchase of the Telegraphs," are varied and curious. But we cannot help thinking his first half-dozen chapters the cream of his work. About Dickens, whom he knew intimately, and whom he still reveres (as it seems natural in all that great writer's friends to revere him), he has not much of his own to tell us; about Thackeray, if we except his account of the fa