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takes the place that Nature intended; the conventional is made to harmonize with the natural, affording thereby the strongest guarantee of permanence and bliss, and rendering shortlived, if not impossible, the compulsory unions of power and incompetence, wealth and grossness, high station with meanness of heart and poverty of understanding.
Nature, as we have all along endeavoured to show, is opposed to indefinite progression, accumulation, exclusiveness, and monopoly. Her institutes are democratic; she cherishes equal love for all her offspring, and delights in confounding the Babel projects of man, whom she will never allow to intrude on the precincts of Angels, or scale Heaven's ramparts with impunity. His lot is fixed; his cycle pre-ordained like that of the meanest worm. He may soar to a noble, to an unexampled height, but he always carries along with him the barb that must again transfix him to his native earth. With strength is associated weakness; with the germs of life the seeds of certain death. No empire is destined to immortality; no individual to unlimited acquisitions. It is a just and inevitable issue; since virtues can neither be perpetuated nor predicated ; are neither inheritable, transmissible, nor spontaneously creative. Their natural harvest is their opposite vices, which constantly entail the disasters of men and nations from the arrogance of power, the prodigality of wealth, and the rashness of success.
There is no blind chance--no malevolence in the vast design. It is the result of unsearchable wisdom and unspeakable power. It is essential to the harmony, beauty, perfection, and eternity of Creation. Our own happiness is identified with it. What more sweet to poverty then to amass wealth! what more delightful to the affluent than munificently to disburse the riches previous industry has accumulated ! Each has his reward, each his gratification : leave them free to act, to rise or fall in the ascending or descending series of their natural inclination, so that the conceits of man may not war against the everlasting canons of Nature, and individuals attain all the perfection, and society all the happiness of which they are capable.
The more we extend our inquiries, greater becomes the mass of evidence in our favour. Our principle has the great characteristic of truth. It solves phenomena and is consonant with observation. Were we to plunge into the depths of statistics and take the averages of crime, disease, and mortality, we should find in their advent nothing unsettled or precarious. Instances may vary, be uncertain as to time or person, but the general cycle is perfect: aggregate results are constant, governed and determined in their unceasing rounds by unchangeable laws. Without this certainty of recurrence, experience would be
useless, human foresight a mockery, and the science of insurancebrokers a delusion : all which are founded on faith in the constancy of Nature, on the indissoluble union of causes and effects. Not only do the ordinary events of life, as marriages, births, and deaths, yearly occur in a nearly uniform ratio, but also the more anomalous incidents of humanity, sudden deaths, murders, rapes, and suicides. Fires, shipwrecks, and other fatal catastrophes observe corresponding regularity. Even bodily defects are subject to a law, and annually occur in a determinate number. Statisticians, by referring to their tables, could foretell nearly how many persons this year would be born deaf or blind, with a club-foot or a squint, or would grow up edentulous, or with curvature of the spine. Letter-writing appears a fitful act, arising from the promptings of affection, civility, or business, yet there is constancy in it, and the extent of epistolary correspondence averages nearly the same annually, allowing for the increase of population and trade. What is more extraordinary, the number of instances of forgetfulness, carelessness, or caligraphic incompetency evinced each year is nearly uniform; so that the General Post-office every year receives about the same amount of letters without addresses, or with unintelligible ucluresses, or addressed to unknown persons or places. Even commerce has its cycle of revolution, its periodial alternations of prosperity and depression as fixed almost as the return of the seasons. Of this the country has had repeated examples, and too recent and impressive to be dwelt upon.
We shall conclude for the present with remarking that the great year of Plato may not be found an entirely fanciful conjecture. The term may be longer or shorter than 25,000 years, when everything that tas happened will bappen again, but that there will be a repetition is not improbable, and is a conclusion in harmony with the general order of nature. It is a vulgar and impious error to suppose that accident not design governs the smallest vicissitudes : all is dou!,tless pre-ordained, and though our Optimism is not so fervent as the poet's, there is truth in his general description, that all nature is but art, and all • chance direction.'
And what, it may be asked, is the utility of establishing the cycleof human vicissitude? The conclusions are most important, first, in correcting erroneous estimates of our destiny and capabilities. By learning what man by organization immutably is, we learn what by art or effort he cannot be made. Illusive or extravagant expectations tend to reaction in the opposite extreme of despondency. This was the most fatal bequest of the French revolution. It was projected, or at least sought to be carried out by Condorcet and other ardent enthusiasts on the basis of human perfectibility ;-that proving fallacious, faith was lost in any intermediate range of improvement. Man, however, is neither an angel nor a demon, but like everything created, occupies a determinate sphere of existence, with prescribed faculties and powers of developement; and this view of his position is conducive both to charity and moderation, by teaching us neither to expect a standard of virtue or depravity incompatible with his nature. A third conclusion is hardly less valuable, by showing the hurtfulness of the legislation that would give fixity either to the condition of individuals or classes, and avert the vicissitudes of life that, in truth, form the moral government of the world—the natural rewards of virtue and punishment of vice-and as essential to general well-being and salubrity as the tides of the ocean or the undulations of the atmosphere.
MINISTERS AND THE BANKS OF SCOTLAND.*
We take up this subject, not because it is in the least invitingquite the reverse; but because in the present state of the feelings of Scotland, proceeding from the declared intentions of Ministers, we consider it a duty.
Every meeting that has been held over the country, (and they have been numerous,) has declared without a dissenting voice, first, that the Scottish system of banking, combining its notes for one pound, and its cash-credits, has been of the utmost use to the country, including the banks themselves; next, that the security of these notes, and indeed of all the arrangements of the Scottish banks, is undoubted; third, that the people of Scotland, instead of desiring the security of a metallic currency, deem it insecure, from its liability to be counterfeited, without the possibility of detection by the people in general; and from the danger, the very great danger, of either keeping or carrying it. Proceeding farther, they deprecate the great expense it would entail upon all classes from tear and wear and interest; and above all, from the necessity of locking up so large a share of the acquired wealth of the country, in the form of a main instrument of business. They might have added many other grounds both of dislike of any change, or at least, of any considerable change, and for desiring to preserve a system so ingeniously de
* We insert this article from its reference to a subject of interest that will shortly engage the attention of Parliament. It is a warm and practical view of a Scottish question by a Scotchman, of the justness of which we shall not offer an opinion, till the inscrutable Premier has revealed his plan for the reform of the currency and banking of Scotland.- Ed.
vised at first, and enjoyed with advantage so long; and it will be seen that we are of opinion, that while so many reasons can be urged for adhering to this system, few cogent reasons can be advanced in justification of any considerable change.
We have been favoured with a perusal of some letters upon this subject, which we consider so clear and practical, that we shall not hesitate to refer to them often. They advise a plan also for assimilating the system in Scotland to the system over the kingdom generally, in all points necessary to be assimilated, so like that which is understood to be the Government plan, and yet so decidedly avoiding its weaknesses, that we cannot but think it might be safely adopted, and at once settle the question in theory, without inflicting any practical ill. To this and to all points of the question which we can touch upon, we shall refer as briefly and decidedly as possible.
One of the letters says, • There is no bank literature in Scotland, or next to none; but there is much experience passing from director to director, and even embodied in the contracts and rules of management of the banks; and this is equal to literature -being information in constant use. One of the most useful points of information so embodied is one scarcely known in England, or if known, not regarded; namely, that the contract of now almost every Scottish bank provides, that the moment one fourth of the actual capital of the bank shall be lost, that moment the bank is virtually dissolved ; and its directors can proceed no farther under any pretext, without first calling the proprietors in general about them ; declaring what has happened, and either replacing the lost capital or dissolving the bank. The directors of banks in Scotland are always men both of character and property; they act in public, their proceedings being annually laid before their partners in an official manner; they know that the smallest deviation from the rules laid down to them would involve and be visited on themselves; and they are not the men to incur such risk to themselves under any prospect of benefiting the general body. There has never been one instance, in consequence, of directors of any Scottish establishment attempting such deception. In one or two instances, directors of banks in Scotland have been themselves deceived, but they have never for a moment attempted to deceive others.
This single regulation, therefore, duly followed up, protects both the proprietors of these banks and the public; for there can be no chance of loss to the public, where there is a necessary pause on the loss of one fourth of the bank's stock.
But farther, there has never been any inconvenience to the public for many years, from either the failure or cessation of a bank in Scotland; for it is so well known that the whole liabilities of the banks must ultimately be paid, from the universal liability of the partners, that other banks consider it an excellent opportunity for employing their own capital, and, in fact, augmenting their business to take up the business of the retiring bank; and they, in consequence, immediately step into the shoes of the retiring bank, and close its business; and while they close, continue it, by securing its customers so far as eligible as their own.
The business of the banks in Scotland being thus absolutely secure in all its branches; first, from the universal liability of partners, and from the rich taking care to judge of the general solvency of their associates for all that they undertake; and next, from the regulations for conducting the business so long as it seems profitable to conduct it; or in the event of a specific loss, bringing it to a close ; it does not seem material in what form a capital so managed, or the notes issued upon it, are received by the public; whether in sums of £l or of £100. Every portion of this capital is equally valid; every portion of it is given out under the same regulations, and with the same care that it is given for a sure equivalent; and it is a fact known to the writer of this, that when in times of peril the banks in Scotland have been compelled to be circumspect, though they may in some few cases have lost trifling sums, they have in others drawn from the estates of debtors, not 20s. in the pound, but 25s. 30s, and even up to 32s.! It will be easily comprehended that this has happened from accepting compositions, or drawing dividends from various co-obligants, without knowing, or being able to know at the period, how these matters would end; and when they did end, which might not be for years, finding it difficult to decide to whom the surplus should be returned. Generally speaking, it is proverbial that banks in Scotland take care to be well covered, and no greater praise could be given them.
This subject is so generally understood, that it is unnecessary to enter upon it with any formality. But we must endeavour to make our brief observations both intelligible and conclusive.
Banking is in reality money-changing; exchanging the money of one country, province, or person for another. For this purpose the Indian shroff or banker sits in the market-place at a bench, for the convenience of weighing and telling his coins. In Judea they seem to have intruded even into the temple; and the reasons may have been, that there the people were constantly in the habit of requiring money of different 'descriptions to be exchanged for birds and other animals to be offered in sacrifice. We next hear of it in Lombardy; and there also the siness seems to have been conducted at a bench, in that language termed banc, and whence the words bank and banking. The