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their pockets to town, the money which came to their share upon the division of the father's property, amounting to about three hundred and fifty pounds each.
After an absence of three weeks from the time they delivered their introductory letter to the citizen, one of them entered his countinghouse, and said, “ Sir, I know not how sufficiently to apologise to you for my conduct; I have been now three weeks in town, the whole of which time has passed like a dream to me. No! not like a dream neither, it is reality, for I have all the money in my pocket,” slapping his hand upon his thigh.
“ What money ?” hastily inquired the citizen.
“ Fourteen thousand pounds, which I have made since I saw younothing shall keep me another day in such a place, for I have just recollected, that when so much can be in a short time obtained, the same may be lost ; and although the adage, which tells us, · Money is like manure, of no use until it be spread,' may be good, yet I mean to take my leisure in determining how I shall dispose of mine."
“Well, well !" cried the incredulous, and astonished citizen ; “but tell me how all this has happened. What is become of your brother -why didn't he call and explain it?"
“My brother!" rejoined the fortunate young man ; "he has been as busy as I have, and means to stay two or three days longer in town, to get in his money. I believe he has made more than I ; but I'll be off, there's witchery in the place, and I'll keep my hand fast hold of the money all the way, until I reach home."
“ Zounds! why don't you explain ? why so mystical and cabalistical ? Say, what have you been doing? How did you get the money ?” again inquired the impatient Londoner. . “ That, sir, is precisely what I came to tell you," answered the young man. “ On the morning we left your office, we strolled out into the town, with a view of whiling away the time until dinner-hour. Passing down a lane by the Bank, which I now know to be Bartholomew Lane, we met a gentleman who was formerly a school-fellow with us in the north; he was coming out from the Stock Exchange, in a great hurry and bustle ; so much so, that we could hardly induce him to stop while we inquired after his health, and whether he was settled in London. • London, cried he; "why I am here every day upon the Exchange, and I think I shall almost go mad; if I had had mo. ney, I could have made my fortune within these last ten days, and now I am running to a friend to acquaint him of the peculiar state of the market regarding- (here he mentioned some newly-formed company:) any man who lays his money out to-day, will double it to-morrow; ay, those shares may, in twenty hours from this time, bear two hundred per cent profit to purchasers to-day, that is, within the present hour.' So saying, he inquired where he might call upon us, and was about to dart off: my brother Robert looked me hard in the face, and thinking he discovered thoughts passing similar to his own, he laid hold of the broker's arm and held him, while he inquired how much money would be requisite to make a purchase. Any sum, from fifty to a thousand pounds,' was the reply. Well, sir, not to be prolix,” continued the young man,“ my brother and myself laid out our money in some one or more companies' shares, which, under the management and direction of our friend, sure enough, realized us cent per cent, and something more ; thus we were possessed of upwards of seven hundred pounds each. As we were now in the alchymist's shop, it needed but little persuasion to induce us to put our money again into the crucible, and thus we did during the period of three weeks, turning and twisting it about by the skill or conjuration of our guide, (aided, I must strongly suspect, by the notorious gullibility of some cockneys,) so judiciously, that the result is as before told, viz., the making of my fortune; for I mean to be satisfied with what I have got-no risk for me. As we say of matrimony, two prizes are rarely found in one lottery. I have no itching palm' beyond security from poverty."
The worthy citizen highly applauded his prudence and moderation, saying, “ That when enough is granted, it is folly to cover more: it has been remarked by an ingenious writer, that every animal except man, keeps to one dish ; but man falls upon every thing that comes in
“ Besides,” continued the good man, “ you have hitherto been wholly a winner; your principles have not been polluted; alternate success in the money market, in a few short months, makes a shuffling character. I never knew one in it whom any sensible man estimated otherwise than as we do metals, viz. by weight, those that are successful are like fowls that choke themselves by over-eating. Did you not, when on the spot, observe that all man's worst passions were brought upon that city stage? Did you not note the actors ?-mark the eager eye, the over-anxious look, the cunning grin, the screwed form of those employed in thought or in making their calculations, the contortions of the disappointed losers, and the gesticulations of the Jews who were engaged in bringing over others to their views of the prospects of the market? .
“ That Stock Exchange is the grave of the soul of men; all the finer spiritual essences of their nature fly off as they enter, leaving them mere creatures of sensuality; they cannot even enjoy their money, it becomes their master. I will tell you an anecdote. I heard this morning of one of our great Hebrew contractors and dealers in the funds, from which you may judge of the principle of them all; the bulk in this case answers the sample.
“ The Hebrew and another house had for a long period been violently opposed to each other in the money market; they were both such considerable stockholders, that the movements of either party in selling out or buying in generally had an effect upon the market. A short time since, their position as holders was such that they were every day becoming losers by their obstinacy, neither party feeling willing to succumb or give way to the plans of the other; the enmity and acrimony of the parties ran so high, that they passed each other unnoticed when they met in the street or avenues which lead to the resort of the bulls and bears. Thus stood matters at a time when things were thought to be at a crisis in the market : the Jew being the largest holder was the most annoyed from the policy adopted by his adversary, and was the first to break ground in the manner following :-one morning, he purposely put himself in the way to meet one of the partners in the opposing firm; going directly up to him, he said, · Vot for ve so foolish?-ve cut von another's throats ;-people vill laugh at us-ve should laugh at de peoples. Come, come, let us be vise and put monish in both our pockets !' Ah, sir,' replied the other, “you talk a little like a reasonable man now; we can together give the market almost any turn; but your obstinacy made us despair.' "Vell! vell " hastily retorted the Jew, let us not speak of that now: vot shall ve say about business ? Oh, I vill tell you vat ve must do : let me see, how much you hold ?' The fundholder told him. Not to make a long story, subsequently it was arranged that, as the Jew held more than double the stock of the other, the latter should make such a move in the market, as would, it was known, inevitably occasion a considerable loss, but then, at the same time, it was calculated that the jobbing evolution would occasion the Hebrew a gain of treble the amount of the other's loss. This being mutually agreed on, it was finally settled that, on a certain day, the Christian should call upon the Jew, and receive his moiety of the balance of winnings on the entirety of the transaction.
" It all fell out as the stockholders had anticipated; a very considerable sum of money was realized. I am afraid to speak upon report, but it was a very large sum. When the day of settlement arrived, the party in the losing house was punctual in waiting on the Jew, but when he called at his house, he was shown into a back room, where he saw several persons transacting business, upon which he said, “I see, sir, you are engaged ; I will call again.' Vot should you call again for ?' said the Jew; you can tell your businish now : -you may speak out;-I never have businish vich I am ashamed of;' addressing the party as if he had never before seen him. Thunderstruck, and afraid of showing how much he was disconcerted at the reception, he again said, “No, sir, I will call to-morrow; perhaps you will be alone. “Me alone, I don't know ven that vill be,' roughly answered the Jew: «I do my businish all openly; I have no secrets with nobody.' Upon the second and third call he experienced the same treatment, and it was very apparent that the Jew had, from the beginning, contemplated a cheat; but the impudent manner in which he treated the question exceeded all parallel in the history of knavery.
“ At length, when the certainty of the loss was established beyond a doubt, the swindled man became so enraged with the swindler, that he determined, at least, in revenge, to expose the affair ; but the more frequently the Jew was told of it, the more he enjoyed and laughed at it. One day, however, when the Jew had a party at his private house to dinner, among the visitors being several great personages from the west end of the town, the dupe thought he would take a signal revenge, by forcing his way up stairs, and relating before the company how he had been served by their host. With this view he arrived at the Jew's door, accompanied by a friend, just as the party had seated themselves to eat their dinner : instead, however, of meeting with any difficulty, on his name being announced by the servant, he and his friend were desired to walk up into the dinner-room, where sate the Jew at the head of the table with his knife and fork in hand.
“ When this consummate and hardened rogue saw his opponent at the door, he coolly laid down his knife and fork, and exclaimed, · Vot, you come to tell me something, liey! vot everybody knows. I got the monish, and you a great fool. Vell, you are to be pitied :-you come to call me something,—some bad names : vell, go on,-ve can vait dinner a little ;-come, go on! Come, say, you rogue, you cheat, you villain, and Jew, and dog, and all that, then spit in my face :-I shall not be angry, because I have got de monish,' placing his hand upon his thigh, and you, poor fellow, have lost yours. Vell, ry are you not quick ? the good peoples here vont their dinner—as I told you at first, I have no secrets. "You hardened, you infernal villain,' exclaimed the visitor, biting his lips with vexation, while as he left the room, the Jew broke out into a coarse, vulgar laugh of exultation, at the end of which he called out, . Poor gentleman !-Aaron, see that he don't commit suicide on the premises.''
“ Such a man ought not to be suffered to live," said the young countryman when the story was finished. “ Live," answered the citizen, “why, he is the greatest man in the nation; all this, and much more is known; and yet he is honoured, nay, worshipped by some persons; to such a sordid state of mind are the people of England brought, that they can see no other object than money."
After many thanks on the part of the young man, saying his brother would call also to make his acknowledgments, and congratulation, on the part of the worthy citizen, they took a farewell of each other.
The case of Hunton demands a preliminary consideration.
The French revolutionary war effected as great a change in society in England as it did in France. Very soon after it broke out, the value of money was altered, from which cause a train of events arose, and passed away in succession so rapid, that the historian can scarcely now snatch anything regarding them to record but the dates of their occurrence.
The revolution in British commerce was as complete as in French politics ; for a time, trade appeared as if run mad; fresh channels were opened for commerce, and it altogether assumed a new face. Regular and steady pursuits were abandoned; all men of a sudden rushed into the market of speculation, and were anxious to stake their all upon some adventure.
No young tradesman, born into the world in more quiet times, can form a conception of the state of London trade thirty or thirty-five years ago. Tradesmen were bankrupts one day, and in the field of commerce the next, or, rather, they did not quit the field ; all insol. vencies were considered temporary, and no man felt ashamed when unable to pay the demands upon him ; numbers kept him in countenance. Deficiencies, whether occasioned by fraud or otherwise, were all deemed the result of speculation; and it was a common thing to see three or four petitioning creditors under bankrupts' estates one day attending Guildhall as creditors, and a few days subsequently as bankrupts. Even the seats of justice (if such a term may be applied to the commissioners of bankrupts in those days) drank of the madness of the times, and fell into confusion, from which they never recovered; hence the necessity for the recent remodelling of that court, and the establishment of the present system under the Lord Chancellor.
On the other hand, fortunes were as rapidly made as lost ; some men realized immense sums in a few months, nay, a few days; the change of property from hand to hand, in those times, can only be compared to the manner in which it passes from hand to hand at a hazard table ; neither the overthrow of the government, or an entire revolution of its form, could have worked so great a moral change in the people. Mr. Pitt laboured to counteract the democratic spirit of the times, and to preserve aristocratical wealth; in other words, to prevent a revolution ; but the very measures he adopted to carry his purpose, brought about, in the end, the greatest of all revolutions—a change in the habits, manners, and principles of the people-effected the transfer of more wealth into the hands of a few than all the previous aristocracy, for whom he professed to labour, possessed; in short, he created a new aristocracy; he borrowed wealth, and brought in East Indians and other rich parvenus by shoals, to supersede the ancient nobility.
The change in society was sudden, but it shook the foundation of principle in the people to its base. Pitt set up the idol of wealth as the only object worthy of adoration; he gave it place, power, titles, and honours ; changing in a few short years the character of English society; he occasioned the change of the currency at home as frequently as the value of exchange varies abroad; he burdened the people with a debt, from which they never can rise ; he loaded the rich with titles, which would be their disgrace were the means by which the fortunes were made, appended to their names in the red book. He thought not of the happiness of the people, he considered only the wealth of the nation, and this he was contented to purchase at the expense of its misery ; to him we owe the erasure of all the natural impressions from the Englishman's heart. These opinions are not the result of fancy, or a passion for exaggerated, coloured declamation ; for they relate to events which have happened in our own land, have been seen and known to thousands, who at one time would not, or could not, penetrate the mischievous politics of a ministry misled by a boy. But to our subject.
The recollection of the days, in which Hunton passed his life in trade, calls up a thousand feelings which cannot be understood by those who did not live in them. The case, however, now before us, that of Hunton's, is so closely identified and mixed up with the times in which he lived, that they imperatively demand some consideration, more especially as I have never seen, in any work hitherto published, an account of the true causes which led to the commission of so many forgeries at that period. The twenty years that elapsed between the years 1794 and 1814, may be termed an era of general public gaming in this country; a system of trading upon bills was introduced, which was carried to an extent before unknown at any period of our history. It was true that trade had received a new impulse, still it had its fits and starts, and occasional interruptions, placing many solvent tradesmen in temporary difficulties, and furnishing many more insolvents with excuses for not fulfilling their engagements. At the period when all payments were made in bank notes, the Bank of England had an interest in issuing their promises to pay, and in up