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-Though the children (it is added) receive no addition to the pittance they deposit in the fund, yet it answers several purposes; it stimulates them to earn and to save that which would probably be idly spent, as of too small importance for care; it often encourages their parents to lay by a little store for them, which they would not have thought of doing, had they not been invited by this opportunity of placing it in safety. It habituates the children to industry, frugality, and foresight; and by introducing them to notice, it teaches them the value of character, and of the esteem of those who, by the dispensations of Providence, are placed above them; and in many instances it may supply a resource when it is essentially requisite. The success has already exceeded expectation; above sixty children bring their little treasure monthly.'
About the same time Mr. Malthus published his Essay on population. The following passage is quoted from the quarto edition of 1803, as we have not access to the first edition; but we are inclined to think that it will also be found in it.
To facilitate the saving of small sums of money for this purpose," (he is speaking of the purchase of a cow,) and encourage young la bourers to economize their earnings with a view to a provision for marriage, it might be extremely useful to have County Banks, where the smallest sums would be received, and a fair interest granted for them. At present the few labourers who have a little money are often greatly at a loss to know what to do with it; and under such circumstances we cannot be surprized that it should sometimes be ill employed, and last but a short time. It would probably be essential to the success of any plan of this kind, that the labourer should be able to draw out his money whenever he wanted it, and have the most perfect liberty of disposing of it in every respect as he pleased. Though we may lament that money hardly earned should sometimes be spent to little purpose; yet it seems to be a case in which we have no right to interfere, nor if we had, would it, in a general view, be advantageous; because the knowledge of possessing this liberty would be of more use in encouraging the practice of saving, than any restriction of it in preventing the misuse of money so saved.'
In No. 59, of 'The Society's Reports,' we have an interesting account of a benevolent Institution formed by the Rev. Joseph Smith, Wendover, in 1799, and supported by him and two of his parishioners. In order to induce their industrious neighbours to save some part of their earnings, these worthy persons circulated proposals, offering to receive indiscriminately from the men, women, and children of the parish, any sum from two-pence upwards, every Sunday evening during the summer months; to keep an exact account of the sums deposited; and to repay to each individual at Christmas the amount of his deposits, with the addition of one-third on the whole, as a bounty for his economy. It was expressly and wisely stipulated, that the depositors might receive back the sums respectively due to them at any time before
Christmas, on demand; and that the fruits of their economy should not preclude them from parish relief, in case of sickness, or want of employment. A comfortable addition at home to the family Christmas dinner was to finish the year's account. These curious proposals are ushered in by a text, which, though not applied to its original purpose, is, as a motto, sufficiently appropriateUpon the first day of the week, let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him.' The peasantry of the parish readily embraced the offer held out to them, and during the first season sixty subscribers brought their weekly savings with great regularity; none deposited less than sixpence, and the greater number one shilling each. We regret much that our attempts to obtain further information respecting this liberal and simple, but rather expensive, institution, have not proved successful; but we are told that the founders design to establish it on a permanent footing and on an improved plan.
The next Institution of this kind, and one much more nearly resembling the present Saving Banks than any hitherto mentioned, was called the Charitable Bank, and was founded at Tottenham. It is worthy of remark, (as shewing how frequently one good desigu generates another,) that the success of the little bank for children, formed in the same place in 1798, gave rise to this more extensive plan in 1804. It was begun for the express purpose of providing a safe and profitable place of deposit for the savings of labourers, servants, &c.; and opened once a month for receipts and payments. The books were at first kept by a lady; six wealthy individuals were appointed to act as Trustees, each of whom agreed to receive an equal part of the sums deposited, and each to be responsible, to the amount of one hundred pounds, for the re-payment of the principal with interest. Any sum above one shilling was to be received, and, to encourage perseverance, interest at the rate of five per cent. was to be allowed for every twenty shillings, which should remain a year with the trustees. Though the number of trustees at first was limited, it was agreed that for every additional hundred pounds, a new trustee should be chosen; so that the loss to the trustees in fulfilling their engagement must have been inconsiderable. The benefits of this Institution were to be confined exclusively to the labouring classes; but there was no restriction as to the residence of the depositors. One great advantage of this plan is, that it holds out to the lower classes fixed advantages, and preserves their little property from that fluctuation of value to which the public funds are liable.
In 1808, a society was formed at Bath, for the purpose of receiving, and allowing interest at 4 per cent. for the savings of industrious and respectable servants. Eight individuals, of whom G 2
four were ladies, took on themselves the chief management and responsibility. No depositor could lodge more than 50l.; and the maximum of the collective sums was limited to 20001. A record of character has since that time been regularly kept; and it is stated by the anonymous author of a small volume published at Bath, in 1815, and entitled Collections relative to the Systematic Relief of the Poor,' that, during the seven years that had elapsed from the commencement of the Fund, there were in this register 212 names of persons who had uniformly conducted themselves with fidelity and propriety as domestic servants.' A more extensively useful society was founded at Bath, in January last year, bearing the name of The Provident Institution.' The Marquis of Lansdown is patron. A respectable board of trustees, one of whom is Mr. Rose, presides over it, and the name of Dr. Haygarth, well known for his private worth and public spirit, stands second in the list of managers. It was, we understand, by the suggestion of this gentleman that the capital was vested in the public funds. Each depositor of one pound or upwards is entered in the books of the Institution as proprietor of such a proportion of five per cent. stock as that sum would purchase at the time. It is very satisfactory to find from the first Report, that within a year from the opening, sums amounting to four thousand pounds and upwards, had been received and invested.'
From this induction of facts, it is plain that though attempts have been made at different times, in the course of the last thirty years, to introduce schemes of a nature similar to what are now called Saving Banks, &c., yet till the year 1810, there had been no plan devised for general use, and no public interest excited in behalf of such institutions. Indeed, it is a belief, founded on no slight investigation, that but for the Scottish clergyman whose Essay stands at the head of our list, there would at this time have been found only a few insulated establishments for the savings of industry, of which the intelligent and wealthy would have had little knowledge, and from which the lower classes in general would have derived no advantage. We shall state as concisely as we can the grounds of this opinion.
Mr. Henry Duncan,† whose Essay is written with great ability,
It is not easy to comprehend what the author had in view by this publication. It is a collection of facts without order, attention to particulars, or any accuracy in dates. The papers are strung together by loose and indefinite remarks that lead to no conclusion. There is no index nor table of contents. We feel somewhat sore on this subject; having procured the book with much difficulty, and read it with little profit.
This gentleman, delighting in humble usefulness, edited anonymously in 1809 and 1811, a number of tracts for the instruction and moral improvement of the lower orders. The greater part of the work appears to have been the production of his own pen. One series of these tracts, entitled the Cottage Fireside, or Parish Schoolmaster,'
and complete knowledge of the subject, informs us, that early in 1810, while he was engaged in some inquiries relative to the condition of the poor, he read a pamphlet proposing a scheme for the gradual abolition of poor-rates in England. To this plan the author, Mr. Bone, gave the whimsical title of 'Tranquillity.' Mr. Duncan, though he considered the scheme too complicated for general use, conceived that one of its subordinate provisions, which proposed the establishment of an economical bank for the savings of the industrious, might be so modified, as to be carried separately into effect with great advantage. He accordingly published. a paper giving an account of it, and proposing that the gentlemen of Dumfriesshire should establish banks for savings in the different parishes of the county. His zeal was applauded, but his recommendation was neglected. Steady, however, in the pursuit of his object, and rejoicing in the prospect of the benefit which he anticipated from it, he resolved to bring his plan to the test of experiment, by such an Establishment in his own parish. To this he gave the name of The Parish Bank Friendly Society of Ruthwell.' Its capital amounted, at the time of publishing the second edition of his Essay, to a sum exceeding 1,4007.!
About the beginning of 1813, a most respectable and useful society was instituted in Edinburgh for the suppression of beggars. It happened that one of the landholders of Ruthwell, who was a member of the Parish Bank of that place, was also a member of the Edinburgh Society. This gentleman, though generally resident in Edinburgh, received occasional information respecting the institution at Ruthwell, which was now making rapid progress, and which he communicated to the Society, together with a printed copy of the Regulations. This, and some other encouraging circumstances, especially the account of the Servants' Fund at Bath, induced the members of the Anti-mendicant Society to add a bank for savings to their plan. Meanwhile the founder of the Ruthwell Bank omitted no opportunity of calling the attention of the public to the institution, and, in order to give it éclat, was permitted to introduce the names of several gentlemen of rank and influence into the list of its honorary members. Their names, however, were all that he obtained; a circumstance which excited some ridicule, as the magnificence of the titles accorded ill with the limited influence of the Bank. But this did not deter him from proceeding. He laboured to excite the public attention by
was afterwards published separately, in a small volume, with Mr. Duncan's name; and we observe with satisfaction, that the third edition of this pleasing narrative is just announced. In point of genuine humour and pathos, we are inclined to think that it fairly merits a place by the side of the Cottagers of Glenburnie,' while the knowledge it displays of Scottish manners and character is more correct and more profound.
annual accounts of the utility and success of his plan in provincial newspapers. He most readily answered the inquiries of gentlemen from various parts of the country, and established a correspondence. with many friends of the poor in Great Britain and Ireland. Justice leads us to say that we have seldom heard of a private individual in a retired sphere, with numerous avocations and a narrow income, who has sacrificed so much ease, expense, and time, for an object purely disinterested, as Mr. Duncan has done. We feel it at once a satisfaction and a duty to pay this tribute to his merits, because, though, in the Second Report of the Edinburgh Society, they were not passed over in silence, yet the Ruthwell Bank was slightly mentioned, as a local and unknown institution. Many of the individual members of that Society, however, have expressed their sense of its value as an example; and Dr. Baird, Principal of the University, one of the Directors, has, in the most unequivocal manner, borne testimony to the ability and zeal of its founder.
Mr. Duncan remarks in page 36 of his Essay, that before the existence of Saving Banks, some clergymen had been in the habit of placing the little superfluous earnings of their parishioners in situations of security and profit; and states it as a remarkable coincidence, that in the year 1807, three years before the establishment of the Ruthwell Bank, a similar institution had been formed at West Calder, of which he was entirely ignorant, till near the time of the publication of his second edition. It was founded by Mr. Muckersey, minister of the parish; its management is similar to that of Friendly Societies; and interest at the rate of four per cent. is allowed to depositors, with full liberty to withdraw their money at pleasure. As the rules had not been printed, nor any attempt made to extend the knowledge of its benefits beyond the parish, the advantages derived from it were entirely local.
Mr. Duncan will find in the preceding part of this article some important facts on the subject, in relation to England, of which he cannot have been aware; otherwise from the minute fidelity which he has displayed in doing justice to the claims of others, and the modesty with which he brings forward his own, we are confident he would not have failed to mention them.
We are warranted on the whole to conclude, that though some institutions, similar both in their principles and details, had been formed before the Parish Bank of Ruthwell, yet it was the first of the kind which was regularly and minutely organized and brought before the public: and further, that as that Society gave the impulse which is fast spreading through the kingdom, it is in all fairness entitled to the appellation of the Parent Society. If we spoke of the original society, we should, from our present knowledge, be disposed to confer that name on the Charitable Bank at Tottenham.