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[HIS little volume follows the method 
pursued in my " English Merchants ; 
Memoirs in Illustration of the Pro- 
gress of British Commerce," which was pub- 
lished two years ago. It is designed to furnish 
younger readers with some account of the 
growth and influence of trade, and the work 
and character of its heroes. Some of the lives 
here sketched have been alluded to or detailed 
in the larger work. Where the same ground 
has been travelled over, free use has been made 
of what has already been written, but with 
such alterations of style and substance as 
.seemed to be called for by the different pur- 
pose now in view. The whole series of biogra- 
phies, however, has been drawn from London 
history ; and, as far as seemed consistent with 
the proper handling of tlic theme, the work is 
limited to the splicre of London commerce. 

Having thus borrowed from my own book, 
I have also availed myself of the researches 

jLi*!^^ / 



vi Preface. 

of other writers. In a small volume makini^ lU) 
pretensions to completeness, and not many to 
originalit)', it has appeared to me unwise to 
cumber the pages with foot-notes, specifying 
each precise obligation, and authenticating 
every single statement. It may be enough 
here to acknowledge the use made of Mr 
Lysons' " Model Merchant of the Middle 
Ages," in the chapter on Whittington, and of 
Mr Burgon's " Life of Sir Thomas Gresham," in 
the chapter on the greatest merchant of Tudor 
times ; and to record the help derived from Mr 
Charles Knight's " Shadows of the Old Book- 
sellers," from Mr J. C. Colquhoun's " VVilber- 
force and his Friends," and from Mrs Geldart's 
" Memorials of Samuel Gurney," respectively, 
in preparing the sketches of Guy, Thornton, 
and Gurney. The obligations to older sources 
of information, though still greater, hardly need 
be specified. Notes made from old folios and 
quartos, from manuscript collections and pri- 
vate sources, during some years of inquiry 
into commercial history, have been used where- 
ever they were applicable to the subject of the 

H. R. F. B. 

London, Dec. 15, 1868. 


I. Sir Richard Whittington. [1353-1423.] 

The Dick Whittington of the Story Books and the Dick Whittington 
of History — Whittington's Parentage — His Training as a London 
Apprentice — The Growth of London and its Commerce — Old 
Trading Companies andGuilds^Old London Merchants ; Henry 
Fitz-Alwyn ; William and Nicholas de Farendon ; William Wal- 
worth; John Philpot— Whittington as Sheriff of London under 
Richard II. — An old Holiday Show— Whittington as Mayor — His 
Trading Occupations — His Services to Henry IV. and Henry V. 
— His Charitable and Religious 'W^lk — Whittington College — 
Guildhall Chapel and Library' — TKe Library of Gray Friars" 
Mona.stcr>'— Whittington's Deatli and Threefold I'urial, ... ij 

II. Sir Thomas Gresham. [1519-1579] 

The Elder Greshams — Sir Richard and his Work — I'irth and 'i'rain- 
ing of Sir Thomas Gresham — The Mercers and the Merchant 
Adventurers — English Trade with the Netherlands — Gresham in 
Antwerp— His Occupations as Factor to Edward VI., Queen 
Mary, and Queen Elizabeth — His duties as Banker, Financial 
Agent, and Ambassador — His Residence and Employments in 
London — Queen Elizabeth's London — The Building of the Royal 
Exchange — Queen Elizabeth's Visit to it — Grcsham's House in 
Bishopsgatc Street — His House at Osterley, and Entertainment of 
the Queen there— His last Occupations and Death, ... 


III. Sir Edward Osborne, [i 530-1 591.] 

Old London Bridge and its Houses — Sir William Hewit and His 
Daughter Anne — Ned Osborne's Prowess in Saving her from 
Drowning — His Reward — His City Associates : Sir Lionel 
Ducket ; Sir John Spencer ; Richard Staper — The Firm of 
Osborne and Staper — The Formation of the Turkey or Levant 
Company, with Osborne for its Governor — Trade and War — A 
Famous Fight between English Merchantmen and Spanish Gal- 
leys— Osborne's work as Sheriff and Lord Mayor — The Beginnings 
of English Trade with India — Osborne's Death — His Ducal 
Descendants, ... ... ... ... ... ... 65 

IV. Sir William Herrick. [1557-1653.] 

Old John Herrick of Leicester — His Sons Robert and Nichola.s — 
William Herrick's Early History — His Letters from Home — 
Mary Herrick and Her Father— Sir William Herrick's Occu- 
pation as a Goldsmith — His favour with Queen Elizabeth and 
with James I. — His great Rival and Friend, George Heriot — 
Heriot in Edinburgh and in London — Herrick's Services to James 
I. — His Retirement in Leicestershire— His Wife, the Lady Joan, 84 

V. Sir Thomas Smythe. [1560-1625.] 

Thomas Smythe, the Customer — His Enterprising Son — The Forma- 
tion of the East India Company, with Sir Thomas Smythe as its 
First Governor — His Troubles as Sheriff — His Share in the Man- 
agement of the East India Company — Its Early History — The 
First Expedition under Sir James Lancaster — The "Trades' In- 
crease," and its Disastrous Voyage under Sir Henry Middleton 
— William Adams — Sir Thomas Roe's Visit to the Great Mogul 
— Progress of the East India Company — Sir Thomas Smythe's 
other Work — The Early History of Virginia — Smythe's Share in 
its Government — Smythe's Contemporaries : Sir Thomas and Sir 
Hugh Myddelton — The New River, and its Opening — Sir 
Thomas Smythe's last Occupations and Death— His Chari- 
ties, ... ... ..■ ... ... ... 102 

VI. Sir Henry Garway. [i 570-1645.] 

Sir Henry Garway's Early Employments — The State of Trade in his 
Time — The Levant Company — Sir Richard Gurney — The Con- 
duct of Garway and Gumey in Support of Charles I. and their 
troubles in the Commonwealth Times, ... ... ... 13(3 

Contents. ix 

VII. Sir Dudley North. [1641-1691.] 

Dudley North's Schooling — His Trading Adventures and Achieve- 
ments in the Levant — His Occupations in London — Sir Josiah 
Child and the East India Company — Dudley North's Work as 
Sheriff of London — His "Discourses upon Trade" — His Marriage 
and Married Life — His Employments in Retirement — His 


VIII. Thomas Guy. [1644-17 24.] 

Old Horsleydown and its Traders — Thomas Guy's Parentage and 
Youth — The Great Fire of London — A Young Bookseller and his 
Occupations — Gu>''s Trade in Cheap Bibles — His Marriage Pro- 
ject and its End — William Paterson and the Bank of England — 
Its Effect on Commerce — The Great Stockjobbing Mania — The 
South-Sea Bubble— Guy's Prudent Stockjobbing — His Wise Use 
of his Wealth— Guy's Hospital, ... .. . ... i68 

IX. William Beckford. [1708-1770.] 

The Beckfords in Jamaica — William Beckford's Schooling — The Rise 
of Trade with America and the West Indies — Its Benefits to 
England— Beckford's Share in it — His Parliamentary Life — His 
Employments as Alderman, Sheriff, and Lord Mayor — George 
III. and the Lord Mayor's Show — David Barclay — Beckford's 
Great Feast — Sir John Barnard — Beckford's Radicalism — His 
Quarrel with George III. — His Death and Character — Chatter- 
ton's Elegy on him, ... ... ... ... 198 

X. Henry Thornton. [1762-1815.] 

Robert and John Thomlon — John Thornton's Charity and Piety — 
Wilberforcc and the Clapham Party — Henry Thornton as a 
Banker — The Progress of Banking — The Hoarcs — Thomas 
Coutts — Henry Thornton in Parliament — His Share in the Re- 
form of the Bank of England — His Philanthropic Labours — 
Thornton and Wilbcrforce — Thornton's Connexion with Hannah 
More — His Sierra I^onc Colony — His Various Occupations — His 
Literary Work — His Death, ... •.• ... ... 221 

XI. Nathan Meyer Rothschild. [177O-1836.] 

The Rothschilds in Frankfort— Nathan Rothschild in Manchester — 



His Settlement in Lontlon — 'I'hc Jew P.ankers of London — The 
brothers Goldsniid — The Barings — Rollischild's money-making — 
The Battle of Waterloo, and Rothschild's gains by it — His Mer- 
cury Trick — His Foreign Loans — His Jokes — Brigand-like 
Bankers— Rothschild's Death and Wealth, ... ... ... 245 

XII. Samuel Gurney. [i 786-1856.] 

The Old Gurneys — Samuel Gurney 's Training — The House of Overcnd, 
Gurney, & Company — The Modern Money-Market — Gurncy's 
Services to it— His Charitable and Philanthropic Actions — His 
Death, ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 265 

XIII. George Peabody. 

The Peabody Family — George Peabody's Training and Occupations 
in America — His Settlement in London — The Crisis of 1837 — 
Peabody's Business as Merchant and Banker — His Services as an 
Anglo-American — His Benefactions in America — The Peabody 
Lodging-Houses in London — The Commerce of Modern London 
— Imports and E.xports — The Docks of London — Bullion and 
other Money — The Money Market and the Stock Exchange — 
Conclusion: The Progress of Commerce, and its Services to 
Civilisation, ... ... ... ... ... ... : 


George Peabody, ... ... ... ... •• frontispieck 


.Sir Richard Whittington, ... ... ... ... •.■ 15 

Guildhall Chapel, London, ... ... ... ... ... 34 

Christ's Hospital, London, ... ... ... ... •■• 35 

Sir Thomas Gresham, ... ... ... ... ••• 39 

Mercer's Hall, Cheapside, ... ... ... ... ... 4' 

A Flemish Merchant of the i6th Ccnturj', ... ... ... 46 

An English Merchant of the iCth Century, ... ... ... 47 

The First Royal Exchange, ... ... ... ... •.• 57 

Crosby Hall, London, ... ... ... ... ■•■ '" 

The Ancient Chapel of Thomas a liecket, afterwards a Shop and 

Warehouse, on London Bridge, ... ... ... ... 66 

A Galley of the i6th Century, ... ... ... ... 74 

An East Indian Carrack of the iCth Century, ... ... ... 105 

The First East India House, ... ... ... ... ... '25 

The Last East India House, ... ... ... .• .. 129 

Sir Hugh Myddelton, ... ... ... •. ••• i35 

Sir Josiah Child, ... ... .. •. ••■ ■■■ '55 

William Palcrson, ... ... ... ... ... ••■ '78 

The Second Royal Exchange, ... ... ... •■ '84 

The South-Sea Bubble, ... ... ... .• — '9' 

Thomas Coutts, ... ... ... ... ... ■•■ 229 

The Tower of London, ... ... ... ••• 283 

Thc.Prcscnl Royal Exchange, ... — ■•• 3°3 

London Stone, ... ... ■■• •■■ ••• 3'5 



niEF of all the great merchants of 
London during the Middle Ages is 
Richard Whittington, not quite the 
same Dick Whittington who lives in the story- 
book, but a Whittington whose worth is only- 
shown more clearly by divesting the popular 
narrative of its fables, and adding to it the 
sure facts of history, 

Dick was not a beggar-boy who, running 
away, when he was seven years old, from a 
home in which there was nothing to make him 
happy, and, hearing that the streets of London 

14 Tlic Story- Book Version. 

were paved with gold and silver, worked his 
way thither to be saved from starvation by a 
good-natured merchant of Leadenhall Street, 
named Fitzwarren. He was the youngest son 
of Sir William Whittington, who was descended 
from an old Warwickshire family, and owned 
estates in Gloucestershire and Hereford. The 
father died in 1360, and the estates passed to 
the eldest son. Dick, who was then only a 
child not more than five or six years old, 
seems, as soon as he was old enough, to have 
been sent up to London, there to become a 
merchant. A London merchant, at any rate, 
he became, though in what precise way we are 
not told. 

We may, if we like, accept the version of 
the story-book, and believe that he was for a 
long time little better than a scullion in his 
master's house ; that he was much favoured 
by Mistress Alice, his master's daughter, but 
much persecuted by a "vile jade of a cook," 
whose bidding he had to follow; that at length 
his master, sending a shipful of merchandise 
to Barbary, permitted each one of his servants 
to add something to the cargo : and that he, 
poor fellow, having nothing better, contributed 
a cat, which he had bought for a penny, and 
set to destroy the rats and mice which infested 
his garret ; that, while the ship was on its voyage 
the cook's tyranny so troubled him that he ran 

Sir Richard Wiiitiingloii, Lord Mayor of London. 

Fables and Facts. I j 

away, and had gone as far as Bunhill Fields, 
when the bells of Bow Church seemed to call 
to him, 

" Turn again, Whittington, 
Lord Mayor of London ;" 

and that when, in obedience to the call, he 
went back to Leadenhall Street, he found that 
his cat had been sold to the King of Barbary 
for a large sum of money; and that this money 
helped him to become the richest merchant 
of his time. The money paid for the cat 
must have been vastly less than the ;^ 100,000 
of which tradition speaks, and most of the 
wealth with which he started in business on 
his own account must have been made up of 
his patrimony and of the fortune that came 
with his wife, who, though a Mistress Alice, 
was the daughter, not of a merchant, but of a 
Sir Hugh Fitzwarrcn, owner of much property 
in Gloucestershire and other counties. 

The popular account of his youth, however, 
may be partly true. No one, however rich 
and high-born, might, in those days, follow 
any important trade in London who was not 
a member of one of the city companies or 
guilds, and for admission to these companies 
it was necessary to pass through sonic years of 
rough apprenticeship. W'liiLtington, we know, 
was so apprenticed to a member of the Mercers' 
Guild, which at that time engrossed one of the 

1 8 WJiittington's Trail ice- Life. 

most prosperous branches of the tradesman's 
calHng. In front of one of the shops in Cheap- 
side or Cornhill, which then were open stalls or 
booths, such as we now see in the markets, he 
jnust have had to stand, day after day, offering 
coats, caps, and other articles of haberdashery 
and the like, to passers-by; and when the day 
was over, he must have gone indoors to live in a 
garret, or worse, to do, in spite of his gentle 
birth, whenever he was bid, such jobs as scullions 
now-a-days would think beneath them ; and 
to associate with rude and lawless fellow- 
'prcntices — lads whose play was generally coarse 
and brutal, and to w^hom fierce brawls and 
deadly fighting only offered special opportuni- 
ties of amusement. His was rare luck if there 
was any kind Mistress Alice at hand to heal 
the wounds of body and of spirit that must 
have befallen him. 

They were rough times in which he lived, 
times in which the modern history of England 
was fairly beginning, after a thousand years 
and more of rude preparation. London had 
been growing for at least fourteen centuries, 
Tacitus, who lived in the days of the Emperor 
Nero, spoke of it as being then " famous for 
its merchants and the abundance of its mer- 
chandise." P"'ive hundred and fifty years after- 
wards, the venerable Bede called it " a mart 
town of many nations, which repaired thither 

Old London and its Trade. 19 

by sea and land." The Romans had found it 
in some sort of prosperity, and it had prospered 
much more under their dominion. The pros- 
perity had continued during the centuries of 
Anglo-Saxon colonisation and progress ; and 
if there was some hindrance to this during 
the turmoil of the Norman Conquest, London 
began to be a far more influential town than 
ever as soon as those turmoils were over. 
" London," says one of the old chroniclers, writ- 
ing in the twelfth century, " is a noble city, re- 
nowned for the opulence of its citizens, who, 
on account of the greatness of the city, arc 
among the first rank of noblemen. It is filled 
with goods brought by the merchants of all 
countries, but especially with those of Ger- 
many ; and when there is a scarcity of corn 
in other parts of England, it is a granary at 
which the article may be bought more cheaply 
than anywhere else." "To this city," sa}'s an- 
other writer of the same century, " merchants 
repair from every nation of the world, bringing 
their commodities by sea : 

" Arabia's gold, Salirca's spice and gums, 
Scythia's keen weapons, and the oil of palms 
From Babylon's deep soil, Nile's precious gems, 
China's bright shining silks, the wines of France, 
Norway's warm jieltry, and the Russian sables. 
All here abound." 

That is a highly-drawn picture of London 

20 Old London and its Trade. 

commerce under the earl)' Plantagenets. The 
"nations of the world" then within reach of 
England were few in number, and the mer- 
chants were more like modern pedlars and 
small shopkeepers than the great millionaires 
of recent times. But the London of that 
period was as great, in comparison with other 
towns both in and out of England, as is the 
London of to-day; and then, as now, its great- 
ness was chiefly caused by its commerce. This 
commerce, however, was mostly in the hands 
of foreigners. English merchants worked hard 
and fared well at home ; but they were less 
enterprising than the merchants of other coun- 
tries, who, not content with pursuing their 
calling in their own lands, established them- 
selves in all other districts where they had a 
chance of getting trade and making money. 
The foreign merchants who came to London 
and settled in it were chiefly Germans and 
Italians, the Germans being the first in the 
field. From very early times there was a 
curious little colony of German traders in the 
heart of London. On the banks of the Thames, 
near what is now Dowgate Wharf, they had 
a home during several centuries. Until the 
reign of Richard II. one large building served 
both as a residence for the merchants, and as 
a warehouse for their goods. Then a second 
building was granted to them ; and soon after- 

Trading Colonies and Guilds. 2 1 

wards a third was added, which having been 
previously known as the Steel-house or Steel- 
yard, gave its name to the whole establish- 
ment : in it a colony of German merchants 
continued to reside down to the time of Eliza- 
beth. There they carried on their trade, hav- 
ing constant supplies of all sorts of goods 
brought across the seas and up the Thames, 
to be deposited at their own door, and thence 
sold to the London traders. A colony some- 
what of the same sort was formed of Italians, 
chiefly Lombards, a little farther from the 
river-side : and the record of their settlement 
still exists in the name of Lombard Street. 
Near it is Old Jewry, once the special resi- 
dence of the Jewish colonists. 

These little colonies of foreigners, bound 
together by strict rules, and pledged in all 
ways to help one another in their various 
occupations, set the fashion of guilds or trad- 
ing companies of Englishmen. When and 
how they first began, we do not know. They 
seem to have existed in some shape even 
before the Norman Conquest, and soon after 
that event they became of great importance. 
Edward III., seeing how useful they were to 
the progress of commerce and of the nation 
which owed so much to commerce, did all he 
could to strengthen them. Forty-eight sepa- 
rate guilds were recognised by him, between 

22 The Old London Guilds. 

which all the business of the city was divided. 
No one was allowed to take part in trade un- 
less he was a member of the guild established 
for his special calling, and bound himself to 
work in friendship with all the other members, 
and to have no dealings with any unlawful 
traders who were members of no guilds. One 
good feature in these guilds was the care with 
which they were pledged to assist their aged 
and unfortunate members and the orphans of 
all who died young, excellent relics of which 
appear in the many city charities now exist- 
ing. They were not merely good, however, 
but necessary to the times. The times were 
too violent, and commerce was too small and 
weak for separate traders to be able to hold 
their own against tyrannical barons at home, 
pirates on the sea, and enemies in foreign 
lands. It was only by association that they 
became strong ; and certainly strength came 
thus to the merchants of the Middle Ages. 

Some of the old guilds were devoted to work 
which modern merchants would repudiate. 
The chandlers, the masons, the bakers, the 
hatters, the barbers, the painters, the wood- 
sawyers, and the brushmakers, were concerned 
in occupations that are now held proper for 
small tradesmen and artisans, not for mer- 
chants. Fishmongers are now generally ple- 
beians : yet the old Fishmongers' Guild was 

The Gt'ocers and the Mercers. 23 

almost the most aristocratic, as well as the 
oldest, of the ancient city companies. 

The names of some are misleading. The 
most influential of all were the Grocers' and 
the ]\Iercers' Guilds. In olden times the 
mercers dealt not in silks, but in toys, small 
haberdasheries, spices, drugs, and the hke. 
They were at first in the position of pedlars, 
and afterwards had a miscellaneous trade in 
stray commodities, like village shopkeepers of 
the present day. Ultimately they came to be 
wholesale dealers and great merchants, though 
their business was still nominally confined to 
trade in all goods intended for retail sale, all 
that were weighed by the " little balance." 
The grocers, who were also called pepperers, 
came to have almost the same trade. Pepper, 
cloves, mace, ginger, saffron-wood, and other 
spices; drugs and dyes; currants, almonds, rice, 
soap, cotton, silver, tin, and lead, were the chief 
articles in which it was proper for them to 
deal. All their wares, however, were to be 
sold by the "gross balance," or the beams, 
and in a wholesale way. 

Besides these trading societies, which were 
limited to London, and had counterparts in 
nearly every other English town, there was a 
more strictly commercial institution, founded 
nearly two hundred years before Whittington's 
time. This was the Society of Merchants of 

24 Trade in WJiittington's Day. 

the Staple. "The merchants of the staple," 
says an old writer, "were the first and an- 
cientest commercial society in England, so 
named from their exporting the staple wares 
of the kingdom. Those staple wares were 
then only the rough materials for manufac- 
ture : wool and skins, lead and tin, sheep- 
skins and leather, being the chief. The grower 
of wool contented himself at first with the sale 
of it at his own door, or at the next town. 
Thence arose a sort of middleman, who bought 
it of him, and begot a traffic between them and 
the foreign clothmakers, who, from their being 
established for the sale of their wools in some 
certain city commodious for intercourse, were 
first named staplers." These staplers, or mer- 
chants of the staple, came to include all the 
most enterprising members of the various 
guilds in and out of London. 

This, then, was the trading world of London 
in which Whittington was to make himself 
famous. There had been famous merchants 
before him. Foremost of all was Henry Fitz- 
Alwyn, of the Drapers' Guild, first Mayor of 
London, and holder of the office for a quarter 
of a century — from its establishment in 1189 
to the time of his death in 12 14. He it was 
who first encouraged the citizens to build their 
houses of enduring stone, instead of the wood 
and thatch, which, easily catching fire, caused 

Walworth and Wat Tyler. 25 

whole quarters to be frequently burnt down. 
After him were William de Farendon, of the 
Goldsmiths' Guild, who was Sheriff in 1281, 
and his son, Nicholas Farendon, who was four 
times chosen Mayor between 1308 and 1323, 
and who, dying when Whittington was eight 
or ten years old, left his name in Faringdon 
Street, which, with all the neighbourhood, be- 
longed to him. 

Two other great merchants were also alive 
in Whittington's youth. One of these was 
William Walworth, owner of the suburb still 
called Walworth, who was a leading member 
of the Fishmongers' Guild, and Mayor in 
1373, and again in 1381. The latter year was 
the year of Wat Tyler's rebellion. It was 
Walworth himself, we are told, who rushed 
single-handed among the crowd of insurgents, 
and slew Wat Tyler. " Good citizens and 
pious all !" he exclaimed, when the rebels were 
preparing to take vengeance for that deed, 
" Give help without delay to your afflicted 
King; give help to me, your Mayor, encom- 
passed by the self-same dangers. If you do 
not choose to succour mc, at any rate beware 
how you sacrifice your King!" The answer 
came in proni[)t and energetic combination of 
the citizens, by which the rebellion was sup- 

A worthier merchant of tliat lime, " a man 

26 John PJiilpot the Grocer. 

of jolly wit and vxr)' rich in substance," accord- 
ing to the quaint old chronicler, was John Phil- 
pot, of the Grocers' Guild, who lived on the 
site of riiilpot Lane. He did many famous 
things for the relief of his country, chief of all 
perhaps being his punishment of John Mercer, 
a Scotch merchant and pirate in 1378, the yearin 
which Philpot was Mayor of London. Mercer's 
father had also boen a pirate. Being caught, 
and imprisoned in Scarborough Castle, in 1377, 
his son carried on the strife with yet more bold- 
ness. Collecting a little fleet of Scotch, French, 
and Spanish ships in 1378, he captured several 
English merchantmen off Scarborough, slay- 
ing their commanders, putting their crews 
in chains, and appropriating or destroying 
their cargoes. This mischief, thought Lord 
Mayor Philpot, must be stopped, and stopped 
at once. Therefore, at his own expense, he 
promptly collected a number of vessels, put in 
them a thousand armed men, and sailed for 
the north. Within a i^w weeks he had retaken 
the captured vessels, had effectually beaten 
their impudent captors, and, as a revenge, had 
seized fifteen Spanish vessels, full of wine, that 
came in his way. On his return from this not- 
able exploit, we are told by the old historian, 
** there was great joy made among the people, 
all men praising the worthy man's bountiful- 
ness and love towards the king." But the peers 

His Patriotic Conduct. 27 

of England by no means echoed the praises 
of the commoners. " First, they lay in wait to 
do him some displeasure, and afterwards they 
spake against him openly, saying that it was 
not lawful for him to do such things without 
the orders of the king and his realm." Phil- 
pot was accordingly summoned before Richard 
II.'s council, and accused of illegal conduct in 
going out to fight the enemy without authority 
from the Crown. Philpot was angry with good 
reason. " Know, sir," he said to the Earl of 
Stafford, who was loudest in his reproaches, 
" that I did not expose myself, my money, and 
my men, to the dangers of the sea, that I might 
deprive you and your mates of your knightly 
fame, or that I might win any for myself; but 
in pity for the misery of the people and the 
country, which, from being a noble realm, with 
dominion over other nations, has, through your 
slothfulness, become exposed to the ravages of 
the vilest race. Not one of you would lift a 
hand in her defence. Therefore it was that I 
gave up myself and my property for the safety 
and deliverance of England." Mis rivals at 
Court could find no real complaint against 
him ; and his friends among the people praised 
him as one of their greatest benefactors. 

Philpot died in 1384, and Walworth at about 
the same time. Whittington, then nearly thirty 
years old, was their .successor, and surpassed 

28 Whittingion 's McrcJiuiit Life. 

them as a type of the merchants of England 
durinr^ the Middle Ages at their best. 

Of his early occupations as a mercer and a 
citizen of London we know nothing in detail ; 
but we can guess something of them from the 
illustrations that have been given of the state 
of the times in which he was schooled. They 
were times in which, Richard II. being king, 
England was given up to jealousies and quar- 
rels, rebellion and tyranny. Richard was not 
wise enough or strong enough to keep his 
realm in order. In trying to do so, he only 
made mischief. Nobles were at feud with 
nobles, only leagued together for frequent op- 
position to him, and for constant resistance 
of the attempts made by the common people 
to rise out of the degradation in which they had 
long been kept, and violently to seize a share 
in the government of the country. The mer- 
chants of London did their best to keep out of 
the strife ; but they were often forced to be- 
come soldiers, as when Walworth led the citi- 
zens against Wat Tyler; and sailors, as when 
Philpot went out to punish John Mercer and 
the Scottish pirates. Whittington, a young 
and enterprising man, must have watched the 
turmoil with close interest, keeping out of it 
as much as possible, and doing his utmost, 
with wonderful success, to become a rich and 
influential trader. 

A Quarrel and its Ending. 29 

We first hear of him in 1393, when he must 
have been nearly forty years old. He was 
then a master-mercer, and a member of the 
IMercers' Guild, with five apprentices working 
under him ; and before the year was out he 
was elected Sheriff" of London, having pre- 
viously been made an alderman. 

As an alderman he had just before taken 
part in a curious ceremony. Richard II. had 
called upon the city for a loan of ^looo. The 
city had refused, and the mayor and other 
chief officers had accordingly been deposed 
and sent to prison, the management of affairs 
being placed in the hands of a "guardian," 
appointed, in violation of all civic laws and 
privileges, by the King himself. The effect of 
this severity was, that after a few months the 
citizens had consented to buy back their rights 
for ;^ 10,000, ten times the sum which they had 
formerly declined to pay. Thereupon there 
was a great show of peace-making. On the 
29th of August, King Richard proceeded from 
his palace at Shcne or Mortlakc, into the city, 
there to be entertained with a famous pageant. 
Rich tapestry, choice silks, and cloths of gold 
adorned the streets, garlands and festoons of 
sweet-smelling flowers being freely mingled 
with them. All the members of the city guilds 
and all their apprentices, matrons, maids, and 
children, thronged the narrow streets almost 

30 An Old Loudon Pageant. 

from daybreak, while a thousand and twenty- 
young men on horseback marched up and 
down, keeping order, and adding to the pomp 
of the occasion. In the afternoon a procession 
was formed. The "guardian" appointed by 
the King led the way. After him came the 
four-and-twenty aldermen, Whittington being 
one of them, all arrayed in red and white, and 
they were followed by the leading representa- 
tives of the various trades, each in its own 
livery. " None seeing this company," says the 
delighted chronicler, "could doubt that he 
looked upon a troop of angels." The proces- 
sion passed over London Bridge, and met 
another procession, consisting of King Richard 
and Queen Anne, and a host of attendant 
courtiers. Then all turned back, crossed Lon- 
don Bridge, and traversed the city, to be 
delighted with fresh sights and wonders at 
every turn. In Chcapsidc there were fountains 
pouring forth wine, and allegorical appearances 
of sweet youths with crowns. At the doorway 
of Saint Paul's Cathedral there was heavenly 
music. From the summit of old Ludgate, 
angels strewed flowers and perfumes on the 
royal party ; and at Temple-Bar there was a 
wonderful representation of a forest, and a 
desert full of wild beasts, with John the Baptist 
in the midst of them, leading the Lamb of God. 
These entertainments having been admired, 

Whittingtoji' s Occupations. 3 1 

the Avhole procession hurried on to West- 
minster, where the King seated himself on his 
throne, and formally pardoned the citizens ot 
London for their naughtiness in not lending 
him money as soon as it was asked for. At 
the same time he gave them back the privi- 
leges that had been taken from them. 

It was in consequence of that restitution of 
privileges, and just three weeks after the cere- 
mony, that Whittington was chosen Sheriff. 
Five years afterwards, in 1 398, he was appointed 
Mayor, and he held that office for a second time 
in 1406, and for a third time in 1419. In 14.16, 
also, he was elected a member of Parliament 
for the city of London. 

All through these years Whittington was a 
busy merchant. Besides all the minor trade 
that was proper to the mercer's calling, he 
dealt extensively with foreign merchants in tlie 
raw wool and hides which were then the chief 
articles exported from England, and in the 
silks and other costly articles from distant 
lands that were exchanged for native wool 
and leather. Much of his wealth also was de- 
rived from an irregular sort of banking, which 
brought him into close connexion with the two 
famous monarchs, Henry IV. and Ilcnry V., 
who reigned in England after the overthrow of 
Richard II. I5y lending money to them and 
others, and arranging all their C(.)mplicated 

32 A Costly Piece of Loyally. 

business in money matters, he became, in the 
course of his long Hfe, very rich. 

He was as magnanimous as he was rich, 
although some of the stories illustrating his 
magnanimity can hardly be believed. One of 
these stories tells how, on the occasion of his 
being knighted, apparently in 1419, he invited 
Henry IV. and his queen to a sumptuous en- 
tertainment at Guildhall. Among the rarities 
prepared to give splendour to the festival was 
a marvellous fire ofswcet-smclling woods, mixed 
with cinnamon and other costly spices. While 
the King was praising this novelty, we are told 
Whittington went to a closet, and took from it 
bonds to the value of ^60,000 — worth nearly a 
million pounds of modern money — which he 
had diligently bought up from the various 
merchants and money-lenders to whom they 
liad at various times been given by Henry. 
This bundle he showed to the King, and then 
threw into the fire. " Never had prince such a 
subject!" exclaimed Henry: "And never had 
subject such a prince !" answered Whittington. 

That story may or may not be true ; but of 
other and nobler acts of liberality done by 
Whittington we have ample proof. " The fer- 
vent desire and busy intention of a prudent^ 
wise, and devout man," he is reported to have 
said not long before his death, "shall be to 
cast before and make sure the state and the 

IVhittington's Charities. 33 

end of this short life with deeds of mercy and 
pity, and especially to provide for those miser- 
able persons whom the penury of this world 
insulteth, and to whom the power of seeking 
the necessities of life by art or bodily labour 
is interdicted." And that was certainly the 
rule of his own life. 

Four hundred years before John Howard 
appeared as the prisoner's friend, Whittington 
began to rebuild Newgate prison, hitherto "a 
most ugly and loathsome prison, so contagious 
of air, that it caused the death of many men ;" 
and dying before the work was done, he left 
money that it might be duly completed. 

Saint Bartholomew's Hospital, in Smithfield, 
founded in 1102 for the help of sick and lame 
paupers, and long fallen into decay, was re- 
paired soon after his death, in obedience to the 
instructions of this "worthy and notable mer- 
chant, the which," according to the testimony 
of his executors, "had right liberal and large 
hands to the needy and poor people." 

As a small but significant illustration of his 
large-hearted charity, we are told that " there 
was a water conduit east of the church of Saint 
Giles, Cripplcgate, which came from Highbury, 
and that Whittington, the mayor, caused a tap 
of water to be made in the church wall," — a 
forerunner, by nearly five centuries, of the mo- 
dern drinking fountains. 



Whittmgtois Chanties. 

A long list might be made of all Whitting- 
ton's acts of charity. In 1400 he obtained leave 
to rebuild the church of Saint Michael Pater- 
noster, and found there a college, " consisting 

Guildhall Chapel, London. 

of four fellows, clerks, conducts, and choristers, 
who were governed by a master," an institution 
out of which grew not only the reorganised 
Whittington College in the City, but also the 

Clirisi's Hospital. ly 

Whittington almshouses at Highgate. Tn his 
will he provided for the paving and glazing of 
Guildhall, which was built in his lifetime. These 
were luxuries at that time almost confined to 
palaces. To the famous building he also added 
the beautiful chapel which was pulled down in 
1822. The Guildhall Library, too, was built 
by his directions in 1419. 

During the last years of his life Sir Richard 
Whittington was busy about the foundation of 
the library of the Grey Friars' monastery, in 
Newgate Street. It was a building 129 feet 
long, and 31 feet wide, furnished, at starting, 
with books worth £^$6, los., (more than £6000 
in the present value of money,) of which ;^400 
was subscribed by Whittington. In the reign 
of Henry VIII., the monastery and its library 
were given to the City of London at the request 
of Sir Richard Grcsham, a great merchant, 
who was father of a greater merchant, Sir 
Thomas Gresham ; and in the reign of Ed- 
ward VI., through the influence of Sir Richard 
Dobbs, another worthy merchant, and Lord 
Mayor, they were converted into the excellent 
Christ's Hospital, " where poor children, inno- 
cent and fatherless, are trained up to the know- 
ledge of God and virtuous exercises, to the 
overthrow of beggary." 

For some years before his death, the good 
Sir Richard Whittington appears to have lived 

38 Whittiugtoji 's DcatJi and Burial. 

in a large house, which he built for himself in 
Crutchcd Friars, which was pulled down not 
very long ago. He worked hard in all good 
ways to the last. In September and October 
1422, he was in attendance at Guildhall, helping 
to elect the mayor and sheriffs for the following 
year ; but in the winter he sickened, never to 
recover. He died on the 24th of March 1423, 
not far short of seventy years old. " His body," 
says Stow the chronicler, "was three times 
buried in his own church of Saint Michael Pa- 
ternoster, — first by his executors, under a fair 
monument; then, in the reign of Edward VI., 
the parson of the church thinking some great 
riches, as he said, to be buried with him, caused 
his monument to be broken, his body to be 
spoilt of its leaden sheet, and again the second 
time to be buried ; and, in the reign of Queen 
Mar}', the parishioners were forced to take him 
up, clap him in lead as before, to bury him 
the third time, and to place his monument, or 
the like, over him again." 

But both church and tombstone were de- 
stroyed by the great fire of 1666 ; and now Sir 
Richard Whittington's only monument is to be 
found in the records of the city which he so 
greatly helped by his noble charities, and by 
his perfect showing of the way in which a mer- 
chant prince should live. 




been dead ninety-six years when Sir 
Thomas Gresham was born. London 
had many famous merchants during the four 
generations that separated these two men ; but 
Whittington had, in all respects, no successor 
as notable as himself until Gresham came to 
surpass him. 

Perhaps the most eminent London merchant 
in the interval was Sir Thomas Gresham's 
father, Sir Richard Gresham. He was the son 
of a wealthy gentleman of Norfolk, who, early 
in the reign of Henry VIII., established his four 
sons as mercers in London. One of the sons 
after\vards became a clergyman ; the other 
three carried on an extensive business in part- 
nership. Sir Richard, though not the oldest, 
was the most prosperous. He not only made 
much money as a merchant, but also acted as 
a .sort of banker to Henry VHI. and Edward 

40 Sir RicJiard GrcsJiain. 

VI. He was a great friend of Cardinal Wol- 
scy's, continuing his friend even after his dis- 
grace. To Wolsey he lent ;{^200, equal to nearly 
^2000 according to the present value of money, 
shortly before his death. " I borrowed it," 
said Wolsey, " to bury me and bestow among 
m}' servants." 

Many other proofs of Sir Richard Gresham's 
goodness are on record, chief of all being his 
zeal in inducing Henry VHI., at the great 
division of church property in 1557, to allow 
three old monasteries, Saint Mary's, Saint Bar- 
tholomew's, and Saint Thomas's, to be handed 
over to the City of London and converted into 
hospitals " for the aid and comfort of the poor, 
sick, blind, aged, and impotent persons, being 
not able to help themselves, nor having no 
place certain where they may be refreshed or 
lodged at, till they be holpen and cured of their 

Eighteen years before that, in 15 19, his son 
Thomas was born. Of Thomas's early life we 
are not told much. At the age of thirteen he 
went to Cambridge for three years, and in 1535 
he was put to learn the intricacies of London 
commerce as it was practised by the Mercers' 
Company. " To that science," he said in a 
letter written some time after, " I was bound 
'prentice eight years, to come by the expe- 
rience and knowledge that I have. I need not 

Tlwmas Gresham 's Training. 43 

have been 'prentice, for that I was free by my 
father's copy ; albeit, my father, being a wise 
man, knew it was to no purpose except I were 
bound 'prentice to the same, whereby to come 
by the experience and knowledge of all kinds 
of merchandize." 

The Mercers' Guild, of which young Gresham 
was thus wisely qualified to be a working mem- 
ber, was still, as it had been in the days of 
Whittington, the chief school for London mer- 
chants. But it was no longer the great repre- 
sentative of London commerce. Already the 
old guilds had done their best work, and, as 
guilds, were beginning to make feasts and 
shows their principal business. Their more 
active members used them chiefly as a means 
of introduction to the Company of Merchant 
Adventurers, which took the lead in Gresham's 
time, as the Society of the Merchants of the 
Staple had done in Whittington's. 

The Merchant Adventurers traced their 
origin to a period long before Whittington. 
The founder of their company is said to 
have been Thomas a Bccket's father, Gilbert 
a Becket, who, in the time of the Crusades, 
went to the far East for purposes of trade, 
while most of his adventurous countrymen 
were devoting themselves to chivalrous fighting 
against the Saracen enemies of the Cros.s. 
Gilbert ei Becket, as the doubtful story runs, 

44 -^^ Rouiaiicc of Coinvicrce, 

was taken prisoner in Syria by a cruel Paynim. 
But, if the ra}'nim was cruel, his pretty daughter 
was kind. Falling in love with the English 
merchant, she contrived his escape, and, when 
he had safely returned to Enidand, managed 
to run after him. Knowing on!y two English 
words, " London " and " Gilbt rt," the bold 
damsel made her way from Syria to England, 
and, after much wandering about, found her 
lover in front of his shop in Chcapside ; to be 
rewarded, let us hope, for all her boldness and 

That tale can hardly be true ; but it is true 
that Gilbert a Becket was an enterprising mer- 
chant in the time of Henry II,, and the trading 
company, said to have been founded either by 
him or by others in furtherance of his com- 
mercial projects, was incorporated by Henry 
IV., perhaps with assistance from Whittington, 
who was then at the height of his greatness, 
as the Brotherhood of Saint Thomas k Becket. 
Soon after that time it became a powerful and 
very prosperous society. By its means English 
merchants were then able to do in a body what 
the jealousy of kings and statesmen made it 
impossible for them to do singly. They estab- 
lished a regular colony in Antwerp, which was 
then the chief trading town on the Continent, 
and which gained much by the fresh trade 
that they brought to it. " To England," said 

Tlie Merchant Adventurers. 45 

an Italian resident in the Netherlands in the 
time of Sir Thomas Gresham, " Antwerp sends 
jewels and precious stones, silver, quicksilver, 
silks, spices, sugar, cotton, linens, serges, drugs, 
hops, glass, salt fish, and other merceries of all 
sorts, to a great value. From England, Ant- 
werp receives vast quantities of fine and coarse 
draperies, fringes, and other things of that kind, 
the finest wool, sheep and rabbit skins without 
number, a great quantity of lead and tin, beer, 
cheese, Malmesey wines, and other sorts ot 
provisions, in great abundance. This is of im- 
mense benefit to both countries, neither of 
which could, without the greatest damage, 
dispense with this their vast mutual com- 

The English half of this famous trade was 
managed by the Company of Mcrcliant Ad- 
venturers ; and that he might take his share in 
it, as his father was tiien doing, young Thomas 
Gresham was sent to Antwcr[) in 1543, when 
he was twenty-four years old, and as soon as 
his apprenticeship to the Mercers' Guild was 
over. Antwerp was his usual home for four- 
and-twenty otiicr }'ears. 

The chief English merchant resident in Ant- 
werp, a sort of governor or controller of the 
whole colony, was known as the King's Factor, 
that title being given to him because, besides 
his work in presiding over the whole body, his 


GresJiani in Aiitiverp. 

special business was to negotiate any loans 
with wealthy merchants and money-lender.^ 
that might be needed by the English sove- 
reign, and to keep the sovereign informed as to 
all the important foreign matters known to 
him. He was not only a sort of governor "iW^X 

A Flemish Merchant of the i6th Century. 

consul, but a sort of ambassador and foreign 
secretary as well. This was, in fact, the most 
influential employment, out of England, under 
the English crown. When young Gresham 
went to Antwerp to look after his father's busi- 
ness and to begin business on his own account, 

TJie King's Factor hi A ntwcrp. 47 

a Stephen Vaughan was in office. In 1 546 he 
was succeeded by Sir William Dansell, a good- 
natured man, but not much of a merchant, 
and no financier at all. In 1549 he was re- 
proved for a grievous piece of carelessness, by 
which, it was said, ;i^40,ooo was lost to Edward 

--:^ W 

An English Merchant of the lOth Century. 

VI. He answered that he had done his very 
best, that he could not have done better if he 
had spent forty thousand lives on the business, 
and that what he had done was with the assist- 
ance of " one Thomas Grcsiiani." But the mem- 
bers of Edward VI. 's Council were not satisfied. 

4S Gresham as Kings Factor. 

When Danscll wrote to say, " It secmeth me 
that you suppose me a very blunt beast, with- 
out reason and discretion," they did not deny 
the charge. They thought, and thought wisely, 
that •■ one Thomas Gresham" would act better 
as principal than as assistant. Accordingly, in 
or near December 1551, he was appointed 
King's Factor ; and personally, or by deputy, 
he held the office, with a gap of about three 
years during Queen Mary's reign, for a quarter 
of a century. 

The long history of his services in this capa- 
city need not here be detailed. Though all 
the while he was working zealously and very 
profitably as a merchant on his own account, 
his official work was not strictly that of a 
merchant. A great part of his duty was in 
borrowing money for the three sovereigns who 
employed him — Edward VI., Mary, and Eliza- 
beth — and in paying, or trying to pay, their 
debts. This he did very cleverly, and with 
great advantage to his sovereigns and his 
country. " When I took this service in hand," 
he wrote, shortly after the death of Edward VI. 
in 1553, "the King's majesty's credit in Flan- 
ders was small ; and yet afore his death he was 
in such credit with strangers and his own mer- 
chants that he might have had what sum of 
money he desired. Whereby his enemies began 
to fear him ; for the commodities of his realm 

His Serz'ices to Edzvard VT. 49 

were not known before. And for the accom- 
plishment thereof I not only left the realm, 
with my wife and family, my occupying and 
whole trade of living, by the space of two 
years ; but also posted in that time forty times 
at the least, upon the King's sending, from 
Antwerp to the Court," 

Gresham conferred small as well as large 
favours upon Edward VI. For a New-year's 
gift in 1553, he sent him a pair of long Spanish 
silk stockings, " a great present," says the old 
chronicler, " for you shall understand that King 
Henry VIII. did wear only cloth hose, or hose 
cut out of ell-broad taffeta, unless by great 
chance there came a pair of Spanish stockings 
out of Spain." 

Edward VI. was not ungrateful for either the 
great or the little kindnesses. Three weeks 
before his death, having at previous times be- 
stowed upon him property worth three times 
as much, he gave to Gresham lands worth 
i^ioo a year, saying, as he handed the charter, 
" You shall know that you have served a 

Besides a king, Gresham served two queens 
right nobly. Mis service to Queen Mary was 
not so great as it might be, because his dislike 
of her Romish ways, and those of her husband, 
Philip of Spain, put him out of their favour, 
and also made it impossible for him to do 


50 G res haw's ]Vork under Elizabeth. 

heartily much that they required of him. But 
better fortune came to him with the accession 
of Queen Elizabeth in 1558. Hearing of the 
change of sovereigns, he hurried from Antwerp 
to England to render homage, and he was very 
graciously received. " Her Highness promised 
me, by the faith of a queen," he said, in a letter 
describing the interview, " that she would not 
only ' keep one ear shut to hear me,' but also, 
if I did her none other service than I had done 
to her late brother and her late sister, she would 
give me as much land as ever they both did ; 
which two promises made me a young man 
again, and caused me to enter on my great 
charge again with heart and courage. And 
thereupon her Majesty gave me her hand to 
kiss, and I accepted this great charge." 

He worthily fulfilled it. During the first 
three and a half years of Queen Elizabeth's 
reign, as appears by a bill which he drew up, 
he spent ^1627, 9s. in "riding and posting 
charges" on her Majesty's service — which 
amount, like all others of this date, we must 
multiply by nine or ten to get the approximate 
value in the currency of to-day. Once, in 1561, 
he rode so fast that he fell from his horse and 
broke his leg, whereby he was lamed for the 
rest of his life. He had hard work to do in 
travelling from place to place, borrowing money 
from one merchant, paying the debts due to 

His Various Ejiiploynietits. 5 i 

another, and conciliating all by feasting them 
after the fashion for which Antwerp was famous 
during many centuries. And he was not busy 
simply with money matters ; he w^as often 
employed on political errands, watching the 
movements of the Queen's enemies, negortiating 
with her friends, and in all sorts of ways pro- 
moting her interests. 

Thus he was not always resident in Antwerp. 
From the commencement of Elizabeth's reign, 
indeed, he was never there for long at a time 
His own business, and the local duties attached 
to his office as Queen's Factor, were performed 
by a clever agent named Richard Clough, an 
honest Welshman, in whom the prompt and 
expeditious merchant found only one fault. 
" My servant," he said, " is very long and tedi- 
ous in his writing." Other trusty clerks he had 
in London, at Seville, at Toledo, at Dunkirk, 
and elsewhere. Antwerp, however, after Lon- 
don, was his head-quarters up to the year 

In that year his services as Queen Elizabeth's 
factor at Antwerp came to an end. For some 
time previous, war had been waging between 
the Protestant States of the Netherlands, and 
I'hilip, the Catholic King of Spain. In 1567 
the Spaniards took possession of Antwerp, 
driving out not only the English merchants, 
with Gresham at their head, but .ilso a great 

52 Greshani as a London McrcJiaiit. 

number of Flemish traders, many of whom 
settled in England, adding much, by their in- 
dustry and honesty, to the wealth of their 
adopted country. 

Henceforth Gresham was much more strictly 
a London merchant. For some time to come 
he seems to have been settled down in his 
banker's and mercer's shop in Lombard Street, 
where every kind of merchandise was traded 
in, and where, after the fashion of all great 
merchants of those times, he also carried on a 
thriving business as pawnbroker and money- 
lender. It was still the custom, as it had been 
in Whittington's days, for princes and nobles — 
banks proper, railways, national funds, and other 
modern means for investing money not yet be- 
ing introduced — to lodge their surplus money 
with the great tradesmen, who used it with 
such advantage that they were able to pay 
good interest to the traders, besides making- 
large profits for themselves. Others, who needed 
more ready cash than they had at command, 
used to bring their jewels and treasures, even 
their title-deeds and rent-rolls, to the same 
tradesmen, who lent money upon them, just as 
pawnbrokers now do. 

Of that sort, and of all other sorts, was the 
business carried on by Sir Thomas Gresham in 
his Lombard Street shop, with its branches and 
agencies in various parts of England and the 

Loidon in his Tijne. 53 

Continent. King of the merchants of his time, 
he was also, in his quaint, blunt way, a famous 
courtier in the famous court of Queen Elizabeth, 
where men like the great Earl of Leicester, and 
his worthier nephew, Sir Philip Sidney, contri- 
buted to the gaiety and the renown. Could 
we look back through three centuries, and see 
London and England as they really were, we 
should miss many of the refinements of the mo- 
dern civilisation which the commerce of men 
like Gresham did not a little to promote. But 
travellers of that time, having none of the 
later refinements to compare them with, were 
charmed with the state of things which they 
saw. Let us listen to one of them, a Dutch 
doctor, who visited London in the days of Sir 
Thomas Gresham : — 

" Frankly to utter what I think," he says, 
" of the incredible courtesy and friendliness in 
speech and affability used in this famous realm, 
I must confess it doth surmount and carry away 
the price of all others. The neat cleanliness, 
the exquisite fineness, the pleasant and delight- 
ful furniture, wonderfully delighted me. Their 
chambers and parlours, strewed over with sweet 
herbs, refreshed me. Rich nosegays in their 
bed-chambers, with comfortable smell, cheered 
me up, and entirely delighted all my senses. 
And this do I think to be the cause that 
Englishmen, living by such wholesome and 

54 London in Gresham's Time, 

exquisite meat, and in so wholesome and 
healthful air, be so fresh and clear-coloured. 
At their tables, although they be very sump- 
tuous, and love to have good fare, yet neither 
are they to overcharge themselves with excess 
of drink, nor do they greatly provoke and urge 
others thereto, but suffer every man to drink 
in such manner as best pleaseth himself." 

Another traveller, a German, writing at about 
the same time, was less complimentary to 
London and its people. " The inhabitants," he 
says, " are magnificently apparelled, and are 
extremely proud and overbearing ; and because 
the greater part, especially the tradespeople, 
seldom go into other countries, but always 
remain in their houses in the city, attending to 
their business, they care little for foreigners, 
but scoff and laugh at them ; and, moreover, 
one dare not oppose them, lest the street-boys 
and apprentices collect together in immense 
crowds, and strike to right and left unmerci- 
fully, without regard to person ; and because 
they are the strongest, one is obliged to put up 
with the insults as Avell as the injury." Yet 
even this poor traveller, who had to run away 
from the rude 'prentices, but could not run out 
of hearing of their chaff, spoke well of London 
as a place of trade. " London," he said, " is a 
large, excellent, and mighty city of business, 
and the most important in the whole kingdom. 

Its Traders and their Trades. 5 5 

Most of the inhabitants are employed in buying 
and selling merchandise, and trading to almost 
every corner of the world, since the Thames is 
most useful and convenient for the purpose, 
considering that ships from France, the Nether- 
lands, Sweden, Denmark, Hamburg, and other 
parts, come nearly up to the city with their 
goods. It is a very populous city, so that one 
can scarcely pass along the streets on account 
of the throng." 

A hundred years before the great fire of 
1666, which did good at any rate in leading to 
the building of better roads and houses than 
previously existed, the streets were far narrower 
than now-a-days, and the inhabitants — nearly as 
numerous within the city walls as now, though 
of course the great suburbs of London were 
still only out-of-the-way villages — must have 
found it hard to get along, as they went 
to market in Cheapside or the neighbourhood 
of Leaden Hall, or to change their money and 
transact wholesale business in Lombard Street 
and the adjoining parts. 

Lombard Street at that time was the central 
haunt of the merchants. There, especially in 
the open space near Grace Church, they used 
to meet, at all hours and in all weathers, to 
transact their business. " What a place Lon- 
don is ! " exclaimed Gresham's agent, Richard 
Clough, writing to him in 1561 ; "that in so 

$6 TIw Royal Excltange. 

many years tliey have not found the means to 
make a bourse, but must walk in the rain when 
it raineth, more Hke pedlars than merchants." 

A bourse or exchange, for merchants to 
meet in, and do their business comfortably in 
spite of rain or wind, had long before been 
built in Antwerp, and as early as 1537 Sir 
Thomas Gresham's father had been anxious to 
build one in London. Others also had pro- 
posed it ; but the enterprise was too great, and 
most of the London merchants were too care- 
less in the matter, for anything to be done, 
until Sir Thomas Gresham took the project in 
hand ; and putting his whole heart into it, 
toiled on till it was completed. 

This was the great work of his life, less 
memorable in itself than other services done 
by him to his country, but, in its effects, 
almost more helpful than anything else to the 
progress of English commerce. Contributing 
much money himself, he persuaded seven hun- 
dred and fifty other citizens of London to sub- 
scribe smaller sums, and between March 1565 
and October 1566, ^^4000 was collected. The 
city of London gave the land, which was sup- 
posed to be worth about ;^4000 more, and 
before the end of 1566 the building was fairly 
begun. The stone was brought from one of 
Gresham's estates in Norfolk ; the wood from 
another in Suffolk ; the slates, iron-work, wain- 

Tho Royal Exchange. 59 

scoting and glass were sent from Antwerp by 
Richard Clough ; and the quaint Dutch-look- 
ing building, with ample walks and rooms for 
merchants on the basement, and a hundred 
shops or booths, called the Pawn, above stairs, 
for retail dealers, was completed by the sum- 
mer of 1569. 

Queen Elizabeth christened it on the 23d of 
January, 1571. "The Queen's Majesty," says 
the old historian, " with her nobility, came from 
her house at the Strand, called Somerset House, 
and entered the city by Temple Bar, through 
Fleet Street, and, after dinner at Sir Thomas 
Gresham's in Bishopsgate Street, entered the 
Bourse on the south side, and, when she had 
viewed every part thereof above theground, espe- 
cially the Pawn, which was richly furnished with 
all sorts of the finest wares in the city, caused 
the same Bourse, by a herald and trumpet, 
to be proclaimed the Royal Exchange, and so 
to be called thenceforth, and not otherwise." 

The house in Bishopsgate Street, at which 
Sir Thomas Gresham gave a dinner to Queen 
Elizabeth and her courtiers, had been built 
nearly ten years before. It was one of the 
finest houses in the city, inferior perhaps to 
none but the noble Crosby Hall, very near to 
it, built by a much older merchant of London, 
Sir John Crosby. In it Gresham generally 
lived after leaving Antwerp, the Lombard 

6o A Co}npli»ic)it to Queen Elizabeth. 

Street shop being used henceforth only as a 
place of business. He was owner of several 
other splendid mansions, one of them being 
Osterley House, near Brentford. There he 
added to his trading occupations by setting up 
a paper-mill, (almost the first in England,) oil- 
mills and corn-mills. There, too, in 1579, ^^ 
entertained Queen Elizabeth in courtly fashion. 
On this occasion Gresham is reported to 
have amused Queen Elizabeth with a triumph 
of engineering. " Her Majesty," says old Ful- 
ler, "found fault with the court of the house as 
too great, affirming that it would appear more 
handsome if divided with a wall in the middle. 
What doth Sir Thomas, but, in the night-time, 
send for workmen to London, who so speedily 
and silently apply their business, that the next 
morning discovered that court double which 
the night had left single before. It is question- 
able whether the Queen, next day, was more 
contented with the conformity to her fancy, or 
more pleased with the surprise and sudden 
performance thereof; whilst her courtiers dis- 
ported themselves with their several expres- 
sions, some avowing it was no wonder he 
could so soon change a building who could 
build a 'Change ; others, reflecting on some 
known differences in this knight's family, af- 
firming that any house is easier divided than 

Gresham's Death. 6^ 

Thatlast joke was unkind. In 1544, Gresham 
married a widow, Dame Anne Read, aunt, by 
marriage, of Sir Francis Bacon ; and his wife 
and he do not seem to have agreed very well 
together. They had an only son, Richard, who 
died in 1564, when he was sixteen years old. 

Sir Thomas Gresham, an active merchant to 
the last, lived to the age of sixty. " On Satur- 
day, the 2 1st of November 1579," it is written 
in the " Chronicles of England," " between six 
and seven o'clock in the evening, coming from 
the Exchange to his house, which he had 
sumptuously buildcd in Bishopsgate Street, he 
suddenly fell down in his kitchen, and, being 
taken up, was found speechless, and presently 
died." On the 15th of September he was 
buried, solemnly and splendidly, in Saint 
Helen's Church, hard by ; a hundred poor men 
and a hundred poor women following him to 
the grave. 

His property, worth ;{r2300 a year, passed 
to his wife and a son of hers by another mar- 
riage. The Bishopsgate Street house was de- 
voted to a charitable project, which seems to 
have been very dear to the merchant's heart 
during the last years of his life. This was the 
establishment of Gresham College. He meant 
it to be as helpful a school for London ap- 
prentices as the Universities of Oxford and 
Cambridge could be for other students. But 

64 GresJiam College. 

those to whom he entrusted the work used in 
selfish ways the large sum which he left for 
the purpose, and Gresham College is now 
only a monument of the good intentions of 

its founder. 



ONDON BRIDGE, in the olden time, 
was a street with houses, shops, and 
even churches on it. " It seems," 
says a Hvely antiquary, " to have been ac- 
counted rather a preferable, almost a genteel 
locality. It was the grand entry to the metro- 
polis, by which passed, of necessity, all those 
pomps and shows, and processions of state 
and ceremony which made so important a part 
in the life of our forefathers. Nowhere was 
there more stir and activity of every kind, and 
at all hours ; and for good air and plenty of 
it, there could have been no street comparable 
to the Bridge anywhere else in London. The 
very sound of the river beneath was considered 
musical and soothing : it is related that those 
who had been used to it could not easily fall 
asleep without having it in their ear. In front 
of the houses flowed from morning to night 
an unceasing current of the busiest and most 



Old London Bridge. 

various humanity ; and the back windows had 
another kind of cheerfulness of their own, — a 
spacious and open prospect over town, coun- 
try, and sky, with a full share of the sunshine 
and the breeze." 

Ancient Chapel of Thomas h Becket, afterwards a Shop and Warehouse, 
on London Bridge. 

Here lived, throughout the middle ages, 
some of the richest merchants of London, and 
in Henry VHI.'s and Edward VI. 's and Queen 
Mary's reigns there were few richer than Sir 
William Hewit, a leading member of the 

Ned Osborne and A n?ie Hcxvit. Gj 

Clothworkers' Guild, and an enterprising mer- 
chant in other ways. He was Lord Mayor of 
London in 1559, the year of Queen Elizabeth's 
accession, and dying in 1567, he left, besides 
much other property, an estate worth x6ooo 
a year, to be enjoyed by his only daughter 
Anne and her fortunate husband, Edward 

Edward Osborne was then between thirty- 
five and forty years old. More than twenty 
years before, his father, a well-to-do gentle- 
man of Kent, had sent him to London to 
make his fortune as a merchant. The lad was 
apprenticed to Sir William Hcwit, and a lodg- 
ing was found for him in the London Bridge 
house. There he was looking out of a window 
one day, while, at another open window, as it 
seems, a nurse was playing with his master's 
little daughter, a child of two or three years 
old. The play was dangerous, and the little 
girl, leaning over or jumping out, slipped from 
the nurse's hold and fell into the river. By 
good chance young Ned Osborne saw the 
accident, and had the wit, without loss of a 
moment, to jump into the river after her, and 
thus save her from drowning. 

That good service, we may be sure, endeared 
young Osborne to his master. He found him 
a ready scholar in ways of commerce, and he 
helped him on to the utmost. He made him, 

68 Osborne's Conteviporarics. 

when his apprenticeship was over, a partner in 
his business ; and when the young lady whose 
life he had saved was old enough, he gave her to 
him for a wife. Plenty of other lovers gathered 
round her; rich men and men of rank, the Earl 
of Shrewsbury at the head of them, sought her 
hand ; and Sir William Hewit was often advised 
to bestow her upon a husband of good station in 
the world. But he steadily refused. " Osborne 
did save her," he always said ; " Osborne shall 
have her." 

The marriage occurred in 1565 or 1566. 
About that time Osborne began to take an 
important place for himself in the world of 
London commerce, of which Sir Thomas 
Gresham was then the king. There was a crowd 
of other famous merchants then alive, none 
greater perhaps than Sir Lionel Ducket. The 
son of a Nottingham gentleman, he was Lord 
Mayor in 1573, and sharer in nearly every 
great enterprise of those times. We hear of 
him sometimes as employing agents to melt 
silver and copper for him in Germany ; some- 
times as setting up furnaces for the same 
purpose in England. At one time, we see 
him busy about the manufacture of cloth ; at 
another, he is forming a company to construct 
water-works for the draining of mines. He 
was a great cncourager of those schemes of 
distant voyaging and discovery which sent 

Ducket and Spencer. 69 

Frobisher and Davis into the polar regions, 
which caused Drake and Cavendish to sail 
round the world, and which induced a score of 
other famous men to try their fortunes in various 
seas and climes in search of new fields for con- 
quest, commerce, and civilisation. He was 
one of the richest men of his time. To each 
of his three daughters, we are told, he gave as 
dowry upwards of iJ^50oo in Tudor money ; and 
when asked why he had not given more, he 
answered that that was as much as it was 
seemly for him to bestow, since Queen Eliza- 
beth herself, on ascending the throne, had 
found only ;^ 10,000 in her exchequer. 

Another famous merchant, an old man in 
Osborne's youth, was Sir John Spencer, gene- 
rally known as " Rich Spencer," to distin- 
guish him from his poor but more illustrious 
kinsman, Edmund Spenser, the poet. He 
was chosen Sheriff of London in 1584, and Lord 
Mayor in 1594, and he took a leading part in 
the preparations made by patriotic Londoners, 
never more patriotic than then, to defend the 
kingdom from the great attempt made by 
Philip n. of Spain to conquer England by 
means of the fleet which he vainly termed his 
Invincible Armada. 

Among a multitude of other great merchants 
of London in the days of Queen Elizabeth was 
Richard Staper, a native of Plymouth. With 

70 Osborne and Stapcr. 

him Edward Osborne, on the death of his 
father-in-law, seems to have entered into a 
sort of partnership. They traded, as Grcsham 
and the others did, in all sorts of commodities 
brought from the Continent to England, as 
well as in the various English goods, which 
were found useful to Continental buyers. They 
also shared in trade to more distant parts. 

A curious letter exists, written in 1578 by 
a John Withal, one of the first Englishmen 
who visited South America, telling how he 
had found his way to Brazil, and desired to 
promote English trade with the new Portu- 
guese settlements and the rude natives in that 
region. He urged Osborne and Staper to 
send a cargo of London goods to Brazil, where 
they could be sold for thrice their value at 
home, and to let the ship return loaded with 
some of the excellent sugar produced there. 
"If you have any stomach thereto," he said, 
" in the name of God do you espy out a fine 
bark of 70 or 80 tons, and send her hither." 
Of the sort of goods to be put into this " fine 
bark " he gave a careful list, including woollen 
goods of all sorts, cloths and flannels, hollands 
and hose, shirts and doublets, besides •' 4 
pounds of silk, 4 dozen scissors, 24 dozen 
knives, 6000 fish-hooks, and 400 pounds of 
tin, with a little scarlet, parchment, lace, and 
crimson velvet." 

TJieir Tradi?ig Enterprises. 7 1 

Staper and Osborne do not appear to have 
sent out the cargo asked for by Withal. They 
left other merchants to begin the great English 
trade with South America, and made it their 
chief business to open up a thriving trade with 
a district nearer England, though far enough 
off to be reached only by dangerous v'oyaging. 
This district included Turkey, and the adjoin- 
ing shores of the Mediterranean known as the 
Levant. Thither, in former times, before the 
passage round the Cape of Good Hope had 
been discovered, merchants of various nations 
had brought all the costly merchandise of the 
East Indies, rich spices and precious stones, 
silks, laces, calicoes, and other textile goods. 
All through the Middle Ages the great Vene- 
tian merchants had bought up these articles, 
and sent their ships with them to Antwerp 
and London, and the other trading towns of 
western Europe. But, as English merchants 
grew in wealth and influence, they grudged 
the profits which the Venetians secured by this 
arrangement. They resolved to go to the Le- 
vant and buy the goods for themselves, direct 
from the eastern merchants, who brought it 
thither in their caravans. This they had done 
in irregular ways, yet with great profit, for 
more than a century before the time of Edward 
Osborne. Osborne and his friends determined 
that it should be done in a more systematic 

72 The Tiirki'y Covipatiy. 

way and with much more profit ; and with 
that object, in 1581, they founded the Levant 
or Turkey Company. The charter of the com- 
pany, granted in that year by Queen Elizabeth, 
tells how " Sir Edward Osborne and Richard 
Staper had, at their own great costs and 
charges, found out and opened a trade to 
Turkey, not heretofore, in the memory of any 
man now living, known to be commonly used 
and frequented by way of merchandise by any 
English merchants ; whereby many good offices 
may be done for the peace of Christendom, 
relief of Christian slaves, and good vent for 
the commodities of the realm, to the advance- 
ment of the Queen's honour and dignity, the 
increase of her revenue, and the general wealth 
of the realm." 

Therefore the Turkey Company was founded, 
with Edward Osborne for its first governor, and 
Richard Staper, Thomas Smythe, and eleven 
others, for its first directors under him. They 
alone, of Englishmen, were to be allowed to 
trade with Turkey, and a share of their profits 
was to be paid to the Queen in return for the 
privileges thus granted to them. They lost no 
time in fitting out some large vessels — so large 
and so well made that the merchants were 
publicly thanked by Queen Elizabeth for their 
skilful ship-building. In 1592, one of these 
ships — the Stisan — was sent out under compe- 

Its First Expeditions. 73 

tent agents, instructed to make a treaty with 
the Porte, to establish consuls in the differ- 
ent towns, and to open up an active trade. 
Messengers were specially sent to inquire into 
the nature of dyeing-stuifs in Italy, and into the 
art of dyeing ; also what species of them might 
be produced in England, and how beneficial 
such new productions might be to us. The 
Susan was provided with thirty-four guns with 
which to resist any attacks that might be made 
by the pirates of Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli. 
Pirates did give them some trouble, but the 
voyage was very successful, as were most of 
the other voyages undertaken every year dur- 
ing the lifetime of Sir Edward Osborne. 

The prosperous trade, however, was not car- 
ried on without danger. In 1583, one of the 
Turkey Company's ships, named the yesus, 
laden with currants and other articles from 
Morea, was attacked by two Algerian galleys 
and sunk, after being robbed of its valuable 
contents. " The greatest number of the men 
thereof were slain and drowned in the sea, the 
residue being detained as slaves," said Sir Ed- 
ward Osborne in the letter which he wrote to 
the Dey of Algiers, complaining of his subjects' 
conduct, and urging him to punish them for it, 
and to force them to make restitution. Osborne 
was especially anxious, as he should be, in seek- 
ing the Dcy's "aid and favour, that the poor 


TJie Tiirkiy Company. 

men detained in captivity might be set at 
liberty, and return into their country." This 
was not done for two years, many of the 
prisoners having died of the cruel treatment 
that they received in the interval. 

Moorish pirates were not the only enemies 
whom Osborne's merchantmen had to with- 
stand. The years in which the Levant Com- 
pany began its work were years of fierce 
jealousy between England and Spain. It was 
in 1588 that Philip II. sent his great Armada 
to be utterly overthrown in its attempt to con- 
quer England. In the years before and the 
years after that great event, there was desper- 
ate fighting on the sea between Spaniards and 
Englishmen ; and as the ships of the Turkey 
Company had to pass all round the coast of 

A Galley of the iGth Century. 

Spain, and through the Straits of Gibraltar, 
they were particularly liable to attacks from 

A Fight with Spaniards. 75 

their deadly enemy. One such attack was 
made in 1586, when eleven Spanish galleys 
and frigates made an assault on the fleet of 
five vessels which was that year despatched by 
the Turkey Company for trade in the Levant. 
They were bravely met, and bravely driven off. 
A much more memorable fight, however, 
occurred in 1590. Ten merchantmen had, in 
the autumn of 1589, been sent out by the 
Company. Returning in the following spring, 
laden with the produce of the East, they met 
for mutual protection, according to custom, 
near the coast of Barbary. The meeting was 
fortunate ; for twelve great Spanish galleys, 
" bravely furnished and strongly provided with 
men and ammunition," were lying in wait for 
them. Let the rest of the story be told in the 
quaint words of one of the party : " In the 
morning early, being the 24th of April," he 
says, "according to our usual customs, we said 
service and made our prayers unto Almighty 
God, beseeching Him to save us from the 
hands of such tyrants as the Spaniards, whom 
we knew and had found to be our most mortal 
enemies upon the sea. And having finished 
our prayers, and set ourselves in readiness, we 
perceived them to come towards us, and that 
they were indeed the Spanish galleys that lay 
under the conduct of Andrew Doria, who is 
Viceroy for the King of Spain in tlie Straits of 

76 A Fight zvith Spaniards. 

Gibraltar, and a notable enemy to all English- 
men. So, when they came somewhat nearer 
to us, they waved us a main for the King of 
Spain, and we waved them a main for the 
Queen of England, at which time it pleased 
Almighty God greatly to encourage us all in 
such sort as that the nearer they came the less 
we feared their great multitude and huge 
number of men, which were planted in those 
galleys to the number of two or three hun- 
dred men in each galley. And it was thus 
concluded among us, that the four first and 
tallest ships should be placed hindmost, and 
the weaker and smallest ships foremost ; and 
so it was performed, every man being ready to 
take part of such success as it should please 
God to send. At the first encounter, the gal- 
leys came upon us very fiercely ; yet so God 
strengthened us that, if they had been ten 
times more, we had not feared them at all. 
Whereupon the Solomon, being a hot ship, and 
having sundry cast pieces in her, gave the first 
shot in such sour sort as that it sheared away 
so many men as sat on one side of a galley, 
and pierced her through in such manner as 
that she was ready to sink ; which made them 
to assault us the more fiercely. Whereupon 
the rest of our ships, especially the Margaret 
and John, the Minion, and the Ascension, fol- 
lowed, and gave a hot charge upon them, and 

Right and Might. yj 

they at us, where began a hot and fierce battle 
with great valiancy, the one against the other, 
and so continued for the space of six hours. 
About the beginning of this our fight there 
came two Flemings to our fleet, who, seeing 
the force of the galle}'s to be so great, the one 
of them presently yielded, struck his sails, and 
was taken by the galleys ; whereas, if they 
would have offered themselves to have fought 
in our behalf and their own defence, they 
needed not to have been taken so cowardly as 
they were to their cost. The other Fleming, 
being also ready to perform the like piece of 
service, began to vail his sails, and intended to 
have yielded immediately. But the trumpeter 
in that ship plucked up his falchion, and slipped 
to the pilot at the helm, and vowed that, if he 
did not speedily put off to the English fleet, 
and so take part with them, he would speedily 
kill him ; which the pilot, for fear of death, did, 
and so by that means they were defended 
from present death, and from the tyranny of 
those Spaniards, which doubtless they should 
have found at their hands. Thus we continued 
in fight six hours and somewhat more, wherein 
God gave us the upper hand, and wc escaped 
the hands of so many enemies, who were con- 
strained to flee into harbour and shroud them- 
selves from us, and with speed to seek for their 
own safety. This was the handiwork of God, 

yS The Turkey Company. 

who defended us from danger in such sort 
as that there was not one man of us slain. 
And in all this fierce assault made upon us by 
the Spanish power, we sustained no hurt or 
damage more than this, that the shrouds and 
backstays of the Solomon, who gave the first 
and last shot, and galled the enemy shrewdly 
all the time of the battle, were clear stricken 
off. After the battle was ceased — which was 
on Easter Tuesday — we stayed for want of 
wind before Gibraltar until the next morning, 
when we were becalmed, and therefore looked 
every hour when they would have sent forth 
some fresh supply against us ; but they were 
unable to do it ; for all their galleys were so 
sore battered that they durst not come forth 
of the harbour, by reason of our hot resistance 
which they so lately before had received." 

In that brave way the merchantmen of Eng- 
land under Elizabeth withstood the force of 
the proud Spanish ships of war, even in Spanish 
waters. Men who could fight so bravely, so 
piously, and so triumphantly, deserved success. 
And the Turkey Company, in spite of all the ob- 
stacles thrown in its way, succeeded famously. 
All the articles of Eastern produce which Vene- 
tian merchants had hitherto been almost the 
only ones to bring to England, were by it made 
available for English use in much greater abund- 
ance, and at much less cost. The benefits that 

Osborne's other Work. 79 

sprang from it were acknowledged by his 
grateful contemporaries to be chiefly due to 
Sir Edward Osborne. 

Osborne was not exclusively devoted, how- 
ever, to the Turkey Company. Having been 
made Sheriff of London in 1574, he was chosen 
Lord Mayor in 1583, and during his year of 
office he seems to have been unusually zealous 
in seeking the welfare of the city. On the 14th 
of December he petitioned Queen Elizabeth's 
Council that carriers might be prevented from 
travelling on the Sabbath-day, either in Lon- 
don or in its suburbs. A fortnight later he 
addressed the Council again, complaining of 
the great number of Irish beggars and vagrants 
who infested the city and had to be committed 
to Bridewell, and begging that they might all 
be sent back to their own country, and that 
care might be taken to prevent any others 
from coming in their place. In the following 
spring, again, we find him corresponding with 
Sir Francis Walsingham, the Secretary of State, 
about the ancient rights of the city of London 
to control the affairs of Southwark, 

Yet, in spite of these and kindred actions. 
Sir Edward Osborne was especially a merchant. 
As appears by his establishment of the Turkey 
Company, his trading projects went far beyond 
the limits of the Clothworkers' Guild, of which 
he was in his day the cliief ornament. And 

So Tlie First Ejiglishtnan in India. 

his trading projects even exceeded the pro- 
vince, wide though that was, of the Turkey 
Company. In 15 S3, shortly before his mayor- 
alty, he and his partners in the company 
sent four merchants, named Fitch, Newberry, 
Leedes, and Storey, to the Levant with in- 
structions to proceed thence overland to 
India, whither only one Englishman, Thomas 
Stevens, a Jesuit priest, is known to have gone 
before them for a century or more. Proceeding 
on their errand, they conveyed some cloth and 
tin, as samples of English commerce, to Aleppo, 
and afterwards to Bagdad. Thence they passed 
down the Tigris to Ormuz, and so on by sea 
to Goa, where they arrived near the end of the 
year. There they were roughly used, chiefly 
through the jealousy of some Portuguese mer- 
chants, who, having learnt the way to carry on 
a prosperous trade with India, were unwilling 
to let the English share it with them. Father 
Stevens, however, and his fellow-Jesuits in- 
terested themselves on behalf of the travellers. 
" Had it not pleased God," said Newberry, "to 
put into their minds to stand our friends, we 
might have rotted in prison." By Stevens's 
help, they escaped with only a short captivity, 
and were able to extend their journey to many 
inland parts of India, — to Ceylon, Malacca, 
and Pegu. Newberry died on the road, how- 
ever; Storey became a Jesuit priest; and Leedes 

Osborne's Last Work. 8i 

entered the service of the great Akbar. Fitch 
travelled about till 1591, when he returned to 
England to write a full account of his wonder- 
ful experiences and observations, and thus to 
encourage his countrymen to enter upon the 
famous trade with India, which must have 
been in Osborne's mind when he sent him out. 
In that trade, however. Sir Edward Osborne 
was not able to take part Two years before 
Fitch's return, though not before the news of 
his adventures had reached England, in 1589, 
Osborne, and a number of other London mer- 
chants, had petitioned Queen Elizabeth for 
leave to send some ships direct to India, instead 
of following the more dangerous plan of going 
to Turkey by ship, and thence proceeding 
overland. While that new project was under 
consideration, moreover, Osborne was active in 
securing a fresh charter for the Turkey Com- 
pany, which had only been licensed for seven 
years from 1581. In this he succeeded, and in 
the new charter, which was dated the /tli of 
January 1591, it was recorded how "our well- 
beloved subjects, Edward Osborne, knight, and 
Richard Staper, have, by great adventure and 
industry, with their great cost and charges, by 
the space of sundry late years, travelled, and 
caused travel to be taken, as well by secret and 
good means, as by dangerous ways and pas- 
sages, both by land and sea, to find out and set 


82 Sir Edivard Osborne's Death. 

open a trade of merchandise and traffic into the 
lands, islands, dominions, and territories of the 
great Turk ; whereby we perceive that many- 
good actions have been done and performed, 
and hereafter are likely continually to be done 
and performed for the peace of Christendom, 
and the good and profitable vent and utterance 
of the commodities of our realm." In reward 
for these services, the old Turkey Company 
was allowed to be reconstructed and made yet 
more useful, under the name of the Company 
of Merchants of the Levant. And as Sir Ed- 
ward Osborne had been " the chief setter forth 
and actor in the opening and putting into prac- 
tice of the said trade," he was appointed its 
governor, for the first year at any rate, " if he 
so long shall live." 

He did not live so long. He died early in 
1 591, about sixty years old, too soon to take 
his share in establishing the great trade be- 
tween England and India which was to be of 
such immense advantage to both countries, but 
not before he had done more good work for 
commerce and civilisation than most men are 
able to achieve. He had been able, too, to add 
much by his own exertions to the wealth that 
came to him through his marriage with the 
daughter of Sir William Hewit, whom he had 
saved from drowning in the Thames. His son, 
Sir Edward Osborne, was made a baronet by 

His Titled Descendants. 83 

Charles I. ; and his grandson, Sir Thomas Os- 
borne, having been an influential statesman 
under Charles II. and James II., was created 
Duke of Leeds by William III. in 1694, That 
is only one out of many instances of famous 
peerages and great titled families being made 
by the enterprise and honesty of London mer- 




''N the quaint town of Leicester, in 
Sg] IJN^I 1589, died old John Herrick, at the 
^-^ age of seventy-six. He had been a 

well-to-do gentleman, who, according to the 
record on his tombstone, had " lived at his ease, 
with Mary his wife, in one house, full two-and- 
fifty years ; and in all that time never buried 
man, woman, nor child, though they were some- 
times twenty in household." He had twelve 
children, and his wife, living till she was ninety- 
seven, " did see, before her departure, of her 
children, children's children, and their children, 
to the number of a hundred and forty-two." 

Most of the children of this fine old patri- 
arch inherited his prosperity and happiness. 
One of his daughters married Lawrence Hawes, 
another married Sir Thomas Bennett, both of 
them wealthy merchants of London. Robert, 
his eldest son, was an ironmonger and iron- 
founder in Leicestershire, thrice mayor of his 

TJie Her ricks in Leicester. 85 

native town, and its representative in Parliament 
in 1588. He had extensive ironworks, and 
paper-mills as well, in Staffordshire. " You 
know," he wrote to his brother, " that such 
pleasant youths as I am do delight in the 
pleasant woods, to hear the sweet birds sing, 
the hammers go, and beetles in the paper-mills 
at the same place also. For him that hath got 
most of his wealth for this fifty years or near 
that way, and now finds as good iron as there 
was this forty years, as good weight, as good 
workmen, as honest fellows, as good entertain- 
ment, what want you more?" This contented 
man " had two sons and nine daughters by one 
wife, with whom he lived fifty-one years," and 
he died, " very godly," at the age of seventy- 
eight, in 1618. His portrait was placed by 
admiring friends in the town-hall of Leicester, 
with this inscription : 

" His picture, whom you here see 
When he is dead and rotten, 
By this shall he remembered be, 
When he would be forgotten." 

Nicholas, the next son of worthy John Her- 
rick, was sent to make his fortune in London. 
He was articled, in 1556, to a goldsmith in 
Cheapsidc. " We do pray to God daily," wrote 
his good father to him, when he had only been 
in London a few months, " to bless you, and 
to give you grace to be good, diligent, and 

S6 The Hcrricks in London. 

obedient unto your master, both in word and 
deed ; and be profitable unto him, as well be- 
hind his back as before his face ; and trust nor 
lend none of his goods without his leave and 
consent. And if so be that you be faithful and 
painful in your master's business, as I hope you 
be, doubtless God will provide for you another 
day the like as much again. I pray God to 
give you grace to live in His fear, and then 
you shall not do amiss ; and it shall be a great 
comfort for your mother and me, and to all 
your friends, and best to yourself another 

The good old man's prayers were answered. 
Nicholas Herrick prospered in his business, 
and, his apprenticeship being over, set up a 
goodly shop of his own in Cheapsidc, near 
to the memorable old Paul's Cross, a famous 
place for open-air preaching upon great occa- 
sions during many generations, which was 
pulled down by order of the Commonwealth 
in 1642. 

To this Nicholas Herrick, his younger bro- 
ther William, the most illustrious member of 
the whole family, who was born in 1557, was 
apprenticed in 1573 or 1574. The lad was in 
London two or three years before he could be 
spared from the shop to go down on a visit to 
his parents. That he did in the autumn of 
1576: "I give you hearty thanks," wrote old 

Young William Herrick. By 

John Herrick to Nicholas, " that you would 
send him to Leicester to see us, for your 
mother and I did long to see him, and so did 
his brothers and sisters. We thought that he 
had never been so tall as he is, nor never 
would have been." 

Very pleasant and instructive are the letters 
that passed between the members of this happy 
family of the Herricks, which time has spared 
for us to read. They show us very vividly 
what sort of intercourse existed between pa- 
rents and children three centuries ago, in the 
days of good Queen Bess. 

The tall lad was not able to stay long in 
Leicester. He soon returned to London, to 
be followed by the loving thoughts of his 
parents. Here is part of a letter written in 
1 578 by the mother to " her loving son William 
Herrick, in London, dwelling with Nicholas 
Herrick, in Cheap," which is none the worse 
for its bad grammar: — "William, with my 
hearty commendations, and glad to hear of 
your good health, &c. ; and this is to give you 
thanks for my pomegranate and red herring 
you sent me, wishing you to give my daughter 
Hawcs thanks for the pomegranate and box 
of marmalade that she sent me. Furthermore 
I have sent }'ou a pair of knit hose, arid a pair 
of knit kersey gloves. I would have you send 
me word how they serve you, for if the gloves 

88 Hcrrick and /lis Parcrits. 

be too little for you, you should give them to 
one of your brother Ilawes's children, and I. 
would send you another pair." 

Red herrings and pomegranates, and other 
delicacies, not easily to be procured in Lei- 
cester, seem to have been sent down by Master 
William as often as he had an opportunity of 
confiding them to the care of some chance 
traveller, in days when there were not even 
coaches to travel by ; and, in exchange, he 
received occasional parcels of warm stockings, 
and other household goods. In a letter written 
in March 1580, we find John Herrick thanking 
William, and his brothers and sisters in Lon- 
don, for " all their tokens." " And we be sorry," 
he proceeds, " that you have been at so much 
cost as you were at for your oysters and lam- 
preys you sent. A quartern of them had been 
sufficient to send at one time. I would have 
you be a good husband, and save your money. 
My cousin, Thomas Herrick, and his wife, hath 
sent you a gammon of bacon, with commen- 
dation to your sister Mary and you." 

Near the end of 1582 Nicholas Herrick took 
to himself a wife. " I trust now that you be a 
married man," wrote his father on the 15th of 
December, " for I heard that you were ap- 
pointed to marry on Monday ; and if you be 
married, we pray God to send you both much 
joy and comfort together, and to all her friends 

Father Her rick's Complaints. 89 

and yours. We wish ourselves that we had 
been with you at your wedding. But the time 
of the year is so that it had been painful to 
your mother and me to have ridden such a 
journey, the days being so short and the way 
so foul ; chiefly, being so old and unwieldy as 
we both be ; and specially your mother hath 
such pains in one of her knee-bones, that she 
cannot go many times about the house without 
a staff in her hand : and I myself have had, for 
the space of almost this half-year, much pain 
6i my right shoulder, that I cannot get on my 
gown without help. Age bringeth infirmities 
with it ; God hath so ordained." 

One of the infirmities of age that afflicted 
the good old man was a little sharpness of 
temper. Touches of anger are in his later 
letters which arc entirely wanting in his earlier 
ones. " I pray you," he wrote to William in 
March 15S3, " show your brother Nicholas that 
I think that paper is scant in London, bcause 
I never received any letter from him since he 
was n.arricd." 

And Nicholas was not the only child of 
wliom John Ilcrrick made complaint. His 
daughter Mary had gone up to London many 
years before, as companion to Nicholas ; and 
she found London life so much pleasanter than 
Leicester life, that when the special object of 
her stay was over, she was not willing to go 

90 Mary Her rick's Stubbornness. 

home again. So her father sent her a scolding 
letter in June 1583 : — "You were obedient at 
our desire," he said, " to go to London, to keep 
your brother's house when he had need of you ; 
but now he, being married, may spare you. 
He is very sorry that you should take the 
turns you do ; but he tells your mother and 
me that you will needs do so. You ought to 
be obedient unto us now, as you were at your 
going up ; and not only then and now, but at 
all times, as you know by the commandment 
of God you ought to be ; likewise you be bound 
to be obedient to your parents by the law of 
nature and by the law of the realm. We would 
be both very sorry that you should be found 
disobedient to us or stubborn. We do not send 
for you for any ill purpose towards you, but 
for your comfort and ours. We do not send 
for you to work or toil about any business, but 
to oversee my house, and do your own work, 
and have a chamber to yourself, and one of 
your sisters to bear you company. I thank 
God all your brethren and sisters do show 
themselves obedient to your mother and me ; 
and, in doing so, they do but their duty, and 
God will bless them the better for it. I pray 
you let me not find you contrary to them, for 
if you do, it will be a great grief to your mother 
and me in these our old days, and be an occa- 
sion to shorten our days, which cannot be long; 

Death among the Herricks. 91 

but grief of heart and mind will shorten life, 
as daily experience doth show. Remember 
yourself whether you have done well or no. 
We might have commanded you, but we have 
desired and prayed you, and you refuse to be 

Mary Herrick still refused ; yet it is likely 
that she was forgiven when her father heard 
that the reason for her staying in London, was a 
forthcoming marriage between her and the rich 
merchant. Sir Thomas Bennett, who was Lord 
Mayor of London in 1603. 

Six years after the short quarrel with his 
daughter, John Herrick died, and before long, 
in the prime of life, his son Nicholas died also. 
" I do advertise you," the father had written 
twelve or thirteen years before, " to make your 
book of reckoning perfect, as well what you do 
owe as what you have owing. For wc be all 
uncertain when it shall please God to call us, 
whether in young age, middle age, or old age." 
The warning was needed by Nicholas Herrick. 
Death's summons to him was very sudden. 
Looking one day out of an upper window of 
his house in Cheapsidc, he fell into the street, 
and so was killed. 

He left one infant son, Robert Herrick, who, 
becoming a parson, was one of the sweetest of 
all the sweet singers that fluttered about the 
court of Charles I., and another son, who 

92 The Lo7idon Goldsmiths. 

attained eminence as a merchant. But his 
real successor in the goldsmith's business in 
Cheapside was his younger brother and former 
apprentice, William. 

The trade of a goldsmith was then one of 
the most lucrative and honourable that an Eng- 
lishman could follow. It meant much more 
than dealing in jewelry and golden trinkets. 
The old Goldsmiths' Guild had the exclusive 
power of coining money ; and to its members 
belonged especially that irregular sort of bank- 
ing, which, before it was assigned to a parti- 
cular class of traders, was also often resorted 
to by great merchants like Whittington and 
Gresham, The goldsmiths, whose shops were 
generally in Cheapside, were great money- 
lenders and money-changers. Kings and 
nobles, country gentlemen and merchants, if 
in need of cash, brought them not only their 
jewels and trinkets, but often their title-deeds 
and written bonds, to be held in security for 
the coin which they required to borrow. Thus 
they were something between the pawnbrokers 
and the bankers of modern times. All who 
needed money, and to whom it was safe to lend 
it, borrowed from them, and paid good interest 
for the loans, often forfeiting their property 
when they were unable to pay back the debts 
at the proper time, and thus adding yet more 
to the wealth of the lenders. 

Herrick's Ocaipations. 93 

Among the goldsmiths of this sort, in the 
time of Queen EHzabeth, WilUam Herrick 
came to be the most eminent. The Queen 
herself was one of his best customers. Em- 
ploying Gresham, Ducket, and others, to con- 
duct her foreign monetary business, she went 
to Herrick for the small loans and minor bar- 
gains to which, her exchequer being often 
nearly empty, she very often had to resort. 
Could we discover the ledgers which old John 
Herrick bade his son keep carefully, we should 
see a wonderful array of loans, not only to 
Elizabeth, but also to nearly every one of her 
famous courtiers, the great Earl of Leicester, 
and his noble nephew, Sir Philip Sidney, the 
great Earl of Essex, and his worthier rival Sir 
Walter Raleigh, and half-a-hundred other men 
of excellent wit and excellent grace ; men 
whose courtly bearing, noble thought, and 
noble action, make the age of Queen Eliza- 
beth the most illustrious in our history. 

So high was Elizabeth's opinion of Her- 
rick, ihat she once .sent him as ambassador to 
the Sultan of Turkey. But she generally 
found occupation enough for him in his proper 
trade. To her and to her subjects he lent 
money almost without limit ; and out of the 
interest thereon, as well as out of the profits of 
his ordinary work as a goldsmith, he was rich 
enough, in 1595, to buy Bcaumanor Park, in 

94 " Jiiig^ifi^ Gcordiey 

Leicestershire. In 1601 he became member of 
ParHamcnt for Leicester ; and on that occasion, 
we are told, " he gave to the town in kindness 
twelve silver spoons." 

In 1603 Queen Elizabeth died, and James 
VI. of Scotland became King of England as 
James I. The new King, in consideration of 
his long and faithful service to his late mistress, 
continued to employ Herrick in the same sort 
of service, and dignified it by conferring on him 
the title of Principal Jeweller or Teller to the 

Under King James, however, Herrick had a 
friendly rival in a man in some respects wor- 
thier and abler than himself. This man was 
the famous George Heriot. Heriot, born in 
1563, had carried on the same sort of trade, 
regular and irregular, for more than a dozen 
years, under King James in Scotland. His 
little shop or booth, measuring about seven 
feet square, was the richest spot in Edinburgh, 
the great resort of King James and his crowd 
of spendthrift courtiers. One day, according to 
tradition, Heriot visited the King at Holyrood 
House, and seeing him sprawling before a fire 
of perfumed wood, praised it for its sweetness. 
" Ay," answered the King, " and it is costly." 
Heriot replied that, if his Majesty would come 
to his shop against St Giles's Kirk, he would 
show him a yet costlier one. " Indeed and I 

His Services to King James. 95 

will," exclaimed the monarch. On reaching 
the shop, however, nothing was to be seen but 
a few poor flames flickering in the goldsmith's 
forge. "Is this, then, your fine fire.''" asked 
King James. " Wait a little," answered the 
merchant, " till I get the fuel ; " and then, 
opening his chest, he took thence a bond for 
^2000, which he had lent to the King, and 
threw it among the embers. " Now," he asked, 
"whether is your Majesty's fire or mine the 
better .'' " " Yours, most certainly. Master 
Heriot," was the answer. 

Let all who like believe the tale. But it is 
clear that Heriot was rich enough to pay his 
Sovereign a compliment of this kind over and 
over again. He throve wonderfully as Gold- 
smith in Ordinary to King James, and as 
money-lender to both theKingand his courtiers, 
and when, in 1605, James went southwards 
with his wasteful followers, Heriot followed him 
to open a larger shop " forancnt the new Ex- 
change," which was just being set up in the 
Strand, on the site of the present Adclphi, and 
to share with William Herrick the lucrative 
office of Jeweller to the King of England. 

Of Hcriot's busy life in London a clearer 
and completer notion is to be derived from the 
fictitious but truthfully-drawn portrait of him 
in Sir Walter Scott's "Fortunes of Nigel," tlian 
from any mere statement of the few authentic 

g6 Hcriot and Hn'rick. 

facts that have come down to us. The " Jing- 
hng Gcordie" of Scott's dch'ghtful novel, who, 
by worth of character, goodness of heart, and 
rectitude of principle, set a noble example of 
manliness in an over-selfish and ungenerous 
age, who "walked through life with a steady- 
pace and an observant eye, neglecting no oppor- 
tunity of assisting those who were not possessed 
of the experience necessary for their own guid- 
ance," was, as far as we can judge, the veritable 
George Heriot of real life. The little that we 
actually know of his private history shows him 
to have been a man as kind and self-sacrificing 
in his dealings with others as he was upright 
and persevering in the pursuit of his own 

Heriot, in the Strand, and Herrick, in Cheap- 
side, ran a race of wealth together. Heriot 
was plain George Heriot to the last. But on 
Easter Tuesday, in 1605, says an envious 
letter-writer of the time, " one Master William 
Herrick, a goldsmith in Cheapside, was knighted 
for making a hole in the great diamond the 
King did wear. The party little expected the 
honour ; but he did his work so well as won the 
King to an extraordinary liking of it." 

James I. knighted men for smaller services 
than making a hole in a great diamond ; and 
Sir William Herrick well deserved his honour. 
In the same year he again entered Parliament 

Her rick's Monc^'-L ending. 97 

as member for Leicester. He was also chosen 
alderman of Farringdon Without, but from this 
office, as well as from emplo}'ment as Sheriff of 
London, he was afterwards excused, on pay- 
ment of ;^300, " in respect," as it was said, 
" that the said Sir William is the King's sworn 
servant, and cannot so necessarily afford the 
daily service as behoveth." 

During the next dozen years and more Sir 
William Herrick was in almost daily service at 
the Court. Great sums of money were lent by 
hifn to the King in formal ways for public and 
private uses ; and he also lent much money in 
the less regular w'ays of personal friendship. 
" Since my being teller," he wrote in a peti- 
tion dated 161 6, " I have lent his Majesty divers 
great sums of money gratis, which none of my 
fellows ever did, to my loss and disadvantage of 
at least ;^3O0O." Yet all these good offices, he 
complained, were forgotten, and the ungrateful 
monarch allowed him even to be defrauded 
and tricked out of his due. A blunder had 
been made by a clerk in copying a deed, which 
unless corrected, would cause him a consider- 
able loss every year. " And yet, such is my 
misfortune," he said, " that tiii.s little and just 
favour is not yet allowed me." 

That pctili(;n and others of the same .sort 
were answered with gracious words and large 
])romiscs, and Herrick continued to fuid means 


98 Her rick in Retirement. 

for the extravagant indulgences of the King 
and liis son, Prince Charles, afterwards Charles 
I. He was a rich man, however, and found 
good use for his riches in charitable works and 
schemes for local improvement in Leicester and 
its neighbourhood. 

In that neighbourhood, at his fine estate of 
Beau manor Park, he seems to have settled 
down, as a retired merchant of great wealth, in 
or near the year 1624. There he lived splen- 
didly and happily, dealing kindly with his 
tenants, and winning their hearty love and es- 
teem. At every Christmas-time these tenants 
crowded up with presents, betokening their 
gratitude. Apples and cakes, puddings and 
sausages, chickens, capons, turkeys, geese, and 
pigs, here and there " one pound of currants " 
or " a bottle of claret wine," are among the 
articles which the good and careful old man 
noted down as received from his various de- 

Sometimes, too, these dependants, according 
to the fashion of those days, entertained him 
with quaint dramatic shows, of the sort still 
feebly represented by Jack-in-the-Green and 
Punch-and-Judy. One of them was prefaced by 
this speech, spoken by the play-master of the 
day : " The rare report of your worship's favour, 
gentle acceptance, extraordinary kindness, and 
most liberal eutertainmcnt, that you have 

Country Courtesies. 99 

always showed to your neighbours, hath not 

only won the hearts of your domesticated 

friends, but hath now drawn poor Amintas, 

even in the waning of his age, from the downs, 

to come to present himself and all the fruits of 

his forepassed youth, the lively offspring of 

this aged shepherd, a few silly boys, to make 

such sport this night in square-play, as shall in 

no sort be offensive to you, nor much hurtful 

to them, if fortune favour them not ; for they 

bring not mountains of money, but mole-hills 

gathered on mountains. I thought good, as 

my duty is, to acquaint your worship with my 

intended purpose, and desire to know how you 

will accept of me and my poor boys, whose 

rudeness I hope you will impute to my mean 

estate, for shepherds be no courtiers." 

Sir William Hcrrick's pleasant life was shared 

by his good wife, the Lady Joan, famous in her 

day for her piety and her bounty. She had 

some beauty, too, if there is truth in an old 

portrait of her which bears this motto : — 

" Art may her outside thus present to view, 
How fair within no art or tongue can show." 

Something of her inner character, however, 
may be gathered from a letter written by her 
to her husband when she was absent from him 
in 1616 : " Sweetheart," she there says, " I hope 
you remember Mr Votier's ' Godly Use of 
Prayer' every morning and evening, with all 

100 TJic Lady Joa)i Ilcrrick. 

your company. As you love God, leave it not 
undone ; it shall bring a blessing on you and 
5'ours. God knows how short our time shall 
be on earth, as we see daily fearful examples to 
put us in mind of our last end. One of our neigh- 
bours at Richmond went out to milk her kine, 
as well as ever she was in her life, and milked 
two kine, and suddenly fell down dead, and 
never spoke more." Then she talks of the bring- 
ing up of her daughters, whom she does not like 
to send to a boarding-school. " If you should 
board them forth, they would cost you £\d^ z.- 
year at the least, and save nothing at home ; 
besides, they will never be bred in religion as at 
home, and wear out twice as many clothes as 
at home. All things considered, this is the 
best course." So Lady Joan tells her husband 
that she has hired a governess. " My sister 
Hicks sent me word of her, how fit a woman 
she was for me to breed up my girls, and I, 
knowing it of my own knowledge to be so, I 
hope you will not be angry with me for it. 
God, that knows my heart, knows I was never 
more loth to offend you in all my life than I 
have been within this half-year ; and so I hope 
ever I shall be." 

In 1624, at about the same time as Sir Wil- 
liam Herrick's retirement from business, his 
associate George Heriot died. Heriot's good- 
hearted ness was even greater than Herrick's. 

Heriot 's Hospital. I O i 

Having lived an honest life in times when dis- 
honesty was too much the fashion, he was much 
occupied near its close in settling how best to 
spend his large fortune. He bequeathed it to 
his native city of Edinburgh, where Heriot's 
Hospital, " for education, nursing, and upbring- 
ing of poor orphans," is a standing proof of his 
wise munificence. 

Sir William Hcrrick lived in well-employed 
retirement for nearly thirty years. He died in 
1653, at the age of ninety-six. 



jHE richest and most influential London 
merchant in the reign of James I. — 
richer, and by reason of the nature of 
his trade, more influential than Sir William Her- 
rick — was Sir Thomas Smythe. His father, also 
a Thomas Smythe, u as an enterprising and pros- 
perous trader, contemporary with Sir Thomas 
Gresham, in the days of Queen Elizabeth. To 
a trade very similar to Gresham's he added 
the lucrative business of Customer to the Queen ; 
that is, he undertook to collect all the duties 
upon goods brought into London, or exported 
thence to foreign parts. Queen Elizabeth's 
" customers," however, were very different from 
modern custom-house officers. They chose 
their own way of levying the duties, and made 
their profit out of so much as they could collect 
over and above a fixed sum which they paid 
every year to the Crown. Old Thomas 

Au Elizabethan " Customer!' 103 

Smythe's annual payment was 7^14,000; and 
we may be sure that the surplus wiiich fell to 
his share was considerable, probably more than 
another sum of ^14,000. 

His son succeeded him in the office of Cus- 
tomer, apparently in 1590. But the foreign 
trade of England had by that time so increased, 
that instead of paying ^14,000 a year, as his 
father had done, he was able to pay just thrice 
as much, or ;^42,ooo ; and that amount was 
raised, a few years afterwards, to ;^5o,ooo a 
year. Yet he made a handsome profit, which 
helped him to share in other profitable under- 

Of the private life of Thomas Smythe, the 
son, we know very little. He was born about 
1560, and was a member of the Skinners' 
Guild. He must have been nearly forty when, 
in 1600, he began to take a leading share in 
the management of the great East India Com- 

Nearly twenty years before there had been 
talk of sending English ships to India, there 
to compete with the Portuguese and Sjjaniards 
in the prosperous trade which they had been 
carrying on for some time past. Great ves- 
sels, known as carracks, had gone out, two 
or three or more together, every year, for the 
purpose of buying the spices and other costly 
commodities, or of seizing tliciii by force of 

104 Trade with the East Indies. 

arms, and thus great wealth had come to 
Portugal and Spain. The English merchants 
coveted a share of this wealth, and, during the 
war between England and Spain, they had 
occasionally possessed some of it by way- 
laying the carracks as they proceeded home- 
wards and capturing their contents. But, until 
the defeat of the Great Armada and other 
deeds of prowess proved to all the world that 
England was more than a match for Spain, 
they did not dare to enter upon a regular 
course of trade with India. Sir Edward Os- 
borne and the Turkey Company had pro- 
cured some East Indian merchandise through 
the Levant, and had sent Fitch and others to 
pave the way for an overland commerce. It 
was reserved for Sir Thomas Smythe and the 
East India Company to begin the commerce 
by help of ships, rivalling the Spanish carracks 
in size and strength, which sailed to India 
round the Cape of Good Hope. 

This was begun in 1591, when three large 
vessels were despatched to the East. One of 
them was wrecked on the way ; and another 
was sent home with invalids ; but the third, 
commanded by Captain James Lancaster, 
reached its destination, and there laid the 
foundations of future trade. Terrible troubles 
befell Lancaster and his crew on their home- 
ward voyage. Their ship and most of its 

An Last Indian Carrack of the lOlh Century. 

The East India Company. 107 

people were lost, and the few survivors, rescued 
by a French vessel, did not reach England till 
1594. The report which they brought home 
concerning the wealth of the East Indies and 
the prospects of a wonderful trade with them, 
however, encouraged the London merchants 
to make preparations for further enterprise in 
the same direction. In this, as was well, they 
proceeded cautiously. Six years were spent 
in deliberations and arrangements. On the 
31st of December 1600, a charter was con- 
ferred by Queen Elizabeth upon the East 
India Company, consisting of two hundred 
and fifteen members, who included some noble- 
men and courtiers, as well as all the leading 
merchants of London. 

Of this company Thomas Smythe, having 
been one of the most active in its formation, 
was appointed governor. Through a curious 
adventure, however, he was removed from the 
office in the following April. In the autumn 
of 1600 he had been made Sheriff of London, 
and as Sheriff he had had to take account ot 
a strange episode in London history. The 
famous Earl of Essex, having for many years 
been the principal favourite of Queen Elizabeth, 
had in 1599 been made by her Lord- Lieutenant 
of Ireland. He had misused the powers com- 
mitted to him, had been recalled and thrown 
into prison as a traitor, and, though soon 

I08 Smythe in TroHblc. 

released, had not succeeded in winning back 
the favour of the Queen. In despair thereat, 
he conceived a foolish plan of insurrection in 
February i6or, one inducement being a pre- 
tended message from Sheriff Smythe to the 
effect, that, if he would come into the city, a 
thousand trained-band men would be ready 
to meet him and enable him to seize the 
Tower, whence he could dictate terms to the 

Accordingly, on the morning of Sunday the 
8th of January, the earl, attended by a few 
crazy friends, and a silly crowd, proceeded from 
his house in the Strand into the city, and made 
his way to Smythe's house at the corner of 
Fenchurch Street. There he found none of the 
trained-band whose support he counted on, and 
learned that Smythe himself, on hearing of his 
approach, had given information to the Lord 
Mayor. He therefore went home disconsolate, 
to be speedily taken prisoner, brought to trial, 
and executed for high treason on the 25th of 

There is nothing to show that Sheriff Smythe 
was in any way an accomplice in this foolish 
plot. His name appears to have been used for 
a wicked hoax, intended to tempt the Earl of 
Essex to his own ruin. But a certain amount 
of suspicion fell upon him. He was committed 
to the Tower, and there detained for about five 

SmytJie in Favour. 109 

months before the case could be fully investi- 
gated and he be honourably acquitted. 

In the meanwhile, the young East India 
Company could not get on without a governor. 
On the nth of April it was decided "that the 
election of another governor be proceeded with, 
because the company cannot endure the delay 
and expectation of Thomas Smythe's being 
discharged from his imprisonment," and Alder- 
man Watts was chosen in his place. As some 
compensation, it would seem, for the hard usage 
to which he had been exposed, Queen Elizabeth 
sent the sheriff on a diplomatic mission to 
Russia. But his connexion with the East 
India Company docs not seem to have been 
resumed for more than two years. 

In 1603, immediately after the accession of 
James I., he was summoned to Court, and 
knighted by the new King. In 1G04 he was 
again appointed Governor of the East India 
Company, and the appointment was renewed 
.in 1605, and, with a gap of a year, in 1607, 
when he consented to take office "with the 
promise that the company expect no further 
of him at courts or otherwise than his other 
affairs will permit." He was again chosen in 
1608, and in 1609, when he was chiefly instru- 
mental in procuring from King James a new 
and improved charter for the company. I'^or 
that service, and for all the .services that pre- 

no TJie East India Company. 

ceded it, he was "gratified with ;^S00" ^s a 
token of his friends' esteem. But in princely- 
way, he objected to take this gift, and at length 
only consented to receive half the amount. 
"The residue," it is said, "his worship kindly 
yielded to take." Except during two or three 
years, when "his other affairs" forced him to 
decline the honour, he seems to have held the 
office steadily until his final retirement from 
commercial life. 

During his lifetime, indeed, and whether in 
actual office or not. Sir Thomas Smythe was 
the real master of the East India Company. 
All its members regarded him as their head 
and champion ; all its enemies considered him 
their great opponent ; and all its successes 
were mainly attributed to his wisdom and 

These successes were great. The first ex- 
pedition was composed of four stout ships, 
containing nearly five hundred men, which 
sailed out of Torbay on the 20th of April, 
under the leadership of Captain Lancaster. 
He took with him several copies of a letter 
from Queen Elizabeth, one of which was to be 
delivered to each of the various kings and 
potentates whom he might visit in the East. 
Therein the Queen represented that, God hav- 
ing ordained that no place should enjoy all 
the things appertaining to man's use, but that 

Its First Expedition. ill 

one country should have need of another, and 
that thus there should be commerce and inter- 
change of friendship between the people of 
remote districts, she had sent out these her 
subjects, to visit the territories of the East, and 
to offer trade according to the usage of mer- 
chants. She promised that they should behave 
honourably, and therefore asked that they 
might be kindly entertained, and be allowed, 
both to buy and sell in the various countries 
and to learn the languages and follow the 
fashions of each. 

The incidents of this first expedition of the 
great East India Company are curious. Lan- 
caster sailed easily, though very slowly as com- 
pared with modern rates of travelling, down to 
the Equator. There he was becalmed for some 
weeks, and the crew would have been short of 
provisions had they not, on the 2ist of June, 
fallen in with a Portuguese carrack, which was 
soon captured and despoiled of a goodly store 
of wine, oil, and meal. IMuch sickness befell 
them as they slowly sailed towards the Cape, 
and they were obliged to put in at Saldanha 
Bay early in August. There Lancaster built 
huts for the sick, and conversed with the people 
in "the cattle's tongue, which," he says, "was 
never changed at the confusion of Babel ; " 
that is, he shouted " moo " and " baa," to show 
that he wanted to buy cows and sheep. Keep- 

1 1 2 Peri Is and Marvels. 

ing on good terms with the Caft'res, he pro- 
cured more than a thousand sheep and about 
fifty oxen, a piece of iron six inches long being 
the price paid for each of the former, and one 
eight inches long for each of the latter. The 
Cafifres were anxious to sell him land as well, 
and to induce him to settle among them ; but 
two months' careful management served to re- 
store the sick men to health, and, on the 29th 
of October, he put to sea again. The Cape of 
Good Hope was doubled on the ist of Novem- 
ber, and the stormy seas to the east of it were 
traversed without damage. Fresh sickness 
among the crews made necessary another and 
longer delay, apparently on the coast of Mada- 
gascar. Thence they sailed across the Indian 
Ocean, leaving India considerably to the north. 
Halting at an island near Sumatra, they saw 
what they supposed to be a religious service of 
the natives, in which the priests, wearing horns 
and tails like devils, appeared to be worshipping 
the prince of the devils. They also reported 
that they saw a wonderful tree, 'growing from 
a worm which gradually dies as the tree grows, 
the branches of the tree itself, when cut off and 
dried, being turned into white coral ! 

Sumatra was reached on the 2d of June 
1602, more than thirteen months after the de- 
parture from England. Lancaster was gener- 
ously received by the king of the island, who 

Trading and Treaties. 1 1 3 

sent a guard of honour, including six elephants, 
to conduct him to court. He presented Queen 
Elizabeth's letter and presents of looking- 
glasses and other articles, and was entertained 
at a feast, in which all the dishes used were of 
gold and other costly metal. After that he 
bought a good deal of pepper, cinnamon, and 
cloves, the chief produce of the island. Then 
he passed on to Bantam, and formed an alli- 
ance with its king, and exchanged English 
goods for the pepper and spices of the natives. 
Some of these natives proved thievish, but 
Lancaster was authorised to kill any one he 
might find about his house at night-time, and, 
it is said, " after thus killing four or five, they 
lived in peace." 

At Bantam the ships were loaded with the 
commodities they were sent out to buy, and 
Lancaster, having made treaties with the 
people of two large islands of the East Lidies, 
started on his homeward voyage on the 20th 
of February. This was attended with con- 
siderable trouble, though hardly greater than 
was usual to the unwieldy vessels of those 
times. A furious storm did damage, near to 
Sumatra, which could never be repaired ; and 
two months afterwards, when they were near 
the Cape of Good Hope, Lancaster's own ship 
was nearly wrecked by another storm that 
caused much delay, as they had to push slowly 


1 1 4 TJic East India Co)npa)iy. 

on to St Helena before the injuries could be 
repaired. They entered the English Channel, 
having been absent nearly two years and a 
half, on the nth of September 1603, bringing 
home a rich store of wealth for their em- 
ployers, including a riiby ring and two dresses 
embroidered with gold, and placed in a box of 
purple china, as a present from the king of 
Sumatra to Queen Elizabeth, who had died in 
the interval. 

That first voyage may be taken as an illus- 
tration of the character of all the early expe- 
ditions of the East India Company. TheSe ex- 
peditions followed one another in quick succes- 
sion ; in each some fresh part of the East Indies 
was visited and brought into commercial rela- 
tions with England ; and, in spite of occasional 
shipwrecks and other misfortunes, nearly all 
the expeditions were very profitable. Brave 
sailors laid the small foundations of the vast 
trade that has subsequently been established ; 
and Sir Thomas Smythe and his fellow-mer- 
chants put their wits to good use in devising 
ways and means for promoting the great work. 

At first the East India Company, hardly a 
company at all, according to the modern accep- 
tation of the word, was little more than a 
gathering of independent traders, who specu- 
lated as much or as little as they chose on 
each separate voyage, and only clubbed to- 

Smythe 's Fm-therance of it. 1 1 5 

gcther, under the direction of managers chosen 
from themselves, in order that the expeditions 
might be large enough, and sufficiently pro- 
tected, to be conducted safely and with profit. 
A step in advance of this was made in May 1609, 
when, chiefly through Sir Thomas Smythe's 
influence, in lieu of the privileges conferred by 
Queen Elizabeth, a new charter was obtained 
from James I., conferring upon the company 
" the whole entire and only trade and traffic to 
the East Indies" for ever and a day, no one 
being allowed to have any share in that branch 
of commerce without licence from the com- 
pany, and all the members being bound by 
oath " to be good and true to the King, and 
faithful and assistant to the company, having 
no singular regard to themselves in hurt or 
prejudice of the said fellowship." 

Encouraged by this, the company resolved 
on a larger enterprise than had yet been under- 
taken. At its first public dinner, suggested by 
a present of a brace of bucks from the Earl of 
Southampton, " to make merry withal," as he 
said, " in regard of their kindness in accepting 
him of their company," and given at Sir Thomas 
Smythe's great house in Philpot Lane, it was 
resolved that two new ships should be built of 
a sort specially adapted for the business, and 
they were ready in less than six months. 

The larger of the two was the largest Eng- 

1 1 C The Trade 's Increase. 

lish merchant ship yet built, its burthen being, 
according to different accounts, either ten, 
eleven, or twelve hundred pounds. It was 
launched at Deptford on the 39th of Decem- 
ber, in the presence of James I., Queen Anne, 
and the young Prince Henry, the amiable heir 
to the throne who died before his father. 
After inspecting the fine vessel, the royal 
family were royally banqueted in the chief 
cabin, while the courtiers were entertained at 
a long table on the half-deck, " plentifully 
served with delicacies served in fine china 
dishes " — among the rarest and most prized of 
the company's importations — " all Vv'hich were 
freely permitted to be carried away by all per- 
sons." The feast being over, the great ship 
was launched. King James christened her 
by the name of TJie Trade s Increase, and, 
while the salutes were being fired, says an eye- 
witness, " graced Sir Thomas Smythe with a 
chain, in manner of a collar, worth better than 
;^200, with his picture hanging at it, and put 
it about his neck with his own hands." 

That done, and ^^82,000 having been ex- 
pended in cargoes and shipping expenses, the 
big ship, attended by two smaller ones, set out 
in March 1610, under the commandof Sir Henry 
Middleton, who, after Sir James Lancaster, was 
the first great naval commander of the East 
India Company's fleets. Hitherto the expedi- 

Its Unfortunate "Voyage. 1 1 7 

tions had been to Sumatra and the other great 
islands lying north-east of the Indian conti- 
nent. INIiddleton was now instructed to find 
his chief business in trading with the people 
on the coasts of the Red Sea, in Arabia, along 
the Persian Gulf, and on the north-western 
part of India itself 

A prosperous voyage was made round the 
Cape, and up the eastern coast of Africa, as 
far as Mocha, which Middleton reached early 
in November. Great show of friendship came 
from the governor of the Arabian town, and 
the only difficulty which the English felt was 
in the want of a table on which to exhibit the 
cloths and other commodities that they had 
brought for sale, until Middleton had been en- 
ticed to take up his residence in Mocha, and 
bring with him a quantity of his most valuable 
goods. No sooner was he on shore, however, 
than his deputies on shipboard began to mis- 
conduct themselves, and give some excuse for 
the rough conduct that the natives had been 
treacherously contriving. " One grief on the 
neck of another," wrote Middleton, "makes a 
burden of my life, and therefore makes me 
write I scarce know what." lie and fifty-one 
companions who were with him had plenty of 
time for writing during the six months, from 
November 1610 to May 161 1, of their cap- 
tivity among the Moslems. One of the nuni- 

1 1 8 S/r Henry ]\Iiddleton 's Troubles. 

bcr, William Pcmbcrton, managed to run away, 
"having taken a surfeit of captivity under 
these heathen tyrants," as he said. Wander- 
ing about on the shore, he found an old canoe, 
tied his shirt to a pole by help of his garters, 
and so, between paddling and sailing, made 
his way to the ship, half dead from toil and 
wet and want of food. Several times he wrote 
to his master, urging him to procure some 
native clothing, cut off his hair, besmear his 
face, and steal out of the town with a burden 
on his back. If he would do that, said Pem- 
berton, they would bring a boat and rescue 
him. But Middleton did not like the trick, 
especially as it would have left his comrades 
in the lurch. He would neither listen to Pem- 
berton's assurance that " in this heathenish 
and barbarous place they were void of all 
gentle kind of humanity," and therefore must 
be met by subterfuge, nor consent to the pro- 
posal of his chief deputy, Captain Downton, that 
the English should make a forcible entry into 
Mocha, and so set him free. At last, however, 
he adopted both expedients. He made his 
escape, and, partly by threatening to attack 
the town, partly by promising that neither he 
nor any other Englishman should in future 
visit those parts, he then succeeded in procur- 
ing the release of his companions. 

These troubles caused to the English, be- 

A Tide of Good Fortune. 1 19 

sides the deaths, by actual murder or cruel 
captivity, of several good men, a loss of 
;!r 26,000, and a waste of eleven months' time. 
Then came a tide of better fortune. Quitting 
the Red Sea, INIiddleton made for Surat, and, 
reaching it in October, found a Portuguese 
squadron of twenty armed vessels stationed at 
the mouth of the river, on purpose to prevent 
the landing of any rival traders. The Portu- 
guese admiral sent to say that, if the English 
had authority from their sovereign, they might 
enter ; otherwise, the sooner they went away 
the better would be their chance of life. Sir 
Henry answered that he bore credentials from 
the King of England to the great Mogul, 
whose territory was free to all people, and who 
owed no vassalage to the Portuguese ; that 
he meant no harm to the merchants of other 
nations, but that he certainly intended to 
maintain the rights of his own. For a time he 
did his best to carry on a peaceful traffic with 
the natives ; but finding himself thwarted 
therein, he boldly set his three vessels to 
attack the enemy's twenty. He had such 
success that one of the Portuguese ships 
was sunk, another fell into his hands with 
a rich store of Indian goods, and the others 
were put to flight. The coast being thus 
clear, he proceeded to malvc a treat}' with 
the natives, and to buy from tiicm all the 

I20 The End of the Trade's Increase. 

useful commodities that he could find in tlie 

Good fortune, however, was not to remain 
with the ill-named Trades Increase or her com- 
mander. Meeting some other ships sent out 
from England by the East India Company, 
Middleton returned to Mocha, and in excus- 
able violation of his promise to its treacherous 
governor and people, set himself to punish them 
for the cruelties to which he and his men 
had been subjected a year before. Then he 
re-crossed the Indian Ocean, with a view 
of finishing his trading exploits at Bantam. 
That he did, though far otherwise than he in- 
tended. The Trades Increase struck on a 
rock during the voyage, and was hardly able 
to reach its destination, and the two smaller 
vessels were considerably the worse for two 
years' tossing about. One of them was sent 
to England in the spring of 1613, while Mid- 
dleton and the rest took up their residence in 
what is called "his little new-built village of 
Pullopenjaun," not far from Bantam. " He 
that escapes disease," Downton had written, 
" from that stinking stew of the Chinese part 
of Bantam must be of a strong constitution oi 
body." Middleton's men died, one by one, 
and he himself sank under a sickness that had 
been oppressing him for months, somewhere 
near the end of 1613. Shortly before that, 

Will Adams iji Japan. 121 

the Trades Increase, which he had beeji 
waiting to repair with material from England, 
had been beaten to pieces by the waves, — ■ 
" which is a great pity," said a gossiping letter- 
writer of the time, " being the goodliest ship 
of England, and never made voyage before." 
Far better would it have been, however, for a 
score of such goodly ships to have been wasted, 
than that England and the East India Com- 
pany should lose, in the prime of life, a man 
so valiant and skilful as Sir Henry Middle- 
ton, " the thrice-worthy general," as he was 
termed by a contemporary statesman, " who 
laid the foundation of our long-desired Cam- 
baya trade." 

Yet the Cambaya, or Indian, trade con- 
tinued to thrive famously. A good beginning 
had been made in several parts of the East 
Indies. Sir Thomas Smythe tried hard to ex- 
tend it to a quarter which is only now com- 
mencing to be open to English commerce. 
His coadjutor in this was William Adams, ^ 
famous as tiie first Englishman who went to 
Japan. Adams accompanied a Dutch expedi- 
tion as pilot-major in 1598. After two years 
of wonderful adventure on the sea, he reached 
Japan in 1600. He was favoured by its em- 
peror, for whom he built ships, and to whom 
he gave instruction in mathematics and other 
branches of European knowledge. In 1611 


122 The East India Cojupany. 

he wrote a letter to his " unknown friends 
and countrymen," which found its way to 
Sir Thomas Smythe, as Governor of the East 
India Company, who, in 1612, wrote to Adams, 
offering to send ships to trade with Japan. 
Adams answered, that in Japan EngHshmen 
would be " as welcome and free as in the river 
of London," and that they would find immense 
profit from trading thither. In the same letter 
he thanked Sir Thomas Smythe " for lending 
his wife ;^20.'' Dealings with Japan were ac- 
cordingly attempted ; but the arrogance of the 
English gave offence to the haughty Japanese, 
and they were banished from the island. 

In the East Indies proper, however, there 
was no such mischance. Great success at- 
tended the company's enterprises, the merit of 
which must be partly assigned to Sir Thomas 
Smythe. Nothing seems to have been done 
without his advice, and that advice appears to 
have been wonderfully sensible and compre- 
hensive. He was consulted as to the things to 
be bought, and the things to be sold, the men 
to be admitted into the company as traders, and 
the men to be employed as agents ; and in the 
character and conduct of these agents, he took 
a fatherly interest. In February 1614, for in- 
stance, we find him assembling all the com- 
pany's factors, then in London, and about to 
proceed to the East, and exhorting them con- 

The Zeal of its Governor. 123 

scientiously to discharge their duties. He be- 
sought them to avoid the example of some 
tyrannical and self-seeking persons who had 
lately been in India, and urged them "to be 
the more respective, and shun all sin and evil 
behaviour, that the heathen might take no 
advantage to blaspheme our religion by the 
abuses and ungodly behaviour of our men." 
He begged them to abstain from all frauds 
upon the natives, or anything that could damage 
the company, " by making the people hate and 
detest us before we be settled amongst them," 
and assured them of the company's desire to 
furnish them with everything needful to their 
spiritual comfort and the health of their bodies, 
" also books of divinity for the soul, and history 
to instruct the mind." 

Not content with establishing trading rela- 
tions with the people of the East Indian islands 
and the coast towns or the mainland of India, 
Sir Thomas Smythe determined to make a for- 
mal treaty with the great Mogul. With that 
view he sent one William Edwardes on a dip- 
lomatic mission to Persia in 16 14. Edwardes 
took with him a curious token of the great 
merchant's favour. " I presented the Mogul 
with your worship's picture," he wrote, "which 
he esteemed so well for the workmanship, that 
the day after, he sent for all his painters in 
public to sec the same, who did admire it, and 

1 24 TJie East India Company. 

confessed that none of them could anything 
near imitate it, which makes him prize it above 
all the rest, and esteem it for a jewel." 

Edwardes so far succeeded with the great 
Mogul, that Sir Thomas Smythe induced King 
James to send a famous ambassador to the 
great Mogul, in the person of Sir Thomas Roe, 
"he being a gentleman of pregnant under- 
standing, well-spoken, learned, industrious, of 
comely personage, and one of whom there were 
great hopes that he might work much good 
for the company." Sir Thomas Roe did work 
much good. He formed an alliance with the 
great Mohammedan emperor of the East, one 
of the race of mighty potentates who ruled all 
the north of India, and the vast districts on the 
other side of the Himalayas, and thus surely 
laid the foundations of that intercourse be- 
tween England and India which was to end 
after two centuries of trading and fighting, in 
India becoming the property of England. 

For all this, not a little of the praise belongs 
to Sir Thomas Smythe. To the end of his life 
he was the great champion and promoter of 
the East India Company's interests, his house 
in Philpot Lane being the chief office of the 
association, until it was powerful enough, after 
his death, to set up the quaint East India 
House in Leadenhall Street, which was its 
place of business until 1726, when a new build- 

The First East India House. 

The East Indian Trade. 127 

ing was erected, to be itself replaced in 1799 by 
the more imposing structure which was pulled 
down in 1862, when the government of India 
passed from the East India Company to the 
English Crown. 

The success of the company had a wonder- 
ful effect on English trade, causing all sorts of 
new commodities to be brought into English 
use, and provoking much jealousy in other 
trades and trading companies, which fancied 
that thus their own callings were being injured. 
The jealousy was uttered in sober treatises, as 
well as in such street ballads as this : — 

"Our ladies all were set a-gadding; 
After these toys they ran a-madding ; 
And nothing then \sould please their fancies, 
Nor dolls, nor Joans, nor lovely Nancies, 
Unless it was of India's making ; 
And if 'twas so, 'twas wondrous taking. 

" Tell 'em the following of such fashion 
Would beggar and undo the nation, 
And ruin all our neighbouring poor. 
That must, or starve, or beg at door, 
They 'd not all regard your story, 
But in their painted garments glbry." 

Among all the rest of his work Sir Thomas 
Smythe had at Court, in Parliament, among 
merchants, and among gentlefolk, to defend 
the India Company from such charges, 
and to prove that, instead of ruining the 
nation, and reducing tlie poor to beggary and 

128 Smyth: s other Occupations. 

starvation, it was contributing mightily to the 
wealth of England, and the well-being of all 
classes of its people. To the last he worked 
zealously for the company, and interested him- 
self in little things as well as great. In 1618 
occurred a curious illustration of the way in 
which he made good use of his position. Two 
boys having stolen a hat worth six shillings, 
were, according to the barbarous law of that 
time, sentenced to be hanged for their offence. 
The chief culprit was accordingly executed. 
His accomplice was pardoned at Sir Thomas 
Smythe's intercession, and on his promise to 
put him in the way of reformation by sending 
him to India ; and this he did. 

In taking the lead in the wonderful trading 
movement from which our vast Indian empire 
has been developed, however, Sir Thomas 
Smythe only did part of the work for which 
posterity must honour him as almost the 
greatest of all the great merchant princes who 
have done so much for the prosperity of Eng- 
land. He also took the lead, under James I., 
in another wonderful trading movement, out of 
which the establishment of our North American 
and West Indian colonies, and of the stupen- 
dous empire of the United States has resulted. 

This movement had been begun in Queen 
Elizabeth's reign. Before India was thought 
of as a resort of English commerce, efforts 

TJie Virginia Company. 131 

had been made by Englishmen to plant trade 
and government in America. Sir Humphrey 
Gilbert had died in nobly trying, though with- 
out success, to found a colony in Newfound- 
land ; and Sir Walter Raleigh had spent many 
years in attempting to build up his colony of 
Virginia, in the district now known as North 

Raleigh's project, in his own hands, led only 
to the loss of many lives and of much money. 
But in 1606 it was taken up by others, who 
sent out a small party of adventurers under 
Captain Newport, Of these adventurers the 
most notable was a John Smith, who had proved 
his wild valour and endless resource in previous 
fighting with the Turks. He showed his coun- 
trymen how to build and sow and hunt in Vir- 
ginia. On one occasion, having wandered in 
a canoe far up the Chichahominy, he was taken 
prisoner by the Indians, and ordered to execu- 
tion by their chief, Powhatan. But Powhatan's 
little daughter, Pocahontas, took a strange 
fancy to the white man. She threw her arms 
round his neck, and made it impossible to kill 
him without first taking her life. Thereby her 
father's heart was touched. Smith was spared. 
His quick wit and good-nature soon made the 
Indians very friendly to him, and in this way 
the first .solid settlement of the English in 
America was greatly helped. 

132 Smythe's Managcviciit of Virginia. 

It is not known what share Sir Thomas 
Smythe had in sending out the expedition 
under Captain Newport ; but it must have 
been considerable, as for the next twelve years 
he was known as the governor and absolute 
master of the Virginian colony. His govern- 
ment was by deputy, he himself having more 
important and more congenial work in follow- 
ing his merchant's calling at home. In 1609, 
when a new and more extended Virginia 
Company was formed, he was its treasurer 
and guiding spirit. A code of stringent rules — 
called by his enemies "tyrannical laws" — for 
the government of the colony was drawn up 
by him. The money required for sending out, 
nearly every year, fresh ship-loads of colonists 
and goods was furnished by him. The articles 
sent out were chosen by him ; and the articles 
sent home, of which tobacco was chief, were 
disposed of under his directions. Every Thurs- 
day — during part of the twelve years at any 
rate, and in the few subsequent years in which 
he continued to live and work — there was a 
meeting at his house in Philpot Lane, to con- 
sider the progress of events, and to decide 
upon any fresh action that had to be taken. 

Concerning his management of Virginia and 
its affairs, great complaints were made by some 
of the colonists and their friends at home. For 
some years an endless series of quarrels were 

The Colonisation of America. 133 

referred to King James and his Council. A 
writer of the time said that both Court and City- 
were divided into Guelph and GhibelHne fac- 
tions respecting Virginia ; and it is not easy 
now to say how far each party was in the 
right. But all that we know of Sir Thomas 
Smythe's conduct in other relations shows him 
to have been wise and generous ; and it is 
clear that, either through him or in spite of 
him, the first English colony in America throve 
famously. In 1616 it was reported to be "in 
great prosperity and peace," likely to become 
" one of the goodliest and richest kingdoms of 
the world." 

It did become, though not a kingdom, part 
of the goodliest and richest democratic con- 
federation, in the world, Virginia being pros- 
perous, other colonies, destined to become 
members of the United States, were founded 
one after another: New England in 1620, 
Maryland in 1632, New York in 1667, Penn- 
sylvania in 168 r, and the others in quick suc- 
cession. Sir Thomas Smythe was one of the 
parents of all this prosperity. 

His Virginian and East Indian business, how- 
ever, did not take up all his time and thoughts. 
When he gave up the employment, which he 
inherited from his father, as Farmer of the 
Customs, docs not appear. lie carried on to 
the last the general trade with the Continent, 

134 ^ f'*-' Brotlurs Mydddtou. 

which had been his father's chief occupation. 
In 1617, for instance, wc fnid him joining some 
other merchants trading with France, in a peti- 
tion to be allowed to import French playing- 
cards, which had been prohibited through the 
influence of some of James I.'s advisers. 

Of Sir Thomas Smythe's many famous con- 
temporaries in the world of commerce, none 
were more eminent than the brothers Myddel- 
ton. Sir Thomas Myddelton, the eldest, was 
a member of the Grocers' Company, and his 
younger brother Robert belonged to the Skin- 
ners' Guild. Both were influential shareholders 
in the East India Company. Sir Hugh Myd- 
delton, the most illustrious of the family, a 
member of the Goldsmiths' Guild, did not 
concern himself in East Indian trade, but he 
worked zealously with Smythe in the advance- 
ment of commerce with the new colony of 

Sir Hugh Myddelton w^as more than a gold- 
smith and an American merchant. His fame 
chiefly rests upon the engineering skill and 
indomitable perseverance with which he con- 
structed the New River w^hich still supplies 
London with most of its water. " If those," 
says quaint old Fuller, " be recounted amongst 
David's Avorthies who, breaking through the 
army of the Philistines, fetched water from the 
well of Bethlehem to satisfy the longing of 

Sir Hugh Myddelton. 1 3 5 

David — founded more in fancy than necessity — 
how meritorious a work did this worthy man 
perform who, to quench the thirst of thousands 
in the populous city of London, fetched water 

Sir Hugh Myddelton. 

at his own cost more tlian four-and-twenty 
miles, encountering all the way an army of 
opposition, grappling with hills, struggling 
with rocks, fighting with forests, till, in de- 
fiance of difficulties, he had brought his project 
to perfection." 

That was the nature of the work done by 

136 Myddelt07i 's Nezv River. 

Myddelton between the spring of 1609, when 
the business was fairly entered upon, and the 
autumn of 161 3, when it was hajopily com- 
pleted. On ]\Iichaclmas-day the New River 
was formally opened at Islington by the Lord 
Mayor and a goodly company of Londoners. 
A curious picture of the ceremony has been 
preserved, as well as a precise narrative of its 
circumstances. A speech in verse was made 
by one of the company: — 

" Long have we labour'd, long desired and pray'd, 
For this great worh's perfection ; and by th' aid 
Of heaven and good men's wishes, 'tis at length 
Happily conquer'd by cost, wit, and strength, 
After five years of dear expense in days, 
Travail and pains, -besides the infinite ways 
Of malice, envy, false suggestions. 
Able to daunt the spirit of mighty ones 
In wealth and courage, this, a work so rare. 
Only by one man's industry, cost, and care, 
Is brought to blest effect, so much withstood ; 
His only aim, the city's general good. 

" Then worthy magistrates, to whose content, 
Next to the State, all this great care was bent. 
And for the public good which grace requires. 
Your loves and furtherance chiefly he desires 
To cherish these proceedings, which may give 
Courage to some that may hereafter live 
To practise deeds of goodness and of fame, 
And gladly light their actions by his name." 

Then followed a description of the laoourers 
employed upon the work : — 

" First here 's the overseer, this tried man. 
An ancient soldier and an artisan ; 

Its opening. 137 

The clerk ; next him the mathematician ; 
The master of the tiraber-work takes place 
Next after these ; the measurer in like case ; 
Bricklayer ; and engineer ; and after those. 
The borer; and the pavier ; then it shows 
The labourers next; keeper of Amwell head ; 
The walkers last ; so all their names are read, 
Yet these but parcels of six hundred more, 
That at one time have been employ'd before; 
Yet these in sight, and all the rest will saj', 
That every week they had their royal pay ! 
— Now for the fruits then. Flow forth, precious 

So long and dearly sought for, and now bring 
Comfort to all that love thee ; loudly sing. 
And with thy crystal murmur struck together, 
Bid all thy true well-wishers welcome hither!" 

"At which words," the narrative concludes, 
" the floodgates were opened, the stream was 
let into the cistern, drums and trumpets giving 
it triumphant welcomes, and, for the close of 
this their honourable entertainment, a peal of 

Sir Hugh Myddelton lived on till 163 1, six 
years longer than Sir Thomas Smythe; and 
the famous goldsmith and the famous skinner 
did much good work in common for London 
and English commerce during the ensuing 
years. Sir Thomas Smythe continued to the 
last a busy man, the richest and shrewdest 
merchant in England. Besides all his trade, 
he was employed by James I, as a navy com- 
missioner, and a sound adviser on all matters 
affecting the well-being of the country. He 

138 Sir Thomas S»iythe. 

was as rich as he was useful. In 1619 a 
great house at Dcptford, in which he had re- 
sided, was burned down ; but in the same year 
his house in Philpot Lane was found hirge 
enough to lodge and entertain in sumptuous 
style a French ambassador, with a hundred 
and twenty persons in his train. 

He also had a great house at Tunbridge, in 
Kent, and there he died in 1625, about sixty- 
five years old. Besides many charities in Lon- 
don and elsewhere, he endowed Tunbridge 
school. Among his numerous bequests, he 
left funds for providing a fourpenny loaf a-piece 
every week to thirty-six poor persons, and the 
same number of pieces of cloth, worth twenty 
shillings each, to be made into winter garments 
for the recipients of his charity. 



^ARLY in the reign of Henry VI II., one 
John Garway sold his estate in Sussex 
and settled as a merchant in London. 
He married the daughter of Sir John Brydges, 
who was Lord Mayor in 1521 ; and his son, 
Sir William Garway, inheriting much wealth, 
became a prosperous merchant. He succeeded 
Sir Thomas Smythe as Chief Treasurer of the 
Customs, and like him, was an enterprising 
member of the East India Company. The two 
friends died in the same year, Garway being 
eighty-eight years old, and the father of seven- 
teen children. 

The eldest of his children, Henry Garway, 
was born about 1570. His father wisely sent 
him about the world to study the commerce of 
various nations. He thus became a great mer- 
chant. He was also a good Protestant. " I 
have been in all parts of Christendom," he said, 

140 Si?- Henry Carivay. 

" and have conversed with Christians in Turkey ; 
and in all the reformed churches there is not 
anything more reverend than the English 
Liturgy — not our Royal Exchange, nor the 
name of Queen Elizabeth." 

Henry Garway passed many years in Turkey 
as a factor of the Levant Company, lately 
founded by Sir Edward Osborne ; and in or 
near the year 1609, his age being then forty, he 
settled in London as a Turkey merchant. He 
was Governor of the Turkey Company through 
a great part of the stormy reign of Charles I. 

The political storms, though disastrous to 
many merchants of London, were hardly in- 
jurious to London commerce. It prospered in 
spite of them. " When I consider," said Lewis 
Roberts, author of a " Merchants' Map of Com- 
merce," which he dedicated to Sir Henry Garway 
in 1638, "the true dimensions of our English 
traffic, as at this day to me it appears to be, 
together with the inbred commodities that this 
island affords to preserve and maintain the 
same, with the industry of the natives and the 
ability of our navigators, I justly admire both 
the height and eminence thereof; but when, 
again, I survey every kingdom and great city 
of the world, and every petty port and creek of 
the same, and find in each of these some Eng- 
lish prying after the trade and commerce 
thereof, then again, I am easily brought to ima- 

Trade iindtr the Stuarts. 141 

gine either that this great traffic of England is 
at its full perfection, or that it aims higher than 
can hitherto by any weak sight be either seen 
or discerned. I must confess England breeds 
in its own womb the principal supporters of its 
present splendour, and nourisheth with its own 
milk the commodities that give both lustre and 
life to the continuance of this trade, which I 
pray may neither ever decay nor yet have the 
least diminution. But," he added, in a spirit 
of timidity that is amusing when we compare 
the commerce of to-day with that of two hun- 
dred years ago, " England being naturally 
seated in a northern corner of the world, and 
herein bending under the weight of too ponder- 
ous a burthen, cannot possibly always and for 
ever find a vent for all those commodities that 
are seen to be daily exported and brought 
within the compass of so narrow a circuit, unless 
there can be, by the policy and government 
of the State, a mean found out to make this 
island the common emporium and staple of all 

And of Sir Henry Garway's own Turkey 
Company, Lewis Roberts said: "Not yearly 
but monthly, nay, almost weekly, their ships 
are observed to go to and fro, exporting hence 
the cloths of Suffolk, Gloucester, Worcester, 
and Coventry, dyed and dressed, kerseys of 
Hampshire and Yorkshire, lead, tin, and a great 

1 42 Garway and Giirucy. 

quantity of Indian spices, indigo, and calicoes ; 
and in return thereof they import from Turkey 
the raw silks of Persia, Damascus, and Tripoli, 
cottons, and cotton-yarn of Cyprus and Smyrna, 
and sometimes the gems of India, the drugs of 
Egypt and Arabia, the muscatels of Candia, 
and the currants and oilsof Zante, Cephalonia, 
and Morea." 

By that commerce Sir Henry Garway pro- 
fited very much until he was seventy years of 
age, and old enough and rich enough to keep 
aloof from the turmoils then arising in Eng- 
land through the evil conduct of Charles I., and 
the growing love of freedom among English- 
men. Garway had prospered under Charles 
and his father, and had no liking to the new 
views of the Roundheads. Therefore he used 
his position as a great London merchant and 
grandee in attempting to suppress them, and 
in surrounding his old age with misfortunes. 

This fate was shared by another famous 
merchant of that time. Sir Richard Gurney. 
Gurney, born at Croyden in 1577, had been 
apprenticed to a silk mercer in Cheapside, who 
liked him so well that, at his death, he be- 
queathed to him his shop, and a sum of ;^6ooo. 
Part of that money he spent in travelling 
through France and Italy, " where," says his 
old biographer, " he improved himself; and, by 
observing the trade of the respective marts as 

Civil War among Merchants. 143 

he passed, laid the foundation of his future 
traffic." Soon after his return, being himself 
"of no great family," he discreetly married 
into " a family at that time commanding most 
of the money, and, by that, most of the nobility, 
gentry, and great tradesmen of England." 
Thereby he became a great merchant and a 
very wealthy man, closely allied in fortune and 
misfortune to Sir Henry Garway. 

Garway was elected Lord ]\Iayor of London 
in 1639. As Lord Mayor, in 1640, he raised a 
company of troops, at the cost of the city, and 
sent them to York for the assistance of King 
Charles, in spite of the opposition of most of the 
corporation. He joined the citizens, however, 
in protesting against the illegal modes adopted 
for raising money by the king and his advisers. 
At Lambeth he was active in suppressing a 
rising of the people, though no such feat of 
valour is recorded of him as of Sir Richard 
Gurncy, In this same tumultuous year, it is 
said, when Gurney was sixty-three years old, 
"one night, with thirty or forty lights, and a 
few attendants, he rushed suddenly out of the 
ho'.ise on thousands, with the city sword drawn, 
who immediately retired to their own houses 
and gave over their design." 

In the autumn of 1641, Gurney was made 
Lord Mayor, and, in November, he prepared a 
.splendid entertainment for the king, who came 

144 Garivciy a)id Pyni. 

into the city to stir up the loyalty of the mer- 
chants and 'prentices. There was great show 
of loyalty on Lord Mayor's day ; but the citi- 
zens of London, as a body, were staunch in 
their opposition to Charles. To Pym, Hamp- 
den, and three others, the famous " five mem- 
bers," they gave a hearty welcome in the fol- 
lowing January, greatly to the indignation of 
the Lord Mayor and his royalist friends. 

On the 13th of January 1642, Pym made a 
memorable speech to the citizens in front of 
Guildhall. On the 17th, Sir Henry Garway 
made a speech hardly less memorable, in 
opposition to it. He besought the citizens to 
defend the king, and to grant no supplies to 
the wicked men who were seeking his over- 
throw. " These are strange courses, my mas- 
ters," he exclaimed ; " they secure our bodies to 
preserve our liberty ; they take away our goods 
to maintain property ; and what can we expect 
in the end but that they should hang us up to 
save our lives .?" The worth of the speaker, and 
the eloquence of his speech, so told upon the 
audience, that the friends of liberty were full of 
fear as to its effect. " As soon as it was done, 
and the great shout and hum ended," said one 
who heard it, " the Lord Mayor, trembling and 
scarce able to speak, asked what their resolu- 
tion was concerning assisting the Parliament 
with money ; but the cry was so great, ' No 

Mistaken Patriotism. 145 

money ! no money ! ' ' Peace ! peace ! ' that he 
could not be heard." 

But the speech was soon forgotten, and the 
cause of freedom prevailed, to the necessary 
injury of all who, however honestly, stood in 
its way. Sir Richard Gurney, a few months 
afterwards, was deprived of his mayoralty, 
thrown into the Tower, and, for refusing to 
pay a fine of ^^5000 appointed by Parliament, 
there kept a prisoner until his death in 1647 ; 
and Sir Henry Garway, according to one of his 
friends, " was tossed, as long as he lived, from 
prison to prison, and his estate conveyed from 
one rebel to another." 

VI r. 


P^^vSWO Rosjcr Norths, father and son, were 
TOh^^ merchants of some repute in the time 
^>aA=S of Henry VII. The son of the second 
was made Lord North, and through five gene- 
rations the Norths were well-to-do gentlemen, 
soldiers, and statesmen, under the Tudors and 
the Stuarts. The most influential of them all 
was the famous Francis North, Baron Guild- 
ford, and Lord Keeper of the Great Seal under 
Charles II. and James II. His younger brother 
was Sir Dudley North, a merchant of note, and 
especially noteworthy to us because the lengthy 
memoir of him written by another brother, 
Roger North, gives us very precise information 
as to the character, training, and conduct of an 
influential London trader of the second half of 
the seventeenth century. From this amusing 
biography the following pages will chiefly be 

Dudley North's Schooling: 147 

Dudley North was born on the i6th of May 
1 64 1. " He was a very forward and beautiful 
child," says his brother ; so forward that he 
was often in trouble through his fondness for 
running out into the street, there to talk and 
play with any other children he could find. 
On one occasion he was stolen by a beggar- 
woman, and only recovered after his clothes 
had been taken from him. A second danger 
came to him while the plague was raging. He 
was seized by the malady, and only kept alive 
by the tender nursing of his mother. Soon 
after that, being designed for a merchant, he 
was sent to Bury grammar-school, in due time 
to be placed in a writing-school in London, "to 
learn good hands and accounts." That he did 
to his parents' satisfaction ; but he learned other 
things not quite to their liking. " One of his 
capital entertainments was cock-fighting. If 
possible, he procured a place in the pit, where 
there was splutter and noise, cut out, as it were, 
for folks half-mad. I have heard him say," 
reports his brother, " that when he had in the 
world but three shillings, he had given half a 
crown for an entrance, reserving but sixpence 
to bet with." Often tlie sixpence was turned 
to good account ; but he was always in debt. 
"And this pinching necessity drew him into 
practices very unjustifiable, and, except among 
inexperienced boys, altogether inexcusable 

148 Diidlcy NortJi 's Apprenticeship. 

When a fresh youth came to the school, he 
and his companions looked out sharp to dis- 
cover how well his pockets were lined ; and 
some oT them would insinuate into his ac- 
quaintance, and, becoming dear friends, one 
after another borrow what he had ; and all g^^ot 
that way was gain to the common stock ; for, 
if he was importunate about having his money 
again, they combined and led him a wearisome 
life, and, rather than fail, basted him till he 
was reduced to a better temper." 

That was poor training for one intended to 
be an honest merchant. But Dudley North 
soon discovered his error. He managed to 
pay off all his debts ; and he left school with a 
solemn resolution, which he kept, never to incur 
obligations for a farthing more tlian he really 
possessed. He was apprenticed to a Turkey 
merchant in Threadneedle Street, and initiated 
in all the mysteries of London commerce be- 
fore going abroad as supercargo to a ship 
proceeding to Archangel. That was the be- 
ginning of many years' absence from Englanc^ 
passed in busy money-making, and enlivened 
by many strange experiences, of which wel- 
come record exists, either in his own letters or 
in his brother's reminiscences. 

He was a " raw youth," only seventeen or 
eighteen years old, when he started. He first 
went to Archangel, there to sell his goods and 

Life at Stnyrjia. 149 

stock the ship with others, which he proceeded 
to dispose of in Italy, before taking up his 
residence at Smyrna. His own capital was 
only ;!^iOO ; but he spent it prudently in buy- 
ing such articles as were sure to bring him 
a large profit w^hen sold in England, and he 
found other occupation as agent for several 
Turkey merchants in London. " He did not, 
as most young factors, set himself up in an 
expensive way of living, after the example of 
those that he found upon the place, for he 
wore plain and cheap clothes, kept no horse, 
and put himself to diet as cheap as he could. 
He was a gentleman ever brisk and witty, a 
great observer of all incidents, and withal very 
friendly and communicative, which made him 
be generally beloved, and his company desired 
by the top merchants of the factory." He did 
not at first, however, prosper as well as many 
of them. He made more money for his 
employers than for himself, and soon grew 
dissatisfied with Smyrna. Therefore, after a 
brief visit to England, he gladly accepted 
the offer of a Mr William Hodges, living at 
Constantinople, to become his partner. At 
that time " there was no greater emporium 
upon the face of the earth than Constan- 
tino[)Ie, where a merchant of spirit and judg- 
ment, by trade with tlie Court, and with the 
dealers that there came toc^ether from most 

150 Life at Constantinople. 

parts of the world, could not fail of being 

So Dudley North found it. Almost from 
the first he was in reality, if not in form, the 
head of the Constantinople factory. He soon 
reformed the whole method of transacting 
business, and put it in a more profitable shape 
than had ever been known before. He made 
himself thorough master of the Turkish lan- 
guage, and, of the five hundred or more law- 
suits which he found it necessary to engage in, 
conducted most in his own person. " He had 
certain schemes by which he governed himself, 
and seldom failed of a prosperous success ;" 
some of them, however, not being much to his 
honour. He brought to perfection the art of 
bribing judges. He also, according to his 
brother's testimony, " found that, in a direct 
fact, a false witness is a surer card than a true 
one ; for, if the judge has a mind to baffle a 
testimony, an harmless, honest witness, that 
doth not knew his play, cannot so well stand 
his many captious questions as a false witness, 
used to the trade, will do." It must be remem- 
bered, however, in Dudley North's excuse, that 
these practices were, in his day and long after, 
almost as current in England as they were in 

North's trade in Constantinople, " by which 
he obtained superabundant profit," as his 

Turkish Trade. 151 

brother avers, was chiefly with the Turkisli 
Court, which he supplied with jewels and other 
costly furniture, often making four or five thou- 
sand dollars by a single transaction ; and with 
the officers and agents of the government, who 
were glad to borrow of him all the money he 
had to lend at twenty or thirty per cent, interest. 
" All those who come into posts of authority 
and profit in Turkey," we read, " are sure to 
pay for them ; and, on that account, the seraglio 
is a sort of market. This makes the pashas, 
wlio solicit for better preferment, and all the 
pretenders to places, prodigiously greedy of 
money, which they cannot have without bor- 
rowing; and if they can but get the money, 
they care not upon what terms, for the place 
to be paid for will soon reimburse them. The 
lending these men money is a very easy trade 
as to the terms, but a very difficult trade as to 
the security. For, by the Turkish law, all 
interest for the forbearance of money is unlaw- 
ful ; and the debtor need not, whatever he 
agrees, pay a farthing on that account. There- 
fore they are forced to go to tricks ; and, like 
our gamesters, take the interest together with 
the principal. There is a world of cunning and 
caution belongs to this kind of dealing, and 
the wisest may suffer greatly by it ; but our 
merchant had the good luck to come off scot- 
free, and made his advantages accordingly." 

152 "A Merchant of Honour" 

His advantages were various. With one 
Turk, the captain of a galley, named Boba- 
Hassan, he had numerous dealings. For each 
voyage he lent him large sums of money, which 
were returned twice over at the end of the ex- 
pedition. " He used him as well for getting 
off his rotten cloth and trumpery goods, which 
were not otherwise vendible ; for he could be 
demure and say he had no money, but he had 
some goods left, and if he would please to take 
them for part, with some money he could raise, 
he might serve him with the sum he desired, and 
so forth. Once he was walking in the street 
at Constantinople, and saw a fellow bearing a 
piece of very rotten, worthless cloth, that he 
had put off to the captain. He knew it again, 
and could not hold, but asked the fellow v/here 
he had that cloth. With that the man throws 
down the cloth, and sitting him down at the 
door, fell to swearing and cursing that dog 
Boba-Hassan, that made him take it for a 
debt ; but he more furiously cursed that dog 
that sold it to him, wishing him, his father, 
mother, and all his kindred, burnt alive. The 
merchant found it best to sneak away, for if he 
had been found out to have been once the 
cloth's owner, he had certainly been beaten." 

Dudley North cannot be greatly praised for 
honesty ; but, to say the least, he was no worse 
than most merchants of his time. " As to all 

Dudley Norlh in E)i gland. 153 

the mercantile arts or guiles," says his brother, 
" and stratagems of trade, which could be used 
to get money from those he dealt with, I be- 
h'eve he was no niggard ; but, as for falsities, 
such as cheating by weights and measures, or 
anything that was knavish, treacherous, or per- 
fidious, even with Jews or Turks, he was as 
clear as any man living. He transacted and 
dealt in all respects as a merchant of honour." 
The Levant Company, at any rate, found him 
a better servant than it had ever had before. 

He also served himself so well, that, before 
he was forty years old, he was rich enough to 
return to England. This he did in the spring 
of 1680. He immediately established himself 
as a Turkey merchant in London, having a 
house in Basinghall Street, ^ith offices and 
warehouses close to the Exchange. He also be- 
came the principal director of the African Com- 
pany, a trading society akin to the East India 
and Turkey Companies, but older than either, 
formed for dealing in the commodities of the 
West Coast of Africa. " Here it was that, in 
the opinion of the Exchange, he first did jus- 
tice to his character. For he was sagacious to 
take the substance of any matter at the first 
opening ; and then, having by proper ques- 
tions more fully infcjrmed himself, he could 
clearly unfold the difficulty, with all its cir- 
cumstances of advantage and disadvantage, to 

154 '^^^' Josiah Child. 

the understanding of otlicrs. He was an ex- 
quisite judge of adventures, and the vakic and 
ehgibihty of them. He was very quick at 
discerning the fraud or sincerity of many per- 
sons the Company had trusted, as also the 
character of those that proffered, and were ex- 
amined, in order to be employed or trusted. 
If he once found that any person was false or 
had cheated the Company, he was ever after 
inflexible, and no solicitation or means what- 
soever could prevail with him to cover or 

A yet more skilful and prosperous merchant 
of London in that time, however, was Sir 
Josiah Child, eleven years older than Dudley 
North. Born in 1630, he began to prosper as 
a merchant during the period of the Common- 
wealth. His first employment was in trade 
with New England and the other young and 
thriving colonies in America. Then he be- 
came the most influential member of the East 
India Company, which had been rapidly and 
steadily progressing since its establishment 
seventy years before under the direction of Sir 
Thomas Smythe. Near the end of Charles 
II.'s reign, Child began to be the foremost 
man in its management. A staunch Whig 
before, he now turned into a zealous Tory ; 
and, according to his many enemies, made the 
Company an immense machinery for Tory 

A ]\Icrcliant Courtier. 


jobbing. " By his great annual presents," ac- 
cording to one, " he could command, both at 
Court and Westminster Hall, what he pleased." 
" A present of ten thousand guineas," says 
Macaulay, " was graciously received from him 
by Charles. Ten thousand more were accepted 
by James, who readily consented to become a 
holder of stock. All who could help or hurt 

Sir Josiah Child, I'art 

at Court, ministers, mistresses, priests, were 
kept in good humour by presents of shawls 
and silks, bird's-ncsts and atar of roses, purses 
of diamonds, and bags of guineas. His bribes, 

156 TJic East India Company. 

distributed with judicious prodigality, speedily 
produced a large return : just when the Court 
w^as all-powerful in the State, he became all- 
powerful at the Court." 

Whether Child was honest or not in his 
change of politics, and in his subserviency to 
the degenerate Stuarts, it is clear that he used 
his position to the great advantage of the East 
India Company, no less than to his own ad- 
vancement. In some years he held the office 
of Governor of the Company ; in others he left 
it to be held by other merchants. But in 
either case alike he was its chief guide and 
ruler. Every proposal was submitted to his 
consideration, every edict reflected his wishes. 
On one occasion, when the Governor of Bombay 
wrote home to say that the laws of England 
made it impossible for him to obey the instruc- 
tions sent out to him, he is reported to have 
angrily replied, " That he expected his orders 
to be the rules, and not the laws of England, 
which were a heap of nonsense, compiled by a 
few ignorant country gentlemen who hardly 
knew how to make laws for the good of their 
own private families, much less for the regu- 
lating of companies and foreign commerce ! " 
That report is hardly to be believed ; but it is 
clear that Child's great success in accumulating 
wealth for himself and in forwarding the in- 
terests of the East India Company, made him 

Dudley North as Sheriff. 157 

somewhat haughty and imperious in his de- 
portment. " He was a man of great notions 
as to merchandise, which was his education, 
and in which he succeeded beyond any man 
of his time," says one of his friends. " He 
'had a compass of knowledge and apprehension 
unusual to men of his profession. He was 
vain and covetous, and thought too cunning, 
though he seemed to be always sincere." He 
was a less amiable man than his contemporary, 
Sir Dudley North. 

In 1682, at the instigation of his brother, the 
Lord Keeper, Dudley North accepted office 
under Charles II. as Sheriff of London, and in 
that capacity he gave great satisfaction to the 
courtly party by his zealous prosecution of the 
Whigs. " The Government found in him," says 
Lord Macaulay, "at once an enlightened ad- 
viser and an unscrupulous slave. His juries 
never failed to find verdicts of guilty; and on 
a day of judicial butchery, carts, loaded with 
the legs and arms of quartered Whigs, were, to 
the great discomposure of .his lady, driven to 
liis fine house in Basinghall Street for orders." 
For services of this sort he was knighted, and, 
besides being made Alderman of 15asinghall 
Ward, was appointed a Commissioner of Cus- 
toms, that office being afterwards exchanged 
for a brief period for a Commissionership in the 
Treasury, with a salary <j{ £\Gqo a }'ear. On 

158 Dudley North on Free-Trade. 

the accession of James II., he entered Parlia- 
ment as member for Banbury, and at once his 
ready wit and great experience, heartily devoted 
to the service of the Tories, made him the 
financial leader of the House of Commons. 
His plan of levying additional imposts on sugar, 
tobacco, wine, and vinegar, was regarded as a 
triumph of statesmanship, and secured for King 
James an income of ^1,900,000 for the year 
1685. He lost his seat and his offices, however, 
soon after the establishment of William of 
Orange, and, it was said, only escaped attainder 
through his skill in falsification. 

In 1691 Dudley North issued some "Dis- 
courses upon Trade," full of sensible opinion? 
on commercial matters. " Although to buy 
and sell," he said, "be the employment of every 
man, more or less, and the common people, for 
the most part, depend upon it for their daily 
subsistence, yet there are very few who con- 
sider trade in the general upon true principles, 
but are satisfied to understand their own par- 
ticular trades, and which way to let themselves 
into immediate gain." He boldly denounced 
all such selfish views, showed the folly and 
evil of all restrictive measures, and steadfastly 
argued for the establishment of entire freedom 
in all commercial dealings. He maintained 
that "the whole world, as to trade, is but as 
one nation or people, and therein nations are 

Disastrous Commerce. 159 

as persons;" that "no laws can set prices in 
trade, the rates of which must and will make 
themselves ; but when such laws do happen to 
lay any hold, it is so much impediment to 
trade, and therefore prejudicial;" that "all 
favour to one trade or interest against another 
is an abuse, and cuts so much of profit from 
the public ;" in fine, that " no people ever yet 
grew rich by policies ; it is peace, and industry, 
and freedom, that bring trade and wealth, and 
nothing else." 

His public work for the Stuarts had for some 
years taken Dudley North from his old avoca- 
tions as a merchant. On his retirement he 
returned to them, but not for long. " He had 
formerly joined with other merchants in build- 
ing three defensible ships ; for piracies in the 
straits had made trading in small vessels too 
hazardous, and the employment of these ships 
had engaged him deeper in adventure than 
otherwise he had been. But after the Revolu- 
tion things grew worse and worse ; because the 
wars with the French gave them an advantage 
over our Turkey trade, and both at home and 
abroad they met with us. One of his great 
ships, with a considerable adventure, homeward 
bound, and little insured, was taken by the 
French. But yet he traded on, and it appeared 
his estate was less by ^^ io,cxx) than it was when 
the French war first broke out. I believe he 

i6o Trade in Matrimony. 

had less persevered in trade at that time if he 
had not had a consideration of his house in 
Constantinople, where his brother Montague 
uas his factor, to whom he thought himself 
bound to send out business, especially when 
others withdrew, else they must have sunk. 
But so many corrections as he received, one 
after another, abated his mettle ; and his family 
was increasing, and children were coming for- 
ward, whom he considered before himself ; and, 
what was worst of all, he grew liable to infir- 
mities, especially the phthisic, which made him 
not so active as he had been and desired to 

In 1682, just before his election as Sheriff, 
he had fallen in love with Lady Gunning, a 
widow lady, very beautiful and rich, the daugh- 
ter of Sir Robert Cann, a morose old merchant 
of Bristol, as his brother testified. There was 
some hindrance to the match, through the old 
gentleman's anxiety to secure a large settle- 
ment for his daughter. When his consent was 
asked, he required that North should purchase 
and secure to the lady an estate worth ;^30CO 
or ;£'4000 a year. The merchant replied that 
he could not spare so much capital from his 
business, but that he would make a settlement 
of ;^ 20,000. To that he received a brief reply : 
" Sir, — My answer to your first letter is an 
answer to your second. Your humble servant, 

Marriage Festivities. l6l 

R. C."' His rejoinder was as brief : "Sir, — I 
perceive you like neither me nor my business. 
Your humble servant, D. N." But Dudley 
North did like his business. He therefore 
addressed himself to the daughter, and with 
such effect, that she consented to marry him 
without her father's leave. " The old knight, 
her father,'' it is added, " came at last to be 
proud of his son ; for, when the first visit was 
paid to Bristol, Mr North, to humour the vanity 
of that city and people, put himself in a splen- 
did- equipage. And the old man, in his own 
house, often said to him, * Come, son, let us go 
out and shine,' — that is, walk about the streets, 
with six footmen in rich liveries attending." 

The wedding festivities kept pace with the 
merchant's knighthood, and his induction into 
the shricval honours. " Mr North took a great 
hall that belonged to one of the companies, 
and kept his entertainment there. He had 
divers very considerable presents from friends 
and relations, besides the compliments of the 
several companies inviting themselves and 
their wives to dinner, dropping their guineas 
and taking apostle-spoons in the room of them ; 
which, with what they ate, drank, and such as 
came in the shape of wives — for they often 
gratified a she-friend or relation with that pre- 
ferment — carried away, made but an indifferent 
bargain. His lady, contrary to her nature and 


1 62 Dudley North 'i- Great House. 

humour, which was to be retired, kept him 
company in pubHc at his feastings, sitting at 
the head of the table at those noisy and fasti- 
dious dinners. The mirth and rejoicing that 
\A^as in the city, as well at these feasts as at 
private entertainments, is scarce to be ex- 
pressed. It was so great that those who called 
themselves the sober party were very much 
scandalised at it, and lamented the debauchery 
that had such encouragement in the city." 

Soon after his marriage, Sir Dudley North 
left his house in Basinghall Street for a much 
larger one at the back of the Goldsmith's Hall. 
This he did chiefly " because his lady, though 
affecting retirement, yet, when she did appear, 
loved to have a parade about her ; and often 
childing brought christenings, which, in the 
city, were usually celebrated with mnch com- 
pany and feastings." In furnishing the house 
he spent at least ;^4000, and its suite of recep- 
tion-rooms was one of the wonders of the day. 
It was the scene of feasts without number — 
christening feasts being frequent and most 
sumptuous of all — in which all the civic forms 
and ceremonies were scrupulously observed. 
But the house had one great disadvantage, 
causing Sir Dudley, we are told, much repent- 
ance of his vanity. " It was situated among 
the goldsmiths, and other smoky trades, that, 
for convenience of the Hall, are very thickly 

His Occupations in it. 163 

planted thereabouts, and their smoke and dust 
filled the air, and confounded all his good fur- 
niture. He laboured hard in person to caulk 
up the windows, and all chimneys, not used, 
were kept close stopped. But notwithstanding 
all that could be done to prevent it, the dust 
gathered thick upon everything within doors ; 
for which reason the rooms were often let stand 
without any furniture at all." 

Sir Dudley North's mode of life in these last 
years was minutely described by his brother. 
" His domestic methods were always reason- 
able, but, towards his lady, superlatively oblig- 
ing. He was absent from her as little as he 
could, and that was being abroad ; but at 
home they were seldom asunder. When he 
had his great house, a little room near his 
chamber, which they called a dressing-room, 
was sequestered for the accommodation of 
both of them. She had her implements, and 
he his books of account ; and having fixed a 
table and a desk, all his counting-house busi- 
ness was done there. There also he read such 
books as pleased him, and, though he was a 
kind of dunce at school, in his manhood he re- 
covered so much Latin as to make him take 
pleasure in the best classics, especially in 
Tully's philosophies, which I recommended to 
him. If time lay on his hands, he would assist 
his lady in her affairs. I have come there and 

164 Dudley Nor/ It's Vinegar- Making. 

found him very busy in picking out the stitches 
of a dislaccd petticoat. But his tenderness to 
his children was very uncommon, for he would 
often sit by while they were dressing and un- 
dressing, and would be assisting himself if they 
were at any time sick or out of order. Once 
his eldest son, when about five years old, had 
a chilblain, which an ignorant apothecary had 
converted into a wound, and it was surgeon's 
work for near six months, and the poor child 
relapsed into arms again until it was cured. 
But, after the methods were instituted, the 
father would dress it himself." 

In all sorts of pleasant, homely ways, the 
retired merchant found occupation and amuse- 
ment for himself " In that great house he 
had much more room than his family required. 
He used his spare rooms for operations and 
natural experiments, and one operation was a 
very useful one — that was a fabric for vinegar. 
He managed that in three vessels. The first 
had the fruit, or whatever was the ground ; 
this was always foul. From whence he took 
into the next vessel, where it refined ; and out 
of that he drew into a third ; and, from thence, 
took for use. The first was continually sup- 
plied with raisin stalks, warm water, &c. In 
this manner, after the course was begun, the 
house was supplied with little or no charge for 
several years." 

A Merchant at Play. 165 

North travelled niuch each summer. He 
went frequently to Bristol and the neighbour- 
hood, where lay his wife's property ; and from 
the time of his brother, the Lord Keeper Guild- 
ford's death, he was often at his house at Wrox- 
ton, there fulfilling his trust as guardian of the 
young Lord Guildford. " At Wroxton," says 
Roger North, "there was an old building which 
was formerly Hawk's Mews. There we insti- 
tuted a laboratory. One apartment was for 
woodworks, and the other for iron. His busi- 
ne<;s was hewing and framing, and, being per- 
mitted to sit, he would labour very hard ; and 
in that manner he hewed the frames for our 
necessary tables. He put them together only 
with caps and pins, but so as served the occa- 
sion very well. We got up a table and a bench ; 
but the great difficulty was to get bellows and 
a forge. He hewed such stones as lay about, 
and built a hearth witli a back, and by means 
of water and an old iron which he knocked 
right down, he perforated that stone for the 
wind to come at the fire. What common tools 
we wanted we sent and bought, and also a 
leather skin, with which he made a pair of 
bellows that wrought overhead, and the wind 
was conveyed by elder guns let into one an- 
other, and so it got to the fire. Upon finding 
a piece of an old anvil we went to work, and 
wrought all the iron that was used in our 

1 66 Dudley North 's A viuscmcuts. 

manufactory. He delighted most in hewing. 
He allowed me, being a lawyer, as he said, to 
be the best forger. This was morning work 
before dressing, he coming out with a red short 
waistcoat, red cap, and black face ; so that my 
lady, when she came to call us to dinner, was 
full of admiration what creatures she had in 
her family. In the afternoons we had em- 
ployment which was somewhat more refined ; 
and that was planing and turning, for which 
use we sequestered a low closet. We had our 
engines from London, and many round imple- 
ments were made. It was not a little strange 
to see with what earnestness and pains we 
worked, sweating most immoderately, and 
scarce allowing ourselves time to eat. At the 
lighter works in the afternoon he hath sat, 
perhaps, scraping a stick, or turning a piece of 
wood, and this for many afternoons together, 
all the while singing like a cobbler, incompar- 
ably better pleased than he had been in all the 
stages of his life before." 

From pleasant retirement of that sort, Sir 
Dudley North was called away by death when 
only fifty years of age. He divided the vaca- 
tion of 1691, as usual, between Wroxton and 
Bristol. On his coming back to London for 
the winter, he was troubled with a cold, but 
made light of it, as was his wont. Near the 
cud of December he became suddenly, worse. 

His Death. 


" He was thereupon put to bed," says his 
brother, "and, as I found him, lay gasping for 
breath. He discoursed seriously, that he found 
himself very ill, and concluded he should die ; 
that he knew of no cause of illness on his part, 
but God's will be done. Dr Radcliff was sen^ 
for ; and he, observing his breathing with a 
small hiccup, asked if he was used to breathe 
in that way ; and, somebody saying ' No,' he 
asked no more questions. Sir Dudley lay not 
long in this manner ; but in all good sense, 
conscience, and understanding, perfect tran- 
quillity of mind, and entire resignation, he en- 
dured the pain of hard breathing till he 
breathed no more, which happened on the 
3 1st of December 1691." " Well ! " exclaimed 
the apothecary who attended him, " I never 
saw any people so willing to die as these 
Norths are ! " 




N Horsleydown, near the eastern end of 
Toolcy Street, which was then what 
its name implies, a down for horses 
to graze in, near to the southern bank of the 
Thames, and just opposite to the Tower of 
London, Thomas Guy was born in 1644, three 
years after Dudley North. His long life, how- 
ever, carries us into a generation later than 
North's, and into a region of commerce very 
different from that in which North made him- 
self famous. 

His father was a lighterman and coal-dealer, 
who carried on a humble but respectable trade 
in the district specially appropriated to small 
shipping and to traffic in coal, which was just 
then beginning to be brought in considerable 
quantities from Newcastle and its neighbour- 
hood, to take the place of the wood, which had 
hitherto been almost the only fuel in use among 

Thomas Guy's Youth. 169 

Englishmen. So great had been the prejudice 
against Newcastle coal in former times, that, 
during the reign of Edward I., one man was 
hanged for daring to burn it within the walls 
of London. 

Thomas Guy lost his father when he was 
eight years old. But his mother, a native of 
Tamworth, was a good and clever woman, de- 
termined to help her children on in the world. 
She carefully trained them herself, and gave 
them the best schooling that could be had. 
Little Thomas played upon the open fields, 
which then stretched along the banks of the 
river up to London Bridge, and took heartily 
to his lessons, showing an especial fondness for 
books. That fondness may have led his mother 
to apprentice him for eight years, in 1660, to a 
bookseller named John Clarke, whose shop was 
in the porch of Mercer's Chapel, in Cheapside. 

Guy was then sixteen years old. He served 
his time, and became a member of the Sta- 
tioners' Company. But before the time was 
up, on the morning of the 2d of Septem- 
ber 1666, he was called out to see the most 
wonderful sight and the most terrible calamity 
that ever happened in London. At a ]);ikcr's 
shop in Pudding Lane, on Fish Street 11 ill, at 
the spot now marked by the Monument, a fire 
broke out. Most of the houses being of wood, 
and there being no fire engines or other cfh- 

170 TJic Great Fire of London. 

cient means of staying it, the fire was driven 
by a sharp wind, north, south, and west, as far 
as Pye Corner, in Smithfield. People after- 
wards made fun of the fire which began at a 
baker's shop in Pudding Lane and spread to 
Pye Corner. But the Great Fire was no matter 
for a joke. Through four long days and nights 
it grew and raged, darkening the sun, and, 
with its lurid glare, making night as bright 
as day. " The sky," says John Evelyn, who 
watched it, " was like the top of a burning 
oven, visible for forty miles round, to which 
distance the smoke extended. The crackling 
of the flames, the shrieking of the women and 
children, the fall of towers, houses, and churches, 
was like a hideous storm, and the air about so 
hot and inflamed, that at last no one could 
approach it. The stones flew like grenadoes, 
and the melting lead ran down the street in 
a stream, and the very pavement glowed with 
fiery redness." Sir Thomas Grcsham's Ex- 
change, the old Guildhall, the venerable cathe- 
dral of St Paul's, considered the noblest in 
Christendom, were destroyed, along with eighty- 
nine churches, and more than thirteen thousand 
houses in four hundred streets. Of the whole 
district within the city walls, four hundred and 
thirty-six acres were in ruins, and only seventy- 
five acres were left covered. Property worth 
j^ 10,000,000 — avast sum, indeed, for the smaller 

Goodont of Evil. 171 

and poorer London of those days — ^\vas wasted, 
and thousands of starving Londoners had to 
run for their hves, and crouch for days and 
weeks on the bare fields of IsHngton and 
Hampstead, Southwark and Lambeth. " Oh, 
the miserable and calamitous spectacle ! " ex- 
claimed Evelyn ; " such as haply the world had 
not seen the like since the foundation of it, nor 
to be outdone till the universal conflagration 
of it ! " 

Some good sprang, however, from the evil. 
The Great Plague of 1665, which began the 
year before, and continued during the following 
year, and which killed nearly seventy thousand 
people in London and its neighbourhood, was 
burnt out by the Great Fire of 1666. And 
the narrow streets and clumsy houses of old 
London were soon replaced by broader tho- 
roughfares and better buildings. 

Thomas Guy and his master were, of course, 
burnt out of their little shop in the porch of 
Mercer's Chapel. The master seems to have 
been ruined ; but Guy, being only a shopman, 
suffered no serious injury. Li 1668, having 
served his apprenticeship, and being twenty- 
four years old, he started in business for him- 
self, with a capital of ;^2oo, in a new shop 
built on the sharp corner formed by Cornhill 
and Lombard Street, looking out upon the 
whole length of the Poultry and Chcapsidc, on 

172 Thomas Guy's BooTc-SJiop. 

both sides of which more commodious, though 
less picturesque, houses were being set up, 
with the second Royal Exchange, now in pro- 
gress of building, on his right, and a little to 
his left a pretty fruit and flower market, with 
trees growing up among its sheds, which had 
formerly been a meat-market, on the site now 
occupied by the Mansion-house. 

There he prospered in his work, a clear 
notion of which we may derive from Mr Charles 
Knight's words. " Placed thus," he says, " in 
the very heart of the great commercial opera- 
tions of London, I can see the shadow of the 
young bookseller as he sits in his shop amidst 
his small stock, restless at the want of occupa- 
tion, and envying the great merchant-adven- 
turers congregating in the Exchange. He 
spreads his new books and his old upon a 
board in front of his window, now and then 
soliciting the busy trader who glances at them 
to buy Mr Wingate's * Arithmetic made Easy,' 
or Mr Record's ' Grounds of Art,' or Mr 
Hawse's ' Short Arithmetic,' or, ' The Old and 
Tedious Way of Numbering reduced to a New 
and Brief Method.' He had divinity books, 
too, chiefly by the famous controversialists 
who wrote against any approach to the errors 
of the Church of Rome ; and some by their 
opponents, who were equally hostile to the 
doctrines of the Nonconforming clergy. The- 

Protestant Bibles. 173 

ology was by far the most exciting topic of 
those days. Mr Guy was a good Protestant ; 
and, as he sat in his shop, too often unvisited 
by customers, he meditated frequently upon 
the large trade that he could command if it 
were in his power to offer godly people Bibles 
well printed and cheap. There was no such 
commodity to be had in England. All the 
arts associated with the production of books 
were hampered with privileges and restrictions, 
and were consequently in a state very inferior 
to those practised in some countries abroad 
under conditions of freedom." This was the 
case with all books, but most of all with Bibles. 
The privilege of printing Bibles was allowed 
only to the King's Printer and Oxford Univer- 
sity. But the University Press was idle ; and 
the office of King's Printer being continued in 
one careless family for more than a century, 
the printing of the volumes had come to be 
so " very bad, both in letter and paper," that 
they were hardly legible, and full of gross 
blunders. One important text was, in the 
Bible of 1653, printed, " Know ye not that the 
unrighteous" (instead of " righteous,") "shall in- 
herit the kingdom of God." "Fie! for shame!" 
exclaimed old P'ullcr, with good reason. " Con- 
sidering with myself the causes of the growth 
and increase of impiety and profancncss in our 
land, amongst others this seemcth to me not 

174 Guy's Trade in Bibles. 

the least, — the late many false and erroneous 
impressions of the Bible. Now know, what is 
but carelessness in other books, is impiety in 
setting forth of the Bible." 

As a good Christian and a shrewd trades- 
man, Thomas Guy resolved to provide better 
and cheaper Bibles for his countrymen ; and, 
in so doing, he set an example which several 
other enterprising booksellers of his day were 
quick in following. He employed an agent in 
Holland, who bought for him good paper and 
fine types, and entrusted them to competent 
Dutch printers, who had not yet lost the fame 
of superiority in the art which Caxton had 
learned from their forefathers and introduced 
into England two hundred years before. In 
this way capital Bibles were produced and sent 
over to Guy, who was able to sell great num- 
bers of them at a low price, and yet with good 
profit to himself. But he had to smuggle 
them into England, and to be punished for so 
doing. "This trade," says the old historian, 
" proving not only very detrimental to the 
public revenue, but likewise to the King's 
Printer, all ways and means were devised to 
quash the same, which being vigorously put 
in execution, the booksellers, by frequent 
seizures and prosecutions, became so great 
sufferers, that they judged a further pursuit 
thereof inconsistent with their interest." 

Its Difficulties and Profits. 175 

Thomas Guy, shrewder and more prosper- 
ous than the rest, did not so judge. But he 
bethought him of a better way of carrying on 
his well-meant enterprise. The University of 
Oxford, being privileged to print Bibles, though 
it did not make much use of its privilege, was, 
after much persuasion from Guy, induced to 
farm its monopoly to him. He thereupon 
bought a good supply of types in Holland, 
brought them and a number of printers to 
London, and started a busy little printing-office 
Jn his shop at the corner of Lombard Street. 
There he began to make his fortune, and to 
do good service to religion and literature, by 
issuing great numbers of cheap Bibles in the 
name of the Oxford University. 

He was a frugal man ; and his enemies, 
jealous of the prosperity which he was honour- 
ably attaining, called him a miser. They 
remembered the time when, in the first year of 
his shopkeeping, he lived a bachelor, himself 
doing the whole household work, which he 
could not afford to keep a servant to do for 
him, and when he ordered his dinner from a 
neighbouring cookshop and ate it at his counter, 
with a sheet of paper for his only tablecloth. 
There was nothing dishonourable in that. The 
dishonour would have been in following the gay 
fashion of the City gallants of his day, who 
rivalled the Court gallants of Charles H.'s time 

1/6 Guy^s Economical Ways. 

in extravagance, and incurring expenses be- 
yond his means. Yet the foolish contempt 
which he won thereby has stuck to him ever 
since, and he is still often known as " Thomas 
Guy, the miser." 

That he was always a very strict and pru- 
dent man, however — perhaps with rather a hard 
covering to the deep charity that was in his 
heart — is clear. In illustration of this, let us 
again turn to Mr Charles Knight for a picture 
of him when he was beginning to be rich. 
" He is lonely. He has indulged himself with 
the cost of a female servant, who cooks his 
frugal meal and keeps his Holland shirt tidy. 
But he wants the solace of a household friend. 
He goes little into society. He dines rarely in 
his Company's Hall. The city dames, according 
to his observation, are too ambitious of finery. 
He has once or twice conversed during the 
banquet at Guildhall with the daughter of a 
rich stationer, and has found her deplorably 
ignorant of the commodities in which her father 
deals. Gradually he begins to think that his 
own maid-servant is quite as attractive as a 
citizen's daughter, born of honest parents, 
religiously disposed, and skilled in cookery 
and other useful arts. What if this neat- 
handed Phillis should become his wife ! He is 
sure that he can compel her to regulate his 
affairs with due economy. She has never 

W/iy lie never Married. i 'j'j 

wasted money nor victuals while in his service. 
She has professed that implicit obedience to 
his will which he requires. He at last makes 
his proposal, and is accepted graciously. But 
there is one danger which the handmaiden has 
not foreseen. She has not apprehended the 
possibility of giving dire offence by the slightest 
manifestation of her own opinion in opposition 
to that of her master. He has been very cross 
for several days. He has been fined once for 
neglecting to pave the footway in front of his 
shop. He delays to incur an expense which 
he thinks ought to fall upon the pavement 
commissioners ; but he must yield. The pa- 
viors go to work. He watches them narrowly. 
He has a ground-plan of his own premises, 
the boundary of which is not very well defined 
in the frontage. He gives the most minute 
directions as to the exact point where his por- 
tion of the stoneway within the posts should 
begin and end. The workmen find that a very 
awkward space is left un paved. They carry 
their remonstrances to the incautious maiden 
within doors during the absence of her master. 
She little knows what she is doing when she 
says, ' Do as you wish. Tell him I bade you, 
and I am sure he will not be angry.' The poor 
girl must accept her destiny, to remain unmar- 
ried to the thriving bookseller. The romance 

of Thomas Guy's life is over." 


178 Wi/lidtn Paicrson. 

Yet he was to take a prominent part in the 
most romantic episode in the whole history of 
English commerce. The chief cause of this, 
though indirectly, while he was the direct cause 
"in a great measure of the future prosperity of 
England, was another self-made, but a very 
different man, contemporary with Thomas Guy. 
The man was William Paterson, the founder 
of the Bank of England. 

William Paterson, a native of Dumfries, was 
born in April 1658. He came to London, and 
became a member of the Merchant Tailors' Com- 
pany in 16S1, but the icw years following that 
date were passed by him in America and the 
West Indies. He was in London again in 
1686, and from that time he took up his posi- 
tion as an influential, though not as a very 
prosperous, merchant. He is chiefly famous for 
his ill-fated effort to establish a Scottish colony 
in the Isthmus of Darien. In two other favourite 
projects he was more successful. He was 
through a great many years a zealous advocate 
of the Union of England and Scotland, which 
had come to be under one sovereign since the 
time of James I., under a single form of govern- 
ment ; and the adoption of that excellent benefit 
was mainly the result of his labours. His 
other project was strictly commercial. Soon 
after the accession of William and Mary, if not 
before, he began to urge the establishment of a 



The Bank of England. 179 

National Bank of England, akin to the public 
banks already set up in Venice and elsewhere. 
Through three years he steadily recommended 
this enterprise against the fierce opposition of 
private and public enemies to it. At length, in 
the summer of 1694, the Bank of England way 
started, meeting first in the new Mercers" 
Hall, built in place of the old building in the 
outskirts of which Guy had passed his 'prentice 
days as a bookseller. Afterwards, until the 
growth of the business made it necessary for a 
separate building to be set up, the Bank had a 
larger and more permanent dwelling-place in 
the Grocers' Hall, where Addison once saw 
fifty-four clerks at work in one long room. " I 
looked," he says, " into the great hall, where 
the bank is kept ; and was not a little pleased 
to see the directors, secretaries, and clerks, 
with all the other members of that wealthy 
corporation, ranged in their several station.s, 
acciording to the parts which they hold in that 
just and regular economy." 

The establishment of the Bank of F.ngkind 
was of immense benefit to commerce and 
society. The first bankers, from the times of 
Whittington to those of Herrick and his suc- 
cessors, were, in their capacity of bankers, 
little more than pawnbrokers. When king.s, 
nobles, and others wanted monej', they brought 
their jewels, title-deeds, and the like, to those 

i8o Prhnitive Banking. 

who had gold to lend, and left them as security 
for whatever they borrowed. Whether the 
pledge was given in paper or in solid money's 
Avorth, bills, and every other sort of paper 
currency, as we now understand the terms, 
were for a long time unknown or unused. 
Until the money was repaid, the security was 
locked up, and not allowed to come into the 
market. By this plan of tying up great quan- 
tities of capital, the mercantile community was 
seriously damaged, although one class — espe- 
cially since the days of George Heriot and Sir 
William Herrick — the class of goldsmiths, was 
greatly enriched and advanced in influence. 
In attempting to remedy this evil, the London 
merchants fell into another as great. The ex- 
travagances of life under the gay rule of the 
Stuarts, and the risk which private individuals 
felt in keeping money in their own hands 
during the troublesome times both of the 
Rebellion and of the Restoration, brought 
immense quantities of coin and bullion into 
the keeping of the goldsmiths and other rich 
men of Lombard Street and its neighbourhood. 
Having begun as mere money-lenders, they 
came to be money-keepers as well. They not 
only lent great sums of money in return for 
paper bonds, but they also took charge of 
vast quantities of wealth, for which, in like 
manner, they issued paper bonds. Thus it 

Irregular Bankers. i8i 

became natural and necessary for the paper to 
be used as money ; and no sooner was the 
custom begun than its convenience, both to the 
honest and to the dishonest, led to its adoption 
to an unreasonable and dangerous extent. 
Half the gold in the kingdom came to be 
stowed away in the goldsmiths' vaults, and the 
buying and selling of ordinary merchants and 
tradesmen was carried on almost exclusively 
by means of paper. Both for giving and for 
receiving bullion the bankers or money-agents 
charged high rates of interest, and so enriched 
themselves to the disparagement of their neigh- 
bours ; and the public, while paying dearly for 
these privileges, ran the risk of losing their 
wealth through the failure or defalcation of the 
men to whom they entrusted it. When Sir 
Dudley North came home from Constantinople, 
we are told, he was greatly astonished at the 
new and irregular banking customs which had 
been introduced during his absence. For a 
long time he refused to lodge his money in the 
goldsmiths' hands, preferring to have " his own 
cash-kccpcr" in his own counting-house, "as 
merchants used to do." "His friends," it is 
added, "wondered at tin's, as if he did not 
know his own interest." At last he, too, found 
it necessary to follow the fashion. " In the 
latter end of his time, when he dealt more in 
trusts and mortgages than in ni( rcliaiidisc, lie 

1 82 William Patcyson's Bank. 

saw a better custom, and used the shop of Sir 
Francis Child, at Temple Bar, for paying and 
receiving all his great sums." 

Sir Francis Child, the first regular private 
banker, " the father of his profession," was a 
safe guardian of the money entrusted to him ; 
and so were many of his rivals and contempo- 
raries. But many of the new sort of bankers 
were by no means safe, and much risk was in- 
curred by those who entrusted their wealth to 
them. It was to remedy or improve upon this 
state of things that the Bank of England was 
started, at William Paterson's suggestion, in 
1694, and it was wonderfully successful. It 
became, not only the bank of the State, serv- 
ing as the depositary of the public revenues, 
but also the centre of all the vast financial 
machinery which has since been developed for 
the convenience and profit of merchants, and 
all who share in their prosperity. At its foun- 
dation it received power to deal in bills of ex- 
change, bullion, and public and private bonds, 
and, in lieu of the old irregular and cumbrous 
securities which were given by the private 
bankers, to issue bank-notes, which could be 
passed from hand to hand as easily as gold 
and silver, and converted at any time into 
actual coin. 

Being established just at the dawn of those 
fortunate times which were come for England 

Its Services to Covimerce. 183 

by the great Rebellion, and the setting up of 
William III. in place of James II., it greatly- 
helped the extension of that regenerated com- 
merce which Addison described so vividly in 
171 1. " If we consider our own country in its 
natural prospect/' he wrote, " without any of 
the benefits and advantages of commerce, what 
an uncomfortable spot of earth falls to our 
share ! Natural historians tell us that no fruit 
grows originally among us, besides hips and 
haws, acorns and pignuts, with other delicacies 
of the like nature ; that our climate of itself, 
and without the assistance of art, can make no 
further advances towards a plum than a sloe, 
and carries an apple to no greater perfection 
than a crab ; that our melons, our peaches, 
our figs, our apricots, and cherries are strangers 
among us, imported in different ages, and 
naturalised in our English gardens ; and that 
they would all degenerate and fall away into 
the taste of our country, if they were wholly 
neglected by the planter and left to the mercy 
of our sun and soil. Nor has traffic more 
enriched our vegetable world than it has im- 
proved the whole face of nature among us. 
Our ships arc laden with the harvest of every 
climate ; our tables are stored with spices and 
oils and wines ; our rooms are filled with 
pyramids of china and adorned with workman- 
ship of Japan; our morning's draught comes 

184 The Benefits of Commerce. 

from the remotest corners of the earth ; we 
repair our bodies by the drugs of America, 
and repose ourselves under Indian canopies. 
The vineyards of France are our gardens, the 
Spice Islands our hotbeds ; the Persians are 
our weavers, and the Chinese our potters. 
Nature indeed furnishes us with the bare 
necessities of life ; but traffic gives us a great 
variety of what is useful, and at the same 
time supplies us with everything that is con- 
venient and ornamental. For these reasons 
there are not more useful members in a com- 
monwealth than merchants. They knit man- 

Second Royal Exchange. 

kind together in a mutual intercourse of good 
offices, distribute the gifts of nature, find work 
for the poor, add wealth to the rich, and mag- 
nificence to the great. Our m.erchant 
converts the tin of his own country into gold, 
and exchanges his wool for rubies. The Ma- 

in the Eighteenth Centufy. 185 

hometans are clothed in our British manufac- 
ture, and the inhabitants of the frozen zone 
are warmed with the fleeces of our sheep. 
When I have been upon ^Change, I have often 
fancied one of our old kings standing in per- 
son where he is represented in effigy, and 
looking down upon the wealthy concourse of 
people with which that place is every day 
filled. In this case how would he be surprised 
to hear all the languages of Europe spoken in 
this little spot of his former dominions, and to 
see so many private men, who, in his time, 
would have been the vassals of some powerful 
baron, negotiating like princes for greater sums 
of money than were formerly to be met with 
in the royal treasury ! Trade, Avithout en- 
larging the British territories, has given us a 
kind of additional empire. It has multiplied 
the number of the rich, made our landed 
estates infinitely more valuable than they were 
formerly, and added to them an accession of 
other estates as valuable as the lands them- 

In helping to establish that noble empire of 
trade, which is now twenty times as extensive 
and powerful as it was in Addison's day, the 
Bank of England also gave accidental en- 
couragement to a new branch of trade which 
for the most part was very mischievous. The 
new impetus in lawful money-making gave 

1 86 The Stock-Jobbing Mania. 

birth to all sorts of more or less unlawful 
money-making. " Some of them," according 
to a contemporary authority, " were very useful 
and successful whilst they continued in a few 
hands, till they fell into stock-jobbing, now 
much introduced, when they dwindled into 
nothing. Others of them, and these the greater 
number, were mere whims, of little or no 
service to the world. Moreover, projects, as 
usual, begat projects; lottery upon lottery, 
engine upon engine, etc., multiplied wonder- 
fully. If it happened that any one person got 
considerably by a happy and useful invention, 
the consequence generally was that others 
followed the track, in spite of the patent ; thus 
going on to jostle out one another, and to abuse 
the credulity of the people." " London at this 
time," says another historian, of the year 1698, 
" abounded with many new projects and 
schemes promising mountains of gold ; the 
Royal Exchange was crowded with projects, 
wagers, airy companies of new manufactures 
and inventions, and stock-jobbers and the like." 
In that year, indeed, stock-jobbing became 
so extensive a business that it had to find a 
separate home in 'Change Alley. The business 
advanced each year, in spite of the angry 
but well-merited denunciation of it in Parlia- 
ment and the pulpit, in learned treatises and 
vigorous pamphlets without number. " It is a 

Knaves and Fools. 1 87 

complete system of knavery," we read in one 
work, " founded in fraud, born of deceit, and 
nourished by trickeries, forgeries, falsehoods, 
and all sorts of delusions, coining false news, 
whispering imaginary terrors, and preying 
upon those they have elevated and depressed." 
" The stock-jobbers," says another, " can ruin 
men silently ; they undermine and impoverish 
them, and fiddle them out of their money by 
the strange, unheard-of engines of interest, 
discount, transfers, tallies, debentures, shares, 
projects, and the devil-and-all of figures and 
hard names." " The poor English," writes a 
third, " run a-madding after new inventions, 
whims, and projects ; and this ingredient my 
dear countrymen have — they are violent, and 
prosecute their projects eagerly." 

When all business was regarded as a game 
of chance, in which the professed money- 
makers played with loaded dice, it is not 
strange that senseless speculations of all sorts 
should be wildly entered upon. " Several evil- 
disposed persons," it was averred in an Act of 
Parliament passed in 1698, " for divers years 
last past have set up many mischievous and 
unlawful games, called lotteries, not only in 
the cities of London and Westminster, and in 
the suburbs thereof and places adjoining, but 
in most of the eminent towns and places in 
England and Wales, and have thereby most 

1 88 TJic SontJi Sea Company. 

unjustly and fraudulently got to themselves 
great sums of money from the children and 
servants of several gentlemen, traders, and 
merchants, and from other unwary persons, to 
the utter ruin and impoverishment of many 
families, and to the reproach of the English 
laws and government." 

But before long the English Government 
itself proceeded to organise the most gigantic 
lottery ever known. In 171 1, the Earl of 
Oxford, who was Lord Treasurer, finding the 
State burdened with ;^io,coo,ooo worth of 
debts and deficiencies, hit upon a wonderful 
expedient for tiding over the difficulty. He 
saw that people's heads were turned by the 
exaggerated talk of buccaneers and other 
roving adventurers respecting the boundless 
wealth to be obtained by search and settle- 
ment in the seas and coast-land of South 
America. Therefore he procured an Act of 
Parliament appointing that, " to the intent 
that the trade to the South Seas be carried 
on for the honour and increase of the wealth 
and riches of this realm," a company should 
be formed, having for its members all those to 
whom the State was indebted, with the exclu- 
sive privilege of trading, colonising, and fight- 
ing in the southern seas from Tierra del Fuego 
to the northernmost part of South America. 
The Company was to be aided by State in- 

The Climax of Stock-Jobbing. 1 89 

fluence, and, if necessary, by the protection of 
the British army, besides having various pro- 
fitable imposts assigned to it. In this way, it 
was represented, the pubHc creditors would 
obtain interest for their loans without any ex- 
pense to the nation, and some money, it was 
even hoped, would be saved, to go towards a 
fund for sinking the national debt. 

The company was straightway formed, and 
had a quiet and tolerably harmless existence 
till 1720, "a year," says the contemporary his- 
torian, " remarkable beyond any other which 
can be pitched upon for extraordinary and 
romantic projects, proposals, and undertakings, 
both private and national, and which therefore 
ought to be had in perpetual remembrance, as 
it may serve for a perpetual memento to legis- 
lators never to leave it in the power of any 
hereafter to hoodwink mankind into so shame- 
ful and baneful an imposition on the credulity 
of the people, thereby diverted from their 
lawful industry." In 17 19, Law's Mississippi 
scheme had been at its height in France, and 
that example gave unheard-of success to a 
like project of the South Sea Company's. 
The company proposed to buy up the whole 
national debt, and liquidate it by means of 
paper money, and the proposal, after some 
competition on the part of the Bank of England, 
was accepted. 

1 90 The South Sea Bubble. 

Thereupon ensued a scene of turmoil and 
disaster unparalleled in commercial history. 
The South Sea stock rose to a fabulous value, 
and the success of this wicked speculation 
encouraged a crowd of others as wicked. 
" Any impudent impostor," says the historian, 
speaking from his own observation, "whilst 
the delusion was at its greatest height, needed 
only to hire a room at some coffee-house or 
other house near Exchange Alley for a few 
hours, and open a subscription-book for some- 
what relative to commerce, manufacture, plan- 
tation, or some supposed invention, either 
newly hatched out of his own brain, or else 
stolen from some of the many abortive pro- 
jects of former times, having first advertised 
it in the newspapers of the preceding day ; and 
he might, in a few hours, find subscribers for 
one or two millions, in some cases more, of 
imaginary stock. Yet many of those very 
subscribers were far from believing those pro- 
jects feasible. It was enough for their pur- 
pose that there would very soon be a premium 
on the receipts for those subscriptions, when 
they generally got rid of them in the crowded 
alleys to others more credulous than them- 
selves." It was nothing uncommon for shares to 
be sold at ten per cent, more on one side of 
'Change Alley than on the other, or to rise a 
liundred per cent, in value in the course of a few 

A Year of Bubbles. 193 

hours. At one time the South Sea £ 100 shares 
were to be sold for ^looo, while East India 
stock rose from ;6^ico to £44.$, and African 
stock from £22, to ^200. The ;£"io shares of a 
York Buildings Company attained the fictitious 
value of £zoS, and the shares of a Welsh 
Copper Company, without having a penny of 
real capital, originally valued at £4. 2s. 6d., 
could hardly be bought for £()$. There is 
extant a list of nearly two hundred principal 
bubble companies started in this year of 
bubbles, " none of which were under a million, 
and some went as far as ten millions." One 
was designed to make salt water fresh ; another, 
to furnish merchants with watches ; a third, to 
discover perpetual motion ; a fourth, to plant 
mulberry trees and breed silkworms in Chelsea 
Park ; and a fifth, " to import a number of 
large jackasses from Spain, in order to pro- 
pagate a larger kind of mules in England." 
So preposterous were many of the bond fide 
schemes, that one knows not whether it was in 
jest or in earnest that an advertisement was 
issued announcing that " at a certain place, on 
Tuesday next, books will be opened for a 
subscription of two millions for the invention 
of melting saw-dust and chips, and casting 
them into clean deal boards, without cracks or 

Weil might Newton say, when asked what 


194 Thomas Guy's Stock-Jobbing. 

all this would end in, that " he could calculate 
the motions of erratic bodies, but not the 
madness of a multitude." Men had not long 
to wait, however, before the issues were clear 
to every one ; grievous ruin to thousands upon 
thousands of innocent and foolish speculators, 
great stagnation to the general commerce of 
England, and an ugly blot upon the national 

Some men, however, shared without dis- 
honour in the speculations, which reached 
their climax in the South Sea Bubble, and 
thereby became very rich; and of these the 
most memorable was Thomas Guy. Having 
begun to make money by selling Bibles, as we 
saw, before the establishment of the Bank of 
England, he used it to make more money 
through upwards of thirty years. He em- 
ployed his wealth in trading in Government 
securities, great and small. His first enter- 
prise of this sort, according to tradition, was 
in a tolerably humble sort of trade. The needy 
agents of James H., following an example of 
long standing, were in the habit of paying the 
seamen of the Royal Navy, not in cash, but in 
pay-tickets or promissory-notes, for which cash 
was to be given at a distant day. As the 
seamen required their money at once, it was 
usual for them to sell their pay-tickets as soon 
as they were received, for whatever they could 

His Ways of Money-making. 195 

get for them ; and Guy is said to have found 
it a very lucrative business to buy their tickets 
at about two-thirds of their nominal value, 
holding them till they became due, and he 
could recover the whole amount from the Gov- 

If he did so, that was only one of the 
many ways of money-making which he fol- 
lowed. " Formerly," says IMacaulay, " when 
the Treasury was empty, when the taxes came 
in slowly, and when the pay of soldiers and 
sailors was in arrear, it was necessary for the 
Chancellor of the Exchequer to go, hat in 
hand, up and down Cheapside and Cornhill, 
attended by the Lord ]\Iayor and by the Alder- 
men, to make up a sum by borrowing ;^I00 
from this hosier, and ;^200 from that iron- 
monger." Throughout James II.'s reign, until 
the Bank of England was founded, Guy the 
bookseller lent much money to the Govern- 
ment in that way, and received good interest 
for it. When a better state of things was in- 
troduced with the Bank, Guy continued to 
lend his money with great advantage upon the 
more orderly system that was established. He 
was one of the first contributors to the National 
Debt, which was formally begun in 1692. He 
also .shared, to some extent, in the new busi- 
ness of stock-jobbing that came into fashion 
at about the same time. In all tlic financial 

196 TJiomas Guy's Later Work. 

speculations of tlie day, which seemed to him 
safe and honourable, he freely took part. In 
1710, just when the South Sea Company was 
coming into favour, and when its ;{^I00 shares 
were to be bought for ;!^I20 a-piece, he was 
possessed of ;£'45,5oo worth of its stock. Part 
of this he sold when the shares were worth 
£ydO a-piece. The rest he kept for a few years 
more, and disposed of when he could get ;^6oo 
for each of them. In ways of this sort he 
amassed great wealth. 

And he used it well. Having become a man 
of mark, he entered Parliament in 1695, and 
retained his seat till 1707, if not longer. "As 
he was a man of unbounded charity and uni- 
versal benevolence," says his first biographer, 
" so he was likewise a great patron of liberty 
and the rights of his fellow- subjects ; which, 
to his great honour, he strenuously asserted in 
divers Parliaments, whereof he was a member." 
He sat in the House of Commons as Mem- 
ber for Tamworth, his mother's birth-place, in 
which he seems to have held property, and in 
which he always took a great interest. In 
1705 he built and endowed some alms-houses 
there for fourteen poor men and women, with 
pensions for each occupier; and to that com- 
mon form of charity he added the then unusual 
and excellent one of establishing a good free 
library for the poor. In 1707 he added three 

Guy's Hospital. ig/ 

new wards to the old Hospital of St Thomas, 
in Southwark, the relic of an ancient monas- 
tery, which has lately been reconstructed near 
to Westminster Bridge. Other minor charities 
were done by him all through the time of his 

But his greatest act of charity was reserved 
to the last. In 1720, when he was seventy-six, 
he made about ;!^300,ooo by profitable specu- 
lations in the course of three months. That 
money he resolved to spend in building and 
endowing a new hospital, and his project was 
nobly carried through. When he died in 1724, 
the roof was being put to Guy's Hospital, the 
construction of which cost him about ;;6^ig,ooo; 
and the ;^220,ooo with which he endowed it 
has enabled it to continue to this day as a 
splendid monument of his wealth, and of his 
wise application of it. 



^plN Jamaica, once the most prosperous 

^[;^jj[f3"j of the West Indian Islands, one of the 

first and most influential colonists was 

Colonel Peter Beckford, a soldier, who made 
much wealth as a planter, and spent it as a 
local statesman and grandee. By Charles II. 
he was made President of the Island Council, 
and under William III. he was Lieutenant- 
Governor and Commander-in-Chief. He died, 
very old and very rich, in 17 10. Further 
wealth was accumulated 'by his son, also named 
Peter, who died in 1735. Besides other pro- 
perty, he owned twenty-four large estates, and 
twelve hundred slaves. 

The famous Alderman Beckford of London 
M'as one of thirteen children of this second 
Peter Beckford of Jamaica. He was born in 
1708. At the age of twelve or thirteen he was 
sent to England, and the next few years were 

The Neiv World. 199 

spent by him at Westminster School. There 
he took rank with the cleverest boys, two of 
his friends and rivals being Lord Mansfield 
and Lord Kinnoul. Then he settled down as 
a London merchant, at first finding his chief 
employment in selling the sugar, rum, and 
other products of his father's Jamaica estates, 
and soon extending that business so as to 
become the most influential West Indian and 
American merchant of his day. 

That was a branch of commerce that had 
grown mightily since its beginning, in the days 
of Sir Thomas Smythe. The troubles to which 
Englishmen — and especially Puritan English- 
men — were subjected under Charles \. had 
helped it greatly. " The land is weary of her 
inhabitants," said the old Puritans, in justifi- 
cation of their retirement from England; "so 
that man, which is the most precious of all 
creatures, is here more vile and base than the 
earth we tread upon ; so as children, neigh- 
bours, and friends, especially the poor, arc 
accounted tiie greatest burdens; which, if things 
were right, would be the highest earthly bless- 
ings. Hence it comes to pass that all arts and 
trades are carried on in that deceitful manner 
and unrighteous course, as it is almost impos- 
sible for a good, upright man to maintain his 
charge in any of them." That was the lan- 
guage of the first colonists of New England. 

200 EuglisJi, Colonics in America. 

Therefore they carried their arts and trades to 
America ; and there, thougli failing to practise 
tliein with entire freedom from the "deceitful 
manner and unrighteous course" of their op- 
ponents in rehgion and poUtics, succeeded in 
establishing a very influential centre of civil- 
isation and commerce. With ample stores of 
timber, copper, and iron, and with facilities for 
gathering in great quantities of fish, corn, and 
wool, they began a profitable trade with the 
mother- country soon after the restoration of 
Charles II., and have continued famous traders 
ever since. In Charles II. 's reign, too, Penn- 
sylvania and New York were founded, mainly 
by people whose religious grievances led them 
to follow the example of the Puritans of New 
England. The Carolinas, and the other mem- 
bers of what are now the United States, were 
founded afterwards in quick succession ; some 
of them by successors of the Cavaliers, who, 
having driven the Puritans and Quakers across 
the Atlantic, were encouraged, by their great 
success in their new homes, to go and carry 
on a more friendly rivalry with them in the 
same neighbourhood. All these states, how- 
ever widely they differed from one another in 
religion, in politics, and in ways of life, vied 
with one another in commercial activity, and 
in the prosperity that was easily secured by 
it. Almost more important at first were the 

Their Groivth and Wealth. 201 

English settlements which grew up during the 
same period in the West Indian islands, — Bar- 
badoes, the great sugar colony, and Jamaica, the 
great producer of rum, being the chief of them. 
In 173 1, just at the time when William 
Beckford came to London to be schooled as 
an English merchant and statesman, the Ame- 
rican and West Indian colonies were in a state 
of prosperity which dazzled the eyes of all on- 
lookers. Massachusetts alone dispatched in a 
single year more than three hundred ship- 
loads of rum, molasses, salt, and fish to Eu- 
rope. Virginia and Maryland sent home vast 
quantities of tobacco, grain, skins, and timber. 
Timber, too, was supplied in countless ships 
by New England ; and grain, with a score of 
other useful articles, by Pennsylvania and New 
York. One year's stock of sugar from Bar- 
badoes, amounting to 10,000 tons, gave em- 
ployment to a thousand English seamen ; and 
besides an equal quantity of sugar, Jamaica 
furnished large cargoes of rum, logwood, and 
spices. Both Jamaica and Barbadoes were 
famous " for having given to many men of 
low degree exceeding vast fortunes, equal to 
noblemen, by carrying goods and passengers 
thither, and bringing thence other commodi- 
ties, whereby seamen arc bred, and custom 
increased, and commodities vended, and many 
thousands employed therein." 

202 The GroivtJi of CoDinicrce. 

It was not only seamen and seafarers who 
profited by this wonderful growth of commerce. 
The mother-country was enriched quite as 
much as her children in the colonies by the 
interchange of new and old commodities. In 
every branch of English trade employment was 
found for a great many more labourers of all 
grades. " As the trading, middling sort of 
people in England are rich," said Daniel De- 
foe, the author of " Robinson Crusoe," in 1728, 
" so the labouring, manufacturing people under 
them are infinitely richer than the same class 
of people in any other nation in the world. 
As they are richer, so they live better, fare 
better, wear better, and spend more money 
than they do in any other countries. They 
eat well, and they drink well. For their eating 
of flesh meat, 'tis a fault even to profusion ; as 
to their drink, 'tis generally stout, strong beer ; 
not to take notice of the quantity, which is 
sometimes a little too much. For the rest, we 
see their houses and lodgings tolerably fur- 
nished ; at least, stuffed well with useful and 
necessary household goods. Even those we 
call poor people, journeymen, working and 
painstaking people, do this : they lie warm, 
live in plenty, work hard, and know no want. 
'Tis by these that the wheels of trade are set 
on foot. 'Tis by the largeness of their get- 
tings '-hat they are supported. Are we a rich. 

Its Various Benefits. 203 

a populous, a powerful nation, and in some 
respects the greatest in all those particulars in 
the world, and do we not boast of being so ? 
'Tis evident it was all derived from trade. Our 
merchants are princes, greater and richer and 
more powerful than some sovereign princes ; 
and, in a word, as is said of Tyre, we have 
' made the kings of the earth rich with our 
merchandise ;' that is, with our trade." " If 
usefulness gives an addition to the character, 
either of men or of things, as without doubt it 
does, trading men will have the preference in 
almost all the disputes you can bring. There 
is not a nation in the known world but have 
tasted the benefit, and owe their prosperity to 
the useful improvement, of commerce. Even 
the self-vain gentry, that would decry trade as 
a universal mechanism, arc they not every- 
where depending upon it for their most neces- 
sary supplies } If tiiey do not all sell, they are 
all forced to buy, and so are a kind of traders 
themselves ; at least they recognise the use- 
fulness of commerce, as what they are not 
able to live comfortably without. Trade en- 
courages manufacture, prompts invention, cm- 
ploys people, increases labour, and pays wages. 
As the people arc employed they are paid, and 
by that pay are fed, clothed, kept in heart, 
and kept together. As the consumption of 
provisions increase, more lands arc cultivated, 

204 William Beckford. 

waste grounds are enclosed, woods are grubbed, 
forests and common lands are tilled and im- 
proved. By this, more farmers are brought 
together, more farm-houses and cottages are 
built, and more trades are called upon to 
supply the necessary demands of husbandry. 
In a word, as land is employed, the people 
increase of course, and thus trade sets all the 
wheels of improvement in motion ; for, from 
the original of business to this day, it appears 
that the prosperity of a nation rises and falls 
just as trade is supported or decayed." 

That panegyric of trade, spoken a hundred 
and forty years ago, is no less true of the com- 
merce of the present ; and now, as then, a 
famous part of the benefits of English com- 
merce must be traced to the wise colonisation 
of. America and the West Indies, and the 
increased employments that it made necessary. 
The earlier Beckfords did much to help it on 
as far as Jamaica was concerned ; and William 
Beckford came to London in time to enjoy 
some of its first fruits. 

He was enabled to do this most successfully 
through the death of his elder brother Peter in 
1737, whereby the great wealth accumulated 
by his father and grandfather, amounting to 
;;6^io,ooo a year, passed into his hands. Till he 
was about forty, he seems to have applied him- 
self closely to business. Then, having made 

His WealtJi and Work. 205 

sure his standing in the world of commerce, he 
followed the example of Sir John Barnard and 
other London worthies, in accepting civic 
honours, and entering upon a Parliamentary 
career. In 1747 he was elected Member of 
Parliament for both London and Petersfield. 
He chose to sit for the metropolis ; but, in re- 
cognition of the honour shown to him by 
Petersfield, he gave £^^0)0 towards re-paving 
its streets. 

He sat for London during three and twenty 
years, and throughout that time he was a 
zealous champion of free-trade, as far as free- 
trade was then understood, and of commercial 
interests. That was especially the case with 
the first speech delivered by him in the House 
of Commons, in February 1748, on the occa- 
sion of a scheme for raising money to pay the 
expenses of the European war in which Eng- 
land was then engaged, by levying fresh taxes 
upon imported goods. Bcckford ably exposed 
the mischievous effect of the scheme in cripp- 
ling trade and, consequently, the comfort of the 
people at home ; and in yet more seriously in- 
juring the American and West Indian colonies ; 
and with characteristic impetuosity proposed 
tliat the funds should be raised by forcing all 
the officers and pensioners of the Crown, in- 
cluding judges and clerg}'mcn, to give up half 
of all their stipends. Another memorable 

2o6 Bcckford in Parliament. 

speech of his was in 175 1, in opposition to the 
standing army which was at that time being 
formed in England, to replace the old plan of 
military service, which our modern militia and 
volunteer corps are partly reviving. With like 
boldness, and, in spite of occasional extrava- 
gance, with much sound sense, Bcckford spoke 
in other years on all sorts of subjects connected 
with trade and the welfare of the nation. 
Sympathising with the most advanced Whigs 
of his time, he was a staunch friend and ad- 
viser of the elder William Pitt before he be- 
came a Tory, and the private friendship lasted 
after the change of politics. This epigram, 
circulated during the election time of 1761, 
illustrates the estimation in which he was held 
by most of his contemporaries. 

" Augusta, see! Behold Pitt's generous friend, 
Whom all the patriot virtues recommend ; 
Hear every tongue proclaim him good and great, 
Rendering the hero and the man complete." 

" The different characters he affected to pos- 
sess, to reconcile with each other, and some- 
times to blend in one motley mass," it was 
said by a less hearty admirer of Bcckford, 
"would furnish a most curious subject for the 
biographer. He was an eminent West India 
planter and merchant, a member of Parlia- 
ment, a militia officer, a provincial magistrate, 
an alderman of London, a man of taste and 

His Rough Bearing. 207 

dissipation. Mr Beckford wanted the external 
graces of manners and expression ; adorned 
with these accomplishments, he would have 
made a first-rate figure. He possessed a sound 
understanding, and very extensive knowledge 
of British politics, especially that important 
part of it which relates to trade and commerce; 
nor did he ever disgrace himself by a variable- 
ness or inconsistency of conduct. His manners 
were not pleasant ; but this circumstance did 
not arise so much from a crabbed disposition, 
as from an ardent, impetuous turn of mind, 
whose favour he always indulged. This im- 
petuous animation, accompanied with an in- 
harmonious voice and vehemence of action, 
prevented his public speaking, as well as his 
private conversation, from receiving that atten- 
tion and affording that pleasure which, from 
his knowledge and abilities, they might be 
supposed to have deserved and produced. In 
the House of Commons he oftentimes called 
forth the laughter, and frequently promoted 
the languor, of his audience, from no other 
cause than the neglect of digesting and arrang- 
ing the matter he delivered." 

Beckford was more popular in the City of 
London than in Westminster. His unpruned 
eloquence was more to the taste of the mer- 
cantile classes, which, whether high or low, 
were then rough alike, than to the House of 

2o8 Beck'ford 's Political Honesty. 

Commons or the gentle-folk of the West End. 
His genuine honesty and stout love of English 
liberty, too, were of a sort to be better liked 
by citizens than by courtiers under the House 
of Hanover. They chose him for their repre- 
sentative, without coercion, and because of his 
honesty. " It has been told me," he said at 
one of his election speeches, " that I have given 
offence to many of you, by not canvassing for 
your votes. I am sorry for it, because I respect 
you too much, and love the constitution of my 
country too well, to infringe on the freedom of 
election, of which, in these corrupt times, this 
city still continues to give a most glorious 
example. If you recollect, gentlemen, I did 
not canvass you at the last general election. 
I have not canvassed you for the approaching 
one, and I tell you honestly I never will canvass 
you. You shall elect me without a canvass, or 
not at all." And on those honourable terms 
he was elected four times running. 

He was made Alderman of Billingsgate ward 
in 1752. In 1758 he was Sheriff of London, 
and in 1762 Lord Mayor. His civic functions 
were well performed, and he is famous for the 
especial splendour with which he performed 
one important part of them. As Sheriff, he 
gave four great banquets, surpassed in richness 
only by those which he gave when he was 
Mayor. Though very simple in his tastes and 

His Great Banquets. 209 

habits, he seems to have considered sumptuous 
public entertainments to be matters of vital 
importance. On the occasion of George III.'s 
coronation, after taking part in the show, he 
went, with the other city magnates, to dine at 
Westminster Hall, and great was his indigna- 
tion at the sorry fare provided for them. " We 
have invited the King," he exclaimed, " to a 
banquet which will cost us ;^ 10,000, and yet, 
when we come to Court, we are given nothing 
to eat." 

' The banquet to which Beckford referred, in 
the sumptuous preparation of which he seems 
to have taken a leading part, was on the occa- 
sion of the young King's going into the city to 
see the Lord Mayor's Show. He watched it 
from the house of David J^arclay the Quaker, 
founder of Barclay's Bank and Barclay's Brew- 
ery, and Bcckford's chief rival in the successful 
carrying on of the American trade. It had 
long been the practice for each new sovereign 
to witness the Lord Mayor's Show that first 
occurred after his accession, before going to 
dine at the Guildhall ; and it was the custom for 
this to be done at a fine old house in Cheap- 
side, opposite to Bow Church, and almost the 
fittest in the city. Wc have a curious account 
of this episode in a letter written by John 
Frcamc, Barclay's brother-in-law and partner. 
He says that, "in the first place, brother Bar- 

210 George III. among Quakers. 

clay spared no cost in repairing and decorating- 
his house. When that was perfected, Lord 
Bruce came several times to give directions 
about the apartments and furniture, (which 
was very grand,) and also in what manner the 
family were to receive their royal guests. But 
previous to this, brother Barclay insisted that 
all his children that came there should be 
dressed like plain Friends. This injunction 
was an exercising time indeed to several of 
them. The sons were dressed in plain cloth, 
the daughters in plain silks, with dressed black 
hoods, and, my sister says, on the whole, made 
a genteel appearance, and acted their part in 
the masquerade very well. So that (as to the 
outward) the testimony of the Apology ap- 
peared to be maintained. And now, all things 
being in order, brother and sister Barclay, with 
David and Jack, were appointed to receive the 
royal family below stairs, and to wait on them 
to the apartment prepared for them above. 
Soon after which, the King asked for Mr Bar- 
clay and his family, who were introduced to him 
by the lords-in-waiting, and kindly received ; 
and brother, with all his sons, permitted to have 
the honour to kiss his hand without kneeling, 
an instance of such condescension as never was 
known before. The King after this saluted my 
sister and the girls, and the same favour was 
conferred on them by the Queen and others of 

A Quaker's " OpportiinityV 2 1 1 

the royal family. The Queen, with others of 
the family, and several of the nobility, re- 
freshed themselves with the repast provided 
for them in the back parlour and kitchen, 
which was elegantly set off for the occasion, 
and it being, I suppose, a great novelty to 
them, were highly delighted with the enter- 
tainment. On the King's going away, he 
thanked brother Barclay for his entertainment, 
and politely excused, as he was pleased to say, 
the trouble they had given. This great con- 
.descension, I am told, so affected the old gen- 
tleman, that he not only made a suitable 
return to the compliment, but, like the good 
patriarchs of old, prayed that God would 
please to bless him and all his family, which 
was received by him with great goodness." 

After that friendly interview with David 
Barclay, which added much to the good mer- 
chant's influence and prosperity, by bringing 
him into immediate connection with the highest 
persons in the realm, the King and Queen 
went to partake of the great feast which cost 


Next year William Bcckford was made Lord 
Mayor, and famous opportunity was afforded 
for showing his love of splendid entcrtainmcnt.s. 
Besides the ordinary feasts, he entertained, at 
his own expense, the members of the Mouses 
of Lords and Commons, at a dinner which 

2 1 2 Sir yo/in Barnard. 

cost another sum of £,\o,OOQ>. Six dukes, two 
marquises, twenty-three earls, four viscounts, 
and fourteen barons, then joined with a host of 
commoners in partaking of six hundred costly 

That love of display was part of Beckford's 
character, but only its weaker part, and perhaps 
it was only indulged in by him as a means of 
gaining influence with the merchants, states- 
men, and courtiers of his day. And that in- 
fluence he put to good use. He was the direct 
successor of another great and good, perhaps a 
better, man, Sir John Barnard. 

Barnard was born in 1685, three and twenty 
years before Beckford. A Quaker by birth, 
though he afterwards became a member of the 
Church of England, he exhibited a Quaker's 
simplicity of manners, and a Quaker's honest 
perseverance in money-making, to the end of 
his long life. In his youth, says the friend 
who wrote his biography, " he sought out com- 
panions amongst men distinguished by their 
knowledge, learning, and religion," of whom 
there were not too many in the dissolute age 
of Georgian rule. Men who did not care to 
imitate him, however, respected his worth and 
wisdom. In 1721 he was sent to Parliament 
as member for the City of London, and he 
was re-elected to the post six times in succes- 
sion. " From his first taking his seat in the 

His Worth and Wisdom. 213 

House of Commons," says his friend, " he 
entered with acumen into the merits of each 
point under debate, defended with intrepidity 
our constitutional rights, withstood every 
attempt to burden his country with needless 
subsidies, argued with remarkable strength 
and perspicuity, and crowned all with close 
attention to the business of Parliament, never 
being absent by choice, from the time the mem- 
bers met till they were adjourned. It is hard 
to say whether out of the House he was more 
popular, or within it more respectable, during 
the space of nearly forty years." 

Barnard took a more or less prominent part 
in nearly every measure of importance that 
was brought before Parliament during the long 
reign of George H. He sided always with the 
advocates of peace and retrenchment, showing 
himself a zealous reformer on all matters affect- 
ing the national honour and the development 
of trade, but being somewhat a Conservative 
whenever the welfare of the country did not 
seem to him to call for a change. But in all 
commercial matters he held very advanced 
views. At a time when merchants and politi- 
cians believed that private and public interests 
would be best served by all sorts of restrictions 
upon the importation of foreign goods, and 
arbitrary schemes for forcing English wares 
at high prices upon foreigners, he appeared as 

214 " ^/^^" Father of the Cityr 

the champion of free-trade. " We ought never," 
he said, " to make laws for encouraging or 
enabling our subjects to sell the produce or 
manufacture of their country at a high price, 
but we ought to contrive all ways and means 
for enabling them to sell cheaply. It is cer- 
tain that at all foreign markets those who sell 
cheapest will carry off the sale, and turn all 
others out of trade." Sir John Barnard, how- 
ever, did not approve of all trades. In 1734 
he introduced a bill increasing the tax upon 
tea, then something of a novelty in England. 
" I wish the duty were higher than it is,'' he 
oddly said, " because I look upon it as an 
article of luxury." 

In 1747, a statue of Sir John Barnard was 
set up in the Royal Exchange, there to mark 
him as Gresham's great successor in benefac- 
tion to the city. He was henceforth known 
as "The Father of the City." But at that 
time, or soon after, he went to end his days 
quietly at his house in Clapham. There, we 
are told, he spent an hour each day in prayer 
and study of the Scriptures, and every Sunday 
he went twice to church, "where he behaved 
with exemplary seriousness through every part 
of divine service, hearing the preacher, though 
his inferior in knowledge of divinity, no less 
than in strength of intellect, with evident sig- 
natures of meekness in his aspect." " All his 

Two Views of Beckford. 2 1 5 

long train of honours," it is added, " seemed as 
much unknown to himself as if they had never 
thrown their lustre round his name. No men- 
tion was heard from his own mouth of the 
transactions in which he bore a principal part 
and acquired great glory. If questions regard- 
ing them were asked for information's sake, his 
answers were always brief, and the subject 
never by himself pursued." He died in 1764, 
in the eightieth year of his age. 

William Beckford was then at the height of 
his renown, praised by friends, abused by 
enemies, and made a trade of by many who 
cared only to advance their own selfish in- 
terests. " I was astonished," said an old writer, 
in 1769, of a person of this sort, " at the effron- 
tery as well as impudence with which he dared 
to avow a want of all principle and honour. 
He showed me two contrasted characters of 
Alderman Beckford, the idol of the mob, which 
he was to insert in antagonist newspapers : 
one a panegyric and the other a libel, for each 
of which he expected to receive the reward 
of a guinea." 

The prevalence of contradictory and unprin- 
cipled writing of that sort makes it very difficult 
to understand the real character of Beckford. 
Sometimes he is painted as an ideal patriot ; 
sometimes as a vulgar democrat. Tliat he was, 
however, "the idol of the mob," liking their 

2i6 Bcckford's Last Boldness. 

idolatry, and doing something to deserve it, is 
clear. He was the friend of Wilkes and the 
most extreme Radicals of his day, and the 
Tory inclinations of George III. and his 
favourite ministers were denounced by him, in 
no measured terms, in the House of Commons 
and in the city. 

His denunciations were loudest, and passed 
far beyond the limits of courtly decency, in the 
spring of 1770. On two occasions, as Lord 
Mayor for the year, he took the lead in prepar- 
ing angry petitions from the citizens of London, 
complaining of the King's conduct and of its 
support by Parliament. On the 23d of May, 
attended by the Common Council and a crowd 
of followers, he went to St James's Palace to 
offer a third and still bolder remonstrance to 
George HI. After listening to it, the King 
answered that the conduct of the citizens was 
displeasing to him, that he had their best in- 
terests at heart, and that he expected them to 
rely upon his honesty and his reverence for the 
English constitution. Thereupon, says the 
historian, " to the dismay of the courtiers, and 
contrary to all precedent and etiquette. Beck- 
ford had not only the bad taste to endeavour 
to draw his sovereign into a personal contro- 
versy, but had also the impudence to address to 
him the language of reproof" The harangue 
which he is reported to have uttered on the 

Its Fatal Issue. 2 1 7 

occasion was certainly very bold and threaten- 
ing. " Permit me, sire, to observe," he said, 
in concluding it, " that whoever has already 
dared, or shall hereafter endeavour, by false 
insinuations and suggestions, to alienate your 
Majesty's affections from your loyal subjects 
in general, and from the City of London in 
particular, and to withdraw your confidence 
in regard for your people, is an enemy to 
your Majesty's person and family, a violator 
of the public peace, and a betrayer of our 
happy constitution, as it was established at the 
glorious and necessary Revolution." 

That violent behaviour added much to 
Beckford's popularity with the extreme mem- 
bers of his party, but gave great and not un- 
reasonable offence to George III. When, 
on the 30th of I\Iay, he applied for another 
audience of the King, he was refused admit- 

Bcckford was now sixty-two years old, and 
the political turmoil in which he was engaged 
proved too much for him. Early in June, 
being ill, he went down to the splendid scat 
which he had bought for himself at Fonthill, 
in Hampshire. Thence, after a week or two, 
being suddenly required in London for some 
new political action, he travelled up to London, 
a coach ride of a hundred miles, in one day. 
A violent attack of rheumatic fever was the 

2i8 CJiatterton oti Bcckford. 

result, causing his death at his town house, in 
Soho Square, on the 2ist of June 1770. 

The conflicting opinions held about him in 
life continued after his death. By many he 
was described as a man altogether vile and 
vulgar. Others could not find words, in prose 
or verse, strong enough for his praises. One 
vigorous but fulsome elegy, from which the 
following verses are extracted, was penned by 
the unfortunate poet, Thomas Chatterton : — 

" Weep on, ye Britons, give your general tear ! 
But hence ye venal — hence each titled slave ! 
An honest pang should wait on Beckford's bier, 
And patriot anguish mark the patriot's grave. 

" Thou breathing sculpture, celebrate his fame, 
And give his laurel everlasting bloom ; 
Record his worth while gratitude has name, 
And teach succeeding ages from his tomb I 

" The sword of justice cautiously he sway'd ; 
His hand for ever held the balance right ; 
Each venial fault with pity he survey'd ; 
But murder found no mercy in his sight. 

" He knew, when flatterers besiege a throne, 
Truth seldom reaches to a monarch's ear ; 
Knew if, oppress'd, a loyal people groan, 

'Tis not the courtiers' interest he should hear. 

*' Hence, honest to his prince, his manly tongue, 
The public wrong and loyalty convey'd, 
While titled tremblers, every nerve unstrung, 
Look'd all around, confounded and dismay'd,— 

"An Artless^ Fearless Citizen." 219 

" Looked all around, astonish'd to behold 

(Train'd up to flattery from their early youth) 
An artless, fearless citizen unfold 
To royal ears a mortifying truth. 

*' Titles to him no pleasure could impart, 
No bribes his rigid virtue could control ; 
The star could never gain upon his heart. 
Nor turn the tide of honour in his soul. 

" He, as a planet, with unceasing ray, 

Is seen in one unvaried course to move. 

Through life pursued but one illustrious way, 

And all his orbit was his country's love. 

" But he is gone ! and now, alas ! no more 

His generous hand neglected worth redeems ; 
No more around his mansion shall the poor 
Bask in his warm, his charitable beams. 

" No more his grateful countrymen shall hear 
His manly voice in martyr'd freedom's cause ; 
No more the courtly sycophant shall fear 
His poignant lash for violated laws. 

" Yet say, stem virtue, who 'd not wish to die, 

Thus greatly struggling, a whole land to save? 
Who would not wish, with ardour wish, to lie 
With Beckford's honour in a Beckford's grave ? " 

Though not quite a hero of the most heroic 
sort, William Bcckford was a man for the City 
of London to be proud of. His statue, with 
his famous speech to George III. written under 
it, was put up in the Guildhall, and by most of 
his fellow-citizens he was honoured as a great 
and worthy patriot. 


JViliiam Beckford. 

He was certainly a shrewd and prosperous 
merchant. His estate at Fonthill, and other 
property, yielding ;^iio,ooo a year, besides 
;^i,ooo,ooo in ready money, descended to his 
only son, the Earl of Chatham's godchild, 
William Beckford, who is chiefly famous as the 
author of "Vathek." 



S^HROUGH most of the first half of 
^^mi the eighteenth century, while William 
i^A=si Beckford was making a name for him- 
self as a great London merchant and grandee, 
a humbler man was honourably pursuing his 
calling. His name was Robert Thornton. 
He imported goods from Russia, and sent 
thither English goods in exchange, a branch 
of trade for which Hull, which seems to have 
been his native place, was famous, and which he 
carried on in connection with some influential 
traders of Hull. He lived in the out-of-the- 
way village of Clapham, and must have been 
acquainted with Sir John Barnard, Beckford's 
rival as a great city merchant, and certainly at 
that time the wealthiest and worthiest of the 
pious merchants who even then had begun 
to make Clapham their favourite abode. 

Robert Thornton had a son, John, born in 

222 JcJui TJiornioii. 

1720, who succeeded him in the Russian busi- 
ness, and made it very much more extensive. 
" He was in business," says Mr Colquhoun, 
" an active mercliant, keen in watching oppor- 
tunities, and skilful in using them. Eminent 
for other qualities, he never lost the practised 
eye of the merchant and his watchful observa- 
tion. In one of his tours in Ireland, under- 
taken late in life to recruit, as was his habit, 
his strength, he showed the habits which pecu- 
liarly characterised him. Walking out in the 
early morning at Cork, he turned down to the 
harbour, where a number of vessels, laden 
with tallow, had just come in. A few ques- 
tions, addressed by him to the persons con- 
nected with them, put him in possession of the 
facts, and by a stroke of his pen he made the 
cargoes his own. By this adventure he cleared 
a handsome profit. From the harbour he 
strolled into a nursery garden, where he fell 
in with its humble proprietor. The poor man 
was in great perplexity, being hampered for 
want of capital. Mr Thornton talked to him, 
ascertained his circumstances, inquired into 
his character, and being satisfied, by another 
stroke of his pen helped him out of his 
troubles, and set him fairly on his feet." 

Of that sort was his conduct through life. 
Always ready to see where a good bargain 
was to be made, and how to make it, he 

His Generosities. 223 

acquired great wealth, and was always ready 
to spend it in wise and charitable ways. His 
generous disposition has rarely been equalled. 
Meeting one day on the Exchange a young 
merchant, whom he knew to be honest and 
intelligent, but cramped in business by the 
small amount of money at his command, he 
said to him, " John, I have been thinking much 
of you and your circumstances ; I think if you 
had a larger capital, you would now do a 
better business." His friend said this was 
certainly the case. " Well," said John Thorn- 
ton, "iJ" 1 0,000 arc at your service. If you 
prosper, you will repay me ; if you don 't, you 
shall never hear of the debt." The younger 
merchant, amazed at such an offer, asked for a 
few days to think over it. When the few days 
were past, Thornton sought him out and re- 
minded him of their conversation. " I have 
been thinking over your kind offer," was the 
reply, " but I feel I must decline it. If I lost 
your money, I should be very unhappy ; and, 
through the blessing of God, I am now doing 
a fair business ; so I had better remain as I 

Julm Thornton spent most of his wealth in 
the interests of the religion that was dear to 
him. Earnest men of all creeds were his 
friends — Wesley, and Whitfield, and William 
Bull, the Independent, as well as John Newton, 

224 Wilberforce and the Thorntons. 

and a host of clerfrymen of the Established 
Church. His favourite plan was to buy livings, 
and give them, with additional endowments, 
to clergymen of his own generous and earnest 
way of thinking ; and in the same way, to 
make large allowances, for their own use, and 
for philanthropic employment, to Methodists 
and Dissenting ministers. " I am glad you are 
beginning a Sunday-school," he wrote to one 
Dissenter; "when you want assistance, you 
know where to come for it ; when you want 
money, remember I am your banker, and draw 

A sister of John Thornton's married an uncle 
of William Wilberforce. Wilberforce, as a lad, 
spent many years in the house of his uncle 
and aunt, and went often to that of the 
Thorntons. The associations there brought 
in his way, however, were distasteful to his 
kinsfolk, in whose opinions Christianity could 
not exist out of the Church of England. "If 
Billy turns Methodist," said his grandfather, 
" he shall not have a sixpence of mine." 
Therefore, at the age of twelve, young Wilber- 
force was forbidden to go to either Wimbledon 
or Clapham. But when he was his own master, 
he went back to both places with a hearty love 
for the religious habits which he there found 
enforced. " It was by living with great sim- 
plicity of intention and conduct in the practice 

Henry Thornton. 225 

of a Christian life," he said afterwards of his 
old friend, " more than by any superiority of 
understanding or of knowledge, that John 
Thornton rendered his name illustrious. He 
anticipated the disposition and pursuits of the 
succeeding generation. He devoted large sums 
annually to charitaVjle purposes, especially to 
the promotion of the cause of religion, both in 
his own and other countries." 

John Thornton died in 1790. He left not 
only the old Russian business greatly enlarged, 
but also a share in the extensive banking estab- 
lishment of Down, Thornton, & Free, in Bar- 
tholomew Lane. Both descended to his three 
sons — Samuel, Robert, and Henry — although 
the mercantile concern was managed princi- 
pally by the two elder sons, the bank being 
directed chiefly by the youngest and ablest. 

Henry Thornton, born in 1762, seems indeed 
to have been the leading spirit in the bank 
from the first. His large powers and wise use 
of them helped greatly to advance the whole 
business while it was in his father's hands, and 
these appear to have been the main cause of 
its extension in the most lucrative of all ways 
of honest money-making. " lie inherited," 
says Mr Colquhoun, " the business talents of 
his father, and his untiring perseverance ; but 
the ability, which in his father was limited to 
mercantile enterprise, rose in him to a higher 

226 Henry TJionttoh Talents. 

elevation. His mind was essentially philo- 
sophic. To investigate every moral occurrence 
and physical problem, to trace these through 
their relations and connections, to analyse their 
elements, to extract that which was essential 
from the incidental, this furnished a constant 
exercise to his intellectual powers. To exa- 
mine carefully, to deliberate long, to balance 
each quality and circumstance in the scales of 
an equal judgment, to accept no standard but 
that of truth, and to bring everything to be tried 
by that standard — wherever law was applicable, 
to apply it, and, where law was silent, to test 
the subject by rules of equity, — this was his 
favourite occupation, and the delight of his 
leisure hours." 

Like many other busy men, he found leisure 
for philosophical thought and philanthropic 
labour, without any hindrance to the due per- 
formance of his complicated pursuits in the 
counting-house. He was much more than a 
banker, but, as a banker, he had no rivals in 
his day. 

Yet that was almost the most eventful period 
in the progress of banking. Henry Thornton 
had for competitors many men who have made 
especial mark in the history of their profession. 
The profession was then passing out of the 
quiet ways to which it had long been limited, 
and taking its place as the most important 

Early Bankers : the Iloarcs. 227 

branch of modern commerce. The first bankers 
were men like the mediaeval Jews of Old Jewry, 
and the mediaeval Lombards of Lombard Street, 
Whittington and Gresham, Herrick and Heriot, 
merchants and miscellaneous traders, who in- 
creased their wealth and influence as mone}^- 
makers and money-changers, but had none of 
the elaborate machinery of modern banking. 
It was not till the seventeenth century that it 
began to be a separate and highly-developed 
institution. Sir Francis Child, originally a gold- 
smith, the founder of Child's Bank, who lived 
in the days of William IIL, was the first pro- 
per banker. Other men soon followed in his 
steps, and became rich by their new calling. 

Among the chief of these was the family ot 
the Hoares. Henry Hoare, the son of a hum- 
ble Buckingham.shire farmer, was a merchant 
in London about the middle of the seventeenth 
century. His son Richard, born in 1648, was 
famous in his day for his good business quali- 
ties and his public services, for his wealth, and 
the good use to which he put it. " He not 
only governed his private life by the strictest 
rules of virtue," it was said of him, " but also 
in many public stations did ever di.scharge his 
duty with the utmost integrity and fidelity." 
He was a great benefactor of Christ's Hospital. 
He was Member of Parliament from 17 10 to 
1713; and, in the latter year, having bcca 

228 Sir Henry Hoare. 

knighted, he served as Lord Mayor. He was 
related, both by family ties and in business, to 
James Hoare, an irregular banker, who lived 
at the sign of the Golden Bottle, in Cheapside. 
James Hoare died in 1694; but a few years 
before that the business was removed to Sir 
Richard Hoare's shop in Fleet Street, also 
indicated by a golden bottle ; and on Sir 
Richard's death, in 17 18, it descended to his 
three sons, Richard, John, and Henry. The 
youngest son seems to have been the ablest 
and the worthiest. " His behaviour," said one 
of his friends, " was such, under the various 
circumstances, capacities, and relations which 
he passed through, that a general esteem, love, 
and honour, were all along most justly paid 
to his character." He left ^2000 to be given to 
various charity-schools and workhouses, ;!{^200O 
to be spent in distributing Bibles, prayer-books, 
and religious works, and other large sums to 
be applied in various benevolent ways. Dying 
in 1725, he left a prosperous banking-house, to 
be chiefly managed by his eldest son, Henry, 
who spent a long life of eighty years in en- 
larging his influence, increasing his wealth, and 
putting it to good uses. His life was con- 
temporary with that of John Thornton, and, 
as he too lived on Clapham Common, he must 
have been well acquainted with the pious mer- 
chant and his famous son. 


Thomas Contts. 229 

Another great banker and good man, though 
he showed his goodness in different ways, was 
Thomas Coutts. His grandfather, John Coutts, 
was a prosperous corn-merchant in Edinburgh, 
who added banking to his trade in corn. The 
Edinburgh business was carried on by his son 
and grandsons ; but the most enterprising of 
these grandsons, Thomas, came to London in 
1754, when he was about twenty-three years old. 
In 1760 he estabhshed himself as a banker in 
the Strand, succeeding to the business of a 
George Campbell, who had originally been a 
goldsmith. In 1768 he rebuilt his premises, 
which form the present banking-house of Coutts 
& Company. Coutts was charitable in his 
way, often very generous in his dealings with 
others; but the one great occupation of his 
life was money-making. He is described by 
one who often saw him shambling along the 
Strand, as "a pallid, sickly, thin, old gentle- 
man, who wore a shabby coat and a brown 
scratch wig." One day a good-natured person, 
fresh from the country, stopped him in the 
street, and, pitying his forlorn appearance, 
offered him a guinea. Coutts thanked him, 
but declined the gift, saying that he was not 
in "immediate want." When he died in 1822, 
at the age of ninety-one, he left an immense 
property, and a very lucrative business, to 
his granddaughter, Miss Angela Burdctt Coutls, 

230 Thoniton in Parliament, 

whose wealth, it was reckoned a few years ago, 
if told in sovereigns, would weigh thirteen tons, 
and fill a hundred and seven flour sacks. 

Henry Thornton never grew so rich as 
Thomas Coutts or the Iloares. But he was 
an abler man than any of them. He put 
his talents to good use. Working hard in his 
counting-house, he was also a zealous worker 
outside of it. He entered the of Com- 
mons as Member for Southwark, and he held 
his seat for one-and-thirty years, during six 
successive Parliaments. Those were days in 
which bribery was much more the fashion 
than now it is, when very few candidates were 
elected for their merits alone, the corruption 
of poor electors or the influence of rich land- 
lords being the accepted means for sending 
even honest men to Parliament. Henry Thorn- 
ton was too honest to adopt either of these 

He held his ground even when the opposi- 
tion at some of the elections was most violent. 
" In the election of 1802," says Mr Colquhoun, 
"his success was doubtful. His colleague had 
secured his seat by assiduous attention to the 
voters. Henry Thornton had given his time 
to important duties and public busines.s. At 
the nomination the show of hands was against 
him. But when the voting began, and he was 
found to stand lowest on the poll, there was a 

Election without Bribery. 231 

prompt rally in his favour. He had, indeed, 
no crowds of canvassers, nor could he win the 
crowd to his side by witty eloquence. But his 
character spoke for him ; and his good deeds, 
experienced by many, spread a savour which 
influenced a wide circle. To many families he 
had been a liberal benefactor ; every one in 
distress knew where he could find a friend." 
And he was returned with an overwhelming 
majority. The mob, that had been disposed 
to oust him, became furious in his favour. He 
was then as calm in his success as he had been 
at the prospect of defeat. " I had rather," he 
said to his children, " have a shake of the hand 
from good old John Newton, than the cheers 
of all that foolish m.ob, who praise mc, they 
don't know why." 

In 1807, again, there was a hard contest, and 
Thornton looked upon his defeat as certain. 
Against all the entreaties of his friends, he 
refused to do as others did — to treat and flatter, 
if not openly to bribe ; and again he was 
placed at the head of the poll by men whose 
respect he had nobly earned by his disinterested 
conduct. Even those who would readily have 
taken pay for their votes gave them for nothing 
to a man so straightforu'ard and disinterested. 
One of the doggrcl verses circulated at the 
contest expressed the thoughts of all about 
their honest representative : — 

2;^2 TJiorntons Parliamentary Work. 

" Nor place nor pension e'er got he 

For self or for connection ; 

We shall not tax the Treasury 

By Thornton's re-cleclion.'* 

Henry Thornton entered Parliament, and 
retained his scat there, in order to promote two 
sorts of work which were very dear to him, and 
to which he devoted the chief energies of his 
life. One of these was the furtherance of the 
philanthropic efforts which he shared with Wil- 
berforce and the other members of that famous 
group of religious men known as the Clapham 
party. The other was the propounding of 
enlightened views on banking and commerce 
which have done much to make England as 
rich and great as now it is. 

The Bank of England was in his day, and 
largely through his help, entirely reorganised. 
It had been founded, as we have seen, by Wil- 
liam Paterson about a hundred years before. 
It had grown steadily, and was already not only 
a great private establishment, of immense ser- 
vice to merchants and their callings, and very 
profitable to its shareholders, but also the 
powerful agent of the State in its financial 
dealings. It was allowed to be a bank for 
private persons, on condition of its being also 
a bank for the nation, competent to hold the 
taxes levied throughout the country, and to 
dispense them in the ways appointed by the 

The Bank of England. 233 

ministers of the State for the country's good. 
But when Thornton began hfe, the Bank was 
not only being used as a depositary for the 
national income. The costly war in which 
England was engaged with France involved 
far more expense than the taxes could meet. 
Much of this was provided for by a great in- 
crease of the National Debt, in which the Bank 
was an important agent ; much was supplied 
by the issuing of additional bank-notes, under 
Government authority. For as long a time as 
possible the Bank, though authorised, and even 
compelled, to issue notes, for which it had no 
equivalent of gold in its coffers, was held to the 
terms of its charter, by which it was obliged, 
as now, to give gold in exchange for notes to 
any one who asked for it. This, of course, it 
would have been unable to do, had any great 
demand been made for gold in lieu of notes ; 
and the danger increased with the increased 
excess of paper-money over coin in circulation. 
At length things came to such a pass, that, in 
October 1795, the Directors of the Bank in- 
formed William Pitt, then Chancellor of the 
Exchequer, that they were on the verge of 
bankruptcy, and could not hold out much 
longer. Other and more and more urgent 
messages followed during nearly a year and a 
half. The result was, that, in February 1797, 
the Bank was authorised by the Privy Council 

234 The Bank R est rk lion Act. 

to refuse cash payment for its notes, or the 
issue of any greater amount of coin than a 
pound or a pound's worth of silver at a time. 
In May a law, known as the Bank Restriction 
Act, was passed, enforcing that resolution, and 
sanctioning an almost unlimited issue of notes. 
Sheridan declared it " a farce to call that a 
bank whose promise to pay on demand was 
paid by another promise to pay at some un- 
defined period ;" and Sir William Pultcney 
introduced a bill " for the erection of a new 
bank, in case the Bank of England did not pay 
in specie on or before the 24th of June 1798." 
But this opposition was ineffectual, and the 
Bank Restriction Act remained in force for 
two-and-twcnty years. It did some good, in 
setting bankers and financiers to devise some 
better system of paper-currency ; but bank- 
notes were so lowered in value, that at one 
time poor people who had received five-pound 
notes as if they were worth ^5, found they 
could not exchange them for more than £'^, los. 
or £\ a-picce. 

Among all the financial reformers induced 
by this state of things, none was more earnest 
or outspoken than Henry Thornton, who, in 
1803, published " An Inquiry into the Effects 
of Paper Credit." In it he showed that it was 
a great wrong to commerce and society to 
issue more paper-money than, in the open 

Thoruto7i on Bankbig. 235 

market, could be exchanged for its full value 
in actual coin ; and that to force upon the 
people notes which were not really worth as 
much as they professed to be, was a short- 
sighted and ruinous policy. He persevered in 
offering the same sound arguments, and was a 
leading member of the famous Bullion Com- 
mittee, appointed in 1810, which fully discussed 
the whole question, and ultimately obtained 
the adoption of those wiser principles of bank- 
ing and monetary exchange which were partly 
and beneficially adopted in 18 19, when the 
Bank of England was reconstructed by a law 
known as Sir Robert Peel's Act. 

Before that time, however, Henry Thornton 
died, having done much other very useful work 
for his country. If merchants and statesmen 
honoured him most as a great financier, he was 
no less worthy of honour as a great philan- 
thropist. He was one of the leaders, in some 
respects the chief leader, of the religious com- 
munity known as the Clapham party. Wil- 
liam Wilberforce, its acknowledged head, had 
learnt to be a good man in the house of old 
John Thornton, with Henry Thornton for his 
fellow-pupil. The two men became fast friends, 
and were fellow-helpers for life. " When I 
entered life," said Thornton, " I saw a great 
deal of dishonourable conduct among people 
who made great professions of religion. In 

236 TJiornton and Wilhcrfone. 

my father's house I met with a person of this 
sort. This so disgusted me, that, had it not 
been for the admirable pattern of consistency 
and disinterestedness which I saw in Mr Wil- 
berforce, I should have been in danger of a sort 
of infidelity." " I owed much to Wilberforce, 
in every sense," he said at another time ; " for 
his enlightened mind, his affectionate and con- 
descending manners, and his very superior 
piety, were exactly calculated to supply what 
was wanting to my improvement and my 
establishment in a right course. It is chiefly 
through him that I have been introduced to a 
variety of other most valuable associates." 
Wilberforce spoke of Thornton in terms of no 
less loving praise. 

The two friends and their valuable associates 
did noble work amongst them. "In 1789," 
writes Mr Colquhoun, "when both the friends, 
then in delicate health, resorted to the Bath 
waters, a visit made by Wilberforce to Cowslip 
Green, where Hannah More, as he said, ' had 
shut herself up in the country, to devote her 
talents to the instruction of a set of wretched 
people sunk in heathen darkness,' led to an 
enterprise of benevolence which long engaged 
both the friends. Wilberforce's compassionate 
heart was touched by the savage condition of 
the neglected people. He engaged, if Hannah 
More would undertake the trouble of reclaim- 

Thornton and Hannah More. 237 

ing them, that he would bear the cost ; any 
calls for money he would readily meet ; * for,' 
he writes, ' I have a rich banker in London, 
Mr H. Thornton, whom I cannot oblige so 
much as by drawing on him for purposes like 
these.' In 1791, when the two friends were 
again at Bath, Henry Thornton accompanied 
Wilberforce to Cowslip Green, and thus began 
that intimate friendship between Hannah More 
and Henry Thornton, which lasted through 
their lives. Hannah More soon learnt what 
sort of a man Henry Thornton was. She found 
his purse open to her in all her difficulties ; 
and, better than his purse, his counsels. Trials 
had fallen on her and her sister in their bene- 
volent labours; threats of prosecution, calum- 
nious charges raised by obstinate prejudice, 
and envenomed by jealousy, the rancorous 
bitterness of the rich proving more odious than 
the boorish apathy of the poor. So, when 
these things came upon her, she poured forth 
her story to her thoughtful friend ; and no 
matter how busy the story found him — busy 
at his bank, on committees, helping Wilber- 
force in the cause of abolition, or assisting him 
to make up his mind on the question oi peace 
with France — he was never too busy to send 
advice to her. No matter what the subject, he 
is ready. She is publishing a scries of tracts, 
half political, half religious; he reviews, re- 

238 Tlior]ito)is rJdlaniJiropies. 

touches, and prints them. He writes some 
himself. ' While we are taking down a dull 
evidence,' he writes from the Finance Com- 
mittee, ' I seize a few minutes to write to you 
on the subject of tracts. I have to tell you 
that I thought it right to prepare a' tract, to 
be included in the printed volume.' Again : 
' I have some thoughts of writing the second 
part of the communion tract, another of 
prayers for families, and one for Christmas- 
day.' " 

Those sentences will help us to understand 
the nature of Thornton's religious and philan- 
thropic labours through five-and-twenty years 
and more. To follow it all we must study 
the biographies of Wilberforce, of Clarkson, of 
Hannah More, and a score of other worthies ; 
yet even then we can follow it but dimly. 
Henry Thornton was a modest worker. He 
was the mainspring of a hundred movements ; 
but he was generally in the back-ground, will- 
ing that others should have the praise ; in the 
simplicity of his heart believing that all the 
praise was really due to them, and satisfied for 
himself in thinking that he was able to have 
such excellent agents and supporters in his 
employment, and use of the money and the 
talents given to him. 

In one movement, however, which we may 
look upon as an illustration of his whole cha- 

The Sierra Leone Company. 239 

racter and conduct, he was outwardly, as well 
as really, the leader. In 1791, he organised a 
Sierra Leone Company, and obtained a charter 
for it. He was its chairman, and it started 
with a capital of ;^i 50,000. But money-making 
was not here his object. The company was 
intended to organise a settlement of escaped 
and liberated slaves from Jamaica, Nova Scotia, 
and elsewhere, who would thus, it was hoped, 
not only have a comfortable home for them- 
selves, but also be able to spread the bless- 
ings of civilisation among the native blacks of 
Western Africa. " The colony works me from 
morning till night," he wrote in November 
1791 ; " the importance of the thing strikes me, 
and fills my mind so much, that at present busi- 
ness, politics, friendship, seem all suspended for 
the sake of it." He saw that the first ship was 
properly freighted, and properly sent out. He 
prepared a complete code of laws for the colony, 
and chose for its first governor, Zachary Mac- 
aulay, to whose son, the great historian, was 
given the name of another influential worker 
in the Sierra Leone scheme, and in all 
kindred philanthropies — Thomas Babington. 
Thornton, Babington, Wilberfurcc, and others, 
toiled at home through weary years on behalf 
of the colony, and Macaulay worked no less 
zealously for it on the spot. Its purposes 
failed, partly through evils of climate, partly 

240 Thornton's Various Occupations. 

through the incompetence of the black colo- 
nists ; and in 1808 it had to be transferred to 
the Crown, and subjected to dififcrent and 
rougher treatment. But the honour due to 
Thornton and his associates is as great as 
if their philanthropic undertaking had been 
crowned with the utmost possible success. 

This, too, was the beginning of the noble 
enterprise in which Wilberforce was the chief 
advocate, by which the slave-trade was abo- 
lished, and a death-blow, acting slowly but 
surely, was given to slavery itself. Henry 
Thornton lived long enough to see and help 
on only the commencement of this proud cru- 
sade against the most grievous obstacle to 
civilisation and progress in modern times. But 
his share in it was hardly less on that account. 

A marvellous career was that of this good 
banker and merchant, who was so much more 
than a mere banker and merchant. The toils 
of half a dozen lives seemed merged in his 
single life. " In his parliamentary work," says 
Mr Colquhoun, " his activity became every 
year greater as he was better known, till, in 
the later years of his life, there were few com- 
mittees on finance, or taxes, or public economy, 
on which we do not find his name. When we 
add to these parliamentary labours the claims 
of his constituency, their local requirements, 
letters, memorials, private exigencies, and 

No Waste of Time. 241 

public deputations — when wc reckon up the 
weeks of work which his infant colony of Sierra 
Leone cost him, — we can see how he toiled. 
To these labours are to be added his occu- 
pation as a banker, for of the bank he was an 
active partner, and his life was cast in a period 
of our commercial history the most critical 
which British trade has ever undergone. This 
business occupied his time, and interrupted 
his few intervals of leisure. It brought him 
almost daily to the city, broke his holidays, 
and forced him to London from Bath, Brighton, 
or the Isle of Wight. It left him few and 
uncertain seasons either for research or for 
reflection. No doubt, as his Parliamentary 
work grew, this encroached somewhat on his 
banking efforts ; and the business of a banker, 
which demands constant supervision, suffered 
from this division of his time. But this was 
not leisure, but only a change of work ; the 
substitution of one class of employment for 
another mcjre absorbing." He was an able 
and prolific author, too. " He wrote as much 
as most men do who have health and abundant 
leisure. He seized every fragment of time ; 
wrote after his days of canvassing in South- 
wark, or after his work at the bank, or while 
engaged in the construction of his colony. I le 
jotted down his thoughts in his carriage as he 
travelled, even on horseback as he rode." Bo 

242 Thornton 's A uihorship. 

sides his work on " Paper Credit," he wrote a 
vokimc of " Commentaries on the Old and New 
Testaments," a volume of " Family Prayers," 
and eighty-two essays, enough to fill a dozen 
volumes, in the " Christian Observer," which 
he was instrumental in founding. "And all 
this work," to quote again from Mr Colquhoun, 
" was done by a busy politician and banker, 
through the orderly application of time and 
thought, never hurried, but never idle; never 
harassed, but never resting ; moments caught 
up as well as hours ; the workman ever work- 
ing cheerily under a Father's gracious eye. His 
rest was to turn from one labour to a different 
one — to go from the bank to a council of bene- 
volence — from a political discussion to a strug- 
gling colony or a school in difficulties. He 
lays down the pen of the financier to take up 
the pen of the philanthropist — to write long 
letters to a harassed governor — to settle differ- 
ences among contending missionaries — to com- 
pose tracts for Hannah More." 

" If you should sink in the midst of your 
work," he said in one of his letters to Hannah 
More, " it will be better than sinking, like 
Buonaparte, in the midst of the Egyptian 
sands, or in that Holy Land which he may have 
to traverse. My wife and I have lately ob- 
served, and agreed much in the observation, 
how much happier and better entitled to com- 

His Last Work. 243 

fort are they who, towards the close of h'fe, 
have to look back on scenes of activity, than 
they who have only been talking and feeling 
religiously all their days." 

In that spirit he lived and worked to the 
last. " The close of life," if it means old age, 
never came to him. He worked too hard for 
that. He began to die while he was yet a 
young man, and death came upon him when- 
had it been possible for him to be idle, he 
might have been in the prime of life. He was 
fifty-two when, in 1814, the anti-slavery crusade 
was beginning. " We have some dark plots 
in our head," he said, " for influencing the 
Allied Powers in favour of the abolition of the 
slave-trade through this earth of ours." The 
plots were to continue, but he was not to share 
in their fulfilment. In the autumn of the same 
year his health, which had long been breaking, 
began to break rapidly. By the end of Octo- 
ber he was very ill. Through the next two 
months his friends gathered round him, to 
take their farewell of a man whom the best of 
them, even Wilberforce, had to reverence for 
his greater worth. He himself, whenever lie 
was strong enough, dictated the last of his 
" Family Ptajers." " When the shadows of 
the evening fall around us,'' he murmured in the 
last of all — a true utterance of Ills own deep 
thoughts — " and when age and sickness shall 

244 Henry Titorntoit ^s Death. 

arrive, and luiman help shall fail, be then 
Thou, O Lord, the strength of our hearts, and 
our deep portion for evermore ! " 

In that temper he died, early in January 
1815. " His influence was great," said one of 
his many pious friends, Thomas Bowdler, " his 
understanding of uncommon power ; and what 
one fancied was a careless opinion was often 
the result of such deep thought and patient 
investigation as would have taken other people 
hours to express. I have often thought it was 
almost an evidence of the Christian religion, 
that so commanding a mind as his, prejudiced 
as it was in early life against enthusiasm of all 
kinds, should quietly and soberly examine the 
subject for himself, with all the force of his 
intellect, and end in becoming not only con- 
vinced of the truth of religion, but one of the 
most warm and devout of her followers. How 
we are all to go on without him, I cannot 
understand. As a standard for us all to look 
up to, he was invaluable. Even this day, the 
first that has risen on his lifeless remains, I 
have wanted his counsel ; and how many are 
there to whom his example gave confidence 
and guidance in their humble exertions, who 
leant on him, and looked to him in every 
season of doubt and temptation ! " 



^ " \ Frankfort, as in most other busy 
h . , towns, the dirtiest quarter is that occu- 
&iSi-=.i£^ pied by Jew money-lenders, pawn- 
brokers, and hucksters. A hundred years ago, 
when it was dirtier than it is now, one of its 
inmates was Meyer Anselm, whose Httle shop 
was known by its sign of a Red Shield, or 
Roth-Schild, whence he came to be called, and 
to call himself, Meyer Anselm Rothschild. 
1 le sold all sorts of second-hand goods ; but 
he had a special reputation as a collector of 
old coins, jewels, cameos, and pictures, and 
on that account his shop came to be frequented 
by great people as well as little, who came to 
look at and to buy his curiosities, and often to 
borrow money of him. One of his customers 
was William, Landgrave of Hesse, who, after 
several years' dealing with him, liked him so 
well, that, when the French bombarded Frank- 
fort in 1796, he gave him and his treasures 

246 The First of the Rof/ischilds. 

safe housing in his fortified dwelHng-placc at 
Casscl. Tlie French ransacked the Jews' quar- 
ter, and, on their retirement, its old inmates 
were allowed to disperse themselves over 
Frankfort, and to live on an equality with 
their Christian neighbours. Meyer Anselm, 
therefore, as soon as he went back to the town, 
built himself a handsome house in one of its 
most fashionable parts. 

He was appointed foreign banker and financial 
agent to the Landgrave William, and at once 
entered on a more extensive and more profit- 
able Sort of business than had previously been 
within his reach. He was a rich man in 1806, 
when the Landgrave, being in his turn forced 
to flee from a new French invasion under 
Napoleon, placed in his keeping all his trea- 
sure, amounting to 3,000,000 florins, or about 
^^250,000. This money Rothschild invested 
very skilfully ; lending at exorbitant rates, 
pawning for trifling sums the property of 
owners who in those unsettled times were 
never able to redeem it, and turning pence 
and pounds in every possible way. When he 
died, in 1812, he left 12,000,000 florins to be 
shared by his five sons, Anselm, Solomon, 
Nathan Meyer, Charles, and James. From 
these five sons, on his deathbed, he exacted 
an oath that they would keep the business 
together, extending it as much as they could. 

Nathan Rothschild' s Training, 247 

bi't always acting in partnership, so that the 
world might know only one house of Roth- 
schild. The oath was strictly kept, with this 
exception, that Nathan IMcyer, tlie third son, 
proving the cleverest of them all, came to be 
practically the head of the house, in place of 
his eldest brother, Anselm. 

This third son, Nathan Meyer, was born at 
Frankfort on the i6th of September 1776. 
When he was about two-and-twenty, some 
fourteen or fifteen years before his father's 
death, he left Frankfort to settle in Manchester. 
" There was not room enough for all of us in 
Frankfort," he said long afterwards. " I dealt 
in English goods. One great trader came there 
who had the market all to himself He was 
quite the great man, and did us a favour if he 
sold us goods. Somehow I offended him, and 
he refused to show me his patterns. This was 
on a Tuesday. I said to my father, ' I will go 
to England.' I could speak nothing but Ger- 
man. On Thursday I started. The nearer I 
got to England the cheaper goods were. As 
soon as I got to Manchester I laid out all my 
money — things were so cheap ; and I made 
good profit." 

Manchester, which had been but a village, 
and afterwards a small town, for more than a 
thousand years, was just then bcginnirg to be 
made a great place of business by the new trade 

248 RotJiscJdld in Manchester. 

in cotton, and the new manufacture of cotton 
goods. In it were plenty of young men glad 
to borrow money at high rates of interest, for 
the sake of establishing themselves as mer- 
chants and manufacturers, and young Rotii- 
schild was ready to lend money to every oie 
whom he could trust to return it. Besides 
being a money-lender, however, he was also a 
merchant. " I soon found," he said, " that there 
were three profits — the raw material, the dye- 
ing, and the manufacturing. I said to the 
manufacturer, ' I will supply you with material 
and dye, and you shall supply me with the 
manufactured goods.' So I got three profits 
instead of one, and I could sell goods cheaper 
than anybody. In a short time I turned my 
£^20,000 into ;^6o,ooo. My success all turned 
on one maxim. I said, ' I can do what another 
man can, and so I am a match for the man 
with the patterns, and all the rest of them ! ' 
Another advantage I had. I was an off-hand 
man — I made my bargains at once." It was 
a favourite maxim with Rothschild also "to 
have nothing to do with an unlucky place 
or an unlucky man." " I have seen many 
clever men, very clever men," he said, 
" who had not shoes to their feet. I never 
act with them. Their advice sounds very 
well. But fate is against them. They can- 
not get on themselves ; and if they cannot do 

Rothschild in London. 249 

good to themselves, can they do good to 
me ? " 

Resolving to govern his life by such rules, 
not over-exalted, but certainly good models of 
selfishness, Nathan Meyer Rothschild put him- 
self in a sure way to wealth. In or near the 
year 1803, after five or six years passed in 
Manchester, he proceeded to settle in London. 
He considered that money-lending, the most 
profitable of all his businesses, could be carried 
on quite as well in one place as in another, and 
that other work, quite as remunerative, would 
be more within his reach in London than in any 
smaller town. This change, indeed, was part 
of a plan by which eventually the five brothers 
took possession of all the chief centres of 
European commerce — Anselm remaining in 
Frankfort, Solomon being sometimes in Berlin, 
sometimes in Vienna, Charles being in Naples, 
James in Paris, and Nathan in London. 

London had been a favourite resort of 
money-making Jews ever since the Norman 
Conquest. In the middle ages, having the 
neighbourhood of the Old Jewry for their 
special residence, they steadily enriched ihcni- 
selves by trade with the Christians, who 
thought it a virtue to persecute them. It is 
not strange, seeing how hardly tlicy were 
treated, that their natural love of wealth should 
have resulted in miserly ways, and that their 

25D Old J CIV Traders. 

natural hatred of Christians slioiild have grown 
into a fierce antipathy. Shakespeare's " Mer- 
chant of Venice," showing their position in the 
trading towns *of Italy, showed also, without 
much exaggeration, their position in London 
and other English cities. When Antonio, in 
the play, comes to ask for a loan of money, 
Shylock answers — 

" Signior Antonio, many a time and oft 
In the Rialto you have rated me 
About my monies and my usances : 
Still have I borne it with a patient shnig ; 
For sufferance is the badge of all our tribe : 
You call me misbclievei-, cut-throat dog, 
And spit upon my Jewish gaberdine, 
And all for use of that which is mine own. 
Well, then, it now appears you need my help, 
You that did void your rheum upon my beard, 
And foot me as you spurn a stranger cur 
Over your threshold : monies is your suit. 
What should I say to you ? Should I not say, 
* Hath a dog money? ij it possible 
A cur can lend three thousand ducats? ' Or 
Shall I bend low, and in a bondman's key, 
With bated breath and whispering humbleness. 
Say this : 

' Fair sir, you spit on me on Wednesday last; 
You spum'd me such a day; another time 
You call'd me dog ; and for these courtesies 
I '11 lend you thus much monies ?' " 

Through four or five centuries the Jews in 
England were spurned and spit upon, yet 
made great use of, by the Christians, who gave 
them a grudging residence among them. But 

The Brothers Golds mid. 251 

some two hundred years ago they began to 
take a better place and fill it better. Their 
prudent ways of money-making came to be 
closely followed by their rivals and persecu- 
tors. They were allowed to trade with Chris- 
tians on equal terms, and they showed a dis- 
position at any rate not less Christian than 
that of many who bore the title. 

The most famous, and the most deserving 
of fame, among the wealthy Jews who were 
in London when Rothschild settled in it, 
were the Brothers Goldsmid. Their father, 
Aaron Goldsmid, had come from Hamburg 
about the middle of the eighteenth century, 
and established himself as a small merchant 
in Leman Strc-el. His small business was 
made a great one by his four sons, the two 
younger of whom, Benjamin and Abraham, 
were the most prosperous. In 1792 they re- 
moved from Leman Street to a house in Capel 
Street, opposite the ]5ank of England, and 
began using the wealth they had already accu- 
mulated as .stock-brokers and mone\'-lcndei-s. 
That was the time of I"2nglish fighting with 
France, and the Government, being in urgent 
need of money with which to pay for the ex- 
penses of the war, were beginning the great 
system of national loans which are now so 
frequent and stupendous. The Cioldsmids were 
intrusted with much of this busines.s, and they 

252 Two Rich Suicides. 

managed it, as well as everything else that 
they took in hand, with remarkable honour 
and ability. Chance, as well as their own good 
sense, was in their favour. In 1794, when 
several of their neighbours were ruined, their 
entire losses from bad debts amounted to only 
;^5o. Both brothers were as generous as they 
were rich. Accumulating wealth with unheard 
of rapidity, they distributed in charity much 
more than the tithes prescribed by their Mosaic 
law. Numberless instances of their sharing in 
every sort of philanthropic work are on record, 
and the memory of their princely benevolence 
has not yet ceased among old City men. They 
were also famous for the splendid hospitality 
with which they entertained all the leaders of 
society in their day. They died young, how- 
ever, and dismally. In a fit of melancholy 
Benjamin Goldsmid hanged himself from his 
own bedstead in 1808 ; and in 18 10 Abraham 
Goldsmid shot himself in his own garden. 

In the latter year, also, at a riper age, died 
a yet greater City worthy. Sir Francis Baring. 
Baring, the grandson of a Lutheran minister, 
who came to England soon after the accession 
of William of Orange, and the son of a cloth 
merchant, who started a small business in 
Devonshire, and made it a large one in London, 
was born in 1736. He carried on his father's 
trade, and greatly augmented it. He estab- 

The Barings. 253 

lished an immense traffic with the East Indies 
and America, and promptly following the lead 
of the younger Goldsmids, dealt largely in na- 
tional loans and public securities. Even his 
enemies declared him to be " a man of con- 
summate knowledge and inflexible honour." 
" Few men," it was said, " understood better 
the real interests of trade, and few men arrived 
at the highest rank of commercial life with 
more unsullied integrity," Dying at the age 
of seventy-four, he left a fortune worth 
;^i, 100,000, and a great house of business, 
to be made yet greater through the enter- 
prise of his .sons, chief of whom was Alexander 
Baring, afterwards Baron Ashburton. " There 
are six great powers in Europe — England, 
France, Russia, Austria, Prussia, and Baring 
Brothers," said a great statesman in 18 18, when 
Alexander Baring, courted and dreaded by 
sovereigns because of his vast wealth and the 
vast influence that it gave him, was decid- 
ing whether there should be peace or war in 

The Goldsmids and the Barings were the 
men with whom young Nathan Meyer Roth- 
schild, coming to London in 1803, with a 
determination to become the greatest mm of 
all in the commercial world, had to compete. 
lie lacked tiic higher graces, tlie goodness of 
heart and the spotless honesty, of his first 

^54 Rothschild's Marriage. 

livals. But he surpassed them, eminent as 
they were, in the taet and shrewdness which 
tro so far to the niakinij of commercial success. 
When he seemed to be most reckless in his 
speculations, he was acting with a cautious- 
ness which insured success. 

In 1806 he married the daughter of Levi 
Burnet Cohen, one of the wealthiest Jew mer- 
chants then in London. Prudent Cohen, it is 
said, after accepting him as his daughter's 
suitor, became nervous about the wisdom of 
the match. A man who traded so boldly, he 
thought, was very likely to squander his own 
and other people's money. He, therefore, 
asked for proof of young Rothschild's wealth, 
and of its safe investment. Young Rothschild 
refused to give it, answering that, as far as 
wealth and good character went, Mr Cohen 
could not do better than give him all his 
daughters in marriage. 

If "good character" meant steadiness and 
skill in money-making, he was certainly right. 
Nathan Rothschild was without a peer in that 
art. Having steadily advanced his fortune in 
private ways through some years, he began in 
1 8 10, the year in which both Sir Francis Baring 
and Benjamin Gok'jsmid died, to trade in na- 
tional securities. He bought up for a trifling 
sum a great number of the Duke of Welling- 
ton's drafts for the expenses of the Peninsular 

His Mo)icy-viaking Ways. 255 

War, which the Government was too poor to 
pay when they fell due. These he sold to the 
Government at their full price, on the under- 
standing that they were not to be paid for for 
some time to come. By this means he helped 
the Government out of a pressing difficulty, 
and at the same time insured a large profit 
to himself "It was tJie best business I ever 
did," he said. 

It was this business that started him on a 
new stage in his wonderful course of money- 
making. It made friends for him at the Trea- 
sury, and led to his employment in other 
services of the same sort, and also enabled 
him to procure early information as to the 
progress of the war then waging, and as to 
the policy of the English and foreign Govern- 
ments, which gave him a notable advantage 
over his fellow -stockjobbers. The ramifica- 
tions of the Rothschild establishment and con- 
nexions on the Continent, moreover, made him 
the best agent of the State in conveying money 
to the armies in Spain and elsewhere, and this 
agency proved very lucrative to him in various 
ways. Seeing the great benefit that he derived 
from his appliances for securing early and secret 
information as to the progress of foreign affairs, 
he made it his business to extend and increase 
them to the very utnujst. He turned pigeon- 
fancier, and, buying all the best birds lie could 

256 R othscJi ild 's Pigeons. 

find, he employed some of his leisure in train- 
ing them, and so organised a machinery for 
rapid transmission of messages unrivalled in 
the days when railways and telegraphs were 
unknown. A note tied to a pigeon, taught to 
fly direct from Paris to London, reached him 
in a quarter of the time that was required for 
sending it by any other way. He also made 
careful study of routes, distances, and various 
facilities for rapid travelling, and mapped out 
new roads for his messengers. The South- 
Eastcrn Railway Company, it is said, estab- 
lished their line of steamers between Folke- 
stone and Boulogne, because it was found 
that Rothschild had already proved that route 
to be the best for the despatch of his swift- 
rowing boats. 

Rothschild's greatest achievement in over- 
reaching distance and his fellow-speculators 
was in 18 15. While the battle of Waterloo 
was being fought on the i8th of June, he 
stood on a neighbouring height, watching its 
progress almost as eagerly as did Buonaparte 
and Wellington themselves. All day long he 
followed the fighting with strained eyes, know- 
ing that on its issue, to a great extent, depended 
his fortune, as well as the welfare of Europe. 
At sunset he saw that the victory was with 
Wellington and the Allies. Then, without a 
moment's delay, he mounted a horse that had 

At the Battle of Waterloo. 257 

been kept in readiness for him, and hurried 
homewards. Everywhere on his road fresh 
horses or carriages were in waiting to help him 
over the ground. Riding or driving all night, he 
reached Ostend at daybreak. There, however, 
he found the sea so stormy that the boatmen 
refused to trust themselves to it. At last he 
prevailed upon one of them to risk his life for 
;^8o, to be paid to him if he would cross over 
to Dover; and in this way Rothschild suc- 
ceeded in crossing the Channel with very little 
loss of time. At Dover, and at the other stop- 
ping places on the road to London, fresh horses 
were in waiting, and he was in London before 
midnight. Next morning — the morning of the 
20th of June — he was one of the first to enter 
the Stock Exchange. In gloomy whispers he 
told those who, as usual, crowded round him 
for news, that Blucher and his Prussians had 
been routed by Napoleon before Wellington 
had been able to reach the field. He did not 
add, that afterwards Wellington had turned 
the fortunes of the day, and sccinxd peace for 
Europe. The effect of his report was, as he 
intended, a sort of panic among the capitalists 
and speculators. Fearing that the funds would 
sink very low, they tried to bell out as quickly 
as possible, and in doing so sold out at very 
great loss. The men who bought from them 
were in secret league with Rotlischiid, and a 

258 More Money-maki)ig. 

great quantity of scrip was transferred to his 
coffers during that and the following day. On 
the afternoon of the second day, the real issue 
of the battle of Waterloo was made known. 
Very soon the funds were higher than they 
had been during many previous weeks — far 
higher than they had been during the two 
days of panic ; and Rothschild, quickly selling 
the scrip that he had bought, found, it was 
reported, that he had made something like a 
million pounds by his rapid travelling and 
clever deception. 

Other millions were collected, rather more 
slowly, in ways of which some, at any rate, 
can hardly be called honest. One of his smart 
speculations was in mercury. Nearly all the 
mercury procurable in Europe comes either 
from Idria in Illyria, or from Almaden in 
Spain. The Almaden mines, famous and pro- 
fitable through five-and-twenty centuries, had 
fallen for some years into disuse before 1831, 
when Rothschild, becoming contractor for a 
Spanish loan, proposed, as part payment for 
his trouble, to hold them during a certain time 
at a nominal rent. That was cheerfully agreed 
to, and the mines soon began to give token of 
unusual activity. In the meanwhile the great 
merchant also got possession of the mines at 
Idria. Thus he obtained a monopoly of mer- 
cury, and was able to charge for it whatever 

RotJischild' s Trade in Loans. 259 

he thought fit. Its price was nearly doubled, 
and Rothschild was able to make an immense 
profit by the arrangement. It was nothing to 
him that the exorbitant prices drove some 
smaller tricksters to scrape all the quicksilver 
from old looking-glasses and the like, and 
work it up into poisonous calomel, as well as 
bad material for new mirrors, thermometers, 
and so forth. 

Most of Rothschild's wealth, however, was 
made in less disreputable ways. After he had 
firmly established himself in London, his great 
business was in negotiating foreign loans. 
These he was the first to make popular in the 
English market. He became the principal 
agent of all the great and needy governments 
— French and German, Russian and Turkish, 
North American and South American — in dis- 
posing of their scrip to English stock-jobbers. 
London never had in it a man more thoroughly 
competent for the carrying on of all sorts of 
money-making projects. He was master of 
little things as well as great, "His memory 
was so retentive," we arc told, " that, notwith- 
standing the immense transactions on which 
he entered on every foreign post-day, and that 
he never took a note of them, he could, on his 
return home, with perfect exactness, dictate 
the whole to his clerks." 

Rothschild had few tastes or \ leasurcs out 

26o Rothschild 's View of Money. 

of the Stock Exchange and his counting-house 
in St Swithin's Lane. When Louis Spohr, the 
great German musician, called on him in June 
1820, with a letter of introduction from his 
brother in Frankfort, he said to him, " I under- 
stand nothing of music. This" — patting his 
pocket, and rattling the loose coins therein — 
"is my music; we understand that on 'Change." 

Money -making was the one pursuit and 
enjoyment of Rothschild's life. He cared less 
than many do for the money when it was 
made. " He had no taste or inclination," says 
one of his friends, "for what every English- 
man seeks as soon as he has money to buy 
it — comfort in every respect. His ambition 
was to arrive at his aim more quickly and 
more effectually than others, and to steer to- 
wards it with more energy. When his end was 
reached, it had lost all its charm for him, and 
he turned his never-wearying mind to some- 
thing else." It was in the scramblings and 
fightings, the plots and tricks, of making money, 
not at all in the spending, not much in the 
hoarding of it, that he delighted. 

" I hope," said a dinner-companion to him 
on one occasion, "I hope that your children 
are not too fond of money and business, to the 
exclusion of more important things. I am 
sure you would not wish that." 

" I am sure I should wish, that," he answered; 

Rothschild' s Charities. 261 

" I wish them to give mind, and soul, and heart, 
and body — everything to business. That is the 
way to be happy. It requires a great deal of 
boldness, and a great deal of caution, to make 
a great fortune: and when you ha\'e got it, it 
requires ten times as much wit to keep it," 

To all who were willing to work in this 
fashion, he was, after his fashion, a good 
friend. Some of the wealthiest commercial 
houses now in London owe their prosperity to 
the readiness with which Rothschild, seeing 
good business qualities in the }-oung men 
around him, helped them on with his great 
influence. There were cases in which he went 
out of his way to put exceptional oppor- 
tunities of money-making in the way of his 
favourites. Even his charities, according to 
his own confession, were eccentric, and chiefly 
indulged in for his own entertainment. " Some- 
times, to amuse myself," he said, " I give a 
beggar a guinea. He thinks it is a mistake, 
and, for fear I should find it out, off he runs as 
hard as he can. I advise you to give a beggar 
a guinea sometimes ; it is very amusing." 

The great man's jokes were not very witty. 
One of the best of them owes its point to his 
Jewish pronunciation. At a Lord Mayor's 
dinner he sat next to a guest noted for his 
stinginess, who chanced to say that, for his part, 
he preferred mutton to venison. "Ah, I see," 

262 Rothschild 's Jukes. 

Rothschild answered; "you like mutton be- 
cause it is sheep (cheap); and other people 
like venison because it is deer (dear)," 

Another saying attributed to him gives evi- 
dence, if true, of some humour. Once, it is 
said, a Gerrnan prince, visiting London, brought 
letters of credit to the banker. He was shown 
into the inner room of the famous counting- 
house in St Swithin's Lane, where Rothschild 
sat, busy with a heap of papers. The name 
being announced, Rothschild nodded, offered 
his visitor a chair, and then went on with the 
work before him. For this treatment the 
prince, who expected that everything should 
give way to one of his rank and dignity, was 
not prepared. Standing a minute or two, he 
exclaimed, " Did you not hear, sir, who I am } 

I am" repeating his titles. "Oh, very well," 

said Rothschild ; " take two chairs then." 

At another time, two strangers were ad- 
mitted into this same private room. They 
were tall foreigners, wath mustachios and 
beards, such as were not often seen in the city 
thirty or forty years ago, and Rothschild, 
always timid, was frightened from the moment 
of their entrance. He put his own interpre- 
tation upon the excited movements with which 
they fum.bled about in their pockets ; and 
before the expected pistols could be produced, 
he had thrown a great ledger in the direction 

A Millionaire's Perils. 263 

of their heads, and brought in a bevy of clerks 
by his cries of " Murder." The strangers 
were pinioned, and then, after long question- 
ings and explanations, it appeared that they 
were wealthy bankers from the Continent, 
who, nervous in the presence of a banker so 
much more wealthy, had had some difficulty in 
finding the letters of introduction which they 
were to present. 

During the latter years of his life, Rothschild 
was said to be always in fear of assassination. 
" You must be a very happy man, Mr Roth- 
schild," said a guest, at one of the splendid 
banquets for which his Piccadilly house was 
famous. " Happy ! me happy ! " he exclaimed. 
" What, happy ! when just as you are going to 
dine you have a letter placed in your hands, 
saying, ' If you do not send me ;^50O I will 
blow your brains out ! ' Me happy ! " 

Perhaps, however, Nathan Rothschild was as 
happy as any one as full of the cares of business 
as he was could be. He was a zealous money- 
maker to the last. His father had directed 
that the house of Rothschild should continue 
united from generation to generation, l-iach 
of the brothers had a share in all the others' 
concerns. It was in furtherance of the general 
scheme of keeping the family as compact as 
possible, that, some time before, Nathan's 
youngest brother, James, had married one 

264 "IlestMort:' 

of his nieces. In 1836 it was resolved that 
Nathan's eldest son, Lionel, should marry 
one of his cousins, a daughter of Ansclm 
Rothschild, of Frankfort. With that object 
the father and son went to Frankfort in June. 
But on the wedding-day Nathan fell ill. He 
died on the 28th of July, not quite sixty years 
of age. On the morning following his death, 
one of his own carrier-pigeons was shot near 
Brighton. When it was picked up there was 
found under one of its wings a scrap of paper 
with these words written on it, " II est mort." 

None but his own kindred ever knew what 
was Rothschild's real wealth. The guesses 
ranged between ;^3, 000,000 and ;!^ 10,000,000. 

He was buried in London, in a coffin " so 
handsomely carved and decorated, with large 
silver handles at both sides and ends, that it 
appeared more like a cabinet or splendid 
piece of furniture than a receptacle for the 
dead." The chief rabbi, who preached the 
funeral sermon, applauded in it the charity of 
Nathan Meyer Rothschild, who, during his 
lifetime, had intrusted him with some thousands 
of pounds for secret almsgiving. But that was 
all that the world ever heard of the rich man's 
use of his riches in any sort of disinterested 
charity, or in any way which, whether it did 
good to others or not, was not chosen chiefly 
for his own amusement or his own advantage. 



XE of the Norman barons who came to 
England with WiUiam the Conqueror 
in 1066 was Hugh de Gournay; and 
when William divided the best portions of the 
land among his leading followers, large grants 
in Norfolk, Suffolk, and elsewhere were made 
to the Lord of Gournay. His descendants 
were men of mark during the ensuing centu- 
ries. In the time of Queen Elizabeth, if not 
before, they began to be merchants, the younger 
sons generally taking to commerce, while the 
elder ones settled down as country gentlemen. 
One of these trading members of the family, a 
John Gournay or Gurncy, who was born in 
1655, and who became a Quaker soon after 
the Quaker doctrines had been first preached 
by George Fox, became especially eminent in 
business. He was a manufacturer, a merchant, 
and a banker in Norwich, and his offspring 

266 Sa))iuel Giirney 's Training. 

carried on his callings, especially that of bank- 
ing, with notable success. It is with his great- 
great-grandson that we have here to concerrl 

Samuel Gurney, the brother of Elizabeth 
Fry and Joseph John Gurney, two eminent 
philanthropists, was born at Earlham, near 
Norwich, on the i8th of October 1786. He 
was John Gurney's second son and ninth child. 
At the age of seven he was put to school with 
the Rev. John Henry Brown, a pupil of the 
celebrated Dr Parr, and at fourteen he was 
apprenticed to the Clothworkers' Company in 
London, and placed in the counting-house, in 
St Mildred's Court, Poultry, in which his 
brother-in-law, Joseph Fry, who was also a 
partner in the bank of Frys & Chapman, car- 
ried on an extensive trade as a tea-merchant. 
" He took to business and liked it," according 
to the report of his niece, whose first remem- 
brances of him were as an inmate in the St 
Mildred's Court household. " In the counting- 
house, as well as in domestic life, he was ex- 
tremely amiable and cheerful, and was beloved 
by the whole establishment. Although not 
brought up in conformity to the costume or 
speech of the Society of Friends, he showed 
no propensity to follow fashions or gaiety of ap- 
pearance beyond a suitable neatness of attire." 
From the very first, indeed, he seems to have 

His Marriage, 267 

been so thoroughly a man, or rather a boy, of 
business, as to have cared for no Hghter occu- 
pations. In 1807, -when his sister Hannah 
married Thomas Fowell Buxton, he went down 
to the wedding, but, it is recorded, tired of the 
festivities long before they were over, and was 
glad to get back to his book-keeping and 
money-changi ng. 

In the following year, however, Samuel 
Gurney was married himself, his wife being 
Elizabeth, the daughter of James Sheppard of 
Ham House, in Essex, a handsome residence 
that soon descended to the )'oung couple, and 
was their place of abode during nearly the 
whole of their married life. The wealth that 
came to Samuel Gurney from his father-in-law, 
as well as that bequeathed to him by his father, 
who died in 1809, helped him to make rapid 
progress in the new business in which he had 
embarked a little while before, on his reaching 
the age of twenty-one. 

The business had begun a few years earlier 
than that, growing out of a yet earlier con- 
nexion between Joseph Smith, a wool factor 
in London, of the firm of Smith & Holt, and 
the Norwich Bank. Joseph Smith had found 
the advantage of applying part of his savings as 
a merchant to the then very slightly-developed 
trade of bill-discounting, and John Gurney of 
Norwich, with whom he had been acquainted 

268 Ric/iardso?i, Overend, & Company. 

long before, when both were simply dealers in 
raw wool and manufactured cloths, also found 
the advantage of sending up to him some of 
the surplus money of the Norwich Bank, for 
investment in the same way, paying to Smith, 
as his commission, a quarter per cent, on the 
money laid out in each transaction. This 
arrangement having continued for some time, it 
occurred to Smith's confidential clerk, Thomas 
Richardson, by whom most of the bill business 
had been done, that there was room in London 
for a separate establishment devoted to trade 
in bills. He asked his employer to open an 
establishment of that sort, taking him as 
managing partner therein. This Joseph Smith 
refused to do, and Richardson resigned his 
clerkship in consequence. He found the Nor- 
wich Gurneys, however, more favourable to his 
project, and about the year 1800 the house of 
Richardson, Overend, & Company was founded, 
the management being divided between him 
and John Overend, formerly chief clerk in the 
bank of Smith, Payne, & Company. Simon 
Martin, an old clerk in the Norwich Bank, went 
to London to help to build up the business, and 
to watch its movements on behalf of the bank, 
whence most of the money was obtained for 
investment. The enterprise throve wonderfully 
from the first, one great source of its popularity 
being the change introduced by the new firm, 

Overend, Gzirney, & Covipany. 269 

which charged the quarter per cent, commission 
against the borrowers of the money, instead of 
the lenders as heretofore; and in 1807 John 
Gurney added vastly to its strength by intro- 
ducing his son Samuel as a partner. About 
that time Thomas Richardson retired from the 
business. It was carried on under the name of 
Overend & Company, even after John Over- 
end's death, until the secret of its connexion 
with the Norwich house could no longer be 
kept, and it assumed its world-famous title of 
Overend, Gurney, & Company. 

It won its influence and fame through the 
skilful way in which its founders contrived to 
profit by the altered circumstances of modern 
commerce. I a simpler times money meant 
only gold, silver, and other precise sorts of 
current coin. But the increase of trade and 
population, carrying with it a yet greater in- 
crease in the demand for money and the uses 
to which it may be put, has necessitated an 
entire revolution in the finance of commerce. 

Money is now not gold and silver alone, but 
gold, silver, paper, and anything else that can 
be regarded as a trust worthy agent in the 
interchange of commodities and the bartering 
of capital, labour, and the like. Were we 
forced now to carry on all our commercial 
dealings by means of gold and silver, it would 
only be possible, in spite of the increase of our 

2/0 Paper Money. 

stores of these metals, to continue a very small 
portion of our present trade. This, however, 
no one now attempts to do. The legal cur- 
rency, whether gold, silver, or bank-notes, is 
only a sort of pocket-money in comparison 
with the real currency of trade. It serves 
for the smaller sort of retail purchases, for 
payments across the counter, and the like ; but 
the great merchant lias not in his possession 
all through his lifetime actual money equal in 
amount to the paper equivalent of money that 
passes through his hands every day in the 
week. All his important business is carried 
on exclusively by means of bills, bonds, cheques, 
and the other materials included in the terms 
"commercial debt" and "credit." His ready 
money is lodged with a banker, as has been the 
practice since the beginning of the eighteenth 
century, except that now he draws cheques for 
so much as he needs for use from time to time, 
instead of receiving from his banker a number 
of promissory-notes, to be passed to and fro, 
while the actual deposit was in the banker's 
hands, to be used in whatever safe and profit- 
able way he chose. Now, however, the cheques 
are, in comparatively few cases, exchanged for 
real money, they being piled up by the bank- 
ers, into whose hands they come, and paired 
off one with another, or in heaps together, 
while the deposits that they represent are 

Modem Credit. 271 

left untouched. In this way the money does 
double work, being itself available for use by 
the banker or his agents, while the equivalent 
cheques are quite as serviceable for all the 
purposes of trade. 

And this is only the simplest instance of 
the modern principle of credit. In all sorts 
of ways, every bit of money and everything 
else that can be taken as a representative 
of wealth, whether actual or prospective, is 
turned over and over, each turning being a 
creation, to all intents and purposes, of so 
much fresh money. A merchant, for ex- 
ample, buys ;^iooo worth of goods for ex- 
port, say to India, China, or Australia. He 
pays for the same by means of a bill of ex- 
change, accepted as soon as possible, but not 
payable till two or three months after date. 
The manufacturer or agent of whom he buys 
the goods, however, does not wait all that time 
for his money. In all probability he imme- 
diately gets the bill discounted, thereby losing 
some £\^ or ;^2o, but having the sum of ^980 
or ;^985 available for appropriation in other 
ways, and thus for the acquisition of fresh 
profits. Before the original bill falls due, he 
has built perhaps twenty fresh transactions on 
the basis of the first one, and so, in effect, has 
turned his ;C 1000 into ;{;2C,ooo, less the /; 300 
or £a,oo that have been deducted by the bill- 

272 Sajiincl Gnrney's Business. 

broker as discount And the same original 
transaction has been made the groundwork of 
a number of other transactions on the part of 
the merchant who bought the goods. He 
bought them for ^Tiooo, to sell again for, say, 
;^I200, part of the difference being his profit, 
part being absorbed in freight, insurance, and 
so forth. He is not likely to be paid for the 
goods in less than six months' time, and he 
has to pay for them in two or three months. 
But long before either of those terms expires, 
he has raised part of the money on the security 
of his bill of lading, and so is enabled to enter 
on other transactions, just as the manufacturer 
had done. In such ways as these, and they 
are numberless, a very small amount of actual 
money goes to the building up, on the one side, 
of a vast structure of credit, and on the other 
of a vast structure of commerce. 

There was a hazy comprehension of this 
system long centuries ago. " If you were 
ignorant of this, that credit is the greatest 
capital of all towards the acquisition of 
wealth," said Demosthenes, " you would be 
utterly ignorant." But the modern theory of 
credit is very modern indeed, having almost 
its first exemplification, on a large scale, in 
the establishment of Overend, Gurney, & 
Company. This house, as we saw, was estab- 
lished to make a separate business of bill-dis- 

Its Extefision. 273 

counting, much more complete and extensive 
than the chance trade in bills that had for- 
merly been, and that continued to be, carried 
on by bankers, merchants, and all sorts of 
irregular money-lenders. Very soon after the 
time of Samuel Gurney's supremacy in it, it 
began to assume gigantic proportions, and it 
was for some thirty or forty years the greatest 
discounting house in the world, the parent of 
all the later and rival establishments that have 
started up in London and elsewhere. At first 
only discounting bills, its founders soon saw 
the advantage of lending money on all sorts of 
other securities, and their cellars came to be 
loaded with a constantly varying heap of dock- 
warrants, bills of lading, shares in railways and 
public companies, and the like. To do this, of 
course, vast funds were necessary, very much 
in excess of the immense wealth accumulated 
by the Gurneys in Norwich and elsewhere. 
Therefore, having proved the value and stabi- 
lity of his business, Samuel Gurney easily per- 
suaded those who had money to invest to place 
it in his hands, they receiving for the same a 
fixed and fair return of interest, and he obtain- 
ing with it as much extra profit as the fluctua- 
tions of the money-market and the increasing 
needs of trade made possible. He became, in 
fact, a new sort of merchant, buying credit- 
that is, borrowing money— on the one hand, 

274 ^ PcDiic Year. 

and selling credit — that is, lending money — on 
the other, and deriving from the trade his full 
share of profits. 

Great help came to his money-making and 
to his commercial influence from the panic of 
1825. That panic arose partly from the exces- 
sive speculation which then existed in joint- 
stock companies at home, as well as in con- 
tinental mines, American cotton, and other 
branches of foreign commerce. Several Lon- 
don banks failed, and at least eighty country 
banks fell to the ground, the Bank of Eng- 
land itself being only saved by the accidental 
finding of two million one-pound notes that 
had been packed away and lost sight of 
some time before. Even Joseph John Gurney, 
much more of a philanthropist than a banker, 
suffered from the pressure. " Business has 
been productive of trial to me," he wrote in 
characteristic way in his journal, " and has 
led me to reflect on the equity of God, who 
measures out His salutary chastisement, even 
in this world, to the rich as well as the poor. 
I can certainly testify that some of the great- 
est pains and most burdensome cares which I 
have had to endure have arisen out of being 
what is usually called a ' monied man.'" 

His brother, however, was much more mixed 
up in the turmoil. " Knowing intimately, as 
he did, the sufferings which awaited those who 

Gnnuy 's Prosperity. 2j^ 

could no longer command credit or obtain sup- 
plies from other quarters," said one of Samuel 
Gurney's old friends, "his anxiety was felt 
more on others' account than his own," — the 
fact being, that his own financial dealings were 
so sound that he had no fear for himself, and 
only had to settle how to make most money 
with most secondary advantage to those he 
dealt with. " His desire," it is added, "was to 
act fairly and justly to his fellow-creatures, as 
well as to himself; and thus did he move 
onwards, cautiously and step by step through 
those troublous times, lest he should lead any 
into error by his judgment. It was a remark- 
able sight to witness him plunge day b}' day 
into the vortex of City business, and return 
thence to his own domestic hearth without 
any trace of a mammon-loving spirit." 

We can well believe that the honest Quaker 
was reasonably free from the "mammon-loving 
spirit ;" but he knew well how to seek and 
secure his own advancement, and this he did 
very notably, by lending to many houses 
money enough to enable them to tide through 
their difficulties, and so bringing to himself 
much favour and much new custom during 
the following years. From this time forth he 
came to be known as a bankers' banker, taking 
the place, for many, of the Bank of England. 
Hundreds of private banks fell into the way of 

276 A Bankers Banker. 

sending him, from time to time, their surplus 
cash, finding that they were as sure of getting 
it back whenever they wanted it as if they 
had lodged it in the bank of England, and 
that in the meanwhile they were getting 
higher interest for it than the Bank would 
have granted. " We do not feel the slightest 
dependence upon the Bank of England," said 
one of the number, ]\Ir Robert Carr Glynn, in 
1832, "nor do we feel the slightest obligation 
to it in any way." 

Of that sort was the business by which 
Samuel Gurney grew rich himself, and helped 
others to become rich. While he was young 
and vigorous, he made money-getting his one 
grand pursuit. It is said of him that when 
once an elder friend warned him against too 
close attention to the things of this world, he 
replied that he could not help himself — he 
could not live without his business. During 
the last ten or twelve years of his life, however, 
he left nearly all the management in the hands 
of others, and found his occupation in enjoy- 
ment of his princely fortune and application to 
various charitable and philanthropic undertak- 
ings. Charitable he had been all through his 
life. " Many are the solid remembrances of 
the more prominent features of Mr Gurney's 
charities," says his very friendly biographer ; 
" but besides those deeds more generally known 

Gunny s Charities. 277 

to the public, there were many lesser streams 
of silent benevolence still flowing from the 
fountain of love to God and man, which spread 
refreshment around. To many members of his 
large family his kindly aid was given, and it 
might be said that not only there, but else- 
where, he was wonderfully gifted both with the 
will and with the power to help. Besides his 
efficiency in action, his very presence seemed 
to impart strength, courage, and calm in any 
emergency, whilst his practical wisdom, his 
clear and decisive mind, and noble spirit of 
charity, led many to bring cases of difficulty 
before him, knowing from experience how sure 
and effective was his aid. It may be truly 
said of Samuel Gurncy that he loved to do 
good service, whether by advice or money — by 
his sound judgment or well-apportioned aid. 
He really took trouble to serve his fellow- 
creatures, and a narration of his mere alms- 
giving, extensive as it was, would give a very 
limited idea of the good he effected during the 
journey of life," Through the time of his 
greatest wealth, he is reported to have spent 
;^ 10,000 a-year in charities, and one year, it is 
said, the amount exceeded £\^,ooo. 

Many are the records of his kindly disposi- 
tion, shown in little ways and great. " One 
afternoon," says one of his clerks, "as Mr 
Gurncy was leaving Lombard Street, I saw 

278 /// tlic Felon 's Dock. 

him take up a large hamper of game to carry 
to his carriage. I immediately came forward 
and took it from him. He looked pleased, and 
in his powerful and hearty voice exclaimed, 

' Dost thou know H 's in Leadcnhall 

Market .'' ' I replied in the affirmative. ' Then 
go there and order thyself a right down good 
turkey, and put it down to my account' " 

A more important instance of his generosity 
is in the circumstance that when, on one occa- 
sion, a forgery had been committed to the in- 
jury of his Lombard Street house, and the cul- 
prit lay in prison with clear proof of guilt, 
Gurney refused to prosecute him, and so ob- 
tained his release. At another time, we are 
told, " one of the silversmiths in the City, and 
a man of high esteem for his uprightness, was 
accused of forgery. The excitement as to the 
probable result of this inquiry was intense, and 
the opinions of men differed widely. On the 
morning of the decisive day," says the merchant 
who tells the story, " I chanced to hear that my 
friend Gurney was prepared to stand by the 
prisoner in the dock. I immediately proceeded 
to Lombard Street, where I found him occu- 
pied with the vast interests of his business, and 
asked him hastily whether common report were 
true. Upon which he said, ' After a most 
anxious investigation of the matter, I am 
firmly convinced of that man's innocence. I 

G unity 's PhilantJiropy. 279 

deem it my duty to express this conviction 
publicly, and will join him in the felon's dock.' 
And most assuredly he went ; nor could any 
one easily forget the intense sensation produced 
in the crowd of spectators when, on the prisoner 
being conducted to his place, the statel)' figure 
of Samuel Gurney presented itself to the pub- 
lic gaze by the side of the innocent silversmith." 
In mitigation of the laws regarding forgery, 
in company with his brother-in-law, Thomas 
Fowell Buxton, Samuel Gurney first showed 
himself to the world as a philanthropist. He 
also took a lively interest in all plans for im- 
proving and increasing refuges and reforma- 
tories. He was for many years, after the death 
of William Allen, treasurer to the British and 
Foreign School Society, and to other like in- 
stitutions he was always a good friend. Visit- 
ing Ireland in 1849, he astonished the inhabit- 
ants by the liberality with which he drained 
his purse to relieve them, as far as he could, 
amid their sufferings from the potato famine. 
At Ballina he found the town so full of paupers 
that there were none able to pay poor-rates, 
and the workhouse was consequently bankrupt, 
" I found an execution put into it," he said in 
one of his letters, " and all the stock furniture 
is to be sold off this week, when the poor will 
have to lie on straw, and the guardians must 
feed them as well as they can."' I le bought up 

28o The Friend cf All. 

the whole of the furniture for ;;^200, in order 
that, being his property, it might be saved from 
the creditors. 

In 1848 Gurney gave ;i^iooo to the Govern- 
ment of Liberia, and he alwaj's took great in- 
terest in the prosperity of the little colony of 
freed slaves. Nor was he, like some anti-slavery 
worthies, careful only for the freedom of the 
blacks. In 1852 he sent a petition to the King 
of Prussia, on behalf of his dissenting subjects, 
praying that full religious liberty might be 
accorded them. The King answered that he 
did not mean to do anything that could dis- 
tress "his good friend Gurney." 

Gurney was not a bigot. Some one having 
written to him, in 1855, complaining of the way 
in which Fox and Penn had been spoken of 
by Lord Macaulay, in his History of England, 
he answered thus : — " It is a little mortifying 
that Macaulay should so have held up our 
honourable predecessors ; not that they were 
perfect, or were ever held up as such, as far as 
I know ; but they were extraordinary men, 
wonderfully elucidating and maintaining the 
truth. I am not prepared, however, to say that 
Fox was clear of eccentricities, and that, at 
times, he was not, to a certain extent, under 
such influence on his conduct ; but, taking him 
for all in all, he was wonderfully gifted and 

Saimiel Giirney 's Death. 28 1 

enlightened. It will probably' be considered 
by Friends whether there should be an answer 
somewhat official to those attacks on our two 
worthies. I rather lean to it, although it would 
be impossible to reach wherever Macaulay's 
book may go ; yet, if well done, it might have 
a beneficial efiect upon the public mind, and 
upon our young people. There is, however, 
one consolation. ' The truth as it is in Jesus,' 
— the truth as maintained by Friends — is un- 
changeable, and remains the same, however 
feeble, or even faulty, its supporters may have 
been and are." 

That letter was written from Nice, whither 
Samuel Gurney had gone after the death of his 
wife, hoping to improve the health that had 
been greatly shattered by his loss, and the 
anxiety that preceded it. But in that he was 
mistaken. Growing worse in the spring of 
1856, he hurried homewards, hoping to end his 
days in his own country, and among his own 
kindred. He reached Paris, but could go no 
further. There he died, on the 5th of June, 
1856, seventy years old, and one of the richest 
and most envied men in Europe. 

The house of Ovcrcnd, Gurney, & Company, 
which he made so famous, lasted only ten years 
longer. On Samuel Gurncy's retirement, Mr 
David Barclay Chapman became the chief 

282 Over cud, Giirmy, & Couipariy. 

manager of the business. He retired in turn, 
late in 1857, and then the direction fell into 
less skilful hands. The establishment became 
a Limited Liability Company in August 1865, 
and failed in May 1866. 



|E have already seen how enterprising 
men have come from various parts of 
England and from foreign lands to 
settle in our great metropolis, and to win fame 
and fortune for themselves and to augment 
the wealth and enterprise of their adopted 
house, as famous London merchants. Our last 
hero shall be one, surpassed in worth and 
wisdom by none of his forerunners, who was 
neither an Englishman nor a foreigner, one 
of the famous race of colonists, who, having 
England for their mother-country, have estab- 
lished a greater England on the other side of 
the Atlantic. George Pcabody is only the 
most notable of a crowd of great Americans, 
who, enriching themselves and the land of their 
hirlh, have done no less service to the nation 
from which their own nation is descended. 

The Pcabody family seems to be of Leicester- 
shire origin, but it was from Saint Albans, in 

286 George Peabodj's ScJioolmg. 

Hertfordshire, that Francis Peabody went, in 
1635, to be one of the first settlers in New 
England. He was then twenty-one, and he 
lived sixty- three years in his new home. Six 
sons and eight daughters were born to him, 
and the family multiplied greatly in succeeding 
generations ; Danvers, in Massachusetts, being 
its head-quarters. There George Peabody, the 
great-great-great-grandson of old Francis, the 
patriarch, was born on the i8th of February, 
1795. His parents were not rich, and all the 
education possible to him was obtained in the 
district school of his native town, still little 
more than a village. Even that came to an 
end when he was eleven years old. In 1806 
he became a grocer's boy in Danvers, and he 
was so employed for four or five years. At 
sixteen he went to be clerk to his elder brother, 
who had started a dry-goods store at New- 
bur}-port, in the north-eastern corner of Mas- 
sachusetts ; but only a ic\^ months afterwards 
a great fire broke out in the town, half de- 
stroying it, and ruining the enterprise of the 
brothers. Young Peabody then went to 
Georgetown, in Columbia, where an uncle 
offered him a post in a dry-goods business, 
which he also had just started. 

That was in the spring of 1812. The war of 
18 12 was then breaking out, and the lad be- 
came a volunteer in a company of artillery. 

His Progress hi America. 287 

He was stationed for a few months at Fort 
Warburton, but no active work could be found 
for him or his comrades, and he soon went 
back to his uncle's store. The uncle being a 
poor man, and perhaps not a very clever one, 
the store was not successful, and after two 
years' occupation in it, George Peabody left to 
become manager of another dry-goods business, 
established by a rich Columbian, named Elisha 
Riggs. Elisha Riggs's friends blamed him for 
confiding so much to a youth of only nineteen; 
but his wisdom was soon proved. The busi- 
ness was very successful. In 18 15 it was 
transferred to Baltimore, to be carried on in a 
larger way by the new firm of Riggs & Pea- 
body, which afterwards, on the retirement of 
the senior partner in 1829, was changed to 
Peabody, Riggs, & Company. 

For more than twenty years George Peabody 
lived in Baltimore, working hard at his trade, 
which consisted chiefly in the importation of 
manufactured goods from Europe and their 
sale in America, but to which, almost from the 
first, an irregular sort of banking business was 
added. In 1822 branch businesses were opened 
in Pennsylvania and New York, all being 
under the close superintendence of Peabody. 
He was also occasionally employed in finan- 
cial negotiations for the State of Marjland, 
and these duties, as well as his own trade, 

2 88 Ptabody in London. 

brought him often on short visits to England 
during the ten }'ears following upon 1827. On 
both sides of the Atlantic he won the respect 
of all with whom he came in contact, by " a 
judgment quick and cautious, clear and sound; 
a decided purpose ; a firm will ; energetic and 
persevering industry ; punctuality and fidelity 
in every engagement ; justice and honour con- 
trolling every transaction ; and courtesy, that 
true courtesy which springs from genuine kind- 
ness, presiding over all the intercourse of life." 
In 1836 Peabody resolved to leave the busi- 
ness which he had already made famous in 
other lands, and to extend it mightily by 
opening an establishment, under his own man- 
agement, in London. Since February 1837, 
London has been his adopted home, and 
fortune, favouring him amid the misfortunes of 
others, came with him. The summer of 1837 
was a time of great commercial crisis in 
America and among English merchants whose 
chief trade was with the American continent. 
Three-quarters of all the banks in the United 
States fell one after another with a tremendous 
crash, and thousands of traders, hitherto pros- 
perous, were ruined by the catastrophe. "That 
great sympathetic nerve of the commercial 
world, credit," said George Peabody's friend, 
Edward Everett, the great author, orator, and 
diplomatist, twenty years afterwards, " as far 

TJie Ca2isc of his Success. 289 

as the United States were concerned, was for 
the time paralysed. At that moment, Mr 
Peabody not only stood firm himself, but was 
the cause of firmness in others. There were 
not at that time, probably, half-a-dozen other 
men in Europe who, upon the subject of 
American securities, would have been listened 
to for a moment in the parlour of the Bank of 
England. But his judgment commanded re- 
spect ; his integrity won back the reliance 
which men had been accustomed to place in 
American securities. The reproach in which 
they were all involved was gradually wiped 
away from those of a substantial character ; 
and if, on this solid basis of unsuspected good 
faith, he reared his own prosperity, let it be 
remembered that at the same time he retrieved 
the credit of the State of Maryland, of which 
he was agent — performing the miracle by 
which the word of an honest man turns paper 
into gold." 

That excellent beginning of his career in 
London placed Peabody in the foremost rank of 
merchant princes. In London and in all parts 
of England he bought British manufactures for 
shipment to the United States, and the ships 
came back freighted with every kind of Ameri- 
can produce for sale in England. To that 
lucrative occupation, however, was added one 
far more lucrative. The merchants and manu- 


290 Pea body as a Danker. 

facturcrs on both sides of the Atlantic, who 
transmitted their goods tlirough him, some- 
times procured from him advances on account 
of the goods in his possession long before they 
were sold. At other times they found it con- 
venient to leave large sums in his hands long 
after the goods were disposed of, knowing that 
they could draw whenever they needed, and 
that in the meanwhile their money was being 
so profitably invested that they were certain 
of a proper interest for their loans. Thus, he 
became a great banker as well as a great mer- 
chant, and, ultimately, much more of a banker 
than a merchant. 

From the year 1843 especially, when he 
retired from the house of Peabody, Riggs, & 
Company, and founded the much greater house 
of George Peabody & Company, he ran a race 
with other great monetary trackers like Samuel 
Gurney, the Rothschilds, and the Barings. 
The Barings having most to do with American 
commerce, were his chief rivals ; and here the 
friendly rivalry was carried on with a native of 
his own country. The working head of the 
house of Baring at this time was Joshua Bates, 
who was born at Weymouth, near Boston, in 
1788. In 1825, having previously had many 
dealings with the family, he came to London 
to become a member of the famous establish- 
ment, and from 1828 till the time of his death 

An Atiglo-Ajncrican. 291 

in 1864 he was its principal manager. For 
many years he was in intimate friendship with 
Coleridge, and during that period Bates's 
drawing-room was a favourite haunt of the 
admirers of the great thinker and great talker. 
Another of Joshua Bates's friends was Prince 
Louis Napoleon. The intimacy which existed 
before 1848 between the wealthy merchant and 
the eccentric refugee continued without hind- 
rance, it is said, after the refugee had become 
Emperor of the French. Bates was of generous 
disposition, and, among other benefactions, 
gave more than ^^ 20,000 to found and main- 
tain the free library of Boston. 

Much greater and wider have been the 
philanthropies of George Peabody. From the 
commencement of his wealth-winning, he put 
his riches and the influence that came with 
them to good use. Of his trading establish- 
ment, he said : " I have endeavoured, in the 
constitution of its members and the character 
of its business, to make it an American house, 
and to give it an American atmosphere, to 
furnish it with American journals, to make it 
a centre of American news, and an agreeable 
place for my American friends visiting Lon- 
don." An American himself, who had become 
a citizen of London, he did his utmost to 
strengthen the bonds of friendship between 
the United States and Great Britain. During 

292 Pcabody's Good Work. 

many years, until it was deemed more suitable 
that the whole body of American residents in 
London should unite in the work, he celebrated 
the famous Fourth of July with a sumptuous 
dinner, at which the leading men of both 
countries were invited to join in the fostering 
of international friendship. To him were due 
the principal arrangements for organising and 
making conspicuous the wonderful display of 
American manufactures at the great Exhibi- 
tion of 185 1, and an entertainment given by 
him, at the London Coffee-House, on the 27th 
of October in that year, was everywhere re- 
cognised at the time as an unparalleled occasion 
for the interchange of national courtesies and 
the strengthening of national good-will. 

These were matters which, by reason of their 
practical results, were not to be thought lightly 
of. But the daily influences of his honest life 
and stupendous work were yet more moment- 
ous. So, too, the private charities which pre- 
ceeded and attended his great acts of public 
benevolence have been of no mean importance. 
Acquiring great wealth, he has always used it 

From the first he showed himself a good 
friend to his native village, since grown into a 
prosperous town. Once, when it was grievously 
injured by fire, he helped to rebuild it, and, 
over and over again, he furnished fresh tokens 

His Charities in America. 293 

of his generous remembrance of it. In 1S52, 
on the occasion of a public celebration, he sent 
from London a letter, asking that he might not 
be forgotten in the rejoicings of his friends, 
and enclosing a sentiment, which was not to 
be opened until the proper time for toast- 
giving at the dinner. The sentiment was : 
'* Education, a debt due from present to future 
generations," and as his share in payment ol 
the debt, he placed in the envelope a draft for 
;iC4,000, to be applied to " the promotion of 
knowledge and morality in Danvers." Out of 
that gift grew the Peabody Institute, to which 
he afterwards subscribed upwards of £^,qqo 

In 1856 he went to Danvers, to revisit the 
scenes of his childhood, and to receive the 
honours which his fellow-townsmen were eager 
to offer. " Though Providence," he then said, 
"has granted me an unvaried and unusual 
success in the pursuit of fortune in other lands, 
I am still in heart the humble boy who left 
yonder unpretending dwelling. Tiiere is not 
a youth within the sound of my voice whose 
early opportunities and advantages arc not 
very much greater than were my own, and I 
have since achieved nothing that is impo.ssiblc 
to the HK^st humble boy among you." 

Another famous instance of George Pea- 
body's generosity was in a gift of ;^ 100,000 to 

294 '^^'^ Pcabody A bnshouscs. 

Baltimore, for the establishment of an Edu- 
cational Institute, which should also contain a 
free library, an academy of music, and a gal- 
lery of art. In 1866 he gave ;{^30,000 to the 
Harvard University. A yet greater instance 
sifrnaliscd his retirement from the commercial 
world of London in 1862. He then placed in 
the hands of trustees ;^i 50,000, to be so ex- 
pended as "to ameliorate the condition of the 
poor and needy of this great metropolis, and 
to promote their comfort and happiness ; " and 
suggested that the best way of carr}'ing out 
his intentions would be " to apply the fund, or 
a portion of it, in the construction of such im- 
proved dwellings for the poor as may combine, 
in the utmost possible degree, the essentials of 
healthfulncss, comfort, social enjoyment, and 
economy." That suggestion being adopted, 
commodious buildings have been set up, or 
are still being erected, at Spitalfields and at 
Chelsea, with accommodation for about two 
hundred persons in each ; at Bermondsey, 
large enough for about four hundred ; at 
Islington, adapted for six hundred and fifty ; 
and at Shadwell, for a yet larger number of 
inmates. In continuance of this good work, the 
benefactor applied a further sum of ^^ 100,000 
in 1866, and a second sum of like amount on 
the 5th of December 1868. 

The modest, manly letter to the trustees 

A Fresh Act of Gmerosity. 295 

announcing this fresh act of munificence, is 
worth quoting entire : — 

'•My Lord and Gentlemen, — I beg to 
acquaint you, who have so kindly undertaken 
the management of the fund set apart under 
my second deed of gift of the 19th of April 
1866, for the benefit of the poor of London 
and its vicinit}', that, in pursuance of an inten- 
tion which 1 have entertained since the crea- 
tion of that fund, I am desirous now of adding 
to it a further sum of ;^ioo,ooo. 

" In contemplation of this, I purchased, 
about three years ago, a tract of freehold build- 
ing land, of about fifteen acres in extent, at 
Brixton, near the City of London School, 
easily accessible, and within a few minutes' 
walk of frequent trains to and from London. 
This land has increased in value, and can now 
be let, on building leases of eighty years, at 
rents producing about 8 per cent, per annum 
on the cost, which is ^{^ 16,285 ^7'^- 3<J- This 
land I propose to convey to you with the 
same powers as are conferred by the deed 
over the other property of this trust, and with 
discretion to you cither to deal with it as a 
source of income by letting it, or any portion 
of it, on lease ; or, should you deem it expe- 
dient, to retain it in your own hands as sites 
for dwellings to be erected by the trust. 

296 Princely Benevolence. 

" Pursuant to my letter of the 29th January 
1866, I transferred to you, subject to a contin- 
gency therein explained, 5000 shares in the 
Hudson's Bay Company, which accordingly 
stand in your names, together with 642 addi- 
tional shares purchased by the reinvestment 
of the accruing income of the previous 5000. 
These 5642 shares I have since redeemed, 
conformably to the deed of the 19th April 
1866, by the payment of ;iCioo,ooo on the ist 
February last. I have now to acquaint you 
that it is my intention, so soon as the neces- 
sary deeds can be prepared, to hand the shares 
over to you to be retained or dealt with, ac- 
cording to your best judgment and discretion. 
The price of these shares shall be fixed on the 
17th inst. by the Stock Exchange sales on 
that day, when I will hand to you a cheque for 
the balance to make the gift a cash value of 
ii^iOO,000. This amount will increase my for- 
mer donation of the second trust to ^^ 200,000, 
and, including my gift under the first trust in 
March 1862, of ;^i 50,000, a total of ;^35o,ooo. 
" I trust you will see manifested in this 
further donation an expression of my entire 
satisfaction with the manner in which you have 
conducted the affairs of the trusts. — I am, with 
great respect, your humble servant, 

" George Peabody." 

A Modern Hero. 297 

It is not strange that a man so generous as 
this should be publicly thanked for his bene- 
factions by the United States Congress and 
the Queen of England ; or that spontaneous 
praises of him should rise from the hearts of 
millions on both sides of the Atlantic, to find 
utterance sometimes in verses like the follow- 
ing :— 

" We mourned the old chivalric times, 

Their virtues, with their glories, dead — 
Life stricken wholly from romance — 

' And what is left to us 1 ' we said. 
Up through the land the murmur rose : 

' Oh for the days that are no more, 
\Vhen love of God wrought love of man, 

And all were human to the core ! 

" ' The great Arthurian days we mourn, 

And all the lapsing years that wrouglit 
Change after change, yet evermore 

Some varying phase of splendour caught ; 
Still noble deeds, still gentle lives, 

Till every knightly heart grew cold, 
And Valour's sunset-radiance lit 

The tournay of the Cloth of Gold 

" ' The poetry of earth is dead :* 

What lesser griefs should we bemoan, 

• " The poetry of earth is never dead."— Keak. 

298 /;/ Praise of Pcahody. 

With Science in the place of Faith, 

With quicken'd brains and hearts of stone 1 

Our noblest triumphs mock our skill, 
We link the Continents in vain — 

It onl)' tends to sordid ends, 
And whets the appetite for gain.' 

" So from our lips remonstrance fell, 

When through the land a rumour went, — 
' The old heroic fire revives — 

Its pulsing fervour is not spent ! 
The record of the glowing past 

Shows in its dim and doubtful page 
No deed like that which greets the eyes 

Of this debased, prosaic age. 

" ' For lo ! a Queen of sovereign sway, 

Of zoneless empire, quits her throne, 
Stooping to v/elcome one who comes 

A stranger, nameless and unknown : 
No comely youth in knightly guise 

Shining at ruffled beauty's knees — 
A silver'd head, a homely form — 

No more the queenly woman sees. 

" ' No more ; but in her heart there glows 
The memory of a nol)le deed, 
Of succour to her people lent, 

Of princely aid in sorest need. 
And gracious is her tearful smile 

As forth she thrusts a trembling hand, 

In Praise of Pcabody. 299 

And bids him in her name receive 
The homage of her grateful land.' 

" Homage to Goodness ! Queenly meed 

Of generous thanks to simple Worth ! 
Thus does the old chivalric soul 

Survive in us of later birth ; 
Nor doubt its promptings in the heart 

Of him, — his nation's noblest son, — 
The largesse of whose liberal hand 

A sovereign's thanks has rightly won. 

" Never did truer beauty clotlie 

The radiant limbs of courtly knight, 
Than clothes that brow serenely smooth, 

And fills those eyes with gentle light. 
To latest times that homely form, 

And that familiar, kindly face, 
The holier memories of men 

Will with a tender beauty grace. 

"' ^\'Tlere'er that honoured name is heard 

The tears will gleam in woman's eyes ; 
The hearts of men will stir and creep, 

And blessings to their lips will rise. 
Though Science join'd the sundcr'd worlds, 

It needed yet what he has done, — 
A noble action, meekly wrougiu. 

Has knit the hearts of both in one. 

"Yes, and as, far above the glow, 

AMicn all the West is fierce with flame, 

300 Modern London Commerce. 

A faint star brightens to the night, 
Decp'ning about it — so his fame, 

Surviving all the transient bloom 

That makes the passing present bright, 

Will shine, and still resplendent shine, 
An orb of ever-gathering light." 

[From London Society, October 1866.] 

George Peabody has earned all that honour 
by reason of his princely benefactions ; but 
there has been no less benefaction in his 
honest pursuit of commerce, during more 
than twenty years in Baltimore and five- 
and-twenty years in London. Every honest 
merchant is a benefactor, as thereby he aids 
the progress of all classes of society in wealth 
and civilisation. 

The sum of the benefactions of the merchants 
of London is to be seen in its present pros- 
perity. The prophecy of Pope has been more 
than fulfilled :— 

" The time shall come, when, free as sea or wind, 
Unbounded Thames shall flow for all mankind; 
Whole nations enter at each swelling tide, 
And seas but join the regions they divide." 

London is now the great emporium of the 
world. In it are assembled traders of every 
race, who deal in the produce of every quarter 
of the globe. About 30,000 ships enter it each 

The Eviporiuvi of tJic World. 301 

year, bearing more than 6,000,000 tons of 
cargo, valued at considerably more than 
£lo,ooo,QQO : and the same ships take back 
to the lands from which they came an equal 
quantity of goods of almost greater value. 
Chief among its annual imports are about 
400,000 oxen, sheep, and cows ; more than 
3,000,000 quarters of corn ; 300,000 tons of 
sugar ; more than 80,000,000 pounds of tea, 
and more than 70,000,000 pounds of coffee ; 
about 16,000,000 gallons of wines and spirits, 
md more than 35,000,000 pounds of tobacco; 
an immeasurable store of all sorts of miscel- 
laneous articles of food, including 10,000,000 
pounds of pepper alone ; a supply, no less 
various and extensive, of dyes, drugs, and 
the like ; more than 80,000,000 pounds of 
wool ; and more than 30,000 tons of metal. 
In return for these imports, it exports each 
year about ;^9,ooo,ooo worth of textile 
fabric, cotton, woollen, linen, and silk, besides 
about ;^ 1, 500,000 worth of made-up clothing, 
and leather of nearly the same value ; nearly 
il'6,000,000 worth of rough metals, and finished 
machinery to be sold for about _^9,000,000. 
In other words, though robbed of the Fast 
India monopoly, it still has more than three- 
quarters of the stupendous trade that lias 
grown up with India, receiving nearly all its 
produce, with the exception of cotton, which 

303 The Trade of London. 

goes direct to Liverpool or Glasgow. It re- 
ceives nearly seven-eighths of the coffee sent 
from Ceylon, and from China it imports nearly 
all the tea sent to this country, with about a 
third of its silk. Australia sends to London 
more than half of the wool grown for English 
use ; and to it come about a fifth of the corn, 
and a sixth of the wool, nearly half of the 
tobacco, and quite half of the sugar despatched 
to Great Britain from the West Indies and the 
continent of America. Moreover, it absorbs 
more than half of the English trade with 
Europe, receiving about a quarter of the grain, 
about half of the provisions, about two-thirds 
of the wines and spirits, and nearly all the live 
cattle, with a goodly share of all the other 
commodities that arc brought thence for sale 
among us. In return for these imports, it ex- 
ports a sixth of the textile fabrics, cotton, 
woollen, linen, and silk that are manufactured 
in England for foreign or colonial use, a quar- 
ter of the wrought and unwrought metals, and 
a third of the finished machinery, about half 
of the leather, and more than half of the pro- 
visions and miscellaneous articles which are 
sent abroad each year. 

Some notion of the extent of London com- 
merce may be gathered from the nature of the 
docks which it employs. In former times, the 
old-fashioned quays and wharves of the Thames 

The Docks of London. 305 

served for all the loading and unloading that 
had to be done. But near the middle of the 
eighteenth century these whar\'cs and quays 
began to be quite insufficient for the growing 
wants of commerce. At last, in 1796, a plan 
was started by the West India merchants for 
the construction of a dock and adjacent ware- 
houses adapted to the trade in which they were 
engaged. The projected capital of ;^8oo,ooo 
was subscribed in a couple of days ; and after 
five years spent in obtaining the sanction of 
Parliament, the West India Docks were begun 
in iSoo, and opened for business in 1802. In 
1 801 the London Docks were commenced, to 
be finished in 1805, at a cost of ;C2,ooo,ooo. 
They were 100 acres in extent, with room for 
500 ships at a time, and with warehouses large 
enough to hold 230,000 tons of the wine, 
brandy, tobacco, rice, and miscellaneous arti- 
cles for which they were specially designed. 
The East India Docks were sanctioned in 
1803, "for the accommodation of the East 
India shipping of the Port of London." In 1838 
they were united with the West India Docks, 
the two having a surface of 87 acres, with room 
«for 624 vessels, and warehouses able to contain 
about 200,000 tons of goods. On one occasion 
there was lodged in them ;{^20,000,000 worth of 
colonial produce, comprising 148,563 casks of 
sugar, 70,895 barrels and 33,648 bags of coffee, 

3o6 TJicir Vast Extent. 

35,158 pipes of rum and Madeira, 14,000 logs 
of mahogany, and 21,000 tons of logwood. 
These three establishments had, for some 
twenty years, a monopoly in the dock-business 
of London. In 1823 the Saint Katherine's 
Docks were instituted " on the principle of free 
competition in trade, and without any exclu- 
sive privileges and immunities," as it was 
declared in the Act of Parliament permitting 
them. They were constructed by Telford in 
more imposing shape than any of the others, 
on as much space as could be obtained between 
the London Docks and the Tower. That 
space measured 23 acres, and was obtained by 
the demolition of 1250 houses, and the turning 
out of 11,300 residents in them, at a cost of 
about ;^2,ooo,ooo ; but it was soon found to be 
wholly inadequate to the wants of the city. 
Therefore, in 1850, the Victoria Docks were set 
up, with all the later appliances of engineering 
and mechanical progress. In i860 the Victoria 
Docks gave shelter to 2682 ships, with a burthen 
of 850,327 tons ; the East and West India 
Docks to 1200 ships carrying 498,366 tons; 
the London Docks to 1032 ships with 424,338 
tonnage ; and the Saint Katherine's Docks toi 
905 ships with 223,397 tonnage. Very exten- 
sive also are the Commercial Docks on the 
south side of the Thames. 

In general commerce London engrosses 

Trade in Bullion. ^oy 

nearly a fourth of the whole business of Great 
Britain. It has almost a monopoly in another 
branch of trade. Nearly all the gold and 
silver bullion and specie, either imported or 
exported, enters, quits, or passes through the 
town in which the Bank of England and the 
Mint are lodged. In 1865, London received 
gold valued at ^5,045,000 from Australia, 
;{^4,298,ooo from the United States, and 
i^5, 1 26,000 from other places ; in all, 
;^i4,469,ooo ; of which rather more than half 
was sent abroad again, ;{^6,o72,ooo to the Con- 
tinent of Europe, ;^575,ooo to India and Egypt, 
;^r, 581,000 to Brazil and South America, and 
;{r245,ooo to other places. In the same year 
^^^4,923,000 came to London in silver from 
Mexico, ^72,000 from Brazil, ;6"i, 654,000 from 
the Continent, and ;^3o6,ooo from other parts, 
in all, ;{;"6,95 5,000 ; and of this nearly all was 
sent abroad again, ^^3,801,000 to India and 
Egypt, £S'702,ooo to the Continent, and 
;^ 193,000 to other parts. 

These figures show an excess of imports 
over exports, in gold and silver bullion and 
specie, of ;^6,254,ooo. The increased wealth 
pf the country, however, is by no means indi- 
cated by the increase of gold and silver in its 
possession. Wealth is now understood to be 
neither money by itself, according to the shal- 
low systems of economical science that pre- 

3o8 Money and Wealth. 

ceded the times of Adam Smith, nor, as Adam 
Smith defined it, " the annual produce of the 
land and labour of society ;" but " all useful or 
agreeable things which possess exchangeable 
value." This, indeed, is the oldest view of all. 
" We call wealth," said Aristotle, " everything 
whose value is measured by money " — money 
being the most convenient standard of mea- 
surement, or the most portable representative of 
the wealth, which is composed alike of land and 
its material products, such as the houses that 
are built on it, the corn that is grown from it, 
the minerals that are dug out of it, and the 
thousand and one manufactured articles that 
result from its cultivation ; of the labour that 
is expended upon those operations, and in all 
other exercises of muscle and brain ; and of 
incorporeal, transferable property, like shares 
in trading companies, mortgages on material 
possessions, or property in the public funds. 
" A simple invention it was," says Mr Carlyle, 
"in the old-world grazier, sick of lugging his 
slow ox about the country till he got it bar- 
tered for corn or oil, to take a piece of leather, 
and thereon scratch or stamp the mere figure 
of an ox, or pccus : put it in his pocket, and 
call itpccimiay money. Yet hereby did barter 
grow sale ; the leather money is now golden 
and paper, and all miracles have been out- 
miracled ; for there are Rothschilds and Eng- 

Trade in Money. 309 

Hsh National Debts ; and whoso has sixpence 
is sovereign — to the length of sixpence — over 
all men ; commands cooks to feed him, phi- 
losophers to teach him, kings to mount guard 
over him to the length of sixpence." Money 
now really consists, not only of the coin issued 
from the Mint, and of the notes issued from 
the Bank of England on the security of the 
coin or bullion retained in its cofifers, and of 
the debts for which Government is answerable, 
but also of all other marketable symbols of 
property. Bills of exchange, promissor}'- notes, 
and all the various paper equivalents of wealth, 
real or assumed, arc now of vastly more exten- 
sive currency than that which has the Mint 
mark, or the Bank of England stamp. 

And the trade in these materials is, now-a- 
days, the most gigantic of all. The farmer 
and the miner bring to light the buried trea- 
sures of the earth ; tho manufacturer makes 
those treasures available for use ; and the mer- 
chant cither brings them together for manu- 
facture, or, when they are manufactured, sends 
them far and near to every district that is in 
need of them ; but it is the banker who pro- 
vides the circulating medium, without which 
none of those businesses could conveniently or 
cfTiciently be carried on. The richest and most 
influential men in all the world are now the 
bankers and bill-discounters, the negotiators 

3IO TJic Stock ExcJiaugc. 

of foreign wants, and other dealers in public 
credit. Hence the vast importance of the 
Stock Exchange, in which millions pass each 
day from hand to hand, partly in answer to 
the healthy requirements of trade, and partly, 
perhaps chiefly, in furtherance of wanton and 
often ruinous speculation. The great financial 
question of the day is, how to regulate this in- 
stitution so as best to meet the needs of honest 
trading, and to leave least room for the gam- 
bling and fraud which are the chief causes of 
money panics and commercial disasters. But 
there can be no question as to the magnitude 
of its operations, and the extent of its influ- 
ence. In 1865, besides all its traffic in the 
English funds, in foreign shares, and in the 
shares of the innumerable public companies 
already in existence, the Stock Exchange was 
the scene of negotiation for six new foreign 
loans, amounting in all to ^^"46,236,363, and 
for two hundred and eighty-seven companies, 
with a professed capital of i^ 106,99 5, 000, all 
available for speculative purposes, and with an 
actual deposit of iJ 12, 174,790. 

But the commercial importance of London 
is greater even than any statistics would 
imply. The chief centre of trading life, vast 
transactions, are carried on in it, which are in 
no way represented by its own imports and ex- 
ports. Its merchants buy in other markets goods 

TJie Empire of Commerce. 3 1 1 

for other markets, without their being required 
to pass through London at all. Men like 
George Peabody, the Barings, and the Roths- 
childs sit like kings upon commercial thrones, 
and issue mandates that are obeyed, in every 
quarter of the world, with a promptitude and 
thoroughness that despots might envy. And 
the wealth that they win by their enterprise 
makes them richer than many sovereigns. To 
understand the profits of London merchants, 
we must measure their landed possessions, and 
see the places they have attained in the ranks 
of the aristocracy. From the time when com- 
merce began to be important in Enj^lish his- 
tory, the wealth and worth of its leading men 
have won for them high rank and honour; 
and more great families owe their origin to 
trade than to any other calling. Some have 
attained nobility, like the Dukes of Leeds, 
who trace their pedigree to Ned Osborne, the 
London 'prentice of Queen Elizabeth's days, 
and the family of Barings, now possessed of 
two titles, Ashburton and Northbrookc. Others 
are no less eminent as commoners, whether 
their eminence is in their wealth, like that of 
the Rothschilds, or their worth, like that of 
Cobden, a merchant himself, or Gladstone, the 
son of a merchant. 

Here, then, our brief sketches of famous 

312 TJie Development of Trade. 

London merchants come to an end. We have 
seen how the general influences of civilisation 
have been wisely strengthened by a few 
notable men in the direction of trading enter- 
prise. The few whose lives wc have glanced 
at are only conspicuous specimens of the many 
who have made London and its commerce 
what they now are. They are only some of 
the captains of a vast army, which has been 
fighting zealously for English advancement 
and the civilisation of the whole world during 
half-a-dozen centuries. 

There was fighting in long previous cen- 
turies, but, as far as England and London were 
concerned, only by an untrained rabble. There 
were merchants of a humbler sort in very an- 
cient times. Their fundamental principles of 
action were the same as those of the most 
enlightened and prosperous men of modern 
times. To utilise the treasures of the earth, to 
subject them to skilful handiwork, directed by 
skilful headwork, and then to exchange the 
commodities they had produced for the com- 
modities produced by others, — this was their 
attempt. But at first the attempt was neces- 
sarily feeble. The best workers were very 
ignorant, and they were opposed by people 
more ignorant than themselves. English com- 
merce made but poor strides until its worthies 
learnt to band themselves together, as we have 

Ttu Progress of Trade. 3 1 3 

seen them doing in the trading companies and 
the guilds of the Middle Ages. That was the 
first effort at organising the great army of 
commerce, and by this means famous triumphs 
were attained. In course of time, however, the 
discipline of these guilds and companies proved 
oppressive to their most enterprising members, 
who broke from the ranks to achieve special 
triumphs, either as independent toilers or as 
founders of new trading associations, which, in 
turn, did excellent work, and were superseded 
when that work was done. So it was with 
men like Whittington and Grcsham ; so with 
such institutions as the Turkey and F.ast India 

In the meanwhile commerce progressed. Un- 
like the armies of contending nations, in which 
disaffection is dangerous and mutiny fatal, 
the great army of peaceful traders prcjfitcd by 
every disaffection, and every mutiny which had 
any principle of wisdom and justice in it has 
been wholly beneficial. The only evils that 
have arisen have been those based on false 
views of trade and its transactions, exhibited 
in crises like those of the South-Sea Bubble 
and its bursting, and the many smaller panics 
of recent times. These evils, however, were 
short-lived, and very .slight in comparison of 
the good that has prevailed in spite of tlicm, 
Commerce has advanced with giant strides. 

314 l^he Progress of Trade. 

and no part of the world has gained more by 
the advance than London. 

On the ruins of an old Roman camp has 
arisen the richest and busiest city in the world. 
Its ships bring the produce of every clime to 
add to the comfort and welfare of its citizens, 
and all connected with them ; but more, its 
ships bear civilisation and all its blessings to 
every clime. Surely then, in spite of the sel- 
fishness of some and the folly of others, a high 
place in the catalogue of heroes and philan- 
thropists is due to Famous London Mer- 

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Choice Illustrated Books. 

The Rose-bud Stories — One Shilling Each. 

A Winter's Wreath of Illustrative Tales. Edited by Ladv 

CitARi.oTTR Law. And, Symtatiiy : a Tale. By E. A. M. 

The "Winter's Wreath" includes the stirring story of tlie life of sturdy George 

Stephenson; tlie Christmas Rose, a tale of love and constancy; the Adventures of 

"Old Bob," an African Negro ; and the Narrative of Alice St Maur, the Lost Child. 

Susan and the Doll; or, Do not be Covetou.s. And, The Little 
Orphan's History; or, Everything for the Best. By Caroline LiiiCESTER. 
The evil of covetousness and the blessing of a cheerful and contented spirit are the 
points chiefly illustrated in this little volume. 

A Child's First Book about Birds. By a Country Clerfryman. 

In a scries of conversations about birds, their habits and peculiarities are amus- 
ingly brought forward, while an excellent moral is always inculcated. Thus, " The 
Starling and the Linnet" shows the bitterness of strife; "The Magpie and Wood- 
Pigeon " the excellence of honesty. Much useful knowledge is conveyed by these 
entertaining stories. 

Little Paul and his Moss- Wreaths; or, The King and the Boy 
who kept his Word. By Angehka von Lagerstrom. Together with the 
Story of Little George Bell. 
"We are poor, but we shall be happy if we shun sin and do that which is right," 
is the moral of the story of " Little Paul." " Little George Bell " i; a narrative of 
the misfortunes of a child stolen by beggars, but after some time accidentally dis- 
covered by his mother through the agency of the good dog Dash. 

Easy Talks for Little Folks. By the Author of " Little Crumbs," 
&c. And, May-Day; or. Anecdotes of Miss Lydia Lively. Edited by L. 
A volume for very young children, replete with such counsel and encouragement 
as young children need, and containing some brief and simple tales in which the 
advantages of a good temper, a generous disposition, and industrious habits are in- 
sisted upon. 

Juvenile Tales for Juvenile Readers. By Charlotte Eliza- 

The "Juvenile Tales" by this popular authoress embodied in the present selection 
are — Charlie's Wish ; or. Do Buy me a Ponv ' — Thomas and his Marbles ; or. Don't 
play for Money; — The Fragments; or, the Value of Scraps; — and The Nestlings. 
The goodness of God unto His creatures is the theme of the last-mentioned nar- 

Six Short Stories for Short People. By the Rev. F. W. Bouverie, 

Author of " Life and its Lessons," &c. 
These short Stories are devoted to the enforcement of simple but important truths. 
Their titles indicate their object : "As if I cared for a Prize," or, the folly of indif- 
ference in a good cause; "Never Mind; ' "If you don't, I'll tell;" "Please, 
Mamma, it wasn't my fault;" "Nobody loves me;" and "I'm sure I'm quite as 
good .IS anybody." 

The Captive Skylark ; or. Do as You would be Done By. A Tale. 
By Madame de Chatelain. 
" Do as you would be done by," — the second great commandment of the New 
Testament — is the secret of present happiness and future bliss. Madame de Chate- 
lain has shown in this graceful little volume tlie good that flows from the observance 
of the Scriptural injunction. 


Los Angeles 
Tliis book is DUE on the last date stamped below. 


^Ri:"-- AUG 1J71 

I V > 



REC'D in-lfRf, 



H0>J Uiftkii 

'JAN 1 e 19^ 

;iUm-7,'68(J1895s4) — C-l'^U 



3 1158 01052 9617 


AA 000 656 336