THE SPECTATOR COMPANY, Sole Selling Agents, 95 William St., New York. COPYRIGHT 1900 BY H. T. LAMEY PRESS OF WOODWARD & TIERNAN PRINTING CO. ST. LOUIS encircle /M^b fir r CONTENTS PART I THE IXJCAL AGENT EXPECTATION CHAP. I Of My Parentage, Birth and Education. II The Country Editor. Ill My First Agency. IV The Town and My Associates. V Antecedents of My Competitors. VI The Office Clerk. VII A Missouri Rate. VIII Reorganizing the Lo- cal Board. IX Soliciting Business . X Men I have Met. XI Local Observations. XII The Financial Problem. XIII The American Agency System. XIV A Message From the Far West. XV-A Visit to Texas. PART II THE SPECIAL AGENT REALIZATION CHAP. I Introduces the Special. II The New Man. Ill The State Board. IV A Delinquent Agent. V Planting an Agency in Missouri. VI Inspections. VII Changing an Agency in Kansas. VIII Cultivating the Agents. IX My First Loss. X A Special's Decalogue. XI -The Hail Man. XII An Adjuster's Yarn. " XIII The Public Adjuster. XIV Agens Speciarius. XV Autographic Biog- raphy of Jones. PART III THE MANAGER DISENCHANTMENT CHAP. I Introductory. II The Manager. Ill Responsibility. IV Ethics. V Legislation. VI The Rate. " VII The Individual Rate. CHAP. VIII Insurance Associa- tions. IX Organization and Co-operation. X Diagnosis. XI Prescription. " XII Conclusion. PREFACE HE reader may blame the Editor for the lack of conse- cution in Mr. Jones' Me'moires. They were as voluminous as a last century romance, and as prosy as the sermons he might have delivered. The Editor is also responsible for the suppression of three-fourths of his manuscript, but not for all of his opinions. Opinion is so much a matter of temperament and environment that a change in either may produce different conclusions. If you do not agree with all his dicta, it may be attributed to difference in tem- perament, for Jones was red-haired. Judged by his Me'moires, he was, with one exception, an ordinary business man. He says he was large and strong, from which I infer that his digestion was good. Yet there are many symptoms of the pessimist, a physical and mental combination most extraordinary. He begins life (7) jokingly, and his jibes grow progressively sarcastic, cynical and Schopenhauerish. Disenchantment follows the realization of his expectations. How many of his middle-aged readers can reconstruct the process from experience? The tale of his commonplace life is told with- out literary pretensions. If the story be dull and uninteresting, it is still a fair caricature of the business in his time, and is overdrawn only enough to accentuate some of the abuses that have grown into and become a part of the agency system. As he is not a reincarnation of Dickens, it is too much to expect that his satire may correct bad practices; but some of them may be abated, or at least deserve the contempt born of familiarity. Few who have not had personal experience are at all acquainted with the lot of the Country Agent, though some of the foremost American Underwriters began their insurance career in the country town. If he deserves or receives any sympathy, it will be from men familiar with the great expectation, and consequent disappoint- ment, of the humble country agent. His city brother is trained in a different groove, and can see beyond the tinsel of title and authority. He lives so near the throne, that he cannot conceive of such innocence ; he is disenchanted from birth. The business future is unpromising, but it is not hopeless. Napoleon arose out of the chaos of Revolution, and, under his guidance, anarchy became order; weakness was converted into strength. Strong men are the product of desper- ate situations. May we not expect the coming of a Moses who will lead us through the Wilderness? THE EDITOR. PART I EXPECTATION CHAPTER I OF MY PARENTAGE, BIRTH AND EDUCATION N the middle of the nineteenth Century, before the discovery of petroleum, Northwest Pennsylva- nia was noted for its hills without soil, good timber, abundance of game, rough roads, poor trans- portation facilities, and self-sus- taining, self-supporting people. The Allegheny River was the highway, rafts were the vehicles, and Pittsburgh was the Mecca. All that portion of the State was out West, Ohio being 'way out West. The early settlers were the Dutch from East of the mountains, Scotch-Irish, and a few trans- planted French peasants, wooden shoes, supersti- tion and all. Everyone knows of the Pennsylva- nia Dutchman and his peculiarities. He is fre- quently born in a log house, while his cattle live in a frame barn. He works in the field fifteen (13) 14 MEMOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES hours a day, and at least three hours about his stable; thrives through hard work and economy, and thus leaves to the next generation better prospects than he himself inherited. The Scotch- Irish are more ascetic and hard-headed, with strong, well-disciplined religious convictions and prejudices. They make steady citizens, of robust constitutions and healthy blood. Such was the time and place of my nativity, and as indicated, I am a Dutch- Irishman, differing from Cun- ningham in that he is an Irish- Dutchman. The ascetic pre- dominated in the home life and morals of both. Neither of us were permitted to whistle on a Sunday when we were boys, and I attribute the sedate and austere manners and conduct of the lat- ter to his early training. However, I do not set much store upon my Geburtsort. We Americans are so migratory that home does not mean as much to us as to our old world ancestors. The chief point is that I was born, not where or when. AN INSURANCE MAN 15 The writer of an autobiography should com- mence early. With due reference to the good example he is to set his readers, his youth should be filled with noble thoughts and aspirations, thus distinguishing him from the common herd. Alas, even the uncommon youngster if there be one is much like Gargantua in his childhood, differing from other children only in degree, and giving little promise of his future greatness. There are prodigies and good children, but they mostly go crazy or die young. The educational facilities of a backwoods community were not equal to those of the present city. schools, yet I learned to read, "figger" and fight. Of the three accomplishments, I think the last the most useful for an insurance career. It is true I did not acquire it with malice prepense, as I was a grown man before I ever saw an insur- ance policy. It was not much of a policy either, as it belonged to the brood of township or county mutuals, a few of which have survived even to this day. The life of a farmer boy is romantic in the perspective of the past. In the present it is a 16 MEMOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES life of realities. As soon as he can walk he is set to herding stones on the meadow, while hun- gry fish are watching for worms. Then he must drop corn, and hoe it when it is up; carry water, turn the grindstone during harvest a thankless task, but strengthening to the arms dig pota- toes, husk the corn, and, beside a hundred other employments, chop the fire wood and do the chores. Is it strange that he should think a professional career more attractive? Is he not justified, considering his exper- ience, in seeking more remuner- ative employment, since his aver- age wages (though he often does more than a man's work) is a quar- ter on the Fourth of July and an occasional circus ticket? Next to naming the baby, the most anxious family discussion is connected with his future vo- cation. What shall we make of him? My god- father was a minister, now one of Chicago's prominent divines, and I was destined by my par- ents to the same career, but the cherished hope withered, much to my mother's chagrin, and the AN INSURANCE MAN 17 Church unknowingly lost a shining light. As piety and good lungs often outweigh brains, it is possible I might have become a presiding elder in the fulness of time. Whether even this ex- alted position outranks that of an insurance agent, I leave to the judgment of the reader. At any rate, what might have been, wasn't. When I was sixteen and six feet ; when I had not only gone through all the country school books, but had taught a country school one term, I was sent to college. The result of the four years spent there I summarize as follows: My clothes fitted me better; part of my gaucherie had disappeared; I had absorbed a little Latin, and less Greek, and was less qualified to earn a living at twenty than at twelve. My bump of self-es- teem had developed out of all proportion; in fact, I was a fair sample of most college products; I had a distaste for manual labor, and was not equipped for anything else. I, therefore, trav- eled for a couple of years, and attwo-and-twenty, that serious 1 problem, How shall I collect my liv- ing from the world? was still unsolved. , off. K <? - CHAPTER II THE COUNTRY EDITOR Y first employment was that of a clerk in an insurance office at Podunk, Mo. I was on my way to Mexico , a country much talked of at that time , and where op- portunities to make a fortune were said to be abundant. My funds were low, and I tarried to replenish the chest. It was a more serious undertaking than I imagined. I was a finished architect of Castles in Spain, but my plans never progressed beyond the drawings, and my dreams of making money differed slightly from the reality. I could pay my board by economy, but I could not accumulate, and the business of insurance, as introduced to me, was not attractive. Although a fortune awaited me in Mexico I was unable to claim it. It awaits me yet. (19) 20 MEMOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES Cherchez la femme, our Gallic friends say. I found her without seeking. Without serious thought of matrimony, behold me married. I had been in love a dozen times before, but not often enough to evolve an ideal. It is the old fellow who has a stock of unattainable ideals, and they do not result in marriage licenses. The world is repeopled by youthful love, not by mature calculation, (which is not a component of love) or, as the cynics and bachelors say, by rashness rather than reason. By this time I had established a country news- paper, and had a fair prospect of such a compe- tence as usually comes to the country editor. In inducing Matilda to share my prospective fortune, I was as honest as Col. Sellers and about as wise. What brains I had were evidently not employed in the business department, where a superior quality and quantity was needed. In every community there are a number of aspiring writers, but most of them are too wise to own their own educator ; they borrow the local paper for their effusions, and place it under obli- gations for the copy. My refusal to sponge on AN INSURANCE MAN 21 my neighbor was responsible for a valuable busi- ness experience that to many men conies too late in life. I was young, my enthusiasm was not exhausted, although my small capital was, and my next venture had to be chosen accordingly. My creditors owned the plant. While inexperience was partially responsible for my failure, one of the causes lay deeper, and is inherent to the business. The country merchant imagines space is worth nothing. The editor must get out a paper every week, and might as well fill up on advertising as on longwinded edi- torials that nobody cares to read. Consequently when he trades out an advertising bill, he feels as if he was doing his whole duty to the commu- nity. He no more thinks of paying money for locals than does the patent medicine man. The farmer pays for his subscription in pro- duce the merchant pays for advertising in goods the doctor in services and a good many of the others not at all . The cash drawer is always empty . During the horse season money is easier, but there is never enough to go around. Everybody pays in trade, and everybody wants to be paid in cash. 22 ME MOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES Even the devil wants a quarter occasionally . I could stand off my home creditors, as they presented their bills in a perfunctory way, not expecting them to be paid; but the St. Louis houses were not so easily jollied. When I didn't pay promptly, they sent their material C. O. D. and who has learned the art of working an express agent? I never. Once I made a killing on a tax list, paid all my foreign bills, and was the proudest man in town. It was so unusual and delightful to have an established credit that I worked it overtime, and it wouldn't remain established. Even a chattel mortgage as a last resort could not keep it going, and when the sheriff added the last straw by getting his sale bill printed at the opposition office, the Bazoo ceased to toot. If you want advice on how to conduct any business properly, you can always get it from the man who tried it and couldn't. I know a plenty about the newspaper business enough never to undertake it again, and I offer my experience and conclusions gratuitously to the aspiring youth, who thinks he is fashioned to fill a long felt want. Use some other man's paper freely, if he will AN INSURANCE MAN 23 permit you, but do not attempt to publish one of your own. There is no money in it. The Wash- ington hand press reminds me too much of the grindstone on the farm. It is a thankless work, but strengthening to the arms. CHAPTER III MY FIRST AGENCY HEORETICALLY, there are many ways of estab- lishing a business; but in practice most local insur- ance agents are graduates of the school of adversity. Demonstrate by failure that you are unfitted to conduct a business of your own; add creditors q. s., and the pre- scription is finished. I took this course, with a diploma from a country news- paper office, in addition to the following qualifi- cations: A good local acquaintance, some experience as a solicitor, and the good will and best wishes of all my creditors. The latter not only assisted me to companies, but helped the companies get business by trading over-due bills for policies. (25) 26 ME MOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES Jiryodesn Nothing so clearly demonstrates the laxity in the general conduct of the agency business as its facility; the companies are literally easy. Ranking next to banking in the volume of finan- cial transactions, entirely at the mercy of an incompetent or dishonest representative, one not _ familiar with the business would suppose an I agency hedged about with some safeguards. On the contrary, agencies go begging in every community, appointments are often made by correspondence without even the pretense of investigation, and men whose local credit is limited to a quarter's worth of soap secured by the washerwife's wages, are authorized to jeop- ardize the assets of million-dollar companies every day in every State. Is it not a legitimate and honorable calling? If so, is it just to depre- ciate the business of established agents by the creation of disreputable competitors? Yet greedy competition is responsible for even worse condi- tions than the elimination of justice, fairness and professional ethics. I had desk room in a jewelry store ; my sign was a modest lie; it read "Insurance Agency," INSURANCE AtiENCY AN INSURANCE MAN WESTERM DEPARTMENT tflTS ^Y'VMCTf ntto u I \a&s- ij r r 3 t tT (^ ;ai|^K>f^ y 5A ^ ^E* M'FlOfOODWORP SPECIAL AQENT MO, KAN. 6- Cot. 28 ME MOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES NOTICE SPECIAL ALEUTS . Plenty of room o the writer inadvertently omitting the "Wanted." In the make-up, it got into the wrong column, that was all; but it served a purpose, for it attracted the attention of the special agent of the Cataract Insurance Company. After some pre- liminary conversation, he told me a lot of things I did not know; explained the safety valve con- struction of the company; dilated upon the attractive name, and more attractive sign by some great master; persuaded me I could renew all the business on his books (one policy) ; gave me such preliminary instructions as other topics permitted, and went on his way rejoicing. His original report was recently resurrected from the old files of the Cataract office, and is reproduced as a confirmation of the statement that I was made, not born, an insurance agent. The special agent is a practical every-day optimist; every agency change is a good one or he would not make it. Every man will learn at some com- pany's expense. Every prophecy is good if it is fulfilled, and if not it can be repeated ad. lib. Once a start was made, it was astonishing v how many companies wanted to change agencies. AN INSURANCE MAN 29 They showered in, and in a month iny inexperi- ence had been imposed upon by half a dozen specials. All they wanted at first was an agency. It required a second visit to develop the want of business, and sometimes several to get that want supplied. The result was inevitable; as most of them left one over-crowded agency for another, they were still on wheels, and dissat- isfied with my particular brand of dust on their supplies. The necessity of living by your own efforts is a powerful incentive to industry. A very few may work because they love work, but most of us work because we must, being born aristocrats vulgarly called lazy. Necessity was the mother of my business, which increased as time passed until my leaders had a larger premium income than the oldest agency companies that had been established there "time to which the memory of man runneth not to the contrary." The then special of the Vesuvius, now one of her managers, had occasion to change his agency, and as it was a valuable company, I was an applicant; but he passed me by for a banker. This was an instance 30 MBMOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES of careful selection, for the banker shortly failed. The sign of Bank over his portal was a bigger humbug than my Insurance Agency sign of the previous month. Haec fabula docet: things are not always what they seem ; also : we take chances even in selecting a banker. Why not, since we deal in probabilities, not certainties, and the laws of chance form the basis of our business? AN INSURANCE MAN 31 CHAPTER IV OF THE TOWN AND MY ASSOCIATES ODUNK CITY was the corporate name of the town, but it was not, strictly speaking, a metropolis. The founders of many Western villages were fond of Hyperbole quite unconsciously, however, as many of them could not distinguish her from Aphro- dite if they met her on the street. The plan of the town was not original, but a fair copy of the famous capital of the Blue Grass region in Kentucky. The type is a common one in all the Southwestern States. A public square ornamented with a dilapidated Court House and scrubby trees; a rickety fence decorated with mule teams and mule drivers, both of the lazy, indifferent type; sidewalks frescoed with ambier, buildings sadly in need of repair, and citizens over- grown with moss. 32 M&MOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES The old settlers all came from Kentucky. If all the Missourians who claim origin from the Blue Grass country had never emigrated, it would be the most densely populated region on the globe. If it is as charming as represented, why did they leave? Or, is it possible that some of them were poor geographers? While Podunk was a good field for a moulder of thought and a leader of opinion, the hope of securing the county printing was the immediate cause of my choice of location. After my brief and disastrous career as a publisher, and when I enlisted as a recruit in the army of insurance agents, I had no choice. My free-will was dom- inated by my inability to leave, even if I wished, and the necessity of providing food and raiment for myself and family. In the course of time the town grew. Many emigrants on their way to Kansas re-considered and located with us permanently. The character of the buildings changed, the appearance of the town changed, business opportunities were en- larged, and the effect on the insurance business was marked. AN INSURANCE MAN 33 While Podunk was moribund, one agent with half a dozen of the pioneer agency companies had supplied the needs of the inhabitants, but with the increased importance of the town other com- panies sought foothold with the following result: Every clientless lawyer and estateless estate agent carried insurance as a side line while we others practiced it for a livelihood : 1 ex-clothier, 1 ex-publisher, 1 ex-Kansas Boomer, 1 ex-banker, 2 ex-preachers Campbellite and Methodist, 1 ex-druggist, 3 ex-County officers, and the above mentioned Old Agent, who was not an ex-, not even an ex-Confederate nor an ex-Kentuckian, but he had the business and we wanted it. Covetousness was properly forbidden to the Jews, but under the new dispensation the Deca- logue is reduced to nine, and the old tenth is included in the Beatitudes. Thus the moral code is accommodated to the increasing demands of 34 ME MO I RES OF NAT. H. JONES modern business, or insurance agents would have little show for their white alley. A load of lumber gave us the same sensation as the bread and butter gave the scholars at Dotheboys Hall. We knew there was not enough business to feed us all, and each wanted to be the one served first. This condition of semi-starvation crowded me out of a local into a special agency; sent one of the ex-county officers to the peniten- tiary ; bankrupted the Old Agent, but never phased the preachers, probably because they had been inoculated. During one of the rare intervals when the local board meetings were well attended, its sessions resembled a church conference meeting. The trouble with us was, that, instead of fining each other for cutting rates when we had a plain case, we pouted, refused to attend the meetings, and took personal revenge by stealing a line from the other fellow on the best terms we could get. I have often wondered if the agents in other towns acted in the same way. We had no guide but our consciences, and some of them were so seared that they were not in good working order. AN INSURANCE MAN 35 CHAPTER V ANTECEDENTS OF MY COMPETITORS OU know how and why I came to be an insurance agent, and the antecedents of some of my confreres at Podunk may be inter- esting and serve as a warning to others. The ex-clothing merchant, who inci- dentally was of Hebraic extraction, blamed the mice for his misfortune. It is more than passing strange that the freak appetite of the mouse for sulphur matches should always coincide with an old stock, dull trade and pressing cred- itors ; but he denied having anything to do with it himself, and said it must be mice and matches. He made more reputation as a claimant than as an agent. There wasn't as much money in the agency branch as in the claim department, and he soon abandoned it. Further, deponent sayeth not. 36 ME MOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES The Campbellite minister was not really unfrocked, he was gently dropped. His charge was in the country, and, as the picking was poor, he cultivated hogs between sermons. It was charged, and I fear, proven, that his season's run of sorghum molasses was emptied in the sand, and when the hogs had eaten a hundred pounds or so apiece they were marketed. This was considered too much of a Yankee trick for a Southern congre- gation ; and as such abilities should not go to waste, they were utilized in his new profession. The supply of town lots in Kansas was never exhausted, but it was said that the Boomer got one of the new additions mixed up with a piece of land he held four or five miles out. As the real values were probably equivalent, this wasn't much to raise a row over, but he emigrated to Missouri, and later, as a precautionary measure, to Arkansas. There were rumors of fictitious mortgages floated on the Eastern market, but they were set a-going by the malevolent, and never gained general credence. AN INSURANCE MAN 37 Before the high license law was enacted there were seven or eight drug stores in Podunk, and they all did a thriving business. But when Pat Soakum and his fellows were asked to pony up a thousand semi-annually in advance, they became temperance advocates. The profits from the sale of drugs alone would not pay the rent, and some of them retired, among them my old friend, who supplied my newspaper force with medicines for years, in exchange for an advertis- ing bill. We settled accounts annually, and each added say a hundred to his bill to offset what he suspected the other would add, exchanged ratifications, as the diplomats say, and opened a new account. He was one of the best fellows in the business and deserved the success he achieved. We unfortunately lost one of the brightest members of the Podunk Board. It is said he went to Canada. Country business was no more desirable then than now, and it was sometimes necessary to meet competition to make the diagram fit the rate, thus: 38 ME MOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES The Company after a loss, refused to accept the common definition of detached as unattached; it found, through inspecting the business closely, that he had made some mistakes in describing special hazards as dwellings, and threatened to cut up over it, so the poor fellow had to abandon the profitable business he had established, as well as his wife and family. From these samples you will see we were not so slow, we Podunkers. If a premium got away with all of us on its trail, it had to hustle. There wasn't a better insured town in the State; all the inhabitants were educated. Even the farmers had their eye-teeth cut, for the famous Col. Tram of Iowa worked Jay County for a season, and he was the equal, in his special line, to the entire Podunk Board. AN INSURANCE MAN 39 CHAPTER VI THE OFFICE CLERK AVING been an employee as well as an employer, I know something of the duties and responsibilities of a clerical position. A scape-goat is a necessity; somebody must be responsible for errors and mistakes, and who so convenient as the clerk? The selection of a clerk is like the choice of a business partner you nearly always wish you hadn't. Men are usually employed in local insurance offices, but my preference is for the feminine. I unhesitatingly recommend a young woman, the prettier and more attractive the better. There are so many unpleasant incidents in the daily drudgery of life, that it is a rest to the eye and the brain to gaze upon beauty, grace and neatness. It is true a woman can talk back, but so can a man, and she cannot strike back while he can. 40 MEMOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES She is not too ambitious ; does not expect a raise in salary over twice a year, and is not apt to open an opposition office and try to do business on your expirations. These are some of the reasons for my preference. An anonymous ver- sifier has quoted more, and while I adopt his conclusions, I refuse to accept his barbarous pronunciation of clerk, which is too much for even poetic license. Out of employment ? Can we give you work ? I'm sorry, sir, But we have no use for another clerk Since we have her. Though she is a girl, we find she can do The work that was formerly done by two; Men, too, they were. She does not expectorate, drink nor swear As some men do; Whenever she's wanted she's always there Till work is through. Flirt? Of course she does, but she does not smoke Nor take a night off and come home dead broke. Not bv a AN INSURANCE MAN 41 She's honest and faithful as well as cheap ( Not half your price ) . She is neat and tidy and knows how to keep Things looking nice. We are satisfied, sir, and do not care To discuss it further; as you are aware This should suffice. There are some exceptions. If the agent be young and susceptible, she is dangerous. If he be old and susceptible, she is perilous. If he be mar- ried, his wife has probably grown so accustomed to believing fibs she may balk at the truth ; and while a little jealousy is as spice to married life, too much is worse than tobasco with a catsup label. In any event, even if it is necessary to allow your wife to select her, get a girl; the plainest is better than none, and is not likely to reserve the only extra office chair for her retainers. The specials will, of course, keep the office supplied with gold pens, ink-stands, and small office knick- knacks usually charged to postage account, and you can amuse yourself by watching their culti- vating antics and listening to their smart and gallant speech and compliments. CHAPTER VII A MISSOURI RATE JMONG the perennial troubles of underwriters, I reckon rates the chief ; and while we Podunkers were simple insurance agents, and did not aspire to j|l be underwriters, the troubles mentioned did not draw such fine dis- tinctions. We had our full portion and to spare. Following the dissolution of the old National Board, rates in Missouri also became dissolute, from force of example probably, and one of the first good resolutions of the recently formed Union was the encouragement of State organizations of field men. Among these the old Missouri, Kansas & Nebraska State Board easily took first rank. It is now, because of secession and legisla- tion, only a memory, but a pleasant memory (43) 44 MEMOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES withal. The old associations and friendships are dearly cherished by the few surviving members, some of whom are still in the field and some of whom wish they were again in the field. Rates were theoretically made by a Committee of the State Board, acting with and advising a Committee of the Local Board, but in practice the State Board Committee found Garnbrinus a more pleasant consulting associate. The Com- mittee swallowed him, made the agents swallow the rates, and all were full if not content. In thus exhibiting the inner workings of rating, I am open to criticism from a respectable branch of the fraternity that does not believe in educating the public or taking it into our confi- dence that is so noisily advocated by some under- writers and class journals. There are arguments on both sides, and as only one has been heard, I shall give the other a line or two. Stock fire insurance is business, not philan- throphy nor speculative philosophy. Business is conducted to make money. No matter what the subject the object is the same. The public under- stands this quite well, and is interested in any AN INSURANCE MAN 45 business not its own, only as you and I are inter- ested in the selling price of clothing, groceries, coal oil or coal. We do not care by what system the Standard Oil Company figures its prices, but we are interested in the prices. The public does not weep because fire insur- ance was conducted at a loss in any given year quite the reverse. It considers itself the gainer. You do not pay your railroad fare if you can get a pass. The cost of transportation does not worry you if your own be only cheap or free. Yet rail- roads are public utilities, while stock company insurance is plain ordinary private business. Consider for a moment that you are part of the public ; reflect upon how little you are inter- ested in your neighbors' business, and you will concede the folly of the proposed cam- paign of education. To return from the field of speculation to Podunk. It was after the departure of the State Board Committee that rates were actually equalized. Pat Soakum's saloon had always been coveted by the Campbellite preacher, but he couldn't reach it alone, VO.SJO \r M *" 169* 46 MEMOIR ES OF NAT. H. JONES so he took the Kansas Boomer into his confidence. The Old Agent was Chairman of the Board and ex-officio of the rating committee. The two worthies above were his associates and Pat's rate was reduced from 3% to 2% by a vote of two to one. The companies being dissatisfied, they next usurped the rate-making authority, and the third factor, the compact manager, was born. He flour- ished for a while, but this time the people were dissatisfied, and they took a notion to do some usurping on their own account. As I think it well to leave something to the imagination, I will do so here and allow the reader to imagine, if he can, a Missouri Rate that was fathered by the State Board, nursed by the Local Board, reared by the Compact Manager, and tried, condemned and executed by the legislature. AN INSURANCE MAN 47 CHAPTER VIII REORGANIZING THE LOCAL BOARD EVERAIy committees of the State Board had failed to get the Podtmk locals into line, so Major Macleur, the grand high commissioner of Commission No. 4, since deceased, the Commis- sion, not the Major was sent out to try his hand on us. The meeting was called by the Old Agent, the greatest sufferer, who unanimously elected himself Chairman, and appointed me as Secre- tary. As the report of the proceedings is copied from my original notes, it is accurate enough for historical purposes. The Major, in his own inimitable way, made us a speech, of which the following is the sub- stance; but its drollery is necessarily omitted. "Now, boys, I have got you together, and we want this devilment stopped. There's only one 48 MEMOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES way to stop it. Sign the local board agree- ment, be honest, and we will re-rate the town and commence anew. Bygones shall be by- gones, we'll wash the slate and start afresh." Motion put by the Chairman ; any remarks ? 1st County Officer: "I'm agin signin' any- thing till the rates are made. If they suit I'm agreeable." Kansas Boomer: "I'm opposed on prin- ciple to surrendering our right to make and re- vise the rates to anyone, and for one, refuse to vote for the motion." The Campbellite preacher, who has loaded up on shaded business: "I favor the motion. Honesty is the foundation of our business. Let the dead past bury its dead, and let us resolve here and now to abide by correct practices in the future. I hope all members present will sign up and join us in an effort to establish the business on a sound basis," etc., etc. The ex-Druggist: "I agree with my prede- cessor, provided all agents are first made to can- cel cut-rate business. I have lost too many cus- tomers to come here and cinch them for the other A INSURANCE MAN 49 fellow by any such action as is proposed. Re- pentance first, then absolution is my motion." The Old Agent: "Are there any more re- marks on the motion? I think I have suffered more by bushwhacking than any of you, and I'm plumb tired of it. If you don't do something, I'll make rates wide open, and see how you like it. My companies have reached the limit, and I'm ready to fight. If there are no more remarks, all in favor of the motion will say " The Major: "Excuse me, Mr. Chairman; before you put the motion I want to say that there is no compulsion about this. I want to help you out of a bad box. Down in Arkansaw durin' the war, the Yankees had us cornered, and we'd been livin' on parched corn for about a week. The General said one day, 'Boys, I want to help you out. If we stay here we'll starve even the corn's runnin' low. Who's willin' to make a break? ' Now, I'm the General, who's willin' to follow me? " Motion put by the Chairman, and carried, 17 to 2. The seventeen signed the constitution and by-laws, and appointed a committee to labor 50 ME MOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES with the two negative voters. Their companies finally forced them to sign, and the Podunk Board was again an entity. As Secretary, I am willing to assert that it was for at least three days after the Major left, as good a Board as ever was sawed. But it couldn't stand the weather, and got shaky before a month, sides warped and ends split as poor a piece of lumber as ever sold for seconds. Then the Major came again, and the process was re- peated with slight variations; old scores were wiped out again; bygones were bygones again; we started fresh again and finally, we busted up again. Those were good old days just the same. If we didn't see all the good in them at the time, it was solely from lack of comparison with mod- ern conditions, and we may in twenty years, if we live so long, refer to the present in the same terms. Who knows? AN INSURANCE MAN 51 CHAPTER IX SOLICITING BUSINESS VERY town has a char- acter, a local celebrity, and Podunk was no exception. He was a half - witted German , who built with his own hands a reproduction of his old country home, laboring on it for ten or fifteen years. He threw stones at a storm cloud because it interfered with his work, swore awful oaths in mixed German, and was an unsociable brute, living like a hermit on his scissors-grinding income. Everything in town but his shack was insured, and no one had the nerve to tackle him until the advent of the clothing merchant. Now if a full- witted German is a Judenhetzer, what could you expect from a half-wit? 52 MEMOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES " Andy, you ought to have your house insured. Let me write it up for you." " My vat?" 1 ' Your house insured so if it burns down you get pay for it." "You burn my house down if I don't pay for it?" "No, no, I want to insure it so it won't burn down." ' ( Kreutz ! Himmel ! Sackerment ! Nochemal ! Get out ! I haf you arrested yet. Dots my house, versteh? My house. I don't want him to burn down once. Du verfliichte Jude, come 'round tell me my house burn down if I don't pay for it? I show you once I " But he didn't wait to be shown, even though he was a Missourian. Andy followed him up the street with a mixed shower of stones and curses, and remained a celebrity the only man in town uninsured ! The leading hardware merchant was my neighbor and a crank on insurance , not that there was necessarily any connection between the two. AN INSURANCE MAN 53 He had a Vesuvius policy twenty-odd years old, with twenty-odd renewal receipts, and thought this antiquated document better than any up-to- date policy. We used to drink a bottle of seltzer on a summer evening on my porch of course I furnished the seltzer. "John, I want a policy on your stock." (I had told him so a hundred times, but he either wouldn't believe it, or didn't want to believe it) . "Jones, my boy, I can't quit the Vesuvius. There isn't another policy in Jay County as old as mine " 1 ' Did you ever study law ? ' ' "No." "Well, I have. Did you ever hear of the Statute of Limitations ? ' ' " You bet I've heard of it! Old man Cowan knocked me out of a two hundred dollar note Statute of Limitations." ' ' How much have you in the Vesuvius ? ' ' "Five thousand." ' ' If old Cowan would plead the baby act for two hundred dollars, what could you expect 54 MEMOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES from a soulless corporation with five thousand involved ? ' ' "By George! I never thought of that. Think they'd do it." ' ' Do you know who would adjust your loss ? You know what reputations adjusters have ? John, you've been taking chances long enough. As an up-to-date business man, you're a failure. Let's finish this bottle and I'll write you a policy to-morrow that will be worth a hundred cents on the dollar." Did I ? Of course. One day his old store fell down and when I refused to pay the loss, he got mad and went back to the Vesuvius but as I was a special then, it didn't matter. Farm soliciting was not my forte. Old Col. Snively had a fine farm and was uninsured. I had talked insurance to him a dozen times, in and out of his cups, and finally got a promise that he would consider it. One day I drove out to his place, about fifteen miles, to close the deal. "Hello, Colonel, how 're things?" AN INSURANCE MAN 55 " Putty fair. Onhitch, come in and have somethin' to wa'm you up." After I had had something I broached the object of my visit. " How much did you tell me it 'ud cost ?" " Depends on the amount and the term. One-and-a-half per cent for three years say seventy-five dollars for five thousand." "Only seventy-five dollars? By ginger, ain't you mistaken ? ' ' " No, that's the cheapest going rate." "Well I'll be darned. Look here, old Col. Tram was out here last week and nothin'd do but I must take a policy in the American. Said it wouldn't cost hardly anything, and I didn't have to pay for it now nohow, and jest talked me into it. Wouldn't take no for an answer. Writ me fer windstorms too. Been a powerful lot o' cyclones in these parts lately. You never said nothin' 'bout cyclone insurance did you?" ' ' Cyclone policies cost one per cent more for three years can give you combined policy for two per cent one hundred dollars for five thou- sand. Have you got your policy yet? " 56 MEMOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES "Sure! I'll let you look it over, and since you're here you can tell me if it's all right." Cold comfort this for a solicitor. I had worked him up, and Col. Train had landed him. Ten thousand ! Fire, lightning and tornado, for five years. Premium four hundred dollars; ninety dollars in six months, and eighty a year in four annual installments. Notes good as wheat. The first probably already discounted, and Jones in the soup. Served him right. The next time he will not talk per cent to a farmer. Talk money. Eighty a year isn't much for ten thou- sand, and decreases as payment is postponed. No, as a farm solicitor Jones was a failure. I could tell an untruth sometimes, but not all the time. I charged my livery hire up to experience, issued a policy in payment, and abandoned that branch of the business. I didn't want to be classed with Col. Tram "nohow." How easy it is to establish a habit, and how difficult to break it. As editor of the Bazoo no one ever thought of paying me money, and the AN INSURANCE MAN 57 people expected to continue the custom with Jones the insurance agent. Mrs. Wheat was proprietress of the local Millinery Emporium. "Mrs. Wheat, I want a policy. You used to advertise with me. We ought to be repre- sented on your stock. Can't I write you one for a thousand dollars? " " Mrs. Jones used to buy her Easter hat of me too, and you paid for it in advertising. I've a beauty, Paris pattern, that would just suit her. Take it along with you. If she don't like it she can exchange it. Times are so hard and money is so scarce I have to give my insurance to my customers." Now Matilda wasn't what you could call cranky or finicky, but I knew my idea and her idea of a hat too well to try to reconcile them, and some one of my companies lost a good risk. There is room in this country for another line of banks. We have enough National, and too many State institutions. Their ideas on finance are too restricted. What we country 58 ME MO I RES OF NAT. H. JONES agents need is an exchange bank, where we can convert harness, agricultural implements, hard- ware, building material, etc., into New York Exchange. We can always use dry and wet goods and groceries. Or, as the insurance com- panies reserve the right to pay a loss in kind, why not give the Agent the privilege of paying the premium in kind ? Such an institution would take in Podunk and Jay County like wild- fire. I think it would be even more catching than a local mutual. AN INSURANCE MAN 59 CHAPTER X MEN i HAVE MET WAS clerking for the Old Agent when I saw the first special. I shall never forget him. He was one of the best specimens of his class; a man of substantial appear- ance, positive and forceful, but withal jolly and com- panionable ; neither too quiet nor too loud, not a saint, but an all-around human being. Though I was not in love with the local business when I was a clerk, this particular special impressed me as occupying an enviable position. Who was he ? He has since left the field, but my notions of what a special should be were based on what he was. If I had his company I would make it a leader, and other agents evidently held similar views, for it was 60 ME MO I RES OF NAT. H. JONES always near the top of the column of State business. The visit of a Manager was a rarity in Podunk. Our hotel wasn't the kind a Manager would choose to rest up in, nor the town im- portant enough to justify expensive cultivation. But once one of mine called, and I confess that I was disappointed. He was the one who wrote me long, fatherly letters; who closed two pages of correspondence on the likelihood of fire in a vacant dwelling, with two more pages, written cross- wise in horribly poor manuscript, explaining what he had previously dictated. He was so prolix and convoluted that he forgot the thread of his argu- ment before he got to the point. He was a living, moving, acting German sentence, with the verb missing. From his letters I had pictured him far past middle age, of a dreamy, philosophical turn of mind, with baggy trousers, and a silk hat of uncertain vintage. Well, he wasn't. Had I known that he was only a couple of years older than I, dressed in modern fashion, AN INSURANCE MAN 61 and that he talked and acted like one of my specials, I wouldn't have stood his lectures; I would have talked back. I never had any occa- sion to complain of him or his correspondence afterwards. He changed his agency. One of my companies conducted a farm department; that is, it turned a lot of solicitors out to insure a farmer for twice the value of his property, and when the invited and expected happened, sent another man out to pay him half his loss. Yet it claimed there was no money in it, and actually abolished it a few years later. It seemed better than a faro bank, and there is money in faro for the banker. There was a loss in Jay County and the adjuster called upon me for information. He was a large, gruff, swaggering fellow, the kind of man you would like to whip if you had a claim in his hands. But you would be in doubt how to go at it, and, on reflection, would reconsider. "Jones," in a Valentine Vox voice, omitting the Mr. though we were not intimate, "What do you know about Jarvis' loss at Poseyville? " 62 MEMO1RES OF NAT. H. JONES "Nothing." 1 ' How far is it out? ' ' " Eighteen or twenty miles." " All right, see you when I return." But he didn't, though Jarvis did. Jarvis said he accused him of burning his house, threat- ened to have him arrested, frightened the children, told him the company was no good anyway, and offered him three hundred dollars for a thousand dollar policy. ' ' Did you accept? ' ' "Of course I did. A law suit wouldn't bring me much more if what he said was true. I think I'm in luck to have saved my life." Jarvis was a member of the legislature in 1889, and do you know what he did? He lob- bied for the valued policy bill and took revenge on the whole fraternity for the disreputable practices of a small, a very small, portion. Farm adjusters and professional appraisers were the authors, and though I believe the bill was not introduced over their names, it bears their imprint. AN INSURANCE MAN 63 Col. Tram lived in Iowa, and only made in- cursions into Missouri at intervals. In some parts of the State the intervals were long, as the farmers were watching for him, and he wasn't anxious to meet them. The Colonel was one of the original farm solicitors, took pride in his work and never let any man with even a chicken coop escape. Missouri barns were his specialty. Ever see one? Only a crib of rails, covered with straw, but they were every one of them good for a premium and a policy fee. The Colonel carried a portfolio like the assessor, and went about his business in a business-like way. Opened his book, took out an application, asked the farmer the questions he thought would not make him suspicious, and in a matter-of-fact manner, shoved the document over to him and said: "Sign!" " What mought it be, stranger?" 4 ' Statement that the questions you have answered are true to the best of your knowledge and belief. Are they?" "They be." "Then sign!" 64 M& 'MOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES Some of them wouldn't some did and were sorry, for lie was not modest, the Colonel wasn't, and the crops were often too short to buy gro- ceries and pay his note too, so the grocer had to wait, as the Colonel's company wouldn't. These were the good old times my country- men, when my business card was equal to a patent of nobility in the country; when the insurance agent was greeted with expressions usually offered only to Deity the same expres- sions, but with different inflections. INSURANCE AN INSURANCE MAN 65 CHAPTER XI LOCAL OBSERVATIONS [OUGH Podunk was a small town, we had samples of nearly every variety of agent especially the poor kinds. We had one who per- sistently cut the rates; more than one rebater, and a good many willing to trade insurance for anything, no matter what. Now, there is a little excuse for a rate cut- ter, as he is generally a man who has no business to be an agent "nohow, ' ' cannot compete on equal terms, and it follows if he does any business at all it must be secured by special inducement. The railroads help out the weak, roundabout brother by giving him a differential, and our weak brother takes one, whether we give it or not. I have often regretted my choice of such an unsatisfactory vocation, but from the statements of lumber dealers, railroad men, and others sim- 66 M MOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES 25 '/. /O - ilarly conditioned, I have learned that they have tariff annoyances equal to our own. There are rarely over half a dozen railroads competing on nominally equal terms and agreed rates for the business at a given point. Do they strictly ad- here to published tariffs? Do the two competing lumbermen of the village execute their private agreements loyally? The number of competing companies and agencies being relatively much greater, is it strange that some of them should seek the advantage most easily obtained by un- derbidding their fellows? But the rate cutter, bad as he is, does not approach the rebater in cussedness. One of the Podunk fraternity was especially noted for his liberality. He had an excess commission agency, and they always seem to run to rebates. Their income is so much greater than the average, that they think they can take the assured into part- nership and still come out ahead, but they can- not. I never knew such an agency that lasted five years, but usually before one dies another is born. If they should all happen to die at the same AN INSURANCE MAN 67 68 ME MOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES time, Podunk would be a pretty good agency point. I never made any pretense to righteousness. I have applied all the ordinary methods of cir- cumventing my neighbor, but I was never ac- cused of the assininityof rebating my commission. No reputable company asks for business on such terms; no reputable agent solicits business on such terms; and no agent can expect to succeed if he loses his good repute and represents com- panies without repute. If suicide be evidence of insanity, business suicide is proof of imbecility. One is the end of life; the other of the living. Nearly every agent has a hoodoo company, and so had I. Of the first seven risks I wrote for this company, six burned within the year, my other companies escaping. The business was of good quality, but the company was out of luck. Without investigation, I was considered the hoo- doo, and the agency changed. As the manager shortly lost his position, and the special resigned, with a large overdraft, it is possible that the office needed a rabbit-foot more than the agent. AN INSURANCE MAN 69 Another one of my companies had a mana- ger whose vocabulary was limited to the two words "Please cancel." I once sent him half a dozen dailies, five good brick risks and a frame hotel, a custom I am told much in vogue. His telegram and letter did not mention the bricks, but I supplied the omission. He cancelled his company out of half the agencies in the country, and wound up by having his own engagement can- celled. He remains an ex-manager, and though many years have intervened, the company has not recovered its lost prestige, and may never be a factor in the agency field, though its size, age and loss-paying ability are in its favor. The frame hotel still stands, a monument to ultra-con- servatism. Did you ever come in contact with the smart examiner? An agent cannot always distinguish between chronic dyspepsia, an acute night-off and a fool examiner, but he soon becomes familiar with the symptoms . The less the examiner knows about the business, the more foolish questions he asks, and his impertinent queries have queered 70 ME MOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES more agencies in an hour than a special can fix in a week. The cause, I suppose, is ignorance of the local business and local conditions. If the office staff could be recruited from the field, as the latter is from the agency force, there would be much less friction. The next best custom of sending the examiner to the field at every oppor- tunity is recommended to managers, by a local agent, as a wise one. AN INSURANCE MAN 71 CHAPTER XII THE FINANCIAL PROBLEM HIL,B the city agent has his troubles and brokers (syn- onymous terms?) they are not comparable to his country brothers' worries, foremost among which is the financial problem . The National Standard labyrinth is simple in comparison ! What matter whether we meas- ure wealth by a gold or silver unit, if we lack the yard-stick? And of what use is a yard-stick if we have no cloth? It is all very well for the General Agent to insist upon prompt remittances. Instant decapitation of a lame duck is also a good rule for a special, but, my grave and reverend seigneurs! have you ever sought the cause of his delin- quency? Have you ever diagnosed the complaint? 72 MR MO I RES OF NAT. H. JONES I lxcHA,N<;r PA.C 7. Ext5SCHAR And will you contribute your portion to the cure when the disease is located? You give your agency to Tom , Dick or Harry ; sometimes to all three. The business is all placed, the natural growth slow, but they must have premiums and cannot get them without offering some inducement. To meet their illegitimate competition the agent who has the business must demoralize his own customers, deplete his ex- chequer, and ruin his future prospects by meeting their offers. They promise to give unlimited time credit; to divide commission, or even to give away the whole of it to get the business on their books ; to trade out the premiums as if ready to open a junk shop! They promise anything, having all to gain and nothing at stake, and unless your agent who is always the best agent is willing to sacrifice his income he loses, first his business, then his companies, and stands to lose his repu- tation, whichever horn of the dilemma impales him. So long as present methods prevail, just so long will the de- linquent be with us . Since the AN INSURANCE MAN 73 principals are responsible for the excessive com- petition, multiple agencies, and the over-crowded field, it is but just that they should occasionally suffer; yet the loss by defalcation is infinitesimal, hardly a fraction of a percentage, and not half the amount absorbed by postage overcharges. This should be sufficient evidence of the agents' finan- cial integrity, and I assert that nine-tenths of the shortages are the result of misfortune and not one-tenth of design. The reason is easily assigned. The Local Agents are, as a class, superior men. There are exceptions, as previously intimated, and the mar- vel is that the rule and the exception have not changed places. It is a business requiring more brains than the weighing of sugar or the measur- ing of cloth, yet it does not yield a revenue equal to professional or mercantile pursuits . The intelli- gent, tenacious energy required to build up a local business would earn fame if applied to the arts or sciences; reputation in the professions, and wealth in barter. Few agents secure even a modest com- petence, none get rich, and most must be content with a bare living. What charm attracts and 74 MEMOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES retains them? The only reward for exceptional ability is the doubtful promotion to a special agency, a change from independence to depend- ence, from the comforts of home to the discomforts of travel. Note by the Editor: Mr. B. P. Sadlord, a well known Denver agent, has made a study of the unequal division of premiums between the companies and the agents, with the following conclusions : ' ' A successful agent must be one of the best fellows on earth; has to be with the people, and is expected to keep his end up on all occasions. A charity fund is prospected; the Local is leading and circulating. An enterprise connected with the welfare of the town finds the Local on the committee and one of the shining lights. If he is not a member of all clubs, he is not in it. In church work he is a leader, song singer and con- tributor. If a customer has friends in trouble, he goes to this same Local for assistance, which is never refused. "As a pall-bearer he is always in demand. At the theater, prize fight, and political meeting, AN INSURANCE MAN 75 he always has a front seat; and thus he goes on. In all cases the companies get the benefit. But let him get into trouble; do the companies pat him on the back, think of his past record or the amount of money he has made for them by his efforts? No. A special is immediately put in possession of the facts ; a settlement is required ; the Local's friends, relatives or bondsmen are called upon, and if the companies don't get their money the Local goes in the jug. That is busi- ness. The Local has customers who have done business with him for a number of years. Some of them, unfortunately, get into trouble ; the Local extends credit, and loses. Do the companies? Not on your life ! There are many other samples of the Local's trials and tribulations that could be given, but are these not enough? Anyhow they show that the business is too much for the $ standard on the companies' side." CHAPTER XIII THE AMERICAN AGENCY SYSTEM UR system of voting is named the Australian ballot probably because it originated in Canada. Our Agency System is known as the American, possibly be- cause no other country is will- ing to father it. Many years ago, the name described it fairly well. There was a time when an agent was all that his Commission described him, but that is ancient history. In the golden age, he selected his risks, reported his acceptances monthly, sent his principal a bordereau and account, and was responsible for the form and details. Good men were in demand, and only the best of the good ones were employed. That was before the telegraph and telephone made Chicago a suburb of New York. (77) 78 MEMOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES The progress and development of forty years have intervened, and though the skeleton still exists, the heart is dead. One by one the ancient prerogatives of the agent have been absorbed by the official, until the former is but a vehicle for the delivery of the policy and the collection of the premium. Judgment is elimin- ated; responsibility, respectability, familiarity with the local credit and position of insurers are all sacrificed. Policy forms, riders, clauses, mandatory rules, are prescribed by the office. Who and what made a broker of him ? Who is responsible for the passing of the agent ? The passing ? He has passed ! The shadow only remains, a poor photograph of the original. The manager or general agent has assumed his labors, arrogated his judgment, usurped his pre- rogatives. From maps, diagrams, ratings, fire records, mercantile agencies, inspection bureaus, he attempts to supply the lack of local and per- sonal knowledge. The one time agent offers him a line on behalf of the assured. His responsi- bility ceases when the copy is mailed. His clerical function is ended. His interest in the AN INSURANCE MAN 79 risk is gone until it expires he is not even a broker. What will the harvest be ? The crop will be a manifold reproduction of the seed. The next planting? Already there are evidences of a tendency to localize the general agent sub- stitute salary for commission, employees for solicitors, and exclusive representation for the so-called American Agency System. With co- operative special work, co-operative adjustments, co-operative inspections in perspective, even the special agency system is in danger. As we approach European conditions, we adopt Euro- pean methods. The Golden Age is turned to steel. The wheel is broken at the cistern. Note by the Editor : The following metrical grumble is contrib- uted by a far Western local, who is still ground down by the iron heel of the Compact. When the legislature of his State follows Missouri's lead and emancipates him, will he be any happier ? 80 ME MOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES I have been a local agent, let me see; since '62. You may call me an old fogy, and in some respects that's true. I'll not discard old ideas just to take up some- thing new, When the old ones suit my notions. I can recollect the day When the business was conducted in a very different way, And I venture the assertion, contradict it if you can That the old way was the better. Time was once, when every man Could not be a local agent; brains were a sine qua non; Special training was required; but these times are past and gone. Now the forces are recruited from the rag-tag and bob-tail Of all business and professions. Ruined merchants; men who fail, From their faults or their misfortunes, chiefly men past middle age, Take insurance for a Mecca and begin a pil- grimage. AN INSURANCE MAN 81 The agent's an automaton, can neither think nor will; With duties purely clerical. Once judgment, sense and skill Were prerequisites for agents. Now the bureau's hired-man Makes our rates with square and compass on a geometric plan. Everything is done by schedule, a defective schedule too, That rates reputable merchants same as a dis- honest Jew If construction and exposure happen to be just the same. Should not reputation, standing, and a good or a bad name Be considered in the rating? Mandatory forms as well, Clauses, riders, regulations , more of them than I can tell Cut and dried for our consumption. If the present system lasts Agents will not long be needed their days now are nearly passed. 82 MEM OI RES OF NAT. H. JONES Canvassers are their successors book agents and fruit tree men Ought to reap a golden harvest when the era's ushered in. When all these new-fangled notions have been tried, and cast aside, Other systems just as useless will be trotted out and tried, Until, from experimenting, the whole fabric may collapse, Then we old style fellows will be in demand again perhaps . AN INSURANCE MAN 83 CHAPTER XIV A MESSAGE FROM THE FAR WEST NE hot summer afternoon I was half dozing in the office, dreamily listening to the buzz of the flies in the windows, when who should enter but P. V. Wisdom, an old acquaintance I hadn't seen for years; in fact, I had lost track of him entirely. His intimates called him "Purely Virtuous" for short. " How are you, P. V. ? I hav'nt seen you nor heard from you for ages. Give an account of yourself." " Been to Californy for the last three years." "Fine climate they tell me. What have you been doing ? Home on a visit ? Did you get rich ? ' ' "I'm back to Missoury for good and all. Got enough climate to do me the rest of my life, 84 ME MO I RES OF NAT. H. JONES and that's all I did get except left cleaned out. See you have quit the newspaper business and are in insurance. You still have my sympathy." "What did you follow out West?" "Followed the other fellow's trail 'bout as you do I reckon: was an insurance agent." "We don't hear much in Podunk about the rest of the world. Business out there about the same as here ? ' ' "The same? I should say it wasn't. You think you have troubles here? No more'n heat rash to small-pox." This was years ago. If P. V. were a con- temporary, he might change his comparison reverse it even. At this point a few of my asso- ciate agents had dropped in, and after the usual greetings and introductions, he continued: " In the first place there's mighty few what you'd call real agents in Californy. Most of 'em are only subs. Policies are written in San Francisco, and all an agent has to do is to make out a daily in pencil, fire it in, and back comes the policy. Office in his hat and pocket. It isn't a bad scheme, as it saves rent and clerks AN INSURANCE MAN 85 and lots of expense, but it was a come-down for me. About all a fellow needs to know is how to get a risk, so pretty near every man that has one or can get one is an agent, and it makes pickin' mighty slim, I tell you." ' ' How are rates and commissions? ' ' "Both 'way up; that is, rates is if they don't cut 'em, and commissions ain't if they wouldn't raise 'em but they do." "Any local boards out there?" " No room for 'em. There's one big com- pact, covers the whole coast. They call it the P. I. U. They don't take any chances on honesty. Have a lot of clerks and stamp and check the daily, and if it isn't just right, they fire it back to you for correction." 1 ' Then there isn't any chance to cut a rate? ' ' " There isn't? Why, the rates are made to be cut, and they're big enough to stand a good deep cut, too. You see, some company always wants the inside track, and it's easy to make arrangements to send in rebates that don't get stamped. Then another company finds it isn't in it, and goes one better by passin' rebates and 86 MEMOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES coughin' up commission too. Oh, if there's any- thing the agents out there are not on to I never heard of it." ' ' This is very interesting, Mr. Wisdom, ' ' said the Campbellite preacher, who was an attentive listener, "how are the rates made?" ' ' They call him a surveyor, and he belongs to the compact. Just makes 'em to suit himself. Prints 'em, then tackles another town. They've got rate-making down fine, but they don't seem to be able to stick to 'em, that's the trouble." ' ' We haven't any difficulty here on that score, have we, parson?" said I; whereat, though it wasn't funny, everybody laughed. It takes so little to amuse good humored people. ' ' How are they on remittances? ' ' asked the Kansas Boomer, who, being a chronic, is most interested in the subject nearest his heart. " Oh, they're easy. You don't have to remit till you collect, and if you never collect you never remit. Mark it off to profit and loss or something or other. Trouble is, you lose your commission if it's never paid." AN INSURANCE MAN 87 The Boomer sighed a deep sigh. If it hadn't been for the railroad fare, I'm satisfied he would have gone to California instead of Arkansaw. It was an ideal land, a land of promise to pay. When the visitor was gone, and we had time to think it over, not one of us, the Boomer excepted, was anxious to emigrate. The ills we have may be hard to bear, but there are worse. The limit has never been found. Since then there has been a change for the better in California, while Missouri is going from bad to worse all along the line ; the trial by fire has had a good effect on the Coast. Many of the old abuses have been abolished. Rates are down, commissions are down, expenses are down. If Wisdom had an agency there now, he might be happy yet ; but he stayed in Missouri and never returned. CHAPTER XV A VISIT TO TEXAS I HEN I was an editor and had little use for them, I had annual passes on all the rail- roads, in exchange for adver- tising. When I wanted and needed transportation as an insurance agent, I could not get it. Thus what we do not want comes easily, and what we need is hard to get. Matilda had relatives in Cleburne, Texas, and took a notion she wanted to visit them, and when a woman gets an idea into her head, nothing is impossible; even poverty is not an unsurmountable barrier. After a deal of begging and wire-pulling I secured trip passes and gratified her wish. Wisdom's tale was proof that the companies varied their methods and practices according to locality. In my inexperience I had supposed, (89) 90 MEMOIR ES OF NAT. H. JONES being under one management, that all the States were a good deal alike; but I had changed my opinion and expected to learn something new in Texas. For once, the expected happened. If California was wide open, Texas was at the other extreme, and I was more satisfied than ever to stick to Podunk after my trip south. In the first place, there were only two or three agents in Cleburne, which was good for the two or three that had the companies, and they were pretty good men, for Texas, as far as I could judge. The one that had most of the companies, Netherwood, I think, was the name he had assumed, was suspected of having a record. Some said his graveyard had three occupants, some said more; but he was as mild mannered, quiet and pleasant as the Methodist preacher at Podunk. I soon got acquainted with him, and one day while I was loafing in his office he got a telegram, and as soon as he had read it, he began to swear. I asked him what the trouble was, supposing, of course, it was an order to cancel a policy, as I never received a telegram with anything else in it. He handed it to me and I read: "Meet me AN INSURANCE MAN 91 at hotel to-night with the register," signed some- body, a special agent. I did not see anything to swear about, but Netherwood, the agent, did. I handed it back to him, said as much, and he gave me some information, about as follows: "It's his cussed impudence that riles me. In this Godforsaken town the specials, and the companies too, seem to think they have an over- due mortgage on the earth, with a right to fore- close any day. We have to beg its pardon for living. The smart- Alec specials travel in couples, or quartettes, work the society racket, play poker all night, and don't consider a local any more than they would a dog. Whistle to us and if we don't run there's the devil to pay." " There must be a cause what is it? They're sweeping the streets for agents and business up in Missouri." " O, the reason is all right, I suppose. They don't make any money, and are independent, damned independent. The State Board is a close corporation, they all pull together, and if a fellow tries to play one against the other they always catch him at it. I'd like to be in business in 92 ME MO I RES OF NAT. H. JONES AN INSURANCE MAN 93 some town where there wasn't any fires, or where there wasn't so many. I'd like to be the big dog awhile myself." While the Texas way had some advantages, I would rather suffer a little from too much com- petition than to be under so much restraint. It is more consoling to the pride to have the special cultivate me, than for me to cultivate him. I do not know whether the whole State was like Cle- burneor not; if it was, the companies had a warm time, for there was a fire nearly every day. The agents were almost as independent as the com- panies, and would not deliver a policy until the premium was paid, another point where they had the advantage of Podunk. But take it altogether, Missouri suited me better than Texas. EXPECTATION THE SPECIAL KEALIZATION CHAPTER I INTRODUCES THE SPECIAL HE life of a country agent is monotonous and matter-of- fact. I cannot, even from the dis- tance of a quarter of a century, crown the daily routine with a halo of romance . The fete days were marked by the arrival of some special, but even these sometimes ended in mourning because of the sud- den demand for an overdue account. Thus pleasure and pain march through our lives , hand in hand ; we never know when the smile may hide a tear, when joy may end in sadness. The business being limited, I had many hours of enforced idleness. During these intervals my thoughts were not always as quiescent as my limbs , and fancy explored regions beyond the boundaries of Podunk. Shortly after I had learned to write a dwelling house form that was not returned (97) 98 MEMOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES for correction, ambition despite the warning of Caesar's fate whispered Special Agency in my ear. My abilities should not be confined to the narrow limits of Jay County even, and the more I considered the attractions of a fixed salary and an expense account, the more alluring they grew. I had met many kinds of Specials, and despite my fund of native modesty, which had been aug- mented by my newspaper experience, I felt equal to the apparent labor required. The usual methods of cultivat- vating the agent were especially attractive. Have a cigar? Take lunch with me? Want to go to the theater to-night? What '11 you take? interspersed with an up-to-date collection of road stories did not seem difficult as long as Jones didn't have to pay the freight. As soon as my fellow- sufferers at Podunk understood that I was a candidate, they all rec- ommended me. I never considered it judicious to analyze motives too closely. A good action frequently serves a selfish end, as in this instance. AN INSURANCE MAN 99 Like Joseph's brethren, they expected to divide my raiment as soon as I was out of the way. The preachers were especially solicitous, as they were the natural residuary legatees of my best custom. To the country local, who would be a Special, a word of advice. If you cannot see your way to the end by working some company, try general cussedness. Make it so warm for the business that they will all want you removed, and consequently work for your removal. If you are intelligently active, some company may hear of you and employ you upon general principles. My insurance godfather was a Special of long experience and had the usual aversion to country town agencies. He considered he was squandering too much of his time and abilities upon them, and induced the manager of the Cataract to permit him to employ an assistant. Accident and the recom- mendation of a good friend a local of course directed his attention to me, and as a result I was turned out to graze upon the high grass localities. I traded my agency for a promissory note ; became surety for my successor and paid his indebtedness to the companies thereunder in due time. With 100 ME MOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES high hopes I was immediately transformed into a knight of as large a grip as an inexperienced traveler ever carried. All that remained of my local agency was the promissory note (I have it yet), and some experience as a solicitor that promised to boom the Cataract's business in the country agencies of Missouri and Kansas. My income was doubled. When the exhilara- tion incident to promotion had disappeared and I could give my finances close attention, I found my expenses had increased in still greater propor- tion; instead of making money, the Special was poorer than the local. This was a condition at variance with all my theories, and subsequent attempts at reconciliation have failed. With every increase in salary there has been a corresponding growth in expenditures. The surplus of the employe as well as of the Company, depends more upon the outgo than the income. AN INSURANCE MAN 101 CHAPTER II THE NEW MAN I SB your judgment. You will find out what is necessary to be done when you get there," was all the instruction Goodword ever gave me, which, at the time, seemed to me rather attenuated advice. After ten years' experience on the road I have altered my opinion. Judgment is the one necessity of men, of things, of time, of place; whom to select and when, how and where to approach him . A hundred Specials can name the best man; ten can get into his agency, but only two or three can get his business. It follows that the remainder must appoint second or tenth choice, or get second or tenth choice of business; sometimes both. My difficulties commenced as soon as my new connection was announced. Feminine like, 102 ME MOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES Matilda Jones had her notions of the marriage contract, and was not pleased with the new arrangement. As her opposition could not be attributed to jealousy, it was probably due to a distorted imagination. Whatever the cause (and I do not pretend to analyze female humors or fore- bodings) , she objected to a traveling husband. I conquered at the first bout, but I had to fight the battle anew every trip. Matilda wouldn't stay conquered, which I am told is one of the pecu- liarities of the sex. To the new, all things are new. New suit, new business cards, and new valise, twice as large as necessary. Like fresh paint every one touched me to test the truth of the sign, found me adhesive and passed me up. I was asked for authorizations on prohibited risks; to solve conundrums that would stump the undauntable Sexton. My judg- ment was solicited on frame range rates, and applauded only when I advised a reduction. I was asked more questions in a month than the dean of the corps could answer correctly in a year. At first I wired for instructions, but as the reply was invariably, "Use your judgment," I soon AN INSURANCE MAN 103 learned to imitate my associates ; that is, I looked wise , filtered wisdom through platitudinous meshes , and never admitted there was anything connected with the business that I could not master. Nor did my troubles end with the locals. While there is not as much esprit de corps among Specials as in the military or trades unions, it still exists . It was manifested by personal actions , varied by personal views, but present and apparent. I was considered a local, not an agent of a com- panion Special, consequently an interloper, and treated accordingly. There were exceptions, and they occurred among the older field men, who welcomed me to their ranks, encouraged me by advice, and laid the foundations of friendships that have continued uninterruptedly to the present time. While jokes and quips at the expense of a greenhorn may tickle the perpetrators, the amuse- ment does not counterbalance the loss of dignity. The greenest timber is seasoned by time and the elements, but the scar of the woodman's axe is never effaced. One of the difficulties of an inexperienced man is his expense account. I have rarely heard 104 ME MO I RES OF NAT. H. JONES a Special whose education was finished, complain of his inability to strike a balance, but the neophyte must learn this by practice as he learns penny ante (an acquisition indispensable in some fields) . They are convoluted, and the mastery of one pre- supposes acquaintance with the other. Billiards, cigars, entertainments, and numerous similar items are a serious drain upon the salary of the new man, as their connection with the hotel bill is not apparent to the unassisted sight. In a few months he acquires a mysterious occult vision, and sees things he never dreamed of before. AN INSURANCE MAN 105 CHAPTER III THE STATE BOARD OODWORD, who had been responsible for me up to this time, crowned his work by introducing me at the first meeting of the State Board. I paid my tuition, signed the Constitution, became a full-fledged member of the guild, and was made chairman of the rating committee of the Twenty- ninth Congressional District, which included Podunk within its boundaries. I never knew why our divisions were made upon political lines, but presumably it was because it created enough dis- tricts to go around and thus prevented jealousies. I was so proud of my rapid recognition that for six months I gave quite as much time to board work as to the Cataract's business. Jones was 106 ME MOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES SOODWORD THE OPTIMIST AN INSURANCE MAN 107 getting his education, as usual, at the Company's expense. One of my first observations at the meeting of the State Board was the importance of Podunk. It was used to point a moral or adorn a tale ; held up as a horrible example, or cited as a model. Whenever they ran short of subjects to cuss or dis- cuss, Podunk was whistled for, and like a sailor's breeze, carried the meeting along under full sail. How short is an insurance generation. While a few patriarchs survive, most of us are of few days and full of trouble. The then President and Secretary of the State Board, Alf. Bennett and Herb. Low, have both long since passed from the scene, and been forgotten by all but the old guard. Even the old guard has been reduced by death, retirement and promotion until less than half a dozen survive. We had no jurisdiction over the large cities. St. Joe was the limit, and even she disputed our authority to interfere with her scraps; but the smaller cities and towns were kept well in hand, necessitating frequent committee visits, a good deal of work, and not a little diplomacy. The 108 MEMOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES agents all had an axe to grind, and wanted us to turn the stone; but generally the rates we pro- mulgated were equitable and satisfactory to both agents and policy buyers. No better training school for a Special could be imag- ined. He became familiar with the construction of the towns and the standing of the principal business men; ac- quainted with all the agents, and an expert upon rates and rate making, as then under- stood. I have done a little board work in several Western States, and regret that the same curri- culum is not open to the young man of the present generation. It improved both the man and the business. The time was well spent, and the results quite as satisfactory under the old system as under the present one, while less provocation was furnished for restrictive legislation. There were no compacts to abolish. AN INSURANCE MAN 109 One of the reasons why I am an earnest advo- cate of field men's associations is the excellent resultant co-operation. It is quite easy for the managers to assure each other of their hearty co-operation and just as easy to forget the assur- ance until the subject is gray- whiskered. They not only can wear out the complaint with delay, but they have done so, and have been suspected of designedly evading their obligations. The field man cannot afford to do this. He is in constant contact with his associates, and, if he establishes a reputation of this character, it r reacts upon his business. Some one of his agents is met every day by some one of the boys, and even without any preconcerted plan, how natural it is to greet the local with such deprecatory remarks as these, when they see the sign on the wall: " Oh, you are the agent for the Eastern, are you? " ' ' I didn 't know you represented the Eastern. ' ' ' ' Whatever induced you to take the Eastern agency? " ''Well, I didn't suppose you would represent the Eastern." 110 M MOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES Such remarks and innuendoes, shrugs and winks to each other, cause an agent to think, and neither increase the popularity of a company nor help its business. The punishment is so swift and sure that many recalcitrants have seen a new light, and changed their methods from necessity. AN INSURANCE MAN 111 CHAPTER IV A DELINQUENT AGENT O more disagreeable work is assigned to a Special than the collection of delinquent balances. The agency book showed for Circleville, Janu- ary business, $46.00; February, $92.00; March, $18.00. I found an agent whom I thought would be a business-getter early in January, and was patting myself on the back when I got a letter from the office. 'Twas ever thus. I never congratulated myself upon being devilish cute but something turned up to dampen my ardor. This is the letter: " CHICAGO, April 20, 1884. NAT H. JONES, S. A. PODUNK, Mo., DBAR SIR: Agent I. M. Pudent at Circleville returns our draft for January, balance $38.60, with a memorandum by the bank 'no attention.' He owes us in addition $77.45 on February account, now over- due, and fails to cancel policy 5018, covering on a second-hand stock, premium $18.00 in March, which 112 ME MOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES we have repeatedly asked him to take up. He appears to be an undesirable agent, and when you appoint his successor please take more care in your selection. Please give the matter your attention at first oppor- tunity, and oblige, Yours truly, S. I. SWART WOOD, Manager. This was cheerful news, but I made the best of it, and started for Circleville at once. I found Pudent in his office with his feet on the table and sucking at a cob pipe filled with long green. "Hello, Jones," he said, indolently untang- ling his feet. "Wasn't looking for you again so soon. What's up?" "I got a letter from the office about January balance, and as I was going to Sedalia anyway, I stopped off to see what was the matter." "I never have paid and never will pay a sight draft, that's what's the matter," bristling up like a cat at a strange dog in the yard. "All right, then, as I am here you can fix it with me, and you had better include February in the check while you are at it." "If you get it before I do, let me know, will you? ' ' AN INSURANCE MAN 113 Human nature can endure many things more patiently than impudence. I was six feet at six- teen and wasn't any less at thirty, and when I got through with him he tied up our supplies nicely, dusted the sign, borrowed the January balance from somebody, and cancelled the February and March policies. This was the second time my early education was adapted to the business. This was an extreme case. I have often assisted the agent to raise the money, have visited relatives in the country, driven fifty miles to see an old friend who might lend, have found money for chattel loans, and once was a bar-keep in a Kansas joint until the till relieved the local stringency. This was also an extreme case. When coaxing, cajoling and soft words are in- effective; when the sureties are stubborn; when all ordinary efforts fail, the prison is pictured in all its horrors, and when threats avail not, they are executed, though fortunately such measures are rarely necessary. Some day when the business is reduced to an exact science, all the annoyances will be elimin- ated. Then the Special will not grumble there 114 MEMOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES will be no Specials. The adjuster will not com- plain there will be no adjusters. The manager will not lose his temper there will be no man- agers . Only good agents and happy shareholders in Utopia. We are sailing for Utopia, across the unknown seas ; The rudder's gone, the masts are down, the skipper's ill at ease; He has lost his charts and compass, and the navi- gator's ill, The scurvy crew is mutinous and threatens to rebel. With breakers port and starboard and rocks on every hand, We've lost our course and reckoning, and almost lost our sand. We are sailing for Utopia, the region of the blest, Where the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest; Where there are no legislators no taxes to be paid ; Where political examiners have never made a raid ; Where dividends are guaranteed and premiums abound ; Large, fat and juicy premiums, enough to go around. AN INSURANCE MAN 115 We are sailing for Utopia if ever we arrive, How many of the middlemen, the voyage will survive? Where every one is honest, no necessity occurs For adjusters, special agents, or even managers. Though present ills are hard to bear, there may be worse in store. Shall we stand by the derelict, or jump, and swim ashore? CHAPTER V PLANTING AN AGENCY IN MISSOURI ET me introduce myself, Col. Moore; I am Jones, Special Agent of the Cataract In- surance Co." Col. Moore, who is a North Missouri Justice of the Peace, portrays his part. No collar, silk hat of uncertain date, spattered shirt front, short, baggy trousers, and sockless feet. He pushes his specs to his forehead, wipes his watery eyes with a bandana, and says: "Well?" "I'm looking for an agent and have been referred to you." "What d'ye wanta change fer?" " I do not want to change. The Cata- ract has never been planted here , and I wish to get an opening. The town is growing and appears to be a desirable agency point." (117) 118 MEMOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES " 'Umph See here young man, I've got more companies 'n I can use. ; They 'es more com- panies 'n risks here now, an' more agents too. I couldn't do nothin' fer you nohow." Drops his spectacles, takes a fresh chew, coolly turns his back, and considers the interview ended. " Mr. Smartweed, my name is Jones, Special agent of the Cataract Insurance Co. I am looking for an agent, and you are recommended." Smartweed runs the local paper, and when the horse bill season is ended, practices insurance to help out. " Hello! Jones of the Podunk Bazoo? Met you at Jefferson in '80 at the State Editorial Con- vention. Don't you remember me?" Of course I remembered him, now he men- tioned it, but hadn't he changed his appearance? No, same old Smartweed. Wasted an hour on reminiscences found he only wrote his own plant (chattel mortgaged) , but if I would be satisfied with half of it, he would take us in. Would like to do business with an old acquaintance, etc., etc. AN INSURANCE MAN 119 My next call was upon Mr. Chitty, in Black- stone & Kent's office. I had had an application from him a couple 'of months before. He was a student and expected to be admitted to the bar next spring. Found eight glass signs on the walls and half a dozen tin ones on the stairway. Usual preliminaries. Of course he would take the Cataract. Said he: " I intend to have the largest agency in town. I have nine or ten companies now, and if I can get the Home and the Aetna and the Phcenix and a few more, I will do all the business in town. They'll have to come to me if I once get them corralled." In the two months he had issued three or four $200 dwelling policies, but his expectations were too great. We might want each other, but we didn't need one another. "Mr. Hardcasein?" A sour visaged, dyspeptic little man acknowl- edged that he was in. Wasn't in the insurance business for his health. Rates were too high any way. What commissions could we pay? No, 120 ME MOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES wasn't any money in the business at fifteen per cent. His signs were not displayed. From a list I found that he had all the notorious rate cutting and excess commission companies in the State. As I couldn't get a fifteen per cent agreement from him in any event, he was barred, even if he wanted the Cataract but he didn't. U7i7.ll Tiri A day wasted for I was whitewashed. Should I stay over and try it again? I had seen every man who had companies, and must look up a new man if I got in at all. Yes ; it was better to have my supplies there for the next visit ; it was easier to change an agency than to plant a new com- pany. A dead agency was better than none. After supper I met the County Clerk, and per- suaded him to accept the great distinction I was ready to confer. He did, and may be agent yet for all I know. I never had to collect a balance h*Mi2iS from him while I was with the Cataract, for his Till*? page on the agency book was never marred by a figure . This is a sample day's work. If you find a man who wants you, take care. If you investi- AN INSURANCE MAN 121 gate, you will probably find you do not want him. There were a few towns in the Southeast where companies were in demand. They swelled both columns in the State reports, but the larger figures were in the second column. Where I could get business the company didn't want it, and where I couldn't get it, the manager was always hungry so geht es in die Welt. He v/o fs u ' CHAPTER VI INSPECTIONS are many instruction books on the market, and I have no intention of increasing the number, so instead of tell- ing how inspections should be made, I shall confine myself to telling how they are made, without recommendation . These are my Me*moires, not my confessions, and I decline to assume personal responsi- bility for common practices. First, the easiest and most common is known as the office, or register inspection. If the exam- iner has sent out the blank slips, so much the better, as a Special's time is too valuable to waste upon clerical work. This is the kind of inspec- tion that pleases the local and the assured, and is very popular. (123) 124 ME MOIRES OF NAT H. JONES. Second on the list is the car-window and map inspection, especially used for soap factories, glue factories, fertilizing works, pork packing estab- lishments, and similar nasty malodorous things. What is the use of upsetting the stomach, soiling the clothes, and wearying the body, only to learn that they are dirty? That is known already. Who can tell when or where a fire will originate, or where or when it will stop? Not one of us. The inference is plain. The third variety is the sidewalk inspec- tion. If combined with the alley, up one and down the other, it is quite effective for frame range business. The exposures and stovepipes are all noted, and the slips O. K.'d with a clear conscience. We have been gradually approaching the risk, and have reached the fourth, known as the inside inspection, chiefly made by the younger members of the fraternity. It has its advocates. Memo. The desirability of a clothing stock may depend as much upon the size and shape of the nose as upon the amount of insurance carried, or the name; yea, more, as it is fashionable to AN INSURANCE MAN 125 change or anglicize the name until the identity of the Pole is submerged. Memo . Always inspect millinery lines closely , as I have seen prettier things in some millinery stores, than the last summer's hats in the display windows. Memo. Saloons and liquor stocks are best inspected by sample. The early part of the day recommended; they might burn before night. Nearly all field men would be considered sprinkler experts, though the knowledge of most of them ends with the "double line on risks equipped with approved sprinklers." I cannot withhold a word of advice. Subscribe for Once Upon A Time, whose editor knows more about Western sprinklers than the mill mutuals more than the inventor thought he knew. Sample copy sent to any name and address upon application. There is yet another method in use. If you know as little as I do about some of the modern technical hazards, use some other fellow's inspec- tion, copy it, and send it in as your own. His judgment may not be infallible, but it is better than none. 126 MR MOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES I always retained a duplicate of all inspec- tions, and found it a great comfort in time of trouble. Every time I visited Adair, I could gaze upon the old frame flour mill I had cancelled off five years ago ; note the frame range marked K. O. (a paraphrase of O. K.), that had persistently refused to burn ; turn from the press reports in the morning paper to my duplicate slip, and see how little my judgment was really worth. It was also convenient on a request for re-inspection, as mem- ory is often treacherous, and a Special gets tripped up often enough unavoidably, without setting pit- falls for himself. Possibly two or three times in a century, a risk I cancelled would burn. Oh, the delight. Then Jones patted himself on the head, joshed the agent who had made a row over it, and wrote his manager a congratulatory letter, offering a good opening for the compliments of the season. Did they shower in? Every Special can answer from his own experience. I was once asked to inspect a dozen farm risks at a small Missouri agency, and when I inquired AN INSURANCE MAN 127 of the agent where they were, and how I should lay out my route to reach them easiest, he said: ' ' You ' 11 waste your time . You can ' t possibly have a loss, as there isn't anything there to burn." "How is that? " "I'll tell you. A loan agent has his office next door, and, as his loan company will not lend on unimproved farms he sends a policy along with the loan papers, and I furnish the policies. Don't you think it is good business? Just like finding money? " What would you do under such circumstances? So did I, and I have never regretted my action. St. Louis business had been burning as usual and the manager sent me there to inspect all our business, probably suppos- ing this would charm our sorrows away. I had worked my legs hard for two months and had seen all our risks but one a $2,500 line on stock for the Ruth Pipe Company. Weary and jaded at the close of the day, 128 ME MOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES I halted at No. 423-425 S. Main, with my last slip reached, saw the signs by the doorway, entered, looked around and said : 1 c You make metal piping here? ' ' The workman nearest me coincided and con- tinued his labor, while I inspected the stock; with a deep sigh of relief and a clear conscience I marked the slip "Metal worker Mfrs. Sheet and Metal Piping O. K. Jones." Three months later I was on my usual first-of- the-year visit to the head office. After the cus- tomary greetings to the staff, the manager called me to his private office, set up the cigars, com- plimented me on the satisfactory results of the past year (this was unusual) , and said : "Mr. Jones, did you personally inspect all our St. Louis risks? " "Certainly. I never put in two months of harder work." "Did you inspect the Ruth Pipe Co. line?" ' * Why, yes. I remember it well , It was the last risk I looked at." "Well, Jones, I know you wouldn't make a false report, but I have it on good information that AN INSURANCE MAN 129 this was a cob-pipe factory. The risk has since burned, and Mr. Kellner, the adjuster, evidently labored under the same impression, for he allowed their claim on a stock of cob pipes. You can't both be right one of you must have made a mistake." My explanation was probably satisfactory, for I am still on the Cataract's force. When other kinds fail, honesty is good policy. CHAPTER VII CHANGING AN AGENCY IN KANSAS EOGRAPHICALLY, an imagin- ary line only separates Missouri from Kansas. Morally, politi- cally, and, I may say, in intellectual structure, they are far apart. Ante bellum antipathies to some extent, survive in the descendants of the original slave-holder on one side, and the abolitionist on the other. While the ex-confederate was the prominent citizen, and inferentially the leading agent in Missouri, the one-armed or one-legged Union soldier was his prototype in Kansas. Time has effaced some of the old rancor, and is rapidly exterminating both species. Veterans of the Civil War are now rarely met in active business, but they were abundant in the early eighties. My agent, the town constable, had defaulted. His friends made good his shortage, but were not (131) 132 MEMOIRES OF NAT H. JONES. kind enough to select his successor. I looked over the ground and found the following men in the business: Carl Weiskopf, Ole Johnson and Major Hunter, leading agents ; Judge Morrow and D. R. A. I,ane close seconds, with the usual num- ber, hanging on the skirts of the business one or two company fellows, unlikely material to work upon. Weiskopf was teller in a local bank. I thought I would approach him properly, as much depends upon the first impression you make. " Erlauben Sie, Herr Weiskopf?" ' ( That is my name. What can I do for you? ' ' A peculiarity of the German- American or American-German, is his apparent inability to speak his mother tongue. He nearly always answers a German query in English, or, perhaps my Dutch was too much for him? As he was evi- dently ashamed of his nationality, I ceased to be his Landsmann at once. <( I am looking for an agent, have you room for another company? A liberal writer, first class, old and well-established, the Cataract." ' ' Liberal writer? What do you write? ' ' AN INSURANCE MAN 133 * ' Frame range business ; ordinary special haz- ards, etc. I don't think you have a prohibited risk in town." u If you will carry $5,000 on the Parkhouse Sugar Mill, I can give you a policy to-day." Now, this was a prohibited risk a sorghum sugar factory, experimental or worse, since the process even with Government assistance never progressed beyond exhausting the appropriation. It was silent, partially dismantled, and heavily mortgaged to the bank. No, we couldn't swallow it. Weiskopf froze up and wouldn't consider the matter further, so I called upon Mr. Johnson. He represented, in a way, the large Scandi- navian farming community north of town. After he had read my card, and I had stated my mission, he said: "Aye tank aye haf company aynuf. Aye been too bizzy to make out so much account efery month." All my persuasions fell upon phlegmatic ears I had to give him up. 134 MEMOIRES OF NAT. II. JONES AN INSURANCE MAN 135 Major Hunter was one of the original Jay- hawkers; fought against Quantrell; was in the Lawrence Raid, was also a local politician, and generally of much more importance than the army records admitted. It was quietly hinted by the opposition that he was in the Commissary Depart- ment, but he was commander of the local Post, and would not take a back seat for anybody on military record or reminiscences. I saw the sign of the Old Springfarm, and, looking at it, introduced myself by asking if Major Wiseman had been there recently. "Know the Major?" ' ' Of course ; every insurance man knows him." Whereupon he entertained me with a selection of anecdotes I had heard half a dozen times from the originator, the only Major himself ; talked local politics; gave me his army record; scored the rebels and their apologist, the Democratic party, but wouldn't take the Cataiact. I was too young to have served, and as my father was not fortunate enough to have been a conscript, I couldn't show family patriotism enough to do business with him. 136 MEMOIR ES OF NAT. H. JONES Judge Morrow was out of town, showing some one a likely farm, or making a survey for a farm loan applicant. I never met him, but I have seen many of his loan applications, and they were works of art. He divided the quarter section into small squares, painted the orchard green, the wheat red, the corn yellow; forwarded an insurance policy for $1,500 on a $250 house , and secured a thousand- dollar-loan on an eight-hundred- dollar farm. I did not care to get into his agency except as a last resort, and was not very sorry he was out. Lane was a young man, a native Kansan, reared in Leavenworth, and, as his initials indi- cated, at a time when stirring events were pulled off. He was known as Anthony Lane Tony for short. To my surprise, I found an opening, or, I persuaded him to make one, and was relieved of the necessity of chasing after the above men- tioned hangers-on. He even gave me a bond, AN INSURANCE MAN 137 though he demurred at first, and before I left I had seen all our policy holders and given them as good a talk as I could to induce them to stay with us. He made a good agent, and, if alive, must be a rarity the variety is almost extinct in Kansas. CHAPTER VIII CULTIVATING THE AGENTS HEN I was not changing an agency or adjusting a loss, or inspecting a risk, or attending to one of the multifarious duties of a Special, I was supposed to be cultivating the busi- ness ; which, being translated, means jolly- ing the agents. I have hinted at some of the most common methods employed; a catalogue of all of them would fill a vol- ume, and serve no useful purpose. Every Special is au fait, before he has been in the field a year. What will get me under his vest? How can I increase my business? Dollars and cents not only talk, they roar, but they are coarse. The Special that buys busi- ness is sewing his own shroud. He must get it (139) 140 MR MOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES on even terms with his competitors, or his exist- ence is not justified. I, Jones, have invented a dozen plans, have tried them and cast them aside. No general scheme will fit all cases. You must adapt yourself and your conduct to the circum- stances for instance: It was on my regular visit to Glorietta, and while I was cultivating the agent in his office, a firm-jawed, unprepossessing, half -masculine crea- ture sailed in and said to my agent: " You're a nice man, you are. Where is the kindling I told you to order this morning? We can't cook without a fire, nor make a fire without wood." "Excuse me, Arabella, this is Mr. Jones, Special of the Cataract; Mr. Jones, my wife," in an apologetic tone and manner. One glance and I decided Arabella was our real agent she was the one to cultivate if I expected results. She was the whole household. I told her a parlor story, talked her into a good humor (for her,), and was invited to supper. I played with the children, and, in addition to securing her good graces, placed the agent under AN INSURANCE MAN 141 obligations by taking him down town during the evening without the usual preliminary row. This was repeated every visit and the Cataract didn't suffer in that agency. At Podunk, the Methodist preacher gave most of his business to a company that ordinarily would not command one-third of the volume. I asked him why he favored this particular company? "I'll tell you, Jones. The Special is the most artistic swearer I ever met. A man that can swear and curse in as many different ways as he can, anent nothing at all, is certain to have a hard time hereafter, and it is my duty to make this life as pleasant as I can for him. The next is likely to be dreadful." No one but a preacher would do it. A layman would have kicked him out of the office. I once put over $200 in premiums on the books at a small agency by personal solicitation. The agent never gave us another risk, because we had more than our share. He was the only 142 MEMOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES agent in town and said he would have gotten the business anyway. This was an illustration of appreciation. Tom Johnson was our agent at Gordon, Mo. The town isn't on the map. No use to look it up, as you couldn't get in if you tried. He gave us practically all his business. Stuck on the com- pany ? No. On the Special ? No. I ordered an extra one of our works of art, which the vulgar call a sign, for his parlor, and because his wife didn't fancy any other company's sign, he had to give us all his business to keep peace in the family. One of the meanest tricks was played by a Special of the Kansas Boomer at Podunk. His agent's daughter was the clerk, and what do you suppose he did? Make love to her? Worse than that ; he married her. When the competition for business reaches such proportions, I shall move to Sulu. The laws of this portion of these United States are not liberal enough to justify an exten- sive list of father-in-law agencies. AN INSURANCE MAN 143 Nothing so taxes the ingenuity as the com- petition for premium income, consequently there are no tricks or devices imaginable left untried, some honorable, many questionable, a few dis- reputable. Detraction re-acts, and is never used by a reputable Special. Innuendo is a more common weapon, but the secret is, to get yourself liked, not your competitor in the agency disliked. Positive action aids you directly, while the result of negative action is scattered. You only get a small portion of the benefits. It may require years of waiting to get into a particular agency, and more years to get a fair share of the business, bnt the slow process is the better in the end. Pertinacity is nearly always rewarded, and if you stick to it you can almost get blood out of a turnip. Of course, if you find your agent is a rutabaga, you would better quit at once and try another, but ninety-nine per cent are capable of being worked if you can only find their weak- nesses. It isn't so hard to get business for a leviathan ; it commands a certain amount, and being in demand as a leader in the agency, almost works 144 MEMOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES itself to the top. Most of us travel for the com- pany of medium size; its dollars are good, but not better than gold dollars; its indemnity is equal to any, but it has neither great age, great size, nor great prestige to recommend it, and the personality of the Special increases as the demand for the company decreases. AN INSURANCE MAN 145 CHAPTER IX MY FIRST LOSS AVE you ever been to Osceola? No? I congratulate you. After a thirty -mile drive from the railroad, fording or swimming the Osage, as the stage of the water permits or necessitates , you are ready for as many corn dodgers and as much bacon and other aliment as the local hotel supplies. And such a hotel ! Built before the war ; full of unregistered guests in summer and draughts in winter (when the guests are more or less quiescent) , food swimming in grease and dyspepsia oozing out of the very walls, saturated with the kitchen fumes of half a century. Is it marvelous that white- caps abound and lynchings are frequent? Is there not more connection between food and morals than we suspect? Are not grease, ague and quinine frequently the cause, or at least the indices, of 146 ME MOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES night riders, regulators, and other predatory suc- cessors to the original Ku-Klux-Klan? On the Osage bottom, ten or twelve miles below the town, I settled my first loss. I had been doing agency work for a couple of years, and was, presumably, by this time, equipped for adjusting, though the connection between the two branches of the business, aside from availability, has never been explained to me. I was considered competent to handle a farmer, at any rate. Yet the unlettered tiller of the soil is full of shrewd- ness and guile, and a more difficult customer to deal with than the average country town business man. His notion of well dressed humanity is gath- ered from lightning-rod peddlers , farm machinery salesmen, gold brick merchants, and other like birds of prey. Can you blame him if he is sus- picious of even an embryo adjuster? The agent wished to drive out with me, but I was uncertain of my ground and did not care to have a witness to my possible discomfiture ; so I found my way alone over the flint hills and mucky bottom land, arriving about dinner time. The claimant was a sallow, lank individual, one of the AN INSURANCE MAN 147 real old stock, and was plowing his corn, when I arrived. I sat on the fence until he crossed the field. When he was about to turn for another round, I said: * * Howdy . Fine weather for corn?" "Middlin 1 ," he replied, glancing at me out of the tail of i 1 i w ^ L* f ' \\3 his eye, but evincing no disposi- tion to stop his work, and swearing at his mule while he yanked the cultivator around. " I am Jones, adjuster for the Cataract Insur- ance Co., and have come out to settle your loss." u Ye have, have ye? Now that's what I call doin' the square thing. If ye'd writ me, I'd a met ye in Osceola and saved ye the trip." He commenced to thaw a little now. Probably supposed I wanted his money when he first saw me, but to give him my money that was different. "What burned?" "The hull durned shootin' -match burned, that's what." "Barn, too?" 148 MEMOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES "Didn't have no barn, but the house an' furniture all went." " Did you save your policy?" " The loan fellers up to Kansas City have it. I reckon I wouldn't 've had any insurance if they hadn't made me take it." "All right. I have a copy, so it doesn't matter. L,et's see : $300 on frame dwelling house, and $200 on household furniture, wearing apparel , etc. Iross, if any, payable to Jawis, Conkhite & Co. Is that correct?" "Not by a durned sight it ain't correct. That was a log house, made of hewed walnut logs, and you can't run any flimsy studdin' shebang in on me, not if I know it " " But the policy says" "I didn't write the policy, did I? Harris wrote it, and he know'd my house; he's been here a dozen times. No, sirree. I want pay for walnut logs no scrub oak but good seasoned walnut, an' it's gettin' mighty scarce 'round here, too. Why I could 'a sold them logs fer five hundred dollars, and'ud'a done it too if Lize'd a let me." AN INSURANCE MAN 149 Up against it, Jones, old man. Let's drop the house and tackle the furniture. ' ' Have you made a list of the furniture? ' ' "Lize has." ' * How did the fire originate? ' ' ''How did it what?" "How did it start?" ' ' Dunno, must 'a ketched from the chimbly. ' ' " Didn't you save anything?" "Saved the kids." "Well, let's go and see your wife. I want to get back before dark." We found Lize and the kids, six or seven of them, near where the house had stood. All that remained was the stone base of the chimney, looking like one of "Blunt's monuments" of the closing days of the war. I*ize was getting dinner in a kettle at an open fire. She wasn't pretty, though before the advent of the kids she might not have been ill-looking. " This is the insurance man, L,ize," was my introduction, which she acknowledged with a nod, wiping the smoke out of her eyes, or rather, the tears drawn by the smoke. 150 ME MOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES " He wants a list of the traps." u Better wait 'till after dinner; I ain't got no time to fool with 'em now. You L,ige, you little brat, keep outin' the kittle, will ye?" making a swipe at Elijah, but not quickly enough to catch him. I took pot luck with them. What they would endure for days, I might endure for once, and when the meal was disposed of, we went to work. The list commenced with the items dear to her by association not with the wearing apparel the city bred woman would have men- tioned first. " Two feather beds, how heavy were they?" 41 'Bout thirty pounds." * ' Sixty pounds of feathers at 20 cents a pound $12." u Twenty cents? You can't get first pickin' feathers like them fer no 40 cents a pound." "But they have been used, and we figure depreciation." " No you don't figure nothing outer me. I know what feathers is, and nobody in this neigh- borhood had better ones neither " AN INSURANCE MAN 151 To stop her volubility, pass sixty pounds at 30 cents, a fair compromise; same with half a dozen pillows. "Split-bottom rocking chair. What was it worth? ' ' " More'n we'll get fer it, I reckon. Ole man Thomas made it, and he was the handiest man in these parts. Raised every one of these young 'uns on it, and it was just as strong and good as new. 'Druther have it than any of your store cheers, that can't stand no use and " Heavens ! At this rate, when will we get to the end? " How does $2 strike you?" 4 ' Two dollars ! fer a seasoned cheer that has raised all these " "Three dollars?" 44 Say four. It was wuth more'n four, but I don't want to be onreasonable " Item by item, down to the rolling-pin and the whole scheduled $225. I did not want to send in my first proof without a salvage, and made a bold bluff at 33i off, and a settlement at $150, but it wouldn't go. Finally they agreed to 152 MEMO I RES OF NAT. H. JONES $175 which was ample, and I took up the house again with the old man. " How much is the place mortgaged for?" " 'Bout $400." " All right; I'll pay you $400, that will just cancel the mortgage." ' ' Not much you won't. Them walnut logs ' ' "But we didn't insure a log house. The company prohibits log houses, and we must either agree upon what a frame house of this size is worth, or we can't pay you anything." " Ye can't, eh? By gum, we'll see whether ye kin or not. I saw lawyer Childs, up to Osceola, and he says * Don't you take a cent less than the policy calls fer ; ' that's what he says. They's d State law, a Statoot, or something that's fixed the hull bizness. I ain't a fool if I do eat tumble-bugs." Against it again. Walnut logs and valued policy law. Let's try another tack. u All right, if you want to settle your claim with lawyer Childs, go ahead; I'm going back. Understand, we do not waive any of the terms and conditions of the policy. The policy will tell AN INSURANCE MAN 153 you what to do and when it must be done. When you get ready to adjust the loss, if your lawyer will write the company, we will give the claim attention in the usual order of business." I hitched up and was preparing to go. The old man chewed a straw, scratched his head, and rubbed his chin evidences of deep thought in one unaccustomed to think but made no effort to detain me. After I was in the buggy, I gave him one parting shot. * c Have you agreed with Childs on his fee? ' ' "I've been thinkin', an' I'll tell you what I'll do. You make it $450, that's throwin' off $25 on the house, and I'll call it a bargain." Accepted, proofs attested by a Justice of the Peace, estimate of frame house made to fit the case, and my first loss was settled, but not adjusted. One of the many differences between Kansas and Missouri is, that in the former State the Insurance Commissioner would, when reports were filed at the end of the year, volunteer as collection agent for the $25 compromise, giving the com- pany the alternative of paying or having the license revoked. 154 MEMOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES Note by the Editor: Mr. Jones is mixed in his dates, as the valued policy law of Missouri was enacted in 1889, years after the time he set for his adjustment. AN INSURANCE MAN 155 CHAPTER X A SPECIAL'S DECALOGUE ON'T permit yourself to get lost, but wire a change of route. Don't order a risk dropped at expiration unless you wish to reduce the line. If too poor to renew, it is too poor to carry over night. Don't write the office to cancel a risk. Have the courage to do it yourself on the ground. Agents, like women, despise cowards. Don't leave an agency until you have trans- acted all your business. Better stay another day than make another visit. Don't make two bites of a cherry Don't buy business. No company can long afford to employ an intermediary to make excess commission contracts; consequently the Special who practices this easy but expensive method of securing business is undermining himself, is working for his own abolition. 156 MMOIES OF NAT. H. JONES f fbwje . 09'^ order a rijK dropped *f exj>tr.fior> duce tlje liije . j|f -Joo poor-ft repw, f ij at; it^lern;* dir/ li TJjftke e/cejj con)i 9 ijytlo carew o 15 populArl^ 5uppo,c<) -io fcprc^cr/ ftt; u i AN INSURANCE MAN 157 A 8RCUUC8 9^Re office . i^^t f>rjn$ -tt)t>i)*benj<tyt t} fy'i o/^'ee ,rjo|)fr wropp , /yt nptter of cipli9 , if-^r 90 ol^er retkjop . ri^k i^ declined >vi^our* -re&5 repderi^ <rlK . | m**i^ fcrv > y i.^pcrt.l >5 Ut>o y -ou. live i". 158 MEMOIRES OF NAT H. JONES. Don't talk too much. The spouter at board and association meetings, and the loud, long- winded supplicant at prayer meeting will both bear watching. The Lord is not deaf, nor are field men blind, though many are astigmatic. You may not evade responsibility for your own shortcomings by chasing the other fellow around with a tom-tom. Don't be a cad. The Special must be a gen- tleman at all times and places. He is the only salaried representative of the companies in touch with the public. His principal is judged by his habits, manners and conversation, and he cannot be too careful of his walk, since one black sheep is popularly supposed to represent an unseen flock of Southdowns. Don ' t talk shop outside the shop . The inclin- ation may be all but irresistible, but should be suppressed. Perpetual shop talk is not an evi- dence of the absorbing interest you take in your business, but is a bad habit and prevents the study and discussion of other interesting and important topics. An all-around man must give a portion of his attention to current matters only inferen- tially connected with his business. The change AN INSURANCE MAN 159 is a mental rest that invigorates while it cultivates and broadens. Don't go back on the office. The Special who spends his time apologizing for his manage- ment is himself an apology. Uphold and defend the office, right or wrong, as a matter of discipline, if for no other reason. Do not stultify yourself by taking the agent's part without considering the merits of the dispute. No company cancels a risk which it can consistently carry. No risk is declined without a reason. Investigate before rendering judgment, and, if you find the agent in the wrong, you will earn his permanent respect by pointing out his error. If you weaken his con- fidence in the judgment of his management, you eventually lose your standing in the agency. Don't cackle a reprehensible habit acquired by some Specials and exploited in public places, that is responsible for a portion of the general dis- trust of insurance methods. They are heard on the railway, the omnibus, at hotels in and out of season, boasting of their cuteness, and gloating over Green of Poseyville whom they did up in an adjustment. None of the imaginary details are 160 ME MO I RES OF NAT. H. JONES omitted. If their fairy tales be true, they are unfit to adjust honest claims for an honest com- pany. As they are usually vain imaginings, the authors should be drummed out of a fraternity which they dishonor. We have enough real sins to answer for without adding an imaginary load. Broken doses of modesty recommended for the obstinate case. This decalogue is evidence that the things not to do may be as important as the work for which you draw a salary. If you earn it and obey these injunctions you may remain a Special as long as you live, unless you are promoted. AN INSURANCE MAN 161 CHAPTER XI THE HAIL MAN NSURANCE has been so gener- ally adapted to the vicissitudes of life that nearly all contingen- cies are provided against. Most of the hazards are under-written by companies organized for that purpose, but a few have been grafted upon the fire company. In the Middle and Northwest, where the elements are capricious and unreliable, tornado insurance is a factor in the premium receipts of many com- panies, and hail insurance is a necessity to the farming community. While indemnity against hail was in the experi- mental stage, the farmer's crop was insured for a lump sum and the losses adjusted at the end of the season. As there were frequently a number of claims in one neighborhood, the advent of the adjuster was anxiously awaited by a number of 162 MEMOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES poor devils whose winter provisions depended upon his liberality . Premiums were high , nearly always paid with a note, and when the harvesting, thresh- ing and marketing charges, in addition to the un- paid note, were deducted from the claim, the farmer who did not owe the company money was a lucky man. The popularity of the adjuster decreased as they got better acquainted with him. He often left the claimants less than did the hail storm. He never tarried when his business was done. His driver was educated to the necessity of prompt action in an emergency. When he saw his fare bolt out of the house or yard, the team was under way before he reached the buggy, which he mounted on the fly. Hearts were hardened against lamentations and imprecations, and the place knew him no more for a year, maybe forever. The story of the settlement is told in his own language : *' I had a sectional map of the counties, and located all the claims by a mark, so I could lay out my route. There was one spot in Western Nebraska where the map was badly disfigured. We seemed to have the whole country insured, AN INSURANCE MAN 163 and there were fifteen or twenty dots in one town- ship. After a fifty-mile drive I found myself late in the evening on the border of a Russian com- munity. L,odging and horse-feed were both refused me, and, to get shelter in a hut, I was obliged to disclose my identity. It was so late that I felt pretty safe in admitting that I was the hail man, but I underestimated the anxiety of the community. The news was spread abroad during the night, as I learned in good time. " We were on the road by daylight. Shortly after sunrise, as we reached the crest of a hill, I heard the driver say: 'Well, I'll be damned,' an admission quite in consonance with his walk and conversation, yet it startled me a little . He pointed to the valley below, where there was the stir and bustle and crowd usual to k : a camp meeting. A dozen teams were tied to the fence around a sod-house. The folks had congregated to greet me. ' ' It was sometimes hard work to settle a single claim, and to tackle them in bunches was 164 MEMO I RES OF NAT. H. JONES not a pleasing prospect; but I couldn't back out, and determined to face the music. They greeted me effusively and gutterally. All talked their jargon to me at once, each wanted to be adjusted first, and individual action was impossible. Some way must be devised, or I would be in the midst of a riot before I knew it. "The house had only one room, with the dining table across one end and benches around it for seats. I ranged my pack of claimants around it, crowding as many as possible against the walls, spread each man's policy in front of him, and began to figure. I made over a dozen statements of loss, of which this is a fair sample: IVAN BUSTROWICH. 40 acres wheat, estimated yield 30 bu . 1200 bu. actual " 5 bu . 200 bu. Net loss in bushels 1000 Quotation at nearest Ry. station, 40c .... $400 00 Premium note $60 00 Interest 6 50 Harvesting charge 50 00 Threshing charge 60 00 Marketing charge 70 00 $246 50 Net loss 153 50 AN INSURANCE MAN 165 " I made out drafts for every claim, had the receipts signed, put them in my pocket, distrib- uted the drafts and bolted. Before I reached the buggy they were after me, a howling, gesticulat- ing mob; but the driver knew his business, and they never caught me. The ethics? Bless you, there is none in the hail business. If we paid them what they wanted we should be out of busi- ness, so we pay what they must have, enough sometimes to keep them in cornmeal and bacon 'till spring." CHAPTER XII AN ADJUSTER'S YARN KILGORE'S "VENETIAN PAGE" E were seated around the big fireplace in the rotunda of the Midland Hotel, recounting our experiences o n household furni- ture losses, when Kilgore, who had been a patient listener, said: * ( If you boys will wait a min- ute until I try Dewey on the slot machine for the cigars, I will tell you of my experience with Clara Buster Mound." He came back with a quarter's worth of cigars, but by the smile on Peggy's (167) 168 MEMOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES face we figured that they cost him about forty cents. This is his tale as near as I can remember it : ' ' Now this is strictly confidential among us seven. It doesn't reflect much credit on my ability as an adjuster, but I take it from what I have heard that you have all been done up at some time. Mrs. Mound, to whom I have given the title of Her Ladyship, was one of these strong-minded women who was looked upon as a leader among women one who starts in her locality a move- ment for The Assertion of Our Rights, and when she gets the women together announces in a clear and decisive manner: ' ' ' Now, ladies, you will please come to order. First of all we must choose a chairman.' " "And at the slightest hint, or suggestion, announces her election. I guess you know the style of her bonnet and set of her jaw. ' ' When I got the notice of loss I found that besides our one thousand dollar policy which gave permission for other insurance there was five thousand dollars insurance in two other com- panies, and our agent, who was one of these ordi- nary matter-of-fact men who looks on the practical AN INSURANCE MAN 169 side of a loss, reported: ' Small loss in attic, will not exceed one hundred or two hundred dollars.' There was a little notation on the bottom of the loss notice opposite ' Remarks ' : ' Property dam- aged: some old lace curtains and other goods formerly in a $50, 000 Southern plantation home.' As the largest policy was in one of the home com- panies represented by our agent, and Mr. Smiley, their adjuster, made his headquarters in the city where the loss occurred, I sent a short form proof to our agent, requesting him to have Mr. Smiley represent us, and I supposed I was out of it. But, bless your hearts, within the next three days I received a letter and a telegram from my manager, a letter and a telegram from the secretary of the home company, a telegram from Smiley, and a very appealing letter from our agent all in the same strain, ' We want you you must come. ' I thought there must have been something besides humming-birds in that old Southern home, so I slid my alligators under a berth, told the porter not to forget me, pulled the curtains together and proceeded to pound the rails for three hundred and sixty weary miles. 170 MEMOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES "When I arrived, I learned that the lady had formerly been Mayor of the town as a mere matter of form she held the office in her husband's name. She had presented a claim of $1,956.60, and about the time that Smiley had begun to prepare himself for a vigorous kick, she sprung a supplementary on him to the tune of $480.00. This, together with the fact that he (Smiley) feared to antagonize one of his prominent fellow citizens, was why your friend Willie suddenly became so popular with the home folks. Mr. Small, the other adjuster, sug- gested that I do the talking. I think Smiley put him up to it, he acquiesced so readily. ' ' The first thing to do was to view the remains. There were none. Of course there had been, but everything had been cleaned up to prevent further damage. This looked all right, and sounded well, for it complied with that particular condition of the policy, but, as I found afterward, it removed the evidence of $1,605.10 claimed as totally destroyed, and Clara was no idle day-dreamer, let me tell you. " I took the lists and checked them up, keep- ing my eye open all the time for evidences of AN INSURANCE MAN 171 padding, for while Willie looks and acts like a jay at times, lie considers himself pretty smart, thank you. I observed the tattered and torn remains of three summer parasols without making any remarks, but when I came across a broken piece of chinaware, just to show interest in the matter, I asked: " ' Where will I find this dish on your list, Mrs. Mound? ' ( ' With withering scorn she repeated the word, * Dish? ' " I said: ' Why, what is it? ' ' ' She answered with dignity in every syllable : ' A 1754 Sevres plaque, and I might add for your enlightenment, it is worth at least $100.00, but I put it down at $50.00. ' " I didn't turn a hair; simply checked it on the list, but I was more cautious thereafter in giving things a name. After looking carefully at everything on which damage was claimed, we made an appointment to meet Mrs. Mound, with her husband, at Mr. Smiley 's office, and it was there that the proceedings became interesting. Smiley and Small both expressed to me a desire 172 MEMOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES to have the loss disposed of before night, fearing another supplementary, and from that time on they were as quiet, orderly and peaceful as Clara's beloved husband. " Right here let me remark, that practically all of the goods on which she claimed loss and damage were contained in the attic of a barn temporarily arranged for dwelling purposes, situ- ated on the rear of a lot, awaiting the time when Clara's husband would be sufficiently relieved of financial embarrassment to enable him to build a house on the front of the lot. He hasn't built it yet. ' ' When Her Ladyship arrived, I did not detain her, but as soon as she was seated at the director's table I began at once, in the usual way, by open- ing up the list before me and asking : " * Now, Mrs. Mound, I notice the first item on your list is one oil painting, " On the Rhine," $75.00. Where did you get this? ' ' ' She answered : * It was a present from my papa. He was a Southern gentleman of distinc- tion, who traveled a great deal, and gathered works of art from all the great art centers of AN INSURANCE MAN 173 Europe, and when he closed up his Southern home, shortly after the death of my dear mamma, preparatory to removing to Washington, he gave me (as I was about to be married) carte blanche to help myself to the furnishings of this delightful old home. As I pride myself on my good taste, and am recognized in this city as an Art Connois- seur, it is probably unnecessary for me to assure you that I selected the very best curtains, portieres, furniture, bric-a-brac, bronzes and statuary for my new home in the North ' ' ' And so on and so on for fully half an hour. As there were four long closely typewritten pages to the schedule, I observed hope depart from the face of my co-laborer, Smiley, while our friend Small looked anything but comfortable. "The next question (I know you anticipate it) was: " 'How long have you been married, Mrs. Mound? ' ' ' She answered the question very promptly : ' Twenty years . ' But when she proceeded to recount the coming of poor Mound, together with 4 What drugs, what charms, what conjuration and 174 MEMOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES what mighty magic ' she had used in landing him. I broke in with : u ' Pardon me, Mrs. Mound, I do not wish to interrupt you, nor to appear rude, but in order to avoid unnecessary delay, we must confine our- selves to the list, so to expedite matters I would suggest that you take this pencil and mark a small cross opposite each article on this list that was a present from your father. ' The great majority of the articles received the mark of the cross, with a little compliment from Her Ladyship. There were lace curtains varying in price from fifty dollars for appliques, down to twenty dollars for torchons ; black thread lace at ten dollars per yard; a lace shawl (formerly the property of her mother) valued at one hundred and fifty dollars. Oil paintings from fifty dollars to seventy-five dollars each ; etchings from ' A Holland Dyke,' at thirty dollars, to 'A Country Road, ' at twenty-five dollars. All, all packed away for twenty years in the attic of a barn and insured as household furniture. And just as I was about to resume, Her Ladyship, with a splendid display of injured innocence, exclaimed: AN INSURANCE MAN 175 " ' I didn't suppose you would invite me here to insult me.' (No tears, however.) "'Why, madam, nothing could be further from my thoughts.' " 'Well, I certainly shall insist upon being paid every dollar of my claim as shown on these lists.' ' ' Smiley tried to steal a look at me out of th corner of his eagle eye, but was checkmated by Clara taking a fall out of him and his company. This gave me a breathing spell, and as I was about to empty the water-pitcher, I collected my scat- tered thoughts, displayed my hospitality in a proffered glass, and was more than delighted to have Her L,adyship accept it. ' ' I then took up the question of her wearing apparel, and found, from her answers, that her dresses were all made the previous summer and fall, but she would not admit of any depreciation. " I then touched upon the three parasols (you probably remember, that I saw that they had been discarded), and learned from her that they were all as good as new. One white silk and chiffon 176 ME MOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES parasol, value seven dollars; one red taffeta silk, value six dollars; one blue and bronze taffeta, value five dollars. All according to her story bought in the same season ( last summer) , and she lived in a barn ; but when I endeavored to convince her that the depreciation on last summer's silk parasols was very heavy, she met me with the statement that I knew very little about such arti- cles, for she could very easily make them last three or four years. I very unwisely put my foot in it by saying : ' ' ' My wife never can get a parasol to last more than one summer.' " And as old Uncle Remus says, ' dats whar I drapped my merlasses jug,' for she sneeringly remarked : "'Probably Mrs. Kilgore has never been accustomed to having good parasols.' " I pulled myself together, took another glass of ice water (she was on her dignity now and wouldn't accept my hospitality), and resumed operations by skipping the item of ' one hundred dollars for summer underwear ' and other items that might embarrass Smiley, and this AN INSURANCE MAN 177 brought us face to face with the dreadful sup- plementary. ' ' The first article on the list was ' A Venetian Page.' It was a very graceful figure and had attracted my attention while I was poking around looking at 1754 Sevres plaques, and congratulating myself that the tea-set from the Tuilleries, once the property of Louis XV, had not been chipped. As my young Venetian friend had not been within fifteen feet of the partition, and the fire was on the other side of that partition, and he was simply suffering from a small blister under his chin, I could not convince myself that he was damaged to the extent of one hundred dollars, nor could I understand why the bronze figure of David should be damaged ten dollars because he had lost his sword, while King Saul, in the guise of a Roman soldier, was charged up with fifty dollars for losing his shield. I grew temporarily facetious by insist ing upon a compliance with the usually accepted traditions that we have enjoyed from our youth by picturing David with a sling and Saul with javelin. Clara looked me over very critically and asked : 178 ME MOIRES OF NAT H, JONES " ' Mr. Kilgore, are you an Art Connoisseur? ' " I answered: ' No, madam, I am simply an ordinary business man.' "She turned half way round, looked to Small to uphold her in the statement, and said: " ' Yes, very ordinary.' " But Small was silently pensive, hoping we might escape without an appraisal ' * However, while she bowled me out on almost every proposition, I took serious objection to pay- ing seventy-five dollars for two Dore* engravings. She endeavored to convince me that because Dore" was dead his engravings appreciated in value year by year. I asked her if the plates were still in existence. Again I met that scornful look, which plainly said : ' You certainly are not an Art Con- noisseur,' and she added: 4 ' ' Why should that make any difference when those were artisfs proofs? ' ' ' I had seen them in their damaged and prac- tically ruined state, and knew by the engraved signature that they were not artist's proofs, and she finally admitted she was mistaken. My only victory. AN INSURANCE MAN 179 " Oh, but she was foxy. At the end of the supplementary list was this open question, on which she intended to do a little trading. ' Also blue satin brocade medallion pattern parlor suite; whatever is needed to put suite in good repair. ' (Mrs. Mound volunteered the thrilling information that a copy of this set is in Holyrood Castle.) I decided that this open question must be closed before we made any figures, and I therefore asked if it had ever been upholstered since she brought it from her Southern home. No, it hadn't been. I asked what it would cost to re-upholster the set with as good material as it now had on it ? (The fire hadn't damaged it a particle.) She said she didn't know. I asked if she had endeavored to get an opinion from any of the furniture dealers in her city? She hadn't. " ' And,' I continued, ' you cannot give me, approximately, any idea of what it would cost to upholster a set of furniture? ' ' ' She answered : ' I cannot. ' ' ( Ah ! How delighted I was with myself now. " ' Now, Mrs. Mound, will you please inform me, if you cannot express an opinion on an ordi- 180 ME MO I RES OF NAT. H. JONES nary matter such as upholstering a set of furni- ture, why it is you can so readily determine that # Venetian Page with a little blister under his chin is damaged to the extent of exactly one hun- dred dollars ? ' " Without ruffling a feather, she very coolly replied : ' Because I am an Art Connoisseur. ' " Smiley winked at me and we retired, leav- ing Small to pour oil on the troubled waters. I never knew Smiley to weaken before , but he said : u ' Kilgore, don't you know we're up against it ? That woman proposes to stand pat, and if we don't pay her every cent she claims, she will demand an appraisal, and on that old truck of hers she is bound to do us up.' "Well, to make a long story short, we called Small out, and as my company had but one-sixth interest, I bowed to the will of the majority and consented to paying twenty-one hundred dollars on a claim of twenty-four hundred and thirty- seven dollars and sixty cents, my proportion being only three hundred and fifty dollars, but I carried my point, that in view of cash payment the poli- cies were to be surrendered. I gave my draft AN INSURANCE MAN 181 right then and there, and when Her Ladyship sur- rendered her policies, Mr. Small played the part of the polished gentleman and said he trusted she had not taken offence at anything he had said or done, and that she would always feel kindly toward his company. Smiley and I were silent, but with a smile that reminded me of a hyena, she turned to me and asked this very pointed question: " ' Now, Mr. Kilgore, that you have cancelled my policies, I want to know if your Company will insure me again? ' ' ' My first impulse was to answer ' No , madam, ' but remembering all the little jolts she had given me, and possessing to a certain degree that mean desire to get even, I answered in a hesitating way: <4< Why, yes, madam, we will insure you provided you pay us our rate.' " ' Why, Mr. Kilgore, is there any change in my rate because of this fire ? ' ' ' ' Certainly , madam ; we thought we were insuring household furniture, but now that we know what you have in your house, we would have to charge you the Art Museum rate, which is very high.' 182 MEMOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES "Within four months the house (or barn, which ever you please) burned down, and it caught the other two companies, and a gentle stranger, for seven thousand dollars, and although the lib- erality of our first settlement may have caused her to avoid any precautions against another fire, still my lacerated feelings found a soothing lotion in the knowledge that I was directly responsible for saving the remaining six hundred and fifty dollars of our policy. ' ' The gentle stranger sent an adjuster out from Chicago, and I obtained from him a sight of her list of stuff destroyed in the second fire, but my Venetian Page was not there." AN INSURANCE MAN 183 CHAPTER XIII THE PUBLIC ADJUSTER HAD been in the field several years before I met the wet nurse, who calls himself adjuster for the assured. While he had preyed upon some of the Eastern cities for years, I believe his first appearance in the West was at St. lyouis. Why should the State of Missouri be chosen as the theater of all sorts of experimental deviltry ? No wonder her newspapers cry, "Poor old Missouri." She is insurance-wise, a worthy object of compassion. If, as asserted, insurance agents are reformed failures, what becomes of the insurance men who fail? Some try farming, where they can hold the Lord partially responsible if their luck still pursue 184 ME 'MOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES them, and some, fortunately a very few, become "vipers, whose treacherous fangs smite the hand that fed them, ' ' otherwise public adjusters. After they lose their attached positions, and the com- panies (probably for cause) refuse to support them in an independent capacity, they sell their small stock of information, dearly paid for by some com- pany, to the first comer. As the dishonest claimant most often seeks assistance, he is the common purchaser of their ability. I did not, as a rule, adjust St. Louis claims, which were more economically handled by C. W. Kellner. However, one was presented so out- rageous in its nature, and so apparently doctored to rob the company, that I was requested to give it personal attention. I found old Galgenseil, the claimant, amidst the remnants of a cheap clothing stock. He was probably mentally casting up his prospective profits when I met him, as an angelic smile illumined his countenance. The sudden transformation produced by my business card was ludicrous. Instantly he became ruined even his dirty children howled an accompaniment to his misery. AN INSURANCE MAN 185 It was a bad mess. The stock was originally bad; the location was bad; trade was bad; the man was bad; with such components, how could the loss be good, except for the beneficiary? He refused to disciiss the claim with me: "You must see my addorney, Mr. Night- ingale, I got noddings to say. I'm ruined. It was a beau-ti-ful sthore yusht see it now," etc. As I had known Nightingale when he was in the field, I did not anticipate any difficulty in deal- ing with him. A good attorney is better than a bad claimant; but I had not made allowance for the changes induced by time and circumstances. Instead of a smile, a frown greeted me; a sour, ugly misanthropic frown at that: "Why don't you pay your losses, Jones? " "We do pay our losses, but not upon such proofs as you have furnished for Galgenseil. You have been in the insurance business long enough to know that legitimate claims are always recog- nized, and illegitimate ones usually investigated. We want to know, you know." ' * What do you want? ' ' 186 MEMOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES " Separate value and damage on each item. Your proof makes a lump demand for four thous- and ; how do you arrive at it? ' ' ' * Two thousand totally destroyed and fifty per cent damage on what was saved." ( ' So? How much stock do you claim to have had?" " About six thousand." 1 * Then one-third was totally destroyed? ' ' "Yes." "Yet the counters, shelving and floor were not burned barely scorched? ' ' " The stock was burned just the same. Don't try any of your obsolete arguments on me . I have been through the mill and it won't go. We want $4,000." "I don't doubt your wants. If there had been $10, 000 insurance, you would want ten instead of four; but I do doubt if you get it." As Nightingale has the claim on a percentage basis, it is a waste of time to dispute and argue with him. He is only amenable to the argumentum ad AN INSURANCE MAN 187 hominem . He knows his client's claim is dishonest, yet volunteers to assist him in his attempted theft. " To what base uses we may return, Horatio." Now commences an era of notices, evasions, counter notices, demands, counter demands, all over a dispute that could be closed with an honest man in half a day. What was the result? Appraisal, of course, and the ultimate payment of twice the loss. That was the result to the Cataract. To him? An increased clientage ; another letter of recommendation to the speculative claimant. Honest insurers sometimes employ him. Why? Probably because of the prevalent, undefined feel- ing that in case of loss the assured is unlikely to get fair treatment. This impression is false, but it exists. No other business requiring the deter- mining of contingent contracts can show so few disputes, so little litigation, so small a percentage of friction as the adjustment of fire losses. No fairer body of men are employed in any business than adjusters. CHAPTER XIV AGENS SPECIARIUS Kingdom Animal. Sub-kingdom Vertebrata. Class Mammalia. Order Bimana. Family Securus. Genus Agens. Species Speciarius. MAY be urged in objec- tion to this classifica- tion that some of the sub-species lack the traits required to bring them within the order Bimana. In explanation, I may re- mark, that in their physical structure they resemble men, and if their mental qualifica- tions are deficient, they are no worse misplaced than possibly one-half of the human race. The dividing line between the next lower order of Vertebrata and the lowest specimens of Bimana (189) 190 M&MOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES is so shadowy that some celebrated writers have denied its existence. The Missing Link may be in the insurance business for all I know. If not, he is the only known specimen we lack in our museum. .5*. Nepos. Wears good clothes, including dress hat and shoes. Is deeply interested in sporting and theatrical events. Habits, fair to middling. As his position does not depend upon the results of his labors, there frequently are no results. Does not worry agents for increased business. Seldom talks shop. Has a liberal expense account, and a correspondingly large cir- cle of admirers. Comparatively rare and expen- sive to his employer. 6*. Risbilis. Never overdresses, rather inclined to be careless of appearances. His characteristic pose is feet on desk, and chair tilted, also hat. Laughs his way to his agents' hearts. Associates with traveling men on terms of equality, and tells stories of questionable morality. Conversation liberal, as well as his underwriting policy. Con- siders life a comedy, and gets as much amusement out of it as he can. A very popular character AN INSURANCE MAN 191 about hotels; known as "Jack " to all employes, male and female. S. Bibulus. His habits leave him just enough backbone to make him a vertebrate, and if he could breathe liquid as easily as he absorbs it in other ways , he would be amphibious . This almost excludes him from the list, and very nearly does the business of insurance a good turn. He is a good mixer of drinks, and nearly always addicted to the kindred vices. Changes employers frequently from neces- sity, but always contrives to get a salary and expense account equal to his daily necessities. 5". Giganteus. A large man traveling for a large company, writing a large business. Self- esteem abnormally developed. Will never realize how small a factor he is until he represents a small company. Thinks the business his com- pany commands a personal compliment. Cold- blooded and arrogant. Considers his money a trifle superior to any other brand. Generally 192 MEMOIR ES OF NAT. H. JONES disliked, but his company remains head with his agents despite his handicap. 6". Repens. Of a crawling, creeping nature, unable to stand up for rates, commis- sions or good practices. A slimy individual, worming his way into agencies established by honest com- panies, poisoning the agent and contaminating the business. Half- hearted efforts have been made to draw his fangs, but never with enough unanimity to ensure success. 5*. Laboris. Is rarely pretty, but his plain- ness is counter-balanced by his industry. Helps the agents solicit business; inspects his risks conscientiously, and makes the acquaintance of his policy holders. Works as many hours a day as he can, and by constant hammering achieves results. He is not gregari- ous, is a poor conversationalist, and modest in his dress. Walks to and from the station and earns the cab fare. Is a thrifty personage, and his busi- ness ultimately partakes of his nature. AN INSURANCE MAN 193 5*. Vulgaris. Ordinarily, a promoted local, who either promised marked ability or an increased volume of business. After the callow period is past, when his freshness has worn off, he does not differ much from people in other walks of life. With an eye to the main chance he approaches it in various ways. Neither better nor worse than his fellows, he is nevertheless the material from which most managers and general agents are made, and we find the same diverse traits, the same peculiarities and the same attrac- tion for the merry rattle of the chips found in managerial circles. 6". Lusus Naturae. Sporadic cases exist, not readily assignable to any class. The aboriginal farm solicitor sometimes breaks into the fold. The junior office clerk is sent out to gather experience. A life insurance solicitor, who never saw a fire policy nor vT"^ a fire-wall, is employed to prey upon an unsuspecting public. The local who does per diem work in his vicinity for the good 194 MEMO I RES OF NAT. H. JONES it will do the business in his local office. The lightning rod peddler. Any one who cannot be readily assigned to one of the above sub-species. These are the men who represent the company to the local, and the local to the manager. Do you marvel that both are occasionally misrepre- sented? Some of the types are not numerous, but all of them exist, and none are overdrawn. AN INSURANCE MAN 195 CHAPTER XV AUTOGRAPHIC BIOGRAPHY OF NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE JONES HIS is an account of the evolution of Jones. Born after the man- ner of men and nourished on ordinary food, he filled his head with information and sold it to an insurance company for knowledge. The story of his youth is scrawled upon his school books; fly leaves, covers and pages; horizontally, vertically and diagonally. While he started on the common level Jones had aspirations and refused at this early age to be held down: When he outgrew the barlow and was permitted to use a sharp pointed knife, his 196 M MOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES individuality was carved on the desk, seats, school- building and forest trees. During his adolescence, he was quiescent, but there prob- ably are a hun- dred traces of his existence as N. Hawthorne Jones, possessed by as many re- 0?e. ftffijf vlxif fe H r Jbiyes Old bom* 19 Peni7*ylvAr>ifc -Iff* Editor very forr^t^tcK. secured /5e old fie K. &t wtyi'cb \je **.f i^ fie School Ar><i upoi; wKich %t Boy Joneft_ rve<r h'.i i^tijaU Ar>a. recWeA S- 7 d.l4 of )t crm/e . His se& r -n7*ie V.AJ e'<ictjfly a - S tje lefr ijo recorcl <Mj4 ob ' C>ooa cipients of his fleeting admira- tion. One of the adored landed him; as usual, he claimed the credit of the capture. Under her AN INSURANCE MAN 197 influence some of his conceit vanished, and he changed his personality to Nathaniel H. Jones. Taken from an insurance policy, issued by his agency, now in the Smithsonian Institution. From his correspondence as Special Agent; partially beyond the influence of Matilda Jones, his conceit re-appears in flourishes and off-hand style. 198 MEMOIRES OF NAT H. JONES He has reached the top of the stepladder, an elevation conducive to illegibility. Crystallize conscious importance, frequent repetition, and the hurry incident to the closing hours of the day, and the scrawl represents some manager, no matter who, as his name is printed on the letter- head to assist in identification. The Editor. PEALIZATION PART III THE MANAGER DISENCHANTMENT CHAPTER I INTRODUCTORY S there are a hundred pri- vates to one Captain, and a dozen Captains to one Colonel, so there are a hundred agents to one Special, and a dozen Specials to one Manager. In functions as in numerical strength we parallel the military organization, and promotions are made in the same manner; the first usually for merit, the second sometimes through a pull, and not necessarily because of ability or seniority. As, however, some Captains secure com- missions without having served in the ranks, and a few Colonels have political influence enough to offset subordinate service, so it is in the insur- 201 202 MEMOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES ance field. The office is our West Point, and its graduates occasionally step over the heads of weather-beaten field men, scarred by numerous engagements, familiar with the theatre of war, acquainted with every private, well posted on the enemy's strength and weakness, and capable of meeting any ordinary emergency. The adaptation of this system to a business enterprise produces results paralleled by a cam- paign. The unequaled courage of the private cannot outweigh the inefficiency of the officer who leads his men, himself courageous enough but unskilled, to almost certain destruction. He does not know his ground, underestimates the obstacles in his way, undervalues the strength of the enemy, is not mobile. Why? He is a theoretical soldier. He follows a system un- varied by circumstances and conditions. His plan of battle is carefully made, but instead of flanking a hill, he assaults it because it is in his way his plan was so arranged and he follows it without the variations the old campaigner would adopt when the necessity arises. He wins, if at all, by numerical strength. AN INSURANCE MAN 203 Contrast the commander opposing him. His army may be small, his forces unequal. He, too, has courage and courageous followers. He symbolizes the small or medium company Man- ager. He can hold his own only by superior tactics, superior generalship, superior ability. He has no unnumbered multitude (of dollars) to draw upon. He must husband his strength, can- not afford to sacrifice his men, and he must win, notwithstanding his limited resources. There are very few first class powers, and many third raters. The former may be strong enough and wealthy enough to afford such a system, but it is too expensive for the latter. Only men trained to their positions, whose en- thusiasm and experience outweigh superior numerical strength, are fit to command the hosts, and as a rule, only such are chosen. There are in the field to-day, the equals in many cases the superiors of the present General Agency force. They cannot all be chosen; there is not room for all at the top, but the material is at hand ready for the builder; well seasoned, with some knots perhaps, but generally classed 204 MEMOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES as clear. They are the future executive officers of the companies. To their care the interests of the shareholder will one day be committed, and no safer repository could be selected. There is no royal road to preferment; acci- dent and opportunity are often more potent than design. I was called from the field quite unex- pectedly (some of my associates said unadvisedly) and I answered the call with alacrity. Did I weigh the responsibilities, count the annoyances, cast up the labor, consider the possible results? Yes, but the position counterbalanced them all. Ten years of constant traveling, covering a* times large areas, moderate familiarity with con- ditions at widely separated points, and a large acquaintance with the field and local personnel of the business, may have been some of the deter- mining factors. The judgment was untried it must be taken for granted. The conservatism of executive experience was lacking it must be of slow growth. The ability to organize and com- mand was embryonic it must be cultivated. All things considered, they took some chances in selecting Jones. I, Jones, concede it. AN INSURANCE MAN 205 Have my expectation? been realized 1 Are human anticipations ever fulfilled 1 The country Local imagines he would be happy if he were only a Special, but when he arrives at the coveted goal is he content? The Special longs for the revolving chair. Is it any more comfortable than the old straight-back? 'Tis distance lends en- chantment. Not what we have, but what we wish, we covet. Probably not over one or two executive officers in this country are really happy, and they own their positions, their directors and their subordinates for they own the stock. CHAPTER II THE MANAGER NE who manages. Sometimes in the imperative, occasionally in the potential mood. The head of a department, a responsible gerant, who gets the blame and may be punished for the faults of others. A buffer, bumped from front and rear like a draw-head on a heavy grade with a new man at the throttle. He is as varied as man- kind, all human, and with capacity and capability bounded by human limita- tions. The description of him and his idiosyncrasies would characterize as well the directing force of any business. To the country agent, he is a great man. To the city agent, he is an impediment, a useless barrier. 207 208 MEMOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES To the special, he is the envied employer. To his superior officer, he is an employee, whose success or failure confirms or condemns the judg- ment that selected him. To his confreres, he may be anything from an able man to a ninny. What we may think he is depends upon the point of view of the judge, the deflection and refraction of the light ; what he really is depends upon circum- stances largely beyond his creation or control. He is the embodiment of his employer's policy, a mani- festation of the company he represents, and sub- ject to a limited classification upon these lines only. The complacent, satisfied Manager has the privilege of directing the affairs of a large, well- established and well-known company during prosperous times, in a prosperous community. His business flows steadily on, unimpeded by rate disturbances, his bank account waxes strong, undepleted by conflagrations. He is conserva- tive, content with a steady volume of profitable business. He is largely in the minority in fact, his existence has been doubted. His associates are more or less embarrassed by the combination of unappeased wants and deficiencies. AN INSURANCE MAN 209 The company may be large, but dissatisfied with its present volume of business. Its ambition is position, and the times unpropitious for any rapid growth. It may be an immigrant from some foreign principality. A giant at home, it brought over a giant's appetite, and finds good forage scarce. Another may be clothed in bristles, and though the badge is worn by all its employees, it cannot monopolize the trough with all its crowding and squealing. It may be old with the frequent accompani- ments of age, weakness and senility. It may be young, too young, a fledgling at- tempting to soar to distant fields ere it had learned to fly on its native heath. Or it may be, and most frequently is, a mean between the extremes, and the Manager still be unhappy. Disturbances in rates, unequal distribution of outgo, uneven flow of income, unjust legislative restrictions, all tend to disturb his equanimity; and when superadded to his daily burdens and annoyances, is it strange he is at times all but discouraged ? 210 ME MO I RES OF NAT. H JONES The road to success is up a long, steep hill. The companies are the wagons, the Managers the drivers. The gutters are full of crippled vehicles ; some minus a wheel , or with a broken axle, are out of the race. Some stationary, using all efforts to hold their own ; some with broken brakes sliding down hill; a few toiling labori- ously toward the top. It requires brains to avoid the debris, surmount the barriers, and arrive despite all impediments ; and that brains are not too abundant, even in managerial heads, is at- tested by the Annual Statements. Yet his is not the entire responsibility for failure. His policy is prescribed, the boundaries of his labor are clearly denned, the limits of his activity are set by the general management. If he is rightly responsible for the shortcomings of his own employes, of the corps selected by him, he may still divide the responsibility for general results, and this is applicable to the favorable, as well as to the unfavorable. The element of luck must be considered, both good and bad. A business based upon chance is subject to runs of bad luck that no AN INSURANCE MAN 211 skill can break and no dexterity avoid. If long continued and persistent, we call good luck ability; and bad, the lack thereof. The favored one has his salary raised, the other has his reduced or discontinued. One typifies Success, the other Failure. Are we not all gamblers with fate, some skillful, some awkward, but all sub- ject to the varying chances of the game ? CHAPTER III RESPONSIBILITY HE degree of responsibility depends upon the authority granted or as- sumed in all agency grades, local, special and general. We are all agents of a principal, and subject to the general laws of agency, limited only by contract and established cus- toms. We are often agents for the same principal, some with direct re- sponsibility, and some with partially direct and partially indirect. The Manager is directly responsible for the results in his department, subject only to such limitations as may be stipulated in his appoint- ment, or to such customs as may have grown into his relations with his particular company. In some cases he is but an exaggerated Special ; in others he is the embodiment of the policy of the company, and his responsibility for results is (213) 214 ME MOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES exclusive, or shared in proportion to the authority conferred upon him. In what the Special is responsible to him, whether he is responsible for the Special and to what degree, again depends upon the variety of Special he employs. There are three classes: The old-fashioned Special, who is the company in his field. The other old-fashioned one who is an instrument or tool of his Manager, who exe- cutes orders and is not presumed to think his thoughts are all furnished ready-made. The modern variety who costs less, and whose whole duty is to get premiums. Each is responsible in his way; the first, for general results; the second, must make his return properly endorsed like an under-sheriff ; the third, must increase the income. All of them are labor- ing side by side in the field ; all bear the same name, but the former is the only real Special, and the others are rapidly supplanting him. The tendency toward centralization so apparent in all lines of human effort, is gradually converging all the authority, all the discretion in the one head the head of the department. AN INSURANCE MAN 215 The choice is only a matter of policy or ex- pediency. If the high-class man is disappearing, there must be a reason, aside from the common evolution that typifies growth. Possibly the Special has deteriorated? Or the scramble for income was too much for him? Or, more prob- ably, his passing is due to the union of a number of causes? At any rate the tendency is toward specialization, and the old all-around man is less frequently met in the field than he was twenty- five years ago. As he dies, is promoted or retires, his place is occupied by one less expensive, with less general authority, and inferentially less knowl- edge and more limited responsibility. The same tendency is apparent in the local field, and they all increase the load of the General Agent. As the Locals and Specials depreciate, the Manager appreciates. They are his selections and under his control, and when he assumes the functions formerly delegated he assumes the re- sponsibility associated with them. The imme- diate office force he can direct and instruct. He is always at hand for consultation ; but the office system extended to the field force is a doubtful 216 ME MOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES experiment. With self-reliance and independence eliminated, how can a Special form, or act upon his conclusions? Every step taken in this direction removes insurance one degree further from a profession, while it does not elevate it as a business. The conclusion is manifest. In the course of time, the Manager will be the one responsible agent between the company and the policy-holder, and his subordinates will be automatons. AN INSURANCE MAN 217 CHAPTER IV ETHICS F the dealings of insurance Managers with the public, no valid complaint can be made. Their financial integrity is un- impeachable; the fairness and liberality with which disputes, often involving intricate points, are settled, bear evidence of a desire to do right at all times. The customer always receives the benefit of a doubt, and ten concessions are granted to one received. No other line of business can lay claim to a more strict performance of all the duties imposed; no set of men take less advantage of opportunities for sharp practices. But it is not of our duties to the public, but of our relations to each other that this chapter is written. 218 MR MOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES Managers are neither better nor worse than average intelligent business men, subjected to similar provocations and temptations. The ab- stract absolute is unattainable, difficult to ap- proximate even, and although there is but little positive dishonesty, the majority of the short- comings being of a negative character, only the hypocrite asserts he has kept all his engage- ments. Instead of mending one fault, he adds another. All deviate at times; some unfortu- nately more times than others. It is not the isolated case that debases, but the habit con- firmed by repetition. A man may take an occa- sional drink, yet be a temperate man, even a temperance advocate, but too frequent repetition changes his status entirely. There are few or no teetotalers, notwithstanding the Pharisaical pro- testations. So long as insurance is a business, the ethics must necessarily remain shadowy and ill-defined. Generally speaking, there is no special ethical code applicable to money getting, or if there is, it is not apparent to the observer in other lines of business. What ethics we have is confined to AN INSURANCE MAN 219 and necessitated by our system of co-operation, expressed or implied. The outsider is entitled to and receives scant courtesy. As the quacks outnumber the regular practitioners, even our limited code is restricted in its application. Its laws are frequently subjugated by lex talionis. When smitten we refuse to turn the other cheek, and frequently strike back instead, another evi- dence, if another were needed, of our human frailty. As original sin, unrestrained by the lax moral code, leavens the whole lump, it fol- lows that practice, not theory, must be our business guide. Our associates are theoreti- cally above reproach. They are presumed to execute all the obligations they have in- curred, but we may not rely too implicitly upon presumption ; we must take account of the difference between theory and practice. Questions arise daily requiring practical an- swers. Conundrums are propounded neces- sitating practical solutions. Situations occur demanding practical treatment. The code of ethics, the courtesy due our associates, I,. .. |- 1.,.|. ( . ,.,.,. ,.,.,.,,,!,,,.,. j...|'i'|"T"l -?~>-a->i-oO'2=^ Si *} I ~ .1,1, I.T.I. f.l.l.t. I. I. !,!.!. I. ,.!.!, 1. 1. 1, 1. It. 1. 1. 1. I. J.I.I -11 -ft -6 - 220 MEMOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES can not untie all the knots. Self-preservation cuts some of them, and is responsible for a good many of our business short-cuts. The Manager who conducts an office upon theory, his own or another's, has little prospect of achieving success. If a better system than the one we are following were devised and adopted, the same elements would appear and disarrange the plans. Business will never be transacted ideally, but practically. In an ideal world there is no room for the Manager; it is the deviation from the perfect condition that makes a place for him. Theory will not even amelior- ate. We must meet common abuses in a com- mon-sense way. While we may not eradicate them, we may keep them within bounds, or reduce them to a minimum. If we followed the advice of all the insurance doctors, we should soon land in the cemetery. Such a course would be as foolish as an effort to regulate our daily lives by the don'ts of half a hundred physicians it would starve us to death. The conclusions are open to no misconstruc- tion, and do not excuse even negative bad faith. AN INSURANCE MAN 221 They do offer a plea in abatement, a plea entered from business necessity, and registered in the cashier's office. Loyola's maxim may not placate the conscience of the Manager, but it is quite sufficient for the business office if the means attained the end. The conduct of the average executive officer is like my railway line on my railway map. It is an air line straight and un- varying. No deviations are found on the closest inspection, but there are curves in the roadbed for all that. Engineering skill may reduce the number, may widen the gradient, but can not tunnel all the hills, nor fill all the depressions. Some curves are unavoidable. CHAPTER V LEGISLATION have the General Agent owe any duties to his associates, his agents, or the t>lic not common to business men, they never been discovered. Wherein do our relations to each other differ from those of any class associated in the prosecution of business for gain? Do we owe the public our customers any debt not due from the banking interests to the same public, for instance? Solvency, ability to cash our obligations, fair treatment? It is in our relations to government that insurance interests differ from all others, and this anomalous position is the outgrowth of, and at the same time the most prominent example of (223) 224 ME MOIRES OF NA T. H. JONES the socialistic tendency of American legislation. Starting upon a parity with banking, where solv- ency only was considered the especial care of the State, see how the little mustard seed has grown ! The principle of State supervision once ad- mitted, who can foretell the end? Certainly not the present generation. The Manager of fifty years ago would have considered it impos- sible to transact business under present condi- tions. And, as the limit is not yet in sight, we may reasonably expect continued progress during the coming half century. That fire insurance is a legitimate, honorable calling can not be controverted by its most violent persecutor. By what peculiar mental process, then, is it classed with the liquor traffic, and hampered, restrained, licensed and all but taxed out of existence in many States, particu- larly in the West ? The most rational explana- tion is that it is a vicarious sacrifice for the real and imaginary sins of corporations in general; an easily reached representative of the non-resi- dent money power, that in some undefined way is responsible for the low prices of corn and AN INSURANCE MAN 225 cotton. The punishment is out of all proportion to any imputed crime. The effect too serious and far-reaching for any apparent cause. Anti-corporate legislation springs from two sources the assumption that the people cannot take care of themselves and must be protected, and the further assumption that corporations, especially insurance companies, are a menace to somebody or something unstated, and must be restrained. That the people are imbeciles and the companies pirates. That the one requires a guardian, and the other a keeper. The labyrinth into which this assumption has conducted us is complicated by the degree of vagary, and the absence of uniformity, among the States. One is content with prescribing the form and conditions of the contract the mildest variety of paternalism; and all the shades are added until the union of all colors is found in a few of the socialistic communities in the South and West. Underwriters are justly disturbed, for in addition to the prescriptions and restric- tions, the burden of taxation is annually increas- ing, until in at least one community it amounts 226 MEMOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES (National, State and Municipal,) to quite ten per cent of the gross premium income. What can we do to remedy it? Nothing effective. The causes are mental, moral and political. We may hope the public has reached the crisis of delirium, and may change for the better, but we cannot cure it with doses of education. All the professors of political econ- omy could not convince an advocate of restric- tion that an insurance company has a moral right to existence upon any terms. The education required to change his views is fundamental, of a much wider range than any yet proposed, im- practicable, and impossible to execute in one generation. Our agents are part of the community, and as they have been the instigators of some of the freak legislation, it is quite apropos to give their mental equipment some attention. We might reach the legislator through the medium of our agent, his neighbor and political associate, but we cannot do any effective work at long range. Arguments fail, reasonings miscarry, facts are scouted. They do not, combined, equal the AN INSURANCE MAN 227 approving nod of one of his country constit- uents. The disease must run its course the fever must burn itself out. During convalescence we must grin and bear, or, if we cannot endure, we may succumb. The would-be physicians mis- understand the disease and prescribe palliatives when constitutional treatment is required. The cure, in any event, will not be accomplished during our generation, and we must adapt our- selves to our environment the best we may. CHAPTER VI OF THE RATE HE object of our business is money getting. The source is the premium. The basis is the rate. It follows that the rate re- ceived and the distribu- tion of the premiums are the determining factors. If the one is adequate and the other not squan- dered, the object may be attained. In any event, there is no hope of profit if the rate be under-esti- mated. WHAT IT Is. If the rate to us is the basis of the premium, to the people at large it is a tax levied more or less evenly upon the owners of real improvements and personal property; a tax (229) 230 MEMOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES paid to private distributors, stock or mutual, in- stead of government; a tax paid voluntarily, under only such stress as business prudence necessitates, but a tax nevertheless. It is within the province of the payee when requested to ex- plain not only why levied, but how arrived at, how distributed, and what disposition is made of it. The tax is necessitated by, and the rate of taxation approximately determined from, the lia- bility to fire waste. The possibility of fire is always present and can not be eliminated. The probability depends upon many circumstances, chiefly : Faulty construction of buildings, faulty ma- terial, plans, or execution. Proximity, congestion and exposures. The storage and sale of inflammable wares. Probability may be increased by vicious laws, or the absence of salutary ones, and diminished by fire protection of various kinds. So much for the object. But insurance companies do not insure buildings, they insure persons; property is not insured, but the owner is indemnified against its loss, consequently there AN INSURANCE MAN 231 are other and frequently as important factors to be considered as the physical, which we term the moral. The credit and mercantile standing of the owner or occupant, his business record and repu- tation, his former successes, failures, or fires, a persistent run of bad luck, carefulness or care- lessness, will suggest some of the numerous per- sonal attributes that may contribute to or detract from the probability, aside from the physical hazard. As their presence or absence in the individual risk can not always be gauged, the moral risk is distributed among all insurers pro rata. ITS SPONSORS. Its parentage varies with locality. In some States it is a statutory orphan, and under the care of its step-mother the as- sured it is growing weaker, punier, smaller. In other localities where it is not yet forbidden by public policy, nor considered a menace to public morals, the Local is its nurse, the Special its tutor, and the Manager its guardian. Its exist- ence is a modern Pilgrim's Progress, daily beset with temptations, trials and pitfalls; often neg- 232 ME MOIRES OF NAT H. JONES lected by its nurse, beaten by its preceptor, and all but abandoned by its guardian. Under the temporary care of the compact and State rater it grew abnormally, and was twice as large as its chief opponent Loss Ratio ; but when the Leg- islature sent its deputy guardian to the peniten- tentiary, it lost its advantage nearly lost its life. How IT Is MADE. In some localities, and in the whole country upon some hazards, by schedule. The basis upon which the schedule is built is the outgrowth of time, experience and competition. It is the unfinished product of evo- lution, and 'the varying conditions are responsible for its lack of uniformity. The schedule is an attempt, more or less successful, to equalize the tariff by classes. All are similar, all essentially one. While the Universal Mercantile Schedule comprises the Summum Bonum, it may be con- sidered an elaboration of any one in use. One of the best defenses of the schedule is that all of them applied to the same hazard yield ap- proximately the same result. They are con- structed to furnish the product z=x+y, experi- ence and competition. AN INSURANCE MAN 233 Though not pertinent to the subject, I can not refrain from mentioning one product of schedule ratings, the book underwriter Local, Special or General who is gradually replacing the man who relied upon his own information and experience for the conduct of his business. He is a good enough fair-weather pilot, but can he be trusted to steer intelligently through a storm that obliterates all his landmarks? Can anything replace personal study and experience? CAN WE IMPROVE THE SYSTEM? It is ad- mitted that rates are not scientifically made, neither is the Cripple Creek mineral formation scientific, an illustration of the divergence of science from Nature. Rates may never be scien- tific, but improvements to the present natural system may be discovered. If it were possible (it is not), to reduce rate-making to an exact science, would not government confiscate our business and leave us worse off than we are now? Nearly all the companies have a classifica- tion of the receipts and the losses by States, by years and by decades. These show the experi- ence of the individual company, but are of little 234 MEMOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES value in determining what the present average rate is by classes, and, consequently, what the future rate should be. The material at hand is not adapted to, was not intended for use as, a basis for rates. Companies keep their experi ence tables for their private information on the proportion of income to outgo by classes at going rates; to determine their trade profit or loss, and formulate their policy, gauge their lines, select their business from their experience. Basic classification sheets for rates to be of practical value should consist of amount insured, premiums and losses by classes and States. De- tails are of minor importance, but the amount of liability assumed is a sine qua non; yet this feature appears to have been overlooked in the general discussion. Losses to amount insured, plus loading for expense and contingencies, will show the cost and furnish a lantern light for our guidance; dim perhaps, but brighter and more reliable than the ignis fatuus we now follow. WHAT Is DONE WITH IT? The rate pays for everything, on an average, in about the fol- lowing proportions: AN INSURANCE MAN 235 Commissions 20 % Management Expenses 10% Supervising Expenses 4% Taxes Losses Dividends 2% Total 100% For individual companies the division is made in different proportions, some with a larger commission account, some with a larger loss account, but the average is substantially as above. When the parts exceed the whole, the excess is supplied from the reserve or rest. The shareholder is served last or not at all, and in any event his returns are not proportionate to the jeopardy of his capital. There is necessarily considerable discussion over, and criticism of, the division, but it, like the average rate, is not arbitrary, but a growth the result of evolution, and has not yet reached maturity. Commissions are growing, taxes are growing, losses are growing. We can not con- trol taxes, we can only measurably control losses at the expense of some other item, and we ap- parently will not control commissions. While the parts are increasing, the whole is stationary, 236 ME MOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES or decreasing. The dividends, at this rate, must either be paid from the rest, or shortly disappear entirely. One not familiar with the business would suggest an easy remedy. If the rate be inade- quate, raise it; but we may not arbitrarily inter- fere with long-established prices, and while a loss on the entire business would appear to justify such a step, we hesitate. Localities may be pen- alized, and for this there is a justification at hand, as in the case of a particular city where business has long been transacted at a loss. Our relations with our patrons are so delicately balanced, the competition is so active, the raison d^etre of our business so imperfectly understood, that Smith in California can not see why a loss upon an- other Smith in New Jersey should be summarily charged up to him; and the friction resulting from an attempt to convince him may equal the actual underwriting loss under his present rate. AN INSURANCE MAN 237 CHAPTER VII THE INDIVIDUAL RATE ECAUSE we charge upon an estimated per- centage of loss based upon past experience, and the estimates may be and frequently are wide of the amount required, it is impossible to fix an exact rate upon any risk or class of risks. All we claim is an approximation. All we can hope is annually to lessen the distance between the estimate and the amount needed. As we do not lay claim to infallibility in the aggregate, we cannot claim accuracy in detail. Rates are based upon the experience of years, in wide areas. No one year, no one locality can be considered apart from the aggre- 238 MEMOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES gate. With a very few exceptions no one class can be detached from the whole, and be made to yield a profit, or even be made self-sustaining. The individual rate cannot be considered apart from the whole, of which it is a part, since no one risk can pay a rate that will pay a loss. No system of classification, however complex or complete; no experience tables individual or combined; no schedule built by fallible man can justify or defend the individual rate apart from its class. The reason is evident. No two risks are identical, physically and morally. They differ in location, exposures, construction, occu- pancy and ownership. Every one differs in some respect from every other, and the infinity of detail is not subject to classification; to attempt it would be absurd. Since the underwriter admits the impos- sibility of explaining the exact individual rate charged, whence does the assured, who has given the subject little or no study, derive the fixed opinion that his rate is too high? How may we best explain to him the unknowable? All attempts have miscarried, but to the reasonable AN INSURANCE MAN 239 policy buyer, and he is one of the large majority, should be explained the broad mutuality of insur- ance; that the stock company only differs from the purely mutual in that the rate is fixed, and the indemnity guaranteed by capital funds; that the responsibility for results is shifted from the insured to the shareholder; that he is relieved of the speculative feature ; that he is not penalized beyond his business competitor; and that he actually, at the present writing, gets his insur- ance at less than cost. No business man should require more for his money. THE IMPROVED AND PROTECTED RATE. The influence of fire preventing con- struction and fire extinguishing appliances on the individual rate has been enormous, large enough to affect the general average. There is a difference of opinion on the advisability of underwriters taking an active interest in either con- struction or protection. My own is opposed to the custom as practiced. Admitting they ac- complish their aim the reduction of the fire 240 ME MOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES waste at whose expense is it? The entire cost of the equipment is taken from the insurance charge in an average term of five years. The reduction in the rate pays for the installation, and in the West at least, the concessions made are over- adequate. Again, as a rule, we are general insurers. Our writings are not confined to any one class. If we pick out all the protected risks and insure them at a minimum, what results? The neces- sary loading for moral hazard, conflagrations, contingencies, even for proportionate expense, is not included, and must be distributed among the non-protected risks. It makes the sprinkler a preferred creditor, not only gives it a mortgage on the assets, but foists the expense of the admin- istrator upon the already burdened general insurer. As insurance is business, the only objection is dictated by policy. The impression left upon the general insurer is unfavorable; the gulf between the protected manufacturing risk and the unprotected mercantile risk, or even the non- productive dwelling house, is wide enough to cause comment; and it is questionable if the AN INSURANCE MAN 241 prospective profits justify the discrepancy in the charge. WHAT OF THE FUTURE? We may take it for granted that any change will be of slow growth, that united experience will be compiled, if at all, in the distant future. That thereafter it would require a decade to evolve a safe basis. How about the interim? We must continue the present defective system until a better super- sedes it, and we cannot do better than turn all our attention to such improvements as may be suggested. Percentage increases and decreases by localities and by classes have been used as a counter- weight for the fluctuating loss ratio. Cannot a better be devised ? It is open to the objection and partakes of the nature of a punitive measure, a permanent charge for possibly a tem- porary loss. As a penalty for deficient protection for which concessions were granted, it is justifi- able. Otherwise it is undignified, and a con- tradiction of the broad mutuality of insurance above referred to. Laying impractical theories and unattainable hopes and expectations aside, is there not suffi- 242 ME MO I RES OF NAT. H. JONES cient grey matter employed in the business to originate something practical ? While we theorize and speculate, we are selling our wares below cost. A patron similarly circumstanced would be unable to secure our policies. He might have a fire, instead of a failure. Are we not in danger of an explosion or a collapse? The Manager who continues to accept busi- ness at less than cost, and the Manager who encourages or permits waste or extravagance in the division of the premiums, must surely settle their scores with the shareholder ; must anticipate une mauvaise quart d^heure. We owe our first duty to the stockholder, the next to ourselves, and a final one to the public. There is a dis- position to reverse the order, which bodes ill for the future. AN INSURANCE MAN 243 CHAPTER VIII OF INSURANCE ASSOCIATIONS THE LOCAL BOARD. F the agents are the foundation of the business, local boards were the mortar that held the stones in place. When we gouged out this cohesive tie, letting the wind and weather in, disintegration began and unless checked will continue until the superstructure falls upon its crumbling base. In recogni- tion of its shaky condition we have propped it in one place with a compact, in another with a State rater; we have shored it up with union jack-screws, but we have not attempted to repair the foundation, though we have added loose material until it re- sembles a stone heap. Shall we continue to inhabit the shack likely to fall about our ears when another prop is knocked out? Shall we move it to 244 MEMOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES a new foundation, or shall we repair the old one? We have an abundance of material at hand, some of it good, much of it indifferent, a little bad. We have scores of capable willing workmen. Can not one of the many architects construct a plan upon which we can agree and work? THE STATE BOARD. When the local boards were abolished the State Board was first whittled down to a Field Club, then to a social club; a nest for the compact was made out of the shav- ings; but there is not enough of the original board left to make a golf stick. The semi-lit- erary, semi-social gathering is all that remains, where business topics are tabu, and from which nothing of practical value is expected. Its raison d^etre was the rate making power, and when this was withdrawn it lost the cohesive attraction of a vital common m interest. It MB can be rejuvenated only M through the a restoration of authority and M responsibility. THE NATIONAL Asso f CIATION. The lo- M cal agents recognized the iff necessity of associ- ation, and formed one ff national in its scope, AN INSURANCE MAN 245 which promises to become a considerable factor in the business. While it was viewed by many company officers with distrust when it was first proposed, it is now conceded by all to hold the germs of good. As it has grown, the original radical element has disappeared, and is succeeded by the conservatism born of numbers, with a directing force that recognizes the communion of interest between all branches of the business. As an effort to improve the condition of its members, it is entitled to aid and comfort; for what it has already accomplished, it is to be commended; for what it hopes to accomplish, it deserves encour- agement. Its greatest efficiency will be reached only when the State Associations are further subdivided and localized. While it could not perform all the functions of the local boards, it might measurably replace them, and quadruple its usefulness; and the companies could not complain if the ground they have abandoned be occupied by others. COMPANY UNIONS. Nothing stands between us and chaos but the associations of the com- 246 ME MOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES panics or managers, and what Chaos really is, can be explained by either the New Yorker or the San Franciscan, for both have lived under his rule. What polite language is strong enough to characterize the company or General Agent that not only refuses to contribute to the common security, but skulks around the block-house with knife and tomahawk in hand, scalping friends and enemies alike? What becomes of the guer- rilla when the regular army capitulates? Has he any sympathy in his merited misfortunes? These free-lances, under leaders old enough to know better, and strong enough to hold their own with any competitor under discipline, are comparable only to atheists. They offer no creed of their own, no substitute for an institution ad- mittedly a necessary one, and exist only by the sufferance of the society they are attempting to uproot. No epithet is too opprobrious for such canaille, no inquisition too rigid. The leper is cast out, sequestered from the community he contaminates. What rule of con- duct compels us to walk arm in arm with the like? Nothing but moral cowardice prevents AN INSURANCE MAN 247 absolute separation, and nothing less than sepa- ration will guarantee a continued healthy exist- ence. A few tainted ones, if cast away at the same time, would prove an additional safeguard. AUXILIARY ASSOCIATIONS. There are thirty odd collateral societies indirectly connected with the business but not necessarily composed of insurance men. All are useful, especially the technical ones, but not worthy of particular no- tice. They serve as educational institutions and by bringing the individuals interested in like sub- jects closer together are useful adjuncts to the central unions of company Managers. CHAPTER IX ORGANIZATION AND CO- OPERATION I HEN I was a Local Agent I was an active member of a Board; as a Special, I did my full portion of State Board work; as a General Agent, I consider organiza- tion a necessity of the first importance. Without it, there can be no co-opera- tion, and without a measure of mutual assistance what would become of us? I am not only an earnest advocate of union among Managers, but I go further and deprecate the lack of managerial interest in subordinate associations. A large portion of our rate troubles is the direct result of the usurpation by the General Agent of functions formerly performed by the local and field force. As a very few disreputable adjusters were respon- (249) 250 M MOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES sible for the valued policy laws, so anti-compact laws were enacted to kill the compact manager. When even the small measure of authority formerly vested in local boards was withdrawn, one of the closest bonds between the agent and the company was severed. When the agent saw long established tariffs arbitrarily changed by an independent authority with which neither he, his Special nor his Manager had any influence, we lost his sympathy and support. When he lost his influence on the rate, his hold on the policy- holder was weakened. Instead of arguing with the dissatisfied patron, or conciliating him with reasonable concessions, he made but one reply to his complaint: "I know your rate is wrong, but I can't help you. You must see the Compact Manager," etc. The result of this misapplied power is apparent in many localities. The appeal from arbitrary methods was so effective that we are in a worse condition than we were before. Now rates are lower than the old local board rates. The effect on the field force was secondary, but adverse. No field man can be found who is an AN INSURANCE MAN 251 advocate of the compact system at long range, though many may recommend it for business centers. St. Louis was the oldest local board city in the West, and the St. Louis merchant and policy-holder was the only man in the State that protested against the proposed Statute abolishing the board. His protest was vigorous, but unavailing. The compacts outside the city were too heavy a handicap. It can do no good to mourn over the unalter- able, but how about the many localities where existing conditions are tending the same way? Will we never learn ? Shall we pursue the policy to its logical conclusion, the abolition of rates and rating machinery in any form? The dif- ference between the Missourian, the Texan and the Oregonian is only one of degree. The same effects will follow the same cause; it is only a question of when. Shall we revert to the old system where and while we may, or shall we permit evolution to evolute until association and co-operation are but pleasant memories ? If the latter course is to be pursued, we should equip ourselves for the inevitable. We are not up 252 M&MOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES against the Chinese, where hideous noises and grotesque antics will avail. We shall need armor and ammunition, especially ammunition. How about the arsenal ? Is it well stocked ? Co-operation is effective only through organ- ization. When we hear the cry of sauve qui pent we do not step back to permit our neighbor to pass. Where there is no organized society every man is his own judge, jury and executioner. We can look for assistance only from the ones we assist. Lax co-operation is as much the result of imperfect organization as the inherent desire to take a business advantage of our fellow-man. Without local boards we can get no local assist- ance. Our imperative orders may be executed, but in a dilatory way. The L,ocal can see no advantage accruing to him, and is not sym- pathetic enough to sacrifice anything for the company. Our Specials even seek excuses to delay. "Why help this company retain a risk by cancelling our policy ? It would not consider us a moment if the conditions were reversed." Unfortunately this prophecy is probably only too AN INSURANCE MAN 253 exact. If the Special of my company were bound by State board obligations to help your field man out of the mire, would he invent an excuse if none were at hand, to evade his duty? He would be ostracised if he did ; would occupy a position no reputable Special Agent could afford to fill. It results that what little assistance the companies give each other is confined to the executive officers, impeded by the dilatory tactics of the Local and the excuses or justificatory pleas of the Special. We are human, so liable to err (always in our own favor) that but one con- clusion can be drawn. As the Arizona minister said when asked to deliver an eulogy over the remains of Whiskey Pete: "The less said on this subject, the better." CHAPTER X DIAGNOSIS HE TROSPECTIVE. EW thoughtful men who have crossed the hill-top of life and begun the descent can avoid comparisons favorable to the surround- ings of their early labors. The toil and strife of the ascent are forgotten; the annoyances and disap- pointments, the unattained hopes and expecta- tions have faded from the memory ; but the way- side flowers, the overhanging foliage, is ever before them, and unconsciously compared to the withered leaves and dead branches of the even- ing of life. How much of the good we see in the past and the evil we complain of in the present is due to this defective but beneficial trait of (255) 256 ME MOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES memory? Is the world growing worse? Are the conditions under which we exist to-day more unfavorable? Is fortune more capricious? Or, as the optimist affirms, is this the best of worlds, and our yellow vision due to jaundice or infirmity? Which of the schools is right? Probably neither is wholly right nor wrong. We have improved in some respects and retro- graded, or what is equivalent, been stationary, in others. In general, our business is not in better condition than it was a quarter of a century ago, nor is the outlook brighter. We can trace some of the causes of our difficulties, and are too apt to give them overdue weight, and to generalize beyond a point justified by the particulars. Many of our annoyances were preventable, had we con- sidered the future instead of present expediency. Should we not now take heed of the final as well as the immediate result of the theories suggested for improvement? INTROSPECTIVE. The major portion of present adverse condi- tions is the result of our failure to admit and meet the changes taking place around us. We AN INSURANCE MAN 257 should be the broadest of all business men, since we deal with all kinds and conditions of men and things, but are we? Is it not a fact that we have specialized our thought, and worn the groove so deep we can not see the procession that has not only overtaken but outrun us? Let us note some of the changes that have occurred both within and without. As accentuated in previous chapters, the duties, qualifications and responsibilities of all grades of agents have been reset and rearranged during the last two decades. The Local is un- trained and unfit for the duties he should per- form; the Special's education has been so special- ized to premium-getting that other and equally necessary qualifications have been neglected ; the Manager has been loaded down with responsibili- ties that were formerly shared by the locals and specials; organization has been relaxed or dis- banded; co-operation has all but ceased to co- operate. From without, restrictive legislation has thrown its meshes about us, affecting every branch of our business contract, rates, claims and asso- 258 MEMOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES ciation. Non-affiliating competition has in- creased; our largest customers, by centralizing their management, reduce expenses to increase dividends, and demand and receive wholesale prices at our expense. Middle men are weeded out. The tendency in all lines is toward concen- tration in mercantile and manufacturing, trans- portation and distribution. PROSPECTIVE. We need not worry over the safety of the principle of insurance, as it is secure, but we may doubt the perpetuation of present methods and the men wedded to them. If our positions depend upon the survival of the system, we should be prepared at any time to vacate them. We can not long sell our wares below cost, and the cost is composed of too large a proportion of expense to sell them at list price. We can not continue indefinitely antiquated and over-expensive methods antagonistic to the trend of general business. We must conform to our surroundings, or make way for a competitor modeled upon up-to-date plans. AN INSURANCE MAN 259 The shareholder will be the arbiter. When we fail to give him reasonable returns he will withdraw his capital. So long as he is satisfied we are secure, and it follows that the one final test of fitness is, and the future of the individual, from Local to company officer, depends upon, our ability to earn a margin equal to that afforded in other business ventures. Is not self-preservation a sufficient stake to put us on our mettle? Dr. Jones, after a thorough and searching ex- amination of the patient, Fire Insurance, finds him afflicted with the following ailments : CHRONIC DYSPEPSIA. Caused by gluttony. Bolting too great quantity in too hurried a man- ner. Symptoms: Capricious appetite, alternating hunger and nausea, flatulence, fever, and pains in the pit of the stomach. NEURASTHENIA. Caused by impaired nutri- tion, anxiety and grief. Symptoms: Disturbed rest, lassitude and mental depression, with a tendency to weep. Frightened on slight or no provocation. 260 ME MO I RES OF NAT. H. JONES He needs attention, as his condition is grow- ing serious. His physicians in ordinary, as well as his nurses, are afflicted with a bad case of Hysteria, resulting from nervous strain, with the accompanying dejection of spirits, impatience, emotion, excitability and marked defect of will and mental power. They need a combined seda- tive and anti-spasmodic. What he needs shall be the theme of the next chapter. AN INSURANCE MAN 261 CHAPTER XI PRESCRIPTION AISE the rates. Reduce the commis- sions. Abolish brokerage. Prohibit term business. Improve construction and protection. Abolish multiple agencies and annexes. These are a few of the specifics upon the market, but not one of them is a panacea; though each might relieve, none would cure. When his engine labors and groans under a normal pressure, does the driver increase his head of steam? When the current is grounded, does the electri- cian double his voltage? Do we need more power, or better and more economical application? Manifestly the latter. The present average rate is sufficient if col- lected upon annual business and properly applied, to pay losses, necessary expenses and a reason- 262 MEMOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES able dividend. The power is ample, but the machinery needs overhauling. Forty per cent is lost in transmission, and it is our duty to reduce the waste before applying for an increased initial force. Useless wheels, large and small, imperfect gearings, untrue shafting, absorb five per cent of our power. We must reduce the friction. Unpacked valves, leaky cylinders, cor- roded pipes, waste five per cent more. We must repair them. The foundation has withstood the thumping and jarring up to date; is still firm and worthy of a better superstructure. The spendthrift's financial condition is not permanently altered by a new legacy; unless he reforms his habits it is soon squandered, and he is again dead broke. If the similes are appli- cable, our first duty is apparent. Before asking our customers for an increased tax, we should give them some evidence of an improved admin- istration. All of us admit the present expense charge is too high. A comparison with the economic conditions of other lines of business is unfavorable to insurance. A continued increase in the cost of administration is opposed to the AN INSURANCE MAN 263 universal trend of business. A reduction is a prime necessity. Inadequate rates are the least of our troubles, because rates are fluctuating and measurably sub- ject to individual influence. Expenses, on the contrary, are fixed charges and amenable only to unanimous organized co-operative control. No single company can accomplish a refor- mation; co-operation is necessary. There can be no co-operation without organ- ization; organization is necessary. There is no existing executive organization broad enough in its scope to include the whole country; a new union is necessary. A union composed exclusively of head execu- tives, having jurisdiction over the whole Amer- ican business, to whom Managers and General Agents are subordinate. A union superior to all existing organizations. A union with but one object, the reduction of expenses. Qualification for membership should be broad enough to admit all companies. Object of organization confined to the one question. Rates, tariffs, present affili- ations, ignored. A platform on which domestic 264 ME MOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES and foreign interests may meet on an equality. A union ignoring all embroiling and embittering collateral subjects. Such a union is feasible and practicable, and if it included ninety per cent of the premium income, would be successful. Its simple edict, issued on January first, and requiring a percent- age reduction in expenses during the current year, would be effective. The Managers, under suitable penalties, would provide the ways and means. If insufficient, a further percentage re- duction could be promulgated. The effects would be far-reaching and bene- ficial. The abuses that fatten on the expense account would be abated. Even so small a reduction as ten per cent of the present cost (twenty-five per cent would be ultimately re- quired) would accomplish more good, because it is practical, than all the theories preached for a century. It would abolish all illegitimate and excess agency expenses; multiplicity of inspec- tions and adjustments; high commissions and brokerages in excepted cities and larger business centers, that have grown out of all proportion; AN INSURANCE MAN 265 duplicate and multiple agencies ; supernumerary specials and employees. It would reduce the number of agents, by weeding out the incompe- tents, useless departments and department mana- gers included. It would place the business upon such a basis that it would require no apologist, and it would not reduce the income a penny. The pill may be hard to swallow, the medi- cine distasteful to the middle man, but nothing less than such a cathartic will remove the ob- structions. If the proposed remedy is worth a trial, who will be the leader? Who will consti- tute himself chairman and call the meeting to order? CHAPTER XII CONCLUSION NEW prophet has arisen in the world, whose coming is the reac- tion of overloading and crowding, whose doctrine is co-operation, the antithesis of competition. This prophet is The Trust, and Dividend is his God. The sun of domestic business expansion has set, and the day of contraction is dawning. The fire insurance field has been so thor- oughly exploited that not a vil- lage has been neglected. The plant is completed and equipped, and the construction gang must make way for the operating force, since the returns can not bear the double charge. (267^ 268 MEMOIRES OF NAT. H. JONES The opportunity of individual effort is nar- rowing, for capital is preparing for emancipation by shaking off the yoke of mediocre brains. There will always be room at the top, but there will be less room, for there will be fewer tops. The soil is yearning for a reflux of the tide that for years has borne its cultivators to town and city. The farm awaits the return of the prodigal with outstretched hand and smiling face. Finance, commerce, profession and trade can spare mediocrity. Jones, old man, are you able to turn the grindstone yet already noche'mal? 'ARSSJAEARTE.CVIVS nEDimLAB^ARI ET FIAI5 7>\EftDICARl APPENDIX APPENDIX. Something more than a century ago, Mr. John Weskett, Merchant, published a volume at Dublin under the following title: A Complete Digest of the Theory, Laws and Practice of Insurance. ; 1tE Gbeortes, Xaws and practices of f nsur* ance have 00 multiplied and increased in tbe interval tbat no 3obn TKIleshett, /R>er= cbant, of tbfs Oav> can Diacst tbem. 216 an illustration of tbe antiquity of some of tbe Practices, tbe Editor quotes from tbe Butbor's preliminary discourse. ffour generations bave intervened, all of tbem preacbing reform, but practicing beress, and tbe legacy is ours. "It is certain that there have not been wanting; some Instances of those stiled great, and leading Underwriters, from their Avidity of beginning, or subscribing; almost every Policy that appeared to them, who, far more bold then wise, seemed to depend, in every Respect, on mere Chance ; and to follow intirely the ridiculous and vulg;or Adag;e,that"an Ounce of Luck is worth a Pound of Judg;- ment"; and, who have not only underwritten almost every Policy, but adjusted every Averag;e, Loss, Return, (271) 272 APPENDIX &c, just as they were exhibited to them, or as they have been requested, with little, and very often no inspection, or examination, and without a single Doc- ument, or Paper produced ; till they have, in the End, fatally experienced the infallibly bad Consequences of their Inattention, or Incapacity: for, was it possible that they should have been otherwise then constantly and grosly imposed upon; and caused many others to be so too, who were induced, from entertaining: false Ideas of the Knowledge and Abilities of such Leaders, to follow their illusive Pattern? By Leaders. I mean, more precisely, every Person who first underwrites, or first signs an Adjustment on, a Policy. NEITHER would it be short of Truth to intimate, that there have been some considerable Underwriters, os well as Brokers, who were totally ignorant of the true Import and Effect even of some of the common, printed Terms in Policies of Insurance; nay, who never read a Policy throughout in their Life ; as many Per- sons pass for very good Christians who never perused a single Epistle, or Gospel in the Liturgy. The numberless instances, daily occurring:, of very extraordinary Unskilfulness, Negligence, and Error, together with ATROCIOUS Deceit and Imposition, in the claiming, stating:, and settling 4 of Losses, Averages, Salvages, Returns, &c. even on Policies of large Amount, ore, in Reality, amazing, and demand a very- serious Regard. On the other Hand, it is also true that the very Misconception and Inexperience redound sometimes, though not often, to the Prejudice of Assureds them- selves ; by calculating: and recovering: less than their Due. It has been, for a considerable Time past, a very usual, though a very disgraceful Observation, in our Courts of Judicature, amongst the Council employed in Insurance Causes, that "UNDERWRITERS are like a Flock of Sheep" K ; alluding: to the Inconsideraiion, Indo- APPENDIX. 273 lence, or Incapacity, with which many of them perform their Business; and their Aptitude to follow implicitly the Example of a Leader; or any one who, perhaps with as little Judgment, or Information as themselves, first subscribes a Policy; or without Enquiry, first signs thereon an Adjustment of a Loss, Average, &c and afterwards, when some one or other whose Attention may have been awakened, his Fears alarmed, or his eyes opened, by a Discernment of some Fallacy, or Dis- covery of some Fraud, the whole Flock, too late, take Fright ; and, being puzzled in the Maze of their con- fused Ideas, but fast bound in the Pen, Dispute succeeds; and they find themselves obliged to run wildly into a Court of Justice for Redress ; which, however, is seldom to be found there, from the great Difficulty of ascer- taining Facts, and of bringing forth the real Merits of an Insurance Cause and the Occasion for which, by a previous, moderate Acquaintance with, and an habitual Attention to what they were about, and to the Nature and Circumstances of the Risque, or Demand, might have been intirely avoided; as well as the illiberal Garrulity of certain. Pleaders. Nothing is more usual, in such Cases, than for the Brokers to say, in order, merely through Impatience, to attain their End in getting the Policy adjusted, how- ever wrongfully, or to favor the Assureds, their Em- ployers " Why, Sir, such an one, and such an one, or so many have settled it; Why should you object? Well, 'tis always better to follow Example; to do as others do ; to fall in with the Crowd ; not to be sin- gular; or suspicious; to cavil, or pretend to know better than others ;" and a great Deal more of such Gibberish I But, this Manner of proceeding, besides the palpable and immediate Injustice of it, evidently tends to, what only can be effected by it, the firm Establish- ment and Increase of Ignorance, Error, and Fraua, in the Course of all Matters whatsoever in this Business. >'