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the simple, the unfortunate, and the labouring poor. To it we are indebted for the brilliant return of those flourishing times depicted by the Roman poet :
Creverunt et opes, et opum furiosa cupido :
Et, quum possideant plurima, plura petunt.
Atque ipsæ vitiis sunt alimenta vices.
Quo plus sunt potæ, plus sitiuntur aquæ.
Census amicitias; pauper ubique jacet. *
The political economists could not have described more accurately or scientifically the process of production for the sake of consumption, and consumption for the sake of production, than has here been done by Ovid. The socialists could not have more plainly indicated the consequences of the system which befall the poor, or the causes of their irremediable distress. The speculator on 'change has scarcely delineated more graphically the characteristics of modern brokerage; and we feel well assured that Freedley, in his notable work on the whole art of money making, has not exhibited a keener insight into the shrewd proceedings of the successful adventurer. But a single word sums up the indications of Ovid, the theories of political economy, the complaints of socialism, the investigations of the Parisian · Spéculateur à la Bourse,” the lessons of Freedley, and the most remarkable phenomena of modern commerce; and that word is Speculation. Surely a term so significant, and a practice so generally diffused, merit the most careful consideration, and will be studied with general and anxious interest.
Such, at least, would be the natural expectation. And yet the experience of the past is contradictory to this anticipation. Speculation has been acquiring its present ascendency, winning its golden victories, and daily enlarging the circle of its operations, and the numbers of its hosts; but no one, apparently, before the publication of the little volume which supplies us with a text, has Leemed the subject worthy of distinct philosophical appreciation. Passing censures and partial elucidations have been abundant, but no methodical study of the great and perplexing enigma had been previously undertaken. Those who had been enrolled in the ranks of speculation were too busily engaged in securing the spoils to discontinue their profitable labours, and reflect upon the character of their operations. The more intelligent might even have been reluctant to reveal the secrets of the game, and might have considered it treachery towards their fellows, disciples, and successors, to betray the machinery of success. Or the same spirit which
rendered every art, trade, and handicraft a mystery in the middle ages, and protected their exercise by oaths, prohibitions, and penalties, might have prevented modern speculators from unveiling to profane eyes the procedure which could remain profitable only so long as it was in some degree a monopoly. While these motives, instinctively obeyed, rather than consciously entertained, may have restrained the revelations of the élite of financial operators, those who were the spectators or the victims of the scene were either too solicitous to take part in the fray, or too confused, amazed, and bewildered by the wild and rapid phantasmagoria around them, to interpret, analyze, or understand the concatenation of causes and effects, or the intricate machinery of the lottery, which distributed blanks to themselves, but rich prizes to the favourites of fortune who “guided the whirlwind and directed the storm.”
So far, speculation has been an occult science; and it might even have been regarded as the modern contribution to the cycle of the black arts. For a science it has become, in some sort, as it accepts all the doctrines of political economy as the principles of its theoretic constitution; and that it is a mysterious art, producing immense results with small means, or by the application of trivial forces, is rendered manifest by daily experience, if we will only consult experience. Still, neither science nor art was interpreted to the profane multitude. The brilliant operations of the speculator and financier were cunningly and continually devised; astounding gains were suddenly realized by the fortunate directors of the movement; and the public admired in ignorance a proceeding in which it was impossible to discover any increase of values or productions comparable to the profits which had been acquired by The winners of the game.
At length the veil is lifted, and we are presented with an explanation of the processes, the operations, and the machinery of speculation. The separate wheels, and their combination in the machine, their adjustment, their interworking, and their respective revolutions, so far as these are exemplified on the Parisian exchange, are elucidated with ample detail in the interesting and instructive volume before us. The enumeration and interpretation of the formalities and ceremonies which transpire in the intercourse of the bulls and the bears, constitute, however, in our estimation, the least important, though the largest portion of this work. Something of the same sort had been previously attempted in regard to the London exchange, by one Mr. Fenn,* who, in
* English and Foreign Funds: A compendium of the English and Foreign Funds, and the principal joint stock companies; forming an epitome of the various objects of investment negotiable in London, with some account of the internal debts and revenues of tbe foreign States, and tables for calculating the value of the different stocks, &c. Second edition, with additions. By C. FENN, 12mo. Mr. Fenn, we suppose to be a discreet broker, who wrote a book to benefit his business. He promises only fact, and does not profess philosophy, and could not be expected to tell tales out of school.
common with others, anticipated to this extent the idea elaborated in the second and third divisions of the Spéculateur à la Bourse. If, in addition to these two productions, we should be favoured with a manual for the guidance of the stranger in Wall street, by a good Samaritan, a vade mecum for the uninitiated at the Hague, and a programme of the concert for a looker-on at Vienna, we would possess as complete a literature of the Eleusinian Mysteries of modern trade, as a curious man could desire, or a business man demand.
Two thirds of the present volume are occupied with the elucidation of the routine of the dealings of brokers, stock-brokers, share-brokers, commission merchants, financiers, bankers, and adventurers of all sorts, and describe the ever varying game of hazard played by the Jews and the Gentiles in the Parisian money market. To professional readers, if we may abuse the epithet by such an application, this will be the most interesting part of the treatise. It is almost entirely plain matter of fact and business instruction, though sharp comments are occasionally introduced. If that luminous series of guides, commemorated as desiderata in the preceding paragraph, should ever be satisfactorily compiled, this portion of the Spéculateur à la Bourse would reappear in each of them with the appropriate change of names, titles, and headings, and an alteration of the figures. The operations enumerated would be substantially the same, though the counters would be changed. We do not misapprehend either the speculative or practical value of this kind of information : it is a necessary preliminary to any accurate estimation of the effects and tendencies of the general system, besides rendering special services to the incipient Levites of brokerdom; but it is the philosophy of trade, of speculation, and of modern society, so far as these are revealed or exemplified by the operations on 'change, which principally invite our contemplation, and impart to this manual a general interest. Its opening chapters and its “final considerations” are employed in disentangling such philosophical conclusions from the multitude of figures, the variety of operations, and the diversity of French stocks. As these generalizations are applicable and true, independently of the special facts by which they are suggested and illustrated, we shall confine our attention to the principles and results of modern speculation, without annoying our readers, or harassing ourselves by interpreting the particular phases which its procedure assumes in Paris, and which are repeated, with very trivial modifications, at all the centres of commercial or financial activity in the different countries of Christendom. We will not impose on others the necessity of re-learning the French language, in order to comprehend the vocabulary of the Bourse, but will dismiss, without notice, the Agents de Change, Courtiers de Commerce, Courtiers d'Assurance, Courtiers
chand be substion of theiate chanourse w
France, the comptoire Nationable ourselve
Marrons, Coulissiers, &c., &c., and will not trouble ourselves about the bank of France, the Comptoire National d'Escompte, the Crédit Foncier de France, the Société générale de Crédit Mobilier, the Société générale de Crédit Maritime, the Caisse hypothécaire, &c., unless an occasional reference to some of these cabalistic terms should be required for the illustration of the philosophy of the subject.
The Manuel du Spéculateur à la Bourse is a remarkable and instructive book, and is well calculated to open the eyes of the public to some of the imminent dangers of our modern social organization. It is full of acute reasoning and profound reflection, and is throughout perspicuous, far beyond what we should have imagined to be the capabilities of the subject. To all its positions we may not assent; but even those which we feel ourselves obliged to repudiate, are rich in suggestions. We cannot concur with the author in anticipating the ultimate solution which he divines with sanguine hope, and which he expects to be evolved by the spontaneous development of existing tendencies. We have no preëstablished theory to support; no new social scheme to propound; and feel very little inclination to claim citizenship in either Icaria or Utopia. But, without yielding an unhesitating faith to the tenets of this volume, we can both admire and profit by its sagacity; and we avail ourselves gratefully of the guidance of the thread which it affords for our use, in penetrating and retracing the intricate labyrinths of modern speculation.
The title of the book is a very inadequate indication of either its spirit or its contents. It is a searching criticism of one of the most obscure and least studied departments of political economy, using this phrase in its largest sense, to denote the practices of commercial enterprise, even more than the theory of wealth. It is a luminous exposition of evils already experienced without being extensively recognized, and of perils impending without having excited any suitable alarm. For it is true now, as it was at the close of ancient civilization, that society is rushing into irretrievable calamities, and is heedlessly regaling itself the while with the supposed felicities of its prosperous situation. Sardonicis quodammodo herbis omnem Romanum populum putes “esse saturatum. Moritur, et ridet."*
The book is anonymous. In consequence of its utility, its singularity, its popularity, or its originality-perhaps in consequence of the union of these characteristics—it has advanced in two or three years to the honours of a second edition; yet the name of no author appears on the title-page, nor is there any sign or note to indicate by whom it was composed. We are indebted
to the publisher, or perhaps only to the Parisian bibliopole, for the assurance that it is one of the latest productions of the celebrated Proudhon. It is not unworthy of his pen, though the ostensible subject may seem a strange text for a philosopher of his eccentric reputation. The piquancy of the style, the precision of the analysis, the cogency of the logic, the ulterior aims intimated, and the occasional extravagances, perfectly accord with the characteristics which distinguish the accredited treatises of that great but paradoxical writer. Nor does the subject appear altogether foreign to his previous career, when we contemplate the method of its treatment, and remember the preëminence which he had already assigned to financial operations in the existing and ultimate organization of society, the part which is performed in the evolution of his social system by his theory of value and of money, the memorable debate which he excited in the National Assembly in 1848, his controversy with M. Bastiat, and the project of the “ Banque du Peuple," established by P. J. Proudhon et cie.
" Commerce is king.” This brief confession of faith constitutes the modern creed, and explains many of the phenomena of modern society. “Commerce is king;" and the murmurs of rebellion are drowned by the loud and unanimous plaudits of the myriads of his liege subjects. (King, he is incontestably de facto; king, he is almost universally believed to be de jure.) We shall not preach sedition; there is too much wisdom in obedience to the powers that be, when these are universally acknowledged, for us to challenge their legitimacy. But we may, with propriety, and without contemplating any disturbance, examine the attributes, and criticize the actions of the monarch. We may intimate that commerce, like other kings, whose sovereignty is unrestricted, is something of a tyrant in his proceedings, and maintains, at heavy expense, a select court and a favoured aristocracy. We may cautiously follow the footsteps of the speculator on 'change, and inquire into the patents, privileges, and practices of the princes and dignitaries of finance, and discover the manner in which these affect the lieges. We may examine whether it is true in this case, as in regard to other monarchies, that
Quicquid delirant reges, plectuntur Achivi: whether the profits of the great brokers are paid by an actual augmentation of the aggregate production, or whether they are liquidated by the increased sufferings and labours of the hardworking mass.
M. Proudhon," or whoever may be the author of the Manual in our hands, professes to have investigated (without neglecting anything that might be of use to financial gamesters) the causes