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SOUTHERN QUARTERLY REYIEW.
NEW SERIES. NOVEMBER, 1856. Vol. n.. .Ho. l.
Art. I.—SPECULATION AND TRADE.
Manuel du Speculateur d la Bowse contenant: 1°. Une introduction sur la nature de la speculation: son role dans la production de la Richesse, ses abus, son importance dans P Economic des societes, et son influence swr la destinee des Etats. 2°. Un abrege des lois et ordonnances qui regissent la Bourse, Vexpose critique et pratique des operations, les differentes sortes de marches, et les corribinaisons auxqueUes elles donnent lieu. 3°. Une notice sur chaque espece de valeur cotee au parquet, rentes, obligations, Banque de France, credit fonder et mobilier, chemms de fer, canaux, assurances, dkc. Deuxieme edition. Revue, corrigee, et augmentee. Paris. Gamier Freres, Libraires-Editeurs. 6 Rue des Saints-Peres, 215 Palais Royal. 1 vol. 12mo.
Speculation! It is a fertile and suggestive subject, calculated to attract at once the interest and attention of all. Our lot has been cast in those stirring times when speculation has become almost synonymous with business; when the whole duty of active life seems to be concentrated on the contrivance, realization, and reduplication of rapid profits; when the acquisition of large gains has become to every man almost a necessity, and the sole profession of nearly all, however varied the modes of its accomplishment may be; and when ingenuity, dexterity, and skilful combination, have superseded or outstripped industry in the great transactions of commerce. Speculation! It is the key-note ot modern society; the open sesame of the chief mysteries of modern trade. It is at once the instrument and the explanation of that feverish avidity for sudden fortune which now rules the world, and of that deepening degradation of the multitude which throws such a sombre hue over the portrait of our present civilization. It is speculation, in its endless diversities, which simultaneously augments the capital of the rich, the acute, the prosperous, and depresses the condition of Vol. 2 No. 1.
the simple, the unfortunate, and the labouring poor. To it we are indebted for the brilliant return of those flourishing times depicted by the Koman poet:
Creverunt et opes, et opum furioea cupido:
Et, quum possideant plurima, plura petunt.
Atque ipsa vitiig sunt alimenta vices.
Quo plus sunt potse, plus sitiuntur aquse.
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 teel 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 " Speculateur d 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 deemed 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 elite ot 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 the 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.