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• Une science ne fait de véritables progrès que lorsqu'on est parvenu à bien déterminer le champ où peuvent s'étendre ses recherches et l'objet qu'elles doivent se proposer; autrement on saisit çà et là un petit nombre de vérités sans en connaître la liaison, et beaucoup d'erreurs sans en pouvoir découvrir la fausseté.'*
I VENTURE to submit the present volume for
the approval of the public, in the hope that its perusal—more especially by the rising members
of the profession, whose daily occupation is
practical banking—may awaken a livelier interest
in, and lead to a more general study of these
subjects; and it will, I trust, not prove uninstrumental in inducing them to bring what experience they may have had to assist in the discussion
* Traité d'Économie Politique, par Jean-Baptiste Say.
of any measures of banking reform that may be proposed from time to time.
It would seem not only desirable but necessary
that when suggestions are thrown out for the improvement of methods and systems, practical bankers should be the recognised authorities, by virtue of their closer acquaintance with the
practice of their craft.
The study of the theory and practice of banking no doubt suffers considerable neglect by reason of there being no special qualifications demanded
of those who are elected into the service of
banking institutions. A student seldom takes a
deep interest in any subject until he has removed
much of that elementary matter which forms the
exterior crust of all sciences, and which requires
diligent application to succeed in penetrating;
after which the interest becomes more and more
The career of a banker's clerk for the first few
years is comparatively a waste of time, so far as any progress in the science of his profession is
concerned. There can be no reasons given why
men should not be compelled to pass a commercial examination previous to engaging in business of any kind—business that cannot be termed exactly trade-any more than for medicine or the army ; and if such a system were introduced, there can be little doubt that in many instances men would be induced to continue the study of financial and banking questions, and thereby materially assist in elucidating some of the points which are so frequently brought forward for discussion, and let drop again without any satisfactory solution having been arrived at. We see occasionally brilliant attacks made upon this or that part of our commercial machinery, as it proves unequal to the strain ; but from the intricacy and wide spread of all the practical details, which must be thoroughly examined before any reform of one
part can be carried through without injury to another, it is necessary that the attention of those who are daily in the habit of practically dealing with such matters, should be aroused to consider and deliberate upon any proposed change, so that the persons whose habits of thought lie in the groove in which we require amelioration, should be brought to interest themselves more, and assist in perfecting the means at our disposal.
The present volume will be found to contain information gathered from various sources, the advantage of which in a condensed form has occurred to me during niy banking career, and I trust, beyond being useful so far as it goes, it
will stimulate to further research.
If the perusal of this humble effort may lead my fellow-workers to profit-however little-by what
they may glean here, and push on farther into the
depths of the subjects which will yet be produc
tive of a rich store, I shall consider myself re