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For this last-mentioned purpose, however, we will now proceed to inquire into the merits of the second species of institution mentioned at the outset of this chapter, viz. :-Provident banks for the savings of the poor, allowing interest for small deposits, with liberty of withdrawing either the whole or any part of them, as the future necessities of the person depositing may require. So many intelligent writers have entered into details concerning the nature of these institutions, that I shall be satisfied with referring to those tracts which appear to me to give the most satisfactory accounts of them.
The description of the establishment at Ruthwell, near Edinburgh, by Mr. Duncan, the minister of that parish, is interesting and instructive, because it contains a clear account of the first successful attempt in this career of usefulness.
The observations on banks for savings, by the Rt. Hon. G. Rose, contain, like all that gentleman's publications upon similar subjects, much sobriety and good sense, and many useful practical directions. He gives at length the rules of a bank, lately established at Southampton, by which deposits not less than a shilling are received, which begin to bear interest at 4 per cent. when they amount to 129. 6d.; and when the sums lodged by any depositor shall amount to 251. the same are to be withdrawn, or at his option may be invested in the public funds, for which, as well as for the receipt of the interest, the institution will afford him every facility. Mr. Rose then proceeds as follows.
“ Under these articles it will be seen that the de. positors will be under no obligation to continue their payments into the bank a week longer than they shall
choose: they may stop when they shall find it inconvenient to go on to make the savings, without incurring any forfeiture; and they may begin them again when they can afford to do so; with perfect freedom to withdraw their money, without inquiry, whenever they shall have occasion for it for any purpose. And to prevent a possible mistake as to the property of any one in the bank for savings, each deposítor will have in his own possession a paper, in the nature of a receipt, in which will be entered every sum he shall deposit.
“ But as it may frequently happen to persons in the lower classes of life not to know how to go about purchasing stock or to receive the interest, (whereby those few who now make savings frequently lose them, by entrusting them in improper hands, to the great discouragement of economy in others,) the institution undertakes to do both : so that the depositors can be put to no inconvenience by being obliged to withdraw their money."
“ The advantages of these Institutions are too obvious to make it necessary to say much upon them, I will therefore allude only very generally to them.
Apprentices on first coming out of their time, who now too frequently spend all their earnings, may be induced to lay by 5s. to 10s. a week, and sometimes more, as in many trades they earn from 24s. to 50s. and 60s. a week.
“ The same observation applies somewhat less forcibly to journeymen in most trades whose earnings are very considerable, from not beginning so early, and to workmen in many branches. With respect to these it has been made evident to me and to many members who attended the mendicity committee
in the last session of parliament, that in many instances when the gains have been as large as above stated, the parties have been so improvident as to have nothing in hand for the support of themselves and families when visited with sickness, and have consequently fallen immediately upon the parish. In some instances the tools and implements of their trade have been carried to the pawnbroker, whereby difficulties are thrown in the way of their labour being resumed on the restoration of health. I will not however admit that habits of improvidence and thoughtlessness are always the offsprings of vice, as I am persuaded they are often the consequence of ignorance or accident.
“ Domestic Servants, whose wages are frequently more than sufficient for their necessary expenses.
“ Carmen, Porters, Servants in lower conditions, and others, may very generally be able to make small deposits.
66 It isatrite observation that drunken men are generally the best workmen : no one however will believe that drunkenness can advance skill; the plain fact is, that such workmen earn a great deal more than is necessary for their ordinary maintenance, and not knowing how to dispose of the remainder, they spend it in drunkenness and dissipation of the worst kind.
“With respect to day Labourers, the full advantage cannot be expected to be derived at first, as far as relates to married men with families; it too frequently happens that where there are two or three children, it is all that the father can do to support himself and those dependant upon him with his utmost earnings; but the single man, whose wages
are the same as those of his married fellow labourers, may certainly spare a small weekly sum; by doing which he would in a reasonable time have saved enough to enable him to marry with a hope of never allowing any one belonging to him to become a burthen to the parish.
* Nothing is so likely as the encouragement of a plan of this sort, to prevent early and improvident marriages, which are the cause, more than any others, of the heavy burthen of the poor's rate. When a young single man shall acquire the habit of saving he will be likely to go on, till he shall get to gether as much as will enable him to make some provision for furnishing a few necessaries to assist in the support of a family, before he thinks of marrying.
“ This is an attainment that every man who has the good of his country at heart must certainly wish for, without going the length of Mr. Malthus (whose patriotism will not be doubted) in desiring to prevent marriages taking place till the parties can state a probability of their being able to maintain the family which they are likely to have.
“ If the full effect of this shall not be experienced instantly with respect to the class I am now speaking of, it can hardly fail of being produced as the rising generation of labourers shall get up; when a large proportion of the whole class will probably become depositors.
* At Edinburgh it is in proof that there is frequently an emulation among persons working in the same shop or manufactory, who shall save most during the week to deposit on the following Monday.
* I may here ask if the mind of man ean invent any thing more likely than this to revive and to bring
into action the old spirit of abhorrence to receiving parish relief.
“ The success at Edinburgh and at Bath has been very considerable; more so at the former than the ļatter, from the establishment having been earlier there, as well as from the greater extent of the city, and the greater variety of occupations of the lower class of its inhabitants.
It is on that experience I rely more confidently than I should have done on the theory of the plan, excellent and unexceptionable as it is; it is going on in Scotland, according to the latest accounts, with increasing prosperity,”
Such is the result of Mr. Rose's judgment, and I feel the greater pleasure in cordially assenting to it, having the misfortune widely to differ from some subsequent observations upon friendly societies, which are to be found in the same pamphlet.
By far the clearest and most useful statement however, which I have seen on this subject, is comprised in the third edition of a small anonymous tract, printed at Edinburgh and sold in London by Messrs Longman and Co. entitled, “ A SHORT ACCOUNT OF THE EDINBURGH SAVINGS' BANK, containing Directions for establishing similar Banks, with the Mode of keeping the Accounts, and conducting the Details of Business.”*. The author begins by observing, that “the only effectual method of assisting the poor is to encourage industry, sobriety, and economy among them, to excite and animate their own exertions, and aid them in securing
* Since this was written, a very clear and able pamphlet upon the subject has been published by Mr. Barber Beaumont, which iş to be bought of Messrs. Cadell and Davies, in the Strand.