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Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Volume 62, No. 383, September 1847   By:

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"My dear Dunshunner," said my friend Robert M'Corkindale as he entered my apartments one fine morning in June last, "do you happen to have seen the share list? Things are looking in Liverpool as black as thunder. The bullion is all going out of the country, and the banks are refusing to discount."

Bob M'Corkindale might very safely have kept his information to himself. I was, to say the truth, most painfully aware of the facts which he unfeelingly obtruded upon my notice. Six weeks before, in the full confidence that the panic was subsiding, I had recklessly invested my whole capital in the shares of a certain railway company, which for the present shall be nameless; and each successive circular from my broker conveyed the doleful intelligence that the stock was going down to Erebus. Under these circumstances I certainly felt very far from being comfortable. I could not sell out except at a ruinous loss; and I could not well afford to hold on for any length of time, unless there was a reasonable prospect of a speedy amendment of the market. Let me confess it I had of late come out rather too strong. When a man has made money easily, he is somewhat prone to launch into expense, and to presume too largely upon his credit. I had been idiot enough to make my debut in the sporting world had started a couple of horses upon the verdant turf of Paisley and, as a matter of course, was remorselessly sold by my advisers. These and some other minor amusements had preyed deleteriously upon my purse. In fact, I had not the ready; and as every tradesman throughout Glasgow was quaking in his shoes at the panic, and inconveniently eager to realise, I began to feel the reverse of comfortable, and was shy of showing myself in Buchanan Street. Several documents of a suspicious appearance owing to the beastly practice of wafering, which is still adhered to by a certain class of correspondents were lying upon my table at the moment when Bob entered. I could see that the villain comprehended their nature at a glance; but there was no use in attempting to mystify him. The Political Economist was, as I was well aware, in very much the same predicament as myself.

"To tell you the truth, M'Corkindale, I have not opened a share list for a week. The faces of some of our friends are quite long enough to serve as a tolerable exponent of the market; and I saw Grabbie pass about five minutes ago with a yard of misery in his visage. But what's the news?"

"Every thing that is bad! Total stoppage expected in a week, and the mills already put upon short time."

"You don't say so!"

"It is a fact. Dunshunner, this infernal tampering with the currency will be the ruin of every mother's son of us!" and here Bob, in a fit of indignant enthusiasm, commenced a vivid harangue upon the principles of contraction and expansion, bullion, the metallic standard, and the bank reserves, which no doubt was extremely sound, but which I shall not recapitulate to the reader.

"That's all very well, Bob," said I "very good in theory, but we should confine ourselves at present to practice. The main question seems to me to be this. How are we to get out of our present fix? I presume you are not at present afflicted with a remarkable plethory of cash?"

"Every farthing I have in the world is locked up in a falling line."

"Any debts?"

"Not many; but quite enough to make me meditate a temporary retirement to Boulogne."

"I believe you are better off than I am. I not only owe money, but am terribly bothered about some bills."

"That's awkward. Would it not be advisable to bolt?"

"I don't think so. You used to tell me, Bob, that credit was the next best thing to capital. Now, I don't despair of redeeming my capital yet, if I can only keep up my credit."

"Right, undoubtedly, as you generally are... Continue reading book >>

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