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"When it turns at nine o'clock," said
Herbert, cheerfully, " look out for us, and stand
ready, you over there at Mill Pond Bank!"


THE Stock Exchange is regarded by many
persons as the pulse of the country. Its register
of prices, especially that portion which
records the fluctuations in the public funds, is
watched as eagerly as a physician's face when
he comes out of a sick-chamber. When it
cheerfully announces "par," a technical money-
market phrase for one hundred, as far as Consols
are concerned, the quarter of a million of steady
investors who really hold the national funds,
consider Britannia to be in a very robust and thriving
condition. When it shakes its head and
announces ninety, the pulse is considered to record
a weak and sinking condition; when it can give
no better account than seventy, sixty, or even
fifty, Britannia seems to have exchanged her
spear and shield for a crutch or a coffin.

If the Stock Exchange be really the pulse of
the country, what a number of times, even
during the last half-century, poor old England
has been gasping in the arms of death! There
was the year 1802, when Consols, or Consolidated
Three per Cent Annuities, stood as low
as seventy-nine, and fell to sixty-six and a quarter,
in consequence of the menacing attitude of
Bonaparte. As Consols form nearly one-half
of the National Debt of eight hundred millions
(speaking in round numbers)—the rest being
made up of South Sea Debt, Bank of England
Debt, eight or nine different kinds of annuities
at different rates, Irish Debt, India Bonds, and
Exchequer Billsthey are the most easily
affected by all those circumstances and events
which directly or indirectly affect the price of
Stocks. Whatever tends to shake or to
increase the public confidence in the stability of
government, tends, at the same time, to lower
or increase the price of Stocks. They are also
affected by the state of the revenue, and, more
than all, by the facility of obtaining supplies of
disposable capital, and the interest which may
be realised upon loans to responsible persons.
A low rate of discount at the Bank of England
means a high price for Consols; and a high rate
of discount means a low price for these securities.
From 1730 till the Rebellion in 1745, the
Three per Cents were never under eighty-nine,
and were once, in June, 1737, as high as one
hundred and seven. During the Rebellion they
sank to seventy-six; but, in 1749, rose again to
one hundred. In the interval between the Peace
of Paris, in 1763, and the breaking out of the
American War, they averaged, says Mr. McCulloch,
from eighty to ninety; but towards the
close of the war they sank to fifty-four. In
1792 they were, at one time, as high as ninety-
six: but this state of rude health was of short
duration. In 1797, the prospects of the country,
owing to the successes of the French, the
mutiny in the fleet, and other adverse
circumstances, were by no means favourable; and, in
consequence, the price of the Three per Cents,
with all their "elegant simplicity," as the Rev.
Sydney Smith phrases it, sunk to forty-seven
and three-eighths. This was on the 20th of
September, after the receipt of the intelligence
that the attempt to negotiate with the
French Republic had failed. In August of the
next year, the month famous for the battle of
the Nile and the presence of the French army
in Egypt, they fell to forty-seven and a quarter,
or the lowest price they have ever touched.

To come to times more within the memory
of some few living people; there was the
fall of these very sensitive securities in 1803,
on the breaking out of hostilities with France,
when they went down rapidly from seventy-
three to fifty and a quarter. Those were glorious
days for the "bears," or all the jobbers who
speculated for a fall. The stagnant days of
peace provide no such splendid opportunities
for money-making on the bear side of the Stock
Exchange, and, no wonder, many of the members
are often heard singing, as they look abroad for
an invasion bogie:

Stir up the wars again, the trade it will be
This grand conversation is under the rose.

In 1814 there was another drop from seventy-
two and a quarter to sixty-two; and in 1815
a similar drop from sixty-five, three quarters, to
fifty-three seven-eighths. This was at the close
of the war period, and it was during this time
that one of the greatest Stock Exchange frauds
on record was organised and carried out. We
give the substance of the narrative as we find it
recorded in Mr. Francis's History of the Bank
of England.

On the 21st of February, 1814, the Bank of
England and its neighbourhood wore an appearance
of great excitement. The military operations
of Bonaparte, by which he checked the
great allied powers, had depressed the funds.
Deep anxiety for the result was felt throughout
England. On that day, however, although it
was what is termed a " private day," the clerks
in all the stock offices of the establishment were
busily employed in preparing transfers, which,
contrary to the custom on such a day, poured
in from the members of the Stock Exchange.
Reports and rumours spread rapidly. Many of
the transfers remained unfinished, as a plot,
intending to deceive all London, was discovered
in time to prevent their execution.

On the 21st of February, 1814, about one
o'clock in the morning, a violent knocking was
heard at the door of the Ship Inn, at Dover.
On the door being opened, the visitor announced
himself as Lieutenant-Colonel Du Bourg, aide-
de-camp of Lord Cathcart. His dress supported
the assertion. His military-looking clothes
appeared wet with the sea-spray, and he stated
that he had been brought over by a French
vessel, the seamen of which were afraid of landing
at Dover, and had placed him in a boat about
two miles from the shore. His news was
important. Bonaparte had been slain in battle,
and the allied armies were in Paris. A great