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Within a certain circle, of which the Royal
Exchange is the centre, lie the ruins of a
great paper city. Its rulerssolid and
substantial as they appear to the eyeare made
of paper. They ride in paper carriages; they
marry paper wives, and unto them are born
paper children; their food is paper, their
thoughts are paper, and all they touch is
transformed to paper. They buy paper and
they sell paper; they borrow paper, and they lend
paper, a paper that shrinks and withers
in the grasp like the leaves of the sensitive
plant; and the stately-looking palaces in
which they live and trade are built of paper,
small oblong pieces of paper, which, like
the cardboard houses of our childhood, fall
with a single breath. That breath has overtaken
them, and they lie in the dust. Let
me collect the scattered pieces, and build
them up into such another variety of
trembling structures as they formed before; as
they form now; or as, in a few years, they
will undoubtedly form again.

Our first paper-house is the firm of Collaps,
Vortex, Docket, arid Company, general merchants.
It is quiet and unobtrusive in appearance,
being in Tobacco Lane, Fenchurch Street;
and its small office has not had its windows
cleaned for thirty years, which gives it a
favourable appearance of solidity. The leading
peculiarity of this firm is ramification;
and it is remarkable for the harmony and
beauty of its complex machinery. The senior
partner, Mr. Collaps, is a merchant of the
old school. There is a fund of credit in his
shoe-buckles, and in the heavy yellow family
coach that comes to fetch him of an afternoon.
Mr. Vortex affects an almost Quakerish
severity of attire; he attends to the discounting
department, and the chairmanships and
directorships of those important and choice
public companies which he finds so useful in
consolidating the credit of the house. Mr.
Docket is a copy of Mr. Vortex, some fifteen
years younger; he attends to the working
part of the business, whatever that may be;
superintends the clerks, answers troublesome
inquiries, and is supposed to buy and sell all
the merchandise. The ramifications of the
house extend to most cities of importance in
England, abroad, and the colonies. In Glasgow
there is the branch firm of M'Vortex
and Company, who have established friendly
relations with all the leading banks, and
whose paper, drawn upon the substantial firm
of O'Docket and Company of Dublin, is
"done" without a whisper, at the minimum
rate. The substantial firm of O'Docket and
Company of Dublin enjoys the highest credit
that can be obtained by a long course of regular
trading in the land of generous sympathies
and impulsive genius; and their paper,
upon the highly respectable firm of M'Vortex
and Company, of Glasgow, is much in demand,
at very low rates of discount indeed. Then
there is Alphonse Collaps and Company of
Paris; the great house of Collaps Brothers,
at Calcutta; Vortex, Collaps, and Docket, of
San Francisco; Docket Brothers and Collaps,
of New York; Collaps, Collaps, and Company,
of the Cape of Good Hope; Vortex,
Docket, and Vortex, of Melbourne, Australia;
and Vortex Brothers and Docket, of Montreal,
Canada. These all draw and feed upon each
other as their necessities require; and the
parent firm of Collaps, Vortex, Docket, and
Company, of Tobacco Lane, London, watches
over its obedient children with a more than
fatherly interest, and trades upon their
acceptances to the extent of millions.
Formerly the great London house used to stop
payment during every commercial panic,—
their credit preventing the necessity of their
doing so at any other time. Now, they have
grown too wise and important to do that.
It is not that their trade has become in any
degree sounder or more legitimate, but the
accumulated liabilities of many years have
swelled their transactions into such gigantic
proportions, that the mere whisper of any
difficulty to the Governor and company of the
Bank of England causes a representation to
be made to our paternal government, whose
mission it is to foster, protect, and accommodate
trade; and it is agreed that such a public
calamity as the suspension of Messrs. Collaps,
Vortex, Docket, and Company must be prevented
at any cost. It is prevented by the
suspension of the Bank Charter Act instead;
an extra issue of Bank of England notes is
authorised, with a government guarantee in
case there should not be gold to exchange for
them; and commerceill-used commerce
breathes again.