Imatges de pÓgina

Prince Albert, who was master before his death, succeeded the Duke of Wellington. This corporation is intrusted with the charge of lighthouses, sea-marks, the licensing of pilots, etc. Its revenue amounts to about £300,000 a year, of which about one fourth remains after meeting the expenses, and this surplus is chiefly expended in pensioning disabled seamen, or the widows and orphans of seamen. They have hospitals at Deptford, which are annually visited in a state yacht on Trinity Monday. At the Trinity House are busts of many naval heroes, a picture 20 feet long by Gainsborough, representing the elder brethren of the time. In the museum are models of lighthouses, life-boats, etc., a fine model of the Royal William, made 160 years ago, a flag taken by Drake from the Spaniards in 1588, and other curiosities. To see them, apply for the secretary's order.

HERALDS' COLLEGE (College of Arms), Benet's Hill, Doctors Commons, a relic of the feudalism of the Middle Ages, presided over by an Earl Marshal, a post made hereditary in the family of the Duke of Norfolk by Charles II. We are told that the duties of this college (which was first incorporated by Richard III.) consists in marshalling and ordering coronations, marriages, christenings, funerals, interviews, and feasts of kings and princes ; also cavalcades, shows, jousts, tournaments, and combats before the constable and marshal ; also in taking care of the coats of arms and genealogies of the nobility and gentry. If any one wishes to assume armorial bearings, he must apply to Heralds' College. The usual cost is about seventy-five guineas. The present building was erected by Wren, in 1683, on the site of an older one destroyed by the great fire. The hall in which the court of chivalry was formerly held, with the judicial seat of the earl marshal, is on the north side of the yard. Here is an old library, and a fire-proof record room. In the college are preserved several curiosities; the Warwick roll, with figures of all the Earls of Warwick from the Conquest to Richard III. ; a tournament roll of the time of Henry VIII.; a pedigree of Saxon Kings from Adam, with pen and ink illustrations of Henry VIII.'s time; a portrait of Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury from his tomb in old St. Paul's; a sword, dagger, and turquoise ring, said to have been the property of James IV. of Scotland, who was killed at the battle of Flodden Field; a volume in the handwriting of Cambden the historian ; MS. collections of heralds' visitations, records of grants of armorial bearings, etc. There are also some old portraits of officers of the college. Since 1622 the college has consisted of thirteen officers, viz., three kings-at-arms, Garter, principal ; Clarencieux ; Norroy—six heralds, Lancaster, Somerset, Richmond, Windsor, York, Chester--and four pursuivants, Rouge Croix, Blue Mantle, Portcullis, and Blue Dragon. In old time these mock kings were crowned with pompous ceremonies in the presence of the sovereign. Amongst the officers of this college, the following have rendered themselves of note as historians or antiquarians : William Cambden, Sir William Dugdale, Elias Ashmole, and Francis Grose.



Bank of England-Royal Exchange-Stock Exchange-Custom

House-Coal Exchange.

THE BANK OF ENGLAND covers a quadrangular space of about four acres, with a street on every side. The buildings are of one storey, and have no windows towards any of the thoroughfares. There is little in the external architecture to attract attention except the north-west corner, which was copied from the temple of the Sybil at Tivoli. The interior, which is well arranged for business, contains nine courts in addition to the offices. Several architects have been successively employed to make the bank what it now is. Sir Robert Taylor from 1766 to 1786, followed by Sir John Soane and C. R. Cockerell. The principal part of the exterior is Soane's work.

This wonderful establishment, which makes itself felt in every money market in the world, and at home occupies such a conspicuous position in commercial and financial affairs, was planned by a Scotchman, named Paterson, in 1691, and three years afterwards received a charter of incorporation under the style of the Governor and Company of the Bank of England, from William III. The subscribed capital of £1,200,000 was advanced to the government. Business was carried on at several places before the company removed in 1734 to premises on the site of part of the present bank, the other part being covered by a church, some taverns, and private houses. The first charter was only for fourteen years; it has been renewed eight times since then, for various terms, the longest of which was thirty-three years. During its lengthened existence it has had to pass through some dangerous crises, such as the rebellion of 1745, when its payments were made in sixpences to gain time; the trouble occasioned by the wars with France, at the end of the last century, when cash payments were suspended under the authority of an Act of Parliament, and not resumed until 1823; and during the time of the commercial difficulties in 1825, when its treasure was reduced to a very low ebb, but luckily the tide turned before it was exhausted. The bank has met with some heavy losses through forgeries; by Astlett it lost £320,000, and by Fauntleroy £360,000.

The management of the affairs of the bank are intrusted to a governor, deputy-governor, and twenty-four directors, eight of whom go out of office every year, but are usually re-elected. The proprietors of stock to the value of £500 are entitled to vote for directors. The governor must be a proprietor to the extent of at least £4000, the deputy-governor £3000, and a director £2000. The directors and governors meet in the “ Bank Parlour," where the dividends are declared and the rate of discount announced, a point of great importance in the money market. The dividend on £100 stock is 7 per cent, and the market price of that amount is about £228.

The number of persons employed in the bank is about 900. The salary of a clerk entering at seventeen is £50, and that of the head of a department £1200. The sum paid in salaries is about £210,000. Some of the clerks have amassed large fortunes. There was Daniel Race, whose portrait is in the parlour lobby, who was fifty years in the service; and died worth £200,000; and Abraham Newland, a cashier, whose name formed the burden of a once popular song, left behind him a very considerable sum. There is a library in the bank for the use of the clerks.

The profits of the Bank arise from various sources. They issue notes and carry on the business of an ordinary bank, receiving deposits, discounting bills, making loans, etc. A large cash balance belonging to the nation is always in its hands, and of this a profit is made. The remuneration allowed to the Bank for its services in managing the National Debt (which now amounts to £775,000,000), keeping the books, attending to transfers, receiving the taxes, paying dividends, etc., is about £200,000 a-year.

A very large amount of bullion is kept in its vaults, usually from 14 to 17 millions, as a reserve to meet any run that may be made upon it. The Bullion Office is a special department with its own staff of clerks. The gold is in bars, each weighing 16 lbs., and being worth £800 ; the silver is in pigs and bars, or else in bags of dollars. Here is some delicate apparatus for weighing

« AnteriorContinua »