By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: A Week in Wall Street - By One who Knows
Author: Jackson, F. Hamilton (Frederick Hamilton)
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Week in Wall Street - By One who Knows" ***

produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive)

Transcriber’s Notes

The eponymous street of the title appears in three guises:
“wall-street” (once), “Wall Street” (twice) and most commonly

“Mr. Jacob Broker opened an office near the wall-street”, describing
the street built on land where the old city wall was knocked down.
His descendant brokers, the author writes, have “since congregated
in the region round about Wall Street”, the name which is also used
in the book’s title. In all other places in the text it appears as

In the text that follows, italic text is denoted by _underscores_
around the text. Small capitals in the printed works have been
transcribed as ALL CAPITALS.

See the end of this document for a full list of corrections and changes.

                *       *       *       *       *

                               A WEEK


                             WALL STREET.


                            ONE WHO KNOWS



        Entered according to the Act of Congress, in the year 1841,
                        BY FREDERICK JACKSON,
    In the Clerk’s office of District Court of the Southern District of

                         TABLE OF CONTENTS.

      CHAPTER I.—Introduction—The origin of Joint Stock
                     Companies, and Brokers.

      CHAPTER II.—The History of the Morrison Kennel—Nicholas
                     the 1st.—A Stock Speculation.

      CHAPTER III.—State Stocks—History of the Morrison Kennel
                     continued—Introduction of new characters—The
                     U. S. Bank.

      CHAPTER IV.—How Stocks are bought and sold—How Brokers get
                     out of a bad Speculation—How money is sometimes
                     made by doing a losing business—How Discounts
                     are made and obtained.

      CHAPTER V.—The Defaulter.

      CHAPTER VI.—A Panic.


The following pages were written during leisure hours of the last six
or eight weeks, of which “the times” have thrown rather too many upon
the writer’s hands; and the statement of this fact, I conceive to be a
tacit admission, that such hours might have been better employed.

They were originally composed for the writer’s own amusement; to
beguile the tediousness of otherwise idle time. And not the least
motive for this indulgence was a desire to abstract the mind from too
near a contemplation of the dark side of that picture, which I have
described as a panic. They were not written in the first place, with
any view to publication, but as each chapter was successively read in
the presence of friends, and principally for amusement, those friends
at length advised their publication; and with their advice they have
been submitted to the press, in the original manuscript, almost without

The writer has no claims to literary qualifications, and of course he
seeks no reward of literary reputation. Were it otherwise the reader
would at once convict him of his presumption.

Those persons who are acquainted with the business of Wall-street,
will be able to judge for themselves of the truth of the descriptions;
and those who have not that opportunity of judging, are respectfully
requested to consider the reflections and moralizing, occasionally
introduced, as made in seriousness, and the rest as the truth in

That there is existing, at the present time, a demoralised condition of
principle, feeling, and practice, pervading the country throughout, in
regard to pecuniary transactions and engagements, deserving a severe
castigation, will not I believe be denied by any one; and for the
vindication of good faith and honesty, the writer could wish that the
subject had been taken in hand, by some one more skilful than himself
in the use of the scourge.

The proper correction of public morals is public opinion; but so long
as public opinion is indifferent to the innovations that have grown
up, and so long as pecuniary credit, and the posts of honor, trust and
profit, are so frequently accorded to the most successful in their
negotiations or their intrigues, without regard to the principles, or
practices, that have placed them where they are—so long we may expect
nothing but the increase of those mischiefs, of which so many now

I confess, that were I to write the same pages over again, with a view
to publication, I would alter, amend, and expunge much that is here.
But as I am now engaged in something that will afford more pleasure
in its pursuit, and more profit if attained, I have not time for this
purpose at present. And since the present is a time, when men’s minds
are alive to the subjects which I have endeavored to bring out in
ridicule, I submit the whole for what it is worth.

The introduction of vulgar wit may serve to amuse some, but it is not
a passport to men’s good sense; and, although it may sometimes make a
book sell, it is not, in my opinion, the best way to convince of the
truth. And the only excuse for indulging in it is, that the subjects
of remark, and the slang frequent in Wall-street, are not of that
character which cultivate the delicate sensibilities—nor can they be
pourtrayed to the life, by such language or figures, as should grace
the conversation and writings of a gentleman.

The practice of making a book personal, is, and ought to be condemned;
and, if it is objected that, in this, I have called persons by their
right names, or pointed too clearly at individuals, the answer is,
that, except in the case of one martial spirit, the notable Major
Downing,[1] whom I have shorn of a little of his patriotism and
courage, I have in “no instance made allusions which have not been
directly applied, and treated with much greater asperity, by all
the newspapers of the day.” And this fact, I conceive, has given me
licence, since it would be folly to wing a shaft of invective or
ridicule, if it aimed at no object.

The major, I must suppose, will not consider himself aggrieved,
because, from his position, he was the only person whom I could
conveniently make tributary to the information I wish to give;
and, since he has so often asserted his courage, without fairly
acknowledging his identity, he has no cause to complain at being
assailed on that point.

The remark will generally hold true, that whatever requires to be
explained, or excused, is always wrong; but, in this case, I think it
will not apply. I would therefore be understood as excusing only the
faults of the book, and not the object at which it is aimed.

And, lastly, the writer cannot help saying that, in the face of
the trite remark that, “those who live in glass houses should not
throw stones,” he will not deny, that, in the expressive language of
Wall-street, he has himself been “flunked;” and, with this candid
acknowledgement, which will, perhaps, satisfactorily account for
the production of the book, in the minds of those who may please to
consider it an effusion of spleen,—he subscribes himself—

                                                   THE AUTHOR.


[1] We intend to refer to Major 2nd., the bosom friend of General
Jackson, not the original major, down east.

N. B. It is perceived that a considerable number of errors have escaped
notice and correction, in the following pages; but as they affect only
the orthography and the grammar, without detracting from the truth,
or the moral of the story, I have thought it best to leave their
correction to the intelligent and good humored reader, rather than mar
a page with a formidable list of errata—except, that, in one instance,
as a mere friendly suggestion, I would request the substitution, on
129th page, 7th line, of “_stewardship_” for “_friendship_.”

                            CHAPTER I.


As the practice of some readers is to begin in the middle and read a
book backwards, I respectfully request those who may open here, to
begin at the beginning and read the preface first. In case of any
captiousness of disposition on their parts, they may thereby save
themselves a good deal of ill nature, and quarrelling with the author.
But if any one is perverse, and chooses to go on without taking my
advice, I will not hold myself accountable for the preservation of his
temper, nor even of this book; for I am not sure but he may throw it
in the fire, before he gets through the first or second chapter. But,
should he even persevere and go through, until he receives my parting
“salaam,” still I request him to turn back and read the preface, that
he may see what the writer thinks of his own book.

                  HOW BOOKS ARE WONT TO BE MADE.

It is usual with authors, in the outset of their story, to introduce
to their readers their Hero and Heroine, with elaborate descriptions
of their persons, manners, habits, dress, &c. &c.; all of which is
intended, either to prepare the reader’s mind for the very interesting
positions which these personages are designed to fill, or to amuse
those who are fond of that kind of portraiture. But in this history of
“a week in Wall-street,” there is neither hero nor heroine, but a great
number and variety of characters, each of whom lives out his sunny
hour, and passes again into oblivion. Some there are, it is true, who,
from a crawling worm, pass into a chrysalis, and appear to be dead for
a time, not only to revive again with new life and beauty, but to soar
a lofty height into the world of fashion, and boast the gayest plumage
among those who float on the wind of fortune’s fickle favors.

The veritable history of Diedrich Knickerbocker was not a truer
story than is every whit of this history of “a week in Wall-street;”
but alas for the mutations in all human affairs!—a sad change has
come over the waking dreams of the inhabitants of this goodly city,
since the days when Petrus Stuyvesant surrendered the government of
Niew-Amsterdam to the conquest-loving Briton.


From that day, when first its name was changed to New-York, it has not
ceased to be overrun by the stragglers from every country and clime,
but especially by those cunning vagabonds from Connecticut, and her
sister states, who had well nigh taken in their toils the venerable
Petrus and his jolly trumpeter, Antony. And they have now trodden down,
or overturned, every remnant of social order, that was so remarkable
in the time of the honest Dutchman. In one respect, at least, these
interlopers seem to be the favored of heaven—for their seed has
multiplied as the sands on the sea shore; and it is shrewdly suspected,
by some, that the gambols of the cunning Antony with the lasses of
New-Haven, in his famous journey thither, may have had some hand in
this, since never was a people known who could blow the trumpet of
their own fame, better than these same descendants from the colony of

                    THE OLD WALL BROKEN DOWN.

From their love of continual change—which they call improvement—they
had no sooner gained a footing in the city, than they persuaded the
honest Dutchmen to break down the _city wall_, which had hitherto
prevented them from robbing the cabbage garden or tapping the hollands
of the rich burghers, and which, some have said, was erected partly
to prevent their too frequent solace of themselves with the softer
beauties concealed by close caps and short petticoats. And they further
persuaded them to convert the ground into a street, thence called
“Wall-street;” which, being the scene of their first victory over that
prejudice which prefers to keep folks honest when they are so, has
ever since continued to be the focus of all enterprises undertaken
for one’s own benefit, to be accomplished by other peoples’ means.
And it is even said, that the projectors of this work, in reality,
designed only to gain for themselves unobstructed access to the good
living, and the pretty damsels, of Niew-Amsterdam, now New-York. Want
of means themselves to perform so great a work, first suggested to
them the idea of a Stock Company, for objects of public improvement;
the principal virtue of which is, to replenish the fortunes of those
who plan and conduct it, as is more than suspected, since most of the
money generally stops short of its intended application, and can only
be accounted for by mistakes in the original estimates, or expenses
preliminary to the commencement of the real work.

                      MR. SOLOMON SINGLE-EYE.

The good Dutchmen at first looked astonished at a project so bold and
vast; they next smoked a pipe and doubted; but on an explanation being
given by Mr. Solomon Single-Eye, of all its advantages, accompanied
with a prompt offer to embark HIS _whole fortune_, and give his
services for nothing, the shares were eagerly caught up. And as the
scheme rose in public estimation, the shares rose in nominal value,
greatly above their subscription price; and such was the clamor for
more, that the directors—having nothing in view but the public
good—disinterestedly consented to sell out theirs at an advance of
only seventy-five per cent., in order to appease public opinion,
in respect of their apparent partiality in having retained any for
themselves. Still, however, the inquiry for shares was eager and
constant, so great was the public confidence in the integrity and
shrewdness of the directors, and of Mr. Single-Eye, particularly.

At this juncture, Mr. Jacob Broker opened an office near the
wall-street, that was to be, for the sale and purchase of shares.

                        MR. JACOB BROKER.

Mr. Broker was a man of great shrewdness and penetration. His
education, to be sure, had been somewhat neglected, having been
superintended in his youth by a strolling professor of the “black
art,” whom to follow, he ran away from home at the age of fourteen.
But his genius was of that universal kind which all men desire and but
few possess—and hence the facility with which he adapted himself to
his new employment. His initiation into the black art now stood him
instead of capital, and made it easy for him to convince the honest
Dutchmen of his power to turn “metals of drossiest ore to purest gold.”
To him, therefore, they all went, whether to buy or to sell shares
in the Wall-street Stock Company. And as he had often learned by the
sad vicissitudes of life, the necessity of turning an honest penny
for himself, he reasoned as all philosophers would do in the same
circumstances, “that if he took not the tide of fortune at its flood,
he might again suffer under the same unhappy conviction.” In other
words, he thought, and acted accordingly, that if he did not embrace
the opportunity to improve his fortune when it offered, it might
never present itself again. He shrewdly guessed that he might greatly
aid the rise in the value of the shares by appearing to be _entirely
disinterested_—while at the same time he contrived, generally, to be
the real purchaser when people employed him to sell, and the seller
when they employed him to buy: by which means, as the stock gradually
rose in the market,—the commission being considerable, the profit
more—and as he bought and sold the whole number of shares several
times over, he was enabled to abstract from the pockets of the honest
Dutchmen and placing it in his own, in solid cash, nearly the whole
amount of the nominal rise in value on all the shares.


He was of course a man of substance, made so by his wits, and at the
expense of the burghers of New-York.

That he was a strictly honest man, is quite certain; for his old
master of the “black art” is known to have said, that when he paid
him a secret visit, and suggested the propriety of manufacturing
a few certificates of shares, to meet the urgency of demand, Jacob
replied, that “if detected it would spoil the profits of his trade, and
therefore, in honor, he could not consent to the proposal.”

He honestly paid his debts, also, for the same reason, and as a man of
public spirit, lent his means to assist in building the “old jail,” to
confine all those rogues in, who could not pay theirs.

                      PRINCIPLES OF TRADE.

To be sure, he acted on the principle that there is no friendship in
trade, and that a bargain is a bargain, however made, and must be
fulfilled. What if his customers _did_ pay him a commission? he sold
only his services, not his wits; and them he had a right to use for
his own benefit. He had long since learned, in his profession of the
“black art,” that the measure of success depended on the closeness of
his secret, and if people did not know his arts, he thought it but
right that they should pay for being amused by them; and following this
mode of reasoning, in the scale of progression upward to the higher
sciences, he judged rightly, “that if people were ignorant they must
pay for instruction.”

                       MORAL REFLECTIONS.

Skilfulness in trade was, in his opinion, justly placed at the head of
moral science, of which he had now become a professor; and why should
he be expected to impart what he knew without a “quid pro quo?” Not he;
but rather following the plain dictates of wisdom, he would learn all
he could, and impart nothing.

If he knew better how to make a bargain than his customers did, that
was their fault, not his. People should look before they leap, and look
too with their own eyes, not attempt to borrow his; they should know
his mode of business before they came to him; not come and complain

These reflections while they clearly show the astuteness of his
mind, also suggest the reasons why stock rose rapidly; and point
out the means by which Mr. Broker pocketed nearly all the advance
himself,—without ever retaining more than ten shares in his hands at
any one time.

In time Mr. Broker became a sage, and, as a fruit of his wisdom, left
behind him a code of laws which have ever since been the standard of

                     VIRTUE OF CORPORATIONS.

We shall have frequent occasion to refer to points in this code,
but, for the present, will only mention, that he improved upon the
great Lacedemonian, who is said to have made a law that placed the
crime of stealing only in detection—Mr. Broker placed it only in the
punishment. It was of no consequence that a man should be found out
in his roguery—that only established his character for shrewdness—a
word of modern coinage, which some silly and old fashioned people have
supposed to be, only a mitigated term for dishonesty. He never became
a criminal until the law reached him with punishment; and the merit of
his character, as well as the measure of his success, depended entirely
on the length he could go, and the frequency of his exploits, and still
escape the lash of the law.—And herein is seen the peculiar virtue
and particular wisdom of those contrivances called Corporations, and
Joint Stock Companies, of which Mr. Broker was a great encourager. An
ingenious device, wherein an imaginary body alone is made accountable
for the acts of its members; while the real actors may hide behind it,
as long as it has power to protect them, and scamper off without fear,
when it has not. It has also this peculiar property, that, when the
directors have taken to their heels, like the ignis-fatuus, the farther
you pursue it the farther it recedes; and he who follows it long will,
very likely, get stuck in the swamp from whose foul vapours it has been
generated: and, at most, if fairly got hold of, it is never found to
consist of any thing more than a worthless bit of parchment.


We have said that Mr. Broker was a man of universal genius. In proof of
which, he essentially improved the vocabulary of English; and in two
particulars, conclusively shew that Johnson and Buffon are in error,
viz.—that a Bear means a man who has no shares in the Stocks—one
stripped—in an em-bar-assed condition, and that a Bull means a man
who has more shares than he can keep, and has gored his neighbour to
procure them.

His was the first Broker’s office ever established in the city of
New York; and from him have descended all the race of brokers which
have since congregated in the region round about Wall Street. Whether
his posterity have answered Dr. Johnson’s[2] definition of the word
broker, viz: “A negotiator between two parties who contrives to cheat
both,” will be seen in the course of this history.


When the gallant Col. Nicholls had, in the name of the crown of Great
Britain, taken full possession of the city and territory of New
Amsterdam, and bestowed upon it the name of his patron the Duke of
York; by way of conciliating the Burghers, he left them undisturbed
in all their civil and domestic privileges, without embarrassing them
with the intricacies of British laws. And in those days of simple
legislation, the government had not yet learned the way to purchase
power, and make people dishonest, by selling corporate privileges. And
demagogues had not yet learned to claim the monopoly, as a reward for
their intrigues. Consequently, Mr. Single-Eye, and his coadjutors in
the matter of the Wall-street Stock Company, had the power of fixing
things all their own way; that is, they made all their own laws,
rules, and regulations, without let or hindrance of any kind. And so
ingeniously were they contrived, that, by their natural operation, the
money which came in by subscription, all leaked out again exactly at
the right place and at the right time. Since that time, the wisdom of
the Legislators of most of the states has decreed, that people shall
not associate in bodies for purposes of roguery, without first buying
a licence; and, under the name of Charters, they will sell licences to
cheat the public, as the Pope sells plenary indulgences, to replenish a
wasted Treasury, (_vide the great state of Pennsylvania and the U. S.

                   WHAT A DIRECTOR SHOULD BE.

It is worthy of remark and imitation, that neither the president nor
the cashier of the Wall-street Stock Company ever ran away with a
dollar of their money; so rigid a _surveillance_ did Mr. Single-Eye
keep over its affairs. Although nothing but a director himself, he
held the true doctrine, that directors should really be the head of an
institution, and that the president and cashier were merely heads of
the clerks. Mr. Single-Eye was moreover of opinion, that it was better
for a director to hustle the money into his own pocket, and make sure
of the gain, than to suffer another to do it, and incur the odium
himself. To be sure, he was somewhat at variance with Mr. Broker on
this point, but Single-Eye had the power, and there is nothing like
that for enforcing a good reason.

                     DEGENERACY OF OUR DAYS.

And here I cannot forbear to remark on the degeneracy of these days,
when directors so often give up all management to the presidents and
cashiers, thus leading them into temptation, and provoking them to
do that, which they might do themselves with greater safety, because
they are less immediately responsible. Alas! how many men, with their
families, have been ruined by this cruel lack of vigilance.

I should not have said so much on the origin of stock companies
and brokers, but that I thought it necessary, to a more perfect
understanding of what shall follow. Having said so much, it is proper
that I should make known the fate of this first attempt at stock
jobbing. And it is especially necessary that I should do so, for the
benefit of those widows and orphans, who have any doubts about the
entire safety of investing their little fortunes in the like securities.

Every body has read of the severe reproof once administered, by a
Spanish lady, to a gentleman who complained of the indelicacy of their
statuary. She told him that, had his own mind been pure, he would
never have discovered indelicacy in what was “true to nature.”

                        STOCK COMPANIES.

It is well known that stock companies, such as banks, insurance
companies, trust companies, and the like, are got up entirely by
disinterested men, for the purpose of affording an opportunity for
ladies of a “certain age,” widows, and orphans, to invest what little
funds they have in safety, with the certainty of a _moderate_ income.
Accordingly, whenever a company is started, and the stock _all_
subscribed for by the managers, this class of people are particularly
favored, in being permitted to purchase some shares at a trifling
premium of ten or fifteen per cent., and urged to take an interest
before they shall go higher. And then, after two or three years’
refusal to make any dividend, for fear they might spend it imprudently,
the same gentlemen who sold the stock, are willing to buy it back
again at a discount of only fifty per cent.; and the poor spinster is
perfectly satisfied of the safety of her investment, because, having
once parted with the money, she can never get it back again. This class
of stockholders are also particularly favored and acceptable, because
they never want to borrow, and never find fault with the management;
and if, by chance, they should suspect themselves to be badly used, a
tear shed in secret is the only complaint they ever make.

                   EVIL TO HIM WHO EVIL THINKS.

I will lay it down as a rule, therefore, that whoever distrusts the
integrity and good intentions of those gentlemen, who get up a stock
company, and collect within its vaults the widow’s mite and the
orphan’s support, is no better than the gentleman before alluded to,
whose perversion of the luxuries of taste flowed from the impurity of
his own mind.

                       A DIRECTOR A WEASLE.

Whenever any company is attempted to be established for purposes of
public improvement, it is always a prerequisite of success, that in
the programme, the expense should be set down at one half, and the
profits and advantages at double—and this mode of stating things,
although it varies from the actual result only three hundred per
cent., is sure to convince, and the public will eagerly catch at the
enterprise. The reason of this necessity is, that if the truth were
told in the first place, there would be little chance for management
in the stock, and none whatever of its being all taken up. But by this
_shrewd_ management, it generally happens that an original subscriber,
after having paid up in full his subscription, and two or three
assessments beyond, loses all confidence, and suffers all he has paid
to be forfeited to the company, rather than pay more. Thus the original
subscribers generally lose all their money; the stock is resold by
the company to some new comer, and the company, in the end, collect a
million capital upon a subscription of half that amount. And whoever
subscribes to a new fashioned bank, or a railroad, and does not find
the directors awake to this management, may hereafter say with truth
that he has caught a weasle asleep—there being no other difference
whatever in the vermin, than is expressed by the simple affixes _bi_
and _quadru_.

Such was the character of Mr. Single-Eye, of the Wall-street Stock
Company; and the number of similar institutions which now display their
gilded signs there by the same means, can only be told by multiplying
some of the numericals.

It so happened, however, that the Dutchmen, from their natural
stupidity and ingratitude, as Mr. Single-Eye averred—but, as some
suppose, from some lurking doubts of his virtue, and a spice of his
own cunning—after having paid seventy-five per cent. premium for their
stock, through the agency of Mr. Broker—could not be convinced of the
propriety of paying more in the shape of assessments, notwithstanding
Mr. Single-Eye, and his partners in the directorship, assured them that
all was right, and that the money had all been properly expended.


A committee of examination into the company’s affairs was therefore
appointed; whereupon Mr. Single-Eye, being grieved at such indignity
offered to his honor, took the “book of minutes” and walked off,
leaving the Dutchmen in a state of “confusion worse confounded,” from
which they never recovered: thereby establishing a precedent for the
tragedy lately enacted in the Water Works Bank, in this city—wherein,
if the directors of that institution had consulted the ancient
chronicles, they would never have tried to cover their own delinquency,
by a contemptible persecution of their late venerable cashier.

The committee of examination, without waiting to come to their senses,
adjourned “sine die.” The city wall had been broken down, and its
materials were all scattered about in delightful confusion. A complete
inroad had been made on the hitherto peaceful and happy homes of the
Dutchmen. They had lost all the money invested in the company, with the
melancholy satisfaction that it would cost them as much more to clear
away the rubbish; and the street was left to the slow progress of time,
to assume its present magnificent appearance.

                    HONORABLE END OF SINGLE-EYE.

It is remarkable, that such fatal results to the first experiment,
should not have proved a death blow to all similar enterprises in
future. But the Dutchmen overcame their misfortunes by patience and
industry. The memory of their wrongs was all washed away by the
soothing lethe of time, and their follies were all buried in the deep
dark valley of the land of forgetfulness. Mr. Single-Eye, and Mr.
Broker, ever afterwards fared sumptuously every day. They lived long
and died lamented; and the tablet to their memory, lately removed from
the Garden-street church yard, was inscribed with this motto: “Money is
good, fame is good, but to know how to improve the follies of others is
better than either.” And their descendants, learning wisdom from this
law, have ever since continued to follow their example.

                       THE MORRISON KENNEL.

And now, my dear readers, having initiated you into the origin of
stock companies and brokers, as well as the phrase and practice of
Wall-street, in my next chapter I will give you the history of the
“Morrison Kennel”—a company that has exhibited so many of the phases
of human nature, that some have said that “old Nick” must have had a
hand in it. If you expect that the dogs of this Kennel will prove to be
hounds, I will tell you beforehand, that they are the veriest puppies
in cowardice, treachery, and meanness, while they are perfect wolves in
voracity; as will be proved by the perfectly denuded bones of the dead
but stall-fed ass, which they have just forsaken.

If any one is curious to know from whence I got all this information,
I will tell him. I received it from a venerable chronicler of the
age, who has the old manuscript in his possession, and who now visits
Wall-street daily to mark the passing events. He has agreed to meet
me there every day for a week, where he will reveal to me the history
aforesaid, and such other matters as his experience and observation may


[2] See Boswell’s posthumous edition.

                            CHAPTER II.


It is a pleasure which comes gratefully home to the heart, when
contemplating the picture of human life, in whatever grade of society
or condition we view it, amongst the multitude that flit by us,
occasionally to see a being that stands out in bold and bright relief
to its dark shades.

On the second day of my visit to Wall-street, while sitting with my
venerable friend, the old gentleman, pointing to the street asked,
“do you see that man.”—“Yes,” I answered, “and I know him; he is a
man of honor, such as honor should be considered,—one of nature’s
noblemen; his word is as good as his bond, and his friendship is better
than either. He pays his debts because he promises, lends to oblige
his neighbor, and gives to benefit the receiver—he tells the truth
because it is right, and cheats nobody because it would be wrong.
He has gradually risen in wealth and credit, has the confidence of
every body, and amidst all the slime and filth that surround him, his
character stands untouched and unsullied by its poison.”

                  ONE HONEST MAN IN WALL-STREET.

He may be seen every day, at half past ten, going to the stock
exchange, with a book under his arm; and may be known by the breadth of
his foot, the swing of his legs, and the weight of his bottom. He will
occasionally appear in the course of this history, under the name of
Mr. Bottomly, and I hope his conduct will vindicate my description of
his character.

The old gentleman heard my remarks with apparent consent and pleasure,
which were indicated by a smile of satisfaction peculiar to himself;
but my silence was immediately commanded by a significant nod, with
a gesture of the hand, as much as to say “there are some things
however in Wall-street, which I know better than you do,” and he then
proceeded, agreeably to promise, to relate the history of the Morrison

                       THE VALUE OF A NAME.

The garrulity peculiar to men of his age, must excuse the frequent
introduction of remarks foreign to the narrative; and when I tell
my readers, that my friend is a man of deep reflection and high
toned moral sentiment, as well as acute observation, they will not
be surprised at his occasional illustration of fact by reference to

“The practice of the aborigines of this country,” said he, “of giving
names to men and things, indicative of their qualities and exploits, is
well considered savage. Since the day when the poet first propounded
the question ‘what’s in a name?’ mere moralists have been at fault. But
modern practical skill has discovered that there is much; and it was
left for the originators of the Morrison Kennel, to find out the best
use that could be made of it, viz: that it may be made to cover one
purpose under color of another—may gain credit for what it is not, and
shield from detection what it really is, or may gull a State with the
promise of improvement, and cheat the people of their money for their
credulity. In short, the advantages to a stock company of a judicious
choice of a name, are incalculable; not the least of which arises
from properly compounding it, so as to mean more things than one, as
the Morrison Kennel and Banking Company. One peculiar advantage of
this last is, that as the projectors are not always certain what they
will do, but intend to be governed by their success, they are thereby
enabled to shift their course to suit the breeze.”

                   WHY THIS WAS CALLED KENNEL.

“This company would probably never have attained the _soubriquet_ of
Kennel, a mere play upon the original sound, but for the remarkable
financial talents of Nicholas the 1st, profanely called old Nick, in
the first place, and its employment afterwards to help to hold up the
sides of the great bull dog of Pennsylvania, ycleped the U. S. Bank,
who had grown so weak from disease, that it was feared, without such
aid, his attempt to bark, would prove a concussion of air from the
wrong orifice. In other words it was feared, that without collateral
support, the first resumption would _not_ last as long as the second

“The circumstances which called into activity the financial talents
of Nicholas, deserve a particular notice, as they have an important
bearing on this history. And for that purpose, I must introduce to
you a gentleman well known in Wall-street; of amiable disposition,
gentlemanly deportment and honorable connections. His person may be
known from his resemblance to king Saul, being taller, by the head,
than any of his tribe of brokers, and, as he bears the appellative of
an immortalized Friend, and the signification will be descriptive of
his character, I will call him Mr. Friendly.”

                  MR. FRIENDLY AND HIS APPETITE.

“The only thing remarkable about this gentleman is, his extraordinary
appetite; from which, taken with his slender proportions, it has been
inferred by some, that, like the bird most avoided by sportsmen, his
alimentary canal consists only of a straight passage; for he has been
known to gorge and digest more stocks in one day, than the weight or
bulk of his whole body in the certificates.”

                      FRIENDLY’S CAUTION.

“With this introduction of a part of the ‘dramatis personæ,’—having
already described, with some particularity, the motive for, and the
manner of, getting up stock companies, with such parts of their general
management as can be interesting to the public—I will commence with
the Morrison Kennel, at that point when the causes for the activity
before alluded to commenced, viz: precisely at that time, when the
directors had expended the whole amount of capital subscribed, together
with a loan of seven hundred thousand dollars obtained in Holland, in
digging a ditch through the State of New Jersey, which served little
other purpose than to drown the Jersey farmers’ pigs—without any
one of the said directors having cleared more than fifty thousand
dollars out of the company, by means of contracts or otherwise—when
their credit was exhausted, the stock reduced in market to one fifth
its original cost, and the directors ready, on the first symptom
of alarm, to take to their heels for safety. Then, fortunately for
them, Mr. Friendly, desirous of improving his fortune, which at this
time he found to be in rather a waning condition, formed a scheme of
speculation in the stock, commensurate with the vastness of his own
desires; and, with this view, he began with the caution and finesse
of one who has a game to play. He first ascertained that some of the
directors were still in possession of a considerable amount of the
stock; whom he could, very probably, draw to his own interest by
endeavoring to aid them; and he then proceeded to the office of Mr.

                       CALLS ON BOTTOMLY.

“Good morning, John,” said he, “how are you?”

“Pretty well Dan, how are you?”

“Hard up.”

“Hard up,” eh!—“No cornering, I hope”—“No,”—“dull times, no
movements, things are paralysed, very much.”

Mr. Friendly wished, and was therefore pleased, to find his neighbor
alone. So he sat down without ceremony. And after a variety of common
place remarks, he at length arrived at the point where he should
unburthen himself of his subject. His object was to enlist Mr. Bottomly
in his proposed speculation, and thereby secure his means, his
influence, and his interest in its favor.

“John,” said he, “the Morrison stock is very low, what do you think of

“That it sells for more than it is worth.”

“That may be, but a thing is worth what it will bring.”

“The seller always thinks so, but the buyer sometimes finds that he has
paid too dear for the whistle.”

                     TWO WISE HEADS TOGETHER.

“What would you think, John, to see the Morrison at 75.”

“I should think very strange.”

“Stranger things have happened though, John. I have a mind to move in
the Morrison, what say you to join me?”

“What do you propose?”

“Why, you have the means,—the stock may be had at twenty, and a
hundred thousand dollars would control the whole of it. It must be done
quietly; and then by contracting on time we should have the power to
deliver without loss when we sold; and by making three contracts to
receive to one to deliver, we can make them pay whatever difference we

“That would be too much power to get in our hands, Dan, would it not?”

“True, it would not answer to trust every man with so much; but in your
hands and mine, I think we would not abuse it.”

“What amount of exaction do you think would be an abuse of such power?”

“Why, it would be wrong to take more than two hundred per cent. profit,
unless we got hold of some one who could well afford it.”

“But that would be using force to appropriate other people’s money to
our own use. I think it would not be justifiable.”

                           PLAN CHANGED.

Mr. Friendly, though not devoid of sound sense and a good judgment,
usually suffered his eagerness for speculation to blind his mind to
every probable result but the glitter of gain. He had never looked
on the subject in this light before. He intended nothing but a “fair
business transaction,” and was desirous that his friend Bottomly should
share in its success. His mind revolted at doing a positive wrong;
he therefore abandoned his plan, but adopted another on the instant,
which though less culpable on his part, was in the end productive of an
equal degree of evil. Always quick and decided in his actions, he said
“well John, you are always right-minded, though you are sometimes wrong
headed, we will say no more of this plan for the present; but I think
well of a speculation, and therefore you shall buy me five hundred
shares to day at ‘the board,’ I will send you in a check for ‘ten up,’
and the rest we will arrange to-morrow.”

                         THE BANK PARLOR.

Having decided upon his plan of action, Mr. Friendly then immediately,
sought the directors who held stock. Fortunately he found them all in
the bank parlour. They had just been talking over the affairs of the
company, I will not say that they had been discussing its affairs,
for their conversation was like any thing else but a discussion, and
consisted of sundry expletives directed principally against their
predecessors in office. And here let it be remembered, that those
gentlemen, whose ambition had led them to desire such a post of honor,
were but newly installed in their places. And, having purchased stock
to procure their election, with knowing but very little about the real
state of the company’s affairs, they were now unable to get rid of it,
and were lamenting their folly and cursing the authors of it. For be
it known, that their ambition and vanity had been stimulated by their
predecessors before the election, to induce those gentlemen to seek a
post which they wished to abandon themselves, knowing that sooner or
later it would disgrace them.

Mr. Friendly disclosed his errand at once, and was well received.


He said he was apprised of a speculation going on in the stock of the
Morrison; he intended to embark in it—wished them to hold back their
stock, and aid his views in effecting a rise, and he would aid them in
disposing of theirs at the right time. He did not tell them that he was
the sole author of the speculation; he modestly forebore that, under
the plea that he did not feel at liberty to tell all that he knew. But
the directors were almost immediately confirmed in their good opinion
of his knowledge and sagacity, as well as of his intention to do them
a service, by hearing of the large purchases of Mr. Bottomly, at a
considerable advance on the previous market value.

It is curious, as well as amusing, to see how many and how slight
causes sometimes tend to aid or to frustrate a speculator in his

There is a set of proscribed men in Wall-street, who were once
brokers, professionally, and are now broken in reputation, credit and
finances—having no means but what they have kept from their creditors,
and—being expelled from the exchange board for defalcation or bad
conduct—they still linger round their old haunts, and carry on a
system of gambling in what are termed fancy stocks, through which
they contrive occasionally to entrap and empty the purse of some
newcomer, or filch each other of their ill retained means, until each
in his turn gets placed on the “black list,” which is the final seal
of reprobation, and in Wall-street signifies—“that whoever deals with
that man, shall himself not be dealt with by any one.”


These gentry may be seen, daily, in squads of three, four, and five,
standing on the side walks, or on the steps of the large offices,
talking vociferously, and making such bids and offers in the funds, as
that one not knowing better, would suppose that each held the finances
of the country in his palm.

One of them, whom I will call Mr. Eavesdropper, had his ear timidly
placed at the key hole of the Stock Exchange, and heard Mr. Bottomly’s
bids for Morrison, which instantly infused such courage into his
mind, and activity into his limbs, that he went out, and before the
transactions of the board were publicly known, he had privately
contracted for the delivery of a large number of shares; and then, to
aid his purpose in effecting a further rise, gave out that he was in
confidence with John Jacob Astor, or some one no less powerful, who
had determined to buy up the whole company.

                          MR. SPRIGGINS.

As soon as Mr. Friendly had returned to his office from the meeting of
the Board of Brokers, on the day I am speaking of, and, as is common,
had laid open on his outer desk, for public inspection, the record of
the transactions which had there taken place—in which he had carefully
noted all those in the stock of the Morrison—he walked out into the
street, where he encountered Mr. Spriggins, who, contrary to his wont,
for some cause, had not been present at the board that morning.

Mr. Spriggins is one of those gentlemen, whose conceit of himself
supplies the place of education, manners, and intellect, and he
accosted Mr. Friendly as follows:

“Dan, what does all this speculation in the Morrison mean?”

Mr. Friendly, whose polite manners encouraged the freedom of such men
as his friend Bottomly, held in contempt the rudeness of impudence,
and, instead of answering Spriggins, turned on his heel without
noticing him.

                          THE FEVER UP.

Spriggins, who could never imagine the existence of such a feeling
towards a gentleman like himself, attributed this treatment entirely
to another motive; and knowing Mr. Friendly’s speculative character,
he at once imagined that Friendly had a secret that he wished to keep,
and improve for his own benefit, and he immediately resolved in his
own mind to outwit him. Upon this impulse he hurried away to purchase
all the Morrison stock he could get hold of—which he did at a large
advance of price over the purchases of Mr. Bottomly; and when he had
done so, exultingly told Mr. Friendly that he was “not to be come
over.” “But never mind,” said he, “you can keep your secret now, Dan;
but if you are so disposed, as you know what is going on, we will
operate together.”

Mr. Friendly was not disposed to embrace this offer, liberal as it was,
and maintained such a reserve as excited still further the cupidity of
Spriggins. Meantime, having heard of the operations of Eavesdropper,
Mr. Friendly perceived that he had fairly put the match to a train
that, if properly fed, would lead to an explosion. But he resolved that
before it should happen, he would take good care of himself.


There is another set of men in Wall-street, which demand my
description. They have neither trade nor profession of any kind, and
if they ever had any, they have abandoned it. Some of them are of
that class called Gentlemen, who have married fortunes and squandered
them—some are broken merchants—some disgraced politicians—defunct
post masters, &c. &c.,—and all of them are Loafers. They have neither
wit enough to contrive, nor credit enough to carry out, a speculation:
but when one has begun, like that I am now describing, they may be
seen flocking in and out of the brokers’ offices—examining the stock
books—talking wisely of the nation’s affairs—each one pretending
to know more of finance than even Mr. Woodbury himself; and their
exuberance of knowledge is almost as luminously exhibited. Like flies
round a honey pot, each one is anxious for a sip, and according to his
slender means, pledges a hundred dollars, more or less, and orders his
broker to buy as many shares as he will upon this security. They thus
materially aid the great speculators; but the result to themselves
generally is, that their families or friends suffer precisely the
amount they have risked—and so it was in this instance.

                         DEEP IN FOR IT.

Mr. Friendly continued to purchase largely of the Morrison stock, which
increased the excitement, and continually advanced the price; and Mr.
Spriggins, nettled by Friendly’s reserve towards him, continued to be a
large purchaser also, and induced several of his friends to join him.

It ought to be observed here, that these purchases were generally made
“on time:” that is, the stock was agreed to be delivered at a future
day. And it so happened that when Spriggins was the buyer, Mr. Friendly
was generally the seller, through some other persons, as his agents;
and he had taken care so to provide himself with stock, that he could
meet his contracts on time—not only without the danger of loss, but
with a certain profit.


So long as the stock maintained the very high price to which it had
now advanced, all was well; but the time must come, when it would not,
and then, there was danger that Spriggins, and his compatriots in
the speculation, would not be able to fulfill their engagements. Mr.
Friendly, therefore, as a stimulant to the action of Spriggins, and
to prepare for the denouement, hinted to him that, as the stock had
now so much increased in value, probably Nicholas the 1st would loan
money liberally upon it; and, as the stock must rise still more, such
an accommodation would be very desirable, to enable one to hold it. He
dropped this hint in such a way, as led Spriggins to believe that he
intended to make the application for himself. He had really, however,
no intention of asking such a favor, for such a purpose, but he knew
well what the effect of such a suggestion would be with Spriggins,
and—as he expected—the dapper gentleman immediately started, post
haste, for Philadelphia, and succeeded in obtaining from Nicholas,
the promise of a loan of one hundred and fifty thousand dollars, on
stock of the Morrison, which, six weeks before, was not worth, in the
market, one-fourth of that amount: that is, provided Mr. Spriggins
would negotiate half a million of dollars of the bonds of the U. S. B.,
payable in twelve months from date; by which means, Nicholas cunningly
foresaw, that, instead of lending Spriggins, he should himself be
the borrower of no less a sum than three hundred and fifty thousand
dollars. But those were palmy days of credit: the bonds were all
negotiated with ease, and the Morrison stock transferred to Nicholas,
as security for the _loan_, as fast as the greedy purchases of Mr.
Spriggins could command the large amount necessary.

                     FRIENDLY’S PLAN CONSUMMATED.

Mr. Friendly now saw all his hopes about to be realized. By obtaining
the control of a very large amount of the stock at 20 to 25 per cent.
on the par, and stimulating the cupidity and self conceit of Spriggins,
he constantly went on buying ten shares at an increased price, and
always selling, through some one else, twenty shares to every ten
that he bought, until he succeeded in throwing the whole stock upon
Spriggins, and his associates, who, as we have seen, were supported by
Nicholas, in their mad speculation. And, in less than four months from
his first purchase, Mr. Friendly retired, with a clear profit of one
hundred thousand dollars, and the eternal gratitude of the directors of
the Morrison, whom he had assisted and relieved.

                      THE DIRECTORS STUCK FAST.

The directors of the Morrison rubbed their hands with glee, and treated
Mr. Friendly with the greatest respect, when they found that they had
got rid of all their stock, not only without loss, but at an enormous
profit. But then came the affairs of the company, which were not a whit
better now, than when the stock was depressed. In fact, they were every
day growing worse—for the interest on their enormous loans, was now
becoming due, and they had nothing to pay it with.

At a meeting of the board of directors, about the time we are speaking
of, for purposes of business, they all sat in silence, for some
minutes, looking at each other—each one wishing that his neighbor
might propose some remedy—and their hearts sank within them, as each
one successively uttered a desponding sigh at the poverty of his
invention, or—what was still worse to get over—the poverty of their
finances. At length, Mr. Faintheart proposed that they should all
resign, and let the affairs of the company take care of themselves.
This course—although so successfully practised some time afterwards by
their successors in office—did not suit the taste of Mr. Hold-on; who
said that “the public mind was not now prepared for such a movement.
A few years more, and the people will be more enlightened, and will
not expect directors to retain their seats when they have nothing to
gain by doing so. But, if we desert them now, the thing will be looked
into; we shall be accused of all the roguery that others before us have
done—we shall be hunted like rats. My motto, therefore, is, ‘don’t
give up the ship;’ and, as none of you propose a remedy, I suggest
that, as Nicholas now holds a large amount of the stock, perhaps he
will loan us a couple of hundred thousands, especially, if he is made
to believe that it is wanted to finish our works of improvement, and
that _when_ they are _finished_ it will improve the value of his stock
fifty per cent.”


The proposal was hailed with delight, and Mr. Hold-on was deputed to
manage the negotiation, which he did with the same success, in the same
manner, and on the same conditions, as did Mr. Spriggins.

This cunning device of Nicholas, always to be the borrower, when he
appeared to lend, is altogether a modern invention, and was very
successfully practised, a few years since, in an attempt to relieve the
merchants of New-York, and which, some have wickedly said, was used to
enable certain gentlemen to collect their private debts, and finally
went to relieve Nicholas of his money, by throwing the same debts upon
him. Be that as it may, it is universally admitted that Nicholas was
the first inventor of a bank, whose business was to borrow, instead of
lending, money.

                      OLD NICK’S SHREWDNESS.

By these master strokes of policy, Nicholas came into possession of a
claim of two hundred thousand dollars against the Morrison, and held
an equal amount of their stock, both which in six months afterwards he
found to be not worth a farthing. To these circumstances it was owing,
that, through his influence, the Morrison Kennel was afterwards revived
with great splendor, and scenes were enacted, which, though they have
caused many a tear of grief to flow, will, I hope, not fail to excite
your laughter by their relation.

My venerable friend here excused himself on account of fatigue, but
with the assurance that, at our next meeting, he would introduce
me to some new and original characters, and also tell me about the
negotiation of a great state loan—how the directors of the Morrison
helped to nurse the great “bull dog” of Pennsylvania in his sickness,
and how they all ran away, when they found he was likely to die,
together with some account of his disease, and his last moments.

                    HOW THE OPERATORS CAME OUT.

If any one is curious to know what became of Messrs. Friendly,
Spriggins, and Eavesdropper, after their figure in the Speculation, I
will take this opportunity to tell them, that what has here been said
is but a small part of the fame to which they are entitled; but it is
my business only to show the results of such things as I have related.

Mr. Friendly, as all good men do, spent his money liberally and
charitably. To a large circle, his house was the centre of politeness,
elegance, and hospitality; but his insatiable appetite for speculation
ruined him at last, as it does all others; at least, he is so far
ruined, that until another speculation shall turn out like the
Morrison, he will be content to practice economy. Mr. Spriggins set
up his carriage on his anticipated profits, and was let down from it
before his coachman had fairly mounted his livery; and report says that
he has since done the same thing three times over. Mr. Eavesdropper
ran wild with his first success, and, in the end, only arrived one
stride nearer the “black list.” And exactly one hundred and forty
others were made poorer than they were before, by the whole amount
which they put at risk.

                       RESULTS OF GAMBLING.

If the mischiefs arising from this species of gambling were confined
to those who set that kind of speculation on foot, or who make it the
business of their lives, there would be nothing to lament. But such
is not the fact. The whirlwind naturally sweeps everything within its
influence, and over which it has power, to its centre. Hundreds, nay
thousands, allured by the success of a few, are induced to embark in
the rash adventure. They are unacquainted with the real character or
causes of the fluctuations, and even if they are not ignorant, they
are liable to be outwitted by some of the hundred minds that are
continually plotting against them. Here is the fruitful source of all
those defalcations of public officers—the purloining of money by
officers, and clerks of institutions which have so much multiplied of
late—inflicting misery on the families, and disgrace on the names of
many a once honorable man.


The business is showy and fascinating, its temptations subtle and
alluring. Young and enterprising merchants embark in it, and find that
they have lost their money and their credit, when it is too late to
repent. The hard working mechanic embarks a few hundred dollars, and
when he finds himself in debt and no means of paying, sees that he
has been outwitted, and that, if others have made money, he has lost
it. In fact that it is he, and others like him, who have assisted the
successful to pocket his profits. Women yield up the savings of years
to be invested in something, they know not what, and wail over their
folly and their credulity, when all their bright hopes have faded into
a worthless certificate. In fact it is only the loss sustained by such
as these that enables the operators, as they are termed, to accumulate,
or even to live by their business; for they could do neither the one
nor the other within themselves. And it will be found to be a necessary
consequence, that in all such speculations as that of which I have
endeavored to give but too faithful a picture, if one is made rich, a
hundred are made poor. In no country in the world, is the hazard of
stock gambling, so great as in this, where there is such a multitude
of stocks, based upon the schemes of individuals, and affected by the
ever changing prosperity of our growing, yet comparatively unsettled
condition; and where the capitals are often so small, that it is in
the power of two or three designing individuals to raise them above,
or depress them below, their real value, as may best suit their plans
or their convenience, thus often destroying the sole dependence of the
needy and helpless.

                            CHAPTER III.



Among the many schemes of finance that have disgraced our country, and
been fruitful sources of peculation, deserving the severe censure of
justice, and the ridicule of wit, there are none more prominent than
the bubble of state stocks. Time was when that name had a signification
of value; but a new era is now upon us, the end of which, “is
not yet.” The character of our western population is one of hardy
enterprise, and great intelligence in their own particular sphere;
but by some strange fatuity they have overrated their credit, and in
so doing, have overreached themselves. That confidence of a western
man which induces him to believe that he can “whip his weight in wild
cats,” is no vain boast, but the natural consequence of that hardihood,
of vigor that comes of their spirit of enterprise; and it is not to
be wondered at, that the thrift of their situation should inspire a
similar confidence in other matters.

                    HOW WISE MEN HAVE BEEN DUPED.

But, until they can learn to take better care of their credit, and
intrust the management of it to more skilful and experienced hands,
they will never cease to be cheated and dishonored. The following
detail by my venerable and facetious friend, of a negotiation for the
sale of state bonds, would be true to life, if it were not too feebly
described, for as I write only from recollection I find it impossible
to do justice to his humor.

                           BUTTONING UP.

“Before,” said he, “I proceed to the story of the state bonds, I must
first relate to you what changes took place in the Morrison.” As soon
as the speculation detailed yesterday had ceased, and Mr. Friendly had
fairly retired with his profits, the stock went down, down, down, and
not a purchaser for a single share could be found at any price; and
as soon as the whole class of small speculators perceived that they
had been “stuck,” aware of the injury the little credit they possessed
would sustain, if they were known to have met with a loss, they all
shut their mouths, except, that each one pitied his neighbor; and
strange as it may seem, not a man could be found in Wall-street, who
confessed the ownership of a share; where three weeks before there
were thousands. This is called “buttoning up,” and if any gentleman in
a certain predicament was ever surprised by a bevy of ladies suddenly
turning the corner, he will know something of the hurry felt, and the
nonchalance assumed, on this occasion.

                   NICK’S TALENTS AND COURTESY.

Six months from the time when Nicholas made the loans before spoken
of, he “found that the security was not worth a farthing.” If any one
is surprised that he should have been so improvident of safety, they
only need be told, that he is one of those men whose expansiveness
of mind, and splendid talents were at home only in great things. He
could grasp at millions, and sport with them as mere baubles; but the
dull and dry detail of investigating trifles, was fit occupation only
for meaner minds. And to the same splendid talents it was undoubtedly
owing, that in passing into retirement, he was enabled to discover
so much soundness and prosperity in the affairs of the U. S. Bank of
Pennsylvania, when nobody else could, and that the stockholders of that
institution, are so permanently fixed in an investment of a capital of
35 millions, that they will never get a dollar of it back again.

Nicholas, however, was a man of courtesy, and when on a visit to this
city, condescended to call on the directors of the Morrison. The money
borrowed by them, had been all expended; another instalment of interest
was becoming due, and nothing provided to pay it with. He met them in
the Bank parlor, with solemn faces, and like the Irishman’s owl, which
he feigned to be a parrot, they spoke not, but were thinking very hard.

                  THE D——L NOT TO BE FEARED.

“Well gentlemen,” said he, “what is the matter?” Mr. Faintheart,
always foremost to express discouragement, and always the last to aid
in relief, immediately replied. Why Mr. B. the D——l is to pay, and
we have no money. True, answered Nicholas, you owe _me_ a good deal of
money, but if that is all, it can no doubt be arranged.

Mr. Faintheart first blushed, then turned pale, rose from his seat, and
his knees smote together, when he perceived that he had unluckily hit
on the vulgar cognomen of Nicholas. Regarding the man with the highest
veneration, and even with fear, and unable himself to comprehend, how
so great a mind could exist, without more aid than falls to the lot
of common mortals, he secretly believed the profane allusion to be
a verity, and, in his fears, expecting a blow from the forked tail,
that would annihilate him at once, he was fain to ensconce himself
under the table. But perceiving that none of his comrades attempted
to run away, and that Nicholas himself sat in “the armed chair, calm
as a summer’s morning,” with a smile playing upon his countenance,
benignant as benevolence herself, he was re-assured; the purple came to
his nose again, and he stammered out, I beg pardon, I had no allusion
to—to—_you_, sir.

“Sit down, Mr. Faintheart,” said Nicholas, “your wit amuses us.”

Mr. Faintheart sat down, but was unable sufficiently to master his
disturbed, and mortified feelings, to utter another word.

                     EVERY MAN HAS HIS PRICE.

What further took place at this conference is not fully known, but
it is generally understood that, by the advice and influence of
Nicholas, it was then and there agreed, that, to revive the credit of
the Morrison, it was best to have a new official organization, and to
select for that purpose men of talent, shrewdness, property and credit.
But as few such could be found who were willing to act, common scandal
has affirmed, that resort was had to the principle, that “every man has
his price,” and that sums as high as ten thousand dollars were paid, in
more than one instance, to procure the requisite number, all of proper

All this took place soon after the period we are speaking of, and if,
by talent and shrewdness, is meant, the ability to obtain credit,
when none is merited, and to know how to appropriate the avails to
themselves, without incurring liability, with two or three honorable
exceptions, the selection of officers was a judicious one. All these,
however, were minor considerations, and when Nicholas saw his new
friends installed, with a prospect of reviving the credit of the
company, and not only recovering his debt, but obtaining a bolster
also, to support the weary head of his great Pet, his ends were nearly
answered. This was probably one of the encouragements which led to his
famous letter of resignation; and, since the cotton speculation is now
closed, and the commissions all realised, we must now leave him to
enjoy his taste for literature, botany, and horticulture, on the banks
of the Schuylkill.

                    FIGURES MAY BE MADE TO LIE.

A semi official statement of the affairs of the Morrison was now put
forth. This also is a plan of modern invention, not called for of yore;
and whenever it appears gratuitously, is always designed to support a
false credit. Its success depends on such a classification, division,
and subdivision of the items, that the figures will express the same
things three or four times over. In this instance it was properly done,
and accordingly, the stock and credit of the company were revived under
its influence.

                         NEW CHARACTERS.

And now, said my friend, it is time I should make you acquainted with
the gentlemen you saw this morning. The tall, spare, white haired
gentleman, with a scooping form, a down-cast look, and a contriving
countenance, is Mr. Bold Eno. You saw that he had an eye of fire; but
it is only a spark struck from a heart of flint, and a conscience of
steel. I have not much to say about him now, but he will figure by and
by. The next is a gentleman of more noble presence, and less of the
look of the d——l about him. His mouth is full of honied words, but
if you believe them all, they will very likely prove “sweet to the
taste but bitter in the belly.” His name is John-of-the-Field, which
signifies that he is a great sportsman; but his sports are chiefly
confined to shooting with the long gun. It has been said that he could
shoot round a corner; but that is a slander upon the truth, and arose
only from his dexterity, in always providing a corner, round which he
_can_ escape, whenever his favorite weapon throws wide of the mark.
He is a lover of the arts, and his soul melts at the dulcet sounds of
music. His politeness, and hospitality, can be measured only by his
love of power; and his opinion of himself is, that to make him the
“greatest and best” man alive, he needs only to have his own way.

                       A WESTERN FINANCIER.

The third gentleman, whose hat was a little slouched, and his coat
not of the most modern cut, who measured as much space at one stride
of his legs, as the other gentlemen measured at two, with his fist
doubled in his glove, expressive of his determination, and his wrath,
is Mr. Commissioner —— from the state of ——. In his early youth,
he left the land of his fathers, the land of steady habits, where he
had learned, (what every one learns there,) how to read and spell
correctly, with the rudiments of Pike and Murray, and fearless and
alone, treading the western wilderness in search of a more genial soil,
he established himself, where now a flourishing city spreads out her
next to queenly beauty. Of course he reapt golden fruits of his toil,
and opinions of his sagacity; in short he became, not unworthily, a
great man among them. The principal error of his mind, was, that being
born in comparative poverty, and accustomed to matter of fact dealing,
he regarded the stupendous bubbles of artificial credit and means, as
all real, and the men who managed them, as all abounding in riches,
and as honest as himself. He is now here, to see how far his improved
knowledge of finance may enable him to correct his past errors of

                      DINING PRELIMINARY, &C.

Two or three years ago, this same gentleman came here, by the way of
Philadelphia, being there recommended to the Morrison Kennel Company,
and others, to negotiate the sale of two millions of dollars, in state
bonds. On his arrival here, he made himself acquainted with all the
characters here introduced, and was “dined” by each in turn, with a
view to sound him as to his wishes and expectations.

The president of the company having been authorised to open
preliminaries of negotiation with the commissioner, the board of
directors was subsequently called together to hear the report; and, not
to offend the dignity of any one, who may fancy he recognises his own
character, I will abbreviate the names of those present, as follows,
viz: The Prest. and Messrs. J. G. S. T. and W., directors; and when all
had taken their seats, they proceeded to business, as follows:


PREST. Gentlemen: in conformity with your request, I have attended to
the duty imposed on me, and my report is—that in stubbornness, one
Hoosier is more than a match for us all.

“Ha, ha, ha!” all around the board.

G. Well, in cunning how does he stand, Mr. President?

PREST. Simple as a doe.

T. Then he can’t escape, G., if we turn him over to you.

G. Leave off your jokes, T.; this is not a place for them. Mr.
President, what says he to our proposal?

PREST. He likes it not; he wants more ready money than we possess—he
won’t budge.

S. But, if we could get possession of the bonds, I think I could make a
private advance.

T. (_aside._) Yes, no doubt, and a private profit, too.

G. Does he object to our credit, Mr. President.

PREST. Not at all; he has the most perfect confidence; that was cared
for at Philadelphia, before he came here.

J. Can’t we come over him with champagne?

                  PLANS, HARD NAMES, AND FLOORING.

T. If we had less sham here, I think it would be better.

J. But, it is our only chance; and, if we do not contrive to raise some
active means soon, we shall never accomplish our designs.

T. And, if you are not quick about it, John-of-the-Field will outwit
you all.

J. What says Mr. Bold Eno?

G. He is throwing cold water, and I suspect he is attacking our credit.

J. Tell the commissioner, then, that we will mortgage the Kennel to him.

G. But, it is mortgaged already.

S. No matter, tell him it is only for 700,000, and cost two millions
and a half.

T. Yes, and you can tell what became of some of the money, eh?

S. Mr. T., you are impertinent; do you accuse me sir, at this board.
Sir, you are a _scoundrel_.

Here Mr. T. brought round his right foot against the leg of the chair
in which Mr. S., who sat next him, was balancing himself with offended
dignity, and knocking it from under him, brought him to the floor, to
the very sensible uneasiness of his crupper, for some time afterwards.

                     AVOID INDIVIDUAL LIABILITY.

Mr. S. was a man of courage, in words only; it therefore evaporated
with what he had last spoken, and he dared not provoke his assailant
any further.

PREST. Gentlemen, I must use my prerogative! order—gentlemen, order!

W. Gentlemen, this is not what I expected; I must retire.

T. Well, W., I’ll go with you; rogues must bear to be told the truth,
without throwing back an insult, generally the best evidence of their

Messrs. W. and T. here retired, and the rest again took their seats.

PREST. Suppose, gentlemen, we send for Nicholas?

G. We are no longer dependant on him, and as it might eventuate in
our individual liability, if we go forward in this thing, it is my
opinion that it is the duty of the president to conduct the negotiation
officially on behalf of the company, and I therefore move a vote of the
board that he be directed accordingly.

PREST. Gentlemen, I have resigned one treasury department, sooner than
do another man’s bidding, and shall decline the service; I like not
this business much.

G. Suppose, then, gentlemen, that we resolve ourselves into a
committee, and call the commissioner in to-morrow.

The proposal being agreed to, the board adjourned, and Mr. S. still
suffering from the contusion of his lower spine, walked home with a
gait much as he would have done, had he chanced to have made a rent in
his nether integuments, on a windy day.

                        BREAKING UP—COLLOQUY.

As they went out, J. said, “Mr. G., look well that the commissioner has
not another interview with Bold Eno.”

“Never fear,” answered G.; “I have provided employment for him.”

While these things were going on in the parlor of the Morrison, the
commissioner sat in consultation with John-of-the-Field, and the
following colloquy took place between them:


JOHN. Mr. Commissioner, your State is one of great resources, I think.

COM. Undoubtedly, sir; surpassing that of any other State in the Union;
_i. e._ when they are fully developed.

JOHN. And you are taking the right course for that purpose. The example
of New-York, in internal improvements, has, by its success, given an
impulse throughout the country. In point of locality, you far exceed
us; but then, we have the capital _here_, which is our great advantage.

COM. Yes, sir, if we had the capital of New-York in the State of ——,
to carry out our plans of public improvement, in twenty years from
this, we should exceed her in population by a million.

JOHN. Yes, Mr. Commissioner, and your soil is so fertile, that when
they were completed, even the farmers of New-York would draw their
supplies from you, through the lakes, the Erie canal, and the Erie
railroad, which is now in progress, principally with that view.

Here John, perceiving a stare of surprise and doubt in the eye of the
commissioner, added, “_i. e._ provided they could turn their lands to
a better account, by the cultivation of products more congenial to the
poverty of their soil.”

COM. The view taken of the subject by our legislature, is, that if we
can borrow the capital now, to complete the works, the income from them
will so increase, with the increase of products and population, that
in twenty years they will pay the debt and interest, and leave a large
revenue to the State ever afterwards.

                           FEELING HIS WAY.

JOHN. I have always advised my friends to invest in the securities
of the Western States, as being the safest they could make; and many
of them are large capitalists, who frequently ask my advice in such
matters. I think if I had the agency of all the Western States, in this
market, I could save them a great deal of money in their negotiations.
Their debts being only about forty millions, the management of them
would relieve me from too much leisure, which I find rather irksome,
since I retired from the active superintendance of a large institution

COM. Perhaps the best introduction to such an arrangement, would be,
for you to take up the loan now offered.

JOHN. Well, my investments, latterly, have been very large, which I
would not like to disturb at present, but if it would _accommodate_
you, I would take the matter of 300,000 dollars of the bonds, at par;
but then, I should pay you 200,000 in the stock of the Long Island
Railroad at par, and the balance in six months. This railroad is
estimated to be the most promising stock in the country; and its
friends are sanguine, that _when_ completed, and in operation, the
stock will be worth, at least, 250 per cent., and produce an interest
of, at least, 20 per cent. per annum. The original capital was but
700,000, and with that capital, and the income of the portion already
finished, say only about one-third the distance, the company has
already expended one million and a half—_i. e._, including a small
debt still outstanding. I would not part with the stock for any other
purpose than to oblige you—being anxious to facilitate the interest of
all the Western States.

COM. My object, sir, is ready funds; they are wanted for immediate
disbursement, to about the amount you speak of; if that could be
arranged, terms could be made for the balance.

                      JOHN OVERSHOOTS HIS MARK.

JOHN. Well, Mr. Commissioner, if that is the object with you, I think I
could arrange for 300,000, and give you Mississippi funds at par. The
State would, of course, give me some additional security, and you would
deposite the remainder of the 2,000,000 of the bonds with me for sale.
My commission would be very reasonable.

COM. Why, sir, if the security of the whole State is not good, they
have nothing else to offer. However, I will think of your offer of
Mississippi funds. I have another call to make—so, good morning, sir.

As soon as the commissioner had left, John held this soliloquy with

                       HIS SOLILOQUY THEREUPON.

“I am afraid I have overshot the mark. That asking security was a bad
affair; but then, I am so in the habit of asking six or eight for one,
hang me if I could resist it in this instance. The railroad stock, too:
if he should inquire about it, ‘he’ll smoke me.’ Two hundred thousand
dollars!—why, I’ve got but ten shares; but then, I could buy the rest
at five dollars a share. A _small debt_ they owe, indeed—ha, ha,
ha. I have no doubt those they owe would be glad to make it small. A
promising company!—yes, they promise every thing, and perform nothing.
They will never divide one-twentieth of one per cent.; and then,
the Mississippi funds, too—I wish I had said at a small discount,
instead of par; and then I could have fixed it at one per cent., which
certainly would have been small enough, for I can buy them at 30 off.
Confound my avarice—I’ve made a miss-fire. The fellow is tame as
a spaniel—but then, he’s no fool; how he stared, when I puffed his
State; he didn’t believe me. If he talks about this, I’m ruined; but
then, I’ll deny it all, when he’s gone.”

                            HIS GAME UP.

When the commissioner went out, he proceeded to the office of Mr.
Bottomly, where, upon inquiry, he learned the truth, viz: that
Mississippi funds were at 30 per cent. discount, and that Long Island
Railroad was worth 5 dollars a share, instead of 100. Of course, all
further negotiation with John ceased, and that gentleman was left to
wait the arrival of a commissioner from some state still farther west,
with whom his persuasive flattery, tempered by experience in its use,
would be more effectual. And here I leave him, to the disposal of
_him_, whom the State has adjudged to possess a wiser head than mine.

                     HOW TO “COME OVER” A MAN.

The commissioner, when he left the office of Mr. Bottomly, encountered
Mr. G., who, as we have seen, had just left the parlor of the Morrison.
G. seized him by the arm, and insisted that he should go home and dine
with him. It was the intention of the commissioner, to have gone
immediately to Mr. Bold Eno, whose advice he now began to consider a
salvo against the tricks and managements of others; not in the least
imagining that, should he once get in the clutches of that gentleman,
it would be like escaping from the thievishness of apes, to throw
himself into the embrace of a Bear. Such an interview was precisely
what G. desired to prevent, and consequently, he was persuasive to a
degree that common sense, in polite society, would denominate rudeness.
The commissioner, who, in days gone by, had often urged the weary
traveller to partake of the bounty of his board, or accept the shelter
of his roof, and whose open heart and hand still made the luxuries of
his table the common property of his friends, had no idea of such a
perversion of the rights of hospitality, as a prostitution of them to
the sordid purposes of interest. He was therefore persuaded; and once
at home with G., he was there detained through the day and evening, and
regaled with savory viands—“taste after taste with kindliest change
upheld,” with flowing nectar, dulcet creams, and the sweet sounds
of music, with beauty’s winning smiles, till his brain whirled with
pleasure and delight.

                    GOOD EFFECTS OF HOSPITALITY.

It is not my business to record what further took place on that day and
evening; how many friends accidentally came in, to enliven the scene,
and how certain gentlemen, who were introduced to the commissioner,
poured flattery into his ear. It is enough that the deed was done,
and in the mind of the commissioner, the character of Mr. G. was
established, as the most disinterested, polite, gentlemanly, agreeable,
hospitable, and honest, of men; and to his guidance he therefore
submitted himself.

On the following morning, agreeably to the preconcerted plan, the
commissioner, having been notified, attended at the office of the
Morrison, at the appointed hour: and, in the mean time, Messrs. G. and
S. having agreed between themselves to raise the amount immediately
wanted by the commissioner, little remained to be done. Terms were at
once agreed upon—two millions of bonds were deposited in the vaults of
the Morrison, and in a few days the commissioner started for the State
of ——, with 250,000 dollars in good cash, and highly gratified with
his reception and success. How much of the balance the State has ever
received, the condition of their treasury will best explain. Certain
it is, that the embarrassment, which, in more than one instance, has
followed similar transactions, has been severely felt, and will be well
remembered by our Western brethren.

                       A WORD ABOUT THE WEST.

And here—politics aside—a question may well be asked, which every
man can answer for himself, so far as opinion goes. Have not the
inexperience and inefficiency of some of their agents, and the
villainy and irresponsibility of those with whom they have negotiated,
contributed more to induce a proposition, in some of the States, to
disgrace themselves by repudiating their debts, than any want of a
proper sense of honor among the men of the West? If such is admitted
to be the fact, it may, in some degree, excuse the rashness of their
tempers; but whoever entertains such a proposition, after a moment’s
reflection, would sell—not his own birth right—but his country and
his kin for a morsel of bread.

                      THE BUBBLE WELL BLOWN.

To the uninitiated, it will seem a singular circumstance, that a
company, without a dollar in their vaults, should undertake to loan
two millions; but they forget the maxim, that credit is the life of
business. This maxim formerly meant, that a credit, well sustained,
gave success to enterprise—but by its misapplication and misuse, it
has come to a different signification, viz: that the more one owes,
the more he has to sport with; and it was precisely on this principle,
that the Morrison Kennel contracted with the commissioner. It was only
carrying out, in another shape, the invention of Nicholas—“always
to be the borrower, when he appeared to lend.” They had now obtained
possession of 2,000,000 of the bonds of the State of ——, by advancing
only one eighth part of the amount. On the remainder, they could borrow
largely, and they were now prepared to wing aloft a new flight; their
gaseous inflation borne upward and onward by the breath of a fame of
their own creation; and they were not long in choosing which way they
should direct their course.


Some evil-minded people will perhaps begin to surmise that Nicholas
was the master-moving spirit in this matter, and that he was artfully
contriving to get his pay of the Morrison at the expense of some one
else; perhaps of that nondescript body called the public. Only one
thing, however, is certain; he did get his pay but as every story has
a sequel, this will be found to have one also. If the Morrison did
not lend him the State Bonds to support his own credit abroad, and
then rally their own, by negotiating his bonds, appearances and common
fame, whose poisoned breath we admit is no standard of truth, were
certainly against them. On what principle matters were arranged between
them, is not certainly known; but it is now matter of history that a
system of issuing bonds, certificates, endorsing and counter endorsing,
exchange and re-exchange, was adopted, by which they drew together a
large amount of capital, and both became proud examples of the splendid
results which a single inventive genius, like Fulton in steam, or
Nicholas in finance, may produce. The affection existing between them
was equalled only by the rivalry shown by each, in offices of kindness
to the other.

                    CHARITY BEGINNING AT HOME.

The little responsibilities of endorsing or negotiating a million or
two of bonds or certificates, were all undertaken and performed as
mere offices of love. What if they were moved to such kindness by
the promise, or the hope, of a reciprocal support? it but proves the
excellence of their hearts, and the nearer approach to that command
of the Master, that we “love our enemies,” and it is for such things
only that we have _reward_. _Their_ duty was to protect the commercial
interests, of which they each considered themselves as the head; and,
therefore, the first rule of propriety, and the first law of nature,
imposed upon them the necessity of first taking care of themselves,
individually, and their liberality in this respect cannot be too highly
commended. _They_ had a facility for raising money that other people
had not, and duty required that _they_ should enable their debtors to
pay them; and if, in the accommodations necessarily granted for that
purpose, the Morrison should lose a few hundred thousands, nobody would
ever know how it had been lost. The stockholders, a vagabond race
scattered over the face of the earth, whom nobody knows, would have
to bear it; and, (aside,) perhaps they could screen themselves, and
protect the Morrison, by throwing it all upon Nicholas, should things
go wrong. After all, what was such a loss, compared with the importance
and public benefit of supporting the _commercial_ _interest_.

                         A CURE FOR HYPO.

It was not to be considered for a moment, and the wisdom of this
conclusion was shortly made apparent in its effects. One gentleman is
known to have recovered entirely from a nervous hypochondriacism, so
severe, that his cheek blanched at the sight of his bill-book, and his
rotund proportions shrank to the circumference of an eel, from the
self-denial consequent upon poverty—or, what is more probable, the
chagrin of disappointed ambition. But we are told that “the just shall
inherit the earth,” and so it was in this instance; it having been
affirmed, in vindication of this rule, that his reduced diameter, and
assimilation to the animal aforesaid, enabled him to slide the easier
between the sheriff and his conscience; and while his neighbors, one
after another, were tumbling over the precipice of ruin, he was saved
from being knocked down in their fall, by quietly reposing beneath the
shade of the Morrison.

But I am growing too elaborate of description, and must bring this part
of my story to a close. The subjects and material of the picture I am
contemplating, are so numerous, and fruitful of thought, that it is
difficult to decide which to choose, or where to stop; but the colors
are too gross, and weary the eye and the mind. Besides, I hate to
individualise, and must request my readers to bear in mind, that in the
characters here described, _nobody_ whatever is meant; and should they
remember ever to have seen such a character as either of them, I must
beg them to bury the memory of their follies beneath their more private
and superior virtues, should they be found to have any; and if they are
penitent, to throw the mantle of charity over the past, and screen them
from the rude gaze of scrutiny.


The time was now fast approaching when the boluses administered by the
Kennel physicians, could no longer support the weakened constitution
of Pennsylvania’s great pet; and what was of more importance, in the
opinion of the Kennel directors, his credit was no longer sufficient to
support _them_.

Nicholas the first had retired from his charge, to fatten upon his
laurels; Alas! that they should have faded so soon, and left him
nothing but dry leaves whereon to feed his morbid appetite.

Mr. Done-up had succeeded to his place as chief physician; his patient
had already suffered a relapse, and the symptoms were by no means
favorable. His physicians recommended a more generous diet, but both
shores of the Atlantic had already been dredged for dainties to satisfy
his hungry maw. Yet still he grew more rabid, and would swallow at a
gulp, what cost the labor of a year to procure.


In this dilemma, the curs of the Morrison, perceiving that although
they had paid the debt to Nicholas, contracted under the old direction,
_they had, in another shape, just doubled it under the new_—that each
of them had served _his own_ purpose, and that not one of them owned a
dollar in the Morrison or the U. S. B. they all resigned their seats,
and scampered away to their dens; where, it is to be hoped, that, for
the benefit of the coming generation, they will live and die in a good
old age. And may God them assoil, the stockholders and creditors of the
Morrison never will.

As I approach the conclusion of this chapter, my tale grows sadder, and
still more sad. All created beings and things, which have beginning,
must also have an end. Death lays his unpitying hand alike on man, and
every monument of his greatness.

                     A TOUCH OF THE PATHETIC.

We wonder at the duration of our own existence; that the term of our
lives should witness the pride of a powerful state; the successful
opposer of the conqueror of armies, and the controller of millions,
to dwell only in memory. Yet the sad tale has met our ear, that the
U. S. B. of P. is no more.—That pillar of the currency that some
thought was based on a rock of ages—that nursing mother, who would
fain have gathered the whole nation, as a hen gathereth her brood under
her wings—that giant of ubiquity, that dwelt in every town and city,
a very mastodon in power, and a mastiff in watchfulness—deserted by
his friends, persecuted by his enemies, and cheated by all—expired at
Philadelphia on the 5th of Feb. A. D. 1841, after one long and piteous
howl of 20 days and 6 hours, in the 5th year of his age.

The power of sympathy is one of the remarkable properties of life,
throughout all animate and inanimate creation; and it is a circumstance
worthy of note, that, at the moment of his expiring, every inferior
cur, from New York to New Orleans, gave one loud and piercing yell,
and laid himself down in his den. Throughout the land, old men bowed
themselves in sorrow, widows wailed in secret, children began to cry
for bread, girls in their teens shed salt tears, lest the fall of
stocks should loose them their sweethearts, and a thousand and one
ancient virgins retired in privacy to count their rosaries; not with
catholic piety and reverence, but to see how much remained in the

                        A SHOW OF REASON.

My readers will be surprised, that I should apply the incongruous
and unmusical name of bull dog to the U. S. B.; but I must beg them
to recollect that I am in Wall-street, that this is Wall-street
language, and that no other would be understood here. And as this was
the name under which we first made his acquaintance, for the sake of
consistency, I must carry out the figure. And to redeem my promise, it
only remains that I should give some account of his disease.

For the benefit of science, and the coming generation, it is to be
regretted that those who have his body in keeping, have refused a
post-mortem examination.[3] Mr. Done-up, the chief physician, insists
that he is not dead, and that he will have him kept for a year and
a day, for experiments of the galvanic battery, electro-magnetic
suspension, and such other inventions and restoratives as his skill
may suggest. But it is the opinion of Wall-street physicians, that the
doctor will never be able to do more than to embalm his body.


It is the opinion, also, of those who have had an opportunity of
observing his symptoms, that his disease was a species of cholera, a
sort of internal evacuation; or, to be more particular in explanation,
that while promises were going out one way, the specie was going out
the other; and that the too frequent gorging of stocks, state bonds,
cotton speculations, &c., had the effect, like Major Downing’s
elder-bark tea, to work both ways. One singular circumstance has
attended him throughout; which, as it is a reversal of the order of
nature, is worth mentioning. In his case, _corruption_ took place
long before death, and _mortification_ afterwards. His disease is
said to have had its origin in an overheating of the blood, in the
great contest about the deposites. But as this is a matter of some
dispute, I leave the point to be settled by the great successors of
their “illustrious predecessors”—Dr. Done-up of Philadelphia, and Dr.
Ran-down of Kinderhook, both of whom, it is supposed will now find
sufficient leisure, amicably to settle their differences.

                         PRACTICAL HINTS.

My friend, the relator of the foregoing, here left me abruptly again,
but as I am sure to find him in the same place to-morrow, I shall not
fail to make him a visit. What the subject of his conversation will be,
I cannot tell, but as he has found me a willing listener, I feel sure
that he will be as communicative as ever.

It was my intention, at the close of this chapter, to have expanded
a little on the great value to the public, of corporations, when in
the hands of men of talent, property, and credit, who can, without
responsibility to themselves, act for the benefit of the stockholders.
But, as I have already detained my readers too long, and since people
will think for themselves, right or wrong, if they ever chance to
think at all, I need give no further evidence of their utility, and
entire safety in such hands, than the following facts. Among all the
officers and directors of the Morrison Kennel, and the U. S. B.,
in which about forty millions of dollars have been totally sunk and
lost, not one of them ever failed, or lost a dollar in his individual
capacity; and, had the stockholders loaned their capital directly
to the merchants, through whom it will perhaps be said it has been
lost, instead of investing it in those stocks, they would have saved
in the last 25 years, only about 50 millions of dollars, in their
expenses, investments in unconvertible property for their splendid
accommodations, and losses consequent upon their management to sustain
themselves in a ruinous business.

                        THE WAY OF SAFETY.

But, since commerce has so organized herself, that such institutions
are necessary, if stockholders will not look after their own interest,
if they will allow their agents to pursue their own pleasure without
supervision, or accountability—if they will not employ as their
agents, such men as will have some reference to a good conscience, and
common sense, something besides selfishness in the performance of their
duty to their principals, and the public, they deserve to lose their


I have no wish to appear the censor of the past, or to make wise saws
for the future. But for the benefit of those who may have a little
money left to invest, I will give them, in few words, the experience
of thirty years. Every institution, established for the purpose of
creating capital, instead of investing that already possessed—every
one established for the purposes of speculation, or monopoly, of
any kind—or for the promotion of the interest of any particular
individuals—every one which contracts debts against itself beyond
the immediate means of paying, and thus loses its independence
of character—and every one which perverts its means from the
legitimate use, which, on a fair construction, was contemplated in its
creation—either has ruined, or sooner or later will ruin, itself, its
stockholders, and its customers.


[3] Since the above was written, the affairs of the U. S. B. have been
examined by a committee.

                            CHAPTER IV.


Before proceeding to relate the conversation of my friend this day, I
must first state a few facts, for the information of those who are not
already acquainted with them.

                       THE LAWLESS HAVE LAWS.

The Board of Brokers have many rules for their government; one of
which is—that, when a broker is employed by another person to buy or
sell stock on time, he has the right to give the name of his principal
within twenty-four hours, and then, if the other party is not satisfied
with the security, he is required to deposite ten per cent., or the
contract is cancelled. If the broker so employed, does not give
the name of his principal, he assumes the responsibility himself.
All contracts for the purchase or sale of stocks, on time, are, in
themselves, illegal; the contract cannot be enforced by any law, and
the only security that operators have for their fulfilment, is, that
rule of the board which expels a member, if he fails in his contracts.
Just as all gamblers may be supposed to expel a man from their society,
who takes up his winnings, but never pays his losses: or, upon the same
principle on which there is held to be honor among thieves—whoever
takes more than his share, is expelled from the gang.

Stocks sold on time, are seldom delivered; but, when the contract is
mature, the difference between the sale and the average market value
then, is paid over by the loser.

There are a few men of property, not brokers, who occasionally buy
fancy stocks in Wall-street, when money is scarce, and sell again
when it is more plenty, and reap a profit by it; but their number is
so small, that they have never attained the respectability of any
distinguishing name.

                   BULL-BACKERS AND BEAR-TRAPS.

There is a larger class, who sometimes control a good deal of money,
and who make speculation their business. These generally unite in
squads, for the purpose of _cornering_—which means, that they first
get the control of some particular stock, and then, by making a great
many contracts on time, compel the parties to pay whatever difference
they choose—or rather, I should say, whatever difference they can
get—for they sometimes overrate the weight of the purse of those
they contract with. These persons are denominated Bull-backers, or
Bear-traps, according to the nature of their operations. The first
signifies that they have bought stock largely, and hold it; and the
second, that they have sold stock which they have not got, and trust
to circumstances to be able to supply it. The brokers, themselves, in
these cases, are called Bulls and Bears.

There is another, and a much larger class, who, deceived by
appearances, come into the market without any knowledge of it, and
generally lose what they invest. These are called Flunkies.

With this elucidation of terms, I am ready to proceed with my friend’s
narrative, whom, true to his habit, I found at the spot, and anxious
for a listener; and, from the nature of his remarks, I am induced to
believe that he suspected me of some desire or design to enter on the
business of stock jobbing.


“If,” said he, “you have any intention of entering into business in
Wall-street, you ought first to know, that, although there are many
respectable men and firms here, who have accumulated property and
credit, by a long course of industry and application, as in any other
branch of business, there is, nevertheless, a very large class, who
look upon every new comer as a fit subject for their stratagems. And
very few such escape one of two extremes: either the loss of their
property, or a sacrifice of conscience, honor, honesty, and every noble
principle, to the mean and sordid one of getting money. The first
sacrifice you would be called upon to make, would be, confidence and
respect towards your neighbors—you must disbelieve every thing you
hear and see, and look upon every one as having a design on your purse:
no very comfortable position for an honest man.”


A very large portion of the stocks termed ‘fancies,’ and in which they
mostly deal, are entirely worthless in themselves; unlike articles of
merchandise, which may be seen and examined by the dealer, and which
always have an intrinsic value in every fluctuation of the market,
these stocks are wholly wrapped in mystery; no one knows any thing
about them, except the officers and directors of the companies, who,
from their position, are not the most likely men to tell you the truth.
They serve no other purpose, therefore, than as the representative of
value in stock gambling, which might just as well be wholly imaginary,
and of any other kind, as these; and you would soon learn, that the
reason why there is so much dealing in _depreciated_ stocks, and so
little in those which are solvent and at par, is this: Nearly all the
fluctuations in their prices, are artificial—a small fluctuation is
more easily produced than a large one, and as the calculations are
made on the par value, a fluctuation of one per cent. on a stock worth
only twenty dollars a share, is just five times as much on the amount
of money invested, as it would be on a par stock. Consequently, if a
‘Flunkie’ can be drawn in, he may be fleeced five times as quick in
these, as in good stocks.

                    HOW FALSE LIGHTS ARE SHOWN.

The arts and tricks resorted to, in this kind of gambling, are the
same as in all others. When the brokers and speculators engaged in
it, have no customers on whom to practice, and each one is shy of the
other, they lovingly play among themselves. To keep up appearances,
large transactions take place, which, by mutual understanding, are not
to be fulfilled, and like children at chequers, when the game is out,
the kernels are thrown into common stock again, and a new one begun.
And, strange as it may seem, these transactions are published in all
the commercial newspapers, and go forth to the world as the evidences
of value, and the condition of the money market, to deceive the unwary.
Every editor, who properly regards the welfare of the community, over
which his position gives him great influence, ought at once to refuse
the publication of any sale of stock, but such as are of standard and
intrinsic value; for it is by these means, that so many are drawn from
their regular pursuits, into ruinous speculations; when, if nothing but
truth were told them, they would stay at home, and save their money—to
say nothing of the mischief of idleness and dissipation, which the
habit of gambling engenders.

                         WHO IS TO BLAME.

I must not be understood as applying what I have said, or shall say,
to every man in Wall-street: far otherwise. Nor would I be understood
as applying it to brokers exclusively, or to any one in particular. I
only say, that if the coat I shall cut out suits any man’s shape and
dimensions, let him put it on. On the whole, the brokers are less to
blame than those who support them; and, if left to themselves, their
trade in fancy stocks would soon cease. If people will gamble, there
must be some place to do it, and some persons as directors, agents, and
co-partners in the business; and, until the people are reformed, it is
doubtful if Crockford, in London, and the brokers in Wall-street, are
not more honest and respectable than their supporters.

                         SECRETS LET OUT.

Stock gamblers of very small capital, often have contracts pending,
of many hundreds of thousands of dollars—they sometimes operate for
a rise, sometimes for a fall, of prices. In the first case they buy
deliverable at a future time, at a certain price. In the second, can
they sell in the same way. And, in either case, their profit or loss
depends on the rise or fall of the stock bought or sold; as, indeed,
all their profits do; for there is no such thing as a dealer’s profit
for the labor and risk of distribution, as in merchandise. The whole
process is a mere betting upon the future value. In this way, it will
be seen that the number of chances for gain or loss is just doubled,
as compared with dealers in merchandise, who always get what they buy,
and sell only what they have got. They frequently make a condition to
their time-contracts of “buyer’s option,” of “seller’s option,” which
means, that the person to whom the option is given, may, at any time
within the period of the term of sale, by giving one day’s notice,
call for the stocks, and this enables them to take advantage of any
temporary fluctuation which may happen, or which the parties interested
may be able to create. These circumstances easily explain the reason
why fortunes are often so suddenly made or lost in stocks. No system
could be devised better calculated than this is, to excite a gambling
propensity, and afford an opportunity for the exercise of ingenuity and

“But,” said my friend, “lest I should weary your patience, by too much
generalizing, and seriousness, I will inform you how Mr. Tell-it got
out of a bad speculation.”

                        A NO. 1. CHARACTER.

Mr. T. is a regular descendant of Mr. Jacob Broker, of the seventh
generation, and one that does honor to his ancestral renown. No greater
contradiction of terms can possibly be used, than exists between
his name and character, for he was never known to tell a thing that
he knew, however trifling. His conversation and answers are wholly
by interrogatory. When asked at what price he will sell, his answer
is, “what will you give?” and he never commits himself in a promise,
without first receiving a promise of another, or, what suits his taste
much better, something tangible in its stead. This peculiarity of mind
has led to one great virtue, to which I bear willing and honorable
testimony—he was never known to tell a lie. If people take false
impressions, it is because they assume false premises—if they indulge
in wrong opinions, it is because they have not been diligent enough
in search of truth—and, as he is a competitor for the great prize of
life, he cannot spend his time to correct other people’s deficiencies.

                           HIS CHARACTER.

His knowledge of men and things is regulated by their _properties_,
and his estimate of the proper pursuits of life has received a bias
from his literal construction of the Apocalypse, in which the streets
of the new Jerusalem are described as being of pure gold; and he
appears to regard the possession of it here, as the surest passport
on his way there. In exactness and punctuality, he is a model for
imitation. He generally operates “for a fall,” and, like his great
progenitor, his interest compels him to take pleasure rather in
demolishing than in building up. His assiduity and skill are such,
that, united with his great physical force, mechanically denominated
“_a purchase power_,” he can tear down more in one week, than the whole
fraternity can build up in a year; and he has been known to topple a
Bank, an Insurance company, a Railroad, or a whole bevy of brokers, by
a single application of his lever.

But such is the variety and opposition of interests created by the
multitude of heads, and the multiform opinions entertained by them,
the circumstances of which are varied by every transaction that takes
place, of which none but those concerned in them can have any control,
that the wittiest sometimes get outwitted, and the strongest outdone.

                           GETS TRAPPED.

Not long since, a squad of Bull-backers, had for some months been,
secretly, and unknown to Mr. T., getting control of a certain stock,
intending to “corner” some one with it; and, aware of Mr. T.’s tearing
down propensity, after due consultation, they laid a scheme whereby to
entrap him. Deputing an agent of well known paucity of dollars, they
sent him to Mr. T. to get a loan of money on a large amount of the
aforesaid stock. The loan was completed for the term of 90 days, Mr.
T. advancing two thirds the nominal value. Whether he had any ulterior
object, or not, in lending the money is not known; but, as he seldom
made such loans when such object did not sooner or later disclose
itself, it is suspected, that in this case, he looked beyond the
present bargain, and, believing that his debtors would be obliged to
sell the stock he held, for what it would bring, to pay his loan when
due, he commenced his operations for a fall in the stock, by selling
it all out. It so happened, however, that the Bull-backers aforesaid,
were the buyers of it, and this was just the snare into which they
desired to lead Mr. T., knowing that when their agent should pay up
his loan, and call for the stock, T. would be obliged to buy it of
them, at such increased prices, as they should dictate. And Mr. T. was
soon made sensible of his condition, by his debtor calling long before
the time, and offering to pay up the loan, and withdraw the Stock. He
was certainly surprised, but his quiet and collected manner betrayed
no emotion. And here I must render another tribute to his character.
He certainly bears his profits and losses well; as great men are said
to bear their honors and misfortunes, with unassuming and unrepining

The discovery of his situation however, called for the exercise of his
sagacity, and he modestly declined receiving the money, only saying,
that he preferred it should rest for the time agreed on.

                          IN A QUANDARY.

As soon as his debtor had gone out, he thrust his hands in his pockets,
his eyes resting on the floor in front, and sticking out his lips,
in a way which no other man does, he muttered to himself “I’m in a
bear-trap—this won’t do. The dogs will ‘come over’ me. I shall be
mulct in a loss. But I’ve got time—I’ll turn the scale, I’ll help the
bulls, operate for a rise, and draw in the flunkies.”

These men, I should have said before, have no other rule of judgment
for their operations than to follow in the wake of some great and
successful speculator. Mr. T. very properly regards them as sheep for
the slaughter; and although the milk of human kindness certainly is a
component of his heart, he makes no scruple of sacrificing a score of
them at a time. Why should he? for killed and eaten they certainly will
be by somebody: but they are a genitive race, and re-produce as fast as


Mr. T. had need of no further exertion, to accomplish his purpose, than
to make his course _manifest to them_, they all followed his apparent
lead, as sheep will follow one another over a wall, if they all fall
into a ditch on the other side. Even the wise man of Israel, by his own
confession, did not know every thing. “The way of the serpent on the
rock was too wonderful even for _him_,” and so in this case; the way
of their leader was to them, “past finding out.” But the secret of the
management necessary, in this case, is, to do just the opposite of what
one appears to do. Mr. T. therefore continued to operate visibly for
a fall, by selling out small sums for future delivery, which he took
care to have trumpeted by another, while he was very reserved himself.
He thus drew all the “flunkies” after him, as _they_ supposed, while
he was in reality the purchaser, through his agents, of all that they
contracted to sell, and by this means, before the expiration of the
loan, he was in possession of the stock to deliver, with a difference
of ten thousand dollars in his favor, against the flunkies.

                     EVILS OF TALKING IN SLEEP.

These things would never have been known, but that T. sometimes talks
in his sleep, and while chuckling over the ruse de guerre, he recounted
the whole story, and was overheard by his chum, who thought the joke
too good to be lost.

                    HOW BROKERS SOMETIMES FAIL.

And now, said my friend, as I am in the way of story telling, I will
tell you how money has been made, by doing a losing business. It
will have been seen already that the failure of a stock broker, does
not involve commercial dishonor. It is a mere acknowledgment, of his
inability to pay his _bets_, for debts they are not. When this has
happened, he suffers the penalty of being expelled from the board.
It then becomes the interest of those to whom differences are due,
(the term used for stock debts,) to get what they can and discharge
him. The amount he will be willing to pay, depends on three-fold
circumstances—the amount of means he possesses—his own sense of
obligation—and the credit and advantages he is to gain, by being
reinstated. And a settlement once made with his creditors, it becomes
the interest of all, to reinstate him; for society becomes disjointed,
by losing its prominent members.

When a broker operates for others, as his principals, he usually
requires a deposit of ten per cent., as security against loss. They
generally operate in different kinds of stock, some of which turn
favorably for their interest, and the differences are in their favor.
In others the difference is against them, according as their risks, or
their judgment, may have proved favorable, or unfavorable. Commonly
their operations are very large in amount, and it sometimes happens,
that the fluctuations are greater than the security, and by the
occurrence of some unforeseen event, like the recent failure of the
United States Bank, a fair adjustment of the differences against them,
would ruin all the parties, consequently, one or all of them must be

                      HOW THEY GET UP AGAIN.

Expediency, and interest dictate that it shall be but one, and that
one the broker. He consents, because it involves less dishonor with
him than the others. They can be screened by his defalcation, and, it
is equally his interest to take care of his customers, as himself. And
if he has not too delicate a conscience, (and all men have not,) the
way is now open for the following management. When differences are in
his favor, he may avow his principals, and the losers must pay, or
themselves suffer expulsion from the board. Where the differences are
against him, he may keep the responsibility to himself, and as they are
very large, he will be able to compromise them, for the ten per cent.
deposited, and perhaps less, if he has not been careful to exact the
security. And when the whole is adjusted, if the differences collected
exceed the ten per cent. paid, there is a profit to divide, among them
all. And, if these operations are not sometimes performed with a less
scrupulous regard to figures, suspicion has been guilty of a libel. I
do not say, that this is a common practice among the brokers, but the
power of doing, and the facility of screening it, are equivalent to an
invitation to rogues to embrace it, and all the world knows, how ready
_they_ are to seize an opportunity.

                       AMUSING OPERATIONS.

Although stock-speculators, generally, affect to be very secret, as
well as very cunning, in their dealings, they frequently contrive
to find out each other’s business, and the manner in which their
liabilities sometimes develope themselves is amusing. It lately
happened that two speculators, Mr. A. and Mr. B., had been operating
in different kinds of stock, and each of them thought he had a
considerable amount of profits to collect, and losses to pay; and
the whole having passed through a broker’s hands, neither of them
was supposed to know who the principals were. Circumstances led to a
comparing of notes, when it was found that their claims on each other
were so nearly balanced, that they settled it by offset. It is believed
that at least one of them intended to collect his profits, and back out
of his losses; but that the other, more cunning than he, had contrived
to take the place of a third party, (Mr. C.,) who was the real seller
of the winning stock on his side, and when a settlement had been made
between A. and B., that B. and C. divided the amount of profits on C.’s
stock between them. By these means, the third party, C., was enabled
to collect half of a profit, which he would never have got otherwise,
and the other, Mr. B., was saved paying half a loss, which he would
otherwise have had to pay, or to sacrifice his broker, who, between
them both, was saved from a dilemma.

                  WALL-STREET NOT A SAFE PLACE.

“And now,” said my friend, “unless you can follow all these windings,
and are ready to turn as sharp a corner as the rest of them, let me
advise you not to stay long in Wall-street; for, depend upon it, while
you are here, you are in the midst of temptation, and no man ever
trifled long with that, and came off with his honor unscathed, and his
heart not indurated.”

I thanked my friend for his advice, and replied, “that I had already
determined, that I could never aspire to a professorship, nor even a
pupillage, in a school requiring such active energies of body and mind.”

But my friend continued, and, taking out his watch, remarked, that,
as he had yet time to spare, if I pleased to listen, he would tell me
something about the manner in which discounts were sometimes made, and
obtained. And, willing to be informed of all particulars, in which I
had now become deeply interested, I signified my wish to hear how these
important appendages of trade are managed.

                        FICTITIOUS CREDIT.

“Young men,” said he, “often mistake the basis of their own credit,
and are flattered by the freedom and liberality with which money is
sometimes lent them. They could not possibly commit a more fatal error,
and this arises in a great degree, perhaps, from the false estimate of
what is commonly called money.”

The system of Bank credit, which has so widely obtained in this
country, and which allows of a circulation of their notes, or bills
of credit, as a substitute for money, has been productive of untold
benefits. But its long success has led to its abuse; and the manifest
advantage, to those who held the privilege, has led designing men to
seek an influence in its control. In times of ease and plenty, these
gentlemen are ever ready to exchange their credit for the substantial
securities of the merchant, receiving therefor the premium of interest,
as their profit. These Bank credits, being readily convertible for the
payment of debts, entice men of small means into an enlarged business.

                         COMMON MISTAKE.

The error of young merchants seems to have been, an appreciation of
Bank issues, to be the same as money, instead of an equivalent in
credit, and a discount obtained, as an exchange of securities for
cash, instead of a new debt contracted. They have overlooked the
fact, that the same circumstances that will cause distress to them,
will also cause it to the Bank, and bring with it a curtailment of
their accommodations, just at the time when their wants require their
enlargement. Their independence is gone, as soon as they are obliged
to solicit a favor, and if in the hands of heartless and designing
men, this is just the time when advantage will be taken of their
necessities, as long as their securities are good; and they will find,
when it is too late, that they have leaned on a broken reed.

                       HOW THEY GET SERVED.

The habit of merchants leaning on a Bank credit, and considering it
better than their own, with the dependence growing out of it, has
enabled the latter, by common consent, to throw around it a sacredness
of character that does not attach to credit in any other place or
form; and instances are of daily occurrence, where men do injustice
to a neighbor, to enable them to pay a note at the Bank; while the
latter, to protect themselves, will sacrifice a score or two of their
customers, without mercy or compunction. When men become necessitous,
they are afraid to let it be known out of doors, because it will injure
their credit; and they will make almost any sacrifice in private, to
save such a mortification. And to this fact, designing and unprincipled
men, who, in times of pressure, convert the capital of a Bank into a
means of preying upon their customers, owe their security in doing
it; when, if the undisguised particulars could be known, they would
immediately lose their charter and their reputation.

The way these things worked a few years since, in the Stork Bank and
the Water Works Bank in this city, is worthy of being told by way of

                         HUNGRY BEGGARS.

The cashiers of these banks thought themselves so firmly seated in
power, that nothing could move them. By way of brevity, I will call
them Jack and Bob; but let no one suppose that the impudent familiarity
of using these barbarous corruptions of a Christian name, was ever
permitted to any but themselves. The bad times—which in business
parlance, in its proper construction, means, that period of time when
the mischiefs designed by one party, or arising from the follies and
imprudences of the other, are in course of developement—brought crowds
of anxious applicants daily to the counter of the bank. They arranged
themselves in rows along the walls, or by the side of the counter, with
anxious faces, each one waiting for his turn, and as each received
a negative, his eye flashed with anger, or his cheek blanched with
despair; and while others would march up, to prefer their own claims,
in the vain hope of better success, those behind occasionally peered
out from the long line in which they stood, and cursed the gravity
and self-possession of the cashier, while he held a long parley with
his customer; and the last in the line sometimes betrayed, by the
uneasiness of his limbs, that the vulgar saying of “the d——l take
the hindmost,” was uppermost in his thoughts.


When men of business become dependent on borrowing, to meet their
engagements, the daily supply becomes as necessary as daily food. The
proverb tells us that a hungry man will break through a wall; and, to
use a fashionable phrase, of some who do not understand their mother
tongue, the cashiers were “_au fait_,” in this principle of natural
philosophy. Their eager eyes scanned with solicitude the cadaverous
countenances of the hungry applicants, to see where their scanty means
of supply might be most _profitably_ applied, and when occasionally,
some one received _permission_ to call again when the press was over,
hope at once beamed in his eye, a smile played gently about his mouth,
and had the cashier been a lady, he would have fallen on her neck and
kissed her. Punctual to the hour, he returns and receives from the
complacent lips of the cashier, the joy-giving intelligence—“Mr. A.,
we have so great a press upon us just now, that we find it impossible
to meet the demand for discounts; but, if it will oblige you, I will
take your notes at seven per cent. interest, and give you a check on
Mobile at sight, and at par, in payment.”

“But I do not know what to do with it,” says Mr. A. “How will that
relieve me?”

“Well, I don’t know, Mr. A., but I have understood that the Waterworks
Bank is buying at a discount of five per cent. That is rather a large
sacrifice to make, but it is the best that I can propose.”

                       THE DEATH-STRUGGLE.

“Hang the five per cent.,” thought A. to himself, “it will cost me
but a hundred dollars, and I can pay my note;” and, to him, a day’s
salvation from bankruptcy, was an age of happiness. The proposal was
eagerly embraced, and while the Waterworks was buying the checks of the
Stork on Mobile, Savannah, Columbus, &c., the Stork was buying those of
the Waterworks; and mischief-makers have reported that they were all
exchanged in the afternoon.

Mr. Eavesdropper, whose name implies that he attends more to other
people’s business than his own, reports having overheard the following
dialogue between the cashiers, at their afternoon meeting.

                      A BRACE OF JACK-ALLS.

JACK. Well Bob, this business works well yet, I have pocketed five
hundred dollars, to day.

BOB. Yes, Jack, sure, and it works well at present; but, upon me soul,
I don’t see the end of it, and if we were exposed, we should make a
dangling appearance, if we were even in the ould country.

JACK. Never fear, Bobby—a man never dangles here, as long as he has
got money; and besides, the dogs dare not whisper a word; their lives
depend on their credit, as the only means of supporting them, and they
would be cut up like mutton-chops in the market, the moment they lisped
their own secret.—We are safe.

BOB. Troth Jack, you’re always awake, but I’ve gone so deeply already,
that I couldn’t pay a draft to day from the Secretary at Washington,
an’ if it were not for that brother of mine, with the Scotch christian
name, who is busy at Washington, hang me if I think I could stand this.

JACK. Mr. Cashier, excuse my departure from our usual friendly
familiarity, but, depend upon it, the authorities of the country will
never oppress, in their individual circumstances, those who are
legitimately engaged in support of their authority.

                      HOPES AND COMPLIMENTS.

BOB. Arragh, Jack! and you’re complimentary—but the marquis cares
nothing about your ragamuffin authorities.

JACK. No Bobby, true, but he cares about your dividends, and that is
what you are to take care of.

BOB. Sure and I’ll take care of that, by the faith of me, and how much
shall _we_ make, Jack, by this management?

JACK. Why at least fifty thousand a piece, if nothing occurs till the
excitement is over.

BOB. If nothing happens, aye, and there’s the rub, Jack. I’m afraid
you’ll bleed some of the patients to death.

JACK. Never mind, Bob, if we see them fairly gasping, give them another
dose, and take double fees before hand. We have good security for the
past already. Good evening Bob.

BOB. Good evening to ye Jack. Long life to ye. And when ye die, may ye
have an uncommon long funeral. And as Jack departed, he muttered, “and
if them ye murther are mourners, by me sowl it will be long enough.”

                            A PROBLEM.

These things may be all slander, but still, there are some who believe
that a bank, which in the course of twelve months, divides ten per
cent. profit to its stockholders, and accumulates a nominal surplus of
twenty per cent. more, could never have done it by loaning money at
seven. And it certainly is a problem in arithmetic, which requires some
new devise of figures to solve.

The interest of description, would be lost in sameness of character,
should I attempt to describe all the ways in which the dependent
borrowers are made the chief sufferers, to gratify an undue propensity
of the lenders to accumulate.

                           A DEFAULTER.

And I will only add what is well known here, as a warning for the
future to those whose avarice outruns their integrity, that these
banks, like the repentant harlot, have long since “wept by the
willows,” for their departure from their first love; and the only
thing I know against their present government or officers is, that
the president of one of them, in paying over about one hundred and
fifty millions of dollars, was detected by General Jackson in being a
defaulter of eleven cents, but as the general could not tell exactly
where the default lay, he escaped all other punishment, but the natural
one of being removed from his office, to make room for others; who, if
they were in default at all, would make it sufficiently palpable to
avoid the necessity of searching out these contemptible digits.

                            CHAPTER V.

                     HISTORY OF A DEFALCATION.

On meeting my friend again to day, I was as much amused as ever with
his humor, in describing a public defaulter. And as he makes his own
reflections upon it, I will without farther preface give his own words,
as near as I can recollect.


“When we parted yesterday” said he, I was speaking of defaulters. The
history of a public defalcation, beginning with its inception, and
carried through its “rise and progress” to a final developement, is
full of amusement and instruction, and if more thoroughly understood,
the public mind would be disabused of its prejudice against the
innocent authors of them. A public defaulter, is the most honest man
in the world. If any other proof were necessary, there is abundance at
hand. But the law of the land declares all men honest, until convicted
of guilt, and its argus eyes would surely discover the truth, if it
were otherwise. The history of the country gives no instance of a
defaulter ever being tried, or committed. A public defaulter, is a true
republican, an advocate and supporter of the people’s rights, who scorn
to be controlled by laws, not of their own choosing. He is in favor of
the distribution of surplus revenue, and he takes the best and shortest
method to accomplish it. He saves congress the trouble of legislating
about it, and the people from quarrelling about its appropriation. He
is a public benefactor, and distributes his wealth without stint to the
poor, especially if they have a vote to give; provides accommodations
for public meetings, at his own expense, is a leader in their debates,
a firm supporter of the government, a liberal supporter of trade, a
patron of the arts and sciences, and a leader in fashion. He promotes
the interests of commerce, and sustains stocks, in his untiring
efforts to make up the deficiencies, which his liberality has created,
and when he has done all the good he can here, he goes abroad at his
own cost to acquire new treasures of knowledge wherewith to benefit his

The baseness of ingratitude, and the malice of envy, could never be
more manifest, than in the persecution of such a man. Yet, how strange
it is! There are some men living, who do not hesitate to heap calumnies
on his head. But if we go strait onward, those prejudices will soon be
done away. The frequent occurrence of default in this age proves its
enlightened character, and that intelligence is fast dissipating the
benighted superstitions of ignorance.

                         THE TRUE LIGHT.

The people of Wall-street, are more enlightened in this matter, than
the croaking herd of business men, and property owners are, who are
always afraid of being taxed to make up deficiencies. They regard
such a thing as the husbandman does the rain from heaven, watering
the parched earth, causing verdure and blossoms to spring forth, in
all their beauty, and timely fruit to satisfy their hungry souls. And
when the wisdom of government is exercised, in the appointment to the
emoluments of office, and the care of public monies, of one of their
true friends, who is ready to sacrifice every thing, even his “sacred
honor” to promote _their_ success, the event is hailed with little
less than a bacchanalian triumph. They know their men, and they know
enough of human nature to know, that, he who has once been a stock
gambler, will be again, as soon as he has the means of becoming so.
And, although they may have plucked him to his last pin-feather, and
then left him exposed to the cold frosts of a world’s charity, as soon
as his commission is in his pocket, their respect and gratulations know
no bounds.

                         MORE OF DEFAULTS.

A public default, is a thing which seldom stands by itself. There are
many inwoven secrets, which do not meet the public gaze. The first
stimulating cause,—the arts to prevent disclosure, and the natural
sympathy between the friends of the appointor, and appointed, are
rarely scanned. When truth bears rule, and honest men are in power, the
checks, and balances are such, that one alone would not long maintain
his secret. And as this seldom happens, the next point of wisdom is,
when disclosures are made, so to arrange matters, that the crimes of
all may be visited on the head of but one; and he, instead of suffering
by the unrelenting knife, and having his carcass roasted on the altar
of sacrifice, may, like the scape-goat of the Mosaic law, be turned
into the wilderness, to bear all their sins beyond the camp.

                      JACK DOWNING IMPLICATED.

I cannot better describe to you, the beginning and conduct of a
great default, than by reading a detected letter, from a notable
correspondent of General Jackson’s, who, from his great personal
intimacy, could not have failed to know the truth.

                        JACK’S LETTER TO ——

Perhaps, as this letter somewhat implicates, the redoubtable major in
an infidelity to the bank, and the government, should it ever come
to his notice, he may insist that it is “Kounterfit;” but as it was
by mistake, inclosed in a package, and directed to a friend, by the
first recipient, when he was leaving in haste, I have no doubt of its
genuineness. And as the major’s fortunes are known to have risen nearly
in inverse proportion to the fall of the bank, and Apalachi lands,
even his friends will find it difficult to disbelieve it. Never having
had an opportunity to return this letter, I make it public now, that
justice may be rendered to all the parties.

                                                  _Washington_, 1835.

  To squire S——
    in New-York.

  DEAR SIR. Your letter to the ginral, was received in Washington, as
  quick as the mail could fetch it. As soon as it got to the P. O. here,
  Amos Kindle came right over to the white house with it, and says
  he—“Ginral, here’s a letter from York, and I raither guess—there’s
  some news in it.” As soon as the ginral took the letter in his hand,
  he knowed by the outside, that it was from you. The ginral is plaguey
  cunnin, and he knowed as quick as a weazle’s scent, that Amos wanted
  to find out what was in it. So, says he to me, major, says he, these
  ere friends of Mr. Van Buren in York, pester me amazinly. And then
  he laid the letter down on the table, and lit his pipe, and went to
  talkin politics. And it warnt long afore he drove Amos away, by tellin
  a story about a man, who turned traitor to his patron. The ginral all
  the time meant Mc Lane and him, but he told the story so cutely, that
  it suited Kindle and Clay, just as well. As soon as Amos was gone,
  says the ginral to me, says he, “Major”—now we’ll read this ere
  letter from Swartwout. That Kindle, “says he,” wanted mightily to know
  what was in it, but though he’s sharp as a needle, it wont do to trust
  him with secrets, unless he has a hand in making on em; and then we
  read your letter all over, backwards, and forwards, side ways, and
  cross ways. And when we got through, says the ginral to me, says he,
  “Major, this ere letter is amazin puzlin.”

                      GENERAL JACKSON “RILED.”

  He was considerable riled; and says he, major, this looks mighty like
  your game of hocus pocus, that you larnt me to play with the cups and
  balls. What does Swartwout mean by being flunked? Why says I, that’s
  a Wall-street word, and means that he has been outwitted, in tryin to
  make up the money he was behind. And the ginral riz right up, and says
  he, major, I knowed Swartwout in New Orleans, in Burr’s time, and I
  know he’d stand a shot with every one of them fellows in Wall-street,
  as quick as he’d wink, if they tried to play hocus pocus with him, so
  dont tell me any more of your stories, major, and as you know, says
  he, that to-morrow morning I’m off to the rip raps, you must send
  Swartwout an answer, but remember, for by the Eternal,[4] and then he
  ketched off his specks with one hand, and he smashed the other hand
  down on to the table so, he broke his pipe in ten thousand shivers,
  and his eyes looked like coals of fire, and I looked round to see if
  the door was open, and just then Woodbury came in, and the ginral,
  was quiet as a lamb in a minit. But I warnt in sorts to talk about
  the treasury then, so I went to bed, and the ginral he was off afore
  day-light this mornin.

                     HIS PASSION—AND OPINIONS.

  The ginral always said you did right in payin for printin things agin
  Biddle and the bank—because says he—as you say major, what is sass
  for goose, is sass for gander, and the only discounts, I’ve lately
  heard tell on by the bank, is to pay for printin things agin us. When
  he was in York, he was a good deal consarned to know that you had been
  obliged to take money, that ought to gone into the treasury. And I
  raly believe, if it had’nt been for that, he never would have moved
  the deposites, without Congress to back him. But when I tell’d him
  that you could make it all up, and three times over by speckilation on
  the money, he was as chipper _as a bird, and says he, major_, seein as
  the deposites are moved, we can play them double game.


  In respect of the loss you made, by the bank stock, that I recommended
  you to buy of my cousin Zekiel Bigelow, in Wall-street, I did’nt tell
  the ginral any thing, because the deposites bein moved that proved a
  bad spickilation. But in respect of the Apalachi land co., I advise
  you to vest more largely, for the ginral says, that if I think best,
  he’ll establish a knavy depo there, and then it will be worth double.

                                                  J. DOWNING, MAJOR
                                                         2nd brigade.

                     CAUSE OF JACK’S DISGRACE.

It is proper to observe here, that the major was the owner of the
stock above alluded to, as sold by his cousin, and that he was also a
director and proprietor in the Apalachi land company. He was never
publicly accused of being either a coward or janus faced, but his
confession in this letter, with the unraveling it gives to the default,
lays him open to the charge of both; for it seems that, while he was
professedly the firm supporter of the bank, he was speculating on its
stock, based on the expected removal of the deposites. And while the
defaulter was consulting with his patron, how to get out of a dilemma,
into which his personal devotion had led him, he was “flunked” by the
major, his patron’s confidential adviser, in a “spickilation” which he
had recommended to him as a means of relief, which made his situation
much worse. And when we consider, that these things were done in the
face of General Jackson, who was deeply interested, and his most
devoted friend, we cannot wonder that the major looked round to see if
the door was open, nor that he was shortly afterwards relieved from his
high responsibilities.

Although the characters of public men, are public property, they should
not be sported with, too rudely, and it is to be hoped, that for the
honor of the major’s past reputation, he will be able to clear his
skirts of this.

                           NON PLUS’D.

When the defaulter found himself deceived by the major, and his
Wall-street operations all going against him, and he thereby involved
in still greater pecuniary embarrassment, his soldier like spirit was
roused within him, and as the general said, he would have “stood a shot
with every man in the street, if that would have relieved him from his
difficulties.” But he had been long enough there, to know that cold
lead, although the heaviest of metals, was in fact but the lightest
kind of argument, and his discretion, the better part of his valour,
discovered to him, that if, among them all he should chance to meet a
good shot, and himself receive a quietus, it would establish no truth
but that of his real condition, and default. When this truth stared him
in the face, he is said to have uttered horrid imprecations, and with
alternating curses and relenting, to have bewailed his fidelity to his
long loved friend and companion in arms, the general.

                        A GOOD FINANCIER.

Not that the general ever prompted him to such acts; they were
volunteered by himself, out of pure love, from old companionship, and
he never thought of the wrong, much less of his inability, to pay
his expenditures, until the fatal truth was pushed upon his notice.
How could he think of such a thing, when money was flowing through
his hands, like water through a mill-race? how could he tell that
there would be a balance against him? he had never kept an account
in his life, nor even examined one. He was too liberal to be exact.
When his shoemaker presented his bill, he looked at the foot; and if
money was in his pocket he paid it, and if not, he kicked the impudent
fellow out of the house, if he presumed to urge his suit, by any
word of expostulation, or plea of necessity. It was unsoldier-like,
and ungentlemanly to be exact in any thing, but the point of honor,
viz.—if a man should say his coat was brown, when he knew it was
black, call him out, and settle the truth by an exchange of shots.

And here I cannot forbear the remark, that, when government wants
soldiers, they should look for fighting men. When they want judges and
attornies, they should seek for those learned in the law, and when
they want some one to take charge of financial affairs, they should
seek those whose habits of exactness, promptitude, and experience in
finance, give them some fitness for the duty.

                        IN A DEEP STUDY.

But the die was now cast with the defaulter, and no repentance could
make atonement to offended justice. Thus far, his attempts to relieve
himself from the first deficiency, had not only been unavailing, but
had led him deeper into difficulty. Something more must be done, or the
fatal hour of disclosure must come. The general would soon lose all
patience, as well as all confidence. Should he implicate him, and clear
his own skirts? No—that thought was too repugnant to his honorable
feelings, it would be unjust, for if the general knew his default, he
had no hand in creating it, and if, he allowed him time to escape its
consequences by retrieving it, it was the kindliness resulting from old
associations. It was his own want of prudence in the first place, and
of skill in the second, that placed him where he was. But something
more must be done. And what should he do? The finale of his Apalachi
land stock, was not yet realised; he thought well of it—he thought
well of all land speculations. Yes, the landed interest, must, in this
country, as in every other, in time, become the wealthiest—cities were
springing up every day—fortunes were made in a moment—there could be
no loss—the land would not run away—the Wall-street sharpers could
not “flunk” him there.

                     RESOLVES—AND GOES AHEAD.

Yes, he’d try a land speculation, east and west—honest man!—he
never thought how much easier it was for one of these landlopers,
to make a city in the woods on paper, than to be at the trouble of
cutting the timber all down, and building it up again into houses,
stores, churches, and academies. And that even a flowing river with
beautiful falls, and “mill privileges,” with fertile valleys skirting
its chrystal waters, could be made, where nature had never taken
that trouble, in a thousandth part of the time that De Witt Clinton
could make a sluggish canal. In short he wanted the experience, which
has proved these Yankee land speculators to be the genuine breed of
land-sharks, which sailors so much detest for their cunning, and
voracious propensities, and who, to use one of their own descriptions
of themselves—“are as much sharper, than a Wall-street sharper, as
a Wall-street sharper, is sharper than a needle.” But the decision
once made by the defaulter, his practice was to go ahead, and he
usually left out the preliminary of the renowned Crocket, as implying
a disagreeable necessity. If he was _not wrong_, he _must_ be _right_,
was the result of his logical reasoning; and certainly, no more
self-evident conclusion was ever drawn from premises.

With the accuracy of judgment, therefore, which might be expected
in such a case, he bought lands, to a very large extent, in various
sections of the country, along with the most _respectable_ companies,
and from the handsomest drawn maps he could find.

An anecdote occurred about this time, which I believe has once got into
the newspapers, but it is too good not to be repeated here, especially,
as it will show to future generations, the value of a clean and
handsomely drawn map—in other words, that it is better to do things
well, than to do them clumsily.


The defaulter had in his possession, a title to an old soldier’s
patent, the papers of which had been carried in a dirty pocket book,
and handled with dirty hands, until the location of the patent could
hardly be distinguished on the map. It had been “thrown in to him,” to
bind a bargain with some speculators, much the same as a huckster woman
puts on to the measure too peaches more, when she sees her customer
about to depart. He esteemed it of very little value, and thought no
more of it, until one day a stalwart Yankee, with slouched hat, came
into his office, and, says he, “mister hain’t you got a piece of land
there in Miss-soori, up on the Black river. Yes, was the reply, after a
moment’s reflection.”

                           A YANKEE.

“Well mister, what will you take now, for that are land?”

The defaulter, who had begun to understand, a little of the mode of
bargaining practiced by these men, answered “a thousand dollars,”
though he would have accepted five hundred.

“Did you say a thousand dollars, mister?”


“That’s raither high. Jest let me see them are papers, mister.”

The papers were handed to him, and, after being critically examined,
and found to be all right, the Yankee, still holding on to the papers,
from fear of not being able to bind his bargain otherwise, asked—

“Won’t you take no less, Mister?”


“Well, I’ll take it, just make me the title.”

                      COME OVER BY A YANKEE.

The title was made out, and the money paid, when the defaulter,
surprised at the bargain, asked, “what did you buy that land at such a
price for? I would have sold it to you for half the money.”

“Why,” said the Yankee, “there’s a darned good lead mine on it.”

“There is, eh!—how much is it worth?”

“Well, I don’t know, but I’ve dug out ten thousand dollar’s worth
a’ready, and I expect to get a great deal more.”

“The d——l you do?”

“Yes—good bye, Squire.”

Report says that this was the only valuable piece of land the defaulter
ever bought, and that this was all the money he ever got back again,
from all his investments. I have even heard it whispered that this
same Yankee was one of the speculators concerned in making the large
sale to him, in the first place, and that the “throwing it in,” was
but the cast of a die, to bind a profitable bargain, trusting to their
ingenuity to get it back again; and, having cheated him at any rate,
whether they should get it again, or not.

                        DOCTRINE OF CHANCES.

A mind as cool, even, as the defaulter’s, could hardly retain its just
balance, under such accumulations of misfortune, and accordingly, we
find him sometimes afflicted with gloomy forebodings of the future,
sometimes brooding over the disappointments of the past; and always
taking that course that will lead him deeper into difficulty.

Whether it is right or prudent for a man involved in embarrassment
to attempt to relieve himself by a single coup de main, may be a
very fruitful theme for those who like to calculate the doctrine of
chances; but, in my opinion, a chance, which may be operated upon in
so many ways, as may the rise or fall of property, or the success of
speculation of any kind—and, instead of being governed by any such
natural laws as may be supposed to belong to chance, wherein the
_aggregate_ results must be always the same, although we do not know
before hand how they will come up particularly, is overruled and
affected, more or less, by the changing opinions and volition of almost
every one in the community—deserves not the name, even of chance,
and, in my opinion, involves the certainty and necessity of failure.
And, although such a thing hath been as success in this way, yet all
my experience goes to show me, that the “chance,” so called, is not as
one in the hundred. The fact that a man is embarrassed signifies, also,
that he is unable to control his affairs, and, if he cannot control
them in the state they are, their expansion, out of his legitimate
course, will not help him much.

                      TRUE SECRET OF SUCCESS.

I believe every successful man will tell me, that the secret of his
success has been, the preserving this ability to himself; and my own
experience has shown me, that whenever the case is otherwise, one
not only has the caprices of chance against him, but the caprices,
cupidity, and contrary interests of his fellow men, to contend with,
and the sooner he comes to a stand, the better for himself, and his
friends. These reflections are not suggested by a default, when viewed
in any other light, than as a pecuniary embarrassment; and, in this
particular, they are alike applicable to all embarrassed men.

                      DEFAULTER IN DESPAIR.

When men, for insufficient reasons, have raised their hopes too
high, their disappointment commonly brings with it a corresponding
depression; and so with the defaulter—he now despaired. But let me not
be understood that despair took away his appetite; far otherwise—there
was no sickliness in his despair. He merely gave up all hope of being
able to save himself from that very small modicum of attainture
to his honor, which is comprehended in the name of a defaulter;
and, as despair, in all its shapes and degrees, is always rash and
unreasonable, he is said to have given himself up to an unaccountable
fondness for those fashionable, yet too animating amusements, where
gentlemen are supposed to stake largely. Here he met many pleasant
companions, but among them, one particularly, a public functionary,
who, although he had met him every day for years, in his attention to
the duties of his office, he never before esteemed his acquaintance
to be a jewel of such Price and value as he now found it to be. An
intimacy of course grew up, which led to the denouement that must form
the conclusion to this chapter.

                          FINDS A FRIEND.

This friend of great Price had every requisite of character for a
gentleman. He would eat heavy, drink deep, and play high, and not the
least of his accomplishments was, that he had no respect, whatever,
for the character of Joseph, as claimed by the Hebrews. To add to his
value, as a friend, these excellent qualities were made more seductive,
by an agreeable exterior, and manner. He was also a man of business
withal, and never gave more than an occasional hour of relaxation, to
those refined pleasures.

As they chatted, and talked, and drank together, the defaulter
sometimes looked at him with unmingled pleasure, sometimes with
feelings akin to envy. What would he not give to possess the quiet
and unruffled mind and temper of his friend? to be as free from any
danger of exposure—from the haunting, disturbing influence of self
accusation. Alas! the first step from the path of duty inevitably leads
to ruin, unless immediately retraced.

Sometimes the thought would arise in his mind, “Is it possible that,
like myself, he comes here as a relief to his burthened spirit?—to
seek a solace for the cares of an anxious mind!” He banished the
thought at once; but who is there that has not often found these random
suggestions of thought were in fact the premonitions of truth?—and to
this fact we are about to come.

                       BOTH IN THE SAME BOX.

One night, when the stakes had run high, and were swept by their
opponents, and the two friends had set themselves down to the solace of
their wine; and its inspiring qualities had heightened into extacy the
love that glowed in the bosom of each, with that mellow frankness which
wine always inspires, and the longing which friendship always feels,
to make its loved object the co partner of its cares, the defaulter
whispered in the softest accents, “Bill, I am ruined—the money I lost
belongs to the Treasury.”

“So did mine!” was the full and sonorous response.

Had the thunder-bolt, which Abdiel let fall on the crest of Satan,
struck the defaulter, he could scarcely have received a greater shock,
and almost like the arch-fiend—

                  Ten paces huge he back recoiled;
                  The tenth on bended knee.

But, recovered in some degree from the shock, the friends were both
astonished at their own imprudence, and, shaking hands, they separated
for the night; the one to go home and ponder his lot, the other to
regret his folly.

                    THEY TAKE COUNSEL TOGETHER.

But the disclosure had been too mutual to rest here—something must be
done for their protection. It could only be done by concert, for each
had the power to ruin the other, any moment; and, as a result of this
necessity, it was the part of wisdom to extend their mutual confidence.
If both could not be saved, one of them might. The government was
passing into new hands, new interests would arise out of it, new
applications would be made for office—perhaps they would both lose
theirs. If they did not render their accounts promptly, they would be
suspected, and lose their offices of course. They must, therefore, work

                        THEY ABSQUATULATE.

But the day of retribution always comes sooner than we expect. The
government _had_ changed hands—new interests _had_ arisen—new
applications for office _had_ been made. They _had_ become more than
suspected, before they could possibly arrange, out of the chaos of
their affairs, and the wilderness of their crimes, any such jumbled up
accounts of interchanged receipts, costs, &c. &c., as could save even
one of them. And, as a consequence upon the unfaithfulness of their
friendship, they were both compelled to fly in disguise and disgrace,
from the presence of their countrymen, and from the joys of home.

And now, if I have not given a true account of a default which
cost the government more than a million of dollars, solely in
consequence of a few thousands wrongfully spent in the first place,
for electioneering purposes—if this account does not prove the total
unfitness of gambling politicians to hold offices of trust—and if
these circumstances will not apply in more quarters than one, public
and private—it is because my powers of description are feeble, and not
because the truth is wanting to establish these facts.


[4] The secret of the major’s disgrace at Washington has never been
publicly known. But this passage of his letter, taken with the results
of his subsequent advice to the defaulter, and his almost immediate
discharge from employment afterwards, leave little doubt as to the

                            CHAPTER VI.


A panic is one of those things in nature, which have existence without
entity—something which may be felt, but can neither be traced nor
followed. It has the power of motion and flight exceeding that of all
cognoscible beings—for it can pass from city to city, on the wings of
a single rumor. It has the power of making itself invisible, and can
stalk through the streets in the day time unseen, frightening every
body by its presence. It has the advantage of Archimedes’ lever, for
it has a fulcrum in the credulity of the man; and you may easily turn
the world upside down with it. It is, in fact, a kind of moral element,
and, like the fire, a single spark may kindle into a conflagration,
which the whole nation cannot extinguish; and it must be left to go out
of itself, when it has no more fuel to nourish it. It may be called
forth by a whisper, but a multitude cannot bind it. It is, therefore,
one of the most important of agents, but like fire also it is dangerous
to handle. It is a very good servant, but a very hard master, and
sometimes consumes those who kindle it.

                       A PANIC—WHAT IS IT?

The causes of panic, must not be sought for among natural phenomena—no
science of alchymy is necessary to compound it. It may be made up of
truth, composed of falsehood, or combined from both. It may be produced
by hatred, jealousy, or envy. It may arise from curiosity, or the love
of the marvellous, or, from a more villainous cause still, the desire
to profit by its effects. And with this knowledge of its causes, if men
were wise, they would give less heed to it.

The beginning of a panic in a small country town, is usually indicated
by the doctor’s riding through the village, without stopping to
recognise his acquaintance, or an old woman hastily putting on her
shawl, to run across the street to her neighbors.

What could it be for? says one.

Sure enough _what could_ it be for? says another.

                     A PANIC IN THE COUNTRY.

Don’t you think there is some bad disease about? says a third, and
before long, the interrogatory assumes the shape of a declaration, and
if not explained, and in less than a week, half the people of the town
are sick, through fear that they may be worse.

What is Mrs. Toddle running about the street for? says one.

I expect she has gone to enquire about the school mistress. Says

I expect the school mistress will run away with that fellow yet, says
a third, (she ran away once herself.) And before the week is out, the
whole neighborhood is in a panic, for fear the school mistress should
run away, and their dear daughters be corrupted, by her example—while
the innocent subject of their fears is attending to her duties, all
unconscious of the commotion she has occasioned.

                     PANICS AND PANIC MAKERS.

In great commercial cities, a panic is a different thing, and first
indicates its approach in a different way. The subjects to which it
generally points, are politics, and money, chiefly the latter, and
never the first, except as it may have a bearing on the last. Like
great and pestilent diseases, it generally has premonitory symptoms,
which commonly exhibit themselves in plethora, and a wasteful
indulgence in luxury. And like those diseases also, it never attacks
or alarms those of regular habits, and an equal mode of living. In the
city there are regular panic makers! some of them work on their own
account, as Donald said he fought, when it was found that he had killed
more of his own clan, than of their enemies—and some of them work for
hire, as the penny-a-liners do, in fabricating marvellous stories; and
hence the opportunity and inducement for making panics in the city, far
exceed those in the country.

Political panics, and money panics, are like electric bodies, one is
positively charged, the other negatively, and the effect of this kind
is, that when they approach each other, they produce an explosion, like
the breaking of the Banks, &c. These are properly termed compound. A
simple panic is more harmless, and like the Simoon, if a man can stand
still, and hold his breath, it will pass by without harming him.

There is also another kind, called natural panics. These are such
as sometimes happen in churches, theatres, &c.—and, although they
have nothing to do with the subject about which I am writing, yet a
description of one of them may aptly illustrate the reasonableness of
the others.

                      NATURAL PANICS—A RUSH.

When I was a young man, I went to a popular lecture in an old wooden
church, which was very much crowded. During the service, as it appeared
afterwards, some boys without, threw a handful of small gravel stones
against the clap-boarding of the house, which made such a rattling,
that a general rush took place, and the church was tenantless in less
than a minute. Imagination pictured to some the tumbling walls. The
noise of the rush, stunned every one. Some smashed the windows, and
leaped to the ground, others, and some of them females, impatient to
reach the door, and as they supposed a place of greater safety, strode
over the heads of the dense crowd, making the most grotesque figures
imaginable. Some were trodden down, but none were killed; and when
all were safely out, with the exception of crushed hats, torn shirts,
sore bones, and lost reticules, the enquiry began to be made, what has
happened? I don’t know says one. Did you see any thing? asked another?
No—did you? No—Nor I, said a fourth, and a fifth—and when all were
satisfied that nothing had really happened, except a fright, they
began, one by one, to approach the house again, and cautiously peeping
in at the door, lest the walls might suddenly tumble about their heads,
they saw the light burning brightly, and the honest clergyman sitting
in his desk, the only man in the house, convulsed with laughter, at the
fright of his late audience.

And so, when a panic comes in Wall-street, if any man will take a
position, a little above the heads of the multitude, where he can see
their folly, he may safely enjoy a hearty laugh, instead of suffering a

A money panic, in the city, sometimes begins with a mere question of
doubt, as, what do you think of the condition of the banks? and this
question, handed from one to another, assumes new shapes, and gathers
strength and importance as it flies.

                          A MONEY PANIC.

Sometimes, it begins with a rattling noise, like the movement of
specie, upon which the panic makers immediately conjure up the ghost
of an earthquake, that is about to take place. Sometimes it is the
price asked, or the refusal of a broker to buy a foreign bank note,
for which he has no current money to give in exchange, which runs from
mouth to mouth, and from hand to hand, until half the people in the
town think their bank notes are worthless; and they will put them off
for apothecary’s physic, rather than keep them. And sometimes it is the
mere sympathy of suspicion, when every man suspects his neighbor to be
in possession of some secret, which he is not. And all, or any one of
these causes, is sufficient to make three fourths of the population of
the town tumble over each other in fright, while the rest laugh, and
scramble after the loose coppers, which they may let fall in the fray.

                           HOW IT WORKS.

When a panic proceeds from any matter of fact, it is commonly such as
this. The bank turns away some bad customer, who then spreads a report,
that the banks are “very short;” when, immediately, every one applies
for twice as much as he wants. In Wall-street phrase, “The offerings
become very large,” and then they all fight and jostle each other, to
see who shall stand first at the counter.

These are the incipient stages, which follow the first symptoms. Its
increase is only a multiplication and enlargement of the same things;
but when it is at its height, there is the greatest fun and fright,
frolick and fight, imaginable. But as I cannot get up a pantomime show
on paper, I will only relate a few anecdotes of actual occurrence, by
way of illustration.

                       MONSIEUR IN A FRIGHT.

In the panic of 1837, a merchant of high standing in Broad-street,
was indebted to a son of Johnny Crapeau, in the sum of three thousand
dollars, money deposited with him on interest. One morning, while the
merchant was busily engaged in his correspondence, Johnny came in in
great trepidation, and announced the object of his visit, by saying;
“Monsieur, I ver much want dat moneys _que vous me devez_.”

Ah! I thought it was to remain, we have paid you interest for it, when
it was of no use to us.

“Eh! mon Dieu! I shall lose.”

“If you are alarmed for its safety, we have no objection to paying you.”

“Sare, I must have.”

The merchant directed a check to be drawn, for the principal and
interest, which he handed to him, with a receipt for his signature.

“What is dis, monsieur?”

“That is a check for the money.”

“Den you pay?”

“Yes, you demanded your pay.”

“Eh! monsieur, (handing back the check)—I was alarm. If you pay, den I
dont want. If you no cant pay, den I must have.”

                        FOLLIES OF A PANIC.

Another instance quite as reasonable, and of equal notoriety, was a
French gentleman of respectable property, entirely out of business, and
out of debt. His sympathies were so much wrought upon, by the reported
distresses of the community, that he began to be alarmed for himself;
and accordingly applied to his bankers for a loan, which being granted,
he suffered the money to lie on deposit: but his excitement growing
warmer, he applied again and again, when being expostulated with by
the cashier, that he did not want the money, and that others did, he
replied, “sare I am afraid dat dis ting will me ruin. Sare, I must have
moneys. I shall starve, if I have not moneys. I must have de loan.” His
request was complied with, and when the excitement was over, without
ever having drawn a dollar from the bank, he paid his debts with the
loss of interest, and the gain of a good deal of mortification.

These are some of the follies of the panic. The villainies also deserve
some notice.

                        VILLAINIES THEREOF.

A notable whig, and a friend of the banks, who thought nothing so good
as bank notes, so long as their circulation yielded him interest, is
reputed to have borrowed all he could, and then to have drawn the
specie, which he hid away in his cellar, and stood sentry at the door
himself. Some supposed that he was alarmed for the safety of his
property, but more are of opinion, that his object was, to assist in
breaking the banks, and then pay his debts in their notes at a large

But I should trespass too largely on time and paper, to give one in
a thousand of the instances which may be cited, and I will therefore
illustrate the truth, by relating a few of the exploits of a notable

                         A CASE IN MORALS.

Mr. S. was a merchant of wealth and large business. Mr. A. his
debtor, was erroneously reputed to have failed, and being angry and
grieved withal by the slander, he went to his friend S. for advice
and consolation, and told him that so far from having failed, with a
very little sacrifice, he could pay all his debts on demand. Mr. S.
always governed by that cunning, which supreme selfishness and want
of principle dictate, advised his debtor to make the sacrifice, and
advertise for his notes, to be brought in for payment, as a means of
substantiating his credit beyond all doubt in future. His advice was
followed, and it so happened that Mr. S.’s was the first note sent in;
and report says, moreover, that having enquired of A., to whom he was
indebted, he went to the persons before the advertisement appeared, and
bought A.’s notes at a large discount, and sent _them_ in also.

This same gentleman had many customers in his business, and of
course many debtors. Their notes were always lodged in the bank for
collection, and when some of his customers came to him for partial
aid, to help take them up, his reply was, that he had no money to lend;
but, said he, “you can get the money for my note, and I will lend you
that for the ordinary commission of 2½ per cent., if you will secure
me for it.” The security was willingly given, and the customer was
told, if the bank don’t discount the notes, the brokers will; and as
soon as the customer was gone, instructions were sent to the brokers,
“if such a note appears, buy it for me at double rate of interest.” He
usually got possession of his notes again in this way, for be it known
that he was a director in the bank, and to add to the virtue of his
liberality, the money which should have been lent to his customers in
the first place, was lent to himself, with these views and for these

I know not under what class of morals you will place this kind of
sagacity, but in Wall-street it is denominated “shrewdness,” and adds
greatly to one’s respectability and consequence.

                CHARACTER IN, AND OUT, OF WALL-ST.

But that you may not be deceived in your judgment, I will go farther
and say, that what makes a character in Wall-street, does not make one
out of it. Here the standard is money, but elsewhere, it requires some
other ingredients to arrive at any level much above the lowest; and a
man destitute of education, intellect, genius, principle, morals and
religion, (though last here, yet not least,) can hardly arrive at a
condition of respectability, much beyond his own conceit of himself.

                   MONEY, KNOWLEDGE AND HONESTY.

I never knew such a man as Mr. S., who was not deficient of education
in every thing, except how to get money. The sum of his knowledge
is limited to the first rule of arithmetic—addition; and although
his wealth and credit may enable him to enlarge the sphere of his
observation, still, it is all brought to the same practical use,

Such a man always owes his little elevation to one of two things, to
fortuitious circumstances, or to his own villainy; and his mind is
incapable of appreciating any higher standard of morals than his own.
As I once heard one of them say, (inadvertently no doubt, but yet
in the honesty of his soul) when another was recommended to him for
credit, on the ground of his honesty, he replied, “a very good thing
for the owner, but a very poor commodity in the market.”

                   SOMETHING BY WAY OF CONTRAST.

It is not against the people of Wall-street, or Pearl-street, or
South-street, or any particular branch of business that I would be
understood to aim the bitter shaft of sarcasm, but against those
individuals of known delinquency, and against those principles and
practices, which have, of late, obtained a tolerance that, in times
gone by, would not have been suffered. And were it proper for me to
do so, by way of contrast, I would here sketch a portrait of some
among the many I know, who hold a just balance, and the even tenor
of their way, whether in peace or in panic; but I could not do it
faithfully, without pointing too clearly at those who have no need of
my commendation, and who would choose that their reputation should rest
on their own unaided merits.

Perhaps you have already anticipated some of the advantages which may
arise from a panic, but my description would be incomplete, were I to
omit to sketch a few of them.

                       ADVANTAGES OF PANICS.

The spirit of our institutions does not admit of the concentration or
entailment of property. And here, if a man has property, and will act
honestly, he need not wait the term of his mortal existence, for his
children to ruin themselves afterwards, by spending it. He can ruin
himself, and them too, by simply placing himself in the vortex of a
single panic. But, on the contrary, if his tastes lead him to choose
the former expedient, this affords him an ample field, for no scheme
can be devised better calculated to make the rich richer than this is.
It places the dependent debtor wholly in the power of the creditor,
and he may take his pound of flesh with interest, without extracting
a groan or a sigh from his patient. Nay, he will rise up from the
operation, and thank him for not taking two. A panic, then, serves
to hasten changes of property from one to another, and thereby acts
in accordance with the spirit of our institutions, which encourages

Its advantages, also, to the separate classes of dealers, who inhabit
Wall-street, deserve each a passing notice.

It enables the stock-dealer, who has heavy contracts to fulfil, to
complete his engagements at a great profit to himself. It is of no
consequence that what he gains, another must lose; the advantage to
him is unequivocal, and, accordingly we find that these gentlemen are
great panic makers on their own account.

                     WHY SOME MEN LOVE PANICS.

It enables exchange dealers to demand double rates on all distant
places, and, although the effect is to reduce the value of all debts
due from those sections to citizens here in the same proportion—yet,
_he_ is benefited, and if people will not pay him his rates, they have
the option to go and collect their money themselves. The greater and
the more frequent the panic, therefore, the better for the exchange
dealer. It also enables those Banks which have a speculative turn,
to divert their capital from the paltry business of discounting,
to speculating on their customers’ wants, by becoming dealers in
exchange. It greatly increases the profits of the Bank-note dealer,
by enabling him to increase the rates of discount, and one peculiar
beauty of his business is, that the more discount he asks, the more
ready his customers are to sell. This class of dealers are deserving
the particular regards of the country Banks, since _their_ interest
advances exactly in proportion as they can discredit them.

I have passed hastily over all these classes, although the ways
and means by which each one of them contrives to turn a panic to
their advantage, contain a fund sufficient for a long evening’s
entertainment. But my descriptions are not intended to be wire-drawn,
and, besides, I wish to leave room for future lucubrations, without the
necessity for gleaning too closely.

                       CONSEQUENCES OF PANIC.

The consequences of a panic are those portions of it which “may be
felt;” and they begin to be felt, when people begin to count their
losses, I have before said that a panic was like fire, and the simile
holds good, except in one particular. The fire destroys—the panic only
changes property. In both cases people are prodigiously frightened;
many wounds and bruises are received, and not a few are driven from
their business, and made houseless, and homeless. In the panic, as in
the fire, also, there are both incendiaries and thieves, and it is a
matter of doubt, which requires the most vigilance to protect one’s
self from.

                       HOW TO PREVENT PANIC.

The scenes exhibited when a pestilence has passed through the
city—bringing suffering and bereavement to hundreds—when a storm
has swept along the coast, strewing its shores with the ships and
the treasures, which the day before floated securely on the bosom
of the waves—when the locusts have passed over the fields, leaving
nothing but the ravages of destruction behind—and when business men
have passed through the ordeal of a panic—are of one and the same
character, with this difference only; the first are events directed
by Providence, which men have not the power to avert, and the last is
the result of their own folly, or the wicked designs of a few. But it
will be said that no single voice, nor even many voices, can control
the multitude—very true; but when a mob takes place, if every man
would go straight about his own business, instead of stopping to join
in the hue and cry—there would be no mob. And if the magistrates
join in the mob themselves, there is no authority left by which to
control it. When a panic in money matters begins, there seems to be a
predisposition in the bystanders, either from want of employment, the
love of story-telling, or the desire of mischief, to aid all they can
in spreading it.

                    A WORD TO CERTAIN EDITORS.

I might add, too, that many newspapers are not among the least, in
bestowing their influence in this way. Some of them wish to appear wise
above their fellows—and I consider it not at all derogatory to the
general character of ability which they possess, to say that, in money
matters, _some_ of their editors really know very little of the things
about which they prate. I believe it often happens that what they
publish, is but the proclamation of those who design to increase the
panic—and if they are to be believed themselves, _some_ of them have
published things contrary to their better judgment, and perhaps their
own knowledge.

They can all point to the right quarter, and none of them will consider
this a slander, but such as know they deserve it.

If, therefore, when a panic begins, men would improve what they know
for themselves, instead of giving their neighbors the benefit of what
they don’t know, but have only heard or surmised—If the magistrates,
the leaders and controllers of the money market, would consult
something else besides their own interest, in promoting it, or their
immediate safety, by escape—we should have a less frequent occurrence
of panic. And, being convinced of these facts, every man can easily
understand, and no doubt does understand, what he ought to do in such a

                         A DARK PICTURE.

But I perceive I am getting wide from my subject, and prating about
the causes of a panic, instead of its consequences. If we would follow
these out to their end, we must leave the disorganized condition of
business, and follow men into their secret communings with themselves;
and mark the anguish of despair, the bitterness of cursing and
disgust with their fellow men, occasioned by their blasted hopes—we
must follow them in their principles, and see how many are corrupted
by example, and how many have done their first act of villainy, in
the vain hope of escaping from its consequences. We must follow
them in their morals, and see how many have, by the excitement of
circumstances, lost their self-respect and control. And we must follow
them to their homes, and see the desolation wrought by a sheriff’s
levy, or a bill in chancery, and witness the broken repose, and see the
tearful eyes of loved ones: and then let any one make a levy or file a
bill, or aid in a panic, who chooses.

But the mind sickens at the picture, and I turn it with pleasure to a
better light, to bring out its now hidden colors.


Every man must have felt, many times in his life, that it is better
to laugh than to cry. In this case, it certainly is, the proverb of
Solomon to the contrary notwithstanding; and among the many who, in
the last few years, have been the victims of panic, not a few I trust
are, by this time, ready to agree with me. Many an oak has been shorn
of its boughs, and lived to withstand a hundred storms; many a ship,
dismantled of her spars, has gained her port,—and floated again as
gallantly as ever; and many a man bereft of his fortune, has lived to
dispense large bounties of charity from his store; many a one too, who
has long fainted beneath the load of his griefs, has lived to command
those who oppressed him.

Experience is sometimes a very hard, but always an efficient teacher;
and those who have suffered will have the satisfaction to know better
hereafter, who to trust and what to trust, and taught to rely more on
themselves. And if afraid of a panic in future, he will be able to
prepare himself on the first appearance of the “premonitory symptoms,”
and when he sees it coming on the wings of the wind, like the man in
the simoon, he may then safely turn his back, hold his breath, and let
it pass by. At any rate, like the people I described in the church,
he will find himself more comfortable and happy to return, and take
his seat, than to be wandering about in the cold, among the multitude
without, to find out what has happened.

                     AUTHOR’S LEAVE-TAKING.

I have now finished six days in Wall-street, which, by the only book
of Ethics that I have ever learned, are the whole of the week that is
at my disposal. I can hardly suppose that any man in his senses, has
followed me through all the descriptions of truth and villainy, fact
and fiction, sense and nonsense, which I have here given; but if any
one has been so patient, I am bound to take a courteous leave of him.

First I am bound to thank him for the “high consideration” given me.
And should his better feelings tell him that I am too severe, I only
request him to ponder what is true—

            Nor set down aught in malice.

But if when he shuts this book, he shall say, amen, he is entitled to
my thanks for his patience and a double congee for his approval. No
one will of course take any thing that is here written to himself,
unless he discovers in it some features of his own portrait, and to
those who can make such discovery, we owe neither apology nor sympathy.

                        MORE YET TO COME.

I have now taken leave of my venerable friend the Chronicler; but
I have no doubt that while he lives, he will continue to visit
Wall-street daily, as he does also some other popular places of resort,
to “catch the manners living as they rise.” And although I shall not
be favored with his oral communications any more, yet he has promised
me the free use of his diary while he lives, and of his manuscripts
when dead, which are said to contain many important histories, not
only of things long past, but also of the current events of the day,
together with many valuable reminiscences intended only for posthumous

But should the good people of Gotham, take so lively an interest in
these revelations, as to invite their continuance, by buying this
book, I can not say that such inducement will not call forth another
compilation, from the mass of materials now at my disposal.

                *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber’s Notes (continued)

The original text contains errors and many inconsistencies in spelling,
hyphenation and capitalisation. The author acknowledges this in a
light-hearted _nota bene_ to the Preface, adding that he “thought it
best to leave their correction to the intelligent and good humored

In that spirit, minor punctuation errors have been fixed. Other
typographical errors have been corrected as follows:

  “bim” changed to “him” (enabled him to slide)
  “both-shores of the atlantic” changed to “both shores of the Atlantic”
  “ceriificates” changed to “certificates” (bonds or certificates)
  “cheqners” changed to “chequers” (like children at chequers)
  “esconce” changed to “ensconce” (he was fain to ensconce himself)
  “fortuitious” changed to “fortuitous” (fortuitous circumstances)
  “He” capitalised (He banished the thought at once; but who is)
  “suthers” changed to “authors” (against the innocent authors of them)
  “there” changed to “three” (three hundred and fifty thousand dollars)
  “two” changed to “too” (the too frequent gorging of stocks)

Inconsistencies have been fixed where a consensus usage was obvious.
Hence the following changes to the original text:

  “abreviate” changed to “abbreviate”
  “Apalache” changed to “Apalchi”
  “accomodations” changed to “accommodations”
  “Bank-credit” changed to “Bank credit”
  “controled” changed to “controlled”
  “embarrasment” changed to “embarrassment”
  “fancy-stocks” changed to “fancy stocks”
  “general Jackson” changed to “General Jackson”
  “indorsing” changed to “endorsing”
  “land lopers” changed to “landlopers”
  “major Downing” changed to “Major Downing” (but “the major”,
    etc., used as per American style)
  “mastadon” changed to “mastodon”
  “Mr. Eaves-dropper” changed to “Mr. Eavesdropper”
  “Mr. Single-eye” changed to “Mr. Single-Eye”
  “negociating” changed to “negotiating”
  “negociation” changed to “negotiation”
  “negociator” changed to “negotiator”
  “panic-makers” changed to “panic makers”
  “post mortem” changed to “post-mortem”
  “rail road” changed to “railroad”
  “Rail-Road” changed to “Railroad”
  “state-bonds” changed to “state bonds”
  “stock-holders” changed to “stockholders”
  “to-day” changed to “to day”
  “United States bank” changed to “United States Bank” (but “the bank”,
    etc., used as per American style)
  “wholestock” changed to “whole stock”

However “New York” and “New-York” have been left unchanged as are
other instances of inconsistent hyphenation and capitalisation or
archaic/obsolete spelling. The latter includes colloquial usage in
quoted conversations and correspondence.

The page headers of the book have been inserted in the transcribed
text as centred section headers placed above the start of an
appropriate paragraph. On pages of the book without any paragraph
breaks it has been necessary to create a new paragraph at an
appropriate location on the page and the page header placed there as
above. This was required at 16 places in the transcribed text.

Footnotes have been re-indexed using numbers and collected together
at the end of each chapter.

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Week in Wall Street - By One who Knows" ***

Copyright 2023 LibraryBlog. All rights reserved.