Victorian London - Publications - Social Investigation/Journalism - The Great Metropolis, by James Grant, 1837

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Locality of the Stock Exchange - Rules and regulations - Different descriptions of Stock - Meaning of technical terms explained - The members of the Stock Exchange - Miscellaneous observations - Conduct of the members - Amount of business done in the place - Explanation of the mode of doing it - The Late Mr. Rothschild - Attempts to compete with him - His occasional losses - Rapidity with which fortunes are lost or made on the Stock Exchange - Extent to which the funds sometime rise or fall - The late Mr. Goldsmid - General Remarks

    The Stock Exchange is a place of which one hears every day in the year, and every hour in the day, and yet very few know anything of [-2-] it beyond the simple fact that it is the place where all the transactions in the funds occur. It is situated in Capel Court, nearly opposite the door at the east end of the Bank leading to the Rotunda. It is the property of a joint-stock company, and is a speculation which has turned out well for shareholders. It was erected more than a quarter of a century ago. Before the present building was appropriated to transactions in the funds, those transactions took place in a house in Threadneedle Street. And it is a fact worthy of being mentioned, that though no exception has ever been taken to the business done in the Stock Exchange on the ground of the illegality of the place, that business is actually illegal. By an act of Parliament which has never yet been repealed, it was ordained that all buying and selling of public securities should take place in the Rotunda of the Bank. By a sort of common consent, however, the members adjourned from the Rotunda to the late Stock Exchange, and thence to the present, there they [-3-] have remained ever since, no-one troubling himself about the legality of their transactions.
   The regulations which relate to the admission of members are numerous. Under the first general head of "Admissions" they are seventeen in number. Then comes the "Appendix to Admissions" in which are specified the forms to be gone through by every candidate for membership. The regulations are stringent as well as numerous; so strict that one would be apt to suppose that no man could ever cross the threshold of the house who was not a very exemplar of all that is praiseworthy in private morals and in public conduct. There is a committee for general purposes, in whom the right of admission is vested for one year, from the 25th March of any year till the 25th of the following March. A re-election of members takes place every year, previous to the 25th March. The election always takes place by ballot. The form of application is by letter, addressed to the secretary of the committee for general purposes. The applicant must state his name and [-4-] residence, and furnish the address of his bankers. He must also signify his readiness to regulate his conduct as a member of the Stock Exchange by those conditions and rules which have been already, or may afterwards be, adopted for the government of the members generally. Every person applying for admission who happens to be in partnership with another, must sign a separate application for himself; and he must state distinctly, that neither on his own account, nor as the partner of any firm, is he engaged in any business other than that usually transacted at the Stock Exchange.
    No new application is ever attended to by the committee unless the party applying be recommended by three persons who have been members of the house for at least two years. Each of the parties so recommending an applicant, must not only have fulfilled all his own engagements as a member of the house, but he must enter into an engagement to pay the sum of 300l. to the candidate's creditors in case such candidate, after his admission, shall be publicly declared [-5-] a defaulter either in the Stock Exchange or Foreign stock market, without two years of the date of his admission. The 900l. of securities thus forfeited are applied to the liquidation of the defaulter's debts. The only instances in which these conditions are departed from are, first, in the case of a person who had been previously a clerk in the house for four years, or been a member of the Foreign Stock Exchange for three years immediately preceding, and had fulfilled all his engagements therein. Second, where the applicant has been a member of the foreign house for five years prior to his application, and discharged all his engagements therein, and whose character will at the same time bear the test of a rigid examination.  Third, where the candidate is a foreigner not naturalised, or not having letters of denization. In the first case, it is only necessary that the party applying be recommended by two persons, each of whom enters into a security to the amount of 250l.; in the second, the candidate is admissible on the foreign house, being also members of the [-6-] Stock Exchange, or by two of the committee for general purposes, - in neither of which cases will the parties giving the recommendation be required to enter into any security at all. In the third and last case of exception to the conditions and regulations just mentioned, the party is held to be inadmissible, unless he has been a resident in the United Kingdom for five years immediately previous to the date of his application for admission, and unless he is recommended by five members of the Stock Exchange, each of whom must enter into his own security for the fulfillment of the applicant's engagements to the amount of 300l.
In order to guard against improper recommendations from an expected participation in the benefits to be derived from membership in the Stock Exchange, by the persons recommending any party for admission, - it is stipulated, that the candidate must not, after his admission, enter into partnership with any of the individuals recommending him for the period of two years after the time of admission, unless additional security, to an equal amount, [-7-] be provided for the time which remains unexpired. On the same ground the recommendation of one partner by another will not be attended to, nor the security of any one such partner for another be accepted. Supposing the richest and most influential member of the Stock Exchange were to recommend his partner for admission, not the slightest attention would be paid to it.
    Bill and discount brokers are now specially excluded from the Stock Exchange: other departments of business are denounced in general terms. Neither must the applicant's wife be engaged in any sort of business whatever. This regulation has sometimes caused a good deal of merriment in the city.
    The committee, very properly, have a great horror of bankrupts. No party applying for admission, who has been a bankrupt, or has compounded with his creditors, shall be eligible until two years after he has obtained his certificate, or fulfilled the conditions of his deed of composition, unless, indeed - case which is a perfect rarity in the degenerate times- [-8-] he shall have paid his debts in full. It is also distinctly stipulated that no applicant who has more than once been a bankrupt, or more than once compounded with his creditors shall be eligible for admission until he has paid his debts in full. This is manifestly telling the poor fellow that he must "all hope abandon" of entering the house in Capel Court: why do not the committee act in a straightforward manner, and tell him so in so many words? Who ever heard of a man who had been twice bankrupt, and twice compounded with his creditors, paying them in full? We expect to see no such gratifying spectacle until Robert Owen's bright visions of a new and perfect state of society have been realised.
    The committee are hard customers to deal with in other respects than those I have mentioned. To make assurance doubly sure as to the character and circumstances of the candidate for admission, they will not be satisfied with the mere testimony or engagements of the parties recommending him, but put the following questions to himself: "Is this your signature?" (showing [-9-] him his letter of application). Have you read the resolution (*The following is the resolution alluded to: - "That whenever the creditors of any defaulter shall represent to the committee for general purposes, or whenever it shall otherwise appear to the said committee, that the conduct of such defaulter has been dishonourable, or marked with any circumstances of impropriety, the said committee have the right to cause the name of such defaulter to be affixed to the blackboard in the Stock Exchange") on the back of the letter? Are you a natural born subject? Are you of age? Are you engaged in partnership? Are you, or is your wife (*That is, of course, provided he has one.) engaged in business? Are you a clerk in any public or private establishment? " In addition to these questions, the committee reserve to themselves the right of asking him, whether he has ever been a bankrupt, or whether he has ever compounded with his creditors, &c. &c.
    But the regulations of the Stock Exchange are not strict merely as regards the admission of members; they are no less so as respects their continuance there; so that if a candidate [-10-] fancy that he has got over all the unpleasant circumstances, when he has received intimation of his being elected, he will find himself very much mistaken. He must, while a member, recollect the homely adage of not hallooing before he is out of the wood, which he never can be so long as he is in Capel Court: consequently he must not halloo at all. He will find that it is no sinecure, or more matter-of-course affair, scrupulously to observe the rules and regulations to which he engages to conform his conduct in all his transactions as a member of the house. There are many of these regulations which relate only, properly speaking, to himself; that is to say, if he infringes them he only suffers in his purse the same way as, in the ordinary transactions of life, a man suffers who makes an illegal bargain, or does something else which is contrary to the law. For example, if a member make any bargain beyond the regular hours of business, which are from ten to four, the committee will not recognise that bargain, in the event of the other party taking advantage of the [-11-] infringement of the rules, as a valid transaction. Another regulation affecting a broker's own purse is, that which provides that no bonds can be returned on account of imperfection, which have been kept longer than three days. There are various others of a similar kind, affecting the member's own pecuniary interests; but it is not necessary I should advert to them in detail. In those cases in which a member transgresses the regulations of the committee in such a way as to affect the interests of other brokers or the body generally, he incurs the penalty of expulsion. I may mention two instances in which he renders himself liable to be expelled. If, finding himself unable to perform his engagements, he arrange privately with his creditors, and the circumstance becomes known to others, his name is to be at once affixed on a particular part of the Stock Exchange as a defaulter, and as an expelled party. A public failure also exposes the defaulter to expulsion; but then he is eligible for re-admission after the lapse of six months, provided he pay from his own resources [-12-] at least one-third of the balance of any loss that may occur on his speculations, whether on his own account, or on that of principals.
    The cases in which members may transgress the rules, though the penalty annexed is not so severe as expulsion, are a great deal too numerous to mention. Not the least terrible of the penalties incurred is that of having one's name written in legible characters on the black board kept for the purpose, and publicly exhibited in the place. This punishment can only be inferior in severity to the ancient one in many country towns, of having one's person exhibited in the pillory to the gaze of the mob, and the being pelted by various rotten commodities and nameless dead animals into the bargain. What aggravates the evil is,  that it is not necessary in order to having a member's name chalked up on the black board, that any substantive offence beyond that of having failed, be proved or preferred against him. It is enough that the committee for general purposes come to the conclusion - no matter by what means they ar-[-13-]rive at it - that the conduct of the defaulter has been dishonourable.
    The ceremony of declaring a defaulter is an awful one to the unfortunate party himself; so very awful, that he always takes care to be at a reasonable distance from the house on the occasion. One of the waiters, before announcing the name, calls attention to it by giving two or three "tremendous blows" with a hammer on the wainscot. The noise which everlastingly prevails in the place, as will be afterwards seen, renders the aid of the hammer necessary to make the waiter heard. When a temporary calm has been produced, he announces the name of the defaulter, who from that moment dare not show his face in the house until he gets his affairs managed, on pain of receiving personal treatment of a nature compared with which being roughly tossed in a blanket would be gentleness itself.
    The committee (*Either proprietors or subscribers are eligible to office, and the right of election is equally possed by proprietors and subscribers), which consists of thirty mem-[-14-]bers, annually chosen by ballot, have various other arbitrary powers, which they are not loth to exercise. A striking instance occurred in December last. A member having incurred their highnesses displeasure, they did everything in their power to get him expelled; but finding in the end, on the advice of counsel, that the rules and regulations would not warrant in his case such an exercise of authority, they were obliged to content themselves with something like an expression of regret that they were not possessed of the power to expel the party.
    The terms of admission to the Stock Exchange are at present 10l. 10s. The number of members is about 800.
    In the quotation of the prices of the various descriptions of stock, certain regulations are observed. The prices of India stock, Bank stock, and South Sea stock or annuities, are not quoted where the amount purchased is under 500l.; nor is a quotation of prices made under the usual head on consols, reduced 4 per cents, 3? per cents, or any other government perpetual annuities, where the sum contracted for [-15-] does not amount to 1000l. If the sum amounts to 500l. and be under 1000l., the prices are to be quoted, but under a separate head. In the case of omnium, scrip, and India bonds, the quotation is to be made when the amount purchased reaches 1000l. The prices of exchequer bills are quoted when the sum contracted for is 500l.; or 100l. of small exchequer bills. The prices of long annuities, or any other terminable annuities, are quoted when the sum contracted for amounts to 25l. per annum. In the case of shares of any public companies, the rule by which the quotation of share prices is regulated, is that such quotation shall be made when the purchaser has bought to a sufficient amount to entitle him to a vote at the company's public meetings. As regards foreign stock again, the prices are only to be quoted when the sums contracted for amount to 1000l. stock or scrip, 1000fs. French rentes, 250 ducats Neapolitan rentes, 1036l. Russian stock, or any other foreign security representing about 1000l. stock.
    It is a fact not generally known, that by [-16-] one of the regulations of the Stock Exchange, any person purchasing stock in the funds, or any of the public companies, has a right to demand of the seller as many transfers as there are even thousand pounds in the amount bought. Suppose, for instance, that any person were to purchase 10,000l. stock, then, instead of having the whole made over to him by one ticket of transfer, he has a right to demand, if he so pleases, ten separate transfers from the party or parties of whom he purchased.
    The descriptions of English stock which are least generally understood are scrip and omnium. Scrip means the receipt for any instalment or instalments which may have been paid on any given which has been purchased, of any government loan.  This receipt or script is marketable, - the party purchasing it, either at a premium or discount as the case chances to be, becoming of course bound to pay up the remainder of the sum, on pain of forfeiting the money he has given for it. Omnium means the various kind of stock in which a loan is ab-[-17-]sorbed; or to make the thing still more intelligible, a person purchasing a certain quantity of omnium, purchases given proportions of the various descriptions of government securities.
    Bargains made one day are always checked the following day, by the parties themselves or their clerks. This is done by calling over their respective books one against another. In most transactions, what is called an option is given, by mutual consent, to each party. This is often of great importance to the speculator, and should always be stipulated for where circumstances will permit. There are so many different kinds of options in the purchase or sale of stock for time, that it is difficult to make them intelligible to the general reader. What is termed the put and the call, or the put and call for the account day, or any other day, may be purchased for a sum of money, or so much per cent; that is to say, you may, supposing the price to be 90, have the power to compel a sale or purchase of so much stock at 90l. for one-eighth or one-fourth per cent, or for any other sum agreed on between [-18-] the parties. In selling 1000l. consols, or any other sum for the account, you may, by submitting to a sacrifice of one-fourth or three-eighths, as the price of the option may have been fixed, acquire the power to compel the purchaser to take as much more, if you please; that is to say, provided it suits your interest in consequence of the fall of prices on the account day; or, in buying, you have in like manner the option, by giving something more for your stock, to call for double the quantity. You may buy at one price to put back at another, or sell at one price to call back at another, thereby fixing the amount of your risk.
    By far the greater portion of business transactions in Capel Court is in what are called time bargains. By time bargains is meant, that no actual transfer of the stock ostensibly purchased for the account need take place, but the party purchasing engages to give, should the peculiar stock rise, the party selling any difference between the price at the time of the purchase and what it is on the day fixed for adjusting the [-19-] matter. The seller, on the other hand, comes under a similar engagement, to give the buyer any difference in price should there be a rise in the value of such stock.
    There are eight account days in the year when time bargains between the members are adjusted. They are usually Thursday or Friday. The Saturday is never fixed on; first, because that is not a transfer day at the Bank, and secondly, because the day immediately following is always settling day, which could not be the case were Saturday the account day. In the foreign Stock Exchange, the settling day occurs twice in each month.
    I have before mentioned, that when a member fails to fulfil his engagements his name is placarded on a black board as a "defaulter". This is looked on as a rather genteel name: the most common designation of such a person among the members is, that he is a "lame duck".
    Every one who has read the city intelligence of any newspaper must have often encountered [-20-] the words "Bulls" and "Bears". The "Bulls" are those who have to take more stock than they can pay for, and who therefore want to get rid of it; and the "Bears" are those who are engaged to deliver more stock than they can deliver at the price agreed for, with safety to themselves. The reader must also have observed it occasionally stated in the public journals, that great efforts were making in the money market to make the account a "Bull" account, or a "Bear" account, just as the case happens to be. That simply means, that the class of persons represented by either of the above animals were doing all in their power so to influence the market as to make the prices, on settling day, most favourable to themselves. With this view, all sorts of rumours are set afloat. The number of fibs hatched and industriously circulated in Capel Court, on such occasions, exceeds all credibility. Had Baron Muchhausen ever been on the Stock Exchange, he would have been ashamed of his own inventive powers. Ferdi-[-21-]nand Mentez Pinto was but a mere type of some persons in the money market, when they have a sufficient inducement to put their inventive capabilities to the test.
    The members of the Stock Exchange consist of three distinct classes. The first class are called jobbers. The jobber is a person who is always found in his place from the opening to the closing of the Stock Exchange, except when he has to cross over to the Bank for transfers; and who is at all times ready to buy or sell stock, for what, in technical language, is called the turn of the market, the meaning of which I will give presently. The jobbers are subdivided into sections. There is the consol jobbers, the four per cent. jobber, the long annuity jobber, and the jobber in exchequer bills, India stock, India bonds &c. With the exception of the consol jobbers, all the others, unless in peculiar circumstances, as, for example, when the particular stock is short, do business for ready money. The consol jobber also does [-22-] business for regular transfer, or in other words, for ready money; but by far the greater part of the business done in consols is for time, and the transaction is consequently called a time bargain. By this is meant a bargain for the price of consols, either at the ensuing account or settling day, or some other day agreed on.
    The second class of members are called brokers. These are persons who are employed by parties out of doors to buy or sell a certain amount of stock for them, either in the shape of money or time bargains, as the case may be. The broker so empowered to act goes into the house, and advancing towards the jobber accosts him with "Well, what are they?" meaning, of course, the price of consols. The jobber replies, they are so-and-so, say 90-90 1/8 , which means he will give 90l. for 100l. stock, or he will sell at 90-2-6 for 100l. stock. The broker says, "I will take them," or "You shall have them," just as he is instructed to buy or sell. Should, however, the quantity of stock be large, the broker must name the amount. [-23-] Otherwise, the jobber, not liking perhaps either to sell of buy a large quantity at the particular time, would decline being "saddled" as it is termed, with so much, and would back out of the bargain with only 1000l. - there being a law in the house which protects any jobber or broker from either receiving or disposing of more than that quantity, in all cases where, at the time of making the bargain, the precise amount was not specified by the broker. The broker's business would, without such specification, be thus exposed, and probably the result would be that he could execute his commission, he would have to submit to a sacrifice of one-eighth of one-fourth per cent* (* It is not unusual, when a large operation is ordered, for the broker to call one of leading jobbers aside, and offer him a "turn" of one-fourth or three-eighths per cent., provided he will undertake the whole transaction. In this way, the business is done quietly and at the jobbers leisure, according as the market will bear it. If a broker were, by hovering around the market or otherwise, to suffer his object to transpire, the prices would be necessarily driven up or down, and thus he would suffer for his indiscretion). The broker, therefore, [-24-] takes care to name the amount he wishes either to sell or purchase.
    The usual rate of remuneration which a broker receives for transacting business for a customer is one-eighth per cent., or half a crown for every 100l. of stock which he buys or sells. This, however, is not the commission invariably charged by brokers. In extensive transactions the broker seldom gets more than one-sixteenth per cent. or one-thirty-second on what is called "one side the account".
    As soon as a broker has completed his business, whether for time or money, he is expected to hand to his constituent, or "principal", to use the phraseology of the Stock Exchange, a contract containing the price or prices, and name or names of the jobber or jobbers with whom the transaction has been done. By observing this regulation he exempts himself from all liability in case of the failure of the jobbers.
    The third class of members of the Stock Exchange are the speculators. These are parties who buy or sell on their own account; and [-25-] who only "operates" when he conceives the market is in a condition for his doing so to advantage. Most of the transactions on the Stock Exchange may be said to be a species of gambling on a large scale; but the speculator is a gambler in a peculiarly emphatic sense. He who throws the dice is not more so, though there be a difference in the modes of gambling. And, perhaps, of the two modes, that of casting the dice is entitled to preference. As regards the individual's own feelings, it certainly is so; for the gambler in Crockford's, the Berkeley, or the Cercle, either loses of gains at once, and is thus spared the agonies of suspense; while, in the case of the Stock Exchange gamblers, he has to endure all the horrors of suspense - and what horror can be greater, where a man's all perhaps is at stake - for some weeks at a time. I have heard of speculators in Capel Court whose feelings have undergone such a constant and violent alternation of hope and fear, that they have not enjoyed one hour's regular sleep for fourteen consecutive [-26-] nights, but have tossed themselves about on their beds as if they had been suffering under severe physical fever.
    Defaulters in the case of time bargains cannot be proceeded against by law, the transactions being, as just remarked, illegal. Hence the peculiar stringency of the rules by which the admission and continuance of members are regulated. Notwithstanding, however, the rules and regulations of the Stock Exchange, desperate characters not unfrequently find their way into it. Many of the most extensive and inveterate speculators have not a farthing in their pocket. They are mere adventurers: they are desperate men and act on desperate principles. Their maxim is "neck or nothing". If the transaction turns out favourable, good; if not, the parties dealing with them will suffer. It is not many months since a defaulter who could not command five pounds in the world. was at one time a purchaser of stock to the amount of nearly 200,000l.  A common trick among these speculators on the Stock Exchange is, to enter their [-27-] stock in fictitious names, as if avowedly purchased for themselves, it would be necessarily create suspicion, and consequently put an end to their opportunities of speculating.
    From the observations and statement which have already been made, it will at once be inferred that the Stock Exchange is by no means remarkable for its morality. A member failing and giving up his last farthing to his creditors, is not, by at least a large proportion of the other members, thought so favourably of as he who takes care to make a reserve for himself. While the latter steps at once into business again, and obtains credit on effecting an adjustment of his affairs, the former has to struggle hard before he can get begun anew. A member is sometimes blamed, and his credit often suffers, because he does not make a stand when an account goes against him and he is known to have a large sum to pay. An instance of this occurred some time ago. A person who used to go among the members by a name which I will not mention, and who had been supposed to act on [-28-] the market for a party connected with a large newspaper establishment, - lost on one account 10,000l. He paid the amount without a murmur; but lost his credit from that moment, and never afterwards recovered it; for it was thought the payment of so large a sum must have broken his back, he being, in Stock Exchange phraseology, but a "little man," that is to say, of but moderate means,
    But a still more striking and very interesting illustration of the estimation in which sterling integrity is held among a large proportion of the members, was afforded in the case of the late Mr L. A. de la Chaumette, a gentleman of foreign extraction. He had previously been in the Manchester trade, but had been unfortunate. Being a man much respected, and extensively connected, his friends advised him to go on the Stock Exchange. He adopted their advice, and became a member. He at once established an excellent business as a broker. Not only did he make large sums in the shape of commissions, on the transactions in which he was [-29-] employed by others, but one of the largest mercantile houses in London having the highest possible opinion of his judgment and integrity, intrusted him with the sole disposal of an immense sum of money belonging to the French refugees, which was in their hands at the time. He contrived to employ this money so advantageously, both to his constituents and to himself, that he acquired a handsome fortune. Before he had been a member three years, he invited his creditors to dine with him on a particular day, at the London Tavern; but concealed from them the particular object he had in view in so doing. On entering the room, they severally found their own names on the different plates, which we reversed, and on turning them up, each found a cheque for the amount due to him, with interest. The entire sum which Mr. L. A. de la Chaumette paid away on this occasion, and in this manner, was upwards of 30,000l. Next day he went into the house as usual; and such was the feeling entertained of his conduct, that many members refused to do a bargain [-30-] with him to the extent of a single thousand. They looked on his payment of the claims of his former creditors as a foolish affair, and fancied that possibly he might have exhausted his resources, never dreaming that, even if he had, a man of such honourable feeling and upright principle was worthy of credit to any amount. He eventually died worth upwards of 500,000l.
Friendship is a thing almost wholly unknown on the Stock Exchange. The instant a man fails, no matter how fair and honest may have been all his transactions, he is deserted by those who professed the greatest attachment to him before. He is, with very few exceptions, cut by them in the streets as soon as his failure is known, though they may have fawned on him like so many spaniels so long as he was supposed to be a man in easy circumstances. In the few instances in which he may be treated with a little outward civility, it will almost invariably be found that it is when they suppose the hapless victim has not been fleeced of his all; but that something more may yet be got [-31-] by good management. In that case, no effort is left untried to extract his last shilling from him. When a man has been unfortunate, and it is thought that something more may still be obtained, the creditors purpose, to use the language of the house, "to draw his teeth". If he resist, his name is clapped on the black-board, of which I have spoken in a former part of the chapter.* (* This is done in the hope that the relations of the party will come forward with a sum of money to assist him, which they sometimes do to avoid the disgrace which, through him, they conceive to be entailed on themselves) There are doubtless some honourable exceptions, as before observed, to this mode of treating unfortunate members, but, as just stated, they are comparatively few indeed.
    One would suppose that where so much important business is transacted, as at the Stock Exchange, and where the parties transacting it must be assumed, both from their education and standing in society, to be gentlemen, that all the proceedings in the place would be characterised by a becoming dignity of demeanour on the [-32-] part of the members. Never was there a supposition more opposite to the fact. A more uproarious scene was never witnessed than that which is continually exhibited on the Stock Exchange during the hours of business. Many of the members appear like so many grown-up school-boys engaged in every kind of pastime. You are furnished with some slight earnest of what you may expect when you get into "the house," as it is called, as soon as you enter Capel Court. There you see the members hallooing each other, and occasionally seizing one another by the breast of the coat, or any other part of one's clothes, which is most convenient at the time. Advance a little further; enter the lobby, if that be the right name of the place, and your ears will be regaled by all manner of sounds, and the forms of members will flit before your eyes in their exits and their entrances, with all the celerity, and sometimes exhibiting all the varied evolutions, of so many harlequins. These stands, on an eminence of a foot or so in height, and decked out in sort of official livery, a poor fellow whose sole occupa-[-33-]tion it is to sing out, as he himself expresses it, through a sort of fixture speaking-pipe, the names of those "gentlemen of the Stock Exchange" - another favourite phrase of their own - whom strangers may wish to see. Perhaps a more laborious task than this servant of the house has to perform, has seldom fallen to the lot of mortals. Only imagine him bellowing out, at the full stretch of his voice, for six consecutive hours, and scarcely with a moment's intermission, the names of the members whom "the public" - for that is the distinction in this case - may wish to converse with. To be sure, he does the thing as unceremoniously as possible, and with a good deal of the independence of manner usually ascribed to the Yankee character; for he never troubles himself by pronouncing the christian name of the party wanted. He deems it enough for him, and so it is in all conscience, to call the simple surname of the party. If, for example, Mr John Arthur Robinson be the person to be called out, the door-keeper inserts his mouth [-34-] into the circular sheet-iron article made for its reception, and bawls out "Mr Robinson," - thus not only in the spirit of true republican equality dispensing with the honorary prefix of "Mr." but also with the Christian "John" and "Arthur". The name of the party thus applied for is echoed by another servant, who is privileged to take his station in the inside. The noise is always so great as to render it impossible for the voice of the first person to be heard even the short distance of three or four yards in the inside; and were not he of the interior blessed with lungs of such extraordinary capabilities as to entitle him to the name of a second Stentor, even his voice would be drowned amidst the loud and everlasting noise, I had almost said Niagarian roar, of the place.
    Some years ago, a wag took it into his head to exclaim in Drury Lane theatre, as loud as he could, "Mr. Smith, your house is on fire." The name was, then as now, so common, that it is said half the persons in the pit, all rejoicing in the patronimic, and each fancying himself to [-35-] be the particular individual apostrophised, rushed out of the theatre in breathless haste. A similar scene, though on a smaller scale, is often to be witnessed at the Stock Exchange. When a particular name is called, there is an immediate rush to the lobby-door, of persons who glory in that name, each of them supposing himself to be the person wanted. Various names are very general on the Stock Exchange.
    I have already alluded to the deafening noise and uproar which prevail in the interior of the house, and of which the stranger has had some foretaste given him before he crosses its portals. I know of nothing which could give a better idea of the scene, than to compare it to that which is occasionally exhibited, though of course on a much smaller scale, by the boys of the newsmen, opposite the Courier Office. There you see the venders of the broad sheet all in motion on the pavement, and singing out in most discordant sounds, "A Toimes! Who wants a Toimes?" "A 'Eral here! Who's for a 'Eral?"  [-36-] "A Cron, a Cron, a Cron! Does any one want a clean Cron?" "A Post and 'Tiser! Who'll have a Post or 'Tiser?" In the Stock Exchange there is the same sort of bustle and noise, though on a much larger scale, and with this difference, that instead of your ears being dunned by the imperfectly pronounced names of the morning papers, they are assailed with the everlasting sounds of "Consols", "Reduced"* (* The members are very partial to an abbreviated mode of speaking, and, therefore, when speaking of Reduced Annuities, &c, they content themselves with the first word) (Annuities) "Omnium" "French" (Rentes) "Spanish" (Bonds) "Per cents." of every description, "Exchequer" (Bills) &c. &c. The first impression of a stranger on entering the Stock Exchange, were he not previously otherwise informed, would naturally be, that instead of being met to transact important business, they had assembled for the express purpose of having a little fun and frolic together. You not only hear them uttering, in addition to the sounds [-37-] just alluded to, all other sorts of sounds, some of which partake a good deal of the zoological character, but you see a large proportion of them playing all manner of tricks at each other's expense. One of the most approved of these tricks, if we are to judge from the extent to which it is practised, is that of knocking one's hat down over one's eyes. This pastime, I believe they call "eclipsing" or "bonnetting". If the hat only goes down so far as not to prevent altogether the use of one's luminaries, it is, I presume, called a partial eclipse; but when the application of one's hand to the crown of the hat is given with such vigour as to force it down over the optics of the party who chances to be at the time the person played on, it is called a total eclipse. How far it can be so called with propriety, is at least a debatable point; for I have been assured by those who have undergone the somewhat unpleasant experiment of eclipsing, that if they saw nothing else, the severity and suddenness of "the whack", to use Stock Exchange phraseology, has made [-38-] them see stars innumerable. How many crowns of "best beavers" have been so completely "knocked in", as to render the hats ever afterwards unwearable, by means of the process of eclipsing is, I suspect, a question which the most skilful calculator in the house would not undertake to decide. The cases from first to last of the destruction of hats in this way, must be innumerable; but the ingenuity of some of the members has discovered other means of assisting the hatters, where the eclipsing plan fails of effect. The members in question are remarkably expert at knocking the hats of other members of their heads altogether, and then kicking them about on the floor until they are shattered to pieces. So marked indeed are the hat-destroying propensities of some of the members, that a stranger would come away with the impression, that they were in the pay of the leading city hat manufacturers. Query - Are they so?
    The dexterity which many of the members have acquired from long practice, at playing all [-39-] manner of tricks with the hats of each other, is really surprising, and would, were they inclined to accept it, procure them an engagement at any of the theatres. By wetting the fore-part of their fingers, and applying them to the hat of the party to be operated on, they, unconsciously to him, can make it let go its hold of his head; and then, before it has quitted his cranium entirely, they give it another "touch" as they call it, with the aforesaid forepart of their fingers, which sends it spinning through the place a distance perhaps of forty or fifty feet.
    There are various other pastimes which are daily practised on the Stock Exchange, besides those I have mentioned. Occasionally you will see walking-canes, umbrellas, &c. moving about through the place, to the imminent hazard of the heads of members. Chalking one another's backs is one of their most harmless expedients, when in a larking humour. The figures sometimes made on these occasions are of so odd a character, as to be equally beyond the [-40-] pale of Euclid's mathematics, and the tailorifics of any German knight of the thimble, or any other distinguished professor of the "fitting" art. It is scarcely necessary to say that when a person's back is thus well chalked he cuts a very odd figure. Not long ago, two of the gentlemen of the house mutually chalked each other's back with every conceivable variety of stroke, without the one knowing that the other had been playing any of his old tricks. The other gents, or at least that  portion of them who most keenly relish a little frolic, had, of course, their laugh at the expense of both parties, while they individually richly enjoyed the affair, thinking they had achieved a wonderful exploit in having got through the chalking process without the party chalked being aware of the trick that had been played him. When others looked into their faces and laughed heartily, they each fancied it was in the way of giving them credit for their dexterity, and congratulated themselves accordingly. Little did either suppose the other gentlemen were [-41-] laughing at, instead of with them. But perhaps the most amusing part of the affair, was that of the two chalked parties laughing most immoderately at each other, and winking at the other gentlemen around them, by way of self-gratulation at the ridiculous figure the one had been the means of making the other look. When the discovery was made of how they had tricked each other, both were mortified and crest-fallen in the greatest degree.
    On particular days the more frolicsome gentlemen of the Stock Exchange have particular amusements. The 5th of November is a great day for fun amongst them. I am not aware that, like the boys in the streets, they dress up a Guy Fawkes for the occasion. If "Guy" has ever been paraded through the house, I have not heard of the circumstance; but crackers are quite in vogue among them on every anniversary of the escape from the gunpowder-plot. Last 5th of November, the number let off was incredible. Members went with their pockets literally crammed with them, and there was [-42-] nothing but an everlasting "rack, rack, rack" from ten till four o'clock. They were flying in every direction; sometimes exploding about members' feet, at other times about their ears and all parts of their bodies. The number of perforations made in the clothes of some of the more unfortunate members was so great, that certain parts of their garments had the appearance of targets. To such an extent was the joke carried as to render it impossible to do any business worthy of the name.
    But to see the mischievous larking capabilities of certain gentlemen in the Stock Exchange to advantage, one must be there when a stranger chances to go in amongst the members. It is surprising how keen-scented they are in finding out the hapless intruder; and the moment the discovery is made, and the cry of "Fourteen Hundred" * (* "Fourteen Hundred!" is the exclamation always made when a stranger is discovered. It is a sort of watch-word on the Stock Exchange.) is heard, they pounce upon him like so many --, I shall not say [-43-] what. He finds himself instantly surrounded, as if he were some criminal of the first magnitude and the parties around him officers of justice commissioned to take him into custody. He looks about him wondering what is the matter, or rather wondering what there can be about him which not only attracts all eyes, but all persons towards him. He has not time, however, to form a conjecture on the subject, when he finds himself eclipsed, not partially but totally. Before he has time to raise his hat, so as again to see the light of heaven which finds its way into the place, he feels some ten or a dozen hands, as if the paws of so many bears, pulling him about in every direction. Possibly he feels them tearing the clothes off his back; and from the rough usage he receives, he very naturally fears they will tear them in pieces. Many a luckless wight has gone to the Stock Exchange with an excellent coat on his back, and come out with a jacket. To dock an intruder, is, by some of the members, deemed an illustrious exploit. There is one thing, however, to be said [-44-] in favour of the parties who chiefly distinguish themselves in this way in Capel Court, which is, that they never have recourse to Lynch law when dealing with an intruder. It is but right also to do them justice of mentioning, that they never patronise the tarring and feathering process.
    Many amusing anecdotes are related of the treatment which strangers have experienced, who have had the misfortune to enter the forbidden place. Not long ago, a friend of my own, ignorant of the rule so rigidly enforced for the expulsion of strangers, chanced to "drop in," as he himself  phrased it, to the Stock Exchange. He walked about for nearly a minute without being discovered to be an intruder, indulging in surprise at finding that the greatest uproar and frolic prevailed in the place in which he expected there would be nothing but the strictest order and decorum. All at once a person who had just concluded a hasty but severe scrutiny of his features, sung out at the full stretch of his voice, "Fourteen Hun-[-45-]dred!" Then a bevy of the gentlemen of the house surrounded him. "Will you purchase any new navy five per cents,* (*It is hardly necessary to say that there is no such stock) sir?" said one, looking him eagerly in the face. "I am not --" The stranger was about to say he was not going to purchase stock of any kind, but was prevented finishing his sentence by his hat being, through a powerful application of some one's hand to its crown, not only forced down over his eyes, but over his mouth also. Before he had time to recover from the stupefaction into which the suddenness and violence of the "eclipse" threw him, he was seized by the shoulders and wheeled about as if he had  been a revolving machine. He was then pushed about from one person to another, as if he had only been the efigy of some human being, instead of a human being himself. He his was all this while down over his face, he having neither presence of mind nor time to restore it to its usual position on his head; but even had [-46-] it been otherwise, all concern for the hat must have merged in deep anxiety for himself. After tossing and hustling him about in the roughest possible manner, denuding his coat of one of its tails, and tearing into fragments other parts of his wardrobe, they carried him to the door, where, after depositing him on his feet, they left him to recover his lost sense at his leisure. His first feeling on coming to himself again, was one of thankfulness that he had not realised the fate of the frog in the fable which was stoned to death by the boys on the banks of the pond, for no other reason in the world than that of a resolution to gratify their own propensities for pastime. He says he would as soon enter a lion's den, as again cross the threshold of the Stock Exchange.
    The "gentlemen of the Stock Exchange," however, do not always maltreat persons with impunity. Sometimes when they least expect it, they catch a tartar. It is not very long since a middle-sized but very powerful man came up to town from Yorkshire. He was [-47-] well known in his own neighbourhood for being of such a proud spirit as never to brook an affront. One day he went into the Stock Exchange, in utter ignorance of his transgressing any law, conventional or otherwise. The members seemed to know by instinct that he was an intruder, just as Falstaff knew royalty by the same quality. He had not elbowed his way a few yards into the place, when a chorus of voices shouted out - "Fourteen Hundred!" In a moment, to his unspeakable surprise, the entire contents of the house seemed to him to have planted themselves by his side. Down went his hat before he had time to hazard to conjecture as to the cause of his attracting so many persons around him. In an instant after the descent over his face, of his upper covering, the process of wheeling and hustling his person about, commenced with vigour. The Yorkshire stranger uttered an oath or two, and invoking a nameless doom on himself if he had "coom" from the country to be treated in that way, disengaged his arms from the hold of his tormen-[-48-]tors, and distributed sundry heavy blows among them. Acting on the system of the Malays, who when injured in any way run-a-muck at the first person they meet, the Yorkshireman did not trouble himself about who were the principal aggressors, but hit about him right and left, and with such marked effect, that in a few seconds he had made a ring for himself of considerable circumference. Still preserving his pugilistic attitude, he then walked slowly out of the place, no one venturing to indulge in any further pastimes at his expense. I should mention, that while he was under the eclipse, he seized one of his assailants by his handkerchief, and kept so firm a hold it that another member was obliged to cut it in two to prevent the unlucky wight from being strangled.
    The amount of business sometimes transacted in one day at the Stock Exchange is very great. On some occasions, property, including time bargains, to the amount of 10,000,000l. has there changed hands in the short space of a few hours. The late Mr. Rothschild is known to [-49-] have made purchases in one day to the extent of 4,000,000l. The influence which that great capitalist exercised over the funds may be said to have been omnipotent. He could cause a rise or a fall, to a certain extent, whenever he pleased. He was a singularly skilful tactician. To those who know anything of the Stock Exchange it cannot be necessary to state, that he never went into it himself. That, indeed, would have defeated his objects. Had he transacted his business in the funds in his own person, everybody must have seen what he was doing, and consequently others, knowing his general good fortune, would have sold out when he sold out, and purchased when he purchased. One great cause of his success was the secrecy in which he contrived to shroud all his transactions. He had certain men whom he employed as brokers on ordinary occasions; but whenever it suited his purpose, or when he supposed that by employing them, it would be ascertained that he wished to effect either a rise or a fall, he took care to commission a new set of brokers [-50-] to act for him. His mode of doing business, when engaging in large transactions, was this: Supposing he possessed exclusively, which he often did a day or two before it could be generally known, intelligence of some event which had occurred in any part of the continent sufficiently important to cause a rise in the French funds, and through them on the English funds, he would empower the brokers he usually employed to sell out stock, say to the amount of 500,000l. The news spread in a moment in Capel Court, that Rothschild was selling out, and a general alarm followed. Every one apprehended he had received intelligence from some foreign part of some important event which would produce a fall in prices. As might, under such circumstances, he expected, all became sellers at once. This of necessity caused the funds, to use Stock Exchange phraseology, "to tumble down at a fearful rate". Next day, when they had fallen, perhaps, one or two per cent, he would make purchases, say to the amount of 1,500,000l. ; taking care, however, to employ a [-51-] number of brokers whom he was not in the habit of employing, and commissioning each to purchase to a certain extent, and giving all of them strict orders to preserve secrecy in the matter. Each of the persons so employed was, by this means, ignorant of the commission given to the others. Had it been known the purchases were made for him, there would have been as great and sudden a rise in the prices as there had been in the fall, so that he could not purchase to the intended extent on such advantageous terms. On the third day, perhaps, the intelligence which had been expected by the jobbers to be unfavourable, arrives, and instead of being so, turns out to be highly favourable. Prices instantaneously rise again; and possibly they may get one and a-half, or even two per cent. higher than they were when he sold out his 500,000l. He now sells out at the advanced price the entire 1,500,000l. he had purchased at the reduced prices. The gains by such extensive transactions, when so skilfully managed, will be at once seen to be  enormous. By the [-52-] supposed transaction, assuming the rise to be two per cent., the gain would be 35,000l. But this is not the greatest gain which the late leviathan of modern capitalists has made by such transactions. He has on more than one occasion made upwards of 100,000l. on one account.
    Repeated efforts, but always without effect, and generally to the ruin of the party making them, have been made to overthrow the power of Rothschild in the money market. It was clear that the only way in which this could be done, if it was to be done at all, would be by the party attempting it, engaging in transactions of corresponding magnitude. By far the boldest of these attempts was made some years ago by a young gentleman, a Mr. James H- . He made a number of most extensive purchases, and sold out again to a very large amount, all in a very short period of time; and so far from imitating the conduct of the rival whose empire on the Stock Exchange he sought to subvert, in the secrecy of his transactions, he deemed it essential to the success of his schemes, that his ope-[-53-]rations should be performed as openly as possible. Mr. H- was the son of a wealthy country banker, and held, at the time of his introduction, money stock in his own name, though it actually was his father's, to the extent of 50,000l. The reputation of being so rich invested him at once with great importance in the house. The 50,000l., after Mr. H- had been some time a member, was privately re-transferred to his father, the real owner of it. For some time, and until he became perfectly master of the rules and usages of the house, he acted with great prudence and caution, confining his transactions to small amounts; but he eventually began to astonish "the natives," - for so the members are often called, - by the boldness of his manoeuvres. In a very short time, he became the dread of all parties: the Bulls and Bears were anxious to follow him; but, like Rothschild, he evinced a disposition to act independently of every person and every party. About this time consols were as high as 96 or 97. In a few months afterwards symptoms of a coming [-54-] panic began to manifest themselves; and a well-known writer on money matters, having, at the time, for reasons best known to himself, begun to deal out his fulminations against the Bank of England in an influential newspaper, the unhealthy state of the market was greatly aggravated, though high prices were still maintained. Mr. H- watched the state of things with great attention; and being satisfied in his own mind that a leader was only wanting to commence and carry on a successful war against Rothschild, he determined himself to become that leader; and it must be admitted that he acquitted himself as an able general. Going into the house one afternoon, he accosted one of the mostd respectable jobbers thus:
    "What are consols?"
    "Ninety-six and eight," was the answer.
    "In 100,000l. ?" continued he.
    "Yes," said the jobber.
    "You have them. 100,000l. more?"
    "I'll take 100,000l. more."
    "They are your's."
    [-55-] "Another 100,000l. ?"
    "No; I don't want any more."
    On this transaction being finished, the adventurous young gentleman immediately turned round and announced aloud that "200,000l. had been done at 96 and more offered". Then walking backwards and forwards "like a tiger in a den" he followed up the bold tactics he had commenced, by offering any part of 1,000,000l. at 94. For a great part of this amount he at once found purchasers. But he was not yet content with the extent of his transactions, great as they were; nor would he wait for buyers at 94. He offered them, viz. consols, at 93, at 92, and eventually as low as 90, at which price they left off that day. Next day he renewed his exertions to depress the market, and he succeeded to the upmost of his wishes; for consols did not stop in their descent till they reached 74. As was to be expected, contemporaneous with this sudden and extraordinary fall in the price of consols, there was a run on the Bank of England which almost exhausted it of its specie. He [-56-] then purchased to so large an extent, that when a re-action took place, he found that his gains exceeded 100,000l.
It can scarcely be necessary to say that all eyes were fixed with amazement on the boldness of the young gentleman's operations. Many fancied they saw in those operations the dynasty of Rothschild tottering to its fall. With what feeling the "Jew" himself regarded the adventurous conduct of his new and unexpected rival, no one had an opportunity of knowing; for in nothing was Rothschild more remarkable than in the reserve he maintained on all matters relating to the money market. The rivalry of Mr. H- was, however, of short duration: he very soon fell a victim to an enterprise which, both in conception and execution evinced much more of the quality of boldness than of judgment. In about two years after the above extensive "operation" he attempted another on a scale of corresponding magnitude; but in this case Rothschild, anticipating the tactics he would adopt, laid a trap for him into which he [-57-] fell and became a ruined man. He was declared a defaulter, and his name stuck up on the black board. It was only now that the discovery was made, that the 50,000l. money stock supposed to be his own, was in reality his father's, and that is had been re-transferred in his name. A deputation from the committee waited upon Mr. H- immediately after his failure, at his own house in the neighbourhood of Regent's Park, when one of the most rapacious of the number suggested a sale of his furniture, and a mortgage of an annuity settled on his wife. He received the suggestion with the utmost indignation, and ringing the bell for his servant, desired him to show the deputation down stairs, adding that he would be - I shall not say what - before he would pay a sixpence after the treatment he had met with from them. "As for you, you vagabond, 'My son Jack' * (*The designation by which one of the members always went, his father having been accustomed to speak of him as his 'son Jack') who have had the audacity to make such a proposal to me; as for you, [-58-] sir, if you don't make haste out of the room I'll pitch you out of the window." It is scarcely necessary to say that "My son Jack," was the first who reached the bottom of the stairs.
    But though no person during the last twelve or fifteen years of Rothschild's life was ever able for any length of time to compete with him in the money market, he on several occasions was, in single transactions, outwitted by the superior tactics of others. I will give one instance. In that instance Rothschild had to contend not only with a man of more than ordinary ability, but one in the soundness of whose judgment all who were acquainted intimately with him reposed the most implicit reliance. Hence they, and especially his monied connexions, were ready to follow him in any operation. The gentleman to whom I allude was then and is now the head of one of the largest private banking establishments in town. Abraham Montefiore, Rothschild's brother-in-law, was the principal broker to the great capitalist, and in that capa-[-59-]city was commissioned by the latter to negotiate with Mr. -- a loan of 1,500,000l. The security offered by Mr. Rothschild was a proportionate amount of stock in consols, which were at that time at 84. This stock was of course to be transferred to the name of the party advancing the money, - Rothschild's object being to raise the price of consols by carrying so large a quantity out of the market. The money was lent and the conditions of the loan were these - that the interest on the sum advanced should bve at the rate of 4? per cent., and that if the price of consols should chance to go down to 74, Mr. -- should have the right of claiming the stock at 70. The Jew, no doubt, laughed at what he conceived his own commercial dexterity in the transaction; but ere long he had abundant reason to laugh on the wrong side of his mouth; for no sooner was the stock pawned in the hand of the banker, than the latter sold it, along with an immensely large sum which had been previously standing in his name, amounting altogether to little short of 3,000,000l. But even this was not all: Mr.-- [-60-] also held powers of attorney from several of the leading Scotch and English banks, as well as from various private individuals, who had large property in the funds, to sell stock on their account. On these powers of attorney he acted, and at the same time advised his friends to follow his example. They at once did so; and the consequence was that the aggregate amount of stock sold by himself and his friends conjointly, exceeded 10,000,000l.  So unusual an extent of sales, all effected in the shortest possible time, necessarily drove down the prices. In an incredibly short time they fell to 74, - immediately on which Mr. -- claimed of Rothschild his stock at 70. The Jew could not refuse; it was in the bond. This climax being reached, the banker bought in again all the stock he had previously sold out, and advised his friends to re-purchase also. They did so, and the result was that in a few weeks consols reached 84 again, their original price, and from that to 86. Rothschild's losses were very great by this transaction; but they [-61-] were by no means equal to the banker's gains which could not have been less than 300,000l. or 400,000l.
Since Rothschild's death, no-one can be said to have taken his place on the Stock Exchange. There are several gentlemen who engage in very large transactions, but they can scarcely be said to approximate in amount to his. Neither do they stand out, as capitalists, with any very great pre-eminence. Rothschild's sons are, of course, severally rich even compared with those who are regarded as among the most affluent; but, then, compared with him, they can only be considered poor, his wealth being divided amongst them. But independently of this, they have neither the spirit of enterprise nor the financial knowledge or skill of their late father.
    It is to the transactions of speculators in the funds, such as those I have described in the case of Rothschild, and to others of a smaller amount by less affluent parties, and to others of a smaller amount by less affluent parties, and not to any purchases effected or sales made by the public, that the sudden rise or fall of consols is to be [-62-] ascribed. Were the funds left to the operation of the public alone, there would be scarcely any fluctuation in them at all.
    The late Abraham Goldsmid, who unfortunately shot himself a good many years ago, used to carry on business to an immense extent on the Stock Exchange. Perhaps the amount of his transactions were never exceeded by that of any man excepting Rothschild himself. He always did his business on the most liberal and honourable terms, and was greatly respected by all who knew him; but his good qualities did not prevent his becoming the victim to a league, I will not call it a conspiracy, entered into by a party against him,?which party some persons have conjectured included some of his own relations, since dead. At the period alluded to, which is more than a quarter of a century since, a practice obtained as it did for some years afterwards, of allowing the King?s money as it is called, to accumulate in the hands of the different collectors and receivers throughout the kingdom, till the end of the half year or quarter, when they had to ac-[-63-]count for it, sometimes in the funds but more frequently in what are called floating securities, viz. Exchequer Bills and India Bonds. Goldsmid had on one occasion taken, in conjunction with a well-known banking establishment, a large government loan. The party who had combined against poor Goldsmid contrived to produce from these collectors and receivers of the revenue and others so large an amount of these floating securities, that the omnium fell to 18 discount. The results as far as regarded Goldsmid, were in the first instance his failure, and eventually his death by his own hand. The banking house was affected to such an extent by its share of the loss, as to occasion for a time doubts of its solvency. The party referred to took care to purchase largely of omnium when at its greatest discount. On the following day it went up to 3 premium, which was the greatest fluctuation ever known in so short a time. The party were supposed to have cleared among them at least 2,000,000l. by the transaction.
    Fortunes are lost or gained on the Stock [-64-] Exchange with a rapidity unknown in any other place. It is no uncommon thing?it was still less uncommon in the time of the war?for a man to be worth 20,000l. or 30,000l. one day, and to be a beggar the next. There are also many instances in the annals of the Stock Exchange of parties who could not command a farthing one day, being worth 20,000l. 30,000l., 40,000l., or 50,000l. the next. As illustrative of the sudden and singular vicissitudes of for. tune which men sometimes undergo in that place, I may mention a curious instance in the case of Mr. F?, the present proprietor of one of the most extensrve estates in the county of Middlesex. He had been for some years a member of the Stock Exchange, when, on becoming unfortunate, lie had to suffer the indignity of having his name chalked on the black board; an indignity to which poverty more frequently than dishonourable conduct is subjected. The loss of a handsome fortune, coupled with the treatment he had received from the committee, worked his feelings up to such a state of [-65-] frenzy, that chancing to pass London bridge a few days after the battle of Waterloo, he, in his despair, threw the last shilling he had in the world over the bridge into the water. For a few moments afterwards he stood motionless on the spot, leaning over the parapet, and gazing vacantly on the water. The emotions which then passed through his mind were of a nature which no second party could describe; and which, indeed, even he himself could not by possibility convey with anything like their vividness or power, to the minds of others. His predominating feelings?but no idea can be formed of their burning intensity?were those of envy of the insensate stones, and of a wish that he himself were, like his last shilling, at the bottom of the river. That moment, but for the crowds of persons who were passing and repassing, he would have thrown himself over the parapet of the bridge, and ended his woes by ending his existence. From that instant, he did form the purpose of committing suicide; and he began to move slowly towards [-66-] home with that view. Before he had reached the other end of the bridge, he was met by a Frenchman with whom he had been on terms of great intimacy. He would have passed by the Frenchman, so absorbed was he with the wretch. edness of his condition, without recognising him. The latter, however, advancing towards Mr. F??, seized him by the hand and inquired how he was. He managed to lisp out an ? O, how are you?" 
? This is a most important affair to both countries,? said the Frenchman.  
    ? What affair?"
inquired the other, partially recovering himself from the frightful reverie to which he had been giving way.
    "Why, the great battle,? observed Monsieur. ?The great battle! What great battle?"
    ?The battle of Waterloo.?  
    "You are surely dreaming. I have not heard a word about it: the newspapers make no mention of any battle having been lately fought.?
    ?I dare say they do not. How could they? [-67-] Intelligence of it has only reached town within the last two hours. The foreign secretary and the French ambassador alone know anything of it. Government have received the tidings of it by telegraph: it is not an hour since I parted with the French ambassador from whom I had the information. Napoleon is signally defeated.?  
    Mr. F?? felt as if he had started from a deep sleep. He felt as if he had become a new man. The advantage to which such important intelligence might be turned on the Stock Exchange, the scene of so many disasters and so much degradation to him, immediately shot across his mind. 
    ?And the battle was an important one  

?Most important,? said the Frenchman, with great emphasis. ? It will prove fatal for ever to the prospects of Bonaparte. His usurpation is at an end,? he added, with evident joy, being a great adherent of the Bourbon family.?
    "Were the numbers on either side great?"
    ?I have no idea of the exact numbers, but [-68-] the battle was the greatest which has been fought in modern times, and it lasted a considerable part of three days.?  
    Mr. F??- cordially shook the Frenchman by tle hand, and said he would call on him in a day or two. Hastily returning to the city, he hurried to a certain firm on the Stock Exchange, informed them that he had just become exclusively possessed of most important information, and expressed his readiness to communicate it to them on condition that he should receive the half of whatever profits they might realise on any operation they might have in the Stock Exchange in consequence of that information. They agreed to his proposal: he told them the result of the battle of Waterloo:  they rushed into the market and purchased consols to an enormous amount. In the meantime Mr. F? proceeded to another large house and told them also that he possessed information of the most important character, of which he was sure they had heard nothing. They admitted they knew of nothing that was not in the public [-69-] prints. He made the same proposal to them he had done to the other firm: they also, not supposing Mr. F? had spoken to any other party on the subject, at once closed with the offer, and on the intelligence being communicated to them, one of the partners called the other aside ?there were only two in the counting-house at the time?and whispered to him, not on any account to let Mr. F? out of his sight, lest he should allow the important intelligence to transpire to some one else,?adding that he would that instant hurry to the Stock Exchange and employ various brokers to purchase consols to a large amount. ?You?ll recollect what I have said,? he observed to his partner, as he hastened out of the counting-house. ? I?ll take special care of that,? said the other. ? Leave such matters to me,? he added in his own mind. A thought struck him. ?Mr.F?, will you just step into the parlour,? pointing the way, ?and have a lunch?"
Mr. F? assented. They both proceeded to an apartment in another part of the house. A lunch was brought. Mr. F?, whose [-70-] state of mind had deprived him of all appetite for some days past, now ate rather heartily. While busy with the things set before him, the other, rising from his seat, said, ?You?ll excuse rue for a moment, Mr. F?, while I transact a small matter in the counting-house.? ? Certainly,? said Mr. F?, ? take your time.? The other quitted the room, and on getting to the outside, locked the door, unknown to Mr. F?, and put the key in his pocket. In about half an hour the first partner returned from the Stock Exchange and stated, that the funds had already, from some cause or other, risen in an hour or two three per cent. The cause, it is unnecessary to say, was the immense amount of consols which had been purchased by the first house to whom Mr. F? gave the information. Both partners proceeded to the apartment in which they had shut up their prisoner, and apprised him of the rise which had taken place, adding that they did not think it advisable to purchase at the advanced price. He urged them to do so, expressing his firm belief that when the news of so im-[-71-]portant a victory by the Allied Powers had been received, the funds would rise at least 10 or 12 per cent. The parties acted on his advice, and made immense purchases. The event justified the soundness of Mr. F??s counsel, and the accuracy of his opinion; for on the day on which intelligence of the battle was made general, the funds rose to the amazing extent of 15 per cent.,? which is the greatest rise they were ever known to experience. Mr.F??s share of the profits between the two houses in one day exceeded 100,000l. He returned next day to the Stock Exchange, and very soon amassed a large fortune, when he had the wisdom to quit the place for ever, and went and purchased the estate I have alluded to, which he still possesses.  
    The funds experienced a greater fluctuation as well as greater rise on the day on which the result of the battle of Waterloo was made known than they ever did at any previous or subsequent period. The average rise in the course of the day, as just stated, was fifteen per cent.; but taking all their different variations, up and [-72-] down, and down and up together, the fluctuation was fully 100 per cent.
    It can scarcely be necessary to say, that during the time of the war the fluctuations of the funds were much greater than they have been since the peace. The news of every succeeding battle sent them up, or drove them down, according as the result of such battle was supposed likely to affect this country. As might have been expected, all sorts of rumours as to new battles were got up to serve the purposes of individuals. Many a battle was fought and many a victory gained and lost on the Stock Exchange, which were never heard of anywhere else. So accustomed, indeed, had the members become to false intelligence in one or two of the leading papers, given with all the solemnity and positiveness of truth, that they frequently found themselves in the predicament of the persons who had been so often groundlessly alarmed by the cry of ?Wolf?from the shepherd?s boy, that they did not believe it when true. On one occasion a blunt honest member, who had an [-73-] immense stake depending on the aspect of the war on the continent, having heard a rumour that a certain battle had taken place, but not knowing whether to credit it or not, determined on waiting personally on Lord Castlereagh, then foreign minister, with the view of endeavouring to get at the truth. He sent up his name to his lordship, with a note stating the liberty he had taken in consequence of the amount he had at stake, and begging as a favour to be informed whether the news of the battle in question was true. The noble lord desired the gentleman to be sent up stairs. He was shown into his lordship?s room. ? Well, sir,? said his lordship, "I am happy to inform you that it is perfectly true this great battle has been fought, and that the British troops have been again victorious."
    ?I am exceedingly obliged to your lordship for your kindness in giving me the information: I am a ruined man,? said the Stock Exchange speculator, making a low bow and withdrawing. He had calculated on the triumph, at the next conflict, of Napoleon?s army. He had speculated [-74-] accordingly; a contrary issue at once rendered him a beggar.
The members of the Stock Exchange are for the most part exceedingly ignorant of all other matters except those which immediately bear on their own business. This may be accounted for, partly from the fact of many of them being of an humble origin, and but very imperfectly educated; and partly from the fact, that when they have once entered the place, their minds, as in the case of the gamblers at the west end, become so engrossed with the everlasting subject of ?stock,? that they not only never talk but scarcely ever think of anything else. As for doing, again, the only actions a great many of them are ever known to perform are those of smoking tobacco and playing at billiards at night. There are some most inveterate smokers among them: the cigar is scarcely ever out of their mouths. It is an article which must cost many of them a very handsome something in the course of a year.
    I have said that there are some excellent men  [-75-] on the Stock Exchange who would be incapable of anything oppressive or vindictive towards a fallen member. I could mention the names of persons in the house who are an honour to their species. The late Mr. Goldsmid had many admirable moral qualities about him. For many years he had been accustomed to dine in a plain and simple way, at the London Tavern, or City of London Tavern?I am not certain which? when he was usually served by the same waiter. The waiter had always been remarkable for his civility and attention. One day Mr. Goldsmid observed that he was very inattentive and seemingly absent-minded. ?What?s the matter with you to day, John?"
inquired Mr. Goldsmid, just as he was about to quit the house.
    "Nothing, sir; that is to say, sir, nothing very particular,? observed John, in faltering accents.  
    Mr. Goldsmid was strengthened in his conviction by the waiter?s confused manner of speaking, that something particular was the matter.  
    [-76-] ?Come, come, John, do tell me what makes you so absent-minded and unhappy like?"
said Mr. Goldsmid.
Well, Mr. Goldsmid, since you are so pressing in your kind inquiries, I am sorry to say that about half an hour ago I was arrested for debt, and must go to prison this evening if I cannot pay the money.?  
    ? Arrested for debt, John! What induces on to get into debt?"
Why, sir, to tell the truth, I am not able to support my wife and five children with what I can make in this house,? said the waiter, in very touching tones.  
    "And what may be the amount for which you are arrested?"
    " I am ashamed to mention it, sir.?  
    ?Let me hear it,? said Mr. Goldsmid. Why, sir, it?s for 55l." stammered out the waiter, in broken accents, looking stedfastly on the floor as if ashamed to hold up his head.
    ?Bring me a pen and ink,? said Mr. Goldsmid. A pen and ink was immediately brought, [-77-] when Mr. Goldsmid drew from his pocket his check-book, and having written a check for 1001., put it into the poor fellow?s hands, saying, ?Here, go with that, John, to my banker?s, and you will get as much for it as will pay your debt, and be a few pounds to your family beside.?
may mention another short anecdote illustrative of the excellence of Mr. Goldsmid?s heart. It must make every one regret the unhappy end to which he came. Being on one occasion travelling in Somersetshjre, his carriage was violently upset, owing to the horses taking fright, and he himself seriously hurt by the accident. He was taken to the house of a poor curate, at no great distance from the place at which the disaster occurred. There he was confined to his bed, from the injuries he had received, for a fortnight, during which time the curate was most marked and unremitting in his attentions. On recovering so far as to be able to undertake a journey to London, he asked the curate how much he was indebted to him for [-78-] the very great kindnesses he had received at his hand. The curate begged him not to mention such a thing: the idea of remuneration in such a case never entered his mind. Mr. Goldsmid, thinking after this that to press money on the good Samaritan?s acceptance, would only hurt his feelings?happy were it for the church were all her clergy like him?quitted his humble and hospitable abode, assuring him that his humanity would not be forgotten. In six weeks afterwards the poor curate received a letter from Mr. Goldsmid, telling him that he had become the contractor for a large government loan, and that he had put down his (the curate?s) name for 20,000l. omnium, which he hoped would turn out for his advantage. The simpleminded curate, who knew nothing more of the funds or of omnium, than he did of the Stock Exchange of the Georgium Sidus, if there be such a place in that planet,?fancied that as his name had been put down for a 20,0001. slice of the loan, it would be indispensable that that amount of money should be forthcoming. He [-79-] immediately wrote back to Mr. Goldsmid, thanking him for the kindness of his intentions, but adding, that instead of being able to raise 20,000l. he could not command 20l. in the world. Mr. Goldsmid answered the virtuous curate?s letter by the post of next day, saying, that the 20,000l. could be dispensed with, and enclosing him 1,500l. as the amount of profit which he had received for the 20,000l. omnium, on selling it out,?the premium having risen since he had put down the curate?s name, to an extent which cleared that sum.  
    Most of the leading men in the Stock Exchange go by nick-names. The way in which these names sometimes originate is curious. ?My son Jack,? a member already referred to, is a cognomen which dates its origin from the circumstance of the party?s father having always called him by that name. Another member is dubbed ?The Lady?s Broker,? in consequence of having been employed, on one occasion, by Mrs. R., the lady of a deceased capitalist, in a speculation into which she entered on her own [-80-] account, and without the knowledge of her husband. The speculation turned out so unfavourably that neither the lady nor her broker could discharge their obligations; and hence, as in other cases where the broker cannot meet the engagements he has entered into for any other party, he must, to save himself from the black board, give up the name of his principal,?the broker was compelled to divulge the name of the lady speculator. From that day to this he has gone under the name of ?The Lady?s Broker.? The husband, knowing he could not be compelled to pay for the illegal gambling of his wife, refused to advance a farthing in liquidation of her debts. Every one, however, is not so frightened at the idea of having his name clapped on the black board as was the member in question.  
    It is worthy of observation, that with the single exception of the late Mr. David Ricardo, the celebrated political economist, there are no names, so far as I am aware, of any literary distinction connected with the Stock Exchange. 
    [-81-] I
know several members who have written pamphlets; but they have been on matters connected with their own business. Whether this absence of literary reputation on the Stock Exchange is to be ascribed to the engrossing nature of the transactions in which the members are engaged, is a point which I cannot undertake positively to determine, though I incline to the opinion that it is so in a great measure, if not wholly. As I have mentioned the name of Mr. Ricardo, I may observe that he amassed his immense fortune byascrupulous attention to what he called his own three golden rules, the observance of which he used to press on his private friends. These were, ?Never refuse an option* (*This technicality has been already explained.) when you can get it,??? Cut short your losses,?? ?Let your profits run on.? By cutting short one's losses, Mr. Ricardo meant that when a member had made a purchase of stock, and prices were falling, he ought to resell immediately. And by letting one?s profits run on he meant, that when a member possessed stock, and prices [-82-] were rising, he ought not to sell until prices had reached their highest, and were beginning again to fall. These are, indeed, golden rules, and may be applied with advantage to innumerable other transactions than those connected with the Stock Exchange.  

[nb. grey numbers in brackets indicate page number, (ie. where new page begins), ed.]

source: James Grant, The Great Metropolis, 1837