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their collection. The like may be said of over-drafts,* which are rarely permitted by American bankers, though in England they seem to constitute one of the regular modes of advancing money to customers. Whether they shall be permitted is within the proper discretion of the Board ; and should they occur inadvertently, the occurrence ought to be manifested to the Board. An exemption from losses is impracticable in long.continued operations; yet all grades of intellect are procurable; hence the retention of an officer is unwise when his results are unsatisfactory. Every man can adduce excuses which no persons may be able to controvert; but when miscarriages are frequent or important, the Board should assume that something wrong exists and eludes detection, rather than that nature deviates from her accustomed processes, making vigilance unsafe, and skill unprofitable. The recent “ Rochester Knockings," which some people endeavor to unravel, by reason that they deem the noises supernatural, if they cannot be otherwise explained, saner intellects pass without scrutiny, being confident that the inexplicability of the knockings can prove only that the shrewdness of observers is baffled by the artifice of the exhibiters.
SUPERVISION AGAINST FRAUDS.
The examination of vaults, and counting of money, rarely reveal defalcations, till the defaulter no longer endeavors to conceal his delinquencies. The counting is not pernicious, if the Board choose to amuse their vigilance therewith ; but we have not attempted to designate modes in which frauds are detectable, the ingenuity of concealment being naturally as great as the ingenuity of detection. Besides, the detection of intestine frauds requires a greater famili
* A list of all the credits due to individual depositors will, by its aggregate amount, show inductively the amount of over-drafts.
arity with banking accounts, and a more laborious inspection of bank-books, than can ordinarily be expected of bank directors. For the detection of frauds, therefore, the best practical reliance is a supervision, in the way we have indicated, of the bank's business, and a familiar observation of the general conduct, habits, and expenses of the Manager, as well as of all the subordinate officers; the latter, however, are more especially within the duties of the Manager. The ruin of a bank by fraud commences usually in the personal embarrassment of the delinquent, contracted by improper self-indulgencies, or the assumption of secret hazards. Men rarely plunder till their conduct is otherwise disorganized, external symptoms of which observant directors may discover. A bank officer, therefore (and the higher his official position the more urgent the rule), who will not keep disengaged from all suretyship, and business that may render him pecuniarily necessitous, is as unfit to be entrusted with a bank, as a nurse who frequents small-pox hospitals is unfit to be trusted with unvaccinated children. In menageries, animals are kept peaceful by preventing the cravings of hunger; bank executives require a similar assuasive; not by being glutted with great salaries, but by preserving themselves from expenditures unsuited to their income, and from pecuniary liabilities. A bank Manager of undoubted wealth, presents therein the best attainable guarantee against misconduct, and is entitled to greater freedom of action in his personal transactions, than officers of ordinary circumstances; still, we will venture the advice, that when a man wants to be much more than a bank Manager, especially when he wants to employ much more than his own funds, he had better cease from occupying a station which he is too ambitious, or too avaricious, to fill, under the restraints which experience show are alone safe.
THE EXCISE LICENSE QUESTION.* Our criminal jurisprudence has long verified the proverb that the law is like a cobweb, which catches small flies but permits large ones to escape. When, however, great rogues elude justice, the defect heretofore has been an evasion of law, but the statute which prohibits licenses, legalizes the principle ; for, while five gallons of rum may be sold with impunity, the sale of a gill is an indictable offence. The practical operation of the law is as discriminative as its letter, in favor of conspicuous offenders ; for, at all public places of fashionable regalement, where a coarse dram is refused to a laboring man, his luxurious neighbor is unstinted in champaigne. And lest such inequalities should not be sufficient, all the inhabitants of New-York City may sin with drink as their appetites shall dictate.
But these defects are to be corrected. The public stomach, like the natural, must be familiarized by degrees to what it naturally abhors; and nothing can better elucidate the extent to which it may thus be familiarized, than the gradual advance of our Temperance reformers from the blandest moral suasion, as their only authorized corrective
* Published in 1846.
of intemperance, to the coercion by indictment, fine, and imprisonment, with which they have procured themselves to be now armed. These powers will only whet the appetite for more; but Providence, which, doubtless for good ends, has implanted in every man a tyranny that would, by sword and faggot, if permissible, subject the world to his peculiar notions, has implanted in every other man a resistance graduated not simply by the assault, but inveterated by revenge; hence the blood of martyrs has ever been deemed the seed of the Church-a result not predicable of men because they happen to be Christians, but predicable of Christians because they are men. By virtue of this principle, the vote in favor of coercion was scarcely announced last spring, when our streets suddenly exhibited men reeling with intemperance, the restraints of decency giving way in them to the desire of showing a defiance of coercion. Even in China, where coercion can inflict death, and where the coercion is directed against the use of opium, it is defeated by man's inherent sense that every man is his own keeper in what is personal to himself. Persua. sion is twice blessed, for it blesses the receiver and the giver; but coercion is twice cursed. Its effect on the coerced may be seen in the above examples, and in the exasperation which has, in many cases, induced tavern-keepers in our lonely highways to refuse a drink of water to the thirsty horses of inoffensive travelers; and in the conversion, even in our own city, of some of our most peaceful inhabitants into indicted litigants of our criminal courts; verifying thus the Scriptures, that oppression will make even wise men mad. The effect on the coercive philanthropists is not less corrupting, for we saw them at the polls brow-beating opponents with all the mad appliances of vulgar partisanship; and we have seen them since, systematizing the
employment of informers, and hunting down heretics with a rancor which, how much soever they may deceive themselves as to their motives, proves that they are proselyting with the spirit of Mahomet.
But were the influences of coercion as assuasive to the coerced as it is exasperating, and as benign to the coercers as it is malignant, the demerits of the process would still condemn it, with all men who would attain good ends by only good means; and especially by all who love liberty even more than they love temperance.
If three men were shipwrecked on an uninhabited island, any two of them who should agree upon the formation of laws, would possess a sufficiency of physical preponderance to devote to their services the labor of the third. That the majority should rule, accords with the theory of our Government, but an exercise of power like the above, all feel would be wrong; hence to make a law just, something more is necessary than the sanction of a majority; and if we inquire into the deficiency in the above case we shall find that the majority imposed burdens on the minority, from which the majority were themselves to be exempt; and thus the voters at our late election, who possessed no inclination for taverns and groceries, voted restraints on men of opposite inclinations. The world is familiar with attempts by majorities to thus extend their control beyond its just limits; hence the Constitution of our State prohibits a majority from coercing the minority in matters of religious preferences, as formerly in England, where Episcopalians excluded from office all who preferred other forms of worship; and as once in France, where infidels prohibited preaching and abolished Sabbaths. The prohibition of our Constitution is just, not because it relates to religion, but because in matters merely personal, no aggregate of preferences can rightfully con