« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
daily, and thus accumulate several times the above sum, long hefore the age of seventy. Nearly all large fortunes are the result of such accumulations; hence the men who amass great fortunes are usually those only who live long. The last few years of Girard's and Astor's lives increased their wealth more than scores of early years. To be in haste to become rich by a few great operations, is a direct road to eventual poverty. We cannot, however, command long life, but we can approximate thereto by commencing early the process of accumulation-an elongation by extending backward being as efficacious as an elongation for. ward. Every hundred dollars expended by a man of the age of twenty years, is an expenditure of what, at our legal rate of interest, would, by compounding it annually, become $3,000 should he live to the age of seventy. This lesson is taught practically by savings banks, and well counteracts the fatal mistake of the young, that old age
is the period for accumulation, and youth the period for expenditure. By like principles, a young man who pays annually a premium for life insurance, loses not the premiums alone, but the immense increase which the money would produce, should he invest it at compound interest, and live to the ordinary limit of man's life. Extremely old men, who have no length of life in prospect, are the only persons, if any, who should insure their lives, for the expense of their insurance would be but little more than the annual premiums.
TO TEACH THE POOR SELF-DEPENDENCE
IS A BETTER CHA
RITY THAN ALMS.
“The poverty of the poor is their destruction," says the Bible, but savings banks correct this evil, by enabling them to accumulate their savings, and become rich by the
means which, alone, ordinarily make the rich richer. That no class of persons may be excluded from the vivifying process of accumulation, savings banks for the reception of penny deposits have recently been instituted in London, and numerous are the reported instances of the salutary change they have produced in the habits and pecuniary condition of the depositors. Nature kindly aids the improvement by the organic mode in which every man estimates his possessions—not by comparing himself with other people, but by comparing his present possessions with his former; so that a man who possesses a surplus of two pence will feel rich, (as we experience in children,) if he never before possessed a greater surplus than a penny. We have long sought to benefit the poor, by administering free soup to the destitute, penitentiaries to the wayward, clubs and life insurance to the thriftless; but if we induce the poor man to accumulate his occasional surplus earnings, we shall enable him to cook his own soup, support his family better by his life than by his death, and diminish the inmates of penitentiaries.
THE EXPENDITURE OF MONEY IS THE MOST IGNOBLE OF
The highest value of affluence is the social influence which it confers, whereby the possessor may become useful to society by his example and precept. Many persons keep themselves poor by lavish expenditures, in the hope of being deemed rich, and enjoying the superiority which riches confer. The deception is necessarily of short duration ; but had the party carefully saved and accumulated, he might soon have become permanently rich. The mental anguish which a man feels when he loses part of a large fortune, proceeds from an imagined diminution
of his influence and power, not from any physical privations that the lost wealth will create. Nor is such a notion fanciful; men who have been esteemed wise counsellors while rich, lose commonly their reputed wisdom, if they lose their property. This phenomenon was observed by Shakspeare, who accounts for it by saying :
“Men's judgments are
To suffer all alike." That money is useless except for the physical enjoyments which its expenditure will produce, is the error of the poor; while persons who have experienced the intellectual gratifications which resut from the retention of money, gain a better estimate of its value. The respect that attends wealth is as old as the Bible, which says_“If a man come unto your assembly with a gold ring and goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile apparel, and ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place, and say to the poor, Stand thou there, are ye not partial ?" If two men arrive at the Astor House, where the charge for board and lodging is the same for both, the man who is known to possess the most property will be lodged in a better room than the other, and receive, in every way, a preference. If the two take passage in a steamboat, the like preference will be accorded to the man of superior wealth ; and these instances are but exemplifications of a general custom.
THE SLOW ACCUMULATION OF PROPERTY
MORAL EFFECTS THAN SUDDEN ACQUISITION OF PROPERTY.
A man's self-respect, and the respect of his wife and children for him and themselves, will increase continually
as his savings augment. The gradual increase of wealth which attends the accumulation of a man's savings, is also more favorable to its preservation, and to the possessor's equanimity, than any sudden accumulation of property. The upstart is a well-known genus of repulsive and pernicious peculiarities. A family who succeed to the slowly. accumulated savings of a deceased father, know his modes of investment, (a knowledge almost as valuable as the property he may leave them,) and the family will be more likely to retain the property permanently, than a widow or orphans suddenly enriched by a life insurance, which will be paid them in money, of whose proper uses and safe investment they will be ignorant. Besides, the parent whose savings are safely accumulated, feels not the anxiety which sometimes attends life insurance, lest he may be incapacitated by sickness, inadvertence or disappointment, from paying his burdensome and insidious renewal premium. He is, on the contrary, master at all times of his savings, and can recall them all or a part, as his necessities may require, or as more lucrative investments may become known to him-Savings Banks being a school to teach the art of accumulation to the poor, rather than a resort for experienced capitalists. Nor is a Savings Bank depositor a sort of prisoner, under bonds not to travel into foreign countries, without the consent of some life insurance company ; his freedom nor his money is lost to him; nor, in case of his death, are his deposits liable to be wrested from his family by any quibble, such as life insurance companies occasionally will and always can interpose, where the company happens to believe that the insured person was not so robust as he or some physician represented at the commencement of his insurance,
SAVINGS BANKS SHOULD PAY DEPOSITORS AS MUCH INTEREST
AS PRACTICABLE. As Savings Banks are usually the laboring man's only secure mode of accumulation, they should pay depositors as high a rate of interest as practicable; for the more productive a poor man's mite can be made, the stronger will be his motive for frugality and industry. Some Savings Banks in Connecticut pay depositors 5 1-2 per cent. interest, while our banks pay only 5 per cent., though our legal interest is one per cent. more than in Connecticut; consequently, our long-established city Savings Banks have accumulated enormously large surplus profits, which exist without a legal owner or a legitimate object. These banks are required by their charters “to regulate the rate of interest so that depositors shall receive a ratable proportion of all the profits, after deducting necessary expenses ;" but the provision fails to effect its object, as is manifested by the accrued surplus profits, portions whereof have in some cases been invested in the erection of palatial bankinghouses, and the purchase of valuable city grounds. The depositors from whose hard earnings these costly investments were involuntarily abstracted, have received their stipulated 5 per cent. interest, drawn out their deposits, and are heard of no more for ever. Like other property for whom no owner exists, erections of the above character belong to the State, and are subject to legislative disposal, together with all other surplus profits possessed by these institutions. Why, then, should not all Savings Banks be compelled honestly to divide annually (as a bonus) among its depositors, the total amount of its net earnings beyond the stipulated 5 per cent? The surplus which any bank may own at the time of the enactment of the law, can be reserved from distribution, except the income which may