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whale. The debtor can say to a bank thus circumstanced, that to stop discounting for him will ruin him, and that his ruin will involve a loss of the existing debt. No prudent banker will be placed in such a position; but should any banker lapse into so sad an error, he will rarely mend his position by yielding to the proposed necessity for further loans. He had better brave the existing evil than yield to an argument which, if already too potent to be disregarded, will acquire additional strength by every further discount, and render his inevitable fall more disastrous to his stock. holders, and more disreputable to himself.
The more a banker can reduce the amount of his contingent expenses the more easily will be make reasonable dividends of profit among his stockolders, without an undue expansion of loans, and consequent anxiety to himself. The income of a bank is an aggregate of only petty accumulations. The unnecessary expenditure of every hundred dollars the year, will nullify the interest on four ninety-day loans of fifteen hundred dollars each. The economy of which we speak is not any unjust abridgment of proper remunera. tive salaries to faithful officers and servants, who should, however, labor diligently and perseveringly in their voca. tions as men labor in other employments; so that the bank may economize in the number of its agents, instead of economising in the magnitude of their salaries. A hundred dol. lars or a thousand, when contrasted with the capital of a bank, may seem a small matter, and probably bank expend. itures are often incurred under such a contrast; but the true contrast lies between the expenditure and the net percentage of a bank's gains. A bank whose net income
will not exceed the legal rate of interest, possesses no fund from which to squander. And banks often expend an unduly large part of their capital in architecture to ornament the city of their location, or to rival some neighboring institution whose extravagance ought to be shunned, not followed. No person has yet shown why banks should be built like palaces, while the owners of the banks are, to a good extent, poor, and live humbly. The custom is, perhaps, founded on the delusion of deeming a great capital identical with great wealth. When several men, for any purposes of gain, unite their several small capitals, they may well need a larger building and more agents than each man would require, were he unassociated ; but that the association can afford an organization increased in splendor as much as in magnitude, is a fallacy somewhat analogous to the blunder of the Irishman, who, hearing that his friend intended to walk forty miles during a day, said that he would walk with him, and then they could walk eighty miles.
THE MAN.—HE SHOULD BE WARY OF RECOMMENDATIONS.
When solicited by a neighbor or a friend, few men possess vigor enough, or conscientiousness enough, to refuse a recommendation, or to state therein all they suspect or apprehend. They will studiously endeavor not to make themselves pecuniarily responsible by any palpable misrepresentation; hence they will so qualify the recommendation that it will admit of a construction consistent with truth; but the qualification will be so enigmatical or subtle that the banker will not interpret it as the recommender will show subsequently it ought to have been inter
preted. Besides, the inan who merely recommends a loan acts under circumstances that are much less favorable to caution than the man who is to lend. When we are in the act of making a loan, our organization presents the danger with a vividness that is not excited by the act of recommending. To speculatively believe that we will suffer the extraction of a tooth is a wholly different matter from sitting down and submitting to the operation. Suicide would be far more common than it is if a man could feel when the act was to be performed as he feels when he only prospectively resolves on performing it. This preservative process of nature no banker should disregard, by substituting any man's recommendation for the scrutiny of his own feelings and judgment at the time when the loan is to be consummated; though he may well give to recommendations all the respect which his knowledge of the recommender may properly deserve.
HE SHOULD BE GOVERNED BY HIS OWN JUDGMENT.
By acting according to the dictates of his own judgment, a man strengthens his own judgment as he proceeds; while a man who subordinates his judgment to other men's is continually debilitating his own. Nothing also is more fallacious than the principle on which we ordinarily defer to the decision of a multitude of councillors. If fifty men pull together at a cable, the pull will combine the strength of one man multiplied by fifty ; but if fifty men deliberate on any subject, the result is not the wisdom of one man multiplied by fifty, but, at most, the wisdom of the wisest man of the assemblage; just as fifty men, when they look at any object, can see only what can be seen by the sharpest single vision of the group. They cannot combine their vision, and make thereof a lens as powerful as the sight of
one man multiplied by fifty. A banker may, therefore, well resort to other men for information; but he may
differ from them all, and still be right; any way, if he perform the dictates of his own judgment, he performs all that duty requires; if he act otherwise, he performs less than his duty. “Let the counsel of your own heart stand," says the Bible; and by way of encouragement, it adds, that a man can see more of what concerns himself than seven watchmen on a high tower.
As virtue's strongest guarantee is an exemption from all motive to commit evil, a banker must avoid all engagements that may make him needy. If he wants to be more than a banker, he should cease from being a banker. Should he discover in himself a growing tendency to irri. tability, which his position is apt to engender, let him resist it as injurious to his bank and his peace; and, should he find himself popular, let him examine whether it proceeds from the discharge of his duties. A country banker was some few years ago dismissed from a bank which he had almost ruined, and was immediately tendered an honorary public dinner by the citizens of his village, into whose favor his misdeeds had unwisely ingratiated him. The service of massive plate, that was given to a president of the late United States Bank, was in reward of compliances which soon after involved in disaster every commer. cial interest of our country. Could we trace actions to their source, these mistakes of popular gratitude would
The moroseness that we abhor, proceeds often from a sensitiveness that is annoyed at being unable to oblige ; while the amiability that is applauded, proceeds from an imbecility that knows not how to refuse.
A banker should possess a sufficiency of legal knowledge to make him suspect what may be defects in proffered securities, so as to submit his doubts to authorized counsellors. He must, in all things, be eminently practical. Every man can tell an obviously insufficient security, and an obviously abundant security; but neither of these constitute any large portion of the loans that are offered to a banker. Security practically sufficient for the occasion is all that a banker can obtain for the greater number of the loans he must make. If he must err in his judgment of securities, he had better reject fifty good loans than make one bad debt; but he must endeavor not to err on the extreme of caution, or the extreme of temerity; and his tact in this particular will, more than in any other, constitute the criterion of his merits as a banker.
EULOGY ON A BODY CORPORATE.*
The Ontario Bank was incorporated March 13, 1813, and soon thereafter commenced business at Canandaigua. The Legislature, on the 15th of April, 1815, authorized it to establish a branch, which commenced business at Utica, December 26, 1815. The corporation was originally to endure till June, 1833, but the Legislature of 1829 extended its existence to the 1st of January, 1856, when it must expire; and, as you and I have been connected with it from its origination, except its first six years, you, as autocrat of the Bank at Canandaigua, and I somewhat so of the branch at Utica, I desire to sketch its history, as due to you, its primum mobile, and that haply the Bank in its example may, “ though dead, yet live."
* Published June, 1855, and addressed to Henry B. Gibson, Cashier of the Ontario Bank Capandaigua.