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"It is perfectly practicable for a bank to confine its operations within its own available capital so as to avoid recourse to the discount market, and it is at all times desirable that this should be practiced, though it is not at all times convenient, nor in ail cases profitable. But no bank, whose chief business is that of discounting bills, being at the same time a bank of issue, can be considered secure with a small capital. The very process of re-discounting, which is the great source of its profits, multiplies its obli. gations with such amazing rapidity that the liabilities of many small banks in this way would be incredible, were fact, and the process by which it is accomplished, less fa. miliar to the community. It is not a sufficient argument against this statement, that if a bank is to hold these rediscounted bills as liabilities, they are entitled to take credit for them as assets. As a matter of accounting, this is doubtless correct; but as affecting the stability of the bank, the matter must be contemplated in a different light. The risk which the bank runs is multiplied in proportion to the amount of bills re-discounted. A bank with a capital of £40,000, having bills running to the amount of £300,000, would have its whole capital swept away by a percentage of loss that would not be ruinous on its original discounts. Now it cannot be doubted that this statement represents the condition of numerous banks in the manu. facturing and mining districts. The system is evidently unsound, and such establishments cannot be too strongly urged to call up more capital. These observations are not intended to discountenance or throw discredit upon the system of re-discounting. Many banks are known to look upon it with apprehension, as being a system fraught with danger. It is well for them if they are so circuinstanced as to realize a reasonable profit without this adventitious
aid. The absurd and dangerous extent to which it is in some cases practiced, is what is here objected to."
We cannot conclude, however, without saying, that, how hazardous soever re-discounts may be in England, the reliance on them is very hazardous with us. Some years since, one of the large banks of New-York was prosecuted for damages in refusing to discount for a country bank according to a written arrangement which it had previously entered into. We know, also, a country banker who had made, without charge, large inland collections during two years for a New York bank, on the condition that the country banker should obtain, when he desired, discounts to the extent of $20,000; still, when the discounts were demanded, a pressure existed, which induced the New York bank to repudiate the agreement. These examples are quoted, not to impute any delinquency to the banks of New York, but to exhibit specimens of the condition to which business is occasionally liable in NewYork, (our best money market,) and the consequent hazard to country banks of relying for funds on re-discounts, even when fortified by explicit assurances. The full stomach loathes not the honey-comb more proverbially, than a struggling city bank loathes a needy country correspondent, who is urging his stale claims for discounts, and thereby attempting to add new burthens to a load which is already too great to be borne by the city bank without the most painful apprehensions.
REVIEW OF SCHOOLCRAFT'S “RESIDENCE OF THIRTY YEARS WITH
THE INDIAN TRIBES ON THE AMERICAN FRONTIERS."*
This book is inscribed to A. B. Johnson, of Utica, with whom, in 1810, the author made his first excursion to the West, preparatory to the manufacture of window-glass by a hundred-thousand-dollar corporation, just created by the New-York Legislature. Mr. Schoolcraft alone possessed any knowledge of glass-making, and to him, with a salary of a thousand dollars a year, was confided the planning of all necessary buildings, contracting for their erection, originating the furnaces, procuring raw materials, governing the artisans, disbursing the expenditures, manufacturing the glass, and preparing it for market. But few manufactories of window.glass existed in the United States, and their absence was painfully apparent in new settlements by window-sashes disfigured with rude substitutes for glass. This state of the country caused the stock of the corporation to be owned by patriotic citizens; and among the most active and influential of the corporators was the Hon. John Greig, who resided in Canandaigua, and who is still there, the foremost citizen in all that is praiseworthy; illustrating strikingly, by his eminent social position, the scriptural promise, that “He who watereth shall be watered again."
The bank of Seneca Lake, a mile from Geneva, was selected for the new establishment. Forest timber covered the site; but in about three months glass was manufactured for market, and a small village had been erected for the workmen. Mr. Schoolcraft was only seventeen years old ; and this reveals his early character as unmistakably as the
Published in 1842.
agricultural productions of a country reveal its climate. He was precocious generally, being an expert drastsman, mature penman, with a respectable knowledge of chemistry and mineralogy, while ethically he was exempt from the irregularities which ordinarily accompany youth. We happened to know him intimately at this period, and these remarks result from that intimacy, not from the book, in which his residence at Geneva, and its important incidents, are modestly referred to in a dozen words.
The author's early expectations, and the pervading tendency of his feelings, were toward a devotion of his life to a sedentary cultivation of literature and science. But Providence" shapes our ends, rough-hew them as we may;" and Schoolcraft compares more with Ledyard for activity than with any other American whose records have interested the world. During thirty years he was an active explorer of the unsettled portions of our territory, when the great lakes and rivers of the West were traversed only by canoes. In one of these excursions be traced the Mississippi to its source, the source being previously deemed problematical ; Pike, in 1806, having placed it at Leech Lake, and Cass, in 1820, at Red Cedar Lake. He was efficiently instrumental in directing public enterprise to the copper regions of Missouri, and in disclosing the general topography of the Mississippi valley, and the regions of the lakes. In no other book is the wonderful progress of our country, in population and industry, so strikingly apparent. We find the author conjecturing the business capabilities of places which, in less than twenty years thereafter, are populous cities; and in the year 1830, he makes one “ of perhaps the first party of pure pleasure, having no objects of business of any kind, who ever went from the upper lakes to visit Niagara Falls.”
But the principal interest of the memoirs consists in what pertains to the Indians, among whom the author, during much of the thirty years, acted as agent of the United States. Official station, and his having married a highly educated half-breed grand-daughter of an Indian chief of the vicinity, yielded him unsurpassed advantages for ascertajning the habits of the Indians, their traditions, customs, knowledge, language, superstitions, and opinions generally. The whole information passes into the possession of the reader incidentally, rather than doctrinally; the memoirs constituting a journal of what the author saw and heard, whereby the mass glides before the reader like the contents of a diorama which is being gradually unfolded, every incident introducing naturally its successor. The author avoids the common error of narrating only his intellectual reflections; he gives you the raw, sensible materials, wherefrom every reader can make his own reflections. The raw material is also of a kind which is daily becoming more difficult to collect; the unsophisticated Indian and his antiquities, language, customs, and traditions being already defaced by time, and fading fast from existence. Nothing could have been more providential than the residence among the Indians for thirty years of such a person as Schoolcraft, and at such an epoch. Before his day, men have passed their lives among the Indians, but not like him have they, for thirty years, devoted a vigorous intellect and discriminating judgment in collecting useful information, with no hope of reward but to instruct contemporaries, and to be kindly remembered by posterity. We may well say, with Hamlet, “ You cannot feed capons so ;" nor can you feed men so, except the occasional self-denying literary enthusiast.
The memoirs are, however, only a highly condensed