Chapter 2548914

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Chapter NumberNone
Chapter Title
Chapter Url
Full Date1839-03-30
Page Number4
Word Count2061
Last Corrected2009-10-29
Newspaper TitleThe Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842)
Trove TitleThe Murdering Banker
article text


(From Blackwood's Magazine for December.)

There are certain money-makiing as- sociations called Joint-Stock Banks, whose branches overshadow the land. No city, however large, no village, how- ever small, can escape the colonizing assiduity of those wonderful establish-     ments. The '" Branch" is transplanted with inconceivable rapidity-strikes

root in an instant, and bears fruit from the moment it touches the soil. Rail- ways and Joint Stock Banks will assuredly, between them, turn old Scot- land upside down. A railway through Drumshorlan Muir, with atrain of fifty carriages loaded, roof and body, with men and bales of goods, besides women,   crockery, and other brittle, ware:- a branch of Great Western Bank, showing forth goodly leaves and blos-

soms at Inverary ;-these, and a few other sights of our modern days, would have made Baillie Nicol Jarvie lose conceit of the Saut Market. What   invocations he might have made to his " Conscience" it is not for us to say; nor, indeed, can we affirm with cer- tainty, that the honest citizen would     have retained conscience enough even to swear by; for who knows but he might have been like the reat of us, and have thrown off that and other heavy luggage, as being an incumbrance to the rapidity of what is called the Progress. The March of Mind is performed best without baggage. But   with these great truths ,we have at present no concern. What we mean to   assert, and at the same time to deplore, is, that all these new-fangled establish- ments-Joint-Stock Banks, Railways, and Steam-Boat Companies-will finally     succced in exterminating three very excellent things, -Private Bankers, King's Highways,. and leith Smacks. Yes, the whole species of private banks will be destroyed ; if, perchance a specimen is preserved in the British Museum, he will be gazed on as we       now look upont tho Dodo,-by many treated as a fabulous bird altogether, by the generality believed to be a freak of Nature-a solitary instance, and not the representative of a widely-diffused species. Whoever, in travelling through a country town, saw a well-fed indivi- dual, about fifty years of age, standing at the door of a large comfortable look- ing house-his blue coat resplendent with bright brass buttons-his drab- colored kerseymere shorts concluded by long gaiters of the same, with about three inches of snow-white stocking visible at the junction-a low range of building at one side of the mansion,     pierced by one dingy window and one door of very massive appearance, with the words " Bank open from ten until three," in time-worn letters, above the lintel-whoever has seec all this may congratulate himself that he has seen a sight which his posterity will look for in vain. That was the Private Banker. But whose travelling, whether through       town or village, beholds a very elegant young man kissing his hand to the land- lady's daughter, who is watching him from an upstairs window as he steps into     his gig, which the ostler has brought round to the door of " Branch of the ---Joint Stock Bank," and observes       the jaunty air with which he handles the ribbons, the exquisite fit of his coat, and the gallant air with which his well brushed hat is stuck on one side of his head ; let the person who sees all this ponder well on the mutability of human affairs, for this is the District Manager, before whose star our fat friend in the kerseymere smalls " begins to pale his ineffectual fire." What the ultimate end of all these things will be is not our business, nor is it our intention to in- dulge in a treatise on the prinpiples of banking, leaving that to our ingenious friend Mr. Bell, whose letter on the subject is admirably clear and convinc-

ing; nor do we intend to be didactic

about monetary systems, or paper cur- rencies, or average deposit's, it being our uniform practice to deposit the whole of our wordly goods in our breeches pocket, convinced, from long and melancholy experience, that every man is his own best banker ; but our ob- ject at this present writing is to give a faithful account of snndry adventures which befel the members of a banking family in ---- of Scotland which (as Mathews used to have it) created a great sensation at the time.

At the hundred and twentieth page of the second edition of Brookes's Ga- zetteer there is the following account of

the town of ---------:      

" ---- is a considerable town, si-     tuated qn the river ----, containing four thousand inhabitants, who are chiefly employed in the manufacture of cotton and woollen nightcaps. It has   two churches, a prison,, bridewell, and town hall; the streets are wide and spa- cious ; it is governed by a provost and four bailies ; and its police consists of three watchmen and a town crier."  

Having thus unquestionable autho- rity for the spaciousness of tits streets, we shall not dilate on the splendours of the houses composing them ; we shall merely invite attention to the large white-washed mansion in the High- street, a little withdrawn within hand- some iron railings-constituting number twelve, and being undoubledly the prin- cipal house in the town. The long low roof projecting over the prodigious ex- panse of white wall, pierced with innu-

merable small windows; is, we are in- formed, not in accordance with the rules, of Grecian architecture ; nor is it in much danger of being mistaken for the Gothic; but if we may be allowed to suggest the style to which it belongs, we should be inclined to say it was " the comfortable." Lots of accommodation, with an air of snug retirement, were the characteristics of the mansion, and it was evident to to a very superficial observer, of such matters, that it pos- sessed a mighly advantage in its prox- imity, or, in fact, in its identy with the stout stone building at one side of it, which projected to the level of tbe street, and bore above its door, the cabalistic   words We have alluded to in the intro- duction," Bank. Open from ten till

three." This was the banking estab-

lidhment of Messers. Pearle, Peat, and Patieson, the richest and best known bankers in the whole ----- district of Scotland. The bank, in the course of its existence, had gone through   many changes of name,-at first, it had been Patieeson, Peat, and Pearie ; then, on the death of the founder, the middle partner had taken precedence, while the nephew of the defunct half

gone to the bottom of the list. On the demise of Mr. Peat, the next part- ner succeeded to the honours, and at the time of the commencement of this narrative, the respective stations of the firm of Pearie, Peat, and Patieson were filled in the following manner. The main part of the large house, No. 12, was occupied by Mr. Pearie, now a gen- tleman of mature years, with a plump expression of body and feature, which told as plainly as words could have done, that he had all his life long been a prosperous gentleman. The sound of his voice, also, the short gruff method of expressing his opinion, something between a cough and a grunt, bore evidence lo the same happy condition of his circumatances, Trade had indeed   flourished-his consequence and dig- nity expanded in exact proportion with his bodily configuration-and an   eye with any speculation in it could see at a glance that one hundred thousand pound's at least' were written in the swell of his waistcoat. Scrupulously brushed were his habiliments, snow white were his stockings, and brightly polished his shoes, which latter articles of wearing apparel were ornamented with certain bright buckles, which   rumour gave out as being heir-looms dedicated to the adornment of the head partner, and, indeed, by many people believed to be the palladium or tutelary influences of the bank it- self. Scandalous people, who paid too little respect to dignities, have been known to wonder that Mr. Pearie should indulge in such ostentatious vanities, especially as any smatterer in geometry, or, more properly speak- ing, in sarkometry, could not fail to perceive that the aforesaid swell of the waistcoat had for many years de- prived him of the pleasure of seeing the ornaments on his instep, unless with the assistance of a mirror. It was equally evident that he still re- joiced in single blessedness, though in what particulars of shape or manner bachelorship becomes visible in a mo- ment we are not qualified to decide ; we merely state the fact in this par- ticular instance ; but no,-on second thoughts, we extend the remark to mankind at large, viz., that the fact of matrimony or bachelorship is written so legibly in melt's appearance, that no ingenuity can conceal it. On the tops of couches, in the coffee rooms of inns, nay, in pews at church, there is some inexplicable instinct that tells us whether an individual (name; fortune, circumstances totally unknown) be or

be not a married man. Whether it is a certain subdued look, such as that which characterises the lions in a menagerie, and distinguishes them from the lords of the desert, we cannot tell ; but that the truth is so we positively affirm, so, leaving these matters for a more searching enquiry at some future time, we return to the conditons of Mr. Pearie. With regard to his relations to the other partners of the establish- ment we have some difficulty in making them quite intelligible to a stranger, for duung the partnership there had been so many intermarriages, that it required a considerable turn for gene- alogy to make out exactly what degree of relationship existed between them, When Mr. Peat (who had married a sister of Mr. Pearie, and whosw father had been the husband of Mr. Patieson's aunt,) left his share of the business, in addition to his savings, to his only daughter, he committed the manage- ment of the young lady, her farms, and fortune, to the joint management of his two partners, who being both relations, both guardians, and both also partners of their young charge, fell into the very

natural mistake of considering her as one of the hereditaments, whose beauty, youth, accomplishments, and floating capital were all to be laid out to the best advantage. Mr. Patieson, how- ever, had shortly afterwards died, and left his son sole heir of all his posses-

ions, his place to the bank, the guar- dianship of his ward, and, incongru- ously enough, himself at the same time in the guardianship of Mr. Pearie; an imperium in imperio, which might have had very dangerous consequences, had not the executive, in the hands of the senior partner, been at once very strict, and not veey oppressive. Mary Peat, aged a littlemore than nineteen,'"kept," as the phrase is, her gunrdian's house-- her suite of rooms are those on the left hand of the entrance door, where yon see the rich gauze curtains, and the beautiful geraniums, and catch a glimpse, a little way back, of the top of a splendid harp ; and proceeding from which you might occasionally hear delicious music, accompanied by as   sweet a voice as it is safe to listen to, unless you have got pretty near your grand climacterie. She was what judges call " great" on the harp, and brought such sounds from her piano, and ca- rolled Scotch ballads so simply, and looked so sweetly, that no one who lis- tened to her music, or looked at her beautiful blue eyes, could doubt her power's of " execution." Mr. Pearie himself was divided between his fond- ness for his own notes and hers-he used to sit in his arm chair whole evenings listening to her performance, pretending to be asleep ; for he would have consi- dered it derogatory to his dignity, as " head of the house," to be pleased with Auld Robin Gray, or the Flowers o' the   Forest. Charles Patieson, however, who had no such exalted considerations

to restrain him, not only felt, but openly expressed the greatest delight in listen- ing to his ward, or cousin, or partner, whichever you choose to call her-   though there can be no doubt in which of these characters the young man would   have preferred considering her himself.  

(To be continued.)