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The Scot in England
Chapter IX - The Scot in English Business


The first Scotsman who dabbled successfully in finance in England was King James VI. He was constantly talking about money and his acute need of it, and the fact that he managed things so well as he did on his slender and uncertain income indicated that he had a business head on his shoulders. He was not above selling titles to swell his purse, and he was always on the look-out for private undertakings that gave promise of producing substantial dividends. On more than one occasion he took a half-interest in enterprises of that character—with or without the sanction of the promoter—and it is a curious fact that his gambles were invariably successful. [When Hugh Middleton proposed building the first canal that supplied London with water, King James took a hand in the scheme, paying half the cost of construction. For this, however, he demanded half the property. Actually, he received thirty-six "King's Shares", which King Charles sacrificed for 500. At the end of the last century one of these undivided shares sold for 94,900I]

A far more constructive and dramatic force in English finance, however, was William Paterson, who founded the Bank of England in 1694. This Scot really understood the principles of private business and public finance. He combined sound business sense with spacious ideas about the development of the Empire, and the curious contradiction of his life was that he established the most powerful financial institution that England has ever seen, and then led Scotland to the greatest financial disaster that she has ever encountered.

Paterson was born on a farm at Skipmyre, in the parish of Tinwald, Dumfriesshire, in the year 1658. Soon after leaving school he walked down into England with a pack on his back and a few shillings in his pocket. He settled at Bristol, became interested in the West India trade, made a fortune, and became a member of the Merchant Taylors Company in November of 1681.

During the next decade the picture of his career is rather hazy, but he was a substantial man of affairs, and was undoubtedly active in more than one commercial enterprise. He emerged from temporary obscurity in 1691, to make history in England ; for in that year, with Michael Godfrey and several other prosperous merchants supporting him, he approached the Government with the proposal that he and his partners establish a bank to be known as the Bank of England.

Paterson's associates were not very active, but he kept the scheme alive, pursued the Government with it, and finally succeeded, in January of 1692, in bringing matters to a head. He appeared before a parliamentary committee, and stated that "himself and some others might come forward to advance 500,000". Presto! The Government's apathy vanished, and in 1694 the Bank of England came into existence, with Paterson dominating its Board of Directors.

Such was the contribution of this Dumfriesshire farmer's son to the financial development of England. He had accomplished something of incalculable value to the country, but the next phase of his life was a tragedy, largely as a result of the treatment he received from the King and the Government of the day. [In all the historical references to Paterson that we have read, there is not a word about the suitability of the Isthmus of Darien for colonization purposes. Its development has never justified Paterson's optimism.]

While the Bank of England was still in its swaddling clothes, he conceived the idea of colonizing the Isthmus of Darien. It looked like a promising scheme, and its promoter enjoyed a sound reputation. The British public was soon infected by his boundless enthusiasm. He visited Scotland in 1695 to ascertain the feeling of his own countrymen towards the project. He found that they were more than ready to support a scheme that promised to give them trading opportunities which England had denied them. [The Navigation Laws, framed for the benefit of English shipping, had crippled the ports of Scotland, preventing them from competing for colonial trade on an equal basis with English ports.] Convinced that his grandiose scheme would revive trade in Great Britain, and produce untold wealth by opening up the vast gold-mines that were supposed to exist in the Isthmus, Paterson went ahead. He raised 300,000 in England. Scottish subscriptions began to flow in.

At this promising stage of the promotion trouble developed. The English-owned East India Company used its influence to discredit and cripple the scheme. It scurried to the Government, asking for an investigation, and the result of the lobbying was that Parliament sent a gelatinous address to the King, stating: "That by reason of the superior advantages granted to the Scottish East India Company, and the duties imposed upon the India trade in England, a great part of the stock and shipping of this nation would be carried thither, by which means Scotland would be rendered a free port, and Europe from thence supplied with the products of the East much cheaper than through them, and thus a great article in the balance of foreign commerce would be lost to England, to the prejudice of the national navigation and the royal revenue"; and, in the same wheedling document: "That when the Scots should have established themselves in plantations in America, the western branch of traffic would also be lost, the privileges granted their company would render their country the general storehouse for tobacco, sugar, cotton, hides, and timber ; the low rates at which they would be enabled to carry on their manufactures would render it impossible for the English to compete with them ; while, in addition, His Majesty stood engaged to protect, by the naval strength of England, a company whose success was incompatible with its existence."

The King could not permit the English East India Company to be subjected to competition from a concern controlled by Scots, so, remarking that "he had been ill-served in Scotland, but hoped some remedy would be found to prevent the inconvenience that might arise from the act", he pacified his parliament by dismissing his Scottish ministers. Parliament, taking the royal cue, declared William Paterson and twenty-one other members of the Company guilty of a high misdemeanour.

[How different was the attitude of King and parliament towards the South Sea Company, the English trading company organized in 1711. It was readily granted a monopoly of British trade with South America and the Pacific Islands, and King George I became its governor in 1718. In the following year, in order to gain additional trading concessions, the Company had the effrontery to propose that they take over the National Debt, then standing at 51,300,000, for a cash consideration 3.500,000. The idea behind the proposal was to get the annuitants of the State to exchange their annuities for South Sea stock, and as the Company's stock was to be issued at a high premium a large amount of annuities would be extinguished by a comparatively small issue of South Sea stock. In addition to this pleasant feature of the transaction, the Company was to receive 1,500,000 a year as interest from the Government.

The ridiculous proposition was accepted by the Earl of Sunderland, then Prime Minister; but the Company had to raise its bid to 7,567,000 —in order to meet the competition of the Bank of England! The Government annuitants readily exchanged their annuities for shares in the Company, and a boom followed, the new stock soaring from 128 to 1000 in seven months. The inevitable crash came within the year, and the stock fell to 135, spreading ruination throughout England.

A parliamentary investigation followed, of course, and it disclosed that the Company's books contained fictitious entries, that members of the Cabinet had accepted bribes from the directors of the bubble and had made fortunes by speculating in the stock, and that the Prime Minister, John Aislabie, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and James Craggs, the Postmaster-General, were implicated in the scandal. Walpole managed to get the Prime Minister acquitted ; Craggs died before justice overtook him; and Aislabie, after being found guilty of "the most notorious, dangerous, and infamous corruption", and, serving a short term in prison, retired to his country estate in Yorkshire. That county, apparently, had not invested in South Sea stock, for the son of John Aislabie succeeded his father as Member of Parliament for Ripon in 1721, and held his seat till 1781!]

The impeachment did not materialize, but the petty and malicious campaign of the English parliament had accomplished the anticipated results. The English subscription had to be abandoned. Nevertheless, Paterson continued to promote his badly crippled venture. In spite of the obstructive tactics of the English Government, more than 200,000 sterling was subscribed to the scheme by merchants of Holland and Hamburg, who had learned to have confidence in Scottish methods of business. The English Government, however, could not suffer to see that foreign money flowing towards Scotland, so the English Ambassador at Hamburg was instructed by King William to present a remonstrance to the magistrates of the German city, complaining of the countenance they had given to the promoters of the Darien Company.

The reply of the Hamburg subscribers is worth recording, for it cuts across the devious proceedings of the English obstructionists like a knife. "We consider it strange", wrote the hard-headed Hamburgers, "that the King of England should dictate to us, a free people, how, or with whom, we are to engage in the arrangements of commerce, and still more so that we should be blamed for offering to connect ourselves in this way with a body of Your Majesty's own subjects incorporated under a special Act of Parliament".

However, the confidence of the Hamburgers had, naturally enough, been seriously shaken by the propaganda from England, and they began to withdraw their subscriptions. The Dutch, equally alarmed, withdrew their support.

William Paterson was left in an appalling predicament, but the impoverished Scottish people, in one of the most laudable bursts of courage, tenacity, and race loyalty that they have ever displayed, rallied to his support with a perfectly astounding unanimity. They actually subscribed 400,000 to the tottering scheme—a sum calculated to be more than half of the total circulating capital of the country at that time. The money came from rich and poor alike, in a never-ending stream. Never, in all her history, has Scotland been so magnificently loyal to a doomed cause. Her unwavering and heedless support of Paterson gave the world a glimpse of the terrible courage that can be generated, on occasion, north of the Cheviot Hills.

There is no need to dwell at length upon the tragic fate of the Darien Scheme. Paterson went ahead with it, supplies were bought for the colonizers, and on 26th July, 1698, the expedition, consisting of five ships carrying twelve hundred men, recruited from good Scottish families, set sail from Leith for the Eldorado. William Paterson led the expedition. It reached its destination, but on the soil of Darien a succession of unforeseen calamities overtook the colonists. The climate was unhealthy, the natives were hostile; the colonial satraps, acting on orders from the still hostile England, saw to it that the colonists were denied the food of which they soon found themselves in desperate need; and finally quarrels paralysed the diffused management and spread hopeless dejection among the colonists.

The end of the scheme was in sight. William Paterson himself succumbed to fever, and later, in New York, was for a time mentally unbalanced by the shocking nervous strain which he had undergone. Nowadays men in his position shoot themselves on divans, inhale carbon-monoxide, or fall out of aeroplanes. William Paterson was fashioned of different stuff. He came back to Scotland, faced his public, made a report on the ill-fated enterprise, and even tried to resuscitate it. The Scottish people forgave him, as we shall see.

Most people would assume that a man who had been the central figure of such a calamitous fiasco would be thankful for the opportunity to step quietly into oblivion. William Paterson, however, did not choose the easy road, and he lived to do great things for the country that had treated him so scurvily. He went back to England, at the turn of the century, faced the King, and made such a favourable impression that he was asked to put his ideas about the national finances into writing. This he did, suggesting, among other reforms, the provision of interest for the national debts, rules for regulating the treasury and the exchequer so that internal frauds would be impossible, and last, but not least, the complete union of England and Scotland.

It was agreed at the time that Paterson was the man who convinced King William that the union of the two countries would be an achievement of statecraft. He was also acknowledged to be the genius behind Walpole's famous financial reforms, particularly the "Walpole Sinking Fund", and the sound and comprehensive scheme of 1717 for the consolidation and conversion of the National Debt. When Parliamentary Union became a reality, he went back to Scotland, stood as a Member of Parliament in Dumfriesshire—where nearly every well-to-do family had been ruined by the Darien Scheme and where the Union had been stubbornly opposed—and was elected! The fact has been cited as a great tribute to Paterson's character; more likely, it simply reflects the fact that the political machines of those days rode roughshod over the public. They still do, in rural Scotland.

The next Scotsman to cause a noticeable stir in London's financial circles was John Law, who was born in Edinburgh in the year 1671. He became a notable swordsman and tennis-player, but he had a flair for high finance and headed for London. There he maintained himself, somewhat precariously, by gambling. He was described, at this time, as a man "nicely expert in all manner of debaucheries". As a result of his skill at cards he was challenged to a duel, and as a result of the duel he found himself charged with murder. He was tried at the Old Bailey, found guilty, and sentenced to death on 20th April, 1694.

That finished John Law's financial career in London—but it did not finish his career. He escaped from prison and disappeared. The following advertisement, published in the London Gazette of 7th January, 1695, purported to describe him:

Captain John Law, a Scotchman, lately a prisoner in the King's Bench for murther, aged 26, a very tall, black, lean man, well-shaped, above six feet high, large pock-holes in his face, big high nosed, speaks broad and loud, made his escape from the said prison. Whoever secures him, so as he may be delivered at the said prison, shall have fifty pounds paid immediately by the marshall of the King's Bench.

That was probably not an accurate description of Law, but it was accurate enough to make the reward for his recapture seem inadequate. Obviously, he was not the sort of man to be carelessly challenged in the dark, and as nobody did challenge him, he made his way to France. There he vanished, but not for long, for within two years he was Comptroller-General of the finances of the Republic, under the famous Colbert. It was really a pity that England lost the services of this Scot, for he was a brilliant financier, and one of the few men who understood the intricate and secretive banking system that had made Amsterdam the financial capital of Europe.

Law's death in 1729 marked the end of a period of dangerous national financing and reckless speculations on the part of the public. A series of protracted booms in the stocks of vast foreign trading companies had collapsed; those who had had their greedy fingers burned were, as always, demanding this safeguard and that for private investors; Cabinet Ministers had to be exceedingly cautious, and the country settled down to a quieter but sounder routine. We do not hear of dazzling financiers and daring stock-jobbers for a while, but the country was being developed rapidly by engineers, inventors, and hard-working industrialists; and, in Scotland, a system of finance was being built that supported and developed the new industrialism.

In point of fact, one of the reasons for the Scots' ascendancy in English business is to be found in the banking system of Scotland. There were no banks worthy of the name in the country prior to 1695, and the money-changing and storing was done by tradesmen. In 1695, however, with the support of William, Prince of Orange, and the old Scottish Parliament, the Bank of Scotland was incorporated, with an initial capital of 100,000 sterling, which was doubled in a few years. The Bank of Scotland issued its first notes in 1704.

Other banks were established. The Royal Bank of Scotland was formed in 1727, largely for the purpose of handling "the Equivalent". With 248,550 of this English money to work with, the Scots entrusted with its distribution formed themselves into a company and established the Royal Bank.

With the establishment of these two banks, these islands saw the first financial war that ever rocked our economic structure. "The New Bank" proceeded to kill the "Auld Bank" by the simple but deadly process of surreptitiously buying up its notes. By the year 1730 the Bank of Scotland was in deep water, and to keep afloat it resorted to the desperate expedient of issuing new five-pound notes, payable on demand, or six months after being presented, but with interest at the high rate of 5 per cent. Two years later it was obliged to issue one-pound notes on the same terms. The insane war ended, as most wars do, when both the combatants had wearied themselves to the point of exhaustion, and soon afterwards the Royal Bank felt that it had been victorious when its capital was raised to the same amount as that of its pioneer competitor—the staggering sum of 1,500,000 sterling!

In the meantime, the linen industry of Scotland was developing, and, largely to foster it, the British Linen Company was incorporated as a bank in 1746. with a capital of 100,000.

Such were the beginnings of banking in Scotland; but from these modest establishments was built up a system of banks and a system of banking that has served, and still serves for that matter, as a model that the world might well copy. The first and foremost reason for this is that Scottish banks have always been in close personal contact with their customers. Open an account with a Scottish bank, and you may rest assured that you are not merely a walking number, carrying a bank-book. You are noticed. Quietly, without noticeable prying, your character is shrewdly assessed, your financial resources and possibilities gauged. In a small country like Scotland it is not difficult for a bank manager to get a reasonably accurate focus on the backgrounds of his customers. The value of the knowledge goes without saying.

In the second place, the Scottish bankers led the world, and still lead the world, in the matter of ingenuity of money management. Their system of paper currency has never been surpassed for efficiency, and indeed it has been copied in England and in nearly every other country in the world. This sound elasticity, backed by knowledge and caution, had the result of establishing scientific systems of credits in Scotland long before England evolved such schemes. The first cash credit system was established as far back as 1729. It evolved in the mind of an Edinburgh shopkeeper, and he proposed that he would make up debts periodically if he got loans of accommodation.

The system worked, and by the year 1826 there were ten thousand cash credits in Scotland, ranging from 100 to 5000. When Benjamin Franklin, the great American philosopher, recommended his scheme to advance loans to small tradesmen who were beginning in business, he was surprised to learn that such a scheme had been in successful operation in Scotland for half a century before he mooted his. Scotland, in fact, had not much to learn about the art of handling money. Her banks were models of efficiency, and they drew to them, from the first, the able young men of the country, for in Scotland in those days—as indeed in the present— the son of a tradesman seldom followed the occupation of his sire. He aimed for what are termed, probably erroneously, "the higher professions". The system has made many indifferent preachers out of lads who would have made good farmers, but on the whole it has drawn brains and character to professions such as banking.

The success of Scottish banks, from the beginning, exerted a strong influence on the English banking system, so much so that when the District Bank was opened at Manchester about 1820, its management was modelled on the Scottish system, and to make sure that the system was carried out, a Scotsman was installed as manager. At that time Scotsmen were in demand in England as bank managers, for the success of Scotland's paper money had been noted, and whatever Englishmen may have thought about the Scottish race in general, they were quick to recognize that its bankers were men of sound training and splendid character. [England has continued to strengthen her great financial institutions by enlisting the skill and judgment of Scots. Sir John Gordon Nairne, Kt., a native of Kirkcudbrightshire, was one of the ablest directors and comptrollers the Bank of England has ever had. Mr. Kenneth Graham, author of The Golden Age, was secretary of the Bank of England for many years, and in his day the governor, chief cashier, and butler were all Scots! Sir Charles Stewart Addis, born in Edinburgh, was a director of the Bank of England, and was also president of the Institute of Bankers, 1921-1923. Another able Scottish director of the Bank of England was Sir Andrew Rae Duncan. Other Scots who have distinguished themselves in the financial life of England are: Sir William Carruthers, director of Barclays Bank, Ltd., and vice-president of the Council of the Institute of Bankers; Sir John Ferguson, president of the Institute of Bankers, 1925-1927; Sir Robert Home, ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer, and now chairman of the Great Western Railway; Mr. John F. Darling, for many years a director of the Midland Bank; and Lord Amulree, whose latest achievement was the financial rehabilitation of Newfoundland.]

It is a fact that, between 1704 and 1830, there was not one panic or bank-run in Scotland. In England, on the other hand, the Bank of England was in such a desperate plight in the early part of the nineteenth century that it was reduced to the necessity of protracting cash payments by counting out sixpences!

The Bank of England was not the only enduring financial institution that was given to England by a Scotsman. The founder of the Savings Bank, as we know it to-day, was the Rev. Dr. Henry Duncan, who, like William Paterson, was a native of Dumfriesshire. Dr. Duncan was minister in the parish of Ruthwell. He was struck with the good which would be accomplished in his parish if some scheme could be devised to encourage his parishioners to save their money systematically, and with that idea in his head drew up a scheme in May of the year 1810 and put it into operation. To make the habit of thrift permanent, the Governor of this tiny savings bank had this quaint clause in his first draft of rules: "Every depositor must lodge to the amount of four shillings at least within the year, under the penalty of one shilling." He also drew up this rule, and made it work : "Interest at the rate of 5 per cent is allowed to every depositor who continues a member of the bank for three years, but such as withdraw the whole of their deposits before that period receive only 4 per cent."

There was to be no nonsense about this pioneer savings bank. Depositors had to support it—or get out with a loss. They did not get out. In the first year of operation the deposits—in a poor little agricultural parish, remember!—amounted to 151. In the second year they had increased to 176, in the third year there was a further increase to 241, and at the end of the fourth year the bank was the guardian of the vast sum of 922! The minister had made a discovery that was destined to bring out the amazing strength of Great Britain in years to come—he had demonstrated that the real wealth of this country is in the hands of the poor people. A glorious paradox!

The following notice appeared on the balance-sheet of the bank for the year ending 31st May, 1826.

The general meeting of the Ruthwell Parish Bank takes place at Ruthwell Church on the first Saturday of August, at six o'clock in the afternoon, when it is expected there will be a full attendance, to receive new vouchers, elect office-bearers for the ensuing year, etc. Each member who is not present at the annual meeting, either personally or by proxy, incurs a fine of sixpence.

The annual meetings, needless to add, were well attended.

From this tiny savings bank of Dumfriesshire grew the modern system of savings banks. Liverpool established a system in 1815, Manchester followed with a system in 1818, and other savings banks, all modelled on the principle of the one started by the Dumfriesshire minister, began to open up all over England, tapping a new and vast source of national wealth. In 1844 there were 577 savings banks in the United Kingdom, and they had on deposit 30,000,000—the savings of a million obscure workers.

In the year 1861 another distinguished Scotsman, William Ewart Gladstone, Chancellor of the Exchequer, added tremendous strength to the country's financial fabric by putting through the Post Office Savings Bank Act. England had been shown where her real financial reserves lay, and the proof of it was seen during the great storm that beat upon these shores between 1914 and 1918, and later, in 1933, when the world gasped at the phenomenon of our war-weary country converting more than 2,000,000,000 of Five per cent War Loan to a three and a half per cent basis in a few hours.

In considering the influence which Scotsmen have exerted on the commercial and financial development of England, it is impossible to overlook the man who analysed the new commercial status of England and gave it a meaning and purpose that made Great Britain the supreme trading nation of the world. We refer, of course, to Adam Smith, the father of political economy in this country.

This profound thinker was born on 5th June, 1723, at Kirkcaldy. Thoughtful, but not particularly brilliant as a boy, he was advised by some well-meaning idiot to enter the English Church. He had a narrow escape too, for he went on to Balliol College, Oxford, in 1740, studied there long enough to display a genius for mathematics and a quiet contempt for the logic of Aristotle, which pervaded Oxford, and to make up his mind that a pulpit was scarcely a suitable rostrum for Adam Smith. He went back to Edinburgh, became friendly with David Hume, looked round for a position, and eventually was appointed Professor of Logic at Glasgow University in 1751. From that modest pedestal in the seat of learning he stepped up to the chair of Moral Philosophy, and it was while in this position that he turned his mind to the scientific study of the politico-economic system of Great Britain. He did not rush into print with his profound conclusions, for it was not until 1776 that he published his Wealth of Nations, but when that book did appear it changed England, bringing it into economic and political harmony with the industrial revolution brought about by that other Scot from Glasgow— James Watt.

Adam Smith tackled the involved problems of British and world economics with the sure skill of instinctive knowledge. He did not probe here and there, as so many pseudo-economists are doing to-day, and then base impressive but hazy conclusions on these random thrusts. He did not need to make thrusts. He was sure of himself, and analysed the political and economic problem that had grown up in England with the same skill that one sees in the surgeon who thoroughly understands the case which comes under his knife. Thus, instead of involved and hazy economic theories, such as have inundated us during the past few years, Adam Smith reduced the complicated mysteries of international economics to plain understandable formulae and equations. With the deceiving ease of a master, he explained the sources of the world's vastly increased wealth, showed that real wealth consisted, not of coined metals but of plentiful supplies of ordinary human necessities, conveniences, and luxuries, and that labour was the only source of this wealth.

It is the maxim of every prudent master of a family [he wrote] never to attempt to make at home what it will cost him more to make than buy. The tailor does not attempt to make his own shoes, but buys them of the shoemaker; the shoemaker does not attempt to make his own clothes, but employs a tailor. The farmer attempts to make neither the one nor the other, but employs those different artificers, all of whom find it for their interest to employ their whole industry in a way in which they have some advantage over their neighbours, and to purchase with a part of its produce whatever else they have occasion for. What is prudent for a family, is prudent for a great kingdom. If a foreign country can supply us with a commodity cheaper than we ourselves can make it, better buy it of them with some part of the produce of our own industry, employed in a way in which we have some advantage."

Thus Adam Smith in 1776. His profound analysis of Great Britain's economic system was translated into every European language, and was debated in a thousand seats of learning. Its effect upon England was profound. Politicians and manufacturers and workmen saw a clear picture of the country's complicated condition, brought about by the mechanical age. They saw Great Britain in her future relationship to the world.

Adam Smith completed the Wealth of Nations in 1776 [wrote Walter Bagehot, the noted English economist, in 1896], and our English political economy is therefore just a hundred years old. In that time it has had a wonderful effect. The life of almost everyone in England—perhaps of everyone—is different and better in consequence of it. The whole commercial policy of the country is not so much founded on it as instinct with it. Ideas which are paradoxes everywhere else in the world are accepted axioms here as results of it. No other form of political philosophy has ever had one thousandth part of the influence on us; its teachings have settled down into the common sense of the nation, and have become irreversible.

There was only one conclusion possible after studying Adam Smith's theories—industrialized England should march forward under the banner of Free Trade. That is what she did, and before the author of The Wealth of Nations died he had caught a glimpse of the glorious destiny of these islands under a free government and free ports. It was only a glimpse. Adam Smith himself could scarcely have visualized the astounding wealth, power, and cultural development that followed the adoption of his political economy. Indeed, the country itself scarcely realized how strong it had become until its financial and industrial fabric were tested by the Great War. Then, in good truth, the wealth of nations seemed to be centred in Great Britain. The picture had been clouded during the past few years. A confused and paternal Government, with costly tariffs and quotas paid for by the taxpayers, has departed from the sound doctrine laid down in The Wealth of Nations, but in our heart of hearts we know that the measure of this country's commercial strength is its capacity to buy and sell in free markets—and that the other road leads to paralysis.

In his delightful delineation of Scottish character, Mr. T. W. H. Crosland hinted darkly that the day of the Scot in England's offices of business was waning:

Brilliancy and imagination are nowadays just as much wanted in business as in any other department of life [he wrote]. Tact and a reasonably decent feeling for your fellow man are also wanted. Your Scot on his own showing does not possess these qualities. He even goes so far as to disdain them and to assure you that they are not consistent with "force of character" and "rugged independence". The moral is obvious, and I should not be surprised if English employers of labour have not already begun to take it to heart.

The sombre prophecy has not come true, probably because of the obvious difficulty of discharging a Scot in England when he happens to be the managing director! Business is business, and the Scot generally goes a long way in English business simply because he is equipped for business. He has been trained to be diligent and thoroughgoing, and these are priceless virtues in the world of business. There is a tradition that the Scot, when vested with authority, becomes a bully. Some do. We have been bullied by Scottish sub-editors, but in every case the sub-editors were terrorized by managing-editors who were not Scots, and when subjected to pressure from above, a Scottish sub-editor is a pitiable object. We remember being sent out by one of them to interview the famous American airman, Colonel Charles Lindbergh. It was to be something special. The "big chief" had nominated us for the job. Two motor-cars were placed at our disposal, and a squad of dizzy young reporters and hard-boiled photographers. They were to run down the game; our job was to shoot it at close range. Just before the newspaper went to press we discovered that somebody had gone off at half-cock. Lindbergh wasn't even in the country. We broke the sad news to the Scottish sub-editor, adding a few comments.

"He should have been here!" he wailed, and with a baleful glance at us straightened his tie and went into the "big chief's" office to be slapped.

All over England, in high places and low, Scots are battling for their daily bread, or scheming to keep caviare on their tables. On the whole, they are not a bad lot, but they suffer, in the eyes of the Englishman, because the occasional Mungo appears among them. When an Englishmen meets a man like Mungo, he is suspicious ever afterwards of anybody who has a Scottish accent. You cannot blame him.

Mungo was a stupid dolt of a lad. He was brought up on a poor farm and sent out into the world with a moist nose and a voice that suggested adenoids. At school we all knew that he was an arrant coward, afraid of a fight but ready to hug himself with delight if he could induce smaller lads to bash one another.

We were thrown together after we left school. None of us had much money to spend in those days, but Mungo's meanness began to dawn upon us. He would not spend a penny for a newspaper, but he read them every day—by borrowing them from his friends. He walked out into the country one day to see some people he knew—he could have gone by train, but the fare amounted to three-and-sixpence— and when he reached his destination the people were away at the seaside. Mungo walked back home. His feet were blistered, and he was weak with hunger. When we sat down at the boarding-house table that evening, he ate everything in sight, including the mustard pickles, which had been an ornament on the table for weeks. The landlady, a decent old dame, did not let it pass unnoticed. "Did ye hear whut she sayed?" complained Mungo, when we got upstairs. "Jingo! I hadna eaten a thing since breakfast!" "Why didn't you buy a lunch in one of the villages?" we asked. Mungo made creaking sounds like a rusty door. "I wusna gaun tae spend my money like that!" he protested sulkily. "No' when I'm paying for ma board here. Nae fear! Note me!"

Poor old Mungo went through life like that. He slaved away in London for several years with a big commercial concern, and was eventually sent to the tropics as an inspector of trading posts owned by his London employers. He was meaner than ever under tropical skies, hounded the men under him, and added to his company's profits. His manager, a genial Englishman who was hit periodically by malaria, was suddenly discharged. Of course Mungo had nothing to do with that—beyond indicating in private reports to the Scottish manager at home, as he told piously, that things were a bit slack. Mungo was put into the Englishman's place. He was too penurious to engage native servants, and lived like a dog. Even the malaria wouldn't touch him. He drove a number of public school boys back to England, and replaced them with raw young snivelling Scots, whom he bullied.

Unfortunately, one of the Scottish recruits happened to be a Glasgow chap with a short temper and considerable courage. Primed with whisky one night, he walked up to Mungo's bungalow and invited the general manager to "put them up". Not having any servants around, Mungo was in a bad corner. He tried to threaten the intruder. It didn't work. Then he became placatory. That didn't work either. The upshot of the conference was that the Glasgow lad was discharged, but Mungo remained in his bungalow for several days.

He was more severe with his staff after that, but his number was up. The Glasgow man's uncle, it turned out, was a man of some importance, and he had gone into action after he heard the nephew's story. Mungo's services were eventually dispensed with, and he came back to Scotland and bought a home in the country. He died several years ago, and his neighbours, with the sly malice that one encounters sometimes in rural communities in Scotland, said that the cause of death was malnutrition. Poor old Mungo didn't die of hunger, although, as he grew older, he reduced his diet to the minimum. I think he gave up the ghost because he had failed to discover how to live without spending money. Life had lost its meaning. He left an astonishingly large amount of cash, and it started a frightful row among the relatives who survived him.

It is an unfortunate fact that Scots of Mungo's type go into business, and it is equally unfortunate that in business their unsocial characteristics are apt to be mistaken for virtues. The result is that the Mungos get along—up to a certain point. They never become mellow, but when success is no longer in doubt, they make sickly attempts to appear civilized. They will tell you proudly about the harrrd strrruggle they have had, and how proud they are to be Scots, and, if they are not firmly checked, they will go on and tell you the execrable story about the Scot who spent a week in London on business, and who got back to Glasgow without having met an Englishman. The Mungos are too keen and single-minded to be crowded out of England's business, but they should be ignored by all good Scots. Above all, they should never be permitted to hold office in Caledonian societies.

We had just got nicely started with a description of the best type of Scot found in English business, when our eye was caught by an obituary notice in The Times of 5th April, 1934. We had never heard of the Aberdonian whose death it recorded, but it is so far ahead of anything we could have written that we append it proudly, without a word of comment:

Mr. Henry Walter Thomson, who died on Sunday, after a long illness, at his country home, The Warren, Woodham Walter, Essex, at the age of 78, was a member of a large Aberdeen family which had played a worthy part in the life of the past two generations.

Several of his brothers were pioneers in their respective spheres. George founded the African Banking Corporation, which some years ago was absorbed by the Standard Bank of South Africa. Peter built up the fortunes of the Borneo Company, and was for some time its managing director. Alexander started the Stock Exchange firm of Alexander Thomson and Co., which was the first to deal in Colonial Government securities. Three other brothers were at one time members of the Stock Exchange, of whom the best known was Henry. In 1887 he joined his brother's firm, of which he was senior partner at the time of his death. Reference to the family would be incomplete without the inclusion of one other brother, the late Mr. Leslie Thomson, the water-colour artist.

While for some years prior to the seizure that left him an invalid he was content to leave the actual work of dealing to his younger partners, Henry Thomson to the end took the closest interest in the business of his firm, and on account of his wide knowledge and ripe experience his opinions on finance, and especially the finances of the Overseas Dominions, were freely sought by fellow members of the Stock Exchange. One other business activity of his was the directorship, dating from its inception, of the Pahang Corporation. Together with his brothers he was instrumental some years ago in preserving this great tin-mine in British hands when there was a real danger of its passing into the possession of Chinese mining interests.

Mr. Thomson's business engagements did not preclude him from doing a great deal of charitable work. Service to others, indeed, seemed to be the motto of his daily life. For over thirty years—in fact, until he was compelled to retire on medical grounds—he was on the committee of St. Thomas's Hospital, of which he was one of the governors. He was also a life governor and member of the finance committee of Christ's Hospital, and a member of the committee of the Scottish Corporation, and in addition took a keen interest in the Royal Caledonian School and the Foundling Hospital. To the time he so ungrudgingly gave in the interests of these organizations he supplemented the help of an ever-open purse. It might truly be said of him that to any deserving case of need he never turned a deaf ear.

He had that true charity of disposition that made him incapable of cherishing or invoking enmity. In the office over which he presided, virtually the whole staff have grown up in the firm's service, and all the present partners began business life in the office of the firm and were gradually admitted by their chiefs. In meditating on the characters of Henry Thomson and his brother Alexander—for although the latter died nearly twelve years ago, it seems impossible to separate them—one reminded forcibly of the Cheerybles immortalized by Dickens. Each possessed in rare degree the milk of human kindness, and, moreover, there was about the two brothers just that touch of mid-Victorian manners that Dickens so inimitably pictured. To the last both brothers practised a number of those outward courtesies that virtually went out with the incoming of the telephone and the motor-car. It was, for instance, a habit of theirs, never missed, before leaving the office each day to shake hands with each member of the staff, and the habit was one that fitly symbolized the relationship between employer and employed.


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