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A History of our Firm

Our business was established in 1804.

We have been pleasing and displeasing people ever since.

We have made and lost money.

We have been cussed and discussed, knocked about and talked about, lied to, held up, robbed, etc., to the end of the chapter.

The only reason we are staying in business is to see what will happen next.

I have endeavoured to write the foregoing pages in an impartial and, I trust, not too flippant manner. They are intended only for the very few whom I consider interested; and I should be sorry if they reached any quarter where even after this lapse of time they could wound any susceptibilities. Of course, I can only write of what I saw, heard, or have obtained information upon. In comparison with the New Brunswick businesses, I lack much information about the Canadian. While I came somewhat in touch with Mr. Allan Gilmour of Ottawa, it may be said, with Mr. John of Quebec, I came in 'collision.' The other Canadian partners were anterior to my time.

Of the home concerns until I entered upon this work I had almost forgotten that I was myself for three years a partner in Pollok, Gilmour & Co. That is far back: and when I say that I never signed that firm's name; was never during the three years within the Glasgow office; that the yearly balance sheet of the business there would only be submitted to me in the most Pro forma manner; and that during the co-partnership I never saw the resident partner, Mr. Sheriff; I may be excused for having been so oblivious. As an instance of the lack of inter-communication, I can almost vouch that with Mr. Strang, during the same period (except in the matter of balance sheet) the same position obtained. About my brother, the other alien partner of the then Scotch firm, I think it would only be through the accident of his wife's illness at Ashton-on-Clyde that he, being in the neighbourhood, might call at the office.

If I have accorded more prominence to the earlier regime it is not that I have, in degree, the less enthusiasm for my immediate predecessors— but some one has said that no man is quite a hero to his valet. I served under, and was in some slight degree of the third generation of the firm, and may possibly not correctly focus them in conjunction with their predecessors. 'We have received a goodly heritage,' and it must not be for us or those who follow us to shuffle through life, simply riding cock-horse.

Looking back, it seems to me they were 'giants' in those days. Perhaps it is that our view point has been changed by our own environment. But they look in perspective to have been bigger men with bigger ideas and more strenuous and intense in effort than the business men of to-day.

We look back upon a series of wars during the past century, of which that from which we have just emerged is the greatest. Of the part assumed therein by those who went forward from our small staff in the early days—all that were eligible, and they not waiting for conscription—I give some particulars in Appendix VIII. One, alas, made the great sacrifice. History should remind us that our lives are but parts of a greater whole.

All things considered it may not be unfitting that the effort, imperfect as it is, should have fallen to the last surviving member, though I trust not ember, of the old firm of Pollok, Gilmour & Co.

My career is now soon drawing to a close. I congratulate myself on having lived the greater part thereof during the Victorian period—an age not now so derided as a few years ago. We had then, humanly speaking, comparative contentment among the classes.

My dream and hope is that R., G. & Co. —even in its 'Limited' form, the remnant of the old firm—may weather through generations yet to come and add to its credit. If for those who may succeed us I have in some sort shown what the firm has of antecedents, and imbued them with a determination that in every sense they will emulate past efforts and maintain its future credit, I shall be amply repaid for what to me has been a considerable though interesting effort.

And when I consider that my book is entitled A History of our Firm, and that I have annexed thereto so much that I have styled 'Discursive,' but which A. G. senior would ruthlessly have called ' Blithers,' it is time to apologise.


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