IF you have more pennies than you know what to do
with, you put them into a savings bank, and, if you leave them there long
enough, other pennies are added to them. These other pennies are called
interest. But the man at the bank, when he takes your pennies, does not lock
them up in a cash box and leave them there. If he did, you would never get
interest, any more than if you put your pennies into a box at home. The
interest does not grow by magic. When you put your pennies into a bank, you
really lend them to the people who manage the bank. They use them to buy and
sell and so make more money, and they are then able to give you interest,
that is, they pay you for having lent them your money.
Of course you cannot buy much with a few pennies, but
when hundreds and thousands of people all put their money into the same
bank, it comes to a large sum, and with this large sum the bank managers are
able to do great things. In this way money is 'circulated,' that is, instead
of lying in a box locked up, doing no good to any one, it passes from one
person to another, making every one richer and more comfortable.
There are many things about banks and banking that are
very difficult for little people, and indeed for grown up people too, to
understand, and I am not going to try to explain them. They are so
difficult, that up to the time that I have been writing about, there were no
proper banks in Britain, where people could put their money and be sure that
it was quite safe. But at this time a clever Scotsman called William
Paterson went to London. He was so clever, that he made the English people
listen to his ideas about banks, and very soon the Bank of England was
started. And that bank which William Paterson founded in 1694 A.D., is
to-day the greatest and richest bank in the British Empire. When it was
founded, people were very much afraid that their money might be stolen, so
the King was asked to send some soldiers to guard the house which was used
as offices. This the King did, and to this day, in London every evening, you
may see soldiers march into the courtyard of the Bank of England, to keep
guard all night over the people's money.
But besides being a banker, William Paterson was a
merchant. He saw that the English made a great deal of money by trading with
other countries and by founding colonies in far lands. He saw no reason why
Scotland should not do the same, and from being a poor country, become a
rich country like England.
When he was young, Paterson had travelled a great
deal. He had sailed far away over the sea, and had seen many a strange land.
Now he formed the plan of founding a Scottish colony on the narrow neck of
land which joins North and South America.
If you look on the map, you will see that the land, at
a place called Darien, is very narrow indeed. It seemed to Paterson that
this was a splendid place at which to form a colony. On the one side was the
Atlantic, on the other the Pacific Ocean, and the narrow neck of land
between them might be made the centre of all the trade of the world. To get
to India, ships had to pass round the stormy, dangerous Cape of Good Hope.
But with a Scottish colony at Darien, that would no longer be necessary.
Ships would then sail across the Atlantic; they would unload at Darien; in
one day the cargoes could be carried across the narrow neck of land to ships
on the other side. In this way time would be saved, danger avoided, all the
trade of the world would pass through Darien, which would become the gate of
the sea, and the key of the universe.
It was a glorious idea, and looking far into the
future, Paterson seemed to see Scotland made great and splendid by her
Scotland was still sore and angry with the memory of
Glencoe, and those who were at the head of affairs welcomed any plan that
would take people's thoughts away from that dark deed. The Master of Stair,
although he could not understand why people hated him instead of looking
upon him as a hero, saw that he had made a mistake, and he did his best to
The King, too, would gladly have had the people forget
Glencoe, so he gave them leave to form a company, which was to be called the
Company of Scotland trading with Africa. This company was to be allowed to
found colonies and to build cities, harbours, and forts. If their ships were
taken or hurt by the ships of other lands, the government promised them help
and support, besides other favours.
All Scotland was full of excitement. Every one who had
saved a little money brought it to the Company, hoping that their few
savings would come back to them like a golden harvest. English people too
wanted to join, and sent money. Everything went well. Then suddenly some of
the people in England became jealous. They got a foolish idea into their
heads, that if the Scots became wealthy, and did a great deal of trade in
far countries, it would hurt the English and make them poorer. They wanted
to keep all the trade and wealth to themselves, and so they made up their
minds to stop the Scottish Company being formed.
This was very greedy and very unjust, but so strong
did the feeling become, that at last the English Parliament asked the King
to stop the Company of Scotland, because it would spoil English trade. And
the King, instead of standing by the Scots, who were as much his people as
the English, said that he had been ill served in Scotland, and hoped that
some remedy might be found for the evils which seemed likely to arise from
this new Company. When the English Parliament and the King talked like this,
the English people became frightened, and would give no more money to the
The people of Holland, King William's other country,
also wanted to join the company, but when they saw that it was likely to
lead them into a quarrel with the English, they too drew back.
In spite of all this opposition, the Scots resolved to
go on with the company, and the people were so enthusiastic and eager about
it, that although Scotland was a poor country, all the money which was
needed to start with was soon gathered.
Every one was full of hope and excitement, and every
one thought that his fortune was made. It was known that gold was to be
found at Darien, and they had visions of their ships coming home laden with
the precious metal.
When enough money had been gathered, the company
bought five ships from the Dutch, and in them, twelve hundred men and women
set sail from Leith for the new colony.
It was a bright, sunny day in July when they started.
All Edinburgh seemed to come to see them off. The quay was crowded with
people who had come to bid their friends farewell, and to wish them good
luck. There were tears and laughter, prayers and blessings, as last
good-byes were said, last hand-shakes given. Then the five vessels sailed
out into the waters of the Forth, and never did ships carry a burden of more
happy hopeful hearts.
After many weeks upon the sea, the colonists at last
safely reached Darien in the beginning of November. Darien was inhabited by
Indians. They were a savage people, but they received the new settlers
kindly, and, in return for some of the goods which the colonists had brought
with them, they gave them land upon which to build.
The colonists at once began to build a town, which
they called New Edinburgh, and a fort, which was called New St. Andrews. The
country they called Caledonia, which is an old name for Scotland.
For a time things seemed to go well. Every one worked
with a will. All day long the sound of axe and hammer was heard, and the
little town of wooden houses grew rapidly. But while the colonists were busy
building, the weeks and months slipped past. The food which they had brought
with them was nearly all used up. Anxiously they turned their eyes towards
the sea, watching for a ship bringing the food which had been promised from
Scotland. No sail appeared. Day by day the portions served out to each man
grew smaller and smaller. 'l'lie work went on slowly, for men who are always
hungry cannot do much. Still they hoped, and still they watched, but no
white sail glimmered on the cairn blue sea.
You know that near the Equator the world is very much
hotter than in what is called the temperate zone, where the British Isles
are. Darien lies near the Equator. When the colonists arrived, it had been
winter time, and they found the climate very pleasant. Now summer had come.
The terrible tropical sun blazed down upon these tired, hungry men. There
was no coolness anywhere. Inside the little houses it was dark and close,
outside, a burning torment At night, foul mists rose from the marshes round,
bringing deadly sickness with them. Struck down by hunger and disease,
hundreds died. Every day, with sad hearts, the colonists laid some tired
comrade in his last resting-place.
But although Scotland was far off, there were English
colonies in America quite near. So now the Scottish settlers sent to them,
asking for food and help. But the English colonists had been told that the
Scottish settlers had come to Darien without leave from the King, and that
therefore they must not be helped. This was not true, but the English
colonists believed it, and refused their starving fellow-subjects the
slightest aid. They let them die.
The savage Indians were kinder, and brought fish and
wild animals which they had caught, to the hungry white men. But all that
they could bring was not enough. Day by day more and more died, and at last,
filled with despair, the few who were left went on board one of their ships
and sailed away from the dreadful place.
Meanwhile, in Scotland there had been a very bad
harvest. It was so bad that there too many people were starving, and there
was no food to spare to send to Darien. But the Scots, feeling sure that
their settlers would be able to get food from the English colonies, were not
greatly disturbed. At length the bad time passed, and a fresh fleet,
carrying new stores, and thirteen hundred men, set out for the golden land
They had a bad passage, and one of the ships was
wrecked on the way. But at last they sighted land, and all the difficulties
and dangers were forgotten in the thought of the glad meeting with their
But as they neared the shore their hearts sank. No
flag fluttered from the silent fort; no gun answered their salute. No smoke
rose from the deserted town; all was silent and still. The new colonists
landed. Instead of shouts of welcome, they heard only the scream of sea
birds. Instead of a busy, prosperous town, they found a ruined fort,
shuttered houses, grass grown streets.
It was a sad beginning, but the new colonists would
not despair. They began to rebuild the ruined town and to cultivate the
fields, which had even in so short a time grown wild again.
Two months later, another ship arrived, bringing three
hundred soldiers. These came none too soon, for the Spaniards, who had
founded a colony near, seeing that King William would give his people no
help, threatened to attack the Scots.
Already disease and death had begun to waste the
little colony a second time, and daily their numbers grew smaller. The
Spaniards then determined to crush them altogether, and gathered an army of
sixteen hundred men, and eleven battleships.
With only two hundred men the Scottish captain, whose
name was Campbell, marched against them. lie surprised the Spaniards,
defeated their whole army, and put them to flight, killing many of them.
Then, with his gallant little army he marched back again to fort St. Andrew,
only to find it bombarded by the Spanish ships.
For six weeks the little fort held out. They had no
food left, the Spaniards had cut off their supply of water, they had no more
shot, even the pewter plates and dishes having been melted down to make
balls. All the officers, and many of the men, were killed, when at last
Captain Campbell surrendered.
The Spaniards were so filled with admiration for their
gallant foes, that they allowed them to march out with all the honours of
One morning the gates were opened, and with banners
flying the sad little company marched down to the harbour. There were so few
of them that they could only man one ship. They chose one called the Rising
Sun. With what glad hearts, with what high hopes, they had set sail in that
same ship. Now, with broken hearts and crushed hopes they crept on board
again. The Rising Sun, which had seemed such a good name, now seemed a
The men were so weak and ill that they could not raise
the anchor. They were so helpless that had the Spaniards wished they could
have killed them every one. But instead, they helped them to raise the
anchor and to steer the ship out of harbour, and at last they sailed away.
Of all those who had gone out so full of hope, not more than thirty broken,
worn men ever reached home again.
So ended William Paterson's brilliant dream.