As to public advancings of money to the Government, they may be left to the directors in a body, as all other disputes and contingent cases are; and whoever examines these heads of business apart, and has any judgment in the particulars, will, I suppose, allow that a stock of ten millions may find employment in them, though it be indeed a very great sum.
I could offer some very good reasons why this way of management by particular offices for every particular sort of business is not only the easiest, but the safest, way of executing an affair of such variety and consequence; also I could state a method for the proceedings of those private offices, their conjunction with and dependence on the general court of the directors, and how the various accounts should centre in one general capital account of stock, with regulations and appeals; but I believe them to be needless--at least, in this place.
If it be objected here that it is impossible for one joint-stock to go through the whole business of the kingdom, I answer, I believe it is not either impossible or impracticable, particularly on this one account: that almost all the country business would be managed by running bills, and those the longest abroad of any, their distance keeping them out, to the increasing the credit, and consequently the stock of the bank.
OF THE MULTIPLICITY OF BANKS.
What is touched at in the foregoing part of this chapter refers to one bank royal to preside, as it were, over the whole cash of the kingdom: but because some people do suppose this work fitter for many banks than for one, I must a little consider that head. And first, allowing those many banks could, without clashing, maintain a constant correspondence with one another, in passing each other's bills as current from one to another, I know not but it might be better performed by many than by one; for as harmony makes music in sound, so it produces success in business.
A civil war among merchants is always the rain of trade: I cannot think a multitude of banks could so consist with one another in England as to join interests and uphold one another's credit, without joining stocks too; I confess, if it could be done, the convenience to trade would be visible.
If I were to propose which way these banks should be established, I answer, allowing a due regard to some gentlemen who have had thoughts of the same (whose methods I shall not so much as touch upon, much less discover; my thoughts run upon quite different methods, both for the fund and the establishment).
Every principal town in England is a corporation, upon which the fund may be settled, which will sufficiently answer the difficult and chargeable work of suing for a corporation by patent or Act of Parliament.
A general subscription of stock being made, and by deeds of settlement placed in the mayor and aldermen of the city or corporation for the time being, in trust, to be declared by deeds of uses, some of the directors being always made members of the said corporation, and joined in the trust; the bank hereby becomes the public stock of the town (something like what they call the rentes of the town-house in France), and is managed in the name of the said corporation, to whom the directors are accountable, and they back again to the general court.
For example: suppose the gentlemen or tradesmen of the county of Norfolk, by a subscription of cash, design to establish a bank. The subscriptions being made, the stock is paid into the chamber of the city of Norwich, and managed by a court of directors, as all banks are, and chosen out of the subscribers, the mayor only of the city to be always one; to be managed in the name of the corporation of the city of Norwich, but for the uses in a deed of trust to be made by the subscribers, and mayor and aldermen, at large mentioned. I make no question but a bank thus settled would have as firm a foundation as any bank need to have, and every way answer the ends of a corporation.
Of these sorts of banks England might very well establish fifteen, at the several towns hereafter mentioned.