When a young man enters a bank as a clerk, he should be instructed to be careful with regard to his handwriting, or, in his anxiety to write fast, he may forget to write well. If he write a bad hand, he should not be above taking a few lessons from a professor of penmanship, who will teach him to write fast and well at the same time. But, however badly he may write, he should try to write plainly. Plainness is of more consequence than neatness or elegance. He should be very careful in writing the names of the customers of the bank. If he write them illegibly, there will be a loss of time in making them out, or they may be misunderstood, so that money may be posted to the wrong account, and thereby loss arise to the bank. On this account also, when two or more customers have the same surname, he should be very careful to write the Christian names fully and distinctly.
The necessity for writing quickly, and the want of carefulness at first, are the causes why so few bankers' clerks comparatively write a good hand. But they should remember, that this is a most important qualification, and a deficiency in this respect may be an insuperable bar to promotion. Without this attainment a clerk cannot be put to write up the customers' books, nor to make out the country accounts, nor to write the letters, nor to fill the office of secretary. "You ought to be careful to write a plain hand. You impose upon your correspondents a very unnecessary and a very unpleasant tax if you require them to go over your letters two or three times in order to decipher your writing. A business hand is equally opposed to a very fine hand. A letter written in fine elegant writing, adorned with a variety of flourishes, will give your correspondent no very high opinion of you as a man of business." 1
The plan of writing-masters who advertise to teach good and expeditious writing in a few lessons is as follows :-The pupil rests his hand upon the paper without touching it with his little finger. All the motion is then made from the wrist. Those who have to write their names many times in succession, such as in signing bank notes or in accepting bills, will find that on this plan they can get through their work in much less time than if they bend their fingers with every stroke of the pen.
The young clerk should also be taught to make his figures clear and plain, so that a 2 cannot be mistaken for a 3, nor a 3 for a 5. He should also take care that the tail of his 7 or his 9 does not run into the line below, and thus turn a 0 into a 6, and also that the top of his 4 does not reach so high as to turn a 0 in the line above it into a 9. He should be careful, too, in putting his figures under one another, so that the units shall be under the units, the tens under the tens, the hundreds under the hundreds, and the thousands under the thousands. Otherwise, when he adds up the columns together, he will he in danger of making a "wrong cast."
1 " Lectures on the History and Principles of Ancient Commerce," by J. W. Gilbart.
He will also learn to use both hands at the same time. In counting gold or silver coin, he will count with two hands instead of one, and thus do double the work. In entering a number of cheques or bills, while he holds the pen in one hand he will hold a cheque in the other, and then turn over the cheques as quickly as he enters them. He will always turn them over one on the back of the other, so that they will be in the same order after he has entered them as before, and when they are "called over" they will come in the same order in which they are entered.
He must also learn to "cast" quickly and accurately. The two main qualifications in this operation are accuracy and quickness. To insure accuracy a clerk will cast everything twice over. The first time he will begin at the bottom of the column, and the second time at the top. If he begin both times at the bottom of the column, the association of figures will be the same; and if he has fallen into an error the first time, he will be apt to fall into the same error the second time: but if he changes the order, the association of the figures will be different, and he will not be likely to fall into the same error. Quickness can be acquired only by practice. But he will accelerate his speed by making his figures plain, and placing them strictly in a line under one another. He should also learn to cast without speaking, for the eye and the head will go faster than the lips.
He must also be taught to "call over." When he first comes into the bank he will call this sum, £315 10s. 6d., three hundred and fifteen pounds ten shillings and six pence; but he will soon learn that more than half these words may be suppressed, and he will say, three, fifteen, ten, six.
And so in the larger amount, .£4,785 13s. 4d, instead of saying, four thousand seven hundred and eighty-five pounds thirteen shillings and four pence, he will call, forty-seven, eighty-five, thirteen, four. By proceeding in this way, and speaking quickly and yet distinctly, a column of figures may be called over and checked in a very short space of time. He will, however, take care to avoid ambiguity. Thus, if the sum be .£40 5s. 6d., he will not say forty, five, six, as that would mean forty-five pounds six shillings; but he will say, in this case, forty pounds, five, and six. In cases where the pounds consist of five figures, the two first denoting the thousands are expressed separately; thus, .£25,347 8s. 6d. is called over twenty-five, three, forty-seven, eight, six; and six figures, say .£468,379 8s. 6d., is called over, four sixty-eight, three seventy-nine, eight, six.