OF the numerous writings of the late Mr. Gilbart none are so well known or so deservedly popular as his "History and Principles of Banking" and his "Practical Treatise on Banking."
Ten years ago, with the view of bringing them within the reach of a wider circle of readers, these works were combined in one volume, and the cost was materially lessened. And with the view of still further carrying out that object, the present edition has been prepared in a form, and at a cost, which it is hoped will make it easily accessible to all.
These works, having been originally published nearly fifty years ago, when joint-stock banking was almost in its infancy, necessarily contained much matter, which, although interesting and instructive at the time, is now quite obsolete. Much, therefore, which appeared in previous editions has been struck out of the present issue, but great care has at the same time been taken to delete nothing of any historical interest, or that bears directly or indirectly on any pending question
Besides the various excisions alluded to, the sections on the "Moral and Religious Duties of Banking Companies," and "Ten Minutes' Advice about keeping a Banker," have been struck out bodily - the first, on the ground that the subject trenches somewhat on the domain of each individual's personal moral responsibilities, and is scarcely adapted to a work of this kind; and the second, on the ground that at this period of time such advice is wholly superfluous.
But if much has been taken out, much also has been put in, and, it is hoped, many improvements made otherwise.
Of the new matter introduced, the section on the London Clearing House may be mentioned. In addition to the inherent interest of the subject to the general reader, the Editor has introduced it in the hope that the description of the clearing which he has been able to give, will be sufficiently plain to enable such towns as are not at present so provided, to organize such an institution for themselves.
Of the new matter also, the accounts of the recent crises, and of the recent banking legislation, may be mentioned. Considerable space has been devoted to the first-named subject, and this, the Editor thinks, is justified by the fact, that the failure of the City of Glasgow Bank was an event of unparalleled and national importance, and deserves in a work of this kind something more than a passing notice. Prominence has also been given to Sir Stafford Northcote's Banking Act of 1879, and to the events and discussions leading up to and flowing from it. In connection with the latter, the recent discussion betweer. the three senior Scotch banks and the Treasury has been somewhat detailed. This has been done with the view of putting before the banking world in a more permanent form than the passing notice of the daily or weekly journals, some material for coming to a conclusion respecting the general question of the paper currency of the country. It is not unlikely that this subject will by-and-by be taken up by the Government of the day, and an attempt made to settle it on the lines foreshadowed in the Treasury minutes.
Many changes in the form of much of the old matter will, it is hoped, be regarded as an improvement. Instead of pages of paragraphs in chronological form of the various changes in the capital, dividends, and rates of discount of the Bank of England, all such information has been tabulated in the present edition - a form which will be found much less irksome to read, and much more convenient for reference. A table has also been added of the average bank rate for each year from 1826 downwards.
In the preparation of this edition, the Editor, in all he has expunged, and added, and altered, has kept steadily in view that the Publishers' desire is to bring it chiefly within the reach of the rising generation of bankers; and while, no doubt, it will prove most useful to them, he feels sure that from Mr. Gilbart's knowledge of his subject, his prescience and sagacity, his works maybe studied with great advantage even by the oldest and most experienced.
It only remains for the Editor to acknowledge with much sincerity his deep obligations to his numerous friends who have so ungrudgingly given him the benefit of their advice and assistance. When all have been so kind it would be invidious to mention names, but to each and all he now returns his most grateful thanks.
A. S. M.