But, assuming that we are fortunate enough in finding our honest men, we have to find out that their integrity is not their sole qualification. Honest men have before now brought companies and businesses to disaster, and ruined those who placed their confidence in them, whilst the dishonest have pursued their prosperous careers in the world, and enriched those who followed in their footsteps. A man may be dishonest, but he may possess that knowledge, experience, acumen, intuition, and foresight, that will make failure itself the very means to prosperity. He may make the best of this ability of his for the benefit of others, but he will certainly turn it to his own benefit first and greatest, and others must be content to get what he, advised by prudence and worldly wisdom, will give them. Therefore, whether we resolve to place our money at the disposal of the honest or the dishonest man must depend upon our own characters and dispositions, upon the degrees of sensitiveness of our own consciences, upon our conception of morality and virtue, upon our means and circumstances.

So much, therefore, for a philosophical view of the question that agitates us so profoundly - a view-that it would be inadvisable to discard in a matter so important. If I had money to invest, I would certainly want to know something of the men in whose hands I would place it. These are the elements, the fundamentals, of prudence, though I am quite aware that the majority of men neglect them. This is not so necessary if we are content to speculate, for the success of speculation is dependent in a great measure upon the imprudence and foolishness of other men, and if we were all prudent and wise vast multitudes of the community would have to seek in other directions for their means of subsistence, and the problem of the unemployed would become acuter than it is. But for the moment I am speaking more particularly of investment, for, as I have said, it is quite distinct from speculation, and needs to be looked at from another point of view, and to be treated with a quite other method of analysis.

Therefore, to repeat my previous statement, elementary prudence would counsel us to place our money in the keeping of those who would and could employ it to the best advantage, and therefore our first act should be to try and find them. At the very outset, however, we are met with considerable difficulties. We receive the prospectus of a new company, and we read the statements therein, and weigh them to the best of our ability. Then we glance at the names of the directors, but the names, unfortunately, tell us very little of the qualifications they possess. Who are these men? What are they? Can anyone tell us? What are their characters, their antecedents, their past records? Our questions are unanswered. The prospectus is silent on this all-important matter. But the business looks promising. It ought to be a great success. The prospects favour it, but are the directors the men to see those prospects, and to make the most of them? Heaven alone knows, and poor, simple man has not the vision, the clairvoyance, to make the darkness clear. Therefore we must trust them; we can do no other. We at least know their names, and even their places of residence, and surely that will be some safeguard, some guarantee that they will do nothing to bring opprobrium upon themselves? It is, undoubtedly, something of a guarantee and safeguard, and should be sufficing if experience of the past did not implant doubt and distrust in us. It is true that we may learn something of the past records of these men, for some may have been prominently before the public, whilst others may be on the boards of other companies, may be what is known as 'guinea-pigs.' Therefore we look up the annals of these particular companies, in the 'Mining Manual,' say, and if we find that the majority of them have been failures our distrust is deepened.

We also have the means of finding out, as a rule, whether they have any special knowledge of the business which the company is undertaking, and if we find that they are wholly lacking in it - which is the most common discovery we make - it only increases our perplexity and strengthens our mistrust of the future. Therefore, if we do put our money into the company, if we do buy shares which the prospectus invites us to subscribe to, we do so largely upon faith, upon the hope that everything will turn out all right; and now and then we are fortunate enough to find that our faith is justified. If we wish to buy the shares merely as a speculation, to sell them again later on at a profit, then we have no need to make all these elaborate calculations, no need to worry ourselves with such anxious questionings, no need to trouble ourselves about the characters, ability, and qualifications of the directors. But that it would be wise to do so I shall try and show in another chapter.

Confining ourselves to mines, it cannot be disputed that few subscribe to new shares merely as an investment, as a lock-up. Those shares that may be regarded as sound investments are the shares of mines that have been thoroughly developed, that are of a good age, that have paid regular dividends for years, and that may be relied on to maintain those dividends for many years to come. The famous Mount Morgan mine is a typical example of this. This is a far sounder investment than many a high-class industrial share, and it is one, consequently, that is left severely alone by speculators. The fluctuations in the price of Mount Morgans from year's end to year's end are very narrow, hence it is not a gambling counter, and the shares are bought only by those who are content with the regular dividends it pays. Then.