The Stock Exchange is a market for the sale and purchase of all kinds of securities. The buildings, wherein business is transacted, occupy a triangular plot of ground near the Bank of England, and comprise the Hall where the various markets are held, and other rooms and offices for the use of the numerous officials. There are 2,500 members, and the management is vested in a Committee selected from their number. Admission to membership is open to any person not engaged in another business, and who is properly proposed and seconded; but very strict regulations and guarantees are enforced before entry, so as to exclude any one whose circumstances and character will not bear the strictest investigation. The hours of business are eleven to four o'clock on all days except Saturday, when they are until two o'clock. The members of the house are divided into Jobbers and Brokers, the former being dealers in stocks and shares. It is contrary to practice for brokers to deal with brokers, and all transactions are between brokers and jobbers.

What are known as "markets" are groups of jobbers distributed about the house, each group having its own particular dealings, one in Government Stocks, another in English railways, a third in Foreign securities, and so on. A broker having received an order from a customer to sell 1,000 Great Eastern Railway Stock, would go to the English railway group and inquire of a jobber the price or quotation for Great Easterns, without disclosing whether he wants to buy or to sell. The jobber replies, "115 1/4 to 115 1/2"; whereupon the broker says, "I sell at 115 1/4," when the bargain is completed, without any memorandum or written contract, the verbal communication being alone in use, and the jobber is bound by it. It will be observed that the lower price, 115 1/4, is accepted by the broker on behalf of his customer, as a sale is always effected at the lowest quotation, and a purchase at the highest. Another broker presently goes to the jobber and asks the same question receiving the same reply, 115 1/4 to 115 1/2 the broker says, "I buy of you at 115 1/2," being the highest quotation. The difference of 5s. between the sale and the purchase is the Jobber's profit. The broker charges his customer his own commission or brokerage on the transaction, which ranges from 2s. 6d. per cent. on the Government and Colonial Stocks up to 10s. per cent. on railway stocks. This is the elementary stage of the business of the Stock Exchange, but the variety of the securities dealt in, under constantly changing circumstances, the number of transactions, and the amount of money changing hands, involve intricate accounts and arrangements, which need not be particularised here. Accounts are settled fortnightly, the precise dates being fixed some time before by the Committee of the house.

Many speculators, however, especially those who have bought stocks and shares with the expectation that they will speedily rise in price, do not find it convenient to pay the purchasemoney on the appointed settling day; so payment may, by arrangement, be carried over to the next settling day. For the accommodation a certain charge, which is called "contango," is made, the amount varying with the value of money and the quality of the stock. "Backwardation," on the other hand, is a commission paid in order to postpone the delivery of stocks or shares which a speculator contracts to sell, but which he never possessed. He is a speculator for the fall, hoping by the delay to be able to purchase the same stocks and shares at a less price than he bargained to sell them for, and so make a profit out of the transaction. Speculations for a rise are known on the Stock Exchange as "Bulls," and their object is by every manner of means to get the prices of the stocks they are dealing in pushed up as much as possible. Speculators for a fall are called "Bears," and they are equally anxious to send prices "down". So sensitive is the stock market that prices are easily affected; the rumoured prospect of an important dividend from a railway company will at once probably influence the price of its shares, whilst a report of a disastrous accident will have the contrary effect. A "boom" in the money market is a cheerful desire on the part of the speculative public to be purchasers at advancing prices, and this betokens good business for the brokers and jobbers. A "boom" in any particular stock is a buoyancy in prices, caused by some favourable rumour, whether founded or unfounded, more often the latter, and set agoing in the interest of persons who desire to get rid of surplus stock. A "boom" in railway shares is often brought about by increased traffic receipts; a "boom" in mining shares is caused by one or two companies having produced more gold this month than last; and a "boom" in foreign stocks is due to the settlement of some political or other difficulty, &c., &c. A "slump" is just the reverse, being an unaccountable depression which sometimes fastens upon the speculative world, and betrays distrust in everything. Unless this feeling is checked in time it degenerates into "panic," when prices fall to a ruinously low figure.

Each fortnightly settlement includes three days -- the first being continuation or "con tango" day, when all transactions of a speculative description are arranged to be carried over to the next settlement day. The second is the ticket day, when the names of purchasers and sellers are handed over. The third is pay-day when all amounts or balances due for stocks bought or sold are paid or received. The great bulk of business being purely speculative, the first day is the busiest; after noon on that day all new transactions entered into are for settlement at the next account day, unless otherwise specially arranged.