No man is safe from losing every penny he has in the world, unless he has had his facer. How often do I not hear middle-aged women and quiet family men say that they have no speculative tendency; they never had touched, and never would touch, any but the very soundest, best reputed investments, and-as for unlimited liability, oh dear! dear! and they throw up their hands and eyes.

Whenever a person is heard to talk thus he may be recognized as the easy prey of the first adventurer who comes across him; he will commonly, indeed, wind up his discourse by saying that in spite of all his natural caution, and his well knowing how foolish speculation is, yet there are some investments which are called speculative but in reality are not so, and he will pull out of his pocket the prospectus of a Cornish gold mine. It is only on having actually lost money that one realizes what an awful thing the loss of it is, and finds out how easily it is lost by those who venture out of the middle of the most beaten path. Ernest had had his facer, as he had had his attack of poverty, young, and sufficiently badly for a sensible man to be little likely to forget it. I can fancy few pieces of good fortune greater than this as happening to any man, provided, of course, that he is not damaged irretrievably.

So strongly do I feel on this subject that if I had my way I would have a speculation master attached to every school. The boys would be encouraged to read the Money Market Review, the Railway News, and all the best financial papers, and should establish a stock exchange amongst themselves in which pence should stand as pounds. Then let them see how this making haste to get rich moneys out in actual practice. There might be a prize awarded by the head-master to the most prudent dealer, and the boys who lost their money time after time should be dismissed. Of course if any boy proved to have a genius for speculation and made money-well and good, let him speculate by all means.

If Universities were not the worst teachers in the world I should like to see professorships of speculation established at Oxford and Cambridge. When I reflect, however, that the only things worth doing which Oxford and Cambridge can do well are cooking, cricket, rowing and games, of which there is no professorship, I fear that the establishment of a professorial chair would end in teaching young men neither how to speculate, nor how not to speculate, but would simply turn them out as bad speculators.

I heard of one case in which a father actually carried my idea into practice. He wanted his son to learn how little confidence was to be placed in glowing prospectuses and flaming articles, and found him £500 which he was to invest according to his lights. The father expected he would lose the money; but it did not turn out so in practice, for the boy took so much pains and played so cautiously that the money kept growing and growing till the father took it away again, increment and all-as he was pleased to say, in selfdefence.

I had made my own mistakes with money about the year 1846, when every one else was making them. For a few years I had been so scared and had suffered so severely, that when (owing to the good advice of the broker who had advised my father and grandfather before me) I came out in the end a winner and not a loser, I played no more pranks, but kept henceforward as nearly in the middle of the middle rut as I could. I tried in fact to keep my money rather than to make more of it. I had done with Ernest's money as with my own-that is to say I had let it alone after investing it in Midland ordinary stock according to Miss Pontifex's instructions. No amount of trouble would have been likely to have increased my godson's estate one half so much as it had increased without my taking any trouble at all.

Midland stock at the end of August, 1850, when I sold out Miss Pontifex's debentures, stood at £32 per £100. I invested the whole of Ernest's £15,000 at this price, and did not change the investment till a few months before the time of which I have been writing lately-that is to say until September, 1861. I then sold at £129 per share and invested in London and North Western ordinary stock, which I was advised was more likely to rise than Midlands now were. I bought the London and North Western stock at £93 per £100, and my godson now, in 1882, still holds it.

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter/page Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.