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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. III


94 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [The Mourd of the sums set down in their respective subscriptions towards carrying on the bank, and all and every the persons subscribing and paying to. the said stock as aforesaid shall be, and hereby are declared to be, one body corporate and politic, by the name and company of THE BANK OF SCOTLAND,? etc. The charter, while detailing minutely all that the bank may do in the way of lending money and giving laws for its internal government, fails to define in any way the liability of the shareholders to each other or to the public. For the space of twenty-one years it was to be free from all public burdens, and during that time all other persons in the realm of Scotland are prohibited from setting up any rival company. To preclude the breaking of the bank contrary to the object in view, it is declared that the sums of the present subscriptions and shares may only be conveyed and transmitted by the owners to others who shall become partners in their place, or by adjudication or other legal means. It is also provided by the charter that aH foreigners on acquiring the bank stock must become ? naturalised Scotsmen, to all intents and! purposes whatsoever,? a privilege that became abused, and was abolished in 1822. The charter further ordains that no member of the said company shall, upon any ? pretence whatever, directly or indirectly, use, exercise, or follow any other traffic or trade with the said joint stock to be employed in the said bank, or any part thereof, or profits arising therefrom, excepting the trade of lending 2nd borrowing money upon interest, and negotiating bills of exchange, allenarly [i.e., these things only], and no other.? By various subsequent statutes the capital of this bank was increased till it stood nominally at ~1,500,000, a third of which has not been called ; and by the Act 36 and 37 Victoria, cap. gg, further powers to raise capital were granted, without the Act being taken advantage of. The additional amount authorised is ~3,000,000, which would give a total capital of A~,~OO,OOO sterling. The monopoly conferred on the bank by the Parliament of Scotland was not renewed at the expiry of the first twenty-one years; and on its being found that banking business was on the increase, another establishment, the Royal Bank of Scotland, was chartered in 1727, and immediately became the rival of its predecessor. ?It purchased up,? says Amot, ?all the notes of the Bank of Scotland that they (the directors) could lay hands on, and caused such a run upon this bank as reduced them to considerable difficulties. To avoid such distresses for the future, the Bank of Scotland, on the 29th of November, 1730, began to issue 6 5 notes, payable on demand, or 65 2s. 6d. six months after their being presented for payment, in the option of the bank. On the 12th of December, 1732, they began to issue AI notes with a similar clause.? The other banking companies in Scotland found it convenient to follow the example, and universally framed their notes with these optional clauses. They were issued for the most petty sums, and were currently accepted in payment, insomuch that notes for five shillings were perfectly common, and silver was, in a manner, banished from Scotland. To remedy these banking abuses, an Act of the British Parliament was passed in 1765, prohibiting all promissory notes payable to the bearer under 61 sterling, and also prohibiting and! declaring void all the optional clauses. In the year 1774, when the Bank of Scotlan& obtained an Act to enlarge their capital to ~2,400,000 Scots, or ;~ZOO,OOO sterling, a clause provided that no individual should possess in whole, or more than, ~ 4 0 , 0 0 0 in stock, and the qualification for the offices of governor and directors was doubled. The present offices of the Bank of Scotland were completed from the original design in 1806 by Mr. Richard Cnchton, and the institution was moved thither in that year from the old, narrow, and gloomy close where it had transacted business for one hundred and eleven years. In digging the foundation of this edifice, the same obstacle came in the way that eventually occasioned the fall of the North Bridge. After excavating to a great depth, no proper foundation could be found-all being travelled earth. The quantity of this carted away was such that the foundations of some of the houses in the nearest closes were shaken and their walls rent, so that the occupants had to remove. A solid foundation was at last found, and the vast structure was reared at the cost of L75,ooo. T h e quantity of stone and mortar which IS buried below the present surface is immense, and perhaps as much of the building is below the ground as above it,? says Stark in 1820. ?The dead wall on the north of the edifice, where the declivity is greatest, is covered by a stone curtain,. ornamented with a balustrade. The south front is. elegant. A small dome rises from the centre, and in the front are four projections. A range of Connthian pilasters decorates the second floor, and over the door in the recess is a Venetian window, ornamented with two columns of the Corinthian order, surmounted by the arms of the bank.?
Volume 3 Page 94
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