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TOWN TALK, j

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TOWN TALK, j BT OUB SPEC'XAII CORRESPONDENT. Oiriwufn witi understand thai we do not "hold ourselves respon1 S'iisiri jo f our abw Correspondent's Qpiuiom&t TEE horrible stteof things which exist in the I Strand Union, brought to light by the nurse Beeton and Dr. Rogers has led to farther inquiry I into the treatment of the sick poor in two other workhouses, being promoted by the Sick Poor I Association. These investigations are now going on, one at Rotherhithe, and the other at Padding- ton. At Rotherhithe Miss Beeton was told by the clerk to the guardians that if she failed to substantiate her allegations, she might expect legal proceedings to be taken against her. With this incentive to speak the truth in the shape of a threat before her eyes, she proceeded to give an account of what she had witnessed, her statement in parts being almost too disgusting for repeti- tion, and, as a whole, would have been well nigh incredible, had we not by this time have become accustomed to these fearful disclosures. The diet was insufficient, the spirits were diluted, beer, when ordered by the doctor, was frequently not given; rags for poultices could not be obtained, and if a patient required more than one poultice in twenty-four hours, he had either to pay for it or to save bread for it; maggots crawled on the beds and on the floor; sheets were changed once in three weeks, and the patients had to wash their hands and faces in the utensils, other appliances for cleanliness not being provided. However, as the patients were only paupers, some of them it is possible, even "professional," too much stress must not be laid on such trifles as insufficient diet and a superabundance of filth. From this point of view what remains behind is more im- portant. There were three nurses, two of whom got drunk occasionally, while the third was a con- firmed drunkard. One nurse used to beat the patients until they were black with bruises, more particularly those who had no friends. On com- plaining to the matron about the cruelty of this nurse, Beeton was told to get used to these things, for workhouses were not like hospitals. In Miss Beeton's opinion, many patients were actually killed by this nurse. When the patients were very troublesome she used to give them a dose of opium, put them on their left side, and then let them die of natural deaths." Re- specting the Paddington Union, I will only say, at present, that the statement furnished to the Poor- law Board discloses almost as bad a state of things as that which proved to be a true account of the Strand Infirmary, and that the guardians have always maintained a high reputation for humanity and good management, so much so, that when the Archbishop of York described, in Willis's Rooms, the general inefficiency of the arrangements made by the various London Boards, he specially excepted the Paddington Board, as he had heard a very good report of their house from, what he considered, to be an authentic source. Seeing that mismanagement has been proved to exist in so many workhouse infirmaries, in the Strand, Bethnal-green, Shore- ditch, St. Giles's, St. Pancras (I say nothing of Rotherhithe and Paddington, as the inquiries are still pending), the conclusion that the present system is radically wrong, can only be contested by those who are interested in its maintenance. The plan proposed by the association of which Lord Carnarvon is president-the consolidation of the metropolitan infirmaries, their support by a metro- politan rate, and their supervision by the Poor- law Board—would render the occurrence of such scandals as take place under the present system an impossibility. Erected, as it is proposed these infirmaries shall be, in conformity with the sug- gestions of Sir William Fergusson, Dr. Quain, Dr. Bence Jones, Mr. Paget, and many other most eminent physicians and surgeons, they would be suited to the purpose for which they would be used, and the medical arrangements would be in accordance with what humanity requires. When, tnereiore, the majority of the metropolitan guardians oppose the erection of such buildings, "and the massing together of chronic disease," on the ground that new types of disease would thereby be generated, they, and all those who express the same opinion, only make themseltes ridiculous. To set up their common sense," which is valuable on all questions con- nected with haberdashery, coats, shoes, and vegetables, because on these matters they are specially well informed, against the common sense of physicians and surgeons on matters with which they are specially well instructed, is ignorant presumption. The common sense which alone is a safe guide is that sense or conclusion at which the whole or a majority of a body of men, duly qualified on any given subject, has come to upon that particular subject. In a word, it depends upon whose common sense it is. On the subject of the proper treatment of the sick, I prefer the common sense of the eminent medical men above- named to the common sense of the more or less respectable retail tradesmen, who constitute the great majority of London Poor-law Guardians. -THE marriage 0f our Princess Mary of Cam- bridge to Prinee Teck has been really celebrated amid much rejoicing. The Princess, with charac- teristic kindness, in the midst of her own happiness did not forget to make others happy. The school children at Kew, where the wedding took place, and where the Princess has resided for many years, had a. treat, and thirty or forty poor people had a good dinner of her providing. And in celebration of the event, the benchers of the Middle Temple sent around champagne to the > various bar messes. Her Majesty, and those in; immediate attendance upon her, were attired in the deepest of deep mourning. The Duchess D'Aumale, who was present, and who has but j recently lost her royal aunt and mother-in-law, the venerable widow of Louis Philippe, did not, however, appear in mourning. I THE "panic," which has swept like a tornado ] over the City," and left behind so many wrecks to show its destructive force, presented one notable j feature to which public attention has been, and j will for seme time to come be, earnestly directed— j I mean the extent to" which wide-spread ruin was j caused by the deliberate conspiracy of certain j parties, acting upon an organised plan, to send j down the price of shares and securities, in them- selves perfectly sound, in order to put fortunes into their cwn pockets. Those who hare iarested their capital in Joint-Stock Banks and F'inance Companies, are at present completely at the mercy of these so-called bears, whose modus operandi is of the most infamous and unprincipled character, and deserves to be punished by penal servitude for life, or a halter, far more richly than many a crime to which such punishments are awarded. The mode in which these conspirators against the fortunes, it may be said in many cases the lives, of innocent and unoffending people achieve their object may be easily described, and the I remedy I think is equally obvious if we once seriously set ourselves to devise one. Let us see how a bear" goes to work. A specu- lator, who has HO shares in a Joint-Stock Bank or Discount and Finance Company, goes into J the Stock Exchange, and offers to sell one | thousand shares for the next account at Sí lower I price than they stand in the market—say 62 instead of 64. The" bear" has no shares, and does not intend to have any; he merely lays a wager, and says, in fact, I'll bet you £1,000 that the shares of the bank will be sold at J26Q, or less, I before the next account day, three weeks hence." The result of the operation is that shareholders get frightened and rush into the market to sell; the price of shares really falls, and the bear," who has nominally sold one thousand shares at 62, j finds the price before settling day 60 or 61. He buys the shares at one of these prices, and is ready to deliver at the agreed price of 62, realising £ 1,000 or £ 2,000 by his wager. This was espe- cially the character of the run against the Agra J and Masterman's Bank, whose stoppage has caused j more misery and ruin in every part of the world than could the failure of any other bank, except the Bank of England. The scoundrels who set j themselves to destroy it were not content with J ordinary "bearing," bad as that is, but abso- I lutely sent circulars, friendly and confidential," J to depositors, advising them to withdraw their deposits before the bank shut up. One of these circulars was received by a depositor while he was on a visit at Paris. When depositors rush to a bank en masse to demand their money, and frighten shareholders into the market to sell at any price, the end must come-the stoppage of what was a thoroughly solvent concern when these nefarious practices commenced. Within the last two months men have committed suicide, and widows and orphans have been thrown into poverty by these "time bargains" or wagers. When solvent banks are brought to a stand then, shares become nearly valueless, and the widow who was left by her husband, what he thought, at least, a, decent competence of £ 10,000 or 1, 15,000 in first- rate bank shares, finds herself and children almost penniless. "Skittle sharping," which is punishable by law when the sharpers are detected, is far more honourable and much less mischievous than bearing." Even when they do succeed in entic- ing some young man from the country into a skittle alley, get Mm to play at a game of which, probably, he knows little or nothing, to. stake his good money against their bank of elegance notes and dummy sovereigns, and, lastly, "bonnet or drug him, and escape with his watch and chain, the injury they do is confined to the individual, and is upon a limited scale. But a glance at the list of shareholders of the Agra, and Masterman's Bank is sufficient to show that enormous loss will be felt in every part of our Eastern possessions in China, in the Straits, and by the military and ) civil service in India, especially with whom the Agra was a pet bank. One comparatively timid proposal to check such really criminal practices has been considered by the Committee of the Stock Exchange, namely, that sellers of shares should be required to give the number of j the shares they wish to sell. The committee rejected the proposal by a majority of fifteen against twelve. By so doing' they clearly preferred the interests of the members of H the House to those of the public, and for the sake of the brokerage on these fictitious sales, which constitute so large a portion of the business transacted in the House, they are quite ready to deny the investing public any protection whatever. But, as usual with purely selfish, calculations, they may find out by-and-bye that they have done the very thing they wished to avoid. The mere "wagerers" do not invest, it is those who have money to spare from business, or who have retired from active iife-and if they cease to invest in shares that can be affected by such nefarious operations, both bulls and bears must come to grief. They can't live upon one another. If j such practices were attempted against a private bank as wrought the downfall of the Agra and Masterman, the perpetrators would very speedily find themselves in the hands of the police, and at the bar of the Old Bailey. Why should joint-stock banks be deprived of the same protection? It is, however, very clear that protection is not to be looked for from the committee, though the fact, that there was so large a minority indicates that even within the House itself, there is a strong and wide-spread eonvictisn of the necessity for a change. Mr. Leeman, the member for York, has taken the matter up and introduced a bill into the House of Commons, which has been hailed j with mucn SatlsfaetiOL, though already it has j been criticised as going rather too far, and as not being sufficiently comprehensive. The I bill provides that all contracts for the sale or transfer of shares, stocks, or other interests in any joint-stock, banking, or any other joint-stock company, shall be null and void unless at the time of making such contracts the respective numbers and designations of such, ox the or stock are stated in writing. Fake statements in such written contracts are to be treated as misde- meanour, and legally punishable accordingly, Upon the main principle of the bill there will probably be little difference of opinion in the House of Commons, and any discussion will be as to the extent to which it should be applied. The Times, in its City article, recommends its applica- tion to banks, discount, or other credit establish- ments, while others think that nothing short of actual registration of all transactions will be an effectual remedy. If that was the law it would I place the "jobbers" in the same position as the j public, who, when they go into the market to j purchase, have to pay money down and undertake j all subsequent responsibilities and liabilities in, j respect of the shares so purchased. A stringent provision of this kinëJ, it may be said, would, in j the long run, put a stop to "jobbers "altogether. S If sq. Bill the better for the public and She jobbers t will probably betake themselves to some other I congenial calling,, or, perforce, learn to earn an I honest living. z. j

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