Page:English Caricaturists and Graphic Humourists of the nineteenth century.djvu/237

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163
SPECULATION MANIA OF 1825.

Battier scandal, mentioned in a previous chapter;[1] other subjects of 1824 are: Parisian Luxury (a man being shaved in a bath); Preparing for a Duel; and The Ostend Packet in a Squall; all etched by George from the designs of other artists. The mania for joint-stock companies in 1825, was scarcely equalled by the speculation mania which inaugurated the passing in our own time of the "Limited Liability Act." In 1824 and the beginning of 1825, two hundred and seventy-six companies had been projected, of which the aggregate capital (on paper only) represented £174,114,050. Thirty-three of these were established for the construction of canals and docks, forty-eight of railroads, forty-two for the supply of gas, six of milk, and eight of water, four for the working of coal, and thirty-four of metal mines; twenty new insurance companies were started, twenty-three banks, twelve navigation and packet companies, three fisheries, two for boring tunnels under the Thames, three for the embellishment and improvement of the metropolis, two for sea-water baths, and the rest for miscellaneous purposes; it is a somewhat significant fact that two only had for their object the establishment of newspapers. Notwithstanding the manifest absurdity of many of these projects, the shares of several—especially of the mining adventurers in South America—rose to enormous premiums. Among the last may be mentioned those of the Real del Monte, the price of which, between the 10th of December and the nth of January, rose from £550 to £1350, and the United Mexican during the same period from £35 to £1550. On these last shares only £10 had been paid, and on the former only £70. Speaking of this mania, the Rev. T. F. Dibdin (in his "Reminiscences") says, "If it did not partake of the name, it had certainly all the wild characteristics of the South Sea Bubble. To-day you had only to put your name down to a share or shares in the Rio de la Plata or other South American mines, and to-morrow a supplicant purchaser would give you fifty per cent, for every share taken. The old were bewitched … the young were in ecstasies. Everybody made a rush for the city. A new world of wealth had been discovered. It was only to

  1. See Chapter IV.