Page:The Bank of England and the State, 1905.djvu/11

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The Bank of England and the State


Read before the University of Manchester, on November 14th, 1905.


An enquiry into the relations subsisting between the State and the Bank of England is a difficult subject for a short address, or even for a short essay. These relations can be described in a very few words; but to enter on them fully, and to treat them from their historical and economic aspects, would occupy many volumes. Indeed, the history of the Bank of England remains yet to be written. As Mr. Stephens' contribution[1] to the bibliography of the Bank of England shows, there is already an extensive literature on the subject, but no one comprehensive work appears to exist.

Curiously enough, the most recent and most complete history of the Bank of England is by a Greek professor, M. Andréadès,[2] published in French in 1904. Another foreign work by Dr. Phillippovich[3] treats specially of the relations between the Government and the Bank; and both works would be well worth translating, as they are full of patient research and ample references to various authorities, so that they are extremely valuable guides to further study. But they are written from the point of view of the foreign student rather than that of the historian and economist who is a thorough master of his subject in every aspect. Their information is second-hand, as it were, and, in consequence, not invariably quite reliable. For the best available information we have now to look to a great variety of sources, and, amongst the most valuable, are the Reports issued by various Select Committees who have from time to time reported to Parliament on the Bank Acts.

A complete history of the Bank would be really a history of the nation in its commercial development. It would have to include the history of the National Debt, the scientific treatment of all questions of currency, the history of private and joint-stock

  1. T. A. Stephens. "A contribution to the Bibliography of the Bank of England."
  2. A. Andréadès. "Histoire de la Banque d’Angleterre."
  3. E. Phillippovich. "Die Bank von England."