Page:The Bank of England and the State, 1905.djvu/18

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The Bank of England and the State.

the Government for all operations of this nature, hitherto carried on at the Treasury. The year 1721 was memorable on account of the failure of the South Sea Company, and the Bank had to buy annuities from that Company to the value of £200,000 per annum at twenty years' purchase, and £3,400,000 had, in 1722, to be added to the Bank's capital. In 1727 one and three-quarter million pounds was advanced to the Government, in 1728 one and a quarter million, both at 4 per cent. On the expiration of the Charter in 1742, the privilege of renewal till 1764 was purchased by an advance to the Government of £1,600,000 free of interest: to raise this sum the Bank made a call of £840,000.

The rebellion of 1745 naturally brought fresh demands, and the proprietors authorised the Directors to cancel Exchequer Bills to the amount of £986,000 (in consideration of an annuity of £39,472, being 3 per cent. per annum), and to create new stock for the purpose, the capital thus being raised to £10,780,000. In 1764 the extension of the Charter till 1786 was obtained, in consideration of an advance of £1,000,000 on Exchequer Bills and the payment of £110,000 into the Exchequer; for the extension to 1812 an advance had to be made in 1781 of £2,000,000 for three years at 3 per cent. A call of 8 per cent., made in 1782, brought the capital to £11,642,400, and this is the last occasion on which either a call or a public subscription took place, for the final addition to the stock of 25 per cent. was made in 1816, out of surplus profit, and not by a call on the proprietors; thus the capital was raised to its present amount, £14,553,000. In the same year the sum of £3,000,000 was advanced to the Government, raising the total of such advances to £14,686,800, an amount practically identical with that of the capital of the Bank.

1 have dwelt at some length, I am afraid, on these successive additions to its capital, but they are of importance, for they show that they were brought about, not by the demands of trade and commerce, but by those of the Government; and the whole attitude of the Bank towards trade and commerce in the eighteenth century, and necessarily in its later development, is really explained thereby, for other institutions, private in the first place,