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feeling in his superior officers. Those bankers who extend their commands to the minutest details of the office, exacting the most rigid obedience in matters the most trivial, harshly censuring their clerks when they do wrong, and never commending them when they do right, may themselves be very clever men, but they do not go the way to get clever assistants. At the same time, they exhaust their own physical and mental powers by attending to matters which could be managed equally well by men of inferior talent.
After a clerk has become a manager, his education has yet to be completed. Lord Bacon observes, that reading makes a wise man; writing an exact man; and conversation a ready man. Whatever knowledge he may have acquired by reading or otherwise—however exact he may have been in the discipline of the office—the young manager has yet to become a ready man. He has to apply his knowledge promptly and independently, and, at the same time, wisely. This habit he will acquire by time. The exercise of authority over other men produces an indepen. dence of mind which is friendly to the maturing of the understanding; while the necessity for giving immediate decisions in conversation with his customers will have a tendency to produce promptness of judgment. There is no profession in which experience is more useful than in banking. But it is useful, not so much in the amount of knowledge that is acquired (though that is important), as in the improvement it imparts to those intellectual faculties which are called into exercise. It is by constant practice that these faculties gather strength. Habits are formed by repeated acts, and they can be formed in no other way.
Before closing this section on the administration of the office, we may observe, that although the duties of a chief clerk are quite distinct from those of a banker, yet in small
establishments they are often performed by the same person. In branch banks, generally, the manager is both the banker and the chief clerk. But as the branch increases, the manager will gradually transfer to the second officer the duties of the chief clerk, and confine his own attention to those of a banker. It is too much the practice in England to view a bank manager as holding the same relative posi. tion in a joint-stock bank which a chief clerk does in a private bank. This is an error. A manager is not a banker's clerk—he is a banker. And although he may reserve some important cases for the consideration of his directors, yet they are usually such cases as a private banker would reserve for consultation with his partners, or on which, had he no partners, he would take time to form his own determination.
It may also be observed, that although the government of the office will generally be left entirely to the chief clerk, and it is not necessary that the banker should be made acquainted with all the trivial delinquencies of the clerks, yet there are certain acts of misconduct that must always be reported, and when reported must be dealt with by the banker himself. In a well-disciplined establishment these cases will be rare, but they will occur sometimes, and then the mode of reproof or punishment will be regulated by the kind of offence and the character of the party. Every act of dishonesty, however trifling the amount purloined, must be followed by instant dismissal. Acts of deliberate disobedience to orders, gross disrespect to superior officers, or acts of immorality that would bring discredit on the bank, will generally be visited with the same punishment. But extreme punishment should be inflicted only in extreme cases. Mere accidental errors, though they may sometimes occasion great loss, must not be treated in the same way as those faults which arise from gross neglect, or which imply a deficiency in personal honour. It is generally a good rule that a banker should not reprove a clerk in the presence of the other clerks. By following this rule, he can adapt his reproofs to the character and position of the party; for a valuable clerk, even when really culpable, is not to be treated in precisely the same way as another whose services are of less importance. Nor is it any violation of justice, that those faults which arise from inadvertence should be viewed differently from those that arise from bad habits. Nor will it tend to impair the discipline of the office should it be known that a good character will sometimes get a young man out of a scrape, while he who had not that good character would be punished more severely for a less important offence. An. other rule to be observed in administering reproof is,-in reminding a clerk of his defects, to commence with telling him of his good qualities. There is a credit as well as a debit side in every man's character; and it seems hardly fair to run over all the debit items, and say nothing of the other side of the account. This plan, too, increases, instead of diminishing, the pungency of the reproof, while it removes from the mind of the party any impression that the banker is influenced by motives of personal dislike.
LTHOUGH the business of keeping books is extremely
easy when once the accounts are properly arranged, yet the adaptation of the principle of Double-entry to extensive and complicated transactions, so as to receive the full benefit of the system, is a process which requires the most complete knowledge, not only of the practice, but also of the science of book-keeping."
“ Book-keeping, like all other arts, can only be mastered by industry, perseverance, and attention. The learner must think for himself, and endeavour to understand the why and wherefore of all that he does, instead of resting satisfied with
notions and words devoid of sense.” “ The study of book-keeping affords an excellent means of intellectual discipline; that is, when its principles are exhibited as well as their application. When the reasoning powers are called into exercise as well as the memory, the student who has carefully attended to the instructions, and who is the master and not the slave of rules, will experience no difficulty in unravelling or adjusting any set of accounts, however complicated or diversified." I
We have commenced this section with these quotations in order to quicken the attention of the reader to a subject which by those who do not understand it is considered complicated, and by those who do understand it is considered dull. It is, in fact, neither the one nor the other.
1“ Double-Entry Elucidated,” by B. F. Foster,
But still it is a subject on which it is difficult to write in such a way as to avoid the possibility of being misunderstood. We propose in this section
I. To notice those Preliminary Operations with which
a young Book-keeper should become acquainted. II. To describe the system of Banking Book-keeping
as published in the former editions of this work. III. To state those Improvements of which this system
has been found to be susceptible. IV. To trace the Resemblance between Banking Book
keeping and Mercantile Book-keeping.
I. Preliminary Operations.
When a young man enters a bank as a clerk, he should be instructed to be careful with regard to his handwriting, or, in his anxiety to write fast, he may forget to write well. If he write a bad hand, he should not be above taking a few lessons from a professor of penmanship, who will teach him to write fast and well at the same time. But, however badly he may write, he should try to write plainly. Plainness is of more consequence than neatness or elegance. He should be very careful in writing the names of the customers of the bank. If he write them illegibly, there will be a loss of time in making them out, or they may be misunderstood, so that money may be posted to the wrong account, and thereby loss arise to the bank. On this account also, when two or more customers have the same surname, he should be very careful to write the Christian names fully and distinctly.
The necessity for writing quickly, and the want of carefulness at first, are the causes why so few bankers' clerks comparatively write a good hand. But they should remember, that this is a most important qualification, and a