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banks the nomination of the junior clerks is regarded as a portion of the patronage of the directors, upon the understanding, however, that they nominate none but such as are 'properly qualified, and who shall prove their fitness to the satisfaction of a committee of directors.
In making inquiries into the qualifications of applicants, it is necessary to ascertain, in the first place, their age. In London the age at which clerks are admitted into a bank is usually about nineteen. As their first duty is to collect payment of bills, it is necessary they should have arrived at a sufficient degree of strength to be able to make some resistance were an attempt to be made to rob them of their bill-case ; and also that they should have arrived at an age to be conscious of the responsibility of their office. In the country parts of England, and in Scotland, clerks are taken at an earlier age; but the duties are different from those discharged by the same class in London.
Another consideration is the class of society from which clerks are taken. Candidates for the office of bank clerks are usually the sons of the better class of tradesmen, or of professional men, as clergymen, officers in the army or navy, or persons in the service of Government. During the last war, bankers' clerks ere generally the sons of tradesmen, as the sons of gentlemen could easily find employment under Government. But now that places under the Government are not so easily obtained, members of what are called respectable families are found among the candidates for admission into the service of banks. Each class has some advantages. The sons of gentlemen have generally a better literary education, and have usually a more courteous address. On the other hand, they have no notion of business, and no business habits. They have been accustomed to go a-hunting and a-fishing with the sons of men of large property, and they look upon banking busi
HISTORY, PRINCIPLES, AND PRACTICE
THE ADMINISTRATION OF THE OFFICE.
IN this Section we shall consider the following topics :
I. The Arrangement of the Office.
V. Their Sureties.
situation of a bank is a matter of some im. portance. It should be situated in what is deemed the most respectable part of the town. If it be placed in an inferior locality, approachable only by narrow and disagreeable streets, and surrounded by buildings the seats of smoky and dirty trades, it is not likely to be so much frequented, nor to acquire so large a business, as though it
were more pleasantly situated. Another point to be observed is, that the bạnk itself should be a handsome building. The necessary expenditure for this purpose is no sin against economy. It is an outlay of capital to be repaid by the profits of the business that will thus be acquired. A portion of the building will probably be set apart for the private residence of the manager, or of some other officer of the establishment. It is desirable that this portion should be entirely separated from the office. The communication should be only by a single door, of which the manager should keep the key. The building should be so constructed that what is going on in the private house, whether in the kitchen, or the nursery, or the drawingroom, should not be heard in the bank. The office being thus isolated, must then be fitted
that will most effectually promote the end in view. And here are three points to be considered-space, light, and ventilation.
A chief consideration is space. À banker should take care that his clerks have room enough to do their work comfortably. Every accountant knows that he can often work faster if he can bave two or more books open at the same time ; but if his space is so confined that he must shut up one book, and put it away, before he can use another, he will get on more slowly. The cashiers, too, will be much impeded if they are obliged to stand too close to each other; and the public will be huddled together, and will often count incorrectly the money given to them, and thus take up the cashier's time to put them right. Want of space will necessarily occasion errors, from the confusion it produces, and from one clerk being liable to interruption from the noise or vicinity of the others. A banker should therefore take care that his office is large enough for his business; and that it will admit of being enlarged in case his business should increase. Ample space is also condu
cive to the health of the clerks, as there will be more air to breathe, and the atmosphere is less likely to become polluted by the burning of lamps and candles.
Another consideration is light. It is well known in every London bank, that fewer mistakes are made by the clerks in summer than in winter. Abundance of light prevents mistakes, and saves all the time that would be employed in the discovery of errors. Light is also of great importance to the cashiers in detecting forged signatures and bad or counterfeit money. Thieves are also less likely to attempt their robberies in a light office than in a dark one. Faint or illegible handwriting can be more easily read, and hence mistakes are less likely to occur. The clerks, too, perform their duties with more quickness and cheerfulness. The gloominess of an office throws a gloom over the mind ; but “ light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun.”
The lightest part of the office should be devoted to the clerks. We have observed sometimes a violation of this principle. The entrance door has been placed in the middle of the front, with a window on each side, and the counter thrown across the room, so that the lightest part of the office has been given to the public. It is better that the entrance be placed at the right or the left corner, and the counter be made to run from the window to the opposite wall. The light will thus fall lengthwise on the counter, and the space behind the counter will be occupied by the clerks.
Ventilation.—Volumes have been written by medical men upon the advantages of fresh air, and on the unwholesome atmosphere of crowded cities. If the air that cir. culates in the streets of towns and cities is impure, what must be the state of those offices or rooms where twenty or thirty persons are breathing close together during the