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had it not been for the powerful the officers on half pay, the rich support I derived from the trust- squires, the titled dupes — the ing contributions of confiding or sponges, in fact, whom I want to speculative female investors; and warn against the squeezers, will pass now, in such solemn tones as I find me by, while the squeezers themit possible to command, reclining selves will chuckle over my advenas I am at this moment in the arms turous career, as thieves read the of my official liquidator, with but police reports, partly on account of a feeble spark of vitality still left, the affectionate interest they take I warn you to read carefully this in the profession, and partly in the melancholy history,
hope of picking up a wrinkle or it concerns you deeply. Such of two for future use and guidance. you as have invested in me, I shall Having taken the liberty, with a endeavour to remind of my gay frankness which I regret formed no and misspent youth, by providing part of my original character, but you, by means of the officer legally which my approaching dissolution appointed for that purpose, with has suggested to me as expedient, infinitesimal dividends, extracted at to address these and all other classes long intervals from my miserable of my readers, I will now endeavour and shrunken remains— Bless you ! to convey to them some idea of the
I address myself to you, rich process of my inception. I wish it, landed proprietors, who never med- however, to be distinctly underdle with City matters, or invest- stood, that while I carefully veil the ments, or “ that sort of thing,” but mystery of my identity, I am not leave it all to your men of business, altogether a mythical character; and I ask you whether you have that the facts of my existence are had reason to be satisfied with the real, and not imaginary ; and that results of their advice this year? there is nothing I am about to Don't you think you had better try relate which has not actually ocand understand a little where your curred : at the same time, any atmoney is, and where it is not? And tempt of the most experienced proyou men of business, who advise moter or knowing broker to discover your clients, no doubt with the best exactly who I am, or rather was, intentions, have you had reason al- will be utterly futile, so artful is the ways to be satisfied with the advice disguise behind which this record you have given them? Clever of my varied fortunes has been conthough you are, and honest though cealed. you may be, it will do you no harm Disdaining to take refuge in a to read my narrative. And you, fictitious name, and scorning the impecunious connections of the aris- subterfuge of a sham prospectus, I tocracy, who have neither brains will merely say that I first received nor experience, but think you know the rude outlines of my subsequent enough to combine West-end fash- shape in the ingenious brain of a ion with East-end financing, if you needy and adventurous speculator. ever read anything, read me, that This gentleman, who had passed you may avoid having your purses, through the various phases of an —which, indeed, at best are trash- officer in the army, a member of the stolen, and your good names filched. House of Commons, and a broker Alas! I fear that those I seek to on the Stock Exchange, from all of reach are just those who will which he had, in one form or other, think I don't concern them. The been practically, if not by any forparsons, the widows, the orphans, mal process, expelled, had been
VOL CXX.-NO. DOCXXIX,
driven to earning a precarious live- a pair of high-stepping bays, when lihood by taking up what he called his luck was good and the seedy one “ little business” after another. sort of swagger with which, a few He was popularly known as the months after, in an almost starving “Captain;" and in consideration of condition, he would secretly visit finhis natural predatory habits, I will anciers who were ashamed to see him venture to introduce him to my openly,—was a perpetual marvel to readers as Captain Hawk. His style me. His external appearance was of “little business” consisted in that of a somewhat dissipated "plunarranging for concessions, acting ger.” Heavy sandy moustache, from apparently as principal where it which volumes of smoke perpetually was too dangerous for the real prin- issued, concealed a not unpleasant cipal to appear; playing the part of mouth ; and as he wrote me out imspy or detective between business pregnating me with his filthy tofriends at the request of either, or bacco, I remember looking up with both; dealing in horses and car- astonishment into his calm blue riages; trying to obtain contracts for eyes, and wondering how such an large contractors; and introducing apparently vacuous countenance people who had “ good things" to could ever have imagined such a sell, or valuable ideas to impart, to complicated and incomprehensible capitalists likely to invest in them, prospectus as I felt myself, even and vice versâ : on all which trans- in that first dawn of consciousness, actions he received commissions to be. varying in amount—sometimes, in- Poor man ! he deserved to get deed, very trifling—or was remuner. something for his trouble; for the ated in other underhand methods effort of producing me cost him well known to the craft. I don't hours of concentrated thought, six think he was originally a dishonest tumblers of brandy-and-water, and man, and he still possessed many as many cigars; and though, of amiable and generous traits—such, course, I cannot say I have any recolfor instance, as that of freely lend- lection of it, I have a dim sort of coning his friends the money which sciousness that I had, so to speak, did not belong to him, and being been incubating in his brain for always ready to put them into many weeks before I saw the light. “good things," a service which they At last, after innumerable corrarely returned. The fertility of rections, modifications, and final resource and ingenuity of invention polishings, I was folded up, put with which this worthy was gifted into his pocket, and entered upon was something amazing; and I shall the next stage of my still infantile never forget the first time I saw existence. myself in manuscript. He was in This gentleman is known in the very low water at the time, and phraseology of finance as my Prolived in a small lodging in a street moter; and in spite of his many bad off the Strand; but he shared the habits and general laxity of morals, peculiarity of other members of the after an extensive experience of city same fraternity, of rising and sink- men engaged in providing investing with extraordinary rapidity and ments for the public and managing facility. There never was any- them after they have been provided, thing to equal his elasticity in this I am proud to say that I can think respect. The contrast between his of him with a certain feeling of gay and jaunty appearance when he filial tenderness and even respect, was dashing down Piccadilly behind for he did not conceal unknown villanies under the guise of respect- with a beggarly remuneration when ability: having no profession he he had no further need of him. certainly made none; he was con- The poor Captain knew this from tented to live on the outskirts of bitter experience; but the obstacle the society to which he really be- in the way of the other course was, longed, instead of forcing his way that the Captain had exhausted the into the society to which he did tribe of fast and rich young men not belong—and rather picked up whom he had known in his fashthe remnants after the leaders of ionable days. He could only think the profession had robbed the pub- of one man with whom he had a lic, than stole from them himself. chance in this direction; if this
Although I naturally did not failed, he would have to do the best know where I was going to, or he could in the City. A few weeks what the next feature of my exist before, he had observed in the papers ence was to be at the time, it will the death of a rich baronet, who had make it clearer if I explain, which made his fortune in trade, and the light of my subsequent experi- whose son had been a cornet in ence enables me to do, the plan of my Promoter's regiment, where he my Promoter. In order to give was noted for his weakness of intelme any real value, it became ne-lect and extreme vanity. This youth cessary for him to obtain certain had now become Sir Twig Robinson; concessions and permissions from and to him with a sanguine and foreign Governments and munici- even triumphant air my Promoter palities—for I was a vast conception addressed himself, though I could with ramifications all over Europe, feel the sinking presentiment of and my success depended upon the failure agitating his breast as I construction of divers works involv- pressed against it. ing contracts; in fact, there was a Inexperienced as I then was, I great deal of money to be made out was literally thunderstruck at the of me by my Promoter, if he was skill with which my Promoter flatonly careful in his manipulation of tered, tempted, and cajoled Sir me in my earlier stages. The first Twig. That young gentleman, indifficulty, and indeed the one, poor flated with the newly-acquired conman, with which he had most fre- sciousness of great wealth, was quently to contend through life, was dazzled by the prospect of his name impecuniosity.
being connected with the brilliant He now stood in need of cash and gigantic enterprise which my with which to pay his travelling Promoter expatiated upon with exexpenses, and which should enable traordinary eloquence. Not only him to deposit the necessary cau- was there great profit, but there tion money. Now there were two was great credit to be got out of it; courses open to him : he could and if the truth is to be told, with either go to a capitalist, explain the management, there really was both. merits of the scheme, and go as his Sir Twig was, after all, not by any agent, having to give an account of means such a fool for taking me up, his expenses, and receiving a stipu- as he has been since on many occalated sum; or he might take a part- sions; and he exhibited a certain ner from among the unwary youth degree of cunning in the tenacity of the West End.
with which he insisted that if he The objections to the first course advanced the whole of the capital were obvious. The City capitalist necessary for these preliminary exwould use him and throw him aside penses, the concessions should be taken out in his name alone. The tent; for he spent Sir Twig's money Captain was afraid of exciting his as freely as if it had been his own, suspicions if he objected too strong- while he graduated his bribes with ly to this : so it was finally settled, a most delicate discrimination. It that in consideration of my Pro- takes a great deal of patience and moter undertaking the by no means diplomatic skill to secure a concessimple task of securing the con- sion; for any small employé can put cessions and permissions, Sir Twig a spoke in the wheel if he is not was to find the money requisite, “squared” in some shape or other, and the profits were to be equally and they know their power but too divided; or, as he elegantly expressed well. But my Promoter was more it, “We'll go halves in the pull.” than a match for them, and re
I am obliged, in order not to pro- turned triumphantly just as Sir long this veracious history to undue Twig was beginning to take a limits, to deprive the reader of the gloomy view of things, and to think exciting narrative of my adventures that the whole affair was a ruse of in various foreign capitals. Indeed the Captain to live luxuriously I have some excuse for this; for abroad at his expense. It was with although I was generally in his a surly grunt, then, that he received pocket, they were not so much my Promoter, as the latter, in faultmy adventures as my Promoter's. less attire purchased with Sir He it was who lingered and gambled Twig's money, and with a radiant at Monaco, and justified it after- smile, burst into his room one mornwards to Sir Twig on the plea that ing to announce his success. he was obliged to go there in order “I thought you were never comto meet a lady who was supposed ing back," growled Sir Twig. “I to exercise a paramount influence suppose you thought there was over a certain well-known minister no occasion to hurry, considering who dispensed concessions. An that I was paying the piper. I admirable linguist, my Promoter kept writing to tell you to come was eminently qualified for the duty back, but you took no notice of my on which he was now engaged. His letters; and now you have got these easy assurance secured him a favour- precious concessions, I don't beable reception in society; and al- lieve they are worth anything. Who though he was somewhat shyly re- is going to buy them? People who garded by our own embassies and know about these things tell me legations, he succeeded in winning the public are shy of going in for a access to the authorities with whom thing of this sort, and that there is he had to deal, generally by means not a chance of its going down." of his popularity with the fair sex. “ Of course it won't
down, my My readers would indeed be sur- dear Twig," said the Captain, with a prised to learn the names of cer- delightful impudence. tain distinguished foreign dames " Then why did you get the conto whose powerful advocacy the cessions, and what do you propose Captain owed more than one con- to do?" cession, and whom he, in considera- “ Form a syndicate to be sure, tion thereof, allowed to “stand in " - what else should I do?" for a certain number of fully paid “A syndicate ! what's that ?” up shares in the Company when asked Sir Twig. formed. For more than six months “I'll explain in a moment,” redid my Promoter dine, bribe, flirt, plied the Captain ; " but before we and intrigue, to his own great con- go any further, we have a little business to settle between us. You gentlemen of the highest standing will observe that all these conces- he can find to become the directors sions are, as you stipulated they of the new Company, and an eminent should be, taken in your name. contractor to engage to carry out Now I want you to sign a little the works, upon the certain assuragreement to the effect that what ance that money will be found ; and ever money is given for the conces- at the same time to induce the sions, if we sell them, is to be public to subscribe the money upon equally divided between us. This the no less certain assurance that is only fair, you know-an ordinary the directors and contractor have matter of business routine. After been found. This looks like a you have done that, I'll explain to vicious circle, because you can only you the nature and functions of a obtain one essential condition on the syndicate.
distinct understanding that the Sir Twig had a vague feeling that other has been already secured." it was never safe to sign his name, “ And how do you manage to get but he could see no valid objection out of it?" asked Sir Twig. to this proposal of the Captain's; “Why, we offer the scheme in the and moreover, he felt himself in first instance, not to the public, but his ignorance so completely in that to an influential combination of plausible gentleman's power, that capitalists called a syndicate." he did as he was told, with a “But why should the capitalists sigh.
take the shares which the public “Now," said the Captain, with a will not take?” glance of amiable compassion, “I “Because," replied the Captain, will proceed to teach this young “they will get them much below idea how to shoot. We have an their nominal price; and by being invaluable packet here of conces- only a few holders, and all known to sions and permissions. The great each other, they can put up prices on object is to induce the confiding the Stock Exchange, and easily rig country investor to think that his the market, and then clear out at a or her future happiness and pros- profit." perity depend upon their obtaining “Excuse my stupidity," said Sir possession of them. Now if you Twig; “but how do they rig the or I were to offer them for sale, market ?" their reputation for value would be “ That is very simple. A says ruined, because the public never to B, don't sell your shares under look into the intrinsic value of the ten per cent premium. I will buy article to be purchased, but are in- them publicly at that price through fluenced entirely by the manner in a broker, if you will privately give which it is presented to them, and me back my money afterwards, and the financial standing of the persons take back your shares. The next who offer it for sale : a poor, honest day B buys from A, and so on. man will utterly fail to sell them This keeps up the price on the a good thing in a straightforward official quotations on the Exchange, way, while they will jump greedily and the outside investor comes in at a bad thing, dangled skilfully and buys; then the syndicate can before them by a rich rogue. The quietly unload.” first thing for us, therefore, to find, “I see,” said Sir Twig, with more is the rich rogue. He will become humour than I gave him credit for ; the syndicate manager. And his "it seems to me that this syndicate, business is to induce a number of as you call it, is itself the vicious