A Lisbon Banker Tries to Collect Old Debts
«Banking exercises a powerful influence upon the morals of society. It tends to produce honesty and punctuality in pecuniary engagements».
This dictum will be found in the introductory pages of James William Gilbart’s «Practical Treatise on Banking», published in 1827.
First and in some respects greatest of the many great bankers who have «passed the chair» of management in the Westminster Bank, Gilbart is little read nowadays. More’s the pity; even if certain observations in Section VIII, dealing with the Moral and Religious Duties of Banking Companies, will raise a smile, clenched though every argument is with an opposite quotation from Holy Writ! Yet one paragraph may in reason be quoted here before trying to set forth certain difficulties besetting an old-time Lisbon merchant-banker who in 1813 – incidentally the very year that saw the entry of James William Gilbart, as a junior clerk, into a London bank – was still trying to collect what one assumes to have been an advance in Current Account made previous to the arrival of Junot in Lisbon in 1807. Here then is the text: ....