Monday, 26 October 2009

Scottish Banking(part 12)

....and sharp as a needle. One day, in the course of
paying a farmer a small account,there happened
to be a half-guinea among the change. The farmer
did not like to receive gold in payment in case of its
 being of light weight, and therefore, carefully
inspecting the half-guinea, he asked Mr. Macalpine
 if he was quite sure of it's being good weight. Mr.
Macalpine,taking the coin back from the farmer,
placed it on the tip of his elbow, and then poised it
as if he had been weighing it,after which he returned
 the piece to the farmer, saying, " Yes, yes, I'll
warrant it to be good weight!"
The farmer,however, was not satisfied with Mr.
 Macalpine’s mode of weighing gold,and after again
 carefully examining the half—guinea on both sides
,said,“I dinna ken,sir,but I think it looks unco bare!"
 "Bare,bare!” exclaimed Sandy. " Od’s my life,man
,would you have hair upon it?"
The poor farmer was quite dumbfounded at this
 sally, and so pocketed the half—guinea
without uttering another word.

Usually bankers are men of pacific demeanour,but
there are exceptions to every rule, as the following
story shows.

Towards the end of the eighteenth and early in the
nineteenth century the Cross was the great business
centre of the city. There the Exchange was situated,
where the newspapers were read and the war news
discussed by the Virginia Dons who strutted about in-
wigs and scarlet cloaks. Not far from the Cross, in
Gibson’s Wynd (now Princes Street, City), some 150
years ago, the Glasgow Post Office was situated. It
consisted of three apartments ;the front one measured
twelve feet square, the other two were mere pigeon-
holes, each ten feet by six, or thereby. The rent of the
premises was £6 or £8 a year. The delivery hole or
wicket was a hole broken through the wall of the close.
At this time the West Indian mail arrived only once
a month,and upon the arrival of the mail the pressure
that took place at the delivery of letters was quite over-
powering. So anxious were merchants to get their
letters that they attended personally, and were wont
to push and scramble at the little wicket window in
the close for first delivery of their expected remit-

Upon one of these occasions a fracas took place
between Henry Monteith, afterwards Lord Provost,
and Robert Watson, banker. From high words they
proceeded to downright fisticuffs, and had a regular
set—to in Princes Street. So long as the contest was
confined to words, the future Lord Provost and M.P.
had the best of it; but when it came to blows, the
banker showed himself the better man. Their friends,
however, interfered and separated them, and they are
said to have been afterwards fast friends.

Naturally, the success of the Ship and the Glasgow
Arms Bank tempted other institutions to endeavour
to obtain a share in the growing commercial
 prosperity of the City.

The first which sent a branch to Glasgow was the
Paisley Bank, or, as it was familiarly called,the"Old
Paisley.” This took place in 1784. At that period the
population of Glasgow was about 47,000 and of
Paisley about 21,000. The bank itself had been

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