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The field of business will never be wholly occupied. It will always offer large privilege and rich reward to the right kind of ability. It demands to-day the best brain power of the world. It is commonly stated, and with some truth, that more ability is needed for the position of president of a great railway than for the position of president of a great nation. The same is true of other great commercial concerns. No other field of action offers to-day larger inducements or greater responsibilities; no other field draws more largely upon the ranks of able and ambitious young men. Modern business has grown so complex and its requirements are so exacting, that a knowledge of its laws, customs and tendencies are necessary, not only to success, but to a comfortable existence. The American people are preeminently a business people. The world is both our harvest field and our market. Under these conditions no excuse need be offered for the publication of a business hand-book. Its purpose is self-evident.
The antiquity of banks is very great. In the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York, are Babylonian tablets bearing distinct records of transactions in banking that took place in the reign of Nebuchadnezzar. The origin of modern banking may be traced to the money dealers of Florence, who were in high repute as receivers and lenders of money in the fourteenth century. The name bank is derived from the Italian banco, a bench, the Jews in Lombardy having benches in the market place for the exchange of money. When a banker failed his bench was broken by the populace, and from this circumstance we have our word bankrupt. The business of borrowing and lending money was undertaken first by goldsmiths, although the two had no direct connection. In the process of the separation of employments, which is characteristic of an advancing society, banking became a business of its own.
The Bank of England.
The Bank of England was the fourth important national bank founded in Europe. The Bank of Venice was the first in date. The Bank of England is more than two hundred years old, and is to-day acknowledged to be the greatest financial institution in the world. It had a capital at commencing of six millions. The building covers a whole block bounded on the south by the famous