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thing of the formation, operation, and winding-up, of these fast increasing and powerful engines of commerce.

For this purpose alone, then, have the following pages been written. Not with a view to making the reader his own lawyer, for that theory has long since been exploded. To dispense with the assistance, when necessary, of gentlemen who devote their whole energies and lives to the learned professions would be folly that need not be expatiated upon here. Although Blackstone strongly recommends every man to become familiar with the laws of his country, he does not suggest the propriety of drawing his own deeds and of pleading his own causes in propria persona.

It is quite expedient that we should all have some acquaintance with physiology, and the laws that govern health; but it would be unwise in the extreme to imagine therefore that we should at once take up the pharmacopæia and prescribe for our own infirmities. By means of the first knowledge much disease, both physical and mental, may be avoided; but the exercise of the second is not unlikely to result in premature death, and a coroner's inquest.

Having, then, disclaimed all interference with the legal province of the question, I will content myself by simply offering the following pages as a compilation intended for the perusal of business-men who would wish to gather a general knowledge of the rules which govern the working of a most important branch of our great commercial economy.

If, in addition to the latter object, my remarks on the management of public companies, and the selection and keeping of suitable books, should prove useful to solicitors and other professional readers, the full end and aim of this little work will have been completely attained.

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(a.) Introductory hints .

(6.) List of Books and remarks thereon

(c.) Balance Sheet and Accounts

(d.) The duties of Auditors






The numerous advantages arising from public association for individual benefit are nowhere more widely recognised than in Great Britain. Neither is the appreciation of this great. principle confined to a particular class; on the contrary, it is universal. As in the working men's co-operative societies, which flourish in every village of the manufacturing districts, with their modest stock-in-trade; so in the gigantic undertakings in the metropolis, whose capital is told in millions, the same feeling is manifested.

Considering the vast accumulation of wealth in England, only waiting for profitable investment, it is surprising that the Legislature should have allowed so recent a period as 1856 to arrive before adopting any effectual measure which would enable the capitalist to entrust his money to the keeping of joint stock companies, without rendering himself liable to the unpleasant contingency of some day been utterly ruined. It seems that even so late as 1854 a royal commission, charged to inquire into the law of partnership, reported against limited liability; and it was due to the present Solicitor General that a resolution was subsequently passed in the House of Commons, which paved the way for the important Act of 1856. Great, however, as were the changes effected by the latter statute, there was still much remaining to be accomplished. Experience has since proved, that the restrictions it contained with respect to banking and insurance companies were ill-founded; and the fact that we have now upwards of thirty limited banks in the metropolis alone, is conclusive evidence that the principle of limited liability is by no means inapplicable to the successful operation of such undertakings.

The comparative popularity, so to speak, of the Acts of 1856 and 1862, may in some measure be gathered from the voluminous returns recently laid before the House of Commons. It appears that, during the first year of the operation of the former Act, 440 limited companies were registered in England under its provisions, but in no succeeding year was the number so large ; while in the case of the latter it reached 642 in a similar period; and what is still more striking, continued up to the date of the returns (May 31, 1864), in an increasing ratio, as no less than 563 additional limited companies were registered during the seven months intervening between the end of the first year and the date of the returns. It will thus be seen, that the average of the first year was about 53 per month, while the subsequent period gives an increased average of about 80.

Did space permit, we might cull some very interesting particulars from the copious returns we have just referred

but it will be sufficient for our purpose to take a cursory glance at some of the most prominent facts


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