Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

This subscription will entitle him to the receipt of

A weekly sick allowance . . . . . . . . 0 10 31
And annuity after seventy . . . . . . . 7 5 03
And endowment after death . . . . . . . 5 19 11

And widow's pension . . . . . . . . . 2 16 33 We have hitherto spoken only of a society whose members should start together at the age of twenty-one; but as such an arrangement could not always be effected, and as it would be desirable that the society should continually fill up all vacancies, by the introduction of fresh members, and thus make itself perpetual and not terminable with the deaths of its original members, we must recur to our tables, and with their assistance explain the necessary arrangements. It must be evident from the health table already quoted, that the average yearly amount of sickness suffered by an individual is very small between the ages of twenty and forty ; that, in fact, it does not amount to one week in each year, so that he is, for upwards of twenty years, in the habit of paying to the society more than he draws from it. But between the ages of forty and fifty, his amount of yearly sickness is nearly doubled, and he has to receive pecuniary relief from the society for more than one week in every year. In the next period of ten years, his amount of Fearly sickness is again almost doubled, and in the succeeding period, that is, between the ages of sixty and seventy, it is increased fourfold; so that the surplus of a member's receipts over his payments after the age of forty, quite counterbalances the surplus of his payments over his receipts before he arrives at that age. Thus it is that the funds of benefit societies accumulate largely for many years after their first foundation, sometimes deluding the directors into the belief that they will be justified in making large disbursements; whereas, they ought to regard this extraordinary surplus of capital as a fund reserved for that period when they will have to meet extraordinary demands.

Having seen that the surplus of the young member's payments over his receipts, with the interest accruing thereon, is applied to meet the surplus of his receipts over his payments when he is old, it must be clear that the member who joins the society at an advanced period of his life, cannot be admitted to an equal participation in the advantages for which he has not paid an equal sum. For, a man who joins a society at the age of forty, has entered upon the period in which he is likely to suffer more than one week's sickness in every year ; so that, if he pay an annual subscription of £1, and receive £1 per week sick money, the society will pay him more than it receives from him, and will have no previous surplus payments of his to enable it to do so. It must, therefore, suffer considerable loss by him, unless it exacts from him a larger annual subscription, or pays him a smaller sick allowance than £1. According to the report of the Highland Society, from which I have already quoted, the following are the proportions of allowance made in return for the same subscription paid by members from different periods of their lives. For an annual payment of £1, from the age of 21 £107 5

[graphic]

Or an annual subscription of £1 from the age of 21, will give

an annuity after the age of 70 . . . . . £58 0 2 If paid only from the age of 40 . . . . . . 17 15 0

12 5 8

[ocr errors]

The member who enters the society at an advanced period of life may, however, entitle himself to equal advantages with other members, by paying down a sum of entry money, so proportioned to the exigencies of his case, as to recompense the society for the loss of that early surplus of his payment which is intended to liquidate the later surplus of his receipts. Something of this kind, however, he must do, or the society will surely fail. We have already noticed that the Carlisle tables give a much more favourable expectation of life than either the Northampton or the Swedish, and show that men live longer in the present age than did their forefathers. Now, this is a very important point for the consideration of benefit societies, because it is after the age of seventy, that the average amount of sickness suffered by an indivi. dual is sixteen weeks in every year; and it is after the age of seventy, that annuities principally become payable ; so that if the founders of a benefit society follow the Swedish or Northampton tables, which sup. pose that very few members will live over seventy, and levy their subscriptions accordingly, they are likely to suffer loss, because the Carlisle tables show that a greater number of people will exceed that age than they have reckoned. Our readers will gain a clearer idea of the working of this principle by the following proportions :--According to the Northampton tables, a certain weekly sick allowance can be afforded in return for the annual subscription of £1 1s. 4 d. According to the Carlisle tables, the same allowance can only be afforded in return for the higher subscription of £1 3s. 8 d. According to the first tables, a certain pension, after the age of seventy, can be obtained by the yearly payment of £1 Os. 11 d. According to the second tables the same pension can only be obtained by the higher subscription of £1 11s. 7 d.

Now, the longer a member lives and pays his subscription, the better the society can afford to pay down a certain sum of money upon his death; and also, the longer he lives, the smaller chance there is of his leaving a widow behind him to be pensioned; or, supposing that he does leave a widow, of her enjoying that pension for a long period. We may therefore lay down this rule, that the expectation of longevity should raise the premiums in health insurance, and lower them in life insurance companies. Nevertheless, as it is probable that the Carlisle tables have taken a somewhat too favourable view of mortality, a medium of the three tables will be the fittest for the purposes of benefit societies.

We have now detailed the fundamental principles necessary to the salvation of benefit societies ; let us, ere we conclude, say a few words upon the most objectionable part of their working. We allude to the customary meetings of members at public-houses, for the payment of subscriptions, and the voting of sick allowances. It is certain that this custom arose out of the want of a room necessary to the purposes of the society; and it is also certain that many societies were planned

and established by the landlords of public-houses, who hoped thereby to gain the custom of the members. But, in an age which can boast of its mechanics' institutes and mutual improvement associations, both in town and country, the want of room need no longer be an excuse for so pernicious a custom. Let the directors of these institutions follow the example of the landlords, and they may reap a like reward ; let them offer the like facilities to the members of benefit societies, and they also may gain the custom of those members, thereby converting the frequenter of the pot-house into the sober and intelligent member of the mechanics' institute.

A LEGEND OF ANCIENT MEXICO. PART THIRD, AND LAST, CONTAINING THE FABLES OF “THE DEAD

MEN” AND “THE LOST sun."

TWENTY years had passed away, and the child, whom we left in the cradle, had grown up into the strength and beauty of youth. Brought up by the priests, in whose service he still was, he had been preserved alike from the trials attendant upon poverty, the corruptions of idle. ness or the scarcely less pernicious consequences of excessive labour. Temperance in diet, and discipline in actions, had imparted health to his body, and firmness to his mind; nor had his thoughts, varied as they were, ceased to be indexed on his face, for as yet no master passion had arisen, to overcome all others, and fix the sole and indelible traces of its presence upon the lineaments of his countenance. True, it was that love, at once felt and confessed, for Coatlicue, the daughter of the chief priest, had long pervaded his bosom; but this passion, though of marvellous intensity, did not absorb, but magnified, the others. It stimulated his ambition, it lent wings to his hopes, gave wider scope to his benevolence, and additional energy to his courage. It was the oxygen of the atmosphere in which they had their being; and by its means their innate fire burned with additional intensity. It were useless to describe the charms which had won his heart, for the imagination can with difficulty conceive the beauties recorded upon paper. But let each one figure to himself the image of her whom he loves best, and he will, beyond all question, behold in his mind's eye as beautiful a creation as poet could describe, or painter represent. No words could convey to him so fitting an idea of his mistress, as could his own imagination ; let him, therefore, take this creation of his fancy to be Coatlicue, which means," the daughter of flowers.”

No trouble had as yet positively come upon the youthful pair, but their long course of uninterrupted happiness was gradually and surely prepar. ing for itself an equivalent balance of sorrow. Not less surely does our daily diet minister at once to our growth and our decay, than did their love, by augmenting their delight, store up a proportionate agony against the day of their separation.

The inhabitants of Mexico were divided into two classes : the one of which, either by virtue of ancient conquest or long prescriptive right,

[graphic]

had for centuries ruled over the other. Whether the homage so long paid to this class, had generated pride in its members, or whether its long exemption from all menial or laborious duties had improved and eventually sublimated its character in successive generations ; certain it is that its members, arguing from the superior beauty of their bodies, and the more elevated character of their minds, had concluded that they were the immediate progeny of Heaven ;-the other class comprising only the descendants of men. This state of things had long endured, but for many years the numbers of the latter class had so rapidly decreased, either by war, sickness, or emigration, that an epidemic which ensued, about the time of which we speak, had little difficulty in sweeping the survivors from the face of the earth. One only remained ; the youth, whose mother had been of mortal race, but who, either from the peculiarity of his education, or the lineage of his father, had acquired the characteristics of the hero, and did not die. The other heroes, the king, priests, and nobles, being thus deprived of their accustomed servitors, saw before them the prospect of speedy ruin. The fields no longer yielded food, for the hand of the husbandman was powerless; the floating gardens came no longer across the lakes, for the rowers had taken their last sleep at their oars, and the flowers had withered for want of the hands that attended them. The fire on the altar was cold, and the offerings were not laid on the shrine, for the votaries were numbered with the dead, and the priests, having no longer a people to deceive, felt as though they had no longer any God to worship. In this emergency, the youth bethought him of that old man, of whom the gossips had often said, that he stood by the bedside of the victim, and promised future aid to her child. To bid farewell to Coatlicue, to seek information of the old man's residence, required at once fortitude and patience; but the pangs were subdued, and the knowledge was gained, and he set forth from the City of the Dead, with a heart full of glad expectations.

The sun was setting, on the tenth day after his departure from the city, as he made his way across a vast tract of high table land, to where some ruins, built upon the extreme ridge, commanded an extensive view of the country below. Here, as elsewhere, these ruins were the remains of temples, which had survived the more secular buildings, as though they had borrowed something of immortality from the purposes to which they were applied, and remained behind the dead that the living might behold the enduring evidences of faith. The moss-grown stones were rosy with the setting sun; the luxuriant creeping shrubs and grasses held fast the fragments, and preserved them from further decay, whilst the birds sang their evening song from countless nooks and crevices, so that the old sanctuary was as well served by Nature with sacred fire, and free-will offerings, and choral strains, as when, in ancient days, mankind had worshipped there in all the pomp of savage superstition.

The old man sat in a corner of the ruins, intently examining an earthen vessel, which he had turned up from the mould. He started as the youth approached, and looked up into his face.

- Father,” said the youth, “ I come for counsel, for the arms of the people are powerless, and the heroes perish.”

[graphic]

** I know it,” said the old man, “I know it; I have seen it coming slowly and surely." - What must we do?"

When your fathers came from the north west many centuries ago, they rested here on their journey, and built houses round this temple, that they might look back on the plain country which they had traversed. Then they bethought them of old times, and talked of their glorious ancestors till their hearts waxed big within them, and they feared not to encounter the warriors who were before their path. Wherefore, DOW, do you, in your time of peril, look back likewise on the level lin, and see what counsel the past will lend to the present.”

The sun had gone down whilst they spoke; the stars were shining in the heaven; a lurid and reflected light on the horizon partially lit up the darkness of the valley. It seemed full of human bones. Skele. tons of every shape and size lay there, twisted into strange postures, the features contorted by the last emotions of life, as if existence had ceased at the moment of occupation, and left the dry bones to mock the toil of the living.

“Choose," said the old man,—" choose from out these bones, those of him who has died in the performance of the worthiest actions ; bear the back to the city whence you came, sprinkle them with the blood of the living, and you will gain your end. From them will men spring 23, who shall be after their fashion.”

The young man passed amongst the skeletons, and pondered on their different postures; they seemed to beckon with their fleshless fingers, and tempt him to select each one of them. He saw a warrior who had died with his face to his foe, and he stretched out his hand to the skele. ton ; but he saw that the warrior's own troop was around and behind him, so that flight was impossible, and the youth passed on. He saw a noble, the rich vestment still clinging to his limbs, who had died in the act of refusing a bribe; but the noble's house was full of silver and gold; so the deed was of little merit, and the youth passed on. But he came where a husbandman had died in helping his enemy out of a pitfall, though no man was near to see, and he might have left him to die. So the youth took the husbandman's skeleton on his shoulder, and strode homewards.

Ten days afterwards he entered the city, where the heroes sat in council, and, having deposited his burden, told his tale. Some heard it in fear, others in scorn, others in deep thought, as though it contained a hidden mystery. But they sprinkled the dry bones with the blood of a living man, and patiently awaited the result. They waited to no purpose, till some were wroth, and some scoffed; but meantime they were compelled to go about such business as their daily necessities rendered imperative. These little actions led to greater, and though they went often to the dry bones, and oft sprinkled them with blood, they were in themselves working out the fulfilment of the old man's prophecy. Duties, taken up on plea of necessity, were continued for interest and pleasure ; the altars smoked again, and the shrines, were no more empty, for the praying that the bones might be revived restored the customs of the religion; and years afterwards, long after the incident I am about to relate, the wise men were accustomed to say

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »