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the agonised Clotilda. " If mamma should be injured, I know
I shall die. I am almost dead already. Let me lean upon you.
How my heart beats ! Ah, did you hear that noise ? It is a
cannon on the Boulevards. And how is my mother to get home ?
O God, guard her in this dreadful peril." So saying, the frail
being sunk into a seat overcome with the force of her emotions.

Lizette, with feeling-s wound up to a similar pitch, was not less
anxious for the safety of her mother ; but still keeping down the
confession of her sufferings, she bore herself through this trying
crisis with the heroism of a mai-tyr. Her heart, laid on the altar
of Principle, burnt with a pure and steady flame. Affecting* a
calmness in her agitation, she beseeched Clotilda to compose her-
self, and tried to show her that Madame de Pons would certainly
be safe among her friends, and that at any rsite; it was not much
beyond the time she was to return,



'''■ Ah, it is easy for you to speak so calmly," said Clotilda ;
" she is not your mother ; if she were, perhaps you would feel

Lizette drew her breath convulsively, and pressed her hand
on her eyes : for a moment she was almost tempted to declare
with what justice she was entitled to feel acutely on account of
Madame de Pons. But it was only for a moment. The bright
sunshine of mind resumed its power of banishing- these dark
thoughts, and looking out on the street beneath, she cried with
vivacity — " Look, dear Clotilda, did I not say that your mamma
would soon appear ; and there is the carriage turning the corner
of the Rue des Pyi^amids."

And sure enough there was the carriage; but it was pro-
ceeding slowly, as if some accident had occurred 5 and the two
girls, nearly frantic with mingled hopes and fears, ran down
stairs, and reached the door in time to see Madame de Pons
lifted out to all appearance lifeless. At this sight Lizette for an
instant forgot everything, and exclaimed, "My mother! my
mother! — I have lost my mother!— she is dead!" Clotilda
tittered a piercing cry of agony, and fell into the arms of her


Except a slight bruise, Madame de Pons had not suffered any
personal injury. She had only fainted on the occasion of the
accident, and again fainted when about to see her daughter. A
physician being sent for, she was immediately restored ; but not
for an hour was she permitted to speak to those about her. As
soon as her feelings were calmed, she asked for her daughter.

" If you please, my lady," said the waiting-maid, " Made-
moiselle Clotilda has been 'so much alarmed, that it would be
more prudent not to see her just now. If your ladyship would
lie down for an hour or two longer, my young lady would by
that time be more composed."

"You are quite right, Gertrude," said Madame de Pons.
" Implore of her from me to be calm. Doctor," said she, " pray
go to my daughter ; she requires your care more than I do."

The soft sweet voice of Lizette assuring her that Madame de
Pons had only fainted from alarm, and wks now quite well, had
just recalled Clotilda to consciousness, when the physician entered.
He found her very ill : the shock had been too great ; and that
weak frame and tender nature had wholly given way. The
doctor ordered a composing draught, and left her to the care of

" Dear Lizette," said Clotilda, " I am dying. It is very young
to die — to lea,ve my mother, my sister. My head is quite con-
fused. Was it a dream, or did I indeed hear you say, '■ Mother,
mother,' when mamma was brought in fainting ? At this instant



memory recalls a thousand times when your lips appeared form-
ing- the word ' mother ;' and then your face suddenly crimsoned.
How many confused recollections crowd upon me at this moment.
What can it mean ? Those eyes! that marvellous resemblance I
Am I mad? Merciful Heaven! there have been such things as
children changed at nurse. Lizette, you answer not — you hesi-
tate — you are torturing me ! Speak ! speak ! You would kill
me, if my mother's fainting form had not already broken my

Lizette threw herself, weeping-, into Clotilda's arms.

" Ah, you will not speak : you fear to tell me the dreadful
realitj^. But remember, suspense, suspense is tenfold suffering."

'• Be calm, dearest ; be calm. When you are well again, I will
explain all," said Lizette, and fondly caressing her, endeavoured
to soothe, her into something like composure.

"I know all!" exclaimed she with almost frenzied excite-
ment. " That letter ! that letter contained the fatal secret. I
see it all. For two years, sweet ang'el, you have been content to
receive at my hands what was yours, and not one word said^
' What you give is my own.' You have sacrificed everything to
me. And while I was robbing you of a mother's affection, of a
mother's caresses, you suffered, you wept in silence. For often
have I seen you weep ; and, mad and selfish as I was,- I guessed
not, I knew not. Lizette, I may restore all to you ; but how
atone for those two years of disinterested self-sacrifice ? My life^
my life is a cheap purchase for the happiness you permitted me
to enjoy. Lizette, I am dying."

" Oh, my sister, do not thus reproach yourself," exclaimed
Lizette, pressing Clotilda to her bosom; "thou hast been an
angel to me. I came to brave thee, and thy gentle goodness dis-
armed me. I resisted thy caresses, and thou didst but redouble
them. I was rude and ignorant ; and all that I am, and all that
I enjoy, I owe to thee. Thou hast given me more than I could
g'ive to thee."

" Thy heart is like thy sweet face, my own sister," con-
tinued Clotilda, with her tearful eyes fixed upon Lizette ; " but
tell me how I deserved from thee so vast a sacrifice. Didst thou
love me before we saw each other in Paris ?"

" I did not love thee then, Clotilda, forgive me ; I did not love
thee ; but was this a reason that I should kill thee, and thou so
frail, so delicate?"

The two young creatures were silent for some moments.
Locked in each other's arms, they were mingling their tears,
when the approach of a light step made them both start. " It is
my mother ! " exclaimed both at the same instant ; but Clotilda
repeated, in a tone of bitter anguish, " My mother ! I have no
mother ! "

" Hush, sweet sister," whispered Lizette j " why need we un-
deceive her?"



Clotilda spoke not, but looked her gratitude, and that look
thrilled to the veiy heart of Lizette. The door opened, and
Madame de Pons entered. " I have alarmed thee, my child,"
said she ; and then, startled in her turn by the change that had
passed upon that fair young- face, she cried in terror, " Be calm,
dear child, the doctor will be here soon ; oh, be calm, sweet Clo-
tilda ; drive me not to despair. Have pity on thy poor mother,"

" Mother ! " murmured Clotilda almost inaudibly, laying* her
head upon the bosom of Madame de Pons, who now gave way to
convulsive sobs— " Mother, I die in thine arms; I die happy.
Blessings on thee, Lizette 5 blessings on thee. Forgive me ; be
happy in thy turn."

The dying girl extended her hand to her foster-sister. Lizette
covered it with kisses and tears. And now the arms of Madame
de Pons clasped only a lifeless corpse. She Avas forcibly torn
from the remains of the desire of her eyes thus taken from her
at a stroke, and carried to her own apartment ; and there, when
in a paroxysm of despair, she exclaimed, " I have nothing now
to live for. My child ! my child ! Alas ! alas ! I have now no
child." Lizette, throwing herself at her mother's feet, pre-
sented to her the letter that contained the confession of Dame
Margaret, and Madame de Pons fell fainting at her side.

Need it be added that, on her recovery, Madame de Pons was
thankful for being spared such a child in the place of her dear
Clotilda; and that the amiable Lizette enjoyed the reward she
so richly merited, in having so long and so piously sacrificed
Passion to Principle.



iltomson. — Mr Jones, do you happen to know anything; of life-
assurance? My wife's father has lately been speaking to me of
it, as a thing- calculated to he useful to me. But I must candidly
say, although I have seen all kinds of advertisements on the sub-
ject in newspapers and under the covers of magazines, I am still
as ignorant of it as if I were an infant.

Jones. — If that is the case, Mr Thomson, I would recommend
your giving the subject some attention immediately ; for, as you
are a recently-married man, with children beginning to drop in
upon you, you are quite the sort of person to whom it should not
be unknown.

Thomson. — I am willing- enoug'h to know a little of it, Mr Jones,
but don't know how that is to be brought about. Somehow,
whenever I look into an encyclopsedia for anything, I find they
tell me so much, and go so deejDly into it, that I remain about
as ignorant as I was. Perhaps you can give me such an off-
hand account of life-assurance as I can understand ?

Jones. — I am willing- at least to try ; but let me remark in the
first place, that I don't like to hear you, or any other man, com-
plaining of the difficulty of understanding what you read of in
books. There are many subjects which no writer on earth could
make intelligible at merely a superficial reading*. When a sub-
ject is out of the common line, involving calculations and com-
plicated details, we cannot expect to run over it as glibly as
No. 44. J


a fairy tale, and yet catch up its whole sense and bearings. In
such a case, I humbly conceive we ought to exercise a little
patience, and give a degree of attention proportioned to the
nature of the subject ; albeit, I own, it is well that every writer
should endeavour, on the other hand, to make himself as readily
understood as possible.

TJiomson. — Well, I daresay you are right, Mr Jones ; but still
I think I should be much more likely to understand life-assur-
ance if you were to tell me about it by word of mouthy than if I
were to read about it in any book whatever. I know you are
acquainted with the subject, for I have often seen your name in
the list of directors of one of the societies.

Jones. — Yes, I have a general acquaintance with it, from long
connexion with its business ; but if I attempt to sketch the sub-
ject as you propose, you must allow me to introduce a few state-
ments of an arithmetical kind, without which it could not be
made intelligible. On that condition, I shall do my best.

Thoviso?i. — Agreed, so that you don't take me too deep ; for I
fairly tell you beforehand I cannot follow you there.

Jones. — Well, well (smiling), I shall endeavour to be as shallow
as possible. You of course know the nature of the benefits sought
for from life-assurance? Not distinctly? Well, they are simply
these. The most common case is when a man, such as yourself,
wishes that his widow, children, or other dependent relatives,
should have a certain sum secured for their use, in the event of
his being suddenly removed from the midst of them. Another
not unusual case is where a creditor, fearing that his debtor may
be long in paying him, or may die before he acquires the ability
to discharge his debts, assures that, at the debtor's death, he
may receive a sum sufficient to cover the debt. There are other
uses for life-assurance ; but the first of these is the principal ;
namely, to make provision for helpless persons against the pos-
sible sudden death of the person on whom they depend.

Thomson. — But how can such benefits be secured? It is all
very well for a man to secure a good round sum for his widow
or children ; but either he must pay an equivalent, and therefore
would be no benefiter, or the office must be a loser by him ?

Jones. — Neither is the case. The beauty of life-assurance is,
that you or any man may, for a small sum, secure these desired
benefits ; and yet no one is, or can be, a loser by him.

Thomson. — What ! That seems to me self-contradictory. But
explain yourself.

Jones. — Your remark, Mr Thomson, only shows that life-assur-
ance is yet little understood even amongst the classes to whom
it holds forth most advantage. I could almost wish to see a
peculiar class of missionaries going about to make it known to
all such as you. But to proceed. Life-assurance is, in its fun-
damental principle, like a benefit society. A certain number
of persons club payments, that those who die within a certain



time may receive — or rather that their heirs may receive — the
aggregate among-st them. Here every one takes his chance.
Each pays a small sum, that, in a certain contingency, he may
get back a larg'e one. Though the occasion for getting' the large
sum should not arise, he has still had value for his money, for
he has been assured that, in the event of his death, the large sum
would have been realised. The non-receivers are therefore no
losers, while the heirs of the deceased are, I may say, enriched.

Thomson. — All this I can understand. But you speak rather
ideally than formally. Please tell me what the arrangements
actually are.

Jones. — With pleasure. Life-assurance depends, then, upon
what is comparatively a modern discovery amongst mankind;
namely, that life, while proverbially uncertain in the individual,
is determined with respect to a multitude ; being governed, hke
everything else in nature, by fixed laws. It is found that, out
of any large number of persons at a particular age. the deaths
during the ensuing* year will be a certain number. Suppose we
take ten thousand Eng'lishmen of the age of 52, we are as sure as
we are of times of eclipses, and the rising' of the sun and moon,
that the deaths amongst them in the next year will be just about
150. This is learned from experience ; that is, by the keeping*
of tables of mortality. The number is liable to be different in
different countries and in different ages. In England, a century
ago, when the circumstances in which the people lived were less
favourable to health, there would have been a greater mortality
than 150. So also would there probably be in some other Euro-
pean countries at the present time. But, taking England as it
is, such is a specimen of what experience tells us respecting' the
chances of death amongst our population. Of course, amongst
ten thousand younger persons, the deaths are fewer ; and of ©Mer
persons, more. Every age has, in short, its proportion.

Thomson. — I have heard something of this before. But how
does it serve for the business of life-assurance 1

Jones. — Why, simply thus. Supposing that ten thousand per-
sons at the age of 52 were disposed to associate for the purpose of
making sure that the heirs of all those who died within a year
should have each £1000. It would only be necessary, in that
case, for each person to contribute as much to a common fund
as would make up the sum of £150,000, or a thousand times 150 ;
that is to say, each of the ten thousand persons would require
to pay in £15. With a small additional allowance for the ex-
pense of transacting the business, the resulting sum of £150,000
would serve to give the representatives of each deceased party
the desired £1000. This is still so far an ideal case. But
it is easy to suppose a large number of persons at all ages,
or at least at certain ages determined on, say between 15 and
60, paying into a common fund, each according* to his age, and
the sum he wished secured ; and then we should have a mutual



assurance society at once ; there being* only this additional fea-
ture, that generally men do not insure for one year only (thoui>-h
this is possible), but for the whole remainder of their lives ; for
which reason an average is struck, and they begin jDayino- at a
rate which will continue the same to the end, the excess o? pay-
ment in the early years making up for its smallness in those near
the close of life. Such being the common practice, life-assurance
societies necessarily accumulate large funds, which they require
to improve at interest in safe investments, in order that the most
postponed engagements may be made good in due time.

Thomson. — But does not this introduce another element into
the business ? The result must be in some degree affected by the
rate at which you improve the money.

Jbw^s.— Doubtless ; and I am glad to hear you make the re-
mark, as it shows you are following me. Besides calculating
the probable rate of mortality, the conductors of life-assurance
business must have tolerably certain prospects with regard to
the interest which they are to obtain for their funds. Suppose
they can make sure of four per cent, at an average — and this, I
believe, is below what is usually realised— they have to calculate
accordingly. A depression of the rate of interest is of course as
unfavourable to the interests of a life-assurance society, as would
be a rise in the rate of mortality.

Thomson.— I can readily imagine all that, without your goino*
into details. But are there not diiferent modes of conducting
life-assurance business, as far as concerns the managing parties 1

Jo?ies.~Yes. Life-assurance offices are of two leading kinds.
Sometimes we have a joint-stock company coming forward with
a large subscribed capital, and professing to undertake risks
upon lives, looking of course for a profit upon their transactions.
Other offices are upon the principle of what is called mutual
assurance ; that is, the parties insuring make of their payments
a common fund, out of which the heirs of deceased members are

Thomson. — What are the comparative merits of the two plans ?

Jones.— I shall for the present limit myself to stating the advan-
tages attributed to them by their respective supporters. By the
first plan, the insurer has usually to pay according to rates cal-
culated merely to allow a profit to the company upon the trans-
action ; that is, the rates are usually moderate. He has also the
security derived from a subscribed capital and the credit of the
shareholders. In the second class of offices, the rates are usually
higher, in order that ^ ample scope and verge enough' maybe
allowed for unfavourable contingencies. But any surplus that
thus arises belongs to the insuring parties, and is usually em-
ployed in two ways— first, a portion goes to form a reserve or
guarantee fund, which may be considered as standing in much
the same predicament as the capital of a ' company,' thouo-h
seldom so large in amount : second, another, and for the most


part larger portion, is allocated, at intervals of several years,
among" the members, who may take advantage of it either in the
form of an addition to the sum ultimately to be realised by them,
or as a deduction from their future annual payments, or as a
sum in hand. The 'companies' boast of their system as the
safer for the insuring" party. The ' societies ' set forth that, while
all desirable security is given by them, they enable insurers to
do their own business at prime cost, bating" only the oiSce ex-
penses. The mutual offices are few in comparison with the pro-
prietary ; but they seem to increase at a greater rate. There are
also some offices in which the two plans are in some measure
combined. They are generally called ' mixed' offices.

Thomson. — Can you g'ive me any particulars as to rates and
surpluses? I sometimes observe offices in their advertisements
laying great stress upon bonuses.

Jones. — There are some very remarkable instances of benefit
thus coming to the insured. The Equitable of London is a
mutual office, dating from 1762. It did a vast amount of business
at rates formed upon the Northampton tables of mortality, which
give an unfavourable view of life, and while the state of the
country was such as to cause accumulated funds to fructify very
fast. Accordingly, I was not surprised the other day to hear of
a five thousand pounds policy, commenced about forty-five years
ago, being ultimately expanded to several times its original
amount.* Mutual offices, with safe rates, and improving their
money at not less than four per cent., may, if they exercise care
in selecting their lives, find no great difficulty in placing' a bonus
of one and a half, or two per cent., per annum, to the policies of
all insured above a few years, besides throwing something re-
spectable into the guarantee fund. It must be evident that such
a system involves a savings' bank besides the business of life-
assurance. And it will not matter to an insurer that he pays
liberal rates, if he be satisfied that the extra money will be dis-
posed of in a way that will turn it to the best account. How-
ever, there are also mutual offices which proceed upon the
jDrinciple of charging- moderate rates, and holding forth less
temptation in the way of bonus.

Thomson. — You speak of care in selecting lives. I was not
quite unaware of this being deemed necessary, for I remember
my cousin Wetman being refused admission to a life-assurance
society, because of his being thoug-ht to have suffered a little

* £100, assured in the London Equitable Society in 1816, had become
£212 in 1840, twenty-four years after the commencement of the policy.
Any one who assured £1000 in 1806, had he died in 1840, would have left
£3020 to his heirs. Policies effected in 1796, for £2000, had a bonus or
addition of £6340 put to them at 31st December 1839, making £8340 in
all. A policy effected before May 1777, which sumved the year 1839,
had 657 per cent, added, being between six and seven times its original



from over-free living. But do not tables comprehend all kinds
of lives ?

Jones.— Oi course they do; hut it is not on that account
necessary to admit any unhealthy man who seeks, when too late
thus to make provision for those in whom he is interested It is
necessary, in a society, that all should be presumed as equal in
point of health ; otherwise they do not start fair. A company
ao^am, has its own interest in keeping out men not likely to live
their full time. There is therefore great pains taken to ascertain
01 any proposing- insurer that his health is g-ood. Usually, one
schedule of queries is sent to his ordinary medical attendant
which he is requested to return filled up. Another is sent for
the same purpose to some private friend whom he may have
nominated for the purpose. These interrog-atories are generally
with reference to the ordinary state of health of the party the
diseases he has had, or is liable to, the health and longevity of
his relations, particularly parents, and his personal habits. And,
atter all, the proposer is personally examined by a medical officer
ol the company or society, to ascertain as far as possible that
nothing has been misstated or overlooked by these parties. It
is but proper to be thus strict, because, if an unhealthy person
1^ admitted, an injury so far is done to all the rest of the society
Ihere is, however, at least one office in England which gives
assurances upon invalid lives, charging, of course, premiums
high m proportion ; and it is quite possible to conduct such a
business successfully, for there is a law presiding over the de-
crement of life among invalids, as well as in the bulk of society.

l/iomson.—T\ie lives being, as it were, picked, must, I should
tiimk, tell upon the funds ol the office very materially.

_ Jones.— It does. The rates being calculated from tables which
give saje views even of general life, there is, of course, a greatly
diminished mortality, and consequently less demand upon the
tunds of the office, when only first-class* lives, as they are called,
are admitted. In one society known to me, the experience of
mortality during the first twenty years was only 67 per cent of
what might have been expected from the mortality tables upon
which their rates were founded. Consequently, in that office
large bonuses were given.
^ Thomson.— I think I now understand pretty clearly the prin-
ciples of life-assurance. Would you give me some idea of the
practical procedure connected with it, and its results ?

Joties— With pleasure. I shall suppose that you are thirty
years ot age, and wish to insure five hundred pounds to your
family in the event of your death. You may effect the assurance
of this suni m a proprietary office, of sufficient respectability, at
about £2, 2s. per cent., or £10, 10s. in all. This is a simply com-

Online LibraryWilliam ChambersChambers's miscellany of useful and entertaining tracts (Volume v.5-6) → online text (page 14 of 59)