PICTURES IN THE STOCK GALLERY.
[NOTE.—This chapter, though largely devoted to “Oil,” is to be construed as reaching any other “Kite” that the stock gambler flies—any other scheme which his unprincipled ideas of right and wrong will permit him to work to his own gain and others’ loss. The oil mania was only a more popular or attractive vice of the stock-boards, which is reproduced, in spirit and motive, almost every month of the year.]
At my entrance upon this discussion, I must deplore the indiscriminate terms of condemnation employed by many well-meaning persons in regard to stock operations. The business of the stock-broker is just as legitimate and necessary as that of a dealer in clothes, groceries, or hardware; and a man may be as pure-minded and holy a Christian at the Board of Brokers as in a prayer-meeting. The broker is, in the sight of God, as much entitled to his commissions as any hard-working mechanic is entitled to his day’s wages. Any man has as much right to make money by the going up of stocks as by the going up of sugar, rice, or tea. The inevitable board-book that the operator carries in his hand may be as pure as the clothing merchant’s ledger. It is the work of the brokers to facilitate business; to make transfer of investment; to watch and report the tides of business; to assist the merchant in lawful enterprises.
Because there are men in this department of business, sharp, deceitful, and totally iniquitous, you have no right to denounce the entire class. Importers, shoe-dealers, lumbermen, do not want to be held responsible for the moral deficits of their comrades in business. Neither have you a right to excoriate those who are conscientiously operating through the channels spoken of. If they take a risk, so do all business men. The merchant who buys silk at five dollars per yard takes his chances; he expects it to go up to six dollars; it may fall to four dollars. If a man, by straightforward operations in stocks, meets with disaster and fails, he deserves sympathy just as much as he who sold spices or calicoes, and through some miscalculation is struck down bankrupt.
We have no right to impose restrictions upon this class of men that we impose upon no other. What right have you to denounce the operation “buyer—ten days” or “buyer—twenty days,” when you take a house, “buyer—three hundred and sixty-five days?” Perhaps the entire payment is to be made at the end of a year, when you do not know but that, by that time, you will be penniless.