The Little Old Lady Of Threadneedle Street Has Turned A Flirt

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Offline the leveller

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An interesting article on the Bank of England - 1934
Date: Wed, 8 Oct 2014 09:55:58 +0100

The Little Old Lady Of Threadneedle Street Has Turned A Flirt A British Critic Says:


Deserting her English home and fireside she castes amorous glances at foreigners who look prosperous: and her dancing partner, Mr Norman, encourages her iniquity.


The Milwaukee Journal Dec. 15, 1934


The Bank of England in 1934 a few years after its architectural face lifting operation



The Old Lady of Threadneedle Street and Montagu Norman in a dance of the seven veils, shedding them one by one in reluctant modesty a jolly sight for your mind’s eye! This inevitable pair, the Bank of England and her mysterious governor, have always seemed so circumspect in their vast importance.


It is amazing therefore, to behold the old lady being accused of making amorous gestures towards the continent, extending her affectionate embraces to South America, while keeping a tight lip and tight purse towards her first love British industry.


Astounding, also, to see the Jove-like Mr Norman plucked from his purple and pictured as an irresolute gentleman of much charm and no particular mind, who might even have painted Christmas cards in his day, and whose sole use today is to wave his flattering personality and so distract public attention from the Old Lady’s real doings in the financial world.


The veil shedding dance of the flirtatious Old Lady and a fickle Mr Norman is not voluntary on the part of the interesting couple – quite the contrary. The veils are removed by J. R. Jarvie in his little book "The Old Lady Unveiled."


There is nothing light and airy in Mr Jarvie's intentions. He announces them in plain solid words:


"The object of this book is to awaken the public to the truth that the Bank of England, commonly believed to be the most disinterested and patriotic of the nation’s institutions, has been since its foundation during the reign of William of Orange, a Private and long sustained effort in lucrative mumbo-jumbo and that it is in these days under international control, serving foreign nations better on occasions than it serves England”.


The Bank of England, according to Mr Jarvie, is dominated by men whose interests are not primarily British, but international, whose main occupations are the financing of foreign states and distant enterprises "and the earning of profits from monetary transactions which often are inimical to the economic health of our country”.


The bank has 26 directors, including the governor. Nine of these are associated with Anglo- foreign merchant banks, six with important foreign or international concerns, and only eight are connected with British industrial companies. The Treasury is not represented on the directorate.


The foreign interests of the directors include; British India shipping, Chinese Central Railways, the Hong Kong and Shanghai bank, the Orient line, the Suez Canal, Marconi's, the Eastern Telegraph Co., African Explosives and Industries Ltd., de Beers and other mining interests, Austrian, German, Scandinavian and Hellenic affairs, and important connections in South America and Turkey.


One of the most highly international directors is Kenneth Goschen. "Here," says Mr Jarvie, "you touch something great – almost Rothschilds-like. When the city man is heard to utter the oath, "by gosh" he means, not by God, but by Goshen, who cuts more ice, as it were, in places where the golden calf is best preserved. Goshen's and Cunliffe are foreign bankers and pretend to be nothing else. They are on the board of the bank of Romania and the Ottoman bank, and it is the accepted belief that they are one of these small predatory circles that controls the bank.


Relations with American banking come through E. C. Grenfell and Co., The Anglo-American Private banking house affiliated with JP Morgan & Co. Of New York.


Mr Jarvi pauses in his totting up of the foreign interests of directors, to ask “what has become of the Rothschilds”. Why has there not been one of this great family on the directorate? "For all we know," he remarks, "Rothschilds may be the bank in most that matters. They may be the ‘hidden hand’ which has excited many imaginations". He hastens to add, "I do not think for a second that the Rothschilds do control the Bank of England, or ever did, but the extraordinary point is that we cannot say and it is impossible to find out."


For one of the great charges that Mr Jarvie brings against the bank is it secrecy. "The investigation is blocked at every turn. It has no registered offices and no place whereby law it's accounts may be scrutinised. For all the people of Britain know to the contrary, the bulk of the Bank of England’s stock may be in the hands of a confederacy of subversive aliens. The respective holdings of the directors are unknown outside the inner circle of the bank. The only published information is that they must hold £3000 to qualify for a seat on the board."


He pauses to pay them high tribute as gentleman of utmost propriety, but points out that for 10 years after the war "money was pulled out of this country through the Channel mainly of these international houses to Germany, Austria, Hungary, Greece, Romania, Poland and South America. During this same period the British productive industries were starved of capital.


"Many of these foreign loans are now frozen."


Somewhat as a cat plays with the mouse, Mr Jarvie plays with Montagu Norman, who has been the Old Lady’s governor of 14 years – an unprecedented length of service in that office. He gives him a cuff here and a hit there. He quotes the Rhapsodies of Mr Snowden, who finds Mr Norman one of the greatest men of our times. Then he tweaks an ear by remarking that it is much more likely that Mr Norman, though not exactly a dummy, is the spokesman and titular head of the very confederacy which could get rid of him whenever it felt the necessity, this confederacy being the boards of directors.


He accounts him as a chief mystifier in financial affairs, the perpetual parenthesis whose indecisions is making him a genuine asset, the secret man who "takes such infinite pains to wrap his movements in mystery that they have become the subject of more newspaper comment than those of any other public figure in Europe, with the exception of Ramsay Macdonald and Herr Hitler."


When Mr Norman married Miss Priscilla Reyntiens in 1933 and brought her home as his bride, the press photographers "caught him slinking up an alley near his London home" to avoid them, "but he kept well in the backgrounds while his bride took the shutter."


Watchman concealed on top of the bank – in the Old Lady’s bonnet, as it were – enable him to escape the pernicious gentry of the press honest daily comings and goings. Even makes a secret of his pedigree Jersey cows. His habit of travelling incognito has long amazed the simpleminded. His latest alias of "Skinner," and the confusion of identity with a bona fide "Prof Skinner" are still fresh in mind. And of course you remember his neat little trick of leaving an outbound ocean liner for one homeward bound, by means of a launch, with the mystery piled so high that even the mole could see it.


Finally Mr Jarvie shows you Mr Norman, the supposedly despotic powerful and mysterious governor of the world's greatest banking institution, practically in tears at the Mansion house dinner in 1932, pathetically quoting from "lead kindly light" – one step enough for me. Only the irreverent, of course, will be reminded of the "Alice in Wonderland" story of the walrus walking upon the sands, sympathising with the trusting little oysters as:--


With sobs and fears he sorted out

Those of the largest size,

Lifting his pocket handkerchief

Before his streaming eyes.


Not of course, that there is any evidence that Mr Norman has ever eaten any oysters or that he even hankers for them. Still the public sobs of a secretive and sensitive gentleman may lead the profane to wonder if the flow belongs to a subtle system of camouflage.

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