which is the original and which are the derived ones, has never been asked, so far as we know, by the arithmetician or the canon lawyer; though the first ought to have asked it, and the second could have answered it.


Usury, or the receiving of money as a compensation for money lent or payment deferred, is supposed to have been unequivocally condemned by the Mosaic law; as in Exodus, xxii. 25, "If thou lend money to any of my people that is poor by thee, thou shalt not be to him as an usurer, neither shalt thou lay upon him usury:" and in Leviticus, xxv. 39, "If thy brother be waxen poor...then thou shalt relieve him...take thou no usury of him or increase...thou shalt not lend him thy money upon usury, nor lend him thy victuals for increase" and in Deuteronomy, xxiv. 19, "Thou shalt not lend upon usury to thy brother; usury of money, usury of victuals...unto a stranger thou mayest lend upon usury." In a state of things under which money could not usually be employed productively, but in which every man lived on his own land, a borrower would always be a distressed man, and the above precepts seem to contemplate that he would be as likely to ask for food as for money. In such a case, usury would be barbarity ;* and it is to be remembered that the rates of usury prevailing in ancient times were very high. Aristotle grounds his declaration against usury upon this asserted unproductive character of money, from which, he says, it is against nature to take interest. Accordingly, the distinction between money lent for relief of distress, and money advanced that the borrower might improve it, was not contemplated either in ancient times or in the laws of the middle ages; all usury was strictly forbidden, and the name of it became odious. So far was this carried, that Alexander de Nevo, doctor of law, in his treatise Contra Judeos Fenerantes,' printed in 1478, declares that he would not permit even a Jew to lend at usury, though it were to save a Christian from starving. The distinction between money lent to relieve distress, and money lent to be profitably employed, was condemned by the Catholic writers, and supported by the Protestants. Molinæus maintained the difference, and Alsted. (See Scaccia De Commerciis, 1648, p. 69; and Alsted, Encycl. vol. iii. p. 124.) Accordingly, the earlier books of arithmetic have little or nothing to say upon interest, particularly when written by clergymen. Neither Tonstall nor Clavius (A. B. 1522, 13; 1583, 104) make any reference to it. That it is hardly mentioned by Recorde and other writers of the time of the Reformation depends upon another circumstance, the very great simplicity of the rate of interest in use, usually ten per cent. One instance would be enough for illustration of taking the tenth part of a sum of money; particularly as fractions of years were seldom or never considered. It is more to the purpose that even treatises on book-keeping do not recognise it. In Mellis (A. B. 1588, 27) one account in the

* It has been contended that these laws are a part of the political, and not of the moral, system of the Pentateuch. Against this it may be proposed for consideration that the case contemplated is something like that of lending at twenty or thirty per cent. to a man who must spend the loan in buying food, to remove casual distress, and whose ordinary means are not great enough to reduce the accumulations of such a rate. Nor does the permission to lend at usury to a stranger of necessity make the precept political; it may be that the stranger was contemplated as being a merchant, an inprover of money.

ledger is created by a sum lent in ready money, which sum is repaid without interest.

In almost all the books of the sixteenth century there appears class of questions which seem to indicate a method employed among merchants of evading direct usury. A man lends to his friend 1457. for sixteen months; when the latter is asked to return the favour he can only command 947.; how long ought he to lend this last sum in requital of his own obligation?

The word interest was known to the law, in the sense of usury, before it was to be found in arithmetical books. In the statute 37 Hen. VIII. c. 9. it is forbidden to take more than ten per cent. for forbearance of payment "by way or mean of any corrupt bargain, lone, eschange, chevisance, shift, interest of any wares, but the act is not to extend to "other than in cases of usury, interest, corrupt bargains, This Act was repealed by 5 & 6 Edw. VI. c. 20, which forbids all " usury or increase." It was revived* by 13 Eliz. c. 9, which recites that usury had increased by way of sale of wares and shifts of interest. This last phrase occurs twice, once misprinted "ships of interest," in the statutes at large; and afterwards the word shift is used where we might expect the word interest. Whether this shift of interest mean anything which can now be explained, we must leave to legal antiquaries; it is enough for our purpose that we show the word interest, in connexion with usury, to be older in law than in arithmetic. This is confirmed by R. Witt, before cited, in whose title-page the word does not occur, and in whose preface nothing but "allowance for forbearance." But in his first page he speaks of "1. per 10. per terme, gain, and gain upon gaine... Or (as commonly men speak) 10. per 100. per ann. interest, and upon interest.. Having thus introduced his reader to the word, he uses it freely. Forbearance still was the legal word, even beyond the time of James I.

But we must not merely look to England, since the word was established in France as early as here, and afterwards in Italy and Germany. Interest, interess, quod interest, interesse,† was known to the Roman, and thence to the modern civil and canon law, in the older sense which it still retains, as that of a something belonging to. And this use, even in English law, is far older than the meaning

*It seems to have been revived that it might be put to death in another form by additional provisions; but this we have nothing to do with. None of the statutes authorize usury, except as implied in forbidding more than a given rate under penalties. It was considered as against the law of God throughout the seventeenth century; but the necessities of commerce prevailed over all profession. Gerard Malynes, in his Lex Mercatoria (first published about 1622), says, "We have usury like a wolf by the ears, dangerous to be kept, and more dangerous to abandon the same."

+ This word is declined as a substantive in a charter cited by Ducange in verb.-carta quam fecit de interessis Episcopi.... Shakspere uses the word interest often. But in the Merchant of Venice, it is worthy of note that the Jew, who lives by it, calls it usance while Antonio, who despises it, calls it interest :-

"He lends out money gratis, and brings down
The rate of usance here with us in Venice.

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And he rails

Even there where merchants most do congregate
On me, my bargains, and my well-won thrift,
Which he calls interest."

It would seem, then, as if the word was one in common, as well as legal, use, before it became arithmetical,

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above discussed. But this original use of the word is not immediately explicable in its application to interest of money as distinguished from principal; for the creditor's interest, in the genuine sense, equally includes the usury and the returnable principal. If the word had been derived from the creation of a perpetual annuity, such as our national debt, in which the original creditor looked upon repayment as a distant contingency, and as rather a redemption of the annuity than a return of the principal, then the genuine meaning of the word interest could more appropriately have been applied to the annuity. But how comes a word which included both the loan and the profit of it to stand for the latter only?

When the word usury was found too offensive as well as dangerous, it was natural that more gentle terms should be substituted for it. As the word was said in Hebrew to mean that which bites, some writers distinguished unlawful usury by the phrase biting usury; one of the statutes distinguishes illegal usury by the word corrupt. At first, in law, interest and usury seem to have been words of much the same colour; afterwards, legal usury only was interest. The Protestant writers generally did not care to make the distinction at first, and there is not much allusion to it. But sometimes there is such a thing, as in the following extract from the poetical opening to Webster's Tables (A.B. —, 40), probably published in 1605:

And though in Interest thus thou deal'st, thou not approu'st at all
Of vsurie, which may (for thee)

Thou not conclud'st such contracts made
But truly to performe the same
In, onely this, thou art a guide,
Thou to the guidance leauest all

beneath iust censure fall.
are lawfull yea or no,
(by parties both) dost shew.
but else, as is most fit,
of grace and holy writ.

In England, we had usage, increase, forbearance. In Italy, even in the fifteenth century, Pacioli (A. B. 1494, 2) found the words merito and meritare (desert or earning) established. The same word was used by Ghaligai in 1521 (a. B. —, 102), but his chapter on the subject has no head-word at the tops of the pages, as is the general rule of his book: probably he thought there was no occasion to advertise what he was doing. Sfortunati (A.B. -, 16) heads his chapter boldly delle usure, which he says people call meriti, as if it were a virtue. He then proceeds to give his rules by way of warning against these meriti or dannamenti dell' anima, and having thus discharged his conscience, he is only the arithmetician thenceforward. By the time of Tartaglia (A. B. 1556, 21) usury had been referred to compound interest, and all were not prepared to admit so much (lib. xi., p. 190).

It appears with tolerable clearness, on inquiry into the immediate derivation of interest, that the term was skilfully borrowed from one of the permissions of the canon law. Long before interest was used in the modern sense, Matthew Paris (cited by Ducange) adverted in one sentence to usury, penalty, and interesse-usuras, pœnas, et interesse —as all connected together. The connexion is thus traced. The principal circumstances under which receipt of money in


• There is one which we omit, as irrelevant, but mention in a note as curious. it be credited that not a few theologians, while declaring against usury because it was forbidden by the Mosaic law in the terms above quoted, maintain that the risk of loss from the poverty of the debtor removes money paid on that account from under the definition of usury?

return for a loan was not usury were as follows:-First, where the money so paid was pœna, a fine stipulated for in the event of the debt not being paid at a fixed time: but evasion was guarded against by making it essential that neither lender nor borrower should have reason to think it unlikely that the money would then be paid. Secondly, where the money so paid was either interesse damni emergentis or interesse lucri cessantis, that is, compensation to the lender for some loss accruing, or gain ceasing, to him, in consequence of the loan. Thus, if a person by lending his money was unable to pay a tax, and incurred a penalty, the borrower might pay the penalty, or damnum emergens, without imputation of usury upon the lender. In order to secure this result, it was necessary that the loss or cessation of gain should have become certain before the contract or understanding about the interesse was made. One case, however, of the lucrum cessans was in itself enough to legalise the whole practice of interest. If a man could and would have bought annual rents or returns of any kind, which, however, he did not buy, or of which he deferred the buying, that he might make a loan, the borrower might pay him those rents without usury. That is to say, anything which a man could and would have made of his money in another quarter he might without usury take of his borrower. Hence the origin of our word interest, as the interesse lucri cessantis. The obvious difficulty of prohibiting usury under so easy a mode of evading it did not escape notice: it was said that a professed money lender had only to have on his hat and cloak, and to be going into the market, to make it impossible of detection. To this the reply was that the gain the money would make must be a certainty, which could not be said of the sum for which the usurer had the investment yet to seek. But it had been admitted that even an uncertain gain might be estimated by a proper arbiter, and adjudged to be the lucrum cessans of the parti~ cular case; and common sense would tell any one that profitable employment for money, in the shape of yearly returns, could always be obtained in land or houses. For these and other reasons, a much less willing assent was given by the lawyers to the lucrum cessans than to the damnum emergens: the former was considered much nearer to usury than the latter; probably none but a canonist ever had any clear notion of the difference.

The end of all these distinctions and the marvellous minuteness and precision of the cases (some of the canonists expressly lay it down that a yearly loss is not usury in the loser) made it practically useless to carry a case into the ecclesiastical courts, to which the urisdiction over usury originally belonged.

University College, London,

Oct. 7, 1850.


"Ut cum quis paratus habet pecunias ad emendos redditus annuos, qui venales sunt, nec emit, ut indigenti et roganti dictas pecunias mutuet: quo casu sine dubio licet pacisci circa quantitatem, quam haberet ex annuis redditibus." Bassus, Biblioth. juris canonico-civilis (in voc. usura) vol. iv. p. 429. See further Scaccia de Commerciis, p. 166, &c., where the question is argued on both sides at great length, but so as much to enforce the derivation here given of the word in question.,


THERE is, no doubt, a family likeness among the populations of the three countries-England, Scotland, and Ireland,―that compose the British empire. Foreign nations probably have no difficulty in detecting in all of us the

facies non omnibus una,

Nec diversa tamen, qualem decet esse sororum.

They look upon us all, we dare say, as morally as well as geographically

Penitus toto divisos orbe Britannos,

as each a very peculiar people, and strikingly resembling one another at least in this, that we are all equally distinguishable from every other people. It is impossible, in truth, that our singular environment should not have given us something of a corresponding peculiarity of character and habits, of manner both of thinking and of acting. We are, be it remembered, in all the European world, the only islanders; unless we are to except the Japanese, we are the only great island people on the face of the globe. Nay, there never has been since the world began another island empire besides our own: there is no record of any such in all history, in the west or in the east; no considerable island has ever before, for any length of time, been even possessed and occupied throughout its whole extent by an independent community, to say nothing of being the head seat of an extended dominion. The first and only race that has maintained its position as an island power must have had some very remarkable qualities to begin with; and its situation and circumstances cannot have failed to re-act upon the force that created them, deepening and strengthening throughout a long course of ages every original peculiarity of the national character. In the nature of things there cannot but be a much wider difference between such a people and others than between the inhabitants of any two divisions of the same continent, divided from each other only by a river or a range of highlands, or it may be by no natural or physical boundary whatever, -by nothing but certain artificial, nominal, and frequently shifting lines of demarcation, quite insufficient to prevent the constant intercourse, and even intermingling to some extent, of the two contiguous nationalities. Encompassed by the world of waters, we are, as compared with any other people, a world in ourselves; it is nearly the same as if we floated in the air, overhead of the rest of mankind. And, in fact, from this and other causes, (be they what they may,) everything about us has come to have a spirit or look of its own, which is pre-eminently strange and difficult of complete apprehension to all the rest of Europe-our history and our constitution, our poetry and our philosophy, even our very religion and morality.

Yet among ourselves, as will happen in other such cases, we are apt, perhaps, to be more alive to the points in which we differ and are distinguished from one another, as English, Scotch, and Irish, than to those in which we agree. Certainly, while the three coun

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