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interim, so little pains was taken to inform the public upon the system, that in 1842 the amount assured probably did not exceed $5,000,000. But, in a Christian country, all material enterprises go swiftly forward, and of late years the progress of life assurance has equalled that of railroads and telegraphs; so that there are in the United States at least fifty companies, which are disbursing in claims, chiefly to widows and orphans, about five millions of dollars annually.

With this large extension of business, the fundamental principles of life assurance are now universally agreed on; but, in carrying them out, there are differences deserving attention.

Life-assurance companies may be divided into three classes, the stock, the mutual, and the mixed. In the stock company, the management is in the hands of the stockholders, or their agents, with whom the applicant for insurance contracts to pay so much while living, in consideration of a certain sum to be paid to his representatives at his death; and here his connection with it ceases; the profits of the business being divided among the stockholders. In the mutual company the assured themselves receive all the surplus premium or profit. The law of the State of New York passed in 1849 requires that all life-insurance companies organized in the State shall have a capital of at least one hundred thousand dollars. Mutual life-insurance companies organized in that State since 1849 pay only seven per cent on their capital, which their stock by investment may produce. In the mixed companies there are various combinations of the principles peculiar to the other two. They differ from the mutual companies only in the fact that, besides paying the stockholders legal interest, they receive a portion of the profits of the business, which in some cases in this country has caused the capital stock to appreciate in value over three hundred per cent, and in England over five hundred per cent.

To decide which of these is most ad

vantageous to the assured, we must consider the subject of premiums, and understand whence companies derive their surplus, or, as it is sometimes called, the profits. This is easily explained. As the liability to death increases with age, the proper annual premium for assurance would increase with each year of life. But as it is important not to burden age too heavily, and as it is simpler to pay a uniform sum every year, a mean rate is taken, - one too little for old age, but greater than is absolutely necessary to cover the risk in the first years of the assurance. Hence the company receives at first more than it has to pay, and thus accumulates funds to provide for the time when its payments will naturally be in excess of its receipts. Now these funds may be invested so as of themselves to produce an income, and the increase thence derived may, by the magical power of compound interest, reaching through a long series of years, become very large. In forming rates of premium, regard is had to this; but, to gain security in a contract which may extend far into the future, it is prudent to base the calculations on so low a rate of interest that there can be a certainty of obtaining it. The rate adopted is usually three per cent in England, and four or five per cent in this country. But, in point of fact, the American companies now obtain on secure investments six or seven per cent.

Again, in order to cover expenses and provide against possible contingencies, it is common to add to the rates obtained by calculation from correct tables of mortality a certain percentage, called loading, which is usually found more than is necessary, and forms a second source of profit.

Again, most tables of mortality are derived from the experience of whole communities, while all companies now subject applicants to a medical examination, and reject those found diseased; it being possible to discover, through the progress of medical science, even incipient signs of disease. Hence one would expect that among these selected

lives the rates of mortality would be less than by ordinary statistics; and this is confirmed by the published experience of many companies. Here we find a third source of profit.

In these three ways, and others in cidental to the business, it happens that all corporations managed with ordinary prudence accumulate a much larger capital than is needed for future losses. The advocates of the stock plan contend that, by a low rate of premium, they furnish their assured with a full equivalent for that division of profits which is the special boast of other companies. In a corporation purely mutual, the whole surplus is periodically applied to the benefit of the assured, either by a dividend in cash, or by equitable additions to the amount assured without increase of premium, or by deducting from future premiums, while the amount assured remains the same. The advantages of the latter system must be evident to every one.

It is of course important in all companies, whether mutual or not, that the officers should be men of integrity, sagacity, and financial experience, as well as that due precautions should be taken in the care and investment of the company's fund; and it is now proved by experience in this country, that, when a company is thus managed, so regular are the rates of mortality, so efficient the safeguards derived from the selection of lives, the assumption of low rates of interest, and the loading of premiums, that no company, when once well established, has ever met with disaster. On the other hand, there has been a rapid accretion of funds, in some instances to the amount of many millions of dollars. The characteristics of a good company are security and assurance at cost. It should sell, not policies merely, but assurance; and it should not make a profit for the capitalist out of the widow and orphan.

The policies issued by life companies vary in their form and nature. The ordinary one is called the life policy,

by which the company contracts to pay, on the death of the assured, the sum named in the policy, to the person in whose behalf the assurance is made.

In mutual (cash) companies, when the premium has been paid in full for about sixteen years, judging from past experience, the policy-holder may expect that his annual dividend on policy and additions will exceed the annual premium, thus obviating the necessity of further payments to the company, while his policy annually increases in amount for the remainder of life. But, on the contrary, when the dividends have been anticipated, as in the note system, by giving a note for part of the premium, the policy-holder insuring in this way, although he may at first receive a larger policy than he has the ability to pay for in cash, may lose the chief benefit of life insurance. For should he become unable, either by age, disease, or loss of property, to continue the payment of his premiums, his policy must lapse, because there is no accumulation of profits to his credit on which it can be continued.

In other forms of life policies, called "Non-forfeitable," premiums are made payable in "one," "five," or "ten " annual payments. In all cash companies, and in some of the note companies, after the specified number of premiums have been paid, the policy-holder draws an annual dividend in cash.

A further advantage arising from this plan is, that the policy-holder, at any time after two annual payments have been made, is always entitled to a "paid-up" policy for as many "fifths" or "tenths" of the sum assured as he shall have paid annual premiums. For example: a "five-annual-payment policy' " for $10,000, on which three premiums had been paid, would entitle the holder to a "paid-up policy" for $6,000; a "ten-annual - payment policy" for $10,000, on which three payments had been made, would entitle the holder to $3,000; and so on for any number of payments and for any amount, in accordance with the face of the policy.

Another form is denominated the En

dowment Policy, in which the amount assured is payable when the party attains a certain age, or at death, should he die before reaching that age. This policy is rapidly gaining favor, as it provides for the man himself in old age, or for his family in case of his death. It is also fast becoming a favorite form of investment. We can show instances where the policy-holders have received a surplus above all they have paid to the company, with compound interest at six per cent, and no charge whatever for expenses or cost of insurance meanwhile.

The Term Policy, as its name implies, is issued for a term of one or more years.

Policies are also issued on joint lives, payable at the death of the first of two or more parties named in the policy; and on survivorship, payable to a party named in case he survives another.

Some companies require all premiums to be paid in cash, while others take the note of the assured in part payment. These are denominated cash and note companies, and much difference of opinion exists as to their comparative merits.

The latter is at first sight an attractive system, and its advocates present many specious arguments in its favor. The friends of cash payments, however, contend that the note system is detrimental and delusive, from the fact that these notes are liable to assessment, and, in case of death, to be deducted from the amount assured; also that the notes accumulate as the years roll on, the interest growing annually larger, and the total cash payment consequently heavier, while the actual amount of assurance, that is, the difference between its nominal amount and the sum of the notes, steadily lessens; and thus a provision for one's family gradually changes into a burden upon one's self.

But whatever differences of opinion may exist as to the comparative value of various systems, few will deny the

advantages which life assurance has conferred upon the public, especially in America, whose middle classes, ambitiously living up to their income, are rich mostly in their labor and their homesteads, homesteads, in their earnings rather than their savings; and whose wealthy classes are rich chiefly through the giddy uncertainties of speculation, magnificent to-day, in ruins to-morrow. In a country like this, no one can estimate the amount of comfort secured by investment in life assurance. It is the one measure of thrift which remains to atone for our extravagance in living and recklessness in trade.

Henry Ward Beecher spoke wisely when he advised all men to seek life assurance. He says:

"It is every man's duty to provide for his family. That provision must include its future contingent condition. That provision, in so far as it is material, men ordinarily seek to secure by their own accumulations and investments. But all these are uncertain. The man that is rich to-day, by causes beyond his reach is poor to-morrow. A war in China, a revolution in Europe, a rebellion in America, overrule ten thousand fortunes in every commercial community.

"But in life assurance there are no risks or contingencies. Other investments may fail. A house may burn down. Banks may break and their stock be worthless. Bonds and mortgages may be seized for debt, and all property or evidences of property may fall into the bottomless gulf of bankruptcy. But money secured to your family by life assurance will go to them without fail or interruption, provided you have used due discretion in the selection of a sound and honorable assurance company. Of two courses, one of which may leave your family destitute, and the other of which assures them a comfortable support at your decease, can there be a doubt which is to be chosen? Can there be a doubt about duty?"



N order to prevent conjectures which might not be entirely pleasant to one or two persons whom I have in my mind, I prefer to state, at once and frankly, that I, Dionysius Green, am the author of this article. It requires some courage to make this avowal, I am well aware; and I am prepared to experience a rapid diminution of my present rather extensive popularity. One result I certainly foresee, namely, a great falling-off in the number of applications for autographs ("accompanied with a sentiment "), which I daily receive; possibly, also, fewer invitations to lecture before literary societies next winter. Fortunately, my recent marriage enables me to dispense with a large portion of my popularity, without great inconvenience; or, rather, I am relieved from the very laborious necessity of maintaining it in the face of so many aggressive rivalries.

The day may arrive, therefore, when I shall cease to be a Distinguished Character. Since I have admitted this much, I may as well confess that my reputation — enviable as it may be considered by the public-is of that kind which seems to be meant to run for a certain length of time, at the expiration whereof it must be wound up again. I was fortunate enough to discover this secret betimes, and I have since then known several amiable and worthy persons to slip out of sight, from the lack of it. There was Mr.

for example, whose comic articles shook the fat sides of the nation for one summer, and whose pseudonyme was in everybody's mouth. Alas! what he took for perpetual motion was but an eight-day clock, and I need not call your attention to the present dead and leaden stillness of its pendulum.

Although my earliest notoriety was achieved in very much the same way, that is, by a series of comic sketches,


as many of my admirers no doubt remember, I soon perceived the unstable character of my reputation. I was at the mercy of the next man who should succeed in inventing a rew slang, or a funnier way of spelling. These things, in literature, are like "fancy drinks" among the profane. They tickle the palates of the multitude for a while, but they don't wear like the plain old beverages. I saw very plainly, that much more was to be gained, in the long run, by planting myself—not with a sudden and startling jump, but by a graceful, cautious pirouette — upon a basis of the Moral and the Didactic. I should thus reach a class of slow, but very tough stomachs, which would require ample time to assimilate the food I intended to offer. If this were somewhat crude, that would be no objection whatever they always mistake their mental gripings for the process of digestion. Why, bless your souls! I have known Tupper's "Proverbial Philosophy" to fill one of them to repletion, for the space of ten years!

I owe this resolution to my natural acuteness of perception, but my success in carrying it into execution was partly the result of luck. The field, now occupied by such a crowd, (I name no names,) was at that time nearly clear; and I managed to shift my costume before the public fairly knew what I was about. I found, indeed, that a combination of the two styles enabled me to retain much of my old audience while acquiring the new. was like singing a hymn of serious admonition to a lively, rattling tune. One is diverted: there is a present sense of fun, while a gentle feeling of the grave truths inculcated lingers in one's mind afterwards. The pious can find no fault with the matter, nor the profane with the manner. Instead of approaching the moral consciousness


of one's readers with stern, lugubrious countenance, and ponderous or lamentable voice, you make your appearance with a smile and a joke, punch the reader playfully in the ribs, and say, as it were, "Ha ha! I've a good thing to tell you!" Although I have many imitators, some of whom have attained an excellence in the art which may be considered classic, yet I may fairly claim to have originated this branch of literature, and, while it retains its present unbounded popularity, my name cannot wholly perish.

Nevertheless, greatness has its drawbacks. I appeal to all distinguished authors, from Tupper to Weenie Willows, to confirm the truth of this assertion. I have sometimes, especially of late, doubted seriously whether it is a good thing to be distinguished. Alas! my dear young gentleman and lady, whose albums would be so dismally incomplete without my autograph ("accompanied with a sentiment"), would that you could taste the bitter with the sweet, the honey and aloes of an American author's life! At first, it is exceedingly pleasant. You are like a newly-hatched chicken, or a pup at the end of his nine-days' blindness. You are petted, and stroked, and called sweet names, and fed with dainties, and carried in the arms of the gentlemen, and cuddled in the laps of the ladies. But when you get to be a big dog or a fullgrown game-cock, take care! If people would but fancy that you still wore your down or silken skin, they might continue to be delighted with every gambol of your fancy. But they suspect pin-feathers and bristles, whether the latter grow or not; and, after doing their best to spoil you, they suddenly demand the utmost propriety of behavior. However, let me not anticipate. I can still call myself, without the charge of self-flattery, a Distinguished Character; at least I am told so, every day, each person who makes the remark supposing that it is an entirely original and most acceptable compliment. While this distinction lasts, (for I find that I lose it in proportion as

I gain in sound knowledge and independent common-sense,) I should like to describe, for the contemplation of future ages, some of the penalties attached to popularity at present.

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I was weak enough, I admit, to be immensely delighted with the first which I experienced, not foreseeing whitherward they led. The timid, enthusiastic notes of girls of fifteen, with the words "sweet" and "exquisite," duly underscored, the letters of aspiring boys, enclosing specimens of their composition, and the touching pleas of individuals of both sexes, in reduced circumstances, were so many evidences of success, which I hugged to my bosom. Reducing the matter to statistics, I have since ascertained that about one in ten of these letters is dictated either by honest sympathy, the warm, uncritical recognition of youth (which I don't suppose any author would diminish, if he could), or the craving for encouragement, under unpropitious circumstances of growth. But how was I, in the beginning, to guess at the motives of the writers? They offered sugar-plums, which I swallowed without a suspicion of the drastic ingredients so many of them contained. Good Mrs. Sigourney kept a journal of her experiences in this line. I wish I had done the same.


The young lady correspondent, I find, in most cases replies to your reply, proposing a permanent correspondThe young gentleman, who desires, above all things, your "candid opinion of the poems enclosed, — be sure and point out the faults, and how they can be improved," — is highly indignant when you take him at his word, and do so. You receive a letter of defence and explanation, showing that what you consider to be faults are not such. Moreover, his friends have assured him that the poem which you advise him to omit is one of his finest things! The distressed aspirant for literary fame, who only requests that you shall read and correct his or her manuscript, procure a publisher, and prefix a commendatory notice, signed

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