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Winston has accomplished in disposing of the policies of the Mutual Life, and enriching himself and his family, as the result of just such talents as those of Mr. Barnum.
If Mr. Winston has not succeeded so well lately as he did formerly, but has rather lost ground, there are good reasons for it. For some time, first, he had the Insurance field almost exclusively to himself, and the few companies established soon after the Mutual Life were conducted by men who would prefer never to succeed rather than do so by misrepresentation and charlatanism. A few remarks will sufficiently illustrate this :—The Mutual Life commenced businessin 1843. One year later the New England Mutual commenced ess. No two men could be more different from each other than Mr. Winston, presi. dent of the Mutual Life, and Judge Phillips, president of the New England Mutual. One bad attained distinction in law and literature, and brought to his new profession an unblemished character. the other had distinguished himself in, and what sort of a character he had brought to his new profession, are things already discussed, though, perhaps, erroneously. In 1845, the Mutual Benefit commenced business.
This company was also organized by men whose reputation for fair dealing was in. tact. Its chief manager was Mr. Grover, the same gentleman who is still its president, and whose integrity has never been questioned. The New York Life commenced the same year the Mutual Benefit did ; and it should be remembered that it was not until lately that the former began to deviate from the straight path. Although Mr. Franklin was not a jurist like Mr. Phillips or Mr. Grover, but had derived his chief distinction from having been an alderman when aldermen were not expected to possess either much intelligence or much honor, his character was good, and he pursued a straightforward course for many years as president of the New York Life-in fact, as long as he was permitted by his colleagues to do so.
Five years later (1850), several companies were established by men of the same stamp in integrity and sense of honor as Phillips and Grover; these were the Manhattan, the United States, the Ætna, and the Charter Oak, the president of the last-mentioned being, also, an exemplary member of the bar. Then only one year intervened between the organization of these four companies and that of the Phønix Mutual, which was established under the auspices of men who had no superiors anywhere in their prestige for honesty and good faith.
There was but little discussion of life insurance in, this country, up to this time-no criticism. If there were a few of those willing to insure their lives who had heard those ugly stories about Mr. Winston's "software” performances, it was not difficult to convince them that those stories were "all spite,” for the high character of the other underwriters we have mentioned served as a mantle for the alleged peccadilloes of that gentleman. And no one knew better than Mr. Winston how to use such a mantle. As those who help themselves to the woollen, cotton, or silk mantles of their unsuspicious neighbors, sometimes show their gratitude to the owners only by abusing them, so did the president of the Mutual Life abuse those whose mantle he used—the same as rat-catchers bait their traps with the best cheese, or roast beef.
While insurance matters were thus easily managed, Mr. Winston was a capital manager. The managers of the other companies mentioned scorned to adopt his plans; they also scorned to enter into controversies with one who would avail himself of such. They preferred to sell ten policies in a legitimate way, rather than to sell a hundred policies in an illegitimate way; in other words, they preferred to add a thousand dollars to their assets in a straightforward way than to add ten thousand to them in a crooked way. Winston laughed at this; he also grew fat and feathered his nest, while the policy-holders of the Mutual Life multiplied.
But a class of underwriters now enter the field, who, while not less honest than those with whom, only, Mr. Winston had hitherto to compete, were more disposed to propose questions and expose fallacies. The first that took a decided stand against the Barnum plan was the Equitable, organized in 1869. True, the Knickerbocker, which commenced business in 1853, had done good work before this. But Mr. Hyde, of the Equitable, was the first underwriter to take the Mutual bull by the horns; or, as some will have it, he was the first to take the Mutual donkey by the ears and show that he was but a donkey, and not the lion which he tried to simulate by the tremendous noise he made. Mr. Hyde did not do his work the less effectually because he smiled, and slapped Winston on the back, while he continued to spoil bubble after bubble. Mr. Jones, of the New York National, gave some hard blows in the same quiet way. Nor must we deny that Mr. Morgan, of the the North America, is entitled to no little credit for his share in the work of pricking Winston bubbles.
We might mention several others who have taken a hand, more or less slyly, at the same useful process, together with Mr. Burns, of the Phoenix Mutual, Mr. Endors of the Ætna, Mr. De Witt, of the United States, and poor Mr. Lawrence of the New York Continental, now, alas ! no more.
But enough for the present. What our own part in the good work has been, we leave it to our readers to say, contenting ourselves with the remark, that we have scarcely issued a number of our journal, for ten years past, in which we did not try to put the policy-holders of the Mutual Life on their guard against certain contingencies, some of which are now but too fully realized.
Thus, for years, Mr. Winston profited at once by his own fallacious plans, and by the straightforward plans of his only competitors. It was during this time, and under these circumstances, the great structure was built high in air. But no sooner is the architect put to the test of science—no sooner are the laws of gravitation brought to bear upon him-no sooner does the chemist begin to show that most, if not all, of his gold is but brass or pot-metal, than he is obliged to have recourse to various contrivances. The examinations of the affairs of the company by persons who, it was well known, would examine them in a “satisfactory” way, are still fresh in the minds of our readers; and so are the ponderous books, compiled at immense expense from the proceedings, and distributed among the faithful as convincing proofs that the whitewashing process had been thoroughly performed. We gave our impressions of each contrivance in full as soon as it was developed; nor did we fail to predict that Prof. Bartlett would be suitably rewarded for the important aid he gave in arranging the figures so satisfactorily for the last book. Some were surprised at seeing that gentleman receive the appointment of Actuary of the Mutual Life so soon after he had pronounced the figures of that institution "all right.” We confess, we thought the proceeding rather queer ourselves; but the only part of it that surprized us was that played by the mathematician. We had expected better from a scientific man, although we had never regarded the science of Prof. Bartlett as either very profound or very reliable. At all erents, we remarked at the time that it was not merely gratitude real or spurious that induced Mr. Winston to secure the permanent services of Prof. Bartlett. We told our readers it would not be very long before that gentleman would be called upon to make another discovery, since, under the most favorable circumstances, the process in which he had taken so distinguished a part could, huge as it was, only have a temporary effect. We did not pretend to know what would be the precise nature of his next discovery, but the world knows now what a brilliant thing—how much like the quadrature of the circle !
But these are not the only contrivances to which Mr. Winston has had recourse for the purpose of proving to the world, that, notwithstanding the “soft-ware” stories, and all other stories equally unfavorable, he is the man for the widow and the orphan! It is now ten or eleven years since we informed our readers that Mr. Winston had all of a sudden become very pious, and a prominent member of the Bible Society. Hitherto the widow and orphan were his chief care; now his solicitude for the souls of the heathen in Caffraria, and other remote regions, was still greater if possible! Then who could any longer doubt the honesty of Mr. Winston ? Was there anybody whose thoughts were so depraved that he could question for a moment the integrity of a vice-president of the Bible Society-one who was, ex officio, a “first class manager," and who talked louder and longer at every meeting of the Board, about sending off Bibles and tracts, than anybody else ? It was doubtless very uncharitable on our part to think and say at the time that this new piety and philanthropy were not the genuine articles. And well were we abused for it accordingly by the insurance press. At this time the Bible Society was, indeed, an honorable body, and one that did much good both at home and abroad; but we did not hesitate to predict, as our readers may remember, that since the money of Mr. Winston secured for him a controlling influence in its councils, it could not maintain its honorable character very long. We confess we became all the more convinced of this when we learned that one of the colleagues of Mr. Winston was the person who had made several visits to our office to bribe us with beer money to eulogize a certain institution with which he was connected in a very exalted capacity, and who, failing in this, threatened to set at us “the editors of all our leading papers "—those gentlemen being, as 'he assured us, already prepared for the work—in the event of our own making any "attack.” * True, we were not crushed, or in any manner hurt by the “leading editors,” after all. Whether it was that our "executive” friend relented, or that the "leading editors” refused to do the work prescribed for them, no more “leading" editors than the insurance editors have ever set upon us with any worse weapons than kind and encouraging words. Nay, it is but just to say, that, even of the insurance editors, none having any claims to be considered educated men, or gentlemen, have ever set upon us in any different way. No doubt, however, Mr. Winston secured some premiums by becoming vice-president and ex
Vide N. Q. R., No. XXXVII, Art. Vassar College and its Degrees.
officio "first-class manager" of the Bible Society; nor need it be doubted that the Bible Society made some money by the same transaction. Upon the whole, it may be said that Winston has gained by his connection with the Bible Society. Whatever money he paid to secure his position as leading manager was probably well laid out, considered in a business way. Nor have his numerous speeches, in favor of evangelizing the heathen proved by any means unprofitable to him. self; they have doubtless served his purpose quite as well as his periodical abusive fulminations against the most unswerving and most honorable of his competitors !
The cloak afforded by the Bible Society has, like former cloaks, ceased to be of much value to the great insurer ; but the party most injured by the connection of Mutual Life insurance and the Bible and tract business is, undoubtedly, the Bible Society. It gives us sincere pain to say, that that once honorable and useful organization is as much fallen at this moment, in the moral scale, as the Tammany Society was when we exhibited the great Ring-Leader to public derision and scorn, What, for example, did the Tammany Ring do—what could it have done-more disgraceful than to keep in its service, as a high “officer,” a person capable of forcing his way into a private office, on which there is not a penny due, against a lady who is attending to her business in peace and silence, interfering with none, and who not only forbids his entrance and protests against it, but uses all the strength she possesses to prevent his opening the door; an effort in which she is aided by her errand-boy (placed outside to inform those who might want to see her husband that he is not at home), so far as a lad of ten or twelve years could afford her aid or protection; the only pretext for such cowardly brutality being that she is giving some food to her pet dog-an animal much better trained, and much more intelligent in his way, than the person who acted thus. It is needless to say that the lowest tenement house bully could hardly have been guilty of baser conduct.
True, the Bible Society, like any other corporation, however pious or good, is liable to receive into its service a person who may prove to be unfit for his position. Accordingly, no imputation is cast on the Society until the affair has been duly reported to the proper (?) authorities, and treated, so far as any redress, explanation, or apology is concerned, as a proceeding entirely proper and worthy of the Bible Society ! Now, whether first-class manager Winston, and one or two other chief managers like him, had anything to do with bringing about this state