A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 61

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bearing, but there was acute anxiety. Men and women dimly understood that securities would be for a time unsaleable, that money would be scarce, and that the prices of the necessities of life might consequently rise. They had wider visions of a serious decline in trade and a consequent lack of employment. For the first time that week they ceased to ask: "What has Serbia to do with us?" They no longer shrugged their shoulders at the mention of war, but turned feverishly to the newspapers in the attempt to elicit from conflicting messages from foreign capitals what the issue was to be.

It was fortunate that the first Monday in August is a Bank Holiday. This pause gave the authorities time to prepare to meet the unprecedented situation. Mr. Lloyd George, the chancellor of the exchequer, called the financial magnates into conference on that memorable first Sunday in August. He and Lord Rothschild sank their former enmity and with the heads of the great banks laid common plans to meet the crisis. The Bank Holiday was extended to August 7. A moratorium was proclaimed on Monday, August 3, and was subsequently extended to November 4, with an extension for a month for bills that fell due up to that date. To meet the shortage of gold, Treasury notes for £1 and 10/- were put into circulation. Steps were taken to prevent people from withdrawing their deposits from banks through panic and for the purpose of hoarding.

Nobody should be so foolish and indeed wicked as to add to the difficulties of the financial and commercial situation by selfishly drawing out unnecessary amounts of money in groundless apprehension that it is advisable to hoard it during the crisis. If a man's credit is good there is no advantage to be gained by keeping more money in hand now than at any other time.

This quotation is typical of the exhortations that appeared in all the newspapers about this time. Under these conditions quite a number of people in Britain were faced with a real shortage of money. On the Saturday the banks had paid cheques in notes instead of in gold, and then they had closed for the longest bank holiday on record. Restaurants, shops, even clubs refused to cash these notes, declaring that they were stocked up with them. The result was that many usually affluent people could not find sufficient money to pay their current expenses. This, however, was a very temporary trouble. During the days of suspense people had thought over the

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