All the companies, except the Nord, have at one time or another had to take advantage of the guarantee, and the fact that the Ouest had been one of the most persistent and heavy borrowers in this respect was one of the reasons that induced the government to take it over as from the 1st of January 1909.
The borrowers may have been tenants.
Borrowers must repay 2% of their principal half-yearly, and may repay as much more as they choose.
It should be borne in mind that in early times the larger values, such as minae, would be transmitted by commerce, while after the introduction of coinage the lesser values of shekels and drachmae would be the units; and this needs notice, because usually a borrowed unit was multiplied or divided according to the ideas of the borrowers, and strange modifications thus arose.
The legal rate should be a very little above the lowest market rate; sober people will then be preferred as borrowers to prodigals and projectors, who at a higher legal rate would have an advantage over them, being alone willing to offer that higher rate.
Some of the states have usury laws giving relief to borrowers in cases where circumstances have compelled them to agree to extortionate rates; but other states have no such laws, except that a contract in writing is invariably required in all cases where the "legal rate" is exceeded.
This equitable relief is still available, though it is not so wide as the relief now given to borrowers under the Money-lenders Act 1900.
On equitable relief to borrowers reference should be made to Bellot and Willis's Bargains with Money-lenders.
144), "that the first borrowers must have been for the most part men driven to this necessity by the pressure of want, and contracting debt as a desperate resource without any fair prospect of ability to pay; debt and famine run together in the mind of the poet Hesiod.
Borrowers were not induced to borrow as a rule with the view of employing the capital so obtained at a greater profit, but they were compelled of necessity to borrow as a last resort.
At the same time, however, their dealings were nominally under the supervision of the Jews' exchequer, and a number of regulations were enforced, partly with the view of protecting borrowers and partly that the king might know how much his Jews could afford to pay.