Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/356

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the final report, with which every great work is properly committed to the judgment of posterity. But there are some lessons to be drawn from the hasty considerations I have presented, which may encourage and comfort us as to the destiny of man and the outcome of human progress.

What message, then, of hope and cheer does this achievement convey to those who would fain believe that love travels hand in hand with light along the rugged pathway of time? Have the discoveries of science, the triumphs of art, and the progress of civilization, which have made its construction a possibility and a reality, promoted the welfare of mankind and raised the great mass of the people to a higher plane of life?

This question can best be answered by comparing the compensation of the labor employed in the building of this bridge with the earnings of labor employed upon works of equal magnitude in ages gone by. The money expended for the work of construction proper on the bridge, exclusive of land damages and other expenses, such as interest, not entering into actual cost, is nine million ($9,000,000) dollars. This money has been distributed in numberless channels—for quarrying, for mining, for smelting, for fabricating the metals, for shaping the materials, and erecting the work, employing every kind and form of human labor. The wages paid at the bridge itself may be taken as the fair standard of the wages paid for the work done elsewhere. These wages are:

Laborers $1 75 per day.
Blacksmiths  3 50 to $4 00 "
Carpenters  3 00 to  3 50 "
Masons and stone-cutters  3 50 to  4 00 "
Riggers  2 00 to  2 50 "
Painters  2 00 to  3 50 "

Taking all these kinds of labor into account, the wages paid for work on the bridge will thus average $2.50 per day.

Now, if this work had been done at the time when the Pyramids were built, with the skill, appliances, and tools then in use, and if the money available for its execution had been limited to nine million ($9,000,000) dollars, the laborers employed would have received an average of not more than two cents per day, in money of the same purchasing power as the coin of the present era. In other words, the effect of the discoveries of new methods, tools, and laws of force, has been to raise the wages of labor more than a hundred-fold in the interval which has elapsed since the Pyramids were built. I shall not weaken the suggestive force of this statement by any comments upon the astounding evidence of progress, beyond the obvious corollary that such a state of civilization as gave birth to the Pyramids would now be the signal for universal bloodshed, revolution, and anarchy. I do not underestimate the hardships borne by the labor of this century.