Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/283

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LITERARY NOTICES.

Prof. Wright concludes that the earliest men, so far as we know of their antiquity by that of the Ice age, lived perhaps thirty thousand to forty thousand years ago. He assumes that the elevation of the northern part of our continent and of northwestern Europe at the close of the Tertiary era may have been at the rate of three feet a century, like the present uplifting of some portions of Scandinavia, so that in one hundred thousand years they would be raised three thousand feet, which is thought probably enough to cause the accumulation of the ice-sheets; and for the reign of the ice or duration of the Glacial period he accepts Prestwich's estimate of about twenty-five thousand years.

The question whether man existed, as has been claimed, in Europe or in California during the later part or even the middle of the Tertiary era, far longer ago than the Ice age, is examined by Prof. Haynes in an appendix of this work, showing that no reliable evidence of Tertiary man has been yet discovered.

The Case against Bimetallism. By Robert Giffen. New York: Macmillan, 1892. Pp. 254. Price, $2.

In the domain of the physical sciences the results of research, when acquiesced in by those competent to judge, take their place as a part of the body of accepted truth, and are no longer open to discussion. In sociology, however, the demonstration of any proposition, and the concurrence of all competent judges in its truth, carries no such weight with the mass of people. This is particularly true in economics. The demonstration that entire freedom of trade is essential to the fullest working out of the economic life of a nation is as old as the science, yet we have the spectacle of the greater number of the advanced nations of the world clinging to the opposite policy. Another of the fallacies to which great numbers adhere, in the face of repeated demonstration that it is a fallacy, is bimetallism. And in this case this most pernicious doctrine finds adherents, not alone among the masses of the people, but among otherwise instructed economists as well. It has been demonstrated over and over again that a dual standard of value is a delusion; in fact, has been so thoroughly demonstrated that adherence to the idea is not a whit more creditable intellectually than is the pursuit of a perpetual motion. Mr. Giffen may, therefore, be forgiven for having but little patience with bimetallism or its adherents. He very properly feels that an economist should not be called upon to continually discuss a question that is already settled; but the continual reappearance of this doctrine and its wide popular support renders it necessary to restate from time to time the economic facts and to examine the alleged practical results. The present book is not a systematic treatise, or even a series of essays grouped in a logical order, but consists of miscellaneous papers contributed to various periodicals, letters to The Times, and addresses. The general scope of this collection of papers is indicated by the titles, which are as follows: The General Case against Bimetallism, On some Bimetallic Fallacies, A Problem in Money, The Inevitable Results of Universal Bimetallism, M. de Laveleye on Mint Price, The Alleged Bimetallism of France, 1803-'73, Unsalable Silver, The American Silver Bubble, and A Chapter on Standard Money. In an appendix there is a further consideration of the case of France, and also a number of extracts from debates in the House of Commons on bimetallism in 1830.

The general tenor of Mr. Giffen's positions is that nothing that a government can do can alter the relations of the two metals, gold and silver, as determined by economic forces; and that if you could tie the metals together at some particular ratio and hold them there, nothing whatever would be gained. You can't, however, do this, so that in all cases of attempted bimetallism what you really have is a shifting standard, first gold, then silver, and so on back and forth, as the market value of the metals varies. The idea that governments, either singly or all together, can give a price to either of the metals different from the bullion price is fitly characterized by Mr. Giffen in the following extract from his paper on Mint Prices: "M. de Laveleye's idea, first of all, is that the impression of a metal with certain stamps by the mint is the fixing of a price for it. If you take an ounce of gold to the mint, he says, it is coined into