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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/296

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296
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

on any small island nor in such cold regions as would expose him to death from that cause, nor anywhere where the remains of the highest animals below him were absent. This reasoning excluded Australia, all of America, South Africa, South India, northern Europe, and northern Asia. Nor did it permit the acceptance of the ancient Atlantis as that sunken land which Haeckel named Lemurea. It left only, in fact, the southern slope of that great mountain chain which began on the east with the Himalayas and extended to the farthest west of Spain. There also were found man's very oldest remains and weapons, and the oldest of them all in western Europe, in France and Spain. On the present evidence it must be said that man originated in western Europe or northern Africa. The earliest man was of the average height of men of to-day, muscular and strong, walking not always erect, but stooping forward. His skin was hairy, of a reddish color, and the women were somewhat smaller than the men. His forehead was low, but his brain was fairly well developed. He knew the use of fire, how to make weapons of stone, bone, and wood, traps for animals, and some kinds of boats. Then he used some sort of shelter; he lived in communities; he had a language; he loved his family and took care of the sick, but he did not seem to have had a religion. He was brave in battle and loved to roam. All this can be proved by a careful study of his remains. It was concluded, therefore, that the earliest men were of the same spirit and soul with ourselves, endowed with like faculties and with a similar capacity to advance.

 

Inheritance Taxes.—Mr. Max West, in his study of that subject (Columbia College Series in History, Economics, and Public Law), finds the recognized origin of the inheritance tax in its imposition by Augustus in Rome, 6 A. D.; but thinks it probable that the Romans borrowed the idea from the Egyptians. There are evidences that Egypt had an inheritance tax, probably of not less than a tenth, from which even direct heirs were not exempt. A papyrus has been found which relates that a certain Hermias was sentenced in a heavy penalty for failing to pay the tax on succeeding to his father's house. Another inscription records a sale of property by an old man to his sons at a nominal price, apparently for the purpose of evading the inheritance tax. Mr. West's review of the history of the tax in different countries and through its various phases leads him to the conclusion that it is pre-eminently an institution of democracy. It is found in nearly every civilized country, but it is only in the most democratic countries—Great Britain, France, Switzerland, Canada, and the Australasian colonies—that it reaches its fullest development, with high and usually progressive rates, and becomes an important source of revenue. The United States seems thus far to be an exception to this rule, but the increasing popularity of this mode of taxation, and its rapid extension from State to State, indicate that at no distant day it may be general in America. In the assessment of the tax a graduation according to relationship is nearly universal in practice. Direct heirs are in many cases exempted, and in others are taxed very lightly, as compared with collateral and distant heirs. A progression in the rate of the tax corresponding with increase in the amount of the estate is sometimes adopted. Bequests for public, benevolent, and educational purposes might well be exempted, for in such cases, if the gift is wise, the whole amount accrues for the benefit of the community. The question of what to regard as inheritances for purposes of taxation is sometimes a difficult one. A bequest of freedom to a slave has been held to be taxable. A succession is sometimes defined as any beneficial interest in property accruing in possession or expectancy on the death of any person. The English law includes interests accruing by survivorship in the case of joint ownership, by general powers of appointment, and by the extinction of determinable charges; but life insurance is excluded. That the inheritance tax is regarded as something more than a purely fiscal measure is shown by frequent proposals to use the proceeds for benevolent or educational purposes. Such proposals have sometimes borne fruit in legislation.

 

Fish Culture in America and Europe.—It appears from a statistical review of fish culture in Europe and North America, prepared by N. Borodine, of the Russian Association of Pisciculture and Fisheries, that the eighty