Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 48.djvu/59

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end of this century. The real danger is that gold will fall so much as to cause a contraction of credits; for no one will voluntarily give credit in a falling commodity or depreciating money standard. As the greater part of the world's business is done on credit, this possibility is most serious. It would be difficult to borrow large sums on long time for the construction of railways and other great works if capitalists were convinced that after ten or twenty years they would receive in full payment of a dollar of the present value of one hundred cents a dollar of the value of seventy-five cents.

Probably, however, the world will soon get used to the great increase in gold production, and cease to pay any attention to it, as was the case in the Californian period. Now, as then, we may expect that the vast gold production now going on will result in a rise of the general price level, in wages, and in the great relief of the debtor class. Barring the possibility of foolish experiments in currency legislation, which, in spite of much noise in irresponsible quarters, is but small, we are entering on an era of great prosperity, where all business will sail along triumphantly on an ever-rising tide of gold.




IN the preceding division of this work, and more particularly in § 529, it was shown that in early societies such regulation of conduct as is effected by custom, and afterward by that hardened form of custom called law, originates in the expressed or implied wills of ancestors—primarily those of the undistinguished dead, and secondarily those of the distinguished dead. Regard for the wishes of deceased relatives greatly influences actions among ourselves, and it influences them far more among savage and semi-civilized peoples; because such peoples think that the spirits of the deceased are either constantly at hand or occasionally return, and in either case will, if made angry, punish the survivors by disease or misfortune. When, in the course of social development, there arise chiefs of unusual power, or conquering kings, the belief that their ghosts will wreak terrible vengeance on those who disregard their injunctions becomes a still more potent controlling agency; so that to regulation of conduct by customs inherited from ancestors at large, and ordinarily enforced by the living ruler, there comes to be added regulation by the transmitted commands of the dead ruler.