Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 39.djvu/372

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358
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

farms; observing insects, inquiring into the reason of blights and rusts, noticing the effect of different constituents of plant-food upon their crops; helping on their neighbors in the work; and are forming societies, and holding institutes, where they are discussing the scientific and economic problems of their lives with ever-increasing ardor and intelligence. Accustomed from their boy-hood to drudgery, from their manhood to labor through all the hours of daylight, they have made a living and, with few exceptions, nothing more. A brighter future, however, lies before them. Our unoccupied arable lands will soon be exhausted, and population is ever on the increase. The farmers will co-operate more and more with our experiment stations, will find more and more beauty in their surroundings and with increased facilities and increased knowledge will take the place which belongs to them in our government and in our nation.


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A COMING SOLUTION OF THE CURRENCY QUESTION.

By CHARLES S. ASHLEY.

IT is obvious that the present agitation for the free and unlimited coinage of silver derives its real strength mainly from a general feeling that the cheapening of the standard dollar would make it easier to pay off existing debts.

The great farmer class of the central States have seen their farms shrink in value fifty per cent in ten years have seen the value of the annual product steadily falling; and in thousands of cases have found a purchase-money mortgage, after being half paid off, still equal to the selling value of the farm. It is natural and inevitable that the causes of this calamity should be largely attributed to the classes who have during the same period been growing steadily richer, and that the great agricultural class should turn to a cheaper currency as a remedy for debts harder to pay.

This is no new phenomenon. English kings, centuries back, when encumbered with debt, solved their difficulties by the easy method of paying their creditors with half the amount of precious metal they had agreed to pay merely going through the formality of stamping the half by the same name as the whole had formerly borne. Thus the English pound sterling, like the French livre, is said originally to have been a pound weight (troy) of pure silver. Now it is equal to less than half that amount. Bluff King Hal the Eighth put two parts alloy to one part of silver into his coins, instead of one part alloy to twelve of silver, as had been and is now the rule. Anything to get the better of the Jew money-lend-