Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/727

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709
LITERARY NOTICES.

colors of flowers shade off so imperceptibly into one another, and are at the same time 80 variegated and inconstant, that they are likely to mislead even the trained observer.

The book will do good, however, if it incites to the study of a department of Nature which more than any other is calculated to stimulate the powers of observation.

The Silver Situation in the United States. By F. W. Taussig, Ph. D., Professor of Political Economy in Harvard University, New York and London: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1893. Pp. 133. Price, 75 cents.

This work is divided into two parts. The first discusses the history of the "silver legislation" and the economic conditions which have been brought about by the adoption of a silver currency in 18*78. The second portion of the book considers the arguments in favor of a silver standard. In the chapters under the general title, The Economic Situation, Prof. Taussig closely analyzes the movements of gold and silver during the last fourteen years. He does not believe that the gold reserve of $100,000,000, fixed as the minimum by Congress, can very measurably be increased, and he attributes the decrease in the amount of gold held by the Treasury—from $190,000,000 in 1890 to 8108,000,000 at the beginning of the present year—to the fact that "the great sums due the United States by foreign countries" are not paid for by the return of gold, but by "the transmission of American securities held by foreign investors and sent by them for sale in the United States." He claims that the Treasury estimate of the stock of gold in the United States is many millions of dollars "in excess of the actual stock." Having summarized the arguments in favor of silver, quoting the very words of those who present them, "as compared with commodities silver has been more steady in value than gold," and that, "so far as the attainment of the closest possible approach to the ideal justice is concerned, a silver standard would have served the purpose better than a gold one"—the author offers as a simple answer to them the facts he has recited in his preceding pages, and says that the silver men "have not made out their case against the existing order of things. There are no serious evils due to an insufficient supply of money." These and other negative reasons apply to the arguments of those who favor international bimetallism and of those who favor the independent use of silver by the United States. When we consider the importance not only of stability in the medium of exchange, but of general confidence in that stability, these and other negative names which are mentioned ought to suffice for rejecting the proposals of the silver advocates. But there are positive reasons in addition. The eventual effect of a silver standard must be to cause a rise in prices—not immediate, but certain. This, while the present tendency to falling in prices, with stationary or rising incomes, work no hardships to debtors, would be fraught with real and serious inconveniences to creditors. Other positive reasons lie in the conditions of the production and use of silver at the present time, which are increasing with extraordinary rapidity. Another objection to a change to a silver standard is the immorality of the disposition to tamper with the currency as a remedy for real or fancied evils. Gold, on the other hand, performs the functions of a measure of value and a standard of value with as close an approach to perfection as there is any reasonable ground for expecting from any monetary system. For these reasons the schemes proposed for a tabular or multiple standard of value do not seem called for by any serious exigency not met by the gold standard. The book contains some useful comparative statistics and a comprehensive chart of fluctuations in gold and silver.

Telephone Lines and their Properties. By Prof. W. J. Hopkins. New York: Longmans, Green & Co., 1893. Pp. 258. Price, $1.50.

This is a work which has for its object a more complete account than has yet been given of the telephone line, not only its mechanical construction, but its electrical properties, and the way telephonic transmission is affected by telegraphic and other electric currents. The range of subjects comprise a brief account of overhead construction in city lines, and a somewhat full one of underground work, in which the relative advantages and disadvantages of various kinds of