Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/59

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.



and taxpayers, is the one most interested in the promotion and maintenance of good government. A tax policy, however, which would compel the landowners to cut up and sell their immense holdings, especially if they are unwilling to develop them, would be the first step toward the creation of such a middle class. But it is not unlikely that Mexico would have to go through one more revolution, worse than any she has yet experienced, before any such result could be accomplished. At present, furthermore, there is no evidence that the mass of the Mexican people, who would be most benefited by any wise scheme for the partition of the great estates and for tax reform, feel any interest whatever in the matter or would vigorously support any leader of the upper class who might desire to take the initiative in promoting such changes; and herein is the greatest discouragement to every one who wishes well for the country.[1]



IT is highly probable that at one time or another most of the civilized nations of the world knew of certain small, undersized men, and that they constructed and built up legends and myths about them. The ancient Talmudic writers, however, were probably unacquainted with these little people, for nowhere in the Old Testament nor in any of the ancient Hebrew writings are they mentioned. The giant plays a prominent part in more than one biblical drama, but his direct opposite, the pygmy, never appears in any rôle. But long before the Israelitish captivity and exodus, and thousands of years before the five Nasamonians of Herodotus made their memorable journey of exploration into the deserts of Libya, the earliest of known historiographers, the Egyptians, had made his acquaintance, and had made note of his peculiarities of form. Marriette Bey has seen the figure of a pygmy on a monument of the old empire, and

  1. During the year 1892 the present enlightened President of the Mexican Republic, fully recognizing the great obstruction to trade and commerce which the complicated tax system as above described entails upon the country, created a commission of eminently qualified persons to consider the subject with a view of instituting a better fiscal system. And as one result of its investigations the present Congress of Mexico has adopted an amendment to its Federal Constitution, by which the alcabalas shall be definitely abolished in the course of the present year, 1896. Every State in Mexico is accordingly now engaged in modifying its old system of taxation and replacing it with something better. So far as the city of Mexico is concerned, direct taxes have already been substituted for the alcabalas on a number of important revenue-producing articles, as, for example, on brandy, alcohol, and pulque.