Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/873

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

velopment of arguments in support of these views from verbal analogies—the most delusive of all bases for the foundation of a theory. What the author claims to derive from the study of Maya documents is entitled to more serious consideration. This is the story of the ancient Maya queen Móo, whose brother and husband, Prince Coh, was treacherously murdered by his brother Aac. Queen Móo built a magnificent mausoleum to her consort at Chichen, the ruins of which still exist and have been explored and studied by Dr. Le Plongeon, who has recovered and possesses the charred heart of the prince, and the stone spear heads with which he was killed. Queen Móo, having refused to marry her husband's murderer, was obliged to flee from her country, and sought refuge on one of the islands of the sunken Atlantis. Here the Maya record stops; but Dr. Le Plongeon infers, from his Egyptian studies, that not finding the refuge she sought, she went on to Egypt, where she was warmly welcomed by Maya colonists and became influential. Her name, the author affirms, is preserved in that of the Egyptian Queen Mau; her story, with that of her murdered husband, became the myth of Isis and Osiris; and she caused the Sphinx to be carved as a memorial to her husband. Dr. Le Plongeon finds the story of Atlantis fully recorded on a stone which is preserved in Chichen, "as intact to-day as when it came from the hands of the sculptor," and also in the manuscript Troano and the Codex Cortesianus; and he further affirms that it was embodied by a Maya living in Greece in the Greek alphabet, the names of the letters of which, as recited by students, each represent one of the lines of the poem. Dr. Le Plongeon's theories are utterly at variance with those of the recognized Americanists; but if he errs, it is not from ignorance, for if he can read ancient Maya, he knows more than all of them, and his other reading has been amazingly wide. There is, however, the possibility that he has been carried away by an unbounded enthusiasm.

In his work on Wages and Capital[1] Prof. Taussig inverts the usual order of proceedings by presenting his own views first, in five chapters, and reviewing the history of the wages-fund discussion from its beginning to the present, in the chapters that follow. This he does because criticism and comment proceed inevitably from the thinker's own point of view, and the proper estimation of their value depends largely on the reader's knowing what that is. In the first five chapters (author's view) it appears that all wages are paid from the products of past labor, and that the supply of products of past labor exists mainly in the form of real capital; that the class of hired laborers derive their wages from capital in this sense, and are dependent for their share of the real income, into which capital steadily ripens, on the funds which the employing class find it advantageous to turn over to them. The inquiry is then made whether the capital from which wages come is rigid or elastic, with a conclusion against rigidity. The inquiry results in the conclusion that the old doctrine of the wages fund had a solid basis in its conception, incomplete yet in essentials just, of the payment of present labor from past product. The theory thus arrived at shows the steps by which the wages get into the laborer's hands, describes the machinery of production and distribution, and so points to the nearest and most obvious causes which affect them; but it does not tell the whole story. In the critical review forming the latter part of the book, which begins with the writers before Adam Smith and includes contemporary discussion, the vogue of Mr. George's Progress and Poverty is declared not due to any solid or consistent reasoning, or to any novelty in principle, and to have excited no great influence on trained students. The author reviews Prof. Francis A. Walker's contributions to the discussion at considerable length, and maintains that they have never touched the essentials of the matter. Finally, while the controversy over the wages fund is acknowledged to be a barren one so far as it is an effort to define the causes which finally distribute wages and settle distribution at large, the author holds that something may still be gained from it as a mode of describing the methods and sequence of production and related points.

  1. Wages and Capital: An Examination of the Wages-Fund Doctrine. By F. W. Taussig. New York: D. Appleton & Co. Pp. 325. Price, $1.50.