Page images
PDF
EPUB

No small birds are to be seen there is too much solemnity for the simple joyousness and domesticity of their little souls. The cry of a hawk or a buzzard, prolonged into a wild shriek, occasionally breaks the stillness.

The forests, principally of pines, are of primeval grandeur. There was once a trail through them, but it is now so overgrown with coming generations of trees that only infrequent traces of it are to be found.

In spite of the magnitude of its conception, the Little Yosemite is in reality small. An hour's ride brings one to its head. Here are walls of granite, perpendicular in all but one place, where they bend back to an angle of 45° to allow for the passage of our old friend the Merced in one prolonged, filmy cascade.

Lowati Uchum the Indians call this part of the valley, which, being interpreted, is Snake's House. Rattlesnakes are found here in such numbers that the guides permit no walking A ride up a slippery granite slope is hardly a pleasant alternative.

This being surmounted, a clamber over and around rocks and boulders is the next lion in the way, and after overcoming this, the mouth of the Lost Valley is near,near, but like a mirage, destined to be no nearer. Snow covers the ground, a treacherous snow spreading a tempting evenness over hollow and rock, a snow fast melting in the drowsy, dreamy hot June sunshine, a snow impassable to man or beast.

The Lost Valley, is it then to be only a name? Alas, yes. Nature has hidden its unvisited charms, its infinite possibilities securely away from mortal gaze. Man is not pure enough, he has departed too far from the image of his Creator in which he was made to be allowed to look upon its virginal freshness and beauty. Mortal eyes, Actean-like, would defile its unsullied loveliness,

And yet, had entrance been permitted, who can tell what might not have been found in that mountain fastness,--the Elixir of Life, the Fountain of Youth, the peace which passeth all understanding, might have been the portion of the intruder. Happiness, that elusive bird of rare plumage might have made her nest there. Wisdom might have been found; it might have been the place of understanding. The tree of Heart's-Desire is perhaps a native of the soil.

We can fancy returning from this sanctuary transformed from the dull, halting creature, who trembled at scaling its approach, clothed with wings that could defy height and depth, seeing clearly where before one was blind, "as a waterfall," wise instead of foolish, strong instead of weak, with happiness for a companion, instead of " that state of mind which is less than content and more than resignation," with even vague yearnings satisfied, with affection returned that had heretofore been lavished on an unheeding heart, with the soul purged from base desires, ignoble aims, having put off the “corruptible and put on incorruption."

One could fancy herself an Eve in the early dawn of Paradise when “the evening and the morning were the first day"!

But this is mere conjecture. The Lost Valley did not give up its secrets; and riding down a granite slope was even less easy than riding up; the serpent, outside of Paradise this time, had to be killed too; the melancholy of unsatisfied desire still hovered around :-in short, all was as human and as imperfect as before.

Still, the Lost Valley remains immovable in its mountain home, to be visited at some future season when the fates are more propitious; and who can tell what may not be the result of such a visit? When all the evils were let loose upon earth, Hope still remained behind.

3d July, 1890.

a

THE SILVER BILL. While we were yet colonies, our currency was naturally made up of various foreign coins. Several of the States had coined shillings, but their value was far from being uniform. After the establishment of these United States, there was a great desire for a uniform currency. Although several preliminary steps were taken, nothing was accomplished until after the adoption of the Constitution. By the act of 1792, we had the establishment of a double standard and the free coinage of gold and silver. This was due to Alexander Hamilton whose arguments were far from being those of a modern bi-metallist. In discussing the question, he was emphatic in his opinion that if but one metal was to be adopted it should be gold, as he thought gold less liable to variation than silver. His object was to secure a metallic medium in abundance and he wisely thought this could be most easily secured by a double standard. His next problem was of necessity to fix the ratio between gold and silver. The ratio 1:15 was believed to be about the right one and was accordingly adopted. The unit in the coins of the United States was then fixed at twenty-four and three-fourths grains of pure gold and three hundred seventy-one and one-fourth grains of pure silver.

This dollar continued to be the unit until 1873 when the United States demonetized silver. This she did in imitation of the financial policy of Great Britain, Germany and France, although in the latter country the demonetization was a forced

The dollar thus dropped from our currency was then slightly in advance of a gold dollar in value.

By the Bland-Allison bill of 1878, an attempt was made to restore silver. Owing to the great fall in the price of silver during the intervening years, the author of the bill did not think it wise to restore the old dollar. The dollar of 1878 contained only four hundred twelve and one quarter grains of standard silver or ninety cents worth of

one.

I.

gold. Its value to-day is even less than that-about sev. enty cents. This bill provided for the purchase and coinage of not less than two nor more than four million dollars worth of silver bullion a month.

This bill has not met with approval from the free coinage party. To meet their objections and for various other reasons, political as well as financial, a bill has been passed this last July. This new bill provides that

"The Treasury purchase 4,500,000 ounces of silver bullion per month at its market price.

2. “This bullion be paid for in a new kind of Treasury note of denominations of $1 to $1,000.

3. "These notes shall be legal tender, are redeemable on demand, are receivable for all Government dues, and available as reserves of all National banks.

4. “The Secretary of the Treasury shall each month coin as much of the silver bullion as may be necessary to provide for the redemption of the Treasury notes herein provided for."

Exactly what are the new features of this bill? It provides for the purchase of between fifty and sixty million dollars worth of silver bullion a year instead of the thirty million dollars worth required by the Bland-Allison act. The other change is that this new bill makes the Treasury notes redeemable directly.

But the dollar of 1878 is retained. In other words, the silver coins known in our currency as dollars have been reduced to the purchasing power of seven tenths of a gold dollar-a reduction of three tenths in their weight. This act is of the same character on the part of the Government as the “clipping” or “sweating” of coins by private individuals. The impression of the United States Mint to the effect that such a coin is equal to a gold dollar, has not made it so. The ratio between the values of gold and silver needs to be readjusted. While it is impossible to settle this exactly, the average of the ratios of the value of gold and silver for a given number of years might be taken and by occasional readjustments, a fair degree of accuracy could be obtained. "With a population and business constantly increasing, and a currency stationary or decreasing, no genuine prosperity is possible except to those who control the money of the country.”

Far from being a free coinage bill, this limits the coinage of silver entirely to the Government and provides for the purchase of silver bullion to a limited extent only. The system of buying silver bullion and coining it on Government account we may regard as one entirely our

The bi-metallists object to this new bill strongly on the grounds that it continues to discriminate between the use of gold and silver, that it fails to make the silver dollar a standard as the gold dollar is a standard, that it restricts the right of coinage to the Government and that it implies that too much silver is produced in the world. The bill has been nominally passed for the benefit of the farmer and the laborer, but seems to aim merely at the establishment of a market for the products of the silver mincs,

The chief arguments of the mono-metallists are as applicable to this as to all silver legislation. The law certainly has not yet fixed the ratio of exchange between gold and silver. If, as they say, silver is unfit for money “owing to its late unprecedented depreciation," of course even an apparent concession to the silver party is not to be desired.

As to the question of a single or a double standard, I quote the conclusions of Prof. H. C. Adams:

1. "No nation can afford to adopt the bi-metallic standard while the other important commercial nations of the world continue on the gold basis. Such a measure would tend to destroy the self-regulating character of the monetary system.

« PreviousContinue »