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Editorial Article In The Evening Post, Of April 5TH, 1894.
THE GODDESS ARGENTUM.
We print elsewhere a letter from Mr. Anson Phelps Stokes on his system of "joint-metallism," in reply to some remarks of ours the other day.
Far be it from us to accuse Mr. Stokes of sympathy with dishonesty or anarchism, or of any desire or intention to aid or abet them, Of course it would be silly to do so. But a strict regard for truth compels us to express, as often as the opportunity offers, our solemn con. viction that all attempts, whether made in Boston or New York, to persuade the world that the use of silver as full money of account, whether jointly with gold or not, is in any sense a duty of the Government, or is called for as a protection for the poor man against "gold-bugs" or "Wall Street sharks," promote populism, communism, anarchism, greenbackism, and simple silverism, and do threaten this country with unnumbered woes.
Nearly all the trouble has arisen out of the personification of silver as a moral being which began in 1877-1878, and of which we find a trace in Mr. Stokes's letter where he speaks of the "historical and just position" of silver.1 This, if it means anything, means that there is some position in the currency or financial arrangements of the nation, which is due to silver as a matter of right and by prescription, that it can, as an individual or a corporation can, claim a place in our medium of exchange, of which we cannot deprive it without a breach of the moral law.
To our minds there has been nothing more extraordinary than this since Moses, on coming down from the mountain, found the Israelites, in spite of the most patent proofs of divine sovereignty, worshipping
1 See Appendix, page 80.
Historical and Constitutional Position. 47
a golden calf of their own making. It illustrates admirably what to many people now seems incomprehensible, the tendency of the whole ancient world to mythological explanations of the universe. The notion that silver has rights and virtues, that it is courageous and faithful to its friends, and loves the poor, and has made itself an historical place, and is entitled to justice—all of which propositions have been maintained during the last fifteen years by American orators and writers— shows how near we are, in spite of Christianity and science, to the state of mind in which men deified the moon and sun, the mountains, the streams, and even wild beasts and oxen.
To us silver has the same historical position, and has the same rights under the moral law and the United States Constitution,1 as wheat or leather, wampum or cowries, or coal. There was a time when wheat was twice as dear as it is now, but did it acquire an historic right to be kept at that price, and do we insult it by
1 See Appendix, page 80.
selling it at 64 to 66 cents a bushel? It has played a more prominent part in the world's history by far than either silver or gold, and ought to have a far higher place in our affections than either. And yet it is bought and sold on margins by Chicago and other speculators, with an indifference to its peace and comfort which is well calculated to excite the indignation of an honest worshipper.
Most other commodities which have played a prominent part in the growth of our civilization have the same story to tell. The march of science has cheapened them, by lessening their value to mankind, but if they are to be worshipped as silver is— that is, treated as moral beings instead of simply brute instruments of human comfort and convenience, we must go back to barbarism. All who know India acknowledge that the sanctity of the cow is in that region a serious hindrance to progress. It cuts the Hindu population off from both beef and a good quality of leather. It sometimes leads, as the other day in Bombay, to riots and murders. It