Who's that guy in the picture?

The illustration comes from a book by Charles Mackay, LL.D., called Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, originally published in 1841 with some additions in 1852 (Dover publishes a recent reproduction). The book is a delightful read (as they say), and has some enjoyable chapters on economic folly (especially the one on ``Tulipomania'').

The illustration is called ``The Alchemist,'' and seemed appropriate given the topic of the book.

By the way, Mackay's chapter on alchemists begins with a statement Adam Smith might have enjoyed:

Dissatisfaction with his lot seems to be the characteristic of man in all ages and climates. So far, however, from being an evil, as at first might be supposed, it has been the great civiliser of our race; and has tended, more than any thing else, to raise us above the condition of the brutes... (p. 98)

Copyright (c) 1996, Theodore Bergstrom and John H. Miller, All Rights Reserved
John H. Miller , miller@zia.hss.cmu .edu.