has been indirect, and the result of the habits of thought engendered strictly within the physical sphere. Yet so considerable has been the impression made upon these subjects in this direction, that it is much more common now than it formerly was to speak of the science of philology and the science of history.
In the case of history, other influences, no doubt, have come into play to modify it, yet the reaction of the scientific method is seen in the more rigorous scrutiny of historic evidence, in the clearer conception of a natural order in human society, and in the greater importance assigned to the environing conditions of nature. But besides this it has been the effect of science to compel a closer attention to and a higher estimate of elements formerly neglected or overlooked. Science has thus concurred with the general advance of democratic ideas in giving greater consideration to the character and interests of the common people. Macaulay was no scientist, but he was a man of sufficient breadth and sagacity to discern the unmistakable tendencies of modern thought to obliterate the old factitious distinctions between the dignified and the vulgar in historic exposition. Down to the time of this writer, history remained very much what it had always been, a chronicle of the doings of kings, commanders, diplomatists, and the ruling classes of society. He made an epoch in historic literature by first systematically taking the people into account in his delineation of the progress of historical events. His example has been inevitably followed by other authors, so that a new quality, so to speak, has been given to recent historic works. Mr. Monaster's book has been written from a thorough appreciation of the later point of view. It is a history, and the first yet attempted, of the people of the United States. It is said it is an imitation of Macaulay; but it is high praise to recognize it as a successful imitation of his method in a new field.
It is not, however, to be supposed that Mr. McMaster has ignored the political aspect of the history of the country, or neglected the eminent political characters that have figured in American affairs. No account of the American people would be at all sufficient that did not give prominence to their relations to government. The citizens of the United States have always been participants in the political activity of the country; more so, indeed, than has been the case in any other nation. The work before us is, therefore, necessarily to a large extent a political history, and in the first volume, now issued, we have an interesting survey of the movements of the various communities which were at length fused into a national unity by the adoption of the Constitution of the United States.
Yet that which distinguishes the work is the detailed delineation of those various social conditions, characteristics, and habits of the common people, which are both of intrinsic importance in themselves and indispensable to the understanding of the course of political action. The pictures of the social life of the people at the close of the Revolution, in the various modifications it manifested in different localities, are most instructive. The accounts of the morals and manners, education and religion, professions and industries, the diet and dress of the people, their ideas and prejudices, the conflicts of sects and parties, the condition of cities, and the particulars of country life, in short, all the circumstances by which the complexion of society was affected, are described with a freshness of illustration which shows the most indefatigable and extended research into all available sources of information upon the subject.
This characteristic alone would give a fascinating interest to Mr. McMaster's volume, but that interest is greatly enhanced by the clearness, directness, simple earnestness, and often the eloquence of his style. This history is emphatically a book for the people, not only in the import and adaptation of its subject-matter, but in its thoroughly popular literary form. It is a book to please everybody. History here descends from its rhetorical stilts, and uses the plain vernacular of common sense, without abating a jot of its attractiveness. There is no fine writing, no straining after effect, because the interest of the topics is abundantly sufficient to maintain the reader's attention. We congratulate the author on the success of his undertaking, and all his readers on the pleasure they will have in perusing his book.