there can be much difference in their variety. Mr. Galton's inquiries, as a whole, can be hardly regarded as more than pioneer work, the determinate and accurate results of which have yet to be brought out. The conclusions, he remarks, "depend on ideas that must first be well comprehended, and which are now novel to the large majority of readers, and unfamiliar to all. But those who care to brace themselves to a sustained effort, need not feel much regret that the road to be traveled over is indirect, and does not admit of being mapped beforehand in a way they can clearly understand. It is full of interest of its own. It familiarizes us with the measurement of variability, and with curious laws of chance that apply to a vast diversity of social subjects. This part of the inquiry may be said to run along a road on a high level, that affords wide views in unexpected directions, and from which easy descents may be made to totally different goals from those we have now to reach."
The Critical Period or American History. 1783-1789. By John Fiske. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co. Pp. 368. Price, $2.
On hearing the news of the treaty which ended the Revolutionary War, Thomas Paine stopped the publication of "The Crisis," declaring, "The times that tried men's souls are over." So far from this being the case, Prof. Fiske says, "The most trying time of all was just beginning. It is not too much to say that the period of five years following the peace of 1783 was the most critical moment in all the history of the American people." The American commonwealth was then a tender plant, beset by many and varied dangers, and only the most judicious management could have preserved its life until it had taken firm root. Prof. Fiske in his first chapter recounts the negotiations at Paris in 1782 and 1783 in regard to the treaty of peace, giving especial attention to King George's troubles with his successive cabinets, and their bearing on the questions at issue. This is followed by a survey of the changes in forms of government, and in' regard to the succession of property, slavery, and church establishment made by the thirteen commonwealths in consequence of obtaining independence of England. The next two chapters tell of the obstacles thrown in the path of Congress by the discontent of the unpaid army; by the unwillingness of the people to pay taxes for the support of the General Government, or to pay their debts to British creditors; by their jealousy of any semblance to royal power or hereditary privilege; by the commercial hostility between the States, and State quarrels over conflicting boundary claims; by the poverty of the country and the confusion of the currency—until finally insurrections in some of the States forced upon a majority of the people the conviction that something must be done, and done quickly. The author then shows how a spirit favorable to strengthening the national Government grew out of various occurrences. One of these was the settlement of the conflicting claims of the States to lands west of the Alleghanies by the surrender of all these claims to the United States; another was a difficulty with Spain in regard to the navigation of the lower Mississippi. The convention which drew up the new Constitution was led up to in a most cautious way. "At first," says Prof. Fiske, "it was to be just a little meeting of two or three States to talk about the Potomac River and some projected canals"; then commissioners from all the States were invited to be present and discuss some uniform system of legislation on the subject of trade; and, finally, the plan for a convention to devise provisions "to render the Constitution of the Federal Government adequate to the exigencies of the Union" was officially adopted by Congress.
The story of the work done by the Federal Convention forms the chief chapter of the volume, and is told in a way to show the interactions of the opposing and diverging forces whose resultant was the Constitution of the United States. Then follows an account of the discussion and ratification of the document by the several States, and the election and inauguration of Washington as President, and the critical period of American history was safely passed. Prof. Fiske offers his book to the student of American history, not as a complete summary of the events of the period which it covers, nor as a discussion of the political questions involved in them, but rather as a grouping of the main facts in such a way as to bring out their causal sequence.