The avowal of principles and acceptance of innovations that flew in the face of the custom of the ages often demanded much courage, but he never lacked it; and the wisdom of his course was usually justified in the event.
The opening of the School of Mines gave an opportunity to enlarge the plan of studies in favor of science, and to encourage the preference of students who desired to give it predominant attention. Similar liberality toward other departments facilitated the ultimate adoption of elective studies. This is a factor that is changing the whole aspect of college life, Columbia College is not alone in the movement toward flexibility in the curriculum; but it is most largely due to President Barnard that it is in it at all, and has been able to turn it to advantage. It can not be doubted that his positive attitude and example have been influential in promoting its extension and its advance elsewhere. The truth of the remark with which our "sketch" of Dr. Barnard in May, 1877, opened—that few men among the promoters of science and liberal culture in our time had labored more efficiently and successfully than he—was made more and more plain during the succeeding years of his life, and was never more evident than on the day when he resigned the presidency of Columbia College.
The American Commonwealth. By James Bryce, M.P. London and New York: Macmillan & Co. Two Volumes. Price, $6.
The comprehensiveness and importance of Mr. Bryce's book place it with Von Hoist's great work in the first rank of treatises on the political institutions of America. It is not a history, though its statements are elucidated here and there by historical material; it is not a treatise on constitutional law, though the general character and notable features of the Federal and the several State Constitutions are pointed out; its fifteen hundred pages comprise an account of the present condition of the American nation. In the words of the author, "There are three main things that one wishes to know about a national commonwealth, viz., its framework and constitutional machinery, the methods by which it is worked, the forces which move it and direct its course." These three things it has been his task to tell about the United States. Part I deals with the three divisions of the Federal Government—the executive, the legislative, and the judicial. It describes the relations of the national power to the several States. It discusses the nature of the Constitution and shows how this stable instrument has been in a few points expressly, in many others tacitly and half-unconsciously, modified. Part II deals similarly with the State governments. There is also given some account of the systems of rural and city government which have been created in the various States. Mr. Bryce commends our rural governments, but condemns the government of our cities as "the one conspicuous failure of the United States." Part III contains a sketch of the party system and of the men who "run" it. The author is conscious of especial difficulties in making such a sketch, because the system is so different from what a study of the Constitution would suggest, because there are no existing authorities on the subject, and knowledge must be gleaned from news-paper articles, conversation, and a variety of occurrences, which together constitute a floating and uneven basis for the work. But what Mr. Bryce deems the most difficult and most vital part of his task is to describe public opinion in America, and this subject forms Part IV. Public opinion, he says, "stands above the parties, being cooler and larger-minded than they are; it awes party leaders and holds in check party organizations. No one openly ventures to resist it. It determines the direction and the character of national policy. It is the product of a greater number of minds than in any other country, and it is more indisputably sovereign." In order to illustrate the statements made in treating of parties and public opinion, the author gives in Part V accounts of the Tweed Ring, the Philadelphia Gas Ring, and Kearnyism. He follows these with discussions of territorial extension, the laissez-faire doctrine, and women's suffrage,