« AnteriorContinuar »
eight octavo pages would produce upon a person who had no natural love for history. Having commenced the book, would he be likely to read it through? At the mere contemplation of some among those episodes and events which the writer treats, it would seem as if a dry-as-dust must kindle to enthusiasm. Not so our author. He never lifts his eyes or lingers with sympathy upon anything inspiring or heroic. He only plods along as if the dryness and dust of the path were all he was seeking. If he has no other purpose than to marshal facts in their logical or chronological order, like the tabulated columns of a dictionary, he is most successful. The one sentence least remote from enthusiasm is found at the close of his preface, where he expresses thanks for the valued criticism of his wife. The reader is grateful for even this faint gleam of light and life in his listless pages.
It is possible that the author is more sympathetic than appears, and that he maintains a constant struggle to keep himself well in hand. If so he has succeeded too well. No man ever became a world-leader who ignored the immense degree in which sentiment dominates mankind. No historian ever attained eminence who forgot imagination, emotion, enthusiasm, as popular springs of action. The works of such a writer may achieve permanence of position upon bookshelves, and even be regarded as permanent works of reference, but they will not be permanent in the sense in which the volumes of the great historians are a possession forever. No history of men is well rounded or even exact which treats its characters as marionettes. History generally deals with the dead, but its highest achievement is to picture them as if they were still alive, and to make them seem animate and pulsating. Otherwise the reader is repelled by their un reality and no more attracted to them and to what they did than to the coffins of mummies.
Aside from the fact that the title of the book does not fairly indicate its subject, and that the composition is not specially attractive in its manner of treatment and style, there is little in the work to criticise and much to admire. It is a pity that the author calls the Mussulmans or Moslems “Mohammedans," an appellation which all followers of the Prophet reject with indignation. The word “Turk” is so common in American usage that it seems almost pedantic to suggest that Ottoman would have been preferable. These, however, are very minor details. Chapters IX and X on “Revolution and Reaction in Central Europe," are especially
good, and so, too, is Chapter VI on “The Liberal Movement in Germany."
A delightful feature of the book is its freedom from those footnotes which in so many works of its class disfigure the page,
and distract the eye without adequate advantage. The two maps, “Europe after 1815," and “Central Europe after 1815," are clear and not overloaded with minutiae. Edwin A. GROSVENOR.
Amherst College, Amherst, Mass.
The Origin and Development of the U. S. Senate. By Clara Hannah
Kerr, Ph.D. Ithaca, N. Y., Andrus & Church, 1895-pp. vi, 197.
This is a collection of facts, carefully made, and one which will be found useful for reference. Some of the more interesting items will be noticed.
With regard to the choice of Senators by the State legislatures, the method adopted by the convention was looked upon with great favor, and, according to Hamilton, it was expected that the Senators "would be chosen with peculiar care and judgment; and that those elected would be men most distinguished for their abilities and virtue. It was likewise expected that this method would have the advantage of removing the choice from the activity of party zeal.” How completely this latter expectation has failed of realization is well known.
The relation of the Vice President to the Senate is treated at some length. The peculiarity of that relation is clearly seen in the reluctance of the Vice President to call the Senate to order, Calhoun when in the chair having declined to do so. It is also seen in the unwillingness of the Senate to permit the Vice President to appoint the committees, even when allowing the president pro tem, to do so. With regard to the Vice President, an interesting suggestion is made. “Had Washington, in accordance with the desire of Adams, summoned him, as Vice President, to the cabinet meetings, it is probable that the influence of both the President and Vice President in the Senate, especially since the change in the manner of election, so that the President and Vice President are members of the same party, would have been greater than it now is.” But this may well be doubted. The Vice President's independence of the President would always have made him an incongruous, and often an unwelcome member of the cabinet, and harmony of action between the two in the matter
of influencing the Senate would not have been promoted. Still more certainly would this have been the case since the practice has grown up of choosing the Vice President from the minority faction of the party that elects the president. Washington failed in his attempt to have both parties represented in the cabinet, and he would probably have failed had he tried to utilize the Vice President as a member of that body.
A curious fact is mentioned with regard to the previous question in the Senate. It appears that the previous question was provided for by the rules of the Senate down to 1806, but that it was used to prevent a vote on the main question. In the Continental congress the motion was “Shall the main question be not now put," and in two instances this was the form used in the Senate.
It is well known that in addition to its constitutional right to originate revenue bills, the House has gained the further right to originate appropriation bills also. An interesting explanation is given of the readiness of the Senate to allow this apparent gain in power on the part of the House. It has been found that the real gain has gone to the Senate; for the House uses up the time over the original bill, which then goes to the Senate, where it is amended with the utmost freedom. It then goes back to the House, which has not time to consider and resist the changes made by the Senate. As a result, “Mr. Hoar, writing in 1879, held that the exclusive right of the house to originate money bills gave to the senate a considerable preponderance of influence, and its influence since then has rather increased than diminished.”
It appears that the attempt on the part of the Senate to maintain the secrecy of its executive sessions has always been pretty much of a failure. It was said in 1831 "that if a desire was felt that any subject should be bruited about in every corner of the United States, should become a topic of universal conversation, nothing more was necessary than to close the doors of the senate chamber, and make it the object of secret, confidential deliberation.". To those who desire now to have the secrecy of executive sessions abolished, it is rather discouraging to learn that efforts to accomplish this are as old as the government, and were made with especial frequency between 1849 and 1868.
An error appears on page 121, where mention is made of the practice "now become fixed, of confirming without question or reference all cabinet nominations." It is customary to reserve
confirmation without reference as a special compliment for Senators who are invited into the cabinet-all other cabinet nominations being referred as a matter of form.
In the last chapter the author notes three periods in the history of the Senate. In the first, the House attracted more attention than the Senate, and a seat in it was preferred. Instances were not uncommon of resignation of seats in the Senate for the governorship of States, and even for the mayoralty of cities. This period lasted until the time of the Missouri compromise. The great debate on that question, and the prominence given to the Senate after it as the stronghold of the slave power, transferred the arena of debate from the House to the Senate. This period continued until the time of the civil war, and was the golden age of the Senate, when it attracted general attention at home and abroad as the most dignified and powerful upper house in the world. During the last twenty years, constituting the third period, the Senate has distinctly lost its preeminence, partly by a change in the type of prominent men who are chosen to it, and partly by assimilation in various ways to the lower house.
C. H. Smith. Yale University.
The Nicaragua Canal and the Monroe Doctrine. By Lindley Miller Keasbey, Ph.D., R.P.D. New York, G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1896—8vo, xv, 623 pp.
Facts are even more fallacious than figures, and Professor Keasbey has given a new illustration of this old truth by carefully gathering together a great quantity of useful material in regard to the Nicaragua Canal, and by arriving at a wrong conclusion as a result of his studies.
The gentleman seems to have an intimate knowledge of the literature connected with the subject, in its economic as well as in its diplomatic aspect; but the Monroe doctrine is to him a stumbling block, and the Clayton-Bulwer treaty, foolishness.
He is firmly convinced that it should be the policy of this government to acquire exclusive control over the Nicaragua Canal ; that that, in fact, has been the historic policy of the United States; and that the authority for that policy may be found in the Monroe doctrine.
By this declension we arrive at the primary cause of Professor Keasbey's error-a false conception of Mr. Monroe's policy. Professor Keasbey is under the impression that "the Monroe doctrine
maintains the continent is really to be reserved for the exclusive enjoyment of its present inhabitants." This interpretation is manifestly too free, and might be made to cover any policy of “meddle and muddle." It would give the United States a pretext for objecting to the exportation of tropical fruits to Europe, and would debar future generations from any enjoyment whatever-a state of affairs which might come to pass if Professor Keasbey's diplomatic policy were adopted.
It is evident that Mr. Monroe had no thought of the canal when he wrote his message, or when Mr. Adams composed it for him, and Professor Keasbey does not make it at all clear how, in his opinion, the canal and the doctrine became mixed up. One might expect to find the historical development of the matter in the first chapter on “The Monroe Doctrine." After reading several pages dealing with the origin of the doctrine, on the one hand, and with the history of the canal on the other, one comes rather unexpectedly upon these words:
“Mr. Clay had not miscalculated the popular interest in the canal project. It soon became part of the Monroe doctrine. ...
Exactly how it happened Professor Keasbey does not explain. At one moment the reader sees, or thinks he sees, two objects, and the next moment they are united, as swiftly and as mysteriously as when the magician rolls two rabbits into one.
It may be suggested as a possible explanation of the phenomenon that someone mistook the word “colonization" for canalization,” and received the impression that, according to Mr. Monroe's view, the American continents were not to be considered as subjects for future canalization by any European Powers.”
The second chapter on “The Monroe Doctrine" does not throw much light on the matter, for Professor Keasbey sets out with an unaccepted premise whence he draws an illogical deduction. The premise is the author's enlarged version of the Monroe doctrine, declaring that this continent is to be reserved for the exclusive enjoyment of its present inhabitants, and the deduction is that "the political control of the transit route should be left in the hands of the United States.” Putting aside the fact that the conclusion does not follow logically and necessarily from the premise, it may be remarked that some of the present inhabitants, whom we are so anxious to benefit, have expressed the opinion that in our desire to gain control of the Isthmian routes we have “disregarded the fraternal idea which constitutes the essence of