Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 11.djvu/120

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110
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

the splendid proportions of our system of education. He is a public benefactor, in that he has given us another "big thing." The interesting point just now about "blue glass" is psychological. It is an exponent of popular intelligence, an index of culture, a register of common-school work, and a test of the influence of colleges. Our collective schools produce in the community a certain state of mind; "blue glass" indicates it. There is evidently a very close connection here, and the problem deserves to be worked out. If the Intercollegiate Literary Association will offer an additional prize for the best essay on the connection between the study of Latin and Greek and the "blue-glass" mania, The Popular Science Monthly will furnish the money for the purpose.

 


LITERARY NOTICES.

The English Constitution, and Other Essays. By Walter Bagehot, Author of "Physics and Politics," Editor of the Economist, etc. Pp. 468. New York: D. Appleton & Co. Price, $2.

As we sit down to write a notice of this interesting volume, we are startled by the painful intelligence of the sudden death of its distinguished author. Mr. Bagehot was in the prime of life and the full vigor of his powers, as attested by the recent fertility of his pen and the sustained character of his intellectual work. His position as a writer was quite unique in the literature of our time. Strongly attracted to the study of public affairs, and devoting himself specially in his weekly journal to the consideration of economical and commercial subjects, he always dealt with them in a broad, philosophical spirit, and wrote upon them in a style of peculiar literary excellence, for which he was quite unsurpassed among contemporary writers upon these topics. Besides his contributions to the reviews, embracing close discussions of government policy and commercial economies, and his admirable biographical sketches, Mr. Bagehot is chiefly known by his volumes on "Physics and Politics," "Lombard Street," and "The English Constitution." This is his most important work, and that by which he will be best known in the future. The book on "Lombard Street" is a special study of the money question, but the "Physics and Politics," which was reproduced in French under the happier title of "The Development of Nations," and "The English Constitution," are of a wider interest, as they treat, in a scientific spirit, of social questions and phenomena that concern alike people of all countries. Those who have read the "Physics and Politics" will find "The English Constitution" treated by the same method; the principles there developed being applied to English constitutional history and the structure of English social life. We cannot, perhaps, give a better account of this work than by quoting the preface to the new American edition:

"'The English Constitution,' by Walter Bagehot, has already attracted some attention in this country, but it is a work that deserves to be much more widely and familiarly known. Its title, however, is so little suggestive of its real character, and is so certain to repel and mislead American readers, that, in bringing out a new and cheaper edition of it, at this time, some prefatory words may be useful for the correction of erroneous impressions.

"It is well known that the term 'Constitution,' in its political sense, has very different significations in England and in this country. With us it means a written instrument, decreed at a certain time to be the supreme law of the land. Hence when a book appears upon the American Constitution, if not a history of its adoption, it will probably be a commentary upon its meanings; that is, some kind of a law-treatise, dealing with the technical interpretations of a legal instrument. The English, on the contrary, have no such written document. By the national Constitution they mean their actual social and political order—the whole body of laws, usages, and precedents, which have been inherited from former generations, and by which the practice of government is regulated. A work upon the English Constitution, therefore, brings us naturally to the direct consideration of the structure and practical working of English political institutions and social life.

"The American Constitution was framed