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appendix iii: Bryce’s American Commonwealth: A Review * - Viscount James Bryce, The American Commonwealth, vol. 2 
The American Commonwealth, with an Introduction by Gary L. McDowell (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1995). Vol. 2.
Part of: The American Commonwealth, 2 vols.
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Bryce’s American Commonwealth: A Review *
This is a great work, worthy of heartiest praise. Its strength does not lie in its style, although that, while lacking distinction, is eminently straightforward and clear; nor yet altogether in its broad scope of weighty topics—a scope wide almost beyond precedent in such objects, and rich in suggestion—but chiefly in its method and in its point of view. Mr. Bryce does not treat the institutions of the United States as experiments in the application of theory, but as quite normal historical phenomena to be looked at, whether for purposes of criticism or merely for purposes of description, in the practical, everyday light of comparative politics. He seeks to put American institutions in their only instructive setting—that, namely, of comparative institutional history and life.
It is of course inevitable to compare and contrast what Mr. Bryce has given us in these admirable volumes with de Tocqueville’s great Democracy in America. The relations which the two works bear the one to the other are almost altogether relations of contrast, and the contrast serves to make conspicuous the peculiar significance of what Mr. Bryce has written. De Tocqueville came to America to observe the operation of a principle of government, to seek a well-founded answer to the question: How does democracy work? Mr. Bryce, on the other hand, came, and came not once but several times, to observe the concrete phenomena of an institutional development, into which, as he early perceived, abstract political theory can scarcely be said to have entered as a formative force. The question for which he sought an answer was this: What sort of institutions have the English developed in America? In satisfaction of his curiosity, his keen and elevated philosophical desire, de Tocqueville saw the crude and impatient democracy of Andrew Jackson’s time. Mr. Bryce has seen the almost full grown, the measurably sobered America of today, and has seen, therefore, with a fairer chance of just proportion.
It will hardly be accounted a disparagement of Mr. Bryce’s style to say that it is inferior to de Tocqueville’s; the thoughts it has to convey, the meanings it has to suggest belong to quite another class than that to which de Tocqueville’s judgments must be assigned: it is not meant to carry the illumination of philosophical conceptions into the regions of fact which it explores; its task is rather exposition than judgment. Mr. Bryce does not feel called upon to compete with de Tocqueville in the field in which de Tocqueville is possibly beyond rivalry. Something very different was needed, and that he has done to admiration: he has written a book invaluable to students of comparative politics—invaluable because of its fulness, its accuracy, its candor, its sane, perhaps I ought rather to say its sage, balance of practical judgment.
Mr. Bryce’s qualifications for the great task he has thus worthily performed were probably equal to those of any other man of our generation. First of all, he is a Roman lawyer steeped in the legal and political conceptions of that race whose originative strength in the field of law and practical sagacity in the field of politics were as conspicuous and as potent in the ancient world as the legal capacity and political virility of the English race are in the modern world. His knowledge of Roman institutions constantly serves to remind him of the oldness and persistency of certain features of institutional development, to warn him against perceiving novelty where it does not exist. In the second place, he is a member of Parliament and an English constitutional statesman, knowing the parent stock from which our institutions sprang, not only through study, but also through having himself tasted of its present fruits. Perhaps no one can so readily understand our institutions as an English public man sufficiently read in our history and our constitutional law not to expect to find bishops in our Senate or prime ministers in the presidency. He has breathed the air of practical politics in the country from which we get our habits of political action; and he is so familiar with the machinery of government at home as to be able to perceive at once the most characteristic differences, as well as the real resemblances, between political arrangements in England and in the United States. He is prepared to see clearly, almost instinctively, the derivation of our institutions, at the same time that he is sure to be struck by even our minor divergences from English practice. But Mr. Bryce brought to the task of judging us a wider and more adequate preparation than even a schooling in Roman law and English practice could by itself have supplied. He is sufficiently acquainted with the history and practical operation of the present constitutions of the leading states of Europe to be able readily to discern what, in American practice, is peculiar to America, or to America and England, what common to modern political experience the world over. In brief, he has a comprehensive mastery of the materials of comparative politics, and great practical sagacity in interpreting them.
Mr. Bryce divided his work into six parts. In Part I he discusses “The National Government,” going carefully over the ground made almost tediously familiar to American constitutional students by commentaries without number. But he gives to his treatment a freshness of touch and a comprehensiveness which impart to it a new and first-rate interest. This he does by combining in a single view both the legal theory and interpretation and the practical aspects and operation of the federal machinery. More than that, he brings that machinery and the whole federal arrangement into constant comparison with federal experiments and constitutional machinery elsewhere. There is a scope and an outlook here such as render his critical expositions throughout both impressive and stimulating. Congress, the presidency, and the federal courts are discussed in every point of view that can yield instruction. The forms and principles of the federal system are explained both historically and practically and are estimated with dispassionate candor. Perhaps the most emphasized point made in this part is one which is derived from comparative politics. It is the separation of the executive from Congress, a separation which deprives the executive of all voice in the formation of administrative and financial policy, and which deprives Congress of such leadership as would give its plans coherency and make available for its use that special and intimate knowledge of administrative possibilities without which much well-meant legislation must utterly miscarry. This is of course the particular in which our government differs most conspicuously from all the other governments of the world. Everywhere else there is one form or another of ministerial leadership in the legislature. A body of ministers constitutes, as it were, a nerve centre, or rather a sensitive presiding brain, in the body politic, taking from the nation such broad suggestions as public opinion can unmistakably convey touching the main ends to be sought by legislation and policy, but themselves suggesting in turn, in the light of their own special knowledge and intimate experience of affairs, the best means by which those ends may be attained. Because we are without such legislative leadership we remain for long periods of embarrassment without any solution of some of the simplest problems that await legislation.1 To this absence of cabinet government in America, and the consequent absence of party government in the European sense of the term, Mr. Bryce again and again returns as to a salient feature, full of significance both for much evil and for some good.2 The evil consists in slipshod, haphazard, unskilled and hasty legislation; the good, so far as it may be stated in a single sentence, consists in delaying the triumphs of public opinion and thereby, perhaps, rendering them safer triumphs.
One chapter of this first part possesses conspicuous merit, namely, Chapter 23, on “The Courts and the Constitution.” It brings out with admirable clearness the wholly normal character of the function of constitutional interpretation, as a function familiar from of old to English judicial practice in the maintenance of charter provisions, and of course necessary, according to English precedents and ideas, to the maintenance and application of charterlike written constitutions. In exposition of this view, now universally held but not always lucidly explained, he gives a prominence such as it has never before had to the very instructive fact that the Constitution does not grant the power of constitutional interpretation to the federal courts in explicit terms, but that that power, so marvelled at by Europeans, is simply a necessary inference (at least a necessary English inference) from its general provisions touching the functions of a federal judiciary. One point touching the action of the courts is, however, left perhaps a little too much to this same English inference. It is stated that cases involving questions of constitutionality must wait to be made up in the ordinary manner at the initiative of private parties suing in their own interest and are often, most often, decided at the instance and in behalf of private litigants; but it is left too much to inference—an inference easy of course to an American, but doubtless far from obvious to a foreigner—that a decision, when against the constitutionality of a law, is, not that the law is null and void, but is that the law will not be enforced in that case. Therefore other cases involving the same points will not be made up, litigants knowing what to expect, and it is thus, indirectly, that the desired annulment is effected. This is not a matter of form merely or only of curious interest. For Mr. Bryce’s purpose it is a point of importance. It illustrates the thesis he is trying to establish, namely, the normality of the whole principle and procedure: the entire absence from our system of any idea of a veto exercised by the courts upon legislation or of any element of direct antagonism between Congress and the judiciary, and the matter-of-course interpretation of the supreme law by those who interpret all law.
The appendix to Volume I adds to this first part, besides much other illustrative matter, a statement of the main features of the federal structure of the two great English universities* and the federal constitution of Canada.
Part II is devoted to “The State Governments.” Here for the first time in any comprehensive treatise the states are given the prominence and the careful examination which they have always deserved at the hands of students of our institutions but have never before gotten. Under some seventeen heads, occupying as many close-packed chapters full of matter, the state governments (including of course local government and the virtually distinct subject of the government of cities), state politics, the territories, and the general topics in comparative politics suggested by state constitutions and state practice are discussed, so far as reliable materials serve, with the same interest and thoroughness that were in the first part bestowed upon the federal government. Mr. Bryce more than once urges upon European students of comparative politics, the almost incomparable richness of this well-nigh unexplored region of state law. If he can wonder that Mr. Mill “in his Representative Government scarcely refers to” our states, and that “Mr. Freeman in his learned essays, Sir. H. Maine in his ingenious book on Popular Government, pass by phenomena which would have admirably illustrated some of their reasonings,” finding, as he does, in M. Boutmy and Dr. von Holst the only European discoverers in this field, it may profit American students to reflect in what light their own hitherto almost complete neglect of the constitutional history of the states ought to be viewed. This second part of Mr. Bryce’s book ought to mark a turning point in our constitutional and political studies. In several of our greater universities some attention is already paid to state law and history; but it is safe to say that in no one of them are these subjects given the prominence they deserve; and it is safe to predict that our state history will some day be acknowledged a chief source of instruction touching the development of modern institutions. The states have been laboratories in which English habits, English law, English political principles have been put to the most varied, and sometimes to the most curious, tests; and it is by the variations of institutions under differing circumstances that the nature and laws of institutional growth are to be learned. While European nations have been timidly looking askance at the various puzzling problems now pressing alike in the field of economics and in the field of politics, our states have been trying experiments with a boldness and a persistency which, if generated by ignorance in many cases and in many fraught with disaster, have at any rate been surpassingly rich in instruction.
Part III, on “The Party System,” is the crowning achievement of the author’s method. Here in a learned systematic treatise which will certainly for a long time be a standard authority on our institutions, a much used handbook for the most serious students of politics, we have a careful, dispassionate, scientific description of the “machine,” an accurately drawn picture of “bosses,” a clear exposition of the way in which the machine works, an analysis of all the most practical methods of “practical politics,” as well as what we should have expected, namely, a sketch of party history, an explanation of the main characteristics of the parties of today, a discussion of the conditions of public life in the United States, those conditions which help to keep the best men out of politics and produce certain distinctively American types of politicians, and a complete study of the nominating convention. One can well believe that that not supersensitive person, the practical politician, much as he pretends to scorn the indignant attacks made upon him by “pious” reformers, would be betrayed into open emotion should he read this exact and passionless, this discriminating and scientific digest of the methods by which he lives, of the motives by which he is moved. And certainly those who are farthest removed from the practical politician’s point of view will gain from these chapters a new and vital conception of what it is to study constitutions in the life. The wholesome light of Mr. Bryce’s method shines with equal ray alike upon the just and upon the unjust.
Mr. Bryce very happily describes our system of nomination by convention as
an effort of nature to fill the void left in America by the absence of the European parliamentary or cabinet system, under which an executive is called into being out of the legislature by the majority of the legislature. In the European system no single act of nomination is necessary, because the leader of the majority comes gradually to the top in virtue of his own strength.3
But what, in view of this, are we to say of his judgment that “a system for selecting candidates is not a mere contrivance for preventing party dissensions, but an essential feature of matured democracy”?4 Clearly no system for nominating candidates can touch the leading places in a democracy, however matured that democracy may be, if those places be filled under the parliamentary or cabinet system, as they are in England and France. Mr. Bryce is able to show that the selection of candidates by local representative party associations has been coming more and more into vogue in England pari passu with the widening of the franchise, having in 1885 been behind almost every new Liberal candidate for the Commons;5 but is it quite safe to argue cum hoc ergo propter hoc? Of course it needs no nominating convention in Midlothian to select Mr. Gladstone, and no caucus in any other constituency to choose for the voters a man who has made himself necessary because of mastery in Parliament, because of proof given there of a dominant mind in statesmanship. But, leaving parliamentary leaders apart, is not all nominating machinery a “separable accident” rather than an essential feature of democracy? Has it failed of construction in Switzerland merely because of the smallness of the Swiss constituencies? Have not the exceeding multiplicity of elective officers and that pernicious principle that no one may be chosen state or national representative except from the district in which he lives—a principle whose history runs back to insignificant Governor Phips of colonial Massachusetts—been more to blame than anything that can be regarded as essential to democracy? Above all is not that complete obscuration of individual responsibility which results from the operation of the “checks and balances” of our system chiefly chargeable? It prevents any man from selecting himself for leadership by conspicuous service and makes the active part of politics turn upon selecting men rather than selecting measures. Men are not identified with measures; there must, consequently, be some artificial way of picking them out.
In enumerating the causes why the best men do not enter politics,6 Mr. Bryce seems to me to omit one of the most important, although he elsewhere repeatedly gives evidence that he is in full view of it, namely, the absence of all great prizes of legislative leadership to be won by sheer strength of persuasive mind and constructive skill. He sums up the reasons he does give with admirable point, however, by saying that “in America, while politics are relatively less interesting than in Europe, and lead to less, other careers are relatively more interesting and lead to more”;7 but he omits to state, in this connection, one of the most patent reasons why politics are relatively less interesting, why they lead to less, here than elsewhere.8
Part IV, on “Public Opinion,” its American organs, its American characteristics, its American successes and failures, contains some of the author’s best analytical work, but is less characteristic of his method than the preceding parts.
Part V contains “Illustrations and Reflections.” It opens with an excellent chapter on the Tweed ring by one of the most lucid of our own writers, Professor Goodnow;* treats of other special phases of local ring government; of “Kearneyism in California,” of laissez faire, of woman’s suffrage, and of the supposed and true faults of democracy as it appears in America.
Part VI concerns “Social Institutions”—railroads, Wall Street, the bench, the bar, the universities, the influence of religion, the position of women, the influence of democracy on thought and on creative intellectual power, American oratory, etc.—and contains the author’s cautious forecast of the political, social, and economic future of the United States.
All through, the work is pervaded with the air of practical sense, the air of having been written by an experienced man of affairs, accustomed to handle institutions as well as to observe them. Besides, this observer is an Englishman without English insularity, with views given elasticity by wide studies of institutions and extensive travel. He understands us with the facility of one who belongs to the same race; but he understands us also in our relations with the politics of the wider world of Europe.
The work, however, has the faults of its good qualities. If it is full of acute and sage observation and satisfying in its wonderfully complete practical analysis, it gains its advantage at a certain sacrifice. The movement of the treatment is irregular, and even hesitating at times, like the varied conversation of a full, reiterative talker; and the internal plan of each part is lacking in executive directness and consistency, is even sometimes a little confused, reminding one now and again of the political system the author is describing. So judicious and balanced is the tone, too, that it is also a little colorless. It is a matter-of-fact book in which, because of the prominence and multiplicity of the details, it is often difficult to discern the large proportions of the thought. It is full of thoughts, thoughts singularly purged of prejudice, notably rich in suggestion; but these thoughts do not converge towards any common conceptions. It is rather, one may imagine, like that lost book of Aristotle’s which contained his materials of observation than like the Politics. It carries one over immense distances characteristic of its great subject; but this it does by carrying one in many directions, in order to do which, from substantially the same point of departure in each case, it repeatedly traverses the same ground. In brief, it is an invaluable storehouse of observations in comparative politics rather than of guiding principles of government inductively obtained. The facts, not the principles derivable from them, are prominent.
These underlying principles could not, indeed, have been made prominent without a much freer use, a much fuller use, of the historical method than Mr. Bryce has allowed himself; and it is in his sparing use of history that Mr. Bryce seems to me principally at fault. The other drawbacks to his treatment which I have mentioned are, no doubt, for the most part directly due to his purpose, clearly and consistently kept in view, to explore this rich field of politics in search of the facts only, not in search of generalizations. His method is that of thorough, exact, exhaustive analysis. But history belongs to the very essence of such a method; facts in comparative politics possess little value in the absence of clues to their development; and one cannot but wonder at the apologies which preface Mr. Bryce’s occasional introduction of historical matter. Without more history than he gives there must be at least a partial failure to meet the demands of his own method. His work satisfies all who are in search of information, whether as to the existing facts or as to the formal historical derivation of our institutions. But its historical portions do not go beyond the formal history of measures and of methods to make evident the forces of national development and material circumstances which have lain behind measures and methods, and which, when once the nation gets past the youth of its continent, must work deep modification in its institutions and in its practical politics.
I can best illustrate what I mean by taking as points of departure Mr. Bryce’s own clear statements of the views with which he approached our institutions. “America,” he says, “is made all of a piece; its institutions are the product of its economic and social conditions and the expression of its character.”9 More pointedly and forcibly still does he express the same thing at page 404* of the same volume, in his chapter on laissez faire. He there reports himself as having said, to an English friend who bade him devote a chapter to the American theory of the state, “that the Americans had no theory of the state, and felt no need for one, being content, like the English, to base their constitutional ideas upon law and history.”“No one doubts,” he says, in another place, “that fifty years hence it [America] will differ at least as much from what it is now, as it differs now from the America which Tocqueville described”;10 and this difference, he is evidently ready to believe, may very possibly be a difference of institutions as well as a difference in material and social condition. Once again, in the chapters in which he discusses the influence of democracy on thought and on creative intellectual power, Mr. Bryce insists, assuredly with perfect justice, that political institutions have comparatively little to do with intellectual product and quality, certainly in the case of the United States. There is really, when American institutions are compared with English, nothing essentially novel in our political arrangements: they are simply the normal institutions of the Englishman in America. They are, in other words, English institutions as modified by the conditions surrounding settlements effected under corporate charters, in separate but neighbor colonies; above all as dominated by the material, economic, and social conditions attending the advance of the race in America. These conditions it is, not political principles, that have controlled our intellectual as well as our political development. Mr. Bryce has frequently to say of propositions of de Tocqueville’s that, although possibly or even probably true when advanced, they are now no longer true; for example, certain “supposed faults of democracy.” Many things supposed to be due to democracy, to political ideas, have turned out, under the test of time, to be due to circumstances. So disconnected with institutions, indeed, are actual national methods and characteristics that even what Mr. Bryce says of American public opinion in his very suggestive and valuable fourth part will doubtless be true only so long as our country is new. Americans, he says, are sympathetic, but they are unsettled and changeful. This cannot remain true of the people of an old and fully settled country, where sympathy will lead to cohesiveness and to the development of local types of opinion, where variety, consequently, will take the place of that uniformity of life and opinion which now leads to a too rapid transmission of impressions and impulses throughout the whole body of the nation—the quick contagion of even transient impressions and emotions. America is now sauntering through her resources and through the mazes of her politics with easy nonchalance; but presently there will come a time when she will be surprised to find herself grown old—a country crowded, strained, perplexed—when she will be obliged to fall back upon her conservatism, obliged to pull herself together, adopt a new regimen of life, husband her resources, concentrate her strength, steady her methods, sober her views, restrict her vagaries, trust her best, not her average, members. That will be the time of change.
All this Mr. Bryce sees; his conspicuous merit consists, indeed, in perceiving that democracy is not a cause but an effect, in seeing that our politics are no explanation of our character, but that our character, rather, is the explanation of our politics. Throughout his work you feel that he is generally conscious of the operation of historical causes and always guided by a quick appreciation of the degree to which circumstances enter into our institutions to mould and modify them. A reader who is himself conscious of our historical make-up and tendencies can see that Mr. Bryce is also. But it is one thing for a writer to be conscious of such things himself and quite another thing for him to convey to readers not possessed of his knowledge adequate conceptions of historical development. If our politics are the expression of our character and if that character is the result of the operation of forces permanent in the history of the English race, modified in our case by peculiar influences, subtle or obvious, operative in our separate experience, the influences, namely, of a peculiar legal status and of unexampled physical surroundings, then it is to the explanation of these forces and influences that every means of exposition ought to be bent in order to discover the bases of our law and our constitutions, of our constructive statesmanship and our practical politics. A description of our institutions, even though it be so full and accurate as to call for little either of criticism or addition, like this of Mr. Bryce’s, will not suffice unless backed by something that goes deeper than mere legal or phenomenal history. In legal history Mr. Bryce leaves little to be desired: nothing could be more satisfying than his natural history of our courts with their powers of constitutional interpretation. The course of constitutional amendment, too, he traces, and all such concrete phenomena as the growth and operation of nominating conventions, the genesis and expansion of the Spoils System, or of municipal rings and ‘bossdom,” etc. But outside of legal and phenomenal history he seldom essays to go. If his method were that which de Tocqueville too often followed, there would be little reason why he should look further than visible institutions; if a nation can be understood by the single light of its institutions, its institutions may be made to stand forth as itself. But if institutions be the expression of the national life, as Mr. Bryce rightly conceives, that national life must be brought constantly forward, even in its most hidden aspects, to explain them.
Some passages of Mr. Bryce’s work, indeed, afford ground for suspecting that he does not himself always make sufficient private analysis even of the forces operative outside of our laws and acting in support and vivification of them. Thus he permits himself the old expression that we are “trying an experiment” in government. This is not true except in the same sense that it is true that the English are trying an experiment in their extensions of the franchise and in their extreme development of ministerial responsibility to the Commons. We are in fact but living an old life under new conditions. Where there is conservative continuity there can hardly be said to be experiment. Again, Mr. Bryce’s statement—the old statement—that 1789 witnessed the birth of a national government could be made only by one who had not analyzed the growth of the national idea, which is coincident with the conscious development of the national experience and life. Its truth in juristic theory may be cogently maintained; but from the lay historian’s point of view, and particularly from the point of view proper to English institutional and legal history, it is scarcely true at all. In the first place, no people can be a nation before its time, and its time has not come until the national thought and feeling have been developed and have become prevalent. Until a people thinks its government national it is not national. In the second place, the whole history—indeed the very theory—of judge-made law such as ours, whether it be equity or common law, bears witness to the fact that for a body of English people the fundamental principles of the law are at any given time substantially what they are then thought to be. The saving fact is that English (and American) thought is, particularly in the sphere of law, cautiously conservative, coherently continuous, not carelessly or irresponsibly spreading abroad, but slowly “broadening down from precedent to precedent” within a well-defined course. It is not a flood, but a river. The complete nationality of our law therefore, had to await the slowly developed nationality of our thought and habit. To leave out in any account of our development the growth of the national idea and habit, consequently, is to omit the best possible example of one of the most instructive facts of our politics, the development, namely, of constitutional principles outside the constitution, the thoroughly English accumulation of unwritten law. That there has been such an accumulation Mr. Bryce of course points out and illustrates; but because of his shyness touching the use of history, which he fears will be tedious or uninteresting, he leaves the matter, after all, without adequate analysis. For such an analysis is not supplied by his Chapter 34 on “The Development of the Constitution by Usage.” That chapter contains a history of measures, of certain concrete practices, but no account of the national sentiment which has so steadily grown into a controlling, disposing, governing force, and which has really become a most tremendous sort of “usage.” It is a sketch of the development of the government rather than of the influences which have made the government and altered the conceptions upon which it rests.
This must be taken to explain also the author’s somewhat inadequate view of the constitutional effects of the war of secession. He seems to judge the effects of the war by the contents of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments.11 A European reader, I believe, would get the impression that our civil war, which was a final contest between nationalism and sectionalism, simply confirmed the Union in its old strength, whereas it in reality, of course, confirmed it in a new character and strength which it had not at first possessed, but which the steady advance of the national development, and of the national idea thereby begotten, had in effect at length bestowed upon it.
If Mr. Bryce was obliged to exclude such historical analysis from his volumes, whose whole spirit and method nevertheless suggest such an analysis, and seem to await it, if not to take it for granted, why then much remains to be done in elucidation of the lessons of government to be learned in America. Those lessons can be fully learned only from history. There still remains to be accomplished the work of explaining democracy by America, in supplement of Mr. Bryce’s admirable explanation of democracy in America. Comparative politics must yet be made to yield an answer to the broad and all-important question: What is democracy that it should be possible, nay natural, to some nations, impossible as yet to others? Why has it been a cordial and a tonic to little Switzerland and to big America, while it has been as yet only a quick intoxicant or a low poison to France and Spain, a mere maddening draught to the South American states? Why has England approached democratic institutions by slow and steady stages of deliberate and peaceful development, while so many other states have panted towards democracy through constant revolution? Why has democracy existed in America and Australia virtually from the first, while other states have utterly failed in every effort to establish it? Answers to such questions as these would serve to show the most truly significant thing now to be discovered concerning democracy: its place and office, namely, in the process of political development. What is its relative function, its characteristic position and power, in politics viewed as a whole?
Democracy is of course wrongly conceived when treated as merely a body of doctrine, or as simply a form of government. It is a stage of development. It is not created by aspirations or by new faith: it is built up by slow habit. Its process is experience, its basis old wont, its meaning national organic unity and effectual life. It comes, like manhood, as the fruit of youth: immature peoples cannot have it, and the maturity to which it is vouchsafed is the maturity of freedom and self-control, and no other. It is conduct, and its only stable foundation is character. America has democracy because she is free; she is not free because she has democracy. A particular form of government may no more be adopted than a particular type of character may be adopted: both institutions and character must be developed by conscious effort and through transmitted aptitudes. The variety of effects produced by democratic principles, therefore, upon different nations and systems, and even upon the same nation at different periods, is susceptible of instructive explanation. It is not the result of accident merely, nor of good fortune, manifestly, that the English race has been the only race, outside of quiet, closeted Switzerland, the only race, that is, standing forward amidst the fierce contests of national rivalries, that has succeeded in establishing and maintaining the most liberal forms of government. It is, on the contrary, a perfectly natural outcome of organic development. The English alone have approached popular institutions through habit. All other races have rushed prematurely into them through mere impatience with habit: have adopted democracy, instead of cultivating it. An expansion of this contrast would leave standing very little of the reasoning from experience which constitutes so large a part of Sir Henry Maine’s plausible Popular Government, and would add to Mr. Bryce’s luminous exposition of the existing conditions of life and the operative machinery of politics in the greatest of republics something which might serve as a natural history of republicanism.
Mr. Bryce has given us a noble work possessing in high perfection almost every element that should make students of comparative politics esteem it invaluable. If I have regretted that it does not contain more, it has been because of the feeling that the author of The American Commonwealth, who has given us a vast deal, might have given us everything.
[*]Publisher’s Note: This review originally appeared in Political Science Quarterly, Vol. 4, No. 1 (March 1889). It is reprinted in Bryce’s “American Commonwealth”: Fiftieth Anniversary, ed. Robert C. Brooks (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1939), pp. 169–88. “At the time of writing this review,” Brooks notes, “Woodrow Wilson had just become professor of political science at Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut. According to Ray Stannard Baker, his official biographer, Wilson ‘pounced upon it [The American Commonwealth] with a kind of passion, characteristically underscored its significant passages, filled it with side notes, in short, tore the very vitals out of it and prepared a review for the Political Science Quarterly—as good a criticism of the work as was ever written.’ (Woodrow Wilson, Life and Letters, Vol. 1, p. 310).”
 Bryce, The American Commonwealth, Vol. 3, Ch. 86, p. 146 [Publisher’s Note: Vol. 2, p. 1004, of the present edition].
 Bryce, op. cit., see particularly Vol. 1, Ch. 25, on “Comparison of American and European Systems.”
[*]Publisher’s Note: This section of the appendix does not appear in the 1922 edition.
 Bryce, op. cit., Vol. 2, Ch. 73, p. 596 [p. 884 of the present edition].
 Bryce, op. cit., Vol. 2, Ch. 59, p. 416 [p. 752 of the present edition].
 Bryce, op. cit., Vol. 2, Ch. 59, p. 418 [p. 753 of the present edition].
 Bryce, op. cit., Vol. 2, Ch. 58, pp. 403–11 [pp. 743–48 of the present edition].
 Bryce, op. cit., Vol. 2, Ch. 58, p. 409 [p. 747 of the present edition].
 For Mr. Bryce’s recognition of the readiness of the people to receive and follow leaders whenever circumstances produce them, spite of institutions—an acknowledgement apparently not perfectly consistent with some other judgments of the book (e.g., that any arrogation of a right to consideration, greater than that accorded to the ordinary, the average man, is resented) . . . see Vol. 3, Ch. 87, pp. 169, 170 [Vol. 2, pp. 1019–20, of the present edition].
[*] Publisher’s Note: Professor Goodnow’s chapter on the Tweed Ring was rewritten by Bryce in later editions.
 Bryce, op. cit., Vol. 3, Ch. 96, p. 354. [This sentence appears with slight changes in Chapter 102 of the 1922 edition (Vol. 2, p. 1271, of the present edition).]
[*]Publisher’s Note: This page number is incorrect; the correct page number is 266 (pp. 1210–22 of the present edition).]
 Bryce, op. cit., Vol. 3, Ch. 115, p. 648 [Vol. 2, Chapter 122, p. 1496, of the present edition].
 Thus he expresses surprise at the slightness of the changes wrought by the war in the Constitution—meaning, of course, the formal changes.