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allowed to use and charge for these sources Ensign and his successors would be obliged at its own will. All that may be said about to furnish to the city, free of cost, their the inviolability of private property, that quota of whatever water the city might need these sources are only made available through for all purposes. The case went back to the the application of private capital, or that lower court to be tried, when suddenly the enterprise should be fostered and encouraged, Spring Valley Company shifted its ground; falls upon unheeding ears, because the sim- whether the fact that the old San Francisco plest minded cannot fail to see that these Water Works by introducing water into the claims must be made subordinate to the city had furnished the contingency which common welfare; and a community, through made it incumbent upon the Spring Valley the proper authorities, must be allowed to Company to furnish free water to the city for protect itself.

In other words, that self- all purposes, or whether some other reason protection is the first law of nature for the was the moving cause, is not clear.

All at body politic as for individuals.

once the water company itself took the Before referring to the proper method to point that the Ensign act was unconstituaccomplish this protection, let us for a mo- tional; because, in providing towards its ment point out what we deem the serious close that the act should not take effect unmistake committed by the Spring Valley less Ensign and his associates should, within Company. In a general way, this has been sixty days after its passage, organize themits extreme litigiousness—its constant dispo- selves into a corporation, it in effect created sition to stand upon what it has considered a corporation by a special law, which is the strict letter of its legal rights; as noted forbidden in the Constitution. This point above, Ensign and his associates, as private was strenuously urged by the company, individuals and this is to be particularly and vigorously opposed by the city. The noted-obtained a franchise to lay down Supreme Court decided the act unconstitupipes in the streets; and also the priv- tional. In seeking to destroy the Ensign ilege of having their water rates fixed by statute, the water company made a very a board of arbitrators, in the choice of serious, one might say fatal, mistake. It cut the members of which they had an equal from under itself sure ground, upon which voice with the city. Here was distinctly a it might have stood; because the terms of contract between the State and Ensign, and the law furnished a contract which the subhis associates and assigns, which could not sequent change in the Constitution could not be impaired by any subsequent constitutions have affected. Of course it may be said or legislation. The company succeeded to that if the law was unconstitutional it could this contract, and stood in the shoes of En- never furnish any protection; but it must be sign, also protected against its impairment. remembered that it was the company itself Good judgment would have suggested that which, as it were, dug this point out of an the company should have stood by this con- obscure part of the law, and, through able tract. But about the year 1869, the city counsel, pressed it upon the attention of the claimed that the Ensign act required his suc- court. Now, courts do not go about huntcessors not only to furnish the water neces- ing reasons to declare statutes unconstitusary to extinguish fires, but also for other tional; they decide a law to be in conflict “municipal purposes.” The company, on with the fundamental pact reluctantly, and the contrary, insisted that their duty was only when the point is distinctly presented. limited to the fire supply. The Supreme It is fair to presume that if the company had Court sustained the Company's construction not thus forced the issue it would never of the act, but also held that the statute re- have come to the front. quired that in case another company should The company thought itself in a better introduce, or had introduced, water into the position behind the general water act of city after the passage of the Ensign act, then 1858, under which it was incorporated.

This statute required it to furnish water free or impairing of the obligations of any conof charge to the city in case of fire “or tract. It may be not unjustly said that if other great necessity.Presently it got into a the water company had stood by its original squabble with the city as to what cases were bargain made in the Ensign Act, it would those of great necessity; whether the phrase not now be in the unfortunate attitude included sprinkling the streets and park. it is. Finally, this also went against them. All On the other hand, the provision of the this wrangling and hair-splitting at last ex- State Constitution which gives unqualified asperated the public, and when the new power to city authorities to regulate rates Constitution was framed, a clause was in- places a despotic power in the hands of serted in it which found its cause more a municipal body which is sure to lead to largely in the course and attitude of the oppression or corruption. Moreover, it inSpring Valley Company than in that of any volves the radical absurdity that the conother of the appropriators of water in the State. sumers of a commodity may fix its pricę. This clause makes it the duty of the author- The Spring Valley Company, for instance, ities of cities to fix the rates annually. has expended millions of dollars to bring There is no limitation or qualification of this water from a long distance to the houses of duty, or the power to fix the rates at any the citizens. It has shown skill, foresight, figure, no matter how ruinous. In vain has and prudence in its work. Its stockholders the water company taken refuge in the po- deserve to be liberally rewarded, and not sition that the act of 1858, under which only that, but they further deserve that it was incorporated, gives it a voice in their revenues shall be reasonably assured; choosing commissioners conjointly with the yet the elected representatives of those who city, who shall have power to fix the rates. use the water are the arbiters of the price The answer is, that it has been uniformly de- to be paid, and, as we have seen at the late cided, from the Supreme Court of the United election, are voted into office because of speStates down, that where a State Constitu- cific pledges to reduce rates. Practically, tion, as our old one did, provides that gen- every guaranty for the protection of the eral incorporation laws may be amended property of the stockholders is taken away. or altered, a change of the law or a new Such a condition is anomalous under a civConstitution, which in effect abrogates pre- ilized system. existing rights of corporations formed under The only reasonable way out of the diffithe general law, cannot be said to be the culty is for the city to purchase the water impairing of the obligation of a contract. works. She can afford to pay a liberal price, The effort in the United States Circuit more even than they are worth by twenty per Court was to have this clause of the new cent.; because there can be no doubt that, Constitution as to rates declared to be in judging by what public improvements usually conflict with that clause of the Fourteenth cost when built by the public, these works Amendment of the Constitution of the Unit- could not be replaced for twice what they aced States, which prohibits a State from mak- tually cost. When the embittered feelings ing or enforcing any law that shall deprive which now prevail shall have subsided, as they any person of life, liberty, or property without will in a little time, the good sense and instinct due process of law. The court very pro- of justice which, after all said, exists in the perly decided, in view of the adjudications San Francisco community, will suggest that of the Supreme Court of the United States, the proper course for the city is to purchase that there was no deprivation of property the water works, even at a liberal price.

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CURRENT COMMENT.

The controversy as to the respective status of the ous vocabularies. He who can truthfully describe English and the American novel is in itself a Alimsy the human being of any special environment, either one, and hardly worth noticing; but the subject as to his inner character or his external diction, apcontroverted is by no means Aimsy. It will be pearance, manner, he is our successful novelist. for generations one of the standard themes of criti. That the reader's pleasure consists in finding under cism, like the Elizabethan development of the these differences common human nature, there is drama, or the drying-up of literary fountains after no doubt; but the author's method is to specialize the Restoration; that is, the divergence in fiction- his types. All this is only saying that fiction of the writing on the two sides of the Atlantic, with the American school consists strictly of "studies”-howgrowth of an unmistakably new school on this side, ever faulty, however ridiculously far from a faithful is, for good or ill, an epoch-making phenomenon, and copy of life, still studies. as such must have an important place in literary history. England has long been looking for the American school of fiction that was to come; she expected AND present English fiction? For a fair compariit to be a sort of John Baptist, in camel's hair and son, we must take only that which shows present with a leathern girdle-or rather, to suit his new en- tendency, not that which is the lingering remnant of vironment, in war-paint and feathers; and while past traits. In William Black, and in a less deshe said, “Lo, here, Fenimore Cooper,” and “Lo, gree in Thomas Hardy, we see the same general there, Bret Harte,” the real American school was artistic ideal as in the American school; yet even slowly developing itself through the Ame can ele- they write with much more waiving of realistic ments of Hawthorne, through Mrs. Stowe, through accuracy for the sake of effect than the best of a host of magazine tale-writers—perhaps even through the Americans; they strive for "atmosphere” and the fancy of the daily press for humorous realism; for situations. Putting these two men out of the and in Howells and James finally took form to be question, what English pen is touched to paper toseen and talked about as a school.

day in fiction-writing with regard for the art as an What is the “American school of fiction," then? art—as a poet would write, or an artist paint, or a muIt is not unfair to say that it includes every living sician compose? The names that in England correAmerican novelist or story-writer of what may be spond in rank to our American magazine story-writers called first-class magazine rank. Its characteristic are such as James Payn, F. W. Robertson, Mrs. Olitrait is usually set down roughly as “realism.” But phant. That these are the typical English novelists it has other essential qualities which make its realism of the present, as distinguished from even the immedifferent from that of the French or Russian, or of diate past, no one can deny; the great bulk (and it is some English novels of the day. Its irreproachable enormous) of respectable, middle-class English fiction morale, of course, is one distinction; but that is a follows in their line. No neater expression was ever quality it has in common with almost the whole body turned with regard to them than Charles Dudley of American literature. Its seriousness of artistic in. Warner's hope that the patent for the English tention is a far more characteristic trait; the most machine-novel would never be imported to America. ordinary American magazine story is written in good These writers can turn out a given number of books faith to an artistic ideal, however crudely the ideal in a given time; they do not seem to need any new be realized. This is undoubtedly true of great work characters, and no essentially new environments, in all countries and times; the peculiarity is that Anthrony Trollope was probably the best of them, in American fiction it should be true of small work; and among the earliest; but their evolution is not and this is one of the traits that gives great hope. easy to understand. Dickens did not create them, fulness to the prospects of this art among us. Anoth- nor Thackeray, nor George Eliot, nor even Charles er, and a still more characteristic trait, is the observa. Reade-these are now of a past generation. In tion of human nature by its differences rather than spite of a ludicrous recent criticism as to what a by its resemblances. Local color counts for much real artist like James Payn would have done with with us; our stories might all be called studies of “The House of a Merchant Prince,” they are almost phases of human nature, of types of humanity. absolutely devoid of the art spirit. Yet they are Indeed, "type" and "phase” have become such more quiet, sensible, unobjectionable, than a majority convenient words to the critic, such certain keys to of the American stories. The two schools compare the editor's or publisher's attention, that they are in as the custom-made products of a good chromo danger of going the way of all too convenient words, factory and the studies from an art school that and, like “culture," dropping as cant out of fastidi. range from hopeless failure to genius.

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No one will doubt that the future development of the classes which have the least property interest in art lies rather with the community that has an art the city. As it will be impossible to frame a charter school than the community that has a good chromo fit to live under which will not contain some features factory. It will be a curious spectacle, and, as we which will excite the prejudices of those who conhave said, one of great significance in literary history, trol the politics of the city, it may be set down that if the center of development of the art of fiction- San Francisco will not have a new charter for many still the youngest and least developed of the arts- years to come. is to be moved, for a time at least, across the Atlantic, as the center of musical development has moved The legislature, which has just adjourned as we from Italy to Germany.

write, was a fairly decent body of men. It is too

early as yet to judge of its work critically. The The result of the Charter election in San Fran. Senate appears to have been the more conservative cisco is a great disappointment to all those who have of the two houses, and to have had in it more men been active in seeking to promote the welfare of the of talent. One could not but be struck, in looking at city. There are excellent features in the work of the the personnel of the Assembly, with the youth of fifteen freeholders. The one-dollar limit to taxation so many of its members: so very many of them is an imperative incentive to economy, and the inhi. appeared to be youngsters not very far away from bition against incurring debts beyond the year's in their teens. come is a constant check upon the almost irresistible Notwithstanding this apparent callowness, there disposition of local bodies to run up liabilities with- was really less of crudity in the debates than usual. out regard to available resources. Then again, the This is a hopeful sign, a possible presage that the power given to any citizen to cause improper pay. new generation is less possessed with cacæthes loquenments from the city treasury to be investigated, the di than the older one. There is certainly a decay in reduction in the number of offices, and the civil the art of stump-speaking and its cognate art, legis. service clauses are all distinctively in the direction of lative oratory. The Websterian and Clay legend is decent, and what is of vital moment, cheap, govern- declining in potency. Legislative and other delibment. Moreover, the entire city press, with one or erative bodies now demand more directness, more two exceptions, was in favor of the proposition. practicalness, than in former times. Probably one Yet it was apparent from the beginning of the labors reason, and a controlling one, for this change of taste of the freeholders that there was wide-spread apathy is, that the powerful emotional element furnished by concerning their work. It is difficult to satisfac- the slavery debates has been taken out of our politics. torily account for this frame of mind, unless it be Nowadays, the emotional stimulus is furnished althat a very large number of the citizens do not

most entirely by the alleged wickedness of the corcare anything about municipal affairs; and we are porations. If you can make people believe that inclined to think such is the case.

they are oppressed, or that a great wrong is being Now and then you can stir them up, but it is gen- committed, you have material for an appeal to the erally only when some personal question involved. passions. A very large number of people on this Most people can only take an interest in politics coast believe they are oppressed by the railroad cor. when it takes on, as it were, a concrete form—when porations. This is sufficient to furnish the “burning some particular individual is to be discussed and question." It is not surprising, therefore, that the voted for and against. An abstract proposition, best speaking in the legislature was on the railroad such, for instance, as a complicated scheme for a city questions, notably concerning the resolutions progovernment, is “caviare to the general.” Fifty out testing against the consolidation of the Southern of every hundred will not bother their heads about California and Texas railroads. Still, with all its it, and these fisty will most likely be of the more talent, with all its budding promises, the people intelligent classes—the merchants of all grades, the are very glad that our Constitution did not permit master mechanics, the professional men. In truth, this body of statesmen to draw pay beyond sixty these classes have substantially abdicated in favor of days.

BOOK REVIEWS.

Bancroft's Mexico.1

better-rather worse; nevertheless, all that did hapIn accordance with Mr. Bancroft's plan of chro. pen was inevitably incident to the possession of this nological order in his histories, this first volume of continent by mediæval Christianity. This impartial the History of Mexico follows next upon the first distribution of blame to Aztec, Spaniard, and desvolume of the History of Central America. It will tiny would doubtless be acquiesced in by the probe seen by the briefness of the period—five years, foundest philosopher, as far as it goes; and to add covered by this volume of seven hundred pages, that that the philosopher would not stop there is hardly perthe single subject of the Spanish Conquest has been tinent; for in the face of Mr. Bancroft's repeated declasufficient to fill this and extend over into a future ration that he attempts nothing but a compendium of volume. The aboriginal history of Mexico, covering the facts gathered from his collections, it is absurd to the whole ground up to this point, was included in insist upon criticising his deficiency in that which he the “Native Races."

has never undertaken to do. One must look else. It will be remembered by those who have read any where for the study of history as a branch of the study of the many published accounts of the Bancroft of evolution, the consideration of human society alLibrary, that it is specially complete in Mexican most as an organism instead of an organization, develmaterial, owing to the purchase of various collections. oping to this, experiencing that, by the inevitable The prefixed bibliography, accordingly, though abou play of deep forces. ninety pages in length, is condensed by the omission A thing for which the author should be held reof all minor authorities, and of all mentioned or to sponsible, however, is the literary style of his book. be mentioned in the bibliographies of the other vol. There certainly is not to be found here either the umes on Mexico.

narrative charm, the vividness, vigor, or fluency of The existence already of one standard work in

the best historical literature; but the account is, as a English on the period covered by this volume makes whole, simple, straightforward, business-like. As a the work of the historian more difficult; and it is whole, we say: occasionally, as in previous volumes, probable that Mr. Bancroft would not have taken one finds himself face to face with a sentence---rarely up the Conquest of Mexico had it not been natu- a paragraph-of the unfortunate “fine writing,” rally and necessarily included in his series. As it is, every word of which should have been sternly elided the necessary reference to the comparison with Pres' before the work was ever allowed to go to press. cott's work into which his own must come is courteous Probably this is as bad as any: “For in the vast ly made: “Prescott's opportunities for consulting new evolvings of their fast, unfathomable destiny, they material were vastly superior to those of his predeces- were now all like sea-gulls poised in mid-air while

If mine have been correspondingly greater, following a swiftly flying ship.” A le**** it may perhaps to some extent be due to the example

This branch of our criticism we can hardly touch set by him in his earnest researches, and because candidly without taking into account Mr. Bancroft's since the publication of his volumes private individ- methods of compilation, and the somewhat exaggeruals and learned societies have striven with increased ated newspaper controversy that has been going on enthusiasm to bring to light hidden material.” about them. To the reviewer, indeed, it makes little

Specialists in this same line of research will un- difference whether the author has written a given doubtedly be able to find minor points of inaccuracy sentence directly or by proxy; by accepting it as his in this as in the Central America; as a whole, it own, and so publishing it, he has made himself rewill stand its ground as the completest epitome of sponsible for it. But, on the other hand, it is not research on the subject now available. It must be true that the method of doing literary work-whethregarded simply as a recital of facts: the estimates of er Hawthorne's or Bancroft's-is none of the critic's character, though fair, are not profound; and philoso- business. One might as well say, like Horace Greephy of history, as the modern school of historians- ley, that, having the modern languages ready-made say Freeman-understand it, there is none. The to our use, it is none of our business to pry into the whole philosophy conveyed by the occasionally inter- dead ones that produced them or into their process spersed “reflections” in the volume may be summed of growth. Such inquiries are in much better taste up about as follows: The Aztecs deserved destruc- when posthumous than when contemporary; but once tion for the cruelties of their religion and the opened, they should be pursued to a fair conclusion. tyranny of their government; yet by the cruelties of Where a man, retiring from business, devotes his the conquest, Cortes showed his Christianity to be no

whole time-as it is well known in San Francisco 1 The Works of Hubert Howe Bancroft. Vol. IX. Mr. Bancroft does—to organizing, training, and History of Mexico, Vol. I. 1516-1521.

supervising a corps of writers, whose work, however

sors.

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