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Walter Bagehot (1826 – 1877)


British businessman, essayist and journalist who wrote about literature, government and economics.
Walter Bagehot
The reason why so few good books are written is, that so few people that can write know anything. In general an author has always lived in a room, has read books, has cultivated science, is acquainted with the style and sentiments of the best authors, but he is out of the way of employing his own eyes and ears. He has nothing to hear and nothing to see. His life is a vacuum.
Bagehot quotes
The greatest enjoyment possible to man was that which this philosophy promises its votaries—the pleasure of being always right, and always reasoning—without ever being bound to look at anything.
Bagehot
Most men of business think "Anyhow this system will probably last my time. It has gone on a long time, and is likely to go on still."




Bagehot Walter quotes
Free government is self-government. A government of the people by the people. The best government of this sort is that which the people think best.
Bagehot Walter
A political country is like an American forest; you have only to cut down the old trees, and immediately new trees come up to replace them.
Walter Bagehot quotes
I wish the art of benefiting men had kept pace with the art of destroying them; for though war has become slow, philanthropy has remained hasty. The most melancholy of human reflections, perhaps, is that, on the whole, it is a question whether the, benevolence of mankind does most good or harm. Great good, no doubt, philanthropy does, but then it also does great evil. It augments so much vice, it multiplies so much suffering, it brings to life such great populations to suffer and to be vicious, that it is open to argument whether it be or be not an evil to the world, and this is entirely because excellent people fancy that they can do much by rapid action — that they will most benefit the world when they most relieve their own feelings; that as soon as an evil is seen "something" ought to be done to stay and prevent it.
Walter Bagehot
Credit means that a certain confidence is given, and a certain trust reposed. Is that trust justified? and is that confidence wise? These are the cardinal questions. To put it more simply credit is a set of promises to pay; will those promises be kept?
Bagehot Walter quotes
The Sovereign has, under a constitutional monarchy such as ours, three rights - the right to be consulted, the right to encourage, the right to warn.
Bagehot
The caucus is a sort of representative meeting which sits voting and voting till they have cut out all the known men against whom much is to be said, and agreed on some unknown man against whom there is nothing known, and therefore nothing to be alleged.
Bagehot Walter
All the inducements of early society tend to foster immediate action; all its penalties fall on the man who pauses; the traditional wisdom of those times was never weary of inculcating that "delays are dangerous," and that the sluggish man — the man "who roasteth not that which he took in hunting" — will not prosper on the earth, and indeed will very soon perish out of it. And in consequence an inability to stay quiet, an irritable desire to act directly, is one of the most conspicuous failings of mankind.
Walter Bagehot
Nations touch at their summits.




Walter Bagehot quotes
Honor sinks where commerce long prevails.
Walter Bagehot
[Of Guizot] A Puritan born in France by mistake.
Bagehot quotes
The less money lying idle the greater is the dividend.
Bagehot Walter
You may talk of the tyranny of Nero and Tiberius; but the real tyranny is the tyranny of your next-door neighbor... Public opinion is a permeating influence, and it exacts obedience to itself; it requires us to think other men's thoughts, to speak other men's words, to follow other men's habits.
Bagehot Walter quotes
But the mass of the old electors did not analyse very much: they liked to have one of their "betters" to represent them; if he was rich they respected him much; and if he was a lord, they liked him the better. The issue put before these electors was, which of two rich people will you choose? And each of those rich people was put forward by great parties whose notions were the notions of the rich — whose plans were their plans. The electors only selected one or two wealthy men to carry out the schemes of one or two wealthy associations.
Walter Bagehot
A constitutional statesman is in general a man of common opinions and uncommon abilities.
Walter Bagehot quotes
A highly developed moral nature joined to an undeveloped intellectual nature, an undeveloped artistic nature, and a very limited religious nature, is of necessity repulsive. It represents a bit of human nature — a good bit, of course, but a bit only — in disproportionate, unnatural and revolting prominence.
Walter Bagehot
One of the greatest pains to human nature is the pain of a new idea.
Bagehot Walter
The purse strings tie us to our kind.


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