Walter Bagehot

Walter
Bagehot
1826
1877

English Economist, Critic, Businessman, Essayist, Social Darwinist and Journalist who wrote extensively about Literature, Government and Economic Affairs

Author Quotes

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.

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.

Nations touch at their summits.

The best history is but like the art of Rembrandt; it casts a vivid light on certain selected causes, on those which were best and greatest; it leaves all the rest in shadow and unseen.

The real essence of work is concentrated energy.

An ambassador is not simply an agent; he is also a spectacle.

If you have to prove you are worthy of credit, your credit is already gone.

No great work has ever been produced except after a long interval of still and musing meditation.

The best reason why monarchy is a strong government is that it is an intelligible government: the mass of mankind understand it, and they hardly anywhere in the world understand any other.

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.

A bureaucracy is sure to think that its duty is to augment official power, official business, or official members, rather than to leave free the energies of mankind; it overdoes the quantity of government, as well as impairs its quality. The truth is, that a skilled bureaucracy is, though it boasts of an appearance of science, quite inconsistent with the true principles of the art of business.

An element of exaggeration clings to the popular judgment: great vices are made greater, great virtues greater also; interesting incidents are made more interesting, softer legends more soft.

In early times every sort of advantage tends to become a military advantage; such is the best way, then, to keep it alive. But the Jewish advantage never did so; beginning in religion, contrary to a thousand analogies, it remained religious.

No man has come so near our definition of a constitutional statesman - the powers of a first-rate man and the creed of a second-rate man.

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.

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. And a king of great sense and sagacity would want no others.

A cabinet is a combining committee, - a hyphen which joins, a buckle which fastens, the legislative part of the state to the executive part of the state. In its origin it belongs to the one, in its functions it belongs to the other.

An influential member of parliament has not only to pay much money to become such, and to give time and labour, he has also to sacrifice his mind too - at least all the characteristics part of it that which is original and most his own.

In every particular state of the world, those nations which are strongest tend to prevail over the others; and in certain marked peculiarities the strongest tend to be the best.

No real English gentleman, in his secret soul, was ever sorry for the death of a political economist.

The cure for admiring the House of Lords is to go and look at it.

To a great experience one thing is essential — an experiencing nature.

A constitutional statesman is in general a man of common opinions and uncommon abilities.

Business is really more agreeable than pleasure: it interests the whole mind . . . but it does not look as if it did.

In excited states of the public mind they have scarcely a discretion at all; the tendency of the public perturbation determines what shall and what shall not be dealt with. But, upon the other hand, in quiet times statesmen have great power; when there is no fire lighted, they can settle what fire shall be lit. And as the new suffrage is happily to be tried in a quiet time, the responsibility of our statesmen is great because their power is great too.

Author Picture
First Name
Walter
Last Name
Bagehot
Birth Date
1826
Death Date
1877
Bio

English Economist, Critic, Businessman, Essayist, Social Darwinist and Journalist who wrote extensively about Literature, Government and Economic Affairs