Quotes by Walter Bagehot

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We must not let daylight in upon the magic.

What impresses men is not mind, but the result of mind.
Men who do not make advances to women are apt to become victims to women who make advances to them.
A great pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do.
Writers like teeth are divided into incisors and grinders.
Progress would not have been the rarity it is if the early food had not been the late poison.
An inability to stay quiet is one of the most conspicuous failings of mankind.
Strong beliefs win strong men, and then make them stronger.
History is strewn with the wrecks of nations which have gained a little progressiveness at the cost of a great deal of hard manliness, and have thus prepared themselves for destruction as soon as the movements of the world gave a chance for it.
A slight daily unconscious luxury is hardly ever wanting to the dwellers in civilization; like the gentle air of a genial climate, it is a perpetual minute enjoyment.
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.
The cure for admiring the house of lords is to go and look at it.
A severe though not unfriendly critic of our institutions said that the cure for admiring the House of Lords was to go and look at it.
When great questions end, little parties begin.
The apparent rulers of the English nation are like the imposing personages of a splendid procession: it is by them the mob are influenced; it is they whom the spectators cheer. The real rulers are secreted in second-rate carriages; no one cares for them or asks after them, but they are obeyed implicitly and unconsciously by reason of the splendor of those who eclipsed and preceded them.
A constitutional statesman is in general a man of common opinions and uncommon abilities.
Poverty is an anomaly to rich people. It is very difficult to make out why people who want dinner do not ring the bell.
Under a Presidential government, a nation has, except at the electing moment, no influence; it has not the ballot-box before it; its virtue is gone, and it must wait till its instant of despotism again returns.
Public opinion is a permeating influence, and it exacts obedience to itself; it requires us to drink other men's thoughts, to speak other men's words, to follow other men's habits.
A family on the throne is an interesting idea. It brings down the pride of sovereignty to the level of petty life.
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.
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.
Royalty is a government in which the attention of the nation is concentrated on one person doing interesting actions.
The habit of common and continuous speech is a symptom of mental deficiency. It proceeds from not knowing what is going on in other people's minds.
A schoolmaster should have an atmosphere of awe, and walk wonderingly, as if he was amazed at being himself.
Our law very often reminds one of those outskirts of cities where you cannot for a long time tell how the streets come to wind about in so capricious and serpent-like a manner. At last it strikes you that they grew up, house by house, on the devious tracks of the old green lanes; and if you follow on to the existing fields, you may often find the change half complete.
The whole history of civilization is strewn with creeds and institutions which were invaluable at first, and deadly afterwards.
One of the greatest pains to human nature is the pain of a new idea.
It is often said that men are ruled by their imaginations; but it would be truer to say they are governed by the weakness of their imaginations.
The most intellectual of men are moved quite as much by the circumstances which they are used to as by their own will. The active voluntary part of a man is very small, and if it were not economized by a sleepy kind of habit, its results would be null.
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.
An ambassador is not simply an agent; he is also a spectacle.
So long as war is the main business of nations, temporary despotism -- despotism during the campaign -- is indispensable.
Conquest is the missionary of valor, and the hard impact of military virtues beats meanness out of the world.
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.
War both needs and generates certain virtues; not the highest, but what may be called the preliminary virtues, as valor, veracity, the spirit of obedience, the habit of discipline. Any of these, and of others like them, when possessed by a nation, and no matter how generated, will give them a military advantage, and make them more likely to stay in the race of nations.
A princely marriage is the brilliant edition of a universal fact, and, as such, it rivets mankind.