Walter Bagehot 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.

Walter Bagehot

The great difficulty which history records is not that of the first step, but that of the second step. What is most evident is not the difficulty of getting a fixed law, but getting out of a fixed law; not of cementing (as upon a former occasion I phrased it) a cake of custom, but of breaking the cake of custom; not of making the first preservative habit, but of breaking through it, and reaching something better.

Walter Bagehot

The greatest enjoyment possible to man was that which this philosophy promises its votariesthe pleasure of being always right, and always reasoningwithout ever being bound to look at anything.

Walter Bagehot

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.

Walter Bagehot

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.

Walter Bagehot

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.

Walter Bagehot

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
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