Walter Bagehot

Quotes
Quote Topics Cited
A bureaucracy is sure to think that its duty is to augment official power, official business, or official members, rather than leave free the energies of mankind. Bureaucracy
A family on the throne is an interesting idea. . . . It brings down the pride of sovereignty to the level of petty life. Families, Children & Parenting
A Parliament is nothing less than a big meeting of more or less idle people. Legislating & Legislative Process
A political combination of the lower classes … is an evil of the first magnitude …. Their supremacy in the state means the supremacy of numbers over knowledge … Democracies & Republics
An ambassador is not simply an agent; he is also a spectacle. Diplomacy & Diplomats
Generally, an agitator is a rough man of the [Irish nationalist Daniel] O'Connell type, who says anything himself, and lets others say anything. "You peg into me and I will peg into you, and let us see which one will win," is his motto. Civil Disorder, Riots, Protests & Demonstrations
Genius of great affairs abhors nicety of division History
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. History
It is an inevitable defect, that bureaucrats will care more for routine than for results. Bureaucracy
Life is a school of probability Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
Our royalty is to be reverenced, and if you begin to poke about it you cannot reverence it …. We must not let in daylight upon magic. Secrecy & Transparency
Poverty is an anomaly to rich people. It is very difficult to make out why people who want dinner do not ring the bell. Poverty
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. Public Opinion & Polling
Sensible men of substantial means are what we wish to be ruled by. Miscellaneous
So long as war is the main business of nations, temporary despotism—despotism during the campaign—is indispensable. War & Peace
The [London] Times has made many ministries. Media, Journalism & The Press
The Bank of England should lend in times of internal panic as freely and readily as plain principles of banking require. Business, Commerce & Finance
The best history is but like the art of Rembrandt: it cases a vivid light on certain selected causes—on those which were best and greatest: It leaves all the rest in shadow unseen. History
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. History ;Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
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. Miscellaneous
The cure for admiring the House of Lords is to go and look at it. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
The English constitution is founded on the principle of choosing a single sovereign authority and making it good. Constitution / Bills & Declaratiobns of Rights
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. Presidency, Vice Presidency & Prime Ministership
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. Management & Managing Government
We read occasionally in conservative literature alternations of sentences, the first appeal to the coarsest prejudice—the next a subtle hint to a craving and insatiable skepticism. Liberals & Conservatives
When great questions end, little parties begin. Political Parties & Machines
Women—one half the human race at least—care fifty times more for a marriage than for a ministry. Families, Children & Parenting
A constitutional statesman is in general a man of common opinions and uncommon abilities.
A family on the throne is an interesting idea. It brings down the pride of sovereignty to the level of petty life. Life ;Families, Children & Parenting
A great pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do. Life
A man's mother is his misfortune, but his wife is his fault.
A schoolmaster should have an atmosphere of awe, and walk wonderingly, as if he was amazed at being himself.
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.
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.
All the best stories in the world are but one story in reality - the story of escape. It is the only thing which interests us all and at all times, how to escape.
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 inability to stay quiet is one of the conspicuous failings of mankind.
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. Time ;Money, Coins & Minting
Conquest is the missionary of valor, and the hard impact of military virtues beats meanness out of the world.
Dullness in matters of government is a good sign, and not a bad one - in particular, dullness in parliamentary government is a test of its excellence, an indication of its success. Success ;Government
Honor sinks where commerce long prevails.
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.
It is good to be without vices, but it is not good to be without temptations.
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.
Life is a school of probability. Life
Men who do not make advances to women are apt to become victims to women who make advances to them. Women
No great work has ever been produced except after a long interval of still and musing meditation. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
No real English gentleman, in his secret soul, was ever sorry for the death of a political economist. Death
Nothing is more unpleasant than a virtuous person with a mean mind.
One of the greatest pains to human nature is the pain of a new idea. Nature
Poverty is an anomaly to rich people; it is very difficult to make out why people who want dinner do not ring the bell.
Progress would not have been the rarity it is if the early food had not been the late poison. Nutrition, Food, Starvation, Farming & Agriculture
So long as there are earnest believers in the world, they will always wish to punish opinions, even if their judgment tells them it is unwise and their conscience that it is wrong.
So long as war is the main business of nations, temporary despotism - despotism during the campaign - is indispensable. Business, Commerce & Finance ;War & Peace
The being without an opinion is so painful to human nature that most people will leap to a hasty opinion rather than undergo it. Nature
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. Government
The greatest mistake is trying to be more agreeable than you can be.
The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do. Life
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.
The real essence of work is concentrated energy. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
The reason that there are so few good books written is that so few people who write know anything.
The reason why so few good books are written is that so few people who can write know anything.
The whole history of civilization is strewn with creeds and institutions which were invaluable at first, and deadly afterwards. History
We must not let daylight in upon the magic.
What impresses men is not mind, but the result of mind.
Woman absent is woman dead.
Writers like teeth are divided into incisors and grinders.
You may talk of the tyranny of Nero and Tiberius; but the real tyranny is the tyranny of your next-door neighbor.