Her young husband also died trying to save her.
Je crois en Dieu. It was from a very different point of view that he was so anxious to deprecate ambitious policies, and curb the practical energies of the most energetic of peoples. Logiciels Logiciels. Glenn W. It was only later, during the events leading up to France's Revolution , that he would begin to rebel against his Catholic Royalist education and instead champion Republicanism and Freethought.
I will see that instant until I die, that instant—too much for tears! I don't have her any more! He wrote many poems afterwards about his daughter's life and death, and at least one biographer claims he never completely recovered from it. After leaving France, Hugo lived in Brussels briefly in , before moving to the Channel Islands , first to Jersey — and then to the smaller island of Guernsey in , where he stayed until Napoleon III's fall from power in Although Napoleon III proclaimed a general amnesty in , under which Hugo could have safely returned to France, the author stayed in exile, only returning when Napoleon III was forced from power as a result of the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War in After the Siege of Paris from to , Hugo lived again in Guernsey from to , before finally returning to France for the remainder of his life.
Hugo published his first novel the year following his marriage Han d'Islande , , and his second three years later Bug-Jargal , In his youth, Hugo resolved to be " Chateaubriand or nothing", and his life would come to parallel that of his predecessor in many ways. Like Chateaubriand , Hugo furthered the cause of Romanticism, became involved in politics though mostly as a champion of Republicanism , and was forced into exile due to his political stances. The precocious passion and eloquence of Hugo's early work brought success and fame at an early age.
Though the poems were admired for their spontaneous fervour and fluency, the collection that followed four years later in Odes et Ballades revealed Hugo to be a great poet, a natural master of lyric and creative song. Victor Hugo's first mature work of fiction was first published in February by Charles Gosselin without the author's name and reflected the acute social conscience that would infuse his later work.
Claude Gueux , a documentary short story about a real-life murderer who had been executed in France. Hugo became the figurehead of the Romantic literary movement with the plays Cromwell and Hernani One of the effects of the novel was to shame the City of Paris into restoring the much-neglected Cathedral of Notre Dame , which was attracting thousands of tourists who had read the popular novel. The book also inspired a renewed appreciation for pre-Renaissance buildings, which thereafter began to be actively preserved. Hugo was acutely aware of the quality of the novel, as evidenced in a letter he wrote to his publisher, Albert Lacroix, on 23 March , "My conviction is that this book is going to be one of the peaks, if not the crowning point of my work.
The Belgian publishing house Lacroix and Verboeckhoven undertook a marketing campaign unusual for the time, issuing press releases about the work a full six months before the launch.
It also initially published only the first part of the novel "Fantine" , which was launched simultaneously in major cities. Installments of the book sold out within hours and had enormous impact on French society. The critical establishment was generally hostile to the novel; Taine found it insincere, Barbey d'Aurevilly complained of its vulgarity, Gustave Flaubert found within it "neither truth nor greatness", the Goncourt brothers lambasted its artificiality, and Baudelaire — despite giving favourable reviews in newspapers — castigated it in private as "repulsive and inept".
Today, the novel remains his most well-known work. It is popular worldwide and has been adapted for cinema, television, and stage shows. An apocryphal tale  about the shortest correspondence in history is said to have been between Hugo and his publisher Hurst and Blackett in He queried the reaction to the work by sending a single-character telegram to his publisher, asking? The publisher replied with a single! Dedicated to the channel island of Guernsey , where he spent 15 years of exile, Hugo tells of a man who attempts to win the approval of his beloved's father by rescuing his ship, intentionally marooned by its captain who hopes to escape with a treasure of money it is transporting, through an exhausting battle of human engineering against the force of the sea and a battle against an almost mythical beast of the sea, a giant squid.
Superficially an adventure, one of Hugo's biographers calls it a "metaphor for the 19th century—technical progress, creative genius and hard work overcoming the immanent evil of the material world. The word used in Guernsey to refer to squid pieuvre , also sometimes applied to octopus was to enter the French language as a result of its use in the book. Hugo returned to political and social issues in his next novel, L'Homme Qui Rit The Man Who Laughs , which was published in and painted a critical picture of the aristocracy.
His last novel, Quatre-vingt-treize Ninety-Three , published in , dealt with a subject that Hugo had previously avoided: the Reign of Terror during the French Revolution. Though Hugo's popularity was on the decline at the time of its publication, many now consider Ninety-Three to be a work on par with Hugo's better-known novels. He was elevated to the peerage by King Louis-Philippe in and entered the Higher Chamber as a pair de France , where he spoke against the death penalty and social injustice , and in favour of freedom of the press and self-government for Poland.
In , he broke with the conservatives when he gave a noted speech calling for the end of misery and poverty. Other speeches called for universal suffrage and free education for all children.
Hugo's advocacy to abolish the death penalty was renowned internationally. When Louis Napoleon Napoleon III seized complete power in , establishing an anti-parliamentary constitution, Hugo openly declared him a traitor to France. He relocated to Brussels , then Jersey , from which he was expelled for supporting a Jersey newspaper that had criticised Queen Victoria and finally settled with his family at Hauteville House in Saint Peter Port , Guernsey , where he would live in exile from October until The pamphlets were banned in France but nonetheless had a strong impact there.
Like most of his contemporaries, Victor Hugo held colonialist views towards Africans. In a speech delivered on 18 May , he declared that the Mediterranean Sea formed a natural divide between " ultimate civilisation and […] utter barbarism," adding "God offers Africa to Europe. Take it," in order to civilise its indigenous inhabitants. This might partly explain why in spite of his deep interest and involvement in political matters he remained strangely silent on the Algerian issue.
He knew about the atrocities committed by the French Army during the French conquest of Algeria as evidenced by his diary  but he never denounced them publicly. A modern reader may also feel puzzled, to say the least, at the meaning of these lines from the conclusion to Le Rhin, chapter 17,  published in , twelve years after French troops landed near Algiers.
What France lacks in Algiers is a little barbarity. The Turks [ The first thing that strikes savages is not reason but strength. What France lacks, England has it; Russia too.
Algeria too harshly conquered, and, as in the case of India by the English, with more barbarism than civilization. Before being exiled he never denounced slavery, and no trace of its abolition is to be found in the 27 April entry of his detailed diary. On the other hand, Victor Hugo fought a lifelong battle for the abolition of the death penalty as a novelist, diarist, and member of Parliament. The Last Day of a Condemned Man published in analyses the pangs of a man awaiting execution; several entries of Things Seen Choses vues , the diary he kept between and , convey his firm condemnation of what he regarded as a barbaric sentence;  on 15 September , seven months after the Revolution of , he delivered a speech before the Assembly and concluded, "You have overthrown the throne.
His complete archives published by Pauvert show also that he wrote a letter asking the United States government, for the sake of their own reputation in the future, to spare John Brown's life, but the letter arrived after Brown was executed. Although Napoleon III granted an amnesty to all political exiles in , Hugo declined, as it meant he would have to curtail his criticisms of the government.
It was only after Napoleon III fell from power and the Third Republic was proclaimed that Hugo finally returned to his homeland in , where he was promptly elected to the National Assembly and the Senate. He was in Paris during the siege by the Prussian Army in , famously eating animals given to him by the Paris Zoo. As the siege continued, and food became ever more scarce, he wrote in his diary that he was reduced to "eating the unknown". During the Paris Commune — the revolutionary government that took power on 18 March and was toppled on 28 May — Victor Hugo was harshly critical of the atrocities committed on both sides.
On 9 April, he wrote in his diary, "In short, this Commune is as idiotic as the National Assembly is ferocious. From both sides, folly. Hang him! Death to the scoundrel! Victor Hugo, who said "A war between Europeans is a civil war",  was an enthusiastic advocate for the creation of the United States of Europe. He expounded his views on the subject in a speech he delivered during the International Peace Congress which took place in Paris in The conference helped establish Hugo as a prominent public speaker and sparked his international fame, and promoted the idea of the "United States of Europe".
However, in Pauvert 's published archives, he states strongly that "any work of art has two authors: the people who confusingly feel something, a creator who translates these feelings, and the people again who consecrate his vision of that feeling. When one of the authors dies, the rights should totally be granted back to the other, the people".
He was one of the earlier supporters of the concept of domaine public payant , under which a nominal fee would be charged for copying or performing works in the public domain, and this would go into a common fund dedicated to helping artists, especially young people.
Hugo's religious views changed radically over the course of his life. In his youth and under the influence of his mother, he identified as a Catholic and professed respect for Church hierarchy and authority. From there he became a non-practicing Catholic and increasingly expressed anti-Catholic and anti-clerical views. A census-taker asked Hugo in if he was a Catholic, and he replied, "No.
A Freethinker ". After , Hugo never lost his antipathy towards the Catholic Church. He felt the Church was indifferent to the plight of the working class under the oppression of the monarchy. Perhaps he also was upset by the frequency with which his work appeared on the Church's list of banned books. In his will, he made the same stipulation about his own death and funeral.
Yet he believed in life after death and prayed every single morning and night, convinced as he wrote in The Man Who Laughs that "Thanksgiving has wings and flies to its right destination. Your prayer knows its way better than you do". Hugo's rationalism can be found in poems such as Torquemada , about religious fanaticism , The Pope , anti-clerical , Religions and Religion , denying the usefulness of churches and, published posthumously, The End of Satan and God and respectively, in which he represents Christianity as a griffin and rationalism as an angel. Although Hugo's many talents did not include exceptional musical ability, he nevertheless had a great impact on the music world through the inspiration that his works provided for composers of the 19th and 20th century.
Hugo himself particularly enjoyed the music of Gluck and Weber. The latter played Beethoven in Hugo's home, and Hugo joked in a letter to a friend that, thanks to Liszt's piano lessons, he learned how to play a favourite song on the piano — with only one finger. When Tolkien published The Lord of the Rings , those were books, published as books. They became faint photocopies. If I understand you rightly, you had formed a surmize of such horror as I have hardly words to… [ Travels in Hyperreality , Londres,Vintage, , p.
Besson , La fantasy , Paris, Klincksieck, , p. Besson , op. Besson et M. Dragonetti , op. Le Goff, J. My first experiment with a non-standard story setting was Wizard of the Pigeons , a fantasy set in contemporary Seattle. It got me started on the idea of playing with magic in all sorts of settings and time frames. Besson, op. The Encyclopedia of Fantasy , J. Clute et J. Grant, Londres, Orbit, , p. Tolkien , Londres, Harper Collins, , p. Eco, op. Make your economy and geography make sense.
Werner, Naissance de la noblesse. Von des Gegen wart einer vergangenen Zeit , Munich, Santini et C. Lapi et N. Zanichelli, And here I may mention, by way of illustrating this point, that Bagehot delighted in observing and expounding the bovine slowness of rural England in acquiring a new idea. No doubt there was in him a vein of purely instinctive sympathy with this density, for intellectually he could not even have understood it.
Writing on the intolerable and fatiguing cleverness of French journals, he describes in one of his Paris letters the true enjoyment he felt in reading a thoroughly stupid article in the Herald a Tory paper now no more , and I believe he was quite sincere.
Everything he wrote on the politics of the day was instructive, but, to my mind at least, seldom decisive, and, as I thought, often not true. He did not feel, and avowed that he did not feel, much sympathy with the masses, and he attached far too much relative importance to the refinement of the governing classes. Bagehot hardly admitted this, and always seemed to me to think far more of the intellectual and moral tone of governments, than he did of the intellectual and moral interests of the people governed.
This was not owing to any doctrinaire adhesion to the principle of laissez-faire. He supported, hesitatingly no doubt, but in the end decidedly, the Irish Land Bill, and never belonged to that straitest sect of the Economists who decry, as contrary to the laws of economy, and little short of a crime, the intervention of Government in matters which the conflict of individual self-interests might possibly be trusted to determine. It was from a very different point of view that he was so anxious to deprecate ambitious policies, and curb the practical energies of the most energetic of peoples.
Next Edition: current; Page: [ 38 ] to Clough, I think that Sir George Cornewall Lewis had the most powerful influence over him in relation to political principles. There has been no statesman in our time whom he liked so much or regretted so deeply; and he followed him most of all in deprecating the greater part of what is called political energy.
Bagehot held with Sir George Lewis that men in modern days do a great deal too much; that half the public actions, and a great many of the private actions of men, had better never have been done; that modern statesmen and modern peoples are far too willing to burden themselves with responsibilities.
He held, too, that men have not yet sufficiently verified the principles on which action ought to proceed, and that till they have done so, it would be better far to act less. He would have been glad to find a fair excuse for giving up India, for throwing the Colonies on their own resources, and for persuading the English people to accept deliberately the place of a fourth or fifth-rate European power—which was not, in his estimation, a cynical or unpatriotic wish, but quite the reverse, for he thought that such a course would result in generally raising the calibre of the national mind, conscience, and taste.
In his Physics and Politics he urges generally, as I have before pointed out, that the practical energy of existing peoples in the West, is far in advance of the knowledge that would alone enable them to turn that energy to good account. He wanted to see the English a more leisurely race, taking more time to consider all their actions, and suspending their decisions on all great policies and enterprises till either these were well matured, or, as he expected it to be in the great majority of cases, the opportunity for sensational action was gone by.
He quotes from Clough what really might have been taken as the motto of his own political creed:—. And in all this, if it were advanced rather as a principle of education than as a principle of political practice, there would be great force. But when he applied this teaching, not to the individual but to the State, not to encourage the gradual formation of a new type of character, but to warn the nation back from a multitude of practical duties of a simple though arduous kind, such as those, for example, which we have undertaken in India—duties, the value of which, performed even as they are, could hardly be overrated, if only because they involve so few debatable and doubtful assumptions, and are only the elementary tasks of the hewers of wood and drawers of water for the civilisation of the future—I think Bagehot made the mistake of attaching far too little value to the moral instincts of a sagacious people, and too much to the refined deductions of a singularly subtle intellect.
I suspect that the real effect of suddenly stopping the various safety-valves, by which the spare energy of our nation is diverted to the useful work of roughly civilising other lands, would be, not to stimulate the deliberative understanding of the English people, but to stunt its thinking as well as its acting powers, and render it more frivolous and more vacant-minded than it is.
It is curious, but I believe it to be almost universally true, that what may be called the primitive impulse of all economic action, is generally also strong in great economic thinkers and financiers—I mean the saving, or at least the anti-spending, instinct. It is very difficult to see why it should be so, but I think it is so. No one was more large-minded in his view of finance than Bagehot. He preached that, in the case of a rich country like England, efficiency was vastly more important than the mere reduction of expenditure, and held that Mr.
None the less he himself had the anti-spending instinct in some strength, and he was evidently pleased to note its existence in his favourite economic thinker, Ricardo. Generous as Bagehot was—and Edition: current; Page: [ 40 ] no one ever hesitated less about giving largely for an adequate end—he always told me, even in boyhood, that spending was disagreeable to him, and that it took something of an effort to pay away money.
His striking book, Lombard Street, is quite as much a study of bankers and bill-brokers as of the principles of banking. Every one who knows his writings in the Economist, knows how he ridiculed the common impression that the chief service of the capitalist class—that by which they earn their profits—is merely what the late Mr.
Bagehot held that the capitalists of a commercial country do—not merely the saving, and the work of foremen in superintending labour, but all the difficult intellectual work of commerce Edition: current; Page: [ 41 ] besides, and are so little appreciated as they are, chiefly because they are a dumb class who are seldom equal to explaining to others the complex processes by which they estimate the wants of the community, and conceive how best to supply them. He maintained that capitalists are the great generals of commerce, that they plan its whole strategy, determine its tactics, direct its commissariat, and incur the danger of great defeats, as well as earn, if they do not always gain, the credit of great victories.
The sea was the railway of those days. Bagehot made two or three efforts to get into Parliament, but after an illness which he had in he deliberately abandoned the attempt, and held, I believe rightly, that his political judgment was all the sounder, as well as his health Edition: current; Page: [ 42 ] the better, for a quieter life. Nevertheless in he was very nearly elected for Bridgewater, but was by no means pleased that he was so near success, for he stood to lose, not to win, in the hope that if he and his party were really quite pure, he might gain the seat on petition.
He did his very best, indeed, to secure purity, though he failed. As a speaker, he did not often succeed. His voice had no great compass, and his manner was somewhat odd to ordinary hearers; but at Bridgewater he was completely at his ease, and his canvass and public speeches were decided successes. His examination, too, before the Commissioners sent down a year or two later to inquire into the corruption of Bridgewater was itself a great success.
He not only entirely defeated the somewhat eagerly pressed efforts of one of the Commissioners, Mr. Anstey, to connect him with the bribery, but he drew a most amusing picture of the bribable electors whom he had seen only to shun. I will quote a little bit from the evidence he gave in reply to what Mr. Anstey probably regarded as homethrusts:—. Anstey Speaking from your experience of those streets, when you went down them canvassing, did any of the people say anything to you, or in your hearing, about money?
That man did not give you his promise? Were there many such instances? One suggested that I might have a place. I immediately retired from him. Did anybody of a better class than those voters, privately, of course, expostulate with you against you resolution to be pure? Bagehot, you are quite wrong in putting purity of principles forward. Can you remember the names of any who told you that? He inherited this gift, I believe, in great measure from his mother, to those stimulating teaching in early life he probably owed also a great deal of his rapidity of thought. A lady who knew him well, says that one seldom asked him a question without his answer making you either think or laugh, or both think and laugh together.
And this is the exact truth. His habitual phraseology was always vivid. They are dirty, but valid. His practical illustrations, too, were full of wit. In his address to the Bridgewater constituency, on the occasion when he was defeated by eight votes, he criticised most happily the sort of bribery which ultimately resulted in the disfranchisement of the place. What he does is wrong, but it is intelligible. What I do not understand is the position of the rich, respectable, virtuous members of a party which countenances these things.
They are like the man who stole stinking fish; they commit a crime, and they get no benefit. I like that. Smith Osler, writes to me of it thus:—. Several ingredients went to this; the foremost was his power of getting to the heart of the subject, taking you miles beyond your starting-point in a sentence, generally by dint of sinking to a deeper stratum. But most unique of all was his power of keeping up animation without combat. I never knew a power of discussion, of co-operative investigation of truth, to approach to it.
It was all stimulus, and yet no contest. It was full of youth, and yet had all the wisdom of a mature judgment in it. The last time we met, only five days before his death, I remarked on the vigour and youthfulness of his look, and told him he looked less like a contemporary of my own than one of a younger generation. Ever since, I have been sickening, and am now in bed with a severe attack on the lungs. It was at Herds Hill, the pretty place west of the river Parret, that flows past Langport, which his grandfather had made some fifty years before, that he breathed his last.
He had been carried thither as an infant to be present when the foundation stone was laid of the home which he was never to inherit; and now very few of his name survive. The Gloucestershire family of the same name, from whose stock they are supposed to have sprung, died out in the beginning of this century. But those who do will hardly find again in this world a store of intellectual sympathy of so high a stamp, so wide in its range and so full of original and fresh suggestion, a judgment to lean on so real and so sincere, or a friend so frank and constant, with so vivid and tenacious a memory for the happy associations of a common past, and so generous in recognising the independent value of divergent convictions in the less pliant present.
Walter Bagehot , an English economist and journalist, was born at Langport, in Somersetshire, on February 3, ; he died at the same place on March 24, For the last seventeen years of his life he edited the Economist newspaper, which was established by the late Right Hon. Bagehot, who married in Mr. He was a considerable authority in all questions of banking and finance, and consulted by Chancellors of the Exchequer of both parties on such matters at critical moments; but in the literary world he was even better known for his lively, vivid, and humorous criticisms.
The works published during his own lifetime were: 1 The English Constitution, a book used at Oxford and in more than one of the North-American universities as a text-book on the subject; it has also been translated into German, French, and Italian. Darwin, to the explanation of the competitions and struggles of states; this volume, which is one of the International Scientific Series, has gone through four editions, and has been translated into six or seven different languages.
He also published during his lifetime a Edition: current; Page: [ 48 ] volume of essays, Estimates of some Englishmen and Scotchmen, now out of print; the whole of which, however, is included in either the two volumes of Literary Studies or the single volume of Biographical Studies published after his death. Besides these works, a volume on the Depreciation of Silver, which discusses the causes of the fall in silver between and , and which was corrected for the press by himself, appeared immediately after his death in ; and a volume of essays on political economy, called Economic Studies, part of which had been published during his lifetime, while part was found among his papers, was published in ; Bagehot also published some essays on Parliamentary Reform, which were republished in So long ago as in the reign of Edward I.
This frugality and this rather ostentatious indifference to patriotic pretensions pleased Bagehot, who often boasted of it to his friends as a note of true political sobriety. It was at Langport that the Somersetshire Bank was founded by Mr. Samuel Stuckey in the eighteenth century; and with this bank Bagehot—whose father, Mr. Thomas Watson Bagehot, had married Mrs.
Estlin, a niece of Mr. In he entered University College, London, where he became a good mathematician under the late Professor De Morgan, and read very widely in all branches of general literature. Poetry, metaphysics, and history—of Edition: current; Page: [ 49 ] which last study he never shirked what are usually thought the dry parts—were his favourite studies.
The late Professor Long, who was a learned and accurate student of Roman law as well as of Roman history, had almost as much influence over his course of studies as Professor De Morgan himself. Bagehot took his B. Then he began to read law, in the chambers first of Mr. Quain afterwards the late Mr. Justice Quain , where he took a great liking for the art of special pleading, an art of which the lawyers have now abandoned at least the technical and scientific use. Bagehot always professed to regret greatly the abolition of special pleas. These letters have since been republished in an appendix to the first volume of his Literary Studies, which appeared after his death.
They are letters of singular force and vivacity, though marked by more of that cynicism not uncommon in young men than any of his later writings. It is easy to see that this notion, less paradoxically expressed, pervaded the essay on Physics and Politics conceived and written some twenty years later. In Bagehot plunged into business; but he had always spare energy for literature and contributed first to the Prospective Review, and from onwards to the National Review of which he was, throughout the existence of that quarterly, one of the editors , a series of essays which attracted very general attention by their brilliancy of style and lucidity of thought.
His view was, that the throne and the House of Lords are of the highest use, not in directly checking the House of Commons, but in affecting the wishes of the people as to what the Commons should do and what they should not do. He contrasts at great length the fusion of the administrative and legislative functions in the English Cabinet with their formal and careful separation in the American Constitution, and he maintains that the House of Commons gains enormously in efficiency by its power of dismissing and virtually nominating the Cabinet; for that is the power, according to Bagehot, which gives so much importance to its debates, and which brings home to the electors their responsibility for sending to Parliament the right kind of men, and for making their dissatisfaction felt when their representatives do not speak and vote in the manner best calculated to lend weight to the party which they are pledged to support.
Bagehot held that a representative assembly which, like the House of Representatives in the United States, cannot effect any great and notable change by its resolutions, is bound to be something of a cipher, and that the people will never care enough about what such an assembly does to take the pains requisite for selecting the best men.
Nay, more, the best men themselves will not fix their ambition on becoming members of an assembly which exerts so little conspicuous influence on the course of national events. Bagehot, though no admirer of the House of Lords, is on the whole a decided partisan of the House of Lords as a revising assembly; but he earnestly desired its reconstitution by the help of a considerable number of distinguished life peers. Moreover, they are timorous creatures, who do not know when it is safe to resist an apparent current of popular opinion any more than they know when it is fatal to attempt to resist it.
But with all this depreciation of the peers, Bagehot thought that the existence of the House of Lords tended to maintain the respect of the English people at large for the influence of wealth and culture in the community, and to prevent hungry and ignorant men from dictating foolish and revolutionary measures to hungry and ignorant crowds of followers. While the House of Lords remains, the people will be insensibly influenced by their liking for the wealth and splendour of the aristocracy; and this liking will act as a sedative to keep them from rash and violent measures, and to confine reform to the removal of clear and visible grievances.
His general view was, that in early times the value of government chiefly consisted in the drill of a society into fixed habits, customs, preferences, and rules of its own; so as to subdue arbitrary personal caprice, and to create a common mind and character, a common groove of Edition: current; Page: [ 53 ] thought and feeling. He held that for this purpose a good habit or rule was better than a bad habit or rule; but that even a bad habit or rule thoroughly impressed on the whole people, and inducing a common life, was better than a good habit or rule which had not bitten deeply into the life of a people and effectually moulded them in a single mould.
In the same way Bagehot explained, of course, the triumph of Rome over Greece and other indifferently welded, though cleverer and more reflective communities. Such an arrested civilisation we have in China, where the common drill completely trampled out that disposition for cautious criticism and review of national prejudices, which ought to come sooner or later if there is ever to be an age of progress and discussion. Bagehot held that in our own day that respect for action which was characteristic of the times when action was needed to form and mould the national character, is excessive.
He thought that reserve of judgment, and especially reserve of resolve, is not half common enough; men are over-eager to be doing what they are not sure of approving even when they have done it; the military instincts inherited from the age of drill precipitate us into all sorts of premature action, where we really want discussion, and suspense of judgment till discussion has done its perfect work. Physics and Politics is a very remarkable illustration of the dread of eagerness inspired by the doubts of a reflective mind.
The eager nations, he held, had had their day; the time for deliberating, hesitating, and slowly resolving nations had arrived. As an economist Bagehot belonged decidedly to the Ricardo school; but he held that the Ricardo political economy does not apply to any country in which the larger commerce and the system of open competition have not been more or less introduced.
He denied altogether, for instance, that in such a country as India it is true that capital flows towards any occupation in which a high rate of profit is to be made, or that the Ricardo theory of rent is true in India. He regarded political economy as a science of tendencies only, these tendencies being approximately true in countries like England, though not more than approximately true even there, while in the older world they are absolutely invisible.
Bagehot was one of the best conversers of his day. He was not only vivid, witty, and always apt to strike a light in conversation, but he helped in every real effort to get at the truth, with a unique and rare power of lucid statement. What readers wish to know and have a right to know is, what Bagehot said, not what his editor thinks he ought to have said. But I do not think even editorial fidelity or reverence for the memory of a great man and I cannot better gauge my own for Walter Bagehot than by saying that I believe this edition is a higher service to the public than any original work I could do binds me to allow a plural noun to remain coupled with a singular verb or vice versa , or a singular pronoun in one clause set off against a plural one in the following like clause, or a present and a past tense similarly yoked together in a most discordant union,—merely because the great man did not read his proofs and a patent slip of the pen remained uncorrected.
I do not believe even he, little as he cared for such things, would wish to have all the rags and tatters of his haste and slovenliness scrupulously saved up and exhibited to posterity, any more Edition: current; Page: [ 56 ] than a public speaker would care to have a phonograph record an accidental hiccough; nor do I believe that even the most devoted admirers of Bagehot, to whom every word is worth preserving as instinct with the flavour of that rich mind among whom I count myself , care to have their senses jarred upon by such purely accidental slips.
Nevertheless, I recognise the right of the public to know just what their author wrote and how he left his text; that he wrote carelessly and did not read his proofs is in itself an item of interest in comprehending him. And still more, I owe both to them and to myself to give the minutest information just how far I have tampered with the text, so that they may not fear that they are reading a mangled and wantonly altered version, and I may not be suspected of meddling with his language.
I have therefore kept a scrupulous account of all the changes, even the minutest except such as are made by the insertion of words or letters,—in which case the additions are invariably put in brackets,—or by foot-notes , and give them in a separate table. By this means, any one who finds comfort in knowing how badly his author could write can do so, and where no notice is given may be sure he is reading Bagehot undefiled. That all extracts in foreign languages are translated, ought to be more a matter of course than it is: in anything designed for wide popular reading, neglect to do so is either laziness or swagger.
The object being that all readers shall have the fullest understanding and enjoyment with the least friction, it is absurd to lock up any portion out of the reach of four-fifths of them; and it is not the business either of a writer or an editor to impose penalties for defective education. There is of course one palpable exception to this,—where an extract is cited as a sample of style instead of matter; which in general excludes translation of all poetry as well as of some prose. Edition: current; Page: [ 57 ] The worst translation possible, therefore, would be better than none.
It will be noticed that I have refrained almost wholly from argumentative notes; even the few which seem such turn really upon questions of fact. It is a gross wrong to an author to make his popularity float criticism of himself which could not gain a hearing if published separately, in such intimate union with the text that it cannot be escaped; and nothing is more annoying to a reader than to be incessantly teased with the information that the editor, for whom he does not care, differs from the author, for whom he does care.
It ought not to be necessary, but to some it will be, to disclaim any overweening notion of the value of these or any corrections. But then, the same thing may be said of every other great author, whom nevertheless it is always thought a worthy service to present in as fair and clear a shape as possible. Lastly, despite all the care and labour expended on the work, I know well that blunders will probably be found in it by sharp-eyed specialists, each with more time for a few items than the editor has had for the whole.
I cannot escape or forestall such criticism, and would not if I could,—the public is entitled to know the truth on every point; nor shall I complain of any just castigation for errors or bad judgment. I ask only for the fair allowance due one who has made heavy personal sacrifices of leisure, health, and chosen pursuits, to carry through an important work which better equipped and less burdened men were not likely to undertake.
The appreciative essays on Bagehot published since his death—Mr. To repeat the eulogies would be tedious; yet to give nothing but hostile criticism would grossly distort the perspective both of Bagehot and myself, and stultify both my admiration and my work. Some new things, however, are still left me to say in his praise, to maintain a tolerable balance; but I have no intention of cataloguing all the items I specially admire or disapprove, or of anything more than supplementing the articles above mentioned by a few detached observations.
Bagehot harps upon the fact that everything has a case; that institutions and practices are tools to do certain work vital to a society, and cannot be passed upon till we know its needs; and that those needs may demand alternate acceptance and rejection of given institutions, according as discipline is paralysing progress or progress weakening discipline. He carries this to the very root, evidently taking keen pleasure in making out an excellent case for isolation, for persecution, for slavery, for State regulation of everything from religion to prices, for even the most paralysing politico-religious despotism,—in short, for everything most hateful to the modern spirit and most mischievous in modern society; he makes it an arguable point whether his own arguments for toleration should be tolerated; he leaves prejudice in favour of any institution in the abstract not a leg to stand on.
As a principle of immediate political action, Mr. Hutton is unquestionably right in thinking this teaching worse than useless; but as a piece of analysis to clarify the minds of the intellectual class in the study of events and institutions, to sober sectarian zeal and infuse caution into the framers of political elysiums, its value can hardly be overrated. Physics and Politics, of which the above is the vital essence, seems to me his masterpiece, and not even yet rated at its true value. Both its size and its style, though important merits, are drawbacks to its gaining reverence: men will not believe that so small a book can be a great reservoir of new truth, or that one so easy to understand can be a great work of science.
Yet after subtracting all its heavy debt to Darwin and Wallace, Spencer and Maine, Tylor and Lubbock, and all the other scientific and institutional research of his time, it remains one of the few epoch-making books of the century: the perspective of time may perhaps leave this and the Origin of Species standing out as having given us clearest knowledge of the springs of Edition: current; Page: [ 60 ] change and progress in the world,—this doing for human society what that did for organic life. It is hardly more than a pamphlet,—one can read it in an evening: yet it contains a mass of ideas which could be instructively expanded into several large volumes; and I do not know of any work which is a master-key to so many locks, and supplies the formula for so many knotty historical problems.
Most important is the terrible clearness with which he brings out the lack of any necessary connection between the interests of the individual and those of the society that is, the individuals of the future , and their direct antagonism often for ages; this fact alone is the source of half the tragedy of the world. But it makes the book a profoundly saddening one, as anything must be which recalls the infinite helplessness of human endeavour against the mighty forces of whose orbits we can hardly see the curve in thousands of years; one must have little imagination not to be impressed by it as by a great melancholy epic.
In fact, that theory dissolves into a tissue of fallacies and verbal quibbles as soon as one begins to analyse it. The leading theories of the book are obviously true. The two great factors, imitation and persecution, though on the surface exactly opposed, spring in fact from a single root, the pride of personality, the result of the very fact of conscious existence.
Imitation is the attempt of an individual to raise itself to an equality of accomplishment with every other: supposed inferiors are not imitated. It is in fact an effort to bar from its knowledge all things inconsistent with the permanency of its immediate state of feeling; and the intensity of the desire or of its action does not and cannot diminish,—it is as strong now in the most civilised societies as it was in the Stone Age.
The only amelioration is, that to an ever greater extent a flux of details is found to involve none of guiding principles, and to be a sine qua non of needful business; so more and more of them are reluctantly left to free choice. Parents will not let a child prepare its food in its own way, even when it would do no harm; men will hoot another for wearing a suit whose colour is for no assignable cause held inappropriate to the season; and the tyranny of fashion among women who simply represent the conservative forces at their strongest needs no exposition. The same feeling makes people shun like the plague the risk of discovering new truth on the main theories of life, as politics and religion: men choose their associates, their newspapers, their very societies of intellectual research, to reinforce their confidence in themselves, not to shake it.
Life would not be endurable if one never felt sure from day to day whether the postulates on which he based his conduct were true. Even the principle of corporate liability for offences to the gods, to which Bagehot assigns the largest share in enforcing unity of action, must have found its chief scope through this; for things directly esteemed unlucky from special events Edition: current; Page: [ 62 ] absurdly numerous as they seem to us can have borne but a small proportion to the mass of neutral acts, which must have been organised into a systematic drill through the fact that anything disagreeable or what is the same thing, unfamiliar to themselves was of course assumed disagreeable to their gods too, and soon came under a permanent religious ban.
Here again the influence of old prepossessions is very visible: aristocracy having in fact existed in all progressive societies, it is assumed that but for its rise the world could never have emerged from savagery—which is incredible. The economic worth or novelty of Economic Studies I am not competent to estimate; but that feature is not to me its chief interest, and I doubt if it is its chief value, which is rather historic and social.
The book is mainly a re-survey of the ground traversed in Physics and Politics, with which it is identical in aim in a more limited sphere,—to prove that modern advantages were ancient ruin, and modern axioms ancient untruths. It buttresses the same points with many new illustrations and expositions; and contains besides a mass of the nicest and shrewdest observations on modern trade and society, full of truth and suggestiveness.
That it was left a fragment is a very great loss to the world; had it been finished, Mr. Regarding the English Constitution, appreciation of its immense merits must be taken for granted; praising it is as Edition: current; Page: [ 63 ] superfluous as praising Shakespeare. Every student knows that it has revolutionised the fashion of writing on its subject, that its classifications of governments are accepted commonplaces, that it is the leading authority in its own field and a valued store of general political thought.
As an analysis of the English system and an essay on comparative constitutions, it will not lose its value; as a treatise on the best form of constitution and a manual of advice for foreigners, it is a monument of the futility of such work, for the course of events since his death seems sardonically designed for the express purpose of making a wreck of it.
The last decade has done more than the previous four to compel a total recasting of much political speculation based at once on long experience and seemingly unassailable theory. These changes, too, are of the most opposite sorts, as might be expected,—the characteristic evils of each system developing until they become well-nigh intolerable and demand an infusion of the other for a remedy.
In this country we need some elements at least of the cabinet system, for the sake of political education, party responsibility, direct executive power, and the ability to prevent the creation of a permanent oligarchy through the interests and fears of an army of office-holders. In France there is evident need of an executive with power to carry on the government for a certain time in defiance of faction. In England the question is so bound up with the tremendous problems now at hand, and these are so involved and far-reaching, that reserve of judgment is both modesty and common-sense; but the difference in the situation from that of a few years ago is so Edition: current; Page: [ 64 ] great that the rather complacent tone of the book already grates on one as being decidedly out of place, and even gives it an unjust appearance of shallowness.
Part of the change had come before his death: the difference in tone between the first edition and the introduction to the second is nearly as great as between the views of trade given by a merchant when prospering and when menaced with bankruptcy. And this leads naturally to his utterances on American subjects. These were in general so fair, often so weighty and valuable, and always so different in kind from the ignorant ill-will toward anything foreign in which every national press is steeped, that we can feel no irritation even where his judgment is most severe. Besides, he confined his criticisms mainly to positive institutions, which can be modified at will; and did little carping at social facts, which is scarcely more than a waste of breath even from a native and quite that from a foreigner,—such facts not being conscious creations but instinctive embodiments of social necessities, which adjust themselves as needed and which their very creators are powerless to change.
It would be silly, therefore, to resent the little streaks of complacent John-Bullism which lurked even in that least insular of minds; but I confess to a touch of malicious satisfaction in this proof that he was human and an Englishman. What he supposed the historical teaching in American colleges 1 to consist of, it is impossible to say; apparently, analyses of the battle of New Orleans, and panegyrics on Sam Houston and Davy Crockett.
It is hard to believe that Bagehot did not have some intelligible thought in writing this piece of sublimated nonsense, but I cannot form the least idea what. These of course are trifles; but in both the great aspects of our system, the political and the social, he omits or mistakes essential facts. To be sure, in the social aspect he bases a gloomy view of the future on a much too complimentary view of the present; but it must have struck so impartial a seeker after truth as a very remarkable and gratifying coincidence, that both the political and the social system of his own country should be the best in the world, not only for present happiness but for future elevation.
First, politically. The English Constitution is ostensibly not a brief for that system, but a judicial work on comparative constitutions; and from such a standpoint it is a serious flaw that he ignores wholly the factor of stability, to which everywhere else he attaches supreme value. Much of Physics and Politics and Economic Studies rests on the same thesis: unity of action is of such prime importance to the world that a disciplined band of semi-barbarians often crushes out an advanced but loose-knit society; the same idea recurs again and again in his other writings. Yet when he contrasts the English with the American system, national feeling triumphs over abstract philosophy, with the result of exactly reversing the relations of the two systems.
The evident fact is, that the nominal aristocracy of England is really an unchecked democracy, Edition: current; Page: [ 66 ] committing the fate of the polity at every moment, through the cabinet system and the lack of a written constitution, to the crude emotions of the mass; while the nominal democracy of America is so curbed by its written Constitution and fixed executive terms, accessory institutions, and the division of power between national, State, and municipal bodies, that its working is even ultra-conservative.
Nor is it true, as he was wont to argue in the Economist, that such barriers are only useless irritations, and are always broken through as soon as the people are really excited.