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Appreciating Bagehot

A review of a new biography of The Greatest Victorian, written in the form of memoirs.  From what I’ve known of Bagehot, I’ve always liked him, now I have a better idea of why.

Quoting from Bagehot’s actual writings, which assert that free institutions thrive among dullards, Prochaska goes on, “The English are unrivalled in stupidity, by which I meant the roundabout common sense and dull custom that steers the opinion of most men. Stupidity is a characteristic suited to our carelessly created Constitution and its institutional freedoms.”

The rootedness of custom as a necessity of self-government seems positively Burkean, and indeed, it seems as though Bagehot may have been greatly influenced by Burke, although he probably considered him too brilliant to be allowed to actually govern.

Posted in Culture, History.

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