Front Page Titles (by Subject) PREFACE - The Works and Life of Walter Bagehot, vol. 1 (Memoir, Early Essays)
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PREFACE - Walter Bagehot, The Works and Life of Walter Bagehot, vol. 1 (Memoir, Early Essays) 
The Works and Life of Walter Bagehot, ed. Mrs. Russell Barrington. The Works in Nine Volumes. The Life in One Volume. (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1915). Vol. 1.
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By Mrs. RUSSELL BARRINGTON.
THE LIFE OF WALTER BAGEHOT.
With Portraits and other Illustrations. 8vo, 12s. 6d. net.
ESSAYS ON THE PURPOSE OF ART:
Past and Present Creeds of English Painters.
8vo, 7s. 6d. net.
LONGMANS, GREEN AND CO.,
london, new york, bombay, calcutta, and madras
Until now the only uniform edition of Walter Bagehot’s writings in existence, was one published in America in 1889 by The Traveller’s Insurance Company, Hartford, Conn., “as a souvenir of itself”—to quote from its advertisement. This work was compiled and edited with exceptional care and completeness by Mr. Forrest Morgan, at considerable personal sacrifice. His exhaustive notes have been used with advantage in subsequent issues of the separate works published in England, and also in the preparation of the present uniform edition. A debt of gratitude is clearly owing to Mr. Forrest Morgan from all those interested in the study of Walter Bagehot’s writings.
The American uniform edition comprised the writings previously selected by Mr. Hutton for republication. To these are now added the first two articles written by Bagehot which appeared in the Prospective Review in 1848, namely “The Currency Monopoly” and “Principles of Political Economy”; “The Monetary Crisis,” National Review, January, 1858; “The American Constitution,” National Review, October, 1861; “Matthew Arnold on the London University,” Fortnightly Review, June, 1868; “Senior’s Journals,” Fortnightly Review, August, 1871; “Count your Enemies and Economise your Expenditure,” a pamphlet written during a two days’ visit to Bognor in the spring of 1862; seventeen articles on “The Depreciation of Silver,” written for The Economist in 1876;1 and three short early essays printed for the first time as examples of Bagehot’s writings in early youth: “Essay on the Comparative Advantages of the Study of Ancient and Modern Languages,” written at the age of sixteen; “Thoughts on Democracy,” and “Essay on the Character of Mirabeau and his Influence on his Age.” The most important matter republished for the first time will be found in the ninth volume, which contains articles reprinted from The Economist, The Saturday Review, and one article from The Spectator. Bagehot wrote, as a rule, at least two articles each week for The Economist during the last eighteen years of his life, during the period therefore when his mind was fully matured and while he was living in the centre of all that was best in the political and intellectual interests of his time. Hence these articles contain many utterances quite as valuable as any to be found in his more deliberate writings. All are interesting and written in Bagehot’s unmistakable style, a style intrinsically his own, wherewith he contrives to make dry subjects lively, intricate questions simple, and every matter vital with a sense of reality. Out of the many hundred articles Bagehot wrote while directing The Economist, a selection had to be made for re-publication. In making this selection the main object has been to choose those whose subjects are likely to retain a permanent interest for the general public. I am greatly indebted to Sir William Robertson Nicoll for his most kind and able assistance in making this choice.
Walter Bagehot wrote on many subjects. In his case, perhaps more even than in that of other great authors, it is desirable to collect all his writings in one edition; to have within easy reach together with “the English Constitution,” “Physics and Politics,” “Lombard Street” and the “Economic Studies,” essays such as “Hartley Coleridge,” “Béranger,” “Thomas Babington Macaulay,” “Bishop Butler”. The great versatility which characterised Bagehot’s mind during the whole period of his life, can only be fully gauged, the essential trend of his creeds only rightly grasped by a study of his works as a whole. Below the play of his frolicsome humour, below the stability of his intellectual powers, below the wealth of his imagination, lay natural instincts which welded his gifts into the very individual form in which they found expression. “Deep under the surface of the intellect lies the stratum of the passions, of the intense, peculiar, simple impulses which constitute the heart of man; there is the eager essence, the primitive, desiring being,”1 and in this primitive, desiring being is found the initiative impulse which directed all else in Walter Bagehot.
At the age of twenty-one he wrote the essay on John Stuart Mill’s “Principles of Political Economy” wherein he classes Mill as belonging to “an Aristotelic, or unspiritual order of great thinkers. The light of his intellect is exactly what Bacon calls ‘dry light’; it is ‘unsteeped in the humours of the affections’; it disregards what Butler calls the ‘presages of Conscience’ and attends only to the senses and the inductive intellect. The extreme opposite to this school of thinkers is to be found in the school of Plato, and Butler and Kant, who practically make the conscience the ultimate basis of all certainty from whose principles it may be deduced that the ground for trusting our other faculties is the duty revealed by conscience, of trusting those of them essential to the performance of the task assigned by God to Man—thinkers, in short, whose peculiar function it is to establish in the minds of thoughtful persons that primitive theology which is the necessary basis of all positive Revelation.”
These, his own words, describe the school of thinkers to which Bagehot himself belonged—the school of Plato, Butler and Kant. The work that had fallen to him in life, owing to family circumstances, and also as that which satisfied “the impulse to busy ourselves with the affairs of men”—an impulse very strongly possessed by Bagehot—was not of a nature to disclose to the outer world the essential and most important characteristics of his nature. But from his writings these can be traced, more especially when his writings are taken as a whole. Through these, whatever might be the subject on which he wrote, runs the same connecting link, one which in these days it is especially important to discern. “The light of his intellect” was not “dry light, unsteeped in the humours of the affections,” but was that light which practically makes “the conscience the ultimate basis of all certainty,” the true wisdom which looks “unto the Rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole whence ye are digged.”
The original intention in arranging Walter Bagehot’s works in this uniform edition was to place the writings in chronological order. It was not, however, found possible to carry out this intention in every instance. Eight volumes of the works had already been printed before it was contemplated that a life of Walter Bagehot should be written as a precursor to the issue of this edition.1 While collecting material for this life, I came across several articles which had never been reprinted. These obviously were entitled to find a place in any edition which professed to be a complete collection of Walter Bagehot’s works. But, as far as was found possible under these circumstances, the new matter has been inserted so as to carry out the original idea of a chronological sequence.
E. I. B.
[1 ] Bagehot had 2,000 copies of these printed in pamphlet form, with Preface and Appendix by himself. The 2,000 copies were all sold at the time and till now the articles have not been reprinted.
[1 ] “Thomas Babington Macaulay,” National Review, Jan., 1856.
[1 ] The Life of Walter Bagehot forms the tenth volume of this edition.