B A G E H O T 73 uneventful, as he early gave up to literature the energies and as a man of business likewise in other ways, knowing which might have gained him a large fortune in business at first hand the relation of banking to the trade and comor a great position in the political world. To write books, merce of the country. Lombard Street is perhaps a riper he remarked to the present writer not long before he died, work than The English Constitution, as its foundation was a man must give up a good deal; and, as a man of letters, really laid in 1858 in a series of articles which Bagehot then there is no doubt he made the sacrifice for himself willingly wrote in the Economist, though it was not published till and cheerfully, following his true bent without turning to the early ’seventies, after it had been twice rewritten and right or left. He took his degree at the London University revised with infinite labour and care. Lombard Street, in 1848, and was called to the bar in 1852, but from an like The English Constitution in political studies, is thus early date he joined his father in the banking business of a new departure in economic and financial studies, applyStuckey & Co. in the West of England, and during a great ing the same sort of keen observation which Adam Smith part of his life, while he was editor of the Economist, he used in the analysis of business generally to the special managed the London agency of the bank, lending its business of banking and finance in the complex modern surplus money in “Lombard Street,” and otherwise attend- world. It is, perhaps, not going too far to say that ing to its London affairs. He became also an underwriter the whole theory of a one-reserve system of banking at Lloyd’s, taking no part, however, in the active detailed and how to work it, and of the practical means of business, which was done for him by proxy. fixing an “apprehension minimum” below which the Bagehot’s connexion with the Economist began in 1858, reserve should not fall, originated in Lombard Street about which time he married a daughter of the first and the articles which were the foundation of it; and editor, the Bight Honourable James Wilson, at that time the subsequent conduct of banking in England and Secretary of the Treasury, and afterwards finance minister throughout the world has been infinitely better and in India. Partly through this connexion he was brought safer in consequence. A like note is also struck in into the inside of the political life of the time. He was Physics and Politics (1869), which is a description of an intimate friend of Sir George Cornewall Lewis, and the evolution of communities of men. The materials here was afterwards in constant communication with other are derived mainly from books, the surface to be observed political chiefs, especially with Mr Gladstone, Mr Lowe, being so extensive, but the attitude is precisely the same, and Mr Grant Duff, and with the permanent heads of the that of a scientific observer. To a certain extent the great departments of state. In the City in the same way Physics and Politics had even a more remarkable he was intimate with the governor and directors of the influence on opinion, at least on foreign opinion, than The Bank of England, and with leading magnates in the English Constitution or Lombard Street. It “caught banking and commercial world, such as Mr Bertram Currie on ” as a development of the theory of evolution in a new of Glyn’s, Mr Wade of the National Provincial Bank, Mr direction, and Darwin himself was greatly interested, William Fowler of Alexanders’, afterwards of the National while one of the pleasures of Bagehot’s later years was Discount Company, and Mr Newmarch; while his con- to receive a translation of the book into the Bussian nexion with the Political Economy Club brought him into language. In Literary Studies (1879) and Economic contact in another way with both City and politics. His Studies (1880), published after his death, there is more active life in business and politics, however, was not of scope than in the books already mentioned for other so absorbing a kind as to prevent his real devotion to characteristics besides those of the scientific observer, but literature, but the literature largely grew out of his observation always comes to the front, as in the account activities, and of no one can it be said more truly than of Bicardo, whom Bagehot describes as often, when he of Bagehot that the atmosphere in which he lived gave is most theoretical, really describing what a first-rate man tone and colour and direction to his studies, one thing of business would do and think in actual transactions. of course acting and reacting on another. The special The observation, of course, is that of a type of business note of his books, apart from his remarkable gift of man in the City to which Bicardo as well as Bagehot conversational epigrammatic style, which gives a peculiar belonged, though Bicardo could hardly look at it from zest _ to the writing, was the quality of scientific dis- the outside as Bagehot was able to do. passionate description of matters which were hardly Bagehot had great City, political, and literary influence, thought of previously as subjects of scientific study. This to which all his activities contributed, and much of his is specially the case with the two books which perhaps influence was lasting. In politics and economics especially brought him the most reputation, The English Constitu- his habit of scientific observation affected the tone of distion (1867) and Lombard Street (1873). They are both cussion, and both the English Constitution and the Money books of observation and description. The English Con- Market have been better understood generally because he stitution is described, not from law books and as a lawyer wrote and talked and diffused his ideas in every possible would describe it, but from the actual working, as Bagehot way. He was unsuccessful in two or three attempts to enter himself had witnessed it, in his contact with ministers Parliament, but he had the influence of far more than and the heads. of Government departments, and with the an ordinary member, as director of the Economist and life of the society in which the politicians moved. The as the adviser behind the scenes of the Ministers and true springs and method of action are consequently de- permanent heads of departments who consulted him. His scribed with a vivid freshness which gives the book a death, on the 24th of March 1877, occurred at Langport very wonderful charm, and makes it really a new departure in suddenly, when he was in the fullest mental vigour, and tiie study of politics. It is the same with Lombard Street. might have looked forward to the accomplishment of much The money market is there pictured as it really was in additional work and the exercise of even wider influence. 1850-70, and as Bagehot saw it with philosophic eyes. It is impossible to give a full idea of the brightness Beginning with the sentence, “ The objects which you see and life of Bagehot’s conversation, although the conversain Lombard Street are the Bank of England, the joint tional style of his writing may help those who did not stock banks, the private banks, and the discount houses,” know him personally to understand it. With winged words he describes briefly and clearly the respective functions he would transfix a fallacy or stamp a true idea so that it of these different bodies in the organism of the City, could not be forgotten. He was certainly greater than according to his own close observation as a banker himself, his books and always full of ideas. The present writer knowing the ways and thoughts of the men he describes, recalls two notions he had, not for writing new books S. II. — xo
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