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Bobsutton

Isaac,

Thanks so much for explaining this in detail. It is further evidence of what a great and careful scholar you are even when it comes to the smallest things. For Work Matters readers, when I see Isaac, he is often reading some book that looks like it is 50 or 75 years old, or telling me about something so obscure that no one else ever would find - he is a joy to work with.

Isaac Waisberg

Bob,

I am afraid I was not clear about the fact that the quote was not referring to Bagehot (as an economist). I did find it in an essay about him, but the essay was wholly laudatory. The same essay pointed me to a wonderful study of Bagehot by Woodrow Wilson. I hope the following passage from the study will correct any misunderstanding I may have caused:

Walter Bagehot is a name known to not a few of those who have a zest for the juiciest things in literature, for the wit that illuminates and the knowledge that refreshes. But his fame is still singularly disproportionate to his charm; and feels once and again like publishing him at least to all spirits of his own kind. It would be a most agreeable good fortune to introduce Bagehot to men who have not read him! To ask your friend to know Bagehot is like inviting him to seek pleasure. Occasionally, a man is born into the world whose mission it evidently is to clarify the thought of his generation, and to vivify it; to give it speed where it is slow, vision where it is blind, balance where it is out of poise, saving humor where it is dry,---and such a man was Walter Bagehot. When he wrote history, he made it seem human and probable; when he wrote of political economy, he made it seem credible, entertaining,---nay, engaging, even; when he wrote criticism, he wrote sense. You have in him a man who can jest to your instruction, who will beguile you into being informed beyond your wont and wise beyond your birthright. Full of manly, straightforward meaning, earnest to find the facts that guide and strengthen conduct, a lover of good men and seers, full of knowledge and a consuming desire for it, he is yet genial withal, with the geniality of a man of wit, and alive in every fibre of him, with a life he can communicate to you. One is constrained to agree, almost, with the verdict of a witty countryman of his, who happily still lives to cheer us, that when Bagehot died he "carried away into the next world more originality of thought that is now to be found in the three Estates of the Realm." (Woodrow Wilson, "A Literary Politician," The Atlantic Monthly, November 1895, 672)
Isaac

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