Physics and Politics: Or, Thoughts on the Application of the Principles of "Natural Selection" and "Inheritance" to Political Society

Physics and Politics: Or, Thoughts on the Application of the Principles of "Natural Selection" and "Inheritance" to Political Society

Physics and Politics: Or, Thoughts on the Application of the Principles of "Natural Selection" and "Inheritance" to Political Society

Physics and Politics: Or, Thoughts on the Application of the Principles of "Natural Selection" and "Inheritance" to Political Society

Synopsis

One of the great short masterpieces of nineteenth-century thought, Physics and Politics is in essence a brilliant essay in social psychology. It defines with grim humor the conditions of stabiltiy and social progress.

Excerpt

Walter Bagehot was born at Langport, Somersetshire, February 3, 1826, and died March 24, 1877. His father was the managing director of Stuckey's Banking Company; his mother was Miss Stuckey, a woman of brilliant parts. At University College, London, he received the bachelor's degree in 1846, with a mathematical scholarship; and the Master's degree in 1848, with the gold medal in Moral Philosophy. After studying law in the chambers of Mr. Justice Quain and Vice-Chancellor Sir Charles Hall, he went to France before the coup d'état in 1851. His letters to the Inquirer at this time created an exasperated interest, due to an original and cynical point of view opposed to that generally held by the public. In 1858 he married the daughter of Mr. James Wilson, then editor of the Economist, which proved the beginning of nineteen years of a happy married life. The death of Mr. Wilson, two years later, placed Walter Bagehot in the editorial chair of the Economist, where he continued to his death. His uncle, Mr. Vincent Stuckey, once connected with the Treasury, and also private secretary to Mr. Huskisson, early stimulated the ability of his nephew for practical finance; but, of course, the greatest influence of this kind came from his position as editor of the most important financial journal of the world. In this latter work he was brought into close intimacy with the ruling politicians of the day, and with the great commercial interests of Great Britain.

In Walter Bagehot was found the unusual combination of logical accuracy with practical common-sense which so preeminently characterized Adam Smith, and which made the former almost the equal in power and economic insight of the famous Scotchman. The evolutionary studies of Darwin and Wallace, moreover, led him to co-ordinate the results of science not . . .

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