Peter Conti-Brown on Walter Bagehot

Link to Wikipedia article on Walter Bagehot

Here is Peter Conti-Brown’s description of Walter Bagehot, from the Preface to his marvelous book The Power and Independence of the Federal Reserve:

Finally, a word about the book’s epigraphs, all taken from the great Walter Bagehot. Bagehot—pronounced BADGE-it in American English, BADGE-ot in Britain, a shibboleth of sorts in central banking circles—is widely viewed as the intellectual godfather of modern central banking. Whether his world has much to say to ours is an open question, but there are few wordsmiths in financial history quite as able as he. He is the author of magnificent sentences, very interesting paragraphs, and sometimes frustratingly indeterminate books. But because of the power of those sentences, I borrow liberally from his iconic 1873 book, Lombard Street: A Description of the Money Market, for the epigraphs that introduce each chapter (except for chapter 4, which comes from his other famous book, The English Constitution). Bagehot obviously had nothing to say about the Federal Reserve System, which was founded decades after his death. And he barely had more to say about the U.S. financial system (he wasn’t very impressed with nineteenth-century U.S. finance). But his turns of phrases are too applicable and felicitous to pass by, even if the reader must change some of the proper nouns to make them relevant.