Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Essay: "Mr. Cobden." Walter Bagehot.

One-minute review: An interesting politician. People expected something very different from what he really was. They expected a caricature of a politician, but found that he was a sensitive human being with an original mind who said directly and earnestly what he needed to say. Who would ever expect to be fascinated by a speech on political economy, but people were when they heard Mr. Cobden speak on the subject. And now he is gone and no one can replace his unique character.


“…was most anxious to convince everyone of what he thought the truth….”

“Everyone felt that England had lost an individuality which it would never have again…altogether unequaled.”

“He never spoke ill of anyone. He arraigned principles, but not persons.”

“Mr. Cobden had a delicate dislike of offending other men’s opinions.”

“He was altogether a man of business speaking to men of business.”

“A speaker should convince his audience that he was a likely person to know.”

“Mr. Cobden’s habit of ‘coming to the point.’ ”

“…cut off before his time. A youth and manhood so spent as his well deserved a green old age.”

“…a rare gift—the gift of a unique character.”

“But what is before us we know not,/ And we know not what shall succeed.”

Great Essays. Ed. Houston Peterson. New York: Washington Square Press, Inc. 1960.

What is an essay? “They are all prefaces. A preface is nothing but a talk with the reader; and they [essays] do nothing else.” Charles Lamb.

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