Page:Studies of a Biographer 3.djvu/172

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
160
STUDIES OF A BIOGRAPHER

new.' Clough, says his friend, was led to a certain discouragement—a disenchantment; a 'fatigued way of looking at great subjects'—partly, as Bagehot thought, because he had been prematurely forced by Arnold's training into 'moral earnestness.' In fact, he had learnt that Arnold's disciples could be prigs. From that fate Bagehot was preserved by his vivid interest in life. If humbugs abounded all round, he did not become indifferent and fastidious, but only found an ampler field for his combative propensities. How little he was tainted by priggishness or 'moral earnestness' appears from the curious set of letters from Paris upon the coup d'état in 1851. Bagehot there came out as a thorough cynic, and his private letters, Hutton tells us, were even more cynical than those published in the Inquirer. The readers of that paper—good sound believers in the Times and the British Constitution—were naturally scandalised by the audacious young gentleman who argued that it was quite right to gag the Press and to ship off Leaders of the Opposition to Cayenne. Most young Liberals had been roused to enthusiasm by the revolutionary movements of 1848. Bagehot could only see the absurdities and the failures. He super-