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STUDIES OF A BIOGRAPHER
The lofty idealist refuses to consider such questions. The error, he assumes, cannot be in his theories, wherever else it may be. The function of the cynic is to force him to descend from the clouds and explain instead of simply denouncing. Bagehot, that is, was really putting a grave difficulty. He was only giving the most paradoxical turn to the convictions which found fuller expression in his later writings. The weaknesses of French politicians which he described with such singular vigour have certainly not wanted illustration from later experience. Nobody could describe more clearly some causes of the instability of the political order in France. Politics mean business, and therefore compromise. When every man is so logical that compromise becomes a deadly sin, how can the antagonists be held together except by a despotism which at least offers material prosperity? Bagehot's special way of putting it is characteristic. Theory in the lump is bad. The most essential quality for a free people, he declares, 'is much stupidity.' He points his moral by describing the pleasure with which, after a surfeit of brilliant French journalism, he came across an article in the Morning Herald. There was no 'sharp theory' in it, 'no