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In 1858, Bagehot married Elizabeth (Eliza) Wilson (1832-1921), whose father, James Wilson, was the founder and owner of The Economist; the couple were happily married until Bagehot's untimely death at age 51, but had no children. A collection of their love-letters was published in 1933.
In 1855, Bagehot founded the National Review with his friend Richard Holt Hutton. In 1861, he became editor-in-chief of The Economist. In the 17 years he served as its editor, Bagehot expanded The Economist's reporting on politics and increased its influence among policymakers. He was widely accepted by the British Establishment and was elected to the Athenaeum in 1875.
Bagehot also wrote Physics and Politics (1872), in which he examines how civilisations sustain themselves, arguing that in their earliest phase civilisations are very much in opposition to the values of modern liberalism, insofar as they are sustained by conformism and military success, but once they are secured it is possible for them to mature into systems which allow for greater diversity and freedom. His viewpoint was based on a distinction between the qualities of an "accomplished man" and those of a "rude man", which he considered the result of iterative inheritances by which the "nervous organisation" of the individual became increasingly refined through the generations. He regarded this distinction as a moral achievement whereby through the actions of the will, this "accomplished" elite was able to morally differentiate themselves from "rude men" by a "hereditary drill". He equally applied such reasoning to develop a form of pseudoscientificracism, whereby those of mixed race lacked any "inherited creed" or "fixed traditional sentiments" upon which, he considered, human nature depended. He attempted to provide empirical support for his views by citing John Lubbock and Edward Tylor, although neither of them accepted such arguments for hereditary difference in their writings on human evolution. Tylor in particular rejected Bagehot's view of the centrality of physical heredity and that the modern "savage" mind was "tattooed over with monstrous images" by which base instincts had been preserved in crevices, as opposed to the accomplished European man, for whom such instincts had been smoothed away through inherited will to exercise reason.
Bagehot never fully recovered from a bout of pneumonia he suffered in 1867, and he died in 1877 from complications of what was said to be a cold. Collections of Bagehot's literary, political, and economic essays were published after his death. Their subjects ranged from Shakespeare and Disraeli to the price of silver. In honour of his contributions, The Economist's weekly commentary on current affairs in the UK is entitled "Bagehot". Every year, the British Political Studies Association awards the Walter Bagehot Prize for the best dissertation in the field of government and public administration.
(1885). The Postulates of English Political Economy.
(1889). The Works of Walter Bagehot.
(1933). The Love Letters of Walter Bagehot and Eliza Wilson (with his spouse).
^Selinger, William; Conti, Greg (2015). "Reappraising Walter Bagehot's Liberalism: Discussion, Public Opinion, and the Meaning of Parliamentary Government". History of European Ideas. 41 (2): 264. doi:10.1080/01916599.2014.926105. S2CID144027865.
^Bagehot, Walter (November 1867). "Physics and Politics. No. I. The Pre-Economic Age". Hathi Trust. Fortnightly Review. Retrieved 2018. This three-part article was published over the course of three years in the Fortnightly Review: the first section was published in November, 1867; the second section in April, 1868; and the third in July, 1869.
Halsted, John B. (1958). "Walter Bagehot on Toleration," Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol. 19, No. 1, pp. 119-28
Hanley, Brian (2004). "'The Greatest Victorian' in the New Century: The Enduring Relevance of Walter Bagehot's Commentary on Literature, Scholarship, and Public Life", Papers on Language and Literature, Vol. 40, No. 2, pp. 167-98
Irvine, William (1939). Walter Bagehot. London: Longmans, Green and Co.
Kolbe, F.C. (1908). "Walter Bagehot: An Appreciation," The Irish Monthly, Vol. 36, No. 419, pp. 282-87
Lanchester, John, "The Invention of Money: How the heresies of two bankers became the basis of our modern economy", The New Yorker, 5 & 12 August 2019, pp. 28-31.
Morgan, Forrest (1995). Collected Works of Walter Bagehot. Routledge
Ostlund, Leonard A. (1956). "Walter Bagehot--Pioneer Social Psychology Theorist," Social Science, Vol. 31, No. 2, pp. 107-11
Spring, David (1976). "Walter Bagehot and Deference," The American Historical Review, Vol. 81, No. 3, pp. 524-31