Walter Bagehot (February 3, 1826 – March 24, 1877) was a British journalist, businessman, and essayist, who wrote extensively about government, economics, and literature. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)
A great pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do.
A man's mother is his misfortune, but his wife is his fault.
A Parliament is nothing less than a big meeting of more or less idle people.
An inability to stay quiet is one of the conspicuous failings of mankind.
Every trouble in life is a joke compared to madness.
Free government is self-government. A government of the people by the people. The best government of this sort is that which the people think best.
In every particular state of the world, those nations which are strongest tend to prevail over the others; and in certain marked peculiarities the strongest tend to be the best.
It is good to be without vices, but it is not good to be without temptations.
It is often said that men are ruled by their imaginations; but it would be truer to say they are governed by the weakness of their imaginations.
Life is a compromise of what your ego wants to do, what experience tells you to do, and what your nerves let you do.
Men who do not make advances to women are apt to become victims to women who make advances to them.
Nothing is more unpleasant than a virtuous person with a mean mind.
One of the greatest pains to human nature is the pain of a new idea.
Poverty is an anomaly to rich people; it is very difficult to make out why people who want dinner do not ring the bell.
Progress would not have been the rarity it is if the early food had not been the late poison.
Public opinion is a permeating influence, and it exacts obedience to itself; it requires us to drink other men's thoughts, to speak other men's words, to follow other men's habits.
So long as there are earnest believers in the world, they will always wish to punish opinions, even if their judgment tells them it is unwise and their conscience that it is wrong.
The being without an opinion is so painful to human nature that most people will leap to a hasty opinion rather than undergo it.
The great difficulty which history records is not that of the first step, but that of the second step.
The habit of common and continuous speech is a symptom of mental deficiency.
The reason why so few good books are written is that so few people who can write know anything.
The whole history of civilization is strewn with creeds and institutions which were invaluable at first, and deadly afterwards.
We must not let daylight in upon the magic.
What impresses men is not mind, but the result of mind.
When great questions end, little parties begin.
Writers, like teeth, are divided into incisors and grinders.
You may talk of the tyranny of Nero and Tiberius; but the real tyranny is the tyranny of your next-door neighbor.