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BAGEHOT, Walter.

The English Constitution.

Reprinted from the "Fortnightly Review".

London: Chapman and Hall, 1867 Stock Code: 138712
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The defining study of the British constitution

First edition in book form of the most influential exposition of the British (not in fact solely English) constitution. Bagehot conceptualized the constitution as split between "dignified" and "efficient" elements, the former the monarchy and parts of the aristocracy with all their associated pomp and circumstance, the latter the actual machinery of governance and power. His analysis held great sway throughout the rest of the 19th century and onwards into the 20th, even while the role of the dignified elements diminished. In the absence of a written constitution, Bagehot's study became a textbook for those who held power in the system, most notably for almost every monarch since Bagehot's day. The book has consequently been recognized as "the bible of the British monarchy, which even George V and George VI (who were neither of them scholastically inclined) mastered word for word", and the book was used extensively in Queen Elizabeth II's constitutional education by the Vice-Provost of Eton, Henry Marten (see Bradford). "This classic account of that most elusive and least codified of entities, the Constitution of England, never lost its popularity, and shows signs of being elevated from the rank of first-class handbook to a place with De Tocqueville as one of the most important texts in political literature... Bagehot's work is of more than English importance: it is the great defence of empirical as against theoretical politics" (PMM). It was initially published in instalments in The Fortnightly Review between 1865 and 1866, prior to its publication in the present book.

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Octavo. Original purple cloth, spine lettered in gilt, covers panelled in blind, yellow endpapers.


Binder's ticket (Vertue & Co.) to rear pastedown, neat library blindstamp to front free endpaper (G. C. Hay and Co., United Service Library, Calcutta), contemporary ownership signature to front pastedown. Spine slightly sunned, slight bumping and nicking to extremities, expertly refurbished with discreet repair at joint and hinge ends, contents clean and unmarked. A very good copy, presenting well in the original cloth.


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