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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Lord Eldon
By Walter Bagehot (1826–1877)
 
From ‘The First Edinburgh Reviewers’

AS for Lord Eldon, it is the most difficult thing in the world to believe that there ever was such a man; it only shows how intense historical evidence is, that no one really doubts it. He believed in everything which it is impossible to believe in,—in the danger of Parliamentary Reform, the danger of Catholic Emancipation, the danger of altering the Court of Chancery, the danger of altering the courts of law, the danger of abolishing capital punishment for trivial thefts, the danger of making land-owners pay their debts, the danger of making anything more, the danger of making anything less. It seems as if he maturely thought, “Now, I know the present state of things to be consistent with the existence of John Lord Eldon; but if we begin altering that state, I am sure I do not know that it will be consistent.” As Sir Robert Walpole was against all committees of inquiry on the simple ground, “If they once begin that sort of thing, who knows who will be safe?” so that great Chancellor (still remembered in his own scene) looked pleasantly down from the woolsack, and seemed to observe, “Well, it is a queer thing that I should be here, and here I mean to stay.”  1
 
 
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