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In his introduction to this new edition of Walter Bagehot's classic Richard Crossman writes: 'First composed as a series of essays for The Fortnightly, The English Constitution was published in book form' in I867-the very year of Disraeli's Reform Act which abruptly and finally ended the period of classical parliamentary government it describes.
As an account, of contemporary fact, the book was out of date almost before it could be reviewed. Since then we have had countless studies by political scientists and constitutional lawyers, interspersed occasionally with the reflections of a retired politician.
Yet for anyone who wants to understand the workings of British politics-be he university student, foreign observer or merely a curious elector -The English Constitution still remains the best introduction available.
First issued in the Fontana Library, March I963 Second impression, September I963 Third impression, June I964 Fourth impression, February I965 Fifth impression, June I966
NOTE ON THE TEXT The English Constitution was first published in 1867. This edition follows the text in the collected Works of Walter Bagehot, edited by his sister-in-law, Mrs Russell Barrington and published by Longmans in I9I5.