Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Quote of the day, 19th Century edition 

Enterprise, like Icarus, had soared too high, and melted the wax of her wings; like Icarus, she had fallen into a sea, and learned, while floundering in its waves, that her proper element was the solid ground. She has never since attempted so high a flight.

In times of great commercial prosperity there has been a tendency to over-speculation on several occasions since then. The success of one project generally produces others of a similar kind. Popular imitativeness will always, in a trading nation, seize hold of such successes, and drag a community too anxious for profits into an abyss from which extrication is difficult. Bubble companies, of a kind similar to those engendered by the South-Sea project, lived their little day in the famous year of the panic, 1825. On that occasion, as in 1720, knavery gathered a rich harvest from cupidity, but both suffered when the day of reckoning came.
Charles Mackay, Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, 1841, 1852, p. 91. He wrote this in the first edition, and noted in the second that the Great Railway Mania of 1844 had occurred in the meanwhile. �And a fair few since...