Some Extraordinary Popular Delusions

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Money, again, has often been a cause of the delusion of multitudes. Sober nations have all at once become desperate gamblers, and risked almost their existence upon the turn of a piece of paper. To trace the history of the most prominent of these delusions is the object of the present pages. Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one.

Some Extraordinary Popular Delusions

The memoirs of the South-Sea madness and the Mississippi delusion are more complete and copious than are to be found elsewhere; and the same may be said of the history of the Witch Mania, which contains an account of its terrific progress in Germany, a part of the subject which has been left comparatively untouched by Sir Walter Scott in his Letters on Demonology and Witchcraft, the most important that have yet appeared on this fearful but most interesting subject.

The present may be considered more of a miscellany of delusions than a history—a chapter only in the great and awful book of human folly which yet remains to be written, and which Porson once jestingly said he would write in five hundred volumes! Thus somewhat weakly and paraphrastically rendered by Justandsond, in his translation of the Memoirs of Louis XV:. Book Cover.

Charles Mackay - Extraordinary Popular Delusions and The Madness of Crowds Audiobook

First Pub. Date Comments 2nd edition Copyright The text of this edition is in the public domain. Table of Contents. Preface Ch. FIRST London, April 23rd, The wits of the day called it a sand-bank , which would wreck the vessel of the state. There is no doubt that Law proposed his scheme to Desmarets, and that Louis refused to hear of it.

The reason given for the refusal is quite consistent with the character of that bigoted and tyrannical monarch. This anecdote is related by M.

The Extraordinary Popular Delusion of Believing What You Read - Total Return - WSJ

It would have looked more authentic if he had given the names of the dishonest contractor and the still more dishonest minister. But M. It is sufficient with most of them that an anecdote be ben trovato; the vero is but matter of secondary consideration. The French prounounced his name in this manner to avoid the ungallic sound, aw.

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After the failure of his scheme, the wags said the nation was lasse de lui, and proposed that he should in future be known by the name of Monsieur He las! The curious reader may find an anecdote of the eagerness of the French ladies to retain Law in their company, which will make him blush or smile according as he happens to be very modest or the reverse. In writing the history of the great financial manias, Charles Mackay proved himself a master chronicler of social as well as financial history.


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Blessed with a cast of characters that covered all the vices, gifted a passage of events which was inevitably heading for disaster, and with the benefit of hindsight, he produced a record that is at once a riveting thriller and absorbing historical document. A century and a half later, it is as vibrant and lurid as the day it was written.


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  4. For modern-day investors, still reeling from the dotcom crash, the moral of the popular manias scarcely needs spelling out. When the next stock market bubble comes along, as it surely will, you are advised to recall the plight of some of the unfortunates on these pages, and avoid getting dragged under the wheels of the careering bandwagon yourself.

    Charles Mackay was born in Perth, Scotland. His mother died shortly after his birth, and his father, who had been in turn a Lieutenant on a Royal Navy sloop captured and imprisoned for four years in France and then an Ensign in the 47th foot taking part in the ill-fated Walcheren Expedition where he contracted malaria, sent young Charles to live with a nurse in Woolwich in

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