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32.: Letter to Richard Cobden - Frédéric Bastiat, The Collected Works of Frédéric Bastiat. Vol. 1: The Man and the Statesman: The Correspondence and Articles on Politics 
The Collected Works of Frédéric Bastiat. Vol. 1: The Man and the Statesman: The Correspondence and Articles on Politics, translated from the French by Jane and Michel Willems, with an introduction by Jacques de Guenin and Jean-Claude Paul-Dejean. Annotations and Glossaries by Jacques de Guenin, Jean-Claude Paul-Dejean, and David M. Hart. Translation editor Dennis O’Keeffe (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2011).
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Letter to Richard Cobden
Mugron, 24 November 1844
[vol. 1, p. 106]
Steeped in the schools of your Adam Smith and our J. B. Say, I was beginning to believe that this doctrine that was so simple and clear had no chance of becoming popular, at least for a long time, since, over here, it is completely stifled by the specious fallacies57 that you refuted so well and which are disseminated by the Fourierist, communist, and other sects with which our country is for the moment infatuated, and also by the disastrous alliance of the party newspapers with those newspapers paid for by committees of manufacturers.
It was in this state of total discouragement in which these sad circumstances had cast me that, as I happened to have taken out a subscription to the Globe and Traveller,58 I learned both of the existence of the League and the struggle between free trade and monopoly in England. As I am an enthusiastic admirer of your powerful and very moral association and in particular of the man who appears to give it such forceful and wise direction in the face of countless difficulties, I have been unable to contemplate this sight without wanting to do something for the noble cause of the liberation of work and commerce. Your honorable secretary, Mr. Hickin, was good enough to send me the issue of the League, dated January 1844, together with a number of documents relating to the campaign.
Equipped with these documents, I have tried to draw public attention to your proceedings, on which French newspapers have maintained a calculated and systematic silence. I have written articles in the newspapers of Bayonne and Bordeaux, two towns naturally positioned to become the cradle of the movement. In addition, recently I had published in Le Journal des économistes (issue no. 35, Paris, October 1844) an article which I recommend to you. What has been the result? Newspapers in Paris, on which our laws confer the monopoly of opinion, have considered discussion to be more dangerous than silence. They have therefore created silence around me, totally sure that these arrangements would reduce me to impotence.
In Bordeaux, I have tried to organize an association for trade liberalization, but I have failed because, although there are a few souls who instinctively would like freedom to a certain extent, there are none who understand it in principle.
What is more, an association functions only through publicity, and it needs money. I am not rich enough to endow it on my own, and asking for money would have created the insurmountable obstacle of suspicion.
I have thought of founding in Paris a daily newspaper based on these two concepts, free trade and the elimination of a partisan spirit. Here again, I have encountered money and other problems, which I will not go into. I will regret it for the rest of my life, because I am convinced that a newspaper like this, which fills a public need, would have a chance of success. (I have not given up on this.)
Lastly, I wanted to know whether I had any chance of being elected a deputy, and I have become certain that my fellow citizens would give me their vote, since I almost achieved a majority at the last elections. However, personal considerations prevent me from aspiring to this position, which I might have used to the advantage of our cause.
Obliged to limit my action, I began to translate your sessions59 in Drury Lane and Covent Garden. Next May, I will submit this translation for publication. I expect it to have a good effect.
In order for this work to be complete, I would have liked to obtain a few documents on the origin and beginnings of the League. A short history of this association would be a suitable preface to the translation of your speeches.61 I have asked Mr. Hickin for these documents, but doubtless he has been too busy to reply to me. My documents go back only to January 1843; I would at least need the debate in Parliament on the 1842 tariff and in particular the speech in which Mr. Peel proclaimed the economic truth in the form that has become so popular, “We must be allowed to buy in the cheapest market, etc.”
I would also like you to tell me which of your speeches, either at meetings or in Parliament, you think most appropriate to translate. Lastly, I would like my book to contain one or two free-trade discussions in the House of Commons and ask that you would be good enough to tell me which ones.
I would be most honored to receive a letter from the man of our time for whom I have the keenest and most sincere admiration.
[57 ]In English in the original.
[58 ]An English newspaper. See “Anglomania, Anglophobia,” p. 333.
[59 ]For what became Cobden and the League.
[60 ]Bastiat means those students of economic science who favor free markets (Les Économistes).
[61 ]See this letter, note 59.