Front Page Titles (by Subject) 33.: Letter to Horace Say - The Collected Works of Frédéric Bastiat. Vol. 1: The Man and the Statesman: The Correspondence and Articles on Politics
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33.: Letter to Horace Say - 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 Horace Say
Mugron, 24 November 1844
[vol. 7, p. 377]
Please allow me to express to you the feeling of deep satisfaction I had on reading your kind letter of the 19th of this month. Without the sentiments contained in this most valued letter, how would we, men of solitude who are deprived of the useful warnings received through contact with the rest of the world, know whether or not we are in the group of dreamers, all too common in the country, who have allowed themselves to be obsessed by a single idea? Do not tell me, sir, that your approval can merely have limited value in my eyes. Since France and humanity lost your illustrious father, whom I also venerate as my intellectual father, what sentiments can be more precious to me than yours, especially when your own writings and the expressions of confidence which the population of Paris have heaped on you give such authority to your judgments?
Among the authors of your father’s school whom death has respected, there is one above all whose agreement is of inestimable value to me, although I would not have dared to solicit it. I refer to M. Charles Dunoyer. His first two articles in Le Censeur européen (“On the Equilibrium Between Nations”),62 together with those by M. Comte which precede them,63 settled the direction of my thought and even my political actions a long time ago.64 Since then the economist school65 appears to have given way before the host of socialist sects which seek to achieve the universal good, not in the laws of human nature but in artificial organizations which are the products of their imagination. This is a disastrous mistake, which M. Dunoyer has been campaigning against for a long time with a perseverance that can almost be called prophetic. I therefore could not prevent the rise of a feeling almost of pride when I learned from your letter that M. Dunoyer has approved of the spirit of the text you have had the goodness to include in your esteemed collection.
You are kind enough, sir, to encourage me to send you a further text. I am now devoting the little time I have at my disposal to a work of patience, the usefulness of which I consider to be unquestionable, even though it consists only of simple translations. In England there is a major movement in support of free trade. This movement has been kept carefully hidden by our newspapers and where, from time to time, they are obliged to mention it, it is to distort its nature and influence. I would like to put documents relating to it before the French public and show that on the other side of the Channel there is a party with many members that is powerful, honest, judicious, ready to become the national party, and ready to direct the policy of England, and it is to this party that we should extend a hand of friendship. The public would then be capable of judging whether it is reasonable to envelop the whole of England in the wild hatred that the press is trying to whip up with such obstinacy and success.
I am expecting other benefits from this publication. Readers will find in it an attack on the very root of the partisan spirit, the undermining of the basis of national hatred, the theory of markets set out not methodically but using forms that are popular and striking, and finally, they will see in action the energy, the demonstration tactics which now mean that in England, when genuine abuse is attacked, it is possible to forecast the day it will be abolished, just as our military engineers forecast the time at which besiegers will seize a citadel.
I am planning to come to Paris in April next to supervise the printing of this publication,66 and if I had any hesitations in doing this your kind offer and the desire to make your acquaintance and those of the distinguished men whom you meet would be enough to persuade me.
Your colleague, M. Dupérier, was also good enough to write to me about my article. “It is good in theory,” he said; and I am tempted to reply to him by your esteemed father’s quip, “My God, what is no good in practice is good for nothing.” M. Dupérier and I follow very different paths in politics. My esteem for him is all the higher for his frankness and the frankness of his letter. These days, there are very few candidates who tell their opponents what they think.
I forgot to say that if the time and my health permit, following your encouraging invitation I will send another article to Le Journal des économistes.67
I would be grateful, sir, if you would convey to MM Dussard, Fix, and Blanqui my thanks for their kindness and assure them that I wholeheartedly support their noble and useful work.
P.S. I am taking the liberty of sending you a text published in 1842 relating to the elections written by one of my friends, M. Félix Coudroy. You will see that the doctrines of MM Say, Comte, and Dunoyer have generated some green shoots in places on the arid soil of the Landes. I thought you would be pleased to learn that the sacred fire is not quite extinguished. As long as there is still a spark, we should not lose hope.
Letter to Charles Dunoyer, Member of the Institute68
Mugron, 7 March 1845
[vol. 7, p. 371]
Of all the testimonials I might have hoped to receive, that which I have just received from you is certainly the most precious. Even allowing for kindness in the very flattering references to me on the first page of your book,69 I cannot help being certain that I have your vote, knowing how much you are in the habit of matching your utterances to your thought.
When I was very young, sir, a happy chance made me pick up Le Censeur européen and I owe the direction of my studies and outlook to this circumstance. In the time that has elapsed since this period, I am unable to distinguish what is the fruit of my own meditations from what I owe to your writings, so completely do they appear to have been assimilated. But if all that you had done were to reveal to me in society and its virtues (its views, ideas, prejudices, and external circumstances) the true elements of the good it enjoys and the evils it endures, if all you had taught me were to see in governments and their forms only the results of the physical and moral state of society itself, it would be none the less proper, whatever additional knowledge I had managed to acquire since then, to give you and your colleagues the credit for its direction and principle. It is enough to say to you, sir, that nothing could give me more genuine satisfaction than the reception you have given to the two articles I sent to Le Journal des économistes and the sensitive way in which you were kind enough to express it.70 I will be devoting serious study to your book and gleaning much enjoyment from following the development of the fundamental distinction to which I have just referred.
[62 ]Dunoyer, “Du système de l’equilibre des puissances européennes.”
[63 ]Comte, “Considérations sur l’état moral de la nation française”; and Comte, “De l’organisation sociale.”
[64 ]In the hiatus between the forced closure of Le Censeur by the censors in 1815 and its reopening in 1817 under the name Le Censeur européen, Comte and Dunoyer discovered the work of Jean-Baptiste Say, which transformed their view of how societies functioned and the future course of their progress under the impulse of “industrialism.” Bastiat was to adopt much of their social and economic theory as his own.
[65 ]Bastiat uses the expression l’école économiste to refer to adherents of the free market, or the laissez-faire, school of economic thought (Les Économistes). It is worth noting that, in Bastiat’s time, economist was systematically understood as “liberal economist.”
[66 ]Cobden and the League.
[67 ]This letter was written in November 1844. The next article by Bastiat to appear in Le Journal des économistes was titled “Letter from an Economist to M. de Lamartine, on the Occasion of His Article Entitled ‘The Right to Work.’ ” (OC, vol. 1, p. 406, “Un Économiste à M. de Lamartine.”)
[68 ]Institut de France.
[69 ]Dunoyer, De la liberté du travail.
[70 ]Probably a reference to the first two articles Bastiat had published in Le Journal des économistes on British and French tariffs and on Lamartine. (OC, vol. 1, p. 331, “De l’influence des tariffs français et anglais sur l’avenir des deux peuples” and “Un Économiste à M. de Lamartine.”)