Front Page Titles (by Subject) (1845) 34.: Letter to Charles Dunoyer, Member of the Institute 68 - The Collected Works of Frédéric Bastiat. Vol. 1: The Man and the Statesman: The Correspondence and Articles on Politics
Return to Title Page for The Collected Works of Frédéric Bastiat. Vol. 1: The Man and the Statesman: The Correspondence and Articles on Politics
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
(1845) 34.: Letter to Charles Dunoyer, Member of the Institute 68 - 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).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The copyright to this edition, in both print and electronic forms, is held by Liberty Fund, Inc.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
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.
Letter to Alphonse de Lamartine
Mugron, 7 March 184571
[vol. 7, p. 373]
Absence has prevented me from expressing to you earlier the deep gratitude I felt at the reception you deigned to give to the letter I took the liberty of addressing to you through Le Journal des économistes. The letter you have been good enough to write to me is very precious to me and I will always keep it, not only because of the inimitable charm which pervades it but also and above all as an example of your kind readiness to encourage the first attempts of a novice who has not been afraid to point out in your admirable writings a few proposals which he considers to be errors that have escaped your genius.
Perhaps I have gone too far in asking you for that analytical rigor, that accuracy in dissection which explores the field of discovery but which cannot enlarge it. All human faculties have their mission; it is up to a genius to lift himself up to view new horizons and point them out to the crowd. At first these horizons are vague, and reality and illusion are confused in them; the role of analysts is then to come and measure, weigh, and distinguish them. This is how Columbus revealed a new world. Do we find out whether he had taken all the measurements and traced all the contours? Is it even important that he thought he had landed in Cathay? Others have come after, patient workers who have corrected and added to the work. Their names remain unknown while that of Columbus has resounded down the centuries. But, sir, is not a genius the king of the future rather than of the present? Can he claim immediate and practical influence? Do his powerful leaps forward into unknown regions have much in common with the activities of men of the present time or those of businessmen? This is a doubt that I am putting to you; your future will answer it.
You are good enough to acknowledge, sir, that I have traveled through the domain of liberty and you are urging me to rise to meet equality and still further to meet fraternity. How can I help but try, when the request is yours, to take new steps in this noble direction? Doubtless, I will not attain the heights to which you soar, since the habits of my mind no longer allow me to use the wings of imagination. But I will endeavor at least to direct the torch of analysis to a few corners of the huge subject you are suggesting that I study.
Permit me to end by saying, sir, that a few incidental disagreements do not prevent me from being the most sincere and fervent of your admirers, as I hope one day to be the most fervent of your disciples.
Letter to Richard Cobden
Mugron, 8 April 1845
[vol. 1, p. 109]
Since you permit me to write to you, I will reply to your kind letter dated 12th December last. I have been discussing the printing of the translation I told you about with M. Guillaumin, a bookseller in Paris.
The book is entitled Cobden and the League, or the Campaign in England in Favor of Free Trade. I have taken the liberty of using your name for the following reasons: I could not entitle this work The Anti-Corn Law League. Apart from the fact that this would have a barbarous sound for French ears, it would have brought to mind just a limited conception of the project. It would have presented the question as purely English, whereas it is a humanitarian one, the most notably so of all those which have brought campaigning to our century. A simpler title, The League, would have been too vague and would have made people think of an episode in our national history. I therefore felt it necessary to make it clear by preceding it with the name of the person acknowledged to be the “driving force of this campaigning.” You have yourself recognized that individual names were sometimes needed “to give point, to direct attention” and I am using this as my justification.
Fashion—individual names, acknowledged reputations—has so much influence here that I felt it necessary to make a further effort to bring it over to our side. I have written a letter to M. de Lamartine in the économistes (the February 1845 issue).72 This illustrious writer, yielding to the tyrant fashion, had assailed economists in the most unjust and thoughtless manner, since, in the same text, he adopted their principles. I have reason to believe, from the reply he was good enough to send me, that he is not far from joining our ranks, and that would perhaps be enough to cause an unexpected swing in public opinion to us. Doubtless, such a swing would be fragile, but finally we would have, at least temporarily, an audience, and that is what we lack. For my part, I ask for one thing only, and that is that people do not deliberately cover their ears.
Permit me to recommend that you peruse the letter to which I refer, if you have the opportunity.
I am, sir, your faithful servant,
Letter to Félix Coudroy
Paris, May 1845
[vol. 1, p. 50]
My dear Félix, I am sure that you are waiting to hear from me. I, too, have a lot to tell you but I must be brief. Although at the end of each day it transpires that I have done nothing, I am always busy. In Paris, the way things are, until you are in the swing of things you need half a day to put fifteen minutes to good use.
I was given a good welcome by M. Guillaumin, who is the first economist I have seen. He told me that he would give a dinner, followed by a reception, to put me in contact with the men of our school; as a result I have not gone to see any of these people. This dinner was held yesterday. I was on the right of the host, clear proof that the dinner was in my honor, and Dunoyer was on his left. Next to Mme Guillaumin were MM Passy and Say. MM Dussard and Reybaud were also there. Béranger had been invited but he had other engagements. In the evening a crowd of other economists arrived: MM Renouard, Daire, Monjean, Garnier, etc., etc. Between you and me, my friend, I can tell you that I felt a keen satisfaction. There were none of these people who had not read, reread, and perfectly understood my three articles. I could write for a thousand years in La Chalosse, La Sentinelle, or Le Mémorial73 without finding a genuine reader, except for you. Here, one is read, studied, and understood. I am sure of this since all or nearly all of them went into the greatest detail, which shows that politeness was not the only reason for this welcome; the only one I found a little cold was M. X. To tell you of the kindnesses I was covered with and the hope that appeared to be based on my cooperation is to make you understand that I was ashamed of my role. My friend, I am perfectly convinced today that, although our isolation has prevented us from equipping our minds sufficiently, it has, at least when it comes to particular questions, given them a strength and accuracy which many more educated and gifted men perhaps do not possess.
What gave me the most pleasure, because it proved that I have really been read with care, is that the last article, entitled “Sophism,”74 was ranked above the others. This is the one in fact in which the principles are examined in the greatest depth, and I was expecting it not to have been tackled. Dunoyer asked me to write an article on his work, to be included in the Débats.75 He was kind enough to say that he thought me eminently suited to making his work appreciated. Alas! I can already see that I will not be able to maintain the far too lofty status which these kind men have accorded me.
After dinner, we discussed dueling. I gave a brief summary of your brochure. Tomorrow we are having another corporate dinner at Véfour; I will take it there and, as it is not long, I hope it will be read. If you could rewrite it, or at least modify it, I believe it might be included in the journal, but the rules prevent it from being quoted verbatim. Incidentally, Le Journal des économistes is not as lowly rated as I feared. It has five or six hundred subscribers and is gaining authority every day.
Repeating the conversation to you would carry me too far. What a world, my friend, and it can well be said “You live only in Paris and just vegetate elsewhere!” In spite of this, I already hanker after our walks and intimate conversations. I lack paper; farewell, dear Félix. Your friend.
P.S. I was mistaken. A dinner, even if it is with economists, is not an opportune occasion for reading a brochure. I gave yours to M. Dunoyer and will not know what he thinks for a few days. You will find in the 27 March issue of Le Moniteur, which should be in the library in my room, the indictment of dueling by Dupin.76 Perhaps that will give you an opportunity to lengthen your brochure. I spent this evening with Y. He gave me the most cordial welcome and we discussed everything, even religion. I thought he was weak on this subject, since he respects it without believing in it.
It was only today that I went to pay my respects to M. Lamartine. I did not enter, as he was leaving for Argenteuil, but with his usual courtesy, he sent me a message to say that he wanted us to talk without constraint and gave me an appointment for tomorrow. How well will I do?
During our dinner, or more accurately after it, a major question was bandied about: “on intellectual property.” A Belgian, M. Jobard, expressed new ideas which will astonish you. I am longing to discuss all this with you. The fact is, in spite of my successes of the moment, I feel that I am no longer disposed to be entertained in this manner. This is water off a duck’s back, and all things considered, life in the provinces might be made more pleasant than it is here if one just had a taste for studying and the arts.
Farewell, my dear Félix, until later. Write to me from time to time and keep busy on your work on dueling. Since the court has reverted to its strange legal posture, it is worth doing.
Letter to Félix Coudroy
Paris, 23 May 1845
[vol. 1, p. 52]
You are expecting a lot of details, my dear Félix, but you are going to be disappointed. Since my last letter, which I sent via Bordeaux and for which I have not yet received a receipt, we have been having weather that is discouraging me from making visits. I spend my mornings wasting time on mere trifles, shopping, and essential business and the evenings regretting this. My letter will therefore be rather arid though I hope you will be pleased with it because of the letter from Dunoyer that I enclose. You will see that he liked your piece on dueling. I have just left him and he repeated to me verbally what he has written in his letter. He praised the essence and style of your brochure and said that it was based on solid work that was on the right track. He expressed his regret that he could not discuss it further and his desire to come to my house to discuss the subject in greater detail. Tomorrow I will send it to M. Say, who is a really nice man because of his gentleness and grace, combined with very firm principles. He is the anchor of the economists’ party. Without him, without his conciliating spirit, the group would soon be dispersed. Many of my colleagues are employed by newspapers which pay them much better than Le Journal des économistes. Others have political affairs to maintain. In a word, the whole thing is an accidental meeting of well-meaning men who like each other even though their opinions differ on many points; there is no firm, organized, and homogeneous party. For my part, if I had the time to remain here and the fortune to hold receptions at home, I would try to found a sort of League. But when you are only passing through, it is useless to embark on such a grand enterprise.
Anyway, I have arrived too soon; my translation is being printed only slowly.77 If I had been able to hand out a few copies, they might perhaps have opened a few doors to me.
I have not seen M. de Lamartine; he is away from Paris and I do not know when he will return.
Another nice man is M. Reybaud. The proof of his remarkably vigorous intellect is that he became an economist by studying the nineteenth-century reformers. He agreed with them when he began his work, but his good sense has triumphed.
I am trying to find out whether M. Guizot has written to you. It is to be feared that his many activities prevent him from reading your brochure. If he were just a man of letters, he would certainly reply to you, but he is a minister and member of the government. In any case, if anything arrives from that quarter, do let me know.
I have been somewhat occupied with public affairs, I mean departmental ones. It would take too long to tell you about it. But I believe that the Adour, that is to say, the lower Adour, from Hourquet to the Gave, will obtain 1.5 million francs. Chance put me in a position to give this a helping hand: it will always be an advantage if the steamboats reach Pontonx. As for the stretch between Mugron and Hourquet, one is dying to know what was responsible for its exclusion, but what can we do? There is just one thing that the general public does not want to become involved in, and that is public affairs.
I do not know whether I will write to my aunt today. In any case tell her that we are all well here. Farewell, my dear Félix; remember me to your sister.
Letter to Félix Coudroy
Paris, 5 June 1845
[vol. 1, p. 54]
My dear Félix, an opportunity has arisen for Bordeaux and I do not want to let it go without a few words of reply to your letter. Forgive me if I am too brief. I am ashamed to call myself busy since the days pass without my making use of them. This is something that can be explained only here. In any case, we will soon be able to talk about everything we find so interesting and that interests scarcely anyone but us.
You have not acknowledged receiving the letter from Dunoyer; I think that you received it only after the departure of Calon. You have seen his opinion of your brochure, and I am longing to hear that of M. Guizot—if he gives it to you—since people assure you that the sole occupation of men in power is to retain it. I have not yet sent it to M. Say, as he is in the country and I will not see him until Friday. He is a charming man and the one I prefer; I am due to dine with him at Dunoyer’s and on the 10th at Véfour at the economists’ banquet. We should be tossing around the question of inviting the government (always the government!) to set up chairs of political economy. I have been made responsible for preparing a few ideas on this, and this is a subject which would please me, but I will limit myself to mulling over my opinion since, there as elsewhere, there are egos and placemen who have to be handled with kid gloves. As for an association which would please me a great deal more, I will wait for my translation78 to be published before speaking about it, since the translation may prepare people’s minds for it. However, for an association, an agreed principle is needed, and I am very much afraid that it is lacking. I have never seen so much fear of absolute conviction, as though we should not be leaving our opponents the task of moderating our progress as necessary.
In Mugron, I will explain to you the reasons which prevent the journal from being modified. Besides, the Paris press is now based on advertising and, from the financial point of view, is established on bases of such a kind that nothing new is possible. This being so, it is only the association and the sacrifices that it alone can make that can get us out of this blind alley. I am coming to things that are personal to me and speak of them to you openly as to a bosom friend, with no false modesty. I believe that a lack of incomprehension is a characteristic which we have in common and I do not fear that you will find me too presumptuous.
My book will have thirty sheets,79 and twenty have been printed. I hope that it will all be ready at the end of the month. I have changed nothing or very little of the introduction I read to you. About half will appear in the next issue of Le Journal des économistes.80 Ignorance of affairs in England is such, even here, that this work should, I think, have an effect on studious people. I will tell you frankly what effect it has.
Each day I acquire proof that the previous articles have had some effect. The publisher has received several requests for subscription giving reasons, among which is a letter from Nevers that said “Two articles in Le Moniteur industriel have reached us which seek to refute an article in Le Journal des économistes entitled ‘Sophisms.’ All we know of this article are the quotations in Le Moniteur but they were enough to give us a high opinion of it. Would you please send it to us and give us a subscription?” Two subscriptions were requested from Bordeaux. But what gave me the most pleasure was a conversation I had with M. Raoul Duval, a counselor at the court of Rheims, a town that is essentially protectionist. He assured me that the article on tariffs had been read aloud and that at each instant the manufacturers said, “That is true, that is very true, that is what is going to happen to us, there is no answer to this.” This scene, my dear Félix, signposts the route I should be following. If I could, I would now examine the real situation of our protected industries in the light of principles and go into the field of facts. M. Guillaumin wants me to review a dozen more sophisms to gather them together and, at his expense, to make them into a low-cost brochure that might reach a wide audience.
It needs to be you, my dear Félix, for me to recount these things which, as it happens, leave me as cold as if they concerned a third party. I was already set on my articles and your judgment was enough of a guarantee for me; I was only too happy that there were still other readers as I had given up hope of this.
I will tell you that I have almost decided to go to shake hands with Cobden, Fox, and Thompson; a personal acquaintance with these men may be useful to us. I have some hope that they will give me some documents, but in any case I will make a stock of a few good works, including speeches by Fox and Thompson on subjects other than free trade. If I stayed in Paris I would feel the need to devote myself to this specialty, and this would be indeed enough for my frail shoulders. But, in our gentle retreat, that would not be enough for us. Anyway, economics appears much finer when it is embraced in its totality. It is this harmonious whole that I would like to be able to master one day. You should indeed take the time to set out some of its traits.
If my small treatise, Economic Sophisms, is a success, we might follow it with another entitled Social Harmonies.81 It would be of great use because it would satisfy the tendency of our epoch to look for organizations and artificial harmonies by showing it the beauty, order, and progressive principle in natural and providential harmonies.
I will take some works from here. My trip will at least serve to provide us with some fodder and knowledge of something of the spirit of the century.
Farewell, my dear Félix. I have not written to my aunt today; please tell her that I have received her letter with much pleasure after being so long without one.
Letter to Félix Coudroy
16 June 1845
[vol. 1, p. 57]
My dear Félix, I have to tell you that my League has been printed.82 They are now working on the introduction and it cannot take longer than a week. It therefore appears that at the end of the month I will be free to go to London and that on 15 July I will have the pleasure of greeting you. Tomorrow, I dine at Dunoyer’s with all of our group, Dussard, Reybaud, Fix, Rossi, and Say. I will seal my letter only after this, in case I have some news to tell you. On Sunday, an approach was made to me and perhaps this will be discussed tomorrow. There is so much for and against that I could never take a decision without you. It is to be the manager of Le Journal des économistes. From the financial point of view, it is a wretchedly low salary, a hundred louis per year, including editing. However, you will easily understand how close this position is to my inclinations. First of all, this journal, well managed, could have a great influence on the Chamber, and by extension the press. If the economist in situ establishes a reputation for superiority in his specialty, it would be impossible for him not to be feared to some extent by the protectionists and reformers, in a word, ignorant people of all sorts. Through the spoken word I will never get very far because I lack confidence, memory, and presence of mind, but my pen is sufficiently skilled in dialectics to put to shame certain of our statesmen.
Secondly, if I am managing the journal, my management will end up being exclusive since I will be surrounded by lazy people, and, to the extent that the shareholders allow, I will succeed in giving it the homogeneity that it lacks.
I will be in natural and necessary contact with all the eminent men, at least in the spheres of political economy and financial and customs affairs, and finally, I will be in their eyes the spokesperson of a public opinion that is conscientious and enlightened. I think that a role of this sort may be extended indefinitely, depending on the level of the person holding it.
As for the work, it is not of the type, like daily journalism, that would distract me from continuing my studies. Lastly (and this is only a distant prospect), if the manager of the journal is equal to his task, he might profitably join the ranks of candidates for a chair of political economy that falls vacant.
These are the points in favor. But it would mean leaving Mugron. I would have to leave the people I love and allow my aunt to progress in solitude into old age. I would need to lead a strict life here and see passions unfurl without sharing them. I would unceasingly witness the spectacle of ambition being satisfied without allowing this sentiment to approach my heart, since our entire strength lies in our principles and in the confidence we are able to inspire. In this respect, this is not what I fear. Simple habits are far from terrifying me.
Letter to Félix Coudroy
18 . . .83
[vol. 1, p. 59]
I left Dunoyer’s this morning at one o’clock. The guests were those I mentioned, plus M. de Tracy.84 Political economy was scarcely touched upon; these people dabble in it as amateurs. However, during dinner free trade was discussed a little. M. X said that the English were putting on an act. I did not think it appropriate to challenge this term, but I was very tempted to ask him if he believed in the principle of freedom or not. For in the end, if he believed in it, why did he not want the English to believe in it too? Because it is in their interest? I remembered your argument: if people formed a temperance society, should we denigrate it on the grounds that it is in people’s interest to be temperate? If I write a sophism on this subject, I will slip this refutation into it. After dinner, I was drawn into a game of whist: a wasted evening. The entire editorial staff of the journal was there: Wolowski, Villermé, Blaise, Monjean, etc., etc. . . . another disappointment, I fear. Z—— is crazy about agriculture, and about protectionism. Truly, I am getting a close view of things and feel that I might do good and pay my debt to the human race.
Let us return to the journal. No one asked me for a definite commitment; now I will wait. I am discussing it with my aunt; I need to see what she thinks. She would certainly let me follow my inclination if she saw a financial future in it and, humanly speaking, she would be right; she cannot comprehend the extent of the position I could be taking. If she speaks to you about it, let me know the effect that my letter has. For my part, I will tell you about the effect my League will produce. Will anyone read it? I doubt it. We are snowed under with reading matter here. If I told you that, except for Dunoyer and Say, none of my colleagues has read Comte! You already know that —— has not read Malthus. At dinner, Tracy said that the extreme poverty in Ireland85 proved Malthus’s doctrine wrong! I have heard it said to someone that there was some good in the Treatise on Legislation86 and above all in the Treatise on Property.87 Poor Comte! Say told me his sad story; persecution and his probity killed him.
You will, of course, not breathe a word on what I have told you about the management of the journal. You will appreciate that this news would cause an unfortunate stir.
I think that I have told you that the publisher of the League is also going to publish the Sophisms. This will be a small, low-cost book, but the title is not attractive. I am looking for another; please help me. The small book by Mathieu de Dombasle was entitled “A Shaft of Common Sense,” etc.
As I cannot cover all the sophisms in one small volume, if it sells well, I will write another.88 It would be a good thing if, for your part, you dealt with a few. I would alternate them with mine and that would enable you at least to make the acquaintance of my colleagues and you could then, if you wanted, have yourself published at no cost, which is not a simple matter.
Farewell, my dear Félix; write to me.
Letter to Félix Coudroy
Paris, 3 July 1845 (eleven o’clock in the evening)
[vol. 1, p. 60]
. . . Like you, my dear Félix, I envisage the future with terror. Leaving my aunt, separating myself from those I love, leaving you alone in Mugron, without your friend, without books, is dreadful. And for my own part, I do not know whether solitary work, meditated on at leisure and discussed with you, would not be better. On the other hand, it is certain that there is a position here to be attained, the only one for which I have an ambition and the only one which suits me and for which I am suitable. It is now certain that I can have the manager’s position at the journal and I do not doubt that I will be given six francs per subscription. There are five hundred subscribers, which makes three thousand francs. This is absolutely nothing, financially speaking, but we need to believe that strong management stamped on the journal will increase its membership and if we achieved a figure of one thousand, I would be satisfied. Then there is the prospect of a course of lectures; I do not know whether I told you that at our last dinner, we decided that an approach would be made to the government to found chairs of political economy89 at the university. MM Guizot, Salvandy, and Duchâtel expressed approval of this project. M. Guizot said: “I am so well disposed to this that it was I who founded the chair that M. Chevalier occupies. Obviously, we are going down the wrong road and it is essential to disseminate healthy economic doctrines. However the major difficulty is to choose the right people.” At this reply, MM Say, Dussard, Daire, and a few others assured me that, if they were consulted, they would designate me. M. Dunoyer would certainly be in favor of me. I have found out that the minister of finance was impressed with my introduction and he himself asked me for a copy of the work. I would thus have a good chance, if not of being called to the university, at least if Blanqui, Rossi, or Chevalier were nominated, of replacing one of these men at the Collège de France or the Conservatoire.90 One way or another, I would be launched with an assured existence, and that is all I need.
But having to leave Mugron! Having to leave my aunt! What about my chest! What about the limited circle of my acquaintances! In sum, the long chapter of objections . . . Oh, why am I not ten years younger and in good health! Moreover, you will understand that this prospect is still distant but that the management of the journal would put a great deal of opportunity on my side. Therefore, instead of producing two sophisms, selected from those that are popular and anecdotal, in the next issue, I sense an opportunity to develop my ideas, and I am going to devote tomorrow to rewriting two or three of the most important. This is why I cannot write to you at length as I would like and am forced to speak about myself instead of replying to your affectionate letters.
M. Say wants to entrust to me all his father’s papers; there are some curious things in them. What is more, it is an expression of confidence that touches me. Hippolyte Comte, the son of Charles, will also be letting me go through the notes of our favorite author, who is totally unknown right here. . . . But I do not want to fail in what I owe to the men who are showering me with proofs of their friendship.
You see, dear Félix, that there are so many reasons for and against; I really must decide soon. Oh! I really need your advice, and above all for you to tell me what my poor aunt thinks.
Although I scarcely answer your letters, I nevertheless must tell you that the work of Simon is very rare and extremely expensive. There are only four copies, of which two are in the public libraries. Bossuet had the entire edition destroyed.
Farewell, my dear Félix; excuse the haste with which I write.
Letter to Félix Coudroy
London, July 1845
[vol. 1, p. 62]
My dear Félix, I arrived here yesterday evening. Knowing how much you are interested in our cause and in the role that chance has given me, I will tell you everything that happens, especially since I have no time to take notes and, this being so, my letters will be useful later in reminding me of my memories so that I can give you more details face to face.
After I settled in at the hotel (at ten shillings a day), I started to write six letters to Cobden, Bright, Fox, Thompson, Wilson, and the secretary who sends me the League. Then I wrote six dedications in six of my books and went to bed. This morning, I took my six copies to the League’s office with the request that they be given to the people concerned. Someone told me that Cobden was leaving the same day for Manchester and that probably I would find him in the throes of making his preparations (preparations for an Englishman consist in swallowing a steak and stuffing two shirts into a bag). I ran to Cobden’s; I did in fact meet him and we chatted for two hours. He understands French well and speaks it a little and anyway I understand his English. I described to him the state of opinion in France, the effect I expect this book to have, etc., etc. He told me how sorry he was to be leaving London and I saw that he was on the point of canceling his trip. He then told me, “The League is like a Masonic lodge, except for the fact that everything is public. Here is a house that we have rented to receive our friends during the Bazaar. It is now empty, so you must move in.” I demurred, to which he replied, “This may not be convenient to you, but it is useful for the cause since Messrs. Bright, Moore, and other members of the League spend their evenings there and you must always be in their midst.” However, because it was subsequently decided that I would go to join him in Manchester the day after tomorrow, I did not think it necessary to move for two days. He then took me to the Reform Club, a magnificent establishment, and left me in the library while he took a bath. After this, he wrote two letters to Bright and Moore and I accompanied him to the station. In the evening, I went to see Bright, still at the same hotel, although these people do not live there; his welcome was not quite as cordial. I noticed that he did not approve of my including Cobden’s name in the title of my book. In addition, he appeared surprised that I had translated nothing by M. Villiers. His own contribution in the book is small, although he deserves greater recognition as he has the gift of an attractive eloquence. However, all this was sorted out during the conversation. As I was obliged to speak slowly to make myself understood and was discussing subjects with which I was familiar with men of exactly the same mind, I was certainly in the most favorable of circumstances. He took me to Parliament, where I have remained up to now, since they were discussing a question which included education and religion. I left at eleven o’clock and then started to write to you. Tomorrow I have an appointment with him, and the day after tomorrow I am going to see Manchester and meet my friend Cobden again. He is to arrange my accommodation and leave me in the hands of Mr. Ashworth, the rich manufacturer who put across such a good argument to demonstrate to farmers that the export of manufactured objects implied the export of the things included in them and that, consequently, restrictions on trade would hit them in the face. This brusque departure, I fear, will prevent me from seeing Fox and Thompson before my return, as well as Mill and Senior, for whom I have letters.
This is a short account of my first day. I will thus enter Manchester and Liverpool in circumstances which few Frenchmen could hope to enjoy. I will be there on a Sunday. Cobden will take me to the Quakers and the Wesleyans. We will at last know something, and as for factories, nothing will be hidden from me. What is more, all the operations of the League will be unveiled to me. There was a vague suggestion of a second edition of my book on a wider scale. We will see.
Let us not forget Paris. Before leaving, I spent an hour with Hippolyte, the son of Charles Comte, who showed me all of his father’s papers. There are two or three courses of lectures given in Geneva, London, and Paris, all of which doubtless supplied material for the Treatise on Legislation, but what a gold mine to open up!
Farewell, I must leave you. I still have three letters to write to Paris and it is already tomorrow, since it is past midnight.
Letter to Richard Cobden
London, 8 July 1845
[vol. 1, p. 110]
At last I have the pleasure of presenting you with a copy of the translation about which I have spoken to you on several occasions. In carrying out this work, I was convinced that I was rendering a genuine service to my country, both by popularizing sane economic doctrines and unmasking the guilty men who concentrate on maintaining disastrous national restrictions. I was not mistaken in my expectations. I distributed about a hundred copies in Paris and they have had the best possible reception. Men who, through their position and the subject of their study, ought to know what is happening in your country were surprised on reading it. They could not believe their eyes. The truth is that everyone in France is unaware of the importance of the campaign in your country, and people still suspect that a few manufacturers are seeking to propagate ideas of freedom abroad through pure British Machiavellianism. If I had confronted this prejudice directly, I would not have vanquished it. By leaving the free traders to act and allowing them to speak, in a word, by translating you, I hope that I have dealt it a blow from which it will not recover, provided that the book is read. That is the question.91
I hope, sir, that you will be good enough to grant me the honor of having a short discussion with you and expressing my gratitude, fellow feeling, and profound admiration to you personally.
Your most humble servant.
Letter to Mr. Paulton
Paris, 29 July 1845
[vol. 7, p 374]
My dear sir, as I told you, I am sending you four copies of my translation which I ask you to forward to the editors of the Times, the Morning Chronicle, etc., etc. I would consider myself happy if the English press gave a favorable welcome to a work I consider useful. This would compensate me for the indifference with which it has been received in France. All those to whom I have given it continue to show surprise at the serious facts revealed in it, but no one is buying it, and this is not surprising since no one knows the subject with which it deals. Our newspapers, moreover, appear to have decided to bury the question under a veil of silence. It will cost me dear to have attempted to open my country’s eyes, but what is worse is not having succeeded.92
When I arrived here, I found a letter from Sir Robert Peel. As he wrote it before having read the book, he did not have to give his opinion on it. He also avoided quoting its title (Cobden and the League). If that is through diplomacy, the latter must be a deep-seated habit of your prime minister for him to use it on such an insignificant occasion. This is a copy of his note.
Whitehall, 24 July
Sir Robert Peel presents his compliments to M. Bastiat, and is most obliged to M. Bastiat’s attention in transmitting for the acceptance of Sir Robert Peel a copy of his recent publication. Sir Robert hopes to be enabled to profit by it, when he shall have leisure from the present severe pressure of parliamentary business.93
This letter is unsigned. I would be curious to know if it is written in Sir Robert’s own handwriting.
I found other letters, including two of not inconsiderable importance. One was from M. Passy,94 a peer of France and an ex-minister of trade. He gives his unalloyed approval of the principles contained alike in the introduction and in your work.
The other letter is from M. de Langsdorf, our chargé d’affaires in the Grand Duchy of Baden. He tells me that he has read the book with enthusiasm and learned for the first time what is happening in England. At the moment, there is a meeting in Karlsruhe of officers from all of the Zollverein95 who are determined to plug the tiniest loophole through which foreign trade might come to infiltrate the great national market. What he tells me about this supports Mr. Cobden’s idea of having the history of the League translated into German, together with a selection of your speeches. Could not England, which has had the Bible translated into three or four hundred languages, also have this excellent course of practical political economy translated at least into German and Spanish?96 I know the reasons which prevent you from seeking to act on the foreign scene at present. But simple translations would prepare people’s minds without your being liable to accusations of making propaganda.
If, later, the League is able to acquire a few copies of my translation without difficulty, I think this is the most useful purpose to which it might be put. This would be to take the same number of towns in order of their commercial importance and send a copy to each, addressed to the literary circle or chamber of commerce.
I will not attempt, sir, to convey to you all my gratitude for the fraternal welcome I received in your midst. I want only to have the opportunity of demonstrating it by my acts, and it would make me happy to meet members of the League in France. I have already paid two visits to Mr. Taylor without being able to meet him.
I forgot to tell you that, since the letter from M. de Langsdorf is confidential and comes from a man in the public eye, it must be clearly understood that his name cannot be quoted in any journal.97
I assure you, my dear sir, of my sincere friendship. Please remember me to all our comrades in work and hope.
Letter to Richard Cobden
Mugron, 2 October 1845
[vol. 1, p. 111]
Whatever the charm, my dear sir, that your letters have just brought to me in my solitude, I would not allow myself to provoke them by such frequent obtrusiveness. However, an unforeseen circumstance has made it a duty for me to write to you.
I have met a young man in Paris circles who seemed to me to be full of heart and talent, whose name is Fonteyraud, the editor of La Revue britannique. He has written to me to offer to continue my work by inserting a follow-up of the operations of the League in the collection he is editing.98 With this in mind, he wants to go to England to see your fine organization for himself and has asked me for letters of introduction to you and MM Bright and Wilson.99 The object he has in view is too useful for me not to be quick to agree and I hope that, for your part, you would be willing to satisfy M. Fonteyraud’s elevated curiosity.
However, in a second letter, he tells me that he has yet another aim which, according to him, would require effective, in other words, financial support from the League. I have been swift to tell M. Fonteyraud that I could not speak to you about a project about which I knew very little. I made it clear to him, moreover, that, according to me, any action carried out on public opinion in France that appeared to be directed and financed by England would be counterproductive since it would strengthen the deep-rooted prejudices that many adroit men have vested interests in exploiting. If therefore M. Fonteyraud makes his journey, would you, together with Messrs. Bright and Wilson, assess his projects for yourselves and consider me to be totally outside the undertaking he is considering? I hasten to leave this subject to reply to your affectionate letter of 23 September.
I am sorry to hear that your health is suffering from your immense workload, both private and public. Certainly, it could not be undermined for a finer cause; each of your pains will remind you of noble actions, but that would be small consolation and I would not dare to voice it to other than you, since to understand it one would need to have your self-sacrifice and devotion to the public good. But at last your work is reaching its target, you do not lack workers around you, and I hope that you will at last seek strength in repose.
Since my last letter, a movement of which I had given up hope has started in the French press. All the Paris newspapers and very many provincial newspapers have reported on the demonstration against the Corn Laws, to mark my book. It is true that they have not understood its full implications, but at last public opinion has been woken up. This was the essential point, the one I was hoping for with my whole heart and it is a question now of not allowing it to fall back into indifference, and if there is anything I can do about it, that will not happen.
Your letter arrived the day after we had an election. It was a courtier who was elected.100 I was not even a candidate. The electors are imbued with the idea that their votes are a precious gift, an important and personal service. This being so, they expect their vote to be personally solicited. They do not wish to understand that a parliamentary mandate is their own affair, that they will suffer the consequences of trust that is well or badly placed and consequently it is up to them to give it with discernment, without waiting for it to be solicited or wrested from them. For my part, I had taken the decision to stay in my corner and, as I expected, I was left there. Probably, in a year, we will have general elections in France. I doubt whether in the intervening period the electors will have come round to more appropriate ideas. However, a considerable number of them appear to have decided to support me. My efforts in favor of our wine-producing industry will give me an effective name of which I can make use. For this reason, I am pleased to see that you were willing to second the views I set out in the letter that the League has quoted.101 If you could arrange for this journal to support the principle of ad valorem rights to be applied to wine, this would give my candidature a solid and honorable base. In fact, in my circumstances, being a deputy is a heavy charge, but the hope of contributing to the formation of a nucleus of free traders within our parliament comes before all personal considerations. When I think that, in our two chambers, there is not a single man who dares to acknowledge the principle of free trade, who understands its full significance, or who is capable of supporting it against the sophisms of monopoly, I must admit that, in the depths of my heart, I want to win the empty seat I see in our legislative body, although I do not want to do anything that would increasingly distort the dominant ideas relating to elections. Let us try to be worthy of their confidence and not to gain it by surprise.
Thank you for the judicious advice you have given me by indicating the procedure for disseminating economic doctrines you think would be best suited to the situation in our country. Yes, you are right, I can see that here light has to be diffused from top to bottom. Instructing the masses is an impossible task, because they have neither the civic right, the habit, nor the liking for grand rallies and public discussion. This is one more reason for me to aim to gain contact with the most enlightened and influential classes through becoming a deputy.
I am very pleased to hear that you have good news from the United States.102 I was not expecting this. America is lucky to speak the same language as the League. It will not be possible for its monopolists to withhold your arguments and work from the knowledge of the general public. I would like you to tell me, when you have the opportunity to write to me, which American journal is the most faithful representative of the economist school.103 The circumstances of this country are analogous with ours and the free-trade movement in the United States could not fail to produce a good and strong impression in France if it were widely known. To save time, would you please take out a one-year subscription for me and ask M. Fonteyraud to reimburse you? It would be easier for me to reimburse him than to send it to you.
I accept with great pleasure your offer to exchange one of your letters for two of mine. I consider that you are sacrificing here again the fallacy of reciprocity, since I will certainly be the winner and you will not receive equal value. In view of how busy you are, I would have been ready to undertake to write to you three times. If ever I become a deputy, we will renew the bases of our contract.
Letter to [D.] Potonié104
Mugron, 24 October 1845
[From the private collection of Jean-Claude Paul-Dejean]
The most kind letter that you have been good enough to write to me has revived in me old projects and hopes, which cost me a great deal to abandon. Long before I knew of the existence of the English League, I had conceived the idea of forming an association against protectionism, this absurd system which, apart from the direct harm it causes, causes so many ancillary calamities, national hatreds, wars, standing armies, navies, taxes, restrictions, plunderings, etc. As I needed a fulcrum to set up my lever, I thought of our wine-producing population, which seemed to me to be the most likely to embrace the cause of free trade. I tried to form it into an organization, as you will see from the brochure which it is my pleasure to enclose with this letter. My mistake was to address this call to a single class only, and the class that is probably the least political, the most dispersed, and the most difficult to organize. I ought to have called together all the consumers and in addition all the producers who felt they were sufficiently strong and honest to reject all forms of protection and taxes, for however you look at them, protectionist duties are none other than the taxes we raise from one another.
This frustrated idea was just dormant in my mind, and you can doubtless guess with what joy and enthusiasm I welcomed the arrival of the English League, which pursues the same aim with an energy, a spirit of togetherness, a line of conduct and the talents, resources, and opportunities that I lacked.
I have now been happy to learn from your letter of the existence in Paris of elements which, when they are properly put into operation, may serve as the basis for a similar association to the League. The men who have devoted themselves to the setting up of what is known as “The Articles of Paris”105 are certainly the most appropriate people to lay the foundations for this institution. At the heart of enlightened opinion, close to one another, and in a position to exert an influence on the press, on our political representatives, and on public opinion; more disposed than most to make well-judged sacrifices and more able to supervise the use made of them, they certainly have to offer quite different resources from the wine-producing population. Besides, these people would have only to glimpse this center of action to join it in full sympathy. I believe that we will soon also obtain the support of men in the government, as they receive fixed salaries that bear the weight of the protectionist regime without any possible compensation. I would say the same thing about bankers, traders, merchants, lawyers, doctors, and all the countless sectors of artisans whose work by its very nature is not likely to be protected by customs duties.
I see from your letter that “The Articles of Paris” has already formed a general association divided into sections, one of the most important of which is under your chairmanship. If you consider, sir, that it is possible to find the seed of an energetic league in this institution, and if you think that my efforts and devotion can help in this great work, please write to me and you will find me ready to join you and your colleagues. I have already sounded out a few key figures, for in France they are necessary if one is to succeed in anything, and I know some who would be only too ready to welcome the honor of the initiative. For my part, I will join the combat at whatever level I am placed, for apart from the fact that I put our noble cause a thousand times higher than our little individual ideas, I have learned from Mr. Cobden, the one man in the world in whom I have the fullest confidence, that individual self-sacrifice is the soul and cement of any voluntary association. Let us, therefore, make ourselves small and give free rein to the conceit of others, and use this quotation from Danton as a commentary: “Let our memory perish and may freedom triumph.”
As for a demonstration to the League, I do not see where this would lead. What would be genuinely and immediately useful would be for “The Articles of Paris” to have a representative in London while Parliament is sitting. In the midst of this collapse of duties which is taking place in England, a man who had the confidence of the members of the League who have great influence in these matters might perhaps obtain considerable advantages for “The Articles of Paris,” especially since England is no longer asking for reciprocity or what are called concessions. We do have an ambassador, but it is not possible to deal with things like this officially, and this you will readily understand. . . . As Great Britain is accomplishing this reform without asking anything from foreigners, she cannot accept foreigners’ attempts to influence her resolutions.
When I was in London and enjoying quite close relations with officers in the Board of Trade and members of the League, I sought to convince them that they would be acting shrewdly by encouraging the introduction of our wine into their country. The spirit of my lectures on this subject is set out in the brochures I am enclosing, and I had the pleasure of receiving letters from Cobden and other members of Parliament telling me that they were working hard to make my ideas succeed; what I said to them with regard to wine might equally apply to Parisian goods. England feels that if she opened her market to Parisian goods without France lowering her duties, Parisians would have trouble effecting purchases from England in return, and this would soon open their eyes to the inconsistency of our policy and foment in us the spirit of free trade. I do not doubt that she is aiming her reforms in this direction. For my part, sir (and I hope that you will not find this confidence out of place), I must say that I deeply regret that my financial situation does not allow me to spend time in London at this time. Something tells me that I could do some good there.
Allow me, sir, in ending this overlong letter, to thank you for your kind words both in your own name and that of your sons and colleagues.
I am, sir, your devoted servant.
Letter to Richard Cobden
Mugron, 13 December 1845
[vol. 1, p. 115]
My dear sir, I am greatly in your debt, since you were willing, in the midst of your noble and arduous work, to relax the agreement which I had gratefully accepted of “one letter for two,” but I unfortunately have only too many excuses to invoke and while all your time is so usefully devoted to the public good, mine has been absorbed by the greatest and most personal grief that I might suffer on this earth.106
I was delaying writing to you to have news of M. Fonteyraud. I needed to know in what terms I should thank you for your welcoming him on my recommendation. I had total peace of mind in this, as I had heard indirectly that he was delighted with his trip and enthusiastic about the members of the League. I am pleased to learn that the members of the League were no less pleased with him. Although I did not know him very well, I considered that he had it in him to be his own recommendation. Doubtless, he has not had the opportunity to write to me yet.
On this subject, you have returned to my visit to you and the excuses you express to me leave me quite embarrassed. Except for the first two days when, for unforeseen reasons, I found myself alone in Manchester and when my morale was undoubtedly afflicted by the sad influence of your strange weather (an influence whose expression I allowed to emerge in the unfortunate note to which you refer), with the exception of these two days, as I have said, I was overwhelmed by the care and kindnesses expressed by you and your friends, Messrs. John and Thomas Bright, Paulton, Wilson, Smith,107 Ashworth, Evans, and many more, and I would be truly ungrateful if, because there was an election in Cambridge during these two days, I remembered only this moment of spleen108 and forgot those which you imbued with goodwill and charm. You can be sure, my dear sir, that our dinner in Chorley and your eminently instructive meeting with Mr. Dyer at Mr. Thomas Bright’s have left indelible memories in my mind and heart. You want me to make another visit. That is not entirely impossible and this is how it might be arranged. It is probable that the big question will be settled this summer, and, like a valiant fighter, you will need to take a little rest and bind your wounds. Since words have been your principal arms, their means of expression in you will have suffered the most, and you have made reference to your state of health in your last letter. It so happens that in the Pyrenees over here there are marvelous springs to cure exhausted chests and larynxes. So come and spend a season as part of the family in the Pyrenees. I promise you either to come to collect you or to accompany you back, at your choice. This trip will not be detrimental to the cause. You will see our wine-producing population and will gain an idea of the spirit that animates it or rather that does not animate it. When we pass through Paris, I will introduce you to all our comrades in political economy and rational philanthropy. I like to think that this trip would leave its beneficial traces in your health and memories, and also in shifting French attitudes about freeing up trade. Bordeaux is also a town which it would interest you to see. People’s minds there are quick and enthusiastic; just a spark will set them ablaze, and this might well come from your words.
Thank you, my dear sir, for the offer you made me regarding my translation. Permit me, however, not to accept it. It is a personal sacrifice which you wish to add to so many others and I must not agree to it.
I feel that the title of my book does not allow you to claim any influence on the part of the League. This being so, let us allow my poor volume to live or die by itself. However, I cannot be sorry that, in France, I attached your name to the history of this great movement. In doing this, I may have upset your worthy colleagues a little and this involuntary injustice gives me some cause for remorse. But truly, to arouse and catch attention here, it is necessary for a doctrine to be incarnated in an individual personality and for a great movement to be represented and summarized in an individual name. Without the great figure of O’Connell, the Irish unrest would have taken place unnoticed in our newspapers. And look what has happened. The French press now uses your name to designate the orthodox principle in political economy. It is an ellipsis, a shorthand method of speaking. It is true that this principle is still the subject of much dispute, and even sarcasm. But it will grow and commensurately your name will grow with it. The human mind is made like this. It needs flags, banners, incarnations, and individual names, and in France more than elsewhere. Who knows whether your destiny will not arouse in our country the emulation of some man of genius?
I have no need to tell you with what interest and anxiety I follow the development of your campaign. I regret that Sir Robert Peel has let himself be overtaken. His personal superiority and position make him able to provide services to the cause that are more immediately achievable, perhaps, than those it can expect from Russell, and I fear that the arrival of a Whig government will result in the reassembly of a formidable aristocratic opposition which will prepare new conflicts for you.
You are good enough to ask me what I do in my solitude. Alas, dear sir, I am embarrassed to have to reply with this shameful word, Nothing. The pen tires me and speech even more so, to the extent that if a few useful thoughts ferment in my head I have no longer any means of revealing them externally. I sometimes think of our unfortunate André Chénier. When he was on the scaffold, he turned to the people and said, striking himself on the forehead, “It is a pity, I had something there.” And I too think that “I have something there.” But who is whispering this thought to me? Is it the consciousness of a genuine truth? Is it fatuous pride? For which idiotic hack today does not think he also “has something there”?
Farewell, my dear sir; permit me to shake your hand most affectionately across the distance that separates us.
P.S. I have frequent contact with Madrid and it would be easy for me to send a copy of my translation there.
Letter to Alcide Fonteyraud
Mugron, 20 December 1845
[vol. 1, p. 194]
My dear M. Fonteyraud, I will not reply today to your letter, a letter that is so charming, so honest and interesting in terms of the subjects it discusses with me and the way it deals with them. This is just a simple acknowledgment, which I am entrusting to a person who is leaving in a few hours for Paris.
I received news of you through the journal of the League, from M. Guillaumin and Mr. Cobden, who speaks of you in terms that I will not repeat to you for fear of wounding your modesty. . . . However, I am changing my mind. Mr. Cobden will one day be sufficiently famous for you to be very happy to know the opinion he has uttered of you. Moreover, this judgment includes a piece of advice, and I have no right to stop it on its way, especially since you persist in giving me the title of Master. I will fulfill the functions of this role once, if not by giving you advice, at least by passing on to you that emanating from an authority regarded as very impressive by the disciples of free trade.
These then are the words of Mr. Cobden:
“Let me thank you for introducing to us M. Fonteyraud, who excited our admiration not only by his superior talents, but by the warmth of his zeal in the cause of free trade. I have rarely met a young man of his age possessing so much knowledge and so mature a judgment both as respects men and things. If he be preserved from the temptations which beset the path of young men of literary pursuits in Paris” (whether Mr. Cobden is alluding to the schools of sentimentality or the traps of the partisan spirit, I do not know), “he possesses the ability to render himself very useful in the cause of humanity.”109
As the rest concerns only your amour propre, permit me to omit it.
It is sweet and consoling to go through life supported by such a testimonial. There is really something deep in our heart which tells us of our own merit, but when we see the blindness of all men to this, how can we ever have the certainty that the awareness of our strengths is its true measure? In your case, you have been judged and consecrated; you have been dedicated to the cause of humanity. Learn and disseminate should be your motto; such is your destiny.
Oh! How my heart beat when I read your description of the great meeting in Manchester! Like you, I felt enthusiasm penetrate my every pore. Has anything like this, whatever Solomon said, been seen under the sun? We have seen major gatherings of men grow passionate for a conquest, a victory, an interest, or the triumph of brute force, but has anyone ever seen ten thousand men unite to ensure the triumph of a major principle of universal justice by peaceful means, through speech and sacrifice? Even if free trade were an error or an illusion, the League would be no less glorious, for it has given the world the most powerful and moral of all instruments of civilization. How can we not see that this concerns not merely the liberation of trade but in turn all the reforms and acts of justice and reparation that humanity might carry out by means of these massive and vibrant organizations!
For this reason, with what happiness, I might almost say, with what outbursts of joy did I welcome the news you gave me at the end of your letter! France also will have her League! France will grow out of her eternal adolescence, blush at the shameful puerility in which she is vegetating, and become an adult! Oh! Let this day come and I will salute it as the finest in my life. Will we never cease to attribute glory to the development of physical force, to wish to settle all matters by the sword and glorify only that courage shown on the battlefield, whatever its motives and works? Will we finally understand that, since public opinion is the monarch of the world, it is public opinion that we have to work on and to which we have to communicate the enlightenment which shows it the right direction together with the energy to take it?
But after enthusiasm comes reflection. I tremble lest some disastrous germ infiltrate the beginnings of our League, for example a spirit of compromise, gradualness, procrastination, or caution. Everything will be lost if the League does not espouse or stick closely to an absolute principle. How could members of the League themselves agree if the League tolerated variable principles in varying degrees? And if they did not agree among themselves, what influence could they have outside?
Even if we should be only twenty, ten, or five, let that twenty, ten, or five have the same goal, the same determination, and the same faith. You have witnessed the campaign in England, I have myself studied it closely, and I know (and this I ask you to convey clearly to our friends) that if the League had made the slightest concession at any time in its existence, the aristocracy would have made short work of it a long time ago.
Therefore, let an association be formed in France. Let it undertake to free trade and industry from any monopoly. Let it devote itself to ensuring the triumph of the principle and you may count on my support. By word, pen, and purse, I will be its man. If it means legal proceedings, suffering persecution, or braving ridicule, I will be its man. Whatever role I am given, whatever rank I am allocated, on the hustings or in cabinet, I will be its man. In enterprises of this kind, in France more than elsewhere, what is to be feared are rivalries based on amour propre; amour propre is the first sacrifice that we have to make on the altar of public good. I am mistaken; perhaps indifference and apathy are greater dangers. Since this project has been set up do not let it fail. Oh! Why am I not with you?
I was going to end my letter without thanking you in advance for what you will be saying about my publication in La Revue britannique. A simple translation cannot be worth such fulsome praise. Be that as it may, praise and criticism are welcome when they are sincere.
Farewell, your affectionate friend.
[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.”)
[71 ](Paillottet’s note) The letter to which Bastiat is replying had been sent to him in connection with the article in Le Journal des économistes entitled “From an Economist to M. de Lamartine.” [OC, vol. 1, p. 406, “Un Économiste à M. de Lamartine.”]
[72 ]Le Journal des économistes. (OC, vol. 1, p. 406, “Un Économiste à M. de Lamartine.”)
[73 ]Newspapers from, respectively, the Landes, Bayonne, and the Pyrenees, which published articles by Bastiat. For the latter, see the glossary of subjects: Le Mémorial bordelais.
[74 ]Economic Sophisms.
[75 ]Le Journal des débats. Bastiat is referring to a review he wrote in that journal, “Sur l’ouvrage de M. Dunoyer. De la liberté du travail.” (OC, vol. 1, p. 428, “Sur un livre de M. Dunoyer.”)
[76 ]The attorney general, Charles Dupin, modified the French legislation concerning dueling in order to reduce the number of fatalities. The law was in effect from 1837 to 1839. See also “Reflection on the Question of Dueling,” note 3, pp. 309-10.
[77 ]Cobden and the League.
[79 ]The sheets (“feuilles” in French) are printer’s sheets, which cover several pages.
[80 ]Bastiat is referring to the introduction of Cobden and the League.
[81 ]No book with such a title was published by Bastiat. The title was later changed to Economic Harmonies (see note 189, p. 131, and note 336, p. 251).
[82 ]Cobden and the League.
[83 ]No month given.
[84 ]Antoine Destutt de Tracy.
[85 ]Ireland had 5.2 million inhabitants in 1801, 8.2 million in 1841—an increase of 58 percent in forty years, in spite of two million emigrants. The misery was due not to an excessive population increase but to the fact that an Ireland living mainly on potatoes found one-third of the harvest destroyed by blight in 1845 and the entire harvest destroyed in 1846.
[86 ]Comte, Traité de législation.
[87 ]Comte, Traité de la propriété.
[88 ]Economic Sophisms.
[89 ]Apart from conferences and private education, political economy was taught only in the Conservatoire national des arts et métiers, by Auguste Blanqui, and at the Collège de France, by Michel Chevalier.
[90 ]Conservatoire national des arts et métiers.
[91 ]In English in the original.
[92 ]See “Anglomania, Anglophobia,” p. 320.
[93 ]In English in the original.
[94 ]Hyppolite Passy.
[95 ]The German Zollverein (or customs union) was created in 1833 and based on the low Prussian tariff.
[96 ]A Spanish translation of Cobden and the League appeared quickly: Cobden y la Liga: La agitación inglesa en favor de la libertad de comercio, translated by Elias Bautista y Muñoz (Madrid: Grabado de Don Baltasar González, 1847).
[97 ](Paillottet’s note) I think that I should have no scruple in revealing the name of M. de Langsdorf publicly now. What criticism could he encounter now for secret sympathies expressed in favor of free trade nineteen years ago?
[98 ]Fonteyraud and Garnier, Mélanges d’économie politique.
[99 ]Bastiat refers to two Wilsons in his correspondence. Here, Bastiat is most likely referring to George Wilson.
[100 ]Marie Gustave Larnac. See “On Parliamentary Reform,” p. 367.
[101 ]OC, vol. 1, p. 387, “De l’avenir du commerce des vins entre la France et la Grande-Bretagne.”
[102 ]The tariff of 1842 was heavier than that of 1832. It was reduced in 1846.
[103 ]Les Économistes.
[104 ]The only Potonié that the editor could find is D. Potonié, who wrote Note sur l’organisation facultative des débouchés de l’industrie parisienne.
[105 ]“The Articles of Paris” industry covered a wide range of luxury items, from leather goods to jewelry and fashion. They exported quite well.
[106 ](Paillottet’s note) The death of a relative.
[107 ]John Benjamin Smith.
[108 ]In English in the original.
[109 ]The parts of this paragraph in quotation marks are in English in the original.