Front Page Titles (by Subject) 35.: Letter to Alphonse de Lamartine - The Collected Works of Frédéric Bastiat. Vol. 1: The Man and the Statesman: The Correspondence and Articles on Politics
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35.: Letter to Alphonse de Lamartine - 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 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.
[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.”]