Front Page Titles (by Subject) 65.: Letter to Mr. Richard Cobden - The Collected Works of Frédéric Bastiat. Vol. 1: The Man and the Statesman: The Correspondence and Articles on Politics
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65.: Letter to Mr. 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 Mr. Richard Cobden
Mugron, 25 June 1846
[vol. 1, p. 134]
It is not for you to apologize, my dear sir, but for me, for you are making great and noble use of your time while I, who am wasting mine, ought not to have waited so long without writing to you. You are at the end of your work. The hour of triumph has sounded for you. You can give yourself the testimonial that you have left a deep imprint of your passage on this earth and humanity will bless your name. You have led your huge campaign with the vigor, comprehensiveness, prudence, and moderation that will be an eternal example for all future reformers and, I say this most sincerely, the perfection you have brought to the art of campaigning will be a greater benefit for the human race than the specific purpose of your efforts, however great that is. You have taught the world that genuine strength lies in public opinion and shown it how to put this strength to work. I take it upon myself, my dear Cobden, to award you the palm of immortality and anoint your forehead with the mark of a great man.
As for me, you will see from the date of my letter that I have deserted the battlefield, not because of discouragement but temporary disgust. It must be said; the task in France is more specialized and less likely to make inroads in public sympathy. The material and moral obstacles are also huge. We have neither the railways nor the penny postage.144 We are not accustomed to subscriptions; French minds are impatient with all hierarchy. We are capable of discussing the details of a regulation or the formalities of a meeting for a year. Lastly, our greatest misfortune is that we have no genuine economists. I have not met two who are capable of supporting the cause and its doctrine in a comprehensive and correct fashion, and we see the most gross errors and concessions infiltrating the speeches and writings of those known here as free traders. Communism and Fourierism absorb all the young minds, and we will have a host of outer ramparts to destroy before being able to attack the heart of the fortress.
If I turn my gaze on myself, I can feel tears of blood coming to my eyes. My health does not allow me to work assiduously and . . . but what use are complaints and regrets!
The September Laws145 which oppose us are not greatly to be feared. On the contrary, the government is doing us a favor by placing us in this posture. It offers us the means of stiffening the public fiber a little and melting the ice of public indifference. If it wanted to counter the rise of our ideas, it could not have gone about it in a worse way.
You make no mention of your health. I hope it is a little stronger. I would be very sorry if you came to Paris and I did not have the pleasure of doing you the honors there. It is doubtless an instinct for contrast that incites you to go to Cairo, contraria contrariis curantur.146 You wish to escape the fog, liberty, and unrest in Britain by seeking refuge under the sun, despotism, and political inertia of Egypt. Oh that I might, in seven years’ time, go to seek rest from the same weariness in the same place!
You are thus going to dissolve the League! What an instructive and imposing prospect! What is the abdication of Scylla compared with such an act of selflessness? This is the time for me to rewrite and complete my History of the League. But will I have the time? The flow of affairs takes up all my waking hours. I also need to produce a second edition of my Sophisms and I would very much like to write a small book entitled Economic Harmonies. It will make a pair with the other; the first demolishes and the second would build.
[144 ]In English in the original.
[145 ]Laws restricting liberties promulgated in September 1835, following an attempted assassination of Louis-Philippe.
[146 ]“Opposites are balanced by opposites.”