Front Page Titles (by Subject) 66.: Letter to 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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66.: 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
Bordeaux, 21 July 1846
[vol. 1, p. 136]
My dear and excellent friend, your letter found me here in Bordeaux, where I have come to attend a meeting following the return of our president, M. Duffour-Dubergié. This meeting will take place in a few hours’ time; I am to speak at it and this is exercising my mind to such an extent that you must excuse the confusion and incoherence of this letter. Nevertheless, I do not want to put off writing to you since you have asked me to reply by return.
I do not need to tell you how pleased I was to learn of the conclusion of your great and glorious enterprise. The keystone has fallen, and the entire monopoly structure will crumble, including the colonial system, which is linked to the protectionist system. This above all is what will have a strong influence on public opinion in Europe and dissolve the truly disastrous and profound prejudices in this country.
When I entitled my book Cobden and the League, no one had told me that you were the soul of this powerful organization and that you had communicated to it all the qualities of your mind and heart. I am proud that I sensed this and that I foresaw, if not anticipated, public opinion throughout England. For the love of man, please do not reject the acknowledgment the country wishes to give you. Allow the people to express their gratitude freely and nobly. England is honoring you and is honoring herself even more through this great act of justice. Be sure that she is investing the hundred thousand pounds sterling at a high rate of interest, since as long as she knows how to reward its faithful servants well she will be well served.147 She will never lack great men. Here in France, we also have fine minds and noble hearts, but their potential remains unrealized because the country has not yet learned this important but oh, so simple lesson: honor what is honorable and despise what is despicable. The gift they are preparing for you is the glorious culmination of the most glorious enterprise that the world has ever seen. Leave these great examples to reach future generations in their entirety.
I will be going to Paris at the beginning of August. It is not likely that I will be arriving there as a deputy. The same cause is still forcing me to wait for this mandate to be imposed on me, and in France, this wait can be long. But, like you, I think that the work I have to do is outside the legislative perimeter.
I have just left the meeting, at which I did not speak.148 But, with reference to election as a deputy, an extraordinary thing has happened to me. I will tell you about it in Paris. Oh, my friend, there are countries in which you have to have a truly great spirit to concern yourself with the public good, so great an effort is deployed to discourage you!
[147 ]Cobden had severe financial difficulties in 1845 that continued into 1846, the result of his increased activities with the Anti-Corn Law League and subsequent neglect of his family business. His friends and colleagues organized a public fund-raising campaign, which enabled him to pay off most of his debts. Most likely Bastiat is here referring to this campaign.
[148 ]See Letter 67.