Front Page Titles (by Subject) 69.: 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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69.: 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
Paris, 29 September 1846
[vol. 1, p. 140]
My dear friend, I have been to visit M. de Loménie,158 who has come to my lodgings though we still have not met. But I am meeting him tomorrow and will make available to him all my documents and those of Fonteyraud. In addition, I will offer him my cooperation, either for translating or, if need be, giving his article a veneer of economic orthodoxy. I have at the forefront of my memory the passage from your closing speech in which you make an excursion into the future and from there open up to your listeners a horizon that is wider and finer than that offered to you from the Pic du Midi. This speech will be translated and sent to M. de Loménie. He might well also use your excerpt on emigration, which is really eloquent. In short, let me have some information on it. The only thing is that I have to tell you that very little is said here about this gallery of famous men. I am assured that this type of work is a speculation on the amour propre of those who aspire to celebrity. But perhaps this insinuation arises from the jealousies of authors and publishers, irritabile genus,159 the vainest species of men I know after fencing masters.
I have just received your nice letter. Has it reached me in time? I have incorporated the text you indicate quite naturally in my speech. How could I not have thought of asking for your advice? This doubtless is because I have a head full of arguments and felt that I was rich. But I thought only of the subject and you have made me think of the audience. I now understand that a good speech must be supplied to us by the audience rather than by its subject. Running through mine in my head, I think that it is not too philosophical and that it combines economic science, appropriateness, and parables in proper proportion.160 I will send it to you and you will let me know your view of it for my edification. You will understand, my dear Cobden, that any tact would do me a disservice. I have as much amour propre as the next man and no one fears ridicule more than I, but that is precisely why I want good advice and good criticism. One of your remarks might spare me a thousand in the future that is opening out before me and carrying me along. A great many things will be decided tonight.
I am expected in Le Havre. Oh! What a burden is an exaggerated reputation! There, I will have to discuss the shipping interest. I remember that you had good things to say on this subject in Liverpool or in Hull. I will do some research, but if you have any good ideas relating to Le Havre, please let me have them for charity’s sake or rather, through me, bestow this charity on the fearful shipowners who are counting on the small number of trading operations to increase the number of transport facilities. What blindness! What a distortion of human intelligence!
I will not post my letter until tomorrow, so that I can tell you about an event that I am sure will interest you as much as if it were personal.
I was forgetting to tell you that your previous letter arrived too late. I had already booked two separate apartments, one for the association and the other for me, but in the same house. We have to accept our fate with the motto that consoles Spanish people in all circumstances: no hay remedio!161 As for my health, do not worry, it is better. I believe that Providence will give me enough to see me through. I am becoming superstitious; is it not good to be this way just a little?
But here my letter is arriving at the square yard. It will pay heavy duties. This would probably not happen if the post office adopted the ad valorem duty. I am leaving some space for tomorrow.
The session162 has just ended. Anisson chaired it. The audience was larger than the previous time. We had five speeches including two from professors who thought they were giving classes. Very much more than I, they thought about their subject more than their audience. M. Say had a great success; he spoke with warmth and was roundly applauded. I am pleased about that, since how can one fail to like this excellent man? M—— made three excellent speeches in one. His only fault was length. I was the fifth to speak, with the disadvantage of having a harassed audience. Notwithstanding this, I had as much success as I wished. What was funny is that the only emotion I felt was in my calves. I now understand Racine’s line:
And my trembling knees are buckling beneath me.
I have seen only one newspaper, Le Commerce. This is what it says: “Mr. Bastiat succeeded in having his economic parables accepted through an unpretentious delivery that was accompanied by a thoroughly southern eloquence.” This scant praise is enough for me and I want no more, since God preserve me from arousing envy in my colleagues!
[158 ]Louis Léonard de Loménie, writer and professor of literature.
[159 ]“The grumbling tribe.”
[160 ]OC, vol. 2, p. 238, “Second discours, à Paris.”
[161 ]“There is no cure.”
[162 ]The second public meeting of the Association pour la liberté des échanges.