Front Page Titles (by Subject) 71.: 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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71.: 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, 22 October 1846
[vol. 1, p. 142]
My dear friend, I was beginning to worry about your silence. At last I have received your letter dated . . . and I am delighted to learn that you and Mrs. Cobden are enjoying being in Spain. What will happen when you see Andalusia! As far as I was able to see, in Seville and Cadiz there was an air of equality in the manners between classes which was balm to the soul. I am enchanted to learn that there are good free traders beyond the Pyrenees. Perhaps they will put us to shame. Dear friend, I think we have in common that we are free of personal jealousy. But do you have national jealousy? For my part, I scarcely feel any. I would like my country to give a good example, but failing that, I would prefer even more that it receive good example rather than wait a century to take the lead. And yet . . . I cannot refrain from uttering a philosophical thought. Nations take great pride in having a great musician, a good painter, or a skillful captain, as though that added something to their own merit. It is said that “the French invent, the English encourage.” For heaven’s sake! Would you not agree that invention is a personal fact and encouragement a national fact? Bentham said of science, “What propagates it is more valuable than what advances it.” I say the same of virtues.
But whither am I wandering? To the view that it matters little whether progress reaches us from the dusk or the dawn, provided that it comes.
Your speech will appear in two Paris newspapers. It was not I who translated it. I noted that you were able to give advice to more places than just Paris. Moreover, you did this with perfect propriety and I very much approve of your having told the Castilians that it is not necessary to kill people in order to teach them how to live.
Here we are moving slowly but we are moving. Our most recent meeting was good and the public is clamoring for another. I went to Le Havre. An association has been formed there but it did not think it necessary to adopt our title. I fear that these people have not understood the importance of rallying round a single principle. They are demanding trade reform and a reduction in consumption taxes. How much there would be to say! Trade reform! They did not dare utter the word freedom, because of shipping. A reduction in taxes! Into what topics of discussion will this draw them?
On the subject of shipping, I inserted an article in the Le Havre journal, which had a good local effect.163 M. Anisson thinks that it is at the expense of the principle. I do not think so, but it pains me to disagree with the most enthusiastic and enlightened of my colleagues. I would very much like you to be close to us to be able to settle this disagreement. But truly, a debate by letter would take too long.
I do not know whether it is to my shame or glory but I have read nothing about the marriage.164 Our journal, the Courrier,165 has been speaking of nothing else for the last two months. I have told it that it would do just as well to print under its title “Journal of a Spanish Coterie.” It has lost its subscribers and is blaming it on Libre échange.166 What a shame! I really am homesick for my Landes. There, I imagined human turpitude, but it is much sadder to see it.
Farewell, my brother in arms, take care of your health and that of Mrs. Cobden, to whom I send my best regards. Be careful of the Spanish climate, which is very treacherous and destroys the lungs without appearing to affect them.
[163 ]Bastiat wrote three letters in Le Havre which were published in Le Mémorial bordelais. (OC, vol. 7, p. 131, “Aux négociants du Havre.”)
[164 ]Marriage of the young queen of Spain, Isabella II. Palmerston pushed for a candidate favored by the English, Leopold of Saxe-Coburg; and Guizot, for a son of Louis-Philippe. But the queen preferred her cousin Francisco.
[165 ]Le Courrier français.
[166 ]Bastiat’s journal, on the verge of publication.