Front Page Titles (by Subject) 72.: 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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72.: 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 November 1846
[vol. 1, p. 144]
My dear friend, I thank you for having made it possible for me to follow you in your travels in the newspapers of Madrid, Seville, and Cadiz. The expressions of friendship that you receive everywhere reach our fine cause, through you.167 It makes me happy to see that people’s tributes are finally reaching the right target instead of being diverted, as is customary, toward the actions that, for whatever reason, inflict the most obvious evils on the poor human race. At the same time I am very glad to learn that you are enjoying good health and that Mrs. Cobden has not suffered from such a long journey.
I share your opinion on Spain and the Spanish. However, are you not cherishing a few illusions on the degree of prosperity enjoyed by this country? I know that everyone always talks about its fertility, but the absence of rivers, canals, roads, and trees creates obstacles whose significance you should appreciate. By isolating people, they obstruct both moral and social development and the accumulation of wealth. Spain needs someone to invent a means of enabling trains to cross the mountains.
Because I have little time and scarcely enough to keep up with correspondence with my family, I will go straight to the question of free trade in France. At present we are overwhelmed. The protectionists are campaigning in depth and in the English style. Newspapers, contributions, calls to the workers, and threats to the government are all being used. When I say English style, I mean that they are using a great deal of energy and a true understanding of campaigning.
In this respect, our provinces in the north are much further advanced than our départements in the south. In addition, a more pressing interest is goading them on. In twenty-four hours they have founded a journal, while we . . . would you believe that we still do not know whether Bordeaux is willing to help us or not? Marseilles and Le Havre are isolating themselves and their only reason for this is that they do not think we are practical enough, as though we had something other to do than destroy a public error. But I was expecting all this and even worse.
I have not been able to escape the need to take on the physical work myself. Lack of money on the one hand and the commitments of my colleagues on the other leave me with no alternative but to abandon everything or drink deep from this chalice. I have seen in the protectionist journal and in democratic broadsheets the strangest fallacies168 without having the time to refute them, and it is even impossible for me to gather together the material for a second volume of Sophisms, although I have them in sufficient number. The only thing is that they are all of the buffa169 type, and I would like to intersperse them with a few seria.170 As for another, more complete edition of Cobden and the League, I am not even thinking about it.
What a difference it would make, my dear friend, if I could go from town to town speaking and writing!
Be that as it may, public opinion has been awoken and I entertain hope.
It has almost been decided that we will be publishing our first issue in the first few days of December, without knowing how we will be able to continue. However, should not good causes be able to rely on Providence? I will send you a copy as often as I can contact you in your wanderings. I also hope that you will be able to gain us subscribers abroad. We have worked out that at twelve francs we need five thousand subscribers to cover our costs. We would then be able to do without Marseilles and Le Havre. In spite of the fact that we have to be very circumspect with regard to foreigners, and especially the English, I do not think there will be any disadvantages in your fellow countrymen helping us to increase the circulation of our journal in those countries in which French is widely spoken.
I have just received a letter from Bordeaux. It gives me hope that we will receive help. The mayor is working on this with good heart.
Another piece of good fortune has just happened to me. The workers have committed me to going to meet them and reach an agreement with them. If I won them over, they would carry along the democratic party. I will devote all my efforts to this.
[167 ]In English in the original.
[168 ]In English in the original.
[169 ]Opera buffa, or comic opera.
[170 ]Opera seria, or serious opera.