Front Page Titles (by Subject) 84.: 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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84.: 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, 9 November 1847
[vol. 1, p. 166]
My dear Cobden, I read with great interest your account of your journey and I hope to gain as much pleasure as instruction from the articles you plan to send to Le Journal des économistes.193 M. Say has already written to you about this. He is always eager to seize an opportunity to enhance this compilation which he founded and supports. Your letters are a welcome advantage to him. I urge you most sincerely to devote part of your available time to this. The cause we serve is not bounded by the borders of a nation. It is universal and will find its solution only in its acceptance by all peoples. For this reason, you can do nothing more useful than to increase the reputation and circulation of Le Journal des économistes. I am not totally satisfied with this review; I am now sorry that I did not take over its management. Philosophical argument of this sort would have suited me better than daily polemics.
The difficulties surrounding us are increasing; we do not have only vested interests against us. Public ignorance is now becoming manifest in all its sorry extent. What is more, the parties need to destroy us. Following a series of circumstances which would take too long to recount here, they are all against us. All have the same goal, tyranny. They differ only on the question of knowing in whose hands the despotism will be placed. This is why the thing they fear most is a spirit of true freedom. I assure you, my dear Cobden, that, if I were twenty years younger and in good health, I would take common sense as my armor and truth for my lance, and I would be sure to win. Alas, however, the spirit cannot do anything without the body, in spite of its noble origin.
What grieves me above all, I who am so devoted to the democratic sentiment in all its universality, is to see French democracy in the vanguard of opposition to free trade. This echoes warlike ideas, an exaggerated sense of national honor and passions which seem to grow green again at each revolution; 1830 has manured194 them. You tell me that we let ourselves fall too easily into the trap set by the protectionists and that we ought to have ignored their anglophobic arguments. I think you are mistaken. Doubtless it is useful to eradicate protection, but it is even more useful to eradicate national hatred. I know my country; she has a lively attitude in which truth and falsehood are mixed. France sees an England that is capable of crushing all the world’s navies and moreover knows that it is directed by an unscrupulous oligarchy. This fact is blocking its vision and prevents France from understanding free trade. I would go even further and say that even were she to understand it, she would want none of it for its purely economic benefits. What we need to show France above all is that free trade would cause the military dangers she fears to disappear. For my part I would prefer to fight on for a few years more and overcome national prejudice as well as economic ones. I am not worried that the protectionists have selected this field of battle. My intention is to publish in our journal the debates held in Parliament and in particular the speeches by free traders.
My friend, I will not hide from you that I am terrified by the vacuum that is forming around us. Our opponents are full of daring and ardor. Our friends, on the other hand, are becoming discouraged and losing interest. What good is it to be right a thousandfold if we cannot make ourselves heard? The protectionists’ tactics, greatly supported by the newspapers, are to let us be right all on our own.
Letter to Félix Coudroy
Paris, 5 January 1848
[vol. 1, p. 78]
My dear Félix, while writing to Domenger, I am taking advantage of the opportunity just to wish you a better year than the previous ones.
I am ashamed to publish the second volume of my Sophisms; it is just a ragbag of what has already been printed in journals. A third volume will be needed to lift me up; I have material in rough form for it.195
However, I would much more like to publish the course I am giving to young students in the schools.196 Unfortunately, I have the time only to jot a few notes down on paper. This infuriates me, since I can tell you, and you know this already, that we see political economy from a slightly new angle. Something tells me that it can be simplified and more closely linked to politics and moral values.
Farewell; I must leave you as I am reduced to counting each minute.
[193 ]Le Journal des économistes lists many speeches and letters by Cobden in the general table of contents for the years 1841-65.
[194 ]In English in the original.
[195 ]Two series of the Sophisms were published (as Economic Sophisms), but a third never appeared.
[196 ]The notes Bastiat refers to have not survived, but his address “To the Youth of France” (OC, vol. 6, p. 1, “À la jeunesse française”), which prefaces Economic Harmonies, might give some idea of what he said to the students in his course.