Front Page Titles (by Subject) 108.: Letter to Félix Coudroy - The Collected Works of Frédéric Bastiat. Vol. 1: The Man and the Statesman: The Correspondence and Articles on Politics
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108.: Letter to Félix Coudroy - 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 Félix Coudroy
Paris, 26 August 1848
[vol. 1, p. 85]
My dear Félix, I am very sorry to see that despite my wishes our correspondence is languishing. It would be very pleasant for me to continue by letter this exchange of feelings and ideas which, for so many years, was sufficient to maintain our happiness. Besides, your letters would be just what I need. Here, in the midst of events and the tumult of passions, I can feel the clarity of principles becoming blurred because of the compromises life demands. I am now convinced that the carrying out of business excludes the possibility of producing a work that is truly scientific, and yet I do not hide from you that I still have this old elusive fancy of writing my Social Harmonies, and I cannot suppress the idea that, had I remained in your company, I would have succeeded in coming up with a useful idea for the world. For this reason, I am longing to go into retirement.
This morning, we concluded the major inquiry which weighed so heavily on the Assembly and on the country. A vote by the Chamber authorized proceedings against Louis Blanc and Caussidière for the part they played in the uprising on 15 May.227 People will perhaps be surprised in our region that this time I voted against the government. It was once my aim to explain to my electors the reason for my votes. Lack of time and strength is the only reason I would fail in this duty, but this vote is so serious that I would like to explain what determined it. The government believed that the proceedings against these two colleagues were necessary. People went so far as to say that the support of the National Guard could be counted on only on this condition. I did not feel I had the right, even for this reason, to gag the voice of my conscience. You know that perhaps in the whole of France there is no more determined an opponent of the doctrines of Louis Blanc than I. I have no doubt that these doctrines will have a disastrous influence on the attitudes of the workers and, consequently, on their actions. But were we being called upon to express an opinion on doctrines? Anyone who holds a belief must consider as disastrous a doctrine that contradicts this belief. When the Catholics had the Protestants burned, it was not because Protestants were in error but because this error was deemed to be dangerous. On this principle we would all kill each other.
We therefore needed to investigate whether Louis Blanc had really been guilty of the offenses of conspiracy and insurrection. I did not think so and anyone who read his defense could not think so. In the meantime, I cannot forget the situation in which we are: a state of siege228 is in force, ordinary justice is suspended, and the press is muzzled. Could I hand over two colleagues to political opponents at a time when no rule of law was assured? This was an act with which I could not associate myself, a first step which I did not wish to take.
I do not blame Cavaignac for having temporarily suspended all forms of freedom; I believe that this sad necessity was as painful for him as it is to us and it may be justified by what justifies everything, public safety. However, does public safety require two of our colleagues to be handed over? I did not think so. Quite the contrary, I believed that such an act could only sow discord among us, inflame hatred, and deepen the abyss between the parties, not only in the Assembly but also in the whole of France. I considered that in the face of the current internal and external circumstances, when the country is suffering and needs order, confidence, governing institutions, and unity, it was an ill-chosen moment to sow the seeds of discord among the representatives of the nation. I think that we would do better to forget our grievances and causes of bitterness in order to work for the good of the country, and I considered myself fortunate that there were no detailed charges against our colleagues, since it was because of this that I was spared the duty of handing them over.
The majority thought otherwise. I hope it is not mistaken! I hope this vote is not the death knell of the Republic.
If you consider it apposite, I authorize you to send an extract of this letter to the local journal.
[227 ]Caussidière was active in the revolutions of 1830 and 1848. He was accused, with Louis Blanc, of being an agitator in the “conspiracy” of 15 May.
[228 ]The state of siege was decreed on 4 June. A proposal to repeal it was discussed at the Assembly on 2 September. It was rejected by 529 deputies against 140. Bastiat was among the 140. The state of siege was repealed only on 19 October.