Front Page Titles (by Subject) 120.: Letter to Félix Coudroy - The Collected Works of Frédéric Bastiat. Vol. 1: The Man and the Statesman: The Correspondence and Articles on Politics
Return to Title Page for The Collected Works of Frédéric Bastiat. Vol. 1: The Man and the Statesman: The Correspondence and Articles on Politics
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
120.: 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).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The copyright to this edition, in both print and electronic forms, is held by Liberty Fund, Inc.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
Letter to Félix Coudroy
Paris, 1 January 1849
[vol. 1, p. 92]
My dear Félix, I want to give myself the pleasure of benefiting from the postal reform,238 since I also contributed to it. I wanted it to be radical and we have only the mere beginnings; as it stands, it will at least allow the effusions of friendship.
Since February, we have experienced difficult days, and I believe that the future has never been darker and very much fear that the election of Bonaparte will not solve the problems. At first, I was happy with the majority which raised him to the presidency. I voted for Cavaignac, because I am sure of his total loyalty and intelligence, but although voting for him I felt that power would be a heavy burden for him. He has faced up to a terrible storm, drawn inextinguishable hatred to himself, and the party of disorder will never forgive him. If it was an advantage to be a man whose republicanism was assured and who at the same time could not enter into pacts with the Reds, on the other hand this very history created major difficulties for him. For a moment, I hoped that the appearance on the scene of a new personality with no links to the parties might inaugurate a new era. . . . Be that as it may, I and all the other sincere Republicans have taken the decision of supporting this product of universal suffrage. I have not seen the slightest sign of systematic opposition in the Chamber. . . .
On the other hand, though they may well later begin to fight among themselves, the supporters of fallen dynasties start by demolishing the Republic. They know full well that the Assembly is the anchor of our salvation; they are therefore striving with all their might to have it dissolved and are putting forward petitions to do this. A coup d’état is imminent. Where will it come from? What will it bring? What is worse is that the masses prefer the president to the Assembly.239
For my part, my dear Félix, I am keeping away from all these intrigues. As far as my strength permits, I am occupying my time with advocating my program. You know its general outlines. This is the practical plan: to reform the post and the taxes on salt and wine and spirits; hence, a deficit in the income budget reduced to 1.2 or 1.3 billions; require the government to adjust the expenditure budget accordingly. Declare to it that we will not allow it to spend a penny more, thus obliging it to abandon any interventions abroad and all the socialist utopian measures at home; in a word, require these two principles and obtain them out of necessity, since we have not been able to obtain them from public reason.
I am putting this project forward everywhere. I have spoken to ministers who are my friends about it, but they scarcely listened to me. I have preached it in meetings of deputies. I hope that it will prevail. The first two acts have already been accomplished; there remains the tax on wine. Credit will suffer for a while, the stock exchange is in turmoil, but we must not retreat. We are faced with a gulf which is growing ever larger; we cannot hope to close it without someone suffering. The time for compromise is past. We will lend our support to the president and all ministers but we want these three reforms, not so much for themselves, but as the sure and sole means of achieving our motto, peace and freedom.
Farewell, my friend; I send you my good wishes for the New Year.
[238 ]This reform, inspired by the English reform dating back to 1840, introduced a single payment in the form of a twenty-centime stamp for a standard letter for the whole of the country, plus Algeria. Previously, a fee had been paid by the addressee.
[239 ]In January 1849 Bastiat seems to be foretelling the coming of a dictatorship. Louis-Napoléon seized power in a coup d’état in December 1851 and was made emperor in December 1852.