Front Page Titles (by Subject) 126.: Letter to Bernard Domenger - The Collected Works of Frédéric Bastiat. Vol. 1: The Man and the Statesman: The Correspondence and Articles on Politics
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126.: Letter to Bernard Domenger - 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 Bernard Domenger
Paris, 1849 [no month or day]
[vol. 7, p. 390]
As my unfortunate cold has prevented me from taking the rostrum, I sometimes have recourse to the pen. I enclose two brochures. One does not have a great deal of interest for the provinces. It is entitled Capital and Rent. My aim is to refute a preconceived idea, which has done much damage among the workers and even among the young students at schools. This preconceived idea consists in thinking that interest from capital is theft. I therefore sought to demonstrate the intrinsic nature and raison d’être of interest. I might have made this brochure provocative, as the subject was conducive to this. However, I thought it best to refrain from this so as not to irritate those whom I wished to win over. The result has been that I have fallen into sluggishness and boredom. If ever I produce a second edition, I will rewrite it.
The other brochure is a draft budget or rather the fundamental idea that, in my view, must be at the base of the gradual reform of our financial system.246 It shows the signs of having been written rapidly. There are portions that are too long, omissions, etc. Be that as it may, the prevailing idea is sufficiently highlighted.
I did not limit myself to writing down these ideas; I explained them in various workplaces and before the budget commission, of which I am a member. What I consider to be the most basic prudence was taken to be wild temerity. What is more, as the government is determined to remain inert, it is impossible for the commission to achieve anything worthwhile. A crowded meeting of men deprived of the resources provided by the administrative authority cannot pursue a systematic plan. Projects conflict with each other. General ideas are rejected as a waste of time, and they end up just dealing with details. Our budget for 1849 will be a fiasco. I believe that history will blame this on the Cabinet.
The elections are coming closer; I do not know what the Assembly will decide with regard to the notice period. Will I be able to come to see you? I would like to do so for various reasons: first of all, in order to breathe the air of my region and shake my friends’ hands; second, to combat a few false notions which may have arisen concerning my actions in parliament; and lastly, to inform the electors of my views on the spirit in which they should make their choices. In my opinion, they could not do better than to remain faithful to the spirit which prevailed over them in April 1848. They do not think they produced a good Assembly. I maintain the opposite. It was slightly changed by the partial elections, which sent us both several revolutionaries and a large number of plotters. God preserve my country from having recourse in this way to the extreme wings of both parties! A violent clash would ensue. Doubtless, the country can nominate people only in accordance with its impressions and opinions of the moment. If it is reactionary, it will nominate reactionaries. But let it at least select new men. If it sends long-standing deputies with hearts full of bitterness and well versed in parliamentary intrigue, who are determined to overthrow everything, create traps for new institutions, and bring out as rapidly as possible all the faults that may sully our constitution, all will be lost! We already have the proof of this. Our constitution puts two equal powers into confrontation with each other without the means of settling any possible conflict. This is a great failing. And what has been the result? Instead of at least waiting for this failing to be revealed and for conflict to arise in due course, the government made haste to generate it needlessly. This is the thinking of a man in a hurry to derive criticism of our institutions from whatever happens. And why has this man acted in this way? Did he need to? No. But he is one of those who were deeply thwarted by the revolution and, without realizing it, he is taking pleasure in exacting his revenge at the expense of the country.
As for my personal fate, I do not know what this will be. The country might reproach me for not having done much! In effect, my health has been an invincible obstacle. It has paralyzed my physical and mental strength. I have thus disappointed my friends’ expectations. But is this my fault? Whatever happens, if my mandate is withdrawn, I will resume with no bitterness the solitary habits that are so dear to me.
[246 ]Ibid. Possibly a reference to the pamphlet Paix et liberté; ou le budget républicain.