Front Page Titles (by Subject) 132.: 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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132.: 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, 8 April 1849
[vol. 7, p. 396]
Your letters are always precious to me and it is a consolation to me to think that impartial and enlightened friends are not being influenced by the prejudices against me.
I have in fact spoken again to Buffet.259 I put the argument most likely to produce an effect to him. I said, “If, when it is a question of pure locality to ascertain where a model farm may render the most service, the unanimous wishes of thirty general councillors are set aside, do not talk to us any further of decentralization.” He replied, “I have made up my mind to give way to the wishes of the region in questions like these.” In spite of this he has not taken a firm decision; he fears our tenacious and obstinate opponents. I have been assured that he is spreading invective against me. He is a very singular type of liberal.
I have received a letter from M. Dup——. He is asking me to send a note to the minister. I have already sent him a memorandum. You can be sure that we will neglect nothing in ensuring the triumph of the general council’s note.
My friend, I would like to speak to you about the elections and politics. But in truth, there is so much to say that I do not dare start. The need for order, security, and confidence is dominant in the country. This is only natural. However, I am convinced that this is misleading the people with regard to the relationship between the government and the Assembly at the moment. I would very much like to go around the département to put right disastrous misunderstandings. The Assembly should be dissolved and thus allow the representatives to go out to explain themselves, not in their own interest but in the interest of the future. It is very important that the elections are not held under the influence of false preoccupations.
The current ministers are honest, well intentioned, and determined to maintain order. They are my personal friends and I believe that they understand the meaning of true liberty. Unfortunately, they came into power with the preconceived idea that the Assembly, which came out in support of Cavaignac, would of necessity be opposed to Bonaparte. In my soul and conscience this was a mistaken assessment, and it has had the most disastrous consequences. The ministers thought of nothing other than dismissing the Assembly and, with this in view, discrediting it. They pretend to take no note of its votes, even when it demands the execution of laws. They refrain from any initiatives. They give us free rein. They are present at debates like strangers in the gallery. Since they feel that they are supported by the wind of public opinion they generate strife because they think that it will be advantageous to them in the eyes of the country. They thus accustom the country to having a low opinion of the principal power of any representative government. They go even further: they put forward unacceptable laws in order to provoke their rejection. This is what happened with regard to the clubs. You will say that my vote on this law will go some way to reconciling me with the electors. Well then! I have to tell you that this vote is the only one I have on my conscience, as it is contrary to all my principles, and if I had had a few minutes in which to reflect calmly I would certainly not have given it. What determined me to do this was this. I said to my neighbors, “If we want the Republic to remain in place, we must make it loved, not make it feared. The country is in fear of the clubs, it hates them, let us sacrifice them.” The results of the law have proved that it would have been better to stick to our principles, provide all the possible means of control, but not eliminate freedom. This law has done nothing other than organize secret societies.
Since then, I have voted three times and always to my regret against the government. I will be reproached for this in the region, but nevertheless these votes were conscientious.
As for the elections, they will be what the good Lord wants them to be. If I have to fall, I have taken steps in advance and I have much work to do outside parliament. I have a work in my head and fear that I will not be able to deliver it. If the electors give me some leisure, I will console myself by working on this book, which is my chimera. My only wish is that they do not replace me in too unworthy a manner. There are some who, if put in my place, would not bring honor to the département.
[259 ]See Letter 127, pp. 183-84.
[260 ]See Letter 127, note 249. After its victory over Charles Albert, the Austrian government spoke of reestablishing the principles prevailing in Europe after the treaty of Vienna, in 1815. That was interpreted in France as a threat to the Republic, and a military intervention “of solidarity with the Italian republic” was decided on.
[261 ]Some prefects, retired for reasons of illness or infirmity, were recalled because of their hostility to the Republic.
[262 ]Refers to Nicolas Anne Theodule Changarnier (1793-1877).