Front Page Titles (by Subject) 150.: Letter to Mrs. Schwabe - The Collected Works of Frédéric Bastiat. Vol. 1: The Man and the Statesman: The Correspondence and Articles on Politics
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150.: Letter to Mrs. Schwabe - 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 Mrs. Schwabe
Paris, 14 October 1849
[vol. 7, p. 382]
Do not be afraid, madam, that your advice is untimely. Is it not based on friendship? Is it not the surest sign of this?
It is in vain that you predict late flowering happiness for me in the future. This cannot happen for me, even in the pursuit or the triumph of an idea that is useful to the human race since my health condemns me to hate the struggle. Dear lady, I have poured into your heart just a drop from the chalice of bitterness that fills mine. For example, just look at my difficult political position and you will see whether I can agree with the prospects you offer me.
I have always had a political idea that is simple, true, and can be grasped by all, and yet it is misunderstood. What was I lacking? A theater in which to expose it. The February revolution occurred. It gave me an audience of nine hundred people, the elite of the nation given a mandate by universal suffrage with the authority to put my views into practice. These nine hundred people were full of the best intentions. They were terrified of the future. They hesitated and cast about for some notion of salvation. They were silent, waiting for a voice to be heard and to which they could rally. I was there; I had the right and duty to speak. I was aware that my words would be welcomed by the Assembly and would echo around the masses. I felt the idea ferment in my head and my heart . . . and I was forced to keep silent. Can you imagine a worse form of torture? I was obliged to keep silent because just at this time it pleased God to remove from me all my strength, and when huge revolutions are achieved such as to afford me a rostrum, I am unable to mount it. I was not only incapable of speaking but also even of writing. What a bitter disappointment! What cruel irony!
Here I am, since my return, confined to my room for simply having wanted to write a newspaper article.
That is not all; I had just one last hope. It was to put this thought down on paper before disappearing from this world so that it did not perish with me. I know very well that this is a poor resource as people today read only well-known authors. Cold print certainly cannot take the place of a speech delivered to the leading political theater in the world. But at least the idea that torments me would have survived. What can one do? The strength to write down and organize a whole theoretical treatise is failing me. It seems as though my mind is becoming paralyzed in my head. Is this not a poignant affliction?
But why am I telling you all this? I have to beg your indulgence. It is because I have bottled up my troubles for so long inside myself that, when I am in contact with a compassionate heart, I find all my private feelings longing to escape.
I would like to send your dear children a small French work that is full of feeling and truth and which has delighted almost all the generations of French young people. It was my childhood companion and later, not very long ago on winter evenings, a woman, her two children, and I wept together on reading it. Unfortunately, M. Heron has left and I do not know how to send it. I will try to send it to Mr. Faulkner in Folkestone.
Farewell, dear lady, I must leave you. Although I am not well, I have to go to defend the cause of the blacks in one of our committees296 and then return to my only friend, my pillow.
[296 ]Slavery was abolished twice in France, once during the first revolution, when Haiti declared its independence from France. This was supported by leading abolitionists in Paris, such as the Abbé Grégoire and Brissot, through the Society of the Friends of the Blacks. Napoléon reintroduced slavery after a bloody repression of the Haitian revolution in 1802. Slavery was abolished a second time on 27 April 1848, during the 1848 revolution.