Front Page Titles (by Subject) 159.: Letter to Mme Cheuvreux - The Collected Works of Frédéric Bastiat. Vol. 1: The Man and the Statesman: The Correspondence and Articles on Politics
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159.: Letter to Mme Cheuvreux - 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 Mme Cheuvreux
Paris, 2 January 1850
[Lettres d’un habitant des Landes, p. 51]
I have been aroused from my slumbers to be handed three volumes, which you sent me without a single word of explanation; have I been so unfortunate as to displease you?
Yesterday, you gathered your family and a few friends around your table to see in the New Year. This meal should have been only a joyful and cordial feast. Alas! Politics crept into it and it is all too true that, without me, even politics might not have been able to cast its somber shadow over it, as perhaps everyone would have been in agreement.
But am I guilty? Did I not keep silent for a long time and did I not treat as general comments what I might have taken as personal ones? Words that resembled provocation? What would happen to me, madam, if this reserve were not enough?
Isolated, scarcely retaining for work the remnants of a strength that is deserting me, must I also lose the sweetness of intimacy, the one delight that binds me to the world?
Between M. Cheuvreux and me, what does a difference of opinion matter, especially when this does not concern our aims or any fundamental principle, but only the means of overcoming momentary difficulties?
It is as much through respect for him as for you, madam, that I drank the chalice that these people put to my lips. And after all, are the opinions for which I am reproached in fact so extravagant?
I would like people to agree to consider me as a hermit, a philosopher, a dreamer, if you like, who does not wish to join a party but who examines them all in order to see where danger lies and whether it can be averted.
In France, I can see two major classes, each of which can be divided into two. To use hallowed although inaccurate terms, I will call them the people and the bourgeoisie.
The people consist of a host of millions of human beings who are ignorant and suffering, and consequently dangerous. As I said, they are divided into two; the vast majority are reasonably in favor of order, security, and all conservative principles, but, because of their ignorance and suffering, are the easy prey of ambitious sophists. This mass is swayed by a few sincere fools and by a larger number of agitators and revolutionaries, people who have an inborn attraction for disruption or who count on disruption to elevate themselves to fortune and power.
The bourgeoisie, it must never be forgotten, is very small in number. This class also has its ignorance and suffering, although to a different degree. It also offers dangers, but of a different nature. It too can be broken down into a large number of peaceful, undemonstrative people, partial to justice and freedom, and a small number of agitators. The bourgeoisie has governed this country, and how has it behaved? The small minority did harm and the large majority allowed them to do this, not without taking advantage of this when they could.
These are the moral and social statistics of our country.
Since I hold very little to and believe even less in various forms of politics, am I going to devote my efforts and speak out against the Republic or the monarchy? Plot to change the institutions which I consider to be of no importance? No! But when I have the opportunity to address the people, I tell them of their errors, illusions, and false aspirations, I seek to unmask the impostors who are misleading them, and I say to them: “Ask only for justice for only justice can be of some use to you.”
And when I speak to the bourgeoisie, I tell them: “It is not raging and ranting which will save you. In all encounters you must grant the people what justice demands, in order to be strong enough to refuse everything which exceeds justice.”
And this is why the Catholics tell me that I have a double-edged doctrine and why Le Journal des débats says that I have to become used to displeasing both parties. Goodness, would it not be easier for me to throw myself body and soul into one of the two camps, to espouse its hatreds and illusions, to make myself the toady either of the people or the bourgeoisie, and to affiliate myself to the evil elements of both armies?