Front Page Titles (by Subject) 166.: 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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166.: 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
Bordeaux, May 1850
[Lettres d’un habitant des Landes, p. 65]
Here I am in Bordeaux, plunged with delight in the atmosphere of southern France. Although I have left the bustle of Paris to find the peace of my family roof once more, I assure you that my thoughts throughout the journey returned to the past more often than they envisaged the future. I therefore made haste to open the traveling case which I owe to the thoughtful consideration of M. Cheuvreux.
To be reduced to making my health the subject of the first chapter of my letters humiliates me somewhat but your kindness requires it. I can understand this: illnesses which involve coughs have the disadvantage of worrying our friends too greatly. They carry with them an intrusive bell, which unceasingly asks the question: which will gain the upper hand, the cold or the cold-ridden patient? Instead of tiring me, the trip made me feel better; it is true that for three days I had at my disposition an excellent remedy, silence, as it was only from Ruffec319 onward that I departed somewhat from your orders. My two companions, who took it in turn to move to the outside seat of the mail coach to savor the delights of a cigar, were curious enough to examine the travel document. It turned out that they were both keen followers of political economy, and when they resumed their seat, they made sure to let me know that they were familiar with my small works (since not even the title of the Harmonies had reached them), and so, taking advantage of the opportunity, the green grass, and probably prodded by some devil, I have clipped from this pasture (conversation) the width of my tongue.320 I had no right to do this since I had been forbidden to. But I yielded to it and my larynx did not fail to punish me. Do not scold me, madam; is silence not a regime that would suit you sometimes as much as it suits me and yet it is the last thing you do?
Let Mme Girard,321 who is now staying with you, assert her authority to sequester you; what good does it do you to remain in your room if you open its doors wide from ten o’clock in the morning? Could you not sacrifice a few moments of conversation to your health? However, you know that the sacrifice will fall on others and for this reason you do not wish to do this. As you can see, I know the old ploy, which is to scold first so as not to be scolded. After all, I can see that we all descend from our mother, Eve. Your daughter, herself, who is so reasonable, often allows herself to be caught in the trap of music. On the subject of music, it is a great mistake to think that a sound is stifled in the narrow space of a drawing room and a second; a note, or rather a cry from the heart which I heard on Saturday, has traveled two hundred leagues with me. It is still vibrating in my ear, to say the very least.
Poor dear child, I think that I have guessed the thought with which she cloaked Pergolesi’s sad song; was this touching voice whose final accents seem to be lost in a tear not saying farewell to the illusions of youth, the fine dreams of an ideal happiness? Yes, it seemed as though your dear Louise felt herself carried along by circumstances to this fatal and solemn boundary, which separates the land of dreams from the world of reality. May real life bring her at least a calm and solid although slightly solemn happiness. What does she need for this? A good heart and common sense in the man who will be responsible for her destiny, that is the first condition; men whose fiery and artistic imagination casts a bright glow provide opportunities that are often dangerous, but we should not doubt that the noble aspirations of your child will find satisfaction one day.
How are you going to spend next month? Will you be staying in Paris? Will you be going to Auteuil, Saint-Germain, or London? I would more readily cast my vote for England, as it is there that you will find a pleasant blend of peace and amusement. To tell you the truth, my votes are not in good odor although their conscientious aim is to turn away the misfortunes that you fear; but let us not slide down the slope of politics. There is so much that is unforeseen in your resolutions that I am anxious to know what you will decide. I am afraid that I might learn that you are leaving for Moscow or Constantinople. Please, let me find you comfortably installed close to Paris. France is like Frenchwomen; she may have a few caprices but at the end of the day she is the most lovable, gracious, and finest woman in the world and so the most loved.
Farewell, mesdames, let these two months of absence not efface me from your memories; a further farewell to M. Cheuvreux and Mlle Louise.
Your devoted servant,
[319 ]Small town in the département of La Charente, between Paris and Bordeaux.
[320 ]Allusion to a well-known fable of La Fontaine, Les Animaux malades de la peste.
[321 ]Mother of Mme Cheuvreux.