Front Page Titles (by Subject) 169.: 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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169.: 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
Mugron, 23 May 1850
[Lettres d’un habitant des Landes, p. 71]
Dear Mme Cheuvreux, my last letter had scarcely reached the other end of the long line that separates us, when along comes a second, ready to start out on the same road. Is there no indiscretion or unseemliness in this haste? I do not know, since I am not yet well versed in worldly manners, but please be indulgent; even more, please allow me to write to you as the whim takes me, without much regard for the dates and under the sway of impulse, the law that governs weak natures. If you knew how empty and dreary Mugron is, you would forgive me for always directing my gaze toward Paris. My poor aunt, who is more or less all my company, has aged a great deal and is losing her memory. All she has become is a heart; it seems as though her faculties of affection gain what the other faculties lose and I love her more than ever for this, but in her actual presence I cannot prevent my imagination from wandering; am I not ill, after all?
What good are illnesses if they do not give us the privilege of having our fantasies tolerated? This being so, it is agreed, I will attribute my indiscretion to my alleged sufferings; this is a trick that will always take in a woman’s heart, but this must not lead me to deceive you and present myself in the light of a dying man. This is my health report: my cough is less frequent and strength is returning. I can climb the stairs without becoming out of breath; I have found my voice again, which can hum a complete octave. The only thing that inconveniences me is a small pain in the larynx, but I do not think it will last four days. Lastly, although I am not yet ready to offer up my visage to the daunting and exacting gaze of Mlle Louise, I think I am looking better.
Here I am, at peace with my conscience and having obeyed your orders. With regard to Mlle Louise and the face in question, this dear child is always destined to be prey to a painful doubt for a young girl: not to know, in spite of her exquisite tact, if she is being sought for her own merits. This is one of the disadvantages of wealth, but what should reassure her is that if anyone were initially attracted by this wealth, very shortly she would be appreciated for herself. I have told you that goodness of the heart could replace all the other qualities, but I was mistaken; there is something that perhaps is worth even more and that is a sense of duty, a natural disposition to conform to the rule, which is something that goodness of heart does not always imply.
Whatever the number and merit of your friends, please keep me a place in your affections; for my part, I can say this to you, to the extent that time and death are breaking the links around me, to the extent that I am losing the ability to take refuge in politics or study, your benevolence and that of your family are becoming increasingly necessary to me. This is the last light that shines on my life and this is doubtless why it is also the gentlest, purest, and most penetrating. After it will come the night, and let this at least be the night of the tomb.