Front Page Titles (by Subject) 191.: Letter to Louise Cheuvreux - The Collected Works of Frédéric Bastiat. Vol. 1: The Man and the Statesman: The Correspondence and Articles on Politics
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191.: Letter to Louise 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 Louise Cheuvreux
Lyons, 14 September 1850
[Lettres d’un habitant des Landes, p. 107]
Dear Demoiselle Louise,
Here I am in Lyons since yesterday evening; at a stretch you might have had this letter twenty-four hours earlier, but on my arrival I hesitated between the writing desk and bed. My heart encouraged me to favor the first and my body the second; who would ever have told me that my body would win in a conflict of this kind? However, scarcely was I in bed than it fell victim to a high fever, which explains its victory and justifies me in my own eyes. However, do not worry about this fever; it was very temporary and has completely gone this morning.
On Tuesday, after leaving you, I went to the Économistes dinner. M. Say was in the chair. Following the fatigue I always suffer in the evening, I could not go to bid farewell to Mme Say, for which I am very sorry.
On Wednesday, I set out at half past ten. Up to Tonnerre, the journey went extremely well. We went so quickly that we were scarcely able to enjoy the scenery, with the result that since my eyes were fixed on a cloud probably visible from La Jonchère, I remembered that you were not very happy with the words set to the pretty melody by Félicien David.
I addressed other words to my cloud. Unfortunately they did not rhyme and therefore are not worth my copying them down here. From Tonnerre to Dijon, troubles of all sorts began. If you follow this route, as I hope you will, M. Cheuvreux must contact M. G—— in writing to procure mail coaches.
As I was responsible only for myself, I trusted to luck, which could have looked after me better. There were six of us in the seating space of a stagecoach made for four. Out of these six people, four were women, which meant that under our feet, on our knees, and up against our sides we had a multitude of parcels, bags, baskets, etc.; truly, women, who are such adorable models of self-sacrifice in domestic life, appear not to understand that they owe something to others, even people they do not know, when in public.
From Châtillon to Dijon, I was crowded onto the top deck as the fourteenth passenger. It was during this stage that we crossed the watershed, one side of which looks to the ocean, the other the Mediterranean. When this line is crossed, it seems as though you are leaving your friends for a second time, as you no longer breathe the same air and are no longer under the same sky. Finally, from Dijon to Châlon, you have only two hours on the train and from Châlon to Lyons there is a delightful excursion by water.
But can I say that I am traveling? I am going through a succession of landscapes, that is all. I have no communication with anyone, whether in coaches, in boats, or in hotels. The more attractive people’s faces appear, the more I shun them. The chapter of random adventures or unforeseen meetings does not exist for me. I am going through space like a bale of goods, except for a few visual delights of which I am soon tired.
You told me, dear demoiselle, that poetic Italy would be a source of new emotions for me. Oh, I very much fear that it will be unable to extricate me from this numbness which is gradually taking over all of my faculties. You gave me a lot of encouragement and advice, but for me to be sensitive to nature and art, you would have needed to lend me your soul, the soul that longs to blossom with happiness, which so quickly becomes attuned to everything that is beautiful, graceful, sweet, and lovely and which has such great affinity with all that is harmonious in light, color, sound, and life. Not that this need for happiness reveals any selfishness in your soul; on the contrary, if it seeks, attracts, or desires it, it is to concentrate it in itself as in a hearth and from there radiate it around you in wit, a fine mischief, constant good deeds, consolation, and affection. It is with this disposition of the soul that I would like to travel, as there is no prism that embellishes external objects more. However, I am changing surroundings and skies under a totally different influence.
Oh, how fragile is the human frame! Here I am, the plaything of a tiny pimple growing in my larynx. It is the thing that is driving me from the south to the north and from north to south. It is the thing that makes my knees buckle and empties my head. It is the thing that makes me indifferent to the Italian landscapes of which you speak. I will soon have no thought or concentration for anything other than it, like the old invalids who fill their entire conversations and all their letters with one single idea. It seems as though I am well down this path already.
To escape this, my imagination has one route still open to me and that is to go to La Jonchère. I imagine that you are enjoying with delight the fine days that September stores up. Here you are, all together! Your dear father and M. Edouard361 have returned from Cherbourg delighted with the magnificent things they have seen and full of tales to tell. Just the presence of Marguerite would be enough to make your mountain a charming place to stay. Here is one who might boast of having been caressed! I love to hear parents reproaching each other for spoiling their children, a very innocent small conflict, since the most spoiled, that is to say the most loved, are those that succeed the best.
Dear demoiselle, allow me to remind you that you should not sing for too long a time, especially with the windows open. Be careful of the autumn chills and avoid catching cold in this season. Remember that if you caught one through your own fault it would be as though you were making all those who love you ill. Be careful of returning from Chatou362 at eleven o’clock at night. To combine care for your health and your love of music, might not your evenings be turned into mornings? Farewell, dear Mlle Louise.
Allow me to express my