Front Page Titles (by Subject) 200.: Letter to Horace Say - The Collected Works of Frédéric Bastiat. Vol. 1: The Man and the Statesman: The Correspondence and Articles on Politics
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200.: Letter to Horace Say - 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 Horace Say
Pisa, 20 October 1850
[vol. 1, p. 201]
My dear friend, we wrote to each other at almost the same time on the day of the monthly dinner, which made our letters cross between Paris and Pisa. Since then, I have noticed no change, either for better or for worse, in my illness. Only, the feeling of pain is wearing because of its constancy. Weakness, isolation, and boredom I could overcome, if only it were not for this cursed tearing in the throat which makes all the numerous and essential functions that pass through it so painful. Oh, how much I would like to have one day of respite! But all the invocations on earth are powerless. From the strange dreams I have and the perspiration that always follows sleep, I can see that I have a slight fever every night. However, since I do not cough any more than before, I think that this fever is rather an effect of my continuous state of indisposition than a symptom of a constitutional illness.
. . . I believe in fact that political economy is more widely known here than in France because it is included in the law. It is a great thing to give a gloss of this science to the men who are more or less closely concerned with the execution of the laws, since these men contribute greatly to their drafting and in addition they form the basis of what is known as the enlightened class. I have no hope of seeing political economy taking root in the school of law in France. In this connection, the blindness of governments is incomprehensible. They do not want us to teach the only approach to economic science that guarantees them durability and stability. Is it not typical that the minister of trade and the minister of education, by passing me from one to the other like a ball, have effectively refused me a location in which to give lectures free of charge?
Since you are our cappoletto, our leader, you ought to indoctrinate our friends Garnier and Molinari in order that they take advantage of this unique occasion of the signature370 which, whatever people say, is giving dignity to the newspaper. It is up to them, I believe, to give La Patrie something it has never had, which is color and character. They will have to act with great prudence and circumspection, since the paper is not an économiste publication either with respect to its director, its shareholders, or its subscribers. Its cachet should become apparent only gradually. I believe that our friends should not act as though they were in an overtly économiste journal and one which displayed the flag. This would be to cross swords with our opponents. But in La Patrie the tactic should not be the same. First of all, questions of free trade should be discussed only now and then, in particular the most controversial (such as the laws on navigation). It would be better to deal with the question on a higher plane, one that embraces politics, political economy, and socialism at the same time, that is to say, state intervention. In my view, they should also not put forward nonintervention as a theory or set of principles. All they should do is draw the attention of the reader to it each time the opportunity arises. In order not to generate mistrust, their role is to show for each individual case the advantages and disadvantages of intervention. Why should we hide the advantages? There have to be some if this intervention is so popular. They will therefore have to admit that, when there is good to be done or an evil to be combated, a call for government enforcement appears at first to be the shortest, most economic and effective means. In this very respect, in their place, I would show myself to be very broad-minded and conciliatory to government supporters, since they are very numerous and it is less a question of refuting them than winning them over. But after having acknowledged the immediate advantages, I would draw their attention to later disadvantages. I would say: This is how new functions, new civil servants, new taxes, new sources of discontent, and new financial problems are created. Then, by substituting government enforcement for private activity, are we not removing the intrinsic value of individuality and the means of acquiring it? Are we not making all citizens into men who do not know how to act individually, take a decision, and repulse unexpected events and surprise attacks? Are we not preparing elements of society for socialism, which is nothing other than one man’s thought taking the place of everyone else’s will?
If the various special questions that may arise are discussed from this point of view with impartiality, with the arguments for and against being correctly made, I believe that the public would take a greater interest in them and would soon recognize the true cause of our misfortunes. M. Dumas’ circulars provide a good text to start with.
Farewell, my dear friend, would you believe that I am tired from having scribbled these few lines? However, I still have the strength to ask you to remember me to Mme Say and Léon.
[370 ]Signatures of Garnier and Molinari, who started to write articles in La Patrie.