Front Page Titles (by Subject) 5.: Letter to Roger Dampierre - The Collected Works of Frédéric Bastiat. Vol. 1: The Man and the Statesman: The Correspondence and Articles on Politics
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5.: Letter to Roger Dampierre - 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 Roger Dampierre
3rd July 1846
[vol. 7, p. 300]
Like you, I regret not having been at home when you did me the honor of coming to see me and I regret it all the more since I received your kind letter dated 30th June. I cannot thank you enough for all the nice things you say; my only fear is that the efforts I have been able to devote to what I considered to be the good of the country have been highly exaggerated. I will limit myself to answering what you say with regard to the forthcoming elections and I will do so with the frankness I owe to the sincere tone with which your letter is imbued.
I have decided to issue my declaration of principles as soon as the Chamber is dissolved and abandon the rest to the electors whom this concerns. I have to say to you that, as I do not solicit their votes for myself, I cannot commit them to the alliance of which you speak. As for my personal conduct, I hope that you will find the reason for it in the brochure I am sending you with this letter.7 Allow me to add a few explanations here. An alliance between your opinion and mine is a serious thing that I cannot agree to or reject without setting out for you, perhaps somewhat at length, the reasons that govern my decision.
You are a legitimist, sir, you say so frankly in your declaration of principles; and consequently I am more distant from you than from true conservatives.
Thus, if we had at the forthcoming elections a conservative candidate in opinion but who is independent by position, such as MM Basquiat, Poydenot,8 etc., etc., I could not entertain for a moment the thought that, should my party fail, I would join yours. The prospect of determining a ministerial crisis would not cause me to decide and I would prefer to see an opinion with which I differ only subtly triumph, than that from which I differ because of my principles.
I must admit to you, furthermore, that these alliances of extreme parties appear to me to be trickery artificially arranged by ambitious people for their own benefit. I situate myself exclusively at the standpoint of the taxpayer, the person being administered, and the general public and I wonder what they have to gain from alliances whose sole aim is to pass power from one hand to another. Allowing the success of an alliance between the two schools of opinion, to what can it lead? Obviously, they agree only for a moment by glossing over the points on which they differ and abandoning themselves to the only desire common to them: to overthrow the cabinet. But what happens next? When M. Thiers or anyone else is at the helm, what will he do with a minority of the left which will have been a majority only for a moment with the help of the legitimists, help which will henceforward be refused to them? I can see from here a new alliance forming between the right and M. Guizot. At the end of all this, I can see confusion, ministerial crises, administrative trouble, and satisfied ambition, but I do not see any benefit for the public.
For this reason, sir, I do not hesitate to say to you that I could not under any circumstances join you if it was genuinely a conservative opinion that would be presented at the forthcoming elections.
But this is not so. I see in a secretary under orders the representative not of a political opinion but of an individual thought and of this very thought to which electoral law should serve as a barrier. A candidature like this would remove us from a representative regime; it is more than a deviation from it, it casts derision on it, and it seems that by putting it forward, the government has resolved to see just how far the simplemindedness of the electoral body9 will go. Without having any personal objection to M. Larnac, I have such a serious one against his position that I will not vote for him, whatever happens, and, what is more, if necessary, I will vote for his opponent, even if he is a legitimist.
Whatever the secret thought of the partisans of the senior branch of royalty may be, I fear it less than the intentions of the present government as witnessed in the support it gives to such a candidature. I hate revolutions, but they take a variety of forms and I consider as a revolution of the worst kind this systematic invasion of national representation by the agents of government and, what is worse, of irresponsible government. If therefore I am faced with the cruel alternative of choosing between a secretary under orders and a legitimist, my mind is made up: I would choose the legitimist. If the ulterior motives attributed to this party are in any way the case, I deplore this, but I do not fear it, for I am convinced that the principle of national sovereignty has enough life in France to triumph once more over its adversaries. But with a Chamber peopled with the creatures of government, the country, its wealth and liberty, are defenseless and there is in this a germ of revolution that is more dangerous than that which your party can contemplate.
To sum up, sir, as a candidate I will limit myself to issuing a declaration of principles and attending public meetings if I am invited to them. As an elector, I will first vote for a man of the left; failing that, for an independent conservative; and failing that again, for a frank and loyal legitimist, such as you, rather than for a secretary under the orders of the duc de Nemours.
I remain, sir, etc., . . .
Articles on Politics
[7 ]See “To the Electors of the District of Saint-Sever,” p. 352.
[8 ]Local personalities.
[9 ](Paillottet’s note) It is easy to infer from this passage and several others that Bastiat made two judgments on what is known today as official candidatures. 1. He would have seen in it scorn for the representative regime. 2. This scorn would have appeared to him more sad than new.