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The Works of Bastiat in Chronological Order 1: the Early Writings 1819-1844

Part 1. Early Writings: The Bayonne and Mugron Years, 1819–1844

[Updated: 22 June, 2017 of a "work in progress"]

Note: We have added final drfat versions of material which will appear in the Collected Works, vol.3 "Economic Sophisms and WSWNS"; and Collected Works, vol. 4 "Miscellaneous Writings on Economics."

Material added from CW4 is in BOLD.

Place Bastiat, Mugron

 

Les Landes and its main towns

 

Introduction to the Collected Works in Chronological Order

The printed version of Frédéric Bastiat’s 6 volume Collected Works published by Liberty Fund is a thematic collection.

  • 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). /titles/2393.
  • Vol. 2: The Law, The State, and Other Political Writings, 1843–1850, Jacques de Guenin, General Editor. Translated from the French by Jane Willems and Michel Willems, with an introduction by Pascal Salin. Annotations and Glossaries by Jacques de Guenin, Jean-Claude Paul-Dejean, and David M. Hart. Translation Editor Dennis O’Keeffe. Academic Editor, David M. Hart (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2012). /titles/2450.
  • Vol. 3: Economic Sophisms and “What is Seen and What is Not Seen”. Jacques de Guenin, General Editor. Translated from the French by Jane and Michel Willems, with a foreword by Robert McTeer, and an introduction and appendices by the Academic Editor David M. Hart. Annotations and Glossaries by Jacques de Guenin, Jean-Claude Paul-Dejean, and David M. Hart. Translation Editor Dennis O'Keeffe. (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2017). (Not yet online.)
  • Vol. 4: Miscellaneous Works on Economics (forthcoming)
  • Vol. 5: Economic Harmonies (forthcoming)
  • Vol. 6: The Struggle Against Protectionism: The English and French Free-Trade Movements (forthcoming)

We are also creating a chronological version of Bastiat’s writings which only be available online. As the printed version becomes available in digital form we will add it to the chronological version. Thus, this is a work in progress. There is a complete list of all of Bastiat’s writings in order of appearance here. We have divided Bastiat’s works into 4 parts based upon the key periods and events in his life:

  1. Early Writings: The Bayonne and Mugron Years, 1819–1844
  2. The “Paris” Writings I: Bastiat and the Free Trade Movement (Oct. 1844 - Feb. 1848)
  3. The “Paris” Writings II: Bastiat the Politician, Anti-Socialist, and Economist (Feb. 1848 - Dec. 1850)
  4. The Unfinished Treatises: The Social and Economic Harmonies and The History of Plunder (1850–51)

For further information, see:

The abbreviations used in this collection:

  • 1847.02.14 = the work was published on Feb. 14, 1847
  • ACLL = the English Anti-Corn Law League (1838-46)
  • AEPS = L'Annuaire de l'économie politique et statistique (published by Guillaumin)
  • ASEP = Annales de la Société d'Économie Politique. Publiées sous la direction de Alph. Courtois fils, secrétaire perpétuel, Tome premier 1846-1853 (Paris: Guillaumin,1889).
  • CRANC = Compte rendu des séances de l'Assemblée Nationale Constituante
  • CRANL = Compte rendu des séances de l'Assemblée Nationale Législative
  • CF = Le Courrier française
  • CH = Letters from Lettres d'un habitant des Landes, Frédéric Bastiat. Edited by Mme Cheuvreux. (1877)
  • CW = the Collected Works of Frédéric Bastiat (Liberty Fund edition)
  • CW1 = volume 1 of The Collected Works of Frédéric Bastiat
  • OC = Oeuvres complètes de Frédéric Bastiat (Paillottet/Guillaumin edition)
  • OC1.9 = the 9th article in vol. 1 of the Oeuvres complètes
  • DEP = Dictionnaire d'économie politique
  • DMH = text discovered by David M. Hart which is not in Paillottet's OC
  • EH = Economic Harmonies
  • EH1 = Economic Harmonies - the incomplete edtion publlished by FB during his lifetime in Jan. 1850 (11 chaps.)
  • EH2 = Economic Harmonies - the expanded edtion with 22 chaps. publlished by Paillottet and Fontenay in July 1851
  • Encyclopédie du dix-neuvième siècle (1846) = Encyclopédie du dix-neuvième siècle: répertoire universel des sciences, des lettres et des arts avec la biographie de tous les hommes célèbres, ed. Ange de Saint-Priest (Impr. Beaulé, Lacour, Renoud et Maulde, 1846)
  • ES1 = Economic Sophisms. First Series (published Jan. 1846)
  • ES1.10 = the tenth essay in ES1
  • ES2 = Economic Sophisms. Second Series (published Jan. 1848)
  • ES3 = Economic Sophisms. Third Series (compiled and published by LF in 2017 in CW3)
  • FEE = Foundation for Economic Education
  • JB = the journal Jacques Bonhomme (June 1848)
  • JCPD = the original document was unpublished and is in the possession of Jean-Claude Paul-Dejean
  • JDD = Journal des débats
  • JDE = Journal des Économistes
  • LÉ = Le Libre-Échange
  • n.d. = no date of publication is known
  • OC1 = Oeuvres complètes de Frédéric Bastiat, ed. Prosper Paillottet in 6 vols. (1854–55)
  • OC2 = 2nd edition of Oeuvres complètes de Frédéric Bastiat, ed. Prosper Paillottet in 7 vols. (1862–64)
  • PES = Political Economy Society (Société d'économie politique)
  • PP = Prosper Paillottet, the editor of FB's OC
  • RF = La République française Feb.-March 1848)
  • Ronce = P. Ronce, Frédéric Bastiat. Sa vie, son oeuvre (Paris: Guillaumin, 1905).
  • SP = La Sentinelle des Pyrénées
  • PES = Political Economy Society (Société d'Économie Politique)
  • T = either means "volume" (tome) or "Text" ID number (as in T.28)
  • T.1 = text number one in the chronological table of contents of his writings
  • WSWNS = What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen

The full method of citation for Bastiat’s writings (which is sometimes abbreviated in this article for reasons of space):

  • T.102 (1847.01.17) "L'utopiste" (The Utopian) [Le Libre-Échange, 17 January 1847] [OC4.2.11, pp. 203–12] [ES2 11, CW3, pp. 187-98]
  • text number in chronological ToC, date, French title, English title, place and date of original publication, location in French OC, location in ES, location in LF's CW volume.
  • Letter 3. Bayonne, 18 March 1820. To Victor Calmètes [OC1, p. 3] [CW1, pp. 28-30]
  • letter number in CW1, place and date letter written, recipient, location in OC, location in LF CW

 

Table of Contents

Introduction to Part 1

Correspondence

Articles and Essays

 


 

Introduction to Part 1: Early Writings: The Bayonne and Mugron Years, 1819–1844

[Updated: 21 June, 2017]

If this vast machine always kept itself within the limits of its responsibilities, elected representatives would be superfluous. However, the government is a living body at the center of the nation, which, like all organized entities, tends strongly to preserve its existence, to increase its well-being and power, and to expand indefinitely its sphere of action. Left to itself, it soon exceeds the limits which circumscribe its mission. It increases beyond all reason the number and wealth of its agents. It no longer administers, it exploits. It no longer judges, it persecutes or takes revenge. It no longer protects, it oppresses.
This would be the way all governments operate, the inevitable result of this law of movement with which nature has endowed all organized beings, if the people did not place obstacles in the way of governmental encroachments.
(“To the Electors of the Department of Les Landes” (November, 1830), CW1, p. 344.)

Key works from this period:

  • T.2 “To the Electors of the Department of Les Landes” (November, 1830), CW1, pp. 341–52 and in Early Writings.
  • T.5 “Reflections on the Petitions from Bordeaux, Le Havre, and Lyons Relating to the Customs Service” (April 1834) CW2, pp. 1–9 and Early Writings
  • T.7 "The Canal beside the Adour" (June, 1837) Early Writings
  • T.12 "The Tax Authorities and Wine" (January, 1841) CW2, pp. 10–23 and Early Writings
  • T.266 “Free Trade. State of the Question in England” (SP, May, 1843) (CW6 forthcoming)
  • T.18 "Postal Reform" (August, 1844) Early Writings
  • T.17 “On the Allocation of the Land Tax in the Department of Les Landes” (July, 1844) Early Writings
  • T.19 “On the Influence of French and English Tariffs on the Future of the Two People” (JDE, 10 Oct. 1844) (CW6 forthcoming)

The Early Writings were written in his home Département of Les Landes (1841 population 288,000), in particular the regional capital city of Bordeaux (it was the capital of the region of Aquitaine and had a population in 1841 of 99,000), the regional port city of Bayonne (1841 population 17,000), and the small farming town of Mugron (1841 population 2,190) where he lived for the first 44 years of his life. They are concerned with local matters but they show his growing interest in economics which he studied in a private in considerable depth.

He became a landowner in Aug. 1825 at the age of 24 when his grandfather died (his parents had died when he was young and he was raised by his aunt and grandfather) and left him 250 hectares (620 acres) of land in Mugron which included several sharecroppers.[1] They produced wine, cattle, and some general crops on reasonably good soil on the banks of the Adour river. Other agricultural activities included raising sheep, ducks, and growing vegetables. This produced an income which was sufficient to put Bastiat into the top 5% of tax payers which qualified him to vote in elections and to stand for election (which he did unsuccessfully in 1831 and 1832). During the July Monarchy (1830–1848) only about 200,000 to 240,000 of the wealthiest taxpayers were permitted for vote in elections, a group of people Bastiat referred to as “la classe électorale” (the electoral or voting class).[2] This restriction on voting was overturned after the Revolution in February 1848 when universal manhood suffrage was reintroduced. Nevertheless, the region’s economy had been hit hard (especially the export of wine and beef) because of Napoléon’s economic blockade (1806–14) of British trade and the reintroduction of high tariffs with the Restoration of the Bourbon monarchy in 1815. These policies badly affected the region as it was heavily dependent on wine and other agricultural exports for income. It appears that from the very beginning Bastiat opposed high tariffs and taxes and any government which strayed beyond very strict and defined limits to their activities.

During the July Revolution of 1830 which brought King Louis Philippe to power, Bastiat showed his liberal sympathies and sided with the revolution by persuading the officers of the Bayonne garrison to do so as well, thus tipping the balance of power in the south towards the new king. He wrote an amusing account of his actions in a letter to his friend and neighbour Félix Coudroy in which he describes how he drank wine and sang political songs with the officers as he persuaded them to support the revolution.[3] Although he was a staunch republican he believed a constitutional monarch as Louis Philippe promised to be was the best France could hope for in the circumstances. In one of his earliest political statements, written in Nov. 1830 in support of a local candidate, Bastiat warns his fellow voters that government has a tendency to always expand its sphere of action, increase the number of bureaucrats, and impose new and higher taxes.[4] Bastiat benefited from the new regime almost immediately. In May 1831 he was appointed Justice of the Peace in the canton of Mugron in spite of not having any formal legal training, perhaps as a reward for siding with the Revolution. In 1833 the new government introduced elections for the Departmental Council. In November of that year Bastiat (aged 32) was elected to the 28 member General Council of Les Landes, based in the town of Mont-de-Marsan (1841 population 4,465), which administered the affairs of the Département, such as tax collection, roads and other public works, education, and welfare relief for the poor. Bastiat brought a high level of economic expertise to the Council’s deliberations which he demonstrated in many memos and position papers which he submitted to them.

Bastiat, his close friend and neighbour Félix Coudroy, and other locals were members of a reading group or salon in Mugron, known as “The Academy”, where they discussed books, newspapers, and local politics. We know from his correspondence[5] that Bastiat was reading deeply in economics and social theory at this time, especially the works of Charles Comte (1782–1837) and Charles Dunoyer (1786–1862), who were trained as lawyers and became journalists who were active in opposing political repression in the closing years of the Napoleonic Empire and the early years of the Restoration. Their discovery of the economic ideas of Jean-Baptiste Say (1767–1832) had a profound impact on them and the new theory of liberalism known as “industrialism”[6] which they developed in many works during the 1820s and 1830s in turn had a profound impact on Bastiat during this formative period of his life.

In the second half of 1840 Bastiat tried to branch out into the insurance business. He spent 5 months or so in Madrid and Lisbon pursuing business contacts (his grandfather had done business in Spain and Bastiat spoke Spanish) and attempted to set up a business. This ultimately came to nothing, so he returned to farming in Mugron.

This local interest and political activity explains the topics of his earliest economic writings which he published in local papers, such as La Chalosse, Sentinelle des Pyrénées, Mémorial bordelais, and the Journal des Landes, and presented as memoranda he wrote for consideration by the General Council of Les Landes. These included articles on the establishment of a new secondary school in Bayonne (1834)[7] - he opposed the teaching of Latin and urged the teaching of modern languages and economically useful subjects like science; support for refugees from Poland (1834–35)[8] - he opposed the government’s severe restrictions on the movement and employment of the refugees; the financing and construction of canals (1837)[9] and railways in the region (1846)[10] - he was interested in properly assessing the economic impact of such large public works and criticised the way in which politics intruded into deciding routes; consumption taxes and tariffs on wine (1841, 1843)[11] - he believed that the unequal and heavy burden of taxes and tariffs on Les Landes’ main source of income was severely hampering its economic development; postal reform (1844, 1846)[12] - like Cobden and the Anti-Corn Law League in England, Bastiat wanted to see radical reform of the post office which would cut the cost of sending mail (the “penny post”) and open the business up to competition; the impact of the land tax on local communities (1844)[13] - Bastiat opposed the way the land tax burden was divided among the different regions of Les Landes which did not take into account changes in economic development or population growth and decline; and the general question of tariffs and custom duties (1834).

Bastiat’s interest in free trade can be seen as early as March 1829 when in a letter to his friend Victor Calmètes he expressed an interest in writing a book on “trade restrictions.”[14] The first thing he wrote on it was some “Reflections on the Petitions from Bordeaux, Le Havre, and Lyons Relating to the Customs Service” (April 1834) in which he expressed strong free trade opinions which he continued to voice for the rest of his life.[15] He became aware of Richard Cobden and the Anti-Corn Law League (which had been founded in Manchester in 1838) in May 1843 when he wrote a series of short articles for a local newspaper[16] explaining to French readers what was happening across the Channel and by mid–1844 he had become so immersed in the matter he had translated a large number of ACLL tracts and parliamentary speeches, which would become his first book on Cobden and the League (July 1845).[17] His own thoughts on how and why France should adopt a policy of free trade was written over the summer of 1844 and became his break-through essay[18] which got him admitted into the Parisian circle of political economists and launched a new career for him as a free rade activist and budding economic theorist.

His writings on economics from this early period show considerable skill in collecting and handling economic data and a growing confidence in making arguments based upon his understanding of economic theory.

This period lasted until the summer and fall of 1844 when his attention increasingly turned away from his village of Mugron towards London and Paris and he began to focus his reading and research on free trade. This resulted in him coming into personal contact with Richard Cobden in England and the free market economists in Paris who published his first article in the Journal des Économistes in October 1844 on French and English tariff policy.[19] This began the second major period in his life as the head of the French Free Trade movement.

Endnotes

  1. For information about Bastiat’s life see Jacques de Guenin and Jean-Claude Paul-Dejean, “General Introduction” to The Collected Works of Frédéric Bastiat, Vol. 1: The Man and the Statesman (2011); Dean Russell, Frédéric Bastiat: Ideas and Influence (Irvington-on-Hudson, N.Y.: Foundation for Economic Education, 1969); George Charles Roche, III, Frédéric Bastiat: A Man Alone (New Rochelle, N.Y.: Arlington House, 1971); Robert Leroux, Political Economy and Liberalism in France: The Contributions of Frédéric Bastiat (London: Routledge, 2011); and Gérard Minart, Frédéric Bastiat (1801–1850). Le croisé de libre-échange (Paris: L'Harmattan, 2004).  ↩

  2. See T.129 “The People and the Bourgeoisie”, Le Libre-Échange, 22 May 1847, in CW3, pp. 281–87.  ↩

  3. Letter 18 to Félix Coudroy, Bayonne 5 Aug. 1830, in CW1, pp. 28–30 and Early Writings.  ↩

  4. T.2 “To the Electors of the Department of Les Landes” (November, 1830), CW1, pp. 341–52 and in Early Writings.  ↩

  5. His correspondence can be found in CW1.  ↩

  6. See in particular, Charles Dunoyer, L’Industrie et la morale considérées dans leurs rapports avec la liberté (Paris: A. Sautelet et Cie, 1825). On Comte, Dunoyer, and Say see, Leonard P. Liggio, “Charles Dunoyer and French Classical Liberalism,” Journal of Libertarian Studies, 1977, vol. 1, no. 3, pp. 153–78; Mark Weinburg, "The Social Analysis of Three Early 19th Century French Liberals: Say, Comte, and Dunoyer, Journal of Libertarian Studies, 1978, vol. 2. no. 1, pp. 45–63; and David M. Hart, Class Analysis, Slavery and the Industrialist Theory of History in French Liberal Thought, 1814–1830: The Radical Liberalism of Charles Comte and Charles Dunoyer (unpublished PhD, King’s College Cambridge, 1994) Available online.  ↩

  7. T.3 “On Founding a New School” (1834), CW1, pp. 415–19and Early Writings.  ↩

  8. T.4 “On a Petition in favor of Polish Refugees) (1834) and ”Letter to an unidentified Friend in Defence of a Refugee" (Sept. 1835) in CW4 (forthcoming).  ↩

  9. T.7 “The Canal beside the Adour” (June-Aug. 1837) in CW4 (forthcoming).  ↩

  10. T.66 “On the Railway between Bordeaux and Bayonne” (19 May 1846), CW1, pp. 312–16.  ↩

  11. T.12 “The Tax Authorities and Wine” (January 1841), CW2, pp. 10–23 and Early Writings; and T.13 “Memoir on the Wine-Growing Question” (January 1843), CW2, pp. 25–42 and Early Writings.  ↩

  12. T.18 “Postal Reform” (August, 1844) and again later T. 58 (April, 1846), in CW4 (forthcoming).  ↩

  13. T.17 “On the Division of the Land Tax in the Department of Les Landes” (c. 1844) in CW4 (forthcoming).  ↩

  14. Letter 15. Mugron, 12 March 1829. To Victor Calmètes (OC1, p. 10) [CW1, p. 24].  ↩

  15. T.5 “Reflections on the Petitions from Bordeaux, Le Havre, and Lyons Relating to the Customs Service” (April 1834), CW2, pp. 1–9 and Early Writings.  ↩

  16. T.266 (1843.05.18) “Free Trade. State of the Question in England. 1st Article”, La Sentinelle des Pyrénées, 18 May 1843. 3 articles published 18 May to 1 June 1843. [JCPD][CW6].  ↩

  17. Bastiat, T.27 Cobden et la Ligue, ou l'agitation anglaise pour la liberté du commerce (Paris: Guillaumin, 1845).  ↩

  18. T.19 "On the Influence of French and English Tariffs on the Future of the Two People", Journal des Économistes, October 1844. (CW6 forthcoming)  ↩

  19. Bastiat, T.19 "De l’influence des tarifs français et anglais sur l’avenir des deux peuples" (On the Influence of French and English Tariffs on the Future of the Two People), Journal des Économistes, T. IX, Oct. 1844, pp. 244–71 in CW6 (forthcoming).  ↩

 


 

Correspondence

Letter 1. Bayonne, 12 Sept. 1819. To Victor Calmètes

Source

Letter 1. Bayonne, 12 Sept. 1819. To Victor Calmètes (OC1, pp. 1-2) [CW1, pp. 11-12]

Text

... My friend, we are in the same boat. Both of us are attracted to intellectual activity rather than the kind to which duty calls us, the difference being that the reflection which takes our fancy is closer to that of a lawyer than to that of a trader.

You know that I mean to go into commerce. When I entered the world of business, I conceived of business as purely mechanical and thought that six months would be enough to make me a trader. This being so, I did not think it necessary to work very hard and I concentrated in particular on the study of philosophy and politics.

I have since lost any illusions I had on this point. I now recognize that the science of commerce is not enclosed within the limits of routine. I have learned that a good trader, in addition to knowing his merchandise and where it comes from, and knowing the worth of what he can exchange, and bookkeeping, all of which experience and routine can teach in part, must also study the law and broaden his knowledge of political economy, which is not part of routine and requires constant study.

These considerations caused me considerable perplexity. Should I continue to study philosophy, which I like, or should I plunge into finance, [12] which I dread? Should I sacrifice my duty to my inclination or my inclination to my duty?

Having decided to put my duty before everything, I was about to start my studies when I thought of taking a look at the future. I weighed up the wealth I might hope to gain and balanced it against my needs and ascertained that whatever small happiness commerce might afford me, I might, while still a young man, free myself of the burden of work that would not make for my happiness. You know my tastes, you know whether, if I were able to live happily and peacefully, however little my wealth exceeded my needs, I would choose to impose the burden of a boring job on myself for three quarters of my life in order to possess a pointless surplus for the rest of my life.

... So now you know. As soon as I have acquired a certain prosperity, which I hope will be soon, I will be giving up business.

 


 

Letter 2. Bayonne, 5 March 1820. To Victor Calmètes

Source

Letter 2. Bayonne, 5 March 1820. To Victor Calmètes (OC1, pp. 2-3) [CW1, pp. 12-13]

Text

. . . I had read the Treatise on Political Economy by J. B. Say, an excellent and highly methodical work. Everything flows from the principle that riches are assets and that assets are measured according to utility. From this fertile principle, he leads you naturally to the most far-flung consequences so that, when you read this work, you are surprised, as when reading Laromiguière,2 at the ease with which you go from one idea to the next. The entire system passes before your eyes in its various forms and gives you all the pleasure that a sense of the obvious can provide.

One day when I was in quite a large gathering, a question of political economy was discussed in conversation, and everyone was talking nonsense. I did not dare to put my opinions forward too much, since they were so diametrically opposed to the conventional wisdom. However, as each objection forced me to go up a notch to put forward my arguments, I was soon driven to the core principle. This was when M. Say made it easy for me. We started from the principle of political economy, which my adversaries admitted to be just. It was easy for us to go on to the consequences and reach that which was the subject of the conversation. This was the point at which I perceived [13] the full merit of the method and I would like it to be applied to everything. Do you not agree with me?

 


 

Letter 3. Bayonne, 18 March 1820. To Victor Calmètes

Source

Letter 3. Bayonne, 18 March 1820. To Victor Calmètes (OC1, p. 3) [CW1, p. 13]

Text

I entered into the world one step at a time, but I did not rush into it, and, in the midst of its pleasures and pains, when others, deafened by so much noise, forget themselves, if I can put it like that, in the narrow circle of the present, my vigilant soul was always looking over its shoulder, and reflection prevented it from letting itself be dominated. What is more, my taste for study has taken up a great deal of my time. I concentrated so much on it last year that this year I was forbidden to continue with it, following the painful complaint it caused me. . . .

 


 

Letter 4. Bayonne, 10 Sept. 1820. To Victor Calmètes

Source

Letter 4. Bayonne, 10 Sept. 1820. To Victor Calmètes (OC1, p. 4) [CW1, p. 13]

Text

. . . . . . .

One thing that occupies me more seriously is philosophy and religion. My soul is full of uncertainty and I cannot bear this state. My intellect rejects faith while my heart hankers after it. In fact, how can my intellect reconcile the great ideas about the Divine with the puerility of certain dogmas; and on the other hand, how can my heart not want to find rules of conduct in the sublime moral code of Christianity? Yes, if paganism is the mythology of the imagination, Catholicism is the mythology of sentiment. What could be more likely to interest a sensitive heart than the life of Jesus, the morality of the Gospels, and meditation on Mary? How touching all this is. . . .

 


 

Letter 5. Bayonne, Oct. 1820. To Victor Calmètes

Source

Letter 5. Bayonne, Oct. 1820. To Victor Calmètes (OC1, pp. 4-5) [CW1, pp. 13-14]

Text

I must admit, my dear friend, that the subject of religion fills me with hesitation and uncertainty, which is beginning to become a burden. How can I not see the dogmas of our Catholicism as mythology? And in spite of it all, this mythology is so beautiful, so consoling, so sublime that error is almost preferable to truth. I have a feeling that if I had one spark of faith in my heart, it would shortly become a flame. Do not be surprised at what [14] I am saying to you here. I believe in God and the immortality of the soul, that virtue is rewarded and vice chastised. This being so, what a huge difference there is between a religious person and an unbeliever! My state is unbearable. My heart burns with love and gratitude to God and I do not know how to pay him the tribute of homage I owe Him. He occupies my thoughts only vaguely, while a religious man has before him a career that is fully marked out for him to pursue. He prays. All the religious ceremonies keep him constantly occupied with his Creator. And then this sublime reconciliation between God and man, this redemption, how sweet it must be to believe it! What an invention it is, Calmètes, if it is one!

Apart from these advantages, there is another which is no less important. The skeptic has to work out a moral code for himself and then follow it. What perfect understanding, what force of will he must have! And who is there to reassure him that tomorrow he will not have to change the ideas he holds today? A religious man, on the other hand, has his route fully mapped out before him. He takes nourishment from a moral code that is always divine.

 


 

Letter 6. Bayonne, 29 Apr. 1821. To Victor Calmètes

Source

Letter 6. Bayonne, 29 Apr. 1821. To Victor Calmètes (OC1, p. 5) [CW1, p. 14]

Text

For my part, I think that I am going to settle irrevocably on religion. I am tired of searches that lead and can only lead nowhere. There, I am sure of finding peace and I will not be tormented by fears, even if I make mistakes. What is more, it is such a beautiful religion that I can imagine that you can love it to such an extent that you obtain happiness in this life.

If I manage to make up my mind, I will take up my former pleasures again. Literature, English, and Italian will take up my time as in the past. My spirit has been numbed by books on controversy, theology, and philosophy. I have already reread a few tragedies by Alfieri. . . .

 


 

Letter 7. Bayonne, 10 Sept. 1821. To Victor Calmètes

Source

Letter 7. Bayonne, 10 Sept. 1821. To Victor Calmètes (OC1, pp. 5-6) [CW1, pp. 14-15]

Text

I want to let you have a word on my health. I am changing my way of life, I have abandoned my books, my philosophy, my devotion, my melancholy, in a word my spleen, and I am all the better for it. I am getting out in the world and it is singularly amusing. I feel the need for money, which makes [15] me keen to earn some, which gives me a taste for work, which leads me to spend the day quite pleasantly in the store, which, in the last analysis, is extremely beneficial to my mood and health. However, I sometimes regret the sentimental enjoyment to which nothing can be compared, the love of poverty, the taste for a retired and peaceful life, and I think that by indulging in a little pleasure, I have wanted only to wait for the moment to abandon it. Enduring solitude in society is a misconception and I am thankful that I have understood this in good time. . . .

 


 

Letter 8. Bayonne, 8 Dec. 1821. To Victor Calmètes

Source

Letter 8. Bayonne, 8 Dec. 1821. To Victor Calmètes (OC1, pp. 6-8) [CW1, pp. 15-16]

Text

I was away, my dear friend, when your letter arrived in Bayonne, which has made my reply somewhat late. How pleased I was to receive this dear letter! The longer the time of our separation recedes from us the more tenderly I think of you and prize having a good friend all the more. I have found no one here to replace you in my heart. How fond we were of one another! For four years, we were not parted from one another for an instant. Often the uniformity of our way of life and the perfect harmony of our feelings and thoughts did not allow us to talk much. With any other, silent walks of such length would have been unbearable; with you, however, I was never tired and they left me nothing to want for. I know people who love one another just to show off their friendship, while we loved each other unobtrusively and frankly; we realized that our friendship was remarkable only when someone brought it to our attention. Here, dear friend, everyone loves me but I have no friend. . . .

. . . So, here you are, my friend, in your robes and mortarboard. I find it difficult to know whether you have the disposition for the task you have chosen. I know that you have a great deal of justice and sound judgment, but that is the least of your requirements. You also need ease of speech, but is it pure enough? Your accent is not likely to have improved in Toulouse nor got any better in Perpignan. Mine is still dreadful and will probably never change. You love studying and quite like discussion. I therefore think that you should now concentrate on the study of law, as these are notions that can be learned only by working, like history and geography, and later on the physical aspects of your profession. Grace, and noble and easy gestures, a certain veneer, the kind of glances and gestures of the hand, that indefinable something that will attract, warn, and carry people along. That is halfway to [16] success. Read the letters by Lord Chesterfield3 to his son on this subject. It is a book whose moral code I am far from approving, attractive as it is, but a true mind like yours will easily be able to set aside what is bad and profit from what is good.

For my part, it is not Themis4 but blind fortune that I have chosen or which has been chosen for me as a lover. However, I must admit, my ideas on this goddess have changed a great deal. This base metal is no longer so base in my eyes. Doubtless, it was a fine thing to see the Fabricii and Curii5 remaining poor when the only reward of robbery and usury was wealth, and doubtless Cincinnatus did well to eat broad beans and radishes, since he would have had to sell his inheritance and honor to eat more delicate dishes. But times have changed. In Rome, wealth was the fruit of chance, birth, and conquests; today, it is the reward only of work, industry,6 and economy. In these circumstances, it is nothing if not honorable. Only a real fool taken from secondary school would scorn a man who knows how to acquire assets with honesty and use them with discernment. I do not believe that the world is wrong in this respect when it honors the rich; its error is to honor indiscriminately the honest rich man and the rich scoundrel. . . .

 


 

Letter 9. Bayonne, 20 Oct. 1822. To Victor Calmètes

Source

Letter 9. Bayonne, 20 Oct. 1821. To Victor Calmètes (OC1, pp. 8-9) [CW1, pp. 16-17]

Text

Everyone pursues happiness, everyone situates it in a certain condition of life and aspires to it. The happiness you attach to a retired life has perhaps no other merit than to be perceived from a great distance. I have loved solitude more than you have, I have sought it with passion and have enjoyed it, but if it had lasted a few months longer, it would have led me to the grave. Men, and especially young men, cannot live alone. They grasp things with too much ardor, and if their thought is not spread over a thousand varied objects, the one that absorbs them will kill them.

I would like solitude, but I would want to have it with books, friends, a [17] family, and material interests. Yes, interests my friend, do not laugh at this word; they bind people together and generate work. You may be sure that a philosopher, even if he were interested in agriculture, would soon be bored if he had to cultivate someone else’s land free of charge. It is interest that embellishes an estate in the eyes of its owner, which puts a value on the inventory, makes Orgon happy, and makes the Optimist say:

The chateau de Plainville is the most beautiful chateau in the world.

You appreciate that when I speak of returns or of interests, I do not mean that sentiment that is close to egoism.

To be happy, I would like, therefore, to own an estate in a lively country, especially in a country where old memories and long-standing habits would have given me a link with everything there. This is when you enjoy everything, this is the via vitalis.7 I would like to have as my neighbors or even as coinhabitants friends like you, Carrière, and a few others. I would like an estate which was not so large that I would be able to neglect it, nor so small that it would give me worries and deprivations. I would like a wife. . . . I am not going to draw her portrait, I rather feel that I would be incapable of doing it and I would myself be (I have no false modesty with you) my children’s teacher. They would not be bold as in towns, nor uncouth as in lightly populated areas. It would take too much time to go into the details, but I assure you that my plan has the supreme merit, that of not being romantic. . . .

 


 

Letter 10. Bayonne, Dec. 1822. To Victor Calmètes

Source

Letter 10. Bayonne, Dec. 1822. To Victor Calmètes (OC1, pp. 9-10) [CW1, pp. 17-18]

Text

. . . . . . .

Yesterday, I was reading a tragedy by Casimir Delavigne entitled The Pariah.8 I am no longer used to making critical analyses, so I will not discuss this poem with you. What is more, I have abandoned the general tendency of French readers to look for transgressions of the rules in what they read rather than pleasure. If I enjoy what I read, I am not very critical of the work, since the interest is the most important of its attractions. I have noticed that the weak point of all modern tragedians is dialogue. In my view, M. Casimir [18] Delavigne, who is better at this than Arnault and Jouy, is far from being perfect. His dialogues are not short enough nor sufficiently consistent, but rather tirades and speeches which do not even relate to one another, and this is a fault that readers forgive the least easily since the work thus becomes less true to life and less plausible. I seem rather to be present at a discussion between two preachers or the advocacy of two barristers than listening to a sincere, lively, and unaffected conversation between two people. Alfieri excels in dialogue, I think, and Racine’s is also very simple and natural. For the rest, carried along by a lively interest (which perhaps is not sufficiently often suspended) I rather skimmed than read The Pariah. Its versification seemed to me to be fine and rather too metaphorical if the characters were not Eastern. But the disaster was rather too easy to predict and from the beginning the reader is not in suspense.

 


 

Letter 11. Bayonne, 15 Dec. 1824. To Félix Coudroy

Source

Letter 11. Bayonne, 15 Dec. 1824. To Félix Coudroy (OC1, pp. 14-16) [CW1, pp. 18-19]

Text

I note with pleasure that you are fervently studying English, my dear Félix. As soon as you have overcome the initial difficulties, you will find in this language a font of resources because of the great number of works it possesses. Apply yourself above all to translation and fill your storehouse with words and the rest will follow. At school I had a notebook and folded the pages in two; on one side I wrote all the English words I did not know and on the other the corresponding French ones. This method enabled me to stamp the words more effectively in my head. When you have finished Paul et Virginie,10 I will send you some other things; in the meantime I will note here a few lines of Pope to see if you can translate them. I must confess that I doubt this, since it was a long time before I reached this stage.

I am not surprised that studying is so attractive to you. I would also like it a lot if other uncertainties did not torment me. I am still like a bird on the [19] branch, since I do not want to do anything to displease my parents, but as long as this continues I will be setting aside any ambitious projects and will continue with solitary study.

  • Let us (since Life can little more supply
  • Than just to look about us, and to die)
  • Expatiate free o’er all this scene of man.11

I should not be afraid that study will not be enough to quench my ardor, since I will stop at nothing less than acquiring knowledge of politics, history, geography, mathematics, mechanics, natural history, botany, four or five languages, etc., etc.

I must tell you that, since my grandfather became subject to attacks of fever, his mind is disturbed and consequently he does not want to see any member of his family go too far away. I know that I would worry him considerably if I went to Paris, and this being the case I can see that I will abandon the idea since the last thing in the world I wish to do is to cause him pain. I am fully aware that this sacrifice is not that of a fleeting pleasure but one affecting the usefulness of my entire life, but in the end I am determined to make it to avoid hurting my grandfather. On the other hand, I do not, just for a few business reasons, wish to continue the type of life I live here, and consequently I am going to suggest to my grandfather that I settle permanently in Mugron. There again I fear a snag, that people will want me to take over part of the administration of the estate, which means that I will find in Mugron all of the disadvantages of Bayonne. I am not at all suited to sharing administration. I want to do it all or none of it. I am too gentle to dominate and too vain to be dominated. But in the end I will lay down my conditions. If I go to Mugron, it will be to concentrate only on my studies. I will drag along as many books as I can, and I do not doubt that after a little time I will come to take a great deal of pleasure in this type of life.

 


 

Letter 12. Bayonne, 8 Jan. 1825. To Félix Coudroy

Source

Letter 12. Bayonne, 8 Jan. 1825. To Félix Coudroy (OC1, pp. 16-17) [CW1, pp. 19-21]

Text

I am sending you the preceding pages, my dear Félix, which will be a constant proof that I am not neglecting to reply to you but merely to forward [20] the letter. I have this unfortunate fault resulting from my untidy habits which means that I believe that I have done my duty to my friends when I write to them, without thinking that the letter itself has to be sent.

You talk to me about political economy as though I knew more about it than you. If you have read Say carefully, as you appear to have done, I can assure you that you will have left me far behind, since I have read only the following four works on this subject, Smith,12 Say, Destutt, and Le Censeur. What is more, I have never studied M. Say in depth, especially the second volume, which I have just glanced through. You have given up hope that sane ideas on this subject will ever penetrate public opinion, but I do not share your despair. On the contrary, I believe that the peace that has reigned in Europe for the last ten years has spread them a great deal, and it is a good thing perhaps that this progress is slow and imperceptible. The Americans in the United States have very sound ideas on these matters, although they have set up customs stations in retaliation. England, which is always at the head of civilization in Europe, is now giving a good example by gradually giving up the system that hampers it.13 In France, commerce is enlightened but owners are less so, and manufacturers work just as hard to retain their monopolies. Unfortunately, we do not have a chamber capable of ascertaining the true state of the nation’s understanding. The seven-year period14 is also detrimental to this slow and upward drift of ideas from public opinion which partly rejuvenates the legislature. Finally, a few events and above all the incorrigible French character that enthuses about anything new and is always ready to treat itself to a few fine words will prevent the truth from triumphing for a short while. But I do not despair. The press, necessity, and financial interest will end up by achieving what reason still cannot. If you read Le Journal du commerce, you will have seen how the English government tries to enlighten itself by officially consulting the most enlightened traders and manufacturers. The conclusion then agreed is that the prosperity of Great Britain is not the product of the system it has followed but the result of many other [21] causes. It is not enough for two facts to exist at the same time to conclude that one is the cause and the other the effect. In England, trade restrictions and prosperity certainly relate to each other through coexistence and contiguity, but not through causation. England has prospered not because of, but in spite of, countless taxes. This is the reason I find the language of ministers so ridiculous when they say to us each year, “You see how rich England is, it pays a billion!”

I think that if I had more paper, I would continue this abstruse chatter. Farewell, with my fondest good wishes.

 


 

Letter 13. Bordeaux, 9 Apr. 1827. To Félix Coudroy

Source

Letter 13. Bordeaux, 9 Apr. 1827. To Félix Coudroy (OC1, pp. 18-20) [CW1, pp. 21-23]

Text

My dear Félix, as I have not yet decided when I will be returning to Mugron, I want to break the monotony of my absence with the pleasure of writing to you and I will begin by giving you a few items of literary news.

First of all, I will tell you that MM Lamennais and Dunoyer (whose names are not habitually linked in this way) are still at the same point, that is to say, the former at his fourth volume and the latter at his first.15

In a newspaper entitled Revue encyclopédique, I read a few articles which I found interesting, including a very short study on the work of Comte16 (a study limited to a short expression of praise), considerations on insurance and in general on the applications of the calculation of probabilities, a speech by M. Charles Dupin on the influence of public education, and lastly an article by Dunoyer entitled “A Study of Popular Opinion,” to which the name of industrialism17 has been given.18 In this article, M. Dunoyer does not go back further than MM B. Constant and J. B. Say, whom he quotes as being the first political writers to have observed that the purpose of social activity is industry. To tell you the truth, these authors have not perceived the use that might be made of this observation. The latter has considered such industry only in the light of the production, distribution, and consumption of wealth and in his introduction he even defines politics as the science of the [22] organization of society, which seems to prove that, like eighteenth-century authors, he sees politics only as concerning the forms of government and not as the basis and purpose of society. As for M. B. Constant, after being the first to have proclaimed this truth, that the aim of society’s activity is to secure industry, he is so far from having made it the basis of his doctrine that his major work19 covers only forms of government, the checks and balances of political power, etc. etc. Dunoyer then moves on to an examination of Le Censeur européen, whose authors, once they had taken over the isolated observations of their predecessors, have made from them an entire corpus of doctrine which is discussed with care in this article. I cannot analyze an article for you that is itself just an analysis. I will tell you, however, that Dunoyer seems to me to have reformed a few of the opinions that were predominant in Le Censeur. For example, I think that he is now giving the word industry a more extended meaning than before, since he includes in this word any work that tends to improve our faculties; thus any useful and legitimate work counts as industry and any man who takes part in it, from the head of the government to an artisan, is a producer.20 From this it follows that Dunoyer continues to think as before that, in the same way that hunting peoples select their most skillful hunter to be their leader, and warlike peoples the most intrepid warrior, industrious peoples should also summon to the helm of public affairs those men who have most distinguished themselves in industry. However, he thinks that he has made a mistake in individually naming the branches of production from which the choice of rulers should be made and in particular, agriculture, commerce, manufacturing, and banking, for although these four sectors doubtless cover the majority of the huge circle of industry, they are not the only ones through which men hone their faculties by means of work and several others appear even more suited to training legislators, such as those of jurist and man of letters.

I have discovered a real treasure in a slim volume containing a mixture of moral and political writings by Franklin.21 I am so keen on this that I have started to use the same means as he to become as good and happy as he. [23] However, there are some virtues that I will not even seek to acquire since they appear to be quite unattainable in my case. I will bring you this small work.

I have also come across by chance a very detailed article on beet sugar. Its authors have calculated that it would cost the manufacturer ninety centimes a pound, where cane sugar sells at one franc ten centimes. You can see that, assuming total success, it would leave not much of a margin. What is more, to devote oneself with pleasure to this type of work and perfect it, you would need a knowledge of chemistry, which unfortunately is totally foreign to me. Be that as it may, I was bold enough to write a letter to M. Clément. Lord only knows whether he will reply.

For the sum of three francs a month, I am attending a course in botany three times a week. We cannot learn much there, as you can see, but apart from passing the time, it is useful in putting me in touch with the people who are concerned with science.

This is just chatter; if it did not cost you so much to write, I would ask you to reciprocate by return.

 


 

Letter 14. Mugron, 3 Dec. 1827. To Félix Coudroy

Source

Letter 14. Mugron, 3 Dec. 1827. To Félix Coudroy (OC1, pp. 20-21) [CW1, p. 23]

Text

. . . You are encouraging me to carry out my project, and I do not think I have ever in my life been so determined. From the start of 1828, I will use my time in removing the obstacles, the most considerable of which are pecuniary. Going to England, renovating my house, purchasing the livestock, instruments, and books I need, organizing the financing for wages and seed, all for a small sharecropping farm (because I want to start with just one), I feel will carry me a bit far. It is clear to me that in the first two or three years, my agriculture will not produce much, both because of my inexperience and because the crop rotation I propose to adopt will show its full effect only in due course. However, I am very happy with my situation since, if I did not have enough to live on and a bit more from my little property, it would be impossible to undertake such an enterprise; for as I can sacrifice the income from my property, if need be, nothing prevents me from doing what I want. I read books on agriculture and nothing equals the beauty of this working life, because it has everything, but it requires knowledge that is foreign to me, such as natural history, chemistry, mineralogy, mathematics, and many other things.

Farewell, my dear Félix, good luck and return soon.

 


 

Letter 15. Mugron, 12 March 1829. To Victor Calmètes

Source

Letter 15. Mugron, 12 March 1829. To Victor Calmètes (OC1, p. 10) [CW1, p. 24]

Text

. . . . . . .

On this subject, do you know that I am intending to go into print in my lifetime? What, I can hear you say, Bastiat an author? What is he going to give us? A collection of ten or twelve tragedies? An epic? Or perhaps some madrigals? Will he follow in the footsteps of Walter Scott or Lord Byron? None of these things, my friend; I have limited myself to gathering together the heaviest forms of reasoning on the heaviest of questions. In a word, I am dealing with our system of trade restrictions. See if that tempts you, and if so I will send you my complete works, once, of course, they have been given the honor of being printed. I wanted to tell you more about this, but I have too much else to say to you. . . .22

 


 

Letter 16. Mugron, Jul. 1829. To Victor Calmètes

Source

Letter 16. Mugron, July 1829. To Victor Calmètes (OC1, pp. 10-11) [CW1, pp. 24-25]

Text

. . . I am pleased to see that we have nearly the same opinion. Yes, as long as our deputies want to further their own business and not that of the general public, the public will remain just the tail end of the people in power. However, in my opinion, the evil comes from further afield. We easily surmise (since it suits our amour propre) that all evil results from power; on the contrary, I am convinced that its source is the ignorance and inertia of the masses. What use do we make of the rights given to us? The constitution tells us that we will pay what we consider appropriate and authorizes us to send our representatives to Paris to establish the amount which we wish to hand over in order to be governed; we then give our power of attorney to people who are beneficiaries of taxation. Those who complain about the prefects are themselves represented by them. Those who deplore the wars of sympathy23 we are waging in the east and the west, sometimes in favor of freedom for a people, sometimes to put another into servitude, are themselves represented by army generals. We expect prefects to vote for their own [25] elimination and men of war to become imbued with pacifist ideas!24 This is a shocking contradiction. But, men will say, we expect from our deputies dedication and self-renunciation, virtues from classical times which we would like to see resurrected in our midst. What a puerile illusion! What sort of policy can be based on a principle distasteful to human organization? At no time in history have men ever renounced themselves, and in my view it would be a great misfortune if this virtue took the place of personal interest. If you generalize self-renunciation in public opinion, you will see society destroyed. Personal interest, on the other hand, leads to individuals bettering themselves and consequently the masses, which are made up solely of individuals. It will be alleged, pointlessly, that the interest of one man is opposed to that of another; in my opinion this is a serious, antisocial error.25 And, if we may progress from general notions to their application, if taxpayers are themselves represented by men with the same interests as they, reforms will occur by themselves. There are some who fear that the government would be destroyed by a spirit of economy, as though each person did not feel that it was in his interest to pay for a force responsible for the repression of evildoers.

I embrace you warmly.

 


 

Letter 17. Bayonne, 4 Aug. 1830. To Félix Coudroy

Source

Letter 17. Bayonne, 4 Aug. 1830. To Félix Coudroy (OC1, pp. 21-24) [CW1, pp. 25-28]

Text

26

My dear Félix, I am so over the moon I can scarcely hold my pen. It is not a question here of a slave revolt, the slaves indulging in greater excesses, if that is possible, than their oppressors. It is enlightened men who are rich [26] and prudent who are sacrificing their interests and their lives to establishing order and its inseparable companion, freedom. Let people tell us after this that riches weaken courage, that enlightenment leads to disorganization, etc., etc. I wish you could see Bayonne. Young people are carrying out all forms of service in the most perfect order; they are receiving and sending out letters, mounting guard, and are acting as local, administrative, and military authorities all at once. Everyone is working together, townsmen, magistrates, lawyers, and soldiers. It is an admirable spectacle for anyone who is capable of seeing it, and if I used to be only half committed to the Scottish persuasion,27 I would be doubly so today.

A provisional government28 has been set up in Paris, made up of MM Laffitte, Audry-Puiraveau,29 Casimir Périer, Odier, Lobeau, Gérard, Schonen, Mauguin, and La Fayette as the commander of the National Guard, which is more than forty thousand men. These people could make themselves dictators; you will see that they will do nothing to enrage those who have no belief in either good sense or virtue.

I will not go into detail on the misfortunes which the terrible Praetorian guards, known as royal guards, have inflicted on Paris. Sixteen regiments of these men, greedy for power, roamed the streets, cutting the throats of men, children, and old men. It is said that two thousand students lost their lives there. Bayonne is mourning the loss of several of its sons; on the other hand, the gendarmerie, the Swiss mercenaries, and bodyguards were crushed the next day. This time, the regular infantry, far from remaining neutral, fought vigorously for the nation. However, we still have to mourn the loss of twenty thousand brothers who died to secure liberty30 and benefits for us which they will never enjoy. I heard the hope for these frightful massacres expressed in our circle;31 the person who expressed it must feel satisfied.

The nation was led by a crowd of deputies and peers of France, including [27] generals Sémélé, Gérard, La Fayette, Lobeau, etc., etc. Despotism had entrusted its cause to Marmont, who, it is said, has been killed.

The École polytechnique has suffered greatly and fought bravely.

At last, calm has been restored and there is no longer a single soldier in Paris; this great town, following three consecutive days and nights of massacres and horror, is governing itself and governing France, as if it were in the hands of statesmen. . . .

It is fair to proclaim that the regular troops supported the national will everywhere. Here, a hundred and forty-nine officers met to deliberate. One hundred and forty-eight swore that they would break their swords and tear off their epaulettes rather than massacre a people just because they do not wish to be oppressed. In Bordeaux and Rennes, their conduct was the same, which reconciles me somewhat to the law of recruitment.

The National Guard is being organized everywhere and three major advantages are expected. The first is to prevent disorder, the second to maintain what we have just acquired, and the third to show other nations that while we do not wish to conquer others, we are ourselves impregnable.

Some believe that to satisfy the desires of those who consider that France can exist only as a monarchy the crown will be offered to the duc d’Orléans.32

For my part, my dear Félix, I was pleasantly disappointed; I came looking for danger, I wanted to conquer with my fellow men or die with them, but I found only laughing faces and, instead of the roar of cannon, I heard only outbursts of joy. The population of Bayonne is admirable for its calm, energy, patriotism, and unanimity, but I think I have already told you that.

Bordeaux has not been so fortunate. There were a few excesses. M. Curzay seized the letters of office.33 On the 29th or 30th, of the four young men who were sent to claim them back as a sacred property, one was run through by his sword and he wounded another. The two others threw him to the crowd, who would have massacred him had the constitutionalists not pleaded for him.

Farewell, I am tired of writing and must be forgetting many things. It is midnight and for the last week I have not slept a wink. At least today, we can indulge ourselves in sleep.

[28]

There is talk of a movement of four Spanish regiments on our border. They will be well received.

Farewell.

 


 

Letter 18. Bayonne, 5 Aug. 1830. To Félix Coudroy

Source

Letter 18. Bayonne, 5 Aug. 1830. To Félix Coudroy (OC1, pp. 24-27) [CW1, pp. 28-30]

Text

My dear Félix, I will not talk any more about Paris to you as the newspapers will inform you of all that is going on. Our cause is triumphing, the nation is admirable, and the people will be happy.

Here the future appears to be darker. Fortunately, the question will be decided this very day. I will scribble the result for you in the margin.

This is the situation. On the 3rd, many groups were gathered in the square and were discussing, with extraordinary exaltation, whether we should not immediately take the initiative of displaying the tricolor flag. I moved about without taking part in the discussions, as whatever I said would have had no effect. As always happens, when everyone talks at once, no one does anything and the flag was not displayed.

The following morning, the same question was raised. The soldiers were still well disposed to let us act, but during the hesitation, dispatches arrived for the colonels and obviously cooled down their zeal for the cause. One of them even cried out in front of me that we had a king and a charter and that we ought to be faithful to them, that the king could not do wrong, that his ministers were the only guilty ones, etc., etc. He was replied to roundly . . . but this repeated inaction gave me an idea which, by dint of my turning it over in my mind, got so ingrained there that since then I have not thought till now of anything else.

It became clear to me that we had been betrayed. The king, I said to myself, can have one hope only, that of retaining Bayonne and Perpignan; from these two points, he would raise the Midi and the west and rely on Spain and the Pyrenees. He could foment a civil war in a triangle whose base would be the Pyrenees and the summit Toulouse, with the two angles being fortresses. The country it comprises is the very home of ignorance and fanaticism; one side of it touches Spain, the second the Vendée, and the third Provence. The more I thought about it, the clearer this project became. I told my most influential friends about it but they, inexcusably, had been summoned at the citizens’ pleasure to take charge of various organizations and no longer had time to think of serious matters.

Other people had had the same idea as I, and by dint of shouting and [29] repetition it became general. But what could we do when we were unable to deliberate and agree, nor make ourselves heard? I withdrew to reflect and conceived several projects.

The first, which was already that of the entire population of Bayonne, was to display the flag and endeavor, through this movement, to win over the garrison of the chateau and the citadel. This was done yesterday at two o’clock in the afternoon, but by old people who did not attach the same significance to it as Soustra, I, and a lot of others, with the result that this coup failed.

I then took my papers of authorization to go to the army encampment to look for General Lamarque. I was relying on his reputation, his rank, his character as a deputy and his eloquence to win over the two colonels and, if need be, on his vigor to hold them up for two hours and present himself at the citadel in full military dress, followed by the National Guard with the flag at their head. I was on the point of mounting my horse when I received word that the general had left for Paris, and this caused the project, which was undoubtedly the surest and least dangerous, to fail.

I immediately had a discussion with Soustra, who unfortunately was occupied with other cares, telegraphic dispatches, the soldiers’ encampment, the National Guard, etc., etc.; we went to find the officers of the 9th, who have an excellent spirit, and suggested that they seize the citadel; and we undertook to lead six hundred resolute young men. They promised us the support of their entire regiment, after having, in the meantime, deposed their colonel.

Do not say, my dear Félix, that our conduct was imprudent or frivolous. After what has happened in Paris, what is most important is that the national flag should fly over the citadel in Bayonne. Without that, I can see civil war in the next ten years, and, although I do not doubt the success of the cause, I would willingly go so far as to sacrifice my life, an attitude shared by all my friends, to spare our poor provinces from this fearful scourge.

Yesterday evening, I drafted the attached proclamation to the 7th Light, who guard the citadel, as we intended to have it delivered to them before the action.

This morning, when I got up, I thought that it was all over; all the officers of the 9th were wearing the tricolor cockade, the soldiers could not contain their joy, and it was even being said that officers of the 7th had been seen wearing these fine colors. An adjutant had even shown me personally the positive order, given to the entire 11th division, to display our flag. However, hours went by and the banner of liberty was still not visible over the citadel. [30] It is said that the traitor J—— is advancing from Bordeaux with the 55th regulars. Four Spanish regiments are at the border, there is not a moment to lose. The citadel must be in our hands this evening or civil war will break out. We will act with vigor if necessary, but I, who am carried along by enthusiasm without being blind to the facts, can see that it will be impossible to succeed if the garrison, which is said to be imbued with a good spirit, does not abandon the government. We will perhaps have a few wins but no success. But we should not become discouraged for all that, as we must do everything to avoid civil war. I am resolved to leave straight away after the action, if it fails, to try to raise the Chalosse. I will suggest to others that they do likewise in the Landes, the Béarn, and the Basque country; and through famine, wiles, or force we will win over the garrison.

I will keep the paper remaining to me to let you know how this ends.

The 5th at midnight

I was expecting blood but it was only wine that was spilt. The citadel has displayed the tricolor flag. The military containment of the Midi and Toulouse has decided that of Bayonne; the regiments down there have displayed the flag. The traitor J—— thus saw that the plan had failed, especially as the troops were defecting on all sides; he then decided to hand over the orders he had had in his pocket for three days. Thus, it is all over. I plan to leave immediately. I will embrace you tomorrow.

This evening we fraternized with the garrison officers. Punch, wine, liqueurs, and above all, Béranger contributed largely to the festivities. Perfect cordiality reigned in this truly patriotic gathering. The officers were warmer than we were, in the same way as horses which have escaped are more joyful than those that are free.

Farewell, all has ended. The proclamation is no longer useful and is not worth the two sous it will cost you.

 


 

Letter 19. Bayonne, 22 Apr. 1831. To Victor Calmètes

Source

Letter 19. Bayonne, 22 Apr. 1831. To Victor Calmètes (OC1, p. 12) [CW1, pp. 30-31]

Text

I am annoyed that a property qualification for eligibility34 should be an obstacle to your election or at least to your standing as a candidate. I have always thought that it was sufficient to require guarantees from electors, and [31] that that required from candidates is a disastrous duplication. It is true that deputies should be remunerated, but that is too close to the knuckle, and it is ridiculous that France, which pays everybody, should not remunerate its businessmen.

In the district in which I live, General Lamarque will be elected outright for the rest of his life. He has talent, probity, and a huge fortune. This is more than what is required. In the third district of the Landes, a few young people who share the opinions of the left have offered me the opportunity of being a candidate.35 As I have no remarkable talents, fortune, influence, or relations, it is certain beyond doubt that I would have no chance, especially as the movement is not very popular around here. However, as I have adopted the principle that the post of deputy should be neither solicited nor refused, I replied that I would not involve myself in it and that whatever the post my fellow citizens called on me to undertake, I was ready to devote my fortune and life to them. In a few days they should be holding a meeting at which they will decide on their choice of a candidate. If their choice falls on me, I admit that I would be overjoyed, not for myself, since apart from the fact that my definite nomination is impossible (if it occurred it would ruin me), but because I hanker today only for the triumph of principles, which are part of my existence, and that if I am not certain of my means, I am of my vote and my ardent patriotism. I will keep you informed. . . .

Your devoted friend,

 


 

Letter 20. Bordeaux, 2 March 1834. To Félix Coudroy

Source

Letter 20. Bordeaux, 2 March 1834. To Félix Coudroy (OC1, pp. 27-28) [CW1, pp. 31-32]

Text

. . . I have spent a little time getting to know a few people and will succeed in doing so, I hope. But here, on every face to which you are polite you see written “What is there to gain from you?” It is discouraging. It is true that a new newspaper is being founded. The prospectus does not tell you very much and the editor still less, since the first has been written with the pathos that is all the fashion and the second, assuming that I am a man of the party, limited himself to making me feel how inadequate Le Mémorial36 and L’Indicateur were for patriots. All that I was able to obtain was a great deal of insistence that I should take out a subscription.

[32]

Fonfrède37 is perfectly in line with Say’s principles. He writes long articles which would be very good in a sustained work. I will take the risk of going to visit him.

I believe that a series of lectures would succeed here and I am tempted. I think that I would have the strength to do it, especially if one could start with the second session, since I admit that I could not answer at the first or even be able to read fluently, but I cannot thus abandon all my business affairs. We will see about it nevertheless this winter.

A teacher of chemistry has established himself here already. I dined with him without knowing that he gave classes. If I had known, I would have found out how many pupils he had, what the cost was, etc. I would have found out whether, with a history teacher, a teacher of mechanics, and a teacher of political economy a sort of Athenaeum could be formed. If I lived in Bordeaux, it would have been very unfortunate if I did not manage to set it up, even if I had to bear all the costs myself, since I am convinced that if a library were added, this establishment would succeed. Learn history, therefore, and we will perhaps try one day.

I will stop now; thirty drummers are practicing under my window and I cannot hear myself think.

Farewell.

 


 

Letter 21. Bayonne, 16 June 1840. To Félix Coudroy

Source

Letter 21. Bayonne, 16 June 1840. To Félix Coudroy (OC1, p. 29) [CW1, pp. 32-33]

Text

38

My dear Félix, I am still about to leave; we have booked our seats three times already and finally they have been booked and paid for Friday. We have been out of luck, for when we were ready, the Carlist General Balmaceda blocked the roads and it is to be feared that we will have difficulty in getting through. But you must not say anything so as not to worry my aunt, [33] who is already only too ready to fear the Spanish. For my part, I find that the business that is propelling us toward Madrid is worth taking a few risks for. Up to now, it has shown itself in a very favorable light. We would find the capital required here if we limited ourselves above all to founding just a Spanish company.39 Will we be stopped by the sluggishness of this nation? In this case, I will have to bear my traveling costs and will be compensated by the pleasure of having seen at close quarters a people whose qualities and faults distinguish it from all the others.

If I note anything of interest, I will take care to keep it in my wallet to let you know.

Farewell, my dear Félix.

 


 

Letter 22. Madrid, 6 Jul. 1840. To Félix Coudroy

Source

Letter 22. Madrid, 6 July 1840. To Félix Coudroy (OC1, pp. 29-32) [CW1, pp. 33-35]

Text

My dear Félix, I have received your letter of the 6th. From what you tell me of my dear aunt, I see that for the moment she is in good health but she has been somewhat unwell; for me that is the reverse side of the coin. Madrid today is a theater that is perhaps unique in the world, which Spanish laziness and lack of interest are handing over to foreigners who, like me, have some knowledge of the customs and language of the country. I am certain that I could do excellent business here, but the idea of being away from my aunt at an age when her health is starting to become delicate, prevents me from thinking of announcing my exile.

Since I have set foot in this singular country, I have meant to write to you a hundred times. But you will excuse me for not having had the energy to do this when you learn that we devote the morning to business, the evening to an essential walk, and the day to sleeping and gasping under the weight of heat that is uncomfortable more because it is continuous than by reason of its intensity. I have forgotten what clouds look like, since the sky is perfectly clear and the sun fierce. You can rest assured, my dear Félix, that it is not through negligence that I have delayed writing to you, but I am really not suited to this climate and I begin to regret that we did not postpone our departure by two months. . . .

I am surprised that the aim of my trip is still a secret in Mugron. It is no longer one in Bayonne and, before my departure, I wrote about it to [34] Domenger to commit him to taking an interest in our business. It is really excellent, but will we succeed in founding it? I cannot yet say; the bankers in Madrid are a thousand miles away from organized opposition and any idea imported from abroad is welcomed by them with suspicion. They are also very difficult on questions relating to people, with each one saying to you, “I am taking no part in the business if such and such a house is taking part.” The fact is, they earn so much money with supplies, loans, monopolies, etc., that they do not bother much with anything else. There are a lot of obstacles to overcome, and it is all the more difficult because they do not give you the opportunity of seeing them in more relaxed surroundings. Their houses are as barricaded as fortresses. We have found two classes of bankers here; the first, Spaniards of old families, are the most difficult to persuade, but they are also the ones who can give the most consistent support to the enterprise. The others, who are bolder and more European, are more approachable but have less standing. They form the old and new Spain. We had to choose and have knocked on the door of pure Spain, and I fear that it will refuse and that, in addition, by this very act, we will have the door of modern Spain slammed in our faces. We will abandon the quest only when we have exhausted all the means to success and we have reason to believe that the solution will not be long in coming.

This business and the heat are so absorbing me that I really do not have the energy to apply my powers of observation to anything else. I am not taking any notes, in spite of the fact that I am not short of subjects. I am in a position to see how things work and, if I had the strength and talent to write, I think I would be able to write letters as interesting as those of Custine40 and perhaps more true to life.

To give you an idea of how easy I would find it to live here, apart from the business being done and in which I might take part, I have been given an opportunity of involving myself in court proceedings taken by Italian houses against the Spanish nobility, which would give me enough to live on without undertaking other work, but the thought of my aunt has made me reject this offer. It smiled on me as being a way of prolonging my stay and studying this theater, but my duty obliges me to refuse it.

My friend, I very much fear that Catholicism will suffer the same fate here as in France. There is nothing more beautiful, dignified, solemn, and [35] imposing than religious ceremonies in Spain, but other than that I cannot see in what respect this people is more spiritual than others. This is, moreover, a subject we will discuss at length on my return, when I have had the opportunity of observing it better.

Farewell, my dear Félix, please visit my aunt and give her my news. I assure you of my deepest friendship.

 


 

Letter 23. Madrid, 16 Jul. 1840. To Félix Coudroy

Source

Letter 23. Madrid, 16 July 1840. To Félix Coudroy (OC1, pp. 32-34) [CW1, pp. 35-36]

Text

My dear Félix, I thank you for your fine letters dated 1st and 6th July; my aunt also took the trouble to write to me so that, up to now, I have received news often and I need it. I cannot say that I am bored, but I am so unused to living far from home that I am happy only on the days I receive letters.

You are doubtless curious to know where we are with our insurance company. I am now almost certain that we will succeed. A great deal of time is necessary to win over the Spaniards whose names we need, and then much more is required to operate such a huge machine with inexperienced people. But I am convinced that we will reach our goal. The share that Soustra and I should be having in the profits, as the founders, has not been settled. It is a delicate matter to which we are not referring, since neither of us is very bold in this connection. This being so, we will defer to the decision of the Board of Directors. For me, this will be a subject on which to gain experience and make observations. Let us see whether the Spanish, who are so suspicious, so reserved, and so unapproachable, are honest and great when they know people. Apart from this matter, our business is progressing slowly but surely. Right now, we have the key to the whole matter, nine names from which to form a board, and names that are so well known and honorable that it seems impossible that anyone will think of competing with us. This evening there will be a meeting to examine the statutes and conditions and I hope that at the first round the company’s articles of association will be signed. When this is done, perhaps I will return to France to see my aunt and attend the session of the General Council. If I can do this at all, I will. But I will then have to return to Spain, because the company will give me the opportunity to make a complete journey free of charge. Up to now, I cannot say that I have traveled much. With my two companions, I have not entered a single Spanish house, apart from the stores. The heat has canceled all public meetings, balls, theater performances, and bullfights. Our room and a few [36] offices, the French restaurant and the walk to the Prado form the circle from which we do not stray. I would like to take my revenge soon. Soustra leaves on the 26th as he is needed in Bayonne. Read all of this to my aunt, whom I embrace fondly.

The most marked characteristic of the Spanish nature is its hatred and suspicion of foreigners. I think this is a genuine vice, but it must be said that it is encouraged by the self-conceit and trickery of many foreigners. They blame and ridicule everything; they criticize the cooking, the furniture, the rooms, and all the customs of the country because in fact the Spanish pay little attention to life’s comforts. However, we who know, my dear Félix, to what extent individuals, families, and nations can be happy without enjoying these types of material comforts will be in no hurry to condemn Spain. These foreigners will arrive with their pockets full of plans and absurd projects, and because people do not rush to acquire their shares they become annoyed and cry ignorance and stupidity. This rush of swindlers at first did us a great disservice and will continue to do so to any good business. For my part, I am pleased to think that Spanish suspicion will prevent the nation from falling into the trap, since the foreigners, once they have brought their plans, if they want them to succeed, will be forced to bring in capital and in many instances French workers.

Please give me news of Mugron from time to time, my dear Félix; you know how much homesickness overcomes us when we are far away.

Farewell, my dear Félix; please remember me to your sister.

 


 

Letter 24. Madrid, 17 Aug. 1840. To Félix Coudroy

Source

Letter 24. Madrid, 17 Aug. 1840. To Félix Coudroy (OC1, pp. 34-39) [CW1, pp. 36-41]

Text

. . . You have asked me a question I cannot answer: How can the Spanish people allow the monks to be chased away and killed?41 I ask myself this often, but I do not know the country well enough to explain this phenomenon to myself. What is probable is that the era of monks is finished everywhere. Their uselessness, rightly or wrongly, is a generally established belief. Assuming that there were forty thousand monks in Spain, involving as many families with five members, that would only make two hundred thousand [37] inhabitants compared with ten million. Their immense riches may have tempted many people from the prosperous class, and the prospect of being relieved from a host of fiscal impositions may have tempted many people from the ordinary class. The fact is that the power of the monks is finished; but certainly no measure, assuming it is necessary, has ever been conducted with as much savagery, as much lack of foresight and political tact.

The government was in the hands of the moderates who wanted monasteries to be abolished but did not dare to set about it. Financially, the hope was, with the product of the national property, to pay Spain’s debts, end the civil war, and restore the state of the finances. Politically, through the division of the lands, they wanted to reconcile a considerable part of the people to the revolution. I think that this aim has been unsuccessful.

As they did not dare to act legally, an agreement was reached with the fanatics. One night, the fanatics broke into the monasteries. In Barcelona, Malaga, Seville, Madrid, and Valladolid they cut the throats of the monks or chased them away. The government and the public forces remained impassive witnesses of these atrocities for three days. When the uprising ran out of steam, the government intervened and the minister Mendizabal issued a decree confiscating the monasteries and monastic property. This is now being sold; but you will have the measure of this government. Some individual or other declares that he wants to tender for an item of national property. The state has it valued and this valuation is always very low because the acquirer is in league with the assessor. Once this is done, the sale is processed publicly. Agreement is also reached with the notaries to avoid publicity, and the property is yours for a low price. You have to pay a fifth in cash and the other four-fifths in eight installments over eight years. The state receives in payment rent from various sources which is traded on the stock exchange at a loss ranging from 75 to 95 percent, that is to say, that with twenty-five francs and even with five, you pay one hundred francs.

Three things result from this: first, the state receives almost nothing, you can even say nothing; second, it is not those from the provinces who are buying, since they are not at the stock exchange to barter paper; and third, this mass of land sold all together for a pittance has depressed the price of other properties. In this way, the government, which has made scarcely enough to pay the army, will not be paying back the debt.

The property will be divided up only when the speculators sell it on.

The farmers have simply changed masters, and instead of paying farm rents to the monks, who, it is said, were very accommodating owners who [38] did not stick to the rules and who lent seed and even renounced income in bad years, they will be paying on the nail to Belgian and English companies which, uncertain as to the future, will be aiming to repay the state with produce from the land.

The simple peasant, in calamitous years, will no longer be given soup at the monastery door.

Lastly, humble owners will be able to sell their lands only for a pittance. This, it seems to me, will be the result of this disastrous operation.

More capable men had suggested that advantage be taken of an existing custom in use here: leases of fifty and even one hundred years. They wanted to lease farms to peasants at a moderate rate for fifty years. With the income, the annual interest on the debt would have been paid and Spain’s credit would have been raised, and at the end of fifty years the peasants would have had an immense capital, probably more than doubled through security and hard work. You will see at a glance the political and financial superiority of this arrangement.

Be that as it may, there are no more monks. What has become of them? Probably some died in the monasteries in the service of Don Carlos, and others would have succumbed to starvation in the gutters and attics of towns. A few may have found refuge with their families.

As for the monasteries, they have been converted into cafés, public dwellings, theaters, and most of all into barracks for another group of predators, rather cruder than the others. Several were demolished to widen streets and construct squares; on the site of the most beautiful of all, one that was considered to be a masterpiece of architecture, a passageway and a hall that clashed in style were built.

Nuns are no less to be pitied. In the event, those who wished to return to the world were thrashed; the others were enclosed in two or three convents, and because their property, which represented the dowries they had brought to their order, had been seized, they should have been paid a pension. However, since this is not paid, you can often see on convent gates this simple notice, Pan para las pobres monjas (bread for the poor nuns).

I am beginning to think, my dear Félix, that our M. Custine had really not seen Spain in its true light. Hatred for another civilization had made him seek here virtues which are not there. Perhaps he has on the contrary committed the same fault as the Spanish, who see nothing to criticize in [39] English civilization. It is with great difficulty that our prejudices allow us to see things as they are, let alone judge them well.

I am coming home, my dear Félix, and I have learned that tomorrow the law on ayuntamientos (local councils)42 will be proclaimed. I do not know whether I have spoken of this matter with you but here at least is a summary.

The moderate government, which has just fallen, had appreciated that, to govern Spain, the central power had to be given a certain authority over the provinces. Here, from time immemorial, each province, each town, and each village governs itself. As long as the monarchical principle and the influence of the clergy compensated for this extreme dilution of authority, things went on more or less well, but now this state of things cannot last. In Spain, each locality nominates its ayuntamiento, alcaldes, regidors,43 etc. These ayuntamientos, in addition to their municipal functions, are responsible for gathering taxes and raising troops. The result of this is that when a town has reason to be discontented, whether well founded or not, it limits itself to not collecting taxes or refusing to collect its share. What is more, it appears that these ayuntamientos are the centers of major abuses and that they do not hand over to the state half of the contributions they gather. The moderate party therefore wanted to undermine this power. A law has been proposed by the government, adopted by the chambers, and sanctioned by the queen, which stipulates that the queen will select the alcaldes from three candidates nominated by the people. The fanatics uttered loud cries, leading to the revolution in Barcelona and the intervention of Espartero’s saber. However, what is seen only here, and what you have to be here to grasp, is that the queen, although obliged to change the government, has nominated another which is maintaining the law already voted and approved. Doubtless, since it came to power through a violation of the constitution, this government believed it had to show that it respected it by allowing a law that had received the sanction of the three powers44 to be promulgated. This law will [40] therefore be proclaimed tomorrow. Will this pass off without disturbance? I scarcely dare to hope so. In addition, because France and our ambassador are considered to be at the root of this hoax, after the events in Barcelona it is to be feared that the rage of the fanatics will be directed against our fellow countrymen. I will therefore take care to write to my aunt in two days’ time since the newspapers will not fail to talk about the insurrection being planned. It is none the less terrifying to think that, to keep order, there are just a few soldiers faithful to Espartero, who must be mortally offended by the manner in which his coup d’état has been thwarted.

But what a subject for discussion is Spain, which, to achieve liberty, is losing the monarchy and the religion that are so dear to her and, in order to achieve unity, has placed under threat the local freedoms which are the very fabric of her existence!

Farewell, your devoted friend. I do not have the time to reread this jumble; make of it what you will.

P.S. My dear Félix, the peace in Madrid was not disturbed for a minute. This morning, the members of the ayuntamiento met in public session to promulgate the new law which will bring down their institution. They had this ceremony followed by an energetic protest in which they said that they would all die rather than obey the new law. It is also being said that they paid a few men to shout the customary vivas and mueras,45 but the people were no more moved than the peasants of Mugron would be, and the ayuntamiento succeeded only in showing the increasing necessity of the law. For when all is said and done would it not be a very sad spectacle to see a town in upheaval and the safety of its citizens compromised by the very people who are responsible for maintaining order?o

I have been assured that the fanatics did not agree among themselves; the most advanced (I do not know why credit has been given to this quotation by people’s agreeing to adopt it) said:

It is absurd to start a movement which fails to achieve a result. A movement can be decisive only if the people are involved; however the people do not want to take action for the sake of ideas. We therefore have to show them that there is a real possibility of pillage.

[41]

And in spite of this terrible logic, the ayuntamiento has not given way to this initial provocation! Anyway, I am just relaying public gossip since for my part I was in the Royal Library and did not see anything.

 


 

Letter 25. Lisbonne, 24 Oct. 1840. To Félix Coudroy

Source

Letter 25. Lisbonne, 24 Oct. 1840. To Félix Coudroy (OC1, pp. 39-42) [CW1, pp. 41-43]

Text

My dear Félix, it is a long time since I wrote to you. It is because we are so far apart and it takes such a long time to receive a reply from Mugron that I am never sure of receiving it here. Finally, I have more or less made up my mind, unless something unexpected happens, to bid farewell to the Peninsula a week from Monday. My intention is to go to London; I cannot, according to the advice you have sent me from my aunt, first go to Plymouth. The steamboat goes straight to London. I thought at first that I would embark for Liverpool. I would thus satisfy economy and my taste for ships, since navigation under sail is cheaper and more romantic than monotonous steam. But the season is so late that it would be reckless, and I would run the risk of spending a month at sea.

I was a little bored in Lisbon for the first few days. Now, apart from the very natural desire to return home, I am happy here, although I live a very uneventful life. But the climate is so gentle and fine, the plant life so rich, and I feel such well-being and unaccustomed good health that I attribute the absence of boredom to this.

This is a country that, I think, would suit you well: neither hot nor cold, with no fog nor damp. If it rains, the downpour lasts for a day or two; then the sky regains its serenity and the atmosphere its gentle warmth. There is a little water available everywhere; there are clumps of myrtle, orange trees, tufted trellised vines, and heliotropes that cover walls as convolvulus does at home. Now I understand the life of the Moors. Unfortunately, the people here are not a match for nature; they do not want to take the trouble the Arabs took to achieve such delights. Perhaps you think that these fervent Catholics scorn the freshness and scent of the orange trees and that they are devoted to the severe pleasures of thought and contemplation. Alas! I will be returning very disillusioned with the good opinion of Custine; he believed he saw what he wanted to see.

For me it will be curious to study England after studying the Peninsula. The comparison would be even more interesting if Catholicism were as [42] fervent here as it is represented. But in the end I will be seeing a people whose religion lies in intelligence after having seen one for whom it lies in the senses. Here the pomp of ceremony, the candles, incense, magnificent vestments and statues, together with the most abject demoralization. There, on the other hand, family ties, men and women each with the duties of their sex, work ennobled by patriotic aim, faithfulness to the traditions of their ancestors, a constant study of the moral code of the Bible and the Gospels, with a religion which is simple, solemn, and close to pure deism. What a contrast! What differences! What a source of reflection!

This trip will also have produced an effect which I did not expect. It has been able to remove the habit we had adopted to observe ourselves, to hear ourselves think and feel, and to follow all the meanderings of our opinions. This self-study has many attractions, and amour propre gives it an abiding interest. But in Mugron, we were always in uneventful surroundings, and able to revolve only in the same circle; when you travel, unexpected situations give rise to new observations. For example, it is probable that the current events46 have affected me very differently from the way they would have if I had been in Mugron; more fervent patriotism makes my thought more active. At the same time, the field in which it functions is wider, just as a man standing on a height sees a wider horizon. But the power of our gaze is a given quantity for each of us and this is not so for the faculty of thinking and feeling.

My aunt, on the occasion of the war, recommends prudence to me; I must absolutely not run any risks. If I sailed in a French ship and war was declared, I might fear corsairs, but in an English ship I will not run this risk, unless I fall into the hands of a French cruiser, which would not be very dangerous as it happens. According to the news received today, I note that France has taken the attitude of sentimental resignation, which is becoming grotesque. From here she appears to be very embarrassed, and making it a point of honor to prove her moderation; to each insult she replies by arguments to show that she has been insulted. She appears to believe that remorse will overcome the English and that, with tears in their eyes, they will stop pursuing their aim and ask our forgiveness. That reminds me of this quotation: “He struck me but I told him just what I thought of him.”

[43]

Send your letters to me in London, addressed to MM A. A. Gower, Nephew and Company.

 


 

Letter 26. Lisbonne, 7 Nov. 1840. To Félix Coudroy

Source

Letter 26. Lisbonne, 7 Nov. 1840. To Félix Coudroy (OC1, p. 42) [CW1, p. 43]

Text

My dear Félix, in spite of the strong desire I have to get back to France, I have been obliged to prolong my stay in Lisbon. A cold made me decide to postpone my departure by a week, and in this period papers have been found which I have to go through, which has made me stay even longer. But there will have to be very powerful reasons to keep me here after the 17th of this month. Finally, this delay has allowed me to get better, which would have been more difficult at sea or in London.

It was very unfortunate to be far from France at such an interesting time; you cannot imagine the patriotism that burns within us when we are in a foreign country. At a distance it is no longer the happiness nor even the freedom of our country that is foremost in our mind, but its grandeur, glory, and influence. Unfortunately I very much fear that France does not enjoy much of either the first or the last of these advantages.

I am sad to be without news nor to be able to forecast accurately when I will be receiving any; at least in London I hope to find a pile of letters.

Farewell, the time for collecting letters is approaching.

 


 

Letter 27. Paris, 2 Jan. 1841. To Félix Coudroy

Source

Letter 27. Paris, 2 Jan. 1841. To Félix Coudroy (OC1, pp. 43-44) [CW1, pp. 43-44]

Text

My dear Félix, I have been dealing with a plan for an association for the defense of the interests of wine producers.47 However, as is my habit, I was hesitating over mentioning it to a few friends, because I could not see any half measures between success and ridicule, when M. Humann came to the chambers to present the expenditure and receipts budget for 1842. As you will have seen, the minister has found no better solution for making good the deficit caused by our policy than to add four new taxes on drinks. This emboldened me, and I went to visit several deputies to tell them about my project. They cannot become directly involved, because this would undermine the independence of their vote in advance. This is a reason for some [44] and a pretext for others, but it is not a reason for the owners of vineyards to fold their arms in the face of the danger threatening them.

There is just one way not only of redirecting their new general protest but also of obtaining justice for previous grievances, and that is to organize ourselves. Organization for a useful aim is a guaranteed means of success. Each wine-producing département has to have a central committee and each committee a delegate.

I do not yet know to what extent I will be taking part in this organization. This will depend on my meetings with my friends. Perhaps it will be necessary for me to stop when passing through Orléans, Angoulême, and Bordeaux in order to work at founding the association. Perhaps I should limit myself to my département, and in any case because time is of the essence, you should see Domenger, Despouys, Labeyrie, and Batistant48 and persuade them to go round the canton to prepare people for legal resistance that is strong and organized.

I do not need to describe in detail to you the power the association has, my dear Félix. Tell everyone your convictions. I hope to be in Mugron in a fortnight and we will work in tandem.

Farewell, your devoted friend.

 


 

Letter 28. Paris, 11 Jan. 1841. To Félix Coudroy

Source

Letter 28. Paris, 11 Jan. 1841. To Félix Coudroy (OC1, pp. 44-45) [CW1, pp. 44-45]

Text

Why are you not with me, my dear Félix, as this would remove many of my hesitations! I have told you about the new project I have thought of, but when I am alone and left to myself the difficulties of carrying it out terrify me. I feel that success is almost a certainty, but it requires a moral strength that your presence would give me and material resources that I do not know how to take it upon myself to ask for. I have felt the pulse of several deputies and found them cold. Almost all of them have interests to protect; you know that almost all of our men in the Midi are seeking government positions. As for the opposition, it would be dangerous to make it prominent in the association as it would make it an instrument, and this must be avoided. This being so and having weighed everything up, we must abandon founding the association from the top down, which would have been quicker and easier. What we have to secure is the base. If it is strongly constituted, it will carry [45] everything along. The wine producers should be under no illusions; if they remain inert, they will be weakly defended here. I will try to leave here next Sunday. In one pocket I will have the draft statutes of the association and in the other the prospectus for a small newspaper intended initially to be the propagator and subsequently the mouthpiece of the association. With that, I will be able to find out whether this project is viewed sympathetically in Orléans, the Charente, and the Garonne basin. The outcome will depend on my observations. A sudden initiative would have been more to my taste. A few years ago, I might have attempted this; nowadays an advance of six to eight thousand francs makes me draw back, and I am truly ashamed of this since a few hundred subscribers would have relieved me of any risk. I lacked courage, there is nothing more to say.

I am obliged, my dear Félix, to make unceasing mention of my impartiality and philosophy in order not to become discouraged, in view of all the wretchedness I am witnessing. Poor France! Every day, I see deputies who, when spoken to individually, are opposed to fortifications in Paris but who nevertheless support them in the chamber, one in support of Guizot, another to avoid abandoning Thiers, and a third for fear that he will be branded a Russian or an Austrian. Public opinion, the press, and fashion carry them along, and many yield to still baser motives. Marshall Soult himself is personally opposed to this measure, and all he dares to do is to suggest that it be accomplished slowly, in the hope that public opinion will change and come to his support, when there will still be only about a hundred million swallowed up. It is much worse in external matters. It appears that all eyes are blindfolded and people run the risk of being mistreated if a single fact is put forward that contradicts the ruling prejudice.

Farewell, my dear Félix, I am looking forward to chatting with you again; we will not be short of subjects.

Farewell, my friend.

 


 

Letter 29. Bagnères, 10 Jul. 1844. To Félix Coudroy

Source

Letter 29. Bagnères, 10 July 1844. To Félix Coudroy (OC1, pp. 45-46) [CW1, pp. 45-46]

Text

My dear Félix, a few days ago I received a letter from M. Laffitte from Aire, a member of the General Council, which embarrasses me a great deal. He tells me that General Durrieu is going to be raised to the peerage, that the government wishes to replace him in the Chamber by a secretary of the duc de Nemours. He adds that the electors of Aire are not willing to suffer [46] this candidature, and finally he asks me if I would stand, in which case he thinks that I would have many votes in this canton, where I had only his at the last election.

As the legislature has only three sessions to sit, and thus I would be free to retire at the end of this term without causing an extraordinary meeting of the electoral college of Saint-Sever, I would be quite willing to enter the ring once more if I could count on some good fortune. But I must not blind myself to the damage that the schism which has taken place in the liberal party will do to me. If in addition I have once more to be opposed by the aristocracy of money and the bar, I prefer to remain peacefully in my corner. I would regret it a little, because I feel that I could have been useful to the cause of free trade, which is so vital for France and above all for our region.

But that is not a reason for me to put myself forward recklessly; I am therefore resolved to wait for serious overtures to be made by influential electors. I consider that the affair affects them closely enough for them not to leave candidates the task of taking care of it themselves.

I wanted to send my article to Le Journal des économistes, but have not had the opportunity. I will take the first that comes along. It has the fault, common to all the works of novices, of wanting to say too much. Such as it is, I think it is of some interest. I will take advantage of the opportunity to try to start a correspondence with Dunoyer.

 


 

Letter 30. Eaux-Bonnes, 26 Jul. 1844. To Félix Coudroy

Source

Letter 30. Eaux-Bonnes, 26 July 1844. To Félix Coudroy (OC1, pp. 46-49) [CW1, pp. 46-49]

Text

Your letter had a painful effect on me, my dear Félix, not because of the news you give me of the electoral prospects but because of what you tell me about yourself, your health, and the terrible struggle taken on by your body and spirit. I nevertheless hope that you wished to speak of the habitual state of your health and not a recurrence that has taken place since my departure. I understand your sufferings well, especially since to a lesser extent I experience them myself. These miserable obstacles that health, wealth, and shyness raise like a wall of brass between our desires and the theater in which they might be satisfied are an unutterable torment. Sometimes I regret having drunk at the cup of science, or at least not having limited myself to synthetic philosophy, and better still to religious philosophy. At least in these you can draw consolation for all types of situations in life, and we might still tolerably organize the rest of the time we have to spend here below. But a solitary [47] existence in retirement is incompatible with our views (which nevertheless act on us with all the force of mathematical truths), since we know that truth has power only when it is diffused. From this arises the irresistible need to communicate it, broadcast it, and proclaim it. What is more, everything is so linked in our way of thinking that the opportunity and facility of revealing a link in the chain cannot content us; yet to reveal the total picture requires the conditions of talent, health, and position which we will always lack. What can we do, dear friend? Wait for a few more years to pass over our heads. I often count them and take a form of pleasure in noting that the more they accumulate, the faster they seem to go:

Vires acquirit eundo.49

Although we are conscious of knowing the truth, with regard to the mechanics of society and from a purely human point of view, we also know that it escapes us as far as the relationship of this life to future life is concerned, and what is worse, we believe that in this respect we cannot know anything with certainty.

We have here several very distinguished priests. Once every two days, they give instruction of the highest order, which I follow regularly. It is almost a repetition of Dabadie’s50 famous work. Yesterday the preacher said that in man there are two orders of disposition of which one is linked to the fall and the other to redemption. According to the second, man is made in the image of God, while the first led him to make God in man’s image. He used this to explain idolatry and paganism and showed their terrifying agreement with corrupt nature. He then said that the fall had so far buried corruption in the heart of man that he still retained an affinity for idolatry which had thus insinuated itself right into Catholicism. I think he was referring to a host of practices and devotions which form such an obstacle for intelligent minds. But if they understand things in this way, why do they not attack these idolatrous doctrines openly? Why do they not reform them? Why, on the contrary, do we see them rushing to increase their number? I am sorry I have not been in contact with this ecclesiastic, who, I believe, is a professor of theology at the faculty in Bordeaux, to discuss this with him.

[48]

This takes us far away from the elections. From what you tell me, I have no doubt that the man from the chateau will be nominated. I am surprised that our king, who is farsighted, does not understand that by peopling the chamber with toadies he is sacrificing the very principle of the constitution for a few short-term advantages. He is ensuring a vote for himself, but is placing an entire district beyond the boundaries of our institutions; and this maneuver, if extended to all of France, will succeed in corrupting our political customs, which are already primitive. On the other hand, abuses will increase in number because they will encounter no resistance; and when the cup is full, what remedy will a nation seek that has not learned to make an enlightened use of its rights?

For my part, my dear Félix, I do not feel strong enough to fight for a few votes. If they do not come on their own, let them follow their own course. I would need to go from canton to canton to organize the means of support for the struggle. This is more than I can do. After all, M. Durrieu is not yet a peer.

I have taken advantage of an opportunity to send Le Journal des économistes my article on English and French tariffs.51 I think it includes points of view that are all the more important in that they do not appear to preoccupy anyone. I have met politicians here who have not the first idea of what is going on in England, and when I talk to them of the customs reform that is taking place in that country, they do not want to believe it. I have enough time to compose my letter to M. Dunoyer.52 As for my work on the distribution of taxes, I do not have the materials at hand to give it its final polish.53 The session of the general council will be a good opportunity to publish it.

Farewell, my dear Félix. If you learn anything new please let me know, but of all the news you could give me, the most pleasant would be to say that the depression which permeates your letter was due to a transitory indisposition. After all, my friend, and in the deep shadows that surround us, let us cling to the idea that a primary cause that is intelligent and merciful has subjected us for reasons beyond our comprehension to severe tests in life; this should constitute our faith. Let us wait for the day when it will consider it right to relieve us and to admit us to a better life; this should constitute our hope. [49] With these sentiments in our heart, we will be able to bear our afflictions and suffering. . . .

 


 

Letter 209 to M. Muiron (Eaux-Bonnes, 7 Nov. 1844)

Source

Letter 209 to M. Muiron (Eaux-Bonnes, 7 Nov. 1844), in P. Ronce, Frédéric Bastiat. Sa vie, son oeuvre (Paris: Guillaumin, 1905), pp. 86-87. [CW4]

Editor's Introduction

Ronce tells us that this letter was written soon after Bastiat's first article "On the Influence of French and English Tariffs on the Future of the Two People" was published in the JDE (Oct. 1844) which was his breakthrough into the world of the Parisian economists. 42 In it he thanks a friend, M. Muiron, (about whom nothing is known) for having delivered his manuscript safely to the Guillaumin offices in Paris. As an outsider living in the remote south west of France, Bastiat depended on the assistance of friends like Muiron to help him get established as an author and political activist. Although he is critical in this letter of the editor of the Journal des Économistes (Hippolyte Dussard), 43 published by Urbain Guillaumin, he would soon enter Guillaumin's network of economists, politicians, and supporters, and would publish many more articles in the Journal (about 28 between 1844 and 1850) as well as numerous books and pamphlets, not to mention his Oeuvres complètes (Complete Works) the first edition of which appeared in 6 volumes in 1854-55, and a second edition in 7 volumes in 1862-64.

Text

M. Muiron, 70, rue de Seine Saint-Germain, Paris.

Monsieur, the generosity which you have shown towards me and the precious moments I enjoyed with your instructive conversations make me duty bound to express all my thanks to you. I would not have delayed expressing this to you until now if I hadn't been waiting for the right moment provided by the publication of this piece which you kindly agreed to return to "M. Bastiat of Paris."

Works of this kind, even if they contain the merit of being timely and independent minded, run the great risk of getting buried in the depths of oblivion if generous friends do not bring them to the attention of the appropriate people. I hope that you will be willing to introduce the first fruits of my studies to M. de Salvandy. 44 The opinion of a man as important as he is because of his position and his stature would be a prize of infinite value for me, especially if it were of an encouraging nature. If the opposite were the case, it would still have the advantage of warning me that a man who lives in solitude must marshal his forces carefully.

The editor of the journal thought fit to cut an entire passage (on p. 149) in which I attempted to reveal the reasons why the Parisian press is in general so hostile to free trade. 45 I had the failing common to all scribblers to think that they had cut exactly what I thought most merited being kept in. Certainly, this part of my work showed at least some courage because one has to confront the fearsome power of Messrs "les journalistes." The proof of their power lies in the cuts which the editor of the journal ordered to be made.

I would be happy to learn that your good health has improved and that, in recognition of this fact, you might plan to spend another season at Les Eaux-Bonnes. 46 It would be a great pleasure to resume our walks and our conversations.

Yours sincerely…

Endnotes

42 T.19 (1844.10.15) "De l'influence des tarifs français et anglais sur l'avenir des deux peuples" (On the Influence of French and English Tariffs on the Future of the Two People), JDE, T. IX, Oct. 1844, pp. 244-71. [OC1, pp. 334-86.] [CW6]

43 Hippolyte Dussard (1798-1876) was a journalist, essayist, and economist. He edited the JDE 1843-45 and was a co-editor with Eugène Daire of the Works of Turgot for the Collection des Principaux Économistes published by Guillaumin. Dussard was also a businessman involved with the Paris to Rouen railway, and during the Second Republic he was appointed the prefect of la Seine-Inférieure and was elected to the Council of State.

44 Count Narcisse-Achille de Salvandy (1795-1856) was liberal minded politician and writer in July Monarchy. He served as Minister of Eduction in1837 and supported Guizot in his reform of the French education system. He later was appointed vice-president of the Chamber of Deputies and then served as Ambassador to Spain and Turin.

45 In the article which was published in JDE there is mention of "the state of ignorance in which the press systematically keeps the French public with regard to affairs in England." and "details of this Association here, whose existence the press in Paris has scarcely revealed to us." He returned to this topic in the Introduction to his first book Cobden and the League (1845) where he says " the subsidized monopolistic press has kept it hidden for so long ." and " the profound, general and systematic silence that the French press seems to have imposed on itself," and " I know that it is rash nowadays to give offence to the periodical press. It manipulates us all arbitrarily . Woe betide anyone who seeks to escape its despotism which must be absolute! Woe betide anyone who arouses its wrath which is deadly!" CW6 (forthcoming).

46 Les Eaux-Bonnes was a spa town in the Pyrenees near where Bastiat lived in Mugron. He went there periodically as his health deteriorated. From this letter it appears that Bastiat met Muiron there and they became friends. It was in Eaux-Bonnes in June and July of 1850 that Bastiat wrote two of his best known essays "The Law"(June 1850) and "What is Seen and What is Not Seen" (July 1850).

 


 

Letter 31. Mugron, 9 Nov. 1844. To M. Laurence

Source

Letter 31. Mugron, 9 Nov. 1844. To M. Laurence (OC7, pp. 369-71) [CW1, pp. 49-50]

Text

Dear Sir and Colleague,

Thank you for your kind words in the letter you were good enough to write to me on the subject of my little work on the distribution of taxes.54 I sincerely regret that it has not been more effective in changing your beliefs, since I acknowledge that in the arguments caused on occasion by neighborhood rivalry your noble spirit places you above the petty bias which others find it impossible to put aside. For my part, I can state that, if any error or exaggeration has infiltrated my text, it has been quite involuntary. I am far from envying for my area’s sake the prosperity of yours, quite the contrary, and it is my firm conviction that neither of the two can prosper without the other benefiting. I even think that this solidarity embraces all nations. For this reason, I bitterly deplore the national jealousies that are the favorite theme of journalism. If I had, as you think, based my reasoning on the false premise that the entire area of the sea pine plantations in the Landes55 was equally productive, I would retract on the spot. However, there is nothing in my writing that justifies this allegation. Nor have I mentioned hail, frost, or fires. These are circumstances which ought to have been taken into account when the current tax was applied to various crops. It is this tax, such as it is, which is my point of departure. Nor do I think that I attributed the distress of the wine-producing region to the improper distribution of the tax. But I said that the distribution of the tax should be adjusted as a result of this distress, since it is a principle that tax is raised on income. If the income of a county is reduced permanently, its contribution should also be reduced and consequently that of the other counties should increase. This is also an additional proof of the solidarity between all the parts of the territory, and the Greater Landes harmed itself when, through our colleague, M. Castagnède, it opposed the agricultural community’s becoming the mouthpiece for our grievances to the authorities.

[50]

You say that in Villeneuve56 agriculture has made progress without the population increasing in number. This doubtless means that each individual and each family has become more prosperous. If this prosperity has not encouraged marriages and births and extended the average life expectancy, Villeneuve is, for a reason I cannot guess, beyond all the laws of nature which govern population phenomena.

Lastly, dear sir and colleague, you refer me to the evidence military recruitment affords. You say that it shows that the finest stock and the strongest men come from the areas that are most cultivated and which grow vines. However, please note that I do not go so far as to compare the population of the Landes to that of the Chalosse but only each of these populations to itself at different periods of time. For me, the question is not to determine whether the population of the Landes is as vigorous and dense as that in the Chalosse but whether, in the last forty years, one has made progress and the other regressed in these two respects. It was easy for me to check the numbers. With regard to the quality of the human stock, I would be willing to consult the recruitment tables, if they have them at the prefecture.

You can see that, like all the authors in the world, I do not readily admit to being mistaken. However, I must say that I have not sufficiently explained the scope of the passage in which I summarized in figures the various considerations scattered through my work. I am fully aware that population movement cannot be a good basis for distribution; my sole aim has been to make my conclusions understandable by using figures, and I sincerely hope that direct research by the authorities will produce results not far from those I have reached, because, in my view, there is a relationship that is, if not very tight, then at least of a notably approximate kind, between the progress of the population and that of income.

Endnotes to the Letters

1

(Paillottet’s note) Among the letters of F. Bastiat which we are publishing here, many, especially the first, are of autobiographical interest only. Others relate to economic matters and the history of the free-trade movement of which Bastiat was the promoter and effective leader in France. We consider that his correspondence with R. Cobden, which reveals the essential agreement in the views of these two illustrious men and their reciprocal influence on each other, is genuinely important as a collection of historical documents.

2

Bastiat is possibly making a reference to Laromiguière, Leçons de philosophie sur les principes de l’intelligence.

3

Philip Stanhope.

4

Greek goddess of justice.

5

Caius Fabricius Licinius (282-178 bc); Manius Curius Dentatus (?-270 bc): Roman consuls, known for their honesty.

6

Normally the French word l’industrie would be translated as “production”; however, Bastiat is referring to a specific concept developed by Comte and Dunoyer in their theory of industrialism. See also “Note on the Translation,” pp. xvi-xvii.

7

The “vital way.”

8

The work referred to is Delavigne’s Le Paria: Tragédie en cinq actes, avec des cœurs.

9

(Paillottet’s note) It is with M. Coudroy that, through twenty years of study and conversation, Bastiat prepared himself for the brilliant and all too short role of the last six years of his life. When he sent him Economic Harmonies from Paris, Bastiat wrote on the flyleaf of the volume, “My dear Félix, I cannot say that this book is a gift from the author; it is as much yours as mine.” This message is fine praise. See the biographical introduction. [OC, vol. 1, p. lx, “Notice sur la vie et les écrits de Frédéric Bastiat.”]

10

The tragic story of two children raised in the wild, published in 1787 by Bernardin de Saint-Pierre (1737-1814).

11

This excerpt is in English in the original. From Alexander Pope’s “An Essay on Man,” Epistle 1 (1733).

12

Adam Smith.

13

(Paillottet’s note) Thus, twenty years before his first publication, Bastiat was already concerned with the beginnings of customs reform started in our neighbor’s country by Huskisson.

14

The law of 5 February 1817 had organized the election of one-fifth of the Chamber of Deputies every year. Following the success of ultralegitimists in February 1824, the government, in order to keep the majority, extended the term of office to seven years, with an election of one-seventh of the chamber each year.

15

Possibly references to Lamennais, Essai sur l’indifférence en matière de religion; and Dunoyer, L’Industrie et la morale considérée dans leurs rapport avec la liberté.

16

A reference to Comte, Traité de législation.

17

See “Note on the Translation,” p. xvi-xvii.

18

A reference to Dunoyer, “Esquisse historique des doctrines auxquelles on a donné le nom industrialisme.”

19

Bastiat is referring to Constant’s Principes de politique; however, his most detailed discussion of economic matters is found in his Commentaire sur l’ouvrage de Filangieri.

20

Bastiat and Dunoyer have used the term industrieux, which is translated here as “producer.” See also “Note on the Translation,” pp. xvi-xvii.

21

Bastiat is probably referring to a French translation of a selection of Franklin’s writings, La Science du Bonhomme Richard.

22

(Paillottet’s note) This work was not printed.

23

On 1 January 1820, a revolt against the absolutist and feudal regime of Ferdinand VII of Spain forced the king to reestablish the liberal constitution of 1812. In 1823, France, mandated by the Congress of Verona, mounted a military intervention resulting in the restoration of the previous regime.

24

See “On Parliamentary Reform,” p. 367.

25

(Paillottet’s note) In this passage, the basic idea that Bastiat was to develop so masterfully twenty years later in the Harmony of Interests can be seen. [“Harmony of Interests” was Bastiat’s incomplete major work and was published posthumously as Economic Harmonies.]

26

The following letters of 4 and 5 August, to Félix Coudroy, describe the repercussions in Bayonne of the “three glorious days” (27, 28, 29 July 1830). On 26 July 1830, Jules Armand Polignac (prince de Polignac), prime minister of Charles X, promulgated four ordinances modifying the electoral law and restricting freedom. During the three following days, about fifty thousand people defeated the regular troops led by Marshall Marmont. Charles X abdicated and fled to England. Louis-Philippe, duc d’Orléans, was appointed king by the parliament. Bayonne had learned of the “three glorious days” by 3 August.

Bayonne was a fortified town dominated by a fortress, with thirty-three hundred troops, and close to the Spanish border.

27

(Paillottet’s note) In Bastiat’s thought, political economy and politics were inseparable. Here he is linking liberal ideas with the teachings of Adam Smith, the illustrious professor at Glasgow University.

28

Bastiat is mistaken here. There was no provisional government but a municipal commission of five people, appointed to keep the peace in Paris.

29

Audry de Puyravault.

30

(Paillottet’s note) Bastiat exaggerates the losses; in fact, seven hundred troops and two thousand insurgents were killed.

31

He is talking about the circle in Mugron.

32

Louis-Philippe.

33

M. Curzay, a senior official, intercepted the mail to keep the Bordeaux people ignorant of what was going on in Paris.

34

To be eligible to be a candidate at legislative elections one had to pay a minimum amount of direct taxes.

35

Bastiat was a candidate at the legislative elections of 1831. He obtained only 6 votes of 250.

36

Le Mémorial bordelais.

37

Henri Boyer-Fonfrède.

38

Historical background for the following four letters, related to Bastiat’s trip to Spain: In 1840, Spain brought to an end a civil war that had started in 1833. At the death of Ferdinand VII, two individuals fought for the throne: his brother, Don Carlos, and his widow, Maria Christina. The supporters of the former wanted to go on with absolute monarchy, while those of the latter wanted to introduce a constitutional monarchy. After some initial successes, the Carlists were defeated and forced to give up. Don Carlos went into exile. One of the victorious generals, Espartero, nicknamed “Duke of Victory,” supported by Great Britain, emerged as the strong man of the regime.

39

(Paillottet’s note) It was a matter of founding an insurance company.

40

The work to which Bastiat here refers is Custine’s L’Espagne sous Ferdinand VII (1838).

41

The Spanish clergy had considerable influence, legal powers, and wealth. From 1835 to 1837, a number of monasteries were confiscated by law and sold to help pay off the ever-increasing public debt. The law was applied in a very brutal way.

42

The law, which was promulgated by Queen Maria Christina in July 1840, allowed the queen to appoint members of the local councils but met with violent opposition from General Espartero. (See Letter 21, note 38.) It took the abdication and exile of Maria Christina (15 July 1840) to unravel the situation.

43

alcaldes: mayors; regidors: aldermen.

44

The parliament, the senate, and the king.

45

vivas: “long life” and o “down with.”

46

A diplomatic crisis was shaking Europe in 1840. France alone supported the pasha of Egypt, Mehmet Ali, in his position on Syria—against Russia, Prussia, Austria, and Great Britain.

47

See “Wine and spirits tax” in the Glossary of Subjects and Terms.

48

Wine growers.

49

“[Fama] vires acquirit eundo”: “Rumor acquires strength by going.” (Virgil, Aeneid, bk. IV, line 175.)

50

Dabadie was a monk born in Saint-Sever. He was not well known outside his native town. The said “famous work” did not reach posterity.

51

OC, vol. 1, p. 334, “De l’influence des tarifs français et anglais sur l’avenir des deux peuples.”

52

See Letter 34.

53

OC, vol. 1, p. 283, “Mémoire sur la repartition de l’impôt foncier dans les Landes.”

54

Ibid.

55

Before the nineteenth century, the part of the Landes département located north of the Adour River was covered with swamps. A huge forest of sea pines was successfully planted during the nineteenth century, and in time the swamps dried up.

56

Villeneuve de Marsan, a city in the east of the Landes.

 


 

Articles and Essays

T.1 (1822.01.12) "Letter to a Candidate"

Source

T.1 (1822.01.12) "Letter to a Candidate" (Lettre à M. ***, en réponse à la sienne du 12 Jan.) (A Letter to M. *** in reply to His Letter of 12 Jan.) [OC7.71, pp. 298-99.] [CW1.2.3.4, pp. 410-11.]

Editor’s Introduction

(to come)

Text

Dear Sir,

I have received the letter, dated the 12th of this month, which you did me the honor of writing to me, with the aim, in your own words, of requesting my vote and those of my friends.

I cannot speak, sir, for the intentions of my friends; I do not hide from them how I intend to cast my vote but I do not seek to influence theirs.

[411]

As for mine, it does not belong to me to the extent that I can commit it. Public interest will determine it and up to the time it drops into the ballot box, my only commitment is to the public and my conscience.

Public opinion attributes to General Durrieu, your opponent, views that are favorable to the present government and as a result unfavorable, in my opinion, to the interests of France and, in particular, southern France. No action on his part requires me to consider public opinion mistaken in this respect; on the contrary his personal position leads me to consider him a very bad representative of our interests, whether general ones or with respect to viniculture.6 This means that I will not be giving him my vote.

However, for the same reason, I cannot give it to a candidate who, scarcely a year ago, called very earnestly for the candidature of General Durrieu, and still less if this same man now displays contrasting opinions, since either he was not sincere then or he is not now.

You tell me, sir, that the votes of the government will slip away from you. You have probably let them slip away; you sought them last year so earnestly that you did not shirk from influencing civil servants by means of those two drastic weapons, fear of dismissal and hope of advancement. I have in front of me a letter in which you solicited a civil servant’s vote under the auspices of his superior (which amounts to a threat) and in which you spoke of your influence in Paris (which amounts to a promise). Today, your promises are addressed to independent men; either those of today or those of yesterday are not sincere.

And then, what are you promising us? Favors. Favors do not conduce to the public good but to public disadvantage; otherwise they would not be favors.

The next thing is that to oblige the favorites, you have at least to want to do so while you say that you do not desire anything from ministers.

Finally, sir, in the last few days during which the electors have been exchanging the letters with which you are favoring them, we see some addressed to ministerialists and patriots, nobles and commoners, Carlists, Philippists, etc. In all of them, you solicit the electors’ goodwill, you ask for votes as one would request a service. We can be forgiven for thinking that, by voting for you, we would be rendering service to the candidate rather than the public.

Endnotes

5

(Paillottet’s note) There was a fair copy made of this letter, written in an exercise book about thirty years ago, and sent to its recipient, whose name I have suppressed. I am not sure, but I think it useful to reproduce it if only to show once again how seriously Bastiat took representative government and how much he liked to align his acts with his theories. I follow it with a letter addressed a few years later to M. Dampierre.

6

After 1840 there was sporadic campaigning in the wine country of southern France to protest against tariffs on exports of wine.

 

 


 

T.297 "On the Romans and Self-sacrifice" (before 1830)

Source

T.297 (before 1830) "On the Romans and Self-sacrifice" (before 1830). This previously unpublished sketch was discovered by the original French editor Paillottet among Bastiat's papers and inserted in a footnote to "Baccalaureate and Socialism". He estimated that it had been written sometime before 1830. [OC4, pp. 490-91] [CW2, pp. 223-24] </titles/2450#lf1573-02_label_299>

Editor's Introduction

See the Editor's note above on Bastiat's attitude towards the Romans.

Text

When I sacrifice part of my wealth to build walls and a roof that will protect me from thieves and the weather, it cannot be said that I am driven by self-renunciation but that on the contrary I am endeavoring to preserve myself.

In the same way, when the Romans sacrificed their internal divisions in favor of their security, when they risked their lives in combat, when they subjected themselves to the yoke of an almost unbearable discipline, they were not practicing self-renunciation; on the contrary they were embracing the sole means they had of preserving themselves and escaping the destruction with which they were threatened by the reaction of other peoples to their acts of violence.

I know that several Romans demonstrated great personal self-sacrifice and devoted themselves to saving Rome. But there is an easy explanation for this. The interest that determined their political organization was not their only motive. Men accustomed to conquering together, to hating everything foreign to their society, had to have an exalted degree of national pride and patriotism. All warlike nations, from primitive hordes to civilized peoples who make war only accidentally, experience patriotic exhilaration. This is all the more true of the Romans, whose very existence was based upon permanent war. This thrilling national pride, combined with the courage born of warlike customs, the scorn of death it inspired, the love of glory, and the desire to live on in posterity, had frequently to produce dazzling exploits.

For this reason, I do not say that no virtue can arise in a society that is purely military. I would be contradicted by events, and the bands of robbers themselves offer us examples of courage, energy, devotion, a scorn of death, generosity, etc. However, I claim that, like these bands of plunderers, these nations of plunderers, from the point of view of self-renunciation, do not win out over industrious nations, and I will add that the enormous and continuous vices of the former cannot be erased by a few dazzling exploits, which are perhaps unworthy of the name of virtue, since they work to the detriment of humanity.

 


 

T.289 "The Poetry of Civilization" (c. 1830)

Source

T.289 (1830.??) "The Poetry of Civilization" (La Poésie de la Civilisation). Ronce says he found this in Bastiat's papers and thinks it was written sometime before 1830. In Ronce, Appendix VI, pp. 302-3.

Editor's Introduction

Bastiat was about 29 when he wrote this short piece sometime during 1830 when the July Revolution took place. 106 For someone who disliked ancient Greek and Roman culture so much, he dropped a lot of classical references in this short essay, perhaps to show that he was not ignorant of it, but rather opposed it for moral and economic reasons.

It is also interesting for the kind words he has to say about his friend, Étienne Vincent Arago (1802-1892), with whom he probably went to the same progressive school in the town of Sorèze. 107 Étienne was the youngest brother of the famous Arago family, and like Bastiat, he was elected after the Revolution to the Constituent Assembly and served as Director General of the Post Office where he began implementing reforms which were very dear to Bastiat's heart. During the 1820s he was active in Carbonari circles and in the 1830 Revolution he took part in the fighting on the barricades as an ally of Lafayette's group, while Bastiat remained behind in Bayonne where he too played a small role in helping the new "constitutional monarch" Louis Philippe come to the throne. While Étienne was on the barricades in Paris, Frédéric was drinking red wine and singling political songs with the officers of the Bayonne citadelle, thus helping them decide to side with the revolution and oppose the deposed King Charles X. As he wrote to his friend Félix Coudroy:

The 5th at midnight

I was expecting blood but it was only wine that was spilt. The citadel has displayed the tricolor flag. The military containment of the Midi and Toulouse has decided that of Bayonne; the regiments down there have displayed the flag. The traitor J—— thus saw that the plan had failed, especially as the troops were defecting on all sides; he then decided to hand over the orders he had had in his pocket for three days. Thus, it is all over. I plan to leave immediately. I will embrace you tomorrow.

This evening we fraternized with the garrison officers. Punch, wine, liqueurs, and above all, Béranger contributed largely to the festivities. Perfect cordiality reigned in this truly patriotic gathering. The officers were warmer than we were, in the same way as horses which have escaped are more joyful than those that are free.

Farewell, all has ended. 108

Étienne Arago made a name for himself as a prolific and successful playwright throughout the 1820 and 1840s writing very political plays such as Mandrin, mélodrame en 3 actes (1827), about Louis Mandrin (1725-55) the famous 18th century brigand and highwayman, and Les Aristocraties (1847), which was a strong republican attack on the privileges of the aristocracy.

Bastiat also knew the oldest Arago brother François (1786-1853) who was a famous astronomer and physicist whose work was noticed by Laplace who got him the position of secretary and librarian at the Paris Observatory. In one of the sophisms he wrote in 1847 109 Bastiat appealed directly to François Arago to help him develop the more sophisticated mathematics which he needed in order to calculate more precisely the losses imposed on the economy by tariff protection and subsidies, thus making his arguments more "invincible." We do not know if François ever replied to his letter.

Text

… There are two kinds of poetry. One is the product of the imagination; the other is the story of human feelings.

I am quite inclined to think that materialism, or to put it better, "Pryrrhonism," 110 destroys the poetry of the imagination. But one can say the same of all truth. It is quite evident that as the circle of science expands that of the imagination contracts, since one can only imagine what one doesn't know. The latter explains why the people of antiquity had more imagination that modern people. Not knowing anything about causes they imagined them to be their own creation. It was not only poets who created things but philosophers as well , and the people too.

Even in our own time, rough and ignorant men, because they are ignorant, revel in chimeras, because only the man who has reflected a great deal and who is often mistaken can say " I don't know. " Peasants explain all phenomena which they are aware of, as being under the influence of the moon, the stars, sorcerers, and saints, etc. By enlightening them you dry up these springs of the imagination.

Think of the time when Christianity replaced Paganism. Didn't we see the same fears about the pleasures of the imagination? If your religion dominates all beliefs, the Pagans said, what will become of poetry? Olympus will now only be an ordinary hill, Parnassus only a lump of dirt and granite, rivers will be denuded of Naiads, and trees of Dryads, fauns, and wood nymphs. 111 Beauty (Aphrodite) will no longer be the daughter of the day and the waves; she will be stripped of her belt and Love (Cupid) will no longer have his arrows and blindfold. 112 You will no longer have dwelling places of the gods but fences and hedges; you will no longer have divinities of the hearth but a gloomy fire place. Peace, Concorde, Victory, Filial Piety, Modesty will no longer be gentle deities. The Dawn, Iris, will lose their colors and their charm. 113 The Sun will no longer be a chariot pulled by Apollo's chargers across the sky; 114 and the Moon will now only be a mundane satellite of the Earth. This is what they will no doubt say.

After this mythology has disappeared other mythologies will have their turn; but if the poetry of the imagination has been lost, that of the heart will replace it; and I am truly surprised that you, in order to convince me, so often call upon the marvels of nature, that you don't want to let me believe that, after all is said and done, the truth, the simple truth, is more beautiful than the most brilliant products of the human imagination.

Believe me, my friend, there is more poetry in the head of Arago that in that of Homer.

Endnotes

106 The restored Bourbon monarchy of 1815 was overthrown in late July 1830 in order to create a more liberal and constitutional monarchy under Louis-Philippe, which was known as the "July Monarchy."

107 Étienne Vincent Arago (1802-1892) was the youngest brother of the famous Arago family. It is possible that Bastiat knew Étienne as they were both in Sorèze attending school at the same time (c. 1815).

108 Letter 18. Bayonne, 5 Aug. 1830. To Félix Coudroy, OC1, pp. 24-27; CW1, pp. 28-30. Quote on p. 30.

109 T.131 (1847.05.300 "Two Losses against One Profit" (Deux pertes contre un profit. À M. Arago, de l'Académie des Sciences), LE , 30 May 1847, no. 27, pp. 215-16. OC2, pp. 384-91; ES3.7 in CW3, pp. 287-93.

110 The Ancient Greek school of thought known as "Pyrrhonism", after its founder Pyrrho of Elis (360-c.270 BC), advocated a form of scepticism, or the idea that nothing can be known for certain. In other words, that knowledge of the world can be erroneous, our senses can be deceived, and our emotions can lead us astray.

111 Mount Olympus is the highest mountain in Greece and was thought to be the dwelling place of the Greek gods; Mount Parnassus is a mountain in central Greece which played an important role in the cult of Dionysius (Bacchus) who was the god of wine and wine making; Naiads were believed by the Greeks to be a female nymph who presided over streams and bodies of fresh water; Dryads were believed by the Geeks to be be tree spirits, especially of oak tress.

112 Aphrodite (Venus) was the god of beauty and love, whose husband Hephaestus (the god of blacksmiths) made a belt or girdle for her which accentuated her physical shape; Cupid (Love) was the god of desire and love who filled a person with uncontrollable desire by shooting them with one of his arrows. He wore a blindfold to suggest he lacked discrimination in whom he shot with his arrows.

113 Iris was a goddess of the sea and the sky and served as a messenger of the gods.

114 Apollo was the son of Zeus and one of the most of the Greek gods. He was considered to be a sun god and one of his tasks was to drive a chariot across the sky pulling the sun in its wake.

 

 


 

T.2 (1830.11) "To the Electors of the Département of the Landes"

Source

T.2 (1830.11) "To the Electors of the Département of the Landes" (Aux électeurs du département des Landes) [OC1, pp. 217-31.] [CW1.2.2.1, p. 341-52.]

Editor’s Introduction

(to come)

Text

A people is not free simply because it has liberal institutions; it also needs to know how to put them into practice, and the same legislation that plucked from the ballot box such names as La Fayette and Chantelauze, Tracy, and Dudon can, depending on the wisdom of the electors, become the palladium of public freedom or the most unyielding instrument of total oppression, the one exercised over a nation by the nation itself.

In order for an electoral law to be a genuine guarantee for the public one condition is essential: electors must know where their interests lie and be determined to achieve their triumph. They must not allow their vote to be swayed by issues that are foreign to the election nor view this solemn act as a mere formality or at the very most as a matter between an elector and his candidate. They must not totally overlook the consequences of a bad choice. In a word, the public itself must know how to use the sole repressive means at its disposition, and show hatred and scorn for those voters who sacrifice it through ignorance or offer it up to their greed.

It is really strange to listen to the naive views of certain electors.

One will vote for a candidate through personal gratitude or through friendship, as though it were not a genuine crime to settle his debt at the [342] expense of the public and to make an entire people the victim of individual affection.

Another will yield to what he calls the recognition due to major services rendered to the country, as though the office of deputy were a reward and not a mandate; as though the Chamber were a pantheon which we have to people with cold, inanimate figures and not the arena in which the fate of peoples is settled.

One person would think he was dishonoring his region if he did not send a deputy born in the département to the Chamber. Out of fear that some candidatures will be deemed invalid, he encourages the belief that the electors are stupid. He considers that he shows more intelligence in choosing an idiot from his own region rather than an enlightened man from a nearby district and that it is better reasoning to have oneself oppressed by the representation of someone who lives in the Landes than to be released from one’s chains by that of an inhabitant of the Basses Pyrénées.

Another wants a deputy who is versed in the art of lobbying; he hopes that our local interests will benefit and does not think that an independent vote on municipal law may prove to be more advantageous to all the regions of France than the lobbying and obsessions of a hundred deputies might be to a single one.

Lastly, yet another is obstinately determined to reelect the 2213 indefinitely.

It is useless for you to put forward the most soundly based objections and his only reply will be: “My candidate is one of the 221.”

What is his past record? “I have forgotten, but he is one of the 221.”

But he is a member of the government. Do you think he will be ready to restrict the power he shares or to reduce the taxes on which he lives? “That does not worry me because he is one of the 221.”

Just think that he will contribute to passing laws. Do you not realize the consequences of a choice made on grounds that do not relate to the goal you ought to set yourself? “That’s all the same to me. He is one of the 221.”

But it is above all the moderation which plays a major role in this army of sophisms that I wish to review briefly.

Everyone wants moderates at any price; we fear extremists above all and how can we judge the category to which our candidate belongs? We do not [343] scrutinize his opinions but the place he occupies, and since the center is definitely between the right and the left, we conclude that this is where moderation lies.

Were those who each year voted for more taxes than the nation could bear moderates? What about those who never found the contributions to be sufficiently heavy, emoluments sufficiently huge, and sinecures sufficiently numerous? What about those who engaged in an odious traffic with all governments in the betrayal of the confidence of their constituents, a betrayal through which, in reward for dinners and positions, they accepted the most tyrannical institutions in the name of the nation: double voting,4 lois d’amour,5 or laws on sacrilege?6 What of those who, in a word, have reduced France to breaking the chains they spent fifteen years in forging through a coup d’état?

And are those who want to prevent the return of such excesses extremists? I mean those who want to inject a dose of moderation into spending; those who want to moderate the action of the people in power and who are not immoderate, that is to say, insatiably seeking high salaries and sinecures; those who do not want our revolution to become just a change in surnames and color; those who do not want the nation to be exploited by one party rather than another and who wish to prevent the storm which will inevitably break if electors are rash enough to give a majority to the center right of the Chamber?

I will not go further in examining the reasons for supporting a candidate for whom the general opinion does not hold out much hope. What use would it be to spend more time refuting sophisms which are used only to delude oneself?

I think that electors have just one way of making a reasonable choice; they first need to know the general aim of the national representative body and then to gain an idea of the work that the future legislature will have to carry out. It is in fact the nature of the mandate which should decide the choice of a representative for us and, in this respect as in others, we will expose [344] ourselves to great disillusionment if we adopt the means, leaving aside the aim we intend to achieve.

The general objective of national representative bodies is easy to understand.

In order to be able to carry out safely all the modes of activity in the course of private life, taxpayers need to be administered, judged, protected, and defended. This is the aim of government. Government is made up of the king, who is the supreme head, ministers, and an army of agents who report to one another and who envelop the nation as if it were in a huge network.

If this vast machine always kept itself within the limits of its responsibilities, elected representatives would be superfluous. However, the government is a living body at the center of the nation, which, like all organized entities, tends strongly to preserve its existence, to increase its well-being and power, and to expand indefinitely its sphere of action. Left to itself, it soon exceeds the limits which circumscribe its mission. It increases beyond all reason the number and wealth of its agents. It no longer administers, it exploits. It no longer judges, it persecutes or takes revenge. It no longer protects, it oppresses.

This would be the way all governments operate, the inevitable result of this law of movement with which nature has endowed all organized beings, if the people did not place obstacles in the way of governmental encroachments.

The electoral law is precisely this brake on the encroachments of government, a brake which our constitution hands over to taxpayers themselves. It tells them, “Government will exist from now on not for its own purposes but for yours. It will administer only to the extent that you feel the need to be administered. It will embark only on the development that you consider necessary for it to undertake. You will be the masters in expanding or tightening its resources. It will adopt no measure without your involvement. It will draw money from your purse only with your consent. In a word, since it is from you and for you that power exists, you may at will monitor it and contain it if need be, supporting its views when they are useful or reining in its action if it causes damage to your interests.”

These general considerations impose on us, as electors, a primary obligation not to seek our representatives from among the ranks of government; rather, we should entrust the responsibility of resisting government to those over whom it is exercised and not to those by whom it is exercised.

Would we in fact be so foolish as to hope that, when it is a question of abolishing jobs and salaries, this mission will be properly carried out by civil [345] servants and paid staff? When all our ills result from the excesses of those in power, would we entrust to a representative of that power the task of reducing it? No, no, a choice must be made. Let us nominate a civil servant, a prefect or a maître des requêtes7 if we do not think the burden is sufficiently heavy, if we are not weary from the weight of the state billions,8 if we are persuaded that government does not take an undue interest in things that ought to be outside its responsibilities, if we want it to continue to interfere in matters of education, religion, commerce, or industry or to allocate us doctors, lawyers, snuff, tobacco, electors, and jurors.

If we wish, however, to restrict the action of the government, let us not appoint employees of the government. If we wish to decrease taxation, let us not appoint those people who live off taxation. If we wish to obtain good municipal law let us not appoint a prefect. If we want freedom of education, let us not appoint a rector.9 If we want to eliminate the droits réunis10 or the Council of State, let us not appoint either a councillor of state or the director of the droits réunis. Individuals cannot independently represent those who pay them, and it is absurd to have a function kept in check by the very person bound by it.

If we examine the work of the future legislature, we see that it is of such importance that it can be regarded as a constituent body rather than as a purely legislative body.

It will have to provide us with an electoral law, that is to say, one that establishes the limits of sovereignty.

It will promulgate a municipal law of which each word must have an influence on the well-being of local regions.

It will be the body that debates the organization of the National Guard, which has a direct bearing on the integrity of our frontiers and the maintenance of public order.

Education will claim its attention and it will doubtless be called upon to open that education to the free competition of teachers and the choice of subjects to the care of parents.

Ecclesiastical affairs will require our deputies to have wide-ranging knowledge, [346] great prudence, and unshakeable firmness. Perhaps, in line with the wishes of the supporters of justice and enlightened priests, the question will be raised as to whether the expenses arising from each faith should not be borne exclusively by those who take part in it.

Many other weighty matters will also be raised.

However, it is above all with regard to the economic part of the Chamber’s work that we should be scrupulous in selecting our deputies. Abuses, sinecures, exorbitant pay, irrelevant positions, damaging jobs, and administrative structures substituted for competition will have to be strictly investigated; I have no fear in stating that this is the worst plague from which France is suffering.

I apologize to the reader for the digression into which I feel I am being irresistibly drawn, but I cannot stop myself from seeking to have the depths of my thoughts on this grave question understood.

If I considered excessive expenditure to be evil only because of the portion of wealth of which it deprives the nation for no good reason, if the only results I noted were the weighty burden of taxes, I would not raise the subject so often. I would say, with M. Guizot, that liberty should not be bargained over, that it is an asset so precious that no price is too high for it and that we should not regret the millions it costs us.

Such language implies that prodigality and liberty can go hand in hand. However, if I am deeply convinced that they are incompatible, that grossly overpaid jobs and the proliferation of positions not only exclude liberty but also undermine public order and peace and compromise the stability of governments, as well as polluting the ideas of peoples and corrupting their morals, no one will be surprised that I attach so much importance to the selection of deputies who will enable us to hope for the elimination of abuses like these.

But where can there be liberty when the government, in order to sustain enormous expenditures and forced to levy huge fiscal contributions, must resort to the most offensive and burdensome taxation, the most unjust monopolies, the most odious demands; to invade the sphere of private industry, to narrow incessantly the circle of individual activity, to make itself merchant, manufacturer, postman, and teacher, not only pricing its services at the highest level but also removing any competition which might threaten to reduce its profits, by means of punishments intended for crimes? Are we free if the government spies on all our movements in order to tax them, subjects all its activities to the goal of enlarging its cohort of employees, [347] hampers all businesses, constrains all faculties, interferes with all commercial exchanges in order to restrain some people, hinder others, and hold almost all of them to ransom?

Can we expect order from a regime that places millions of enticements to greed all around the country and constantly gives the whole of a huge kingdom the appearance offered by a large town on the day of free handouts?

Do we believe that the stability of power is assured when, having been abandoned by people who have been alienated by its exactions, it remains without defense in the face of attack by the ambitious, when portfolios are fiercely assailed and defended and when those laying siege rely on rebellion just as those being besieged rely on despotism, the one in order to achieve power and the others to retain it?

Inflated salaries result not only in restrictions, a lack of order, and the instability of government; they also distort people’s ideas by strengthening the barbarous prejudice that work is to be scorned and jobs in the public sector are the only ones worthy of honor. They corrupt morals by making careers in industry burdensome and government employment flourish; by enticing the entire population to abandon manufacturing in favor of careers in the state sector, work in favor of political intrigue, manufacturing in favor of sterile consumption, ambition to control things in favor of ambition to control men; and, in sum, by increasingly spreading a mania for governing and a zeal for domination.

Do we want then to free government from the plotters who pursue it in order to share out the spoils, from factions who undermine it in order to capture it, and from the tyrants who strengthen it in order to control it? Do we want to achieve order, freedom, and public peace? Let us above all take care to reduce excessive remuneration, remove the enticements if we fear greed, and eliminate the seductive prizes linked to the end of a career if we do not want careers beset with antagonism. Let us wholeheartedly embrace the American system, in which top civil servants are indemnified and not richly endowed, where positions lead to a great deal of work and little profit, where civil service jobs are a burden assumed and not the means to a fortune and do not give glory to those holding them nor arouse envy in those who do not.

Once we have understood the object of national representation, once we have examined the work to be carried out by the future legislature, we will find it easy to know what qualities and guarantees we have to require from our deputy.

[348]

It is clear that the first thing we have to look for in him is knowledge of the subjects he will be called upon to discuss, in other words his ability in the fields of political economy and legislation.

We cannot deny that M. Faurie fulfills this first condition. The ease with which he has managed his individual affairs is a guarantee that he will be capable of administering public matters. His knowledge of finance might be of great use in the Chamber. In short, throughout his life he has devoted himself with dedication to the study of moral and political science.

The ability to do well is not enough for our representative; he also needs determination, and this determination can be guaranteed only by a constant past record, total independence of character, wealth, and social position.

In all of these respects, M. Faurie should meet the requirements of the most stringent elector.

No inconsistency in his past gives us anxiety as to the future. His probity in private life is well known and virtue in M. Faurie is not a vague sentiment but a well-defined system that is invariably practiced, which means that it would be difficult to find a man whose conduct and opinions are more in harmony. His political probity is most scrupulous; his wealth places him beyond any form of enticement, just as his courage puts him beyond all forms of fear. He does not want positions and cannot desire them; he has neither sons nor brothers in whose favor he might, to our detriment, compromise his independence. In sum, the force of his character will make him for us not an intrepid lobbyist (it is good to note that he is this) but a stubborn defender when needed.

If, along with just ideas and high sentiments, we required a talent for oratory as a condition that is, if not essential, at least desirable, I would not dare to claim that M. Faurie possesses the passionate eloquence to rouse popular masses in a public arena, but I consider him perfectly capable of putting forward in the Chamber the observations his upright mind and conscientious intentions generate and it is accepted that, where it is a matter of debating laws, the eloquence which appeals only to reason for its enlightenment is less dangerous than that which appeals to passions in order to sway them.

I have heard an objection to this candidate which I consider to have little foundation, the comment “should we not fear that, as he comes from Bayonne, he will work harder for Bayonne than for the département of the Landes?”

My answer will not be that no one dreamed of raising this objection to M. d’Haussez; that the link that is forged between a representative and the [349] electors is as powerful as that which binds a man to the region in which he was born; finally, that as M. Faurie’s property lies in the département of the Landes, he may to some degree be regarded as a fellow countryman of ours.

There is another answer which, in my view, removes any basis for the objection.

To hear the language used by these farsighted men, would it not seem that the interests of Bayonne and the département of the Landes are so far opposed that nothing can be done for one that does not invariably run counter to the good of the other? But if we reflect a little on the respective positions of Bayonne and the Landes, we will perceive that, on the contrary, their interests are inseparable and identical.

In effect, in the ordinary course of events, a commercial town situated at the mouth of a river can have an importance only proportional to that of the region through which the river flows. If Nantes and Bordeaux are more prosperous than Bayonne, it is because the Loire and the Garonne flow through regions that are much richer than those the Adour traverses, areas that are capable of producing and consuming more. This being so, as the trade relating to this production and consumption is carried out in the town situated at the mouth of the river, it ensues that the trade in this town grows or is restricted depending on whether the surrounding regions prosper or decline. Were the banks of the Adour and its tributaries fertile, the moors cleared, the Chalosse given means of communication, our département crossed by canals and inhabited by a significant and rich population, then Bayonne would be assured of trade by the nature of things. If our deputy wants to make Bayonne flourish, he will first have to attract prosperity to the département of the Landes.

If different constituency boundaries brought Bayonne into our département, is it not a fact that we would not object? Well then, has a line drawn on a scrap of paper changed the nature of things? Does the fact that on a map a town is separated from the countryside surrounding it by a red or blue line divide their mutual interests?

There are some who fear compromising the proper order of things by selecting as deputies men who are clearly liberal. “For the moment,” they say, “we need order above all. We need deputies who do not want to go too far too fast!”

Well! It is precisely in order to maintain order that good deputies should be appointed! It is through a love of order that we should seek to ensure that the chambers are in harmony with France. If you want order, are you [350] going to strengthen the center right, at a time when it grates on France, a time when, with her most cherished hopes dashed, she is anxiously awaiting the election results? And do you know what she will do if she sees that, once again, her final hopes have evaporated? For my part, I do not know.

Electors, let us take up our stations, let us remember that the future legislature will bear within it the entire destiny of France, that its decisions must either snuff out for good or indefinitely prolong this struggle that has existed for so long between the France of yesteryear and modern France! Let us recall that our destiny is in our hands and that we are the masters on whom it falls to strengthen or dissolve this monstrous centralization, this gallows structure built up by Bonaparte and restored by the Bourbons in order to exploit the nation, once they had garroted it. Let us not forget that it is an illusion to count on colors and proper names to improve our lot; let us rely only on our independence and our resolve. Do we want the government to take more of an interest in us than we take in ourselves? Are we expecting it to restrain itself if we strengthen it and become less active if we send it reinforcements? Do we hope that the spoils it can take from us will be refused if we are the first to offer them? What! Should we expect a supernatural nobility of spirit or a chimerical impartiality in those who govern us, while for our part we are incapable of defending, through a simple vote, our dearest interests!

Electors, be careful! We will not be able to retrieve the opportunity if we let it slip. A major revolution has taken place; up to now, how has it improved your existence? I know that reforms take longer than a day, that we should not ask for the impossible nor criticize at random through bad temper or habit. I know that the new government needs strength and I believe it to be imbued with the best intentions, but ultimately we should not shut our eyes to the evidence nor should the fear of going too fast reduce us to immobility nor, worse, remove from us any hope of making progress. And, if there has been no material improvement, have we at least been given any reason for hope? No, they tear up those intoxicating proclamations which in the heat of the moment would have made us spill the last drop of our blood. Each day brings us closer to that past which the three glorious days should have cast back to a remote century. Is it a question of communal law? The Martignac11 project is being exhumed, which was drawn up under the influence [351] of an officious court with no confidence in the nation. Is it a question of a mobile National Guard? Instead of these popular choices which ought to make it a moral force, they throw us as a consolation prize the election of subalterns, and their distrust of us is such that all our leaders are imposed on us. Is the question that of taxes? They clearly state that the government will not lower them by a cent; that if they make a sacrifice in one sector of the revenue, they will recover it from another; that the billion must remain intact indefinitely; that if some economy is achieved, taxpayers will not be relieved thereby; that eliminating one form of abuse would entail eliminating them all and that they do not wish to go down that road; that taxing drink is the fairest and most equitable of taxes,12 the one which is least offensively collected and least costly, a fine ideal of fiscal design which must be maintained, with no attention paid to the clamor of an overburdened populace, and that if they agree to alter it, it is with reluctance and on condition that instead of one iniquity they will make us suffer two; that all forms of transport will be taxed without any problem or inconvenience resulting for anyone; that luxury goods should not be made to pay but rather that redoubled contributions should be imposed on useful objects; that France is beautiful and rich and can be counted upon; that it is easy to bring her round to reason; and a hundred other things which bring back comte de Villèle in the person of Baron Louis13 and which confound you to such a dizzy extent that you do not know whether you are waking up in the reign of Philippe or that of Bonaparte.

But, people will say, these are only projects; our deputies still have to debate and adopt them.

Doubtless, and it is for this reason that we need to be scrupulous in our choices and to give our vote only to men who are independent of all governments, both present and future.

Electors, Paris has given us liberty with its blood; are we going to destroy its work with our votes? Let us go to the elections solely for the general good. Let us close our ears to all fallacious promises and close our hearts to all personal affection or even gratitude. Let us bring forth from the ballot [352] the name of a man who is wise, enlightened, and independent. If the future brings us a better fate let us have the glory of having contributed to it; if it hides yet more storms, let us have nothing to reproach ourselves for.

Endnotes

1

Bastiat’s original French for “political manifestos” is professions de foi, which is literally translated as “professions of faith.” We have chosen instead to translate professions de foi as “political manifestos,” which better conveys his true intention in these pieces, namely, the expression of his beliefs and political program to his electors if he were to be elected.

2

(Paillottet’s note) In support of the candidature of M. Faurie.

3

To a threatening speech from the throne, 221 deputies replied with an address strongly condemning the government chosen by the king.

4

A law of 1820 specified that at each election of deputies one-fourth of the electors, those paying the most taxes, would be allowed to vote twice.

5

In 1824 the ministry of justice introduced laws limiting the freedom of the press, which the ministry presented as “laws of justice and love.” They were derisively called les lois d’amour (the laws of love).

6

A law voted in 1825 inflicted the death penalty on authors of sacrileges. It was never enforced.

7

A civil servant in charge of initiating appeals against the state.

8

A reference to the amount of the state budget.

9

Government-appointed head of all public education in an académie (a group of departments in the context of public education).

10

These were a combination of taxes introduced by Napoléon.

11

The comte de Martignac (J. B. Gay), minister of the interior from 1828 to 1829, planned to have the members of the general councils (councils of the département) and of the city councils elected by an appropriate electoral college instead of being appointed by the king.

12

Taxes on wine and spirits were especially opposed by Bastiat, as he came from and represented a wine-growing region.

13

Joseph-Dominique Louis.

 

T.104 "Letter to M. Saulnier, Editor of La Revue britannique, (on the cost of government in the U.S. and France)" (c. 1831)

Source

T.104 (undated, possibly 1831) "Letter to M. Saulnier, Editor of La Revue britannique (on the cost of government in the U.S. and France)." Paillottet included this letter in a footnote with the pamphlet Peace and Freedom or the Republican Budget (Feb. 1849). He states in was written "in his retreat in Mugron many years ago" but gives no specific date. It was most likely written as the debate was being conducted in the pages of La Revue britannique or shortly thereafter . [OC5, pp. 443-45] [CW2, pp. 308-10].

Editor's Introduction

For the classical liberals of Bastiat's day, the United States was seen as an excellent example of a working limited, decentralised, and low cost government, in contrast to the highly centralised, bureaucratic, and expensive French state. In 1831 a debate took place in La Revue britannique which was edited by Sébastien-Louis Saulnier 115 who took issue with a speech given by General LaFayette in the Chamber on the relative costs of the French and American governments to their respective citizens. James Fenimore Cooper (who had lived in France for two years in the late 1820s) took the side of Lafayette who argued that the American government was the lowest cost government in the world. 116 This view was challenged by the editor Saulnier and an American diplomat, Mr. Harris, in La Revue britannique and some of the articles were published as separate pamphlets. 117 Bastiat must have read this exchange with considerable interest as his own political interest was beginning to show itself at this time: he played a small part in the July Revolution in 1830 which brought Louis Philippe to the throne, he was appointed Justice of the Peace in Mugron in May 1831, stood unsuccessfully for election to the local legislature in July 1831, and in November 1833 he was elected to the General Council of Les Landes.

In this letter to the editor (which Paillottet says was never sent) we see evidence of Bastiat's interest in economic data concerning tax rates and his belief in a very limited government as embodied in the American example. It also shows that he kept abreast of events in Britain and America by reading La Revue britannique which would become even more important to him when he discovered the activities of Richard Cobden and the Anti-Corn Law League in the early 1840s.

Text

To M. Saulnier

Editor of La Revue britannique

Dear Sir,

You have filled with transports of joy in all those who find the word economics absurd, ridiculous, unacceptable, bourgeois, and mean. The Journal des débats extols you, the president of the council quotes you, and the favors of government are waiting for you. However, what have you done, sir, to merit so much applause? You have established through figures (and everyone knows that figures never lie) that it costs the citizens of the United States more than the subjects of France to be governed. 118 This gives rise to the harsh consequence (harsh for the people in fact) that it is absurd to wish to place limits on the lavishness of power in France.

But, sir, and I ask your pardon and that of the centres for economics and statistics, your figures, assuming they are correct, do not seem to me to be unfavorable to the American government.

In the first place, to establish that one government spends more than another does not give any information on their relative goodness. If one of them, for example, is administering a nascent nation that has all its roads to build, all its canals to dig out, all its towns to pave, and all its public establishments to create, it is natural that it spends more than one that has scarcely more to do than maintain its existing establishments. Well, you know as well as I do, sir, that spending that way is to save and create capital. If it were done by a farmer, would you be confusing the investments that an initial establishment requires with his annual expenditure?

However, this major difference in situation leads, according to your figures, to an additional expenditure of only three francs for each citizen of the Union. Is this excess genuine? No, according to your own data. This may surprise you, since you have set at 36 fr. the contribution by each American and 33 fr. that of each Frenchman. 119 Well, 36 = 33 + 3 is good arithmetic.——Yes, but in political economy, thirty-three is often worth more than thirty-six. See for yourself. Money, in comparison with labor and goods, is not as valuable in the United States as it is in France. You yourself set a day's pay at four francs fifty centimes in the United States and at one franc fifty centimes in France. The result, I believe, is that an American pays thirty-six francs with eight days' work, whereas a Frenchman needs twenty-two days' work to pay thirty-three francs. It is true that you say that people buy forced labor (corvée) 120 from each other in the United States for three francs and that consequently the price of a day's work ought to be set at three francs there.——There are two answers to this. Forced labor is bought in France for one franc (for we also have forced labor, about which you do not speak) and then, if a day's work in the United States is worth only three francs the Americans no longer pay thirty-six francs since, to reach this figure, you have raised to four francs fifty centimes all the days that these citizens devote to fulfilling their military obligations (militia), 121 their forced labor, their jury service, etc.

This is not the only subtle difference you have used to raise the annual contribution of each American to thirty-six francs.

You impute to the government of the United States expenses that it is not concerned with in the slightest. To justify this strange method of proceeding, you say that these expenses are no less borne by the citizens. But is it not a question of determining which are the voluntary expenses of the citizens and which are the expenditures of the government?

A government is created to fulfill certain functions. When it exceeds its functions, it has to appeal to the citizens' purses and thus reduce the portion of revenue that was freely at their disposal. It becomes simultaneously a plunderer and oppressor. 122

A nation that is wise enough to force its government to limit itself to guaranteeing security to each person and that spends only what is absolutely essential to this consumes the remainder of its revenue in accordance with its particular talents, its needs, and its inclinations.

But in a nation in which the government interferes in everything, nothing is spent by itself and for its own benefit, but it is spent by the government and for the government, and if the French public thinks as you do, sir, if it cares little that its wealth goes through the hands of functionaries, I have resigned myself to that fact that one day we will all be lodged, fed, and clothed at the State's expense. These are things that cost us something and, according to you, it is of little importance whether we get them through taxation or through direct purchase. The importance that our ministers give this opinion convinces me that we will soon have clothes produced by them, just as we have priests, lawyers, teachers, doctors, horses, and tobacco of their fashioning. 123

Yours, etc.

Frédéric Bastiat

Endnotes

115 Sébastien-Louis Saulnier (1790-1835) was a journalist who founded the Revue britannique in 1825 which provided French readers with detailed analysis of events in Britain and America.

116 Cooper provides his account of how he became involved in the debate in A Letter to his Countrymen (1834), pp. 7-11.

117 [Unsigned], "Rapprochemens entre les dépenses publiques de la France et celles des états-unis," Revue britannique , May 1831; Saulnier, "Nouvelles observations sur les finances des États-Unis," Revue britannique , Oct. 1831; "Observations de M. Harris, citoyen de la Pennsylvanie, ancien envoyé des États-Unis à Saint-Petersbourg, sur les Finances des Étas-Unis," Revue britannique , Nov. 1831.

118 Saulnier, Nouvelles observations sur les finances des États-Unis (1831).

119 Saulnier gives the figure of 36 fr. 94 c. paid on average by Americans while the French paid 33 fr. 60c. in Nouvelles observations sur les finances des États-Unis , pp. 53-54.

120 Under the old regime in France the most hated of the taxes imposed on the peasantry were the forced labour obligations or "corvées" which required local farmers to work a certain number of days every year (8) for their local lord or on various local and national road works. They were abolished in 1818 only to be reintroduced in 1824 (2 days per year) and increased to 3 days per year in 1836 with the further refinement of some individuals being able to buy their way of service for a money payment. US had corvée ???

121 Militia obligations in US ???

122 Bastiat uses the phrase "spoliateur et oppresseur" which might be his first use of the term "spoliateur" (plunderer) in his writings. See the glossary entry on "Bastiat's Theory of Plunder and Plunders."

123 Bastiat lists the occupations which were either supplied by the state, highly regulated by state, or goods which the state had a monopoly of production (tobacco).

 

 


 

T.318 "Election Manifesto" (c. 1832)

Source Info

T.318 "Election Manifesto" (c.1832). Quoted in part by Bastiat in a later Election Manifesto: 1846.07.01 "Aux électeurs de l'arrondissement de Saint-Sever (Mugron, 1 July, 1846)" (To the Electors of the Arrondissement of Saint-Séver (Mugron, July 1, 1846)) [OC1.14, p. 461] [CW1]. Also quoted by Molinari in his obituary of Bastiat: Gustave de Molinari, "Nécrologie. Frédéric Bastiat, notice sur sa vie et ses écrits," JDE, T. 28, no. 118, 15 Feb. 1851, pp. 180-96.

We have not been able to locate the original.

Editor's Note

Bastiat had political ambitions after his brief participation in the "Three Glorious Days" in July 1830 (27-29th) which overthrew the Bourbon monarch Charles X and brought his cousin Louis Philippe (of the Orléanist branch of the Bourbon family) to the throne. He wrote his first "election manifesto" or statement of principles in November 1830 in support of a candidate, M. Faurie, 124 in the election for Les Landes. In it there are already strong hints of the positions he would defend some 25 years later: his desire for lower taxes, the dangers of political lobbyists and vested interests seeking benefits at taxpayer expence, the tendency of government to constantly grow in size and thus absorb more taxes to fund their activities, and the self-interest of politicians and bureaucrats who inflate their salaries and their benefits. Concerning the latter, what he termed "this vast machine" of government, he warned:

Abuses, sinecures, exorbitant pay, irrelevant positions, damaging jobs, and administrative structures substituted for competition will have to be strictly investigated; I have no fear in stating that this is the worst plague from which France is suffering. 125

Possibly as a reward for his political activity he was appointed a Justice of the Peace in the canton of Mugron (in spite of not having any formal legal training) on 28 May 1831, and he then stood for election (unsuccessfully) to the legislature of the Arrondissement of Dax on 6 July 1831. He tried again (unsuccessfully) the following year for the Arrondissement of Saint-Sever on 11 July 1832, when the Election Manifesto below may have been written. He had better luck the following year when he was elected to the General Council of Les Landes on 17 November 1833, which may have helped develop his interest in economic matters as he wrote several memoranda for the Council and other regional bodies on subjects like the local land tax, the tax on wine, and public works. 126 He was reelected to the General Council on 24 November 1839 and continued in this position until he died.

He was certainly persistent in his efforts as he tried again to get elected to the legislature in the Arrondissement of Saint-Sever on 9 July 1842 (unsuccessfully) and again in 1846 when he wrote yet another manifesto "To the Electors of the District of Saint-Sever" 127 explaining why they should elect him in spite of him being "too progressive" for some and not progressive enough for others. One reason why he faced opposition was for his very strong criticism of the conquest and colonization of Algeria. 128 Another was his belief in very limited government which the following passage makes clear:

But, even if there were agreement on the limits of public authority, it is no easy matter to force it and maintain it within those limits.

Government power, a vast, organized, and living body, naturally tends to grow. It feels cramped within its supervisory mission. Now, its growth is hardly possible without a succession of encroachments upon the field of individual rights. The expansion of government power means usurping some form of private activity, transgressing the boundary that I set earlier between what is and what is not its essential function. Government power departs from its mission when, for instance, it imposes a particular form of worship on our consciences, a particular method of teaching on our minds, a particular direction for our work or for our capital, or an impulse to invade in our international relationships, etc.

Gentlemen, I would bring it to your attention that government becomes all the more costly as it becomes oppressive. For it can commit no encroachments otherwise than through salaried agents. Thus each of its intrusions implies creating some new administration, instituting some fresh tax, so that our freedom and our purse inevitably share a common destiny.

Consequently, if the public understands and wishes to defend its true interests, it will halt authority as soon as the latter tries to go beyond its sphere of activity; and for that purpose the public has an infallible means, which is to deny authority the resources with which it could carry out its encroachments.

Once these principles are laid down, the role of the opposition, and I would even say that of parliament as a whole, is simple and clearly defined.

It does not consist in hindering the government in its essential activity, in denying it the means of administering justice, of repressing crime, of paving roads, of repelling foreign aggression. 129

Towards the end of this manifesto of 1846 Bastiat quotes himself, from an earlier unpublished election manifesto from 1832, to prove to the electors in 1846 that his views about the role of the state had barely shifted over the years and thus they could be confident that he would remain a steadfast opponent of growing government and heavier taxes should they decide to vote for him now.

In spite of all his efforts, Bastiat did not succeed in getting elected to political office until the April elections of 1848 when he became a Deputy representing Les Landes in the Second Republic.

Text:

[Bastiat introduces his long quotation from the 1832 manifesto with the following:]

As for me, when I consider how I have persisted in defending a principle that is making no progress in France, I sometimes wonder if I am not a maniac possessed with a fixed idea.

To enable you to judge whether I have changed, let me set before you an extract from the declaration of policy that I published in 1832, when a kind word from General Lamarque 130 attracted the attention of a few voters in my favor:

In my view, the institutions that we have already obtained and those that we can obtain by lawful means are sufficient, if we make enlightened use of them, to raise our country to a high degree of freedom, greatness, and prosperity.

The right to vote taxes, in giving citizens the power to extend or restrain the action of the government as they please, isn't that management by the public of public affairs? What might we not achieve by making judicious use of that right?

Do we consider that ambition for office is the source of many contentions, intrigues, and factions? It rests with us alone to deprive that fatal passion of its sustenance, by reducing the profits and the number of salaried public offices." …

Do we feel that industry is shackled, the administration overcentralized, education hampered by academic monopoly? There is nothing to prevent us from holding back the money that facilitates those shackles, that centralization, those monopolies.

As you can see, gentlemen, I shall never expect the welfare of my country to result from any violent change in either the forms or the holders of power; but rather from our good faith in supporting the government in the useful exercise of its essential powers and from our firm determination to restrict it to those limits. The government has to be firm facing enemies from within and from without, for its mission is to keep the peace at home and abroad. But it must leave to private activity everything that is within the latter's competence. Order and freedom depend on those conditions.

[Bastiat then concludes by saying:]

Are those not the same principles, the same feelings, the same fundamental way of thinking, the same solutions for particular problems, the same means of reform? People may not share my opinions; but it cannot be said that they have varied, and I venture to add: they are invariable. It is too coherent a system to admit of any alterations. It will collapse or it will triumph as a whole.

Endnotes

124 François Faurie (1785-1854) was a merchant from Bayonne who was elected Deputy representing Basses-Pyrénées from 1831 to 1837.

125 "To the Electors of the Département of the Landes" (Nov. 1830), CW1, pp. 341-67. Quote p. 346.

126 His reports to the General Council include "The Tax Authorities and Wine" (January, 1841), CW2, pp. 10-23. Reports to other local bodies include "On the Wine-Growing Question" (22 January, 1843), CW2, pp. 25-42; "On the Allocation of the Land Tax" (July 1844), below, pp. 000.

127 "To the Electors of the District of Saint-Sever" (1846), CW1, pp. 352-67.

128 "To the Electors of the District of Saint-Sever" (1846), CW1, pp. 363-65.

129 "To the Electors of the District of Saint-Sever" (1846), CW1, p. 355.

130 General Jean-Maximien Lamarque (1770-1832) was a general under Napoleon and was exiled in 1815 for three years. After his return he wrote a book defending the idea that France could still have a standing army if it were run on more economical lines. In the Landes, he showed a great interest in improving agriculture and the means of communication and transport. He was elected deputy of the Landes in 1828 and 1830 and was an influential speaker in the Chamber, and was President of the Conseil Général of Les landes in 1831.

 

 


 

T.285 "On Certainty" (c. 1833)

Source

T.285 (1833.??) "On Certainty" (De la certitude). Ronce says this was sketch written around 1833 and found in his notebooks. In Ronce, Appendix II, pp. 284-87. [CW4]

Editor's Introduction

Is these seemingly random musings Bastiat is concerned about the difficulties of rationally determining the scientifically "perfect" weight of a coin which he believes is impossible because of experimental error in weighing and measuring objects in the real world. He then applies similar reasoning to the problem of the moral perfectibility of mankind which he believes can only be approached "asymptotically" and never actually reached. Bastiat began talking about the "perfectibility of mankind" early in 1845 in his articles "On the Book by M. Dunoyer. On The Liberty of Working" and "Letter from an Economist to M. de Lamartine" (JDE Feb. 1845), and then in earnest in 1846 in his articles "On Competition" (JDE May 1846) and "On Population" (JDE, October 1846), after which it became a central part of his social theory. 131

He concludes somewhat cryptically that "Where one understands little about the effects of drunkenness there will be more drunkards." Given his later interest in the unchanging nature of the "natural laws" of political economy, he is foreshadowing his future claim that if mankind refuses to understand and recognise the power of these laws they will be doomed to suffer the consequences of bad economic policies.

Text

In moral philosophy, a fact is the asymptote of what is right , just as in physics, what can be measured is the asymptote of what is rational in theory .

A fact tends to approach continuously what is right. It is the result of our human nature which is perfectible but not perfect.

That which can be measured tends to approach the theoretically perfect because our senses are also perfectible but imperfect.

One understands that a new kind of exercise makes an organ more practiced and that a new kind of force adds to its strength.

But these new exercises and these new forces only ever add a finite amount to a finite amount, while the theoretical is infinite.

I challenge you and I challenge all the scientific and technical experts to tell me what is the rational weight, the mathematically exact weight, for a piece of money.

Firstly, do they (the experts) have a standard and mathematically determined weight with which they can compare it?

If you tell me that a gramme has theoretically an exact value, I will say no, it doesn't, since one would have to have measured just as precisely the earth's arc of meridian. 132 Now, there would have been in this operation only an error in measurement. A metre would have an error of one ten millionth in its length. This is quite small but it is enough to make your standard, which is very reasonable, not rational.

However, I will admit that it might be. It remains to be seen whether this small piece of copper which you claim is a gramme, has been made with infinite perfection.

You have compared it to a given volume of distilled water, but water weighs more or less according to how much it has expanded, etc.

I will further admit that your piece of copper is a gramme which has been mathematically determined.

You will still have to place the two objects to be compared in the two pans of a balance. But who can tell me that these pans weigh the same? You will say you have weighed them, but in other balances, and my objection therefore will move back to infinity.

However, I will admit the mathematical accuracy of your balance, but the objects which we are comparing, when they have reached equilibrium, do not have an equal weight as a result. They displace more or less air according to their volume. Therefore we have to weigh them in a vacuum and we don't know if there is any vacuum.

Therefore, you can only ever show me an approximate weight.

You can do this operation a thousand times and take the average, and you will give me a more probable result. But a series of probabilities is not a certainty.

Thus it is quite true that in physics complete certainty cannot be acquired by us who have incomplete senses. To say that "I am sure" is to say that "I am infinite."

In order to be sure of one thing it is necessary to be sure of everything.

Therefore, in order to know the weight of this piece of money it is necessary to have measured exactly the quater of the earth's meridian, to have have had perfect instruments in order to carry out this operation, and still more perfect instruments to make the first instrument; it would be necessary to have had a perfect cube of water, to have perfectly distilled the water and not to have allowed, for example, a single atom to have escaped from this organised mass of atoms, a thousand of which could sit on the point of a needle; it would be necessary to have made the perfect vacuum, to have a perfect barometre, in other words to know perfectly its freezing point; it is necessary to determine exactly the movement of the air, not to touch the objects being compared because the warmth of one's hands and the steam deposited on these objects by touching them will change their weights; it is necessary to have perfect scales, and after all that has been achieved, you would still only have the standard of weight.

Everywhere the measurable is the asymptote of the theoretical.

Facts are the asymptote of that which is right.

That which is right is perfection. Perfection is incompatible with human nature; since mankind cannot achieve that which is right either by his thoughts nor by his acts. But he can approach them continuously.

In fact, it is absolutely essential that error and vice constantly lose their influence upon mankind.

Vice is the daughter of error. Not always the error of those who give themselves up to it, but the error of those who suffer from it and those who have the opinion that they should tolerate it.

There are as many fewer corrupters as there are fewer corruptible men. There are fewer of both to the degree that there are fewer men who are inclined to suffer the effects of corruption.

In a society where one doesn't know that all bodies which are not supported will fall down, lots of misfortune will occur.

It is the same for matters of morality. Where one understand little about the effects of drunkenness there will be more drunkards.

Again, this is true for the morality governing social relations, and all the more true , in this case, as the correction comes from a double source, that is in the mind of the perverted man and in that of the society which protects itself from vice …

Endnotes

131 See below, pp. 000, pp. 000, pp. 000, pp. 000.

132 Bastiat confuses the definition of a gramme and a metre which was established in 1793 during the Revolution. A gramme was defined as "the absolute weight of a volume of pure water equal to the cube of the hundredth part of a metre, and at the temperature of melting ice". A metre was originally defined as one ten-millionth of the distance from the equator to the North Pole.

 

 


 

T.3 (1834.??) "On a New Secondary School to Be Founded in Bayonne"

Source

T.3 (1834.??) "On a New Secondary School to Be Founded in Bayonne" (D’un nouveau collège à fonder). Published in a Bayonne newspaper in 1834 [OC7.2, pp. 4-10.] [CW1.2.1.6, p. 415-19.]

Editor’s Introduction

(to come)

Text

The question was raised in the municipal council of providing Bayonne with a secondary school.1 But what can you do? You cannot do everything at once; the most pressing needs must be met and the town has ruined itself in order to provide a theater. Pleasure first; education can wait. Anyway, is not the theater also a school and even more a school of morals? Ask anyone in vaudeville or musical comedy.

As it happens, Bayonne’s fiscal capacity represents the high point of civilization and we can properly hope that the question of finance will prove no obstacle. Confident of this, I beg leave to submit a few ideas on public instruction to the city.

When I first heard of the municipal project, I asked myself if a secondary school whose curriculum focused on science and work which would dispense scientific and industrial instruction would not have some small chance of success. There is no lack of establishments close to Bayonne that teach or, to be more accurate, pretend to teach Greek, Latin, rhetoric, or even philosophy. Larresole, Orthez, Oléron, Dax, Mont-de-Marsan, Saint-Sever, and Aire provide classical education. There, the young generation which will succeed us behind the counter or in the workshop, in the fields and vineyards, in the night watch, and on the upper deck, is preparing to take on its rough task by being bored to death with the declension and conjugation of [416] languages which were spoken some two or three thousand years ago. There, our sons, while waiting for machines to operate, bridges to build, moorland to clear, ships to deliver to the four corners of the earth, or strict accounts to keep, are learning to chant nicely using the tips of their fingers . . . Tityre, tu patuloe recu, etc.2 Let us be just, however; before sending them out into the world and as they approach their majority, they should be given a vague idea of counting and even perhaps a glimpse or two of natural history in the form of commented texts from Phaedrus and Aesop, it being understood, of course, that they will not miss a comma of the Lexicon and the Gradus ad Parnassum.3

Let us suppose that, through an unheard-of singular occurrence, Bayonne in fact followed an opposite method, that it made science, the knowledge of what exists and a study of cause and effect, the founding principle and the reading of the ancient poets an accessory and ornament of education, do you not think that this idea, as ridiculous as it may appear at first glance, might prove attractive to many heads of families?

What is it basically that we are discussing? The composition of intellectual baggage which will nourish these children during their harsh journey through life. Some of them will be called upon to defend, enlighten, and teach morals; to represent and administer the people; to develop and perfect our institutions and laws, with the greater number by far having to seek through work and industry the means of earning a living for themselves and of supporting their wives and children.

And tell me, is it in Horace and Ovid that they will learn all of this? To be good farmers, do they have to spend ten years learning and reading the Georgics? To win their stripes in the army, do they need to wear out their youth in deciphering Xenophon? To become statesmen, to become imbued with the mores, ideas, and needs of our time, do they need to immerse themselves for twenty years in Roman life, make themselves the contemporaries of Lucullus and Messalina, and breathe the same air as Brutus and the Gracchi?

Not only does the long period of childhood spent in the past not initiate them into the present, but it inspires dislike of it in them. It warps their judgment and prepares only a generation of orators, seditionists, and idlers.

[417]

For what is there in common between ancient Rome and modern France? The Romans lived from plunder and we live from production, they scorned and we honor work, they left to slaves the task of producing and this is exactly the task for which we are responsible, they were organized for war and we aim for peace, they were for theft and we are for trade, they aimed to dominate and we tend to bring peoples together.

And how do you expect these young men who have escaped from Sparta and Rome not to upset our century with their ideas? Will they not, like Plato, dream of illusory republics; and like the Gracchi, have their gaze fixed on the Aventine Mount; and like Brutus, contemplate the bloody glory of sublime devotion?

I would countenance a literary education if we were, like the Athenians, a people of idlers. To talk at length on metaphysics, eloquence, mythology, fine arts, or poetry is, I believe, the best use of their leisure that a people of patricians can make, as they move above a host of slaves.

But for those who have to create the nutritium, the vestitum, and the tectum4 for themselves, what is the use of the subtleties of the school and dreams of the seven sages of Greece? If Charles has to be a ploughman, he has to learn what water, the earth, and plants are in reality and not what Thales and Epicurus said about them. He needs the physics of facts and not the physics of poetry, science and not erudition. Our century is like Chrysale:

  • He lives off good soup and not fine language.5
  • I can hear Belise6 protest: Is it possible to encounter a man as prosaic and as vulgar as this,
  • A spirit composed of such bourgeois atoms?

And is it not sad to see, to use the current jargon (which rather resembles that of Belise), facts smothering ideas?

I would reply that the idea of the heroic age, that of domination, plunder, and slavery, is neither greater nor more poetic than the idea of the industrial age, with its concept of work, equality, and unity, and I have the authority of two great poets, Byron and Lamartine, on my side.

[418]

Be that as it may, if man does not live by bread alone, he lives still less by ambrosia and I dare to say (asking you to forgive the play on words) that in our system of education it is the idea, and a false idea, that smothers facts. It is the idea that perverts our young people, which closes off the avenues to wealth to them and impels them toward a career by way of various positions or a desperate idleness.

And tell me, my native town, you whom corrupt laws (also the offspring of erroneous education) have stripped of your trade, you who are exploring new trade routes, who spin wool and linen, who smelt molten iron, dig up kaolin from your native soil, and do not know how to use it, you who build ships, maintain a model farm, and, in a word, you who draw power from a little boiling water and seek light in a little jet of gas, if you need hands to accomplish your undertakings and intellects to direct them, are you not obliged to call upon the children of the north for help, while your own sons, so full of courage and sagacity, walk the cobbles of your streets because they have not learned what it is essential to know today?

But let us allow that a classical education is really the most useful. We will at least agree that this is so only if it puts buyers in possession of the goods it produces. However, are these dead languages so generally taught widely known? You who are reading this, and who were perhaps first in your class, do you often walk on the banks of the Nive and the Adour7 with a work of Perseus or Sophocles in your hand? Alas! In the fullness of our age, after such lengthy studies we are scarcely left with enough knowledge to decipher the meaning of a simple epigraph. I remember that in a large meeting once, a woman actually dared to ask what the famous motto of Louis XIV, Nec pluribus impar,8 meant. The construction was worked out, followed by a word for word translation; a discussion was held on the force of the two negatives; each person had his own interpretation; no two were identical.

And it is for this result that you weary children. You saturate them with syntax for ten hours a day and for seven years in succession. You suffocate them with declensions and conjugations, you make them insipid and out of breath, you give them nausea, and then you say: “My son is charming, full of intelligence; he understands and catches half meanings, but he is frivolous, lazy, and does not want to take an interest.” Poor little boy! Why is he [419] not wise enough to reply: “You see, nature gave me the taste and need for diversion, it made me curious, with a questioning mind ready to learn everything and what have these precious dispositions become in your hands? You enslaved all my moments to a single study, a study that was repellent and arid, one that explained nothing to me, taught me nothing, neither the origin of the sun that moves, the rain that falls, the water that flows, and the seed that germinates, nor what force supports ships in the water or birds in the sky, nor whence comes the bread that feeds me and the clothes I wear. No facts have entered my head. Words, just words, hour after hour, day after day, always and forever, from one end of my childhood to the other! To be determined that my noble will should be wholly concentrated on these miserable formulae, determined that I should not watch the butterfly that flutters by, the grass that grows green, or the ship that moves with neither oar nor sail, determined that my young instincts should not seek to penetrate the mystery of these phenomena, the food of my sensations, and substance of my thoughts, is to exact more than I can give. Oh, my father, if you tried this experiment on yourself, if you imposed this straitjacket on yourself, just for one month, you would see that it cannot be suitable to the energetic activities of childhood.”

Therefore, if Bayonne were to establish a secondary school in which Latin occupied one hour a day, which befits a useful accessory, in which the rest of the time was devoted to mathematics, physics, chemistry, history, living languages, etc., I think that Bayonne would be meeting a widely felt social need and that the current administration would deserve the benediction of the coming generation.

Endnotes

1

Secondary education took place in royal “colleges” (former Napoleonic lycées), or municipal “colleges.” The construction cost of the latter was borne by the town. The Theater of Bayonne had been built in 1840.

2

Virgil’s first Eclogue begins, “Tityre, tu patulae recubans sub tegmine fagi.” (“Tityrus, reclining beneath the cover of a spreading beech tree.”)

3

“Steps to Parnassus” (title).

4

“Nourishment,” “clothing,” “housing.”

5

From Molière’s Les Femmes savantes.

6

Belise was one of “les femmes savantes” (the learned ladies).

7

Bayonne is located at the confluence of the Adour and Nive rivers.

8

“No unequal match for many.”

 

 


 

T.4 "On a Petition in Support of Polish Refugees" (c. 1834)

Source

T.4 (1834.??) "On a Petition in favor of Polish Refugees" (D'une pétition en faveur des réfugiés polonais). In an unnamed local Bayonne paper. [OC7.1, pp. 1-4.] [CW4]

Editor's Introduction

In 1830 the Kingdom of Poland was part of the Russian Empire. On 29 November 1830, an uprising broke out in Warsaw. The Polish independence movement was not supported by other European powers, France included, although public opinion in France was very favorable to it. On 8 September 1831, Russian troops retook Warsaw and numerous Poles went into exile, mostly in France. Between 1830-48 France received nearly 20,000 Polish, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and German refugees, including socialists such as Karl Marx. 133 The law of April 1832 guaranteed them some financial assistance but only in exchange for the onerous conditions which Bastiat describes later in the article.

In order to help the refugee Poles overcome some of the bureaucratic restrictions they faced in moving about the country and finding jobs, liberals like Bastiat organised petitions, wrote articles in the local press, and lobbied influential friends to help them get residence permits and jobs suited to their areas of expertise. As examples we have this newspaper article by Bastiat from 1834 and a letter he wrote to organise assistance for a particular Pole he knew who was an engineer (Sept. 1835). It shows another side of Bastiat's commitment to political liberty, in that he sometimes took a personal interest in the affairs of those who were harassed by the state and took steps to assist them.

Paillottet believes the article dates from 1834 and was published in an unnamed local Bayonne paper. We, however, have not been able to locate it.

Text

At this moment, a petition to the Chamber of Deputies is being signed in Bayonne to ask for the law dated 21 April 1832 134 relating to refugees not to be renewed when it expires.

We are pleased to learn that people of all shades of opinion are offering to sign this petition. In fact, it is not a question here of asking the Chamber for an act to satisfy this or that clique, nor to favor freedom at the expense of order nor order at the expense of freedom (if indeed these two things can be anything other than inseparable). It is a question of justice and humanity toward our unfortunate brethren. It is a question of not pouring absinthe and bile into the cup of exile, which is already bitter enough.

During the Polish War, a variety of opinions and projects was to be found in France about this war. Some would have liked France to come to the aid of the Poles with arms, others with money, and still others through diplomacy, while yet others thought that all forms of assistance were useless. However, although opinions varied, there was one single wish, one hope, totally in favor of Poland.

When some survivors of this unfortunate nation came to France to escape the hatred of absolute monarchs, this warmth toward hapless courage remained.

However, what has been the fate of the Poles in France in the last two years? You can judge this by reading the law that placed them under the discretionary power of the Government, the wording of which is as follows:

Article 1: The Government is authorized to restrict foreign refugees to living in France in one or more towns of its choosing.

Article 2: The Government may compel them to move to those towns as it chooses for them; it may order them to leave the Kingdom if they do not go to this destination, or if it considers their presence likely to disturb public order and peace.

Article 3: This current law may be applied to foreign refugees only by virtue of an order signed by a Minister.

Article 4: This law will remain in force for just one year from the day it is promulgated.

Now we ask whether it would not be unworthy of France to make a law like this permanent or, which amounts to the same thing, to prorogue it indefinitely through successive renewals.

It seems probable that the most ardent wish an exiled person can cling to, after the longing to see his exile come to an end, is to engage in some form of work and build up a few resources for himself through his industry. But, in order to do this, he has to be able to choose his place of residence. Those refugees who might be useful to commercial establishments have to reside in commercial towns; those who have an aptitude for a particular manufacturing industry have to be able to go to the regions in which such factories are located, while those of artistic bent have to live in the towns in which fine arts are encouraged. Finally, they have to have the right not to be expelled from one day to the next, and to expect that the sword of a despotic government will not be constantly held over their heads.

The law dated 21 April is calculated to prevent the Poles who are unable to receive either news or help from their own country, whose families are oppressed and dragged off to Siberia, or whose fellow-countrymen are dispersed and wandering all over the world, from doing anything for themselves to improve their lot. They are no longer refugees but genuine prisoners of war, huddled in their hundreds in villages that offer them no resources and where the uncertainty in which they find themselves prevents their taking steps that might decrease their expenditure. We have seen them at 9 o'clock receiving an order to leave town at mid-day, etc.

This system of persecution is based on the necessity of maintaining public order and peace in France. But all those who have had the opportunity of meeting Poles know full well that they are not the instigators of trouble and disorder and that they are fully aware that the interests of France have to be discussed by Frenchmen. Finally, if any one of them does not understand his position and duty sufficiently, the courts are there, and it is not in the least necessary for a minister two hundred leagues away to judge and condemn without hearing and seeing or even ascertaining the facts, or at least being obliged to ensure that he is not mistaking the name or the identity of individuals.

The result of this is that it is enough for a Pole to have a well connected personal enemy for him to be thrown out of the country without a hearing, an enquiry, or the guarantees that the lowliest of miscreants would obtain in France.

And what is more, are those who fear that the presence of Poles disturbs public order in good faith? We do not accept that they wish to disturb the peace, and if they had any such intention, we would be disposed to believe that it is the stringent measures taken against them that have annoyed them and led them into error. But is our Government on such unsteady foundations that it has to fear the presence of a few hundred exiled people? Is it not satirizing itself by claiming that it cannot guarantee public order unless it is armed with arbitrary powers against these people?

It is therefore perfectly clear that the petition that is being signed at this moment is not and should not be the work of one party, but that it should be welcomed by all the people of Bayonne, no matter what their political views, provided that there is some spark of humanity and justice in their hearts.

Endnotes

133 See, Cécile Mondonico-torri, "Les réfugiés en france sous la monarchie de juillet: l'impossible statut," Revue d'histoire moderne et contemporaine , 2000/4 (no 47-4), pp. 731-745.

134 See, No. 165 "Loi relative aux Étrangers réfugiés qui résideront en France" (A Paris, au palais des Tuileries, le 21 Avril 1832) in Bulletin des lois de la République française. IXe Série. Règne de Louis-Philippe Ier, roi des Français. Ire Partie, contenant les lois rendues pendant l'année 1832. Tome IV. Nos. 55 à 81. (Paris: Imprimerie nationale des lois, Janvier 1833), pp. 192-93.

 

 


 

T.5 (1834.04) "Reflections on the Petitions from Bordeaux, Le Havre, and Lyons Relating to the Customs Service"

Source

T.5 (1834.04) "Reflections on the Petitions from Bordeaux, Le Havre, and Lyons Relating to the Customs Service" (Réflexions sur les pétitions de Bordeaux, Le Havre et Lyon, concernant les Douanes). [OC1, pp. 231-43.] [CW2.1, pp. 1-9.]

Editor’s Introduction

(to come)

Text1

Free trade will probably suffer the fate of all freedoms; it will be introduced into our legislation only after it has taken hold of our minds. For this reason, we should applaud the efforts of the traders in Bordeaux, Le Havre, and Lyons even if the only effect of these efforts in the immediate future is to draw public attention to the matter.

However, if it is true that a reform has to be generally understood to be firmly established, it follows that nothing can be more disastrous than something that misleads opinion. And nothing is more likely to mislead it than writings that clamor for freedom on the basis of the doctrines of monopoly.

It would doubtless require a great deal of temerity for a simple farmer to disturb, through bold criticism, the unanimous chorus of praise that welcomed the demands of French trade both inside and outside France. No less would be needed to confirm his decision to do so than a firm conviction, I would even say a certainty, that such petitioning would be as disastrous in its effects on the general interest, and in particular on the agricultural interests of France, as its doctrinal effects would be on the progress of economic science.

In speaking out in the name of agriculture against the customs plans presented by the petitioners, I feel the need to begin by declaring that what [2] arouses my complaints in these plans is not the liberal element in their premises, but the exclusive content of their conclusions.

They demand that all protection be removed from primary products, that is to say from agricultural work, but that protection be maintained for the manufacturing industry.

I have come not to defend the protection that they are attacking but to attack the protection that they are defending.

Privilege is being claimed for a few; I come to claim freedom for all.

Agriculture owes its cosseted sales to the monopoly it exercises and its unfairly priced purchases to the monopoly to which it is subject. If it is just to relieve it of the first of these, it is no less so to free it from the second.2

To wish to deliver us to universal competition without subjecting manufacturers to the same situation is to damage our sales without relieving our purchases and to do just the opposite for manufacturers. If this is freedom, may I then have a definition of privilege?

It is up to agriculture to reject such attempts.

I make so bold here as to call upon the petitioners themselves and especially M. Henri Fonfrède. I urge him to refute my complaints or to support them.

I will show:

  • 1. That, between the plan of the petitioners and the government system, there is community of principle, error, aim, and means;
  • 2. That they differ only in one additional error for which the petitioners are responsible;
  • 3. That the aim of this project is to set up an unjust privilege in favor of traders and manufacturers to the detriment of farmers and the general public.

§1.: Between the petitioners’ proposals and the protectionist system there is community of principle, error, aim, and means.

What is the protectionist system? Let us hear M. de Saint Cricq’s views on this.

“Work constitutes the wealth of a people, since on its own it has created material things that we need, and because general affluence consists in an abundance of these things.” This is the principle.

[3]

“But it is necessary for this abundance to flow from the nation’s work. If it were based on foreign work, domestic work would stop immediately.” This is the error.

“Therefore, what should a farming and manufacturing country do? Limit its market to the products of its territory and its industry.” This is the aim.

“And to do this, limit through duties, and prohibit as necessary, the products of the territory and industry of other peoples.” This is the means.

Let us compare this approach with that of the petition from Bordeaux.

The petition divides all goods into four categories. The first and second cover food products and raw materials that have not yet undergone any human transformation. In principle a wise economy would require that these two categories not be taxed.

The third category is made up of objects that have undergone some preparatory work. This preparation enables a few duties to be levied on them. It can be seen, therefore, that according to the doctrine of the petitioners, protection begins as soon as national work begins.

The fourth category is made up of finished products that can under no circumstances be useful to national work. We consider these, says the petition, to be the most properly taxable.

Thus the petitioners claim that foreign competition damages national work; this is the error of the protectionist regime. They demand protection for work; this is the aim of the protectionist regime. They make this protection consist of duties on foreign work; this is the means used by the protectionist regime.

§2.: These two systems differ through one additional error for which the petitioners are responsible.

However, there is an essential difference between these two doctrines. It lies entirely in the greater or lesser extension given to the meaning of the word work.

M. de Saint-Cricq extends it to cover everything. He therefore wishes to protect everything.

“Work constitutes the entire wealth of a people,” says he. “The protection of the agriculture industry, the entire agriculture industry, the manufacturing industry, the entire manufacturing industry, is the cry that will always resound around this chamber.”

The petitioners regard as work only that which is done by manufacturers, and therefore they accord the favors of protection only to this.

Raw materials have not yet undergone any human transformation, and [4] in principle they should not be taxed. Manufactured objects can no longer be useful to national work; we consider these to be the most properly taxable.”

This gives rise to three questions which require examination: 1. Are raw materials the outcome of work? 2. If they are not something else, is this work so different from the work done by factories that it would be reasonable to subject them to opposing regimes? 3. If the same regime suits all types of work, should this regime be one of free trade or one of protectionism?

1. Are raw materials the outcome of work?

And precisely what are, I ask you, all the articles that the petitioners include in the first two categories of their proposals? What are all types of wheat, flour, farm animals, dried and salted meat, pork, bacon, salt, iron, copper, lead, coal, wool, skins, and seeds, if they are not outcomes of work?

What, it will be said, is an iron ingot, a ball of wool, or a bushel of wheat if not a product of work? Is it not nature that creates each?

Doubtless, nature creates the elements of all these things, but it is human work that produces their value. It is not given to men, to manufacturers, any more than to farmers, to create or make something out of nothing, and if by work you mean creation, all our work would be non productive and that of traders more so than any other!

The farmer therefore does not claim to have created wool, but he does claim to have produced value, by which I mean that through his work and expenditures he has transformed into wool substances that in no way originally resembled wool. What else does the manufacturer do when he converts wool into fabric?

In order for men to clothe themselves in fabric, a host of operations is necessary. Before the intervention of any human work, the true raw materials of this product are air, water, heat, light, and the gases and salts that have to be included in its composition. An initial operation converts these substances into fodder, a second into wool, a third into thread, and a fourth into a garment. Who would dare to say that no part of this operation constitutes work, from the first furrow of the plough that starts it to the final stitch that completes it?

And since, for greater speed in the completion of the end product—the garment—the work is divided among several categories of workers, you wish, through an arbitrary distinction, to determine that the sequence of these tasks should be the reason for their importance, so that the first does not even deserve the title of work and the last, work par excellence, should [5] be the only one worthy of the favors of monopoly! I do not believe that one could push the spirit of system and partiality any further than this.

The farmer, people will say, unlike the manufacturer, has not done everything himself. Nature has helped him and, while there is some work involved, not everything in wheat is work.

But everything in its value is work, I repeat. I agree that nature has contributed to the material growing of the grain; I agree that this growth is exclusively its work; but you have to agree that I have obliged nature to do this by my work, and when I sell you wheat, I am not being paid for the work of nature but for my own work.

And, in this respect, manufactured objects would not be the products of work either. Are not manufacturers also helped by nature? Do they not make use of the weight of the atmosphere when using steam engines, just as I use its humidity with the help of the plough? Did they create the laws of gravity, of the transmission of force, and of affinity?

You will agree, perhaps, that wool and wheat are the product of work. But coal, you will say, is certainly the work, and only the work, of nature.

Yes, nature has made coal (for it has made everything), but work has created its value. Coal has no value when it is a hundred feet below ground. You have to find it, and this is work. It has to be taken to market, and this is work of a different kind; and mark my words, the price of coal in the marketplace is nothing other than the sum of all the wages paid for all the work of extraction and transport.

The distinction people have tried to make between raw materials and manufactures is therefore theoretically empty. As the basis for an unequal distribution of privilege, it would be iniquitous in practice, unless one wished to claim that although both are the result of work, the importing of one category is more useful than the other in the development of public wealth. This is the second question I have to examine.

2. Is it more advantageous to a nation to import so-called raw materials than manufactured objects?

Here I have to combat a very firmly entrenched belief.

“The more abundant the raw materials,” says the Bordeaux petition, “the more manufactures increase in number and expand.” “Raw materials,” it says elsewhere, “provide endless opportunity for the work of the inhabitants of the countries into which they are imported.” “Since raw materials,” says the petition from Le Havre, “are the basic units of work, they have to be subject [6] to a different regime and immediately admitted at the lowest rate of duty.”3 “Among other articles whose low price and abundance are a necessity,” states the petition from Lyons, “manufacturers all mention raw materials.”

Doubtless it is advantageous for a nation that so-called raw materials should be abundant and at a low price; but I ask you, would it be advantageous for that nation if manufactured objects were high priced and few in number? In both cases this abundance and cheapness must be the fruit of free trade or this scarcity and high price must be the fruit of monopoly. What is supremely absurd and iniquitous is to want the abundance of the one to be due to free trade and the scarcity of the other to be due to privilege.

It will still be insisted and said, I am sure, that the duties that protect the work of factories are demanded in the general interest and that to import articles that require no further human intervention is to lose all the profit of labor, etc., etc.

Note the terrain into which the petitioners are being drawn. Is this not the terrain of the protectionist regime? Could M. de Saint-Cricq not produce a similar argument against the importation of wheat, wool, coal, and all materials that are, as we have seen, the products of work?

To refute this latter argument and prove that the import of foreign products does not damage national work is therefore to demonstrate that the regime of competition is just as suitable for manufactured objects as for raw materials. This is the third question I have asked myself.

In the interests of brevity, may I be allowed to reduce this demonstration to one example that includes them all?

An Englishman may export a pound of wool to France in a variety of forms, as a fleece, as thread, as fabric, or as a garment, but in all cases he will not import an equal quantity of value, or, if you like, of work. Let us suppose that this pound of wool is worth three francs raw, six francs as thread, twelve francs as fabric, and twenty-four francs when made into a garment. Let us also suppose that in whatever form the exportation is made the payment is made in wine, for, after all, it has to be made in something and nothing stops us from supposing that it will be in wine.

If the Englishman imports raw wool, we will export three francs’ worth of wine; we will export six francs’ worth if the wool arrives as thread, twelve [7] francs’ worth if it arrives as fabric, and finally, twenty-four francs’ worth if it arrives in the form of a garment. In this last case, the spinner, the manufacturer, and the tailor will have been deprived of work and profit, I know; one sector of national work will have been discouraged to the same extent, as I also know; but another sector of work that is equally national, wine making, will have been encouraged in precisely the same proportion. And since the English wool can arrive in France in the form of a garment only to the extent that all the workers who combined to produce it in that form are superior to French workers, all things considered, the consumer of the garment will have gained an advantage which may be considered to be a net one, both for him and for the nation.

Change the nature of the goods, the stage of their evaluation, and their source, but think the matter through clearly and the result will always be the same.

I know that people will tell me that the payment might have been made not in wine but in cash. I will draw attention to the fact that this objection could equally well be advanced against the importation of a primary product as against that of a manufactured product. Besides, I am sure that it would not be made by any trader worthy of the name. As for the others, I will limit myself to saying to them that money is a domestic or foreign product. If it is the former, we can do nothing better than to export it. If it is the latter, it must have been paid for out of national work. If we acquired it from Mexico, exchanging it for wine for example, and we then exchanged the wine for an English garment, the result is still wine exchanged for a garment, and we are totally in line with the preceding example.

§3.: The petitioners’ plan is a system of privileges demanded by trade and industry at the expense of agriculture and the general public.

That the petitioners’ plan creates unjust privileges that benefit manufacturers is a fact that, I believe, is only too well proved.

However, it is doubtless not so clear how it also grants privileges to trade. Let us examine this.

All other things being equal, it is to the public’s advantage for raw materials to be used on the very site of their production.

For this reason, if people in Paris want to consume eau-de-vie from Armagnac, it is in Armagnac, not in Paris, that the wine is distilled.

It would, however, not be impossible to find a hauler who prefers to transport eight barrels of wine than one barrel of eau-de-vie.

[8]

It would not be impossible either for a distiller to be found in Paris who preferred to import the primary rather than the finished product.

It would not be impossible, if this came within the field of protectionism, for our two industrialists to come to an understanding to demand that wine be allowed to enter the capital freely but that eau-de-vie be taxed with heavy duties.

It would not be impossible that, when they sent their demand to the protectionist authority, in order to conceal their selfish outlooks the better, the hauler would mention only the interests of the distiller and the distiller only those of the hauler.

It would not be impossible for the protectionist authority to see an opportunity to acquire an industry for Paris in this plan and to increase its own importance.

Finally, and unfortunately, it would not be impossible for the good people of Paris to see in all this only the extended views of those enjoying protection and the protectionist authority and to forget that, in the final instance, it is on them that the costs and contingencies of protectionism always fall.

Who would wish to believe that the petitioners from Bordeaux, Lyons, and Le Havre, following the clamor of generous and liberal doctrines, would achieve by common accord a similar result and a totally identical system organized on a grand scale?

“It is mainly in this second category (the one that includes materials that have not yet undergone any human transformation),” the petitioners from Bordeaux say, “that the mainstay of our merchant navy is to be found. . . . In principle, a wise economy would require that this category, as well as the first, not be liable to duty. The third might have duties levied and the fourth we consider to be the most appropriate to the levying of duties.”

“Whereas,” say the petitioners from Le Havre, “it is essential to reduce raw materials immediately to the lowest rate of duty, so that industry can in turn put to work the naval forces that supply it with its initial and essential means of work. . . .”

The manufacturers could not be more polite to shipowners. For this reason, the petition from Lyons requests the free introduction of raw materials to prove, it is said, “that the interests of manufacturing towns are not always in opposition to those of coastal ones.”

Do we not seem to hear the Parisian hauler, whom I mentioned before, formulating his request thus: “Whereas wine is the principal element I transport, in principle it should not be liable to duty; as for eau-de-vie, this can [9] have duty levied on it. Whereas it is essential to reduce wine immediately to the lowest rate of duty so that the distiller can use my vehicles, which supply him with the initial and essential element of his work . . .” and to hear the distiller requesting the free import of wine to Paris and the exclusion of eau-de-vie, “to show that the interests of distillers are not always in opposition to those of haulers.”

In sum, what would be the results of the system being proposed? They are these:

It is at the price resulting from competition that we, the farmers, sell our primary products to manufacturers. It is at the price resulting from monopoly that we buy it back from them.

If we work in circumstances that are less favorable than those of foreigners, so much the worse for us. In the name of freedom we are condemned.

But if manufacturers are less skillful than foreigners, so much the worse for us. In the name of privilege we are condemned once more.

If people learn to refine sugar in India or weave cotton in the United States, it is the raw sugar and cotton in the form of fiber that will be transported in order to use our naval forces and we, the consumers, will pay for the pointless transportation of the residues.

Let us hope that, for the same reason and in order to supply lumberjacks with the initial and essential element of their work, we will bring in firs from Russia with their branches and bark. Let us hope that gold from Mexico will be imported in mineral form. Let us hope that, in order to have leather from Buenos Aires, herds of cattle will be transported.

It will never come to that, people will say. And yet it would be rational. But this so-called rationality borders on absurdity.

Many people, I am convinced, have adopted the doctrines of the protectionist regime in good faith (and certainly what is happening is scarcely likely to change their minds). This does not surprise me in the least; what does surprise me is that, when doctrines have been adopted with regard to one point, they are not adopted with regard to everything, since error also has its own logic. As for me, in spite of all my efforts, I have not been able to find a single objection that can be made to the regime of absolute exclusion that cannot be applied equally to the practical system of the petitioners.

Endnotes

1.

Following the July revolution, the government initiated a debate on the future of the protectionist system introduced under the restoration. Some politicians were in favor of the progressive introduction of commercial freedom, while some lobbies, using various sophisms, argued for a partial freedom that would not hurt their own business. One such lobby was composed of traders from Bordeaux, soon joined by traders from Le Havre and Lyons. Bastiat responded in a Bordeaux newspaper with the above article.

2.

(Paillottet’s note) See vol. 2, pages 25ff. (OC, vol. 2, p. 25, “De l’influence du régime protecteur sur la situation de l’agriculture en France.”)

3.

(Paillottet’s note) The same petition wanted the protection of manufactured objects to be reduced, not immediately, but at an unspecified time and not to the lowest rate of duty but to a rate of 20 percent.

 

 


 

T.6 "A Letter to "Charles" in Support of a Polish Refugee" (Mugron, 1 Sept. 1835)

Source

T.6 (1835.09) "Letter to "Charles" in Support of a Polish Refugee" (Lette à un ami non identifié pour la défense d'un refugié). Mugron, 1 Sept. 1835. [JCPD]

Editor's Introduction

This letter was acquired by M. Paul-Dejean at an auction in 2012 and is here published for the first time. It follows nicely the previous article where Bastiat writes a newspaper article urging public support for a petition to liberalise the restrictive 1832 law which controlled the movement and activities of refugees. In this letter we see Bastiat's private actions to organise practical help for a Polish engineer he knew personally, M. Michalewsky, by lobbying his political and business contacts to contribute their weight and support to his efforts. Note that one of the names he refers to is an influential Landais general and Peer Antoine Simon Durrieu.

Text

My Dear Charles

I cannot find the way to express my gratitude for the speed and pleasure with which you took into your protection the unfortunate Pole whom I had recommended to you. Your last letter made him a happy man, especially since we were not expecting any success as prompt and complete as that.

I thought it preferable to send you M. Michalewsky's petititon. I am including a certificate from the Mayor of St.-Sever and another engineer from the arrondissement. The chief engineer also wanted me to send you his, but because of a misunderstanding it has not been included. I will get it if it is necessary, but I think that what we have is sufficient. M. Michalewsky has several others at hand from some of the villages where he has lived, and from a mathematics professor at a college in St-Sever. I think it would be better if he brought them to you himself. The position he now occupies here was obtained as a result of a personal recommendation from the Director General of the Bridges and Highways Department. Concerning the steps about which you spoke at the beginning of your letter, I'll thank you for them as if they had already been crowned with success. Personally, I have no interest in the matter. I hope that M. Durrieu 135 has not been taken advantage of.

Here, the word is that you might be appointed a Councilor at the Royal Court in Paris, or Procurer-General of the Province. Not having read anything about this in the newspapers I presume all this talk is premature. However, now that the appointment process has finished, I hope that your position will soon be confirmed.

But returning to my Pole, as you might think, he wants as little uncertainty as possible. After his arrival in Paris he will need to find some accommodation and to begin preparing for his interview which will be held on 5 September. The journey is a little long and all these factors will, I hope, encourage you to make immediate use of the kind services of M. de Gasparini.

You said nothing about your Portuguese litigation. 136 Your father, when he was in Paris, also neglected to talk to me about the Arias-Quivigne trial. The soundness of your case seems to me to be as clear as the midday sun. I cannot wait to see the end of it.

Adieu, my dear Charles. I write in haste as I feel an attack of the fever which has afflicted me these past three years returning. But I will always make the time to assure you of my sincere friendship and, on this occasion, of my deep gratitude.

Your friend

Frédéric Bastiat

Mugron, 1 September, 1835

Endnotes

135 Antoine Simon Durrieu (1775-1862) was a Landais native who rose to the rank of Major General during the campaign in Russia in 1812. He joined the local regiment in Bayonne in 1793 and served with distinction in most of the major battles of the Napoleonic Wars. He continued to serve in the military during the Restoration, was ennobled in 1830, awarded the Legion of Honour in 1834, made a Peer in 1845, and was elected to represent the Department of Les Landes between 1834-1845 and again 1851-52.

136 Bastiat had had family business interests in Spain and Portugal when he worked for his grandfather's trading company and then later in 1840 when he tried to set up an insurance company there.

 

 


 

T.7 Five Articles on "The Canal beside the Adour" (18 June 1837, La Chalosse )

Source

T.7 (1837.06.18) "The Canal beside the Adour" (Canal latéral à l'Adour), 5 articles, 18 June 1837 - 20 Aug. 1837, La Chalosse , nos. 28-37. [JCPD]

Editor's Introduction

[Map of Les Landes]

La Chalosse is a wine-growing region in the Département of Les Landes which has Dax as its major town. It lies in the foothills of the Pyrénées to the south of the Adour river. Bastiat's home town of Mugron is located there.

La Chalosse was a local weekly newspaper published in the town of Saint-Sever. It appeared between December 1836 and March 1876. Bastiat's first published piece in the journal was this series on "The Canal beside the Adour" (18 June-20 Aug. 1837). He then published two more in 1838 on "Reflections on the Question of Dueling" (Feb. 1838) 137 and "On the Basque Language" (April, 1838). 138 Bastiat went to a school in Saint-Sever for a year in 1813 and stood unsuccessfully for election to the local council in 1832 and 1842. 139

When Bastiat wrote these articles in June 1837 he was a relatively young man of 36 years and had described himself a couple of years earlier as "un simple agriculteur" (a simple farmer). 140 This was not entirely true as he had inherited land from his grandfather in 1825 in the wine growing region of La Chalosse and had acquired more property by means of a dowry when he married in 1831. His total estate of about 250 hectares (617 acres) was used for wine growing on the south side (left bank) of the Adour river, some general farming, and sharecropping by 150 farmers. The income he received from this pushed him into the top 5% of income earners, thus giving him the right to both vote and to stand for election under the very restricted franchise which existed during the July Monarchy.

During his late 20s he had been involved in liberal politics in the last years of the Restoration which reached a high point with his late-night assistance on August 5, 1830 in persuading the officers of the Bayonne garrison to side with the new King Louis Philippe (from the junior Orléanist branch of the family) and not with the overthrown Bourbon King Charles X, thus making it impossible for the overthrown King's Bourbon relative King Ferdinand VII of Spain to come to his military rescue via the south of France. Following the installation of the new monarchy which had some liberal inclinations, Bastiat had hoped to get some position in the new regime, either as an elected representative for the arrondissement of Dax (failed 6 July 1831) or St. Sever (failed 11 July 1832, and again 9 July 1842), or as a local magistrate (Justice of the Peace) in the canton of Mugron (successful 28 May 1832), and finally election to the General Council of Les Landes (successful 17 November 1833; reelected 1839).

It was as a General Councillor that Bastiat had the opportunity and the means to begin commenting in detail on economic matters which came before the Council. He had easy access to government reports and economic data, an audience of 27 other Councillors, and a brief to discuss local economic matters such as local roads, railways, canals, and other public works; the regulation of local fairs and markets; the administration of departmental property; and the collection of direct taxes such as the land tax. He did this with both formal memoranda he wrote and presented to the General Council as well as articles he published in the local press in which he spoke as a respected Council member to various local interest groups. Before he made his breakthrough into the world of the Parisian political economists with his article on "French and English Tariffs" in October 1844 141 he wrote half a dozen other works on specific economic topics which show his gradual development as an economic analyst, especially his skill at handling economic data. These essays were on tariff reform, the building of public works such as the Adour canal, the taxation of wine, the reform of the Post Office, and the direct tax on land:

  1. "Reflections on the Petitions from Bordeaux, Le Havre, and Lyons Relating to the Customs Service" (April 1834) (in CW2, pp. 1-9.)
  2. "The Canal beside the Adour" (June 1837) (CW4, below pp. 000)
  3. "The Tax Authorities and Wine" (Jan. 1841) (CW2, pp. 10-23.)
  4. "Memoir Presented to the Société d'agriculture on "The Wine-Growing Question" (Jan 1843) (CW2, pp.25-42.)
  5. "Postal Reform" (Aug. 1844) (CW4, below pp. 000)
  6. "On the Division of the Land Tax in the Department of Les Landes" (c. 1844) (CW4, below pp. 000)

As a group, the essays show a growing ability over a period of 10 years to use and analyse economic data which Bastiat gets from government reports and other official publications. He seems to have been an advocate of free trade right from the beginning as his 1834 analysis of the inconsistencies of the petitioners from Bordeaux, Le Havre, and Lyons demonstrate. Bastiat argues that if free trade in agriculture is good for consumers (and the nation), then free trade in manufacturing will also be good for exactly the same reasons of lower costs, greater efficiencies, and the expansion of trade in general. In "The Tax Authorities and Wine", the "Memoir Presented to the Société d'agriculture on Wine-Growing," and "On the Division of the Land Tax" he argues that existing government policies on tariffs on wine, other indirect taxes, city tolls (octroi), and the tax on land seriously hamper economic development in Les Landes and impact ordinary working people the most. In "Postal Reform" we see him beginning to argue that the radical reforms introduced in England can and should also be applied in France and he uses very detailed French economic data on the costs of letter delivery to make the case.

Although Bastiat is becoming a skilled analyst of economic data during this period he is still not yet the master of economic theory he was to become later and we only see brief glimpses here of some of the original insights that he was to develop between 1847 and 1850 when he was working on his treatise, Economic Harmonies . These are indicated in the footnotes when they appear. We do see however, some of his earliest uses of French literature to make his economic points which was to become so much a part of his work in the Economic Sophisms which were written between 1845 and the end of 1847. See for example, "The Tax Authorities and Wine" (Jan. 1841) in which he cites La Fontaine and Molière, and "Memoir Presented to the Société d'agriculture on Wine-Growing" (Jan 1843) in which he cites his favourite radical poet Béranger twice. This would become what I have called his distinctive "Rhetoric of Liberty." 142

Some of the economic ideas expressed here in "the early Bastiat" are quite conventional and only hint at the original and very interesting ideas he would develop in his later works. For example:

  1. he still talks a great deal about the interests of "the nation"; he was to downplay this later in order to focus more on the interests of individual consumers
  2. in his discussion of the Adour canal there is an attempt to provide a cost benefit analysis of government expenditure but no sense of the "opportunity cost" of this kind of government activity. The idea that the money spent by government funded public works projects ("the seen") is money that is taken from and thus not spent by consumers ("the unseen") would become central to his chapter 5 on "Public Works" in What is Seen and What is Not Seen (July 1850). 143
  3. also in this essay is an older and more limited understanding of what constitutes productive labour (or what he would later call "effort"). Here he limits "productive labour" to agriculture, manufacturing, and trade, and makes no mention of other activities which create "non-material" goods or services which are also of value to consumers. He was to greatly expand this idea of "services" in Economic Harmonies . He also dismisses as "unproductive" the living off rents from land. When he later came to argue with Proudhon over this matter at the end of 1849, he was to completely reverse his position. 144
  4. related to this, is his use of the term "la classe" (class), especially in the phrases "la classe laborieuse" (the working or labouring class) and "la classe oisive" (the idle class). This notion of class is one increasingly used by socialists throughout this period and which would reach a climax in the 1848 Revolution when steps were taken to limit the power or even outlaw by legislation those who lived from "unproductive" or "exploitative" activities such as rent on land, interest on capital, and profits from employing wage labour. There was another theory of class which was also current at the time Bastiat wrote this essay, namely the "industrialist theory" 145 of class developed by classical liberals whom Bastiat had read, such as Charles Comte, Charles Dunoyer, and Augustin Thierry. 146 Bastiat would take this up in earnest in his later writings about "plunder", but here for some reason he ignores this tradition and uses the more common, socialist version.

It is interesting to speculate when Bastiat changed his mind about the nature of productive work (and the part played by services) and adopted the "industrialist" theory of exploitation and class which plays such an important part in his later work. I believe that there are hints of this new way of thinking towards the end of his long introduction to his book on Cobden and the League (1845) 147 which suggests that his research on Cobden and the Anti-Corn Law League which he had undertaken in 1843-44 made him view classical economic theory in a new light. Cobden very much viewed the ruling and agricultural elites which benefited from the protectionist corn laws as an "oligarchy" which plundered ordinary English workers and consumers. Bastiat soon came to view the French political system in a very similar light.

Bastiat mentioned canals and canal building in several of his works. This is not surprising as the building of transport infrastructure, whether roads, canals, or railroads, was a crucial aspect of the industrial revolution. The question was not whether or not this infrastructure building was needed or not, but how it should be owned, financed, and run. The three main options were fully privately owned, funded, and operated roads, canals, and railways (which were more common in England); government owned, financed, and run operations (the eventual European model); or government licensed, private monopolies which were privately run but ultimately backed by government loans or bail-outs in case of failure (or a mixture of the last two). The latter was commonly used in France and the United States. As we can see from Bastiat's essay here, the building and financing of canals was a major concern of regional governments like Les Landes during the 1820s and 1830s. In the late 1830s and 1840s attention shifted to the building and financing of railways, and the decision to plan and build the 6 major lines (and their corresponding stations) which radiated out from Paris into the provinces, became a major topic of debate (as well as financial scandal at times).

Some examples of his references to canals include:

  1. There is an amusing fragment which was probably written at the same time as his articles on the Adour canal in which he wryly comments on the mania for speculation in shares in canal building companies which was sweeping France. 148
  2. in a letter to the editors of Le National (Nov. 1846) he states that an example of a "good tax" is one that taxes 1 franc from each citizen to fund the building of a canal which reduces transport costs by 5 or 6 millions francs for the entire nation 149
  3. there are references to canals in several economic sophisms: ES1 9 "An Immense Discovery" (Oct. 1845); ES1 10 "Reciprocity" (Oct. 1845); ES1 16 "Blocked Rivers pleading in favor of the Prohibitionists" (late 1845); and ES2 7 "A Chinese Tale" (late 1847). 150 The latter in particular, is a lengthy and amusing story about a Chinese Emperor who decides to increase "employment" for his people by ordering that a fully functioning canal be filled in with large boulders in order to stimulate economic activity in building a new road alongside the canal. Bastiat would later apply this same witty reasoning to railways in "A Negative Railway." 151

First Article

I am proposing to submit to readers of La Chalosse a few thoughts on the proposed canal which would run parallel to the Adour, concerning which the government has just ordered some surveys. 152 It seemed to me useful to devote this first article to an account of the facts which led to this decision.

A few years back the Engineers of the Departement of the Landes produced a plan with respect to navigation on the Adour. 153

This plan consisted in improving or strengthening with a network of supporting stakes:

1. The bed of the Lower Adour as far as the mouth of the Midouze:

2. That of the Midouze as far Mont-de-Marsan;

3. That of the High Adour as far as Mugron and eventually on to St. Sever.

With regard to this third and last part of the project, however, the engineers drew attention to some serious difficulties and could not proclaim the benefits involved as anything more than uncertain.

It was no doubt in view of this consideration, that the government and the Chambers decided to deal only with the Lower Adour and the Midouze, to whose improvement a sum of 900,000 francs was allocated. 154

This decision brought protests from those who dwelt beside the High Adour. They recalled that in former times the navigability of the river had made their ancestors prosperous and they could not without distress see it about to be abandoned.

In fact, however, M. Durrieu, the spokesman for their grievances, managed to get their voices heard. The government granted 60,000 francs, but only for the improvement of the worst stretches of the Higher Adour between Hourquet and Mugron, with the further reservation that 10,000 francs be employed in advance for preliminary investigations. At the same time it instructed M. de Baudre, 155 Divisional Inspector of the Royal Corps of Bridges and Roads, to visit the places in question and make an official report on the controversy between engineers and local complainants.

Unfortunately, the reports of M. de Baudre coincided overwhelmingly with those of the Engineers. They were even more unfavorable to us, for, having seen the rapid descent of the river, the enormous beds of gravel that it sweeps along, its sides devoid of all embankments to which the various works could be secured, he declared himself not only against the improvements envisaged, but even against the investigations which were then being carried out.

Was it really necessary, however, to abandon for good the High Adour Basin, a region enriched by navigation which in times past had reached as far up as Aire, and later on to Grenade and recently to St. Sever? Would there no longer be the hope of keeping it going even to Mugron? Surely M. de Baudre and M. de Silguy 156 could not be thinking on any such lines.

Indeed it would have been less distressing for the High Adour Basin never to have enjoyed navigable access than to see that access gradually cut off across the centuries until in our time it was blocked entirely.

There is one misfortune for people worse than lacking markets for their trade, namely losing ones which they have enjoyed since time immemorial. In the first case a population will adjust. It will produce little but seek to provide for all its needs. When, however, access to trade has led it to expand indefinitely on a very restricted range of production, it is easy to see that should its markets happen to vanish, it will suffer terribly, deprived as it is of goods on which it depends, whilst its own production is of no use either for local consumption or trade.

This is exactly the situation of the Chalosse, which for this reason, and for others outside the scope of this article, endures all the pains of a decline rendered all the more frightful in that there appears no hope of an end to it.

Naturally another thought presents itself: if the bed of the High Adour could not be improved, at least its waters could be used by a parallel canal.

This thought had sprung in the first instance from the patriotic mind of the famous General Lamarque, 157 who had developed it in a report in which it was hard to know whether most to admire the opinions of the expert administrator, the foresight of the great officer, or the talents of the brilliant writer.

Soon the thought had taken on in M. Galabert's projects 158 those colossal dimensions which aroused so much hope and gained so little support.

The famous engineer Brisson 159 reduced the idea to a less monumental scale, but one still huge enough to seem to be dealing with proposals rather than realities.

Finally, M. Silguy, Chief Engineer of the Departement of the Landes, has transformed it into a plan which has the merit of being easily and immediately put into operation, without excluding future amendments conceived on a much larger scale, this plan being at once complete in itself but also the basis for the realization of the much grander schemes of its predecessors.

This plan consists in opening a shipping and irrigation canal parallel to the river Adour, from the point where the river Arros flows into it, as far as the point where its utility for shipping is assured by the allocation of the 900,000 francs already spoken of in our text.

It is research into the feasibility of this project, one favorably received by the General Council of Les Landes, which has just been commissioned.

Second Article

Any productive enterprise is to be evaluated by the comparison of the expense it incurs with the benefits which it produces. We may think it useful, before trying to establish the benefits the people may expect from the Canal parallel to the Adour, to call the reader's attention to the probable costs of this operation.

It is true that it is impossible at this time to set an overall figure. This is an unknown, the determining of which is reserved for the preliminary studies which the government has ordered only very recently.

If we do touch on this question, however, it is because it subsumes another of extreme importance, one which is particularly vital to the Chalosse and the answer to which, it seems to us, ought to serve as the rule, even in the studies which are at present underway.

We said in the previous article that the question at issue was a canal both for navigation and irrigation. Certainly irrigation is in our view an essential condition of the project, since it is what makes its carrying out possible by assuring entrepreneurs an income. Indeed the next thing we will attempt to prove is that it will bring about a complete revolution in our agricultural system.

The more evident the benefits of irrigation, however, the more it is to be feared that the Corps of Engineers for Roads and Bridges will let itself be drawn into wishing to spread them too widely.

Is the projected canal to be far away from the Adour? This is a very serious question which it behooves public opinion to bring to a head.

If it is distant, this will permit a much vaster extent of land to be irrigated, but it will also increase costs by some indefinite amount, because to carry a larger volume of water, the canal will have to be built with much larger dimensions.

To build it closer to the river will restrict the benefits but also contain the costs.

Without hesitation we plump for the latter plan, because we are quite convinced that any project requiring very sizeable capital would be destined to be buried in the government files.

Locating the Canal far from the Adour would also involve the immense inconvenience of disrupting all the customary activity and of violently uprooting, if I may dare to speak thus, the entire flow of economic activity which takes place there at present.

We should not lose sight of the aim of the Canal, which is to offer an alternative to the shipping on the Adour, which has provided an occupation for riverside populations from time immemorial. It is the impossibility of improving the bed of the river that has led to the idea of opening up a parallel water-way. To take away this shipping from the natural entrepots of the Chalosse — Aire, Grenade, St. Sever, Mugron — would be to wander away entirely from the purpose in hand.

We will return later to this subject; but we have had to make haste to note these reflections here, because we have been given reason to fear that the formerly extremely modest ideas of the engineer who has been charged with the management of these studies, may have taken off in a new direction, since the government has given signs of an interest in this enterprise.

In the past the talk was of a canal with rather small traffic. Its dimensions had to be very modest. It had to supply irrigation to a small stretch of land only, which entailed its being close to the Adour. We think we even know the evaluation put on the costs of the project: some three million .

We are engaging M. de Silguy to continue with this project, and to resist that desire which all distinguished men have, to attach their names to some monumental achievement. We repeat that a canal too far from the Adour would do much good only after it had done much that was bad, and, which settles the matter, would be unfeasible.

As for the figure of three million which we spoke of above, we are aware that in the absence of prior investigations, it can be only an approximation, at least if one holds to the idea of not letting oneself be dragged into vast schemes.

If one cannot determine yet, however, the precise amount of the expenses, one can at least have some notion as to whether it will exceed the average of what canals with modest shipping have cost in France, or stay below that figure. All one needs for that is to work out whether the territory to be crossed must be ranked with those which present the most difficulty or those which present the least.

Well, between Plaisance and Le Hourquet, no serious obstacle presents itself. No water needs to be searched for a long way off; no reservoir has to be built; no mountains needs to be penetrated, no troughs need filling in, no rivers to be bridged, no roads to be crossed.

Materials are there in abundance the whole way.

The land involved, the manpower, and the means of transport can be obtained at the most modest of prices.

Finally, the soil is of the kind most favorable to the conservation of the water.

M. de Brisson 160 has shown that canals with limited shipping have cost, on average , 57,000 francs per kilometer and 15,000 francs per metre of gradient.

Using these guides, the cost of the Canal alongside the Adour would amount to,

72 kilometres at 57,000 francs per km 4,104,000 Fr
7 metres of gradient at 15,000 fr per metre 105,000 Fr.
Total 4,209,000 Fr.

Given what we have said about the absence of difficulties along the whole route, we are justified in hoping that the figure of three million is very close to the mark.

Third Article

There are only three direct sources of wealth: agriculture, manufacturing, and trade. To create primary materials, to make changes in their shape and location: such is more or less the whole circle of productive activity.

Another aspect of the matter is that no agent can exert a more favorable influence on each one of these three elements of national prosperity than water does.

No modification of agriculture could be more lasting than irrigation, no motors could improve factories more than waterpower does, and no means of transport could be more powerful for commerce than navigable waterways.

Production is not the sole function of society; society also has both an interest and a duty to conserve and defend that production. 161

We could thus think about the canal alongside the Adour from the agricultural, manufacturing, or military point of view.

Most of these questions have been dealt with by General Lamarque, so superbly, indeed, as to impose a rule of silence on his successors. So I will not deal with them.

I ask only that I be permitted to draw the attention of the readers of La Chalosse to the question of irrigation. This is where, as I see it, M. de Silguy's ideas are exceptional . This subject, moreover, will give me the chance to point out a few ideas, not entirely new, but rather commonly scorned or neglected.

To get an idea of the importance of water to agriculture, all you need is to compare the value and productivity of two different hectares of land, located moreover in the same circumstances, save that only one of them has been irrigated . It is well known in all countries that the result is a doubling of output.

One would be making a great mistake, however, if one were to judge on the basis of irrigation defined in this way, what it might be when carried out on a grand scale and supplied to a whole country.

In the first case one can evaluate only the direct influence of the water; in the second, in addition to this immediate result, there develops a whole series of mutually generated effects, some of which are perhaps more important than the one which gave birth to them. 162 Let us be the judges.

A country which is not watered, above all if it is exposed to the influence of burning heat, always possesses little grassland, and is consequently short of fodder, while livestock and consequently fertilizer are scarce. In consequence, in order to put livestock to pasture and obtain fodder, it must keep a lot of land vacant and resort to leaving land fallow. This already represents an immense loss in the value of the land. Necessarily there is added to this a no less considerable loss of labor-power, in the care of flocks and herds, the upkeep of fencing, the transport of enormous masses of fodder, endless weeding, etc, a condition which remains until the country has access to irrigation.

Then the pastures multiply, and with them the livestock and the manure. The good land improves and the unused land is cleared under the triple influence of water, fertilizer, and crop rotation. The costs of cultivation fall relative to the value of the products. The soil grows in value and fertility. The population increases in number and well-being.

Such are the general effects of irrigation. There are others which make themselves felt most markedly on the farms on the banks of the Adour, because of their exceptional situation – which is something I must explain. The right bank of the Adour presents initially a strip of good soil produced by the alluvium of the river. Behind this good soil vast heaths or moors stretch away. For the most part these two types of terrain are separated by marshland, formed by rainwater, which, falling on the moors, is prevented by the alluvial strip from draining into the river.

Most of the farms are composed of these three types of land in varying proportions.

This mix of different kinds of land, along with the hot climate and the sandy nature of the soil, makes it clear to the inhabitants what kind of agriculture is required.

On good land people produce as much cereal as possible. On this kind of terrain the fields would soon be exhausted and invaded by weeds . But the first difficulty could be circumvented by bringing in enormous masses of compost from the surface layer of the moorlands and the second by weeding and fallow farming. An agriculture so simple and based exclusively on manual labor could be, and in fact was, abandoned to share-cropping. 163

To describe here all the fatal consequences of share-cropping would be to pile article onto article. I will limit myself to indicating them in a very general way, leaving the reader to apply them at will.

Good agriculture like good anything else, requires the combination of three things: will, knowledge, and power .

Will is bound to be sluggish in the case of share-croppers, since all expenditure of effort over and above what is absolutely indispensable, is an undertaking in which all the costs fall on them and half the profit goes to someone else.

As for scientific knowledge , it would be absurd to look for it in a class of men lacking in everything, even will.

Sharecropping is equally deficient in power . Only the master could devote some capital to the land; but he reasons in respect of such expenditure in the same way as the share-cropper does in respect of labor, and he knows that he will get back only half of the profit from investments he would have to finance entirely on his own.

Thus all agriculture under share-cropping is apathetic, humdrum, and poor. 164

If we switch our attention from the work to the worker, we will be struck by a no less deplorable spectacle.

A uniform agriculture produces a uniform diet: bread and water and some salted meat, such is the food regime of the Landais peasant.

Clothing is not comfortable either in a country which lacks the raw materials and the means of making them .

It suffices, if one wants to get an idea of the dwellings, to remember that they are in the exclusive charge of the proprietor, who does not use them.

Finally, this badly nourished, badly clothed, and badly housed population, is further decimated by the endemic fever which the marshland produces and spreads to the countryside.

I could round off this sad account if I added to it a sketch of the intellectual and moral state of this unfortunate class, but this would take me too far from my subject.

I will summarize therefore, in order of their causation, the obstacles which, on the right bank of the Adour, stand in the way of agricultural progress and the well-being of the inhabitants:

Burning sun, arid soil.

Inevitable lack of pasture, livestock, and fertilizer.

An immense proportion of uncultivated land.

An agriculture which drains and wastes alluvial soils.

Share-cropping; lack of energy, knowledge, and capital.

A population badly fed, badly clothed, badly housed, and ravaged by periodic illness.

Fourth Article

Thus far I have considered the Canal by the Adour only in its connections with the right bank of this river.

In trying to establish that it was conducive alike to manufacturing by way of waterpower, to commerce by facilitating shipping, and to agriculture by means of irrigation, I wanted to show it, if I may put it thus, as an immense and versatile motor, 165 at work across the whole length of our region, bringing a powerful forward momentum to all the activity which takes place there.

It remains for me to consider its effects on the left bank of the Adour or on the Chalosse. 166 My initial thought is that it would be hard to understand how all types of production could be undergoing a sizeable development all around us, without our taking some share in that growth in well-being and prosperity.

Some worthy souls, however, without exactly denying the general benefits of the Canal, have expressed the fear that it might be more hurtful than helpful to the particular interests of the Chalosse. "To create a means of communication," they have said, "which puts our vineyards up against the Madiran, is to subject them to ruinous competition".

Fear of competition is the eternal stumbling block of all economic progress. 167 If this were the prevailing question with regard to the shipping on the Adour, I have to ask, where ought it to start? Grenade could establish that competition from Aire is to be feared and that the navigability of the river will be a scourge if the boats just sail past their storehouse doors. St. Sever could say the same about Grenade; Mugron could about St. Sever; Laurede about Mugron; and if such an argument is absurd on a district to district basis, I cannot work out why it should become decisive from province to province.

What a strange contradiction! We want roads and we do not want canals, which are only much improved roads. The ability to engage in economic tran sactions, however, is either useful or disastrous. If the former we must welcome the canals; in the latter case we must reject the roads. If competition is in itself a bad thing, the isolation of empires, provinces, and districts must be the aim and outcome of all civilization.

Moreover, one should not be surprised at the fears, even the exaggerated ones, of the Chalosse. The process of decay which is dragging the place down is so rapid that we must take seriously even its fears, which resemble those of an ill person whom real dangers make scared of imaginary ones.

Two interests, so it seems to me, must be the concern of the Chalosse: to win new markets for its wines; and to improve all its other sources of income.

To know whether the Canal will help or hinder the distribution of its wines, we have to look into the causes which have brought their distribution to a halt, and when we undertake this examination, we will find all these factors operating in a region where the canal would have no impact on them. It is not by perfecting our means of transport that we succeed in modifying the system of the prohibition of trade, the thousand shackles created by indirect taxation, the thousand barriers caused by municipal taxes on merchandise (the octroi), 168 or the apparently fixed preference consumers have for red wine.

Among the causes of our distress, however, there is one which will inevitably be affected by the Canal beside the Adour, namely, competition. It is important therefore to see what brought about this competition, what kind of future it is preparing for us, and how it can be modified by the Canal which is our present concern.

Two principal issues seem to me to make competition frightening with regard to the present and above all for the future of my native region. The first is the question of ease of communication and the second concerns the raising of beef cattle.

Those to whom I address my remarks are well aware that we encounter in places such as Dax and Bayonne a great deal of rival production other than that from the Madiran. Bordelais, Saintonge, Languedoc, the province of Salies, and even the Ile de Ré have recently driven out our products. How do wines from so far off come to invade our habitual trading centres ? It is because we live in an era when transport is cheap and our agriculture is based on crude manual labor and is very costly.

If this is the case, are our problems approaching their end? Far from it. On all sides there are being prepared means of transport vastly more powerful than those which these fearsome rivals of ours have introduced. The time is coming when distances are going to disappear, when one will be able to count the advantages of proximity for nothing, when canals and railroads will be able to shift the heaviest of loads from the North to the South, and from the South to the North, from the centre to the periphery and from the periphery to the centre, with prodigious economy. Whether this is a blessing or a curse matters little. The world marches on and our complaints will not stop it. What are we going to do, however, in the face of this fearsome competition, we who are already complaining that it is killing us? How will we defend ourselves, in our isolation and with our miserable farming practices ? This is what, it seems to me, should be the focus of serious thinking, rather than the obsessively minute calculation of the harm which competition from the Madiran can do us.

Now that I have shown the owners of the vineyards the future that awaits them, 169 I must show them how that future can be changed by the Adour Canal.

The thing which caused and as it were set in stone the manual labor-based agriculture of the Chalosse, was the high cost of raising cattle, a cost which reflects the barren character of the resources available in our area for education and the raising of live-stock. It would mean giving up for all time the idea of competing with our rivals on an equal basis, if, blindly sticking to the status quo , we were to repudiate the innovations which would put within our reach that economic agriculture which they have generally adopted. Now what is more likely to favor this revolution, one that is moreover imminent, than an irrigation Canal, a canal which will turn over fifteen thousand hectares of land, in the centre of the Département, almost exclusively to the production of fodder?

I am well aware, of course, that a revolution in the growing of vines is fraught with difficulties; that a whole region cannot easily change all its habits, and that our forecasts in this respect look utopian in the extreme. One cannot deny, however, that we are being drawn towards this revolution by irresistible forces, forces which it does not fall within our powers to control. We must prepare for these circumstances or be crushed by them. We must produce under the same conditions as the others or succumb under the weight of the competition. If we must of necessity move from one regime or perish, is it not wise to give a very favorable welcome to the project by which the transition will be facilitated?

It is not enough for us to produce at the same prices as our rivals; we also need the same means of having our products arrive at the centers of consumption. Doubtless these routes, these canals which are the means for the export for our wines are also a means of entry for wines from outside. To reject them for this reason would be a puerile act, comparable to that of the would-be country gentleman who keeps his house boarded up for fear that thieves might get in.

They say that the wine of Madiran will come to the Chalosse. So why should not the wine of the Chalosse go to Madiron? Madiran's wines do not all make their way down to our departement. The great majority are spread out across the Bearn, the Bigorre and the plain of Tarbes. We know that these wines are blended, something which our own are eminently capable of as well. It may well be therefore that the Canal would open up this new possibility for our vineyards.

Whatever is the case, it is certain that the latter can only gain from easy access for our trade with Dax and Bayonne, from the growth in population and wealth which the canal is bound to lead to across our entire navigable area, and that, accordingly, even when the case is discussed from the narrowest point of view, it is far from justifying the fears the project has inspired. I began by saying that the Chalosse had a double interest, first in having markets for all its wines, and secondly, in the improvement in all its other areas of economic activity. Although the question of wines is the only one I have touched on, I have no space to give an account of the likely effects of the Canal on all our other productive undertakings and interests. Perhaps that will be the subject of a fifth article.

Fifth Article

To finish what I had to say about the Canal beside the Adour, after having explored its influence on the wine industry, I still have to consider it in terms of its connections with other industries. Such a subject, if I dealt with the details, would yield me nothing more than a series of commonplaces. Perhaps I may be permitted to cast an eye more generally, on the probable future of the Chalosse. The results will speak for themselves to the reader.

The population of the Chalosse can be divided into two classes:

1.Those who live from rents;

2. Those who live by working. 170

The first has enjoyed until the present time virtually exclusive importance. It is clear, however, that this preponderance will soon begin to wane. A constant process is reducing the size of the great landed fortunes and forcing the small proprietors down into the ranks of the working class. 171 This is incontestable, and in witness of it, our countryside is dotted with ruined and deserted houses, attesting to the disappearance of as many once comfortable families.

The working class, by contrast, have virtually taken over our region. Already we can see this class growing everywhere. I am not very old, 172 yet I have seen a lot of shops invade a lot of living-rooms. I have seen the increase in the numbers of lawyers, doctors, solicitors and notaries. 173 I have witnessed the springing up of numberless artisans.

There are clearly laws in operation which reduce continuously the numbers of the idle class, 174 and increasing those of the working class, laws which tend to modify profoundly the face of our cities.

These laws are not hard to uncover. I will cite two of the principal ones: the growth of luxury and the fragmentation of inherited wealth .

The idle class has a thousand ways to ruin itself; it has only one of enriching itself, which is by saving. The landed fortunes which spread prodigality, carelessness, and misfortune are bound to be more numerous than those which engender good order and economy.

The division of inherited wealth works even more actively in the destruction of landed riches. One holding, no matter how extensive it may be, which goes on dividing and sub-dividing from generation to generation, dissolves eventually into a multitude of fragments, quite incapable of maintaining as many families in luxury. 175

If these are the causes which entail the decline of the idle classes, it is clear that the decline will stop only when the causes cease to exert their influence. It is most unlikely, however, that this will happen. Far from diminishing in their force, these causes seem to draw new vigor from their own effects, such that it is correct to say that the decline of the idle classes is subject to the same accelerating force as the fall of physical bodies.

In fact, civilization, travel, and frequent communications between men, awaken in us new needs, new desires, new temptations, new habits, and new pleasures.

If our fathers had a thousand ways of ruining themselves, we have ten thousand, and our descendants will have a hundred thousand. What was a unnecessary a hundred years ago, is today a necessity and the luxuries of our time will be indispensable a hundred years from now. 176 Perhaps it is only the privately owned (and worked) part of a limited area which will prove to be a constant; from which one has to conclude that the idle bourgeoisie is destined to vanish.

Besides all this, the division of inherited wealth is far from having run its course. On the contrary it has been given a new impetus by the recent changes which have affected our laws and way of life. One knows that there is the equal division of inherited property 177 a force which in very few generations would prevail against the strongest of aristocracies. So how long can it be thought that our small bourgeoisie could resist it?

We are thus drawn irresistibly towards work. Work is the law of mankind. It is the only refuge open to the inhabitants of the Chalosse, and we can readily see that they all have some feeling of embarrassment towards it, since they all aspire to leave to their sons a profession, instead of an inheritance of land rents.

These are, doubtless, incontestable truths. If this is so, however, by what strange reversal of ideas do we accept with such indifference and often with such disfavor these great improvements which are sure to open up an immense prospect of work for the generation to follow? What do we really want for this next generation, then? That it should be reduced to the alternative of looking for work far from the land which witnessed its birth or leading in its own country a life of idleness, and lacking in dignity? It is incontestable that the Canal beside the Adour offers powerful inducements to all forms of work. It will open to the enthusiasm of the young of today a multitude of careers in farming, manufacture, and commerce. A more lively system of production, and economic transactions multiplied many times over, can not fail to magnify the business opportunities of lawyers, solicitors, and notaries, indeed of all the professions, to increase the size of our markets, and to give much encouragement to the work of our artisans. The prosperity of each class reacts on all the others, and that is how general prosperity is fostered.

Endnotes

137 CW1, pp. 309-12.

138 CW1, pp. 305-8.

139 La Chalosse: Journal de l'arrondissement de Saint-Sever (11 Dec. 1836-26 March 1876).

140 "Reflections on the Petitions" (April 1834), CW2, p. 1.

141 T.19 [1844.10.15] "On the Influence of French and English Tariffs on the Future of the Two People" (De l'influence des tarifs français et anglais sur l'avenir des deux peuples), JDE , T. IX, Oct. 1844, pp. 244-71 [OC1, pp. 334-86] [CW6]

142 See in the Introduction to CW3 "Bastiat's Rhetoric of Liberty: Satire and the 'Sting of Ridicule'", pp. lviii-lxiv.

143 Chap. 5 "Public Works," in WSWNS in CW4, pp. 419-21.

144 "Free Credit", below pp. 000.

145 Robert Leroux, A ux fondements de l'industrialisme: Comte, Dunoyer et la pensé libérale en France (Paris: Hermann, 2015).

146 Jacques-Nicolas Augustin Thierry (1795-1856) was a pioneering historian who is famous for his classical liberal class analysis of history and his extensive use of archival records in researching and writing this history. He began as the personal assistant to Saint-Simon (1814-1817) before joining Charles Comte and Charles Dunoyer on their journal Le Censeur européen . It was here that he learned to analyze history using the social and economic theories developed by Comte and Dunoyer via the work of Jean-Baptiste Say. Thierry became interested in the ruling elites which governed nations, how they came to power (often through conquest as the Normans did of Saxon England), and the gradual emergence of free institutions such as the medieval communes and the Third Estate. See the glossary entries on "Charles Comte" and "Charles Dunoyer."

147 Bastiat, Cobden et la ligue, ou l'Agitation anglaise pour la liberté du commerce (Paris: Guillaumin, 1845). The long Introduction to this book will appear in CW6 (forthcoming).

148 T.8 (1837.06.?? "Untitled Fragment" (on a shareholder in a canal company) (no date). [OC7.69, p. 289] [CW1, p. 410]

149 1846.11.11 "Aux rédacteurs du National (2) (To the Editors of Le National (2)), Courrier français , 11 novembre 1846. [OC7.35, p. 159] [CW6]

150 ES1 9 "An Immense Discovery" (Oct. 1845), CW3, pp.54-57 ; ES1 10 "Reciprocity" (Oct. 1845), CW3, pp. 57-60; ES1 16 "Blocked Rivers pleading in favor of the Prohibitionists" (late 1845), CW3, pp. 80-81; and ES2 7 "A Chinese Tale" (late 1847), CW3, pp. 163-67.

151 ES1 17 "A Negative Railway" (c. 1845), CW1, pp. 81-83.

152 The building of a canal which would link the Mediterranean and the Atlantic was discussed on 15 June 1837 by the Chamber of Deputies. Part of it would run alongside (latéral) the Garonne river, linking Toulouse and Bordeaux, and a branch would link up with the Adour river which flowed into Bayonne. See, Procés-verbaux de la chambre des députés. Session de 1837. Vol. 6, Part 1, Juin et Juillet 1837. Annexes no. 249 à 269 (Paris: A. Henry, 1837), pp. 247-58.

153 C. Deschamps, Des travaux à faire pour l'assainissement et la culture des landes de Gascogne, et des canaux de jonction de l'Adour à la Garonne (Paris: Carilian-Goeury, 1832).

154 Ministère des Travaux publics. Administration générale des Ponts et chaussées et des mines. Lois des 27 juin 1833, 3 juin 1834, 30 juin 1835, 14 mai, 2 et 25 juin, 12 et 19 juillet 1837, 21 juin et 3 juillet 1838. Situation des travaux au 31 décembre 1838. (Paris: Imprimerie royale, mai 1839). The figure of fr. 900,000 is found on p. 175.

155 Jean-Baptiste de Baudre (1773-1850) was a senior engineer in the Department of Bridges and Roads who helped develop the ports of Calais and Bordeaux, the Garonne Canal, and the Adour and Garonne rivers. He was the chief engineer working on the Garonne lateral canal after 1828.

156 Count Jean Marie François Xavier de Silguy (1784-1864) was an engineer who worked for the Department of Bridges and Roads in Finistère (1810-1827), la Loire-Inférieure (1821-1830), les Landes and la Gironde (1830-1842), before becoming chief inspector (1842-1850). He worked on building canals and later on the reforestation of Les Landes.

157 Jean Maximilien Lamarque, Souvenirs, mémoires et lettres du général Maximien Lamarque, publiés par sa famille (Paris: H. Fournier jeune, 1835), vol. 2, p. 149, 180 where he talks about the military benefits of such a canal.

158 Louis Galabert (1773-1841) was a colonel in the Army and then a Deputy who represented the Département of Gers between 1831-34 (Gers adjoined Les Landes). From the mid-1820s onwards he was best known for his advocacy of the "Pyrénées canal" which would connect Toulouse with the Atlantic coast via the Adour river. See, Louis Galabert, Canal des Pyrénées, joignant l'Océan à la Méditerranée, ou continuation du Canal du Midi depuis Toulouse jusqu'à Bayonne (Paris: Félix Locquin, 1831).

159 Barnabé Brisson (1777-1828) was an engineer and the Chief Inspector of the Department of Bridges and Roads. He discussed the plans for the Bordeaux-Bayonne-Marseille canals in his book Essai sur le système général de navigation intérieure de la France (1829). See, p. 26 for a discussion of "IXe Ligne, de Bordeaux et de Bayonne à Marseille" and p. 126 for his estimation of the costs.

160 Barnabé Brisson, Essai sur le système général de navigation intérieure de la France (Paris: Carilian, 1829), pp. 121-27.

161 Bastiat would substantially change his view on this topic later as he became more sceptical of the benefits of government regulation of or participation in the economy after he came across the writings of Richard Cobden and the Anti-Corn Law League in 1844.

162 Here Bastiat is giving the reader a premonition of his future thinking on two topics which were to become his hallmark in the late 1840s, namely the idea of "the seen" and "the unseen" which he developed in the story of "The Broken Window" in What is Seen and What is not Seen (1850) (in CW3, pp. 405-7) and the "ricochet effect." See "The Sophism Bastiat never wrote: The Sophism of the Ricochet Effect," in CW3, pp. 457-61.

163 Bastiat had a considerable interest in share-cropping as he had inherited from his grandfather a large number of share-croppers with his farm in Mugron. He attempted unsuccessfully to improve their economic efficiency and output by setting up a school for their sons to train them in modern agricultural techniques (which he described in "Proposal for the Creation of a School for Sons of Sharecroppers" (1844) in CW1, pp. 334-40, an article "Thoughts on Share Cropping" in JDE (February, 1846) (in this volume below, pp. 000), and several comments in "On the Bordeaux to Bayonne Railway Line" (May 1846) in CW1, pp. 312-16.

164 Bastiat would reverse his opinion later in "Thoughts on Share Cropping" (JDE, Feb. 1846) when he came to believe that sharecropping was to be preferred over agricultural wage labour because it was a more cooperative economic endeavour, a voluntary association between "capital" (the private landowner) and "labour" (the sharecropping farmer and his family) which produced a "fairer" distribution of output, even though it might be less than that of the tenant farmers. See below, pp. 000.

165 Bastiat uses the phrase "un mot eur immense et multiple" to describe the power of the Adour river to drive the region's economic development. Bastiat returned to this metaphor of "le moteur social" (the social engine, or driving force) in his treatise Economic Harmonies in Chapter 22 "The Social Motor". Here, the driving force of economics has been internalised. It is no longer a source of physical power such as a river or a steam engine, but the mind and will of individual human beings who pursue their self-interest by avoiding pain and seeking well-being.

166 Since Bastiat's land holdings were on this side of the river what follows is partly autobiographical.

167 Bastiat wrote an amusing economic sophism called "The Fear of a Word" ( LE , 20 June 1847) (ES313, CW3, pp. 318-27)) in which an economist explains to an artisan that what was holding France back was an irrational fear of the word "free trade" as well as the competition with England and other nations which this would produce.

168 The "octroi" or the tax on goods brought into a town or city was imposed on consumer goods such as wine, beer, food (except for flour, fruit, milk), firewood, animal fodder, and construction materials. All of these products had to pass through tollgates which had been built on the outskirts of the town or city where they could be inspected and taxed. For example, King Louis XVI had 57 "barrières d'octroi" (tollgates) built around the outskirts of the city of Paris for this purpose. In 1841 it was estimated that 1,420 communes throughout France imposed the octroi tax upon entry into their cities and towns, raising some fr. 75 million in revenue. The money was used to pay for the maintenance of roads, drains, lighting, and other public infrastructure..

169 Six years later Bastiat presented a more detailed proposal to local winegrowers, "Memoir Presented to the Société d'agriculture, commerce, arts, et sciences du département des Landes on the Wine-Growing Question), 22 January 1843, in CW2, pp. 25-42.

170 This distinction between living off rent from land and "travail" (working, or laboring on the land) is another topic on which Bastiat would later change his mind. In his long debate with Proudhon on the legitimacy of charging interest on loans and rent from land Bastiat argued that the charging of interest and rent were "services" which were voluntarily undertaken and productive for both parties to the exchange. See, Free Credit. A Discussion between M. Fr. Bastiat and M. Proudhon (1850) below, pp. 000.

171 Bastiat uses the phrase "la classe laborieuse" (the working or labouring class).

172 In 1837 when this was written he was 36.

173 This sentence suggests that Bastiat regards the services provided by "lawyers, doctors, solicitors and notaries" as productive activities of a "working class" but he does not state this definitively as he would do later.

174 Bastiat uses the phrase "la classe oisive" (the idle class). He used this expression on two other occasions in his work. In his "Introduction" to his book on Cobden and the League (1845) he refers to the "enserfment" of the working class by the English ruling elite, "la class oisive", which had its origin in the Norman Conquest and not in the spread of the free market; and in an short article "Anglomania and Anglophobia" (1847) (in CW1, pp. 320-34) he praises the French Revolution for having destroyed so much aristocratic landownership on the night of 4th August 1789, thus breaking the back of the French "classe oisive."

175 The French term for this was "morcellement". The economists were divided over the pros and cons of large-scale versus small-scale farming. The Physiocrats and Adam Smith believed that small-scale farming was more profitable because the farmer had a very direct and close personal interest in making it so. In the 19th century Sismondi shared this view based upon his study of the Italian peasantry. On the other hand the English traveller Arthur Young thought that the poverty in rural France on the eve of the French Revolution was due to the excessive subdivision of farms which made them unprofitable to run. This view was also shared by Thomas Malthus. McCulloch believed that the greater productivity of British agriculture could be explained by its inheritance laws which encouraged the preservation of larger estates. See A. Legoyt, "Morcellement," DEP, vol. 2, pp. 242-50, and E. de Parieu, "Succession," DEP, vol. 2, pp. 670-78. See also Molinari's discussion of this in "The Fourth Evening" in Les Soirées (1849). His solution was to turn the family farm into a business run by an entrepreneur and to expand the size of farms to lower costs.

176 Find good quote in this from EH 1/2/3 below

177 Under the Old Regime there existed the law of entail ("substitution") which was designed to preserve aristocratic land holdings by preventing them from being sold or divided. During the Revolution the Law of 1791 required the equal division of property among the children.

 

 


 

T.8 (1837.06.??) "Untitled Fragment" (On Canal shares)

Source

T.8 (1837.06.??) "Untitled Fragment" (on a shareholder in a canal company). No date; mentions canal building, FB wrote on canals in June 1837. [OC7.69, p. 289.] [CW1.2.3.3, p. 410.]

Editor’s Introduction

(to come)

Text

As I wandered idly through the streets of one of our major towns, I met a friend of mine who seemed to be in a bad mood. “What is wrong with you,” I asked him, “to make you paler than a rentier faced with a decree that cuts off a quarter of his income?” (Under the Great King,4 a quarter of income was cut off.) At this, my friend drew from his pocket a bunch of papers; “I am,” said he, “a thousandth shareholder in a business project to build a canal. We have entrusted the execution of the business to a clever man who sends us his accounts each year. Each year, he makes fresh calls for funds, he increases the number of his agents, and the work does not progress. I am going to a meeting in which all the shareholders will elect a commission to check, verify, approve, or rectify our man’s accounts.” “And doubtless,” I replied, “you will pack this commission with your entrepreneur’s men and make its leader the entrepreneur himself.” “You are joking,” he replied; “no man on earth would be capable of such stupidity.” “Oh! Oh!” I said, “do not judge so quickly; in my country, this happens more than a hundred times a year.”

Endnotes

[4 ]Presumably Louis XIV (1638-1715), the Sun King.

 

 


 

T.9 (1838.02.11) "Reflections on the Question of Dueling (Report)" (La Chalosse, Feb. 1838)

Source

T.9 (1838.02.11) "Reflections on the Question of Dueling (Report) " (Compte rendu d'une brochure de F. Coudroy sur la question des duels) (Revue of a Pamphlet by F. Coudroy on Dueling), La Chalosse, 11 Feb. 1838. [OC7.3, pp. 10-14.] [CW1.2.1.2, p. 309-12.]

Editor’s Introduction

(to come)

Text2

Literary centralization has currently reached such a point in France, and the provinces are so brainwashed that in advance she scorns anything that is not printed in Paris. It seems that talent, wit, common sense, erudition, and genius cannot exist outside the walls of our capital city. Have we thus discovered a short time ago that the silent calm of our retreats is essentially harmful to meditation and intellectual work?

The text to which we are drawing attention is in our eyes an eloquent protest against this blind prejudice. On his debut, the author, a young, unknown man, who perhaps does not have the measure even of himself, attacks one of the most brilliant of literary and political celebrities, and yet if anyone at all impartially compares the famous charge of M. Dupin with regard to dueling and the reflections of M. Coudroy, he will find, we dare to say, that, from the point of view of sound philosophy, elevated reasoning, and glowing eloquence, it is not the attorney general who emerges victorious from the combat.3

[310]

M. Coudroy examines first of all the relationship of dueling with existing legislation and it seems to us that in this respect his refutation of M. Dupin’s position leaves nothing to be desired. By applying to suicide the line of argument through which the attorney general has succeeded in subjecting dueling to our penal laws, he shows in a sensitive way that this interpretation is forced and is as antipathetic to common sense as it is to public awareness, and one which has led the court to bracket dueling with voluntary and premeditated murder.

M. Coudroy then seeks to ascertain whether this legal interpretation is not undermining our constitution. We think it is difficult not to be struck by the relevance of this notion. Our constitution, in fact, acknowledges that it is public opinion, through the agency of legislative power and in particular of the elective chamber, which classifies actions in the category of crimes, misdemeanors, and misdeeds. No one can be punished for an act that this power has not made subject to a punishment. However, if instead of taking it for granted that any such act must be covered by the punishment, the legal power is able to bend the act to fit the punishment by declaring that this act, hitherto regarded as innocent, belongs to a class of acts covered by the law in question, I do not see how we can prevent the public attorney from substituting himself for the legislator and the civil servant chosen by the authorities for the representative elected by the people.

Following these considerations, the author tackles the moral and philosophical question, and here, it has to be said, he fills the immense gap which appears in M. Dupin’s charge. In his superstitious reverence for the law, all the efforts of this magistrate are devoted to proving that it entails the assimilation of dueling into a kind of murder. But what are the effects of dueling on society; what are the evils it prevents and represses? What other remedy to these evils could we substitute for it? What changes would we need to introduce into our legislation to create a safeguard for honor in law, if courage is not an admissible one? How would we succeed in giving legal verdicts the sanction of opinion and preventing the granting of damages from inflicting another withering blow on the offended person? What would the results be of the undermining of the sensitivity of all citizens to honor and to the opinion of their peers? These are all serious questions which M. Dupin does [311] not appear to have taken into consideration and which have been discussed by our fellow countryman with signal excellence.

Among the deliberations which struck us the most in this very worthwhile discussion, we will quote the passage in which the author highlights the reason for the ineffectiveness of punishments as deterrents to attacks on personal honor. In ordinary crimes and misdemeanors, the courts ascertain and punish only base actions whose impure source is regarded with contempt by public opinion. Legal sanctions and popular sanctions are in harmony. However, in matters of honor these two sanctions go in opposite directions, and if the courts pronounce a punishment involving death, personal restraint, or penal servitude against the offender, public opinion would inflict, even more rigorously, a penalty of infamy on the offended person for having had recourse to law to make himself respected. These verdicts of opinion are so unanimous that they are embedded in the heart of the magistrate himself, whereas his lips are obliged to pronounce a quite different verdict. We know the story of the judge before whom an officer complained of a blow received. “What, sir!” he cried indignantly, “you have received a blow and you have come here . . . but you are right, you are obeying the law.”

We will also point out the fine refutation of a passage from Barbeyrac quoted by M. Dupin, in which the author shows us how the circle of human punishment expands in accordance with the progress of civilization, without, however, its being able to exceed permanently the limit beyond which the disadvantages of repression exceed those of the misdemeanor. The law itself has recognized this limit, when, for example, it prohibited the search for paternity. It did not pretend that beyond its sphere of activity there were not actions condemned by religion and moral law, in relation to which, however, it should disclaim any authority. It is in this class of action that we need to include attacks on honor.

But it is impossible for us to follow the author in the intellectual path he has pursued. To analyze a line of argument that is so vigorous would be to destroy its force and progress. We will therefore return to the pamphlet itself, with the warning, however, that it needs to be read, as it was written, with awareness and reflection. It is the material of a large book reduced to a few pages. It differs in this from the majority of the writings published today, in that in these publications the number of pages seems to increase in proportion to the lack of ideas. M. Coudroy, on the other hand, is rich in penetrating insights and sober in his development of ideas. His text is more [312] valuable for the thoughts he suggests than for those he expresses. This is the seal of true merit.

Perhaps one might even reproach the author for being too restrained. When you read him, you feel that there has been a constant struggle between his ideas—which want to see the light of day—and his determined wish merely to reveal only half of them. But then, not everyone can, like Cuvier, reconstruct an entire animal from the glimpse of a fragment. We are living in a century in which an author has to express his entire thought to his reader.

A man of wit wrote, “Please excuse the length of my letter, I have not enough time to be shorter.” Could not the majority of readers also say, “Your book is too short, I have not enough time to read it”?

Endnotes

2

(Paillottet’s note) At that time, Bastiat and his friend, M. Félix Coudroy, the author of a pamphlet on dueling, both believed they were destined for obscurity. It was only seven years later that the former was called upon to demonstrate the qualities of his mind on the national stage. To follow in Bastiat’s footsteps, M. Coudroy lacked only one thing, health. We can see Bastiat’s opinion of his friend’s merit in the letters included in this volume. Here is an additional letter written in 1845:

Frédéric Bastiat
Bastiat, Frédéric
Félix Coudroy
Coudroy, Félix
My dear Félix,

Because of the difficulty of reading, I cannot properly judge the style, but my sincere conviction (you know that here I set aside the usual modesty) is that our styles have different qualities and faults. I believe that the qualities of yours are such that, when it is used, it shows genuine talent; I mean to say a style that is lively and animated with general ideas and glimpses that are luminous. Always make copies on small sheets; if one needs to be changed, it will not cause much trouble. When you are copying you will perhaps be able to add polish, but, for my part, I note that the first draft is always faster and more accessible to today’s readers who scarcely go into anything in depth.

Do you not have an opinion of M. Dunoyer?

3

We have not been able to track down the two pamphlets mentioned by Bastiat. It appears that Bastiat and Coudroy opposed the criminalization of dueling by the state on the basis that the practice was a voluntary activity between consenting adults. See Kevin McAleer, Dueling: The Cult of Honor in Fin-de-Siècle Germany (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1994), p. 248, note 36.

 

 


 

T.10 (1838.04.01) "Two Articles on the Basque Language" (La Chalosse, Apr. 1838)

Source

T.10 (1838.04.01) "Two Articles on the Basque Language" (Deux articles sur la langue basque), La Chalosse, 1-8 April 1838. [JCPD] [CW1.2.1.1, p. 305-08.]

Editor’s Introduction

(to come)

Text

On the Basque Language1

A journal is addressed to all classes of readers, and because of this it should cover only subjects that are of interest to the majority. I therefore have some natural hesitation in sending you an article devoted to a grammatical dissertation that is as dull in its narrow limits as it is by nature; I hoped that the frequent contacts between the people of the Chalosse and the Basque people would provide me with a good excuse for this.

On our western boundary, there is a nation that is proud, gracious, and intrepid and whose origins are unknown. What distinguishes it above all is a language that in all its structures bears the stamp of extreme antiquity, a language that is so philosophical and rational that it appears to have arisen in perfect form from the brain of an expert grammarian, a language that shows no signs of the irregularities and successive modifications that are the effect and living proof of the mixing of races.

When I say that the Basque language has retained its primitive purity, I am talking only about its grammatical forms. Religion and civilization have enlarged its vocabulary, but its grammar has remained unchanged.

[306]

I therefore dare to hope that a few of my fellow citizens will take some interest in this essay on the structures of the Basque language. Although it is very short, it will be enough, I think, to establish its antiquity. This having been said, I will leave to those with reflective minds to explain how it happens that antiquity and perfection go hand in hand where language is concerned whereas it is totally the other way round where other human inventions are concerned.

Today, I will deal with declensions and conjugations in Basque. If this article is not too unsuitable for your journal, I will devote another to the roots and etymology of this language.

Basque has no genders. In effect there is nothing rational in the classification of nouns into masculine, feminine, and neuter genders; apart from the fact that it is not useful in principle, it is always arbitrary in its application. Words name things and do not classify them.

On the other hand, Basque distinguishes between a noun used generally and one used with a specific meaning. An article removes from the noun its indefinite meaning: seme, son; semec, the son. Old French had something similar; by the removal of the article, as in this sentence: “poverty is not vice,” words were given a very wide-ranging meaning.

Beings have relationships between each other of dependence, generation, situation, etc. These relationships are expressed in French by the prepositions de, à, pour, etc., in Latin sometimes by cases and sometimes by the prepositions in, ad, cum, etc.; in Basque they are always expressed by cases. For example,

Mendia the mountain
Mendiac the mountain, as the subject of an active verb
Mendiaz of, that is to say, by means of
Mendian in
Mendiari to
Mendiaren of (as in the genitive)
Mendiarekin with
Mendico for
Mendetic from (out of)
Menderat toward, etc.

You would be very wrong to think that this system increases the difficulties of the language.

[307]

Latin has only six cases but it has five declensions, which makes, including plurals, sixty characteristics. There are as many for adjectives and as many for the eternal family of pronouns, qui, his, ego, hic, etc. Basque has fourteen or fifteen invariable cases in which all nouns, pronouns, and indefinite adjectives, singulars and plurals, all the infinitives, participles, and adverbs are declined.

This system is not only much simpler but much more rational. In effect the terms of a relationship may vary even though the relationship is identical. Reason refuses to accept that, in this case, the sign of the relationship should vary. Let us compare a Latin sentence and its translation into Basque:

  • In nomine patris, et filii et spiritus sancti
  • Altaren eta semearen eta espiritu sainduaren icenean.

Here we have two relationships in Latin, one expressed by case and the other by the preposition in; one identical relationship of generation characterized by is, i, us; one preposition, sufficient in itself for marking a relationship which nevertheless regulates a case arbitrarily; and finally the need to make the adjective agree with the noun, four rules that are complicated and useless, and which do not encumber the simple and logical progress of the Basque version.

But if Basque declension is better than Latin declension for its simplicity, regularity, and logic, it is above all in scope that its superiority is remarkable.

The limits of a weekly journal are too narrow for me to show you here how all the adverbs, pronouns, participles, and infinitives in Basque come under the yoke of declension. I will limit myself to two remarks.

We have seen that the article a is used to determine a word and make it a true substantive. From this it follows that in Basque we can make a substantive out of a group of ideas represented by a word. Thus, semearen, “of the son,” semearena, “that of the son,” and this compound word can be totally declined. Thus, hintcen, “you were”; hintcena, “the one who was”; hintcenaren, “of the one who was,” etc.

This means that there is not one single case for substantives, and in verbs not one tense, number, mode, or inflection that cannot be used with an article, and consequently all the forms of the declension, which opens out a truly boundless horizon to it.

A dissertation on Basque verbs would doubtless weary the reader. However, [308] I cannot prevent myself from saying a few words about them before stopping.

Any tense in a verb serves only to express that such and such an attribute agrees with such and such a subject, and to indicate the time at which this correlation existed. With the result, it is true to say, that we always have to find in a verb the entire proposition plus the relationship of time. “I shall fall,” if the language is properly constructed, should encompass five ideas: the idea of me, the idea of a fall, the idea of affirmation, the idea of the relation between falling and me, and lastly the idea of the future; there is none of this in French, and even less in Latin. Both of these languages use a formula that owes its value just to chance and conventions. Let us analyze the Basque formula erorico bainiz, which means “I shall fall.”

First of all, you need to know that erorico is a genuine noun in the destinative case. Erortea, “the fall,” erorico, “for the fall,” like mendico, “for the mountain.” Ni is also a noun or pronoun that means “me.” Niz is its mediative case and is the equivalent of “of me,” like mendiaz, “of the mountain.”

Thus in the formula erorico bainiz you will find: the subject ni, “me”; the attribute erortea, “fall”; the affirmation bai, which means “yes”; the expression that the affirmation is done to the subject by the meditative z and the future expressed by the destinative co. This is just as though you were saying, “Yes for me for the fall,” a manner of speaking that may sound strange to us but which is no less in accordance with the true principles of any language.

Indeed the verb to be, when used to link the attribute to the subject, does not appear to have to differentiate itself from a simple affirmation. Our patois appears to have retained something of this principle. We will precede our entire conjugation with the word que. For example, que marchi, que toumbes, qu’ets riches, etc., as though this was an elliptic formula in which the affirmation is implied. “I say that,” or “I affirm that.”

I will stop there. Other details will become wearisome. I hope that a few glimpses of Basque etymology will provide the reader with greater variety and increased interest.

Endnotes

1

This article is the only one in Bastiat’s writings treating such a subject. It reflects the immense culture and curiosity of a man who had studied some Latin and Greek and was fluent in English, Spanish, and Italian. It is believed that, as a child in Bayonne, he had a chance to practice Basque, the local language spoken at home by some of his school friends.

 

 


 

T.11 (1840.??) "Parliamentary Reform"

Source

T.11 (1840.??) "Parliamentary Reform" (Réforme parlementaire). Sometime post-1840. [ OC7.70, pp. 289-92.] [CW1.2.2.3, pp. 457-63.]

Editor’s Introduction

(to come)

Text

The July revolution has placed the soil of the country under a flag on which are emblazoned two words, liberty and order.

If we set aside certain completely eccentric theories, apocalypses of our modern luminaries, what forms the basis of common desires and general opinion is the longing for the simultaneous realization of these two goods, liberty and order. They include, in fact, everything that man must ask of government. The eccentric schools of which I was just speaking go much further, it is true. They require governments to provide riches for all, morality, education, well-being, happiness, and who knows what else? As if the government were itself anything other than a product of society and as if government, far from being able to give society wisdom and instruction, were not itself more or less wise and enlightened, in proportion to the virtue and enlightenment of society.

Be that as it may, the point on which the majority of men agree is this: allow any reform that extends liberty at the same time as it consolidates order; reject any innovation that compromises both one and the other of these benefits.

But what forms the greatest gulf between minds is the preference, or rather the preeminence, they give to either liberty or order. I have no need to say that I am not at all discussing the men who rally behind doctrines to satisfy their ambition. These make themselves the apostles of order or liberty, depending on whether they will gain or lose by a particular innovation. I am referring only to those minds that are calm, impartial, and which, after all, [458] form public opinion. I am saying that what these minds have in common is that they all want liberty and order; they differ on one point, however: some concentrate more on liberty and others are concerned above all with order.

For this reason parliamentary debating chambers have centers, extreme rights and lefts, the liberals and the conservatives, the progressives and those who have been inaccurately labeled the “narrow-minded.”

We should note in passing that the mutual accusations between those conscientious men who, for the most part, fix their gaze on just one of the words of the July motto are really puerile. Among the friends of liberty, there are none who would agree to a change in the law if it were shown that this change would result in disorder in society, especially if this was permanent. On the other hand, within the party of order, there is no one so narrow-minded that he would not welcome a reform that favored the development of liberty if he were totally reassured that order would be maintained and all the more if he thought that it would also have the effect of rendering government even stronger, more stable, and more capable of fulfilling its mission and guaranteeing the security of both people and property.

Thus, if among the reforms on which the public mind has been so concentrated in the last few years, there had been one which might satisfy both these twin conditions whose manifest result was first to limit government to its genuine prerogatives, tearing from its hands everything it held by way of encroachments on public freedoms, and second to restore to this properly limited authority a stability, a permanence, a freedom of action, and a popularity that it does not have today, this reform, I am emboldened to say, might well be rejected by those who benefit from the political wrongs whose reversal is the issue, although it should be welcomed by conscientious men on all the benches of the House and, in the public arena, by all the sectors of opinion that these men represent.

I consider parliamentary reform to be constituted thus:

To know what liberty and order would have to gain or lose from this reform, we need to examine how they are affected by the current state of affairs.

Under our electoral dispensation, about a hundred and fifty to two hundred civil servants entered the legislative chamber, and this number may be increased still further. It remains to be seen what influence this will have on liberty.

What is more, this legal dispensation also means that deputies who are not civil servants and who, by virtue of their backgrounds or their commitments [459] to the electors, cannot become such, by allying themselves to a government, may break into the circle of government through another route, that of opposition. We will ponder the result of this state of affairs in connection with the stability of government and the question of social order.

We will examine the objections made to the principle of conflicts of interest.

Lastly, we will endeavor to put forward the grounds of a proper legal arrangement, taking account of those objections which have some foundation. . . .

On the Influence on Liberty of the Eligibility of Deputies for Public Office

In the eyes of the class of men who call themselves liberals, who are far from believing that all the progress made by society toward liberty is made at the expense of public order, who, on the contrary, are convinced that nothing is more suited to strengthening peace, security, respect for property and rights, than those laws which conform to absolute justice, for this class of men, I say, the proposal which I have to substantiate here appears so obvious that it seems unnecessary to lay much stress on its demonstration.

What is, in fact, the basis of representative government? It is that the men who make up a people are not the property of a prince, a family, or a caste; they are their own masters. It is that the government has to be carried out, not in the interest of those who govern, but in the interest of those who are governed. It is that the taxpayers’ money should be spent for the benefit of the taxpayers and not for the benefit of the agents among whom this money is distributed. It is that the laws should be made by the mass who are subject to them and not by those who lay them down or who apply them.

It follows from this that this huge section of the nation which is governed has the right to keep an eye on the small section to whom government is entrusted, that it has the right to decide in what direction, within what limits, and at what price it wants to be governed, to stop government when it usurps prerogatives, either directly by rejecting those laws which shape these prerogatives or indirectly by refusing to make any payments to the agents by whom these pernicious prerogatives are exercised.

As the nation as a whole cannot exercise these rights, it has this done by its representatives. It chooses from within its ranks deputies to whom it entrusts this mission of control and supervision.

[460]

Does it not plainly follow that this control risks becoming totally ineffective if the electors choose as deputies the very men who administer, manage, and govern, that is to say, if power and control are placed in the same hands?

Our total tax burden exceeds 1.5 million and there are 34 million of us. We therefore pay an average of 45 francs each, or 225 francs for each family of five people. This is certainly exorbitant. How have we come to this in peacetime and under a regime in which we are supposed to hold all the purse strings? Heavens, the reason is simple; it is that if we, the taxpayers, are supposed to hold the purse strings, we do not genuinely hold them. We have them in our fingers for a moment in order to unfasten them very kindly and, once this has been done, we put them into the hands of those who draw on them. What is funny is that we are then astonished to find the purse lighter each day. Are we not like the cook who, as she went out, said to the cat, “Take good care of the buntings and, if the dog comes along, show him your claws.”

What I have said about money applies equally to liberty! To tell you the truth, and even though this seems a bit prosaic, money and liberty are just the same. Let us develop this idea . . .

Suppose I am the king. Suppose that, as I have been led by events to provide a constitution for my people, I nevertheless want to retain as much influence and power as possible, what should I do?

I would begin by saying, “Deputies will not be paid any fee.” And in order to have this article passed I would not hesitate to be sentimental, to vaunt the moral beauty of self-sacrifice, devotion, and sacrifice. However, in fact, I would understand perfectly that the electors could send only two classes of men to the Chamber, those who have a considerable fortune, as M. Guizot44 says, and these are always willing to ally themselves with the court, and then a host of adventurers incapable of resisting the allure of Parisian life, the dazzle of riches, positioned between their inevitable ruin and that of their family and an assured ascension to the upper realms of fortune and prestige. I am aware that a few exceptional natures would emerge triumphant from the test, but in the end, a disposition like this would enable me to hope at least for considerable influence over the shaping of majorities.

But how could I attract these deputies? Should I offer them money? But [461] it should be acknowledged at once, to the credit of our country, that corruption in this form is not practicable at least on a wide scale—anyway, a civil list would not be sufficient for this. It is much cleverer and more amusing to have corruption paid for by the very people who suffer from it and to take from the pockets of the public what is needed to purchase the apostasy of its defenders. It will therefore suffice for a constitution to include these two strategies:

The king decides on all appointments
Deputies are eligible for all posts

I would have to be very clumsy or human nature of surpassing sophistication if, given these two lines in the charter, I were not master of the parliament.

Note, in fact, how slippery the step is for the deputy. It is not a question here of abject corruption, votes formally bought and sold. “You are skillful, M. Deputy; your speeches reveal a wide knowledge of diplomacy. France would be only too happy to have you represent her in Rome or Vienna.” “Sire, I have no ambition; what I like most of all is retirement, rest, and independence.” “Sir, one has a duty to one’s country.” “Sire, you are imposing on me the hardest of sacrifices.” “The whole nation will be grateful to you.”

Another fellow is a simple justice of the peace in his town and is content with this.

“Really, sir, your position is scarcely befitting to your legislative mandate. The procurator of the king who is now flattering you may be criticizing you tomorrow.” “Sire, I value my modest position; it was the sole ambition of the great Napoléon.” “You must, however, leave it. You must become a counsellor to the royal court.” “Sire, my interests will suffer; there is all the travel, expenses. . . .” “You have to know how to make sacrifices,” etc.

Sentimentality is all in vain; you have to have no knowledge of the human heart, to have never examined yourself sincerely, to have never followed the advice of the oracle: Nosce te ipsum,45 and to know nothing of the subtleties of passions to imagine that deputies, who are called upon to cut a certain figure in the world, on whom all eyes are fixed and of whom exceptional liberality is required, would constantly reject the means to provide themselves with comfort, wealth, influence, the wherewithal to raise and introduce their sons, all this by an opening carefully presented to them as honorable and [462] meritorious. Do we need to spell out here the secret argument that in the depths of their heart dooms them to fall?

It is said that we should have confidence in those who govern. This position is puerile. If caution is not admissible, what good is representative government? Political writers of great talent, among them M. de Lamartine, have rejected parliamentary reform and the conflict-of-interest rule, on the pretext that France is a country of honor, generosity, and disinterestedness, such that it cannot be supposed that a deputy, qua deputy, would extend the authority invested in him as a civil servant or seek larger emoluments, that the conflict-of-interest rule would constitute a new law of suspicion, etc.

Oh really! Is there in our seven codes a single law which is not a law of suspicion? What is the Charter if not a whole system of barriers and obstacles to possible encroachments by the king, the peers, and ministers? Was the law on forced tenure made for the convenience of judges or in view of the dreadful consequences which their dependent position might have?

I must say I cannot accept that instead of scrupulously examining a measure we should repudiate it with flowery words and sonorous sentences which are, in any case, in flagrant contradiction of the entire set of acts constituting our private lives. I would very much like to know what M. de Lamartine would say to his steward if this man tried to talk this kind of language to him: “I have brought you the accounts of my stewardship but bad faith is not presumed. Consequently, I hope that you will leave me to check the accounts on my own and to have them checked over by my son.”

You really need to close your eyes deliberately to the light, and refuse to see the human heart and the motives for our actions, such as they are, to say that since honor, delicacy, and virtue should always be presumed, it makes no difference if the control over government is assumed by government itself. It would be much simpler to eliminate the control. If you are so confident, take this confidence to the limit. This would still be a good calculation since, and I say this with the utmost sincerity, we would certainly be less misled by men who were fully responsible for their acts than if they were able to say to us, “You had the right to stop me and you let me continue. I am not the really guilty person.”

Now I ask whether, once the majority has achieved power, not by free competition or the reasoned consent of the deputies, but because the latter has been successively enrolled in the ranks of government, can one still say sincerely that we have a representative government?

Imagine a particular law, running against the interests and ideas of those [463] it is intended to govern. They are called upon to declare through the mediation of their representatives whether they accept or reject it. Obviously they will reject it if these representatives represent in fact those whom the law is intended to govern. But if they represent those who are proposing it, supporting it, and who are called upon to execute it, it will be accepted without difficulty. Is this representative government?

Endnotes

44

Since 29 October 1840, Guizot, then minister of foreign affairs, had been the key man of a government whose prime minister was Marshal Soult.

45

“Know yourself.”

 

 


 

T.12 (1841.01) "The Tax Authorities and Wine"

Source

T.12 (1841.01) "The Tax Authorities and Wine" (Le Fisc et la vigne) [ OC1, pp. 243-59] [CW2.2, pp. 10-23.]

Editor’s Introduction

(to come)

Text1

The production and sale of wines and spirits must of necessity be affected by the treaties and laws on finance that are currently the subject of deliberations in the chambers.

We will endeavor to set out:

  • 1. The new obstacles that the draft law dated 30 December 1840 is threatening to impose on the wine-producing industry;
  • 2. Those obstacles implicit in the formal rationale that accompanies this draft ;
  • 3. The results to be expected from the treaty signed with Holland;
  • 4. The means by which the wine-producing industry might succeed in freeing itself.

§1.: The legislation on wines and spirits is a clear departure from the principle of equality of duties.

At the same time it places all the classes of citizen whose industry it regulates in a separate, heavily taxed category, it creates among these very classes [11] inequalities of a second order: all are placed outside common law; each is held at varying degrees of distance.

It appears that the minister of finance has taken not the slightest notice of the radical inequality we have just pointed out, but on the other hand he has shown himself to be extremely shocked by the secondary inequalities created by the law: he considers as privileged the classes that have not yet suffered from all of the rigors it imposes on other classes. He is devoted to removing these nice differences not by relaxing them but by making them worse.

However, in pursuit of equality thus understood, the minister remains faithful to the traditions of the creator of the institution. It is said that Bonaparte originally established tariffs that were so moderate that the receipts did not cover the costs of collection. His minister of finance drew to his attention the fact that the law annoyed the nation without providing the treasury with funds. “You are an idiot, M. Maret,” replied Napoléon. “Since the nation is complaining about a few impositions, what would it have done if I had added heavy taxes to them? Let us first accustom them to the exercise; later we can adjust the tariff.” M. Maret realized that the great captain was no less an able financier.

The lesson has not been lost, and we will have the opportunity of seeing that the disciples are preparing the reign of equality with a prudence worthy of the master.

The principles on which the legislation on wines and spirits is based are clearly and energetically expressed in three articles flowing from the law dated 28 April 1816:

Art. 1. Each time wine, cider, etc., is taken away or put somewhere else, a circulation duty will be paid. . . .

Art. 20. In towns and villages with a total population of two thousand people and more2 . . . the treasury will levy an entry duty . . ., etc. . . .

Art. 47. When the wine, cider, etc., is sold retail, a duty of 15 percent of the said sales price will be levied. . . .

In this way, each movement of wine, each entry, and each retail sale lead to the payment of a duty.

Side by side with these rigorous and, one might say, strange principles, the law establishes a few exceptions.

[12]

With regard to circulation duty:

Art. 3. The following will not be subject to the duty levied under Art. 1:

  • 1. Those wines and spirits that an owner has transported from his press or a public press to his cellars or storehouses;
  • 2. Those that a sharecropper, farmer, or holder of a long-term lease for rent hands over to the owner or receives from him by virtue of official leases or customary use;
  • 3. The wine, cider, or perry3 that is dispatched by an owner or farmer from the cellars or storehouses in which his harvest has been deposited, and provided that it is the produce of the said harvest, whatever place it is sent to and the standing of the person to whom it is sent.

Art. 4. The same exemption will be granted to traders, wholesalers, brokers, middlemen, agents, distillers, and retail traders, for the wines and spirits they have had moved from one to another of their cellars situated within the confines of the same département.

Art. 5. The transport of wines and spirits that are removed for dispatch abroad or to the French colonies will equally be exempt from circulation duty.

The entry duty did not allow any exceptions.

With regard to retail duty:

Art. 85. Owners who wish to sell the wines and spirits they produce at retail will be granted a discount of 25 percent on the duties they will have to pay. . . .

Art. 86. However, they will be subject to all the obligations imposed on professional retailers. Notwithstanding this, inspections by agents will not take place within their domiciles provided that the premises on which their wines and spirits will be sold at retail are separate from these.

Thus, to summarize these exceptions:

Exemption from circulation duty for the wines of their harvest that owners send from their own property to their own property elsewhere throughout the entire territory of France;

Exemption from the same duty for the wine that traders, merchants, retailers, etc., have had transported from one to another of their cellars situated in the same département;

[13]

Exemption from the same duty for wine that is exported;

A discount of 25 percent of the retail duty for owners;

Exemption from inspection visits by agents within their own domiciles where the premises on which this sale is made are separate from these.

Now, here is the text of the draft law put forward by the minister of finance:

Article 13. Exemption from circulation duty on wines and spirits will be allowed only in the following cases:

  • 1. For wines which the harvester has transported from his press to his cellars and storehouses or from one to another of his cellars, within the confines of the same village or a bordering one;
  • 2. For wines and spirits that a farmer or the holder of a long lease hands over to his owner or receives from him, within the same limits of a single village, by virtue of official leases or customary use.

Article 3 of the law dated 28 April 1816 and Article 3 of the law dated 17 July 1819 are repealed.

Article 14. Wines and spirits from their harvest that owners have transported from one part of their own property to another, outside the limits laid down in the preceding article, will be exempt from circulation duty, provided the owners acquire the necessary permit and are subject at the place of destination to all the obligations imposed on wholesale merchants with the exception of the payment of a license.

Article 25. The provision of Article 85 of the law dated 28 April 1816, which allows to owners who sell at retail the wines and spirits of their own production an exceptional discount of 25 percent of the retail duty that they have to pay, is repealed.

We would greatly exceed the limits we have set ourselves if we carried out a comprehensive examination of the points raised by the draft law, and we will have to limit ourselves to a few short observations.

First, does Article 13 of the draft law repeal Articles 4 and 5 of the 1816 law? An affirmative answer appears to result from the following absolute phrase: Exemption will be allowed only if . . ., which implies the exclusion of all categories not listed in the remainder of the disposition.

However, a negative answer may be concluded from the disposition that ends Article 13, since, by repealing only Article 3 of the 1816 law, it apparently maintains Articles 4 and 5.

[14]

In this last case we consider that there is a certain anomaly in reserving for traders and retailers within the confines of the département a right that is restricted for owners to the limits of a village.

Second, since the new measures aim to increase revenue, we should no doubt expect them to be burdensome for taxpayers. It is possible, however, for these measures to exceed their aim and lead to disadvantages out of all proportion to the advantages hoped for.

In effect, these measures deal a deathblow to large-property owners through Article 13 and to small-property owners through Article 20.

As long as exemption from circulation duty was limited to the confines of a département, it could have resulted only in exceptional evils. The ownership of vineyards in several départements is rare, and where this occurs owners will have cellars in each of these départements. However, it is very frequent for an owner to have vineyards in several neighboring villages that do not border on one another; and in general, in this situation, it is in his interest to gather his harvest into the same cellar. The new law obliges him either to increase the number of his buildings, making surveillance more difficult, or to bear the cost of circulation duty for a product that is already very heavily taxed and whose sale will perhaps take place only several years later.

And what will the exchequer gain? Very little, unless the owner, as M. de Villèle hopes, drinks all his wine to recover the duty a little earlier.

It will doubtless be said that Article 14 of the draft will counteract this disadvantage. We will wait and examine the spirit and effect of this later.

On the other hand, small owners draw a very considerable advantage from retail sales: that of keeping their wooden barrels from year to year. From now on, they will be obliged each year to make an outlay oft en in excess of their means to buy them. I will say without hesitation that this disposition contains the cause of total ruin for a great many small owners. The purchase of wooden barrels is not something that they can avoid or delay doing. When the harvest arrives, it is essential, whatever the price, to acquire the wood in which to store it; and if the owner does not have the money, he is at the mercy of the sellers. Wine producers have been seen to offer half their harvest to obtain the means to house the other half. Retail sales would avoid this extreme situation, one that will oft en recur now that this possibility will in practice be forbidden to them.

The two modifications or, as the minister puts it, the two improvements to existing legislation, which we have just been analyzing, are not the only [15] ones contained in the draft law dated 30 December. There are two others on which we ought to make a few comments.

Article 35 of the law dated 21 April 1832 had converted the circulation, entry, and retail duties into a single tax, levied at the entrance to towns, thus allowing free circulation within these towns and abolishing customs investigations.

According to Article 16 of the draft, this single tax will now replace only the entry and retail duties, with the circulation and license duties continuing to be levied as they were in 1829, so that one could say of it, in chorus with the singer,

That this single tax will have two sisters.

Another difficulty arises here. In order to establish the single tax (1832 law, Article 36), “The sum of all the annual yields, from all the duties to be replaced, is to be divided by the total value of annual production.”

Since circulation and license duties are no longer included in those to be replaced, they should not be part of the dividend; this being so, since the quotient will be correspondingly lower, the general public will be subject to the old barriers, with no benefit for the treasury.

The implication is that if the minister intends the yield of current taxation to be maintained, circulation and license duties will be levied twice, once directly by virtue of the new law and a second time through the single tax, since they are included as elements in the calculation of this tax.

Last, a fourth modification introduces a new basis for conversion of spirits into liqueurs.

This is not all. The minister makes it clearly felt that it will not be long before he raises the tariff on wines and spirits to the levels of 1829. Many distinguished authorities, he said, considered that it was the right time to cancel the exceptions allowed in 1830.

Many other such authorities consider that if the minister refrains from making a formal proposal in this respect, it is to allow the Chamber of Deputies the honor of this initiative.

We will now leave the reader to measure the space that separates us from the July revolution. Ten years have scarcely elapsed, and here we are with our legislation on wines and spirits shortly to be indistinguishable from that under the empire or restoration, except for an increase in charges and severity.

[16]

§2.: If only this growth in severity had as its aim just the current interest of the tax authorities, we could at least hope that it satisfies their requirements in full. But it does not even leave us this illusion, and by proclaiming that they wish a particular dispensation to carry the day, the tax authorities are warning us that we have to expect new requirements until such time as this dispensation has been fully implemented.

“We have considered it just (says the “statement of the reasons”) to restrict the exemption to circulation duty in favor of owners to the just limits within which it might be legitimately claimed; that is to say, to restrict it to the products of their harvest which they intend for their consumption and that of their family, in the actual place of production. Beyond this, it was a privilege that nothing justified and that violated the principle of the equality of duties. For the same reason, we propose to cancel the discount of 25 percent to the wine producer who sells the wines of his production at retail.”

Now, from the instant the government has the equality of duties as its aim, with the understanding that this language means the subjection of all the classes affected by the law on wines and spirits to the full total of the obstacles weighing on the most maltreated class, then for as long as this aim is not reached, the most rigorous measures can be only the prelude to still more rigorous measures.

We should fear it above all in the knowledge that the master4 has carried out and recommended a pitiless but prudent tactic in this connection.

We have seen that the 1816 law extended the owner’s exemption from circulation duty to the entire territory of France.

Shortly afterward it was restricted to the limits of the département or to bordering départements (law dated 25 March 1817, Article 81).

Later it was reduced to the limits of bordering districts (law dated 17 July 1819, Article 3).

Now, the proposal is being made to circumscribe it to the limits of a village or bordering villages (draft law, Article 13).

One step further and it will have totally disappeared.

And this step undoubtedly will be taken, for while these successive restrictions have circumscribed the privilege, they have not destroyed it. There still remains one case in which the harvester consumes a wine that has circulated without paying circulation duty, and it will not be long before it is said [17] that this is a totally unjustified privilege, which violates the principle of equality of taxes. At the level of application, therefore, the tax authorities have compromised with principle but have also, in principle, made clear their intent, and is it not enough for once that they have come down from the district to the commune without stopping at the canton?

Let us be quite sure, therefore, that the reign of equality is coming and that in a short time there will be no exceptions at all to this principle. On each removal or displacement of wine, cider, or perry,5 duty will be levied.

But should this be said? Yes, we will be expressing our entire thoughts, even though we may be suspected of giving way to exaggerated distrust. We believe that the tax authorities have perceived that, when the circulation duty is extended to all without exception, equality will have reached only half of its career; it will still subject owners to the yoke of customs inspection.

We consider that in Article 14 the tax authorities have sown the seed of this secret intention.

What other aim could this measure have?

Article 13 of the draft restricts the exemption from circulation duty to the limits of the village commune.

The rationale is careful to declare that anything exceeding this exemption is a privilege that is totally unjustified.

And Article 14 immediately restores the right that Article 13 removed from us; it gives it back without limits, provided that the owner subjects himself to the obligations imposed on wholesale merchants.

A concession like this is designed to arouse our mistrust.

This floury sack bodes no good.6

Note the specific character of this Article 14.

First, it appears to be a corrective. Article 13 may have seemed rather harsh; Article 14 comes to offer some consolation.

Second, it goes somewhat further than sugar-coating the pill; it hides the pill and hints at the customs inspection without referring to it explicitly.

[18]

Last, it pushes prudence to the point of being optional; it goes even further, it makes Article 13 optional. How can we complain? Can we not escape circulation duty by taking refuge in customs inspections and find shelter against customs inspections in circulation duty?

Let us hope we are mistaken! However, we have witnessed an increase in the tariff, and we have witnessed an increase in circulation duty; we are right to worry that customs inspections will increase, too. As the teller of fables told us: “What is small will grow large . . ., provided that God keeps it alive.”7

The gradual progress toward equality is also shown in the development of retail duty.

We have seen that current legislation allows owners two forms of exemption in this respect: first, by giving them a discount of 25 percent on the duty; second, by exempting the owner from home inspections when the point of sale is in a different location.

For the moment, current legislation merely limits itself to calling for the withdrawal of the first of these exemptions. However, the principle of equality is not satisfied, since owners continue to enjoy a privilege denied to café owners, that is to say, the privilege of not having to open their houses, their bedrooms, and their cupboards to the gaze of customs agents, always provided that, in order to sell their wine, they rent premises on an official lease.

§3.: If we redirect our gaze to France’s external relations and how these relate to the sale of wine, we will find scarcely any grounds to console us for the internal regime that burdens our industry.

We cannot examine here all the matters that relate to this huge subject. We have to limit ourselves to a few considerations on a question currently being negotiated, a trade treaty with Holland.

After having announced during the session on 21 January that according to this treaty: “Our wines and spirits in barrels will be exempt from any customs duty upon entry into Dutch territory; should they be imported in bottles, they will enjoy a discount of three-fifths of the duty on wine and half for spirits,” the minister exclaimed:

“You will be aware, sirs, that in all sales negotiations carried out by the government, one of its most pressing considerations has always been to expand as far as possible the market for our wine production by opening up new outlets in foreign countries. It is with particular satisfaction that we [19] submit to your approval the means of relieving the sufferings of a sector of trade that is so worthy of our solicitude.”

From this pompous preamble, who would not think that our wines are going to enjoy considerable sales in Holland?

To measure the amplitude of the concessions that our negotiators obtained from the Dutch government, you ought to know that foreign wines and spirits are subject to two different import duties in Holland: customs duty and excise duty.

If you consult the table at the end of this article,8 you will see that the Dutch government has combined its reductions so cleverly that our luxury trade (wine in bottles) enjoys a tax relief of 10½ percent for the Gironde and 21 percent for the Meuse, and our essential trade (wine in barrels) 12 percent for the east and 1⅓ percent for the west of France. This fine outcome has caused such great satisfaction in our negotiators that they have been quick to reduce by 33⅓ percent the duties on cheese and white lead9 made in Holland.

§4.: When a significant sector of the population considers itself to be oppressed, it has just two means of regaining its rights: revolutionary means and legal means.

It appears that successive governments in France have vied with one another to instill in the wine-producing classes a disastrous prejudice to the effect that their sole hope of escape lies in revolutions.

As a matter of fact, the 1814 and 1815 revolutions at least won the wine-producing classes a great many promises, and we see from the actual text of the laws of the time that the Restoration claimed to be keeping indirect taxation only as an exceptional resource, which was essentially temporary (law dated 1816, Article 257; and law dated 1818, Article 84).

Scarcely had this empowerment consolidated somewhat, however, when its promises evaporated along with its fears.

The 1830 revolution,10 to do it justice, promised nothing, but it did effect some notable tax relief (laws dated 17 October and 12 December 1830).

We can already see that it was thinking not only of returning to the old legislation but also of giving it an aspect of rigor that was unknown in the great days of the Empire and the Restoration.

[20]

Thus, in troubled times, the tax authorities make promises, compromise, and relax their severity.

In peaceful times, they retract their concessions and march on to new conquests.

We repeat that we are surprised that the authorities do not fear that this comparison will strike people’s minds and that they will not draw this deplorable conclusion: “Legal means are killing us.”

This would certainly be the most dreadful of errors; and experience, which may be invoked in this regard, proves on the contrary that no reliance should be placed on promises and alleviations wrung through fear from a tottering government.

A government newly come to power may well, under pressure of circumstances, temporarily renounce part of its revenues; but too many charges weigh on the new government for it to abandon totally the intention of regaining them. More than any other government, has it not certain ambitions to satisfy, persons to reassure, prejudices to overcome? Domestically, a government newly come to power has given rise to jealousy, bitterness, and miscalculations; does it not have to develop some apparatus for policing and repression? Externally, it arouses fear and mistrust; does it not have to surround itself with walls and increase its fleets and armies?

Therefore, seeking relief through revolution is an illusion.

However, we believe, and strongly, that the wine-producing population can, through an intelligent and persevering use of legal means, succeed in improving its situation.

We draw its attention in particular to the resources offered by the right of association.

For the last few years, manufacturers have acknowledged the advantage of being represented by special delegations to the government and the chambers. Manufacturers of sugar, woolen cloth, and linen and cotton fabrics have their committee of delegates in Paris.

In this way, no tax or customs measure likely to affect these industries can be passed without enduring the crucible of a long and rigorous inquiry, and everyone is aware how much the domestic producers of sugar owe the success of their struggle to the vigor of their association.

If the manufacturing industry had not introduced the system of delegation, perhaps it would have fallen to the wine-producing industry to set the example. But what is certain is that the wine-producing industry cannot refuse [21] to enter the arena into which others have gone before. It is only too clear that inquiries in which its voice is not heard are incomplete and further that it has everything to lose in leaving the field open to interests that are oft en rivals.

In our opinion, each wine-producing area ought to have a committee in the town that is located at the heart of its commercial activities. Each of these committees would nominate a delegate, and the association of delegates in Paris would form the central committee.

Thus, the basin of the Adour and its tributaries, those of the Garonne, the Charente, the Loire, the Rhone, and the Meuse, and the départements that make up the Languedoc, Champagne, and Burgundy would all have their own delegates.

We have had discussions with several people in this institution without encountering a single one who disputed the usefulness of our proposed legislation, but we have to answer a few objections they made to us.

We have been told:

“The wine-producing industry has its natural delegates in its deputies.

“It is difficult to obtain the assistance of such a large number of interested parties, the majority of whom are scattered throughout the countryside.

“The financial situation of France does not allow any hope of the abolition of indirect taxation; besides, indirect taxation has indisputable advantages alongside a great many disadvantages.”

1. Are deputies delegates of the wine-producing industry?

Clearly, when an electoral body invests a citizen with legislative functions, it does not reduce this mission to matters pertinent to industry. Other considerations determine its choice, and we should not be surprised if a deputy, even when he represents a wine-producing département, has not beforehand made an in-depth study of all the questions relating to the trade in and the duties on wines and spirits. Even less, once he has been nominated, can he concentrate his attention exclusively on a single interest when so many serious matters claim it. Therefore, in the special committees that deal with sugar, iron, and wine, he can see nothing but an advantage in having available the information and documents which would otherwise be physically impossible for him to seek out and coordinate on his own. Besides, the precedents established by the manufacturers remove any value from this objection.

[22]

2. It is also said that it is difficult to obtain long-lasting assistance from people scattered about the country.

We, for our part, believe that this difficulty is exaggerated. It would doubtless be insurmountable if active and painstaking assistance were to be expected from each person concerned. But, in situations like these, the most active participate on behalf of the others, and towns act on behalf of the countryside. This does not cause a problem when their interests are identical, and since there is a wine-producing committee in Bordeaux, there is no reason why there should not be one in Bayonne, Nantes, Montpellier, Dijon, or Marseilles, and from these to a central committee there is just one further step to take. It is when difficulties are exaggerated that nothing is achieved. It is certainly easier for three hundred manufacturers of sugar rather than several thousand manufacturers to reach agreement and organize themselves. However, just because something does not happen by itself it should not be concluded that it cannot be done. It should even be recognized that if the masses find it harder to organize themselves, they acquire through organization an unstoppable momentum.

3. Last, the objection is made that France’s financial situation rules out any hope that it would be able to give up the income from consumption tax.

But that again is to circumscribe the question. Does the organization of a central committee establish in advance that its sole mission would be to pursue the total abolition of this tax? Would it have nothing else to do? Do customs questions relating to wine not arise every day? In the discussions that resulted in the treaty with Holland, are people sure that the intervention of the committee would have had no influence on the terms of this treaty? And, as for indirect taxation, is there nothing between total abolition and the total maintenance of the current regime? Do not the method of collection, the means of preventing or repressing fraud, and pertinent powers and jurisdictions offer a vast scope for reform?

Moreover, it should not be thought that everything has been said with regard to the principal question. It is not our place to formulate an opinion on the consumption tax; there are leading authorities and great examples both for and against it. Consumption tax is the rule in England and the exception in France. Well, now! This problem has to be settled. If the system is bad in principle, it has to be abolished; if it is deemed to be good, it has to be improved, its exceptional character has to be removed, and it has to be made [23] both less heavy and more productive by its being generalized. Here, perhaps, lies the solution to the great ongoing debate between the tax authorities and the taxpayer. And who can say that the movement of minds generated by the setting up of industrial committees and the regular exchanges of views made either between them or by their agency, between the general public and the government, will not hasten this solution?

[24]
IMPORT DUTIES IN HOLLAND
CUSTOMS DUTIES EXCISE DUTIES
Unit Main Duty Importers Stamp Duty Total Main Duty Additional Amounts Importers Stamp Duty Total Total of Current Import Duties Duties Modified by Treaty Difference
WINES hectol. fr. c. fr. c. fr. c. fr. c. fr. c. fr. c. fr. c fr. c. fr. c. fr. c. fr. c.
By Sea
In Barrels '' '' 21 '' 03 '' 43 '' 67 26 71 6 68 3 47 3 68 40 54 41 21 40 54 1
In Bottles '' 12 29 1 60 '' 43 14 32 26 71 6 68 3 47 3 68 40 54 54 86 46 28 10 ½
By Land
In Barrels '' 6 57 '' 85 '' 43 7 85 26 71 6 68 3 47 3 68 40 54 48 39 40 54 12
In Bottles '' 19 67 2 85 '' 43 22 66 26 71 6 68 3 47 3 68 40 54 63 26 49 67 21 ½
SPIRITS
In Barrels '' 2 12 '' 27 '' 43 2 82 42 40 10 60 5 51 5 85 64 36 67 18 64 26 4
In Bottles '' 9 84 1 28 '' 43 11 55 42 40 10 60 5 51 5 85 64 36 75 91 70 12 7

Endotes

1.

Taxes on wine and spirits were very detrimental to the Chalosse. Introduced in 1806, twice withdrawn and reestablished between 1814 and 1816, the taxes did not change much until 1840, when the European crisis led to greater government spending. On 30 December 1840 a bill for taxes on wines and spirits in order to lower the deficit was presented to parliament. Being from a wine-producing region, Bastiat was somewhat concerned for himself, because he had some vines on his own property; however, as a member of the General Council, he was even more concerned by a law that was very hard on the local farmers, whose main crop was grapes for wine producing. This study was presented to the General Council in 1841. See “On the Wine-Growing Question,” p. 25 in this volume. See also the entry for “Wine and Spirits Tax” in the Glossary of Subjects and Terms.

2.

(Bastiat’s note) This figure varied at times.

3.

An alcoholic drink made from pear juice.

4.

Napoléon Bonaparte.

5.

See p. 12, note 3.

6.

This line is probably from Molière’s comedy Les Fourberies de Scapin (1671). Scapin is a servant who extorts money from his wealthy and aristocratic patrons in a complex comedy about love and social station. A “sack” plays an important role in the subterfuge as Scapin fools the father Géronte into hiding in the sack while Scapin proceeds to hit it with a stick at periodic intervals. See Œuvres complètes de Molière, vol. 5, pp. 548–49, where there is a similar passage to Bastiat’s quotation.

7.

From Jean de La Fontaine’s poem “Le Petit poisson et le pêcheur.”

8.

“Droits d’Entrée en Hollande” (Import Duties in Holland).

9.

In French, céruse. Refers to a white lead pigment used in cosmetics.

10.

See the entry for “Revolution of 1848” in the Glossary of Subjects and Terms.

 

T.286 "Proposals for an Association of Wine Producers" (15 Jan. 1841)

Source

T.286 (1841.01.15) "Proposals for an Association of Wine Producers." Documents relating to an Association for the Defence of Wine Producers planned by Bastiat. In Ronce, Appendix III, pp. 287-95.

According to Ronce they were written shortly after Bastiat returned from a trip to Spain and Portugal in 1840. In three parts: 1. Une Association; pp. 287-88; 2. Statuts de l'Association, pp. 288-92; 3. Prospectus du Journal de l'Association, Le Midi , pp. 292-95. In Ronce, Appendix III, pp. 287-95.

Editor's Introduction

This piece is interesting because of the light it shines on an early plan Bastiat drew up to organise an anti-tax, free trade movement in France some five years before he helped found the Free Trade Association in February 1846, first in Bordeaux and then a national body a few months later in Paris.

Bastiat first wrote on free trade in April 1834 in "Reflections on the Petitions from Bordeaux, Le Havre, and Lyons Relating to the Customs Service" 178 in which he called himself "a simple farmer" which belied his already deep reading in economic literature and his growing interest in the economic affairs of his Département of Les Landes. The new July Monarchy (which came to power in August 1830) launched an initiative to review French tariff and tax policies after the increases enacted in the 1820s during the Bourbon Restoration. 179 Given the unpopularity of the taxes on alcohol these were reduced somewhat but there was less success with tariff policy.

In France at this time there were a bewildering array of restrictions on goods allowed into the country. Some were prohibited outright, many raw materials were lightly taxed, while other finished goods had very high tariffs imposed upon them. In 1836 the average tariff rate imposed by the French government was about 12%. In Britain at this time it was about 15%; in the U.S. it was about 33%. To police this complex system a veritable "army" of public servants worked for the Customs Service. 180 According to the Budget Papers of 1848 the French state raised fr. 202.1 million from tariffs and import duties out of total receipts of fr. 1,371 million, or 14.7%. 181

Very few individuals or groups called for free trade across the board, but various groups, like the merchants in the port cities of Bordeaux and Le Havre and the important regional city of Lyon, called for free trade for some sectors of the French economy but not for their particular industries. Bastiat condemned them for their intellectual inconsistency and argued that:

I have come not to defend the protection that they are attacking but to attack the protection that they are defending. Privilege is being claimed for a few; I come to claim freedom for all. 182

Although he pointed out their errors in some detail and showed how French agriculture would benefit from a policy of free trade, he seemed to realise that his proposals were premature, since he opened the essay with the statement that "Free trade will probably suffer the fate of all freedoms; it will be introduced into our legislation only after it has taken hold of our minds." 183 And France, Bastiat understood very well, had not yet reached that stage.

His next significant essay on economic matters came three years later with an essay "The Canal beside the Adour" (June 1837) 184 in which he discussed the financing of public works in his Département. However, his next foray into free trade did not occur for another two and a half years after that with a pair of articles which he wrote at the end of 1840 or in early January 1841 on "The Tax Authorities and Wine" 185 and the essay republished here, "Proposals for an Association of Wine Producers." These essays began a period of growing interest in tax and tariff reform in Les Landes and its impact on both French agriculture and foreign trade, especially with the Netherlands and England. Between these two essays and his breakthrough essay on "On the Influence of French and English Tariffs on the Future of the Two People" (written in June or July 1844 and published in the JDE in October) 186 which brought him to the attention of the economists and free traders in Paris, Bastiat wrote the following pieces on the wine industry, taxes, and free trade:

  1. "Memoir Presented to the Société d'agriculture, commerce, arts, et sciences du département des Landes on the Wine-Growing Question" (Jan. 1843) 187
  2. three 3 essays on "Free Trade. State of the Question in England," published in the Bayonne Sentinelle des Pyrénées , May-June 1843 188 in which he describes the activities of the Anti-Corn Law League for the first time and wonders why the French press continues to ignore it.
  3. and 2 undated pieces from 1844 on "Freedom of Trade" published in an unnamed newspaper in the south of France, 189 and
  4. another Report "On the Allocation of the Land Tax in the Department of Les Landes" possibly written for the General Council of Les Landes, of which he was a member. 190

Returning to the "Proposals", Ronce tells us that they were written in late 1840 after Bastiat returned from a business trip to Spain and Portugal to set up an insurance company which never eventuated. 191 He was on his way to England (perhaps to meet Cobden and other members of the Anti-Corn Law League which had began its free trade agitation in 1838) when he was taken ill and returned to Le Havre and then to Paris. He arrived in the middle of a debate which had spring up about the Minister of Finance Georges Humann's efforts 192 to reform the taxation system in order to meet a looming budget deficit.

This was caused by Adolphe Thiers' plans for a massive public works program to erect the so-called "fortifications of Paris," or what would later be known as "Thiers' wall or enclosure" (l'enceinte de Thiers). 193 The international crisis which arose in 1840 over France's support for the Pascha of Egypt and opposition by Britain, Austria, Prussia, and Russia led to growing fears in France, led by Thiers, that Britain might one day plan a new invasion and occupation of the capital as the victorious powers had done in 1815. Thiers therefore planned to build a military wall which would surround and supposedly protect Paris, along with a series of 16 massive star-shaped forts laid out in an outer perimeter beyond the wall. 194 Thiers' critics, such as the astronomer and mathematician François Arago 195 and the economist Michel Chevalier, 196 objected to its construction because it was so expensive, that military technology would soon make it obsolete, and that the wall would one day be used to "imprison" the citizens of Paris if they ever rose up in rebellion to demand much needed political and economic reforms (which they did of course in February 1848, and were duly down by troops stationed in the forts around Paris). In other words, the wall would result in the "embastillisation" of Paris (the Bastillisation of Paris). 197 To pay for the wall, budgeted at Fr. 150 million, Humann had to "rationalise" (i.e. increase) tax collection, which he did by undertaking a new survey of land and business ownership and more vigorously collecting the direct taxes which were levied upon them, as well as increasing indirect taxes on such things as wine and alcohol. As we know from a letter to Felix Coudroy 198 Bastiat opposed the building of the Thiers' wall as well as the consequent new taxes Humann imposed on the wine industry which had a significant impact on Bastiat's home region which depended heavily on wine production. These measures were the immediate cause for Bastiat writing his paper on "The Tax Authorities and Wine" and his ambitious "Proposals for an Association" to organise the wine producers of his region to oppose these tax increases.

Bastiat was so moved to oppose these mesures that he wrote the pamphlet, drew up the statutes for a broadly based anti-tax organisation, and a prospectus for its journal to be called Le Midi ("The South"), and took them personally to a print shop to be printed and distributed. This would not be the last time Bastiat would do something like this. He would do the same thing three times again, once in November 1846 when he became the editor of the magazine of the French Free Trade Association, Le Libre-Échange , 199 and twice more during the 1848 Revolution with two small publications which he and some close friends handed out on the streets of Paris, La République française (February-March, 1848) and Jacques Bonhomme (June-July, 1848). 200 If nothing else, Bastiat was an inveterate founder of small magazines to support a cause he passionately believed in.

These plans to build a large, organised anti-tax movement in the major wine growing areas of the south (around the regional cities of Orléans, Angoulême, and Bordeaux) came to nothing since he was met with indifference by most of the landowners and wine merchants he approached. In a letter to Felix Coudroy dated 11 January, 1841 201 Bastiat complains that the southern Deputies he spoke to had "interests to protect" or were "seeking government positions" and did not wish to jeopardise their chances of success. Thus the detailed plans he drew up concerning the structure and operation of the Association were largely wishful thinking on his part at this stage. Bastiat would have more success in creating a free trade association with a second attempt in early 1846 after he had made contact with the political economists in Paris who were part of the Guillaumin network. 202 The first branch of the Free Trade Association 203 was started in Bordeaux in February 1846 and a national organisation was created in Paris in July 1846. Bastiat would lead the Free Trade Association until ill health forced him to resign in February 1848. The Association would be closed down soon after the February Revolution so the economists could focus on the more pressing problem of the rise of socialism in the new Second Republic. But here, in January 1841 we see Bastiat in the full flush of enthusiasm for the cause of free trade.

It is interesting to compare this Proposal with a very similar one he drew up in February 1846, a "Plan for an Anti-Protectionist League," when the first Free Trade Association was being launched in Bordeaux. 204 He still asserts the importance of forming committees in every town, the need to take a principled stand in favour of complete and not partial free trade, and to avoid unnecessary political partisanship in order to appeal to the widest possible audience. This "Proposal" and his remarks about the activities of the English Anti-Corn Law League 205 in the introduction to his book on Cobden and the League (July 1845) reveal the strategy for radical economic and social change he was developing at this time and which he would attempt to put into practice in 1846.

Also of note is his use of sarcasm and expressions of anger in the face of these new taxes and regulations, which prefigures what was to become his hallmark "rhetoric of liberty" with its use of "harsh language" and wicked humour in the Economic Sophisms which he wrote in 1845–47 at the height of the campaign against protectionism.

Text

1. An Association.

There are in France 2 million hectares 206 of land planted with vines.

Each hectare produces on average 50 hectolitres 207 of wine.

Total production is 100 million hectolitres.

Granting that a reform, even a partial one, of the laws which govern the collection of indirect taxes, 208 the system of octroi taxes (city taxes) 209 and that of customs duties, would have the effect of increasing the value of each hectolitre by 2 francs, resulting in a increase of 200 million francs in income for the producers, which represents, at an interest rate of 4%, a capital value of 5 billion francs .

It is estimated that this reform would produce at least a similar amount in additional profits for the traders, merchants, bar owners, and consumers.

Thus it is thus a matter of TEN BILLION FRANCS which can be won by introducing freedom of industry and the equalisation of tax rates. 210

There is only one means to achieve this: ORGANIZATION. 211

It is necessary that all those interests march to the beat of the same drum in order to reach the same goal, and they will be able to do this only when they are organised .

Every industry provides examples of this.

Producers of sugar, manufacturers of cloth, the maritime and colonial interests all have representatives .

We alone are always defeated because we do not know how to defend ourselves.

If the truth be told, it is difficult for millions of citizens who are spread across a vast territory, to organise themselves.

But nothing is impossible for an Association united in a public campaign.

This is what has lead us to found at the same time an Association for the Defence of Wine PRODUCERS and a Journal of the Association .

Both institutions are only in an imperfect embryonic form, but with time and the good will of our fellow citizens they can be developed further.

2. Statutes of the Association.

Article 1. A Society has been formed, with the government's authorisation, 212 comprising owners of vineyards, wine traders, merchants, and bar owners engaged in the wholesale or retail sale of alcoholic beverages, and all other persons who agree with these statutes.

Is is not necessary for this support to be explicit; it comes from the mere fact of having paid the subscription which will be discussed below.

Article 2. The aim of the Association is to seek, by constitutional means, the progressive reform of the legislation governing indirect taxation, the system of octroi (city tolls), and customs duties, where it causes harm to the production, distribution, sale, and consumption of wine and spiritous liquor.

The Association is formally to refrain from engaging in all other activities. especially any intervention in political matters.

Art. 3 To be a member of the Association one has to agree to an annual payment of 2 francs.

Art. 4. The wine growing land of France is divided into 5 districts, each of which will have one representative, namely: 213

Western District Administrative Centre: Nantes
Charente 110,000
Lower Charente 100,000
Vendée 17,000
Deux Sèvres 20,000
Lower Loire 30,000
Maine-et-Loire 38,000
Vienne 28,000
Upper Vienne 4,000
Indre 18,000
Indre-et-Loire 35,000
Cher 12,000
Loire-et-Cher 26,000
Loiret 38,000
Hectares of vines 476,000

 

Southwestern District Administrative Centre: Bordeaux
Gironde 138,000
Dordogne 90,000
Lot-et-Garonne 70,000
Lot 58,000
Tarn-et-Garonne 36,000
Gers 88,000
Landes 20,000
Upper Pyrénées 15,000
Lower Pyrénées 24,000
Hectares of vines 539,000

 

Southeastern District Administrative Centre: Marseilles
Bouches-du-Rhône 40,000
Var 68,000
Vaucluse 28,000
Drôme 24,000
Isère 27,000
Ardèchre 26,000
Lozère 26,000
Rhône 30,000
Loire 14,000
Upper Loire 6,000
Upper Alps 14,000
Lower Alps 6,000
Puy-de-Dôme 30,000
Hectares of vines 339,000

 

Southern District Administrative Centre; Montpellier
Upper Garonne 48,000
Eastern Pyrénées 45,000
Ariège 12,000
Aude 51,000
Tarn 31,000
Hérault 103,000
Aveyron 34,000
Gard 71,000
Hectares of vines 395,000

 

Central District Administrative Centre: Dijon
Côte-d'Or 26,000
Saône-et-Loire 37,000
Nièvre 9,000
Yonce 37,000
Aube 22,000
Marne 18,000
Upper Marne 13,000
Upper Saône 11,000
Doubs 8,000
Jura 21,000
Allier 17,000
Ain 17,000
Seine-et-Oise 16,000
Hectares of vines 252,000

The number of districts, and consequently the number of representatives, can be increased if the interests of the Association require it.

Art. 5. There will be created:

One Committee per Department,

One Committee per district,

One Central Committee,

One General Administrative body.

Art. 6. The members of the Association from the same Commune will choose from among themselves a Financial Officer.

The Assembly of Financial Officers from the Communes will meet in the main town of the Department and elect one of their members to the Subscription Committee.

This Committee will elect the representative of the Wine Growing Industry , or the member of the Central Committee.

All elections will be conducted using a plurality of votes, whatever may be the number of voters, according to the customary practices and at times announced in the Journal of the Association .

In the case where an election is not held the representative chosen at the preceding election will continue to carry out his duties.

Art. 7. The function of the Representatives of the Wine Producing Industry will be to make themselves available in Paris during the sessions of the Chambers in order to support the petitions and demands of their constituents.

To seek the progressive reform of the laws which regulate the distribution and the market for wine.

To judge the order in which each reform ought to be proposed, in order to bring about the common goal determined by the entire Association.

To determine and to develop the means of levying the tax in a way which is compatible with the liberty of industry and the principle of the equality of the tax burden.

Art. 8. The general Administrator is in charge of everything concerning financial accountability and publicity.

Art. 9. The Representatives of the Wine producing Industry will receive a monthly payment which will be set at a later date, either by the Subscription Committees or by the Central Committee itself.

This Central Committee will also set the salary of the General Administrator.

Art. 10. The Agent General will submit the financial accounts to the assembly of representatives and these accounts will be published in full in the Journal of the Association .

Art. 11 ( for the time being ). For the year 1841, it being expected that it will be practically impossible to organise a delegation by the methods stipulated above, we call upon the Committees which already exist in Bordeaux, Nantes, Dijon, Montpellier, and Marseilles, so that they can immediately nominate a Representative of their District.

In those towns where no Committee exists at the moment, wine producers, traders, and other interested parties ought to get together and proceed to elect a Representative without delay. This election is quite urgent and will be confirmed at a later date by the Subscription Committee.

Paris, 15 January 1841.

The Provisional Administrator of the Association

Frédéric Bastiat

Member of the General Council of the Department of Les Landes.

3. Prospectus for the Journal of the Association, Le Midi (The South),

Journal of the Association for the Defence of Wine Producers.

Without doubt, one of the most valuable sources of wealth which France possesses is the cultivation of vines.

This plant extends over 50 Départements, it covers 2 million hectares of land, and employs several million people.

It is not only the people who live in the countryside who are interested in the prosperity of the wine industry, since who could say to what level of development it might take our foreign trade and our merchant marine, if there were a more normal state of trading relations with foreign countries?

Unfortunately, the geniuses in the Ministry of Finance seem to have undertaken the task of snuffing out this branch of industry by restricting the market for wine, outside France with the regime of trade prohibition, and inside the country by the increase in the octroi (city tolls) and the legislation concerning indirect taxes.

One might have thought that, having reached its limits, the suffering endured by our port cities and our countryside would no longer be contested, and that the government, even if it backed away from introducing any reforms in the face of these difficulties, at least would recognise the justice of them.

But here we have it preparing for us a series of new taxes and new economic shackles.

And according to the customary tradition in these matters, the Fisc (Fiscal authorities) throws sarcasm in our faces as it oppresses us.

As proof, isn't it a cruel irony that the Minister of Finance (Humann), after having proposed, among other measures, to treat the vineyard owner under the same law which taxes and regulates a cabaret owner, 214 when he writes "thus we will see disappear a privilege which nothing can justify and which violates the principle of the equality of tax burdens"?

My goodness! Just because the law places an exceptional and onerous burden upon cabaret owners, does this exception become the rule, does a common right become then a privilege ? And to impose this exceptional burden on millions of citizens, does this make the principle of equality reign across the country?

And this is not all. The Minister has let it be known that he will not wait long before increasing the tax on alcohol to the levels of 1829. 215

So then, what will ten years of struggle and complaints have produced? The re-establishment of all our old tax burdens, with new taxes piled upon old, and new shackles imposed.

This only goes to show that, for whatever reason, the government is either deaf to our complaints or scorns them.

So, what is this reason?

In our opinion, it is not necessary to look any further than the lack of continuity, cooperation, and unity in the lobbying efforts of the owners of vineyards.

What is missing from their cause is not justice, not strength, but that which puts strength into the hands of justice, namely organisation .

Lacking organisation, we go from exaggerating things to being indifferent. Yesterday, we wanted to reform everything; today we abandon all hope of reform; we have instincts rather than willpower; we are not a single body, but a crowd.

This is not the path which the owners of the iron forges, those who raise cattle, or the sugar producers teach us to follow. They are not very numerous, but we are countless; their interests are hard to see compared to ours; they demand privileges while we demand a common right. However, in spite of our superiority in numbers, our interests, and justice, we fail while they triumph. Where does this difference come from? It is that they are organised and we are not.

These thoughts have made us dream of creating a huge Association for the defence of Wine Producers .

But, with that thought in mind, we thought it was necessary to prepare the way for this association with the creation of a Journal.

It is easy for a few manufacturers to get organised, but how, without having access to a means of communication, can we organise simultaneous mass protests in thousands of Communes across the country, all carried out in the same spirit and aiming at the same end? How do we create a shared vision and common method of action among all these individuals, Communes, and Départements?

Thus, a Journal is required in order to bring this Association about.

A Journal will be just as necessary once the Association has been formed.

Today it has to have an engine to drive it forward; tomorrow it will require a voice .

This then is the double task which we have imposed on ourselves:

Firstly, to bring such an Association into being, and by proposing its by-laws, to inspire us with its principles in order to help it spread;

Then, to serve as a way to connect the members of the Association with each other, to gather their opinions, to bring important facts and documents to their attention;

And finally, to bring all their activities together into a unified movement .

But, and we are the first to admit it, we will fail in our efforts if we are not supported by our fellow citizens.

And why not say it? Our task demands a moral force and even material resources which we would only be able to find in the encouragement and support of all men who have the prosperity of the south of France in their hearts.

Please allow me a final thought.

The path which we have traced out presents two pitfalls: partiality and exaggeration. It is difficult to be an impartial judge in a cause for which one is an advocate. It is no less difficult to be fair in expressing one's complaints which have often been provoked by the disdain and sarcasm of one's opponents.

But we believe we have the strength to resist this double temptation because we have always thought that prejudice and violence hinder the triumph of a cause just as much as they harm the honour of its defenders.

Frédéric Bastiat.

Member of the General Council of the Département of Les Landes

The price of subscribing to the Journal is fr. 6 per annum in Paris and fr. 7.50 in the Départements.

The temporary office (of the Association) is located at the printers Guiraudet et Jouaust , rue Saint-Honoré, 315.

Endnotes

178 T.5 (1834.04) "Reflections on the Petitions from Bordeaux, Le Havre, and Lyons Relating to the Customs Service" (Réflexions sur les pétitions de Bordeaux, Le Havre et Lyon, concernant les Douanes). We have no information about this piece other than the date provided by Paillottet. [OC1, pp. 231-43] [CW2, pp. 1-9].

179 Procès-verbal des séances de la Commission instituée pour examiner les impôts sur les boissons (1830). Paris 23 August, 1830.

180 According to Horace Say there were 27,727 individuals (1852 figures) employed, composed of two "divisions" - one of administrative personnel (2,536) and the other of "agents on active service" (24,727). See Horace Say, "Douane", DEP, vol. 1, pp. 578-604 (figures from p. 597).

181 See the glossary entry on "French Tariff Policy."

182 "Reflections," CW2, p. 2.

183 Not much had changed by January 1847 when Bastiat published "The Utopian" in LE . Here Bastiat dreams of being given dictatorial powers to reform France. After listing all the radical reforms he would like to introduce in one flourish, he recoils at the end and renounces his powers because he is moving too fast and "the nation will not follow (me)." See

T.102 (1847.01.17) "The Utopian" (L'utopiste), LE , 17 Jan. 1847, no. 8, pp. 63-64; [OC4, pp. 203-12] CW3, pp. 187-98.

184 See above, pp. 000.

185 T.12 (1841.01) "The Tax Authorities and Wine" (Le Fisc et la vigne). OC1, pp. 243-59; CW2, pp. 10-23.

186 T.19 (1844.10.15) "On the Influence of French and English Tariffs on the Future of the Two People" (De l'influence des tarifs français et anglais sur l'avenir des deux peuples), JDE , T. IX, Oct. 1844, pp. 244-71. [OC1, pp. 334-86] [CW6]

187 T.13 (1843.01.22) "Memoir Presented to the Société d'agriculture, commerce, arts, et sciences du département des Landes on the Wine-Growing Question" (Mémoire présenté à la société d'agriculture, commerce, arts et sciences, du département des Landes sur la question vinicole). [OC1, pp. 261-83] [CW2, pp. 25-42]

188 T. 266-68. A series of 3 essays on "Free Trade. State of the Question in England," Sentinelle des Pyrénées , May-June 1843 [CW6].

189 T.15 (c. 1844) "Freedom of Trade" (Liberté du commerce). Unnamed newspaper in the south of France 1844. [OC7.4, pp. 14-20] [CW1, pp. 421-25]

190 T.17 (1844.??) "On the Allocation of the Land Tax in the Department of Les Landes" (De la répartition de la contribution foncière dans le Département des Landes). [OC1, pp. 283-333.] Below, pp. 000.

191 See Bastiat's letters postmarked Madrid and Lisbon written between July and November 1840 for details of his trip, in CW1, Letters 22-26, pp. 33-43; and 2 letters to Félix Coudroy on his plans for the new Association, "Letter 27. Paris, 2 Jan. 1841. To Félix Coudroy" and "Letter 28. Paris, 11 Jan. 1841. To Félix Coudroy," in CW1, pp. 43-45.

192 Georges Humann (1780-1842) was born in Strasbourg, became a businessman, and was an elected Deputy representing the Lower Rhine during the July Monarchy, supporting the moderate liberal faction., He was appointed Minister of Finance several times between 1832-36 and again between 1840-42. He opposed the increase in expenditure caused by Thiers' public works program to build a military wall around Paris beginning in 1841, and in order to balance the budget he attempted to impose new taxes on wine and alcohol which affected the wine growing region where Bastiat lived. These measures resulted in a number of popular revolts over the summer of 1841 in places like Toulouse and Bordeaux.

193 Adolphe Thiers (1797-1877) was a conservative liberal lawyer, historian, politician, and journalist. During the July Monarchy he was briefly Minister for Public Works (1832-34), Minister of the Interior (1832, 1834-36), and Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs (1840). In 1840 he was instrumental in planning the construction of "Thiers' Wall" around Paris between 1841-44.

194 The walls and forts were built between 1841-44 at a cost of fr. 150 million. They were completed the year before Bastiat arrived in Paris to attend the welcome dinner organised for him by Guillaumin and the Political Economy Society. See the glossary entry on "The Fortifications of Paris."

195 François Arago, Sur les Fortifications de Paris (Paris: Bachelier, 1841) and Études sur les fortifications de Paris, considérées politiquement et militairement (Paris: Pagnerre, 1845).

196 Michel Chevalier (1806-87) was a liberal economist and alumnus of the École polytechnique and a Minister under Napoleon III. Initially a Saint-Simonian, he was appointed to the chair of political economy at the Collège de France in 1840 and became a senator in 1860. He was an admirer of Bastiat and Cobden and played a decisive role in the free trade treaty signed between France and England in 1860 (Chevalier was the signatory for France, while Cobden was the signatory for England). On the fortifications of Paris: Michel Chevalier, Les fortifications de Paris, lettre à M. Le Comte Molé (Paris: Charles Gosselin, 1841) and Cours d'Économie politique fait au Collège de France par Michel Chevalier (Bruxelles: Meline, Cans, 1851), vol. 2, "Douzième leçon. Concours de l'armée française aux travaux des fortifications de Paris," pp. 183-96. First ed. 1844.

197 Patricia O'Brien, "L'Embastillement de Paris: The Fortification of Paris during the July Monarchy," French Historical Studies , Vol. 9, No. 1 (Spring, 1975), pp. 63-82.

198 He mentions his opposition to their construction in a letter to Félix Coudroy, "Letter 28. Paris, 11 Jan. 1841. To Félix Coudroy", in CW1, p. 45.

199 Le Libre-échange (Free Trade) was the weekly journal of the Association pour la liberté des échanges (French Free rade Association). It began on 29 November 1846 and lasted until 16 April 1848, when it was closed down as a result of the February Revolution. The first sixty-four issues were edited by Bastiat, who resigned in 13 February 1848 because of his failing health, and the last eight issues were edited by Charles Coquelin.

200 Bastiat was involved in two short-lived revolutionary magazines in 1848. The first appeared two days after the revolution broke out in February and was called La République française. It appeared daily and was edited by Frédéric Bastiat, Hippolyte Castille, and Gustave de Molinari. It lasted for 30 issues between 26 February and 28 March. The second, Jacques Bonhomme , was edited by Bastiat, Molinari, Charles Coquelin, Alcide Fonteyraud, and Joseph Garnier. The journal appeared biweekly and was handed out on the streets of Paris but only lasted for four issues between 11 June and 13 July.

201 Letter 28. Paris, 11 Jan. 1841. To Félix Coudroy, CW1, p. 44.

202 Gilbert-Urbain Guillaumin (1810-1864) was a mid-19th century French classical liberal publisher who founded a publishing dynasty which lasted from 1835 to around 1910 and became the focal point for the classical liberal movement in France. His firm became the major publishing house for liberal ideas in the mid nineteenth century. Guillaumin helped found the JDE in 1841 with Horace Say (Jean-Baptiste's son) and Joseph Garnier. The following year he helped found the PES which became the main organization which brought like-minded classical liberals together for discussion and debate.

203 The French Free Trade Association was modeled on the English Anti-Corn Law League which was founded in 1838 in Manchester and which was successful in having the Corn Laws repealed in January 1846. A group of French free traders founded a Free Trade Association in the port city of Bordeaux in February 1846 and then a national association in Paris in July 1846 of which Bastiat was the secretary of the Board and the editor of its weekly journal Le Libre-échange (29 November 1846 to 16 April 1848).

204 See T.44-46 "Plan for an Anti-Protectionist League" (in 3 parts), Mémorial bordelais , 8, 9, 10 February, 1846, in CW6 (forthcoming). And then the final announcement on the eve of the Association's launch on 23 February, T.48 "The Free Trade Association in Bordeaux", Mémorial bordelais , 18 Feb. 1846, in CW6 (forthcoming).

205 See the glossary on "The Anti-Corn Law League."

206 Approximately 4.9 million acres.

207 Approximately 2,641 US gallons.

208 Indirect taxes were levied on drink, salt, sugar, tobacco, gun powder, and other goods. According to the budget for 1848 (for which we have the most detailed figures) the government raised fr. 307.9 million in indirect taxes which represented 22.4% of its total revenue of fr. 1.37 billion. See the glossary entry on "Indirect Taxes."

209 See the glossary entry on "Octroi."

210 Bastiat would return to this problem in much more detail in a Report he gave to the General Council of Les Landes "On the Allocation of the Land Tax in the Department of Les Landes" (July 1844). See below, pp. 000.

211 This is a sly reference by Bastiat to one of the key slogans of the socialist movement which was developing in France during the 1840s. By also using the word Bastiat is showing that there is another, non-socialist, liberal meaning of the word. See the Introduction to T. 23 "Letter to Lamartine" below, pp. 000; and the glossary entry "Association and Organisation."

212 The July Monarchy (1830-48) had very strict rules which limited freedom of association and speech. All public organisations and magazines had to be approved by the government, and in the case of magazines, "caution money" (a deposit) had to be paid as security for any possible future violation of the censorship laws.

213 Some of the totals in the original tables are incorrect. We have corrected them.

214 There was very onerous legislation which regulated every aspect of the operation of Cabarets, such as rules governing regular inspections, hours of opening and closing, inspections of the quality of the drinks served, and acceptable behaviour in a public space. That wine growers would be subject to the same regulations was an affront to their dignity as Bastiat makes clear. See on the laws governing Cabarets in Formulaire municipal , Volume 2, "Cabarets", pp. 289-304.

215 One of the first acts of the new July Monarchy in August 1830 was to launch an inquiry into the alcohol tax. See, Procès-verbal des séances de la Commission instituée pour examiner les impôts sur les boissons (1830). It recommended reductions which the regime later came to regret as the budget deficit increased, hence Humann's desire to see the regime revert to the higher rates which prevailed before 1830.

 

 


 

T.298 "On the Cost of Being Governed" (1843)

Source

T.298 (1843) "On the Cost of Being Governed" (1843). This previously unpublished sketch was discovered by the original French editor Paillottet among Bastiat's papers and inserted in a footnote to "Speech on the Tax on Wines and Spirits" (Dec. 1849). He says it was dated 1843. [OC5, pp. 483-85] [CW2, pp. 339-41] </titles/2450#lf1573-02_label_408>

Originally published as a footnote to T.244 (1849.12.12) "Speech on the Tax on Wines and Spirits" (Discours sur l'impôt des boissons). Speech given in the Legislative Assembly on 12 Dec. 1849. [OC5, pp. 468-93] [CW2, pp. 328-47].

Editor's Introduction

We know very little about Bastiat's personal life, including the nature or amount of his income. We do know that he inherited land near Mugron from his grandfather in 1825 (both his father and mother had died when he was quite young and he was raised by his grandfather and an aunt), that he owned about 250 hectares (617 acres) of land, some of which was farmed by sharecroppers, 216 and that he paid enough in direct taxes (over 500 francs p.a.) to not only vote but to stand for election, which he did unsuccessfully in 1831, 1832, and 1842 (the year before this piece was probably written).

Paying this amount of direct tax each year put Bastiat the top 5% of income earners in France, thus making him a member of "la classe électorale" (the electoral or voting class) who were eligible to vote and stand for elections - about 240,000 men out of a population of 35 million - until the Revolution of February 1848 introduced the Second Republic and universal manhood suffrage. 217

This short sketch may well be based upon Bastiat's own financial situation, since Monsieur "N." also pays fr. 500 in direct taxes, and is a kind of rumination by a frustrated taxpayer about what he pays to the government in the form of taxes and fees for service, and what he gets in return. Bastiat tells us that he has the 1842 Budget Papers 218 in hand as he compiles this fictitious "system of individual accounts" which he hopes the government might provide each tax payer. He says that Monsieur "N." paid a total of fr. 1,162 to the French state (in taxes and fees for services) out of an annual income of fr. 2,400 to 2,600 or 46% (if his income was fr. 2,500).

The idea that the government would give each tax payer an itemised annual "account" of their payments to and services or benefits received from the government is a very radical one. Bastiat's purpose was to use this as a way of showing in much greater detail what the relationship was between taxpayers and their government, perhaps with the added notion of showing them whether or not they were net "tax-payers" or net "tax-receivers" along the lines of Calhoun's theory. 219 In this instance, Monsieur "N" pays in fees and taxes a total of 1,162 francs to the state, or 46.5% of his income of 2,500 fr., but comes out as a net tax receiver since he receives 89 fr. 17 c. more from the government in services and benefits than he pays to it. Since the "sums paid out for the benefit" of M. "N" are an average which includes all French tax payers it is not at all clear that this particular taxpayer would "benefit" from government expenditure on the Civil List, subsidies to dancers, aid to colonists (to encourage settlement in Algeria), and so. But of course this was probably part of Bastiat's intention to show tax payers how little they directly got back from the government but which went to particular vested interests which had the government's ear.

Text

It can be said that taxpayers cry out instinctively against the weight of taxes, for few of them know exactly what it costs them to be governed. We are fully aware of our share of land tax, but not what taxes on consumer goods take from us. I have always thought that nothing would be more favorable to progress in our constitutional knowledge and customs than a system of individual accounts , through which each person's attention could be focused on their contribution, concerning both the amount paid and the purpose to which it was put.

While waiting for the day when the Minister of Finance sends us our current account with the Treasury along with our yearly assessment of direct taxes, I have endeavored to design such a form with the 1842 budget to hand.

Here is the account of Monsieur "N", a landowner paying 500 fr. of direct taxes, which implies a revenue of 2,400 to 2,600 fr. at the most.

THE PUBLIC TREASURY'S CURRENT ACCOUNT WITH M. "N".

DEBIT . Sums received from M. "N" in 1843
fr. c.
Through direct taxes 500 0
Registration, stamps, use of public land 504 17
Customs and salt 158 0
Forestry and fishing 30 10
Indirect taxes 206 67
Post Office 39 0
The (state) University 2 50
Sundry products 21 87
TOTAL 1,162 31

 

CREDIT . Sums paid out for the Benefit of M. "N" .
fr. c.
Interest on the public debt 353 0
Civil List 14 0
Law Courts and Justice 20 0
Religion 36 0
Diplomacy 8 0
State education 16 0
Secret expenditure 1 0
Telegraphs 1 0
Subsidies to musicians and dancers 3 0
The needy, sick, and handicapped 1 10
Aid to refugees 2 15
Subsidies to agriculture 0 80
  to deep-sea fishing 4 0
  to manufacturing 0 23
Stud farms 2 0
Sheep pens 0 63
Aid to colonists 0 87
  to those suffering from fire and flood 0 90
Departmental services 72 0
Prefects and subprefects 7 20
Roads, canals, bridges, and ports 52 60
Army 364 0
Navy 114 0
Colonies 26 0
Tax collection and administration 150 0
T OTAL 1,251 48

Between the debit of 1,162 fr. 31 c. and the credit of 1,251 fr. 48 c. the difference is 89 fr. 17 c. This balance means that the treasury has spent 89 fr. 17 c. more on behalf of M. "N" than it has received from him. However, M. "N" should be reassured; Messrs. Rothschild and company 220 were willing to advance this sum and Mr. "N" will have to pay only the interest in perpetuity, that is to say, to pay in the future 4 to 5 fr. a year more.

Endnotes

216 Additional autobiographical information about Bastiat's relationship with his sharecroppers can be found in T.47 (1846.02.15) "Thoughts on Sharecropping" (Considérations sur le métayage), JDE , T.13, no. 51, Feb. 1846, pp. 225-239. [CW4 below]

217 See the glossary on "The Chamber of Deputies and the Electoral Class."

218 A summary of French government budgets for the years 1814-147 can be found in A. Bernard, "Résumé des Budgets de la France de 1814 à 1847", in Annuaire de l'Économie politique 1849 (Paris: Guillaumin, 1849), pp. 67-76. Total income for 1842 was fr. 1,334,762,321 (p. 70) and total expenditure was fr. 1,440,974,148 (p. 71) which produced a deficit of fr. 10,621,182 or 8%. The complete budget data can be found in Collection complete des lois, decrets, ordonnances, reglemens et avis du Conseil d'Etat …. Année 1841 , par J.B. Duvergier. Volume 41 (Paris: Chez A. Guyot et Scribe, 1841), 25 juin - 10 juillet 1841 "Loi potant fixation du budget des dépenses de l'exercise 1842", pp. 394-441.

219 John C. Calhoun, "A Disquisition on Government" (1849) in Union and Liberty: The Political Philosophy of John C. Calhoun , ed. Ross M. Lence (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1992), pp. 17-19.

220 James Mayer de Rothschild (1792–1868), the fifth son of Mayer Rothschild, set up a branch of the family banking business in Paris in 1812 which became heavily invested in mining, railways, and wine making. The Rothschilds also lent money to King Louis Philippe in the early 1830s to help him stabilise the finances of his regime, which led to the appointed of James as a Grand Officer of the Legion of Honour.

 

 


 

T.13 (1843.01.22) "Memoir Presented to the Société d’agriculture, commerce, arts, et sciences du département des Landes on the Wine-Growing Question"

Source

T.13 (1843.01.22) "Memoir Presented to the Société d’agriculture, commerce, arts, et sciences du département des Landes on the Wine-Growing Question" (Mémoire présenté à la société d’agriculture, commerce, arts et sciences, du département des Landes sur la question vinicole). [OC1, pp. 261-83.] [CW2.3, pp. 25-42.]

Editor’s Introduction

(to come)

Text

Sirs,

In one of your previous sessions you set up a commission to investigate the causes of the hardship afflicting the wine-growing sector of the département of the Landes and the means by which it would be possible to combat this.

Circumstances have not allowed me to transmit to the commission the work it entrusted to me. I regret this most sincerely, since the contribution of the enlightened men that form the commission would have made it more worthy of you. Although I am bold enough to believe that my ideas are not so very different from those that they would have authorized me to submit to you, I must nevertheless assume full responsibility. . . .

Sirs, proving first of all that the hardship experienced by our wine-growing people is genuine and presenting a living picture of this to you would both satisfy the logical order of this report and win over your interest and goodwill for it. I am only too ready to sacrifice this consideration to the desire not to intrude on your time too much, since, ready as I am to admit unreservedly and without fear of being wrong that we are not all in agreement on the causes of the decline of the industry we are discussing, there is at least no disagreement between us on the fact that this decline exists.

A detailed analysis of all the causes that have contributed to this unfortunate result would also lead to amplifications that are too wide-ranging.

We would need first of all to examine those causes that are beyond our [26] means of action. One of these is competition from the southeast of France, which is growing daily, encouraged by the gradual improvement in our transport systems. Another is the relative inferiority that appears to be the lot of regions that, like the Chalosse, are not structured to replace cultivation using manpower with that using oxen.

We would then need to distinguish the causes of suffering for which the producer himself is responsible. Has he devoted enough time to improving his cultivating and wine-producing procedures? Has he been farsighted enough to limit his planting? Has he been clever enough to adapt his products to the changes that may have been noted in the needs and tastes of consumers? Have efforts been made, through the choice and blend of grape varieties or other means, to substitute quality for the quantity of wine produced, insofar as outlets are limited, since this might have restored the balance of income to a certain extent? And has the Société d’agriculture itself not been too sparing of encouragement to an agricultural sector from which a third of our population earns its living, while being only too ready to encourage the introduction of exotic plants, whose success is more than uncertain?1

Finally, we need to list those causes of our hardship that must be laid at the door of government measures whose effect has been to hinder the production, circulation, and consumption of wine, and this would lead me to examine the special influence on our region of direct taxes, indirect taxes, city tolls, and customs regulations.

I will limit the scope of this report to the last three of these causes of our sufferings, first because they are much the most immediate determinants of our decline and second because I consider that they are susceptible to present or future changes, which public opinion may hasten or delay at will through demonstrations for or against them.

Before discussing this subject, I have to say that it has been examined with impressive intellectual talent, along with several other economic questions, by one of our colleagues, M. Auguste Lacome of Le Houga,2 in a paper that was read during one of your previous sessions. The author assesses the situation of vineyard owners with equal sagacity and impartiality. By granting concessions that were perhaps too great, he acknowledges that the ever-increasing needs of the country, the communes, and the factories make [27] it unlikely that our public charges will be reduced. He asks the question whether, supposing this to be so, it is just to give satisfaction to all interests at the expense of the interests of wine alone and, after establishing that this is as contrary to natural justice as it is to the letter of the law, he seeks to find out by what means the resources requested up to now from our sector might be replaced. Going down this route and directing his meditations to practical use is to show genuine capability and the ability to rise above the crowd of critical souls who limit themselves to the facile task of criticizing what is wrong without suggesting a remedy. I will not take the liberty of deciding whether the author has always succeeded in indicating the proper sources from whom compensation for the tax on wines and spirits should be requested; I will limit myself to suggesting that the general public should be enabled to judge this by including Lacome’s paper in our Annals.

Sirs, I am approaching the subject I propose to discuss. Has the triple chain of gross impositions that our wines encounter through city dues, indirect taxes, or customs tariffs, depending on whether they seek outlets in towns, nationwide, or through export sales, affected production or caused the burdens that have given rise to our complaints?

It would be very surprising if there were conflicting opinions on this.

What has become of the many commercial houses in Bayonne whose sole activity in days gone by was to export our wines and spirits to Belgium, Holland, Prussia, Denmark, Sweden, and the towns of the Hanseatic League? What has become of the inland navigation system, which we have seen so active and which incontestably gave rise to the many concentrations of population established on the left bank of the Adour? What has become of the proliferating trade investment in a product that because of its property of improving with age would under normal conditions increase in value with time, a product that was effectively a savings bank for our forefathers, spread a comfortable existence among the working classes of the time, and was the traditionally acknowledged source of all the wealth that still survives in Chalosse? All of that has disappeared together with freedom of production and trade.

In the face of this twin assault on our property by the protectionist regime and overbearing taxation, faced with a burden so straightforwardly explained by the obstacles that block our domestic and foreign outlets, nothing surprises us more than the haste with which the tax authorities seek to find the cause of our sufferings elsewhere, unless it is the credulity of the general public in being taken in by their sophisms.

This, however, is what we witness every day. The tax authorities claim [28] that too many vines have been planted and each person repeats, “If we are suffering, it is not because we lack trade or because the weight of taxes is suffocating us, but because we have planted too many vines.”

I have in previous times attacked this assertion, but it expresses an opinion that is too widespread and the tax authorities have made it too deadly a weapon against us for me not to return to my refutation in a few words.

First of all, I would very much like our opponents to set the limits they intend to impose on the growing of vines! I never hear reproaches made that wheat, flax, or orchards invade too high a proportion of our territory. The comparison of supply and demand and costs compared with sale prices are the limits between which the expansion or contraction of industries operates. Why would vine growing, contrary to this general law, extend more widely as it becomes more ruinous?

People will say all that is theory. Well then, let us see what the facts reveal.

Through the offices of a minister of finance,3 we learn that the wine-growing area of France was 1,555,475 hectares in 1788 and 1,993,307 hectares in 1828. The increase is therefore in the ratio of 100 to 128. In the same period of time, the population of France, which according to Necker4 had been 24 million, increased to 32 million, a ratio of 100 to 133. The cultivation of vines, far from expanding unreasonably, has not even kept up with the increase in numbers of the population.

We could check this result through research into consumption if we had statistical data relating to this. As far as we know, this has been done only for Paris and has provided the following result:

Population Total Consumption Consumption per Inhabitant
5.(Bastiat’s note) Mémorial de chronologie [The Chronological Gazette].
6.(Bastiat’s note) Lavoisier.
7.(Bastiat’s note) Annuaire du bureau des longitudes [The Yearbook of the Longitudes Office].
8.(Bastiat’s note) Ibid.
1789 599,5665 687,500 hectoliters6 114 liters
1836 909,1257 922,364 hectoliters8 101 liters
[29]

Thus, sirs, it is undeniable that in this half-century and while all branches of production have made such remarkable progress, the most natural thing we produce has remained at the very least stationary.

We should conclude that the so-called encroachment of vines is based on allegations as contrary to logic as to fact, and after we have been assured that we are not mistaken in attributing our suffering to the administrative measures that have limited all of our outlets, let us examine the character and effects of these measures more closely.

At the top of the list, we should place the indirect tax on wines and spirits and the duties on circulation, dispatch, consumption, license, transportation, entry, and retail—a sorry and incomplete list of the subtle inventions by which the tax authorities are paralyzing our industry and greedily extracting from it, indirectly, more than one hundred million every year. Far from giving any hint of a foreseeable lessening in these rigors, they redouble them from year to year and although, in 1830, they were obliged in a revolutionary spirit,9 so to speak, to agree to a reduction of forty million, a reduction that has ceased to be noticeable, they have never allowed a session to be completed without expressing their regret and complaining about it.

It has to be said that the wine-producing populations have rarely brought a practical business attitude to bear in their efforts to escape from this regime of arbitrary exceptions. Driven by the more immediate impact of their own sufferings or by the necessities of the time, either they have demanded, vehemently, the total abolition of all consumption taxes, or they have bowed unreservedly under a system they considered monstrous but irremediable, thus swinging from blind confidence to cowardly demoralization.

The pure and simple abolition of indirect contributions is obviously an illusion. Demanded in the name of equality of duties, it implies the abolition of all consumption taxes, from those imposed on salt and tobacco to those bearing on wines and spirits, and what bold reformer would succeed in decreasing budgeted public expenditure immediately to the level of budgeted income reduced to the four headings of direct taxation? No doubt the time will come, and we should hasten its coming through our efforts as well as our hopes, when private industry, with a morale lifted by experience and expanded by a sense of association, will encroach on the domain of public [30] services; and government, reduced to its essential function, the maintaining of internal and external security, will require only the resources to meet this sphere of activity, thus enabling a host of taxes that undermine the liberty and equality of our citizens to be removed from our financial system. But how far from this trend are the views of those who govern us and the all-powerful forces of public opinion! We are being drawn inexorably and perhaps providentially in opposite directions. We ask everything from the state: roads, canals, railways, encouragement, protection, monuments, education, conquests, colonies, and military, maritime, and diplomatic supremacy; we want to civilize Africa and Oceania and what else? Like England, we are obeying a force for expansion that is directing all our resources to be centralized in the hands of the state; we cannot therefore avoid seeking, like England, the exercise of power in taxes on consumption, the most fruitful, regularly increasing, and even the most tolerable of all taxes, when properly understood, since it is then mingled with the act of consumption itself.

But should we conclude from this that all is well with the current situation, or at least that our ills are irremediable? I do not think so. On the contrary, I think that the time has come to subject indirect taxation, still in its infancy, to a revolution similar to that which the land register and equalization have brought to taxes on land.

I in no sense aspire here to the formulation of an entire system of indirect taxes, since this would require knowledge and experience, which I am far from possessing. However, I hope that you will not find it out of place for me to lay down a few principles if only to give you a glimpse of the huge field awaiting your consideration.

I have said that indirect taxation was still in its infancy. Perhaps it will be felt that it is somewhat presumptuous to judge a work of Napoléon in this way. However, it must be realized that a tax system is always of necessity imperfect at its outset, since it is established under the influence of some urgent need. Is it to be imagined that if a need for funds gave rise to a land tax in a country in which this type of public revenue was unknown, it would be possible at the first try to achieve the perfection that has been achieved in France only at the cost of fifty years of work and a hundred million of expenditure? How therefore could indirect taxation, so complicated in nature, have achieved from its inception the final degree of perfection?

A rational law for a good system of consumer taxes would be this: make the tax as comprehensive as possible with regard to the number of objects it falls on and as moderate as possible with regard to its level.

[31]

The closer indirect taxation gets in practical terms to these two rules, the more it will fulfill the conditions that ought to be found in an institution of this kind:

  • 1. Make each person contribute in accordance with his wealth;
  • 2. Avoid damaging production;
  • 3. Hinder the movements of industry and commerce as little as possible;
  • 4. Curtail profits and consequently the incidence of fraud;
  • 5. Avoid imposing restrictions that make arbitrary exceptions of any specific class of citizen;
  • 6. Follow unswervingly all the fluctuations of public wealth;
  • 7. Adapt with the greatest flexibility to all the distinctions that a sensible policy can establish between products, depending on whether they are essentials or convenience products and luxuries;
  • 8. Get involved, readily, in cultural mores by emphasizing with regard to public opinion the respect with which it does not fail to enshrine everything that is undeniably useful, moderate, and just.

It appears in this case that our financial system has been based on the diametrically opposing principle, namely the limitation of the number of objects taxed and the maintenance of the tax on a high level.

A choice has been made, from a thousand products, of two or three—salt, wine and spirits, and tobacco—and these have been heavily burdened.

Once again, it could scarcely have been otherwise. The head of state, desperate for money, has not been concerned with perfection or justice. He has been concerned with making funds flow into the treasury abundantly and easily, and since he had a force capable of overcoming all resistance, he had only to pick a product that was eminently taxable and inflict repeated blows on it.10

With regard to us, the public, wines and spirits must have been the first to come to his mind. They are universally used and promise abundant resources. They are difficult to transport and could hardly escape the attention of the tax authorities. They are produced by a scattered population, which is apathetic and inexperienced in public conflict, and their collection did [32] not seem likely to subject the authorities to insurmountable resistance. The Decree dated 5th Ventôse11 in the Year XII was passed accordingly.

However, two opposing principles can produce only opposing consequences; it could not therefore be denied that indirect taxes such as those instituted by the Decree of Year XII12 are a perpetual violation of the rights and personal interests of citizens.

Indirect taxation is unjust simply by virtue of the exceptions it makes.

It offends equity because it raises as much from the wages of a workman as from the income of a millionaire.

Indirect taxation is bad economics because by raising too much revenue it limits consumption, affects production, and tends to restrict the very source that feeds it.

It is not good policy, since it encourages fraud and is incapable of either preventing or repressing fraud without encircling the activities of production with formalities and obstacles laid down in the most barbarous code that has ever dishonored the legislature of a great people.

If, therefore, men of goodwill and intelligence, the councils of the départements and districts, the Chambers of Commerce, the societies for agriculture, the committees of industrialists and wine producers, these lobby groups that fashion public opinion and draw up material for legislation, wish to give their work in this context a useful and practical direction, if they wish to achieve results that reconcile the collective requirements of [33] our civilization and the interests of each industry and class of citizen, they should not have recourse to a puerile list of unattainable requirements and still less should they give way to sterile discouragement. They should work with perseverance toward the fertile principle we have just set out, with all its just and practical consequences.

The second cause of the decline in wine producing is the regime of city tolls. In the same way that indirect taxes hinder the general circulation of wine, city tolls drive the wine trade away from population centers, that is to say, its major markets of consumption. This is the second barrier placed by the spirit of taxation between the seller and the purchaser.

Except for the fact that city tolls are applied to specific locations, they are a branch of indirect taxation, and for this reason their proper basis in terms both of yield and of justice is the one we have just assigned to this kind of tax: generalization with regard to its area of operation, limitation with regard to the intensity of its application. In other words, such tolls must cover everything but must subject each product to a duty too small to be noticed. City tolls are all the more properly held to this principle of good administration and equity in that unlike combined duties they do not even have the trite excuse of being hard to collect. However, we see that the principle of taxing only certain key products has won in this instance and that highly populated towns base half, three quarters, and even all of their revenues on wines and spirits alone.

If the tariffs of city tolls were left to the sovereign decision of municipal councils, wine-producing départements would be able to retaliate against manufacturing départements. All the working groups of the population would then be seen to engage in an internal customs conflict, a huge turmoil, but one from which the common sense of the general public would probably sooner or later, by way of negotiation, cause the application of the principle we have invoked. It is unquestionably to avoid these domestic disorders that the central power has been given the authority to regulate the tariffs of city tolls, an authority that is an essential part of the franchises of towns and of which they have been deprived for the benefit of the state only on condition that the state is responsible for keeping an even balance between all the various interests.

What use has the state made of this excessive prerogative? If there is one product that the state ought to have protected and removed from municipal rapacity, that product is wine, which already provides the community with so many and such heavy tributes, and yet it is precisely wine that it allows [34] to be overburdened. What is more, a law has set limits to these extortions; a vain barrier

For the crucible of decrees

Has evaporated the law.13

Would we be showing ourselves to be too demanding if we asked that the tariffs of city tolls be gradually reduced to a maximum not exceeding 10 percent of the value of the goods?

The protectionist regime is the third cause of our hardship, and perhaps the one that has most immediately caused our decline. It is therefore worth your particular attention, especially since it is currently the subject of a lively debate between all of the interests concerned, at the end of which debate your opinion and wishes cannot remain far apart.

Customs duties originated as a means of creating revenue for the state. They are an indirect tax, a giant national toll; and as long as they retain this characteristic it is an act of injustice and bad management to remove them from this rule governing any consumer taxes: universality and reasonableness of the tax.

I would go even further: as long as the customs service is a purely fiscal institution, it is in its interest to tax not only imports but also exports, under the twin consideration that the state is thus creating for itself a second source of revenue that costs nothing to collect and that is borne by foreign consumers.

However, it has to be said that it is no longer tax but protection that is the aim of our customs measures, and in order to judge them from this point of view, we would have to go into arguments and developments which have no place in this report. I will limit myself therefore to considerations that have a direct bearing on our subject.

The idea that dominates the protectionist system is this: if we succeed in creating a new form of industry in our country or in giving new impetus to an industry that already exists, we will be increasing the mass of work and consequently the wealth of the nation. Now, a simple way of causing a product to be made within is to prevent its coming in from outside. From this we get prohibitive or protectionist duties.

[35]

This system would be based on reason if it were in the power of a decree to add something to the wherewithal of production. But there is no decree in the world that can increase the number of hands or the fertility of the soil of the nation, add a cent to its capital or an additional ray to its sunshine. All that a law can do is to change the combinations of action that these means exercise over each other, substitute an artificial direction for the spontaneous direction of production, and force it to solicit the services of a miserly agent instead of a generous one: in a word, to divide it, scatter it, mislead it, and set it against greater obstacles but never to increase it.

Allow me a comparison. If I said to someone, “You have just one field and you grow cereals in it, part of which you sell to purchase flax and oil. Do you not see that you depend on two other farmers? Divide your field into three; divide your time, your advance payments, and your strength into three and grow olive trees, flax, and cereals together.” This man would probably have good arguments to put against me, but if I had authority over him I would add: “You do not know your own interests; I forbid you, under pain of paying me huge taxes, to purchase oil and flax from anyone whomsoever.” I would oblige this man to diversify his crops, but would I have increased his well-being? That is the prohibitionist regime. It is a bad pruning of the industrial tree, which, while adding nothing to its sap, diverts the tree from growing fruit in favor of suckers.

In this way, in each zone protectionism encourages the production of consumable value but discourages to the same degree tradable value, from which we must rigorously conclude—and this is what brings me back to the decline of wine producing in France—that protectionist tariffs cannot promote the production of certain objects we obtain from abroad without restricting the industries that supply us with the means of trade, that is to say, without causing hindrance and suffering to that production that harmonizes best with the climate, the soil, and the gift s of the inhabitants.

And, sirs, do not the facts once again energetically support the rigor of these deductions? What is happening on either side of the Channel? On the other side, with this nation that nature has endowed so profusely with the wherewithal and the ability needed for the development of manufacturing industry, it is precisely the population of the workshops that is devoured by destitution, misery, and starvation. Language has no expression to describe such hardship; goodwill is powerless to relieve it, and the laws are powerless to repress the disturbances to which it gives rise.

On this side of the Channel, a clear sky and generous sun should generate [36] inexhaustible sources of wealth at every corner of the territory. Well then! It is exactly the wine-producing population that offers the vision of destitution, a sad mirror of the destitution that reigns in the workshops of Great Britain.

Doubtless the poverty of French vineyard owners is less widely trumpeted than that of English workmen. Its ravages are not felt by turbulent urban masses, and it is not proclaimed by the thousand outlets of the press morning and evening, but it is no less real. Travel through our sharecropping farms and you will see families in straitened circumstances, their food mere corn and water, people whose entire consumption does not exceed ten centimes per day per person. Half of this may be supplied to them, apparently as a loan but in effect as a gift from the owner. For this reason, the fate of the owner is relatively no better. Enter his house, one that is falling down, with furniture handed down from generation to generation bearing witness to the struggle that exists, an incessant and bitter struggle against the attractions of well-being and modern comforts that surround him and that he keeps out. Initially you will be tempted to see a ridiculous side to these constant privations, this ingenious parsimony, but take a closer look and you will soon see its sad and touching and, I might say, almost heroic side, for the thought that sustains him in this painful conflict is the ardent desire to keep his sons up to the level of his ancestors, to avoid descending from generation to generation down to the lowest ranks of the social scale, an intolerable suffering from which all his efforts will not spare him.

Why therefore are these people, who are so rich in iron and fire, so rich in capital and productive abilities, whose men are active, persevering, and as constant as the cogs of their machines, dying of want on piles of coal, iron, and fabric? Why are these other people with fertile land and generous sun succumbing to deprivation surrounded by their vines, silk, and cereals? Solely because an economic error incorporated in the protectionist regime has forbidden them to trade mutually in their various riches. Thus, this deplorable system, already ruined on theoretical grounds by economic science, also has ranged against it the terrible argument of the facts.

It is therefore not surprising that we are witnessing the start of a reaction in favor of liberal ideas.14 These ideas have arisen in the highest of our intelligent [37] minds, and, before rallying the forces of public opinion, they have penetrated the sphere of power, in England with Huskisson and in France with M. Duchâtel.15

Doubtless, the government is generally in no great hurry to hasten the development of public freedoms. There is, however, one exception to be made in favor of free trade. It can never be through ill will but only through systematic error that those in power paralyze this freedom. They are only too aware that if the customs service were brought back to its original purpose—the creation of public revenue—the treasury would gain, the task of the government would be made easier because of its neutrality in the face of industrial rivalries, and peace between nations would have its most powerful guarantee in the trade relations between peoples.

We should therefore not be surprised by the trend toward favoring free trade that is becoming apparent in the high circles of governments in Prussia, Austria, Spain, England, Belgium, and France, in the guise of customs unions, trade, commercial treaties, etc., etc.16 These are all steps toward the holy alliance of peoples.

Unquestionably, one of the most significant official demonstrations of this trend is the treaty negotiated two years ago between France and England.17 At that time if the wine-producing industry had kept an eye on its genuine interests, it would have glimpsed, and through its share of influence hastened, a prosperous future of which it probably had no idea. In effect, at no time had such brilliant prospects been open to southern France. Not only was England lowering the duties she had imposed on our wines, but [38] through an innovation of incalculable effect she was also replacing the fixed duty that was so disadvantageous to ordinary wines with a progressive duty which, while maintaining a reasonably high tax on luxury wine, reduced very considerably the duty on lower-quality wine. This meant that not only a few aristocratic cellars but also the farms, workshops, and cottages of Great Britain were open to our production. No longer was it just the Aï, Laffitte, and Sauterne18 that had the privilege of crossing the Channel; the entire wine-producing districts of France were suddenly faced with twenty million consumers. I will not try to calculate the effect of a revolution on this scale and its influence on our vineyards, merchant navy, and trading towns, but I do not think anyone can doubt that, under the sway of this treaty, production, revenue, and investment in land in our département would have increased rapidly and prodigiously.

From another point of view, the principle of a progressive rate of duty was a fine victory and a step toward the general adoption of an ad valorem tax, the only just and equitable system that conforms to the true principles of science. A uniform duty is by nature aristocratic; it allows for the maintenance of a few relationships only, and only between high-born producers and consumers. A progressive duty based on value would bring the popular masses of all nations into relations of common interest.

However, France could not lay claim to such advantages without opening its market to some of the products of English industry. The treaty was likely, therefore, to be resisted by manufacturers. This was not slow to manifest itself in a clever, persevering, and desperate way. The producers of coal, iron, and fabric made their grievances plain and did not limit themselves to passive opposition. Associations and committees were organized within each industry; permanent delegates were given the mission of winning acceptance for special interests by ministries and chambers. Abundant and regular subscriptions assured the support of the most widely distributed newspapers to this cause and, through their pages, gained the sympathy of public opinion, which was misled. It was not enough to cause the treaty to fail to be concluded temporarily; it had to be made impossible, even at the risk of a general conflagration, and to this end the patriotic pride that is such a sensitive fiber in French hearts had to be unceasingly inflamed. Since that time, we have seen these groups stir up, with devilish Machiavellianism, all the [39] long-dormant jealousies of the nation and finally succeed in sabotaging all the negotiations started with England.

A short time afterward, the governments of France and Belgium developed the idea of merging the economic interests of the two nations.19 Once again this was a source of hope for the industries of the south and a source of alarm for the manufacturing monopoly. This time, circumstances were not favorable for the monopoly; working against it were the interest of the masses and the industries in trouble, as well as the influence of the government and every popular instinct, quick to see in the customs union the prelude to and guarantee of a closer alliance between these two children of the same fatherland. Journalists who had supported it with regard to the English question were of little succor in the Belgian case for fear of being discredited in the eyes of the general public. All they could do was either counter the customs union through insinuations made with a great deal of oratorical circumspection or retreat into shameful neutrality.

However, the neutrality of the newspapers in the most important question to be raised in France at the present time could not be maintained for very long. The monopoly had no time to lose; it needed a prompt and vigorous demonstration to bring about the failure of the customs union and continue to keep our south of France under their heel. This was the mission that an assembly of delegates, which became famous under the name of the deputy who was its president (M. Fulchiron), accomplished successfully.

What were the wine-producing interests doing in the meantime? Alas! They scarcely managed laboriously to produce a few shadows of association. When they should have gone into combat, committees were recruited with difficulty in the depths of a province. With no organization, resources, order, or mouthpiece, is it surprising that they were defeated for the second time?

But it would be foolish to lose heart. It is not in the power of a few [40] fleeting intrigues to bury major social questions in this way and to reverse permanently the trends that are leading to the unity of human destinies. These questions may be restricted for a time, but they rise up again and these trends regain strength; at the time I am speaking to you, these questions have already been referred to our national assemblies by the speech from the throne.

Let us hope that this time the committees of wine producers will not be absent from the battlefield. Privilege has immense resources; it has delegates, finance, and supporters who have more or less declared themselves in the press. It is strong in the unity and swiftness of its movements. Let the cause of freedom be defended by the same means. It has truth and immense numbers in its favor; let it also acquire organization. Let committees rise up in all the départements and join with the central committee in Paris. Let them increase their financial and intellectual resources. May they finally help the central committee to carry out the difficult mission of being a powerful support for the government if it moves toward establishing free trade and an obstacle if it yields to the exactions of the special interests of a privileged industrial sector.

But is it part of your portfolio to give support to this task?

Well, sirs, is not your title the Société d’agriculture et commerce? Are you not summoned from all corners of the land as being the men most familiar with the knowledge relating to these two branches of public wealth? Do you not recognize that, since they are exhausted by disastrous measures, they no longer provide not just well-being but even subsistence for the population, and are you not allowed to take such dearly held interests under your wing and do what Chambers of Commerce are doing every day? Are you not a society to be taken seriously? Is the extent of your attributions legally limited to the inspection of some foreign plant, imaginary fertilizer, or common sector of speculative agronomy? And is it enough for a question to be serious for you to waive your credentials immediately?

I am convinced that the Société d’agriculture would not wish to reduce its influence to this degree. I have the honor of proposing that it adopt the following resolution:

Draft Resolution

The Société d’agriculture des Landes, taking note of the hardship afflicting the people of the Chalosse and Armagnac, who are particularly devoted to the cultivation of vines;

[41]

Acknowledging that the principal causes of this hardship are indirect taxation, city tolls, and the protectionist regime;

With regard to indirect taxation, the Society considers that the owners of vineyards, for as long as the state in order to meet its expenditures cannot forfeit its current revenues, cannot hope that a source of revenue as important as this be cut without replacing it with another, but nevertheless the Society still supports the vineyard owners’ just protestations against the regime of arbitrary exceptions in which this system of taxation has placed them. It does not consider it impossible that a means of reconciling the requirements of the treasury, the interest of the taxpayers, and the truth of the principle of the equality of charges might be found in an extension of this type of tax at a reasonable level and with a less-complicated method of collection.

It is through a similar deviation from the laws of equity that city tolls were authorized to base themselves almost exclusively on wines and spirits. By reserving the right to sanction the tariffs decided by vote in the communes, it appears that the aim of the state must have been to prevent city tolls, overwhelmed with the industrial hostility aroused, from becoming between provinces what the customs system is between nations, a perpetual ferment of discord. However, it is in that case difficult to explain how the state can have tolerated and seconded the coalition of the interests of all the towns against one single sector of production. All the abuses of city tolls would be prevented if the law restored their franchises to the communes and intervened in the arrangement of the tariffs only to set them at a general, uniform limit that would not be exceeded to the disadvantage of any product, without distinction.

The Society also attributes the decline of wine producing in the département of the Landes to the absolute stoppage of exports of wines and spirits through the port of Bayonne, an effect that the protectionist regime could not fail to produce. It has also gained the hope of a speedy improvement in our external outlets from the recent words of the king of the French.20

The Society does not pretend that the obstacles that the spirit of monopoly will put in the path of the accomplishment of this benefit do not exist. It will point out that by temporarily turning the action of tariffs to the advantage of a few industrial firms, France never intended to relinquish the right to use customs dues for a purely fiscal purpose; rather, far from this, France has always proclaimed that protection was by its very nature temporary. The time has come at last when private interests should be subjugated to the interests [42] of consumers, industries suffering hardship, the maritime commerce of trading towns, and the overall interest of peace between nations of which trade is the surest guarantee.

The society expresses the wish that future treaties should, as far as possible, be founded on the principle of duties proportional to the value of the goods, which is the only true and fair system and the only one that is able to extend to all classes the benefits of international trade.

Foreseeing all the debates that are bound to take place between rival industries when the reform of the customs system takes place, the society believes it would be abandoning the cause that it has just taken under its patronage if it left the département of the Landes without the resources to take part in the combat which is being prepared.

Consequently, and in the absence of special committees, whose support it regrets not being able to lean upon in these circumstances, it has decided that the Commission of Wine Producers, which has already been nominated in the session of 17 April 1842, will continue its functions and will communicate with the committees for the Gironde and Paris.

Copies of this resolution will be sent through the good offices of the secretary of the Society to the minister for trade, to the Commissions of the chambers involved, and to the secretariat of the committees of wine producers.

Endnotes

1.

The society recommended the introduction of rapeseed, tobacco, and mulberries for the rearing of silkworms.

2.

Le Houga is a village close to the eastern border of the Landes in the Gers dé partement.

3.

(Bastiat’s note) M. de Chabrol, “Report to the King.”

4.

Jacques Necker.

9.

Bastiat is making a joke here about how the revolution accidentally forced a temporary reduction in taxes because of turmoil and confusion. See also the entry for “Revolution of 1848” in the Glossary of Subjects and Terms.

10.

(Bastiat’s note) “It has been acknowledged that, of all the products that can be taxed, wines and spirits yield the most [taxes] and are the easiest to collect.” M. de Villèle.

11.

See the entry for “Republican calendar” in the Glossary of Subjects and Terms.

12.

It is not clear to what decree Bastiat is referring. Year XII of the Republican calendar would place it sometime in 1804, which was the year the Constitution of Year XII (18 May 1804) was decreed, creating the new empire of Napoléon. In April 1803 duties were enacted on the importation of cotton goods, and all French protective duties were codified in February and April 1806. Soon after becoming emperor, Napoléon passed a number of decrees putting in place his continental blockade against Britain (the Berlin Decree of November 1806 and the Milan Decree of November 1807).

Bastiat might also have had in mind a passage from Jean-Baptiste Say’s Traité d’économie politique, which refers to a decree of May 1812 and states that “whenever a maximum of price has been affixed to grain, it has immediately been withdrawn or concealed. The next step was to compel the farmers to bring their grain to market and prohibit the private sales. These violations of property, with all their usual accompaniments of inquisitorial search, personal violence, and injustice, have never afforded any considerable resource to the government employing them. In polity as well as morality, the grand secret is not to constrain the actions but to awaken the inclinations of mankind. Markets are not to be supplied by the terror of the bayonet or the saber.” (Say, A Treatise on Political Economy, bk. 1, chap. 17, p. 101.)

13.

From “Le Ventru, aux électeurs de 1819,” a satirical song by Pierre Jean de Béranger. See Béranger, Chanson s, pp. 301–3. In the song Béranger mocks in turn the electors, the prefects, the mayors, the clergy, the conservative Ultras, and the liberals.

14.

Bastiat is referring to the first glimmers of liberal economic reform in the 1820s and 1830s. See also the entries for “Huskisson, William,” and “Tanneguy Duchâtel, Charles Marie,” in the Glossary of Persons.

15.

(Bastiat’s note) I am not so much referring to the minister, with whose acts I am not familiar, but to the political writer who is a well-known member of the Adam Smith School.

16.

See the entry for “Zollverein” in the Glossary of Subjects and Terms.

17.

In the early 1840s there began what is called an “entente cordiale” between France and England following the tensions that arose because of the Eastern Crisis of 1840 (when war broke out between Egypt and the Ottoman Empire). Lord Aberdeen and Guizot wanted to improve relations with a new trade treaty, but tensions remained over such issues as the Franco-Belgian customs union, Franco-British rivalry over Spain, and the suppression of the slave trade. In 1842 Sir Robert Peel began to move in the direction of unilateral trade liberalization, which would result in the repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846. In 1842 he began to remove prohibitory duties on raw materials and foodstuffs, such as the removal of import and export duties on wool.

18.

Bordeaux wines.

19.

Under the influence of the liberal revolution in France in 1830, which ushered in the July Monarchy of Louis-Philippe, Belgium broke away from the Netherlands and became independent with its own constitution and monarch, Leopold of Saxe-Coburg. There was a two-way battle in trade policy between the nations who favored free trade, the Netherlands and Great Britain, on the one hand, and the more-protectionist nations of France and Belgium on the other. Britain eventually removed most of its trade barriers unilaterally in 1846, and in 1860 France and Britain signed a free-trade treaty, the Cobden-Chevalier Treaty. In 1861–62 Britain, France, and Belgium signed a similar free-trade treaty. At the same time the German states were gradually adopting a common external tariff and removing internal German trade restrictions as part of the Zollverein (or Customs Union), which expanded in 1833.

20.

Louis-Philippe.

 

 


 

T.14 (1843.03.21) "Parliamentary Conflicts of Interest" (SP, March 1843)

Source

T.14 (1843.03.21) "Parliamentary Conflicts of Interest" (Incompatibilités Parlementaires), La Sentinelle des Pyrénées, 21 and 25 March 1843. [JCPD] [CW1.2.4.18, pp. 452-57.]

Editor’s Introduction

(to come)

Text

We draw the attention of our readers to the following letter, which has been sent to us by one of our friends from the département of the Landes. This letter seems to us to envisage from an accurate viewpoint the current composition of our Chamber of Deputies, to which so many people bring just one preoccupation, that of climbing the greasy pole to power.

The Chamber has been presented for the third time with a huge question: the incompatibility of civil service functions with the function of a deputy or rather the inaccessibility of high positions to members of the National Assembly. Would you be willing, sir, to open the columns of your journal to a few reflections on this most serious matter? Above all, I would like to identify the class of readers to which these are addressed.

Two ideas are embossed on the July flag, and it will forever give shade to two major political parties, one which prefers to devote itself to the word freedom and the other which has made itself the principal defender of public order.

Parliamentary reform forms a natural part of the views of the Progressive Party. “How is it,” they say, “that public freedoms are not in danger when they are entrusted to men whose existence is at the mercy of the authorities? How can we count on the independence of deputies who are civil servants when an independent vote may lead to their ruin? Is it wise to put men in the position where they have to choose between their interest and their duty? Besides, if we hand over the purse strings to the hands that take from the contents of the purse, should we expect the purse to be well managed? If we entrust the right to create positions of power to those who will be occupying them, should we not fear that the number of these will increase unreasonably? And what is the extension of the field of civil service functions if not a restriction of the field of private activity, in other words a restriction of freedom itself? Is it reasonable to expect deputies who are engineers, customs officers, or members of the university staff to hand back to us the freedom to oversee major public works, the freedom to trade, and the freedom of education?”

From the Progressives’ point of view, these ideas seem to me to be too clear and obvious for it to be worth my while developing them. I would [453] therefore like to address the Conservatives and examine with them whether public order is not as concerned with parliamentary reform as freedom itself, whether the principal cause of the instability they deplore and which rightly worries them is not the easy access to positions of power of those who control power.

What is the Chamber, as it is constituted at the present time? An arena in which the parties, or rather cliques, combat each other for public power. To lay siege to ministerial portfolios and to defend them, that is the sole business of parliamentary tactics.

A deputy comes to the Palais Bourbon. What is the attractive image that meets his gaze? It is power, flanked by its shining cortege of wealth, authority, influence, reputation, and consideration; I would be happy if these assets did not undermine his stoic virtue, but even if this man has no ambition, he has at least an idea which he wants to have accepted and it will not be long before he seeks advancement, if not in his own individual interest at least in the interest of his political beliefs. Our constitution has made power accessible to him and our parliamentary customs show him two avenues for achieving it. One is easy and regular: he just has to give his allegiance to a government and he will be rewarded with a good position for his pains. The other is steep and rough, but it leads higher and suits powerful ambitions; he must attack the government, place obstacles in its path, hinder its administration, decry its actions and make it unpopular, whip up the press and public opinion against it until at length, with the assistance of those who have hitched themselves to his star, he finally achieves a majority for a day and enters into the council of the crown as a victor.

But the conflict does not abate for all that; the roles merely change. He who was a defender the day before becomes an assailant in his turn. On leaving his position, he discovers the weapons that were used against him and takes control of them; it is his turn to make pompous speeches, seek popularity, paint a picture of France being shamefully propelled toward an abyss, revive in the depths of people’s souls the ancient love of freedom and national independence and mislead them if necessary, and finally turn all these powerful missiles against his enemy. For his enemy, the aggressor of yesterday, is now on the defensive. All he can do is to struggle painfully against constantly renewed attacks and abandon attention to business to devote himself wholeheartedly to parliamentary conflict. His fragile majority soon escapes him. To achieve it he did not bargain with promises; to retain it, he has to be able to avoid bargaining with demands. Little by little the [454] cliques distance themselves and go to swell the ranks of the besieging coalition. In this way, as with the famous routs in our military celebrations, power is taken over and retaken perhaps up to twenty times in the space of ten years.

Is this order? Is this stability? And yet I challenge anyone to accuse me of having drawn a fanciful picture. These are facts, this is history, and even our constitutional history is nothing other than a narrative of conflicts like these.

And can it be otherwise? Our constitution can be summed up in these words: “Power is in the hands of deputies who know how to take hold of it. Those of them who are clever enough to seize the majority from the government will become ministers and will distribute all the high positions in the army, the treasury, the law, and the bench to their followers.”

Is this not indeed a species of organized war, anarchy, and disorder? In another article, I will examine how parliamentary reform might change this order of things.

I am, sir, your obedient servant
F. B.
Frédéric Bastiat
Bastiat, Frédéric
Dear Editor,

In a previous letter, I endeavored to point out the vice that is degrading our national representation. With regard to freedom, handing over positions to those who finance them, and with regard to order, handing over the reins of government to those who overturn it, these are concepts, as I have said, whose twin danger leaps to the eye. I would add that this line of reasoning is borne out by experience. If the limits of a journal allowed this, I would now tell the tale of our countless ministerial crises; with Le Moniteur in my hand, I would compare M. Thiers, the chairman of the council, with M. Thiers, the leader of the opposition; and M. Guizot, the instigator of the coalition, with M. Guizot, the minister of foreign affairs. We would see whether these assaults on ministerial portfolios, these formal sieges that we call questions to the government, reintroduced several times a year, are motivated by a love of the public good or a thirst for power. We would see whether or not this determination to overturn in order to rebuild retreats in the face of any contingency, whether it does not welcome auxiliaries to the point where a general conflagration becomes likely, and whether this is not provoked where necessary. We would finally see whether this constant struggle, not of opinions but of rival ambitions, is not overshadowed by risk, [455] which, while weakening the country, causes it in the profoundest peace to be forever ready for war.

There are, however, several objections to parliamentary reform.

Ambition, it is said, is innate in the hearts of men, and reform will not uproot it.

Faith probably cannot destroy ambition, but it can destroy what gives it sustenance.

The members of general councils are sons of Adam just as the deputies are; why then does ambition not give rise to the same crises in these councils as it does in the Chamber? Solely because it finds nothing to feed on.

But if you introduce into the law that governs them an article with the following wording:

“If the prefect loses his majority in the General Council, he will be replaced by the leader of the opposition, who will distribute to his followers all the leading positions in the département, the headships of financial services, general and individual tax collecting, and seats on the bench and in the public prosecutor’s department. These new civil servants will continue to be members of the Council and will retain their positions until a new majority snatches these from them.”

I ask you, will a disposition like this not transform these deliberating bodies that are now so calm into hotbeds of intrigue and cliques? Will it not remove any spirit of continuity from the administration and any freedom of action from the prefect, and in sum all stability from the authority?

And what reason do we have for thinking that what would cause trouble in the sphere of the prefecture does not throw the governmental sphere into disarray? Is it because the stage is larger or because the passions whipped up by more powerful bait grow with more energy on it?

The objection having been voiced against reform that human ambition is an irremediable ill, reform is rejected because ambition in the Chamber is not even admissible.

Support for this reform, it is said, would be a condemnation of parliament; it would be a calumny pronounced against itself and would imply that there existed base passions in this Assembly that should not have access to it. In a word, it would be a law of suspects.43

In the first place, however, I do not see that the fact that the law declares [456] two functions incompatible by nature must sully those who occupy them. Mayors cannot be national guards, judges do not participate in juries, and nobody has heard it said that in these instances of incompatibility there is any form of personal discredit wished upon them by the law.

All that might be said is that the law takes account of the incurable and incontrovertible weaknesses in human nature.

And, to tell the truth, is the entire structure of the law anything other than a set of precautions taken against the weakness and perversity of mankind? We require guarantees from ministers and from the king, and the charter is merely a series of obstacles put in the path of possible encroachments and rivalries in the major offices of the state. And would society not be allowed to require the most rational of guarantees from its direct representatives?

It has to be agreed that parliamentary reform, as understood by the absolute prohibition for any civil servant to achieve national representation, presents two major disadvantages.

The first is that it restricts the rights of election and eligibility.

The second is that it lessens the consultative experience of the nation.

Would it not be dangerous in fact, at least in the current state of our legislative structure, to exclude magistrates, financiers, soldiers, and sailors from an assembly that is principally concerned with legislation, finance, and military and naval organization? Would a reform like this have any chance of being accepted?

This being so, does the problem consist not in setting out particular exclusions but in establishing general guarantees?

It may be formulated in these words:

“Placing the representatives of the nation in a situation in which they have no personal interest in giving their allegiance to a government or in overturning it.”

If it is true that a well-phrased question is halfway to being resolved, a law that satisfies this double requirement should not be difficult to find.

It is not in my brief to go further and I will end this by noting that M. de Sade is far from facing up to the problem. He does not seem to have even noticed it. What is he proposing? To forbid deputies from taking up civil service appointments . . . except for ministries, embassies, general departments, etc.

[457]

He thus accepts that high positions must continue to arouse the cupidity of the nation’s representatives, that they can continue to dispute the possession of power among themselves, even if the conflict reduces this power to shreds. But it is precisely in this that the danger lies. And can we embellish with the title of parliamentary reform a measure that, while it restricts the domain of a few minor ambitions, leaves the way open to ambitions that throw the world into disarray?

I am, sir, your obedient servant.
F. B.

Endnotes

43

The lois de suspects (law of suspects), passed 12 August 1793 and enlarged by the decree of 17 September 1793, made way for the Terror phase of the Revolution. Directed at first toward the nobility, it allowed the immediate arrest of suspects, without cause or proof of a crime.

 

 


 

T.266 (1843.05.18) "Free Trade. State of the Question in England. 1st Article" (SP, 18 May, 1843)

Source

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Editor’s Introduction

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T.267 (1843.05.25) "Free Trade. State of the Question in England. 2nd Article" (SP, 25 May 1843)

Source

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Editor’s Introduction

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Text

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T.268 (1843.06.01) "Free Trade. State of the Question in England. 3rd Article" (SP, 1 June 1843)

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Editor’s Introduction

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Text

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T.269 (1843.12.02) "The Balance of Trade" (SP, 2 Dec. 1843)

Source

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Editor’s Introduction

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Text

 

 


 

T.270 (1843.12.13) "To the Editor in Chief of La Presse on Navigation" (SP, 13 Dec. 1843

Source

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Editor’s Introduction

(to come)

Text

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T.271 (1843.12.14) "Reply to La Presse" (SP, 14 Dec. 1843)

Source

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Editor’s Introduction

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Text

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T.15 1844.?? "Liberté du commerce" (Freedom of Trade )

Source

T.15 1844.?? “Liberté du commerce” (Freedom of Commerce) [1844] [OC7.4, pp. 14-20] [CW1, pp.421-25]

Editor’s Introduction

(to come)

Text

During the session on 29th February last, M. Guizot said: “We constantly speak of the weakness of the king’s government with respect to England. I cannot allow this calumny.

“In Spain,10 no one can say that we have merely supported what England has done or simply got rid of the same things as she.

“There has been talk of a treaty on trade which is to be imposed by England; has this happened?

“Did we not revoke the regulations which have changed trade relations between England and France with respect to linen thread and cloth?

“Did not the prime minister pass a law on Algerian tariffs which has materially harmed in more than one respect real British interests?”

From all of this it results that, if the authorities are not under the yoke of England, they are certainly under the yoke of monopoly. All this shows that while the government may not be England’s creature it is certainly a creature of monopoly.

Is the public really not going to open its eyes finally to this shameful misrepresentation and duplicity?

A few years ago, one might have thought that protectionism had very few years left to live.

Theoretically in ruins, it slipped into our legislation only as a transitory measure. The very minister who did most to let it linger on, M. de Saint-Cricq, constantly warned us that these mutual taxes, which workers paid each other, were basically unjust and, to the little extent that they were reasonable, were so only on the grounds of their supporting infant industries. Indeed, even the beneficiaries of these arrangements saw them not as a prerogative but as an essentially temporary privilege.

The actions being accomplished in Europe were such as to increase the hopes of the lovers of freedom.

Switzerland had opened its frontiers to products of all origins and this was working well.

[422]

Sardinia11 also went down this road and found no reason to regret it.

Germany12 had replaced a host of internal barriers with a single ring of customs posts based on a moderate tariff.

In England, the most vigorous effort ever attempted by the middle classes was on the point of overthrowing a system of restrictions which in that country represented another aspect of feudal power.

Even Spain seemed to understand that its fifteen agricultural provinces were unjustly sacrificed in favor of one manufacturing province.

Lastly, France was preparing for free trade by way of negotiating treaties of transition and by joining a customs union with Belgium.13

Thus was labor to be set free. Wherever on the globe that fate had caused them to be born, men were going to reconquer the natural right to exchange with each other the fruits of their labors and we were reaching the moment of seeing the achievement of a holy alliance of nations.

How did France allow herself to be turned away from this path? How did it come about that its children, who took pride in being the leaders of civilization, were suddenly seized with Napoleonic ideas and embraced the cause of isolation, antagonism between nations, theft carried out by its citizens one against the other, restrictions laid down on the right of ownership, in short, all that is barbarous in the bosom of protectionism?

To seek an explanation of this sad phenomenon, it would seem that we have to move away from our subject for a moment.

If, within a General Council, a member succeeded in creating a majority against the administration, it would not necessarily follow that the prefect would be dismissed and still less that the leader of the opposition would be appointed prefect in his place. In the same way, although general councillors are made of the same clay as deputies, their ambition is not satisfied by the maneuvers of systematic opposition, which explains why these maneuvers are not seen to happen in these meetings.

This is not the case in the Chamber. It is a maxim of our public law that if [423] a deputy is cunning enough to mount a majority in opposition to a government, he will himself ipso facto become minister and will deliver the government as a prey to his colleagues who allied themselves to his undertaking.

The consequences of such an organization leap to the eye. The Chamber is no longer an assembly of those governed, who come to take note of measures projected by those who govern, to admit, modify, or reject these measures in line with the public interest which they represent; it is rather an arena in which government, dependent on the support of members’ votes, is competed for.

Therefore, to overturn the government it is necessary only to remove its majority. To remove its majority, it is necessary to discredit it, make it unpopular, and debase it. The law itself, aided and abetted by the irremediable weakness of the human heart, has arranged things thus. It is useless for M. Guizot to cry: “Will we never learn to attack each other, combat each other, and overthrow each other without attributing shameful motives to each other?” I must say that I find these complaints puerile. You allow that your adversaries aim to replace you and yet you advise them charitably to neglect the means of success! In this respect, M. Guizot, the leader of the opposition, would do to M. Thiers, the minister, what M. Guizot, the minister, reproaches M. Thiers, the leader of the opposition, for doing.

We have therefore to admit that our mechanism of representation is organized in such a way that the opposition and all forms of opposition united have not and cannot have other than one single aim, namely to discredit the government, whichever one it is, in order to overthrow it and replace it.

But the most certain way, in France, to discredit the government is to represent it as treacherous, cowardly, in the pay of foreigners, and forgetful of national honor. Against M. Molé, this was the tactic used by M. Guizot in coalition with the legitimists and the Republicans; against M. Guizot, this was the tactic of M. Thiers, in coalition with the Republicans and the legitimists. One used Ancona14 as the other used Tahiti.15

[424]

However, opposition parties do not limit themselves to acting within the Chamber. They also feel the need to take some account of public opinion and the views of the electorate. All the opposition newspapers are thus obliged to work in concert, to exalt, irritate, and mislead national feeling, to represent the country as having descended to the lowest level of degradation and opprobrium as a result of the work of the government; and it has to be said that our national susceptibility to the memory of Empire and to the wholly Roman education which has prevailed among us gives this parliamentary tactic considerable chances of success. This being the situation, it is easy to predict all the gains that pampered lines of production would inevitably extract from it.

At a time when monopoly was about to be cast aside and the free communication of peoples gradually established, what could the cosseted groups do? Waste their time establishing protectionist principles at the very heart of their outlook, opposing such principles to the theory of free trade? It would have been a fruitless venture; on the soil of free and fair discussion, error stands little chance against truth.

No, the privileged groups had a clearer view of what might prolong their existence. They understood that they could continue peacefully to pick the pockets of the public so long as contrived antagonisms would prevent the drawing together and merging of nations. This being so, they harnessd their forces, influence, capital, and activity to national hatred. They, too, adopted the mask of patriotism. They bribed such newspapers as had not yet adopted the banner of false national honor, and it may rightly be said that this monstrous alliance stopped the march of civilization.

In these strange circumstances, the local press, especially in the south, might have been of great service. However, either because it did not perceive the motive behind these Machiavellian intrigues or feared to appear weak in the eyes of the enemy, the fact is that it foolishly added its voice to those of the newspapers funded by the privileged groups and today may well fold its arms at the sight of us, the men of the south, robbed and exploited, doing its work, the work it should have done itself, and devoting all the resources of our intelligence and all the energy of our feelings to consolidating the shackles and perpetuating the extortions it inflicts on us.

[425]

This weakness has borne fruit. To repudiate the accusations heaped on it, the government had one thing only to do and it did it: it sacrificed us.

The words of M. Guizot, which I quoted at the beginning, did they not mean in essence:

“You say that I am subjecting my policy to that of England, but consider my actions.

“It was just to return to French citizens the right to trade, appropriated by a few privileged people. I wished to go down this path through trade treaties, but there were shouts of Treason! and I broke off negotiations.

“I thought that if French citizens needed to buy linen thread and cloth abroad, it was better to obtain more rather than less for a given price, but there were shouts of Treason! and I created differential dues.

It was in the interest of our young African colony to be provided with everything at a low cost in order to grow and prosper. However, there were shouts of Treason! and I handed over Algeria to monopolistic interests.

“Spain aspired to shake off its submission to a single province. This was in its interest. It was in ours and also in that of the English. There were shouts of Treason! and, to stifle this inopportune cry, I maintained what England wished to overturn, the exploitation of Spain by Catalonia.”

This is our present position. The engine of war of all the parties is the hatred of foreigners. Left and right alike use it to disparage the government; in the center they go further, translating it into action to prove their independence and the monopolists fasten on to this uncertain outlook, fanning discord in order to perpetuate their situation.

Where will all this lead us? I do not know, but I believe that this game by the parties hides danger and I ask myself why, in a period of total peace, France maintains four hundred thousand men under arms, increases its navy, fortifies its capital city, and pays a billion and a half in taxes.

Endnotes

10

Spain was the setting for several Franco-British rivalries.

11

In 1843 France signed a trade treaty with the kingdom of Sardinia.

12

A customs union, the Zollverein, was constituted after 1818 at the initiative of Prussia. In 1834 it comprised thirty-four German states.

13

A customs union between Belgium and France was contemplated as a counterbalance to the Zollverein but never realized. Instead, a less ambitious Franco-Belgian commercial treaty was ratified in 1845.

14

In order to quell disturbances in the papal states, Pope Gregory XVI called upon Austria. On 28 June 1832, Austrian troops entered Bologna, Italy. For reasons of diplomatic balance, a French garrison was sent to Ancona, southeast of Bologna. In 1832 the Austrian troops left Bologna and the French troops left Ancona.

15

In 1842 Tahiti was a French protectorate. Following incidents with English ships, Admiral Dupetit-Thouars transformed it into a territory of “direct sovereignty.” This created tension between London and Paris. The latter disavowed the admiral on 24 February 1844.

 

 


 

T.16 1844.?? “Proposition de création d’une école d’apprentis agricoles” (Proposal for the Creation of a School for Agricultural Apprentices/Sons of Sharecroppers)

Source

T.16 1844.?? “Proposition de création d'une école d'apprentis agricoles” (Proposal for the Creation of a School for Agricultural Apprentices/Sons of Sharecroppers) [ presented in 1844 to the Chamber of Agriculture of the Landes] [JCPD] [CW1, pp. 334-40]

Editor’s Introduction

(to come)

The following paper was presented in 1844 to the Chamber of Agriculture of the Landes, after being presented to a Catholic foundation that rejected it for lack of sufficient resources.

Text

I am going to put before you, sirs, the plan of the institution that I am proposing by telling you how the thought came to me. Since I am the owner of an estate, perhaps one of the most suited to major crop rotation in the country, I have tried out this project in the past, but it did not take long for me to realize that it was beyond my powers. As I am of uncertain health, I was constantly being warned that it was possible that I would not be able to continue this work, and I recoiled from any decision that by launching me definitely into this career would have obliged me to burn all my boats. With a certain hesitation I decided to make some preliminary expenditures which were bound to be written off if I had to stop the work and, as you know, in an enterprise that demands faith and strength, you have already lost if you have an eye constantly on retreating.

For a while I had the idea of finding someone to work with me and throwing myself into the very risky business of full-time farming. But I soon realized how risky this resolution was. Our region of sharecropping farms does not provide opportunities for large-scale farming; the only workers you find are the class of inhabitants known as “idlers,” the dregs of the working [335] population, who have been turned off sharecropping farms because of their laziness and bad behavior. It was therefore a question of nothing less than importing managers, workers, equipment, cattle, and seed from afar. How many mistakes might such farming entail, made up as it would be of oddments, without any form of trial and that preliminary testing without which a successful transition from small-scale to large-scale farming cannot be effected.

And then, would this operation have been genuinely useful? For reasons that I will not go into here, it is doubtful whether the managers would have made the interest from their capital that any other form of industry would have yielded and, as for the country, I think that its form of farming devoted to sharecropping would have gained little from the example of a large-scale farm, even supposing that the example had been totally positive.

There was just one avenue open to me. This was to improve the estate using the means it offered me, that is to say by enlightening the sharecroppers and by seeking to attract them to my ideas. I did not even try this. Apart from the huge difficulty of the enterprise and the constant state of conflict into which it would have put me vis-à-vis the smallholders, a conflict which I would be almost sure to lose through open resistance and even more by the force of inertia, I would feel guilty if I forced these good workers to abandon their method of farming. Whatever my total belief in the superiority of crop rotation, I could not keep from myself the fact that, when it comes to attempts directed by the willing but inexperienced and carried out by the ill-intentioned, the immediate results might be extremely dangerous. What right had I to bring possible losses on men incapable of supporting them? I congratulate myself now that I drew back from these various schemes (and if) I now tell the story of my disappointments, it is because I think that in almost all cases they relate to those overardent friends of progress, in too much of a hurry to achieve the promises of science without taking sufficient account of the difficulties that arise from a farming system and a series of habits evolved for a very different set of circumstances. Overcoming obstacles is doubtless proof of strength, but avoiding them in order not to be overcome is proof of wisdom.

What would therefore be most useful, philanthropic, and at the same time most practical would be to act with regard to the class of sharecroppers themselves, that is to say, on the young generation, to educate them, renew them, and raise them through intelligence and dignity to the level of the middle classes of society.

Among the projects that came to my mind, there is one that pleased me, [336] I must admit, more than all the others. It seemed to me to be worthy of occupying the life of a man who did not want to depart from this earth without leaving some trace of his passing and a few honorable memories in the minds of good men. It is the foundation of a school for sharecropping, for a nursery of good sharecroppers with whose help I would in the long run carry out on my estate this farming revolution that people long for so, in a way that would be most advantageous to me and my region. But since it has not been granted to me to make this institution my work, I hasten to set out the plan for it to you, having removed from it the personal aim that I might have had in a former time.

Admission. In order to gain entry to the school for sharecroppers, the candidate has to belong to the class of sharecroppers and to a family of good reputation; to be aged fourteen; to know how to read, write, and do calculations; to have proof of intelligence, activity, and an ordered and open mind at primary school; and to have a good physical constitution. These conditions would be imposed on us in any case by the limited resources that we will probably have at our disposal, which would not allow us to have at our school very young children who are incapable of earning even part of their subsistence and whose early education would require the intervention of an elementary teacher; we should be happy that they are not incompatible and they are even in total harmony with the object of our wishes, which is to train as quickly as possible and at the lowest possible cost a certain number of hard-working, well-instructed, and upright sharecroppers.

At the age of fourteen, a child is able to take part in all farming work; he is close to the age at which he can turn his hand to the plough and I do not see why one would reclassify a special school so as to overload it with the care of imparting the general primary education which our legislation has provided for. None of you, sirs, could fail to be interested in the efforts that have been made in various locations to preserve children from vagrancy. Like you, I admire these noble attempts. Who is able to read without emotion the account of his visit to the Hofwill that Mr. Feutrier has included in Les Annales de Roville.20 However, the aim we have set ourselves is essentially different.

[337]

In the philanthropic institutions to which I refer, the need has been felt to admit only children who are six years old. If they were older, they would introduce the seeds of immorality and evil tendencies into the schools. People preferred to have them institutionalized a few years longer rather than to expose young smallholders to the contagion of vice and insubordination. However, I repeat, the aim of Hofwill, Petit-Bourg, and Mettray differs from ours. It is directed exclusively to vagrants, beggars, and that precocious corruption which threatens society. We, on the other hand, are looking for exceptional natures, children gifted with naturally happy dispositions, which have been developed through the care of their families and community teachers. We are therefore able and are even obliged to postpone the age of admission, a fortunate circumstance that enables us to count on the actual work of these young people to contribute to the cost of their board and lodging.

Work at the School. If, after studying and discussing this project, the society believes it could implement it, I would be able to place at its disposal a conveniently situated sharecropping farm of twenty hectares of cultivable land and land that could be given over progressively to cultivation. The society will judge whether the school would continue to give me one-third of the produce or whether it would not be more appropriate to set an estimated rental price.

It is not yet time to talk about the system of cultivation that should be followed. I will say just a word while waiting to go into more detail if the occasion warrants this. I would like the cultivable land to be planted with mulberry bushes in wide rows. The number of these rows will permit the adoption of any form of rotation considered suitable and the submission of the estate, so to speak, to market gardening. In this way, the school would satisfy three essential conditions: 1. it would give the young pupils the experience of raising a great variety of plants, 2. it would supply manpower in proportion to the overall number of hands by definition at the disposal of the manager, 3. it would bring into the region market gardening, which fits in so well with the small acreage of our sharecropping farms and is, moreover, the only system that, through the abundance of its produce, enables competition between small- and large-scale farming enterprises.

The same divisions would be adopted in the second sector of the rural economy, the raising of stock. The production of milk and wool and the raising of calves and beef cattle would be carried out simultaneously. The results of all these operations, either in the fields or in the barns, would have [338] to be carefully recorded in strict accounts. I do not know, sirs, whether I am exaggerating the usefulness of accounts, but I am one of those who think that no operation that is at all complicated can do without them. I dare to point out that there is no farmer, even among those who keep their accounts with the greatest care but who do not use the double entry system, who can establish with accuracy the cost price of his wheat, fodder, milk, fertilizer, and how much his working day or hour produces, what his teams and vehicles, plowing or hoeing cost, and still less if this or that harvest or occupation is more lucrative than another. There is also in accounting “a very vigorous, moralizing principle.” A farmer who keeps his books knows exactly what each of his practices is worth or costs him. His books tell him in irrefutable figures and repeat this to him each time he opens them. Is it to be believed that a sharecropper would attend markets so much if he were obliged to note as a loss each hour of the time he wastes, according to a strict evaluation?

There is another reason that makes the use of accounting indispensable. Crop rotation certainly greatly complicates the relationships between sharecroppers and their owners; as long as it is only a question of sharing the sheaves and heads of corn on the spot, it is not essential to know their cost accurately. But when rye and corn are no longer the only and perhaps not the largest sources of income, when the master’s capital and the work of the smallholder become intimately associated in the production of fodder, milk, butter, meat, and wool, only strict accounting can show the most appropriate agreements and make it easy to carry them out. Perhaps it will be thought that in this respect sharecropping seems to be incompatible with advanced cultivation. I admit that I consider their combination as necessarily leading to much more direct cooperation on the part of owners, and this certainly will be no bad thing. However, if the difficulties become too great, tenant farming would seem here to be a resource the adoption of which our school might even greatly facilitate.

Graduating from the School. Let us now move forward in thought, sirs, to the time at which your establishment will start to provide people for agriculture. Four pupils, now become men, will leave the school. Six years of study and practice have made them familiar with the most advanced farming methods. Accounting has made the most varied combinations easier for them and they are able to work in line with the views of enlightened owners. One will take up a sharecropping farm with his family. Others, while waiting for one to become available, may join together in association and take up a [339] joint operation. They themselves will need young colleagues and will thus disseminate the education they have received. Will this not be so many subsidiaries for the mother school? From neighbor to neighbor, it will be easy for the most advanced owners, those who do not retreat in the face of progress, to propel their estates to the highest degree of perfection. The region will see the rise of a race of men combining knowledge with experience. We will no longer have to deplore the unbridgeable distance that now appears to separate the thinking class from the active class. Work, enlightenment, land, and capital will all combine and advance, and our society itself will be strengthened by an element, which it must be agreed it rather lacks, I mean the contribution of men who do things.

I will not hide, sirs, that an institution like this seems to me to go deeply into the depths of the major problems that we have to solve. I think that it meets more closely the needs of the region than what we call experimental farms, model farms, or farming institutes, and if we look at these closely we will be convinced that these expensive establishments are genuine vicious circles. Some may give us good lessons and others good examples, but what good are these lessons and examples to us, who are unable to apply them ourselves, or to our sharecroppers, who can benefit from neither?

On the other hand the project that I have the honor of submitting to you may in practice introduce four sharecropping farms each year into the orbit of crop rotation. Each of these in turn will train new adepts in the class of sharecroppers itself. Practical example and dissemination are in line and go hand in hand, and it seems to me that our school will perhaps require fifty years of existence to accomplish this major farming and social revolution in our region which, without it, would not appear to be possible in a hundred years.

I must now tell you of the difficulties which this project may encounter.

The Master. The first and by far the greatest lies in the choice of a master. What eminent qualities are not required for functions like these? The person called upon to assume them has to have a wide-ranging practical and theoretical farming education, his moral stature must be irreproachable, and he must have the gift of training and directing young minds. He must like children and give them only good lessons and examples and must submit himself to sharing their lives, studies, and work. No, we will not be asking him to cooperate as a mercenary but to undertake a task of total selflessness, sublime charity, devotion, and sacrifice.

These considerations led me to contact the Foundation of Saint-Antoine [340] to find out whether we might count on the cooperation of one or more brothers from this order. Perhaps you know, sirs, that it is very similar to the Order of the Brothers of the Christian Doctrine. The difference between them is that the Christian Brothers devote themselves to general primary education while the foundation is devoted to imparting a farming education to orphans and vagrants. The reply I received and which I submit to the society does not give us hope for the cooperation I had counted on.

May I be allowed to say that the venerable priest who manages the Foundation of Saint-Antoine does not perhaps appreciate21 the stature of the institution I am proposing when he considers it a powerful instrument for production? “While it is desirable to practice good farming methods,” he said, “and prepare a generation that is intelligent and capable through a greater development of farming products, it is also good to make some effort to cure the plague of beggary and eliminate the seeds of vagrancy that are so detrimental to the peace of society.”

Please God, how could I ever undermine the usefulness and merit of such work!

Endnotes

20

The agronomist Mathieu de Dombasle had created a model farm with a school in the village of Roville, in the département of La Meurthe. The farm published an agricultural journal, Les Annales de Roville. Hofwill (in Switzerland), as well as the French villages of Petit-Bourg and Mettray, mentioned below, also had agricultural schools.

21

What Bastiat himself did not appreciate, as we know from other documents, is that the foundation did not feel able to do both jobs: the salvation of the dropouts and the training of the most gifted.

 

 


 

T.17 "On the Allocation of the Land Tax in the Department of Les Landes" (July 1844)

Source

T.17 (1844.07) "On the Allocation of the Land Tax in the Department of Les Landes" (De la répartition de la contribution foncière dans le Département des Landes). [OC1, pp. 283-333.]. Bastiat mentions this report in a letter to Félix Coudroy where he says he has not quite finished writing it. Eaux-Bonnes, 26 July 1844. To Félix Coudroy (OC1, pp. 46-49)

Editor's Introduction

This detailed article is the sixth and last essay Bastiat wrote on a very specific economic topic 221 before he made his breakthrough into the world of the Parisian political economists with his article on "French and English Tariffs" in October 1844. 222 It contains the most economic data of any of the previous essays and in places is quite heavy going for the reader, but it clearly shows his gradual development as an economic analyst who was becoming increasingly at ease with figures. It also provides Bastiat with an opportunity to show off the depth of his reading in the theory of political economy, in addition to his grasp of economic data. He mentions by name a fairly formidable collection of 14 theoretical works in the final section on Malthusian population theory. 223

Bastiat draws upon a number of sources for his economic data, not all of which is available to us today, such as:

  1. National government data, such as a 1836 report by the Director of Direct Taxation (not available to us); official publications containing statistical information, such as the Statistique de la France (1841), and national census data
  2. local data, such as the records held at the local Land Registry Office (Cadastre), and as a member of the General Council of Les Landes he was able to ask local mayors to provide him with the specific information he needed
  3. his own personal experience over a period of 20 years as a landowner, farmer, wine producer, and manager of sharecroppers on his estate (from 1825 when he inherited his grandfather's estate to the time this essay was written possibly in early 1844). This is particularly useful when it comes to knowledge of the local prices of agricultural products and the changing economic conditions of ordinary farmers and workers. 224

The issue he takes up here is the land tax, 225 which was the most important of the direct taxes used by the French government to raise revenue. 226 According to Budget data from 1848-49 227 the government had revenue of about 1.4 billion francs, the main sources of which were (in order of importance):

  1. 421 million francs from direct taxes such as the land tax, personal and property taxes, the door and window tax, and trading licences
  2. 307 million francs from indirect taxes on alcohol, salt, sugar, tobacco, and gunpowder
  3. 263 million francs from registrations, fees, stamp duty, etc.
  4. 202 million francs from tariffs and import duties

The biggest single sources of revenue for the state were the land tax (279 million francs), registrations, fees and levies (216 million francs), the tax on tobacco (120 million francs), import duties (106 million francs), and the tax on alcohol (104 million francs).

Thus the issue of the land taxes was doubly important to Bastiat: it was the biggest component of the single biggest source of revenue to the state; and he himself was a land tax payer. In fact, he paid sufficient direct taxes (like the land tax) to place him the top 5% of income earners in France, thus making him a member of "la classe électorale" (the electoral or voting class) who where eligible to vote and stand for elections until the Revolution of February 1848 introduced the Second Republic and universal manhood suffrage.

Unlike the other items subject to a direct tax, like doors and windows, and trading licenses, the land tax was not a fixed amount or a fixed percentage of a value. It was based upon the presumed income which a property owner received from the use of his property. During the first French Revolution, the law of 23 November 1790 created a tax on property which replaced several previous taxes. It was based upon the anticipated future revenue which a piece of land or a building would generate for the owner. To determine what this amount would be required a meticulously maintained registry of land (the Cadastre or Land Registry Office) and building titles in which an army of bureaucrats would register the sale of land and buildings, keep a record of the prices the land and buildings sold for, what crops or other items were grown, produced, and sold, and the income those buildings and land had generated on average over the years. Each year the central government would pass a budget which specified that a certain amount of revenue had to be collected. This amount was divided or "apportioned" among the various regions and Départements across France, the amounts being based upon that region's or Département's capacity to pay, which was based upon what that region or Département had been able to pay in the past. The share of revenue which had to be collected was passed down the hierarchy of the French administration from regions, départements, arrondissements (districts"), cantons ("municipalities" or "counties"), communes ("villages" or "towns"), and then finally to individual property owners such as farmers and shopkeepers.

Each arrondissement, like Bastiat's in Dax, used a complex formula or "matrix" to determine each district's share of the revenue which had to be collected, based upon such factors as the type of crops a particular canton grew, the average price those crops sold for over a previous period of time, the number of households or businesses which were engaged in economic activity, and so on. Because the tax assessment was not based on actual income earned it became the local bureaucrat's "best guess" of what a particular land or business owner might earn in his given location, based upon the kinds of crops grown in that area over the previous, say 15 years. Naturally, economic and political conditions had changed considerably in France since 1790, so the government passed a law on 31 July 1821 which created a committee in each Département whose job it would be draw up a new formula or "matrix" to determine what tax property owners should pay in the future. The Département in Dax passed onto the General Council of Les Landes the task of periodically advising them on how to change this formula for assessing tax, which is why Bastiat became involved as a member of that Council.

By 1844 when Bastiat wrote this essay, conditions had changed radically again and Bastiat skillfully uses the economic data he has gathered to show exactly how the land tax regime had got out of kilter with actual economic reality. He shows that the mix of economic activities in his Département had been changing and was even accelerating in the 1840s. Wine growing on the southern hills and slopes was declining, becoming less profitable, and employing fewer people; the growth of pine forests (producing wood and pine resin products) to the north was expanding, becoming more profitable, and employing more people; general farming on the alluvial soil beside the rivers (crops like wheat, rye, millet; meat from cattle, sheep, and pigs) remained stagnant; and sheep farming on the northern heathland was declining as more heath was converted to pine forests. The larger cities were growing as people left the land in order to work in commerce or light industry. Population levels in the countryside were changing as some economic regions declined economically, and so did their populations, and vice-versa. Also, the kind of labour undertaken in the countryside was changing away from sharecropping (which Bastiat favoured for a number of reasons) as it was becoming less profitable and towards more small privately owned or rented farms, which had their own problems caused by high debt levels and the decreasing size of farms caused by the inflexible inheritance laws which required an equal division of the property among the heirs. Bastiat documents these changes carefully and in great detail in over a dozen large tables of data and many more smaller ones.

His overall conclusion is that the current formula the bureaucrats used for determining the land tax was seriously out of date, inflexible and incapable of rapidly changing to new circumstances, placed too heavy a tax burden on economically declining areas like his home town of Mugron which produced wine, and under-taxed areas which were becoming more prosperous such as the pine forest industries further to the north. Bastiat not only showed up the nonsense of a bureaucratically determined assessment of a land owner's probable income but he also inserted into the essay a number of interesting insights which he would develop later in his career.

Most notably, he went beyond the brief set down by the Département and the General Council to examine the land tax "allocation" and looked at other factors which were impeding economic development in the region, namely the high rate of tariffs which made it difficult for his region to expand its market and sell wine outside of France, the onerous city tolls (octroi) which impeded the flow of goods within France, and the restrictions on individuals which prevented them from engaging in certain trades without all kinds of government permits and licences. He concludes with some advice the Council probably did not want to hear, namely that " Legislation is killing us in the most literal sense of the word" and that unless the political system was opened up to "the lowest social strata" by giving them the right to vote, they might just rise up in rebellion and run things for themselves. Or, if the mortality tables at the end of his essay are correct, many of them will simply die off.

He also devotes several pages to analysing the population theory of Thomas Malthus 228 who had come under increasing criticism by socialists like Proudhon who accused him, and by implication the other political economists, of being "heartless" towards the poor and disadvantaged. Here, Bastiat is still an orthodox Malthusian in many respects but he is beginning to develop a new way of thinking about the problem of the relationship between the size of a population and "the means of subsistence." The latter was Malthus preferred term and referred to the minimum number of calories required to ensure the survival of a human being. As Bastiat would develop in more detail later in an essay and a chapter in Economic Harmonies , he began thinking instead of "the means of existence" which referred to the level of income or, to use a more modern phrase, the standard of living, of individuals. The latter could vary because of a range of economic, political, geographic, or climatic conditions, the most of important of which according to Bastiat was economic liberty, especially free trade, which could dramatically increase the productive power of human activity, and thus break free of the Malthusian population trap.

Other essays in which Bastiat discusses tax include the following:

  1. T.12 (1841.010 "The Tax Authorities and Wine" (Le Fisc et la vigne) [OC1, pp. 243-59] [CW2, pp. 10-23]
  2. T.17 (1844.07) "On the Allocation of the Land Tax in the Department of Les Landes" (De la répartition de la contribution foncière dans le Département des Landes). [OC1, pp. 283-333.] [CW4]
  3. T.30 (1845.07.15) "Our Products are weighed down with Taxes" (Nos produits sont grevés de taxes), JDE , July 1845, T. 11, no. 44, p. 356-60; also ES1.5. [OC4.1.5, pp. 46-52] [CW3 - ES1.5]
  4. T.118 (1847.04.04) "Two Methods of Equalizing Taxes" (Deux modes d'égalisation de taxes); original title: "Le libre échange demontré par l'example du sucre de betteraves" (Free Trade makes its point with the example of Beet Sugar), LE , 4 April 1847, no. 19, p. 152. [OC2.40, pp. 222-25.] [CW4]
  5. T.166 (late 1847) ES2.10 "Le percepteur" (The Tax Collector) [n.d.] [OC4, pp. 198-203]
  6. T.136 (1847.06.20) "The Salt Tax" (L'impôt du sel), LE , 20 June 1847, no. 30, p. 237. Not signed by Bastiat. [OC2.41, pp. 225-28.] [CW4]
  7. T.139 (1847.06.27) "The Single-Tax in England. The Proposal of Mr. Ewart" (La taxe unique en Angleterre, proposition de M. Ewart), LE , 27 June 1847, no. 31, pp. 245-46. [OC2.37, pp. 209-16.] [CW4]
  8. T.200 (1848.03.06) "Impediments and Taxes" (Entraves et Taxes) (Untitled Article), La République française, 6 March 1848, no. 9, p. 1. [OC7.55, pp. 234-35] [CW1, pp. 432-33]
  9. T.273 (1848.10.10) Bastiat's comments at a "Meeting of the Political Economy Society" (Séance de 10 oct. 1848) (on tax). In "Chronique," JDE, T. 21, no. 90, 15 Oct. 1848, pp. 339-40; also ASEP (1889), pp. 68-69. Not in OC. [CW4]
  10. T.232 1849.01.01 "The Consequences of the Reduction in the Salt Tax" (Conséquences de la réduction sur l'impôt du sel), Journal des Débats, 1 Jan. 1849, pp. 3-4. [OC5.9, p. 464] Included with Peace and Freedom or the Republican Budget (Feb 1849) in CW2, pp. 324-27.
  11. T.235 (1849.02) "Peace and Freedom or the Republican Budget" (Paix et liberté ou le budget républicain), published as a pamphlet, Paix et Liberté, ou le Budget républicain (Peace and Freedom, or the Republican Budget) (Paris: Guillaumin, 1849). [OC5, pp. 407-67] [CW2, pp. 282-324]
  12. T.240 (English) and T.283 (French) (1849.08.22) A speech on "Disarmament, Taxes, and the Influence of Political Economy on the Peace Movement." A speech at the Friends of Peace Conference in Paris, 22 Aug., 1849. A short version (1 1/2 pages, 1,300 words) is in French in Joseph Garnier, Congrès des amis de la paix universelle réuni à Paris en 1849, pp. 25-26; a longer longer version in English (3 1/2 pages, 2,600 words) in Report of the Proceedings of the Second General Peace Congress, held in Paris, on the 22nd, 23rd and 24th of August, 1849 (translator unknown), pp. 49-52. It is untitled in both versions so we have given it one. [DMH] [CW3] [CW4]
  13. T.244 (1849.12.12) "Speech on the Tax on Wines and Spirits" (Discours sur l'impôt des boissons). Speech given in the Legislative Assembly on 12 Dec. 1849. [OC5, pp. 468-93] [CW2, pp. 328-47]

Text

I intend establishing a few facts, ones that are capable of shedding some light on the following two questions:

1. Were the taxable capacities of the three major agricultural activities of the Department of Les Landes, namely the cultivation of pines, of vines, and the working of arable lands equitably evaluated when the tax was allocated among the three arrondissements (Mont-de-Marsan, Saint Sever, Dax)? 229

2. Since this allocation was made, have circumstances arisen to change the relationship between these various activities?

If in the light of such changes it is now the case that:

  1. From the outset, the region growing pines has been lightly taxed and the one growing vines overcharged;
  2. And ever since, one region has constantly prospered and the other constantly declined;

Then the conclusion must be drawn that the latter region is now paying too much for two reasons:

  1. Perhaps because its taxable potential was overestimated in 1821;
  2. Or because since 1821 this potential has decreased;

And that the former region is not paying enough:

  1. Perhaps because its income happened to be low in 1821;
  2. Or because since 1821 its income has increased.

I can express my ideas more clearly by using a hypothetical example.

Take two areas, P and V, which together produce a net income of 10,000 francs, with each section producing half.

Let taxation stand at 1,000 francs, or 10% of income, to be shared between them.

This division should take place fairly as follows:

On an income of 5,000 francs P will pay 500 francs in taxes or 10 per cent.

On an income of 5,000 francs V will pay 500 francs in taxes or 10 per cent.

However, if P's taxable capacity is underestimated by a fifth, it should be reduced to 4,000 francs,

And if V's is overestimated by a fifth, it should be raised to 6,000 francs,

The apportionment will be made as follows:

For a real income of 5,000 francs, deemed to be 4,000 francs, P will owe 400 francs of tax or 8%;

For a real income of 5,000 francs, deemed to be 6,000 francs, V will owe 600 francs of tax or 12%.

As long as the taxable capacities of these two areas of land continue to be equal, the injustice will be limited to removing one quarter of P's contribution and having V pay it instead.

However, if after a number of years, P's real income rises from 5,000 francs to 6,000 francs while V's decreases from 5,000 francs to 4,000 francs,

The apportionment becomes the following:

For an assumed income of 4,000 francs that is in reality 6,000 francs, P pays 400 francs or 6.7 %.

For an assumed revenue of 6,000 francs that is in reality 4,000 francs, V pays 600 francs or 15%.

This example shows that a region may, without its being noticed, transfer more than half its burden onto another.

First Question: Was apportionment carried out fairly in 1821?

The general rule is that tax should be based on income.

To establish the income from the land, the average price of commodities over the fifteen years prior to 1821 was used to calculate its output.

However, one single method of operation may lead to error. An effort was made to reduce this error by establishing income using a different procedure. Bills of land sales revealed the capital value of certain estates and interest at 3 1/2 percent of the capital was deemed to represent the income.

Thus, for the same estate, two different totals of income produced by two different procedures were found, and so the tax was based on the average income in accordance with the axiom that reality is to be found in averages.

Unfortunately, it is not truth but falsehood that is found in averages when the data on which they are based all lead to the same error.

Let us therefore examine the use made of these two bases for the apportionment of tax: the average price of commodities and bills of land sales .

§I The prices of commodities, according to the Director of Direct Taxation, were recorded in the land registry records for an average year as follows:

Wheat - 18 francs 77 centimes per hectolitre

Rye - 12 francs 76 centimes per hectolitre

Corn - 11 francs 33 centimes per hectolitre

Red wine - 28 to 60 francs per barrel

White wine - 10 to 22 francs per barrel

Resin - 2 francs 50 centimes per 50 kilograms

I am convinced that this initial basis for evaluation involves several errors of fact and theory that all favor the cultivation of pines to the detriment of field crops and vines.

Cereal prices are obviously extremely high. I do not mean to say that the data supplied by market price records have not been accurately followed, but the period from 1806 to 1821 produced data that did not much favor agricultural communes, either because it included times of troubles and invasions, or for some other reason. Proof of this is that in the following fifteen years, from 1821 to 1836, and according to the Director himself, these average prices fell to 17.13 francs for wheat, 11.27 for rye, and 9.17 for corn.

For all kinds of cereals, the first series had provided an average of 14 francs 28 centimes. The second provided one of only 12 francs 32 centimes, a difference of 1 franc 96 centimes or 14 percent.

If therefore the apportionment had been carried out in 1836, revenue from cultivatable land would have been evaluated at 14 percent less that it was in 1821.

As for the prices allocated to white wines, that is to say 10 francs and 22 francs, depending on quality, I do not consider them to be exaggerated. 230

But this is not the case for red wines. If there are a few vineyards that produced wines of a sufficiently high quality to be sold straight from the press at 60 francs (something I do not know about), I can at least state that lower qualities are far from achieving an average price of 28 francs, which implies 35 francs three months following harvest and sold in the cask.

However, it is above all the price of resin that I consider is the most liable to criticism. By accepting the obviously low figure of 2 francs 50 centimes per 50 kilograms, the authorities and the special commission doubtless foresaw that this was to expose all their operations to the suspicion of partiality. This suspicion was not misplaced. Farming and wine-producing communities in the department are all influenced by a distrust that it would be difficult to eradicate. People complain about this distrust and say that it is an obstacle to the reform they are working on, but does the responsibility for this not arise entirely from the administrative procedures that created it?

I will now make a few comments on what I have entitled theoretical errors, that is to say on the faulty method used to arrive at the averages and on the flawed consequences deduced from these.

First of all, in order for the prices of high quality produce combined with the prices for lower quality to produce a genuinely average price , consistent with real income , an equal quantity of both would have to be harvested, which in the case of wine is contrary to the truth. The Department of Les Landes produces a great deal more mediocre wine than good and if you disregard this fact, you reach an exaggerated average. For example, given 100 barrels 231 of wine at 28 francs and 10 barrels at 60 francs, the average of the prices taken on their own is rightly 44 francs. However, the average of genuine prices which make up income, that is to say the sums earned for each barrel taken together, is only 31 francs 91 centimes.

Subsequently, when a high price is included in the series of prices used to calculate an average, the average rises, from which the conclusion is drawn that there is a corresponding rise in income. However, this conclusion is neither accurate in theory nor true in practice.

Let us suppose that for four years a commodity is sold at 10 francs; its average is 10 francs. If in the fifth year this same commodity is sold at 20 francs, the average for the five years is 12 francs. The arithmetic cannot be faulted. But if you conclude from this that, over this five-year period, the figure of 12 instead of 10 represents the income, the economic conclusion would at the very least be very dubious. In order for it to be true, the quantity of the product in this fifth year would need to be equal to that of the preceding years, which cannot even be imagined in normal circumstances, since it is precisely the decrease in harvest that leads to an increase in price.

To obtain averages that reflect reality, and from which income can be deduced, we therefore have to combine the prices obtained with the quantities produced, and it is precisely this procedure that has been neglected. If in the new apportionment being undertaken, the average price of wines over the last three years were taken as a base, the following are the different results produced by the method used by the Land Registry Office and by mine:

The Land Registry Office would reason as follows:

1840 - 10 barrels at 25 francs, providing an income of 250 francs

1841 - 10 barrels at 25 francs, providing an income of 250 francs

1843 - 10 barrels at 50 francs (a wild guess), providing an income of 500 francs

Total - 30 barrels, at an average price of 33 1/3 francs, providing an income of 1,000 francs

Whereas this should read:

1840 - 10 barrels at 25 francs, providing an income of 250 francs

1841 - 10 barrels at 25 francs, providing an income of 250 francs

1843 - 5 barrels at 50 francs (actual price), providing an income of 250 francs

Total - 25 barrels, at an average price of 30 francs, providing an income of 750 francs

This is how one arrives at an imaginary income, on which, nevertheless, tax is unhesitatingly levied.

Doubtless it will be said that apportionment is an operation that is difficult enough without complicating it further with such fine considerations. People will also say that since the same procedures are used for all forms of product, any errors are cancelled out and offset one another, since all are subject to the same economic laws.

But this is exactly what I do not agree with, and I maintain that our Départment is subject to such specific conditions that the causes of error that I have just pointed out have to be taken into consideration if we aspire to even a semblance of equality in the apportionment of state charges. It remains for me to prove that the application of average prices , taken abstractly from the proportion between the differing qualities and the annual quantities, has been disadvantageous to cereal and vine growing regions.

An increase in the price of an item may have two causes.

Either there has been a fall in the production of this item; in this case, the price rises without it being at all possible for us to infer an increase in income.

Or the production of this item has remained stationary, or even increased, but demand has increased to a greater extent; in this case the price of this item rises and an increase in income can be inferred.

Well, it would be a very great injustice, in either case, if the average price of the item were taken as an index of income.

If the high price of 50 francs that La Chalosse gets this year for its wine has occurred without a decrease in the quantity produced, for example, because England, Belgium, and our major towns have removed the barriers of custom duties and city tolls with the result that the consumption of wine has doubled and prices with it, I would say "Record 50 francs in your list of annual prices and include this information in calculating an average, for it reflects a genuine increase in revenue."

In the same way, if the high price that we have seen resin products reach was due to a decrease in the productiveness of the pignadas 232 , if pine forest owners lost more on the quantity of their products than they gained on the prices obtained, I could quite properly say "Do not conclude from these high prices that revenues are proportionally high as well; this would be untrue and would constitute an act of plunder."

As it turns out, the opposite has happened. Les Landes has been fortunate enough to benefit from an increase in price; La Chalosse has been unfortunate enough to find that the increase in price has not allowed it to achieve even its normal revenue. Have I not good reason to demand that this profound change in situation be taken into account?

Let us conclude that the initial basis for evaluation has been damaging to both field crops and vines.

§II The second set of data used to determine taxable income is taken from individual sales of land .

The market value of a piece of land is quite an accurate indication of the income it generates. Two properties that are sold for 100,000 francs each are assumed to generate the same income, and this has to be equal to the interest generally yielded by capital in a given region and at a given time . The negotiation that takes place between the seller and the purchaser, in which one takes care to see that the income is not exaggerated and the other that it is not understated is better than any form of administrative survey on this subject and in addition offers a guarantee of wisdom, attention to detail, and self-interest that no zeal by inspectors, tax assessors, or experts can equal. For this reason, if it were possible to establish the market value of each tract of land, I for my part would not wish for any other basis for evaluating incomes and the allocation of taxes, for this market value summarizes all these circumstances that are so difficult to estimate and which influence the average income from land, as I have shown in the preceding section. 233

But we should not lose sight of the strong qualification encompassed in these words: in a given region and at a given time .

The interest on capital varies, in fact, according to the time and the place.

For identical incomes to be produced by equal sums of capital, changes in ownership have to have taken place at times and in places in which interest is uniform. This is as true for land as it is for public funds.

Treasury bonds 234 paying 5,000 francs in 1814 were worth just 60,000 francs; today their capital value is 120,000 francs.

In the same way, 100,000 francs invested in land may provide just 2,500 francs of rent in Normandy and yield an income of 4,000 francs in Gascony.

If the Chamber of Deputies took no account of these differences when it undertook the general standardization of tax assessment, it would not establish equality of taxation but inequality.

This is the fault that was committed in our Départment when the measurement of revenue was attempted on the basis of bills of land sales.

At the time this operation was carried out, land was not sold at a uniform rate all around the Départment. It was well known that money was invested for higher returns in Les Landes than in La Chalosse.

Even the Land Registry Office acknowledged the truth of this, for they offered to use three figures for the rate of interest, namely, 3, 3 ½ and 4 percent.

According to this data, an estate worth 100,000 francs would be presumed to yield an income of 4,000 francs in one canton while in another it would be deemed to produce just 3,000. Tax would be levied in accordance with this variation.

The Special Commission set up by the law dated 31 July 1821 235 rejected this distinction and adopted a uniform rate of 3 ½ percent.

The fact is, that the Commission committed an injustice by doing this if at that time interest over the entire territory was not uniform.

The Director himself acknowledges this.

"This uniform application of a rate of interest", he said, " has incontestably influenced the results produced by one of the two bases of apportionment, and it goes without saying that it has favored to a slight extent the areas in which the rate of interest is highest." 236

The slight extent mentioned by the Director can easily be translated into figures.

Let us imagine two estates that were sold for 100,000 francs each, one situated in an area in which the rate of interest is 4 percent and the other in one where interest is at 3 percent.

The first yields 4,000 francs of income and the second 3,000 francs, and tax should follow this proportion fairly, since it is levied on income.

According to the government procedure, each hundred francs of tax would be apportioned between these two properties as follows:

Portion relating to the property in Les Landes - 57 francs 15 centimes on 4,000 of revenue

Portion relating to the property in La Chalosse - 42 francs 85 centimes on 3,000 of revenue

Total - 100 francs 00 centimes

However, according to the Commission's approach, one hundred francs would be apportioned thus:

Portion relating to the property in Les Landes - 50 francs 00 centimes

Portion relating to the property in La Chalosse - 50 francs 00 centimes

Total- 100 francs 00 centimes

That is to say that Les Landes has been granted tax relief of 14 percent, which the Commission charged to La Chalosse. 237 Doubtless it will be said that, since bills of land sale are just one of two elements of the apportionment, this result may have been diminshed by the influence of the other element. This would be true if the farming and wine-producing cantons were favored by the application of the average prices for commodities, but we have seen that they were no more relieved by the first than by the second basis for evaluation. It is far from true that the errors tainting these two procedures cancel each other out and offset one another; it can be said that that they multiply one another, and always to the disadvantage of the same areas.

Thus, the two bases for the apportionment of tax have been invalidated and distorted and always for the benefit of one type of property, the pignadas (the pine plantations), to the detriment of the two others, farming-land and vineyards.

Let us move on to the results.

If we asked an impartial man what were the cantons that paid the highest taxes relating to vines, he would doubtless reply, those with the greatest acreage devoted to this type of cultivation, the cantons of Montfort, Mugron, Saint-Sever, Villeneuve, and Gabarret, and he would not be wrong. These five cantons alone pay three-quarters of the tax levied on vineyards. And if he were asked which ones pay the highest taxes relating to heath land, he would unhesitatingly reply, those that include vast stretches of heath, such as Sabres, Arjuzanx, Labrit, etc. But here our interlocutor would be sadly mistaken and probably greatly surprised to learn that it is La Chalosse and the Armagnac, wine-growing regions, that pay not only the majority, but almost all of the tax assignable to the heath lands.

The following is a table of our twenty-eight cantons listed in decreasing order of their shares of taxation relating to heath land. 238

Table, page 294, G1, ed. 1855

fr. fr.
Saint-Sever 6,296 Saint-Esprit 1,593
Grenade 5,599 Sabres 1,561
Mugron 3,904 Geaune 1,287
Roquefort 3,579 Dax 1,207
Hagetmau 3,327 Arjuzanx 1,168
Amou 3,000 Labrit 1,074
Montfort 3,000 Tartas (ouest) 914
Pouillon 2,883 Castets 600
Aire 2,852 Soustons 522
Saint-Vincent 2,663 Tartas (est) 495
Mont-de-Marsan 2,465 Pissos 166
Gabarret 2,272 Parentis 141
Peyrehorade 2,061 Sore 107
Villeneuve 1,817 Mimizan 94

Is it not odd to see in the first half of this list all the wine-producing cantons: Saint-Sever, Mugron, Amou, Montfort, Villeneuve, etc., as well as all the farming cantons: Hagetmau, Aire, Peyrehorade, etc., and in the second half all the cantons making up Les Landes and Maransin? 239

Here is another comparison that is no less curious.

The canton of Saint-Sever alone pays more taxes on its 5,583 hectares of heath than the following nine cantons together: Mimizan, Sore, Parentis, Castets, Soustons, Labrit, Arjuzanx, and Sabres, which together have an area of 203,760 hectares, and when you add nine other cantons the same size as Mimizan to these nine, under the current rules of apportionment, you still do not manage to extract from these tremendous stretches of land what is levied on the heath in the single canton of Saint-Sever, as can be seen in the following table:

LANDES
Main Tax Main Tax
fr. fr.
1 canton ; Sabres 1,561 Saint-Sever 6,296
1 Arjuzanx 1,168
1 Labrit 1,074
1 Castets 600
1 Soustons 522
1 Pissos 166
1 Parentis 141
1 Sore 107
1 Mimizan 94
9 cantons similar to Mimizan at 94 francs each 846
18 cantons 6,279 6,296

We also learn from the report of the Director of Direct Taxation that the canton of Mimizan, whose territory feeds close to 5,000 inhabitants, that is to say, about one third of the population of the canton of Saint-Sever, pays the following taxes:

1,223 francs for field crops

8 francs for vines

4,212 francs for pines

94 francs for heath land

Total: 5,537 francs, a sum less than that which has to be paid for the heath alone in Saint-Sever.

Montfort's share is 40,771 francs. It exceeds that of Soustons and Castets, which are:

Soustons - 22,338 francs

Castets - 18,108

Total: 40,446 francs

Yet, according to the last census, the population of Montfort is only 13,654 inhabitants. The population of the two cantons of the Maransin is 18,027 inhabitants:

Castets - 9,006 francs

Soustons - 9,021

The share of the canton of Mugron is 34,790 francs. It exceeds the share of the following three cantons combined:

Sabres - 13,448 francs

Pissos - 11,694

Parentis - 9,103

Total: 34,245 francs

and, to within 355 francs, it equals the share of the following four cantons:

Labrit - 10,286 francs

Parentis - 9,103

Sore - 7,937

Mimizan - 7,819

Total: 35,145 francs

And yet, compared with our population of 10,038 inhabitants, these four cantons have a population of 20,784 inhabitants (more than double). Compared with our 4,486 hectares of field crops, they have 9,584 hectares, (more than double). Compared with our 1,887 hectares of vines, they have 43,894 hectares of pignadas , (23 to 1). Finally, compared with our 3,250 hectares of heath, they have 88,719 hectares (27 to 1).

I do not wish to say that the field crops and heath in these cantons are as valuable as ours, nor that their pines can equal our vines, taken by the hectare. The question is to see whether between them there is the huge disproportion we have just set out. If this is so, if revenues raised in Mugron equal those of Labrit, Parentis, Mimizan, and Sore, it remains to be explained how it is that they provide a living for just 10,000 inhabitants in La Chalosse, whereas they keep 20,000 inhabitants in Les Landes. This phenomenon can be explained away only by the proposition that those in La Chalosse are basking in luxury compared to the Les Landes. But then in this case I would ask why the population is decreasing in number in the former while it is increasing significantly in the latter.

I have no intention of stirring up conflict between the arrondissements. I think that discussion can take place with regard only to the various crops whose taxable capacity has been badly assessed. For this reason, I have not hesitated to compare not only cantons situated in various arrondissements but also cantons included in the same districts but which are devoted to other crops. This is why I contrasted Montfort with Soustons and Castets. I could equally have compared Villeneuve, a wine-producing canton in the first arrondissement, with Arjuzanx or even Mont-de-Marsan, and we would still encounter the same disproportion. The first of these cantons, with 8,887 inhabitants, pays much more than twice as much as the second, with 7,075 inhabitants, and as much as our chief town, which has a population of 15,915 inhabitants.

I could point out anomalies that are even more striking if I wished to abandon the comparison of cantons for that of communes; that would take me too far, so I will limit myself to two facts.

In the second arrondissement, there is a commune such as Nerbis that pays 1 franc 51 centimes for each hectare of heath. In the first arrondissements, communes, such as Mimizan, Pontenx, Aureilhan, Bras, Argelouse or Luxey that pay half or one third of a centime. Calen in the canton of Sore pays its share with 3/10 of a centime, from which it follows that one hectare of heath at Nerbis is valued at the level of 500 hectares at Calen. It is said that in the former arrondissement, each hectare of heath feeds one sheep and farming statistics, published by the Ministry of Agriculture confirm this claim 240 since we see that this arrondissement, which has 292,000 hectares of heath, maintains 338,800 sheep. Have the authorities considered that in Nerbis a flock of 500 animals can survive on one hectare of heath?

The quantity of wine produced by one hectare of vines is in fact the product of:

1 hectare of vineyard that, in the commune of Montfort, pays 7 fr. 34 c.
1/2 hectare of fenced land 2 02
1/2 hectare heath land 2 30
Total 9 fr. 66 c.

There are twenty communes in the former district that are taxed at only 27, 26, 24, or 20 centimes per hectare of pines and there are some, like Laharie (in the canton of Arjuzanx) that pay only 17 centimes. For an apportionment like this to be considered fair, the net product of one hectare of vines, established at Montfort, would have to be equal to the net product of fifty-seven hectares of pines at Laharie.

I will not pursue these comparisons any further. I think I have demonstrated two things, namely:

  1. that the two methods used to estimate the revenue of each of the crops in our Départment were calculated, doubtless unintentionally, in a way that hurts field crops and vines to the benefit of pines,
  1. that numerous irrefutable facts establish that this has been the effective result of the use of these procedures, with the consequence that the apportionment of tax has been inequitable from the outset.

It remains for me to prove that this inequity has increased since then and is increasing with every passing day following the changes that have been made in the proportions of the taxable capacity of these crops.

Second Question: Have the taxable capacities of the various crops in the Départment retained the proportions they had when the tax was apportioned?

When the tax revenues from land were being determined in 1821, the facts relating to that year were not examined. The dates of the leases and bills of land sales that were consulted were more or less old and the average prices applied were based on market-price lists that went back fifteen years. Thus, these various elements did not reflect a current state of affairs but the situation of the country during a period whose starting point must be set at the beginning of the century.

It is therefore with this period that I have to compare the present time, and across this period of approximately forty years I have to inquire into the phenomena that science has taught us to consider as being the surest evidence of increase or decrease in populations.

The first one that comes to the fore is the movement of the population itself. If it is true, as all political writers acknowledge, that the number of human beings increases or decreases according to their incomes, it is enough to observe the movement of the population in regions in which pines, cereals, and vines are grown to recognize what each of them has gained or lost with regard to taxable capacity. Let us therefore busy ourselves with this investigation, which I consider to be of the greatest interest even beyond the question of the apportionment of tax.

The Population of the Three Districts of Les Landes at various times.

 

1801 1804 1808 1821 1826 1831 1836 1841 % increase
Mont-de-Marsan 71,707 74,115 77,225 82,364 86,869 91,595 93,292 94,145 31.8%
Saint-Sever 77,467 80,834 80,602 82,364 86,869 91,595 93,292 94,145 31.8%
Dax 75,098 80,601 82,486 90,362 93,959 90,463 101,126 105,303 40%
Total 224,272 235,550 249,313 236,311 265,314 272,504 284,918 288,077 28.5

Table, page 300, G1, ed. 1855

This table shows us that there was an increase in population of 28 ½ percent for the entire Départment. This average was exceeded by 11 ½ percent in the third arrondissment and 3 percent in the first, while the second ended by being 14 percent below this average.

The arrondissment of Saint-Sever was the most populated at the beginning of the century. It moved down to second place in 1806, to third place in 1831, and finally, during the period 1832 to 1841, its absolute population decreased.

This initial overview appears to show that the arrondissment that provides the greatest production and sales of resinous products is the one that has prospered most quickly. The arrondissment that lies second for this crop is also second with regard to population increase. Finally the arrondissment in which the cultivation of pines is insignificant and whose principal source of revenue is in vineyards has remained stationary.

However, this teaches us nothing very precise about the influence of pines, field crops, or vineyards with regard to the population, since each of our arrondissment includes these three crops in varying proportions. Assuming that the cultivation of pines has brought prosperity and vineyards poverty, it is clear that the first and third arrondissment would have shown a more significant increase in population without the wine-producing cantons of Villeneuve and Gabarret and Montfort and Pouillon, with the second showing a lesser increase without the cantons of Tartas (West) which includes a great deal of pine.

It is therefore essential to examine the movements of population in the districts of those cantons that show us a much clearer distinction between the three types of crop whose influence we are comparing.

Here is the list of our twenty-eight cantons listed in decreasing order of prosperity as shown by the increase in their population:

Table, page 302, G1, ed. 1855

Population Changes by Canton

CANTONS. 1804 1844 % Increase % Decrese
Castets 5,760 9,006 56 "
Dax 13,224 20,951 51 "
Mimizan 2,700 4,870 43 "
Sabres 4,994 7,144 43 "
Saint-Esprit 10,907 15,612 43 "
Parentis 4,287 5,870 37 "
Pissos 4,693 6,342 37 "
Soustons 6,625 9,021 36 "
Arjuzanx 5,304 7,095 33 "
Saint-Vincent 7,780 10,334 32 "
Sore 3,251 4,268 31 "
Labrit 4,541 5,776 27 "
Roquefort 7,453 11,501 27 "
Tartas (ouest) 8,391 10,571 25 "
Peyrehorade 10,664 13,028 21 "
Hagetmau 10,587 12,462 20 "
Mont-de-Marsan 13,301 15,915 19 "
Tartas (est) 4,595 5,335 16 "
Geaune 8,183 9,197 13 "
Montfort 12,209 13,654 11 "
Aire 10,829 11,992 10 "
Amou 12,438 13,579 10 "
Grenade 7,173 7,872 9 "
Gabarret 8,122 8,746 7 "
Villeneuve 8,296 8,887 7 "
Pouillon 13,332 14,294 7 "
Saint-Sever 15,762 15,322 " 2 1/2
Mugron 10,343 10,038 " 3

I consider that this table sheds considerable light on the question. It can be clearly seen that increased prosperity correlates with the cultivation of pines and that a slow increase, stationary, or even decreasing prosperity has been the fate of the regions with field crops and vines.

In fact, if we divide this table into two series, the first includes all the cantons in which pine cultivation is predominant and ends with the cantons of Roquefort and Tartas (West), as though to demonstrate that where the pines stop, the prosperity of the region also stops. The second series of 14 cantons shows a smaller increase and includes exactly all the farming and wine-producing cantons in the department. The "Grande Lande 241 " and Maransin are no more present in this series than La Chalosse and the Armagnac are in the first.

These two series produce the following results:

CROPS POPULATION
VINES PINES 1804 1841 INCREASE
Hectares Hectares Inhabitants Inhabitants Inhabitants
1st Series 2,160 150,022 89,910 127,463 37,553 42%
2nd Series 18,093 16,821 145,640 160,049 14,449 10%
Total 20,233 166,843 235,250 287,552 52,022 22%

In the population table for the cantons, a few facts will be noted which appear not to agree with these deductions:

  1. Dax and Saint-Esprit, which have no pines, are at the top of the scale, as they show increases in population of 56 and 43 percent.
  1. Mont-de-Marsan, which would have been expected to figure in the first series, comes in third place only in the second and shows an increase of just 19 percent.
  1. Montfort, which is a wine-producing canton and which for this reason should be one of the last on the table, nevertheless has eight cantons beneath it and shows an increase of 11 percent.

However, as we shall see, these apparent anomalies, far from undermining it, confirm the argument I am putting forward.

Let us note first of all that these are cantons that include the towns of Dax, Saint-Esprit, and Mont-de-Marsan, whose industrial population is not as directly influenced by farming as those of the countryside, which is the main object of this research.

Saint-Esprit had only 4,946 inhabitants in 1804; it now has 7,324. Its situation at the mouth of the Adour, its commerce, garrison, military establishments, and proximity to Bayonne explain this development.

Dax does not produce any resinous goods but it is the warehouse to which residents of Maransin come to carry out his sales and purchases. Dax has therefore prospered for the same reasons that would cause Bordeaux to do well if the sales of wine flourished and spread wealth around the Gironde, even though the commune of Bordeaux itself cannot produce wine.

Let us move on to Mont-de-Marsan. First of all, it would be a mistake to consider this canton one of those in which pines predominated. It has only 9,828 hectares of pines compared with 8,147 hectares of field crops and 428 hectares of vines. The tax it pays on its pines is only 1/8 th of its share. It therefore has to be ranked among the farming cantons, which already feel the influence of the cultivation of pines and, from this point of view, its place in the table is not far from the one that, a priori , might have been allocated to it. But one is easily convinced that it is not the fault of the pines if this canton is not included in the first rank. In effect, if we remove from the nineteen communes that make it up the six communes that have the greatest acreage of pignadas , we find that although in these six communes there is a significant proportion of cultivated land, the population has increased by 33 percent while that of the canton as a whole has increased by only 19 percent.

Table, page 305, G1, ed. 1855

RURAL PRODUCTS

POPULATION
FIELD CROPS PINES 1804 1841
Saint-Pardon 659 906 596 788
Saint-Martin 591 985 578 699
Geloux 578 1,321 600 815
Campagne 744 743 881 1,052
Saint-Avit 418 787 435 501
Saint-Pierre 903 1,037 746 1,344
Totals 3,893 5,779 3,896 5,199 Increase 33%

From which it is clearly seen that, in the canton of Mont-de-Marsan, the cultivation of pines has had the same consequences as in the rest of the Départment. What has reduced the increase in population in this canton to 19 percent is the influence of the town of Mont-de-Marsan, which in 1841 has no more inhabitants than it did in 1804. If we set the town aside, the canton would occupy tenth place in the table on page 302, ["Movement of Population by Canton"] between Arjuzanx and Saint-Vincent. But what are the reasons for the stationary condition of our chief town? It is not part of my brief to look for them. Perhaps the decrease in the sales of spirits has something to do with it, or perhaps it also is hiding part of its population from us.

It remains for us to examine the canton of Montfort. Overall, this canton shows an increase in population of 11 percent. This is not much, compared with the pine-growing region but it is still more than would be expected from a wine-producing canton, according to what is happening at Villeneuve, Gabarret, Saint-Sever, and Mugron. But while the canton of Montfort includes a few wine-producing communes, it also includes a great many farming ones.

What factors have caused the canton as a whole to achieve population growth of 11 percent? This is what we are going to see in examining these two categories separately.

Table, page 307, G1, ed. 1855

Breakdown of the Canton of Montfort

FARMING COMMUNES . CROPS. POPULATION.
Field Crops Vines 1804. 1841.
hect. hect. pop. pop.
Clermont 450 20 825 913
Garrey 140 15 219 228
Gousse 110 6 151 216
Hinx 500 50 656 776
Louer 120 4 112 149
Ouard 330 1 321 370
Ozourt 240 22 287 350
Lier 420 1 371 509
Sort 480 30 826 943
Vicq 250 " 290 344
Cassen 170 43 348 466
Gibrel 110 76 237 292
Goos 310 60 487 566
Préchacq 410 60 491 584
Total 4,040 388 5,621 6,706
Ratio of Vines to Field Crops 1/10
Population increase 19%

 

FARMING COMMUNES . CROPS. POPULATION.
Field Crops Vines 1804. 1841.
hect. hect. hab. hab.
Montfort 190 350 1,574 1,644
Gamarde 480 310 1,194 1,336
Laurède 100 195 844 769
Lourqueu 180 120 380 416
Nousse 80 110 390 393
Poyanne 100 140 563 558
Poyartin 590 170 970 983
Saint-Geours 240 310 773 849
Total 1,960 1,700
Ratio of Vines to Field Crops 1/2.
Population increase 4%

Thus, just as by breaking down the canton of Mont-de-Marsan into its elements we have ascertained that if it does not occupy a higher rank in the scale of prosperity in the Départment, it is not the cultivation of pines that has limited it; in the same way, through an analysis of the canton of Montfort, we are convinced that it has held its twentieth place only through its large number of farming communes. If we removed these communes, it would go down to one of the lowest in the rankings and would be exceeded in poverty and population only by the cantons of Saint-Sever and Mugron.

These two examples warn us that the cantonal district is still too extensive, including too great a variety of crops, to show us in a satisfactory manner the influence of each of these crops on the population, since these influences are visible to us only in combination. They have to be separated out as far as possible; the truth has to be pursued down to the level of the communes. This is what the five tables at the end of this article will endeavor to do.

From the report by the Director of Direct Taxation, I have taken the twenty-two communes that include the greatest proportion of pines and the twenty-two communes that offer the greatest proportion of vineyards, without distinguishing either cantons or districts. Between these two classes there is a third, which includes only cultivated land. Finally, two other classes record the transition between pines and field crops on the one hand and between field crops and vineyards on the other. Beside each commune, I have put the size of the population in 1804 and 1841. In this way, we will discover how the population has been affected, not only by each of the three major crops in the region but also by the combination of two of these crops. ( See pages 329 to 333 ). [329-30 - Région des pins; 331- Région des labourables; 332-33 - Région des vignes]

How can we not be struck by the remarkable results shown by these tables?

They show us that in our department, population movement has occurred as follows:

Increase: 60 percent in the region growing pines

Increase: 34 percent in the region divided between pines and field crops

Increase: 16 percent in the region growing field crops

Increase: 2 percent in the region divided between field crops and vines

Decrease: 4 percent in the region growing vines.

And you must not think that these two figures, 60 percent increase and 4 percent decrease, express the extreme effects produced on the population by the two crops we are comparing. For this to be so, we would have to be able to study them in isolation. However there are no communes in which one element, field crops, is not present, whose slow and progressive action either flattens out somewhat the increase shown in the region growing pines or likewise diminishes the effect of depopulation that has decimated the region growing vines. If we wanted to isolate the proper influence of these two crops quite separately from that of field crops, we would have to resort to a proportionality rule. I think that we would reach a close result using an intrinsically rigorous form of reasoning, which we would be able to challenge only by calling into question the official data on which it is based.

This is the problem to be solved:

The twenty-two communes in which pines are predominant show an increase of 8,998 inhabitants from a base of 13,573, or 60 percent.

The twenty-two communes in which vines are predominant show a decrease of 899 inhabitants from a base of 20,224, or 4 percent.

If we accept that in these communes, as in the rest of the Départment, field crops favored the section of the population corresponding to them to the tune of 16 percent, what is the proportion of increase and decrease that should be attributed exclusively to pines and vines?

The size of the population depends on the standard of living 242 and this in turn is nothing more than the level of income; and we know the proportion of income relating to each form of crop through its workforce's contribution to taxation. From this data it is easy to calculate the size of population that corresponds to each form of crop.

The fiscal contributions of the twenty-two communes in the first category are as follows:

27,483 francs for pines

7,043 francs for field crops

Incomes are in proportion to these contributions.

The size of population is in proportion to these incomes.

Therefore, the 13,573 inhabitants who make up the 1804 population can be broken down thus:

Population
To pines 10,815
to field drops 2,758
Setting aside the increase found to be produced by pines, the increase due to field crops has to be added, namely 16 percent of 2,758 which is 441
So that if pines had no influence, the present population of these twenty-two communes would be 14,014
However, it is 21,771
The difference due exclusively to pines is 7,757

Well, an increase of 7,757 on 10,815 is 71 percent.

The share of the twenty-two wine-producing communes is 22,880 francs relating to vines, which corresponds to 11,709 inhabitants
16,742 francs relating to field crops, which corresponds to 8,515
Level of population in 1804 20,224
Through the effect of field crops, which implies an increase of 16 percent on 8,515 inhabitants, this level would have increased to 1,373
So that, without the influence of vines, the level of population in 1841 would be 21,597
However, it is 19,325
Deficit due exclusively to vines 2,272

A deficit of 2,272 on 11,709 is equivalent to 19 percent.

The only conclusions that can be drawn from these figures is that in a commune in which there are only pines, the population would have increased by 70 percent, that in one in which there are only vines it would have decreased by 19 percent and that in reality , the positive and negative changes have taken place within these two limits in each district in line with the proportions in which these crops are combined with a third element, field crops.

The following is thus at the end of the day the law governing the changes in population in the Department of Les Landes:

Pines only an increase of 71%
7/8 pine and 1/8 field crops (table on p. 329) an increase of 60
4/5 pine and 1/5 field crops (table on p. 330) an increase of 34
Field crops (table on p. 331 ) an increase of 16
2/3 field crops and 1/3 vines (table on p. 332) an increase of 2
½ field crops and ½ vines (table on p. 333) a de crease of 4
Vines only a de crease of 19

The result of this is that if a stretch of pines and a stretch of vines each providing a livelihood for one hundred people were subjected to the same tax burden at the outset, this burden would still exist today even though the same pines would provide a living 243 for 171 people and the same vines would no longer be able to provide for any more than 81 people, namely less than half.

This is very unfair. But if from the outset the apportionment was badly done how much more blatant is the injustice, as I think I have demonstrated in the first part of this article!

I don't wish to weary the reader's attention with weighty, arid figures. However, I cannot leave this question without showing the reader the details of the phenomenon of depopulation which has affected not only the wine-producing region but also a fairly wide area surrounding this region, in order to show the connection between the number of people and the reduced level of incomes as established by the legislation on Customs and indirect taxation. My heart bleeds when it is confronted with the deep distress implied by this depopulation.

Obliged, as I am, to restrain myself, I will go no further than to state the number of births and deaths in a period of thirty years (1814 to 1843) in the fifteen wine-producing communes at the top of the table on page 333 (Region des vigne - second column of figures). With regard to the other seven communes, I have asked the Mayors for statements but have not received them. The period of thirty years has been divided into two periods of fifteen years in order to facilitate a comparison between the current state of affairs and the situation of the region in previous times.

Table, page 312, G1, ed. 1855

COMMUNE FIRST PERIOD SECOND PERIOD
Births Deaths Excess of Births Deaths Excess of
Births Deaths Births Deaths
Mugron 1,173 959 216 " 949 1284 " 335
Nerbis 283 229 54 " 179 267 " 88
Laurède 414 287 127 " 304 333 " 29
Gamarde 611 433 178 " 545 655 " 110
Donzacq 669 362 307 " 541 531 10 "
St-Geours 492 401 85 " 404 498 " 94
Ranos 202 175 27 " 180 155 25 "
Baigts 469 303 166 " 400 367 33 "
Lourquen 172 127 45 " 176 162 14 "
Montaut 548 424 124 " 464 490 " 26
Poyanne 250 225 25 " 269 273 " 4
Hauriet 291 187 104 " 224 234 " 10
Montfort 702 462 240 " 137 138 " 1
Nousse 159 103 56 " 404 470 " 66
St-Aubin 432 343 89 " 404 470 " 66
Total 6,869 5,026 1,843 " 5,814 6,445 132 753

I ask the reader to pay great attention to these figures. From 1814 to 1828, there were 6,869 births and 5,026 deaths. The population grew, with each 1,000 inhabitants providing 33 births against 24 deaths.

However, from 1829 to 1843, births fell to 5,814, or 27 ½ per 1,000 inhabitants and deaths increased to 6,445 or 30 ½ per 1,000 inhabitants.

So that, and this is worth noting, this decrease in the wine-producing population, which I had already noted from the censuses, is not the work of forty years, as one might have thought, but in fact that of the last fifteen years. What is more, in order for its absolute density to have diminished, it was necessary for it to lose, either by death or emigration, not only the difference shown in the censuses of 1804 and 1843 but also everything it had gained in the first twenty-five years of this period. 244

In this way, the best recorded facts come to give dismal confirmation to the law of population growth revealed by science.

The checks to population that keep the number of inhabitants at subsistence level", says Malthus, "can be categorized under two headings: the first act by anticipating an increase in population and the second by destroying it in proportion as it takes shape. 245

On which Mr. Senior makes the following comment:

Mr. Malthus has divided the checks to population into the preventive and the positive . The first are those which limit fecundity, the second, those which decrease longevity. The first diminishes the number of births, the second increases that of deaths. And as fecundity and longevity are the only elements of the calculation, it is clear that Mr. Malthus's division is exhaustive. 246

Criticisms of this doctrine have been raised recently. 247 It has been criticised for being sad and discouraging. Doubtless, it would be better if the means of existence (standard of living) could decrease and even disappear without people being any the less well fed, clothed, housed, and cared for in childhood, old age, and sickness. But this is neither true nor possible; it is actually contradictory. I cannot really understand the outcries against Malthus. What has this famous economist really revealed? After all, his theory is only a methodical commentary on this quite ancient and well known truth: when mankind can no longer get in sufficient quantity the things which feed him and sustain his life, it becomes necessary to reduce their numbers; and if they can't do this through acts of prudence, then suffering will change things for them.

We can clearly see this law in operation in our Chalosse. Sharecropping farms no longer yield the same income or, to put it another way, the same means of existence (the same standard of living), and immediately an instinctive sense of prudence reduces the number of births. 248 People reflect deeply before marrying. Heads of households understand that the property can no longer sustain the same number of people and they postpone the time they set up house and have children, or else the increasingly harsh exigencies of life make marriages more difficult, that is to say, more rare, and the number of unmarried people thus increases. This is how a region that recorded 33 births per 1,000 inhabitants now produces only 27.

However, prudence, or what Malthus calls a preventive check, is not powerful enough to reduce the population as rapidly as (falling) income can; a repressive check, 249 namely mortality, has to contribute to re-establishing a balance. Since the abundance of things has decreased, privation must ensue; privation brings suffering and suffering, death. Sharecropping farms are less productive, and consequently their acreage, which had been calculated with a view to a different order of things, tends to increase. Two sharecropping farms are combined into one or three into two. In the commune of Mugron alone, twenty-nine sharecropping farms have thus disappeared in our time, 250 and as many families have inexorably been condemned to a slow destruction. Finally, the ones that remain have fewer means to ensure themselves against hunger, cold, damp, and sickness; average life expectancy decreases, and in the end where there were 24 deaths per 1,000 inhabitants there are now 30½.

But is this decrease in population, which is certainly the effect and the indicator of poverty, also the measure of its extent? Listen to the judicious comments of Mr. de Chastellux 251 on this subject:

It is said that subsistence levels are an index of population; if they are lowered, the number of people has to decrease in the same proportion. Doubtless this decrease has to happen; whether it does so in the same proportion is another matter, or at least it is only at the end of a lengthy period of time that this proportion is found to be accurate. Before people's lives are shortened and the source of life declines, poverty has to have reduced physical strength and increased the number of diseases. When it takes hold of a region, when the supply of food decreases by a certain amount, by one sixth for example, the result is not that one sixth of the inhabitants die of hunger or emigrate, but these unfortunate people consume in general one sixth less. Unfortunately for them destruction does not always follow destitution, and nature, which is more thrifty than tyrants, is even more fully aware of the few resources men need in order to survive. Their numbers may still be high but they will be weak and unhappy. It is at this stage that by taking a little away, you take a great deal. 252

Yes, the interpretation of the distress on the left bank of the Adour would be very incomplete if it were constructed on the basis of mortality tables. A fall in income does not strike only the particular class that cannot lose anything without being in danger of death. Before being overcome, how many families descend from affluence to slender means and thence, to hardship and from hardship to destitution? First of all, they reduce expenditure on luxuries, then they economize on the ordinary comforts of life, and finally they cut down on the basic decencies. Their social status declines accordingly. These houses in ruins, this furniture in disrepair, and these children whose education has been interrupted; tell us that conditions have declined both from the point of view of morale and of physical well-being. They will tell us that monopoly and the tax authorities, these tyrants over our industry, know how little people need to live on, and that unfortunately destruction does not always follow poverty . 253

According to Chastellux, this is when, by taking a little, you take a great deal. I would say, that this is when an apportionment that is faulty and unjust, even in better times, becomes intolerable and monstrous.

The facts that I have set out are irrefutable. However, I do not doubt that efforts will be made to undermine this conclusion by denying the principle that population levels vary with the standard of living. "We do not accept this doctrine of Malthus'", they might say, "In the region producing pines there are doubtless more of us than before, but it does not follow that the income from our forests has increased. Only that it is shared among a greater number of people."

I will not go into a long dissertation on the factors governing population. I know that they raise questions that are still controversial. But as for the factors themselves, and the axiom that an increase in population is the effect, proof, and indictor of an increase that corresponds to a particular standard of living or level of income, I am not aware that doubt has ever been cast on the matter by any political writer of any worth, and I think I cannot do better than to subject my case to the authority of a large number of writers who all agree on this point, whatever other differences there may be between their opinions and theories.

"And what is the surest evidence that they (the people) are so protected and prosperous? The numbers of their population." (Rousseau) 254

"Wherever a place is found where two people may live in comfort, a marriage occurs. Nature lends itself to this quite well when it is not hindered by the difficulty of subsistence ." (Montesquieu) 255

"Alongside a loaf, a man is born." (Buffon, Natural History . 1749) 256

"After a certain number of years, the population of an industrious and commercial country approaches the level of subsistence." (Necker) 257

"To live you have to eat, and as any growth has a limit, that is where a population stops growing." (James Steuart) 258

"Population levels are in line with the means of subsistence and need. According to this principle, there is one means of increasing the population, and only one. This is to increase national wealth, or to put it better, to allow it to increase." (Bentham) 259 260

"The only true criterion of a real and permanent increase in the population of any country, is the increase of the means of subsistence." (Malthus, Principle, 1st ed., chapter VII)

"Distress has a prodigious influence on mortality tables. As a general thesis, it may be said that in our species, there are always just that number of people as know how and are able to acquire the means of subsistence for themselves. … It is certain that an increase in the number of individuals is a consequence of their well-being." (Desttut de Tracy). 261

"The population of a country is limited only by its products; production is the index of the population." (J. B. Say) 262

"Income is the index of subsistence and prosperity. Income is an index of population increase both for society and for the family." (Simonde de Sismondi). 263

"Population grows naturally as the resources available for existence increase." (Joseph Droz). 264

"As long as the means available for living increase the population will multiply. When they remain stationary, the population also remains stationary. As soon as they decrease, the population decreases in the same proportion." (Charles Comte). 265

I hope I will be forgiven for this unusual number of quotations; I believed that I could not establish too solidly a principle that serves as the basis both for the complaints and demands of my region.

But after all, and leaving economic science out of this, can it be seriously maintained that there has not been any improvement in the incomes of Les Landes and the Maransin and no decline in those of the Condomois 266 and La Chalosse? Is there any mystery concerning the prices of resin products and wine? Or can they rise and fall permanently without the situations of landowners and sharecroppers experiencing the effects? Will it be claimed that 156 people now live in the canton of Castets on an income identical to that which in past times was declared to be inadequate for 100 people? They must therefore be wretchedly poor, obliged as they are to cut back on one third of their expenditure, that is to say reduce all their consumption by one third! Well then, let us examine the question once more from this point of view. Let us see whether the number of people has increased in one sector of the department merely through the cuts made by each person in his consumption. If we succeed in finding that the inhabitants of Les Landes are provided with all forms of goods to the same level and better than those in La Chalosse, we will have to acknowledge that this extra population has not come to share a fixed level of income, but to live on new income, which has been established as numbers increased and on which, in all justice, they owe their share of tax.

The Minister of Agriculture and Trade has had a statistical profile of France published. 267 I have carefully drawn from the publication details on the level of consumption in each of our three arrondissements (Mont-de-Marsan, Saint-Sever, Dax). Doubtless, it is to be regretted that we cannot establish similar data for each canton and even for each commune, for the more we can narrow the geographical focus that clearly shows a predominant crop, the more the effect will relate to the cause. Be that as it may, the following table will be enough to shed light on the question under examination.

Table, page 320, G1, ed. 1855

CONSUMPTION PER INHABITANT 268

I e1ST ARRONDISSEMENT. II 2nd ARRONDISSEMENT.
Quantity Price Total Quantity Price Total.
CEREALS hect. lit. fr. c. fr. c. hect. lit. fr. c. fr. c.
Wheat 0,55 15,20 8,36 0,97 14,90 14,15
Wheat & Rye 0,09 11,20 0,90 0,10 10,40 1,04
Rye 2,25 7,93 17,92 6,37 9,21 3,42
Corn, millet 1,70 7,12 12,10 2,62 9,13 23,82
TOTAL 4,60 39,28 4,06 42,73
MEAT kil. kil.
Beef 1,66 0,70 1,16 1,52 0,65 0,99
Veal 0,55 0,70 0,38 1/2 0,22 0,70 0,15
Mutton 1,67 0,60 1,00 0,48 0,63 0,31
Lamb 0,63 0,65 0,43 0,30 0,65 0,19 1/2
Pork 10,64 0,65 6,92 10,31 0,65 6,70
Goat 0,09 0,30 0,27 " " "
Totaux 15,24 16,16 1/2 12,84 8,37 1/2
DRINK hect. lit. hect. lit.
Wine 2,19 7,83 17,29 0,67 8,86 6,90
Spirits 0,00 45,00 0,25 0,00 50,00 0,11
TOTAL 2,19 17,54 0,67 7,01
SUMMARY

fr. c. fr. c.

Cereals 39,28 42,73

Meat 10,16 8,37

Drink 17,54 7,01

Total 66,98 48,11

What should be compared above all is the consumption in the first and second arrondissements, which draw at least a significant proportion of their incomes from different sources, since one pays three times as much for its pines as for its vines and the other three times as much for its vines as for its pines.

Well, we see that the annual consumption of each inhabitant in the first district exceeds that of each inhabitant in the second by 54 liters for cereals, 2 kilos 40 grams for meat, 152 liters for wine and 31 liters for spirits.

In money the difference is less marked because, for reasons that I cannot identify, the official document records rye, corn, and wine at prices that are much higher in Saint-Sever than in Mont-de-Marsan. But this difference is still 8 francs 87 centimes in favor of the inhabitants of Les Landes and this sum, multiplied by the figure for the population of the first arrondissement in 1836 establishes a higher level of consumption and consequently of income, more than 800,000 francs, in the case of the arrondissement that pays, on an official basis, 35,000 francs less in tax.

This inequality in the apportionment of tax is more apparent still in the statement below, which sets out the total value of consumption for the three arrondissements.

Table, page 322, G1, ed. 1855

MONT-DE-MAR. SAINT-SEVER. DAX.
fr. fr. fr.
Wheat 784,189 1,499,908 848,371
Mixed wheat & rye 93,251 97,573 60,375
Rye 2,175,885 357,016 775,705
Corn and millet 1,183,030 1,991,262 2,746,440
Wine 1,602,970 536,782 1,059,416
Spirits 22,000 10,000 84,000
Potatoes 34,164 35,405 35,627
Dry vegetables 28,888 37,969 47,708
Meat 906,764 749,828 1,159,689
Total 6,831,141 4,815,732 6,817,331

It can be seen how wrong the Minister of the Interior was when, in order to dissuade the General Council from revising the current re-apportionment, he wrote on 14 October 1836 269 that significant changes in the production of wine and pines would probably not occur. The facts show a severe and profound inequality. Thus in cereals, meat, wine, and spirits, the value of consumption is as follows:

72 francs 56 centimes per inhabitant in the 1 st arrondissement

64 francs 71 centimes per inhabitant in the 3 rd arrondissement

54 francs 60 centimes per inhabitant in the 2 nd arrondissement

However, in the cantons of Saint-Sever, Mugron, and Aire, each inhabitant pays 3 francs 24 centimes on average in tax, while in the cantons of Labrit, Parentis, Sore, Mimizan, Sabres, and Pissos each inhabitant pays only 1 franc 86 centimes, with the result that for the first group of cantons the ratio of tax to consumption is 5.93 percent whereas it is only 2.56 percent for the second.

And we should not lose sight of the fact that in each of the three major districts of the department where the three types of crop whose influence we are interested in are accepted staples, their share of consumption is mixed. It is clear that in the first district, the average of 72 francs 56 centimes (expenditure per person) has been exceeded in Parentis, Sabres, Arjuzanx, Pissos , etc., and is less in Gabarret and Villeneuve. What we have said in this regard in respect to population can also be applied, for the same reasons, to consumption.

If we summarized all the preceding considerations, these are the results we would find:

The share of each of the three major crops in the department is:

279,724 francs for field crops

66,396 francs for vines

75,888 francs for pines.

Total: 422,008 francs

Which implies that each of these contributes to an income of 1,000 francs in a ratio of: 663 : 157 : 180

This is the ratio that should be corrected in accordance with the comments in the two sections of this article.

In the first, we have seen that the tax evaluations were falsified by the application of inaccurate average prices and a uniform rate of interest.

For cereals, a common price of 14 francs 28 centimes was adopted, whereas the market prices from 1828 to 1836 were merely 12 francs 52 centimes. The prejudice against field crops: 12 ½ percent.

For red wine, action was based on a supposed average price of 42 francs. If you will refer back to what we said on this subject you will agree that it is certainly not an exaggeration to evaluate the injustice done to wine at 10 percent.

For pine resins, the price was set at 2 francs 50 centimes per 50 kilograms. If it were raised to 3 francs 50 centimes it would still be below the true price. Pines have therefore been favored to the extent of 40 percent.

If we correct the income from the three crops according to these figures, they would be in the ratio of 582 : 141 : 252 (for every 1,000 francs of income).

On the other hand, if interest at 3 percent for field crops and vines and 4 percent for pines had prevailed over the uniform rate of 3 ½ percent, the incomes of the first two crops would have been evaluated at 16 2/3 percent less and that of the third at 16 2/3 percent more, and their taxable capacities would have been in the following ratio, 553 : 131 : 210.

The average of these two sets of figures is, 567 : 136 : 231

Consequently the tax burden of 422,008 francs would be allocated as follows:

For field crops 256,189 francs instead of 279,724

For vines 61,448 francs instead of 66,396

For pines101,371 francs instead of 75,888

Total: 422,008 (in both cases)

This should have been the apportionment at the outset, assuming that similar errors to those we pointed out for the average prices and rates of interest were not made for the quantities produced .

This is what it should still have been if no change in the productive value of the three types of crop had occurred.

But in the second section of this article, we have noted that the population, and therefore the income, has changed as follows:

Field crops have gained 16 percent

Vines have lost 19 percent

Pines have gained 71 percent

The ratios quoted above, 567 : 136 : 231, should therefore be modified in accordance with this new data and replaced by:

657 : 110 : 395.

From which it follows that finally, the tax burden of 422,008 francs ought to be allocated thus:

Field crops 238,603 francs instead of 279,724 francs

Vines 39,964 francs instead of 66,396

Pines143,441 francs instead of 75,888

In other words, the tax is too high:

For field crops by one sixth

For vines by more than one third

and the tax for pines is too low by nearly half

In conclusion, I cannot refrain from putting a few reflections that are not too divorced from the subject under discussion.

Terrible distress has spread over a considerable portion of our department, and this has affected the standard of living so profoundly that the very sources of life have been altered. We do not have statistics for all forms of consumption in our arrondissement, but we know that the population devotes only 54 francs to groceries instead of the 72 francs which are spent elsewhere. However, groceries are the last things that people think of cutting down on. And since, moreover, we do have a prosperous class that has not yet been reduced to depriving itself of bread and wine, it must be concluded that to the same extent as this class exceeds the average of 54 francs, there is a section of the working class that is far from attaining it.

This is the explanation for the decrease in population recorded by the censuses and by records of births and deaths.

This sad phenomenon is linked to a revolution in farming which is happening before our eyes and which has not been sufficiently noted. 270

The acreage of sharecropping farms used naturally to be in proportion to what was required to ensure that the tenant's share provided a livelihood for a farming family.

When, because of the fall in the value of products, this share became inadequate, sharecroppers became a liability for landowners, who were faced with the alternative of either leaving the estate unfarmed or reducing their share still further in order to subsidize the tenant's share.

As soon as this happened, sharecroppers' food was weighed, measured, and restricted to what was strictly necessary. What is more, there developed a distinct tendency to enlarge sharecropping farms. In one place they were merged; in another vines were dug up to increase the acreage of field crops. All these expedients had a common result and even a common aim: to reduce the number of people and restore the balance between the levels of population and food supplies.

If this contingency and the consequences it entailed were the result of some physical catastrophe, we would have to weep and wail and hang our heads. But this is not so. Providence has not taken its gifts from us, the sky over La Chalosse has not turned to bronze, and the sun and dew have not ceased to make it fertile. Why then can it no longer feed its inhabitants?

You do not have to look far to find the reason. It is that they have been stripped of the freedom to trade , the freedom which is most immediately useful to man after the freedom of working . 271

It is therefore legislation that is the cause of our woes. Manufacturers have told us, "You will buy only from us and at our prices". The Fisc 272 has said, "You will sell only after I have taken half of your produce."

Legislation is killing us in the most literal sense of the word, and if we want to live the legislation has to be reformed.

Now reform of the legislation can come only from the electorate. 273

But how does it carry out its mission?

Faced with the countless harms that are causing the depopulating of our fields and towns, what is it doing to curb the action of the Fisc and to return to the people the ability to trade the things they have sweated to produce with each other, according to their interests,?

What is it doing? It is handing over the mandate to legislate to our opponents; it is going to look for its representatives in the foundries, factories, and even in the antechambers of the Legislature.

From all sides this doctrine is heard: "Favours are there for the pillaging; people must be mad not to do what everyone else is doing."

Among the people saying things like this, there are those who are thinking only of themselves; I have nothing to say to them. However, others cannot be suspected of a level of selfishness like this; their wealth sets them above the connivances of petty ambition. One unanswerable reason, besides, proves their personal disinterestedness; if they were seeking their own personal advancement, it is not the electoral law but the post of deputy that they would be using as a stepping-stone, and they have been seen to refuse to stand.

It is therefore not to themselves but to their love of their locality that they are sacrificing the general interest. The general interest is not attainable, they say. The political machine has been put in motion to exhaust our unfortunate fellow-citizens; it is not in our power to halt its action. At least let us return to them in the form of political favours, some part of what it is extracting from them.

But, I ask you, these hand-outs and favors, however much you might have imagined them to have increased, have they come anywhere near the scale of the harm that I have just described? What does it matter to these farmers now being decimated by starvation, these artisans with no work, or these landowners whose most bitter scrimping scarcely manages to postpone ruin, what does it matter to these victims of the Fisc and the monopolists that a sub-prefectureship or a seat in the Luxembourg Palace 274 is going in payment to the most prominent voter in the district as the salary for his apostasy? Give them back the right to trade and you would have done more for your country than if you had restored it to the favor of the Duke of Nemours 275 in person, or that of the King himself!

You call yourselves Conservatives. You oppose the lowest social strata 276 having the right to vote. In that case, be the responsible guardians of these people who are banned from participating. You do not wish to rule fairly on their behalf, nor allow them to legally rule for themselves, nor even allow them to rise up in rebellion against the things that harm them. What then do you want? There is just one possible end to their sufferings and this end is foreseen well enough in the mortality tables.

Table, page 329, G1, ed. 1855; Table, page 330, G1, ed. 1855; Table, page 331, G1, ed. 1855; Table, page 332, G1, ed. 1855; Table, page 333, G1, ed. 1855

PINE GROWING REGIONS
COMMUNES. CROPS POPULATION.
Field Crops. Pines 1804. 1841.
hect. hect. pop. pop.
Mimizan 278 1,322 479 852
Onesse 367 4,728 687 1,098
Lesperon 670 5,490 683 1,060
Ponteux 392 2,661 740 1,486
Mezos 666 4,345 809 1,286
Saint-Paul en B. 259 1,736 348 772
Comenzacq 321 1,595 522 663
Escource 468 4,396 673 1,180
Pissos 600 3,500 1,477 2,056
Parentis 550 4,500 1,181 1,788
Sainte-Eulalie 180 2,000 271 475
Ichoux 300 4,000 542 841
Gourbera 194 979 206 303
Labenne 291 1,215 392 526
Moliets 154 1,643 293 404
Messange 226 2,332 321 430
Magescq 847 4,113 923 1,606
Seignosse 210 2,089 334 458
Leon 620 2,750 931 1,402
Linx 750 4,050 650 1,074
Lit et Mix 920 3,800 970 1,483
Vieille-Saint-Girons 580 2,400 131 608
TOTAL 9,849 65,344 13,573 21,771
Ratio of crops   : 7/8 pines, 1/8 field crops .
Change in population : Increase, 60 % .
PINE GROWING REGIONS
COMMUNES. CROPS POPULATION.
Field Crops Pines 1804. 1841.
hect. hect. hab. hab.
Geloux 578 1,321 660 815
Aureilhan 116 388 217 305
Bias 74 281 107 169
Argelouse 160 1,000 329 396
Calen 320 2,000 533 660
Luxey 1,000 3,500 1,244 1,532
Sore 1,000 3,000 1,145 1,780
Sabres 1,042 2,750 1,679 2,524
Lue 314 2,103 503 790
Trenzacq 335 1,203 610 727
Belhade 200 1,200 384 518
Moussey 350 2,000 659 945
Sagnac 700 2,500 1,178 1,636
Bichet 150 1,500 206 330
Biscarosse 500 4,000 1,367 1,547
Gastes 70 800 211 259
Sanguinet 300 2,500 715 960
Saint-Yaguen 671 1,311 479 892
Rion 1,019 2,717 1,280 1,537
Laluque 596 1,227 560 698
Saint-Vincent de Tyrosse 385 466 558 754
Herm 558 2,578 783 851
Cap-Breton 182 793 586 968
Soustons 1,358 2,513 2,516 2,783
Azur 164 901 190 304
Saint-Geours 717 1,321 899 1,420
Tosse 316 752 493 698
Sorts 139 599 217 266
Castets 650 2,450 977 1,615
Levignac 420 1,950 723 959
Saint-Julien 760 3,000 884 1,123
Saint-Michel 410 2,100 162 217
Taller 480 1,500 332 527
TOTAL 16,034 60,879 23,416 31,405
Ratio of crops   : 4/5 pines , 1/5 field crops .
Increase in population : Increase, 34 %
FIELD CROP REGIONS
COMMUNES. POPULATION.
1804. 1841.
hab. hab.
Vielle-Soubiran 273 471
Grenade 1,368 1,500
Vignau 605 601
Gazères 1,026 948
Bordères 159 524
Losse 711 1,027
Estigarde 267 307
Lubbon 361 420
Cauna 695 674
Bas-Mauco 223 202
Benung 1,110 945
Duhort 1,067 1,129
Bahus 549 533
Latrille 257 307
Saint-Agnet 352 385
Lacajunte 301 339
Arboucave 306 394
Philondenx 503 604
Miramont 832 827
Samadet 1,370 1,456
Gouts 538 475
Pomarez 1,765 2,115
Saint-Martin-Juza 1,974 2,515
Saint-Larant 664 855
Biaudos 694 834
Orthevielle 698 869
Lannes 921 1,131
Saint-Martin 1,101 1,340
Onard 321 370
Lier 371 509
Vie 290 244
Saint-Cricq 825 1,119
Sainte-Colombe 729 791
TOTAL 23,228 26,960
Ratio of crops   : all field crops .
Change in population : Increase, 16 % .
VINE GROWING REGIONS
COMMUNES. CROPS POPULATION.
Field Crops Vi nes 1804. 1841.
hect. hect. hab. hab.
Bascons 409 290 1,067 1,033
Saint-Julien 278 192 398 446
Arthez 284 214 408 449
Fréche 726 349 894 929
Perquie 764 272 748 775
Audignon 408 98 617 578
Montgaillard 1,446 314 2,126 1,977
Larbey 202 116 383 508
Lahosse 276 107 583 613
Saint-Loubouer 883 232 1,321 1,267
Vielle 638 140 858 895
Urgons 504 62 695 703
Castelnau-Turs 472 99 505 590
Bastennes 200 100 512 482
Pouillon 1,520 506 3,060 3,163
Gibret 110 76 237 292
Poyartin 590 170 970 983
TOTAL 9,710 3,337 15,382 15,683
Ratio of crops   : 2/3 field crops, 1/3 vines.
Increase in population : 2%.

Endnotes

221 See the Introduction to "The Canal beside the Adour" for details about these essays, above, pp. 000.

222 T.19 [1844.10.15] "On the Influence of French and English Tariffs on the Future of the Two People" (De l'influence des tarifs français et anglais sur l'avenir des deux peuples), JDE , T. IX, Oct. 1844, pp. 244-71 [OC1, pp. 334-86] [CW6]

223 He quotes from the following works: Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract (1762)

Montesquieu, The Spirit of Laws (1748); Buffon, Natural History (1749-88); James Steuart, An Inquiry Into the Principles of Political Economy (1767); François-Jean Chastellux, De la félicité publique (1776); Jacques Necker, De l'administration des finances (1784); Destutt de Tracy, Commentaire de l'Esprit des Lois (1806); Malthus, An Essay on the Principle of Population (1817); Jeremy Bentham, Théorie des peines et des récompenses (1818); Jean-Baptiste Say, Cours complet d'économie politique (1826); Nassau William Senior, Two Lectures on Population (1828); Joseph Droz, Économie politique ou Principes de la science des richesse (1829); Sismondi, Études sur l'économie politique (1837); and and some essays by Charles Comte, who also wrote Traité de Législation (1826) and Traité de la propriété (1834).

224 For example, we learn in this article that Bastiat's commune of Mugron had a population of 10,038 inhabitants (1844) and had suffered a decline in numbers over the previous 15 years (1829-1843); that the main agricultural activities were the following: 4,486 hectares of field crops; 1,887 hectares of vines; and 3,250 hectares of heath which probably supported grazing and sheep herding. We also learn that 29 sharecropping farms had disappeared from Mugron "in our time" (presumably during "his" life). Elsewhere he tells us that he had 150 sharecroppers working some of his land. See, "On the Bordeaux to Bayonne Railway Line" (19 May, 1846) CW1 2.3, p. 315. Bastiat provides other tables of data on the population and agricultural productivity of Les Landes in "Thoughts on Sharecropping" (JDE, Feb. 1846), below, pp. 000.

225 On the complexities of the land tax, see Nicolas Jean Baptiste Boyard, Encycolpedie Roret. Nouveau manuel complet des contributions directes, guide des contribuables et des comptables de toutes les classes, dépendant de la direction générale des contributions directes (Paris: la librairie encyclopédique de Roret, 1846).

226 On French taxes in general, see Félix Esquirou de Parieu, Traité des impôts, considérés sous le rapport historique, économique et politique en France et à l'étranger (Paris: Guillaumin, 1862-63). 3 vols; and H. Passy, "Impôt," DEP, vol. 1, pp. 898-914.

227 See the glossary entry on "French Government Budgets for Fiscal Years 1848 and 1849." ???

228 See the Editor's Introduction to his essay "On Population" (JDE, June 1846) where Bastiat's interest in Malthusianism is discussed. This essay was extensively revised and was included as Chap. XVI in EH2. Below, pp. 000.

229 French government administrative regions in descending order of size from largest to smallest are the following: regions, départements, arrondissements (districts"), cantons ("municipalities" or "counties"), and communes ("villages" or "towns"). Bastiat's home in the town (or commune) of Mugron is located in the region of Aquitaine, in the Département of Les Landes, in the arrondissement of Dax, in the canton of Coteau de Chalosse. See the map at the front of the book for details.

230 It should be noted that Bastiat was a wine grower during this period and so would have had first hand knowledge of wine prices.

231 Bastiat uses a number of terms to describe the quantity of wine under discussion. We have used throughout the term "barrique" (barrel) which in Bordeaux contained 225 litres.

232 Gascon dialect for "pine plantations."

233 Here Bastiat is close to the Hayekian insight about how free market prices carry information about local conditions and the needs of consumers which are beyond the grasp of government officials and bureaucrats.

234 When a government issues Treasury bonds, it pays interest based on the face value of the bond and not on the capital paid by the lender.

235 A discussion of the law of 1821 concerning the assessment of land tax can be found in Georges Bonjean, Révision et conservation du Cadastre approprié aux besoins de la propriété foncière: péréquation de l'impôt ; Titres. - Bornages. - Hypothèques. - Crédit agricole etc ; enquete officieuse du Président Bonjean, continuée et rédigée par Georges Bonjean, Louis Bernard Bonjean (Paris: A. Durand et Pedone-Lauriel, 1874), pp. 58 ff.; and pp. 154 ff.

236 The source for this quotation cannot be located.

237 ( Bastiat's note. ) Assuming that interest varied only in the ratio of 3 to 4 percent from one region to another.

238 ( Bastiat's note. ) These comparisons are taken from the report by the Director of Direct Taxation published in 1836. [Editor: we have not been able to locate this source.] At that time, four cantons had not yet been registered, so that the official document was able to give only approximate information on the apportionment of the share of these cantons among their various types of cultivation. Since then the Director has been good enough to send me rectification statements, and I owe it to the truth to say that the anomalies that I point out in the text are less shocking in these final statements than in the provisional tables. I do not have the time to redo the work in the light of the new bases, but one should not lose sight of the fact that what the heath lands pay in addition in these four cantons, the pine forests and field crops pay that much less, for the share of the cantons has not changed.

239 Maransin is a forested region in the South West of Les Landes départment.

240 See, Statistique de la France, publiée par France Ministère de l'Intérieur, de l'Agriculture et du Commerce. Tomes IIIe et IVe de la Statistique agricole du Royaume. (Paris: Imprimerie Royale, 1841).

241 Literally "The Great Heath". It is a large region in the North of the department, covered in heath at the beginning of the 19 th century. (Lande meaning heath). Throughout the 19 th century, pine forests were planted to stabilize the soil, giving rise to an important wood and resin industry.

242 Here Bastiat here uses the expression "moyens d'existence" which we have translated as "standard of living" (literally "the means of existence") in order to contrast his terminology from that of the strict Malthusians who preferred Malthus's expression "moyens de subsistance" (means of subsistence"). Malthus never used the expression "means of existence". Bastiat, following Say, had come to the conclusion that there was a significant difference between the "means of subsistence" and the "means of existence" - the former being fixed physiologically speaking (either one had sufficient food to live or one did not) and the latter being an infinitely flexible and expanding notion which depended upon the level of technology and the extent of the free market. Malthus focused on the former, whilst Bastiat (and Say) and later Molinari were focused on the latter interpretation.

243 Bastiat uses the term "moyens d'existence" which we have translated here as "living" and elsewhere as "standard of living".

244 For another discussion by Bastiat on the depopulation of his home region see his "Speech on the Tax on Wine and Spirits" (12 Dec., 1849) in the Chamber of Deputies, CW2 328-47, especially pp. 331-34. He notes that, in order to avoid paying taxes on the wine they bought and consumed, share-croppers chose to grow vines on the poorer flat land in order to make their own wine and thus avoid the taxes. As income from farming declined, share-croppers were forced to leave the land, thus depopulating the region. Bastiat blamed all this on "the customs war on the one hand, the war of city tolls on the other, and the combined taxes", pp. 332-3.

245 Bastiat has created a composite quote which paraphrases Malthus's thought. It most likely comes from the opening two paragraphs of An Essay on the Principle of Population , Book I, Chap. II "Of the general Checks to Population, and the Mode of their Operation": "The immediate check may be stated to consist in all those customs, and all those diseases, which seem to be generated by a scarcity of the means of subsistence; and all those causes, independent of this scarcity, whether of a moral or physical nature, which tend prematurely to weaken and destroy the human frame. These checks to population, which are constantly operating with more or less force in every society, and keep down the number to the level of the means of subsistence, may be classed under two general heads — the preventive, and the positive checks". These paragraphs are the same in both the 5th edition (1817) and the 6th (1826). Bastiat had access to Thomas Robert Malthus, Essai sur le principe de population, ou Exposé des effets de cette cause sur le bonheur du genre humain: suivi de quelques recherches relatives à l'espérance de guérir ou d'adoucir les maux qu'elle entraîne, Traduit de l'anglais sur la 5me édition, par Pierre Prévost et Guillaume Prévost. Nouvelle édition revue ... etc. après MM. Adriano Balbi et Jean Julien d'Omalius d'Halloy (Bruxelles: Adolphe Wahlen & C°, 1841).

246 Nassau William Senior, Two Lectures on Population: Delivered Before the University of Oxford, in Easter Term, 1828. To which is added, a Correspondence between the Author and the Rev. T.R. Malthus (London: Saunders and Otley, 1828), pp. 9-10.

247 Bastiat might have in mind the sharp criticism of Malthus by Proudhon for being "heartless" towards the poor. Proudhon focused on a passage in the 2nd revised 1803 edition of The Principle of Population (which was removed in subsequent editions), that a poor man "has no claim of right to the smallest portion of food, and, in fact, has no business to be where he is. At nature's mighty feast there is no vacant cover for him." See, Thomas Robert Malthus, An essay on the principle of population: or, a view of its past and present effects on human happiness (London: J. Johnson, 1803), p. 531. Proudhon quoted this passage in his 1846 book which would have been known to Bastiat, Système des contradictions économiques, ou philosophy de la misère (Paris: Guillaumin, 1846), vol. 1, chap. 1, p. 24.

248 Bastiat makes a similar argument in a letter to the Chamber of Deputies in May 1846. See, T.66 (1846.05.19) "On the Railway between Bordeaux and Bayonne. A Letter addressed to a Commission of the Chamber of Deputies" (Du chemin de fer de Bordeaux à Bayonne. Lettre adressée à une commission de la Chambre des députés), Le Mémorial bordelais , 19 May 1846. [OC7.22, pp. 103-8] [CW1, p. 312-16].

249 Bastiat uses the phrase "l'obstacle répressif" (repressive or harsh check). This is not Malthus's terminology.

250 Some of these may have been some of the 150 sharecroppers who worked on his own land.

251 The Marquis de Chastellux (1734-1788) came from an old Burgundian family and became a general in the French Army, fighting in the Seven Years War (1756-63). He was a friend of Voltaire and was known for his plays and his work on De la félicité publique (On Pubic Happiness) (1776). In 1780 he was sent by the French government to assist the Americans in their War of Independence, seeing action in the Battle of Yorktown, and he became friends with James Madison and Thomas Jefferson with whom he corresponded.

252 François-Jean Chastellux, De la félicité publique: ou considérations sur le sort des hommes dans les différentes époques de l'histoire. Nouvelle édition, augmentée de notes inédites de Voltaire. 2 vols. (Paris: Renouard, 1822). 1st ed. 1776. Quote, vol. 1, pp. 181-82.

253 In his "Speech on the Tax on Wine and Spirits" (December 1849) Bastiat blamed the heavy and shifting burden of tax for causing great hardship for sharecroppers. CW2, pp. 328-47, especially p. 331.

254 Jean-Jacques Rousseau, "Des signes d'un bon gouvernement" (The Signs of Good Government) in The Social Contract, Book III, Chap. IX in The Political Writings of Jean Jacques Rousseau, ed. from the original manuscripts and authentic editions, with introductions and notes by C. E. Vaughan . (Cambridge University Press, 1915), Vol. 2. < /titles/711#Rousseau_0065-02c_308 > (French language version); and the English translation by Maurice Cranston, Penguin edition, p. 130.

255 Montesquieu, The Spirit of Laws , Book XXIII, chap. X. O'Keeffe translation.

256 We have not been able to locate the source of this quotation.

257 Jacques Necker, De l'administration des finances (1784) in Œuvres complètes de M. Necker, Jacques Necker, publiées par M. le Baron de Staël, son petit-fils (Paris: Treuttel et Würtz, 1821). Vol. 4, Chap. IX, "Sur la population du royaume," p. 292.

258 I could not find the exact quote but it probably comes from James Steuart, An Inquiry Into the Principles of Political Economy: Being an Essay on the Science of Domestic Policy in Free Nations (London: A. Millar and T. Cadell, 1767). Vol. 1, Book I, Chap V "In what Manner, and according to what Principles, and political Causes, does Agriculture augment Population."

259 Jeremy Bentham, Théorie des peines et des récompenses, Théorie des peines et des récompenses, Ouvrage extrait des manuscrits de M. Jérémie Bentham, jurisconsulte anglois. Par Et. Dumont (Paris: Bossange et Masson, 1818). 2nd ed. Tome II, Livre IV, Chap. XI "De la population," p. 362.

260 ( Bastiat's note. ) Perhaps it is proper to observe that all the authors quoted up to now, including Chastellux and Bentham, wrote before the publication of Malthus' work.

261 Antoine Louis Claude Destutt de Tracy, "Des lois dans le rapport qu'elles ont avec le nombre des habitants" in Commentaire de l'Esprit des Lois , in Oeuvres de Montesquieu avec éloges, analyses, commentaires, remarques, notes, réfutations, imitations , Tome VIII (Paris: Dailbon, 1827), Book XXIII, pp. 368-73.

262 Jean-Baptiste Say, "Des moyens d'existence des hommes" in Cours complet d'économie politique pratique. Ouvrage destiné à mettre sous les yeux des hommes d'état, des propriétaires fonciers et les capitalistes, des savans, des agriculteurs, des manufacturiers, des négocians, et en général de tous les citoyens, l'économie des sociétés, par Jean-Baptiste Say, Seconde édition entièrement revue par l'auteur, publiée sur les manuscrits qu'il a laissés et augmentée de notes par Horace Say, son fils (Paris: Guillaumin, 1840), Tome II, 6e partie, chap. II, p. 128.

263 J. C. L. Simonde de Sismondi, Études sur l'économie politique . 3 vols. (Paris: Treuttel et Würtz, 1837). "Second essai. Du revenu social", vol. 1, p. 128.

264 Joseph Droz, "De la population" in Joseph Droz, Jean-Baptiste Say, Économie politique ou Principes de la science des richesses, par Joseph Droz, suivi du Catéchisme d'économie politique de J.-B. Say, augmenté de notes et d'une préface par M. Charles Comte (Bruxelles: Société typographique belge, 1841), Book III, chap. VI, p. 155.

265 Charles Comte, "De la multiplication des pauvres, des gens à places, et des gens à pensions," Le Censeur européen , 1818, Tome VII, p. 6.

266 A wine growing region in the eastern part of Les Landes, straddling Les Landes and Le Gers, a neighboring department.

267 Statistique de la France, publiée par France Ministère de l'Intérieur, de l'Agriculture et du Commerce. Tomes IIIe et IVe de la Statistique agricole du Royaume. (Paris: Imprimerie Royale, 1841).

268 ( Bastiat's note .) It goes without saying that I am not taking responsibility for the statistical facts recorded in this official document.

269 This document is not available to us.

270 Bastiat goes into more detail about this "revolution in farming" which he saw going on around him in his article on sharecropping. The following section is no doubt partly an autobiographical account of his own experiences dealing with share croppers on his own land. See, T.47 [1846.02.15] "Thoughts on Sharecropping" (Considérations sur le métayage), JDE , T.13, no. 51, Feb. 1846, pp. 225-239. [Not in OC] [CW4, pp. 000].

271 Bastiat uses the phrase "la liberté de travailler" (liberty of working) which should not be confused with the socialists' call for "le droit au travail" (the right to a job).

272 The tax authorities.

273 Bastiat is reminding his fellow members of the General Council they were part of the 5% of the population who were allowed to vote during the July Monarchy, or "la classe électorale" (the electoral or voting class) as Bastiat called them. When that régime collapsed in February 1848 universal manhood suffrage was introduced. See the glossary on "The Chamber of Deputies and the Electoral Class."

274 The Luxembourg Palace housed the Chamber of Peers from 1814 until the February 1848 Revolution, during which the socialist Louis Blanc and his supporters took over the building and made it the headquarters of the "Government Commission for the Workers" (known as the Luxembourg Commission).

275 The Duke de Nemours was a title given by King Louis XIV to his brother, Philippe de France (1640-1701), duc d'Orléans, who passed it down to his son, and so on. The most recent holder of the title in Bastiat's time was Louis Philippe d'Orléans who gave it up when he assumed the French throne in 1830, passing it on to his youngest son Louis who retained the title until his death in 1896. Thus here Bastiat is referring the King and his son.

276 This is the first time Bastiat uses the term "couches" (social strata). See Footnote 000 below for details.

 

 


 

T.272 (1844.07.02) "The Sugar Question inn England" (SP, 2 July, 1844)

Source

abc

Editor’s Introduction

(to come)

Text

(to come)

 

 


 

T.18 "Two Articles on Postal Reform I" (3-6 Aug. 1844, SP )

Source

T.18 (1844.08.03) "Postal Reform" (La Reforme postale), La Sentinelle des Pyrénées , 3 August, 1844, pp. 2-3; and 6 August, 1844, p. 2. Not in the OC. [JCPD] [CW4]

Editor's Introduction

La Sentinelle des Pyrénées was a newspaper which appeared three times a week and was published in the town of Bayonne between 1831-1848. Bastiat was born in Bayonne in 1801 and had business interests there. He published 9 articles in the paper between March 1843 and August 1844, with his first ever published articles on free trade, "Free Trade. State of the Question in England" appearing in May and June 1843. 277 In these articles Bastiat addressed the issue of postal reform which was a pet interest of his. He wrote on it several times before the Revolution of 1848 and then took an active part in introducing radical reforms in the Chamber of Deputies during 1848 and 1849, such as trying to open the government monopoly to competition, introducing a low priced uniform prepaid stamp for the delivery of mail anywhere within France, and ending the government tax on letters.

The background for this, as was so often the case, were the reforms which the English liberals had introduced a few years previously. The free traders around Richard Cobden had other items on their reform agenda, such as reducing the cost of sending mail through the government monopoly postal service, the Royal Mail. Richard Cobden believed that the existing system was another example of protection given by the government to the elite which imposed an excessive cost on business and made it too expensive for most working people to afford to send letters to friends and family. The pioneer of postal refosrm in England was Rowland Hill (1795-1879) 278 who had close ties to Robert Torrens in the South Australian Colonization Commission between 1833 and 1839, and other political economists in the Political Economy Club. In 1837 he published an influential pamphlet on postal reform, Post Office Reform; its Importance and Practicability (1837) 279 which led to the passage of the "Uniform Four Penny Post" reform act in 1839 and then a further reform which cut the cost of a prepaid stamp to one penny in 1842. 280 In the reformed system, the cost of sending a letter was prepaid by the sender and was the same regardless of the distance carried. Up to then the price had depended on the distance carried and was paid by the recipient. Cobden and the Anti-Corn Law League (founded by Cobden with John Bright in 1838) were able to take advantage of the cheap mail rates by distributing large numbers of their pamphlets and other propaganda before they were successful in 1846 in having the Corn laws repealed by the British Parliament.

Postal reform was also an issue of great interest to supporters of the free market in France in the 1840s because it was an expensive government monopoly, it was used as a major source of revenue, and because the government used its privileged position to spy on people's mail. Before the 1789 Revolution the postal service in France was a privilege sold to the private investors who ran the Farmers General who had little interest in making it affordable to ordinary people. This system of private monopolies was abolished in March 1791 when the postal service was nationalised and dozens of the Farmers General were guillotined. During the Restoration Charles X passed the law of 1827 which made the government system even more complex and burdensome by inducing a system of duties which was based on weight (9 categories) and distance (11 zones). In order to send a letter one had to go to the post office in order to determine the cost of sending each letter one wished to send according to these complex bureaucratic rules, something which Bastiat wittily mocked in "Salt, the Mail, and the Customs Service" (May 1846). 281 The year before the Revolution of February 1848 125 million letters were sent at an average cost of 43 centimes. 282 According to the Budget Papers of 1848 the French state raised fr. 51.5 million from various taxes, duties, and other charges for delivering letters, parcels, and money. The tax on letters alone raised fr. 46.5 million. 283

There were reformers within the French government who argued for change along the lines of the English. A. Piron, the Deputy Director of the Postal Service, published an important study in 1838 advocating the use of prepaid stamps 284 and the conservative magistrate and politician Michel-Charles Chégaray presented a detailed Report on Postal Reform to the Chamber of Deputies in July 1844 on the idea of a French version of the "uniform penny post" in which he advocated a flat rate of 20 centimes per letter. 285 The Chamber voted narrowly to adopt the reforms recommended in Chégaray's Report on the first reading of the bill (130 votes to 129) and asked for comments from the regional General Councils before making a final decision. As a member of Les Landes General Council, Bastiat published these two articles in the local journal the Sentinelle des Pyrénées in early August 1844 hoping to persuade them to lobby Paris to pass the reform bill. This was ultimately unsuccessful as the bill was defeated at the second reading.

These two articles show Bastiat's skilled use of economic data which he has taken from Chégaray's Report to make his arguments about the need to drastically cut the cost of sending letters. He makes the economic argument that the variable costs of transporting letters across large distances is small when compared to the fixed administrative costs of running the postal service, as well as the moral argument that the government should not be using the postal service to raise revenue by placing a tax burden on the often poor recipients of letters.

The issue of postal reform arose again two years later in April 1846 when another proposal was presented to the Chamber by Adolphe Vuitry 286 and Bastiat wrote another series of commentaries for the local press, this time in Le Mémorial bordelais (April, 1846). 287 Again he shows skill handling the economic data but this time his criticism of the government is more radical than before. He openly criticises the government for having "seized control" of the postal service in order to exercise a monopoly of delivery of letters and to use this monopoly as a means of raising revenue for the state. Bastiat argues that, if the delivery of letters was a public good like building and maintaining the roads and thus should be a government monopoly (a conclusion which he questions), then it should only charge enough to cover its costs and no more. He shows in some detail how this might be achieved and he believes that a uniform rate for letters regardless of distance carried is the most efficient way to pay for this service. Again, he urges a rate of 5c (or perhaps 10c if absolutely necessary). He believes that there should be no "fiscal component" (i.e. tax raising) embedded in the price of sending a letter. Fiscal measures should be paid by direct taxes and low tariffs (5%) and not by indirect taxes on food or the mail.

Bastiat's second more radical set of arguments in these articles from 1846 concerns the criminalisation of the acts of private individuals who carry letters for third parties, in other words, who compete against the state's monopoly. He uses very harsh language to denounce the severe penalties which the government planned to impose (a fine of 6,000 francs) on would-be competitors. He cites in particular the arbitrary powers granted to Post Office bureaucrats under Article 10 of the proposed legislation to decide independently of a court of law what offences may have been committed and how they were to be punished.

In addition to the four articles published in this volume Bastiat also dealt with postal matters in some of his other writings. In "Salt, the Mail, and the Customs Service" (May 1846) he mocks the complex system of deciding mail charges based upon geographic zones and weights (mentioned above) and he has one his favourite characters, Jacques Bonhomme, challenge M. de Vuitry who was the Deputy who was the chairman of the Chamber's Committee on Postal Reform, to let him take over the postal service and run it at a profit. Jacques Bonhomme offers to sub-contract out the government postal monopoly, rationalise the business, cut the postal rate to 5-10 centimes per letter, and still make a profit. 288 Bastiat's next article on postal reform appeared in January 1847 in an article "The Utopian" which appeared in the journal of the French Free Trade Association, Le Libre-Échange . In it a politician (the Utopian) is granted dictatorial powers by the King to introduce whatever liberal reforms he liked. Among the key reforms he proposes is postal reform which would see the cost of a letter cut to 10 centimes from the current average rate of 43 centimes per letter. 289

When the Revolution did break out in February 1848 postal reform was high on the list of legislation the government wanted to introduce. Étienne Arago, Bastiat's friend from college at Sorèze, was part of the Provisional Government in February 1848 and was appointed head of the Postal Service and began planning to reform the system. After the elections of April 1848 (in which Bastiat successfully ran to represent his départment of Les Landes) postal reform was discussed in August and during the debate Bastiat proposed an amendment which sought to introduce a nation-wide postal system based upon the British model with a 5 centime stamp for letters. Article 4 of his motion stated "All laws concerning the transport of letters by all other means are repealed" (i.e. laws preventing private competition were abolished). 290 However, it was not until 1849 that the uniform letter rate was reduced to 20 centimes per letter because of budgetary problems caused by the chaos of the Revolution. The cut in rates led to a significant increase in the number of letters sent, from 125 million letters in 1847 to 157 million in 1849 (a 25.6% increase) and to a reduction in tax revenue to fr. 42 million (a 20.7% decrease).

First Article (3 August, 1844)

The various General Councils are going to be asked to give their opinion on a uniform price on all letters, of twenty centimes . I think I ought to call the attention of these gatherings to M. Chégaray's report on this subject. The most misleading objection leveled against postal reform is that apparently it diverges from strict justice. The p ostal administration would be acting most inequitably, it has been said, if it placed exactly the same price on letters which it carries for distances which vary from a single kilometer to nine hundred kilometers. It is impossible after one has read the truly illuminating report of M. Chégaray, to let oneself dally for an instant over such an objection.

We know that each Post Office is the centre of eleven concentric circles at various distances from the center. The price of an ordinary letter grows by ten centimes each time it crosses one of these circles, with twenty centimes being the lowest charge, and the highest 1fr. 20c.

There are, however, three elements in the cost of a letter.

1. The transport costs.

2. The general administrative costs.

3. A tax.

Of these three elements, the first is the only one which is variable by its very nature. It costs the Post Office more to take a letter from Paris to Bayonne 291 than from Paris to Orléans.

The general administrative costs are the same for all letters. Those which stop at Orléans do not incur any more expenses by way of management, inspection, sorting, taxing, and distribution etc., than those which go on as far as Bayonne.

It is the same with the tax . No one seems likely to say that the principle of the equality of prices would be violated if all letters contributed equally to public revenue.

The law of 1827 292 took no account of these different destinations. The result of this is that the price it established is the most unequally shared of all those which are part of our financial system.

M. Chégaray has tried to establish, for a given letter, the figures which correspond to the three types of costs we have just listed.

He has found that the transport costs rise from 1.75c. to 6.75c. depending on the distance.

The general administrative costs are 8c. per letter.

The difference between the sum of these two expenses imposed by the administration, and the price it actually receives, leaves us with the tax paid by the recipient.

With this in mind, let us look at a table which sets out precisely the components of the present system.

Present System General Costs Transport Cost Tax Total
Zone Distance Rate
1 < 40 km 20c 8 c 1.75 c 10.25 c 20 c
2 40-80 30 8 2.25 19.75 30
3 80-150 40 8 2.75 29.25 40
4 150-220 50 8 3.25 38.75 50
5 220-300 60 8 3.75 48.25 60
6 300-400 70 8 4.25 57.75 70
7 400-500 80 8 4.75 67.25 80
8 500-600 90 8 5.25 76.75 90
9 600-750 100 8 5.75 86.25 1fr 00
10 750-900 11 8 6.25 95.75 1fr 10c
11 > 900 120 8 6.75 1 fr 5.25 c 1fr 20c

People who reject postal reform for reasons of equity, will probably be surprised to see the truly monstrous inequality revealed in the foregoing table.

While that part of the price – the sum of the General Costs and Transportation Costs – which is a fair return for the postal services provided, rises by 50% only, that is from 9.75c. to 14.75c., that element in the price which must be regarded as pure taxation, rises from 10.25c to 1fr. 5.25c. or in a ratio of 1 to 11.

Let us look now, at what the inequality would be, from the tax point of view, if there were a uniform rate of 20c.

Zone Combined General & Transport Costs Tax Total
1 9.75 c 10.25 c 20 c
2 10.25 9.75 20
3 10.75 9.25 20
4 11.25 8.25 20
5 11.75 8.75 20
6 12.25 7.75 20
7 12.75 7.25 20
8 13.25 6.25 20
9 13.75 6.75 20
10 14.25 5.25 20
11 14.75 5.75 20

Here the inequality goes in the opposite direction. The letter which goes the furthest pays the least duty. This inequality is only notional , however, so minimal is it, since is divided into minute fractions of a sou . 293

Notice in fact, that to get to perfect equality, starting on a basis of 20c. for the shortest journey, letters need to be priced as follows:

Zone Total
1 20 c
2 20.5
3 21
4 21.5
5 22
6 22.5
7 23
8 23.5
9 24
10 24.5
11 25

Am I not right to describe as notional an equality which could not be practiced without entailing the creation of half-centimes?

Postal reform can raise a lot of serious questions. I claim no more than to have examined one of them, that of equal pricing. I wanted to show people who are dubious about accepting the uniform rate, in the belief that it offends principles of equity, that they are completely mistaken. Any graduated rate would hurt more, for the very simple reason that in the transport costs there is only a sou of difference between a letter that goes the minimum distance and one that crosses the whole realm. Habit alone has produced the illusion I am seeking to destroy. Why don't people, out of love of equality, demand that newspapers be subject to variable pricing? Why is there no demand that tobacco and gun powder be sold at progressively dearer prices the more distant they are from their origin? Because we understand that the costs of transport count for so little in the prices of these things, that it is better to take no account of them than embarrass management with the minutiae of an overly complicated system of accounting. The same reason militates, and with greater force, in favor of a standard price on letters.

Second Article (6 August, 1844)

I have shown that postal reform is consistent with a uniform price , rather than its opposite, as many people appear to believe.

Having shaken off this attempt at ruling me out of court intellectually, I still have to examine the question in its own right, that is to say in its connection with general and fiscal interests.

As to the advantages to the public of a standard, moderate rate for letters, there is no doubt about the matter.

"It takes a lot of philosophizing", says Rousseau, "Before we notice what marvels the phenomena which our observations constantly fall on, contain". 294 This remark is applicable to the business of corresponding by means of letters. What spectacle is more astonishing than that of two human beings, separated by immense distances, by rivers, mountains, seas, communicating on days and at hours pre-arranged, their most secret projects, their most intimate feelings, without anyone along the route being in a position to violate the secrets of their hearts. Then, one comes to reflect that there is no one in the whole great human family who cannot correspond thus with another, that the number of possible links rises therefore to infinity, and that there are, even so, for each one of these links, men, horses, vehicles, ships always at the ready, so that these messages of the heart, whatever the point of departure and whatever the place of destination, can traverse the distances by the most direct way and with the greatest of speed. One is simply amazed at this power which civilization has attained. — The Fisc, however, does not hesitate to step in. It has a calculus for the power of the affections; it has measured, precisely what human sympathies entail; and it has no shame about asking, for the service it provides, a price which may be up to ten times what the service costs.

Consequently the ability to correspond is restricted. We no longer write about minor matters. We no longer write to share our good fortune or our joy. We wait until mischance or sorrow creates in us that irresistible outpouring of our hearts which material calculation cannot block. Misfortune to the poor; misfortune to the old man whose shaky arms can barely keep him alive; he must resign himself, every month, across the years perhaps, to not knowing if his daughter's heart is still beating!

Philanthropy does not prevent our recognizing that the particular part of the price of letters, which is fair payment of the service the Post Office has provided, must remain as a charge on the addressee. We have to recognize, however, that the other part of the price, which constitutes tax, pure and simple, must be uniform and, above all, modest. I say uniform, because, I ask you, is it just that the more one is separated from those one loves, the less one has the chance to see them, to be with them, then the more one has to pay – and I speak not of costs but of taxes – when one receives letters from them? I say, modest, because this tax is the hardest of all the things which tend to cramp our moral joys and inflict on our souls privation and sorrows.

This is not, however, how the Fisc reasons. If it is not wicked, it is egoistical. It will willingly accept a financial reform, but only on the condition that it will not cost it a single obole (cent) in revenue. Let us therefore look at the issue in fiscal terms.

We believe M. Chégaray is wrong when he says in his report that the postal reform adopted four years ago in England has neither fully justified nor contradicted the calculations of its authors. If these calculations have proved wrong this is by way of their succeeding beyond hope. It is true that general interests counted for a lot in the motives of the cabinet which introduced this great measure, one explored by M. Chégaray only in financial terms. Even in this connection, however, it is not right to say that it has not justified predictions, given that it has completely surpassed them. – Income has dropped they say, but wasn't this outcome expected? In reducing the price from 90c., which was the average price, to 10c., a price which in our country would scarcely be profitable, the Whig cabinet did not have in mind an unchanged postal revenue. It had banked on a more lively exchange of letters, a growth in business and wealth, which could improve the other sources of public revenue. A secondary hope had been that postal reform, by reducing costs and thereby encouraging the sending of letters, would in the long run result in revenue from the new arrangement coming to equal that of the former system of graduated and higher prices.

Was the cabinet mistaken in these forecasts? It had reckoned on its needing five years for the number of letters to double, and it has tripled in four . While in 1839, the Post Office had delivered 65 million letters, in 1843 it delivered 209 million. 295 Without the reform, this mail traffic would have cost the public 185 million francs in losses, while it has lost only 20 million. The Post Office has achieved, however, on all the services under its control, a net return of 15 millions, while the French Post Office has achieved a margin of receipts over expenditures of only 18 millions. So what the Fisc has lost in England is trivial, while what the public has gained is incalculable, above all in respect of the huge number of matters dealt with, alongside the mass of affectionate exchanges, for which no formal accounting is possible. Indeed never did reform so totally fulfill its purposes.

The plan which all minds seem to be collectively pursuing in France, is a uniform rate of 20 centimes per letter. Since the average level of the present price of sending a letter is 42.5c., the savings in duty paid by the recipient would therefore be a half, while in England it has worked out at eight ninths . So we should not expect either such a serious deficit in revenue to the Fisc, or so rapid a growth in the circulation of letters. The advantages and disadvantages of the reform will be moderate, just as the reform itself is. While in England the number of letters carried by the mail had to increase nine-fold, that is to say from 65 million to 585 million, it will be enough in France if the number of letters is doubled, that is raised from 80 to 171 million. When this has been achieved, the Fisc, on both sides of the Channel, will have recaptured all their prey 296 and the people will have gained by 17 million francs in France, and 468 million in England, which all goes to show that if the British reform has been accused of being too radical, this is because we are unfortunately in the habit of judging measures of this kind only from the fiscal point of view, thereby failing to take account of the interests of the public.

Endnotes

277 CW6 (forthcoming).

278 See the glossary on "Rowland Hill."

279 Rowland Hill, Post Office Reform; its Importance and Practicability (London: Charles Knight and Co., 1837).

280 Bastiat states below that this was equivalent to 10 centimes in French currency at that time.

281 "Le sel, la poste et la douane" (Salt, the Mail, and the Customs Service), JDE , May 1846, T. XIV, pp. 142-152. ES2 12 in CW3, pp. 198-214.

282 Bastiat says this was 4 times the English rate.

283 C.S. "Postes, DEP, vol. 2, pp. 421-24.

284 A. Piron, Du service des postes et de la taxation des lettres au moyen d'un timbre (Paris: H. Fournier, 1838).

285 Michel-Charles Chégaray (1802-1859) was a magistrate and conservative politician who, like his contemporary Bastiat, was born in Bayonne in the south west of France. Apart from this, he had very little in common with Bastiat and they were adversaries in most political and economic matters. He presented a Report to the Chamber on an inquiry into the cost of sending letters in July 1844, Rapport fait au nom de la Commission chargée d'examiner la proposition de M. de Saint-Priest, relative aux tarifs de la poste aux lettres. Seance du 5 Juillet 1844. In Procès-verbaux des séances de la chambre des Députés. Session 1844, tome XI, du 5 au 12 juillet 1844. Annexes nos 190 à 204. (Paris: A. Henry, 1844). No. 190, pp. 1-63.

286 Adolphe Vuitry (1813-1885) was a lawyer, economist and politician. He was a Deputy representing l'Yonne during the July Monarchy and was the Chairman of the Chamber's Committee Responsible for Examining the Draft Law on Postal Taxes. He was the Undersecretary of State for Finance in 1851 in the Ministry of Léon Faucher and in 1863 he was appointed governor of the Bank of France. The Reports Bastiat mentions could be the following: Projet de réforme postale, par un directeur comptable des postes. 23 février 1846 (Impr. de Robin, (s. d.)).The Report was presented to the Chamber by Adolphe Vuitry on 13 April 1846: No. 115. Chambre des Députés. Session 1846. Rapport fait Au nom de la Commission chargée d'examiner le projet relatif à la taxe des lettres, par M. Vuitry, Député de l'Yonne. Séance du 13 avril 1846 , pp. 317-67. In Procés-verbaux des séances de la chambre des députés. Session 1846. Tome V. Du 7 au 14 avril 1846. Annexes Nos. 107 à 132 . (Paris: A. Henry, 1846).

287 "Postal Reform" (Réforme postale), Mémorial bordelais , 23 Apr. 1846; and "Postal Reform. 2nd article" (Réforme postale. 2e article), Mémorial bordelais , 30 Apr. 1846.[CW4]. See below, pp. 000 and pp. 000.

288 "Le sel, la poste et la douane" (Salt, the Mail, and the Customs Service), JDE , May 1846, T. XIV, pp. 142-152. This article later appeared in ES2 XII.

289 "L'utopiste" (The Utopian), LE , 17 January 1847. This article also appeared in ES2.11.

290 For his speech on postal reform in the Chamber, see below, pp. 000. CRANC, vol. 3, pp. 442-443; Alexis Belloc, Les Postes françaises. Recherches historiques sur leur origine, leur développement, leur législation (Firmin-Didot, 1886), p. 507.

291 Bastiat was born in the city of Bayonne in the south west of France. The distance between Bayonne and Paris is about 414 miles or 666 km. The distance between Paris to Orléans is 240 miles or 386 km

292 King Charles X made slight changes to the price of sending letters which had been established under the Directory in a Royal Ordinance of 1827. See, Arthur de Rothschild, Histoire de la poste aux lettres depuis ses origines les plus anciennes jusqu'à nos jours (Paris: Librairie Nouvelle, 1873), p. 166.

293 The relationship between the coins was 1 franc = 100 centimes = 20 sous.

294 This is a very loose paraphrase of a quote which Bastiat likes to use. For example, he uses variations of it 5 times in the Economic Harmonies , suggesting that he was quoting from memory. The original comes from Rousseau's Discourse on Inequality, Part I. In Maurice Cranston's translation it reads "It is always the same pattern, always the same rotation. He (the savage) has not the intelligence to wonder at the greatest marvels; and we should look in vain to him for that philosophy which a man needs if he is to know how to notice once what he has seen every day." See, J.J. Rousseau's Discourse on Inequality , Part I, p. 90 (Cranston trans.) A Discourse on Inequality, translated with an Introduction and Notes by Maurice Cranston (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1984).

295 "C.S." gives different figures but the proportions are the similar. See, "C.S." "Postes" in DEP , vol. 2, p. 423.

296 Bastiat uses the word "la proie" to suggest that "the Fisc" is a predatory animal.

 

 


 

T.19 (1844.10.15) "On the Influence of French and English Tariffs on the Future of the Two People" (JDE, 10 Oct. 1844)

Source

T.19 (1844.10.15) "On the Influence of French and English Tariffs on the Future of the Two People" (De l'influence des tarifs français et anglais sur l'avenir des deux peuples), Journal des Économistes, T. IX, Oct. 1844, pp. 244-71. [OC1, pp. 334-86.] [CW6]

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Last modified June 22, 2017