Henry Dunning Macleod.

A dictionary of political economy: biographical, bibliographical ..., Volume 1 online

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for whom at that time he had a great admiration,
Charles Comte, Dunoyer, and the Basque, or
Escualdan language. He also studied deeply
English and Itolian literature. During the fol-
lowing years he devoted himself to philosophy
and religion. His excessively retired habits at
this time exercised a very unfavorable influence
upon his health and spirits, and he so weakened
his mind by plunging too deeply into philosophi-
cal and religious controversy that, for some time,
he was in danger of sinking into a mere devotee.

But he was at length happily persuaded to
come more into the world, from which he found
a decided benefit. His ideas on the subject of
wealth underwent a change. Casting off the
juvenile folly of despising money, he came to see
that, in modern times, money is often nothing
but the fruit of honorable industry, and the re-
ward of bcoiefits conferred upon our fellow men,
and henceforth he came to have a more rational
view of it.

Thus, for several years his life passed away in
peacefxd meditation, deep study, and earnest pre-
paration for the brilliant fruit that was to come.
It does not appear that he thought of publishing
anything till 1829, when he prepared a treatise
on the ftohibitive System, but it never saw the

In 1831, he was appointed to the office of juge
depaix at Mugron, and soon after, he was elected
a member of the Conseil OenSral of the depart-
ment, and for the next nine years he followed
the same uneventful life. In 1840, he went to
Madrid to assist in founding an Insurance Com-

gany, and he gives an amusing account of the
panish character. Having some family business
in Lisbon, he went on there, and from thence to
Southampton by the English steamer. At thia
time he had no knowledge of the existence of the
Anti-com-law league. He returned to Paris in
January, 1841.

Bastiat had written a few minor articles, shew-
ing great ability, and containing many of the
ideas he afterwards developed with such sur*

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passing brilliancy, which appeared in the provin-
cial journals. He also addressed some memoirs
to the Scientific Society of the Landes, npon the
state of the yine cnltivation, and the local taxa-
tion ; but these, of course, did not attract much
general attention. It was in July, 1844, that he
sent his first article to the Journal des EconomUtesy
which first announced to the world that a great
economical writer had arisen.

This article upon the influence of the English
and French tarim upon the future of the nations,
coming from an unlmown name, in the depths of
a remote province, at first attracted no attention,
and seems to have been destined for the editor*s
waste-paper basket, when it happened to attract
the notice of M. Dussard, who immediately saw
its merits. It was inserted in the number for
October, 1844, and created an immense sensation,
and further contributions were eagerly requested.
He then contributed to its columns a series of
articles exposing the fallacies of the protectionist
system, which were afterwards reprinted, and
form part of his Sophismes Economiques.

The Anti-com-law league had been for several
years carrying on a vigorous crusade against the
com laws, but so little were the people of either
country then acquainted with each other's pro-
ceedings, that its existence was almost unknown
in France. Bastiat by accident subscribed to
the Globe newspaper, and thus discovered its
existence, and watched its career with the
strongest interest, and soon conceived the idea
of forming a similar one in France. He entered
into correspondence with the chiefs of the league,
who sent him papers connected with it. Bastiat
then commenced to write in the Bayonne and
Bordeaux papers, to try to draw public attention
to it. He then tried to organize an association
at Bordeaux for the freedom of trade, but this
failed at the time, chiefly from want of fhnds.
He then thought of a daily paper in Paris, but
the same obstacle prevented its establishment.
An opportrmity opened to him of being elected a
deputy, but for the time he declined.

Seeing the impossibility of organizing a French
free trade league at that time, he thought that
the next best thing to do, was to translate and
set before the public of France the history and
proceedings of the English league. He com-
pleted a volume containing a brief history of the
League, with translations of the principid
speeches of the leaders, by April, 1845, and
entitled it, Cobden ct la Ligxte^ ou Tagitation
Amdaise pour la liberti des Changes.

The publication of this work which had been
undertaken by Messrs. Guillaumin & Co., brought
him to Paris in May, 1845, when he was received
with the greatest cordiality by the leading
economists of the capital. His brilliant articles
— the jS9pAi«m««~ attracted great admiration,
and soon produced a perceptible effect in the
provinces, and on the circulation of the Journal.
• In June, 1845, he determined to go to
England, and make the personal acquaintance of
the chief Members of the League. At this time
his reputation had increased so much that he
was offered the editorship of the Journal. This
position would have given him enormous advan-
tages, but it would have required him to leave
his country seat and his friends, which at that
time he was not prepared to do. In July, 1845,

he came to London, with his book, and visited

He returned to Mugron in October. By this
time the French press found themselves at last
obliged to notice Bastiat's book on the League.
It made a great sensation both in Paris, and the
Provinces, especially in the South. A numerous
party wished to place Bastiat in the Chamber of
Deputies, but he still continued to prefer a
private position, as it was too early to form a
party. Bastiat says that at this time there was
not a single Member of either Chamber who
dared to avow free trade opinions, or who under-
stood their bearing, or who could support them
against the sophisms of monopoly. Ajid this too
in the country where J. B. Say and others had
lectured with great success, and popularity!
We can, therefore, well appreciate the necessity
of such a blaze of light, as his Sophwnes Econo*
miques^ in the midst of such Cimmerian darkness.
But the French mind was now really awakened
on the subject, and in February, 1846, a move-
ment was organized at Bordeaux. On the 2drd,
M. Dufonr-Dubergie, the Mayor, was elected
President of the Bordeaux Free Trade Association.

Bastiafs book had extraordinary success at
Bordeaux, where it soon created a veritable
enthusiasm, and it became quite the fashion to
join the league. The success of the movement
was so great as to alarm Bastiat, who wished to
restrict it to persons who were really convinced,
as he foresaw that when the time came for it to
take action, and present a petition to the cham*-
bers, their differences of opinion would break
out. The greatest enthusiasm spread through
France, and Bastiat saw that it would be best to
transfer the seat of the movement to Paris, as the
Parisian press had ten times the influence of the
Provincial. He now removed to Paris, and in a
short time the Sociiti des Econamistes was organ-
ized, with the Due d'Harcourt as President, and
joined by all the leading economists. Numbers
of peers, deputies^ and merchants hastened to
subscribe to the new Society. Marseilles, Lyons,
Havre, and Nantes followed the example. Five
papers at Paris, three at Bordeaux, two at
Marseilles, one at Havre, and two at Bayonne,
adopted the cause. The SociStS des Econamistes
started a paper called the Libre Echange, of
which Bastiat was appointed Editor. But, not-
withstanding this enthusiasm on the surface, the
real progress of the association was slow and
disheartening. Bastiat complains that he could
not find two men who were real economists.
The authorizati(Mi necessary to constitute a so-
ciety was delayed by government, and the French
people were so unaccustomed to meetings, asso-
ciations, subscriptions, and common action, that
Bastiat almost gave it up in despair, and thought
of returning to Mugron, and confining himself to
writing in the papers. Moreover, the progress
that his views were making in public opinion,
aroused the alarm of the Protectionist party, and
it was generally believed that the spread of free
trade opinions was some deep Machiavellian plot
of Perfide Albion to ruin France, and it was said
that Bastiat and his friends were sold to the

The triumphant success of free trade princi-
ples by the repeal of the com laws in 1846, gave
the corresponaing move in France, an additional

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Btimnlus. The protectionists al80, now thoroughljr
alarmed, formed connter-associatioDs, and threat-
ened the government, and tried to arouse the
working classes. Bastiat and his friends were
denounced as the agents of Pitt and Coburg, those
terrible bugbears of French imagination, and so
great was the public fdrj, that rbis name could
not be mentioned in his own village of Mugron.

The government was somewhat alarmed at first
at the movement, which resembled in many res-
pects the public ferment before 1789, but they
soon saw that the free traders would form a
counterpoise to the protectionist party, and M.
Duchatel, the Minister of the Interior, privately
encouraged one of the members of the IBordeaux
association, saying, soyez fortes^ et nous vous
MttHendrons. The protectionists unceasingly
denounced them as emissaries of perfide Albion^
an imputation which almost overwhelmed them.
Bastiat testifies to the profound hatred of England
rooted in the minds of the French.

In 1847 Bastiat writes that, after all, the great-
est danger and obstacle he had to encounter was
Socialism, which had come to the aid of Protec-
tion, and had adopted all its fallacies. The
principal danger was that the Socialists had at-
tracted a very considerable portion of the rising
talent of the country by their specious fiillacies;
by loudly proclaiming the undoubted evils and
misery which existed, and maintaining that their
system provided a remedy for them. Thus
Golisting the best feelings of humanity on their
side, and exciting the imagination of youth by
Tlsionary dreams of a social paradise, where some
new grand organization of Society was to be

Bastiat saw that the chief danger to his system
lay with the youth of the count^, and that the
best chance of success was in enlisting them on
his side. He determined, therefore, to address a
course of lectures to the pupils of the schools of
Justice and Medicine. They heard him with
respect and temper, but without altogether com-
prehending him. He gave each of them -a copy
of his Sophismes, and then planned out his Har-
monies ±lconomiques^ the former being the des"
tructive or negative side, and the latter the coU"
Miructive or positive side of his system.

Bastiat says that his difficulty was that the
democracy of France was protectionist to the
core, and filled with hatred of England, and, of
course, doubly prejudiced against any doctrines
that came from that quarter.

Towards the end of 1847, Bastiat spolte at
several of the provincial towns, and was received
with much favor.

In the beginning of 1848, the enthusiasm
created on tJie subject of free trade had begun to
wane. The increased political struggles dis-
tracted the attention of the public from this
matter, and Bastiat*s health, which had always
been feeble, compelled him to resign the editor-
ship of the Libre Echcmge,

The events of February, 1848, brought new
enemies into the field. For ten years socialist
doctrines had been spreading widely through the
working classes, who were mrmly convinced that
the State was bound to find food, work, and edu-
cation for every one. The Provisional Govern-
ment adopted this doctrine. Bastiat felt himself
called upon to combat it, and resolved to seek

election to the National Assembly. All the
people in the provinces of France were to be
sacrificed to the populace of Paris, for while all
France was to be taxed to support them, no one
thought of supporting the farmers, the laborers,
and the artisans of the provinces.

Feeble and suffering as he was, and compelled
as he had been to resign the editorship of the Libre
Echange^ when this new danger menaced the
State, Bastiat felt himself called upon to £eu^ it,
and besides the duties of a member of the
Assembly, he assumed the editorship of the
Ripvhlique Fran^ise^ and combated the socialists
in the Journal des Economistes, and in a number
of little pamphlets, which became very popular,
and are mentioned below.

Bastiat was not endowed by nature with the
gifts of an orator, and hence he was not able to
make much impression on the Assembly from the
tribune. But he was appointed to the Committee
of Finance, and elected Vice-President of it. He
endeavoured to devise a general scheme of taxa-
tion to mitigate the excessive weight with which
it fell on articles consumed by the laboring
classes, but it was too daring, vast, and compre-
hensive, to suit the capacity of such a promis-
cuous mob as the Legislative Assembly.

Up to this time the works which Bastiat had
published were chiefly polemical, and though, of
course, they were full of the most profound troths,
and inimitable in their line, no controversial
works can be expected to survive the errors they

Bastiat had long been meditating a constructive
work, to shew the connection between the moral
sciences and Political Economy, which he pro-
posed to call Harmonies Sociales, He hoped by
this to enlist on the side of Political Economy
the rising talent which was inclined to join the
socialist ranks. In the autumn of 1848, this
desire grew stronger than ever. The last contro-
versial work he put forth was a series of letters,
in which he combated the socialist doctrine of the
abolition of interest. At the beginning of 1850,
^e first volume of his Harmonies Economioues^
which he considered as the crowning work of his
life, was published. But the fearful exertions of
the two preceding vears had told with fatal effect
upon his sickly l^y, and he felt an internal con-
sciousness that the end of his race was approach-
ing. All he ventured to hope for now was a
single year of life to finish the second volume of
his Harmonies. But his darling wish was not
destined to be accomplished.

During tJie summer of 1850, the enormous
labor he impeded upon himself greatly increased
his malady, which now fixed itself on his throaty
and he completely lost his voice. His physicians
enjoined on him perfect rest and silence, and
ordered him to spend the winter at Pisa.

The illustrious invalid reached Pisa in Sep-
tember, 1850, and soon proceeded on to Florence,
and Eome. But it was too late. He himself
felt that his race was run. His friend, M.
Paillottet, arrived at Rome to cheer the last
moments of the dying philosopher, and he has

Sublished an affecting narrative of the last few
ays of his life. Bastiat died on the 24th De-
cember, 1850.

Bastiat's separate works have been collected in
six volumes, and published in two forms, 8vo.,

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«id 13mo. Thej are not quite arranged in
chronological order. We shall notice them as
they appear in this edition, stating also the form
and manner in which they were originally pub-
lished, and giving some of the most remarkable
extracts fir^ them. Vol. L contains some of
his correspondence, as well as

Aux ilecteurs du dipartement des Landes, 1830.

SS/iexions 9ur les pStitiofu de Bordeaux^ de
Hawey et Lyon^ coneemant Us Dauanes. 1834.

Lejise et la vigne. 1841.

MSmoire prUente d la SoeiSU d AgricuUmn^
Commerce^ Arts^ et Sciences^ du dipartement des
Laandes^ sht la question vimcole. 1843.

De la rSpartUian de la contribution JaiancHre^
dans le dSpartement des Landes. 1844.

These writings addressed to the proTindal
papers, and composed before his appearance
before the public of the capital, contain many
of the (minions and conceptions which Bastiat
afterwards developed with such brilliancy in his
subsequent writings.

De Vinftuence des Tarifs Frangais et Anglais
sur ravenir des deux peuples. In the Journal des
Eeonomistes. October, 1844.

This was the article which created such a sen-
sation on its appearance, and established
Bastiat*8 reputation m the capital. It is a mas-
terly exposition of the progress of Free Trade in
EngUmd, and of the errors of the prohibitive
system, which was daily becoming more rigorous
in France.

De ravenir du commerce des vins entre la
France et la grande Bretagne. In ih» Journal des
Eeonomistes. August, 1845.

An appeal in favor of the reduction of the
enormous duties on French wines in England.

Une des questions soumises aux conseils ghUraux
de V agriculture^ des manufactures^t du commerce.
In the Journal des Eeonomistes. December, 1845.

In 1845, M. Cunin Gridaine, minister of com*
merce, addressed some questions to the conseUs
fftnSraux on certain proposed modifications of the
Xaw. One of them refered to the importation of
iron. This paper of Bastiat^s was written upon
this subject.

Un ieononUste a M. De Lamartinei V occasion
de sen Sent intituUy Du droit au travail. In the
Journal des Eeonomistes. February, 1845.

An earnest remonstrance to the brilliant
romancer, against the socialist doctrines which
he had adopted.

Sur Fouorage de M. Dunoyer de la liberU du
traoaiL 1845.

Sur nioge de M. Charles Comtepar M. Mignet^
in the Libre Echange. July, 1847.

De la repartition des richesses^ par M, VidaL
In the Jomnal des Eeonomistes. June, 1 846.

Siconde lettre d M. De Lamartine. In the
Journal des Eeonomistes. October, 1846.

A MM. les ilecteurs de Varrondissemewt de
Saint Sever. 1846.

De la ri/orme parlimentaire, 1846»

Vol. n. Le Libre Echange,

This volume is composed almost entirely of

extracts firom the paper Le Libre Echange

which Bastiat edited for the SociiiS des Econo-

ndstes, and of speeches delivered in Paris and the

provinces during 1846, 1847, 1848. As these

articles contain the doctrines of his subsequent

writings, we shall defer a notice of their salient

points unto we come to his more elaborate

Vol. m. Cohden et la Ligue^ on Vagitation
Anglaise pour la liberti des ichanges.

This volume consists of translations of the
speeches of the principal Members of the Anti-
Com-Law league, with extracts from the news-
papers detailing the proceedings of the League
in different towns. Bastiat failing at first to
organize a similar free trade league in France,
undertook this work to popularize the doings of
the English league in Fnmce. It had great suc-
cess, and was the first thing that made the general
French public acquainted with the existence of
the leaffue. It is preceded by an introduction
explainmg the nature of the contest. This in-
troduction is by far the weakest and most in-
effective of Bastiat*s writings, in our opinion.
It would be easy to shew, if it were worth while,
that it contains a considerable amount of unfiur
argument, but as it does not involve economical
prmciples, we must pass it over, with a simple

It is upon the last three volumes of this
collection that Bastiat's reputation with posterity

Vol. IV. contains .

Sophismes Economiques. When Bastiat began
to write, France was entirely imbued with Tto*
tectionist ideas. Beyond the walls of the Institute,
there was scarcely a single person who either
knew, or cared anything about Folitical Economy,
or had any real knowledge of the doctrines of
Free Trade. Bastiat thought that the best wav
of making an impression on the public mind,
was to make a series of attacks on the principal
fkllacies of protection, so as to i^pularize the
subject, and mduce people to examine the subject
point by point. This he did in a series of brilliant
articles published chiefly in the Journal des Econo^
mistes, and the Libre Echange. These articles
were collected and published in two series, the
first in 1845, and the second in 1848. His pre-
mature death prevented the publication of a uiird
series, for which materials were collected. We
shall sh<nrtly indicate the subjects of the principal

First Series, x. Abondanee^ Disette. This
shews that the natural result of the Protectionist
theory is to produce a scarcity of everything.
If man lived by himself, and worked for himseliL
and did not exchange, the scarcity theory would
never have been heurd of. He would then have
perfecUv seen that abundance was the best fbr
him, whether it resulted from his own labor,
from ingenious tools, or machinery, or from the
fertility of the earth, or fW>m some mvsterious in-
vasion which the waves might bring fr(Hn abroad.
Sudi a man, if he lived alone, would never
think of destroying the instruments, which saved
his toil, or of diminishing the fertility of the
earth, in order to secure reward for his labor.
He would clearly understand that labor is not an
end but a means^ and that a saving of labor was
progress. But the notion of exchange obscures
so plain a truth. Exchange creates two opposite
interests in regard to each object — ^that of the
Producer, and tliat of the Consumer, and each of
them is apt to consider his own labor as an end,
and not as a means. Each producer naturally
wishes his own production to be as dear and

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scarce, and the price to be as high as possible.
Thus producers are always interested against the
general well being, and if their wishes could be
gratified, the world would rapidly retrograde to
barbarism. The sail would proscribe steam, the
oar would proscribe the sail, the oar in time
would yield to carriage transport, and that to
the mule, and that lastly to the pack, and so on
of other products. On the contrary, the interest
of the consumer is always to have abundance and
cheapness, and consequently it is most in har-
mony with the general well being, which is
manifestly more promoted by there being more
of everything, more com, more cattle, more cloth,
more iron, more coal, more sugar, &c. than less of
everything. The theory of abundance therefore
is the consumer's interest.

II. Obstacle^ cause. This follows up some of
the ideas started in the preceding essay. Man
in his natural state possesses nothing. Between
this and the attainment of his desires, obstacles
intervene, which it is the object of labor to sur-
mount. It is clear, however, that he would be
better off, if those obstacles did not exist. In a
state of isolation, each must overcome these
obstacles for himself, and it is clear the less these
obstacles exist the better for him. In a state of
society he does not attack all these obstacles by
himself, but others do it for him, and he in return
surmounts some of the obstacles which others are
surrounded with.

It is quite clear, however, that for society in
the mass, it is better as these obstacles are fewer
and feebler.

But in modem society, from the division of
labor, each one is occupied in combatting one
species of obstacle, for the benefit of himse& and
his neighbours.

£ach one, therefore, individually sees the
immediate cause of his wealth in the obstacle
which it is his profession to combat for society.
The stronger and more powerfully it is felt, and
the higher his neighbours will reward him for
combating it, the more wealthy he becomes, and
this happens to each producer in tum. Each
profession, therefore, has a direct interest in the
continuation and increase of the obstacle, which
it is their special province to overcome.

Thus theorists, who found a system on the
sentiments of individuals, say that a want is
wealth, that labor is wealth, an obstacle to well-
being is wellbeing, and that to multiply obstacles
is the way to support industry, and increase
national wealth. Thus, in process of time, the
gross fallacy springs up that human labor is not a
means, but an end. This, however, is an egre-
gious fallacy. If -one obstacle is overcome, there
are always others to vanquish, and thus, if labor
is saved, two obstacles may be overcome with the
same amount of labor that one was before.

ni. Effort, riwUat The doctrine of obsta-
cles is further considered and pursued to its
absurd consequences. Between our desires and
their gratification, obstacles are interposed, which
we must overcome by the exercise of our facul-

Online LibraryHenry Dunning MacleodA dictionary of political economy: biographical, bibliographical ..., Volume 1 → online text (page 64 of 180)