Petition From The Manufacturers Of Candles

To the Honorable the Members of the Chamber of Deputies:

GENTLEMEN,--You are in the right way: you reject abstract theories;

abundance, cheapness, concerns you little. You are entirely occupied

with the interest of the producer, whom you are anxious to free from

foreign competition. In a word, you wish to secure the national market

to national labor.

We come now to offer you an admirable opp
rtunity for the application

of your----what shall we say? your theory? no, nothing is more

deceiving than theory;--your doctrine? your system? your principle? But

you do not like doctrines; you hold systems in horror; and, as for

principles, you declare that there are no such things in political

economy. We will say then, your practice; your practice without theory,

and without principle.

We are subjected to the intolerable competition of a foreign rival, who

enjoys, it would seem, such superior facilities for the production of

light, that he is enabled to inundate our national market at so

exceedingly reduced a price, that, the moment he makes his appearance,

he draws off all custom from us; and thus an important branch of French

industry, with all its innumerable ramifications, is suddenly reduced to

a state of complete stagnation. This rival, who is no other than the

sun, carries on so bitter a war against us, that we have every reason to

believe that he has been excited to this course by our perfidious

neighbor England. (Good diplomacy this, for the present time!) In this

belief we are confirmed by the fact that in all his transactions with

this proud island, he is much more moderate and careful than with us.

Our petition is, that it would please your honorable body to pass a law

whereby shall be directed the shutting up of all windows, dormers,

sky-lights, shutters, curtains, vasistas, oeil-de-boeufs, in a word, all

openings, holes, chinks and fissures through which the light of the sun

is used to penetrate into our dwellings, to the prejudice of the

profitable manufactures which we flatter ourselves we have been enabled

to bestow upon the country; which country cannot, therefore, without

ingratitude, leave us now to struggle unprotected through so unequal a


We pray your honorable body not to mistake our petition for a satire,

nor to repulse us without at least hearing the reasons which we have to

advance in its favor.

And first, if, by shutting out as much as possible all access to

natural light, you thus create the necessity for artificial light, is

there in France an industrial pursuit which will not, through some

connection with this important object, be benefited by it?

If more tallow be consumed, there will arise a necessity for an

increase of cattle and sheep. Thus artificial meadows must be in greater

demand; and meat, wool, leather, and above all, manure, this basis of

agricultural riches, must become more abundant.

If more oil be consumed, it will cause an increase in the cultivation

of the olive-tree. This plant, luxuriant and exhausting to the soil,

will come in good time to profit by the increased fertility which the

raising of cattle will have communicated to our fields.

Our heaths will become covered with resinous trees. Numerous swarms of

bees will gather upon our mountains the perfumed treasures, which are

now cast upon the winds, useless as the blossoms from which they

emanate. There is, in short, no branch of agriculture which would not be

greatly developed by the granting of our petition.

Navigation would equally profit. Thousands of vessels would soon be

employed in the whale fisheries, and thence would arise a navy capable

of sustaining the honor of France, and of responding to the patriotic

sentiments of the undersigned petitioners, candle merchants, etc.

But what words can express the magnificence which Paris will then

exhibit! Cast an eye upon the future and behold the gildings, the

bronzes, the magnificent crystal chandeliers, lamps, reflectors and

candelabras, which will glitter in the spacious stores, compared with

which the splendor of the present day will appear trifling and


There is none, not even the poor manufacturer of resin in the midst of

his pine forests, nor the miserable miner in his dark dwelling, but who

would enjoy an increase of salary and of comforts.

Gentlemen, if you will be pleased to reflect, you cannot fail to be

convinced that there is perhaps not one Frenchman, from the opulent

stockholder of Anzin down to the poorest vendor of matches, who is not

interested in the success of our petition.

We foresee your objections, gentlemen; but there is not one that you

can oppose to us which you will not be obliged to gather from the works

of the partisans of free trade. We dare challenge you to pronounce one

word against our petition, which is not equally opposed to your own

practice and the principle which guides your policy.

Do you tell us, that if we gain by this protection, France will not

gain, because the consumer must pay the price of it?

We answer you:

You have no longer any right to cite the interest of the consumer. For

whenever this has been found to compete with that of the producer, you

have invariably sacrificed the first. You have done this to encourage

labor, to increase the demand for labor. The same reason should now

induce you to act in the same manner.

You have yourselves already answered the objection. When you were told:

The consumer is interested in the free introduction of iron, coal, corn,

wheat, cloths, etc., your answer was: Yes, but the producer is

interested in their exclusion. Thus, also, if the consumer is interested

in the admission of light, we, the producers, pray for its


You have also said, the producer and the consumer are one. If the

manufacturer gains by protection, he will cause the agriculturist to

gain also; if agriculture prospers, it opens a market for manufactured

goods. Thus we, if you confer upon us the monopoly of furnishing light

during the day, will as a first consequence buy large quantities of

tallow, coals, oil, resin, wax, alcohol, silver, iron, bronze, crystal,

for the supply of our business; and then we and our numerous contractors

having become rich, our consumption will be great, and will become a

means of contributing to the comfort and competency of the workers in

every branch of national labor.

Will you say that the light of the sun is a gratuitous gift, and that

to repulse gratuitous gifts, is to repulse riches under pretence of

encouraging the means of obtaining them?

Take care,--you carry the death-blow to your own policy. Remember that

hitherto you have always repulsed foreign produce, because it was an

approach to a gratuitous gift, and the more in proportion as this

approach was more close. You have, in obeying the wishes of other

monopolists, acted only from a half-motive; to grant our petition

there is a much fuller inducement. To repulse us, precisely for the

reason that our case is a more complete one than any which have preceded

it, would be to lay down the following equation: + x + =-; in other

words, it would be to accumulate absurdity upon absurdity.

Labor and Nature concur in different proportions, according to country

and climate, in every article of production. The portion of Nature is

always gratuitous; that of labor alone regulates the price.

If a Lisbon orange can be sold at half the price of a Parisian one, it

is because a natural and gratuitous heat does for the one, what the

other only obtains from an artificial and consequently expensive one.

When, therefore, we purchase a Portuguese orange, we may say that we

obtain it half gratuitously and half by the right of labor; in other

words, at half price compared to those of Paris.

Now it is precisely on account of this demi-gratuity (excuse the

word) that you argue in favor of exclusion. How, you say, could national

labor sustain the competition of foreign labor, when the first has every

thing to do, and the last is rid of half the trouble, the sun taking the

rest of the business upon himself? If then the demi-gratuity can

determine you to check competition, on what principle can the entire

gratuity be alleged as a reason for admitting it? You are no logicians

if, refusing the demi-gratuity as hurtful to human labor, you do not a

fortiori, and with double zeal, reject the full gratuity.

Again, when any article, as coal, iron, cheese, or cloth, comes to us

from foreign countries with less labor than if we produced it ourselves,

the difference in price is a gratuitous gift conferred upon us; and

the gift is more or less considerable, according as the difference is

greater or less. It is the quarter, the half, or the three-quarters of

the value of the produce, in proportion as the foreign merchant requires

the three-quarters, the half, or the quarter of the price. It is as

complete as possible when the producer offers, as the sun does with

light, the whole in free gift. The question is, and we put it formally,

whether you wish for France the benefit of gratuitous consumption, or

the supposed advantages of laborious production. Choose, but be

consistent. And does it not argue the greatest inconsistency to check as

you do the importation of coal, iron, cheese, and goods of foreign

manufacture, merely because and even in proportion as their price

approaches zero, while at the same time you freely admit, and without

limitation, the light of the sun, whose price is during the whole day at