E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
Laissez Faire, Laissez Passer.
Lord John Russell said: Colbert, with the intention of fostering the manufactures of France, established regulations limiting the webs woven in looms to a particular size. He also prohibited the introduction of foreign manufactures.
Then the French vine-growers, finding they could no longer get rid of their wine, began to grumble. When Colbert asked a merchant what relief he could give, he received for answer, Laissez faire, laissez passer; that is to say, Dont interfere with our mode of manufactures, and dont stop the introduction of foreign imports.