Front Page Titles (by Subject) III: SOME INCIDENTS OF THE 24TH OF FEBRUARY 1848. - The Recollections of Alexis de Tocqueville
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III: SOME INCIDENTS OF THE 24TH OF FEBRUARY 1848. - Alexis de Tocqueville, The Recollections of Alexis de Tocqueville 
The Recollections of Alexis de Tocqueville, edited by the Comte de Tocqueville and now first translated into English by Alexander Teixeira de Mattos. With a portrait in Heliogravure (New York: Macmillan, 1896).
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SOME INCIDENTS OF THE 24TH OF FEBRUARY 1848.
M. Dufaure’s efforts to prevent the Revolution of February—Responsibility of M. Thiers, which renders them futile.
To-day (19 October 1850), Rivet recalled and fixed with me the circumstances of an incident well worth remembering.
In the course of the week preceding that in which the Monarchy was overthrown, a certain number of Conservative deputies began to feel an anxiety which was not shared by the Ministers and their colleagues. They thought that it was more advisable to overthrow the Cabinet, provided that this could be done without violence, than to risk the adventure of the banquets. One of them, M. Sallandrouze, made the following proposal to M. Billault (the banquet was to take place on Tuesday the 22nd) that on the 21st M. Dufaure and his friends should move an urgent order of the day, drawn up in consultation with Sallandrouze and those in whose name he spoke, some forty in number. The order of the day should be voted by them on condition that, on its side, the Opposition should give up the banquet and restrain the people.
On Sunday, the 20th of February, we met at Rivet’s to discuss this proposal. There were present, as far as I am able to remember, Dufaure, Billault, Lanjuinais, Corcelles, Ferdinand Barrot, Talabot, Rivet, and myself.
Sallandrouze’s proposal was explained to us by Billault; we accepted it at once, and drafted an order of the day in consequence. I myself drafted it, and this draft, with some modifications, was accepted by my friends. The terms in which it was couched (I no longer remember them) were very moderate, but the adoption of this order of the day would inevitably entail the resignation of the Cabinet.
There remained to be fulfilled the condition of the vote of the Conservatives, the withdrawal of the banquet. We had had nothing to do with this measure, and consequently we were not able to prevent it. It was agreed that one of us should at once go in search of Duvergier de Hauranne and Barrot, and propose that they should act according to the condition demanded. Rivet was selected for this negociation, and we adjourned our meeting till the evening to know how he had succeeded.
In the evening he came and reported to us as follows:
Barrot had eagerly entered into the opening offered him; he effusively seized Rivet’s hands, and declared that he was prepared to do all that he was asked in this sense; he seemed relieved of a great weight on beholding the possibility of escaping from the responsibility of the banquet. But he added that he was not engaged in this enterprise alone, and that he must come to an understanding with his friends, without whom he could do nothing. How well we knew it!
Rivet went on to Duvergier’s, and was told that he was at the Conservatoire of Music, but that he would return home before dinner. Rivet waited. Duvergier returned. Rivet told him of the proposal of the Conservatives and of our order of the day. Duvergier received this communication somewhat disdainfully; they had gone too far, he said, to draw back; the Conservatives had repented too late; he, Duvergier, and his friends could not, without losing their popularity and perhaps all their influence with the masses, undertake to make the latter give up the proposed demonstration. “However,” he added, “I am only giving you my first and personal impression; but I am going to dine with Thiers, and I will send you a note this evening to let you know our final decision.”
This note came while we were there; it said briefly that the opinion expressed by Duvergier before dinner was also that of Thiers, and that the idea which we had suggested must be abandoned. We broke up at once: the die was cast!
I have no doubt that, among the reasons for Thiers’ and Duvergier’s refusal, the first place must be given to this, which was not expressed: that if the Ministry fell quietly, by the combined effect of a part of the Conservatives and ourselves, and upon an order of the day presented by us, we should come into power, and not those who had built up all this great machinery of the banquets in order to attain it.
Dufaure’s conduct on the 24th of February 1848.
Rivet told me to-day (19 October 1850) that he had never talked with Dufaure of what happened to him on the 24th of February; but that he had gathered the following from conversation with members of his family or of his immediate surroundings:
On the 23rd of February, at about a quarter past six, M. Molé, after concerting with M. de Montalivet, sent to beg Dufaure to come and see him. Dufaure, on his road to M. Molé’s, called on Rivet and asked him to wait for him, because he intended to come back to Rivet on leaving M. Molé. Dufaure did not return, and Rivet did not see him till some time after, but he believed that, on arriving at Molé’s, Dufaure had a rather long conversation with him, and then went away, declaring that he did not wish to join the new Cabinet, and that, in his opinion, circumstances called for the men who had brought about the movement, that is to say, Thiers and Barrot.
He returned greatly alarmed at the appearance of Paris, found his wife and mother-in-law still more alarmed, and, at five o’clock in the morning of the 24th, set out with them and took them to Vauves. He himself came back; I saw him at about eight or nine o’clock, and I do not remember that he told me he had taken this morning journey. I was calling on him with Lanjuinais and Corcelles; but we soon separated, arranging to meet at twelve at the Chamber of Deputies. Dufaure did not come; it seems that he started to do so, and in fact arrived at the Palace of the Assembly, which had, doubtless, been just at that moment invaded. What is certain is that he went on and joined his family at Vauves.