Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO THE BARON * AND BARONESS DE TOCQUEVILLE. - Memoir, Letters, and Remains of Alexis de Tocqueville, vol. 1
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
Also in the Library:
TO THE BARON * AND BARONESS DE TOCQUEVILLE. - Alexis de Tocqueville, Memoir, Letters, and Remains of Alexis de Tocqueville, vol. 1 
Memoir, Letters, and Remains of Alexis de Tocqueville. Translated from the French by the translator of Napoleon’s Correspondence with King Joseph. With large Additions. In Two Volumes (London: Macamillan, 1861). Vol. 1.
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
TO THE BARON* AND BARONESS DE TOCQUEVILLE.
Paris, August 8, 1829.
I intend to write to both of my dear friends at once to-day; I have not time for two letters, because we are in the middle of the assizes; and yet I wish to have a little talk with both. The difficulty is to know which to address first, for there are things which would not interest you equally. My heart puts neither first or last, so I will begin with the lady of the house; but she must be aware that it is out of pure politeness.
I will tell you, then, dear sister, that if my letter touched your heart, yours found its way straight to mine. I said so to your husband a few days ago. I cannot describe to you the impression that this proof of your friendship produced on me. One has constantly to thank people for their kind expressions, and one’s thanks are often warmer than the feeling that inspires them; one returns bad money for good, and with. a good conscience, for no one is deceived. Well, I wish you on the contrary to take mine for what it represents, and at its real value; but I know not how to manage this. I should like to tell you exactly what I felt, neither more nor less. I repeat, then, simply, and from the bottom of my heart, that your letter touched me; moreover, that I believed in it without any restriction, because my own feelings reflected all that you expressed so well. I solemnly assure you that your friendship towards myself, and the happiness which you bestow, and I hope always will bestow upon Edward, are the two things most likely to contribute to mine, and to make me look forward with pleasure to the future.
It is not only I who have to thank you for your letter, there is a chorus on this point. Whenever a letter from Switzerland reaches Paris, the whole clan is summoned; the assembly is not very numerous, but it is unanimous. We do not read all at once, but little by little. We follow you upon the map. We make comments on your movements; we share in your enjoyment of the splendid scenery that you describe. The account of the fatigue which you undergo almost terrifies us; happily our fears are imaginary. At last when we have finished reading, we allow ourselves to talk. Then come the remarks. If it were only true that the ears tingle when one is well spoken of, what a singing you would have in them! We end by saying that your letters are a perfect picture of yourself, and to this we can add nothing. Sometimes we venture to remark that your style is excellent, and perfectly natural. But I ought not to tell you this, and we are angry with ourselves when it strikes us. Neither the reader nor the writer ought ever to pay attention to such things.
. . . . But it is time for me to turn to your husband. You no doubt are already aware of the strange events that are happening here. The ministers have resigned in a body. A new ministry, composed of M.M. de Polignac, La Bourdonnaye, Montbel, and others, has taken the helm. How will they manage to stand? God only knows. Or rather He knows already what we only suspect, that they will not stand. It seems that they intend, at first, to retain the present Chamber; but it is highly improbable that it will go with them. If they summon another, all the chances will be against them should the present election laws continue. To obtain the consent of this Chamber to a change in those laws appears to me to be quite impossible. So, then, they will be driven to the system of coups d’ Étât, of legislating by proclamations. Royal power and popular power being at war, there will be a pitched battle, in which the people will risk only the present, while the monarchy stakes both the present and the future. If this ministry falls, it will greatly damage the crown, whose child it is. Guarantees will be demanded by the people which will reduce to almost nothing a power which is already too weak. God grant that the House of Bourbon may not one day deeply repent what has just been done! . . .
Adieu, dear friends, I embrace you as I love you, sincerely and affectionately.
[*]His brother Edward, afterwards Vicomte de Tocqueville, who, with his bride, was travelling in Switzerland and Italy. During this time, Alexis de Tocqueville used to send them news of the progress of affairs in France, which every day became more serious till they ended in the Revolution of July, 1830.