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TO THE SAME. - 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.
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TO THE SAME.
Gray, October 29, 1829.
At length, dear friend, here I am, sitting by the fire with my table in front of me, and ready to talk to you. This is just what I like, and yet I cannot be gay to-day. On my arrival four days ago, I was seized with one of the attacks in the stomach that you know, and so sharp a one this time that fever followed. They were obliged to bleed me. Now I am up again as usual, able to walk and talk and transact my business; but I still feel the effects of my illness, and I am not yet quite recovered. All this makes me gloomy; and besides, it rains, the wind whistles through my door, and my chimney smokes; a concentration of circumstances calculated to make one misanthropical, and reflect deeply on the faults, the vices, and the baseness of mankind.
Seriously, dear friend, my health is beginning to make me really uneasy. It seems to me as if years were far from improving it, that bodily fatigue affects me more than formerly. I fear that the life which we lead may increase the evil, so that in time I may become a valetudinarian. And this is not all. The hardest part to understand is, that I am afraid of being afraid: I mean, of my mind dwelling on the state of my body, and aggravating its importance. I am alarmed at the room that my physical evils occupy in my imagination, of the distaste with which they cause me to regard the future, and every sort of ambition—I might as well say, life itself. It is this moral weakness creeping over me, threatening to destroy the only virtue I really value in man,—energy, that I especially dread. And now, dear friend, what can you do? why have I told you all this? I really do not know; all I can say is, that these are the thoughts that press upon me; that my mind is more full of them than of any other; and that I felt the necessity of lightening my burden by shifting some of it on you. Now that I feel better, I will turn to something else.
Your letter, which reached me at Geneva five days ago, gave me much pleasure, and did me a great deal of good. Only you took too much to heart the hasty things I said to you about the instability of your friendships. You must allow something for first impressions, dear friend. When a man has just received a blow on the head, you should not reproach him for stepping unsteadily, provided that he is in the right direction. . . . It is quite true that I cannot yet reconcile myself to the impending change in our lives. From the first moment I perceived (with my imagination no doubt, rather than on reflection), that the tie which has united us so closely for the last two years must necessarily be loosened, I saw you launched into a different sphere. These considerations grieved me deeply; more deeply, perhaps, than I can say. This is what I tried to express. If my words were ill-chosen, and I am willing to own it, you cannot at any rate complain of the intention.
However, I believe that I was wrong. I do not mean to admit that there is not a real change in our respective conditions, but that I feel persuaded that two men of our age, who understand each other, who have disclosed every corner of their hearts the one to the other, and whose mutual affection has grown with their intimacy, cannot greatly change. They cannot fail to be friends for life; and even if they have not frequent opportunities of meeting, they will still continue to confide in each other freely. These are the sage reflections which I had made before your letter came; and that I imparted to Kergorlay in the long talks which we often have about you, in our walking expeditions, in places where your name was never before pronounced since the creation. But your letter did better than help to convince me; it convinced something better than my head; in short, it deeply touched my heart. I tell you this plainly, and the feeling is too serious for me to add any commentary. Yes, my friend, you are right in saying that we must have as many interests as possible in common. I quite enter into your plans. Some useful historical work might be our joint production. We must, of course, fit ourselves for political life, and for this purpose we must study the history of our race, and especially of the generations immediately preceding us.
General history is useful only in respect of the light which it throws upon human nature, and as a preparation. In that, my dear friend, I am almost as great a novice as yourself. I know more of the events themselves; but with regard to their causes, to the means furnished by men to those who have influenced them for the last two hundred years; to the state of the different nations before the outbreak of revolutions and afterwards; their classification, manners, and instincts; their present resources, the distribution and causes of these resources, of all this I am ignorant; and to this everything else is merely an introduction. There is one science which I long despised, but which I now own to be not only useful, but necessary; I mean Geography; not to learn the exact meridian of towns, but everything that relates to the knowledge which I have just mentioned; such as a clear understanding of the configuration of the earth as it influences the political condition and wealth of nations. Some countries are almost forced by their geographical position alone to adopt a certain form of government, to exercise a certain influence; their destiny even is caused by it. I confess that this is not the sort of geography that is taught in schools; but I fancy that it is the only kind which we can understand or recollect.
In conclusion, dear friend, let us hold fast to each other as much as we can. Especially let us preserve the habit of telling everything to one another, and we shall still have something like the time we spent at Versailles, which was one of the happiest periods of my past, and will be of my future, life.