Front Page Titles (by Subject) ANSWER FROM COUNT MOLÉ TO M. DE TOCQUEVILLE. - Memoir, Letters, and Remains of Alexis de Tocqueville, vol. 2
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ANSWER FROM COUNT MOLÉ TO M. DE TOCQUEVILLE. - Alexis de Tocqueville, Memoir, Letters, and Remains of Alexis de Tocqueville, vol. 2 
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). 2 vols.
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ANSWER FROM COUNT MOLÉ TO M. DE TOCQUEVILLE.
Paris, September 14, 1837.
My dear Sir,
I have just received from you a letter, which demands a full and immediate answer. I will be as frank as you are; and as I do not share any one of the sentiments or principles which inspired you while writing it, I will venture to tell you so. In the first place, I must disclaim, and if necessary protest, against the distinction which you make between the President of the Cabinet and M. Molé. If the latter had been obliged to forfeit any portion of his own character to become the former, he would have rejected the Presidency: he would have preferred, without hesitation, as he has always done, the least important of his moral or political convictions to power, and to all its supposed advantages.
Not only in politics, but in everything, one must take part in the everlasting struggle between good and evil. A man who chose to act only when he was sure of doing right, without doubt or compromise, would do nothing, even in private life: he must sit with folded arms. I therefore perform the duties of my office, as you would in my place, doing all the good that I can, and averting evil by all the means at my disposal. The first of these duties is, in my opinion, to fight in the elections, as much as elsewhere, for the convictions professed by those whose cause I maintain, who have raised me to power, and who loyally support me in it. I cannot, therefore, admit that to enter the Chamber through our influence, would be to take upon you a yoke which need hurt your pride or your delicacy; nor that to separate from us, on some future occasion, when a question arose on which you could not sincerely and conscientiously support us, would be a breach of faith.
All this sounds very flat in the ears of that dishonest, popularity-hunting party who hold that authority, whatever may be the hands that wield it, is the presumptive enemy of society. But I venture to ask if you think that you would be less fettered if you owed your seat to the legitimists, to the republicans, or to any other shade of opinion, than to the moderate party. A choice must be made: even a man unconnected with party must depend, more or less, on his constituents. The ministerial ranks are not supplied only by men who owe their rise and their existence to the ministry; they are chiefly composed of those who share its opinions, and believe its triumph to be for the good of the country.
These are the men, my dear Sir, among whom I should have been glad and proud to see you. You refuse—you have almost said that you would be ashamed of such a position: well and good. I deserved so much sincerity on your part. But you cannot imagine that I take my duties so little in earnest, as to wish to see you appear under the banners of our opponents. My duties, as you must know, are among the most painful and arduous that man can undertake. They involve more sacrifices from me than from most people, because my intellectual tastes, my affections, and all my habits are completely set aside for them. But I should consider myself as opposing the intentions of Providence, if I did not bear my destiny bravely. I believe that the country and the public would suffer if the Government were to pass now into other hands. Unless I deceive myself, I deserve the esteem, and perhaps the encouragement and support, of all who have honest hearts and wise heads.
However, your will shall be performed. Till now, I have upheld you with all my might, both in the Cabinet and out of it. I am not acquainted with your Prefect, but he seems to have discovered my wishes. I shall tell the Home Minister this very day that we are to entirely withdraw our support from you. Our friends (for we have friends) will oppose you; for in elections neutrality is impossible. If you succeed, I shall be glad for your sake; and permit me to add that my pleasure will be increased by my expectation that a practical knowledge of affairs and of men will draw you nearer to the unhappy Ministers whom now it would so much distress you to seem to favour. Under whatever banner you enrol yourself, I shall never cease to consider you as a loved and honoured kinsman, whose elevation of mind and rare ability place him among the most distinguished men of the age.
I remain, very sincerely yours,
These two letters were immediately followed by two more, which are omitted here, because they contain some confidential details, and some remarks on individuals, which had better be suppressed. The political situation, too, with which they are connected, is one on which it is not advisable at present to dwell, or even to touch. It will be enough, therefore, to add, that mutual explanations soon softened the rather sharp tone of this correspondence. The following letter, written by M. de Tocqueville, on the 27th September, in answer to one from Count Molé, shows that their correspondence had already resumed its former tone of benevolent regard on one side, and of affectionate deference on the other.