Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO J. S. MILL, ESQ. - Memoir, Letters, and Remains of Alexis de Tocqueville, vol. 2
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TO J. S. MILL, ESQ. - 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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TO J. S. MILL, ESQ.
Paris, December 18, 1840.
I reproach myself greatly, my dear friend, for not having written to you sooner. I hope that you will forgive me when you remember the pressure of public business during the last two months. Nothing else could have prevented my writing to you immediately after your article appeared in the Edinburgh Review.*
I cannot write all the thoughts suggested by this remarkable paper: they are too many for a letter, especially such a letter as I have leisure for.
But there are some things which I ought long ago to have found time to say to you, and among others this: of all the articles on my book, yours is the only one in which the author has perfectly seized my meaning, and made it apparent to others. I need not, therefore, add, that I read it with extreme pleasure. At last I found myself criticised by a superior mind that had taken the trouble of entering into my ideas, and submitting them to a searching analysis. You alone, I repeat, have afforded me this satisfaction. I am binding your article with a copy of my book. The two ought to go together, and I wish to be able to turn from the one to the other. A thousand thanks, therefore, dear Mill, to you for writing it. You have given me one of the greatest pleasures that I have enjoyed for a long time.
The success of the second part of the “Democracy” has been less general in France, than that of the first part. In our day, I seldom think the public mistaken; I, therefore, am applying myself industriously to discover the fault that I have committed; probably a considerable one. I think that it belongs to the purpose for which the book was written, which is too abstract and raises too many questions to please the public. When I wrote only upon democratic society in the United States, I was understood directly. If I had written upon democratic society in France, as it exists in the present day, that again would have been easily understood. But using the ideas derived from American and French democracy only as data, I endeavoured to paint the general features of democratic societies; no complete specimen of which can yet be said to exist. This is what an ordinary reader fails to appreciate. Only those who are much accustomed to searching for abstract and speculative truths, care to follow me in such an inquiry. I believe that the comparatively little effect produced by my book is to be attributed to the original sin of the subject itself, rather than to the manner in which I have treated any particular portion.
You must have lamented, as I did, and as every sensible man did, the breach in the alliance between our two nations. No one advocated their union more strongly than myself. But I need not tell you, my dear Mill, that if it be important to keep up in a nation, especially in a nation so versatile as ours, the feeling that leads to great actions, the people must not be taught to submit quietly to be treated with indifference. To show no sense of your treatment of us would have been to smother, and perhaps extinguish, passions which we may some day need. The most elevated feeling now left to us is national pride. No doubt we ought to try to regulate it, and to moderate its ebullitions; but we must beware of diminishing it. I think the behaviour of your ministers inexcusable, and I was much grieved to see that it was countenanced by the British people. Ill-will is increasing between the two nations, and I am sorry for it; not only on their account, but on that of the whole of Europe; for all this is only driving us to enter into the schemes of the most formidable power of all.
Enough, and too much, of these gloomy politics. Good-bye. Are you never coming to France?
TO THE BARON DE TOCQUEVILLE.
Philippeville, May 30, 1841.
We arrived this morning, my dear Edward, at Philippeville, after the finest passage that we have yet had. The sea as calm as a river; magnificent weather, yet not too hot; and within half gun-shot range of the coast. Such a coast I have seldom seen in my life. This part of Africa is far the most beautiful. High mountains rise almost from the sea. They are covered to the very top with trees or pastures. Frequent openings disclose lovely vallies, highly cultivated, and covered with flocks. The whole of this immense group of mountains and vallies is peopled by the Kabyles. It is an enchanted land, cultivated by savages. As long as we do not tread on their territory, they do not object to us, they will even trade with us; but woe betide you if you attempt to take a walk in their beautiful country! We landed on two or three points on this coast, where there are French settlements, such as Bougie and Gigelly. The Kabyles attend the markets in these little towns to sell eggs and poultry. But if a Frenchman shows himself fifty steps from the fortifications, he is fired at immediately. They are always at war, however, among themselves; and, it is said, live in complete anarchy. In spite of this, the land is admirably cultivated, they have splendid flocks, and manufacture stuffs, arms, and ammunition. One can scarcely believe that the same men can be so civilized and so savage.
As we approached Philippeville, the mountains became lower, and we re-entered the domain of the Arabs. The first glimpse of Philippeville made me fancy myself in America. Two years ago, it was a bare shore. Now the town contains 5,000 inhabitants, exclusive of the military. You may imagine the confusion attendant upon so rapid a creation. All is going on at once: streets marked out, houses building: one is in the midst of rubbish of every description. There is an appearance of feverish activity which I had not met with since I left the United States.
One of our principal objects was to visit Constantine, which is only forty-five miles off; nothing is easier. Three times a week two men on horseback (two Spahis) go from the one point to the other. But they do it in one day, which we should have thought too tiring. Fortunately, a large party starts to-morrow, and takes three days about it, sleeping every night in tents. We shall join them, and start at daybreak. You will not guess who is our travelling companion—the old Marquis de Talaru. We run no risks from the Arabs: perfect peace reigns in the province. As to health, the country does not become unwholesome till July. The high table-land over which we shall travel is, indeed, never so, and on the coast the danger is much less than is supposed. Adieu! I go to prepare for our expedition.*
[*]This article is reprinted in Mr. Mill’s “Dissertations and Discussions,” vol. ii. p. 1.
[*]On the day after he wrote this letter, Tocqueville started for Constantina, under a burning sun, and fell ill at the camp of Eddis, a short distance from Philippeville, to which he returned on the following day, seriously unwell. He had been attacked by a malignant fever, but, happily, quinine prevented a return of it. He was immediately carried on board a steamer, which took him to Algiers, whence he soon afterwards was able to return to France.