Front Page Titles (by Subject) 1841: TO THE BARON DE TOCQUEVILLE. - Memoir, Letters, and Remains of Alexis de Tocqueville, vol. 2
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1841: TO THE BARON 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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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.*
TO M. J. J. AMPÈRE.
Tocqueville, July 5, 1841.
You took such a strong and friendly interest in my health, that it is but just that you should be one of the first to receive news of me. I must tell you then, my dear friend, that my journey has been perfectly harmless. Four and twenty hours after bidding you adieu in Paris, I sat down to dinner at Tocqueville. Pray engrave this circumstance on your memory; and take notice that such a journey is the easiest thing in the world. When, then, you have a few days to spare, remember that there is a place where you are sure of finding true friends and a hearty welcome, and do not hesitate about coming. Do not behave like those who, insisting always upon doing so very well, end by never doing anything at all. Do not reserve yourself for the time when you will be able to pass months with us. Give us, meanwhile, any stray weeks that you can. The most trifling contributions will be gratefully accepted. The famous room which we are always telling you of, and in which no noise will ever be heard, will soon be ready. It is to be called “Ampère’s Room,” even if some one else is in it; in order, as the lawyers say, that there may be no adverse possession.
I cannot tell you how I enjoy my quiet life. There is a general cause for this, I think, in my increased experience of the hard knocks which one meets with in the world, and an accidental cause in the exciting and fatiguing life which I have just undergone. So much noise and activity lend, by comparison, the charm of positive enjoyment to the silence and repose of this place. This intense appreciation of peace is a new excitement. Time and possession will diminish its impression; but I think that I shall always feel here a comfort and happiness which I shall never find elsewhere. Now I beg of you to admire the absurd inconsistency of human nature. Ask the man who says that he is so happy, if he would like to remain for ever as he is. He would say, by no means; he would tell you that, after uttering all these fine things on the charms of solitude and tranquillity, he would think himself greatly to be pitied, if he never again were allowed to throw himself into the turmoil of war, of crowds and noise, of political animosities and literary jealousies, Assemblies, and Academies; in short, into the middle of that world from which he is so glad to have escaped. But I am beginning to philosophize. I will avoid this snare by bidding you most affectionately adieu. I need not tell you to remember me particularly to M. de Chateaubriand, to our good friend Ballanche, and above all to Madame Récamier, to whom my last attack of fever prevented my saying good bye.
TO THE SAME.
Tocqueville, Aug. 10, 1841.
My dearest Friend,
Your letter from Marseilles has just reached me, and I put aside everything to answer it, lest you should pass through Ancona without hearing from me. I had rather write a few words which you will receive, than fire after you a long missile which probably would never reach you. I will first answer your friendly questions, and tell you that though I am not yet quite well, I think that I am in a fair way of becoming so. The soothing influence of my life here is beginning to tell upon mind and body. You know what it is, so I need not describe it to you. All that it wants is the additional charm of your presence, and that charm was very great. We long for your return, that the picture may be complete. I am almost alarmed at my growing attachment to this life; for I feel that I have other duties to fulfil; and I fear lest they should become irksome to me, and that I should be wanting in the zeal without which one can accomplish nothing. The farther my youth is removed from me, the more indulgence—I might almost say, respect—I feel for human passions. I love those that are good, and I am not quite sure that I hate the bad. They always show strength, and strength, wherever you meet with it, appears to advantage by the side of the weakness which surrounds us. I continually see cowards trembling if their hearts give one additional beat, and always talking of the dangers attendant upon passion. This seems to me nonsense. What one meets with least frequently in these days are true and lasting passions, influencing and directing the whole life. We can no longer will, or love, or hate. Doubt and philanthropy make us shrink from all action, whether for the purpose of effecting great good or great evil; and we are always languidly engaged in the pursuit of trifles, none of which really attract, repel us, or fix us.
Here I am, relapsing into the philosophical disease, but you will forgive me, for it is a proof of friendship. One talks to one’s friends as one talks to oneself. The thoughts in my mind overflow of themselves when I am writing to you, and fill my letter, which must, however, be short; therefore I will conclude. You are now on your way to the East—that wonderful country—to which we shall follow you in imagination; let us hear from you often and at length. I ask this of you as much in my wife’s name, as in my own; and if you have not time to write long letters, at least write one line:—“I am well.” Pray do all you can to keep well; and let it not be very long before you come to relate the result of your pilgrimage.
[*]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.