Front Page Titles (by Subject) 1843: TO M. GUSTAVE DE BEAUMONT. - Memoir, Letters, and Remains of Alexis de Tocqueville, vol. 2
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1843: TO M. GUSTAVE DE BEAUMONT. - 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 M. GUSTAVE DE BEAUMONT.
Tocqueville, October 9, 1843.
Our wives are better than we are, my dear friend, for they write to each other and we do not. I know that we have nothing in particular to say to each other; but still it is a good thing not entirely to break the thread of our daily impressions. This is my bulletin: since my return from the conseil général, I may say that I have not stirred from home. I have turned this seclusion to account by writing some articles on slavery. I think that they will not be without interest to the few who are occupied by this great question. I believe that it would be difficult to explain more clearly and in fewer words what has happened in the British colonies, and what may happen in our own. But with all my pains, these articles read like chapters. I do not think that I have the faults, but then I have none of the merits, of a writer for the public press. If Chambolle* inserts them, I do not recommend you to read them, except for the sake of the information which they will afford you. This occupation obliged me to read over again the Duke de Broglie’s report. It is a masterpiece. The whole work breathes a sincere love for the human race; that noble passion which the mummeries of the philanthropist have made almost ridiculous. Now I am going to study the British empire in India. I find it an interesting and even an amusing subject.
TO LORD RADNOR.
Tocqueville, November 5, 1843.
A thousand thanks to you, my Lord, for sending me the first numbers of the Economist. I have looked at them, and I think, with you, that they are calculated to diffuse useful opinions. The study of this new science is, unfortunately, less general in France than it ought to be. Yet it already numbers many enthusiastic votaries; several of our newspapers and of our public men profess its principles. But its adversaries here, as well as in England probably, are all who are interested in opposing free trade; and they muster all the stronger with us because our chief manufactures did not attain to even their present development till under the exaggerated system of protection, established by the empire and continued by the restoration. They still think themselves inferior to yours, and they fancy that the destruction of the tariff would be their death-blow.
I am convinced that there is no foundation for most of these fears; still I believe that the changes which science is right in demanding ought to be effected by slow degrees and with great precautions. The truth of the principles is incontestable. They show clearly the aim which we should have in view; but this aim cannot at once be attained when one starts from a state of things created by an opposite system. You have been too long engaged in public life, my Lord, not to be aware that the legislator has no more difficult or tedious task than to cure the evils that he himself has occasioned. But to know the cause is a long way towards curing the evil. This is what political economy teaches us. In this respect, such newspapers as the one which you have sent to me are very useful. When I return to Paris I intend to recommend the librarian of the Chamber to subscribe to the Economist, that it may come under the notice of the deputies.
We were extremely glad, my Lord, to hear of the happy event which has made you a grandfather. Pray tell your son how much pleasure it has given us, and remind him of his promise to visit us here, with Mrs. Bouverie. We are anxious that he should fulfil his promise. Our gratification would be increased if you, my Lord, would accompany your son and daughter. I venture to say that you will be received nowhere with more respect or affection.
TO M. DE CORCELLE.
Tocqueville, November 15, 1843.
My dear Friend,
The religious question absorbs me as much as it does you, and more than that, it fills me with deep regret. One of my dreams, my chief dream when I entered public life, was to endeavour to reconcile the liberal party to the religious party; modern society to the Church. This reconciliation, essential both to liberty and to public morality, is now difficult; their relative positions, which, immediately after the Revolution of July, were uncertain, are now fixed; and it would take years to bring us back to where we were three years ago. We may think ourselves happy if we ever get back again! I repeat, that I am filled with regret, and also with irritation, against the authors of all this evil. I am angry with the vanity and passions of some of the opponents of the clergy, but I own that I am also indignant against the other party.
When I think of the state of public opinion and of the press, scarcely three years ago, in religious matters, and of what it now is, I cannot avoid seeing that the clergy must have been guilty of enormous errors. Violent personal abuse and exaggerated accusations have injured an excellent cause. Instead of supporting for others, and claiming for themselves, the right of teaching, they have exhibited a desire to influence, if not to direct, all popular education.
Still I acknowledge and approve some of your remarks. I believe with you that the faults of the clergy are far less dangerous to liberty than their subjection. I also think that the animosity of the clergy towards the Government is exceptional and temporary; that the ordinary and permanent condition to be feared is that of an unequal partition of power between the two; a sort of arrangement in which the Government and the Church would combine against liberty.
I certainly shall act and speak from this conviction; and the wrath of the public press will not prevent my saying what I think of an official papacy. I have also made up my mind to be firm on the question of freedom of teaching; but I hope that the Government will have the prudence not to bring forward the law till this storm is over, for just now the decision would be against us.
After enjoying the health of a plough-boy all through the summer, for the last month I have been quite out of sorts. I hope that this state will not last. The opening of a session, like the beginning of a battle, is not a convenient time to be sick. I worked too hard last summer; while you were in the deserts of Africa, I was travelling all over India. I flatter myself that I mastered the subject, and that I am now capable of judging of all that is going on, not only there, but throughout Asia. Still, to benefit by all this knowledge, one must live!
[*]These remarkable articles appeared in the “Siècle.” I do not believe that Tocqueville on any other occasion wrote in a newspaper.