Front Page Titles (by Subject) 1846: TO CHARLES BULLER, ESQ. * - Memoir, Letters, and Remains of Alexis de Tocqueville, vol. 2
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
Also in the Library:
1846: TO CHARLES BULLER, 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.
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
TO CHARLES BULLER, ESQ.*
Paris, June 21, 1846.
It is an age, my dear Buller, since I have been anxious to write to you, but I have never had a spare minute. But we must not allow ourselves to become strangers. My friendship for you is already so strong, that I am sure that it will grow with intimacy. I am grieved that you could not be with us in the country last summer, for it is only in the country that perfect intimacy can be formed. So I trust that you will do next year what you planned last year.
I will not talk to you at any length about our politics. You know all that I could tell. Good fortune, the faults of the Opposition, the weariness of the whole nation, and the commercial spirit which has stifled all public spirit, have given to our Cabinet an overwhelming power, which, distant as you are, you must have perceived.
The King is stronger, not merely than he ever was before, but than any one has been, since the empire. Every thing shows that this Government has obtained an ascendency resembling, but with more reality and more completeness, that gained by the Restoration after the Spanish war in 1824. Every obstacle falls before it, and for a time it will be restrained by nothing but its own will. According to all appearances, the next elections will give us, what is not easy, a Chamber still more submissive than this is.
As for the Peers, you know that, as against the throne, they are nothing. A new phase is beginning.
Will the dynasty use this new omnipotence for the purpose of establishing and consolidating its power? Or, like the Restoration, and like many other dynasties, will it waste it in faults which will produce a reaction?
The future will tell us.
At this instant, we are thinking as much about your politics as about our own. Your affairs, as seen from hence, have a grandeur which ours are far from possessing. I know nothing more exciting or more interesting that the spectacle now offered to the world by England. What is new and what is old is equally striking. Never was a constitutional nation in so strange a situation, or in one from which, to a foreigner, at least, the issue was so incapable of being foreseen.
I own that I cannot imagine how Mr. Peel can retain office, or how the Tories can govern without him; or how the Whigs can find a substitute for him, or how they can really and cordially join him. If you can see into this darkness, pray give me a little of your light.
I have long thought that a fusion of the Whigs with some of the old Tories was preparing itself, and that the solution of the perplexities of the last year might be found in the creation of a new party. But events seem to have been so hurried on as to render this solution, for the present at least, very difficult. There are personal difficulties, apparently insurmountable; and there are practical ones, above all with respect to Ireland, equally formidable.
I end, therefore, as I began, by saying, that I look on your course with extreme interest, but cannot guess in what direction it is leading you.
Kindest regards from us both.
TO M. DE CORCELLE.
Marseilles, October 11, 1846.
I have already told you, my dear friend, that I do not intend to explore Algeria. I wish only to spend a month or two in a scene of so much interest. I do not want to go to Africa in order to be ill; and I am determined always to make my curiosity yield to my health. I have resolved, therefore, to remain fixed during the whole time at Algiers. I know that this will prevent my visit from being completely satisfactory; but it will be more curious and interesting than the journey to Italy, which was my first intention.
Being thus hemmed in by prudent resolutions, I scarcely know what field of observation will be open to me. With you, I think that the most important point, politically speaking, is our relation to Morocco, and to all that frontier. I should much like to see Oran, and even Djemma-Gazouat; but I fear that I shall not be able. You know that Marshal Bugeaud is anxious for war, or at least for an expedition which will certainly lead to war.
The African question, complicated and important as it is, may be summed up in these words:—How shall we succeed in raising a French population, with our laws, our manners, and our civilisation, and at the same time treat the natives with the consideration to which we are bound by honour, by justice, by humanity, and by our real interests? The question has these two sides. They can neither of them be considered separately. I have never done so; and if in the Chamber I have spoken of one more than of the other, it is because everything cannot be said at once, nor so wide a subject brought under one head.
I assure you that I go to Algiers perfectly unprejudiced as to the men whom I shall meet, and the things which I shall see. Experience has taught me that one never knows thoroughly what one has not studied for oneself. I leave behind me in France all the opinions which I have collected from hearsay, determined to judge every detail as if I had heard of it for the first time. I am equally resolved not to throw myself blindly into any of the parties headed by the different generals.
I saw M. Dufaure as I passed through Paris, and liked him better than ever. I never found him more determined, nor governed by more noble and disinterested motives. It seems to me that we have never had so much reason to hope that we may be of real use to our country. You paint in the most attractive colours, the happiness of being out of the political arena. How one is never indignant; never carried away; but able to judge everything, surrounded by an atmosphere of eternal peace and justice. When I hear you say such things, I own that I long to beat you. Good heavens, my dear friend, such sentiments have nothing to do with politics. Our aim is honest and noble; and how shall we attain it without the earnest endeavours of ourselves and our friends? All our friends, indeed, are not perfect; they are often very different from what one would like them to be; they seldom do all that one wishes, and they often persuade one into committing blunders that one regrets. But still this is better, I do not say for oneself, but for the good that one may be able to effect, than to live alone. As for me, I am determined to oppose with all my energies the adversaries of my opinions; and I am equally resolved to preserve the weakness of loving, whether you approve or not, all my friends, and you above all, in spite of your philosophy.
Adieu. I will write to you from Africa as soon as I receive any clear impressions.
[*]This letter, which is not included in M. de Beaumont’s selection, I have received permission to publish from Madame de Tocqueville.—Tr.