Front Page Titles (by Subject) 1848: TO MADEMOISELLE DENISE DE TOCQUEVILLE. - Memoir, Letters, and Remains of Alexis de Tocqueville, vol. 2
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1848: TO MADEMOISELLE DENISE 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 MADEMOISELLE DENISE DE TOCQUEVILLE.
January 6, 1848.
I was much pleased, dear Denise, with your little letter, and with that of your brother’s. I do not answer his, as I know that he has left Baugy. But I should like to have a little chat with you. I have only a few minutes to spare, and I like to employ them in this way. You say that you are fond of me. Your affection cannot yet be very strong, for you know scarcely anything of me; but I hope that it will be so in time, when you see how sincerely I desire your happiness, how anxious I shall be to contribute to it, and to love you rather as if you were my daughter than my niece. This, dear Denise, is the advantage of having elderly uncles with no children of their own. They begin to grow tired of the world, and having no little ones at home on whom to bestow their paternal affection, they are the more ready to yield to the illusion of being loved by their nephews and nieces; and in return for this affection, which as yet can be little more than imaginary, to love them really and sincerely.
This is my case. I grew very fond of you and of your sister during my short stay at Baugy, and it depends only upon you to make me love you better and better the more I know of you. Both of you seemed to me to be kind and obliging to everybody, and particularly to your aunt and to me; so my good wishes for the year 1848 will be only that you may continue to pursue the good path that you have chosen. Go on thinking more of others than of yourselves; try to be, rather than to appear, full of goodness and kindness; especially, and above all, continue to be frank, simple, true, and natural (take notice of each of these points); be so because you think it right, and when you have acquired the experience which you do not yet possess, you will find that at the same time it was very wise, and you will be delighted to see that you have become almost unconsciously superior to most of the women one generally meets in society. Not only will you be more respected, but you will be more liked, more sought after—for this reason, dear Denise, that real charm does not depend on your manners, but on the qualities of your mind, and still more, of your heart. These are my wishes for you and for your sister, not only in the year 1848, but in every succeeding year; you can have none better, and I will conclude, after embracing you both most affectionately.
TO N. W. SENIOR, ESQ.
Paris, April 10, 1848.
My dear Mr. Senior,
I was away when your letter came. I found it on my return only three days ago. I immediately went to Mr. Austin’s, to know what had prevented your visit to Paris. I was grieved to hear that your health had forced you to change your plans. I am doubly sorry not to see you, on account of the cause. I had been the more anxious for your arrival as I expected to have derived from your conversation some ideas which would have been of special value at this juncture in our affairs.
It has not escaped your notice that our greatest evils are not the result of fierce political excitement, but of the frightful ignorance of the masses as to the real conditions of production and of social prosperity. Our sufferings are caused less by false ideas on politics properly so called, than by false notions on political economy.
I do not think that a poor-law such as you suggest, would, at least at present, remedy the evil. The Revolution was not brought about by the privations of the working classes. In some districts they certainly suffered from want, but in general, I may say that in no other country or period had the working classes been better off than they then were in France. This was especially true of those that were employed in agriculture. There the labourer did not need work, but work needed labourers. In consequence of the subdivision of landed property, there was a deficiency of hands. The crisis from which the workmen in large manufactories were suffering, lasted a very short time, and though severe, was not unexampled. It was not want, but ideas, that brought about that great revolution; chimerical ideas on the relations between labour and capital, extravagant theories as to the degree in which the Government might interfere between the working-man and the employer, doctrines of ultra-centralization which had at last persuaded large numbers that it depended on the state not only to save them from want, but to place them in easy, comfortable circumstances. You must feel that to these diseased imaginations a poor-law would not be an efficient remedy. I am far, however, from saying that recourse must not be had to it. I even think that the people ought long ago to have obtained one; but this law would not be enough to extricate us from our present difficulties, for, I repeat, we have to contend with ideas rather than with wants.
Three weeks before the revolution, I made a speech which was taken down at the time in short-hand, and reproduced in the Moniteur. I have just had it printed exactly as it stands in the Moniteur. I send you a copy; pray read it; you will see, that though I knew not how or when a revolution would take place, the proximity of such an event was clearly manifest to me. I have often been reminded of this speech, which aroused at the time violent murmurs in the Chamber, from those who are now willing to own that they were wrong, and that I was right. I believe that when I made it, I was on the road to discovering the primary and deeply-seated causes of that revolution. It broke out from accidents strange and violent in themselves, I confess, but still insufficient to produce such an effect. Consider, on the one hand, the causes which I have pointed out, and on the other, our system of centralization, which makes the fate of France depend on a single blow struck in Paris, and you will have the explanation of the Revolution of 1848, such as one day it will appear in history, and as I myself intend to write it if God preserves my life. Will you be so good as to present a copy of my speech to Lord Lansdowne, and remember me particularly to him. I have alluded only to the past in this letter; to treat of the future, more than a letter would be required.
We are in the most extraordinary position that a great nation has ever been thrown into. We are forced to witness great misfortunes; we are surrounded by great dangers. My chief hope is in the lower orders. They are deficient in intelligence, but they have instincts which are worthy of all admiration; I am myself astonished, and a foreigner would be even more surprised, to see how strong a feeling for order and true patriotism prevails; to see their good sense in all things of which they are capable of judging, and in all matters on which they have not been deceived by the ambitious dreamers to whom they were abandoned. Adieu, dear Senior, &c.
TO THE COMTESSE LOUIS DE KERGORLAY.
Paris, May, 1848.
Almost simultaneously with the letters in which you, my dear cousin, told me how happy you were at receiving such good news of Louis, came one from Louis himself, telling me a little about Germany, and a great deal about you. He told me how long the days seemed away from you, how necessary you had become to his existence; his letter, in fact, was full of the deep and increasing happiness that he finds in his union with you. I cannot express to you, dear cousin, the joy with which I read, one after the other, these proofs of similar sentiments. I was glad that you were able to give them, glad, also, to receive them from each of you. I deserve the attachment you profess for me, by that which I have for you both.
If the newspapers you read, dear cousin, tell you that we are going on from bad to worse, that the confidence of the people in their rulers is nearly gone, that our financial difficulties are increasing, that want and misery become more prevalent, and that every day everything falls into a state of greater confusion, they must give you a correct notion of our condition. Such is, indeed, the present aspect of affairs, and if some great man does not fall from the clouds within the next few months to extricate us, I greatly fear that we shall not escape without going through the bitter experience of anarchy, civil war, and their ruinous consequences. Now, as I see no signs of this great man, and, in fact, have no faith in the sudden apparition of heroes, while I see round me swarms of mischievous pigmies, I am very uneasy and much alarmed. If so many of my friends and relations were not exposed to the storm, the eager interest awakened in me by the singular, at times imposing, scene before me, might, perhaps, almost reconcile me to it. I was so wearied by the monotony of the previous period, that I have no right to complain of the stormy variety of this. But to reason in this way, one must consider the events of this world as the passing scenes in a play, and to me they are far more. . . . Do not be too long without letting us hear from you. Give a kiss from me to Louis, if he has had the good taste to return to you, and believe in my most affectionate wishes.
TO LORD RADNOR.
Paris, May 26, 1848.
I cannot allow our friend, Mr. Senior, to leave us without giving him a letter for you. I was much pleased and gratified by the one which reached me from you. You are aware of my sincere affection and respect, and you will therefore understand me when I say that no sign of your remembrance or regard is ever received by me with indifference.
Mr. Senior will tell you more as to the present state of France than I can while I am harassed by the exigencies and business of public life. Our condition is indeed very serious; still the good sense and feeling of the masses leave some room to hope. Till now, their conduct has been above all praise; and if they had only leaders capable of turning these good dispositions to account, and of directing them, we soon should get rid of all these dangerous and impracticable theories, and place the Republic on the only durable foundation, that of liberty and right. Our greatest misfortune is the absence of leaders. The old parliamentary men who flourished under the monarchy cannot now take part in the government: they would excite suspicion; and without them we do not know to whom to trust the conduct of public affairs.
England seems to be the only country free from convulsions; still, if I might venture to express an opinion on a foreign country, it would be that your higher classes must not go to sleep in absolute security. We are in the midst of a general revolution of all civilized nations; in the long run not one will escape. There is but one way of retarding or mitigating this revolution; it is to do all that can be done to improve the condition of the people before changes are enforced by necessity.
Madame de Tocqueville thanks you, my Lord, for your kind recollection of her. She joins with me in remembrance to Lady Jane Ellice. Give my regards to Mr. Bouverie, and believe, &c. &c.
TO M. GUSTAVE DE BEAUMONT (IN LONDON).
Paris, August, 1848.
My dear Friend,
I comply with your request of giving you all the information that I think will be of use to you. The Government tells you the facts. My task is to let you know as much as I can of the condition of the public mind, which one can estimate correctly only when one is not in office. . . .
It seems to me to be of special importance to make known to you the disposition of a large majority in the Assembly with regard to Italian affairs. . . .
If the resistance of Venice should not immediately produce a war, it will, I think, render negotiations much more easy, for Austria will be able to answer, “All is over.” I do not know what are the bases of your negotiations, nor even if they are as yet settled. I only remember to have read somewhere in Napoleon’s writings, perhaps with regard to the treaty of Campo Formio, this remark: that, in the hands of Austria, the line of the Adige is a defence for Germany, but that the line of the Mincio is a threat to Italy; the one closes Austria, and the other opens the Peninsula. I will finish the subject of foreign politics with this Napoleonic maxim . . .
TO THE SAME.
Paris, November, 1848.
Your first letter had determined me to accept the mission which was offered to me.* Still, I did not like to do so till I had spoken to General Cavaignac. I saw him on the day before yesterday. . . .
In the first place, will there be a mediation or a conference? If the Austrian empire falls to pieces, how and where can we negotiate? If, as is more probable, Vienna is retaken, and a monarchical reaction occurs, would the crown in the midst of its triumph be inclined to negotiate? If war broke out again in Italy, could there be negotiations? I might make many more hypotheses; first and foremost, the possibility of our seeing, even before the negotiations are opened, another man take the place of General Cavaignac at the head of our affairs. . . .
We have just heard that a bloody and formidable revolution has broken out in Berlin. Germany, then, is topsyturvy from one end to the other. How will that affect us? I fear in no good way. After a crisis of such violence, I fear a passing but dangerous reaction. . . .
I accept your invitation to London with great pleasure. The affair will benefit by the negotiators meeting. . . . But the more I think of it, the more I doubt whether the Congress at Brussels will ever take place. . . .
[*]To represent France in the proposed conference at Brussels on Italian affairs; England and France having offered their mediation, and Austria having accepted it.