Front Page Titles (by Subject) EXTRACT FROM THE JOURNAL KEPT BY MR. SENIOR IN THE SPRING OF 1850. - Memoir, Letters, and Remains of Alexis de Tocqueville, vol. 2
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EXTRACT FROM THE JOURNAL KEPT BY MR. SENIOR IN THE SPRING OF 1850. - 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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EXTRACT FROM THE JOURNAL KEPT BY MR. SENIOR IN THE SPRING OF 1850.
Paris, May 19.
I drank tea with the Tocquevilles; I mentioned the depression of A. B.
“A. B.,” said Tocqueville, “is one of the political theorists who tried to persuade others, and who succeeded in persuading themselves, that the reign of Louis Philippe was the natural termination of the French Revolution, and the beginning of a new era. In every different phase of our Revolution, clever men have fallen into this error. We are political metaphysicians; we draw from a few similar facts what we call general rules, and use those rules to explain whatever has been, and to foretel all that will be.
“My father is seventy-six; he was about sixteen at the time that the Revolution began. He recollects, therefore, the opinions that have prevailed during its progress.
“When fifteen years of disorder ended in a military despotism, everybody believed that it had run its course. It seemed to be the natural progress of events that revolution should produce war, and that war should make the army, and that the army should make its general, omnipotent.
“When the Consulate and the Empire were followed by the Restoration, it seemed also in the order of things that the military ruler should be ruined by the ambition to which he owed his empire; that he should go on playing double or quits, till he had exhausted his good fortune; that his domestic enemies should join with his foreign ones; that the ancient dynasty should be restored, and that constitutional royalty should become the permanent form of French government.
“When Charles X. tossed his crown into the hands of his cousin in 1830, this, too, seemed a natural conclusion of the drama. The parallel between France and England was now complete. ‘In a restoration,’ it was said, ‘the first king that is restored is so delighted with his return to power, that he is willing to accept it on any terms, and those terms he is likely to keep tolerably. He is resolved not to have to travel again. The successor of the restored sovereign takes the crown, not as a good fortune, but as a right. He finds the limits within which he is confined irksome, and easily believes them to be mischievous. His flatterers tell him that they are void; that his rights are unalienable, perhaps divine; and that it is his duty to save his country, without looking nicely to the technical legality of the means which must be employed.’
“He attempts to act on these principles, and is resisted and deposed.
“But a great and ancient nation that has once tried the experiment of democracy, will not repeat it. It will select for its new sovereign the next in succession who is willing and fit to accept the responsibility, and to submit to the restrictions, of a constitutional monarchy. In that dynasty the conflicting principles of legitimacy and selection, of divine right, and of popular right, are united. It may expect indefinite duration. Such a dynasty is in the second century of its reign in England, and in the first century of its reign in France.
“The Revolution of 1848 came, and all these illusions were dissipated in an hour; the great monarchical fortress which was built for ages turned out to be mere stage decoration.
“The Republic reappeared with its single Assembly, its universal suffrage, its clubs, its forced paper currency. The line along which they have been travelling since 1830 turns out to have been only a segment of a circle. They believe that 1848 has brought them back to the point at which they started in 1789; they fancy themselves now in 1791, armed, without doubt, with far more power and with far more experience than were possessed by the Legislative Assembly, but also attacked by more and much more practised enemies.
“In the presence of such dangers they despair, and add to our real sufferings a thousand others still more terrible, the creations of their disturbed imaginations. As for me, having long known that the ground under us is too unstable to support permanently any government whatever, I am, indeed, grieved and out of spirits, but I am not terrified. I do not think that all is over, nor do I think that all is lost. I look on my country as a patient whose disease cannot, at least at present, be cured, but can be palliated; who can be restored to considerable enjoyment, and whose illness itself can be made the origin of great benefits to the human race and to himself.”