Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO M. DUFAURE. - Memoir, Letters, and Remains of Alexis de Tocqueville, vol. 2
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TO M. DUFAURE. - 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. DUFAURE.
Sorrento, December 22, 1850.
Although I hear of you, my dear friend, in almost all the letters that I receive, I wish to have some direct news from you. In this seclusion I delight in thinking of my friends; and the best way of doing so is to communicate with them.
I wish only that I had a subject worthy of you. But I have none. For what can I say of France, which I see through a mist? And as for this country, I have too near and too correct a view of it to like to speak of it. It is sad enough to live here, I assure you, for a man in search of anything but health; and even for those who, like me, are determined to seek nothing else, the enjoyment of good health is often spoiled by the sight of so much moral sickness. Like all my contemporaries, I have acquired, not only the taste for liberty, but the habit of it—a habit which, with many people, survives even the taste. I cannot reconcile myself to living, even as a foreigner, in a country in which every conceivable liberty is either restrained or destroyed. You, who have always lived in the midst of the animation, the independence, and the noise of our society, cannot understand the moral and intellectual torture experienced in a country where every action is hampered and impeded; where not only men are silent, but where even their thoughts are paralyzed. My mind seems to suffer, as my body did ten months ago, when my lungs played ill, and I could never take a full respiration.
Again, Italy is not China. It joins on to France; and though it does not greatly influence us, we act on it with enormous power. I cannot contemplate the miserable condition into which it has fallen, without reflecting sadly on the fatal influence which we often exercise upon all around us. When a revolution breaks out in France, all Europe falls into anarchy; and when order is re-established in France, every other country restores the old abuses. We must confess that neighbouring nations love us no better than their sovereigns do. The Revolution of 1848 has done irreparable injury to Italy. It precipitated her into a political movement which had no chance of success, unless the process were slow; and it tore the country out of the hands of the liberals to place it in those of the revolutionists. One is shocked to see how many germs of liberty have been miserably wasted, trodden under foot, and destroyed in this unhappy country, during the last three years, by those who had always liberty on their lips. I do not think that human folly and perversity ever showed themselves so openly.
I turn my eyes from such spectacles as much as I can, and try to create for myself a world of my own, consisting only of these lovely shores and of these fine skies. We have found a delightful residence in this out-of-the-way part of the world; a house which is comfortably furnished, warm, open to the sun, and sheltered from cold winds; a Belvedere in a forest of orange-trees, with the Bay of Naples under our windows. I have brought some books, and in their society I try to forget all that is going on beyond my own horizon. I do not always succeed, and sometimes political rumours startle me. I dread them; and yet, when I have heard none for a long time, I grow anxious. The position of France is too critical, and the future too doubtful, to admit of my enjoying real tranquillity without knowing what is going on. I am, therefore, very grateful whenever my friends are so kind as to keep me informed as to the state of our affairs, at least, in so far as they are able; for politics with us form a labyrinth of paths, so intercepted and so devious, that even those best acquainted with them do not know in what direction the country, or even they themselves, may be walking. From all that I hear, it seems to me to be pretty clear that nothing decisive will occur before the spring. Security on this point is a great relief and comfort to me. I hope that before any considerable event takes place, I shall be at home, and ready to share with my friends the chances of fortune.