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TO THE SAME. - 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 THE SAME.
Compiègne, Nov. 15, 1854.
I have excellent accounts to give you of our establishment. We have found exactly what we wanted, which is rare enough. A little house to ourselves, dry, warm, exposed to the sun (when there is any, and that is not to-day), on the skirts of the beautiful forest of Compiègne, and near all the resources of a town where, that our felicity may be perfect, we know not a soul.
I was present at the reception of Monseigneur Dupanloup* in the Academy, and immediately after the meeting I returned hither. I was especially struck by the beginning and the end of his speech. His notice of his predecessor was admirable. In this lies the great trial of skill, and it demands qualities both of heart and head. Altogether it was a capital meeting; capital for the Prelate, who gave great satisfaction and was loudly applauded even by the Institute; capital as establishing harmony between literature and the Church; neither of which can stand without the support of the other.
I sometimes reproach myself with speaking to you so freely and so strongly of the things which seem to me objectionable in the conduct of some of our clergy. But you will forgive me, my dear friend, when you remember that I can open my heart on these things only to you. You are my safety valve. I do not choose to gratify the enemies of our religion by talking to them, and I know no Catholic who combines to the extent that you do the soul of a true Frenchman with the spirit of a free man. You must therefore resign yourself to my murmurs. Perhaps I shall make up my mind to many things around us when I have not such a near view of them.
I was so unlucky as to subscribe a few months ago to a religious journal because I heard that it was a mere echo of all the other papers. This was convenient to a man who likes to hear as little politics as possible, and to be able to devour samples of all the newspapers in a quarter of an hour. But I soon saw that my expectations were false. The extracts, though various, have all the same flavour.
The other day an article in praise of liberty appeared in this paper, but the editor took care to add in a note; “We are assuredly far from regretting Parliamentary institutions. We are well aware that they are too apt to increase the vanity natural to men.” The editor does not see that other institutions may increase our natural meanness.
To restore the balance of my mind I go on reading from time to time Bourdaloue; but I am afraid that it will not be set down among my good works, as I am too much occupied by the writer’s talent and too much delighted with his style. What a master in the art of writing! I cannot too much admire the skill with which he leads his hearers, without letting them know what he is about, through familiar images to the object which he himself has in view, and the perfection with which he makes these material images correspond exactly with the invisible truths which he wishes to impress. I noticed the other day, in the sermon on almsgiving, I think, one of these indirect comparisons. It is of God to the feudal Lord; I was much struck by it, because I am as learned in feudality as a feodist. On this subject, so far removed from his ordinary studies, Bourdaloue employs the right terms with such unaffected precision, and they suit his meaning so well, that not one man in those times can have failed to understand him.
TO N. W. SENIOR, ESQ.
Compiègne, January 22, 1855.
I hear, as you do, with great satisfaction of the mutual good feeling of our armies in the Crimea. It far exceeds my expectations.
But I am not equally pleased with your management of the war. The English ought to know that what has passed and is passing there has sensibly diminished their moral force in Europe. It is an unpleasant truth, but I ought not to conceal it from you. I see proofs of it every day, and I have been struck by it peculiarly in a late visit to Paris, where I saw persons of every rank and of every shade of political opinion.
The heroic courage of your soldiers was everywhere and unreservedly praised, but I found also a general belief that the importance of England as a military power had been greatly exaggerated, that she is utterly devoid of military talent, which is shown as much in administration as in fighting, and that even in the most pressing circumstances she cannot raise a large army.
Since I was a child I never heard such language. You are believed to be absolutely dependent on us, and in the midst of our intimacy I see rising a friendly contempt for you which, if our Governments quarrel, will make a war with you much easier than has been since the fall of Napoleon.
I grieve at all this, not only as endangering the English alliance, which, as you well know, I cherish, but as injuring the cause of liberty.
I can pardon you for discrediting it by your adulation of our despotism, but I wish that you would not serve despotism more efficaciously by your own faults, and by the comparisons which they suggest.
It seems also difficult to say what may not be the results of your long intimacy with such a Government as ours, and of the contact of the two armies. I doubt whether they will be useful to your aristocracy.
Remember me to Lord Lansdowne and to the Lewises who added such pleasure to our German tour.
[*]Bishop of Orleans.—Tr.