Front Page Titles (by Subject) EXTRACTS FROM MR. SENIOR'S JOURNAL. - Memoir, Letters, and Remains of Alexis de Tocqueville, vol. 2
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EXTRACTS FROM MR. SENIOR’S JOURNAL. - 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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EXTRACTS FROM MR. SENIOR’S JOURNAL.
Paris, Friday, March 2, 1855.
Tocqueville visited us this morning. The conversation turned on English politics.
“So many of my friendships,” said Tocqueville, “and so many of my sympathies are English, that what is passing in your country, and respecting your country, gives me great pain, and greater anxiety. To us, whom, unhappily, experience has rendered sensitive of approaching storms, your last six months have a frightfully revolutionary appearance.
There is with you, as there was with us in 1847, a general malaise* in the midst of general prosperity. Your people seem, as was the case with ours, to have become tired of their public men, and to be losing faith in their institutions.
“What else do these complaints of what is called ‘the system’ mean?
“When you complain that the government patronage is bartered for political support; that the dunces of a family are selected for the public service, and selected expressly because they could not get on in an open profession; that, as their places are a sort of property, they are promoted only by seniority, and never dismissed for any except for some moral delinquency; that, therefore the seniors in all your departments are old men, whose original dulness has been cherished by a life without the stimulus of hope or fear—you describe a vessel, which seems to have become too crazy to endure anything but the calmest sea and the most favourable winds.
“You have tried its sea-worthiness in one department—your military organization—and you find that it literally falls to pieces. You are incapable of managing a line of operations, extending only seven miles from its base. The next storm may attack your colonial administration. Will that stand any better? Altogether your machinery seems throughout, out of gear. If you set to work actively and fearlessly, without reference to private interests, or to private expectations, or to private feelings, to repair, remove, and replace, you may escape our misfortunes, but I see no proofs that you are sufficiently alarmed.
“Then as to what is passing here. A year ago we probably over-rated your military power. I believe that now, we most mischievously under-rate it. A year ago, nothing alarmed us more than a whisper of the chance of a war with England. We talk of one now with great composure. We believe that it would not be difficult to throw 100,000 men upon your shores, and we believe that half that number would walk over England or Ireland. You are mistaken if you think that these opinions will die away of themselves, or will be eradicated by anything but some decisive military success. I do not agree with those who think it is your interest that Russia should submit, while Sebastopol stands. You might save money and men by a speedy peace, but you would not regain your reputation.
“If you are caught by a peace before you have had an opportunity of doing so, I advise you to let it be, on your part, an armed peace. Prepare yourselves for a new struggle, with a new enemy, and let your preparations be not only as effective as you can make them, but also as notorious.”
Monday, May 28, 1855.
Tocqueville called on me.
I asked him for criticisms on my article on the State of the Continent, in the North British, of February, 1855.
“Of course,” I said, “it must be full of blunders—no one who writes on the politics of a foreign country can avoid them. I want your help to correct a few of them.”
“Since you ask me,” he answered, “for a candid criticism, I will give you one. You couple as events mutually dependent the continuance of the Imperial Government, and the continuance of the Anglo-Gallic Alliance. I believe this opinion not only to be untrue, but to be the reverse of the truth. I believe the Empire and the Alliance to be not merely not mutually dependent, but to be incompatible, except upon terms which you are resolved never to grant. The Empire is essentially warlike, and war in the mind of a Bonaparte, and of the friends of a Bonaparte, means the Rhine. This war is merely a stepping-stone. It is carried on for purposes in which the mass of the people of France take no interest. Up to the present time its burthens have been little felt, as it has been supported by loans, and the limits of the legal conscription have not been exceeded. But when the necessity comes for increased taxation and anticipated conscriptions, Louis Napoleon must have recourse to the real passions of the French Bourgeoisie and peasantry, the love of conquest, et la haine de l’Anglais.
“Don’t fancy that such feelings are dead; they are scarcely asleep; they might be roused as soon as he thinks that they are wanted.
“What do you suppose was the effect in France of Louis Napoleon’s triumph in England?
“Those who know England attributed it to the ignorance and childishness of the multitude. Those who thought that the shouts of the mob had any real meaning, either hung down their heads in shame at the self-degradation of a great nation, or attributed them to fear,—the latter was the general feeling. ‘Il faut,’ said all our lower classes, ‘que ces gens là aient grand peur de nous.’*
“You accuse, in the second place, all the Royalist parties of dislike of England. Do you suppose that you are more popular with the others? that the Republicans love your aristocracy or the Imperialists your freedom? The real friends of England are the friends of her institutions. They are the body, small perhaps numerically, and now beaten down, of those who adore constitutional liberty: they have maintained the mutual good feeling between France and England against the passions of the Republicans, and the prejudices of the Legitimists. I trust, as you trust, that this good feeling is to continue, but it is on precisely opposite grounds. My hopes are founded, not on the permanence, but on the want of permanence of the Empire. I do not believe that a great nation will be long led by its tail instead of by its head.
“My only fear is, that the overthrow of this tyranny may not take place early enough to save us from the war with England, which I believe to be the inevitable consequence of its duration.”
[*]“These people must be very much afraid of us.”