Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO N. W. SENIOR, ESQ. - Memoir, Letters, and Remains of Alexis de Tocqueville, vol. 2
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TO N. W. SENIOR, ESQ. - 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 N. W. SENIOR, ESQ.
Tocqueville, July 25, 1855.
I wrote to you yesterday, my dear Senior, a long letter according to my promise.
But when I read it over I felt that it was absurd to send such a letter by the post, especially to a foreigner, and I burnt it.
Since the assault of the 18th,* the interference of the police in private correspondence has become more active. Many of my friends as well as I myself have perceived it. More letters have been kept back, and more have been stopped. Two of mine have been lost. You may remember that two letters from me failed to reach you, three years ago. The danger is greater in the country, where handwritings are known, than in Paris. You advise me to put my letters into a cover directed to your Embassy, which will forward them. But this is no security. If a letter be suspected it is easy to open and reseal it, and still easier simply to suppress it.
And in fact, you have lost little; I wrote to you only what I have a hundred times said to you. We have lived so much together, and with such perfect mutual confidence, that it is difficult for either of us to say anything new to the other.
Besides, on reading over again, with attention, your note of our last conversation,† I have nothing to alter, all that I could do would be to develop a little more my opinions, and to support them by additional arguments. I feel more and more their truth, and that the progress of events will confirm them much more than any reasonings of mine can do.
We are annoyed and disturbed, having the house full of workmen. I am trying to warm it by hot air, and forced to bore through very old and very thick walls, but we shall be repaid by being able to live here during the winter.
I am amusing myself with the letters which our young soldiers in the East, peasants from this parish, write home to their families, and which are brought to me. This correspondence should be read in order to understand the singular character of the French peasant. It is strange to see the ease with which these men become accustomed to the risks of military life, to danger and to death, and yet how their hearts cling to their fields and to the occupations of country life. The horrors of war are described with simplicity, and almost with enjoyment. But in the midst of these accounts one finds such phrases as these: “What crop do you intend to sow in such a field next year? How is the mare? Has the cow a fine calf?” &c. No minds can be more versatile, and at the same time more constant. I have always thought that, after all, the peasantry were superior to all other classes in France. But these men are deplorably in want of knowledge and education, or rather the education to which they have been subjected for centuries past, has taught them to make a bad use, or has prevented their making a good use, of their natural good qualities.
It seems to me that Lord John’s resignation will enable your cabinet to stand, at least for some time. All that has passed in England since the beginning of the war, grieves me deeply. Seen from a distance, your constitution appears to me to be an admirable machine which is getting out of order, partly from the wearing out of its works, partly from the unskilfulness of its workers. Such a spectacle is useful to our Government.
I asked you some questions, which you have not answered. Is Mrs. Grote returned from Germany? Is she well? Has she received my letter addressed to her at Heidelberg? the last question is always doubtful when one writes from France.
I send you a letter from Viscount Fénélon, which I think will interest you. You will give it me back when we meet.
I am very curious to know what you will think of Egypt; and I hope that we shall be established in Paris when you return.
[*]On the 18th June, 1855, the English and French made an unsuccessful assault on Sebastopol.
[†]That of the 28th May, 1855, p. 299, ante.—Tr.