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, September 16, 1855.
Your letter, my dear Senior, of the 26th of August, has much interested me. I see that you are resolved on your great journey. I could say, like Alexander, if the comparison were not too ambitious, that I should wish to be in your place if I were not in my own; but I cannot get satiated with the pleasure of being at home after so long an absence. Everything is pleasure in this country life, among my own fields. Even the solitude is charming; but were I anywhere else, I should envy you your tour.
Everything in Egypt is curious; the past, the present and the future. I hope to learn much from your journal, which I trust that I shall have. We shall certainly meet you in Paris.
The noise made by the fall of Sebastopol has echoed even to this distant corner of France. It is a glorious event, and has delighted every Frenchman of every party and of every opinion, for in these matters we are one man.
I fear that the victory has been bought dearly; there is not a neighbouring village to which the war has not cost some of its children. But they bear it admirably. You know, that in war we show the best side of our character. If our civilians resembled our soldiers, we should long ago have been masters of Europe.
This war has never been popular, nor is it popular, yet we bear all its cost with a cheerfulness admirable when you consider the sorrows which it occasions, aggravated by the distress produced by the dearness of bread. If, instead of the Crimea, the seat of war had been the Rhine, with a definite purpose, the whole nation would have risen, as it has done before.
But the object of the war is unintelligible to the people. They know only that France is at war, and must be made, at any price, to triumph.
I must confess, that I myself, who understand the object for which all this blood is shed, and who approve that object, do not feel the interest which such great events ought to excite; for I do not expect a result equal to the sacrifice.
I think, with you, that Russia is a great danger to Europe. I think so more strongly, because I have had peculiar opportunities of studying the real sources of her power, and because I believe these sources to be permanent, and entirely beyond the reach of foreign attack (I have not time now to tell you why). But I am deeply convinced that it is not by taking from her a town, or even a province, nor by diplomatic precautions, still less by placing sentinels along her frontier, that the Western powers will permanently stop her progress.
A temporary bulwark may be raised against her, but a mere accident may destroy it, or a change of alliances or of domestic policy may render it useless.
I am convinced that Russia can be stopped only by raising before her powers created by the hatred which she inspires, whose vital and constant interest it shall be to keep themselves united, and to keep her in. In other words by the resurrection of Poland, and by the reanimation of Turkey.
I do not believe that either of these means can now be adopted. The detestable jealousies and ambitions of the European nations resemble, as you say in your letter, nothing better than the quarrels of the Greeks in the face of Philip. Not one will sacrifice her passions or her objects.
About a month ago I read some remarkable articles, which you perhaps have seen, in the German papers, on the progress which Russia is making in the extreme East. The writer seems to be a man of sense, and well-informed.
It appears that during the last five years, Russia, profiting by the Chinese disturbances, has seized, not only the mouth of the Amoor, but a large territory in Mongolia, and has also gained a considerable portion of the tribes which inhabit it. You know that these tribes once overran all Asia, and have twice conquered China. The means has always been the same,—some accident which, for an instant, has united these tribes in submission to the will of one man. Now, says the writer very plausibly, the Czar may bring this about, and do what has been done by Genghis Khan, and, indeed, by others.
All Upper Asia is at the mercy of a man, who, though the seat of his power be in Europe, can unite and close on one point the Mongols.
I have gone further than you have into Sir G. Lewis’s book. I have read it through, and I do not say, as you do, that it must be a good book, but that it is a good book.
Pray say as much to Sir George when you see him, as a letter of mine to Lady Theresa, on the subject, may have miscarried.*
It is as necessary now for friends to write in duplicate from town to town, as it is if they are separated by the ocean and fear that the ship which carries their letters may be lost. I heard with great regret of the illness of Miss Alice Lister. Pray tell me her news, and indeed that of all the family. I hear that our friend John Mill has lately published an excellent book. Is it true?* at all events remember me to him.
Adieu, my dear Senior, do not forget us any more than we forget you. Kindest regards to Mrs. Senior, and Miss Senior, and Mrs. Grote.
[*]This seems to have been the case, as the letter does not appear. The work referred to was probably that on the Early History of Rome.—Tr.