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TO MADAME SWETCHINE. - 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 MADAME SWETCHINE.
Tocqueville, December 29, 1856.
I belong enough to the ancien régime, which I am accused of abusing, to feel that I cannot see a year close without telling my best friends how much I love them. Allow me, Madame, to continue with you this custom of the good old times, and to assure you, as warmly as it can be done by letter and from afar, that there is no one whose welfare interests me more, nor for whom I more cordially desire every source of happiness—that is to say, the sources of happiness which you prize, though little desired, or even understood, by most people—many opportunities of doing good, of comforting, of assisting, of improving, all who approach you. You value and you enjoy this noble use of life. God therefore has favoured you with the greatest of his gifts; all that can be wished for you and for your friends is, that you may long enjoy it.
It was kind of you to remember that M. de Rosambo was my uncle. Though his death had long been expected, it gave us great pain. His place in our family was peculiar. He was not quite a father, but he was more than an uncle. The last band that kept the remains of our family together is broken. With him has disappeared the last of a generation which set us such brilliant examples of virtue. He united fervent piety to the highest sense of honour. Kind and mild almost to weakness, he was heroic in all that affected his self-respect or his duty. Though admirable and excellent, he was unhappy. He had to bear many domestic calamities, rendered peculiarly severe by his sensitiveness. The justice of God will reward him, and his example would, by itself, prove to me that there must be a future, and that the inconsistencies of this world will be set right in another.
* * * * * *
You are wrong, Madame, in thinking that I laid down my title. I never accepted nor refused it. I have always thought that, now that titles have no meaning, we should treat them as La Bruyère advises us to treat dress. “There is always vanity,” he says, “in being overdressed, and sometimes in being underdressed. A gentleman leaves the matter to his tailor.”
TO M. A. RIVET.
Tocqueville, July 20, 1857.
Ampère has told you, my dear friend, with what pleasure your visit was thought of by us all, and expected by the majority. I say the majority, for I formed a sceptical minority. I know too much of business, and of the enormous extent of yours, to really believe that we should see you. But my doubts did not shake the confidence with which my wife and Ampère maintained that you would come. Their disappointment, therefore, was greater than mine, though their pleasure would not have been. After all, it is only a postponement. I try to think not of the delight which I should have had if you had come to us, but of that which I shall soon have in going to you. We shall be in Paris by the end of next month. Our arrival, however, will be saddened by many painful recollections.
* * * * * *
I cannot tell you how many thousand reasons make me little inclined for the world, though the society of real friends was never more precious to me. We tear ourselves from this place with pain. We have passed some months here with no very great enjoyments, but without the friction which people of our feelings and opinions must encounter in Paris. Our solitude has been really agreeable. Nothing was wanting except a little more mental exercise. I do not think that for twenty years I have been so idle. It is only during the last month that I have resumed serious work. We have had, and we have still, an army of workmen transforming the pleasure ground behind the castle. Looking after and directing them has been one cause of my intellectual inactivity, and I begin to think that there is no place so bad for study as home. But my idleness has amused me, which is not the case with all idlers. I like country work, and my wife passionately delights in it. She was impatient for you to advise her on a thousand difficult questions. What is to be the line of this walk, or the position of this thicket? Shall this tree be cut down? Valuing highly your taste, she hoped much from you. But the maker of so many roads has not time to set out walks. . . .