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Alexis de Tocqueville to N. W. Senior. - Alexis de Tocqueville, Correspondence and Conversations of Alexis de Tocqueville with Nassau William Senior from 1834-1859, vol. 1 (1834-1851) 
Correspondence and Conversations of Alexis de Tocqueville with Nassau William Senior from 1834-1859, ed. M.C.M. Simpson, in Two Volumes (London: Henry S. King & Co., 1872). Vol. I.
Part of: Correspondence and Conversations of Alexis de Tocqueville with Nassau William Senior from 1834-1859, 2 vols.
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Alexis de Tocqueville to N. W. Senior.
March 24, 1834.
My dear Mr. Senior,—
I hope that you have not yet entirely forgotten one who will always remember your kind reception with gratitude. I take to-day the liberty of asking you to bestow a portion of the same good will on my countryman, M. Guéry.
M. Guéry, who is an advocate practising in the Cour Royale in Paris, is the author of a book which is much esteemed, called an ‘Essay on Moral Statistics in France.’ Perhaps you have already heard of this work, which has been noticed in your reviews. The Académie Française considered it of so much utility and importance that they bestowed on it a prize.
M. Guéry is going to England in order to continue his statistical studies: he intends to spend six months there. I think that the work which he will publish on his return will be full of interest for us, and will be no doubt of real use to the English themselves. Now that, thank God, the two countries are on good terms, they ought to endeavour to enlighten each other. I wish no better fortune for M. Guéry than to find in England as excellent a friend as I did.
I suppose that you have finished drawing up your important Report on the Poor Law. If so, I shall be much obliged if you will send me a copy through our Consul-general. The volume containing extracts from your Inquiry on the same subject has excited great interest here. The result of your labours cannot fail to be equally appreciated.
. . . . . .
&c. &c. &c.
Alexis de Tocqueville.
P.S.—In three months I shall publish my work upon ‘American Institutions.’ You may be sure that I shall send you an early copy.
Lincoln’s Inn, February 17, 1835.
My dear Sir,—
Pray accept my best thanks for your excellent work, ‘De la Démocratie en Amérique,’ which I have read with great interest, delight, and I hope instruction. It appears to me one of the most remarkable books of the age.
I am most anxious that it should be reviewed and translated here; but there is great difficulty in getting a review of any book requiring much thought. Those who are competent for such a work seldom like to write anonymously.
If, however, you will sacrifice a few copies for the chance, and will send them to me, I will put them into the hands of the editors of our principal reviews, the ‘Edinburgh,’ ‘Quarterly,’ ‘Westminster,’ and ‘London.’ I think also that it would be worth your while to send a copy to the Athenæum Club, both in order to obtain readers, and to insure your admission to that club (the best I think in London) on your arrival. The best mode of sending books to me in London is to direct to me, at M. J. B. Baillière, Libraire, 13 bis Rue de l’École de Médecine, Paris. Their parcels leave Paris for London every Saturday evening, and will come to me without any expense to you. I think too that it might be well to send (by the same means) copies to Lord Brougham and Lord Lansdowne.
A few remarks have occurred to me, principally in your second volume.
Page 58. Is not a passage omitted after the eleventh line? Perhaps the passage at p. 59, beginning ‘Je regarde,’ ought to be here inserted.
P. 76. Has money fallen in value in France since the Empire? It has risen everywhere else.
P. 76. Note. The expenditure on the poor arises not from the democratic nature of the American Government, but from the compulsory provision. In Denmark the most despotic, and England, the most aristocratic, country in Europe it is far greater than in America.
P. 115. I do not think that in England the wealth of the poor has been sacrificed to that of the rich. As far as my investigations extend, the wages of the English labourer are higher than those of any labourer. He has not landed property, because it is more profitable to him to work for another than to cultivate; but this depends on the same ground which makes it more profitable to work for a cotton manufacturer than to make stockings for his own use. It is a part of the system of the division of labour, of which la grande culture is only an instance.
P. 383. Note. What sort of milles carrés do you refer to? Not certainly English.
P. 393. I cannot think that population is an element of wealth. It may rather be said to be an element of poverty. The wealth or poverty of the people of a country depends on the proportion between their numbers and the aggregate wealth of that country. Diminish their numbers, the wealth remaining the same, and they will be, individually, richer. The people of Ireland, and indeed of England, would be richer if they were fewer. I do not call a country like China, where there is an immense population, individually poor, a rich country, though the aggregate wealth of China is greater than the aggregate wealth of Holland, where the population is, comparatively, individually rich.
I am delighted to hear that you are likely to be soon in London; and I trust to have the earliest information of your arrival.
I shall send to you to-morrow by the Ambassador’s bag1 a little pamphlet, written by me, but not avowed, on National Property. It will show you the feelings of the Whig party here, as I wrote it in concurrence with some of the leaders of that party; and they have in general adopted its views.
With our best regards, believe me, my dear Sir, yours very truly,
Nassau W. Senior.
Paris, February 21, 1835.
My dear Mr. Senior,—
I thank you much for the kind letter which you have just sent to me. There is no one whose approbation I was more anxious to gain, and I am proud of having obtained it. How much I wish that the book could be made generally accessible to your countrymen, and that they might share your opinion. Its success here much surpasses my expectations. But I shall not be satisfied unless it extends to what I consider, in an intellectual sense, my second country. I was glad to see that I had already taken the measures for insuring publicity which you advise. I had sent copies to the ‘Edinburgh,’ the ‘Quarterly,’ and the ‘Westminster,’ and I thank you for your kind offer of presenting them to the editors of those reviews, begging you at the same time to give them some account of the book and to ask them to grant it an early notice. You will understand that I am anxious that it should become known before my approaching visit to England.
I shall be delighted to follow your advice by sending copies to Lord Brougham and Lord Lansdowne. I had already thought of so doing, but I confess that I was deterred by what happened to me eighteen months ago, when I sent a copy of the ‘Système Pénitentiaire’ to the Archbishop of Dublin with a letter of presentation. Since then I have not heard a syllable of His Grace, which has astonished me very much, for in our country there is no person so insignificant as not to expect some acknowledgment when he presents a book, or an answer when he writes a letter.
I come now to your criticisms, which have given me almost as much pleasure as your praise, because they prove the attention with which you have read my book, and, besides, I intend to make use of several of them in preparing a second edition.
You tell me that on page 58 of the second volume, a passage is misplaced. I have looked again at the passage: you are right.
A note on p. 76 induces you to ask if money has fallen in value in France since the Empire? in other words, whether more money is wanted now than then for purchasing the same things? My answer is, that I have not made any particular inquiries upon this point. I followed the current opinion on the subject. I do not understand how it can be erroneous. Although much less was produced from the mines during the civil wars in America, I cannot believe the mass of gold and silver in circulation to be less now than it was twenty years ago. However, I intend to endeavour to clear up this point as regards France.
You tell me with much truth respecting a note on p. 77, that a poor law is no proof of a republican government; but my reason for quoting America in this respect was to give French readers an instance of the expense willingly incurred by a democracy. There are many causes which may induce any government to relieve the poor at the expense of the state, but a republican government is from its nature forced to do so.
In page 115 I said that in English legislation the bien du pauvre had in the end been sacrificed to that of the rich. You attack me on this point, of which you certainly are a competent judge. You must allow me, however, to differ from you. In the first place, it seems to me that you give to the expression le bien du pauvre a confined sense which was not mine; you translate it wealth, a word especially applied to money. I meant by it all that contributes to happiness; personal consideration, political right, easy justice, intellectual enjoyments, and many other indirect sources of contentment. I shall believe, till I have proof of the contrary, that in England the rich have gradually monopolised almost all the advantages that society bestows upon mankind. Taking the question in your own restricted sense, and admitting that a poor man is better paid when he works on another man’s land than when he cultivates his own, do you not think that there are political, moral, and intellectual advantages, which are a more than sufficient and, above all, a permanent compensation for the loss that you point out?
I know, however, that this is one of the most important questions of the age, and perhaps the one on which we differ most entirely. Soon I hope that we shall have an opportunity for discussing it. In the meanwhile I cannot help telling you how dissatisfied I was at the way in which Mr. McCulloch, whose talent, however, I acknowledge, has treated this question. I was astonished at his quoting us Frenchmen in support of his arguments in favour of the non-division of landed property; and at his asserting that the physical well-being of the people deteriorates in proportion to the sub-division of property. I am convinced that up to the present time this is substantially false. Such an opinion would find no echo here, even from those who attack the law of succession as impolitic and dangerous in its ultimate tendency. Even they acknowledge that as yet the progress of our people in comfort and civilisation has been rapid and uninterrupted, and that in these respects the France of to-day is as unlike as possible to the France of twenty years ago. I repeat, however, that such questions cannot be treated in writing. They must be reserved for long conversations.
My friend and former colleague, M. Gustave de Beaumont, has also just published a book upon America. If, as I hope, you have time to read it, I am sure that you will be pleased with it. The question of Slavery, which I could only touch upon, is treated thoroughly and with great ability in this work. M. de Beaumont hopes soon to have the honour of making your acquaintance, for he intends to accompany me to England.
&c. &c. &c.
A. de Tocqueville.
Extracts from this pamphlet are published in Mr. Senior’s Ireland. Longmans, 1868. The portions, however, which relate to English politics are for the most part omitted.—Ed.