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Alexis de Tocqueville, Memoir, Letters, and Remains of Alexis de Tocqueville, vol. 2 [1861]

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Alexis de Tocqueville, 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. http://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/2436

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About this Title:

Vol. 2 of a 2 volume collection of material originally edited by Gustave de Beaumont after his death. Vol. 2 contains additional letters.

Copyright information:

The text is in the public domain.

Fair use statement:

This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.

Table of Contents:

Edition: current; Page: [a]
MEMOIR, LETTERS, AND REMAINS of ALEXIS DE TOCQUEVILLE.
Edition: current; Page: [b]

LONDON:

R. CLAY, SON, AND TAYLOR, PRINTERS,

BREAD STREET HILL.

Edition: current; Page: [i]
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. VOL. II.
MACMILLAN AND CO.
Cambridge: AND 23, HENRIETTA STREET, COVENT GARDEN, London.
1861.
Edition: current; Page: [ii] Edition: current; Page: [iii]

CONTENTS OF VOL. II.

(The letters marked with an asterisk are either wholly or in part new.)

  • CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.
    • to m. de corcelle . . . . . . . . . April 12, 1835. page 1
    • to count molé . . . . . . . . . . May 19, 1835. 3
    • to lord radnor . . . . . . . . . May, 1835. 9
    • to henry reeve, esq. . . . . . . . Sept. 11, 1835. 15
    • to john stuart mill, esq. . . . . . Sept. 12, 1835. 16
    • to the same . . . . . . . . . . Dec. 3, 1835. 17
    • Dec. 5, 1835. 19
    • to the same . . . . . . . . . . Feb. 10, 1836. 20
    • to henry reeve, esq. . . . . . . . April 17, 1836. 22
    • to the same . . . . . . . . . . . May 22, 1836. 23
    • to m. de corcelle . . . . . . . . July 6, 1836. 25
    • to m. gustave de beaumont . . . . . July 6, 1836. 26
    • to m. de corcelle . . . . . . . . July 27, 1836. ib.
    • to j. s. mill, esq. . . . . . . . . . Nov. 10, 1836. 27
    • to n. w. senior, esq. . . . . . . . Jan. 11, 1837. 29
    • to h. reeve, esq. . . . . . . . . . Mar. 22, 1837. 30
    • to the same . . . . . . . . . . July 24, 1837. 32
    • to count molé . . . . . . . . . Sept. 12, 1837. 33
    • answer from count molé to m. de tocqueville, Sept. 14, 1837. 35
    • to count molé . . . . . . . . . . Sept. 27, 1837. 38
    • to m. gustave de beaumont . . . . . Nov. 12, 1837. 39
    • to the same . . . . . . . . . . . Jan. 18, 1838. 40
    • to the same . . . . . . . . . . . Mar. 21, 1838. 41
    • to the same . . . . . . . . . . . April 22, 1838. 42
    • to the same . . . . . . . . . . . Jan. 6, 1839. 45
    • to the same . . . . . . . . . . . Jan. 31, 1839. 46
    • to the baron de tocqueville . . . . Mar. 11, 1839. 47
    • to m. j. j. ampère . . . . . . . . . Sept. 17, 1839. 48 Edition: current; Page: [iv]
    • to j. s. mill, esq. . . . . . . . . . Nov. 15, 1839. 49
    • to m. j. j. ampère . . . . . . . . . Nov. 2, 1839. 51
    • to h. reeve, esq. . . . . . . . . . Jan. 3, 1840. 52
    • to the same . . . . . . . . . . . April 12, 1840. 53
    • to m. j. j. ampère . . . . . . . . . April 21, 1840. 54
    • to h. reeve, esq. . . . . . . . . . May 23, 1840. ib.
    • to m. de corcelle . . . . . . . . . Sept. 26, 1840. 55
    • to m. j. j. ampère . . . . . . . . . Sept. 27, 1840. 57
    • to the baron de tocqueville . . . . Nov. 2, 1840. 59
    • to j. s. mill, esq. . . . . . . . . . Dec. 18, 1840. 61
    • to the baron de tocqueville . . . . May 30, 1841. 63
    • to m. j. j. ampère . . . . . . . . . July 5, 1841. 65
    • to the same . . . . . . . . . . . Aug. 10, 1841. 67
    • to m. gustave de beaumont . . . . . Oct. 9, 1843. 69
    • to lord radnor . . . . . . . . . Nov. 5, 1843. 70
    • to m. de corcelle . . . . . . . . . Nov. 15, 1843. 71
    • to the same . . . . . . . . . . . Sept. 17, 1844. 73
    • *to charles buller, esq. . . . . . . June 21, 1846. 76
    • to m. de corcelle . . . . . . . . . Oct. 11, 1846. 78
    • to m. dufaure . . . . . . . . . . July 29, 1847. 80
    • *to n. w. senior, esq. . . . . . . . . Aug. 25, 1847. 83
    • to m. de corcelle . . . . . . . . Aug. 27, 1847. 84
    • to mademoiselle denise de tocqueville . . . . . . . . . . . . Jan. 6, 1848. 85
    • to n. w. senior, esq. . . . . . . . . April 10, 1848. 86
    • to the comtesse louis de kergorlay . . May, 1848. 89
    • to lord radnor . . . . . . . . . May 26, 1848. 90
    • to m. gustave de beaumont . . . . . Aug. 1848. 92
    • to the same . . . . . . . . . . . Nov. 1848. 93
    • to g. grote, esq. . . . . . . . . . Feb. 27, 1849. 94
    • to lord radnor . . . . . . . . . June 7, 1849. 96
    • to the comtesse de circourt . . . . June 19, 1850. 97
    • *extract from the journal kept by mr. senior in the spring of 1850 . . . May 19, 1850. 98
    • to mrs. grote . . . . . . . . . . July 24, 1850. 101
    • to m. de corcelle . . . . . . . . . Aug. 1, 1850. 103
    • *extracts from the journal kept by mr. senior during his visit to normandy . Aug. 17, 1850. 105
    • *extracts from the journal kept by mr. senior during his visit to normandy . Aug. 19, 1850. 108
    • *extracts from the journal kept by mr. senior during his visit to normandy . Aug. 22, 1850. 110
    • *extracts from the journal kept by mr. senior during his visit to normandy . Aug. 25, 1850. 112
    • *extracts from the journal kept by mr. senior during his visit to normandy . Aug. 26, 1850. 115 Edition: current; Page: [v]
    • to m. dufaure . . . . . . . . . . Oct. 12, 1850. 117
    • to m. de corcelle . . . . . . . . Nov. 1, 1850. 119
    • to m. g. de beaumont . . . . . . . Nov. 24, 1850. 120
    • to m. dufaure . . . . . . . . . . Dec. 22, 1850. 123
    • to the comtesse de circourt . . . . Dec. 30, 1850. 125
    • to m. gustave de beaumont . . . . Jan. 5, 1851. 128
    • to m. gustave de beaumont . . . . Jan. 29, 1851. 130
    • to m. gustave de beaumont . . . . Jan. 29, 1851. 131
    • to m. gustave de beaumont . . . . Feb. 4, 1851. 138
    • to m. gustave de beaumont . . . . Feb. 9, 1851. 140
    • to m. gustave de beaumont . . . . Feb. 10, 1851. 141
    • to m. gustave de beaumont . . . . Feb. 13, 1851. 144
    • to the comtesse de circourt . . . . Feb. 14, 1851. 146
    • to the comtesse de circourt . . . . Feb. 17, 1851. 148
    • to the comtesse de circourt . . . . Feb. 20, 1851. 155
    • to m. dufaure . . . . . . . . . . Mar. 12, 1851. 157
    • to m. dufaure . . . . . . . . . . May 4, 1851. 158
    • to m. dufaure . . . . . . . . . . May 6, 1851. 159
    • to m. dufaure . . . . . . . . . . May 18, 1851. 161
    • *to n. w. senior, esq. . . . . . . . . July 27, 1851. 165
    • to m. gustave de beaumont . . . . . Sept. 14, 1851. 170
    • to m. de corcelle . . . . . . . . Sept. 13, 1851. 172
    • to n. w. senior, esq. . . . . . . . . Nov. 28, 1851. 175
    • *to the editor of the “times” . . . . Dec. 11, 1851. 176
    • *extracts from mr. senior’s journal . . Dec. 23, 1851. 193
    • *extracts from mr. senior’s journal . . Dec. 31, 1851. 198
    • *to n. w. senior, esq. . . . . . . . . Mar. 9, 1852. 201
    • to m. gustave de beaumont . . . . . May 1, 1852. 202
    • to the comte de circourt . . . . . June 14, 1852. 204
    • to m. dufaure . . . . . . . . . . July 4, 1852. 207
    • to the comtesse de circourt . . . . July 5, 1852. 208
    • to henry reeve, esq. . . . . . . . Aug. 8, 1852. 210
    • to the comtesse de circourt . . . . Sept. 18, 1852. 211
    • to baron bunsen . . . . . . . . . Jan. 2, 1853. 213
    • to henry reeve, esq. . . . . . . . Mar. 1853. 215
    • to m. gustave de beaumont . . . . . Mar. 3, 1853. 217
    • to baron bunsen . . . . . . . . . May 23, 1853. 218
    • to w. r. greg, esq. . . . . . . . . . May 23, 1853. 220
    • to m. freslon . . . . . . . . . . June 9, 1853. 221
    • to n. w. senior, esq. . . . . . . . . July 2, 1853. 223
    • to w. r. greg, esq. . . . . . . . . July 27, 1853. 225 Edition: current; Page: [vi]
    • to m. freslon . . . . . . . . . . Aug. 10, 1853. 232
    • to the comte de circourt . . . . . Aug. 13, 1853. 234
    • to m. de corcelle . . . . . . . . . Sept. 17, 1853. 235
    • to the comtesse de circourt . . . . Sept. 2, 1853. 239
    • to m. freslon . . . . . . . . . . Sept. 23, 1853. 242
    • to m. rivet . . . . . . . . . . . Oct. 23, 1853. 244
    • to m. gustave de beaumont . . . . . Nov. 3, 1853. 245
    • to m. freslon . . . . . . . . . . Nov. 3, 1853. 246
    • to the comtesse de circourt . . . . Nov. 26, 1853. 247
    • to mrs. grote . . . . . . . . . . Nov. 22, 1853. 248
    • to the comte de circourt . . . . . Dec. 7, 1853. 251
    • to m. de corcelle . . . . . . . . Dec. 31, 1853. 252
    • to the comtesse de circourt . . . . . Jan. 11, 1854. 254
    • *extracts from mr. senior’s journal . . Feb. 24, 1854. 256
    • to baron edouard de tocqueville . . Mar. 7, 1854. 261
    • *extract from mr. senior’s journal . . April 8, 1854. 263
    • to the comte de circourt . . . . . June 1, 1854. 265
    • to the same . . . . . . . . . . . June 24, 1854. 267
    • to m. de corcelle . . . . . . . . . July 22, 1854. 269
    • to the comtesse de circourt . . . . July 27, 1854. 272
    • to m. gustave de beaumont . . . . . Aug. 6, 1854. 275
    • to the comte de circourt . . . . . . Sept. 1, 1854. 277
    • to m. gustave de beaumont . . . . . Oct. 1854. 278
    • to m. de corcelle . . . . . . . . . Oct. 2, 1854. 279
    • to the same . . . . . . . . . . . Oct. 23, 1854. 283
    • to the same . . . . . . . . . . . Nov. 15, 1854. 286
    • to n. w. senior, esq. . . . . . . . . Jan. 22, 1855. 288
    • to mrs. grote . . . . . . . . . . Feb. 24, 1855. 289
    • *to n. w. senior, esq. . . . . . . . . Feb. 15, 1855. 292
    • to mrs. grote . . . . . . . . . . Feb. 21, 1850. 294
    • to m. gustave de beaumont . . . . . Feb. 21, 1855. 295
    • *extracts from mr. senior’s journal . . Mar. 2, 1855. 297
    • *extracts from mr. senior’s journal . . May 28, 1855. 299
    • to madame swetchine . . . . . . . July 20, 1855. 301
    • *to n. w. senior, esq. . . . . . . . . July 25, 1855. 303
    • to m. de corcelle . . . . . . . . . Aug. 4, 1855. 305
    • to mrs. austin . . . . . . . . . . Sept. 11, 1855. 306
    • to the comte de circourt . . . . . . Sept. 16, 1855. 307
    • *to n. w. senior, esq. . . . . . . . . Sept. 16, 1855. 308
    • to madame swetchine . . . . . . . Oct. 15, 1855. 312
    • to m. de corcelle . . . . . . . . . Oct. 16, 1855. 315 Edition: current; Page: [vii]
    • to the comte de circourt . . . . . . Nov. 8, 1855. 316
    • to m. de corcelle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 317
    • to the same . . . . . . . . . . . Dec. 23, 1855. 318
    • to madame swetchine . . . . . . . Jan. 7, 1856. 319
    • to m. de corcelle . . . . . . . . . June 18, 1856. 321
    • to the same . . . . . . . . . . . June 29, 1856. 322
    • to baron bunsen . . . . . . . . . July 19, 1856. 324
    • to m. charles de rémusat . . . . . . July 22, 1856. 325
    • to madame swetchine . . . . . . . July 22, 1856. 327
    • to m. victor lanjuinais . . . . . . July 18, 1856. 329
    • to prince albert de broglie . . . . July 20, 1856. 330
    • to madame swetchine . . . . . . . Aug. 4, 1856. 333
    • to m. de rémusat . . . . . . . . . Aug. 6, 1856. 334
    • to mrs. grote . . . . . . . . . . Aug. 10, 1856. 336
    • to m. duvergier de hauranne . . . . Sept. 1, 1856. 338
    • *to n. w. senior, esq. . . . . . . . . Sept. 4, 1856. 341
    • to madame swetchine . . . . . . . Sept. 10, 1856. 343
    • to mrs. grote . . . . . . . . . . Oct. 1, 1856. 346
    • to m. lanjuinais . . . . . . . . . Oct. 13, 1856. 347
    • to madame swetchine . . . . . . . Oct. 20, 1856. 349
    • *to n. w. senior, esq. . . . . . . . . . Nov. 2, 1856. 352
    • to henry reeve, esq. . . . . . . . Nov. 7, 1856. 354
    • to madame swetchine . . . . . . . Dec. 4, 1856. 356
    • to m. gustave de beaumont . . . . . Dec. 21, 1856. 357
    • to madame swetchine . . . . . . . Dec. 29, 1856. 359
    • to m. rivet . . . . . . . . . . . July 20, 1857. 361
    • to m. j. j. ampère . . . . . . . . . Jan. 27, 1857. 362
    • to mrs. grote . . . . . . . . . . Jan. 31, 1857. 364
    • to m. freslon . . . . . . . . . . Feb. 3, 1857. 367
    • to henry reeve, esq. . . . . . . . Jan. 11, 1857. 368
    • to madame swetchine . . . . . . . Feb. 14, 1857. 371
    • *to n. w. senior, esq. . . . . . . . . Mar. 8, 1857. 372
    • to m. j. j. ampère . . . . . . . . . May 12, 1857. 374
    • to the comtesse de circourt . . . . . Feb. 22, 1857. 375
    • to lady theresa lewis . . . . . . . May 6, 1857. 376
    • *extracts from mr. senior’s journal . . May 7, 1857. 379
    • *extracts from mr. senior’s journal . . May 8, 1857. 386
    • *extracts from mr. senior’s journal . . May 15, 1857. 389
    • to henry reeve, esq. . . . . . . . May 20, 1857. 390
    • to mrs. grote . . . . . . . . . . . May 31, 1857. 392
    • *to n. w. senior, esq. . . . . . . . . July 10, 1857. 394 Edition: current; Page: [viii]
    • to lord radnor . . . . . . . . . July 19, 1857. 394
    • to m. j. j. ampère . . . . . . . . . July 26, 1857. 395
    • to m. de corcelle . . . . . . . . . July 2, 1857. 396
    • to m. de corcelle . . . . . . . . . Aug. 5, 1857. 397
    • to lord hatherton . . . . . . . . Aug. 7, 1857. 399
    • to mrs. hollond . . . . . . . . . Aug. 9, 1857. 400
    • to m. j. j. ampère . . . . . . . . . Aug. 9, 1857. 401
    • to the same . . . . . . . . . . . Aug. 28, 1857. 403
    • to m. freslon . . . . . . . . . . Sept. 11, 1857. 404
    • to the comtesse de circourt . . . . Sept. 24, 1857. 406
    • to lady theresa lewis . . . . . . Oct. 18, 1857. 407
    • to m. freslon . . . . . . . . . . Nov. 5, 1857. 411
    • to m. gustave de beaumont . . . . . Nov. 20, 1857. 413
    • *to n. w. senior, esq. . . . . . . . . Nov. 15, 1857. 414
    • to lord hatherton . . . . . . . . Nov. 27, 1857. 416
    • to m. j. j. ampère . . . . . . . . . Jan. 1, 1858. 418
    • to h. reeve, esq. . . . . . . . . . Jan. 30, 1858. 419
    • to sir james stephen . . . . . . . Feb. 14, 1858. 422
    • *to n. w. senior, esq. . . . . . . . . Feb. 14, 1858. 423
    • to lord hatherton . . . . . . . . Mar. 6, 1858. 424
    • to henry reeve, esq. . . . . . . . Mar. 22, 1858. 426
    • to m. freslon . . . . . . . . . . Mar. 5, 1858. 427
    • to the same . . . . . . . . . . . Mar. 16, 1858. 428
    • *extract from mr. senior’s journal . . April 26, 1858. 430
    • to m. gustave de beaumont . . . . . May 21, 1858. 434
    • to m. freslon . . . . . . . . . . July 8, 1858. 435
    • to the comte de circourt . . . . . . July 19, 1858. 439
    • to mrs. grote . . . . . . . . . . July 23, 1858. 441
    • to n. w. senior, esq. . . . . . . . . Aug. 21, 1858. 442
    • to lord hatherton . . . . . . . . Sept. 1, 1858. 443
    • to sir g. c. lewis . . . . . . . . . Sept. 5, 1858. 444
    • to w. r. greg, esq. . . . . . . . . Oct. 1, 1858. 445
    • to m. freslon . . . . . . . . . . Oct. 11, 1858. 448
    • to the comte de circourt . . . . . . Nov. 12, 1858. 449
    • to m. de corcelle . . . . . . . . Nov. 22, 1858. 450
    • to m. j. j. ampère . . . . . . . . . Dec. 5, 1858. 451
    • to the same . . . . . . . . . . . Dec. 30, 1858. 453
    • to m. lanjuinais . . . . . . . . . Feb. 7, 1859. 455
    • to j. s. mill, esq. . . . . . . . . . Feb. 9, 1859. 456
    • to the comte de circourt . . . . . Feb. 9, 1859. ib.
    • to m. c. rivet . . . . . . . . . . Feb. 15, 1859. 457 Edition: current; Page: [ix]
    • to m. de corcelle . . . . . . . . . Feb. 15, 1859. 458
    • to the vicomte de tocqueville . . . Feb. 17, 1859. 459
    • to the comtesse hippolyte de tocqueville Feb. 25, 1859. ib.
    • to henry reeve, esq. . . . . . . . . Feb. 25, 1859. 461
    • to m. freslon . . . . . . . . . . Feb. 23, 1859. 462
    • to m. j. j. ampère . . . . . . . . . Mar. 3, 1859. 463
    • to m. gustave de beaumont . . . . . Mar. 4, 1859. 465
    • to baron bunsen . . . . . . . . . Mar. 6, 1859. ib.
    • to m. lanjuinais . . . . . . . . . Mar. 10, 1859. ib.
    • to n. w. senior, esq. . . . . . . . . Mar. 15, 1859. 466
    • to the comte de circourt . . . . . . Mar. 17, 1859. 468
    • to m. de corcelle . . . . . . . . . April 6, 1859. 469
    • to m. j. j. ampère . . . . . . . . . April 9, 1859. 470
Edition: current; Page: [x] Edition: current; Page: [1]

Memoir, Letters, and Remains of Alexis de Tocqueville, Vol. II

LETTERS OF ALEXIS DE TOCQUEVILLE.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
April 12, 1835
M. de Corcelle
de Corcelle, M.

TO M. DE CORCELLE.

My dear Sir,

I have examined your criticisms with all the impartiality of which an author is capable. Some seemed to me to be well founded, and all in the kindest spirit.

I will make a single objection. It is this: you suppose my view of the prospects of democracy to be more gloomy than it is. If my expectations were what you believe them to be, you would be right in thinking that there is some contradiction between them and my recommendations, which tend in fact towards the progressive development of democracy. I have endeavoured, it is true, to describe the natural tendency of opinions and institutions in a democratic society. I have pointed out the dangers to which it exposes men. But I have never said that these tendencies, if discovered in time, might not be resisted, and these dangers, if foreseen, averted. It struck me that the republicans (I take the word in its good sense) saw neither the good Edition: current; Page: [2] nor the evil of the condition into which they wished to bring society; and that thus they were exposed to mistake the means of increasing the former and avoiding the latter. I therefore undertook to bring out both as clearly and as strongly as I could, that we may look our enemies in the face and know against what we have to fight. I think that this places me in quite a different category from M. Jouffroy.

He points out the perils of democracy, and considers them as inevitable. All that remains to be done, he says, is to avert them as long as possible; and when at last they come, to cover one’s head with one’s cloak and submit to one’s fate. For my part, I wish society to confront them like a strong man who knows that danger is before him and must be met, that he may reach his object; who exposes himself to it without repining, as to a necessary part of his undertaking, and is alarmed only when he cannot see clearly what it is.

Forgive me for treating this subject at so much length. I have tried to explain to you, not all my opinions, but the idea that inspired the whole work, the parent thought; and I attach great importance to preventing the public from forming mistaken notions on this point.

I cannot conclude, my dear sir, without expressing my gratitude, or without saying that I hope that after bestowing so much undeserved praise on the book, you will consent to become a friend of the author.

P.S.—There is one passage in your letter which gave me particular pleasure. It is that in which you propose Edition: current; Page: [3] as a remedy to the excesses of democracy indirect election. It is a proposal of the greatest importance; but the minds of men anxious for liberty and equality must be cautiously and gradually familiarized with it. I am convinced that it is the most powerful instrument by which the more intellectual members of a democratic society may be made its leaders without being uncontrolled.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
May 19, 1835
London
Count Molé
Molé, Count

TO COUNT MOLÉ.

I wished, dear sir, to have written to you much earlier, to tell you of the flattering reception which your introductions have obtained for me; but first the arrangements incidental to a tour, and then an indisposition which lasted some time, prevented me.

If I said that I have been received kindly by the persons to whom you sent me, it would be far below the truth. Every sort of attention has been shown to me. The Marquis of Lansdowne, especially, has proved, by his extraordinary kindness, how much he wished to gratify you. These proofs of regard are all the more valuable to me, as I consider them as one of the effects of your friendship.

On my arrival here, I found that there was a suspension of hostilities in Parliament. The Houses met three or four days ago; but as yet no important questions have been agitated, nor has there yet been time for the different parties to assume their attitudes. It would be very difficult, therefore, even for an Englishman, to predict the fate of the new ministry. A foreigner, recently Edition: current; Page: [4] landed as I am, would be absurd if he ventured to attempt to do so. All that I have tried to do has been to judge, by a few points of comparison, the principal changes that have taken place since my last visit.

Eighteen months ago, I remarked that republican ideas, though making rapid progress in all that concerns the administration, seemed to be stationary with regard to the social system; in other words, that the nation was more eager to obtain equality of rights than equality of station. Comparing what I then saw with what I now see, it seems to me that republicanism has continued to advance in the first direction, but has remained nearly stationary in the second. Eighteen months ago, the Whigs attacked the conduct of the majority in the House of Lords, but respected the peerage itself. I now hear among them words of bad omen. Many of them say that the Reform Bill has completely altered the spirit of the British constitution. Formerly the actual government resided in the House of Lords; the Commons followed in the wake of the high aristocracy. This is all to be changed. The Commons are to govern. The Peers may take part in public affairs, but are not to direct them.

Others go still farther, and ask why none but the rich can obtain seats in the House of Lords. Some even question the advantages of hereditary peerages. All these doctrines have lately been reproduced in print, and not disavowed, if they have not been publicly approved, by the Whig party. There is evidently a general tendency in the public mind to dispute the privilege assumed by the rich to govern the State.

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If from political we pass to social questions, no similar advance seems to have been made. I do not meet more persons favourable to the abolition of social distinctions, and of the rights of primogeniture, than I did eighteen months ago. All who are making their fortunes, or who have any chance of becoming rich, favour the accumulation of wealth. The others have at present no voice. The British nation may be represented by two men, one of whom says to the other, “Take your choice; are you willing to divide our inheritance equally with me? We shall each be men of moderate fortune.” And the other answers, “Take all; only leave me the chance of one day stepping into your place.” The middle classes in England play double or quits. With us, the same classes prefer a lower stake; less latitude left to chance; more moderate hopes, and less fears.

When I consider attentively the state of this country, I cannot help believing that a democratic revolution, similar to that which has taken place with us, will, sooner or later, take place in England; but it will not occur in the same way, or by the same means. With us, religious indifference singularly facilitated alterations in our ancient laws. Here, revolutionary feelings are almost as much religious as political. The vehemence and the influence of religious opinions in this country, inflamed as they are by party spirit, cannot be conceived in France. The population may be thus divided: on the side of the Established Church are almost all the rich: most of the middle and many of the lower classes are Dissenters. It is observed that families, Edition: current; Page: [6] when they become rich, seldom fail to join the Church; while many of the poor every day enrol themselves among the Dissenters. After an attentive examination, I am convinced that the Established religion naturally leads to monarchical and aristocratical ideas, and Dissent to notions of republican equality.

In England, therefore, republican theories do not gain ground, as with us, in the absence of religious convictions. They are helped by these opinions, and help them in turn. It seems to me probable that the Dissenters will gain the day, and, as in 1640, upset the State after they have overthrown the Church. One instance will explain the difference between the two countries on this subject. Last year, only a few votes were wanting to pass a bill through the House of Commons, the object of which was to render still more strict the already rigid observance of Sunday. Thus, liberalism, which relaxes religious discipline with us, leads in England to puritanic austerity.

In France, the desire to own land has always been general, and the number of small landowners considerable. The Revolution rendered this system universal. Here, not only is landed property little divided, but it every day becomes more and more concentrated. The chief cause of this is, I think, the immense increase of trade and manufactures.

It is, I believe, an established fact, that as a nation becomes more civilized, its people leave off labour in the fields for work in manufactories. This natural tendency is especially observable in England, which manufactures almost everything, not only for Great Britain, Edition: current; Page: [7] but for the whole world. In England, too, as the land has never been much divided, it has never been such a source of fortune to the poor, as it is in France; and it therefore never presents itself to the fancy of the lower classes as the natural means of rising in the world. The habits and instincts of the English peasant are, consequently, totally unlike those of our own. If he possesses more intelligence or more capital than his neighbours, he turns his advantages to account in trade; the idea of becoming a landowner never enters his head. With the English, therefore, land is a luxury; it is honourable and agreeable to possess it, but it yields comparatively little profit. Only rich people buy it. With us, a great landed proprietor sometimes sells in small lots as a speculation; here, a sale is the speculation of the small landowner. Large estates, therefore, grow larger every day; agriculture is carried on on a great scale. As such agriculture requires fewer hands, every year an increasing number of labourers are out of work. So, while trade and manufactures attract labourers, the soil rejects them.

I do not know if you will agree with me in thinking that such a preponderance of the aristocratic element leads to revolution, as certainly as the tendency towards democracy does with us. Already in England, nearly two-thirds of the population have passed from agriculture to trade and manufactures. The change began long ago, and its progress must lead to an unnatural and, I believe, an unmaintainable state of society. The whole country is already lamenting over the excess of population Edition: current; Page: [8] and want of employment.* The population appears to be excessive, because it is ill distributed; and employment is deficient, because all labour flows in the same channel. Opposed to a small minority of rich is an immense majority of poor; and nowhere is the antagonism between the class that possess everything and that which has nothing so formidable. I know that the rich are beginning to agree perfectly among themselves; but the poor are more of one mind than in any other country in the world. The misunderstanding is only between the two classes.

It is true that democracy, with an army of followers, has no generals. It is ill-represented by the members whom it sends to parliament. They desire political not social equality. But it seems to me that in time they will be driven from the one position to the other. Universal discontent will urge them on. When the aristocracy has lost the greater part of its political influence, its chiefs will remain great people, for they will still be rich; but to the inferior members the result will be unendurable. The rearguard of aristocracy will in that day become the vanguard of democracy; and feeling themselves the evil, they will suggest to the people the remedy.

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To sum up, I may say that if the taste of our people for possessing land, and our habit of cultivation on a small scale, have singularly facilitated our progress towards equality, it is probable that the excess of opposing causes will drive the English in the same direction. There are many other points of contrast between this country and France; but I ought to stop here; and indeed it is more than time to ask your pardon for the absurd length of this letter. I perceive that, after having allowed myself to be drawn on till I have written half a volume, I have as yet said nothing on the existing difficulties of the Government; and that while dilating on the future, I have forgotten the more important subject of the present. You probably wished for facts, and I send you only speculations. But I hope that you will have the kindness to value this letter not at its real worth, but for the sake of the motives which inspired it.

I hope that you will be so good as to remember me to Madame d’Aguesseau.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
May, 1835
London
Lord Radnor
Radnor, Lord

TO LORD RADNOR.*

My Lord,

That I may be able to answer your questions, I think it advisable, in the first place, to establish what Edition: current; Page: [10] legally and actually was the position of the ministers of our religion before the Revolution of 1830. Afterwards I will treat of their present situation and of their prospects.

When Napoleon re-established the exercise of the Catholic religion, he did not restore their property to the clergy, but assigned to them part of the revenue of the State. From proprietors they became pensioners. This was not the only blow struck by him at their independence. In former times there was between the bishops and inferior clergy of every diocese an ecclesiastical tribunal, which was called, if I am not mistaken, “l’officialité.” Napoleon destroyed this court of appeal. He gave up the inferior clergy to the uncontrolled jurisdiction of the bishops. Whether rightly or not, the Emperor thought that he would always be able to manage easily a few bishops, and that by governing them he would be master of all the clergy. This was the position of the ministers of our religion at the Restoration.

The Bourbons returned resolved to support the monarchy by the Church; and the charter of 1814 announced that the Catholic religion was the religion of the State. But it did not dare to define the words “the Religion of the State.” The property of the clergy was not restored to them, nor were, I believe, even their salaries increased. But they were allowed an indirect share in the government. The parish priest, from the weight given to his recommendations, became a sort of political authority. Places were given with more regard to religious opinions than to capacity—so, at least, it Edition: current; Page: [11] was generally thought. As the Restoration became more firmly established, the union between Church and State became more and more evident. A law was passed punishing with the utmost rigour all sacrilegious profanation of sacred objects and theft from churches. The archbishops and some of the bishops obtained seats in the House of Peers. The nation was governed, or thought that it was governed, by the priests—their influence was felt everywhere. Then reappeared what we call in France the Voltairian spirit; the spirit of systematic hostility and sarcasm, directed not only against the ministers of religion, but against religion itself; against Christianity in all its forms. The books of the eighteenth century were reprinted in cheap editions. Plays, songs, and caricatures were filled with bitter satires against religion. The hatred of a portion of the population against the clergy became inconceivably violent. At that time I held a judicial post; and I noticed that whenever a priest was accused, whatever were the offence, the jury, in general very indulgent, almost invariably and unanimously condemned him. Under the Empire the Church took no part in politics; after the Restoration it became a political party in itself. It joined the most ardent votaries of absolute monarchy, and often declaimed from the pulpit in its favour.

The result was fatal. Almost all the liberal party, that is, the great majority of the nation, became irreligious on political grounds. Impiety was a form of opposition. Excellent men were furious when religion was mentioned; others, notoriously immoral, talked Edition: current; Page: [12] incessantly of restoring altars, and of inculcating reverence towards God.

I do not think, my Lord, that there is a single Frenchman of any party whatever, who at this day does not consider the religious hatred brought about by the Restoration as the chief cause of the downfal of the Bourbons. If it had stood alone, the elder branch would have sustained itself with difficulty; united to the clergy, and exposed to the intense animosity excited by the political influence of the priests, its fall was inevitable.

This takes us to the year 1830. Let us see what has passed since.

The Church had so closely united its fate to that of the Crown, that when the King was dethroned in 1830, the priests all believed themselves to be in personal danger; and so in fact many were. In some of the larger towns they were forced to conceal the outward signs of their calling. The archbishopric of Paris was pillaged in February, 1831, and the archbishop obliged to hide himself.

The new Government took part against them. The words “Religion of the State” were erased from the charter, and in their place “Religion of the majority” substituted. All the bishops raised to the peerage by Charles X. lost their seats. The rest have since always abstained from taking part in the debates. The clergy no longer sit in the Chamber of Deputies. The ministry for ecclesiastical affairs has been suppressed.

A still greater change occurred in the habits of the Government. The priests lost every species of indirect Edition: current; Page: [13] political influence. No hostility was in general displayed towards them, but they were kept within their own duties. The scale of salaries was changed in some respects. Part of the incomes of the bishops was taken from them, and added to the salaries of the ordinary priests.

Such is, I believe, the present state of things. Now, what will be the consequences? As to these, my Lord, you would perhaps be imprudent if you were to take my word. You are aware, that in politics it is often more difficult to understand and judge of the present than of anything else. In the great concerns of mankind the past is more obvious than the present. All that I can promise, is to show to you exactly what I see; and to explain to you, without reserve, my belief, which is that of many enlightened Frenchmen.

As soon as the clergy lost their political power, and it was perceived that they were more liable to be persecuted than favoured by the Government, the animosity which during the Restoration had pursued them, and through them religion itself, began to diminish, though not all at once nor everywhere. The irreligion which the Restoration had created or re-awakened, showed itself partially. But taking the nation as a whole, it was evident that the reaction which was to bend the public mind in the direction of religion had already begun. I think that at the present moment this tendency can escape the notice of no one. Irreligious publications have become extremely rare (I do not know of even one). Religion and priests have entirely vanished from the caricatures. It is very seldom tha Edition: current; Page: [14] one hears the clergy or their doctrines spoken ill of in public. Not that silence is a proof of great attachment to religion; but it proves that religion is no longer detested; and this is a great step. Most of the liberals, whose irreligious opinions formerly placed them foremost in the ranks of the opposition, now hold a different language. All acknowledge the political utility of religion, and deplore the general want of faith; but the greatest change is observable among the young men.

Since religion has been separated from politics, a faith, vague as to its object but powerful in its effects, is developing itself among them. The necessity of a religion is a frequent theme of their conversation. Many believe: all would like to believe. This feeling makes them crowd into the churches whenever there is a celebrated preacher. When I left Paris, the evidences of our faith were discoursed upon every Sunday in the cathedral by a young priest of remarkable eloquence.* Nearly 5,000 young men regularly attended his sermons. Among them sat, in his pontifical robes, the very Archbishop of Paris whose palace was robbed and destroyed four years before, and who for more than a year had been obliged to hide like an outlaw. Such a scene was never witnessed under the Restoration, when the bishops sat in Parliament and in the Council Chamber, and when the political influence of the priest was supposed to be all-powerful.

I think, my Lord, that I have answered nearly all Edition: current; Page: [15] your questions. If not, I hope that you will not fail to tell me. I shall always be ready to write to you on this subject or on any other. What I have just written, as I was pressed for time, may appear confused. Perhaps, too, you will find it difficult to make out my bad handwriting. In every case, I place myself at your disposal, and shall be happy to explain in conversation all that is incomplete in my letters.

P.S. I forgot to say that when the Restoration, in 1814, gave the name “Religion of the State” to the Catholic religion, it ordered all shops to be shut on Sunday and all official persons to attend the services of the Church. These two laws gave the signal to the revolt against religion. They have been repealed or they have fallen into disuse.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
Sept. 11, 1835
Paris
Henry Reeve
Reeve, Henry

TO HENRY REEVE, ESQ.

My dear Mr. Reeve,

You must believe me to be drowned at the very least,—for you cannot imagine that I should have passed through London without going to see you and Mrs. Reeve: and it is almost as improbable that I should have travelled through Boulogne without stopping to take advantage of Mrs. Austin’s presence there. A few words will explain all. I returned to France by neither London nor Boulogne. One of my brothers lives near Cherbourg in the summer, and I have a tiny estate of my own there. When I was at Dublin I heard that my Edition: current; Page: [16] brother had arrived at his house, and that the wind had carried off the roof of mine: two events which made me think it advisable to return to Normandy as soon as I could, and by the shortest route. I sailed straight from Dublin to Southampton and thence to the coast, without encountering one storm to boast of. Having thus completely justified myself, I turn to you. What has become of you since I left you? Are you still breathing the pure air of Hampstead, or have you returned to London smoke? Among all your other occupations have you gone on with the “Democracy?” During my tour in England and Ireland I was gratified by seeing several copies of the first volume, and many compliments were paid to me on the translation, which I pass on to you. Here, I am bringing out my third edition.

I shall tell you nothing about our politics. I am just arrived. As yet I have called on no one. Being reduced to my own resources I have nothing to say except that I wish much to see you again, and that you must positively pay a short visit to France. You must not forget, either, that you have some American documents belonging to me, and remember that I will take them only from your hands.

In the meanwhile, believe that I am your sincerely attached friend.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
Sept. 12, 1835
Paris
John Stuart Mill
Mill, John Stuart

TO JOHN STUART MILL, ESQ.

My dear Mr. Mill,

Beaumont tells me that you have asked him what was my decision respecting my co-operation in your Edition: current; Page: [17] Review. I answer, that after mature deliberation, I have resolved upon so doing if you still wish it; but I still am doubting what plan to adopt. I should like my articles to contain almost all I know on the political and social state of France. I hesitate only as to the form. I fear that, in spite of my endeavours, the English will not be able to understand clearly the present state of our country, unless I first show what it was just before the breaking out of the Great Revolution; and if I draw a picture of this period the colours will inevitably be somewhat faded; I fear lest I should not sufficiently interest the public. This is the difficulty—help me to solve it.

Lately, however, I have thought much on the subject of these projected letters; and as is always the case with those who are engaged in a particular study, many ideas have occurred to me which I did not see at first, and which I think may be worth producing: but of this also I cannot judge. Of one thing you may be certain, that if I undertake this work I shall do my best. You may trust me in this.

I am, &c.
Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
December 3, 1835
Baugy
John Stuart Mill
Mill, John Stuart

TO THE SAME.

My dear Mill,

I have just received the third Number of the London and Westminster Review, and your letter dated the 19th of last month. I have read them both attentively, and all that remains to be done is to talk them over with you.

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Your article on me is so flattering that it surpasses even an author’s appetite. Whatever be the amount of vanity with which Heaven has endowed me, and you know that authors are in general liberally provided, there is in your article one thing that I must say pleases me even more than your praise. Of all my reviewers you are, perhaps, the only one who has thoroughly understood me; who has taken a general bird’s-eye-view of my ideas; who sees their ulterior aim, and yet has preserved a clear perception of the details. The profession of an author would be too delightful if one met with many such readers! Your article, therefore, gave me intense pleasure. I keep it carefully, to prove to myself that it really is possible to understand me. I wanted this testimony to console me for all the false conclusions that are drawn from my book. I am constantly meeting people who want to persuade me of opinions that I proclaim, or who pretend to share with me opinions that I do not hold.

To return to your article. I repeat that I have read nothing so good on my book. You enter into my conception more than any one; and as you see the whole, you are capable of administering praise and blame. Believe that I do not exaggerate, when I say that your unfavourable criticisms gratified me as much as those that are favourable. The friend may always be seen through the critic. They instruct, therefore, and never wound me. I wish that I could discuss every one of your objections, my dear Mill; but I should send you a volume instead of a letter. Such a conversation as I hope that we shall soon enjoy, will clear up more questions Edition: current; Page: [19] for us than a voluminous correspondence would do. Still I will make a few remarks. . . .

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
December 5
Paris
John Stuart Mill
Mill, John Stuart

I was at this point of my letter, dear Mill, when I heard that my mother, who lives in Paris, was in imminent danger. As you may think, I hastened to her side: I found her a little better, but she still makes us very uneasy. I hope that you will forgive me if, in the present state of my mind, I do not enter into the somewhat long discussion which my last words from Baugy seemed to promise. But I cannot just yet lay aside your article, which I read over once more with great attention on my arrival. Several passages struck me much. Not one of the friends of democracy has dared as yet to draw so clear and fine a distinction between delegation and representation, or has so well defined the political meaning of these two words. Rest assured, my dear Mill, that on this occasion you have mooted a most important question; so, at least, I firmly believe. It is much less essential for the partizans of democracy to find means of governing the nation, than to teach the nation to choose the men most capable of governing; and to exercise sufficient influence over the general nature of their government without interfering with their individual acts or means of execution. This is the problem. I am quite convinced that the fate of the modern world depends on its solution. But how few are aware of it! how few assert it!

The kindness with which I have been treated by the London and Westminster, is another stimulus to Edition: current; Page: [20] make me write the articles which I promised. The first* is very far advanced; but the grandeur, as well as the difficulty of the subject, seem to increase as I consider it. You must think me very slow. You would forgive me if you knew how hard it is for me to satisfy myself, and how impossible for me to finish things incompletely. I have always thought that the public had the right to require authors to strain their powers to the utmost, and I endeavour to act up to this duty. I am working therefore at your article, as if it were to appear in French under my own name. I should esteem myself very fortunate if I could be repaid for my trouble by producing something that would please you, as well as the enlightened readers of your review.

Adieu, my dear Mill, believe in my sincere friendship. Will you not soon pay a visit to France? I should be delighted to see you, and to introduce you to my wife, who is a countrywoman of yours, and to whom I often speak of you.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
February 10, 1836
Paris
John Stuart Mill
Mill, John Stuart

TO THE SAME.

I dispatched yesterday to our Consul General, M. Durand de St. André, the papers that I promised to you. It was to be sent on that very day by the Ambassador’s bag. M. de St. André will deliver it to your messenger.

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I do not know, my dear Mill, what you will think of this essay. All that I can say is, that I cannot do better. I have worked at it as if it were to appear in French, and with my name to it. I fear, however, that I have been only tolerably successful. I am afraid that my manner is too French to suit the taste of your countrymen, and that they will think me too fond of general ideas. At first I tried to resist this tendency, but the subject brought me back to it in spite of myself. There is none that forces one to reflect so much upon the general laws which govern human institutions. When, however, I come to the France of our own day, I shall easily enter more into detail and become more practical. I am longing to have time to apply myself to writing the second part. This study has awakened a host of ideas in my mind, and I see the relations of many things which till now I had overlooked.

A letter from Mr. Austin informed me, my dear Mill, that you were anxious about your father. I hope that your fears are over, and that his health is now restored. I sympathize all the more with your anxiety, as I have just had the pain of losing my mother, and have felt the bitterness and the depth of such a sorrow.

I hope that you will remember me to all the persons to whom you introduced me in London, and especially to Mr. and Mrs. Grote. Adieu, dear Mill.

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Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
April 17, 1836
Cherbourg
Henry Reeve
Reeve, Henry

TO HENRY REEVE, ESQ.

I received your letter, my dear Reeve, a few days before I left Paris. I could not immediately write to thank you for the curious particulars that it contained; but I take advantage of the quiet of the country, (if a small provincial town may be called by that name), to give you some news of myself. I am making a sort of landlord’s tour here. I need not say that I am alone; the weather this year is not yet fit for women to travel.

The storms that drowned so many brave sailors on the coast of Norway destroyed many orchards, and shattered many of the last relics of feudalism that have been allowed to stand till now by democracy. I was afraid that the manor-house of Tourlaville,* of which the flooring has almost all fallen away, would have lost its roof on this occasion; and I ran to see if at least the feudal weather-cock had been spared. I found everything in excellent order. The wind has respected me, which I little expected. I shall stay here another week, and afterwards return to Paris. From thence I shall send you the “Système Pénitentiaire;” it has come out since I left England.

What you say about the London parishes is the more interesting to me, as it entirely confirms my opinion. Edition: current; Page: [23] When I was in England I formed the same judgment, and I am glad to find that my first impressions were correct. It must be owned that our two nations form a singular contrast. With you, society is much more aristocratic than in France; but some of your laws are much more democratic than ours. You have only to extend and to render general; we have to create.

I hope that you remembered me to Mrs. Austin, and that you have told Mrs. Reeve how glad I shall be to see her again. I can fancy that I see you now in the little house at Hampstead that I visited a year ago. I see you seated like a philosopher in your observatory, overlooking the smoke of London; and lower down I see your mother hospitably receiving her guests in the drawing-room. I shall never forget Hampstead. It is connected with a passage in my life which I shall always remember. Adieu, dear Reeve; remember me to all the friends who received me so kindly.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
May 22, 1836
Baugy
Henry Reeve
Reeve, Henry

TO THE SAME.

Your letter reached me, my dear Reeve, just as I was leaving Paris for the second time, to spend part of the summer at a place belonging to one of my brothers, near Compiègne. I write from thence. They have put me at the top of the house, in a little turret, with windows on all sides, from which I overlook the whole country. To this spot, raised above all earthly cares, I retire to work; but I do not mean to say that oracles issue forth from it. To turn to less sublime subjects, I confess Edition: current; Page: [24] that the greatest advantage in being perched up here is that I escape the proximity of four charming little nephews and nieces, who would drive me to despair, a hundred times a day, if I were close to them. Man is a fearful animal; before he speaks, he cries; when he begins to speak, he talks nonsense. But neither you nor I can change him: we must take him as he is, without troubling ourselves about him.

I intended, on the day that I quitted Paris, to send you a copy of the Second Edition of our “Système Pénitentiaire.” I did not find time for this; but in the course of the next ten days I expect to spend a few hours in the Rue de Bourgogne, and I will not forget to send it to you then.

What you say of the tendency in our cabinet to separate from yours, seems to me to be only too true; but I cannot share your satisfaction thereon. I believe the union of the two nations to be essential to the maintenance of free institutions in Europe; and in my opinion this consideration surpasses every other. As to the desire of your aristocratic party to embark England in a war, in order to give the people something to do, I see a reason for that, which is the desperate state to which the party is reduced. . . .

However, you are not yet at war; it is not so easy in our time; and this is enough of politics. Of what did our fathers talk fifty years ago? I wonder. Take politics from our conversations, and you have only monosyllables and mute signs. Still they talked as well, and sometimes better than we do. They found a hundred things to say where we cannot think of one. They had Edition: current; Page: [25] the art of setting gaily about serious matters; very different from ourselves, who set to work so gravely to commit follies.

P.S. Pray present my respects to Lord and Lady Lansdowne. When I left Paris your review had not arrived.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
July 6, 1836
Paris
M. de Corcelle
de Corcelle, M.

TO M. DE CORCELLE.

Many thanks, dear friend, for your kind and interesting letter. You know that I set a particular value on your friendship. I have often told you so, and still oftener thought it without telling you. I have always found that you believed what you said, and felt what you expressed. This alone would have been enough to distinguish you from others. But it is very good in me to try to explain to you my liking for you. It is easier felt than explained. I believe that I understand what it is that makes me rely on you; but if I did not understand, I still should trust you; for in these matters we are led by an instinct, which is better than reason.

I send you Aristotle. If you can turn it to a better account than I can, let me know. For my part, I own that, setting aside the respect due to those who have been admired for more than 2,000 years, it is a little too antiquated for my taste. We are not sufficiently Greek to profit much by such books.

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Adieu! I shall reach Berne on the 25th of July, and Geneva on the 25th August. All the rest is doubtful. Pray write to me at those places, not only to tell me the news, but to tell me all that you are thinking about.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
July 6, 1836
Paris
M. Gustave de Beaumont
de Beaumont, M. Gustave

TO M. GUSTAVE DE BEAUMONT.

. . . I shall now be impatient for the winter. I hope that it will be happy and productive. I cannot tell you, my dear friend, with what pleasant anticipations your marriage fills me. It completes the domestic happiness which I have always longed for. We both possess now the most valuable of all gifts: a partner upon whom we can depend in evil fortune as well as in good, and whose courage as well as affection we can trust. . . . Who would not feel full of energy and activity when so supported? . . .

I start to-morrow evening. I shall be at Metz on the day after to-morrow, and stay till the 14th. I then shall go to Berne.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
July 27, 1836
Berne
M. de Corcelle
de Corcelle, M.

TO M. DE CORCELLE.

I am travelling, dear friend, in the character of a lover of nature rather than in that of a philosopher. Still, whenever I am obliged to read a newspaper, or to converse seriously, I try to understand what I am told. The result is, that with the true spirit of an American, I have acquired a supreme contempt for the federal Edition: current; Page: [27] constitution of Switzerland, which I unceremoniously call a league and not a federation.

A government of this kind is, without exception, the most impotent, weak, awkward, and incapable machine to lead a nation to anything but anarchy. The small amount of political vitality in this people has also struck me. The kingdom of England is a hundred times more republican than this republic. Some may say, that the difference of races is the cause. But this is an argument which I never admit except as a last resource, and when I have nothing else to say. I had rather allege as the reason a fact that is little known, or, at least, which was unknown to me till now; that in most of the Swiss cantons parochial liberty is recent. The municipalities of the towns ruled the country parishes just as the power of the crown did in France. This petty centralization was kept up by the citizens, who, like our centralizing authorities, would suffer no interference with their acts.

Enough of politics. If you still have the speech of Quincy Adams keep it for me.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
November 10, 1836
Baugy
John Stuart Mill
Mill, John Stuart

TO J. S. MILL, ESQ.

My dear Mill,

The letter that you wrote to me last Monday did not reach me till yesterday evening. I answer it immediately, lest my letter should not find you. I cannot tell you how much I am annoyed at not being now in Paris. I should have liked particularly to receive Edition: current; Page: [28] you and introduce you to my wife, who already is acquainted with you as one of my best friends.

Thank you for the interest which you express in the “Democracy.” The delightful tour that I have just made in Switzerland has somewhat injured its progress. I have lost three precious months. I have therefore shut myself up in the little valley of Baugy to make up, if possible, for the time that I have wasted. I have found it hard to set to work. Thank God, I have got into training again, and I should now like not to leave off till I have finished. My subject is beginning to oppress my mind as a nightmare does the body. My head is full of ideas, of which the order is not yet clear to me, and which I must consider singly. I should like to run, but I can only drag myself slowly along. You know that I never take up my pen to support a system, or to draw, whether wrongly or rightly, certain conclusions. I give myself up to the natural flow of my ideas, allowing myself in good faith to be led from one consequence to another. Therefore, till my work is finished, I never know exactly what result I shall reach, or if I shall arrive at any. This uncertainty becomes in the end insupportable. If you will come here, my dear Mill, it will give me great pleasure to talk over all these matters with you, and to puzzle you with the ideas which now confuse my head. . . .

I have not seen the article in the Quarterly, nor that in the American Review. As to the reproof addressed to me by the latter, that I am too much given to generalising, I believe it to be well-founded. I often Edition: current; Page: [29] was forced to do so, in order that the general features of the country, which I was especially anxious to bring out, might be understood clearly in Europe. America was only the frame, my picture was Democracy.

I have only a little bit of paper left to tell you about France. I would in no case say much, for I should have too much to say if I were once to begin. I will speak only of the ministry, which is the event of the day. . . .

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
January 11, 1837
Paris
N. W. Senior
Senior, N. W.

TO N. W. SENIOR, ESQ.

My dear Mr. Senior,

I did not reach Paris till the end of December, and received only two days ago your report on the Poor-laws and the Treatise on Political Economy, which you were so kind as to send to me by Mr. Greg. A thousand thanks to you for having thought of me. You could not have given me anything that I should have liked better than your outline of Political Economy. I have long felt that I was insufficiently informed on this important portion of human science, and I have often thought that you were the man in the world most capable of supplying this deficiency. All that you write is much valued by me, but especially on the subject of political economy.

I have not yet, however, been able to read what you have sent to me. I put it off to a period which is not far off, when I shall be free. Just now I am so wrapped up in my second work on America, that I scarcely see or hear what is going on round me. Edition: current; Page: [30] I think that my book will be finished in the summer, and published next autumn. I do not know if it will be good; but I can affirm that I cannot make it better. I devote to it all my time and all my intelligence.

Our ministry is still in a dubious state*. . . . Pray present my respects to Lord and Lady Lansdowne.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
March 22, 1837
Paris
Henry Reeve
Reeve, Henry

TO H. REEVE, ESQ.

I received your letter with great pleasure, my dear Reeve; you give me good news of yourself and of your translation; I am much interested in both; I believe even that I am so unselfish as to prefer the prosperity of the former. Thank heaven, both are going on well.

Before your letter came I received the speech of Sir Robert Peel and the pamphlet by an American citizen. I do not know if I am indebted to you for them. I should be much obliged if you would always let me see any publications of this description, if more should appear. Besides being seriously interested by the opinions which other people take the trouble of forming on me, I am amused at seeing the different characters that are ascribed to me according to the political views of the critic. I like to put them together as a series of portraits. Hitherto I have not found one that exactly represents the original.

My critics insist upon making me out a party-man; but I am not that. Passions are attributed to me where I have only opinions; or rather I have but one opinion, an enthusiasm for liberty and for the dignity of the Edition: current; Page: [31] human race. I consider all the forms of government only as so many more or less perfect means of satisfying this holy and legitimate craving. They ascribe to me alternately aristocratic and democratic prejudices. If I had been born in another period, or in another country, I might have had either the one or the other. But my birth, as it happened, made it easy to me to guard against both. I came into the world at the end of a long revolution, which, after destroying ancient institutions, had created none that could last. When I entered life, aristocracy was dead and democracy as yet unborn. My instinct, therefore, could not lead me blindly either to the one or to the other. I lived in a country which for forty years had tried everything, and settled nothing. I was on my guard, therefore, against political illusions. Myself belonging to the ancient aristocracy of my country, I had no natural hatred or jealousy of the aristocracy; nor could I have any natural affection for it, since that aristocracy had ceased to exist, and one can be strongly attached only to the living. I was near enough to know it thoroughly, and far enough to judge dispassionately. I may say as much for the democratic element. It had done me, as an individual, neither good nor harm. I had no personal motive, apart from my public convictions, to love or to hate it. Balanced between the past and the future, with no natural instinctive attraction towards either, I could without an effort look quietly on each side of the question.

Edition: current; Page: [32]
Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
July 24, 1837
Henry Reeve
Reeve, Henry

TO THE SAME.

Your letter reached me only two days ago, my dear friend, because you directed it to Baugy, instead of to my own house. You were not, indeed, sure that I should be in Normandy this year. I have been in poor old Tocqueville for the last two months. I do not know if I told you that this place, which by our family arrangements has become mine, is a sort of large farmhouse, which has been uninhabited for the last half century. I am obliged, therefore, to make all sorts of alterations and repairs, which will never make it beautiful; but which, if I am permitted to live, will make the house habitable, and in a few years even comfortable. I am in the midst of workmen of every description—a detestable race, animals given to destruction and noise, whose vicinity does not suit a philosopher. I have, happily, no pretensions to direct the works myself. I have neither genius nor wish to attempt it. I leave it all to Madame de Tocqueville, who understands the matter better than I do; and I shut myself up from morning till night in a little room which she has been so good as to leave me. You see that I am a model husband.

You ask what effect the enthusiastic loyalty of which you in your country have been so lavish, has produced on me. Very little, I confess. In 1825 I saw Charles X. enter Paris amid the acclamations of the people, and heard him cry, “No more hallebards;” and on the 31st of July, 1830, I saw this very Prince leave St. Cloud, Edition: current; Page: [33] after scratching the royal arms off his carriage. I own that this gave me a lasting distaste for popular demonstrations. I do not mean that a similar fate awaits your young Queen. I am far from wishing, and far too from expecting it; but her stability rests, I believe, on another foundation than the cheers of the mob.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
September 12, 1837
Count Molé
Molé, Count

TO Count MolÉ.
President of the Cabinet (Prime Minister.)

Sir,

The kindness of which you have given so many proofs to me, induces me to open my heart to you on an occasion which I think may affect my whole future life. I know that you have little time for private affairs; I shall, therefore, endeavour to be brief. As you may suppose, I allude to the election.

Many persons in the arrondissement* of Cherbourg had thought of proposing me in opposition to M——. The same idea had occurred to others in the arrondissement of Valognes. I myself, wishing to be freely elected, have as yet taken no steps in either quarter, nor shown in any manner that I had a preference for the one seat or for the other.

Things were in this state, when I heard lately, that, in the last meeting of the conseil général, the prefect had strongly recommended me to the electors of the arrondissement of Valognes. This, Sir, is the point to which I wish to draw your attention.

Edition: current; Page: [34]

I must begin, Sir, by remarking, that in a constituency of 700 persons, in which the parties are about balanced, it is doubtful whether the direct interference of the Government would be successful. But, what is more important, I must say that it is impossible for me to be a Government candidate. In any other case, to make such a declaration to a Prime Minister might seem strange; but I know to whom I am speaking, and if the President of the Cabinet blames me, I will appeal to M. Molé, whose esteem, if he will allow me to tell him so, I value more than his support; and with him I am sure to gain my cause.

You are well aware, Sir, that I am not opposed to this Government, nor especially to its present Ministers; but I wish to be able to vote conscientiously and freely, which I could not, if I allowed myself to be nominated by the Government. I know that there are many who, when they have reached the Chamber, forget the steps which led to it; but I am not among them. I wish to enter it already holding the position which I intend to maintain in it, and this is an independent position. I might say a great deal more on this subject, but I wish to be brief; besides, I am convinced that such sentiments, when once expressed to you, cannot fail of being immediately understood. . . .

Forgive me, Sir, for writing this letter, which is already much too long. You have allowed me to consider you as a friend and a relation; I have been addressing you in both characters.

Edition: current; Page: [35]
Count Molé
Molé, Count
September 14, 1837
Paris
Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis

ANSWER FROM COUNT MOLÉ TO M. DE TOCQUEVILLE.

My dear Sir,

I have just received from you a letter, which demands a full and immediate answer. I will be as frank as you are; and as I do not share any one of the sentiments or principles which inspired you while writing it, I will venture to tell you so. In the first place, I must disclaim, and if necessary protest, against the distinction which you make between the President of the Cabinet and M. Molé. If the latter had been obliged to forfeit any portion of his own character to become the former, he would have rejected the Presidency: he would have preferred, without hesitation, as he has always done, the least important of his moral or political convictions to power, and to all its supposed advantages.

Not only in politics, but in everything, one must take part in the everlasting struggle between good and evil. A man who chose to act only when he was sure of doing right, without doubt or compromise, would do nothing, even in private life: he must sit with folded arms. I therefore perform the duties of my office, as you would in my place, doing all the good that I can, and averting evil by all the means at my disposal. The first of these duties is, in my opinion, to fight in the elections, as much as elsewhere, for the convictions professed by those whose cause I maintain, who have raised me to power, and who loyally support me in it. I cannot, therefore, admit that to enter the Chamber through our influence, would be to take upon you a Edition: current; Page: [36] yoke which need hurt your pride or your delicacy; nor that to separate from us, on some future occasion, when a question arose on which you could not sincerely and conscientiously support us, would be a breach of faith.

All this sounds very flat in the ears of that dishonest, popularity-hunting party who hold that authority, whatever may be the hands that wield it, is the presumptive enemy of society. But I venture to ask if you think that you would be less fettered if you owed your seat to the legitimists, to the republicans, or to any other shade of opinion, than to the moderate party. A choice must be made: even a man unconnected with party must depend, more or less, on his constituents. The ministerial ranks are not supplied only by men who owe their rise and their existence to the ministry; they are chiefly composed of those who share its opinions, and believe its triumph to be for the good of the country.

These are the men, my dear Sir, among whom I should have been glad and proud to see you. You refuse—you have almost said that you would be ashamed of such a position: well and good. I deserved so much sincerity on your part. But you cannot imagine that I take my duties so little in earnest, as to wish to see you appear under the banners of our opponents. My duties, as you must know, are among the most painful and arduous that man can undertake. They involve more sacrifices from me than from most people, because my intellectual tastes, my affections, and all my habits are completely set aside for them. But I should consider myself as opposing the intentions of Providence, if I did not bear Edition: current; Page: [37] my destiny bravely. I believe that the country and the public would suffer if the Government were to pass now into other hands. Unless I deceive myself, I deserve the esteem, and perhaps the encouragement and support, of all who have honest hearts and wise heads.

However, your will shall be performed. Till now, I have upheld you with all my might, both in the Cabinet and out of it. I am not acquainted with your Prefect, but he seems to have discovered my wishes. I shall tell the Home Minister this very day that we are to entirely withdraw our support from you. Our friends (for we have friends) will oppose you; for in elections neutrality is impossible. If you succeed, I shall be glad for your sake; and permit me to add that my pleasure will be increased by my expectation that a practical knowledge of affairs and of men will draw you nearer to the unhappy Ministers whom now it would so much distress you to seem to favour. Under whatever banner you enrol yourself, I shall never cease to consider you as a loved and honoured kinsman, whose elevation of mind and rare ability place him among the most distinguished men of the age.

I remain, very sincerely yours,
Molé.

These two letters were immediately followed by two more, which are omitted here, because they contain some confidential details, and some remarks on individuals, which had better be suppressed. The political situation, too, with which they are connected, is one on Edition: current; Page: [38] which it is not advisable at present to dwell, or even to touch. It will be enough, therefore, to add, that mutual explanations soon softened the rather sharp tone of this correspondence. The following letter, written by M. de Tocqueville, on the 27th September, in answer to one from Count Molé, shows that their correspondence had already resumed its former tone of benevolent regard on one side, and of affectionate deference on the other.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
September 27, 1837
Count Molé
Molé, Count

TO COUNT MOLÉ.

I will not delay for a single instant answering the letter which I have just received and eagerly read. I can scarcely describe to you how much I was touched, I may say, moved by it. I feel honoured by your esteem, and full of gratitude for your affection.

I cannot tell what political differences may yet be in store for us. But I feel perfectly confident that nothing will ever diminish the strong and sincere attachment which I have for you. Allow me to add, that my having been so long and so truly attached to you was the cause of the pang which my impression of your first letter cost me. The many proofs of kindness which you have bestowed on me during the last three years, had made me believe that I enjoyed your friendship. And I was the more convinced of this from a conversation which M. de Beaumont reported to me not long ago, and by which he himself had been much affected. When I read your letter I was afraid that I had been mistaken; Edition: current; Page: [39] and by the excited style of my reply you may judge of the value I set upon the prize which I feared to have lost. . . .

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
November 12, 1837
M. Gustave de Beaumont
de Beaumont, M. Gustave

TO M. GUSTAVE DE BEAUMONT.

I have just received your letter of the 8th, my dear friend. You are surprised at my failure. I own that I was so myself. I was not acquainted with the constituency, and my friends made sure of a majority of eighty votes. I have already alluded to the causes of my defeat, which were the influence of the Government, democratic excitement, and my opponent’s large fortune. You and I, my dear Beaumont, are scarcely aware of the power exercised in France by money when unallied to noble birth, and seconded by the popular hatred against the nobles. The election was accompanied by cries of “Down with the nobles!” Notwithstanding this, all my adversaries acknowledge that I have none of the prejudices which they ascribe to the aristocracy; but these men feel towards us something similar to the instinctive repugnance felt by Americans towards the Blacks. For some time reason struggled against this instinct; but instinct has gained the day. Still, though I am beaten, I am not cast down. . . .

We are then free, dear friend, and I cannot tell you how gladly and how eagerly I return to study and to work. If you will, the next few years shall be happily and usefully spent by us: believe me, the future is our own. I never have felt so sure of this. You retire to the Grange to work; I approve this plan all the more, Edition: current; Page: [40] as I am going for the same purpose to Baugy. . . . . I forgot to say that we are bringing out the sixth edition of my “Democracy.”

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
January 18, 1838
Baugy
M. Gustave de Beaumont
de Beaumont, M. Gustave

TO THE SAME.

I was just going to write to you, dear friend, when your letter came. This is not a mere boast but a solemn truth. Indeed I had long been intending so to do, for I think that our communications are becoming much too slow. We are too completely absorbed by Ireland and America, and we must beware lest we return from those countries strangers to each other.

My life here is much the same as yours at La Grange. Hitherto it suits me very well; my health is excellent, and I do my very best: which does not mean that I am satisfied. Were you ever thoroughly satisfied with your own writing? As far as I can remember, such a thing has never happened to me. It always seems above or below, to the right or to the left of the aim; never exactly hitting the ideal that each of us has ever in view, but that always escapes our grasp. I know that there is a proverb which says that this happens only to those who are capable of great things. But I have always thought this a mistake. I have known many people who very sincerely believed their own performances to be bad, and whose performances were bad indeed. This effectually cured me of fancying myself a great man only because I felt that I was a dunce, and was sorry for it.

Edition: current; Page: [41]

In spite of my literary tribulations, I will tell you in the strictest confidence, that I find my work get on so well that I shall stay here till the end of April. . . . .

Louis de Kergorlay has just spent four days with us. At that time I was quite entangled in a mesh of ideas of which I could not find the clue. It was a regular intellectual cul-de-sac; but he brought me out of it in a few hours. His mind is a mine of wealth which he alone is unable to work.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
March 21, 1838
Baugy
M. Gustave de Beaumont
de Beaumont, M. Gustave

TO THE SAME.

. . . . I returned to this place on the day we parted, and set myself furiously to work till at last my brain refused to act, in which state it remains for the present. Just now my head is much more full of blood than of ideas; and I am forced to stop my work for two or three days, lest I should be obliged to interrupt it for much longer. I am enraged to be thus brought back to earth from my highest flight, and I take refuge in philosophical reflections, which, however, I shall not pass on to you because you are in good health, and therefore would not be able to appreciate the elevation of my theories.

Do not fancy that this long story means that I am ill. I am only tired. I ought to have rest, but I cannot bear to rest; so that, besides the disease, I also abhor the remedy. My impatience is increased by seeing how little progress I have made in the three months during which I have worked like a horse. If I had been as slow, and had taken as much pains with my first book, it Edition: current; Page: [42] would now have only just appeared. Am I right or wrong in subjecting my thoughts to such a severe examination before I express them in words? Indeed I do not know. You, my dear Aristarchus, will be my first judge. In about eight months I hope to pass under your inspection, just as I intend you to submit to mine.

As I had nothing better to do, I have been reading for the last few days some old books that I brought with me; among others, Plutarch, which, to my great shame, I own that I had hardly ever opened. I read first one of his Lives, thinking of something else; then another, but languidly enough. But now they afford me intense delight. What a grand old world was that of ancient times! Plutarch, who by his gossip exhibits more than any other writer its blemishes, makes its greatness only the more striking. He gives life and motion to characters which had always seemed to me to be more or less fictitious; he draws them as men only a little above life-size, and reduced to this measure they are much more imposing than a motionless colossus, or an imaginary giant. This reading has captivated my imagination to such an extent, that I sometimes fear that I shall go mad, like a second Don Quixote. My head is crammed full of heroics which are by no means suited to the present day; and life seems very flat when I wake from my dreams.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
April 22, 1838
Baugy
M. Gustave de Beaumont
de Beaumont, M. Gustave

TO THE SAME.

I am not only absorbed by my work, but by a thousand thoughts that are inspired by the books I read, or that come of themselves. For my mind has never been Edition: current; Page: [43] so active as in this seclusion. I have not for years read so much, or meditated so much on my reading, as during the four months I have been engaged on my “Democracy.” I am now putting the last touches to the penultimate chapter. But what will be the length of the last of all? Into how many sub-divisions will it fall? As yet I cannot tell. All that I know is, that before I begin it I must collect all my powers, so as to end brilliantly. I am alarmed at the prospect of this crowning chapter. I think that I shall be several months about it. I shall not attempt it till I am at Tocqueville.

I cannot describe to you, my dear friend, the disgust that I feel, when I see the public men of our day making a traffic, to serve the petty interest of the moment, of things so serious and so sacred as political principles. These sudden conversions hurt me perhaps even more deeply than the violent opposition of former times. I am alarmed; and I ask myself if selfishness be indeed in this world the sole motive, and if what we take for opinions and feelings are not the mere organs through which it speaks and acts. I am, however, somewhat reconciled to our age, by observing in it some resemblance to what is recorded by my indiscreet and gossiping Plutarch of the most flourishing periods in ancient history. This raises a little our contemporaries, but degrades the race.

I retract, however, the last words: we must not despise man if we wish to obtain great things from ourselves or from others. The other day, as I was thinking over the intellectual creations which have taken most hold on Edition: current; Page: [44] men’s imaginations, and of which the effect has been most striking and most lasting, I found that the great majority were books deeply embued with the great principles of the good and the beautiful, with the salutary and elevating theories of the existence of a Divine Being, and of the immortality of the soul; and that the most popular works were those which set forth in the strongest relief these principles and these theories. If this be the secret of the most complete and enduring of literary triumphs, it proves that this is the strongest and most constant tendency of the human mind. Take away from Plato, for instance, the aspirations towards immortality and infinity, and leave only his antiquated style, his unfinished and often absurd science, his eloquence, which we lose at this distance of time; he would soon become unknown and unreadable. But Plato addressed himself to the noblest and most permanent instincts in our nature; and he will live as long as men live upon earth; be will carry away even those who only half understand him; and he will always occupy a distinguished place in the intellectual world.

I reproach myself for having allowed my pen to run away with me. You will not care about what I have just said: not that you are incapable of interesting yourself in ideas of this sort; but because you cannot do two things at once. Your mind is indivisible. You are not much to be pitied for this, for it is a proof of strength. You are always in a blaze, but one thing only fires you at a time; you have neither curiosity nor interest to spare for anything else. It is thus, that in spite of our Edition: current; Page: [45] extreme intimacy, there have always been some points on which we never have met nor understood one another. I have an insatiable curiosity which draws me continually to the right and to the left of my path. Your’s is equally importunate, but it always leads you straight forward. I have often been tempted to chatter to you about a thousand things, unconnected with our regular studies, which were jostling against one another in my head; but I have always been checked by remembering that, as I had for the moment wandered into a new path, I could not hope to draw you after me. Which of us regulates his mind in the wisest manner? I cannot tell. I think that the result will be that you will always know things better, and that I shall always know more things. You would laugh to see the odd heterogeneous pile of books on my table, almost all of which I have devoured within the last four months: Rabelais, Plutarch, the Koran, Cervantes, Machiavelli, Fontenelle, St. Evremont, &c. &c. I have put all this pell-mell, and without any arrangement, into my head.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
January 6, 1839
M. Gustave de Beaumont
de Beaumont, M. Gustave

TO THE SAME.

. . . I have nearly finished one volume. This work demands much labour, and often affords little satisfaction. What especially interferes with it is my health, which though not actually bad, has certainly been failing for the last two months. Work tires me, and yet is so essential to me, that I often return to it, and then am obliged to leave off again. After sitting at my desk for five or six hours, I can write no longer; the machine Edition: current; Page: [46] refuses to act. I am in great want of rest, and of a long rest. If you add all the perplexities that besiege an author towards the end of his work, you will be able to imagine a very wretched life. I could not go on with my task if it were not for the refreshing calm of Marie’s companionship. It would be impossible to find a disposition forming a happier contrast to my own. In my perpetual irritability of body and mind, she is a providential resource. . . . . Adieu, dear friend; remember us both to Madame de Beaumont, whom we shall be charmed to see again. I shall reach Paris on the 14th.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
January 31, 1839
Paris
M. Gustave de Beaumont
de Beaumont, M. Gustave

TO THE SAME.

I am going on in the same way; that is, very indifferently. If this continues for another fortnight, it will be impossible for me to finish by the spring, and I shall give up trying to do so.

. . . On the day before yesterday I was astonished, abashed, confused, and I do not know what else, on seeing M. de Chateaubriand walk into my room, to hear, he said, some portions of my MS. Of course I was obliged to read some. You will think that after taking, for what reason I cannot tell, such a step, he was not content with criticising; he paid me the most extravagant compliments. After reducing them by three-fourths, there still remain enough to allow me to hope that his impression, though ridiculously exaggerated, was favourable. So now I am like a horse to whom, after tying up all four legs, you apply a smart cut with a whip. Unfortunately the parallel holds good in every respect.

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Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
March 11, 1839
Baron de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Baron

TO THE BARON DE TOCQUEVILLE.

I have only five minutes to write to you, but I will make use of them. I must tell you how glad I am that you are pleased with my success.* It is my habit, as you know, to share everything with you, and I value it too much to give it up.

I shall not now tell you anything about what passed. You know it as well as I do. The popular movement in my favour was complete; and I liked it all the better, as it was the result not of an appeal on my part to any evil passions, but to the noblest and most disinterested feelings. I hope that you have seen the few words spoken by me in the excitement of the moment. My friends took them down and printed them. But I have so few copies that I could only send one to my father, and beg him to show it to you.

Here I am at Tocqueville, come to enjoy a rest, which I am far from obtaining; for visits abound as well as letters. I ought, however, to be allowed to take care of myself for a little while; for though I have had no serious illness, I am much out of health. I think that I should have died if Marie had not watched over me, mind and body. I own, that in one respect, my future is clouded. I cannot reckon on the first condition of success, which is life.

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Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
September 17, 1839
M. J. J. Ampère
Ampère, M. J. J.

TO M. J. J. AMPÈRE.

Your letter, dear friend, has given us the greatest pleasure. I say us, for my wife was as anxious as I was, that you should be tolerably comfortable among our ruins; and she is as much gratified as I am, by the kind manner in which you tell us that we succeeded. After all, dear Ampère, you ought to have been satisfied. One must always be happy with people who welcome one with so much delight, and take leave of one with so much sorrow. Really attached friends are rarer than comfortable quarters. This is what I hope you often said to yourself, when you were half-deafened by the knocking of hammers and pickaxes. As for us, we have the most agreeable recollections of your visit; and all we beg is, that you will come again soon. We have already asked you, and now we repeat our invitation in the most pressing terms. This is no compliment, but our sincere and earnest wish.

Your opinion of my book pleases me much. You would not hide from me the truth. I therefore believe you; and I shall read your letters over again, whenever I am seized by one of my attacks of spleen. Your visit had already done me great good in that respect. You seemed to like what you read, and that encouraged me.

I have not forgotten your promise to look over my MS. On the day after you went I sent for a copyist. I cannot tell you how obliged I feel for the trouble that you are willing to take. You could not have made me a more friendly and agreeable proposal.

Edition: current; Page: [49]

This morning I was greatly embarrassed. Reading over a chapter on the way in which “democracy modifies the relations between masters and servants,” I fell upon a long passage, treating of domestic service in feudal times. I believe that my ideas on this subject are correct; but I fear that they will seem mere theories. I want two or three examples, taken from contemporary writers. But I can recall none distinctly, although I have a confused impression of having met with many, from Froissart down to Madame de Sevigné. If you can remember any, pray remind me of them. What I particularly wish to describe is the state of things frequent in the aristocratic centuries, when servants threw their whole pride and their whole existence into the persons of their masters. Caleb Balderstone, in the “Bride of Lammermoor,” is the ideal of such a character; but I do not know if he has an historical prototype.

Forgive me, dear friend, for persecuting you with myself. I am not afraid, because I feel how deeply I am interested in all your concerns. This encourages me in the belief that you are equally willing to take part in mine.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
November 15, 1839
Paris
John Stuart Mill
Mill, John Stuart

TO J. S. MILL, ESQ.

It is now a long time, my dear Mill, since I have heard from you; and I am sorry for it, for there is no man in England whom I think of with greater pleasure. Beaumont heard that you had quite recovered. If this good news be true, pray be so kind as to confirm it.

Edition: current; Page: [50]

I shall post to-day for you a copy of the Report which I have just published, in the name of the committee appointed by the Chamber, on the abolition of slavery in our colonies. You will see that, contrary to the practice of most of my colleagues, I have not tried to be eloquent. I have even carefully avoided irritating the colonists, which has not prevented their newspapers from lavishing much abuse on me. But you know what colonists are; they are all alike, to whatever nation they may belong. They become raving madmen as soon as one speaks of justice to their negroes. But it is in vain; they will not succeed in making me angry, or in inducing me to discuss the question with mischievous violence.

I came to Paris two days ago to print the book which I have been working at for the last four years, and which is the continuation of the other. It is on the influence exercised by equality over the opinions and feelings of mankind. I will send you a copy as soon as it comes out, which will be in February next. When you read it, you must not forget that it was written in a country, and for a country, where equality having achieved a complete triumph, and aristocracy having been beaten entirely out of the field, the object is not to create or to prevent a system, but, finding it there, to correct its faults. I often tell hard truths to this new society, both in France and in America; but I tell them as a friend. It is because I am a friend that I venture to say them, and that I insist on saying them. With us, equality has flatterers of all descriptions, but she has no steadfast, sincere advisers. Edition: current; Page: [51] You will judge whether my self-imposed task has been well performed.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
November 2, 1839
M. J. J. Ampère
Ampère, M. J. J.

TO M. J. J. AMPÈRE.

I ought to have thanked you sooner, my dear friend, for the kind and interesting letter that you wrote to me some time since. But my “Democracy” would not let me. You know that she has never been an obliging mistress. My obedience has been rewarded; for I can at last say, that I have finished the book, with the exception of the changes which you may advise. I am farther than ever from letting you off your promise. I value this service highly; and I will ask you to do me another, which is, to be perfectly open with me. You see that I have nothing in common with the Archbishop of Granada. I would have sent part of my MS. to you a few days ago, if I had not been so near bringing you the whole of it myself, which will be much better. I expect, indeed, to leave Tocqueville in a week’s time. You will soon, therefore, see me appear in the Rue de Grenelle. I shall present myself at your door, at which one must knock and kick, not merely ring, if one wants to be let in.

If my return had not been so near, I should have written also to thank M. de Chateaubriand for his kind intentions. I was much touched by them, and I am as grateful as if I could have benefited by them. But I cannot this time. It seemed to me, that at so great a distance, it would have been very difficult, if not impossible, to appreciate my chance of success. I do not Edition: current; Page: [52] wish to offer myself unless I have a good chance. An admission into the Academy of France is one of the things best worth having, if it is obtained without too great a struggle, or too frequent an appearance in the lists. I have, therefore, made up my mind to be quiet this time; and I think that you, as a friend, will consider that I have done wisely.

I shall not write any more to you to-day, as we shall soon be able to talk as much as we please.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
January 3, 1840
Paris
Henry Reeve
Reeve, Henry

TO H. REEVE, ESQ.

My dear Reeve,

I am ashamed; I am in despair at the way in which I have treated your friend, Mr. Morley. He must take me for a perfect bear. He came to see me twice; he wrote to me once. I never answered, and yesterday, when I went to the Hotel Canterbury, about four o’clock, he had just started by the diligence. Pray entreat him to accept my excuses. I hope that he will some day give me an opportunity of effacing the bad opinion which this visit must have produced on him.

I laughed at the trouble which my abstract ideas give you; I am sure that, whatever you may say, you will get over your difficulties admirably. As to the substance of your opinion on this subject, I believe you are mistaken. I am convinced that the realists are wrong; and I am sure, that dangerous as the political tendency of their opinions is at all times, it is especially pernicious in our own time. In a democratic age the great danger is, you may rest assured, that the component Edition: current; Page: [53] parts of society may be destroyed or greatly enfeebled for the sake of the whole. All that in our day exalts the individual is useful. All that tends to magnify genera, and to ascribe a separate existence to species, is dangerous. This is the natural inclination of the public mind at present. The realistic doctrine carried into politics leads to all the excesses of democracy; it facilitates despotism, centralization, contempt for individual rights, the doctrine of necessity; in short, every institution and every doctrine which permits society to trample men under foot, and considers the nation as everything and the people as nothing.

This is one of the central opinions to which many of my ideas lead. On this subject I have attained to absolute conviction; and the chief object of my book is to persuade others of its truth.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
April 12, 1840
Paris
Henry Reeve
Reeve, Henry

TO THE SAME.

My dear Friend,

Your letter, which has this moment reached me, proves to me that my last packet must have been lost; how, I cannot tell. As I told you yesterday, the publication, fortunately, does not take place till the 20th. You will therefore have time to translate and print the remainder.

If I were an Englishman, I should not see without anxiety the expedition now in preparation against China. As a well-wishing but disinterested spectator, I cannot rejoice much at the thought of the invasion of the celestial empire by an European army. Here, then, is Edition: current; Page: [54] European restlessness pitted against Chinese unchangeableness. This is a great event, especially when one remembers that it is only the sequence, the last link in a long chain of events of the same kind, which gradually push the European race abroad, and subject all others successively to its power or to its influence. There is happening in our day, without our noticing it, a thing more vast and more extraordinary than the establishment of the Roman empire. I mean the subjection of four portions of the globe by the fifth. Let us not think too ill of our age and of ourselves. Men are small, but events are great.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
April 21, 1840
Paris
M. J. J. Ampère
Ampère, M. J. J.

TO M. J. J. AMPÈRE.

I will not have it said, dear friend, that you received at the same time with the public, a book in which you have had a share. The three first copies, “avant la lettre,” have been tributes of respect. There remains a fourth, which I keep for sincere and intimate friendship. You will not be surprised, therefore, if it makes its way straight to you. Accept it, I pray, not for the sake of the book (you know it already by heart), but as a token of affection.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
May 23, 1840
Paris
Henry Reeve
Reeve, Henry

TO H. REEVE, ESQ.

My dear Friend,

Thank you for all your enclosures. By sending me everything that appears on my book, you do exactly what I wish. I am not afraid of criticism. I am quite prepared for it. There is but one thing thoroughly Edition: current; Page: [55] annoying to an author,—silence. Go on, therefore, as you have begun, and let me have everything.

I should have written sooner if I had not wished to talk to you about your translation. I have not yet seen the whole of it; but I have read enough to assure you, conscientiously, that I am delighted. You have rendered my thoughts even in their most delicate shades, with a clearness and fidelity that seem to me to be perfect. As for the style itself, of which I am not so well able to judge, Madame de Tocqueville assures me that it is excellent, clear, sober, and simple, just what it ought to be for a book on Political Philosophy.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
Sept. 26, 1840
M. de Corcelle
de Corcelle, M.

TO M. DE CORCELLE.

I see with extreme satisfaction from your letters, my dear friend, that though there had been no communication between us, we had come to pretty much the same conclusions on the present state of affairs. So, in the Chamber, we generally act together without consulting one another. You ask if at last I am satisfied by the magnitude of the events which seem to be impending. No; for I think of our country, whose prospects, if we are to have war, are most unfavourable. But if I thought only of myself, I should say that I preferred this stormy future to the sort of fog which has surrounded us ever since we entered the Chamber. Still I cannot believe that a real desire for revolution exists, or could last for any time, in France. These possibilities have been greatly exaggerated. . . . But we may see great Edition: current; Page: [56] disturbances and our country degraded. . . . This is quite enough to make one unwilling to act without mature deliberation.

I am inclined to think, that from the first the importance of the new Egyptian empire has been exaggerated. My reason is the age of the Pasha. In the east they never found institutions; all depends on individuals; and a political condition which rests on the life of a man of seventy is not worth much.

I have several times tried to work since I came here, and I have succeeded in mastering all the official documents that relate to Algeria. I own that this study has confirmed my opinions; and it has made my anticipations even more gloomy. I could write a volume on the subject, but I wish to finish this long letter. I will, therefore, give you only my conclusions. I think that we shall never do all the grand things in Algeria which were prophesied to us; but, on the other hand, I am more convinced than ever: First, that there is no medium between giving it up altogether, and, I will not say, conquering the country, but making ourselves thoroughly masters there. Secondly, that this alternative, on conditions similar to those obtained by the Turks, is quite practicable; and will take place if, as is possible, we succeed in destroying Abd-el-Kader. But the attempt to hold a portion of the country with, at our backs, a great Arab power which cannot subsist without attacking us, and separated by us from the sea, which is essential to its wants—this, my dear friend, is what the perusal of these papers has proved to me to be even more futile than I formerly thought.

Edition: current; Page: [57]

We spend our evenings very agreeably in reading Burnes,* who, unfortunately, like all travellers, talks more about himself than the nations he visits. His mind is simple, decided, clear, but narrow. Tell me what books of history or travels give the best ideas of the oriental nations, and especially of British India. I will get them directly; for in these days it is necessary to know all that there is to be known about the East, which is fated to play a considerable part in the future.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
September 27, 1840
M. J. J. Ampère
Ampère, M. J. J.

TO M. J. J. AMPÈRE.

I cannot tell you, my dearest friend, how much I was affected by reading your verses. I believe that I should have thought them beautiful even if they had had nothing to do with me or my ideas, but the subject added gratitude to my admiration. Words cannot describe my delight at seeing my favourite opinions so well understood and so well expressed. You have imposed on me a real obligation, and I rejoice in it; for you belong to the small circle of true friends whom I love and esteem; and next to the pleasure of obliging them, there is none greater than that of being obliged by them.

I return to the completeness with which you enter into my meaning. It does not indeed surprise me, but it gives me great pleasure. You certainly are one of the Edition: current; Page: [58] ten whom M. Royer-Collard alluded to, when he said, “In the democratic society which you are so proud of, there will not be ten persons who will thoroughly enter into the spirit of your book.” I believe him to have been egregiously mistaken, especially if I could find a few more such interpreters as you are.

The packet had the additional merit of containing your letter announcing your speedy arrival. You will find this house still unfinished; but there is a room in one of the turrets to which no noise ever penetrates, from above or below. This will be yours, and we already call it by your name. Come then, dear friend; but let it be for a long visit. This last condition is imperative. Do not come for the sake of amusement, but to enjoy an interval of quiet and absence from care with friends who will be glad to have you with them, and who treat you already as one of the family. Bring your work with you. I promise you liberty and peace. You know better than I do, though you often show that you are able to do without them, the value of these blessings to a man who lives much among his own thoughts.

I will ask you to do me a favour, which I hope will indirectly benefit you. We have just read Burnes, who has made us, me especially, long for a further knowledge of the East. There must be other modern travels, and equally instructive books; travels or histories about Persia, Turkey, or Hindostan. Is there no translation of a good history or description of the British Empire in India? As to travels, there are Elphinstone’s, to which Burnes frequently refers, and Edition: current; Page: [59] which must be interesting. If you can remember any, or your friends can suggest any, it would be very kind in you to communicate with my bookseller, who will buy for me any books that you recommend.

. . . . I need not ask you to remember me particularly to Madame Récamier and M. de Chateaubriand; nor need I tell you that my wife joins in begging you to come soon, and to stay long.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
November 2, 1840
Baron de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Baron

TO THE BARON DE TOCQUEVILLE.

I cannot thank you enough for the long letter which I received from you a short time ago. It was admirable; full of noble feelings and ideas. Such letters are excellent tonics; unfortunately, you can hardly hope to cure a disease, which depends so much on the constitution of the patient. You may modify this constitution, but you cannot change it. It is the secret of my strength sometimes, and of my weakness often. I have the restless, anxious mind, the continual craving for excitement, which belonged to our father. This temperament has at times enabled me to do great things. But in general, it tortures, agitates, and afflicts to no purpose. This is often the case with me; I have no difficulty in seeing the likeness. I am often miserable when there is no cause; and this gives only too much cause to those around me to be so. I am also well aware that this disposition may frequently interfere with my judgment. For a time it prevents my seeing things in their true perspective; external objects seem to me to Edition: current; Page: [60] be sometimes larger and sometimes smaller than they really are; just as my fancy paints them. I believe that my character is naturally candid and decided; but to remain so it must have calm, and petty annoyances often ruffle it. In moments of great excitement, or of important business, I generally preserve my composure; but the daily worries of life and of society easily disturb me.

It is indeed true that I have many sources of happiness; for besides all those that you enumerate, there is one which you have omitted, and I must add to them; it is that of having found the wife best suited to me. I want some things without which many people are miserable, and which I should like well enough to possess; such as wealth and, I will even own, children. I should love to have such children as I can imagine; but I have no great desire to put into the great lottery of paternity. What then do I want? You know and have said it: a quiet mind and moderate desires. I have lived long enough to know that there is no one thing in the whole world capable of fixing and of satisfying me. I have attained a success which I had no right to hope for at the beginning of my career; yet my happiness is not perfect. Often, in imagination, I fancy myself at the summit of human greatness; when there, I am not so dazzled but that the conviction forces itself irrepressibly upon me, that the same painful sensations, which I suffer from here, would follow me to that sublime altitude; just as my present sufferings are as like as possible to those of my younger days. The disturbing causes are different, but the mind itself is the same; restless, discontented, despising the good things of this world, yet Edition: current; Page: [61] constantly joining in the struggle for them, in order to escape from the painful lethargy into which it falls when for any time it is left to itself. This is a sad state to be in. All men feel it at times; some more than others; and I, more than anyone whom I know.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
December 18, 1840
Paris
John Stuart Mill
Mill, John Stuart

TO J. S. MILL, ESQ.

I reproach myself greatly, my dear friend, for not having written to you sooner. I hope that you will forgive me when you remember the pressure of public business during the last two months. Nothing else could have prevented my writing to you immediately after your article appeared in the Edinburgh Review.*

I cannot write all the thoughts suggested by this remarkable paper: they are too many for a letter, especially such a letter as I have leisure for.

But there are some things which I ought long ago to have found time to say to you, and among others this: of all the articles on my book, yours is the only one in which the author has perfectly seized my meaning, and made it apparent to others. I need not, therefore, add, that I read it with extreme pleasure. At last I found myself criticised by a superior mind that had taken the trouble of entering into my ideas, and submitting them to a searching analysis. You alone, I repeat, have afforded me this satisfaction. I am binding your article with a copy of my book. The two ought to go together, and I wish to be able to turn from the one to the other. Edition: current; Page: [62] A thousand thanks, therefore, dear Mill, to you for writing it. You have given me one of the greatest pleasures that I have enjoyed for a long time.

The success of the second part of the “Democracy” has been less general in France, than that of the first part. In our day, I seldom think the public mistaken; I, therefore, am applying myself industriously to discover the fault that I have committed; probably a considerable one. I think that it belongs to the purpose for which the book was written, which is too abstract and raises too many questions to please the public. When I wrote only upon democratic society in the United States, I was understood directly. If I had written upon democratic society in France, as it exists in the present day, that again would have been easily understood. But using the ideas derived from American and French democracy only as data, I endeavoured to paint the general features of democratic societies; no complete specimen of which can yet be said to exist. This is what an ordinary reader fails to appreciate. Only those who are much accustomed to searching for abstract and speculative truths, care to follow me in such an inquiry. I believe that the comparatively little effect produced by my book is to be attributed to the original sin of the subject itself, rather than to the manner in which I have treated any particular portion.

You must have lamented, as I did, and as every sensible man did, the breach in the alliance between our two nations. No one advocated their union more strongly than myself. But I need not tell you, my dear Mill, that if it be important to keep up in a nation, Edition: current; Page: [63] especially in a nation so versatile as ours, the feeling that leads to great actions, the people must not be taught to submit quietly to be treated with indifference. To show no sense of your treatment of us would have been to smother, and perhaps extinguish, passions which we may some day need. The most elevated feeling now left to us is national pride. No doubt we ought to try to regulate it, and to moderate its ebullitions; but we must beware of diminishing it. I think the behaviour of your ministers inexcusable, and I was much grieved to see that it was countenanced by the British people. Ill-will is increasing between the two nations, and I am sorry for it; not only on their account, but on that of the whole of Europe; for all this is only driving us to enter into the schemes of the most formidable power of all.

Enough, and too much, of these gloomy politics. Good-bye. Are you never coming to France?

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
May 30, 1841
Philippeville
Baron de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Baron

TO THE BARON DE TOCQUEVILLE.

We arrived this morning, my dear Edward, at Philippeville, after the finest passage that we have yet had. The sea as calm as a river; magnificent weather, yet not too hot; and within half gun-shot range of the coast. Such a coast I have seldom seen in my life. This part of Africa is far the most beautiful. High mountains rise almost from the sea. They are covered to the very top with trees or pastures. Frequent openings disclose lovely vallies, highly cultivated, and covered with flocks. The whole of this immense group Edition: current; Page: [64] of mountains and vallies is peopled by the Kabyles. It is an enchanted land, cultivated by savages. As long as we do not tread on their territory, they do not object to us, they will even trade with us; but woe betide you if you attempt to take a walk in their beautiful country! We landed on two or three points on this coast, where there are French settlements, such as Bougie and Gigelly. The Kabyles attend the markets in these little towns to sell eggs and poultry. But if a Frenchman shows himself fifty steps from the fortifications, he is fired at immediately. They are always at war, however, among themselves; and, it is said, live in complete anarchy. In spite of this, the land is admirably cultivated, they have splendid flocks, and manufacture stuffs, arms, and ammunition. One can scarcely believe that the same men can be so civilized and so savage.

As we approached Philippeville, the mountains became lower, and we re-entered the domain of the Arabs. The first glimpse of Philippeville made me fancy myself in America. Two years ago, it was a bare shore. Now the town contains 5,000 inhabitants, exclusive of the military. You may imagine the confusion attendant upon so rapid a creation. All is going on at once: streets marked out, houses building: one is in the midst of rubbish of every description. There is an appearance of feverish activity which I had not met with since I left the United States.

One of our principal objects was to visit Constantine, which is only forty-five miles off; nothing is easier. Three times a week two men on horseback (two Spahis) go from the one point to the other. But they do it in Edition: current; Page: [65] one day, which we should have thought too tiring. Fortunately, a large party starts to-morrow, and takes three days about it, sleeping every night in tents. We shall join them, and start at daybreak. You will not guess who is our travelling companion—the old Marquis de Talaru. We run no risks from the Arabs: perfect peace reigns in the province. As to health, the country does not become unwholesome till July. The high table-land over which we shall travel is, indeed, never so, and on the coast the danger is much less than is supposed. Adieu! I go to prepare for our expedition.*

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
July 5, 1841
M. J. J. Ampère
Ampère, M. J. J.

TO M. J. J. AMPÈRE.

You took such a strong and friendly interest in my health, that it is but just that you should be one of the first to receive news of me. I must tell you then, my dear friend, that my journey has been perfectly harmless. Four and twenty hours after bidding you adieu in Paris, I sat down to dinner at Tocqueville. Pray engrave this circumstance on your memory; and take notice that such a journey is the easiest thing in the world. When, then, you have a few days to spare, remember that there is a place where you are sure of finding true friends and a hearty welcome, and do not hesitate about coming. Edition: current; Page: [66] Do not behave like those who, insisting always upon doing so very well, end by never doing anything at all. Do not reserve yourself for the time when you will be able to pass months with us. Give us, meanwhile, any stray weeks that you can. The most trifling contributions will be gratefully accepted. The famous room which we are always telling you of, and in which no noise will ever be heard, will soon be ready. It is to be called “Ampère’s Room,” even if some one else is in it; in order, as the lawyers say, that there may be no adverse possession.

I cannot tell you how I enjoy my quiet life. There is a general cause for this, I think, in my increased experience of the hard knocks which one meets with in the world, and an accidental cause in the exciting and fatiguing life which I have just undergone. So much noise and activity lend, by comparison, the charm of positive enjoyment to the silence and repose of this place. This intense appreciation of peace is a new excitement. Time and possession will diminish its impression; but I think that I shall always feel here a comfort and happiness which I shall never find elsewhere. Now I beg of you to admire the absurd inconsistency of human nature. Ask the man who says that he is so happy, if he would like to remain for ever as he is. He would say, by no means; he would tell you that, after uttering all these fine things on the charms of solitude and tranquillity, he would think himself greatly to be pitied, if he never again were allowed to throw himself into the turmoil of war, of crowds and noise, of political animosities and literary jealousies, Assemblies, Edition: current; Page: [67] and Academies; in short, into the middle of that world from which he is so glad to have escaped. But I am beginning to philosophize. I will avoid this snare by bidding you most affectionately adieu. I need not tell you to remember me particularly to M. de Chateaubriand, to our good friend Ballanche, and above all to Madame Récamier, to whom my last attack of fever prevented my saying good bye.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
Aug. 10, 1841
M. J. J. Ampère
Ampère, M. J. J.

TO THE SAME.

My dearest Friend,

Your letter from Marseilles has just reached me, and I put aside everything to answer it, lest you should pass through Ancona without hearing from me. I had rather write a few words which you will receive, than fire after you a long missile which probably would never reach you. I will first answer your friendly questions, and tell you that though I am not yet quite well, I think that I am in a fair way of becoming so. The soothing influence of my life here is beginning to tell upon mind and body. You know what it is, so I need not describe it to you. All that it wants is the additional charm of your presence, and that charm was very great. We long for your return, that the picture may be complete. I am almost alarmed at my growing attachment to this life; for I feel that I have other duties to fulfil; and I fear lest they should become irksome to me, and that I should be wanting in the zeal without which one can accomplish nothing. The farther my youth is removed from me, the more indulgence—I might almost say, respect—I feel Edition: current; Page: [68] for human passions. I love those that are good, and I am not quite sure that I hate the bad. They always show strength, and strength, wherever you meet with it, appears to advantage by the side of the weakness which surrounds us. I continually see cowards trembling if their hearts give one additional beat, and always talking of the dangers attendant upon passion. This seems to me nonsense. What one meets with least frequently in these days are true and lasting passions, influencing and directing the whole life. We can no longer will, or love, or hate. Doubt and philanthropy make us shrink from all action, whether for the purpose of effecting great good or great evil; and we are always languidly engaged in the pursuit of trifles, none of which really attract, repel us, or fix us.

Here I am, relapsing into the philosophical disease, but you will forgive me, for it is a proof of friendship. One talks to one’s friends as one talks to oneself. The thoughts in my mind overflow of themselves when I am writing to you, and fill my letter, which must, however, be short; therefore I will conclude. You are now on your way to the East—that wonderful country—to which we shall follow you in imagination; let us hear from you often and at length. I ask this of you as much in my wife’s name, as in my own; and if you have not time to write long letters, at least write one line:—“I am well.” Pray do all you can to keep well; and let it not be very long before you come to relate the result of your pilgrimage.

Edition: current; Page: [69]
Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
October 9, 1843
M. Gustave de Beaumont
de Beaumont, M. Gustave

TO M. GUSTAVE DE BEAUMONT.

Our wives are better than we are, my dear friend, for they write to each other and we do not. I know that we have nothing in particular to say to each other; but still it is a good thing not entirely to break the thread of our daily impressions. This is my bulletin: since my return from the conseil général, I may say that I have not stirred from home. I have turned this seclusion to account by writing some articles on slavery. I think that they will not be without interest to the few who are occupied by this great question. I believe that it would be difficult to explain more clearly and in fewer words what has happened in the British colonies, and what may happen in our own. But with all my pains, these articles read like chapters. I do not think that I have the faults, but then I have none of the merits, of a writer for the public press. If Chambolle* inserts them, I do not recommend you to read them, except for the sake of the information which they will afford you. This occupation obliged me to read over again the Duke de Broglie’s report. It is a masterpiece. The whole work breathes a sincere love for the human race; that noble passion which the mummeries of the philanthropist have made almost ridiculous. Now I am going to study the British empire in India. I find it an interesting and even an amusing subject.

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Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
November 5, 1843
Lord Radnor
Radnor, Lord

TO LORD RADNOR.

A thousand thanks to you, my Lord, for sending me the first numbers of the Economist. I have looked at them, and I think, with you, that they are calculated to diffuse useful opinions. The study of this new science is, unfortunately, less general in France than it ought to be. Yet it already numbers many enthusiastic votaries; several of our newspapers and of our public men profess its principles. But its adversaries here, as well as in England probably, are all who are interested in opposing free trade; and they muster all the stronger with us because our chief manufactures did not attain to even their present development till under the exaggerated system of protection, established by the empire and continued by the restoration. They still think themselves inferior to yours, and they fancy that the destruction of the tariff would be their death-blow.

I am convinced that there is no foundation for most of these fears; still I believe that the changes which science is right in demanding ought to be effected by slow degrees and with great precautions. The truth of the principles is incontestable. They show clearly the aim which we should have in view; but this aim cannot at once be attained when one starts from a state of things created by an opposite system. You have been too long engaged in public life, my Lord, not to be aware that the legislator has no more difficult or tedious task than to cure the evils that he himself has occasioned. But to know the cause is a long way Edition: current; Page: [71] towards curing the evil. This is what political economy teaches us. In this respect, such newspapers as the one which you have sent to me are very useful. When I return to Paris I intend to recommend the librarian of the Chamber to subscribe to the Economist, that it may come under the notice of the deputies.

We were extremely glad, my Lord, to hear of the happy event which has made you a grandfather. Pray tell your son how much pleasure it has given us, and remind him of his promise to visit us here, with Mrs. Bouverie. We are anxious that he should fulfil his promise. Our gratification would be increased if you, my Lord, would accompany your son and daughter. I venture to say that you will be received nowhere with more respect or affection.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
November 15, 1843
M. de Corcelle
de Corcelle, M.

TO M. DE CORCELLE.

My dear Friend,

The religious question absorbs me as much as it does you, and more than that, it fills me with deep regret. One of my dreams, my chief dream when I entered public life, was to endeavour to reconcile the liberal party to the religious party; modern society to the Church. This reconciliation, essential both to liberty and to public morality, is now difficult; their relative positions, which, immediately after the Revolution of July, were uncertain, are now fixed; and it would take years to bring us back to where we were three years ago. We may think ourselves happy if we ever get back again! I repeat, that I am filled with Edition: current; Page: [72] regret, and also with irritation, against the authors of all this evil. I am angry with the vanity and passions of some of the opponents of the clergy, but I own that I am also indignant against the other party.

When I think of the state of public opinion and of the press, scarcely three years ago, in religious matters, and of what it now is, I cannot avoid seeing that the clergy must have been guilty of enormous errors. Violent personal abuse and exaggerated accusations have injured an excellent cause. Instead of supporting for others, and claiming for themselves, the right of teaching, they have exhibited a desire to influence, if not to direct, all popular education.

Still I acknowledge and approve some of your remarks. I believe with you that the faults of the clergy are far less dangerous to liberty than their subjection. I also think that the animosity of the clergy towards the Government is exceptional and temporary; that the ordinary and permanent condition to be feared is that of an unequal partition of power between the two; a sort of arrangement in which the Government and the Church would combine against liberty.

I certainly shall act and speak from this conviction; and the wrath of the public press will not prevent my saying what I think of an official papacy. I have also made up my mind to be firm on the question of freedom of teaching; but I hope that the Government will have the prudence not to bring forward the law till this storm is over, for just now the decision would be against us.

After enjoying the health of a plough-boy all through Edition: current; Page: [73] the summer, for the last month I have been quite out of sorts. I hope that this state will not last. The opening of a session, like the beginning of a battle, is not a convenient time to be sick. I worked too hard last summer; while you were in the deserts of Africa, I was travelling all over India. I flatter myself that I mastered the subject, and that I am now capable of judging of all that is going on, not only there, but throughout Asia. Still, to benefit by all this knowledge, one must live!

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
September 17, 1844
M. de Corcelle
de Corcelle, M.

TO THE SAME.

I have not time to-day, dear friend, to write a long letter. Besides, why should one treat, by the laborious process of writing, of subjects on which we shall soon have long and intimate conversation? I will, therefore, confine myself to a few general ideas relating to great political events.

I think that the religious movement should be neither exaggerated nor made of too little importance; it may be expressed in these words,—a real feeling made the instrument of factitious passions.

Just now, nothing can deeply and strongly excite the public mind; the University question no more than any other. Still it is the only question which interests the public, and which is rooted in opinions and prejudices that are not got up for the occasion. It is, however, rather embarrassing for all parties.

With regard to the “Commerce,” pray do not let us lose sight of the object of this newspaper. It is intended Edition: current; Page: [74] to give to us, the opposition, an organ which is to be perfectly independent in all questions of home and foreign politics; in which we may be able to defend, from a liberal point of view, liberty of teaching, without involving ourselves in the war against the clergy.

As to the style of polemics to be admitted, I agree with you that no violence should be allowed. But you wish a newspaper writer to be a “perfect gentleman;” and, if I am not mistaken, this is an error on your part which may cause you endless trouble and anxiety.

There is nothing more relative, nor to which universal propositions are less applicable, than style; pray consider this. The same man speaks differently in a drawing-room, in a book, in Parliament, to a friend, or to a thousand listeners; to an assembly of students, or to a crowd. His feelings and opinions remain intrinsically the same, but the way in which he brings them forward, the degree of animation, his choice and turn of expression, are different. To one audience he tells the whole, to the other he leaves half to be inferred.

A newspaper is a speech made from the window to the chance passers by in the street, among whom are to be found men of every degree of cultivation.

To make your opinions reach their minds and affect them as you wish, some warmth is necessary; arguments must be obvious; important truths must be mixed with common places; and the picture must be highly coloured, in order that it may be seen from a distance.

How can this be helped? It is the appropriate style. These articles will certainly not be found among the works that posterity will read; they are intended to Edition: current; Page: [75] produce, by constant repetition, a temporary effect. I fear that your ideal of what the style of a newspaper should be, is above all possibility of attainment. At least, I know of no example in any party, or country, or age.

I also think that you greatly exaggerate the responsibilities of the undertaking. Public men, especially if absent, are responsible only as to the general tone of a paper; never for each separate article. Do you not think that I was as much annoyed as you at some of the articles on our relations with England, where I have valuable friends, who may fancy that these were the expression of my personal opinions?

It is not, indeed, a time for stirring up our old griefs against England, when there is so much excitement on both sides. Our duty is to preserve the feeling of the nation within just and legitimate bounds. But to exceed these limits, and to throw oil upon the flames by reviving old disputes, seems to me to be almost wicked in the present critical juncture. I own that we do not do all that we want to do; but political affairs must be treated in a political spirit, and not with the scrupulous refinement of private life. What combined movement ever fulfils the exact object of the individuals engaged in it, each of whom does a little more, a little less, and a little differently than if he stood alone? It is a necessary condition of all association.

If you are resolved not to submit to it, you undoubtedly retain your individuality intact; but you can do none of the good that you wish to others, and your object in fact becomes selfish.

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Good bye. I cannot tell you how I delight in the idea of spending a whole week with you in the stillness of the country, before I return to the din of warfare. I shall leave you with increased strength and composure.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
June 21, 1846
Paris
Charles Buller
Buller, Charles

TO CHARLES BULLER, ESQ.*

It is an age, my dear Buller, since I have been anxious to write to you, but I have never had a spare minute. But we must not allow ourselves to become strangers. My friendship for you is already so strong, that I am sure that it will grow with intimacy. I am grieved that you could not be with us in the country last summer, for it is only in the country that perfect intimacy can be formed. So I trust that you will do next year what you planned last year.

I will not talk to you at any length about our politics. You know all that I could tell. Good fortune, the faults of the Opposition, the weariness of the whole nation, and the commercial spirit which has stifled all public spirit, have given to our Cabinet an overwhelming power, which, distant as you are, you must have perceived.

The King is stronger, not merely than he ever was before, but than any one has been, since the empire. Every thing shows that this Government has obtained an ascendency resembling, but with more reality and Edition: current; Page: [77] more completeness, that gained by the Restoration after the Spanish war in 1824. Every obstacle falls before it, and for a time it will be restrained by nothing but its own will. According to all appearances, the next elections will give us, what is not easy, a Chamber still more submissive than this is.

As for the Peers, you know that, as against the throne, they are nothing. A new phase is beginning.

Will the dynasty use this new omnipotence for the purpose of establishing and consolidating its power? Or, like the Restoration, and like many other dynasties, will it waste it in faults which will produce a reaction?

The future will tell us.

At this instant, we are thinking as much about your politics as about our own. Your affairs, as seen from hence, have a grandeur which ours are far from possessing. I know nothing more exciting or more interesting that the spectacle now offered to the world by England. What is new and what is old is equally striking. Never was a constitutional nation in so strange a situation, or in one from which, to a foreigner, at least, the issue was so incapable of being foreseen.

I own that I cannot imagine how Mr. Peel can retain office, or how the Tories can govern without him; or how the Whigs can find a substitute for him, or how they can really and cordially join him. If you can see into this darkness, pray give me a little of your light.

I have long thought that a fusion of the Whigs with some of the old Tories was preparing itself, and that the solution of the perplexities of the last year might be found in the creation of a new party. But events seem Edition: current; Page: [78] to have been so hurried on as to render this solution, for the present at least, very difficult. There are personal difficulties, apparently insurmountable; and there are practical ones, above all with respect to Ireland, equally formidable.

I end, therefore, as I began, by saying, that I look on your course with extreme interest, but cannot guess in what direction it is leading you.

Kindest regards from us both.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
October 11, 1846
Marseilles
M. de Corcelle
de Corcelle, M.

TO M. DE CORCELLE.

I have already told you, my dear friend, that I do not intend to explore Algeria. I wish only to spend a month or two in a scene of so much interest. I do not want to go to Africa in order to be ill; and I am determined always to make my curiosity yield to my health. I have resolved, therefore, to remain fixed during the whole time at Algiers. I know that this will prevent my visit from being completely satisfactory; but it will be more curious and interesting than the journey to Italy, which was my first intention.

Being thus hemmed in by prudent resolutions, I scarcely know what field of observation will be open to me. With you, I think that the most important point, politically speaking, is our relation to Morocco, and to all that frontier. I should much like to see Oran, and even Djemma-Gazouat; but I fear that I shall not be able. You know that Marshal Bugeaud is anxious for Edition: current; Page: [79] war, or at least for an expedition which will certainly lead to war.

The African question, complicated and important as it is, may be summed up in these words:—How shall we succeed in raising a French population, with our laws, our manners, and our civilisation, and at the same time treat the natives with the consideration to which we are bound by honour, by justice, by humanity, and by our real interests? The question has these two sides. They can neither of them be considered separately. I have never done so; and if in the Chamber I have spoken of one more than of the other, it is because everything cannot be said at once, nor so wide a subject brought under one head.

I assure you that I go to Algiers perfectly unprejudiced as to the men whom I shall meet, and the things which I shall see. Experience has taught me that one never knows thoroughly what one has not studied for oneself. I leave behind me in France all the opinions which I have collected from hearsay, determined to judge every detail as if I had heard of it for the first time. I am equally resolved not to throw myself blindly into any of the parties headed by the different generals.

I saw M. Dufaure as I passed through Paris, and liked him better than ever. I never found him more determined, nor governed by more noble and disinterested motives. It seems to me that we have never had so much reason to hope that we may be of real use to our country. You paint in the most attractive colours, the happiness of being out of the political Edition: current; Page: [80] arena. How one is never indignant; never carried away; but able to judge everything, surrounded by an atmosphere of eternal peace and justice. When I hear you say such things, I own that I long to beat you. Good heavens, my dear friend, such sentiments have nothing to do with politics. Our aim is honest and noble; and how shall we attain it without the earnest endeavours of ourselves and our friends? All our friends, indeed, are not perfect; they are often very different from what one would like them to be; they seldom do all that one wishes, and they often persuade one into committing blunders that one regrets. But still this is better, I do not say for oneself, but for the good that one may be able to effect, than to live alone. As for me, I am determined to oppose with all my energies the adversaries of my opinions; and I am equally resolved to preserve the weakness of loving, whether you approve or not, all my friends, and you above all, in spite of your philosophy.

Adieu. I will write to you from Africa as soon as I receive any clear impressions.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
July 29, 1847
Paris
M. Dufaure
Dufaure, M.

TO M. DUFAURE.

My dear Friend and Colleague,

Our mutual friend, Rivet, has talked to me as well as to you, of a projected treatise, by several hands, on the finances. I like his proposal, and am ready to give my assistance, if you think that it will be useful.

I have always thought, and I believe that I have even repeated to you several times, that among the Edition: current; Page: [81] various reforms to which the public mind is more or less indifferent, there is one in which the country takes a lively interest, and which deserves the serious attention of public men; I mean the reform of our financial system.

Here is an opportunity for bringing forward not uncertain theories, but a detailed programme, to consist not merely of repealing tax after tax, without preparing new ones, but of a complete reorganization of the system, so as to lessen the burthen on the poor, while that on the rich would be slightly increased. By these means order might be restored to the finances, and at the same time the labouring classes might be relieved. Such a plan need only be stated to show how many questions it implies. I own that I am at present incapable of pointing out the details or the means. But those who are better skilled than I am believe it to be practicable. I see only that it is a great idea; and that like all great ideas, it would answer many purposes at once. It embraces all the most important social and financial questions. It is both economical and political. To apply it wisely would be sufficient to render either a party or an administration illustrious. There are many other great advantages to be derived from treating it. It leads to a reform which would be very popular and yet not revolutionary. You might thus be excused from engaging in many other reforms which are not seasonable, and are little desired by the nation, and for which you would never succeed in getting up a public interest. The proposed plan, on the contrary, would supply a want that is felt by the nation; which in these Edition: current; Page: [82] days is more interested by questions partaking of a social character than by those which are purely political. What could be more in accordance with this spirit than a financial reform, of which the consequence would be a more equitable distribution of the public expenses among the different classes of society?

I cannot ask you too earnestly to undertake this important reform. The moment has assuredly come for it. If a powerful hand does not grasp this question it will fall into a feeble or unworthy one; some one will undoubtedly take it up. It is impending over us like every change which is the natural product of the wants of the time.

I am willing, for my part, to take any share that is allotted to me in the work, or none at all, if that should be preferred. Rivet thinks that the section which would suit me best, would be a sort of introduction showing the present state of our financial system; its history; its chief defects; the purpose to be held in view in retouching it; and, lastly, an account of what the English have effected in this respect during the last thirty years. Am I to undertake this? If you approve, advise me as to the means of execution. But especially tell me (I hope with all my heart you will be able to do so), that the proposal has your warm approbation and sympathy. You alone can bring our combined efforts to a good result; you alone can inspire the writers with the courage, the industry, and the animation which ensure success. For this purpose you must place yourself at their head, and direct them; and when their work is finished, it is you again who must digest their labours, Edition: current; Page: [83] and afterwards present the public with the clear, definite, and practical consequences. Adieu, &c.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
August 25, 1847
N. W. Senior
Senior, N. W.

TO N. W. SENIOR, ESQ.

Many thanks for your route; not that I hope to fall in with you in Italy, but because I hope to be able to meet you in Paris. I shall be delighted to see you again after so long an absence, and to talk over with you all that has been going on, and is going on in the world.

You will find France calm, and not unprosperous, but anxious; men’s minds have been subject for some time to a strange uneasiness. In the midst of a tranquillity more profound than any that we have enjoyed for a very long time, the idea that our present position is unstable besets them. As for myself, though not without alarm, I am less anxious. I believe that our social edifice will continue to rest on its present basis, because no one, even if he wish to change its foundation, can point out another. But yet the state of public feeling disturbs me.

The middle classes, constantly exposed to the solicitations of the government, have gradually assumed towards the rest of the nation the position of a little aristocracy, with all the corruption of the ancient aristocracy, and without its higher feelings. I feel ashamed of obeying such a vulgar aristocracy, and if this feeling should prevail among the lower classes it may produce great calamities.

And yet how can a government be prevented from using corruption when the nature of our constituencies Edition: current; Page: [84] makes corruption so convenient, and our centralization makes it so easy? The fact is, that we are trying an experiment of which I cannot foresee the result. We are trying to employ at the same time two instruments which, I believe, have never been combined before; an elected assembly and a highly centralized executive. It is the greatest problem of modern times. We have proposed it to the world, but it has not yet been solved.

I am anxious for your inferences from what you have seen in Germany, and are now seeing in Italy. Kind and affectionate regards.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
August 27, 1847
M. de Corcelle
de Corcelle, M.

TO M. DE CORCELLE.

I find this country without political excitement, but in a most formidable moral condition. No revolution may be hanging over us, but revolutions must assuredly be ushered in by such signs. The effect produced by the Cubières prosecution was immense. The other horrible story which we have been full of for the last week,* has cast a vague terror and profound uneasiness over every mind. Such is the effect, I confess, which it has produced on mine. I never heard of any crime which gave me such a shocking impression of human nature, and of the men of my own time in particular. What a confusion between right and wrong is proved by such a deed! How clearly it shows the ruin caused by our successive revolutions! Adieu. Believe that Edition: current; Page: [85] your misfortunes only increase my attachment to you. Let me hear from you.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
January 6, 1848
Mademoiselle Denise de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Mademoiselle Denise

TO MADEMOISELLE DENISE DE TOCQUEVILLE.

I was much pleased, dear Denise, with your little letter, and with that of your brother’s. I do not answer his, as I know that he has left Baugy. But I should like to have a little chat with you. I have only a few minutes to spare, and I like to employ them in this way. You say that you are fond of me. Your affection cannot yet be very strong, for you know scarcely anything of me; but I hope that it will be so in time, when you see how sincerely I desire your happiness, how anxious I shall be to contribute to it, and to love you rather as if you were my daughter than my niece. This, dear Denise, is the advantage of having elderly uncles with no children of their own. They begin to grow tired of the world, and having no little ones at home on whom to bestow their paternal affection, they are the more ready to yield to the illusion of being loved by their nephews and nieces; and in return for this affection, which as yet can be little more than imaginary, to love them really and sincerely.

This is my case. I grew very fond of you and of your sister during my short stay at Baugy, and it depends only upon you to make me love you better and better the more I know of you. Both of you seemed to me to be kind and obliging to everybody, and particularly to your aunt and to me; so my good wishes for the year 1848 will be only that you may continue to pursue the Edition: current; Page: [86] good path that you have chosen. Go on thinking more of others than of yourselves; try to be, rather than to appear, full of goodness and kindness; especially, and above all, continue to be frank, simple, true, and natural (take notice of each of these points); be so because you think it right, and when you have acquired the experience which you do not yet possess, you will find that at the same time it was very wise, and you will be delighted to see that you have become almost unconsciously superior to most of the women one generally meets in society. Not only will you be more respected, but you will be more liked, more sought after—for this reason, dear Denise, that real charm does not depend on your manners, but on the qualities of your mind, and still more, of your heart. These are my wishes for you and for your sister, not only in the year 1848, but in every succeeding year; you can have none better, and I will conclude, after embracing you both most affectionately.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
April 10, 1848
Paris
N. W. Senior
Senior, N. W.

TO N. W. SENIOR, ESQ.

My dear Mr. Senior,

I was away when your letter came. I found it on my return only three days ago. I immediately went to Mr. Austin’s, to know what had prevented your visit to Paris. I was grieved to hear that your health had forced you to change your plans. I am doubly sorry not to see you, on account of the cause. I had been the more anxious for your arrival as I expected to have derived from your conversation some ideas which would have been of special value at this juncture in our affairs.

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It has not escaped your notice that our greatest evils are not the result of fierce political excitement, but of the frightful ignorance of the masses as to the real conditions of production and of social prosperity. Our sufferings are caused less by false ideas on politics properly so called, than by false notions on political economy.

I do not think that a poor-law such as you suggest, would, at least at present, remedy the evil. The Revolution was not brought about by the privations of the working classes. In some districts they certainly suffered from want, but in general, I may say that in no other country or period had the working classes been better off than they then were in France. This was especially true of those that were employed in agriculture. There the labourer did not need work, but work needed labourers. In consequence of the subdivision of landed property, there was a deficiency of hands. The crisis from which the workmen in large manufactories were suffering, lasted a very short time, and though severe, was not unexampled. It was not want, but ideas, that brought about that great revolution; chimerical ideas on the relations between labour and capital, extravagant theories as to the degree in which the Government might interfere between the working-man and the employer, doctrines of ultra-centralization which had at last persuaded large numbers that it depended on the state not only to save them from want, but to place them in easy, comfortable circumstances. You must feel that to these diseased imaginations a poor-law would not be an efficient remedy. I am Edition: current; Page: [88] far, however, from saying that recourse must not be had to it. I even think that the people ought long ago to have obtained one; but this law would not be enough to extricate us from our present difficulties, for, I repeat, we have to contend with ideas rather than with wants.

Three weeks before the revolution, I made a speech which was taken down at the time in short-hand, and reproduced in the Moniteur. I have just had it printed exactly as it stands in the Moniteur. I send you a copy; pray read it; you will see, that though I knew not how or when a revolution would take place, the proximity of such an event was clearly manifest to me. I have often been reminded of this speech, which aroused at the time violent murmurs in the Chamber, from those who are now willing to own that they were wrong, and that I was right. I believe that when I made it, I was on the road to discovering the primary and deeply-seated causes of that revolution. It broke out from accidents strange and violent in themselves, I confess, but still insufficient to produce such an effect. Consider, on the one hand, the causes which I have pointed out, and on the other, our system of centralization, which makes the fate of France depend on a single blow struck in Paris, and you will have the explanation of the Revolution of 1848, such as one day it will appear in history, and as I myself intend to write it if God preserves my life. Will you be so good as to present a copy of my speech to Lord Lansdowne, and remember me particularly to him. I have alluded only to the past in this letter; to treat of the future, more than a letter would be required.

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We are in the most extraordinary position that a great nation has ever been thrown into. We are forced to witness great misfortunes; we are surrounded by great dangers. My chief hope is in the lower orders. They are deficient in intelligence, but they have instincts which are worthy of all admiration; I am myself astonished, and a foreigner would be even more surprised, to see how strong a feeling for order and true patriotism prevails; to see their good sense in all things of which they are capable of judging, and in all matters on which they have not been deceived by the ambitious dreamers to whom they were abandoned. Adieu, dear Senior, &c.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
May, 1848
Paris
Comtesse Louis de Kergorlay
de Kergorlay, Comtesse Louis

TO THE COMTESSE LOUIS DE KERGORLAY.

Almost simultaneously with the letters in which you, my dear cousin, told me how happy you were at receiving such good news of Louis, came one from Louis himself, telling me a little about Germany, and a great deal about you. He told me how long the days seemed away from you, how necessary you had become to his existence; his letter, in fact, was full of the deep and increasing happiness that he finds in his union with you. I cannot express to you, dear cousin, the joy with which I read, one after the other, these proofs of similar sentiments. I was glad that you were able to give them, glad, also, to receive them from each of you. I deserve the attachment you profess for me, by that which I have for you both.

If the newspapers you read, dear cousin, tell you that we are going on from bad to worse, that the confidence Edition: current; Page: [90] of the people in their rulers is nearly gone, that our financial difficulties are increasing, that want and misery become more prevalent, and that every day everything falls into a state of greater confusion, they must give you a correct notion of our condition. Such is, indeed, the present aspect of affairs, and if some great man does not fall from the clouds within the next few months to extricate us, I greatly fear that we shall not escape without going through the bitter experience of anarchy, civil war, and their ruinous consequences. Now, as I see no signs of this great man, and, in fact, have no faith in the sudden apparition of heroes, while I see round me swarms of mischievous pigmies, I am very uneasy and much alarmed. If so many of my friends and relations were not exposed to the storm, the eager interest awakened in me by the singular, at times imposing, scene before me, might, perhaps, almost reconcile me to it. I was so wearied by the monotony of the previous period, that I have no right to complain of the stormy variety of this. But to reason in this way, one must consider the events of this world as the passing scenes in a play, and to me they are far more. . . . Do not be too long without letting us hear from you. Give a kiss from me to Louis, if he has had the good taste to return to you, and believe in my most affectionate wishes.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
May 26, 1848
Paris
Lord Radnor
Radnor, Lord

TO LORD RADNOR.

My Lord,

I cannot allow our friend, Mr. Senior, to leave us without giving him a letter for you. I was much Edition: current; Page: [91] pleased and gratified by the one which reached me from you. You are aware of my sincere affection and respect, and you will therefore understand me when I say that no sign of your remembrance or regard is ever received by me with indifference.

Mr. Senior will tell you more as to the present state of France than I can while I am harassed by the exigencies and business of public life. Our condition is indeed very serious; still the good sense and feeling of the masses leave some room to hope. Till now, their conduct has been above all praise; and if they had only leaders capable of turning these good dispositions to account, and of directing them, we soon should get rid of all these dangerous and impracticable theories, and place the Republic on the only durable foundation, that of liberty and right. Our greatest misfortune is the absence of leaders. The old parliamentary men who flourished under the monarchy cannot now take part in the government: they would excite suspicion; and without them we do not know to whom to trust the conduct of public affairs.

England seems to be the only country free from convulsions; still, if I might venture to express an opinion on a foreign country, it would be that your higher classes must not go to sleep in absolute security. We are in the midst of a general revolution of all civilized nations; in the long run not one will escape. There is but one way of retarding or mitigating this revolution; it is to do all that can be done to improve the condition of the people before changes are enforced by necessity.

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Madame de Tocqueville thanks you, my Lord, for your kind recollection of her. She joins with me in remembrance to Lady Jane Ellice. Give my regards to Mr. Bouverie, and believe, &c. &c.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
August, 1848
Paris
M. Gustave de Beaumont
de Beaumont, M. Gustave

TO M. GUSTAVE DE BEAUMONT (IN LONDON).

My dear Friend,

I comply with your request of giving you all the information that I think will be of use to you. The Government tells you the facts. My task is to let you know as much as I can of the condition of the public mind, which one can estimate correctly only when one is not in office. . . .

It seems to me to be of special importance to make known to you the disposition of a large majority in the Assembly with regard to Italian affairs. . . .

If the resistance of Venice should not immediately produce a war, it will, I think, render negotiations much more easy, for Austria will be able to answer, “All is over.” I do not know what are the bases of your negotiations, nor even if they are as yet settled. I only remember to have read somewhere in Napoleon’s writings, perhaps with regard to the treaty of Campo Formio, this remark: that, in the hands of Austria, the line of the Adige is a defence for Germany, but that the line of the Mincio is a threat to Italy; the one closes Austria, and the other opens the Peninsula. I will finish the subject of foreign politics with this Napoleonic maxim . . .

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Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
November, 1848
Paris
M. Gustave de Beaumont
de Beaumont, M. Gustave

TO THE SAME.

Your first letter had determined me to accept the mission which was offered to me.* Still, I did not like to do so till I had spoken to General Cavaignac. I saw him on the day before yesterday. . . .

In the first place, will there be a mediation or a conference? If the Austrian empire falls to pieces, how and where can we negotiate? If, as is more probable, Vienna is retaken, and a monarchical reaction occurs, would the crown in the midst of its triumph be inclined to negotiate? If war broke out again in Italy, could there be negotiations? I might make many more hypotheses; first and foremost, the possibility of our seeing, even before the negotiations are opened, another man take the place of General Cavaignac at the head of our affairs. . . .

We have just heard that a bloody and formidable revolution has broken out in Berlin. Germany, then, is topsyturvy from one end to the other. How will that affect us? I fear in no good way. After a crisis of such violence, I fear a passing but dangerous reaction. . . .

I accept your invitation to London with great pleasure. The affair will benefit by the negotiators meeting. . . . But the more I think of it, the more I doubt whether the Congress at Brussels will ever take place. . . .

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Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
February 27, 1849
Paris
G. Grote
Grote, G.

TO G. GROTE, ESQ.

My Dear Mr. Grote,

I have received the books that you were so kind as to send to me. I did not write to you immediately, because I would not write to you before I had read you. I was a long time about this; for nearly a month I was ill, and all the rest of the time I have been very busy. Still I have been able to find leisure to read your fifth volume, which seems worthy of its predecessors. This is as much as to say that it greatly interested, and I might almost say, amused me, if it were proper to use such a word respecting so serious and learned a work. In fact, the impression produced on me by your book is always the same. I feel a grave, intellectual enjoyment at seeing the picture of the ancient, and illustrious society of Greece, by the light of modern knowledge and experience. I knew the edifice well, and yet I am struck by its new aspect. It is as if I saw by daylight an object of which I had only caught a glimpse in the night. Again I beg you to accept not only my thanks, but my sincere congratulations.

I see that our affairs interest you. The events in France during the last year are well calculated to attract the attention of an elevated and thoughtful mind. To a foreigner, who sees the effects without understanding the causes, they must appear most extraordinary. To those who are on the spot, and who have watched the inevitable progress of events, nothing can be more simple and natural. . . .

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At any rate, the nation did not wish for a revolution. Still less did it desire a republic; for though in France there is not a particle of attachment for any particular dynasty, the opinion that monarchy is a necessary institution is almost universal. France then wished neither for a revolution nor for a republic. That she has allowed both to be inflicted upon her proceeds from two causes: from the fact that Paris, having become during the last fifty years the first manufacturing town in the country, was able on a given day to furnish the republican party with an army of artizans; and secondly from another fact, which is the off-spring of centralization, that Paris, no matter who speaks in her name, dictates to the rest of France. These two facts, taken together, explain the catastrophe of February, 1848.

The whole of this last year has been one long and painful effort on the part of the nation to recover its equilibrium, and to retake, by the pacific and legal means that universal suffrage has conferred on it, all the benefits of which it was robbed by the surprise of February. Much has been said about the versatility of the French. They are versatile, no doubt, but in my opinion they never were less so than during the last year. Up to the present time their conduct has been singularly consistent. Last March they rose as one man to attend the elections, and, in spite of much intimidation, they elected an Assembly which, though favourable to a republic, was thoroughly anti-anarchical and anti-revolutionary. In June they armed, and rushed to Paris, to prevent another revolution even more frightful Edition: current; Page: [96] than the first. Finally, in December, they designated their ruler by a name, if not monarchical, at least significant of a strong and regular mode of government. I, for my part, deeply regretted this last act, which seemed to me to go too far. I did not join in it. I refused to retain my diplomatic appointment to Brussels. But I must confess that the conduct of the nation on the 10th December was not inconsistent. It acted under dangerous excitement, but in the same spirit which governed its actions in March and in June, and even in the petty details of every day. And now, what will happen? It would be madness to attempt to predict.

Whatever it may be, we cannot possibly be replaced in the position we were in before February. Many fancy that we shall be. But they are fools. They think that by tearing out a page of history they will be able to take it up where they left off. I do not believe a word of it. This revolution has left, in many directions, scars which will never be effaced.

Pray present our kind regards to Mrs. Grote, and accept them yourself.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
June 7, 1849
Paris
Lord Radnor
Radnor, Lord

TO LORD RADNOR.

I cannot find words, my Lord, to express to you my emotion on receiving your letter: I have always valued every token of your remembrance. But at this solemn juncture of my life, when I am called upon, without having demanded or desired it, to take so heavy a responsibility on my shoulders, this proof of your regard is doubly Edition: current; Page: [97] valuable. I feel how much too heavy the burden is for my strength, but I hope that I shall have courage to bear it. I am supported in this serious undertaking by remembering, that my most earnest wish is to influence the foreign policy of my country on the side of peace. As far as depends on me, you may be sure that the peace of the world will be maintained. I will stake my conscience and my honour upon it.

Adieu, my Lord. May God bestow upon you the long life and all the happiness that you so well deserve.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
June 19, 1850
Comtesse de Circourt
de Circourt, Comtesse

TO THE COMTESSE DE CIRCOURT.

I have heard, Madame, of the sad death of my colleague in the academy, M. de Villeneuve. This death creates a vacancy in the Institute, and I have already received many applications. Before answering them, I want to ascertain the wishes of M——, for whom I know that you are interested.

Our journey was prosperous. . . . This place continues to please me, and I should be very sorry if we were obliged to leave it; there is nothing really remarkable about it, but its associations give to it a beauty and an interest in my eyes which it would not have in any others. We live here in such absolute solitude that the rumour of politics scarcely reaches us, and I am astonished to find how little I care for any news that by chance penetrates so far. I treat the newspapers with the little respect that they deserve, and I own that I scarcely ever read them.

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Can it be, Madame, that I am becoming a bad citizen? I sometimes fear it, but I comfort myself by thinking that I am only dispirited. I humbly confess (it is indeed humiliating for a man who has had some pretensions to prophecy) that I cannot see an inch in the darkness which surrounds us. I do not know how this can last, nor how it can end. I feel as if I were tossed on a shoreless sea, with neither compass, nor sails, nor oars, and tired of vain efforts, I lie down in the stern of my boat and wait.

Pray remember me particularly to M. de Circourt.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
May 19
Paris

EXTRACT FROM THE JOURNAL KEPT BY MR. SENIOR IN THE SPRING OF 1850.

I drank tea with the Tocquevilles; I mentioned the depression of A. B.

“A. B.,” said Tocqueville, “is one of the political theorists who tried to persuade others, and who succeeded in persuading themselves, that the reign of Louis Philippe was the natural termination of the French Revolution, and the beginning of a new era. In every different phase of our Revolution, clever men have fallen into this error. We are political metaphysicians; we draw from a few similar facts what we call general rules, and use those rules to explain whatever has been, and to foretel all that will be.

“My father is seventy-six; he was about sixteen at the time that the Revolution began. He recollects, therefore, the opinions that have prevailed during its progress.

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“When fifteen years of disorder ended in a military despotism, everybody believed that it had run its course. It seemed to be the natural progress of events that revolution should produce war, and that war should make the army, and that the army should make its general, omnipotent.

“When the Consulate and the Empire were followed by the Restoration, it seemed also in the order of things that the military ruler should be ruined by the ambition to which he owed his empire; that he should go on playing double or quits, till he had exhausted his good fortune; that his domestic enemies should join with his foreign ones; that the ancient dynasty should be restored, and that constitutional royalty should become the permanent form of French government.

“When Charles X. tossed his crown into the hands of his cousin in 1830, this, too, seemed a natural conclusion of the drama. The parallel between France and England was now complete. ‘In a restoration,’ it was said, ‘the first king that is restored is so delighted with his return to power, that he is willing to accept it on any terms, and those terms he is likely to keep tolerably. He is resolved not to have to travel again. The successor of the restored sovereign takes the crown, not as a good fortune, but as a right. He finds the limits within which he is confined irksome, and easily believes them to be mischievous. His flatterers tell him that they are void; that his rights are unalienable, perhaps divine; and that it is his duty to save his country, without looking nicely to the technical legality of the means which must be employed.’

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“He attempts to act on these principles, and is resisted and deposed.

“But a great and ancient nation that has once tried the experiment of democracy, will not repeat it. It will select for its new sovereign the next in succession who is willing and fit to accept the responsibility, and to submit to the restrictions, of a constitutional monarchy. In that dynasty the conflicting principles of legitimacy and selection, of divine right, and of popular right, are united. It may expect indefinite duration. Such a dynasty is in the second century of its reign in England, and in the first century of its reign in France.

“The Revolution of 1848 came, and all these illusions were dissipated in an hour; the great monarchical fortress which was built for ages turned out to be mere stage decoration.

“The Republic reappeared with its single Assembly, its universal suffrage, its clubs, its forced paper currency. The line along which they have been travelling since 1830 turns out to have been only a segment of a circle. They believe that 1848 has brought them back to the point at which they started in 1789; they fancy themselves now in 1791, armed, without doubt, with far more power and with far more experience than were possessed by the Legislative Assembly, but also attacked by more and much more practised enemies.

“In the presence of such dangers they despair, and add to our real sufferings a thousand others still more terrible, the creations of their disturbed imaginations. As for me, having long known that the ground under us is too unstable to support permanently any government Edition: current; Page: [101] whatever, I am, indeed, grieved and out of spirits, but I am not terrified. I do not think that all is over, nor do I think that all is lost. I look on my country as a patient whose disease cannot, at least at present, be cured, but can be palliated; who can be restored to considerable enjoyment, and whose illness itself can be made the origin of great benefits to the human race and to himself.”

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
July 24, 1850
Grote
Grote

TO MRS. GROTE.

If I were ill-disposed, Madame, I might complain that, knowing me to be one of the most professed admirers of your genius, you did not yourself think of sending to me your pamphlet on pauperism, so that I was forced to ask for it through our friend Mr. Senior. But rather than quarrelling with you, I prefer thanking you for the pleasure which this little work has afforded to me. I received it as I was leaving Paris, and I read it on my arrival. I could not have spent the leisure imposed upon me by illness in a more profitable manner. In your pamphlet I find the good sense of the English economist rendered more acute and more brilliant by feminine wit and imagination; an improvement which it often greatly needs. You defend the conservative principles on which our ancient system of society in Europe is founded, and the liberty and the individual responsibility attendant upon it; you defend especially the institution of property. You are quite right; you can hardly conceive life without these primary laws, no more can I.

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Yet I own, that this old world, beyond which we neither of us can see, appears to me to be almost worn out; the vast and venerable machine seems more out of gear every day; and though I cannot look forward, my faith in the continuance of the present is shaken. I learn from history, that not one of the men who witnessed the downfall of the religious and social organizations that have passed away, was able to guess or even to imagine what would ensue. Yet this did not prevent Christianity from succeeding to idolatry; servitude to slavery; the barbarians from taking the place of Roman civilization, and feudalism in turn ejecting the barbarians. Each of these changes occurred without having been anticipated by any of the writers in the times immediately preceding these total revolutions. Who, then, can affirm that any one social system is essential, and that another is impossible? But it is no less the duty of honest people to stand up for the only system which they understand, and even to die for it if a better be not shown to them.

Mr. Grote continues to send me his excellent and most interesting “History of Greece;” I should regret not having yet thanked him for the latter volumes if I had not now the opportunity of conveying my thanks through you. I have just finished his eighth volume (the last that I have received); it is as full as the earlier volumes of facts that were unknown, and views that were new to me, giving me a different and often an opposite impression of the Greeks. Till now I never thoroughly understood Socrates or the ancient Sophists. I am amazed by the erudition, and astonished by the power Edition: current; Page: [103] of abstraction, which such a work must have required, those two qualities being seldom found in conjuction. Remember me very kindly to him. Madame de Tocqueville sends her affectionate regards. We are neither of us in very good health, though we are not exactly ill. . . .

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
August 1, 1850
M. de Corcelle
de Corcelle, M.

TO M. DE CORCELLE.

Dear Friend,

I cannot understand how it is that I have not written to you since the 6th of July. And yet your letter gave me great pleasure; and if it had been only to get another I ought to have answered it. I did not do so, however, because I live in a sort of apathy which makes unpleasant every exertion, even to gain some desirable result. I never could have believed that I could become, not indifferent by any means, but so little anxious about either the present or the future in a country where the present is so disturbed and the future so dark. I think, however, that when revolutions continue for so long, they produce more or less of the effect of a life at sea; though running every day a chance of being drowned, the sailor at last forgets even that he is on the ocean. Thank God, the helm is no longer in my charge; I am only a passenger, and I should like to remain one, at any rate for some time longer. But I think that the restoration of my health, at least of that which I call health, and which other people would call illness, will oblige me to resume my political duties when the Assembly meets.

* * * * * *

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I know not if the circumstances in which I have latterly been placed, or the increased seriousness that one acquires with age; my solitary life, or some other cause of which I am not conscious, has affected my mind, and set it working; but the truth is, that I have never felt so much the want of an eternal foundation, the solid basis on which life ought to rest.

Doubt has always seemed to me to be the most unbearable of all evils; worse than death itself.

To turn to other things, I must tell you that I do not see without apprehension the operation here of the new law of elections.* It strikes heavily and blindly. I hope for little that is good from any of the efforts made or projected for the re-establishment of our social system. I fear that, by flying from one remedy to another, they will damage the vitals of liberty; I know that at present liberty is out of favour; but, whatever may happen, I am, and always shall remain, faithful to her. I do not think that modern society will be able to do long without her. The excesses lately committed in her name may make her appear hateful, but cannot destroy her beauty or make her less essential. I think, too, that we should treat all the principles which we have long professed, when, for the moment, they become less practicable, as we do our old friends when they behave ill; and that we owe, even to ourselves, not to abuse or attack them.

Forgive this long prose, for the sake of the great pleasure afforded to me by my unrestrained communications with you.

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Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
August 17, 1850

EXTRACTS FROM THE JOURNAL KEPT BY MR. SENIOR DURING HIS VISIT TO NORMANDY.

I talked over with Tocqueville the prospects of the four great parties.

“The terror,” he said, “which the Republic at first spread has passed off. Men see that it does not necessarily bring with it war, paper money, and bankruptcy; still less confiscation and the guillotine. But it is not trusted. The feeling of the mass of the people, of the peasant, the artizan, and the shopkeeper, as well as of the proprietor and the merchant, is against a constantly shifting chief.

“Far from valuing the power of electing a new quasi king every four years, they detest it. ‘We must,’ they say, ‘have something permanent.’

“The republican party, therefore, as a party, has become powerless. Two years hence, or perhaps sooner, some different form of government will be established.

“Will it, then, be the return of the Orleans family, excluding the elder branch?

“That seems scarcely possible at present. Their friends are a minority, small when compared with the number of those who are indifferent to them; and not large when compared with the number of those who are positively hostile to them.

“Will it be the return of Henry V.?

“The great obstacle to this is the association of the Bourbon name with the old régime. That government, gay and brilliant as it looks in our histories and in our Edition: current; Page: [106] memoirs, must have been horribly bad; for the detestation of it is almost the only feeling that has survived the sixty years that have passed since its fall.

“The French can bear oppression; they can bear to see their children carried off by the conscription, and their property by the tax-gatherer; but they cannot bear the privileges and the petty vexations of feudalism.

“You saw the roofless tower in the court. My grandfather used it as a colombier. He kept there 3,000 pigeons. No one was allowed to kill them, and no one else in the commune could keep them. In 1793, when the peasants were the masters, they did no harm to any of the rest of our property. We have lived among them as protectors and friends for centuries; but they rose en masse against the pigeons, killed every one of them, and reduced the tower to its present state.

“When I first was a candidate I failed, not because I was not personally popular, but because I was a gentilhomme. I was met everywhere by the proverb, ‘Les chats prennent les souris.’ My opponent was of a humble family which had risen to wealth and distinction in the Revolution. This is the most favourable combination in the hands of a man of ability. Mere wealth is mischievous; it gives no influence, and it excites envy. The only time when it led to political power was just after the Revolution of 1848. Every possessor of property, and few persons in the provinces are quite without it, was alarmed; and the greatest proprietors were selected as Edition: current; Page: [107] representatives, because they were supposed to have the greatest stakes. Mere birth is still worse than mere wealth; it excites not only envy, but fear.

“The remembrance of the Marian persecutions is still vivid in England after 300 years. Our fears of the revival of the tour et colombier are as fantastic as your dread of the faggot and the rack; but why should they not last as long?

“Last came the Bonapartists.

“Will Louis Napoleon succeed in becoming Emperor? I think not. I doubt whether he will attempt it. He is daring in his plans; but when the moment of execution comes, he hesitates. His best chance was on the 29th of January, 1849.

“He then enjoyed the full prestige of his six millions of votes. I have no doubt that the plan was laid, but at the decisive moment he or his advisers flinched.”

I said that one of his rashest acts seemed to be the dismissal in November, 1849, of the only respectable ministry that could be obtained.

Tocqueville answered, that supposing his object to be the establishment of himself as permanent ruler, and the subversion of the present constitution, his conduct then was, at least, plausible.

“We,” he said, “had served his purpose. We had enabled him to get through the most perilous period of his new reign; the substitution of the legislative for the constituent assembly. We had maintained peace within and without, but we were doing too well. The republic was becoming respectable, and there was a fear that the people would acquiesce in it. By throwing the Edition: current; Page: [108] administration into the hands of a set of clerks without experience or authority, he let loose the passions of the assembly, and enabled it to become, what is not easy, both formidable and contemptible.

“I will not venture to prophesy, or even to guess, but I think that the least improbable result is, that he will be re-elected at the end of his time; but that, in other respects, the present constitution will last its three years; beyond that, all is darkness.

“If any event indistinctly presents itself, it is the reconciliation of the two branches, and the success of an united effort to give the crown to Henry V. and to the Comte de Paris, as his successor; this is perhaps our best chance now, as the maintenance of the elder branch was our best chance twenty years ago.”

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
August 19, 1850

We talked of Thiers’ “History of the Empire.”

“Its defect,” said Tocqueville, “is its inadequate appreciation of the causes, intrinsic and extrinsic, which united to form Napoleon.

“Few histories give to these two sets of causes their due or their relative weight.

“Some attribute too much to the circumstances in which their hero was placed, others to the accidents of his character. Napoleon, though gigantic in war and in legislation, was imperfect and incoherent in both. No other great general, perhaps no general whatever, suffered so many defeats. Many have lost one army, some perhaps have lost two; but who ever survived the destruction of four?

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“So in legislation, he subdued anarchy, he restored our finances, he did much to which France owes in part her power and her glory. But he deprived her not only of liberty, but of the wish for liberty; he enveloped her in a network of centralization which stifles individual and corporate resistance, and prepares the way for the despotism of an assembly or of an emperor. Assuming him to have been perfectly selfish, nothing could be better planned or better executed. He seized with a sagacity which is really marvellous, out of the elements left to him by the Convention, those which enabled him to raise himself, and to level everything else; which enabled his will to penetrate into the recesses of provincial and even of private life, and rendered those below him incapable of acting or thinking, almost of wishing, for themselves.

“Thiers does not sufficiently explain how it was that Napoleon was able to do this, or why it was that he chose to do it; nor has his private character been ever well drawn as a whole.

“There is much truth in Bourrienne, though mixed, and inseparably mixed, with much invention.

“Napoleon’s taste was defective in everything, in small things as well as in great ones; in books, in art, and in women, as well as in ambition and in glory.

“The history of the Empire and the history of the Emperor are still to be written. I hope one day to write them.”

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Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
August 22, 1850

After dinner, we talked over the Revolution of 1848.

“I had a long conversation,” said Tocqueville, “with one of the ministers about a week before the émeute began. I was alarmed, but he laughed at my fears.

“ ‘There is no cause,’ he said, ‘even for uneasiness; there are 65,000 troops in Paris, besides the national guards.’

“In fact, however, there were only 25,000; but that was more than enough, if they had been allowed to act.

“As soon, however, as Louis Philippe heard that the national guards were wavering, he despaired.

“There is not a more revolutionary institution,” he continued, “that is to say, an institution more productive of revolutions, than a national guard. Just after a revolution, to be sure, it is useful, as a protector of property; but its instincts are to bring one on. The majority of its members have no political knowledge; they sympathise with the prevalent feeling, which is seldom favourable to a government. Some wish to give it a lesson, others would like to overthrow it. Very few, except in moments of excitement, like those of June, 1848, choose to expose themselves in its defence; and one national guard who joins the mob does more harm than all the good that can be done by twenty who support it. The mob have not the least respect for the uniform; but the soldiers will not fire on it.

“Even on the 24th of February,” continued Tocqueville, “the monarchy might have been saved, if the Edition: current; Page: [111] proclamation of the Provisional Government, and the retreat of the Duchess of Orleans, could have been retarded only for an hour.

“After having sat out the revolutionary scene, heard the proclamation of the Republic, and seen Lamartine and Ledru Rollin set off for the Hotel de Ville, I was quitting the Chamber, and had reached the landing-place of the staircase which leads from the waiting-room into the court now occupied by our Provisional house, when I met a company of the 10th Legion, with fixed bayonets, led by General Oudinot, not in uniform, but brandishing his cane in a military style, and crying, ‘En avant! Vive le Roi, et la Duchesse d’ Orleans Régente!’ By his side, gesticulating and shouting in the same manner, was a man whom I will not name, who, by the evening, had become a fierce republican.

“The national guards, though not numerous, uttered the same cries, and rushed up the staircase with great resolution. Oudinot recognised me, caught me by the arm, and cried,

“ ‘Where are you going? Come with us, and we will sweep these ruffians out of the Chamber.’ ‘My dear General,’ I answered, ‘it is too late; the Chamber is dissolved, the Duchess has fled, the Provisional Government is on its way to the Hotel de Ville.’

“The impulse, however, which he had given to the column of national guards was such that it did not stop. I turned back, and we all re-entered the chamber. The crowd had just left it. The national guards stood still for an instant, looking with astonishment on the empty benches, and then dispersed in all directions. They Edition: current; Page: [112] belonged to the Quartier St. Germain. Oudinot had collected them by going from house to house. If he had been able to do so two hours, or even one hour, earlier, the destinies of France, and perhaps of Europe, might have been altered.”

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
August 25, 1850

Tocqueville, A. B., and I took a long walk over the downs commanding the sea.

“I am now forty-six,” said Tocqueville, “and the changes which have taken place in the habits of society, as I faintly recollect my boyhood, seem to have required centuries.

“The whole object of those among whom I was brought up, was to amuse, and be amused. Politics were never talked of, and I believe very little thought of. Literature was one of the standing subjects of conversation. Every new book of any merit was read aloud, and canvassed and criticised with an attention, and a detail which we should now think a deplorable waste of time. I recollect how everybody used to be in ecstasy about things of Delille’s, which nothing would tempt me now to look at. Every considerable country house had its theatre, and its society often furnished admirable actors. I remember my father returning after a short absence, to a large party in his house. We amused ourselves by receiving him in disguise. Chateaubriand was an old woman. Nobody would take so much trouble now. Every incident was matter for a little poem.

“People studied the means of pleasing as they now Edition: current; Page: [113] do those which produce profit or power. Causer and raconter are among the lost arts. So is tenir Salon. Madame Récamier was the delight of Paris, but she said very little. She listened and smiled intelligently, and from time to time threw in a question or a remark to show that she understood you.

“From long habit she knew what were the subjects on which each guest showed to most advantage, and she put him upon them. The last, indeed, was not difficult, for the guest, a veteran causeur, knew better even than she did his forte, and seized the thread that lead to it. It was only by inference, only by inquiring why it was that one talked more easily at her house than elsewhere, that one discovered the perfection of her art; the influence of women was then omnipotent, they gave reputation, they gave fashion, they gave political power.”

“The influence of women,” said A. B., “is considerable able now.”

“Yes,” said Tocqueville, “but in a very different way. It is not the influence of mistresses, or of friends, but of wives. And generally it is mischievous. Its effect is to destroy political independence. This is a consequence of the poverty of our public men. The wife is always there suggesting how much a little expenditure here, and a little there, would add to the comfort of the ménage, and the husband barters his principles for a few thousand francs.”

“The Limousin,” said A. B., “is among the least altered parts of France. I was at a wedding near Limoges two or three years ago, to honour which, for four Edition: current; Page: [114] days running, from seventy to eighty neighbours came every day, and went away the next.”

“Where did they sleep?” I asked.

“Why, a great portion of them,” he answered, “did not sleep at all. They danced, or talked, or amused themselves otherwise all night, and rode away in the morning. For those who chose to sleep, several rooms were strewed with mattresses as close as the floor could hold them, and there they lay; the men in one room the women in another. Many of the ladies arrived on horseback, followed by a donkey carrying the ball dress in a bandbox.”

“Among the things,” continued Tocqueville, “which have disappeared with the ancien régime, are its habits of expenditure. Nobody could now decently and comfortably spend above 200,000 francs a year; to waste more we must gamble, or give in to some absurdity. No expense has been more reduced than that of servants. The femme de charge, your housekeeper, scarcely exists; nor is the femme de chambre, in the capacity of your lady’s-maid, commonly seen. Her duties are usually divided among the other servants; and so are those of your house-maid. Then we pay much lower wages. I give Eugène 600 francs a year; but that is an exception. The general rate is from 400 to 500.

“Eugène,” he added, “is a man whom I have always envied, and I envy him now. If happiness consists in the correspondence of our wishes to our powers, as I believe that it does, he must be happy. I have all my life been striving at things, not one of which I shall completely obtain. In becoming a thoroughly good Edition: current; Page: [115] servant, he has done all that he wishes to do: in getting a master and mistress to whom he is attached, and who are attached to him, he has obtained all that he wishes to obtain. To sum up all, he is a hero. He fought like a lion in June.”

We ended our walk by calling on the curé. He has a pretty little house, and a good garden; they belong to the benefice. He surprised me by saying, that the population of his parish averaged only three to a house; there are few servants and no lodgers. In many cases, therefore, a house is inhabited by a single person. There is something dreary in the idea; but it must be recollected that the house is very small, and the neighbours very near.

He estimated the number of children to a marriage at three.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
August 26, 1850

We talked of the changes in French literature during the last hundred and fifty years.

“If,” said Tocqueville, “Bossuet or Pascal were to come to life, they would think us receding into semi-barbarism; they would be unable to enter into the ideas of our fashionable writers, they would be disgusted by their style, and be puzzled even by their language.”

“What,” I asked, “do you consider your golden age?”

“The latter part,” he answered, “of the seventeenth century. Men wrote then solely for fame, and they addressed a public small and highly cultivated. French literature was young; the highest posts were vacant; it was comparatively easy to be distinguished. Extravagance Edition: current; Page: [116] was not necessary to attract attention. Style then was the mere vehicle of thought; first of all to be perspicuous, next to be concise, was all that they aimed at.

“In the eighteenth century competition had begun. It had become difficult to be original by matter, so men tried to strike by style; to clearness and brevity, ornament was added—soberly and in good taste, but yet it betrayed labour and effort. To the ornamental has now succeeded the grotesque; just as the severe style of our old Norman architecture gradually became florid, and ultimately flamboyant.

“If I were to give a Scriptural genealogy of our modern popular writers, I should say that Rousseau lived twenty years, and then begat Bernardin de St. Pierre; that Bernardin de St. Pierre lived twenty years, and then begat Chateaubriand; that Chateaubriand lived twenty years, and then begat Victor Hugo; and that Victor Hugo, being tempted of the devil, is begetting every day.”

“Whose son,” I asked, “is Lamartine?”

“Oh,” said Tocqueville, “he is of a different breed: his father, if he had one, is Chenier; but one might almost say that he is ex se ipso natus. When he entered the poetical world, all men’s minds were still heaving with the Revolution. It had filled them with vague conceptions and undefined wishes, to which Lamartine, without making them distinct enough to show their emptiness or their inconsistency, gave something like form and colour. His ‘Meditations,’ especially the first part of them, found an accomplice in every reader. He seemed to express thoughts of which every one was Edition: current; Page: [117] conscious, though no one before had embodied them in words.”

I said that I feared that I should be unable to read them; and that, in fact, there was little French poetry that I could read.

“I have no doubt,” answered Tocqueville, “that there is much poetry, and good poetry, that no one but a native can relish. There are parts of Shakespeare which you admire, and I have no doubt very justly, in which I cannot see any beauty.”

“Can you,” I said, “read the ‘Henriade,’ or the ‘Pucelle?’ ”

“Not the ‘Henriade,’ ” he answered, “nor can anybody else; nor do I much like to read the ‘Pucelle,’ but it is a wonderful piece of workmanship. How Voltaire could have disgraced such exquisite language, poetry, and wit, by such grossness, is inconceivable; but I can recollect when grave magistrates and statesmen knew it by heart. If you wish for pure specimens of Voltaire’s wit, and ease, and command of language, look at his ‘Pièces Diverses.’ As for his tragedies, I cannot read them—they are artificial—so, indeed, are Racine’s, though he is the best writer of French that ever used the language. In Corneille there are passages really of the highest order. But it is our prose writers, not our poets, that are our glory; and them you can enjoy as well as I can.”

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
October 12, 1850
Paris
M. Dufaure
Dufaure, M.

TO M. DUFAURE.

I have long been wishing to write to you, dear friend. I was prevented by my ignorance of your address. I have only just heard it from Rivet. He tells me that Edition: current; Page: [118] you return to Paris about the 25th. I should rejoice at this news if I were sure of being here myself at that time; but this is far from being the case.

Some of our mutual friends have no doubt told you that my health obliges me to spend the coldest part of the winter with Madame de Tocqueville in Italy. Though I have been set up in other respects by my stay in the country, my bronchia and larynx are still so weak and irritable, that the doctors are afraid of the next winter, and of the excitement and worry of public life. They offer me the choice between staying at home and taking no part in politics, with the chance of not getting well; or going away for some months, and giving myself up to complete rest and silence; after which, they say, that I shall probably return well, and able to resume my former life. I thought it wise to choose the latter course, and I think that you will approve.

Political considerations chiefly made me hesitate. I own that I should not be sorry to be away if the Assembly is to go on as it has done during the last year. But if a decisive crisis should take place in my absence, I should be grieved and disturbed. I do not think that an immediate crisis is probable. Reasoning only upon general principles, it would appear to be likely, and even imminent; but I am too well acquainted with the characters of the men on whom it depends to believe in its being so near.

I need not tell you how I regretted that you were not able to come to Cherbourg, and thence to accompany Lanjuinais to Tocqueville, where we should have been so glad to receive you.

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Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
November 1, 1850
Dijon
M. de Corcelle
de Corcelle, M.

TO M. DE CORCELLE.

You heard that Dr. Andral wished me to spend the winter in the South. I write to you from the first stage. Although I have a decided, and even passionate taste for travelling, I set off this time with an uneasiness and heaviness of heart, which would augur ill if I believed in omens; but the state of my mind is explained by that of public affairs. They are, indeed, enough to make one anxious. I think that nothing of importance will happen during my absence, except that the relations between the President and the Assembly will become more and more unpleasant, without coming to an open rupture. If this prophecy of mine be realized, I own that my absence would be a relief to me; for I know nothing more fatiguing, enervating, and distressing, than to drift, as we have been doing lately, on a rolling sea, with neither wind nor tide, and out of sight of shore. Such a navigation wears out everything, ship as well as crew. If it is to go on, as seems likely, I had rather remain on land.

Still, will things be in the same state six months hence? This is what disturbs me. On general principles this is not to be expected, for we act as if on the eve of a struggle. But the general languor of the public mind may reach and keep motionless the most active. It is as difficult to be violent in a calm as it is to be moderate in a storm.

I repeat, then, my hopes, that during the ensuing six months, and perhaps even for still longer, the two powers Edition: current; Page: [120] whom the constitution has so awkwardly placed tête-à-tête, though they may quarrel, will not fight. Still these political metaphysics do not set me at rest. You must own, my dear friend, that the aspect of affairs is enough to sadden a man who is going abroad. I go, therefore, in very bad spirits; for though I do not care to be here in the statu quo, I should never forgive myself for being absent in the event of a crisis, whichever way it might turn. I need not say more about it, than to beg you to think how you yourself would feel in my situation. It will be such an anxious one, that you will perform not only a friendly, but a charitable action, by writing to me frequently, and at length. Pray do so, my dear Corcelle; I ask it as a great kindness—the greatest that you can now show to me.

You know that there are occasions in life when health must give way to duty and honour. Events may happen that will render my return absolutely necessary. Should they occur, remember that I trust to you to let me know instantly.

I have not yet fixed where to go. We think of choosing the place of all others most celebrated for its climate, Palermo; but as yet nothing is settled.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
November 24, 1850
Naples
M. Gustave de Beaumont
de Beaumont, M. Gustave

TO M. G. DE BEAUMONT.

Our voyage from Marseilles to Italy, my dear friend, was as full of accidents as our journey from Paris to Marseilles. First, we were detained for a day longer than we ought at Genoa, and thus were prevented from taking advantage of the fine weather which we had till Edition: current; Page: [121] then enjoyed. The news of the termination of the quarantine at Naples had just arrived at Genoa and all along that coast, so that a host of English families who were unwillingly making their way by land, rushed on board our vessel, which was a merchant ship, and though good, was small. You cannot imagine what that crowd was: the fore-part of the boat was covered with carriages, and the deck and cabin so full that we could not move. It was in this condition, and in the middle of the night, that we encountered, between Leghorn and Civita Vecchia, one of the most violent gales that I ever experienced. The deck soon became untenable; the sea broke over it every minute. Men, women, and children had to run into the cabin, where they were packed like negroes in a slave-ship. When once one got in, it was impossible to get out again, for the companion ladder was so choked with people, that it soon became impossible to go up or down it. Add to this, universal sea-sickness, and you may judge of the abomination of desolation of such a place. But the worst part was, that there soon was such a want of air, that I thought that I really was going to be suffocated. Since my illness, my lungs have not recovered their elasticity, and every moment I felt as if I should cease to breathe. Happily, there was a little port-hole close to me which I succeeded in opening; my face was soon washed by the waves, but still I was able to live, which was my object for the time being. At daybreak the storm abated, and we landed at Civita Vecchia, looking like ghosts. Here our misfortunes ended. After resting one day, we pushed on to Rome, where we spent only Edition: current; Page: [122] one night. . . . On my arrival at Naples, three days ago, I read the President’s message. . . .

We have here wind, rain, hail, thunder—every weather except cold. The air has always been soft, which suits me extremely well; the material man has never been better, but the spiritual is starved. The country is wonderfully beautiful, but what a population! what a hubbub! what inconceivable dirt! what rags! what vermin! To find such abominations as one meets at every step in the streets of Naples, one must go into the most horrible corners of Algiers. From what I hear, it seems that this tattered populace is friendly to the Government, and much opposed to revolutions. The lower classes here form what we should call the party of order.

I do not yet know when we shall quit Naples, or even if we shall go any farther than its neighbourhood. For my part, I had rather be in Sicily. We are waiting for Ampère, whom we expect in a few days, to make our decision.

With regard to my leave of absence, pray settle it as you think proper. I trust this as well as everything else to you.

It is a great and valuable blessing to possess such a friendship as ours, and a trust so well justified by experience. Almost every other of the good things in this world loses its value with advancing years; but this becomes more and more precious as one knows men better and learns to look upon them, for the most part, with utter and irremediable distrust.

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Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
December 22, 1850
Sorrento
M. Dufaure
Dufaure, M.

TO M. DUFAURE.

Although I hear of you, my dear friend, in almost all the letters that I receive, I wish to have some direct news from you. In this seclusion I delight in thinking of my friends; and the best way of doing so is to communicate with them.

I wish only that I had a subject worthy of you. But I have none. For what can I say of France, which I see through a mist? And as for this country, I have too near and too correct a view of it to like to speak of it. It is sad enough to live here, I assure you, for a man in search of anything but health; and even for those who, like me, are determined to seek nothing else, the enjoyment of good health is often spoiled by the sight of so much moral sickness. Like all my contemporaries, I have acquired, not only the taste for liberty, but the habit of it—a habit which, with many people, survives even the taste. I cannot reconcile myself to living, even as a foreigner, in a country in which every conceivable liberty is either restrained or destroyed. You, who have always lived in the midst of the animation, the independence, and the noise of our society, cannot understand the moral and intellectual torture experienced in a country where every action is hampered and impeded; where not only men are silent, but where even their thoughts are paralyzed. My mind seems to suffer, as my body did ten months ago, when my lungs played ill, and I could never take a full respiration.

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Again, Italy is not China. It joins on to France; and though it does not greatly influence us, we act on it with enormous power. I cannot contemplate the miserable condition into which it has fallen, without reflecting sadly on the fatal influence which we often exercise upon all around us. When a revolution breaks out in France, all Europe falls into anarchy; and when order is re-established in France, every other country restores the old abuses. We must confess that neighbouring nations love us no better than their sovereigns do. The Revolution of 1848 has done irreparable injury to Italy. It precipitated her into a political movement which had no chance of success, unless the process were slow; and it tore the country out of the hands of the liberals to place it in those of the revolutionists. One is shocked to see how many germs of liberty have been miserably wasted, trodden under foot, and destroyed in this unhappy country, during the last three years, by those who had always liberty on their lips. I do not think that human folly and perversity ever showed themselves so openly.

I turn my eyes from such spectacles as much as I can, and try to create for myself a world of my own, consisting only of these lovely shores and of these fine skies. We have found a delightful residence in this out-of-the-way part of the world; a house which is comfortably furnished, warm, open to the sun, and sheltered from cold winds; a Belvedere in a forest of orange-trees, with the Bay of Naples under our windows. I have brought some books, and in their society I try to forget all that is going on beyond my own horizon. I Edition: current; Page: [125] do not always succeed, and sometimes political rumours startle me. I dread them; and yet, when I have heard none for a long time, I grow anxious. The position of France is too critical, and the future too doubtful, to admit of my enjoying real tranquillity without knowing what is going on. I am, therefore, very grateful whenever my friends are so kind as to keep me informed as to the state of our affairs, at least, in so far as they are able; for politics with us form a labyrinth of paths, so intercepted and so devious, that even those best acquainted with them do not know in what direction the country, or even they themselves, may be walking. From all that I hear, it seems to me to be pretty clear that nothing decisive will occur before the spring. Security on this point is a great relief and comfort to me. I hope that before any considerable event takes place, I shall be at home, and ready to share with my friends the chances of fortune.

Good-bye, &c.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
December 30, 1850
Sorrento
Comtesse de Circourt
de Circourt, Comtesse

TO THE COMTESSE DE CIRCOURT.

I was waiting, Madame, to write to you till I had made the acquaintance of General Filangieri, by whom I am sure that I should have been well received, as my letter to him was from you. However, I am obliged, with great regret, to tell you that I am unable to make use of your introduction. The bad effects of our first voyage on the health of Madame de Tocqueville, and our well-founded fears of finding no lodging at Palermo, Edition: current; Page: [126] except in the hotel, determined us to fix ourselves at Sorrento, whence I write to you.

I dare say that you know this charming spot, so I need not describe it to you; and you will have no difficulty in believing that I enjoy it as much as one can ever enjoy oneself away from one’s friends and one’s country. Now and then, as I said before, I think with a sigh of Sicily. I am particularly sorry to lose the opportunity of conversing with General Filangieri, who, as I hear on all sides, is the most distinguished man in this country.

I allow myself as little as possible to think of politics, and I try not to let them annoy me. Hitherto, this mode of life, and especially this admirable climate, have revived me more than I had dared to expect. I really hope to carry back with me to Paris a capital of good health. This capital I shall no doubt spend, and perhaps even, like others, I shall waste it in what is called the great business of life, as if it were not the great business of every one’s life to keep his body in health and his mind at rest.

Although I live like a hermit, and perhaps because I live like a hermit, I am extremely curious to know all that is going on in the world, or, to use the language of hermits, all secular affairs. It would be most kind and charitable in you to tell me, when you answer me (that is, at least, if you really are willing to take so much trouble), some news, and, above all, some of your own news. There is no man who could prize them more highly.

Though solitary, do not think that I am quite without resources. I have brought as companions a few excellent Edition: current; Page: [127] books. It sometimes occurs to me, I tell you this as a secret, that on the whole I prefer living with books to living with authors. One is not always happy with the latter; while books are intelligent companions, without vanity, ill-humour, or caprice; they do not want to talk of themselves, do not dislike to hear others praised; clever people whom one can summon and dismiss just as one pleases. A capital recommendation; for though there is nothing so delightful as agreeable conversation, it shares the fate of all other pleasures, and to be fully enjoyed ought to be taken only when one chooses, and as one chooses. I need not say that my distrust of authors does not extend to my friend Ampère, whom I am impatiently expecting to-morrow, or the day after. His least merit is writing; and I know by experience that no companion can be more agreeable and delightful than he is in retirement. As I wish to keep him as long as possible in our retreat, I have fitted him up a south room, with a grove of orange-trees under his window, and a glimpse of the sea in one corner. I have put in a fireplace and a carpet, two things which are sometimes necessary, though they are rare in this fortunate climate, where few precautions are taken against winter. I hope that he will like his cell; that he will stay as long as we shall at Sorrento; that we shall talk a great deal, and even work a little; for complete idleness is good for nothing; and has never fattened any but fools, so it is said, but even this I doubt.

Adieu, Madame. Forgive all this gossip in consideration of the pleasure that writing to you affords me, and believe in my respectful attachment.

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Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
January 5, 1851
Sorrento
M. Gustave de Beaumont
de Beaumont, M. Gustave

TO M. GUSTAVE DE BEAUMONT.

. . . We continue to delight in Sorrento. I have not had a day’s illness. The accounts you have heard of the cold of Sorrento were exaggerations. I have never known a month of May as uniformly warm and fine as the month of December which has just ended. The thermometer in the night has never fallen below 6° or 8°, and in the day it has in general risen to 12° or 15° (centigrade). Add to this a hot sun, and a total absence of wind, and you have what in France we should call magnificent May weather, minus the poetry which belongs to May—the sudden return of all animated beings to life, and the universal awakening of nature from her long sleep. We live here in utter solitude. Ampère has not yet arrived. His hieroglyphics keep him in Rome. However, though we are most anxious for his company, our isolation does not distress us. I try, as I told you before, to employ my mind without fatiguing myself, and I succeed. If I am pleased with what I am doing, I will read it to you on my return. Writing is a delightful occupation when one has plenty of leisure, and when one’s object is to please oneself and not the public. That judgment of the public in perspective spoils the enjoyment. . . .

The worst part of my present residence is, that one may study everything but Italy. I should like to learn, at least, what is going on close to me in this little space; but I find it very difficult. Fear, ignorance, or perfect indifference, closes every mouth. Besides, I find it hard to Edition: current; Page: [129] make acquaintances, though I am not particular as to the sort. The Italian middle classes, the only class to be found at Sorrento, do not care to visit you, because they do not care that you should visit them; and they do not care that you should visit them, because they live in garrets of which they are ashamed, and which they do not choose to convert into clean and comfortable apartments. You know, too, as well as I do, that conversation, especially in travelling, is an exchange, and that one can learn nothing from those who wish to learn nothing from you. How willingly I would allow these people to dispense with their low bows and their superlatives, if they would change them for the curiosity and precise information of those long Yankees, who used to go on chewing their tobacco while they were talking to us; but who every day taught us something that was new and useful.

I, therefore, learn only what my eyes teach me; and practical observation every day shows me that the population among whom I live is civil, well-behaved, easily led, not given to thieving, extremely ignorant and superstitious; in fact, in perpetual childhood. They are children of good dispositions, but ill brought up. Such a government as this could not be maintained with any other subjects. It is only on near view that one sees this. But how sad it is that, all the world over, governments are just as rascally as nations will allow them to be. This is the only limit to their vices. . . .

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Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
January 29, 1851
Sorrento
M. Gustave de Beaumont
de Beaumont, M. Gustave

. . . The last newspapers which I have received are those of the 19th. I learnt from them the vote of the Assembly on the 18th, adopting Sainte Beuve’s amendment,* and sounding an official note of defiance. . . .

. . . What will be the consequence, I cannot tell; but whatever takes place, I am very glad that it passed.

. . . Always supposing that this triumph of the Assembly will be complete, and that the President will accept his defeat, I no less continue to think, as I have done for a long time past, that the chances for the future are in his favour, and that common prudence will secure them to him. I attach more importance to the general aspect of the country than to any particular accident, however momentous. The general tendency seems to be a movement on the part of the nation from liberty towards a concentrated and permanent power. The fact that the most eminent political and military men are opposed to this movement, does not reassure me, for we live in a democratic age and society, where individuals, even the most distinguished, count for little. To form my own opinion, I listen neither to those who extol, nor to those who depreciate, the talents of the candidates. In these times the man himself is not of consequence, but the means by which he attains to power. A dwarf may be carried on the crest of a wave to the top of a cliff, which a giant could not climb from the beach. . . .

You know that Ampère came here a few days ago; we have also the Seniors, whose society we much enjoy. . . .

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The following extracts contain some of the conversations alluded to by M. de Tocqueville, in his letter to Mr. Senior, of the 28th of November, 1851, and mentioned by M. Ampère, in his charming memoir of M. de Tocqueville, published in the Correspondant:

“We used to take long walks over the mountains, for though so fragile, he was a great walker. Sometimes we halted in some lovely spot, with the sea spread out before us, and the sky of Naples above us. We rested to take breath, and then resumed our conversations.

“His inexhaustible mind, which at no time displayed more activity or more freedom, touched, without undue haste or too rapid transition, but with even flow and infinite variety, one subject after another. They succeeded each other without effort, from the most important and logical discussions down to the most piquant anecdotes. Though always perfectly simple, he preserved, in the most intimate and familiar conversations, the purity of expression and admirable choice of words which was a part of his very nature. While sitting on the rocks around Sorrento, I might have written down (and why did I not?) all that escaped his lips in those moments of friendly intercourse.”

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
January 29, 1851
Sorrento
M. Gustave de Beaumont
de Beaumont, M. Gustave

We had just heard the news of the vote of the Assembly of the 18th of January, that it had no confidence in the present French ministry.

“The last time,” said Tocqueville, “that a French Chamber agreed on such a vote was in June, 1830: an Edition: current; Page: [132] ominous recollection; but in 1830, the 221 had the country at their back.

“It is difficult to say how far the country sympathizes with the Assembly. The President makes no undignified appearance in public. His immense patronage throws all France at his feet. The framers of the constitution meant to render him merely the subordinate officer of the Assembly. Within the limits of the constitution the Assembly was to be sovereign; but they have given to the President means of power and influence with which they, the Assembly, find it difficult to cope. And I agree with Thiers, that if, in the struggle, the Assembly yields, we have the empire under another name. It is possible that he may make a compromise with them on the dotation question, give up his ministers, and receive his three millions: which, of course, would be dishonourable to him. It is more probable that his ministers will refuse to continue.

“To be censured by the Assembly, and treated by the President as mere clerks, is paying a high price for office.”

“It is unfortunate,” I said, “that Louis Napoleon has learnt so little in England.”

“He learnt in England,” said Tocqueville, “a good deal. He learnt, for instance, the value of private enterprise and skill. He is less inclined than most of his ministers are to interpose in all great works the action of the government; but he has not learnt even the principles of parliamentary government. He is resolved not only to be his own prime minister, but to be almost sole minister. He will not even submit to be controlled in Edition: current; Page: [133] his cabinet. Hence arises the anomaly, that the leading men in the Assembly vote against the ministry, and yet refuse to take office. They vote against the ministry, because they fancy that they see in them the accomplices of an usurpation; they refuse to take office, because they would incur responsibility without having free agency.”

“It seems to me,” I said, “that the Assembly ought to have made its stand against the autocratic pretensions of the President, in November, 1849; when, in defiance of the spirit of parliamentary government, he dismissed a ministry which was supported by a strong majority. By not resenting that aggression, you invited others.”

“That is true,” he answered; “but the Assembly was new, and the President was new; we were very anxious not to begin so early with a quarrel; and we, the retiring ministry, used our utmost efforts to obtain for our successors a fair trial. But perhaps, as you say, we were wrong.”

“What is the next move,” I asked, “if the ministers remain?”

“There are two means,” he answered, “by which the Assembly might endeavour to coerce the President. The direct taxes, which form the bulk of the revenue, are by the constitution only annual. It might refuse them, or it might pass laws directly aimed at his power. It might change, for instance, the constitution of the army. It might exclude the army from Paris; in fact, exercising despotically the whole power of legislation, on all points that are not determined by the constitution, it might seriously embarrass or even arrest his administration.”

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“Would not either of these courses,” I said, “induce the people to take part with the President? Each of them, would in fact, be fighting the battle at the expense of the country, You want, I think, here the expedient of a dissolution. With us, if the King retain Ministers whom the House of Commons disapproves, it stops, or rather threatens to stop, the supplies; not as a party move, but as a means of forcing an appeal to the people. It is dissolved, and the ultimate umpire, the nation, decides. If it sends back, as it did in 1835, a house with the same opinions as its predecessors, the Ministers must go. If it sends one, as it did in 1784, with a ministerial majority, of course they remain. You seem to have no means of consulting the nation, but must wait till the Assembly has sat through its term.”

“A dissolution,” he said, “with us would be a revolution. The President, especially a Bonaparte, could not be left, even for a few weeks, unchecked by a countervailing force. Some years hence, perhaps, if we have then popular institutions, our chief magistrate may be allowed the power given to your sovereign, but not in our present state of transition.”

“But,” I said, “if you refuse to pass laws, and the President remains firm, what is to be the result?”

“If,” he answered, “his conduct were such as to justify our accusing him of an intention to subvert the constitution, we might seize the whole power of the state, and impeach him.”

“And these seditious cries, these promotions of those who uttered them, these dismissals of those who refused to join in them, this removal of the commander, on Edition: current; Page: [135] whose skill and fidelity the Assembly relied for its protection, are strong indications of plans of usurpation?”

“They might be urged,” said Ampère, “as implying a tendency, but the President may certainly keep within the limits of the law, and yet make legal government, except through his own ministers, impossible.”

“Was he wise,” I asked, “in indulging in an expenditure which forces him to apply to the chamber for a further allowance?”

“Very unwise,” answered Tocqueville; “he ought to have lived within his income, as the richest private man in France, without assuming princely magnificence. He would have been more respected, and really more powerful; I have told him so a hundred times; I have implored him to lay aside his extravagant retinue, and to discontinue his ostentatious fêtes.”

“But his instincts are towards expense, and his immediate adherents, who are as bad advisers as it is possible, stimulate an extravagance by which they profit. He is always thinking of his uncle. And the expense of the Imperial Court is, of course, the part of the empire most easily copied.”

“In what way,” I said, “does he get rid of so much money?”

“A great deal of it,” said Tocqueville, “goes in gifts to old officers: much, of course, in dinners and balls; but more in what is called coulage, waste, carelessness.”

“Of course,” I said, “he has gained something by this expenditure, though he may have lost more.”

“If,” answered Tocqueville, “his object be to become a sovereign, he may have forwarded it by accustoming Edition: current; Page: [136] people to see him surrounded by a state and splendour inconsistent with private life. But I do not believe that his extravagance has been the result of any deep political views. I fancy that his real motive has been the pleasure of spending money, of gratifying his immediate vanity, and the vanity of those around him.”

“It is wonderful how many men of talent and ambition have sacrificed their comfort, and even their independence to a taste for expense.”

“All that is going on,” continued Tocqueville, “fills me with uneasiness. I wish well to the President, and I wish well to the Assembly, and I see them on the way to destroy one another.”

“Among all the different courses which events may take, the one which has for some time appeared to me the least objectionable, is the prolongation of Louis Napoleon’s presidency, and I am grieved to see him make it the most objectionable.”

“What,” I asked, “will be the prophecy that I shall hear when I am in Paris next May? During the last three Mays, it has been an insurrection, and twice it has come true.”

“The prophecy,” he answered, “next May, will be a Coup d’État. Some of your friends will tell you that in a week the Assembly will declare itself in danger; appoint a guard of 40,000 men, under the command of one of its members, and use it to take the President to Vincennes.

“Others will assure you that the news which you may expect every morning is, that during the night the Palais National has been occupied by the troops; that the walls are covered with placards, declaring the Edition: current; Page: [137] Assembly dissolved; and that all the leading members of the majority are arrested or concealed. And I will not venture to predict that neither of these events, or, at least, that no event similar to one of them, will occur.

“In the present state of feeling,” he continued, “nothing would be easier than for the President to make himself a constitutional king. It is the form of government under which France has been most prosperous, it is the one which has the most friends, and the most effective ones. If one of the Orleans’ princes were president, we should slide into it almost unconsciously. But this is a rôle utterly repugnant to all Louis Napoleon’s prejudices and tastes. He cannot bear to be controlled by an assembly, to take his ministers from its majority, to submit his conduct to its criticism. I am convinced that he had much rather remain President of the Republic, with a vague, undefined, and, as he thinks, independent power, than become a constitutional king, acting under the advice of his ministers and with little real power of choosing them.

“Of course I do not mean to say that he is satisfied to be a mere president. What I affirm is, merely that he prefers it to being a constitutional king.

“What he would wish, is to be a king like Henry IV. or one of your Tudor sovereigns. He would not object perhaps to a senate, which might always pay him compliments, and sometimes give him advice, which might take on itself the details of legislation, and register and promulgate his decrees.

“But, like his uncle, he wishes to govern.”

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Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
February 4, 1851
M. Gustave de Beaumont
de Beaumont, M. Gustave

We expected, in the evening, letters and papers from France; but a continuance of easterly winds has delayed the packet, and none arrived.

Tocqueville is very uncomfortable.

“I voted,” he said, “against Louis Napoleon, partly for the very reason which induced the great majority to support him, because he is a Bonaparte, and partly from my deep distrust of his character. But when we had him, I was anxious that we should keep on good terms with him. To be sure he is essentially Prince, the rôle of Washington would have no charm for him. He has believed for twenty years that it is his destiny to be the permanent ruler of France, and his rashness is equal to his confidence. Still, I think that it would have been possible, for a time at least, to avoid a rupture, and I have done all in my power to avert one. In all my letters, I have urged my friends to endeavour to conciliate him.

“But now that the conflict has come, I earnestly wish that the Assembly may get the better. If the President succeeds, if his powers, already perhaps too large for a representative government, are prolonged and consolidated, he and his court will become the masters of France. . . . The late debates have shown us for the first time a party, calling itself the President’s friends. They are endeavouring to form into a permanent party, the minority of 286.*

“That minority consisted originally of as many shades Edition: current; Page: [139] as the majority. There were those who wished merely to blame one portion of the conduct of the ministers there there were those who did not intend even to blame, but merely to express regret I trust that it will dissolve now that the accident which created it has passed; but if it does not, if it crystallizes into a party, such a minority, opposed to such a disunited majority, will soon become the most powerful body in the Assembly.

“The people, too, are now in a state of mind in which whatever be its follies, or its usurpations, they will side with the executive. They are thoroughly sick of revolutions, and would sacrifice the constitution to avoid a contest.”

“It is lucky,” I said, “that if your constitution is in danger, it is not a more valuable one. If we were to lose ours, we should think our loss irreparable; but you could run up one as good as this in a few weeks.”

“The constitution,” he answered, “is detestable; but it gives us shelter.

“There is no saying what might happen in the interregnum. It is of some importance, too, to consider what is the character of the man who aspires to be our ruler. You think in England, I know, that he is essentially pacific; that he represents the party of order, and that it is safer to have to deal with him than with the Assembly. Just at present, while he is thinking only of the means of buying friends and crushing enemies, he is quiescent; but he has notions about the part which France ought to play in the affairs of Europe which might make him a very disagreeable, perhaps a very dangerous, member of the political world.”

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Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
February 9, 1851
Sorrento
M. Gustave de Beaumont
de Beaumont, M. Gustave

The papers brought us in the evening the meagre result of the “interpellations” addressed to the new French Ministry on the 28th.

“The Assembly,” said Tocqueville, “has acted as a large heterogeneous body may be expected to act. It has made an attack, and recoiled—shown its anger, and perhaps its impotence. I have no fear that what may be called the liberties of France, such as they are, will be diminished. We have now enjoyed legal government for thirty-two years; and we shall retain it. But I fear that the monarchical element in our institutions will gain more strength, and that the representative body will be made weaker than has been the case with either of them since the Empire.

“As for the Assembly, the probability seems to be that until it is roused in May by the great question of the revision of the constitution, it will sink into inactivity. It has, indeed, much to do if it chooses to employ itself. There are the laws respecting mortgages to be almost re-made—there is a poor-law to be invented—there are municipal institutions to be created; but I fear that after the excitement of this struggle, it will be disgusted by its ill success, be unable to act cordially with the President, or with ministers whom it despises, and will fritter away the next two months on trifles, or in undignified disputes between the Royalist parties and the Montagne.”

“Will the revision of the constitution,” I said, “be a matter of earnest debate? I thought that everybody was agreed as to its necessity.”

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“Everybody,” answered Tocqueville, “is agreed as to the badness of the constitution; but not only will it be a matter vehemently debated, but I doubt whether the requisite majority, three-fourths, will be obtained. All the parties who fear that it will be altered in a manner unfavourable to themselves will oppose the revision.

“The Montagnards, of course, will oppose it. They know that the next constitution will be less republican than this is; and I am not sure what will be the conduct of either the Legitimists, the Orleanists, or the Imperialists, if any one of them should fear to be a loser.”

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
February 10, 1851
Sorrento
M. Gustave de Beaumont
de Beaumont, M. Gustave

The ladies on donkies, the men on foot, walked to the mountain over the Cape, and thence home by a sort of staircase cut or beaten out on the face of the precipice.

We talked of the great writers of the eighteenth century. Les quatre, it was agreed, were Voltaire, Montesquieu, Rousseau, and Buffon.

“Whom,” said Ampère to Tocqueville, “do you put highest?”

“Voltaire,” answered Tocqueville. “Nothing can exceed the clearness, the finesse, the gaiety, and yet the simplicity of his style. He had a right to answer as he did, to a lady who talked to him about the beauty of his phrases. ‘Madame, je n’ai jamais fait une phrase de ma vie.’ ”*

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“Next, perhaps as to style, comes Buffon, sometimes indeed a little on stilts; the reader easily believes what we are told, that he never wrote except full dressed, and bien poudré, but brilliant, and flowing, and sometimes even poetical. Montesquieu is a little artificial; and Rousseau in his earlier works, indulged in long sentences, managed it is true, with wonderful skill, but still giving to them a laboured air.—It is on his ‘Confessions’ that his fame will rest.”

We talked of Talleyrand. I said that he appeared to me, to have been very indiscreet—that nothing could be more indiscreet than his celebrated aphorism, “that language was given to a man to disguise his thoughts.”

“I do not know,” answered Tocqueville, “that he is to be called indiscreet; for indiscretion is the frankness of a man who does not know that he is laying bare what ought to be kept covered. Talleyrand knew perfectly well that he was talking imprudently; but he yielded to the temptation of a bon mot, a temptation which no Frenchman resists; and perhaps he was right in doing so, for the charms of his conversation were among the means of his success. It was principally through them that he captivated Bonaparte.”

“Had Bonaparte,” I asked, “good taste in society?”

“Better,” answered Tocqueville, “than in most other things. His feelings were all aristocratic. He liked people of birth and refinement. He never forgot that he was gentilhomme himself; and though there was something brusque in his general manner; he could be delightful when he chose.”

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“The empire,” I said, “must have been an amusing time.”

“Not very much,” answered Tocqueville, “for civilians; they were obscured by the military reputations; and military life passed away almost too rapidly to be called amusing. I have heard of whole regiments which in a few years were killed three times over. It seems absurd to say so, but one gets accustomed to being killed. A short time before I left Paris, I was talking to an old friend, Rulhières, who passed through most of the campaigns of the Grand Armée. He told me that at Friedland his men stood motionless for two hours before a Russian battery; the only sound heard was the voice of an officer, who, whenever a man was struck cried, ‘Emportez le, et serrez vos rangs.’ Nothing but twenty years’ of war, that is to say, the traditionary rules of conduct formed during twenty years’ of war, could enable men to exhibit this patient self-devotion.

“Our revolutionary armies were fanatically daring; but they had not this passive heroism. They would have dashed at the battery, and have been blown to pieces.

“Rulhières,” he added, “told me a characteristic story of a Russian. He was a man of high rank, who had been sent to our head-quarters on a mission, and lived for some time on intimate terms with our staff, particularly with Rulhières. At the battle of Eylau Rulhières was taken prisoner. He caught the eye of his Russian friend, who came to offer his services. ‘You can do me,’ said Rulhières, ‘an important service. One of your Cossacks yonder has just seized my horse and Edition: current; Page: [144] cloak. I am dying of fatigue and cold. If you can get them for me, you may save my life.’

“The Russian went to the Cossack, talked to him rather sharply, probably on the wickedness of robbing a prisoner; got possession of the horse and cloak; put on the one, and mounted the other, and Rulhières never saw him again.”

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
February 13, 1851
M. Gustave de Beaumont
de Beaumont, M. Gustave

We walked and rode to the Camaldoli convent, and returned by the eastern side of the mountain.

Tocqueville talked of the resemblance of the present state of affairs in France to that which existed under the constitution of l’an 3, or of 1795, before the coup d’état of the 18 Fructidor.

“In each case,” said Tocqueville, “the constitution was made by a single Assembly which had succeeded to a constitutional monarchy, and had ruled despotically, comprehending in itself absolute legislative and absolute executive power.

“In each case an attempt was made to keep the powers separate—to have an executive totally deprived of legislative authority, not possessing even a veto, and a legislative body confined to the business of legislation. In the constitution of 1795 the separation was made complete, for members of the legislative body were excluded from all public functions. The present constitution allows them to be ministers.

“At this instant, however, when not a single minister is a member of the Assembly, the practical result of each Edition: current; Page: [145] constitution is the same. And even when the ministers were taken from the Assembly, the number is so small that more than 740 members had nothing to do but to make laws.

“Now this is not enough to occupy them; and, even if it were, an Assembly elected by the people, and believing itself to be the supreme power, cannot resist the temptation to take part in the actual government of the country.

“The least that it requires is that the government should be carried on by ministers in whom it has confidence. But the supreme executive power has the same pretension. Not only the power, but the duty of selecting the ministers belongs to it. Under the constitution of 1795, therefore, as under that of 1848, the choice of ministers became a subject of quarrel between the executive and legislative authorities.

“The Directory was in appearance far less formidable than our President is. It was a composite body, and a fluctuating one. What was more important, it was nominated not by the people, but by the legislature; and what was more important still, the nation was against it.

“The nation, at least that part of the nation which then possessed political power, was royalist. Not, perhaps, Bourbonist, but, as it showed two years after the 18th Fructidor, monarchical. And yet the executive then trampled under foot the legislative, almost without a struggle. It did so, simply because the army was on its side. The mobs of Marseilles and Paris, and the army, were the only democratic bodies in France.

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“We had conquered Europe, under the cry of war against kings. Every soldier hoped that, under democratic institutions, he should become an officer; and almost every officer who was a roturier, dreaded that if the ancien régime was re-established, he would lose all hope of advancement, perhaps even his commission. The army, therefore, sided with the democratic executive against the aristocratic or monarchical legislature. And it was irresistible—who can say that it would not be so now?

“Perhaps the best defence of a national guard is the enormous power of the army. It is seldom that a national guard can be relied on against a mob; but it is a great protection against the army, for the soldiers are not easily induced to fire on persons in uniform.”

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
February 14, 1851
Sorrento
Comtesse de Circourt
de Circourt, Comtesse

TO THE COMTESSE DE CIRCOURT.

About three weeks ago, Madame, I sent on, according to M. de Circourt’s instructions, the letter of introduction which you were so good as to give to me. General Filangieri has just returned a very polite answer, for which I am indebted solely to you. With it was a packet which I hasten to forward to you.

I seize this opportunity of thanking you for the kind and interesting letter that I received from you a short time since. How I should envy, Madame, those who spend their lives in the circles which you describe so well, and especially in yours, if one could be there without hearing of politics. But they poison everything, Edition: current; Page: [147] even the pleasure of returning home. The events in France, especially within the last month have, I own, made me cross and unsociable. I wish I could find some occupation for my mind in no way connected with public affairs; but this is more easily said than done. Political life is like certain women who, they say, have the power of agitating and exciting you long after you have ceased to love them.

What can I tell you, Madame, of this little world of Sorrento, in which you are so good as to interest yourself? It is as quiet and uniform as yours is varied and bustling. You know that there is nothing so tiresome as descriptions of still life. Besides, as I said before, the miserable state of our politics has disturbed and almost spoilt for me my retirement.

Voltaire used to say, that when anything annoyed him he wrote stories. I, who have no taste or talents that way, try to amuse myself by visiting all the environs.

I have seen Pompeii again, and I have been to Amalfi and Pœstum, which were new to me. The simple, melancholy grandeur of Pœstum filled me with emotion. But why do people say that these ruins stand in the midst of a desert; whereas their site is nothing more than a miserable, badly cultivated, scantily populated country, decaying like the temples themselves? Men always insist upon adorning truth instead of describing it. The greatest sometimes yield to this temptation. Even M. de Chateaubriand has painted the real wilderness, the one at least with which I am acquainted, in false colours. He seems to have travelled blindfold through the everlasting, cold, damp, melancholy, dark, Edition: current; Page: [148] and silent forest, from which you cannot escape even on the summits of the mountains or in the bosom of the valleys, which, more even than the ocean itself, impresses upon you the immensity of nature and the littleness of man.

We are told here that the winter is over: the truth is that it has not begun; we have scarcely had any autumn. What a delicious country, and how hard it would be to leave it were it not for the purpose of seeing one’s friends again! I trust that I have recovered my health here, though I dare not boast as yet.

Pray remember me to all who care about me. Thank M. de Circourt very much for his two letters. One was brought to me by an American with whom I was glad to renew my acquaintance; the second came with yours; both of them interested and instructed me. Adieu, Madame.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
February 17, 1851
Sorrento
Comtesse de Circourt
de Circourt, Comtesse

I walked with Tocqueville and Ampère to Massa and round by the Deserto di St. Agatha. During the walk and in the evening we talked of the Roman expedition.

“Of its three motives,” I said, “the maintenance of French influence in Italy, the restoration of the Pope, and the introduction or preservation in Rome of liberal institutions, only the second has been obtained.”

“The first,” said Tocqueville, “cannot be said to have totally failed. It is true that we have not increased our popularity; the Roman people do not know—indeed nobody knows—the efforts that have been made in their behalf; they do not sufficiently feel that, if we had not Edition: current; Page: [149] interfered, Austria certainly would, and that Radetski would not have carried on the siege, or used the victory in quite the same spirit as Oudinot.

“But still we are there. Austria has it not all her own way. We have shown that we are able and willing to take a decisive part in Italian affairs. If we had refused the Pope’s application, and the Austrians had brought him back, as they certainly would have done, they would have had a pretence to object to any interference on our part. Now, as masters of Rome, we have at least a right to be heard. I am not bound, however, to defend the Roman expedition. It was no act of mine. When I entered the cabinet we were already at Civita Vecchia. All that I could do was to impress on Oudinot the necessity of so conducting the siege as to avoid injuring what is the property of the whole Christian world—the monuments of Rome. In this attempt we succeeded.”

“Yes,” said Ampêre, “almost the whole damage which the siege has done, is the destruction of the trees and frescoes in the Borghese gardens; and this was done not by us, but by the republican triumvirs, out of pure spite to the Prince, for it was totally useless.”

“This mode of conducting the siege,” continued Tocqueville, “actually occasioned to us some loss of men, and much of time; and exposed us to dangers which make me almost tremble when I think of them. If the unhealthy season had arrived at its usual time, and found our army encamped on the banks of the Tiber, it would have been laid waste by fever. If Rome had resisted for three weeks longer, this calamity Edition: current; Page: [150] would certainly have overtaken us, and there is no saying what political ones might have followed.

“Now the mode in which we were proceeding, making no use of shells, and directing our attacks only against the quarters where there was nothing valuable to injure, was so slow, that the day before the town surrendered our engineers estimated that it would hold out for twenty or twenty-one days longer. Happily the municipality, which the 20,000 foreign refugees had kept down by the terror of imprisonment, executions, and assassinations, took courage at last, and forced them to let us in; but it was a happiness that we had no right to expect. We owe it, in fact, principally to Ledru Rollin and his friends. The Roman garrison speculated on the assistance of the Parisian mob. When the failure of that silly insurrection showed that there was no hope from France, they lost heart, suffered the municipality to treat, and began to make their escape during the negotiation.

“The Cardinals at Gaëta during the siege were always contrasting our slow proceedings with the vigour with which the Austrians reduced Bologna. They did not, in so many words, require us to bombard Rome; but to obey them, and bring the siege to an end rapidly, that is what we must have done. And if any other of the Catholic powers, Spain, or Naples, or Austria, had taken on itself the settling of the Roman affair, the town would have been reduced in a week by destroying perhaps a third of it. From the time that Oudinot entered Rome in July, till we were turned out of office at the end of October, the whole object of my correspondence Edition: current; Page: [151] was, to induce the Pope to grant liberal institutions to his people. I considered this as the most important of the three objects of the expedition—as an object affecting not only our interests but our honour, as an object without which the whole expedition was a lamentable failure.”

“As between you and the Pope,” I said, “I suppose that you founded your right to make this demand on his having requested your aid?”

“Certainly,” he answered. “When a sovereign requests a friendly power to send an army into his territories, not to resist a foreign enemy, but to put down a domestic insurrection, he contracts a tacit engagement with that power to follow, at least to a considerable extent, its advice as to the use to be made of the victory. You occupied Sicily merely as auxiliaries, but you made the king give it a constitution.”

“And on what,” I asked, “did you found your right as against the Roman republic?”

“As against the triumvirs,” he answered, “on their being at the head of a horde of foreign ruffians, driven into Rome by the disgust and indignation of all other countries, who were oppressors of the Roman people.

“As against the Roman people, on the ground that France is the first Catholic power, that the spiritual authority of the Pope is essential to the welfare of the Catholic world, and that some degree of temporal power is necessary for the permanent exercise of his spiritual power. On these grounds, what appear to be the domestic affairs of Rome, and would be its domestic affairs if the Pope was at Avignon, have always been a matter in Edition: current; Page: [152] which the rest of Europe, Protestant as well as Catholic, has thought itself justified in interfering.”

“And what,” I said, “were the concessions which you required from the Pope?”

“They were five,” he answered. “First—A renewed recognition of the general principle of liberty and security proclaimed by the Pope in his celebrated statuto of the 17th March, 1848.

“Secondly—A new organization of the Roman courts of justice.

“Thirdly—A civil code resembling the code of Piedmont, or of Naples, which are in fact taken from the Code Napoléon.

“Fourthly—Elective municipal and national councils The Pope, by his motu proprio of the 14th October, 1847, created a National Assembly, called a “Consulta,” which was authorized to advise, but not to legislate. We required one which should have deliberative power on matters of taxation.

“Fifthly—The secularization of the public administration.

“Of these requisitions the two last were of course the most material. We, perhaps, attached most importance to vesting in an elected body the power of taxation; but as respects the feelings of the Roman people, the substitution of a lay for a clerical administration was the most urgent of all the reforms. Their hatred against their ecclesiastical rulers is indescribable. It is such that the Pope can retain them only while his capital is occupied by foreign troops; the instant that we go, unless the Austrians take our place, there will be Edition: current; Page: [153] a new revolution, which will sweep away every clerical functionary.”

“You did not seriously hope,” I replied, “to obtain all these demands?”

“I believe,” he answered, “that when we made them many of them were hopeless; though I thought it my duty to urge all of them as earnestly as if I expected to gain my point.

“But there was a time when they might at least have been promised, and perhaps ostensibly performed; that was when Pio Nono first asked our assistance. He had then quarrelled with Austria. Naples was democratic; he was on bad terms with Piedmont, and applied only to us.

“Cavaignac was timid and refused, but if we ought to have interfered at all, that was the time. When the Pope was at Gaëta, surrounded by the Spanish, Neapolitan, and Bavarian ministers, when he had lost Rossi, when he had thrown himself into the hands of the Cardinals, it was too late to prescribe terms to him.

“He seems to have thought seriously of trying to obtain some administrators from France, and he bitterly lamented the loss of Rossi. He said, ‘C’est le seul homme d’état capable de soutenir une nouvelle politique que j’ai pu trouver—et on me l’a tué.’*

“It was of great importance to us, to Rome, and, indeed, to the Pope himself, that he did not execute his original intention of taking refuge in France. The scheme was, that the Duc d’Harcourt, our minister in Edition: current; Page: [154] Rome, should arrange the means of taking him to France; and that Sparr, the Bavarian minister, should carry him to Gaëta, where he was to embark. So Harcourt, with all the Pope’s baggage, went to Civita Vecchia the same night that the Pope went to Gaëta. Harcourt found the Vauban at Civita Vecchia, and came round with her to Gaëta. By that time, the Pope had been two days in Gaëta, had been received with all sorts of honours and veneration, and found himself so comfortable, that he refused to move further. The whole influence of Naples was, of course, unfavourable to us; and it was exercised in the teazing, childish manner which was to be expected from them.

“When our minister reached Gaëta, carrying the first intelligence of our entry into Rome, he was put into quarantine, on the pretext that the Cerbere, which brought him, came from Toulon, and that there was cholera in Paris.

“He protested—the ministers could not venture to decide. The king was consulted; he asked for further explanations, and after a long delay, our minister was allowed to land; but his papers and his secretary were detained on board the Cerbere in quarantine, and it was only the following evening that the king was induced to connive at his going thither by night and stealing them.”

“How did the Austrians behave?” I asked.

“Better,” he answered, “than could have been expected. Austria was then professing to be constitutional, and affecting liberality. Esterhazy, who represented Austria at Gaëta, thoroughly approved, at least in his conversations, the secularization of the government, Edition: current; Page: [155] and the power of the Consulta in matters of taxation.

“It is remarkable, that one of the grounds on which the President dismissed us was, our not obtaining greater concessions from the Pope; but directly we were gone, he himself, or at least his ministers, gave up everything. His vanity was satisfied with having insulted the Pope, by his letter to Ney, and with having insulted the Chamber, by turning out a ministry without consulting it; and his interest in the affairs of Rome was then over.”

“But what,” I asked, “could you have done if you had remained, and the Pope had continued obstinate?”

“We should have set ourselves,” answered Tocqueville, “right with Europe; and we should have refused to sanction by our presence what we could not prevent.

“My intention was, in that event, to draw up a protest, stating all that we had asked on behalf of the Roman people; the grounds on which we had asked it, and the manner in which it had been refused, or eluded. . . . To present it to the Pope, to publish it in the Moniteur, and to withdraw our troops from Rome, leaving this appeal to Europe and to posterity.”

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
February 20, 1851
Comtesse de Circourt
de Circourt, Comtesse

We talked in the evening of the memoirs of Louis XVIII.

I said that they had deceived Lord Granville, who told me in 1832 that he thought them authentic.

“They were written,” said Tocqueville, “by some one Edition: current; Page: [156] who had excellent information. Those memoirs, and those of an ‘Homme d’Etat,’ and the ‘Memorial de St. Hélène,’ are to be separated from the ordinary manufactures, such as those of Madame de Barry, Fouché, &c.”

“Who wrote,” I said, “the Memorial de St. Hélène?”

“An Abbé de Chateau Vieux,” said Tocqueville, “who kept the secret, except to one or two intimate friends, during his life, but revealed it by his will. He wrote nothing else very remarkable, and was not even a Parisian, which accounts for his never having been suspected.”

From the Memoirs of Louis XVIII. we passed to the man.

“He was,” said Tocqueville, “the only sovereign in France who has had the good sense or the patience to govern constitutionally. . . . He made a few mistakes at the beginning . . . offended the army by his Gardes du Corps, and still more by Ney’s execution; but during the remainder of his reign he took his ministers from the majority, and his policy from his ministers, and reigned in as parliamentary a manner as if he had been King of England. It has been said that the Bourbons are a worn-out race, and Louis XVI., Ferdinand I. of Naples, and Charles IV. of Spain, are used as examples; but what can be more thoroughly Bourbon than Louis Philippe’s family, the children of a French Bourbon by a Neapolitan Bourbon, and yet they would be a most distinguished family in private life. I cannot but believe that the French Bourbons are still destined to act a great part, and their present fortunes are preparing them for it.”

Edition: current; Page: [157]
Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
March 12, 1851
Sorrento
M. Dufaure
Dufaure, M.

TO M. DUFAURE.

I should have answered your letter sooner, my dear Friend, if I could have done so freely and openly; but the post here is so notoriously treacherous that a political correspondence is almost impossible, and even confidential intercourse is unpleasant. It must be owned that governments have a great power of spoiling all the advantages of civilization: they hamper every facility that it bestows upon us.

I console myself, however, for not being able to write to you upon politics as freely as I wish, by looking forward to the time when we shall be able to talk about them. I am making arrangements for reaching Paris towards the end of April. We are separated by five weeks at most. I cannot tell you how impatient I am to return; how much I have suffered by being away from my friends in the trying events which have just taken place; and by anticipating those, which, on different hypotheses, may occur. It is not that the part of a representative of the people seems to be now very agreeable. I know of none more ungrateful. But, after all, it is my duty, and as long as it is laid upon me I cannot endure with patience my banishment from the theatre where I ought to play it. The responsibility of absence in political times seems to me heavier than the responsibility of action. Thank God, I have nearly reached the term of my exile, and shall soon resume my place amongst you. I hope that nothing serious will occur in the interval. The positions assumed by the different parties are such as are not likely to change for the next Edition: current; Page: [158] few weeks. It seems to me as if they had all appointed a great field day, or rather, that public opinion has fixed it for them on the ground of the constitution, that is to say, about the middle of May. This idea helps me to endure patiently the remainder of the time which I must spend here.

Mr. Senior left Sorrento at the end of February, and met M. de Tocqueville in the following spring in Paris.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
May 4, 1851
Paris
M. Dufaure
Dufaure, M.

I went early in the morning to Tocqueville.

“The political horizon,” he said, “is darker—that is to say, obscurer—than I ever knew it to be.

“At Sorrento I thought that I could see a little before me. Since I am in Paris I give up all attempts at prophecy, or even conjecture. One thing only is certain, that a legal solution of the questions that will have to be decided next year is impossible.

“The President will not consent to consider himself ineligible. Even if he were to do so, his friends would not act on that supposition. He will certainly be on the list of candidates; and the result perhaps most to be desired, or least to be deprecated, is that he should be re-elected by a majority so large as to be considered to speak the voice of the nation, and therefore to legalize its own acts, though opposed to the existing law. It must be remembered that by that time the new assembly will have been elected; and the present assembly, therefore, though technically possessed of its full powers, will have lost its moral influence, and will be unable to oppose the public will.

Edition: current; Page: [159]

“But even this result, though less formidable than the simultaneous change of the holders of all executive power, and of all legislative power, will be an event of which the certain mischief will be great, the possible mischief enormous. What will be the effect on men’s minds of a violation of the constitution deliberately made by the nation at the instigation of its chief magistrate? Who will respect a constitution which the people has set aside in one of its most important provisions?

“That constitution, bad as it is, is our only bulwark. Nothing else stands between us and either anarchy or despotism. The President is formidable enough as he is. What will he be, when his mere election will have been a triumph over the only restraint that keeps him within the constitution? It is difficult even now to protect property from systematic plunder, and authority from organized revolt. What will be the difficulty, after the executive itself for many months has been employing thousands of agents to urge the people to break the law, and has succeeded? Every exit seems besieged by some frightful spectre.

“At present there is a lull; parties are preparing for the discussion as to the revision of the constitution, which cannot come on until the 28th.”

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
May 6, 1851
Paris
M. Dufaure
Dufaure, M.

Mrs. Grote and I drank tea with Tocqueville. Madame de Tocqueville was unwell and in bed.

We talked of T. K.’s theory as to the unfitness of France for a mixed government.

“I do not see,” said Tocqueville, “why what has been Edition: current; Page: [160] should not be again. We endured a mixed government for thirty-three years, why should we be incapable of enduring one now? I admit, however, that in order to enable a government in which the supreme power is divided to be permanent to last, as yours has done, for centuries, the ruling authorities must possess an amount of patience and forbearance which never has been granted to ours; and therefore I do not expect a mixed government in France to be permanent—that is to say, to be uninterrupted. Among thousands of possibilities, that which appears to me to be the least improbable, is that during the greater part of the next hundred years, France will be subject to a constitutional monarchy, from time to time interrupted by a despotic or by a democratic revolution.”

“Of course,” I said, “the form of mixed government under which you are living will not last?”

“Of course,” he answered, “it will not. A despotic monarchy, or a despotic aristocracy, may retain its power for centuries against the will of its subjects: but an unpopular democracy sounds like a contradiction in terms, and must soon become a contradiction in fact.

“As soon as the people has found the means of ascertaining and expressing its will, it will select, or accept, or submit to the master whom it prefers to self-government.

“Those who imposed on us this constitution knew that it would be unpopular. They tried to prolong its existence; first, by pre-determining the mode in which it should be altered; and secondly, by making that legal mode almost impracticable.

Edition: current; Page: [161]

“Three-quarters of the Assembly will not join in a vote from which a third, perhaps nearly a half, of its members fear more than they hope.”

“Will you then break,” I said, “the band which you cannot untie? Will you proceed to a revision on a simple majority?”

“I believe,” he answered, “that the Government will make the attempt; and it was the fear of having to do this which prevented my friends and me from taking office. The danger of such a course is enormously increased by the new electoral law. Under a system of universal suffrage, the new constituent Assembly could not have been said to have been illegally elected. It would really have represented the whole nation. Now it will represent only a minority. Those who wish to resist its acts may proclaim them void, as the acts of a political body doubly illegal—illegally convoked, and illegally nominated. The whole conduct and tone of the present administration convinces me that they have considered this risk, and are resolved to encounter it. They are bolder than I am.”

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
May 18, 1851
M. Dufaure
Dufaure, M.

Tocqueville does not share in B.’s expectation that, on the question of revision, the minority will yield.

“It might yield,” he said, “if the majority were compact and earnest; it might yield if the majority were cordially supported by the nation. But the nation is divided; it knows that the constitution is faulty, but it is not sure that it will be exchanged for anything better. It would see with pleasure a few points selected for Edition: current; Page: [162] amendment; but it looks forward with terror to a new constituent assembly which may avow principles which were with difficulty rejected in 1848, which may bring back le droit au travail, and le droit au secours.* The majority shares these fears; and though it will vote for the revision, because it would be unable to justify to its constituents a refusal to amend what it admits to be defective, a large portion of it will not be sorry that the legal majority is not obtained.”

“But why,” I said, “not vote for a restricted revision? for the covering only of what experience has shown to be palpable blots?”

“Because,” he answered, “even a respectable majority cannot be obtained for the purpose . . . The instant you come to details, each party looks to its own interests, and there is scarcely a point on which even three out of five agree. I own that I am inclined to think that one of the least objectionable parts of our constitution is the difficulty which it throws in the way of change. Its framers foresaw that the period of revision would be one of great danger; and they wisely endeavoured to postpone it, at least, until the experiment of the Republic should have been made. . . .

“This has not yet been done; for a constitution which almost all who administer it are striving to overthrow cannot be said to have been fairly tried. This general desire for revision is not the result of an appreciation of the merits and defects of the constitution; it is the restlessness of a sick man who wishes to turn in his bed. All parties seem convinced that the revision will Edition: current; Page: [163] produce some form of monarchy. Hence the violence with which it is urged on by the Anti-republicans, and opposed by the Montagne. I do not share this conviction. Under our system of voting by lists, a compact minority which concentrates all its votes on its own candidates, has a great chance of beating a divided majority which supports as many candidates as it contains factions. I should not be surprised at seeing Rouge representatives from many of the departments on which the anti-republican parties now rely. So clearly do I see the dangers of the revision, that I could not bring myself to vote for it, if I saw any other less dangerous course.

“But danger surrounds us on every side. Great and general as the alarm is, I believe it to be less than that which is justified by our situation.

“The constitution,” he added, “with all its defects, might be endurable, if we could only believe in its permanence. But we read history. We see that republican institutions have never lasted in France, and we infer that these which we have now must be shortlived. This reading of history is our bane. If we could forget the past, we might apply a calm, impartial judgment to the present. But we are all always thinking of precedents. Sometimes we draw them from our own history; sometimes from yours. Sometimes we use the precedent as an example; sometimes as warning. But as the circumstances under which we apply it always differ materially from those under which it took place, it almost always misleads us.

“We indicted Louis for conspiracy against the nation because you had indicted Charles. We substituted Edition: current; Page: [164] Louis Philippe for Charles X., as you had substituted Mary for James.

“Louis XVI. believed that Charles I. had lost his crown and his life by raising his standard at Edge Hill. So he tried non-resistance. Charles X. saw that his brother’s submission was fatal, and had recourse to the ordonnances, and to his army.

“Louis Philippe recollected the fate of Charles X., and forbad his troops to act.

“Thus the pendulum oscillates, and generally oscillates wrong.”

In July, 1851, M. de Tocqueville inhabited a country-house near Versailles, belonging to M. Rivet, and attended the Legislative Assembly. He was a member of a Commission in which MM. de Montalembert, Jules Favre, Berryer, De Corcelle, De Broglie, Charras, Cavaignac, Odilon Barrot, and Baze, were among his colleagues, directed to consider the proposals for the revision of the constitution. He was the rapporteur, and his report, dated the 8th of July, 1851 (No. 2064 of the papers of that year), is a masterly production, but too long to be introduced in extenso. I cannot, however, resist the temptation of extracting a passage describing the constitution of 1848:—

“A single chamber, exclusively entitled to make laws: a single man exclusively entitled to preside over the application of all laws, and the direction of all public affairs, each of them elected directly by universal suffrage: the Assembly omnipotent within the limits of the constitution: the President required, within those limits, Edition: current; Page: [165] to obey the Assembly; but wielding, from the nature of his election, a moral force which makes his submission uneasy, and must suggest to him resistance, and possessed of all the prerogatives which belong to the executive in a country in which the central administration, everywhere active and everywhere powerful, has been created by monarchs, and for the purposes of monarchy:—these two great powers, equal as to their origin, unequal as to their rights, condemned by law to coerce one another, invited by law to mutual suspicion, mutual jealousy, and mutual contest, yet forced to live in close embrace, in an eternal tête-à-tête, without a third power, or even an umpire, to mediate or to restrain them—these are not conditions under which a government can be regular or strong.”

It is to the report that M. de Tocqueville alludes in the following letter.—Tr.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
July 27, 1851
Versailles
N. W. Senior
Senior, N. W.

TO N. W. SENIOR, ESQ.

My dear Senior,

. . . I am satisfied with the general effect which my report has produced in France, and delighted by its reception in England. I care almost as much about what is said of me on your side of the channel as I do for what is said of me on ours. So many of my opinions and feelings are English, that England is to me almost a second country intellectually.

How comes it that my reasons in favour of the revision have not convinced you? What inconsistency is there between this report and my conversations with you at Sorrento?

Edition: current; Page: [166]

I then thought the illegal re-election of the President very probable. I think so still. Although Louis Napoleon has completely disgusted the higher classes, and almost all our eminent political men—although his popularity among the lower classes has much diminished, and is diminishing every day—notwithstanding all this, I confess that I still think his re-election nearly inevitable, partly in consequence of the want of any competitor, and partly in consequence of our general anxiety. I believe that the Bonapartist current, if it can be turned aside at all, can be turned aside only by meeting a revolutionary current, which will be still more dangerous; and lastly, I believe that if he were to be illegally re-elected, any amount of attack on our liberties would become possible.

So convinced was I of all this six weeks ago, that I remember telling you that I should probably retire from public life, in order to have nothing to do with a government which may try to destroy, in law or in fact, all constitutional institutions, and perhaps, exhausted as we are, might for a time succeed.

The government which I should prefer, if I thought it possible, would be a republic; but believing its continuance impossible, I should see without regret Louis Napoleon become our permanent ruler, if I could believe that he would be supported by the higher classes, and would be able and desirous to rule constitutionally. But I told you then that I did not believe either of these things to be possible, and all that I see convinces me that I was right.

The President is as proof against all constitutional Edition: current; Page: [167] ideas as Charles X. was. He has his own legitimacy, and he believes as firmly in the imperial constitution as Charles X. did in divine right. Then he separates himself more and more every day from almost all the men whose talents or experience fit them for public business, and is reduced to rely on the instincts and passions of the peuple,* properly so called. His re-election, therefore, especially if illegal, may have disastrous consequences. And yet it is inevitable, unless resisted by an appeal, which I will not make, to revolutionary passions.

What is the result of this, but a desire for a revision, which may either, by changing the nature and the origin of the executive, render his re-election impossible, or by rendering it legal, may render it less dangerous.

Many persons in France, and some even in England, have reproached me for having stuck so firmly to the constitution, and for having led the Assembly to declare its adherence. I have been accused even of having supposed an illegal re-election, and of having urged the Assembly to resist one. This is an error, as any one who reads carefully my report will see.

I do not foretel, I did not wish to foretel, what the Assembly will do, or ought to do, on an unconstitutional re-election. It will depend on circumstances, particularly on the number of votes. There might be a manifestation of public opinion to which it might be prudent and patriotic to yield.

What I have said, and made the Assembly say, is, Edition: current; Page: [168] that during the interval which separates us from 1852, no illegality is to be permitted; that no party, not even the Government, is to be allowed to propose an illegal candidate; that we must act, and force every one else to act, in such a manner as to leave the nation mistress of herself, able to consult her own interests, and to follow her own opinions.

I have said all this as forcibly as I could. First, because I thought that to say so was useful to the country. Secondly, because I thought that to say so was useful to myself.

A time may come when I myself may think that the people ought to be allowed to violate the constitution. But I will let this be done by others. My hand shall never strike the flag of law.

Then this agitation for revision has two motives—one, a sincere wish for it, in order to improve the constitution; the other, an intrigue for the purpose of undermining and injuring the constitution. The former is mine; the latter I cannot join in.

In fact our situation is more complicated, more inextricable, and less intelligible, than it ever has been. We are always in one of those strange and terrible states in which nothing is impossible, and nothing can be foreseen. What is least improbable is the re-election of the President, and also the election of a new Assembly less favourable to him than is generally expected. If this be so, unless Louis Napoleon do not take advantage of the first popular impulse, which will enable him to rise to absolute power, he may find himself again opposed and hampered by a hostile Assembly.

Edition: current; Page: [169]

Yet the nation, though it looks in the face this state of things, unexampled in history, is perfectly calm and not unprosperous. Trade, excepting agriculture, which has not recovered, does not fall off, perhaps increases. No one ventures on large speculations, but every one eagerly and perseveringly follows his own business, as if all that is to happen to-morrow were not uncertain. Yet no one can see 1852 approach without terror, great, perhaps exaggerated. We have all, however, been educated by revolutions. We all know that it is our fate to live like a soldier in a campaign, whom the chance of being killed to-morrow does not prevent from caring for his dinner, his bed, and even his amusements. When I see the attitude of the nation, I must admire it, and confess that, with all its follies and its weaknesses, it is a great people.

Your expectation that the habits of your people will render the Ecclesiastical Titles Act inoperative, seems to me probable. But why enact laws worse than your habits? I confess that I agree with all my heart and soul with those who, like Lord Aberdeen and Mr. Gladstone, oppose, in the spirit of liberty and of free institutions, these vain but dangerous attacks on liberty of conscience. Where will religious freedom fly if she is driven from England? If those whose principle is freedom of inquiry and toleration become intolerant, what right have they to reproach the intolerance of Rome? Rome, if she violates the conscience of individuals, does not violate her own principles.

It is imprudent to criticise a foreign country, but I cannot but think that, a few years hence, the disturbance Edition: current; Page: [170] created by the papal aggression will be compared to the passions which two centuries ago produced the belief in the popish plot. This agitation is less violent, but not less unreasonable. Even those who now take part in it will be as little able to account for their conduct as we are.

Ever yours.
Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
September 14, 1851
Versailles
M. Gustave de Beaumont
de Beaumont, M. Gustave

TO M. GUSTAVE DE BEAUMONT.

. . . The conseil général lasted for two full weeks, and ended only on the night of the 7th. . . . All passed as well as I could wish. The legal revision, as proposed by the Committee of the Assembly, was voted after a speech from me. . . . It is hard to ascertain the real state of public opinion in my department; so great is the reserve with which individuals express themselves, partly from prudence, and partly from not knowing what to think. There is almost universal silence. No people, while thinking of nothing but politics, ever talked of them so little. At last I think that I discovered as much as this:—no passionate attachment to the President of the Republic; great tolerance for his opponents; and a general inclination to re-elect him, because he is already there. Any other in his place would have almost the same chance, so strong is their dislike of agitation, and their horror of what they do not know. . . . I persist, then, in maintaining the opinion which, as you know, has always been mine, that the re-election of the President is inevitable, and that the only question Edition: current; Page: [171] is as to the amount of the majority. . . . The sort of light which falls on this one point in our future, does not make the rest of the picture more clear.

What will be the consequence of this popular coup d’état, I cannot tell. It seems to me, that it will be difficult to avoid a crisis of some sort, perhaps a period of considerable suffering. I think, with you, that we should hold ourselves, not aloof, but in reserve; and especially, as you say, without pledging ourselves to any civil war, with the hope that at the last moment we may be able to interpose, and if the President triumphs, to make our stand on constitutional liberty. But how little influence has one over events in such times as these! There is one resolution to which I am determined to hold: either to carry our liberties triumphantly through this crisis, or to fall with them; all the rest is secondary. But this is a question of life and death. . . .

The illusions of most people are wonderful. When I talk with some of them, I feel as if I were in a lunatic asylum. It is true that I do not possess the parent of all illusions—enthusiasm. I have no enthusiasm; how should I have any? Of the possible solutions, not one is to my taste; I see only a choice of evils. The nation lives upon illusions as to the real state of the country—on illusions as to the army. . . . As to the latter, yesterday a general, whom I will not name, described to me happily its spirit. “The army,” he said, “is like a young lady, well brought up, who asks for nothing better than to give herself away, but who will never submit to violence, nor bestow herself without the consent of her Edition: current; Page: [172] parents, her parents being the President and the Assembly.”

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
September 13, 1851
Versailles
M. de Corcelle
de Corcelle, M.

TO M. DE CORCELLE.

. . . Among many subjects of anxiety, you know how earnestly I desire to protect the interests of which you speak—those of religion and piety.

The reaction in favour of belief, and of those who profess to be believers, which we have witnessed since the Republic, can have astonished only those who do not reflect. It has not depended, and will not depend, on the influence of any one man, or even of any particular government; for the most striking characteristic of the times is the powerlessness both of men and of governments to direct the course of social or political changes. This reaction has two principal causes. 1st. The fear of socialism, which, for the time being, has produced on the middle classes an effect similar to that which the French Revolution formerly produced upon the upper ranks. 2dly. The having placed the Government in the hands of the masses, which, for the moment at least, has restored to the Church and to the landlords an influence which they have not enjoyed for sixty years, and which, in fact, even sixty years ago they had ceased to possess; for at that time their influence was merely a light reflected from that of the Government—now they receive it from the spontaneous feelings of the people. As long as these two great causes prevail, the effect which we rejoice in will (unless enormous blunders be committed by the clergy, and still more by their friends) continue.

Edition: current; Page: [173]

This reminds me of my opinion, which I think you share, but which unfortunately is not that of most of our religious men, that no government of any description can ever propagate religion in France. They who are so clamorous for the despotic interference of the Government in these matters, or even for any considerable interference on its part, commit a serious error. A strong and absolute Government may interfere in other things with advantage, but not in this. Of this I am as sure as it is possible to be. Not that I deny that, at certain periods and in certain states of society, the ruling powers have exercised a great if not a lasting influence over the religious condition of the country, but on those occasions the Government was in accordance with the people—it only lent its aid.

With us, whoever may be elected as president, no serious or lasting religious reaction will ever take place, except as the result of the inward working of society left to itself. It will spring from individual experience of the necessity of a faith, of the daily need of it and of its special ministers felt by all, either to remedy the moral evils of the age, or to resist its political diseases. The direct action of the Government, instead of forwarding, will only impede this movement; and I will frankly confess that my fears of its being arrested arise from the ill-advised efforts to accelerate it. Think deeply on this last point, and remember, that I desire as ardently as you do to see religion reinstated in our country.

Urge, therefore, the friends of religion never to lose sight of the moral and intellectual condition of the Edition: current; Page: [174] nation. Remember that, on this matter, it is divided between old prejudices and new ideas; that it enters with hesitation into the path which you wish it to follow; that it is always harassed by two terrors, that of the socialists and that of the priests; that its tendency is always to take a step backward when it has made one forward; and further, that the nation is everything; that nothing real or lasting can be effected except by the free exercise of its will. Our endeavours must, therefore, be governed by the utmost prudence, moderation, and circumspection; we must feel always that the great object is not speed, but to make sure of every inch of ground that we gain, and that all merely apparent progress would be in reality a loss, an immense loss, if the public mind should become alarmed and old prejudices should revive. A thousand things fill me with anxious and fatal presentiments. I doubt, not the rectitude nor the good intentions of those who pursue this great object, but their prudence and their skill. And I earnestly hope that I am mistaken in thinking that their impetuosity and excessive confidence in temporal means will in the end cause a reaction, and that the nation will throw itself back into the arms of philosophy, in revenge for its alarm in having been dragged out of them with so much violence. I stop, for my hand is tired. I intended to send you two pages, and here is a volume. At least, it is another proof of the pleasure which I feel in opening my heart to you unreservedly.

Edition: current; Page: [175]
Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
November 28, 1851
Paris
N. W. Senior
Senior, N. W.

TO N. W. SENIOR, ESQ.

I was beginning, dear friend, to complain of your silence when your letter reached me. I read it with great pleasure, and it gave me still more pleasure to talk of you with our friend, Mrs. Grote, who is as agreeable as ever, but who seems to me to be less well in health than the last time that she was in Paris.

I had already heard, and Mrs. Grote, whom I questioned on the subject, confirmed to me, that you had been offered a high place in India. It was not right in you to tell me nothing about it, as you know the deep interest which I take in all that concerns you. It seems, however, that there was not much in it. I am delighted; I own that I should like you to leave England, but not to go so far, or to such a completely different climate. It would not have suited your friends, nor, perhaps, your health. What I should wish for you would be some important post in the Mediterranean, which would insure your keeping well, and enable such of your friends as, like myself, find great enjoyment in your society, to obtain it from time to time.

Permit me not to allude to our public affairs, in spite of the gravity of the present circumstances, or rather, on account of that very gravity. Not that there is any obstacle to the freest discussion. But our thoughts are so painful that the best way is not to express them, and even to try, if possible, not to think. There are things which cannot be contemplated calmly when they are close at hand, even though they may have been long Edition: current; Page: [176] foreseen. Our present condition is one of these things. It can end only by some great catastrophe. My clear view of the magnitude and of the proximity of the calamity is so bitterly painful, that I try as much as possible to divert from it my thoughts.

Mrs. Grote has forwarded to me the two valuable volumes containing your recollections of Paris and Sorrento. Our state of perpetual though useless excitement has prevented my looking into them. But I fully intend to do so. I shall especially enjoy reading all that will recal to me Sorrento, and the busy yet peaceful months which I spent on the shores of the Bay of Naples. I often look back with tender regret to the place itself, and to the time that I spent there. That delicious and tranquil retreat, coming as it did between the Revolution of 1848 and the one which is impending, was like a rest upon some Southern isle between two shipwrecks. Write to me sometimes, if only to tell me how you are.

The following translation from a letter of M. de Tocqueville, dated a few days earlier, is extracted, by permission, from the Times of the 11th December, 1851:—

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis

TO THE EDITOR OF THE “TIMES.”

Sir,

The opinion expressed by certain organs of the English press on the events which have just occurred in France has caused a painful surprise to men who, like myself, preserve a steadfast attachment to the principles of regulated liberty and a fixed respect for legality. We are grieved to remark the purpose to which these observations of a portion of the English press are turned Edition: current; Page: [177] by the new Government, and that any English writers should seem to applaud what all honest Frenchmen condemn. It is for this reason that, as a witness of these events, I wish to make them known to you in all sincerity, convinced as I am that when Englishmen approve violence and oppression, it is only because the truth is not yet before them.

Permit me to offer some general reflections before entering into details.

Louis Napoleon, in order to endeavour to palliate in France and abroad the audacious violation of the laws which he has just committed, has caused a report to be circulated that he only anticipated the hostile measures of the Assembly, which was conspiring against himself, and that if he had not struck that body it would have struck him. This sort of defence is no novelty to us in France. All our revolutionists have used it for these sixty years. The members of the Convention, who sent each other to the scaffold; invariably treated their adversaries as conspirators. But in the present instance this accusation, as far as the majority of the Assembly is concerned, is without a pretext, and can only pass current among strangers ignorant of the true course of events.

No doubt history will have weighty charges to bring against the Legislative Assembly which has just been illegally and violently dissolved. The parties of which that Assembly was composed failed to come to an understanding; this gave to the whole body an uncertain and sometimes contradictory policy, and finally discredited the Assembly, and rendered it incapable of defending either liberty or its own existence. History Edition: current; Page: [178] will record thus much; but history will reject with contempt the accusation which Louis Napoleon has preferred against us. If you do not believe my assurances, judge at least by the facts—not the secret facts which I could disclose to you, but the public facts printed in the Moniteur.

In the month of August last, the Assembly voted the revision of the Constitution by an immense majority. Why was the revision of the Constitution desired? Simply to legalize the re-election of Louis Napoleon. Was that an act of conspiracy against him?

The Assembly prorogued itself soon after this vote; the Conseils Généraux, convoked immediately afterwards, and principally consisting of representatives, also expressed an almost unanimous desire for the revision of the Constitution. Was that an act of conspiracy against Louis Napoleon?

The Assembly met again on the 4th of November. There was an Electoral Law—that of the 31st of May—which the great majority of the Assembly had voted. This law was unpopular, and to catch the favour of the people Louis Napoleon, who had been the first to propose and sanction the law of the 31st of May the year before, demands its abrogation, and proposes another law in a message insulting to the Assembly. The new electoral law proposed by him was, indeed, rejected, but by a majority of only two votes; and immediately afterwards the Chamber proceeded, in order to comply with the President’s policy, to adopt in another form most of the changes which he had proposed. Was that an act of conspiracy against Louis Napoleon?

Edition: current; Page: [179]

Shortly afterwards a proposition was made by the Questors to enable us to place the Parliament in a state of defence, if attacked, and to call troops directly to our assistance. This proposition was, as nobody can deny, in strict conformity with the Constitution, and all that the proposed resolution did was to define the means of exercising a power which the Assembly incontestably possessed. Nevertheless, from fear of a collision with the Executive Power, the Legislature dared not assert this incontestable right. The proposition of the Questors was rejected by a large majority. Was that an act of conspiracy against Louis Napoleon? What! the Assembly was conspiring, and it renounced the command of the troops which might have defended it, and made them over to the man who was compassing its ruin! And when did these things happen? A fortnight ago.

Lastly, a bill on the responsibility of the President and the different officers of State was sent up to the Assembly by the Conseil d’État. Observe, that this proposition did not emanate from the Assembly, that the Assembly had no right, by law, to refuse to entertain it. The bill was, therefore, brought up, but the committee to which it was referred showed at once that its disposition was conciliatory. The provisions of the bill were rendered more mild, and the discussion was to be deferred, in order to avoid the displeasure of the Executive Power. Were these the actions of enemies and conspirators? And what was happening in the meanwhile? All the journals, notoriously paid by the President, insulted the Assembly day by day in the Edition: current; Page: [180] coarsest manner, threatened it, and tried by every means to cover it with unpopularity.

This is history—the truth of history. The acts of which I speak are the last of the National Assembly of France, and I defy our adversaries to find any other facts to oppose to them. That an Assembly of 750 members may have included in that number certain conspirators, it would be absurd to deny. But the manifest truth, proved by its acts, is that the majority of this Assembly, instead of conspiring against Louis Napoleon, sought for nothing so much as to avoid a quarrel with him; that it carried its moderation towards him to the verge of weakness, and its desire of conciliation to a degree of pusillanimity. That is the truth. You may believe my assertions, for I participated in the passions of none of its parties, and I have no reason either to flatter or to hate them.

Let us now proceed to examine what the Assembly did on the 2d of December; and here I cease to express any opinion—I merely relate, as an actual witness, the things I saw with my eyes and heard with my ears.

When the representatives of the people learned, on waking that morning, that several of their colleagues were arrested, they ran to the Assembly. The doors were guarded by the Chasseurs de Vincennes, a corps of troops recently returned from Africa, and long accustomed to the violences of Algerine dominion; and, moreover, stimulated by a donation of 5f. distributed to every soldier who was in Paris that day. The representatives, nevertheless, presented themselves to go in, having at their head one of their Vice-Presidents, Edition: current; Page: [181] M. Daru. This gentleman was violently struck by the soldiers, and the representatives who accompanied him were driven back at the point of the bayonet. Three of them, M. de Talhouet, Etienne, and Duparc, were slightly wounded. Several others had their clothes pierced. Such was the commencement.

Driven from the doors of the Assembly, the deputies retired to the Mairie of the 10th arrondissement. They were already assembled to the number of about 300, when the troops arrived, blocked up the approaches, and prevented a greater number of representatives from entering the apartment, though no one was at that time prevented from leaving it.

Who, then, were those representatives assembled at the Mairie of the 10th arrondissement, and what did they do there? Every shade of opinion was represented in this extemporaneous Assembly. But eight-tenths of its members belonged to the different Conservative parties which had constituted the majority. This Assembly was presided over by two of its Vice-Presidents, M. Vitet and M. Benoist d’Azy. M. Daru was arrested in his own house; the fourth Vice-President, the illustrious General Bedeau, had been seized that morning in his bed, and handcuffed like a robber. As for the President, M. Dupin, he was absent, which surprised no one. Besides its Vice-Presidents, the Assembly was accompanied by its secretaries, its ushers, and even its shorthand writer, who will reserve for posterity the records of this last and memorable sitting. The Assembly, thus constituted, began by voting a decree in the following terms:—

Edition: current; Page: [182]

“In pursuance of Article 68 of the Constitution—viz. the President of the Republic, the Ministers, the agents, and depositaries of public authority are responsible, each in what concerns themselves respectively, for all the acts of the Government and the Administration—any measure by which the President of the Republic dissolves the National Assembly, prorogues it, or places obstacles in the exercise of its powers, is a crime of high treason.

“By this act merely the President is deprived of all authority, the citizens are bound to withhold their obedience, the executive power passes in full right to the National Assembly. The Judges of the High Court of Justice will meet immediately under pain of forfeiture; they will convoke the juries in the place which they will select to proceed to the judgment of the President and his accomplices; they will nominate the magistrates charged to fulfil the duties of public Ministers.

“And seeing that the National Assembly is prevented by violence from exercising its powers, it decrees as follows, viz.:—

Louis Napoleon Bonaparte is deprived of all authority as President of the Republic. The citizens are enjoined to withhold their obedience. The executive power has passed in full right to the National Assembly. The Judges of the High Court of Justice are enjoined to meet immediately, under pain of forfeiture, to proceed to the judgment of the President and his accomplices; consequently, all the officers and functionaries of power and of public authority are bound to obey all requisitions made in the name of the National Assembly, under pain of forfeiture and of high treason.

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“Done and decreed unanimously in public sitting, this 2d of December, 1851.

(Signed) Benoist D’Azy, President.
Vitet, Vice-President.
Moulin, } Secretaries.
Chapot, }
  • Albert de Luynes.
  • D’Andigne de la Chasse.
  • Antony Thouret.
  • Audren de Kerdrel (d’Ille-et-Vilaine).
  • Audren de Kerdrel (de Morbihan).
  • De Balzac.
  • Barrillon.
  • Odillon Barrot.
  • Barthelemy Saint Hilaire.
  • Bauchard.
  • Gustave de Beaumont.
  • Bechard.
  • Behaghel.
  • Bernady.
  • Berryer.
  • De Berset.
  • Besse.
  • Bixio.
  • Blavoyer.
  • Bochard.
  • Bocher.
  • Boissie.
  • Botmiliau.
  • Bouvattier.
  • De Broglie.
  • De la Broise.
  • De Bryas.
  • Buffet.
  • Caillet du Tertre.
  • Callet.
  • Camus de la Guibourgere.
  • Canet.
  • Castillon.
  • Cecille (l’Amiral).
  • Chambolle.
  • Champanhet.
  • Chaper.
  • Chapot.
  • De Charency.
  • Chassaigne.
  • Chauvin.
  • Chazaud.
  • Chazelles.
  • Chegaray.
  • Coislin.
  • Colfavru.
  • Collas de la Motte.
  • Coquerel.
  • De Corcelles.
  • Cordier.
  • Corne.
  • Creton.
  • Daguilhon.
  • Darirel.
  • Dambray.
  • De Dampierre.
  • De Bretonne.
  • Defontaine.
  • Defontenay.
  • De Seze.
  • Desmars.
  • De la Devansaye.
  • Didier.
  • Dieuleveult.
  • Druet Desvaux.
  • Amable Dubois.
  • Dufaure.
  • Dufougerais.
  • Dufour.
  • Dufournel.
  • Marc Dufraisse.
  • Pascal Duprat.
  • Duvergier de Hauranne.
  • Etienne.
  • De Falloux.
  • De Faultrier.
  • Faure (du Rhône).
  • Favreau.
  • Ferre des Ferris.
  • Flavigny.
  • Foblant.
  • Frichon.
  • Gain.
  • Gasselin (de Fresnay).
  • Germoniere.
  • De Gicqueau.
  • De Goulard.
  • Gozet de Bignon.
  • De Gouyon.
  • De Granville.
  • De Grasset.
  • GrelierDefourgeroux.
  • Grevy.
  • Grillon.
  • Grimault.
  • Gros.
  • Guillier de la Tousche.
  • Harcourt de St. Georges.
  • D’Havrincourt.
  • Hennecart.
  • Hennequin.
  • D’Hespal.
  • Houel.
  • Hovyn-Tranchere. Edition: current; Page: [184]
  • Huot.
  • Joret.
  • Jouannet.
  • De Keranflech.
  • Keratry.
  • De Keridec.
  • De Kermarec.
  • De Kersanson.
  • Leo Delaborde.
  • Laboulaye.
  • Lacaze.
  • Oscar Lafayette.
  • De Lafosse.
  • Lagarde.
  • Lagrene.
  • Laine (l’Amiral).
  • Laime.
  • Lanjuinais.
  • Larabit.
  • La Rey.
  • Jules de Lasteyrie.
  • Latrade.
  • Laureau.
  • Laurenceau.
  • De Lauriston (le Général).
  • De Laussat.
  • Lefebvre du Gros Riez.
  • Legrand.
  • Legros Devot.
  • Lemaire.
  • Emile Leroux.
  • Lesprut.
  • De Lespinay.
  • Levet.
  • De Limayrac.
  • L’Herbette.
  • De Luppe.
  • Marechal.
  • Martin de Villers.
  • Maze Launay.
  • Mege.
  • De Melun (d’Ille-et Vilaine).
  • De Melun (du Nord).
  • Merentie.
  • Michaut.
  • Mispoulet.
  • Monet.
  • De Montebello.
  • De Montigny.
  • Moulin.
  • Murat-Listrieres.
  • Nettement.
  • D’Oliver.
  • Oudinot de Reggio (le Général).
  • Paillet.
  • Duparc.
  • Passy.
  • Emile Pean.
  • Pecoul.
  • Casimir Perier.
  • Pidoux.
  • Pigeon.
  • Pioger.
  • Piscatory.
  • Poujoulat.
  • Proa.
  • Prudhomme.
  • Querhoent.
  • Randoing.
  • Raudot.
  • Raulin.
  • De Ravinel.
  • De Remusat.
  • Renaud.
  • Rigal.
  • Ressiguier.
  • De Riancey.
  • De la Rochette.
  • Rodat.
  • De Roquefenil.
  • Des Rotours de Chaulieu.
  • Roujet Lafosse.
  • Rouille.
  • Roux Carbonnel.
  • Sainte Beuve.
  • Herve de St. Germain.
  • De Saint Priest (le Général).
  • Salmon (de la Meuse).
  • Sauvaire Barthelemy.
  • De Sere.
  • De Sesmaisons.
  • Simonot.
  • De Staplande.
  • De Surville.
  • De Talhouet.
  • Talon.
  • Tamisier.
  • Thuriot de la Roziere.
  • De Tinguy.
  • De Tocqueville.
  • De la Tourette.
  • De Trevenc.
  • De Vatimesnil.
  • Vaudrey.
  • Vavin.
  • De Vendeuvre.
  • Vernhette (de l’Herault).
  • Vernhette (de l’Aveyron).
  • Vesin.
  • Vitet.
  • Vogue.
  • Aubry.
  • Toupet des Vignes.
  • Victor Lefranc.
  • Radoult de la Fosse (le Général).
  • Benoit (du Rhône).
  • Paulin Durieu.
  • Teilhard-Laterisse.
  • Fayolle.
  • Chanay.
  • Vallette.
  • D’Adelswaerd.
  • Eugene Sue.

(In all 230 representatives.)

Edition: current; Page: [185]

All the members whose names I have here given were arrested. Several others, having left the room after having signed, could not be taken. Among these, the best known are M. de Tracy, M. de Malleville, Ferdinand de Lasteyrie, and General Rulhière.

After having voted this first decree, another was unanimously passed, naming General Oudinot commander of the public forces, and M. Tamisier was joined with him as chief of the staff. The choice of these two officers from distinct shades of political opinion showed that the Assembly was animated by one common spirit.

These decrees had scarcely been signed by all the members present, and deposited in a place of safety, when a band of soldiers, headed by their officers, sword in hand, appeared at the door, without, however, daring to enter the apartment. The Assembly awaited them in perfect silence. The President alone raised his voice, read the decrees which had just been passed to the soldiers, and ordered them to retire. The poor fellows, ashamed of the part they were compelled to play, hesitated. The officers, pale and undecided, declared that they should go for further orders. They retired, contenting themselves with blockading the passages leading to the apartment. The Assembly, not being able to go out, ordered the windows to be opened, and caused the decrees to be read to the people and the troops in the street below, especially that decree which, in pursuance of the 68th Article of the Constitution, pronounced the deposition and impeachment of Louis Napoleon.

Soon, however, the soldiers reappeared at the door, preceded this time by two Commissaires de Police. Edition: current; Page: [186] These men entered the room, and, amid the unbroken silence and total immobility of the Assembly, summoned the representatives to disperse. The President ordered them to retire themselves. One of the Commissaires was agitated, and faltered; the other broke out in invectives. The President said to him, “Sir, we are here the lawful authority and sole representatives of law and of right. We know that we cannot oppose to you material force, but we will leave this chamber only under constraint. We will not disperse. Seize us, and convey us to prison.” “All, all!” exclaimed the members of the Assembly. After much hesitation, the Commissaires de Police decided to act. They caused the two Presidents to be seized by the collar. The whole body then rose, and, arm-in-arm, two-and-two, they followed the Presidents, who were led off. In this order we reached the street, and were marched across the city, without knowing whither we were going.

Care had been taken to circulate a report among the crowd and the troops that a meeting of Socialist and Red Republican deputies had been arrested. But when the people beheld among those who were thus dragged through the mud of Paris on foot, like a gang of malefactors, men the most illustrious by their talents and their virtues,—ex-ministers, ex-ambassadors, generals, admirals, great orators, great writers, surrounded by the bayonets of the line, a shout was raised, “Vive l’Assemblée Nationale.” The representatives were attended by these shouts until they reached the barracks of the Quai d’Orsay, where they were shut up. Night was coming on, and it was wet and cold. Yet the Edition: current; Page: [187] Assembly was left two hours in the open air, as if the Government did not deign to remember its existence. The representatives here made their last roll-call in presence of their shorthand-writer, who had followed them. The number present was 218, to whom were added about twenty more in the course of the evening, consisting of members who had voluntarily caused themselves to be arrested. Almost all the men known to France and to Europe, who formed the majority of the Legislative Assembly, were gathered together in this place. Few were wanting, except those who, like M. Molé, had not been suffered to reach their colleagues. There were present, among others, the Duke de Broglie, who had come, though ill; the father of the house, the venerable Keratry, whose physical strength was inferior to his moral courage, and whom it was necessary to seat in a straw chair in the barrackyard; Odilon Barrot, Dufaure, Berryer, Rémusat, Duvergier de Hauranne, Gustave de Beaumont, De Tocqueville, De Falloux, Lanjuinais, Admiral Lainé and Admiral Cécille, Generals Oudinot and Lauriston, the Duke de Luynes, the Duke de Montebello; twelve ex-ministers, nine of whom had served under Louis Napoleon himself; eight members of the Institute; all men who had struggled for three years to defend society and to resist the demagogic faction.

When two hours had elapsed, this assemblage was driven into barrack-rooms upstairs, where most of them spent the night, without fire, and almost without food, stretched upon the boards. It only remained to carry off to prison these honourable men, guilty of no crime Edition: current; Page: [188] but the defence of the laws of their country. For this purpose the most distressing and ignominious means were selected. The cellular vans, in which forçats are conveyed to the bagne, were brought up. In these vehicles were shut up the men who had served and honoured their country, and they were conveyed like three bands of criminals, some to the fortress of Mont Valerien, some to the Prison Mazas in Paris, and the remainder to Vincennes. The indignation of the public compelled the Government two days afterwards to release the greater number of them; some are still in confinement, unable to obtain either their liberty or their trial.

The treatment inflicted on the generals arrested in the morning of the 2d December was still more disgraceful. Cavaignac, Lamoricière, Bedeau, Changarnier—the conquerors of Africa, were shut up in these infamous cellular vans, which are always inconvenient, and become almost intolerable on a lengthened journey. In this manner they were conveyed to Ham—that is, they were made to perform upwards of a day’s journey. Cavaignac, who had saved Paris and France in the days of June—Cavaignac, the competitor of Louis Napoleon at the last elections, shut up for a day and a night in the cell of a felon! I leave it to every honest man and every generous heart to comment on such facts. Can it be that indignities which surpass the actions of the King of Naples find a defender in England? No; England knows but a small portion of what is taking place. I appeal to her better judgment when these facts are known to the world.

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Such are the indignities offered to persons. Let me now review the series of general crimes. The liberty of the press is destroyed to an extent unheard of even in the time of the Empire. Most of the journals are suppressed; those which appear cannot say a word on politics or even publish any news. But this is by no means all. The Government has stuck up a list of persons who are formed into a “Consultative Commission.” Its object is to induce France to believe that the Executive is not abandoned by every man of respectability and consideration among us. More than half the persons on this list have refused to belong to the commission; most of them regard the insertion of their names as dishonour. I may quote, among others, M. Léon Faucher, M. Portalis, First President of the Court of Cassation, and the Duke of Albuféra, as those best known. Not only does the Government decline to publish the letters in which these gentlemen refuse their consent, but even their names are not withdrawn from a list which dishonours them. The names are still retained, in spite of their repeated remonstrances. A day or two ago, one of them, M. Joseph Périer, driven to desperation by this excess of tyranny, rushed into the street to strike out his own name with his own hands from the public placards, taking the passers-by to witness that it had been placed there by a lie.

Such is the state of the public journals. Let us now see the condition of personal liberty. I say, again, that personal liberty is more trampled on than ever it was in the time of the Empire. A decree of the new Power gives the prefets the right to arrest, in their respective Edition: current; Page: [190] departments, whomsoever they please; and the prefets, in their turn, send blank warrants of arrest, which are literally lettres de cachet, to the sous-prefets under their orders. The Provisional Government of the Republic never went so far. Human life is as little respected as human liberty. I know that war has its dreadful necessities, but the disturbances which have recently occurred in Paris have been put down with a barbarity unprecedented in our civil contests; and when we remember that this torrent of blood has been shed to consummate the violation of all laws, we cannot but think that sooner or later it will fall back upon the heads of those who shed it. As for the appeal to the people, to which Louis Napoleon affects to submit his claims, never was a more odious mockery offered to a nation. The people is called upon to express its opinion, yet not only is public discussion suppressed, but even the knowledge of facts. The people is asked its opinion, but the first measure taken to obtain it is to establish military terrorism throughout the country, and to threaten with deprivation every public agent who does not approve in writing what has been done.

Such, Sir, is the condition in which we stand. Force overturning law, trampling on the liberty of the press and of the person, deriding the popular will, in whose name the Government pretends to act,—France torn from the alliance of free nations to be yoked to the despotic monarchies of the Continent,—such is the result of this coup d’état. If the judgment of the people of England can approve these military saturnalia, and if the facts I have related, and to the accurate Edition: current; Page: [191] truth of which I pledge myself, do not rouse its censures, I shall mourn for you and for ourselves, and for the sacred cause of legal liberty throughout the world; for the public opinion of England is the grand jury of mankind in the cause of freedom, and if its verdict were to acquit the oppressor the oppressed would have no other resource but in God.

One word more, to record a fact which does honour to the magistracy of France, and which will be remembered in its annals. The army refused to submit to the decree of the captive Assembly impeaching the President of the Republic; but the High Court of Justice obeyed it. These five judges, sitting in the midst of Paris enslaved, and in the face of martial law, dared to assemble at the Palace of Justice, and to issue process commencing criminal proceedings against Louis Napoleon, charged with high treason by the law, though already triumphant in the streets. I subjoin the text of this memorable edict:—

The High Court of Justice,

“Considering the 68th Article of the Constitution, considering that printed placards commencing with the words ‘the President of the Republic,’ and bearing at the end the signatures of Louis Napoleon Bonaparte and De Morny, Minister of the Interior, which placards announce, among other things, the dissolution of the National Assembly, have this day been affixed to the walls of Paris; that this fact of the dissolution of the Assembly by the President of the Republic would fall under the case provided for by the 68th Article of Edition: current; Page: [192] the Constitution, and render the convocation of the High Court of Justice imperative, by the terms of that article declares, that the High Court is constituted, and names M. Renouard, counsellor of the Court of Cassation, to fill the duties of public accuser, and to fill those of Greffier M. Bernard, Greffier in Chief of the Court of Cassation; and, to proceed further in pursuance of the terms of the said 68th Article of the Constitution, adjourns until to-morrow, the 3d of December, at the hour of noon.

“Done and deliberated in the Council Chamber. Present, M. Hardouin, president, M. Pataille, M. Moreau, M. de la Palme, and M. Cauchy, judges, this 2d day of December, 1851.”

After this textual extract from the Minutes of the High Court of Justice there is the following entry—

“1. A procès-verbal stating the arrival of a Commissaire de Police, who called upon the High Court to separate.

“2. A procès-verbal of a second sitting held on the morrow, the 3d day of December (when the Assembly was in prison), at which M. Renouard accepts the functions of public prosecutor, charged to proceed against Louis Napoleon, after which the High Court, being no longer able to sit, adjourned to a day to be fixed hereafter.”

With these extracts from the judicial records I terminate this communication.

Edition: current; Page: [193]
Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis

EXTRACTS FROM MR. SENIOR’S JOURNAL.

We drank tea with the Tocquevilles.

“This,” said Tocqueville, “is a new phase in our history. Every previous revolution has been made by a political party. This is the first time that the army has seized France, bound and gagged her, and laid her at the feet of its ruler.”

“Was not the 18th Fructidor,” I said, “almost a parallel case? Then as now, there was a quarrel between the Executive and the Legislature. The Directory, like Louis Napoleon, dismissed the ministers in whom the Legislature had confidence, and appointed its own tools in their places, denounced the Legislature to the country, and flattered and corrupted the army. The Legislature tried the usual tactics of parliamentary opposition, censured the Government, and refused the supplies. The Directory prepared a coup d’état. The Legislature tried to obtain a military force, and failed: they planned an impeachment of the Directory, and found the existing law insufficient. They brought forward a new law, defining the responsibility of the Executive, and, the night after they had begun to discuss it, their halls were occupied by a military force, and the members of the opposition were seized in the room in which they had met to denounce the treason of the Directory.”

“So far,” he answered, “the two events resemble one another. Each was a military attack on the Legislature by the Executive. But the directors were the representatives of a party. The councils, the greater part of the aristocracy and the Bourgeoisie were Bonapartists, Edition: current; Page: [194] the lower orders were Republican, the army was merely an instrument. It conquered not for itself, but for the Republican party.

“The 18th Brumaire was nearer to this, for that ended as this has begun, in a military tyranny. But the 18th Brumaire was almost as much a civil as a military revolution. A majority in the councils was with Bonaparte. Louis Napoleon had not a real friend in the Assembly. All the educated classes supported the 18th Brumaire; all the educated classes repudiate the 2d of December. Bonaparte’s consular chair was sustained by all the élite of France. This man cannot obtain a decent supporter.

“For a real parallel you must go back 1,800 years.”

I said that some persons, for whose judgment I had the highest respect, seemed to treat it as a contest between two conspirators, the Assembly and the President, and to think the difference between his conduct and theirs to be that he struck first.

“This,” said Tocqueville, “I utterly deny. He, indeed, began to conspire from the 10th of December, 1848. His direct instructions to Oudinot and his letter to Ney, only a few months after his election, showed his determination not to submit to parliamentary government. Then followed his dismissal of ministry after ministry, until he had degraded the office to a clerkship. Then came the semi-regal progress; then the reviews of Satory, the encouragement of treasonable cries, the selection for all the high appointments in the army of Paris of men whose characters fitted them to be tools. Then he publicly insulted the Assembly at Dijon; and at last, in October, we knew that his plans were laid. It was then Edition: current; Page: [195] only that we began to think what were our means of defence; but that was no more a conspiracy, than it is a conspiracy in travellers to look for their pistols when they see a band of robbers advancing.

“M. Baze’s proposition was absurd, only because it was impracticable. It was a precaution against immediate danger; but if it had been voted, it could not have been executed; the army had already been so corrupted, that it would have disregarded the orders of the Assembly. I have often talked over our situation with Lamoricière and my other military friends. We saw what was coming, as clearly as we now look back to it, but we had no means of preventing it.”

“But was not your intended law of responsibility,” I said, “an attack on your part?”

“That law,” he said, “was not ours. It was sent up to us by the Conseil d’Etat, which had been two years and a half employed on it, and ought to have sent it to us much sooner. We thought it dangerous—that is to say, we thought that, though quite right in itself, it would irritate the President—and that in our defenceless state it was unwise to do so. The Bureau to which it was referred refused to declare it urgent—a proof that it would not have passed with the clauses which, though reasonable, the President thought fit to disapprove. Our conspiracy was that of the lamb against the wolf.

“Though I have said,” he continued, “that he has been conspiring ever since his election, I do not believe that he intended to strike so soon. His plan was to wait till next March, when the fears of May, 1852, would be most intense. Two circumstances forced him Edition: current; Page: [196] on more rapidly. One was the candidature of the Prince de Joinville. He thought him the only dangerous competitor. The other was an agitation set on foot by the Legitimists, in the Conseils Généraux, for the repeal of the law of the 31st of May. That law was his moral weapon against the Assembly, and he feared that, if he delayed, it might be abolished without him.”

“And how long,” I asked, “will this Government last?”

“It will last,” he answered, “until it is unpopular with the mass of the people. At present the disapprobation is confined to the educated classes. We cannot bear to be deprived of the power of speaking or of writing. We cannot bear that the fate of France should depend on the selfishness, or the vanity, or the fears, or the caprice of one man, a foreigner by race and by education. We cannot bear that the people which carried the torch of liberty through Europe should now be employed in quenching all its lights. But these are not the feelings of the multitude. Their insane fear of socialism throws them headlong into the arms of despotism. As in Prussia, as in Hungary, as in Austria, as in Italy, so in France, the democrats have served the cause of the absolutists.

“May, 1852, was a spectre constantly swelling as it drew nearer. But now that the weakness of the red party has been proved—now that 10,000 of those who are supposed to be its most active members are to be sent to die of hunger and marsh fever in Cayenne—the people will regret the price at which their visionary enemy has been put down. Thirty-seven years of liberty have made a free press and free parliamentary discussion Edition: current; Page: [197] necessaries to us. If Louis Napoleon refuse them, he will be execrated as a tyrant; if he grant them, they must destroy him. We always criticise our rulers severely, often unjustly. It is impossible that so rash a man, surrounded by men whose defects are their recommendation to him, should not commit blunders and follies. They will be exposed, perhaps exaggerated, by thousands of enemies. As soon as he is discredited, the army will turn against him. It sympathizes with the people from which it came, and to which it is soon to return. It will never support an unpopular despot.

I have no fears, therefore, for the ultimate destinies of my country. It seems to me that the Revolution of the 2d of December is more dangerous to the rest of Europe than it is to us; that it ought to alarm England much more than it does us.

We shall get rid of Louis Napoleon in a few years, perhaps in a few months; but there is no saying how much mischief he may do in those years, or even in those months, to his neighbours.”

“Surely,” said Madame de Tocqueville, “he will wish to remain at peace with England?”

“I am not sure at all of that,” said Tocqueville. “He cannot sit down a mere quiet administrator. He must do something to distract public attention; he must give us a substitute for the political excitement which amused us for the last forty years. Great social improvements are uncertain, difficult, and slow; but glory may be obtained in a week. A war with England, at its beginning, is always popular. How many thousand volunteers would he have for a ‘pointe’ on London? I Edition: current; Page: [198] know that you think that you can retain the French alliance, but it is impossible. It is impossible, even if Louis Napoleon should earnestly desire it. The nature of things, which is much stronger than any human will, drives him into an ultimate union with Russia and Austria.

“The best that can happen to you is to be excluded from the councils of the great family of despots. Besides, what is to be done to amuse these 400,000 bayonists, his masters, as well as ours? Crosses, promotions, honours, gratuities, are already showered on the army of Paris.

“It has already received a thing unheard of in our history—the honours and recompenses of a campaign for the butchery on the Boulevards. Will not the other armies demand their share of work and reward? As long as civil war in the provinces lasts, they may be employed there; but it will soon be over. What is then to be done with them? Are they to be marched on Switzerland, or on Piedmont, or on Belgium? And will England quietly look on?”

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
December 31, 1851
Paris

I dined with the Tocquevilles, and met E. F. and G. H.

“The gayest time,” said Tocqueville, “that I ever passed, was in the Quai d’Orsay. The élite of France in education, and in birth, and in talents, particularly in the talents of society, was collected within the walls of that barrack.

“A long struggle was over, in which our part had Edition: current; Page: [199] not been timidly played. We had done our duty, we had gone through some perils, and we had some to encounter, and we were all in the high spirits which excitement and dangers shared with others, when not too formidable, create. From the courtyard in which we had been penned for a couple of hours, where the Duc de Broglie and I tore our chicken with our hands and teeth, we were transferred to a long sort of gallery, or garret, running along through the higher part of the building—a spare dormitory for the soldiers when the better rooms are filled. Those who chose to take the trouble went below, hired palliasses from the soldiers, and carried them up for themselves. I was too idle, and lay on the floor in my cloak. Instead of sleeping, we spent the night in shooting, from palliasse to palliasse, anecdotes, repartees, jokes, and pleasantries.

“C’était un feu roulant, une pluie, de bons mots.* Things amused us in that state of excitement which sound flat when repeated.

“I remember———, a man of great humour, exciting shouts of laughter, by exclaiming with great solemnity, as he looked round on the floor, strewed with mattresses and statesmen, and lighted by a couple of tallow candles,

“ ‘Voilà donc ou en est réduit ce fameux parti de l’ordre.’

“Those who were kept au secret, deprived of mutual support, were in a very different state of mind. Some were depressed, others were enraged.

Edition: current; Page: [200]

“———was left alone for twenty-four hours; at last a man came and offered him some sugar. He flew at his throat, and the poor turnkey ran off, fancying that his prisoner was mad.”

We talked of Louis Napoleon’s devotion to the Pope.

“It is of recent date,” said G. H. “In January and February, 1849, he was inclined to interfere in support of the Roman republic, against the Austrians. And when in April he resolved to move on Rome, it was not out of love for the Pope. In fact, the Pope did not then wish for us. He hoped to be restored by General Zucchi, who commanded a body of Roman troops in the neighbourhood of Bologna. No one at that time believed the Republican party in Rome to be capable of a serious defence. Probably they would not have made one, if they had not admitted Garibaldi and his band two days before we appeared before their gates.”

I mentioned to Tocqueville C. D.’s opinion that France will again become a republic.

“I will not venture,” he answered, “to affirm, with respect to any form whatever of government, that we shall never adopt it; but I own that I see no prospect of a French republic within any assigned period. We are, indeed, less opposed to a republic now than we were in 1848. We have found that it does not imply war, or bankruptcy, or tyranny; but we still feel that it is not the government that suits us. This was apparent from the beginning.

“Louis Napoleon had the merit, or the luck, to discover what few suspected, the latent Bonapartism of the nation.

Edition: current; Page: [201]

“The 10th of December showed that the memory of the Emperor, vague and undefined, but therefore the more imposing, still dwelt like an heroic legend in the imaginations of the peasantry. When Louis Napoleon’s violence and folly shall have destroyed the charm with which he has worked, all eyes will turn, not towards a republic, but to Henri V.”

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
March 9, 1852
N. W. Senior
Senior, N. W.

TO N. W. SENIOR, ESQ.

I send you, my dear Senior, an introduction to Lamoricière. This letter will be short; you know that I do not write at any length by the post.

It will contain nothing but thanks for your long and interesting letter brought by Rivet, who returned delighted with the English in general, and with you in particular.

I see that the disturbed state of parties, occasioned by Sir Robert Peel’s policy, is passing away, and that your political world is again dividing itself into the two great sects, one of which tries to narrow, the other to extend, the area of political power—one of which tries to lift you into aristocracy, the other to depress you.

The political game will be simpler. I can understand better the conservative policy of Lord Derby than the democratic one of Lord John Russell. As the friends of free trade are more numerous than those of democracy, I think that it would have been easier to attack the government on its commercial than on its political illiberality.

Then in this great nation, called Europe, similar Edition: current; Page: [202] currents of opinions and feelings prevail, different as may be the institutions and characters of its different populations. We see over the whole continent so general and so irresistible a reaction against democracy, and even against liberty, that I cannot believe that it will stop short on our side of the Channel; and if the Whigs become Radical, I shall not be surprised at the permanence in England of a Tory government, allied to foreign despots.

But I ought not to talk on such matters, for I live at the bottom of a well, seeing nothing, and regretting that it is not sufficiently closed above to prevent my hearing anything. Your visions of 29,000 troops at Cherbourg, to be followed by 29,000 more, are mere phantoms. There is nothing of the kind, and there will be nothing. I speak with knowledge, for I come from Cherbourg. I have been attending an extraordinary meeting of our conseil général on the subject of a projected railway. My reception touched and delighted me. I was unanimously, and certainly freely, elected president.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
May 1, 1852
Paris
M. Gustave de Beaumont
de Beaumont, M. Gustave

TO M. GUSTAVE DE BEAUMONT.

. . . All work is for the present impossible. Being in Paris, I attribute my incapacity to the events that I see, and to the exciting conversations of every day. If I were in the country, I should attribute it to solitude. The truth is, that it arises from a sickness at heart, and will not cease till this is cured, which can be the work only Edition: current; Page: [203] of time, the great healer of grief, as every one knows. I must try to wait patiently for the cure. And yet I cherish this grief as one does every real sorrow to which one has a right, bitter though it be. The sight of all that is going on, and especially of the way in which it is regarded, hurts every feeling of pride, honour, and delicacy. I should be sorry to be less sad. In this respect, I ought to be thoroughly satisfied, for, indeed, I am sad unto death. I have reached my present age, and passed through all sorts of circumstances, advocating always the same cause—regulated liberty. Can this cause be lost for ever? I began to fear it in 1848, I fear it now still more; not that I am convinced that this country will never possess again constitutional institutions, but will they last, or will any others? It is a moving sand: the question is, not whether it can be fixed, but what will be the winds that will toss it about?

Still I try to work. Every day I spend two or three hours in the library of the Rue de Richelieu. In spite of my endeavours to turn my thoughts in another direction, a profound sadness sometimes steals over me; and if I allow it to seize upon me unawares, I am lost for the rest of the day. My life might be pleasant, but if I look aside from my book, I am cut to the heart.

Enclosed is the letter addressed to the electors of my canton, in which I resign my place as member of the conseil général. . . . I could not take the oath. . . . This result of the 2d of December is, perhaps, the one which has most affected me individually. My position in the department was one of unmixed satisfaction. Edition: current; Page: [204] I had the moral direction of every affair of importance: my empire over the minds of the people was founded upon personal regard, independently of political opinions. This portion of my public life shed a reflected light upon my private life, and made it all the happier. But these are only small miseries. . . .

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
June 14, 1852
Comtesse de Circourt
de Circourt, Comtesse

TO THE COMTE DE CIRCOURT.

Dear M. de Circourt,

I received your instructive and interesting letter on the 21st of last month, and I should have thanked you for it sooner, if you had not yourself told me that I was not to think of answering it before the 15th of June. That time has come, and I will not let it slip.

I have not read the book by the Abbé Barruel,* but I have often heard it talked of, and often intended to read it. I have always been discouraged by believing his starting-point to be fundamentally wrong. His first proposition is, that the French Revolution (we may now venture to call it the European Revolution) was the result of a conspiracy. It seems to me that nothing can be more untrue. I do not say that, during the course of the eighteenth century, there may not have been secret societies and underground machinations undermining the ancient social system. Beneath all great movements you will find underhand conspiracies: they form the sub-soil of revolutions. But I feel certain that those secret societies were the symptoms of the disease, Edition: current; Page: [205] and not the disease itself—the effects, and not the causes. The change in opinions which produced the change in facts was effected in broad daylight by the combined efforts of all classes; writers, nobles, princes, all rushing out of the old system without knowing what other to adopt.

However, though the first and dominant idea may be erroneous, it may have led the author to make useful discoveries, just as the search for the philosopher’s stone was the origin of chemistry.

There is one part of the political and philosophical history of Germany which I do not understand, probably on account of my deplorable ignorance of German affairs.

In France, during the whole of the eighteenth century, philosophy properly so called—theoretic science—advanced in the same direction with practical ideas and public opinion. These were inclined to novelty. Theory taught the worthlessness of tradition, and treated all that was ancient as worn out rubbish. In Germany, on the contrary, if I am not mistaken, philosophical and social theories were opposed to the march of events, opinions, and habits; they clung to tradition and sought in the past the explanation of the present, and the rule for the future. It seems to me that the German philosophers and thinkers have always tended in this direction.

Now, this to me is inexplicable. I cannot imagine that the philosophy of a people should differ so widely from the ideas that govern its daily conduct, especially in a country like Germany, where theory has in general Edition: current; Page: [206] so great an influence over events. Has the revolutionary spirit in Germany taken a different course to that which it has taken in France? What was its course then? I wish that I could be enlightened upon this point. May it not be that the difference between the French and German philosophers has been this: they both condemned the present; ours wished to abolish it in order to adapt a new plan; and theirs in order to build upon the old foundation.

You have something better to do now, than to think about philosophy and to live in the past; you are in the best place in the world for seeing and forming an opinion, not only of German, but of all European affairs.* I am curious to know what impression they make upon you. I fancy that the picture before you does not differ much from that presented by France, or at least, differs only in detail: an almost total lack of energy in the public mind; new vigor in every government, and yet considerable prudence; great fear of war, and a strong desire to tolerate all that takes place in France, if it be possible.

I left Paris a fortnight ago, and since then I have been buried in this province, where I hope to see you before the end of the summer. I am very happy in my retreat, and wish for nothing but sunshine, which, in truth, we seldom enjoy. Although, when I was in Paris, I took care to see none but people who think with me in public matters, in the end I began to feel the need of solitude. For those, who like myself, Edition: current; Page: [207] have long led an active life, it is painful to speak, even with men of similiar opinions, when words lead and can lead to no overt act. After a time silence becomes a necessary relief. I should like to do better, still—to forget; but. . . .

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
July 4, 1852
M. Dufaure
Dufaure, M.

TO M. DUFAURE.

I fancy, dear friend, that we must both be dead, it is so long since we have given each other any signs of life. You, I suppose, are silent because you think that you can have nothing to say, buried as you are in the country, and hearing no sound from the external world. I am in an exactly similar position. Still, I will write to you if only to tell you that I always think of you with tender regard, and that I shall always be proud of our joint action in public life. You know all this; but it is not disagreeable to hear such things repeated, although they may not be new.

I arrived nearly a month ago, and though I have seen the same people as usual, I know no more than you, who are five hundred miles away, what is passing in men’s minds. I begin to think that they are quite empty, and that political life, and even all intellectual life is, for the moment, suspended. The public mind seems to be resting itself in vacuity, and to like it well enough.

Such of us as cannot live alone, and find their own resources, are much to be pitied. For out-laws like ourselves to seek dissipation and amusement abroad, is of Edition: current; Page: [208] no use. Happily I am spared this temptation; and thanks to the work, of which I confided the plan to you, and which I have set about writing with the utmost diligence, I spend some happy days in the midst of my solitude. I should scarcely have anything to wish for, if from time to time I were visited by a friend to whom I could talk unreservedly, and lessen by sharing it, the weight of grief which sometimes, in spite of myself, oppresses me. Rivet, Vivien, Lanjuinais, Freslon, Beaumont, and Corcelle, have promised to come before the end of the autumn. They hope that it will be in September. It would give me so much pleasure, my dear friend, if you would follow their example. What pleasant days we should spend together! How restoring would be the effect of such companionship! Does not your heart urge you to accept? Write and say that you will do so, and at all events, write to give me some news of yourself, of Madame Dufaure, and of your children. My wife wishes to be remembered to you both, and believe me, &c.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
July 5, 1852
Comtesse de Circourt
de Circourt, Comtesse

TO THE COMTESSE DE CIRCOURT.

I write to you, Madame, though I have nothing to tell you. I write solely to obtain an answer, and thus to hear from yourself how you are, and if the request be not indiscreet, what you are thinking. As to what you are doing, I know it without your telling me. You are employing your excellent taste in ornamenting a spot which nature has already made lovely, and you are Edition: current; Page: [209] succeeding admirably; for to the many valuable qualities which are known best to your friends, you add one which every one is able to appreciate at first sight, the art of imparting a peculiar elegance to everything around you, and of converting, as you did last year, a peasant’s hut into a delicious retreat. You have now a little country house to adorn, and I fancy that you will make it such a delightful abode that your neighbour* will be forced to confess that it would be pleasanter to live there than in his palace, among all the plants which he sends for to the Antipodes. It is no less certain that I am longing to see you in it, and to enjoy your improvements, your beautiful view, and your conversation, which you must forgive me for saying, is worth more than all the wonders which you have created or found at Les Bruyères.

Before I left Paris I received a very interesting letter from M. de Circourt, in Germany. He desired me to answer him at Hamburg, towards the 20th of June. I did so. I have heard nothing of him since; I hope that he is well.

What else can I say, Madame? I am not vain enough to suppose that you would be interested in what I could tell you about myself; and I am perfectly sure that anything I might tell you about my neighbours would tire you. Your position is different. You know well that you will always please me if you speak of yourself, and you live near the great centre of news. I am sure, that in spite of the heat, there are many Edition: current; Page: [210] agreeable people left in Paris, and that your residence in the country does not prevent their seeing you. Pray, Madame, do me the great favour of telling me a little of what is going on in the world, and particularly what people say; remember that, in consequence of the loss of interest in politics, and of the liberty of the press, the country has become a place to which neither air nor light ever penetrate. It was always a sort of cave, and now they have stopped up the last crevice. Be charitable enough, therefore, to come to my assistance.

Adieu, Madame, &c.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
August 8, 1852
Henry Reeve
Reeve, Henry

TO HENRY REEVE, ESQ.

I received your letter, my dear friend, just when I was expecting to see yourself. Well as you write, it was not an equivalent. We had been looking forward to the pleasure of receiving you here, and we had pushed forward most of our brick and mortar works, and adjourned others, so that you would have been less uncomfortable than I feared at first. My library, which has been turned into the drawing-room, neither you nor Mrs. Reeve would have found fault with, for you both of you like and appreciate objects of intellectual value. To increase your regret, I will tell you that you would have fallen here into the midst of a literary workshop. M. Ampère, whom you must know at least by name, is preparing for the press an account of the tour which he has just made in the United States. He is installed at the top of a tower, and I am scribbling underneath him, on the first floor. Now and then we meet in the library, and in the presence Edition: current; Page: [211] of Madame de Tocqueville, who forms the whole audience, read to each other what we have written; we criticise, we object, and we praise; and the time slips away pleasantly. You would not, perhaps, have been afraid of spending a few days in this way. You would have been amused by Ampère’s animated, brilliant, and unaffected conversation.

The elections for our conseil général have just taken place. I refused to be elected for the canton which I formerly represented. I have undergone, indeed, more trouble, made more advances, and taken more steps to prevent my election than I ever did to secure it. My neighbour, Daru, has acted in the same way.

Good-bye. Let me have news of you. Tell Mrs. Reeve how sorry we are, and how we hope to see her next year. You will still find Tocqueville, but not, perhaps, Ampére.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
September 18, 1852
Comtesse de Circourt
de Circourt, Comtesse

TO THE COMTESSE DE CIRCOURT.

I cannot think, Madame, how I can have waited for two months without thanking you for your kind letter, which was received with equal pleasure and gratitude. My MSS. will not plead for me. For many weeks past I have written as little as I have read; my time has been squandered on such trifles that I may as well say that it has been lost. You must know already by experience, and the longer you live the better you will know it, that the only way to enjoy liberty and leisure in the country is not to live in your own house. At home, domestic and local details fill the whole day; Edition: current; Page: [212] the evening comes and one is tired, though one has done nothing. These are the reasons that formerly made me adopt the maxim in which few agree with me, that the only time when the country is really pleasant is in the heart of winter. Then out-door work is over, and local business at a stand-still; one is permitted to enjoy one’s own society. A melancholy enjoyment, you will say; but this is by comparison. There are some companions whom I infinitely prefer to solitude; but I cannot say that they are many, and their number seems to diminish every day.

You ask me, Madame, in so kind, and I may even say, so friendly a manner, what my literary labours are, that I much wish that I could give you a direct answer. Unfortunately, before I can exactly tell you what I am about, I must know myself, and that I do not. I am groping for a path which I have not yet found. I think that there is much left to say on the subject of the French Revolution, on its causes, on the tendencies which led to it, and on its future consequences. I think that for appreciating, measuring, and judging this great event, as a whole, we are better placed now than we were twenty years. ago. We are near enough to see it and to understand it. The echo of the ideas and feelings of the men who precipitated the world into that terrible enterprise, is not yet silent in our own hearts; and yet we are far enough off to make it not impossible to appreciate their actions and judge of the value of what they effected.

This is the work which I meditate; but as yet I do not know how to launch myself, or how to steer through Edition: current; Page: [213] the ocean of the French Revolution. I investigate, I experimentalize; I try to grasp the facts more closely than has yet been attempted, and to wring out of them the general truths which they contain. I have as yet fixed upon no plan; nor have I written anything that can be called the beginning of a book. The annoyances that I was just now complaining of, have had something to do with it; the want of books and papers is the chief cause. I therefore intend to return in a fortnight to Paris, to be within reach of the archives and public libraries; I am more than ever determined upon executing my plan of living not in Paris itself, but in the neighbourhood. My theory of the advantages of the country when one is not at home, and of the superiority of the winter over the summer will then be fully realized. During the next six months I intend to make a great effort, and to see of what I am capable.

Next month will not roll over, Madame, without my paying you a visit, if you will allow me, at Les Bruyères. I need not tell you how glad I shall be to see and to talk with you once more. I am impatient for the time to come; and, in the meanwhile, I beg you to believe in the sincerity of my respectful friendship. Remember me to M. de Circourt.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
January 2, 1853
Paris
Baron Bunsen
Bunsen, Baron

TO BARON BUNSEN.

I venture to write to you, Sir, though I have not the honour of being personally known to you. I have no sort of right to ask you for advice, and yet I do so. I Edition: current; Page: [214] hope that you will excuse this strange behaviour, when I tell you that it is the result of your well-known kindness and talents.

Being completely excluded from public affairs, and having made up my mind to stand aloof from them, I have resumed occupations which afford me more satisfaction than I have ever obtained from politics. At this moment I am studying the circumstances which accompanied the birth of our Revolutions; or rather, I should say, of our Revolution, for there has been but one, which is still going on, and is not nearly over. I try to conjure up its first beginnings, and to form a clear idea of the impressions and ideas first suggested to foreigners by the yet indistinct view of that great convulsion. I want to trace the different opinions formed of it in foreign countries during the years 1787, ’88, ’89, ’90, ’91 and ’92, by the remarkable men of the time, whether writers, statesmen, or princes; what they at first expected that it was to be; how they thought that it would affect, or that it might affect their own countries; the degree of influence that they expected it to exercise over the general progress of European affairs, and the uses to which they thought that they might turn it.

Unfortunately, to my great regret, I do not know Germany. Till now, I have lived almost exclusively in the English world. I fancy that during the last sixty years, many memoirs, letters, and diplomatic papers, must have been published in Germany, which explain all that I want to know. As I am not acquainted with them, I cannot ask for them. It is certain that when the French Revolution first broke out, it must have given Edition: current; Page: [215] rise to publications reflecting the general impressions. My slender knowledge of German and my almost entire ignorance (which, however, is happily not incurable), of Germany, deprive me of this necessary information. In this extremity I thought of addressing myself to you, Sir; I considered that no one would be more able to enlighten me, or more disposed to do so. I, therefore, determined upon writing to you; if there are no such documents as I suppose, my resolution will, at any rate, have given me an opportunity, which I have long desired, of entering into personal relations with you.

Pray accept, Sir, my excuses, together with the assurance of my highest esteem.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
March, 1853
Henry Reeve
Reeve, Henry

TO HENRY REEVE, ESQ.

I have received, dear Friend, your interesting letter. I will not again enter fully into its subject. I acknowledge that one is never in a position to judge of what appertains to the honour and interests of a foreign nation; that it alone is able to judge of these questions; that there is always some absurdity, in public as in private life, in giving advice to one’s neighbours; and that it is especially out of place in us Frenchmen, to whom it may well be said, when we meddle with the infirmities of others, “Physician; cure thyself.” I will, therefore, offer only a few explanations.

1st.—I never said, nor meant to say, that England had abandoned the great calling of chief representative of lawful liberty in Europe. I tried only to show what Edition: current; Page: [216] would be the consequences if she did. Not only do I not think that she will entirely abandon it, but I even doubt her power to do so. Her laws, her habits, her opinions, will always be stronger in this matter than her politics; and if ever she should forget that she is the champion of liberty, the hatred and terror of all the continental despots will force it on her remembrance.

2d.—I said that if England abandoned this great calling she must thereby give up taking any part in the affairs of the Continent; I did not say, of the World. Thus restricted, I think that my observation was just, and the comparison that I drew between the present crisis and the Reformation, exact. Now as then, Europe is divided, and still more by principles than by interests. We will suppose that, having become indifferent and neutral in all questions of principle, England draws back from the continental struggles, and extends herself beyond the seas, as you yourself say. This is what I meant by quitting the great theatre of human affairs; for after all this theatre is not at Sidney, nor even Washington, it is still in Old Europe. Observe that I spoke of England, not of the English race; for who does not know that Providence has decreed that the future fate of the world belongs to two races, the Slavonic and the Anglo-saxon?

3d.—I further did not say, that in my opinion England ought to assume the position of the chief representative of liberal ideas in Europe; I said only, that in my opinion, England ought not to abandon it; which seems to me to be very different. Nations, like individuals who have any self-respect, pledge themselves Edition: current; Page: [217] as to their future conduct by their past. For many years you have been the champions of liberty: you embraced her cause when she was strong; I think that it would be base in you to abandon her now that she is weak. You had better have never paid any attention to her.

Having said this, permit me, my dear friend, to let the subject drop. As I said at the beginning, one never can know thoroughly any country but one’s own; and above all, one has no right to express an opinion as to what is essential to the interests or to the honour of any other nation. Indeed, what I said of yours was only by the way, and in the freedom of conversation between friends.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
March 3, 1853
Paris
M. Gustave de Beaumont
de Beaumont, M. Gustave

TO M. GUSTAVE DE BEAUMONT.

. . . What is now going on in the East is a new and, perhaps, one of the last phases of the Turkish Empire. . . . This affair and many others bring into relief the gradual change which has come over the English temperament, which is daily becoming more pacific, less irritable and less proud, than at any previous period in modern history. This I believe to be only the result of the great revolution which has been at work there—slowly indeed, but as irresistibly as everywhere else—the predominance of the middle classes over the aristocracy, and of the commercial and manufacturing element over the agricultural and real property one. Will this be a good or an evil? Your grandchildren Edition: current; Page: [218] will discuss this question. A society calmer and duller, more tranquil and less heroic; such, no doubt, will be the spectacle presented to our successors, who probably will not see anything new in it. For one must stand as we do, at the point where the two roads branch off, to be able to see both distinctly.

My health is becoming gradually re-established; I am again hard at work, but as yet I have produced nothing definite. I am lost in an ocean of research, in the middle of which I am sometimes worn out and disheartened. It is not only that I am out of heart about myself, but with mankind in general; with the limits and uncertainty of our knowledge, with its incessant repetition in different words for the last three thousand years; in fact, with the insignificance of our race, of our world, of our fate, of what we call our great revolutions and our great public affairs. . . Still, one must work; for it is our sole resource for forgetting the misery of surviving the empire of one’s own opinions, and of becoming more of a stranger in one’s own country than abroad.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
May 23, 1853
Paris
Baron Bunsen
Bunsen, Baron

TO BARON BUNSEN.

Sir,

I ought to have answered immediately, through our mutual friend Reeve, your letter of last month; and I intended to do so, but my health, which at that time was very bad, prevented me. Since then I have been waiting for an opportunity which is now offered to me by Mr. Senior. I was anxious to be able to thank you Edition: current; Page: [219] for the book which you had the kindness to send to me I have not yet been able to read it, as I wished first to learn enough German to be able to enjoy its perusal as it deserves. I have also been wishing to thank you for your interesting letter. I set immense store by your opinion of my writings. I consider it as one of my greatest rewards for the constant efforts that I have made in the cause of truth.

I am touched by your kind wish to see me. I have long cherished the desire of meeting you. I do not know when I shall be able to gratify it, for you cannot leave England, and there is no likelihood of my travelling this year; both my health and my mind have need of rest, and even of solitude. Thirteen years of public life, four of revolutions, and more than that, the melancholy produced by the present state of my country and by my anticipations of the future, have shaken my constitution. Rest and study alone can enable mind and body to recover their tone. I am, therefore, looking forward with pleasure to leaving Paris in a few days, and retiring to the country. Among the studies to which I propose to devote myself is that of the German language. I intend in a year’s time to be a sufficient proficient in it to travel in Germany with advantage. If one might venture to speak of one’s plans for a year hence, I should say that it is my full intention to visit next year Germany: a country which has always interested me, but whither I have never chosen to go till now, being convinced that one can never travel with pleasure or advantage unless one knows the language of the people. I shall try to see and to converse with Edition: current; Page: [220] you before I undertake this journey, and if I am not able to do so, I hope that, at least, you will permit me to write to you, and not to close here a correspondence on which I set so high a value.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
May 23, 1853
Paris
W. R. Greg
Greg, W. R.

TO W. R. GREG, ESQ.

I will not wait, Sir, for the arrival of the book* which you have promised me, before thanking you for your kindness in sending it. I am sure that I shall find it both instructive and interesting. I have never read anything of yours, but I have often heard your writings spoken of, and in such terms as make me value beforehand the work that I am expecting.

I regret to have seen so little of you, and that my health was not in a condition to admit of my receiving you as I should have liked. What I already know of you makes me wish most sincerely to know more. I hope to be more fortunate on your next visit, and that you will allow me some long conversations. You will teach me much of which I am still ignorant, with regard to your country, and I will talk to you of mine more clearly and more in detail than I have as yet had the opportunity of doing. All that I will now say is, that of all countries this is the one as to which it is most dangerous to form an opinion by what usually takes place in others, or even by one’s experience of Edition: current; Page: [221] mankind in general. There is something both in our good and in our bad qualities so peculiar, so extraordinary, and so unexpected, that the French themselves are constantly taken by surprise, and strangers can scarcely understand anything about us.

Adieu. Do not forget me on your next visit, and believe that when I say that I am anxious to see you, it is a sincere wish, not a mere compliment.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
June 9, 1853
T. M. Freslon
Freslon, T. M.

T. M. FRESLON (FORMERLY MINISTER OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION).

I should have thanked you sooner, my dear friend; for the pleasure which your correspondence gives me, and for your kindness in continuing it, if I had had matter to write about, and time to write. This last expression surprises you. Nothing can be more true; I repeat that I have no time. I arrange, as I did when I was minister, my day so as to put into it all that I have to do, and I scarcely succeed. I have found at Tours a treasure, not of gold, but of papers, precious for the work that I am now about. I have no doubt, however, but that one would find the same in all the archives belonging to the prefectures, which formerly were the head quarters of the ancient “Trésoriers de France.” These documents give a clear idea of the way in which the different branches of public affairs, which together formed the administration, were conducted, and even of those who directed and were concerned in them.

It is a curious study. I alone, I think, could have had courage enough to begin, and patience enough to go on Edition: current; Page: [222] with it. A quantity of useless dust has to be swallowed. The part that is capable of digestion is not such as can appear at length in the book that I am composing; for the design of a book is like that of a picture, its perfection does not depend upon the finish of one part—but on the relations between all the parts, whence arises the general effect. I should be wrong in making my principal object the “Ancien Régime.” But I am obliged to make myself thoroughly acquainted with it in order to reproduce, without hazarding false touches, its principal features; and especially to judge and to point out the manner in which it affected the revolution which destroyed it. I do not think, therefore, that I am losing my time, as I am sometimes tempted to fancy, when I see one day following another, and time roll on without producing more than a mountain of notes, which will be finally condensed into a chapter of thirty pages.

At any rate, this study has for the moment the immense advantage of almost entirely absorbing me. In order to obtain this result still more completely, I have added to it the study of German, and that of many books distantly connected with my subject. I thus escape from my thoughts, which were very bad for me. But in spite of all my endeavours, I cannot prevent, even in the midst of my occupations, some sounds of the outer world from penetrating to me. I can be calm, but not gay. I see that it is useless to hope for anything more, and that I must be contented.

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Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
July 2, 1853
N. W. Senior
Senior, N. W.

TO N. W. SENIOR, ESQ.

I have followed your advice, my dear Senior, and I have read, or rather re-read, Blackstone. I studied him twenty years ago. Each time it has made upon me the same impression. Now, as then, I have ventured to consider him (if one may say so without blaspheming) an inferior writer, without liberality of mind or depth of judgment; in short, a commentator and a lawyer, not what we understand by the words jurisconsulte and publiciste. He has, too, in a degree which is sometimes amusing, a mania for admiring all that was done in ancient times, and for attributing to them all that is good in his own. I am inclined to think that if he had had to write, not on the institutions, but on the products of England, he would have discovered that beer was first made from grapes, and that the hop is a fruit of the vine—rather a degenerate product, it is true, of the wisdom of our ancestors—but as such worthy of respect. It is impossible to imagine an excess more opposite to that into which fell at that period his contemporaries in France, for whom it was enough that a thing was old for it to be bad. But enough of Blackstone; he must make way for what I really want to say to you.

In comparing the feudal institutions in England immediately after the conquest with those in France, you find between them not only an analogy, but a perfect resemblance, much greater than Blackstone seems to Edition: current; Page: [224] think or, at any rate, chooses to say. In reality, the system in the two countries is indentical. In France, and over the whole continent, this system produced a caste; in England, an aristocracy. How is it that the word gentleman, which in our language denotes a mere superiority of blood, with you is now used to express a certain social position, and amount of education independent of birth; so that in the two countries the same word, though the sound remains the same, has entirely changed its meaning? When did this revolution take place? How, and through what transitions? Have no books ever treated of this subject in England? Have none of your great writers, philosophers, politicians, or historians, ever noticed this characteristic and pregnant fact, tried to account for it, and to explain it?

If I had the honour of a personal acquaintance with Mr. Macaulay, I should venture to write to ask him these questions. In the excellent history which he is now publishing, he alludes to this fact, but he does not try to explain it. And yet, as I said before, there is none more pregnant, nor containing within it so good an explanation of the difference between the history of England and that of the other feudal nations in Europe. If you should meet Mr. Macaulay, I beg you to ask him, with much respect, to solve these questions for me. But tell me what you yourself think.

You must think me, my dear friend, very tiresome with all these questions and dissertations; but of what else can I speak? I pass here the life of a Benedictine monk, seeing absolutely no one, and writing whenever I am not walking. I expect this cloistered life to do a Edition: current; Page: [225] great deal of good both to my mind and body. Do not think that in my convent I forget my friends. My wife and I constantly talk of them, and especially of you and of our dear Mrs. Grote. I am reading your MSS.* which interest and amuse me extremely. They are my relaxation. I have promised Beaumont to send them to him as soon as I have finished them.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
July 27, 1853
W. R. Greg
Greg, W. R.

TO W. R. GREG, ESQ.

Nearly a month ago I was wishing to write to you, but I was prevented by the fear of my letter not reaching you. I did not know your exact address, and even now I am not perfectly certain whether I have it right. I wished to give my sincere opinion on the two volumes that you were so kind as to send to me, and to tell you how much pleasure I derived from their perusal. Be sides much praise that they well deserve, I should have allowed myself to offer a few criticisms. But I defer this to a future time. I think that you would prefer my confining myself in this letter to answering the questions that you put to me.

It is understood that we are not speaking of the present electoral system . . . but only of the electoral system of the constitutional monarchy, and of the republic.

I must beg you, while you read the following remarks, never to lose sight of what I once before pointed out to you, Edition: current; Page: [226] that France must always be considered apart from other nations; that especially in the matter of which I am now treating, she is never to be compared with England—a fact which you will acknowledge when you recollect that in England you have an aristocracy and powerful local influences, while we in France have nothing of the sort. You have no centralization, while we have centralized the administration more than perhaps has ever been done in a great country. Whence it results that in England corruption and intimidation are the instruments chiefly of the great landowners, and of the rich in general, while with us corruption and intimidation can be made use of only by the Government. You will understand that, the circumstances being so different, the electoral institutions of the two countries can hardly be compared.

The electoral system of the constitutional monarchy had one enormous vice, which, in my judgment, was the principal cause of the fall of that monarchy: it rested on too small a body of electors.* The result was that the electoral body soon became nothing but a small bourgeois oligarchy, devoted to its special interests, and separated from the lower classes, for whom it did not care, and who cared nothing for it. The lower classes, therefore, ceased to have the slightest sympathy with its proceedings; and the upper classes, whom it jealously kept out of the administration, despised it, and impatiently endured its supremacy. Nearly the whole nation was thus led to regard the representative system as a mere political contrivance for giving predominance Edition: current; Page: [227] to certain individual interests, and placing power in the hands of a small number of families—an opinion far from correct even then, but favouring, more than any other cause, the advent of a new government.

As to the intimidation or corruption of these electors by powerful individuals, it has always been extremely rare—one might almost say, unknown. Even the Government never employed the coarser kind of corruption—the buying votes by money. But it has scarcely ever ceased to exercise over them a corrupting influence in other ways. To the least honourable electors it offered places and promotion. To the most honest it promised that the “commune” where they lived should receive some of the many boons which our Government is able to confer—such as assistance in repairing the churches, schools, bridges, &c. &c.

This influence on the part of the Government was counterbalanced by the influence of the newspapers, which is very great over the middle classes; and things might have gone on for a long time had it not been for the capital faults which I have already pointed out—the small number of electors and the exclusive preponderance of one class.

The year 1848 threw us into the opposite extreme. It gave us universal suffrage.

It must be admitted that the two general elections conducted under this system were the most honest and unfettered that have been seen in France since 1789. Neither corruption nor intimidation of any kind affected them. Intimidation was indeed attempted by the Government, and by different factions, but without Edition: current; Page: [228] success. The great number of the electors, and especially their collection in great masses in the electoral colleges, rendered the action of the Government absolutely unfelt. On the contrary, the system restored, in most provinces, to the clergy and to the rich proprietors, more political influence than they had possessed for sixty years—and they nowhere abused it. This became apparent when the genuineness of the contested returns came to be discussed in the Assembly. It was unanimously recognised that the influence of the clergy and of the great landowners had been considerable. But there was scarcely a single complaint of the peasants having been bullied or bribed; the truth being, that in a country where wealth was as much distributed as in France, intimidation or corruption by individuals can never be pushed very far under any electoral system.

The influence, therefore, which was exercised over the peasant by the rich proprietor was entirely a moral one. The peasant, himself a proprietor, and alarmed for his property by the doctrines of the communists, applied for guidance to men who were more enlightened than himself, and who had still larger proprietary interests at stake. I cannot say that this would have always continued to be the case. I merely state the facts which I witnessed; and I affirm that the conservative majority, which predominated first in the Constituent and then in the Legislative Assembly, contained more rich and independent landed proprietors—more of what you in England term country gentlemen—than any of the chambers in which I have sat during the last thirteen years.

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But I cannot too much impress upon you the extent to which the results of universal suffrage are with us, and probably everywhere, modified by the manner in which the colleges, or, in other words, the electoral assemblies, are constituted.

When the electors are taken from their villages and collected in masses of one, two, or three thousands in the capital of the canton, as was the case under the first law of 1848, or even in numbers less great but still considerable, as was enacted by the second, they are little influenced by the clergy, or by the rich proprietors, and scarcely at all by the Government. On the other hand, when the election takes place in a village, by only fifty or sixty, or even a hundred electors, the parson, and, if there still be one, a rich landowner, can act with effect, and the influence of the Government becomes powerful.

As to your question with respect to the light in which electoral corruption is regarded by the people, I answer, that corruption especially by money is disgraceful. An elector who sold his vote would be compared to a witness who sold his evidence. In a contest, of which I knew the details, a candidate opposed to one of my friends was accused of having attempted to bribe; the accusation was groundless, but it did him irreparable mischief; his friends were afraid to vote for him lest they should be supposed to have been bribed. In fact, on the subject of elections, our population has still the advantages and disadvantages of political youth. It is inexperienced, weak, sometimes excited, but honest. It is bribed not by money, but by false doctrines, by the Edition: current; Page: [230] promise of imaginary social progress, by flattering its envy and its hatred.

Whatever may have been the electoral systems in France during the last sixty years, the candidate has never been put to expense. I have been elected five times; it never cost me a penny. Not that under the monarchy or under the republic the situation of a deputy was without its value; it was, perhaps, more sought for than in any country in the world. For it led not only to the great places, but, what was a great evil, to the inferior ones. Yet such were our feelings that an election cost nothing.

You wish for my opinion as to the election of candidates by lists.* Among its advantages in a free country is not that it prevents canvassing; arrangements are always made with more or less formality for designating the candidates and preparing their elections. The heads of parties meet or correspond, and make out lists which are afterwards profusely distributed. These arrangements resemble on a smaller scale those that are made in the United States for the election of a president. The advantages which we have really derived from election by lists are these:—First, the deputy need care less about any given portion of his constituents. He depends on the general opinion of the department, and may without danger neglect the interest of a canton or of a family. Secondly, it raises the scale of eligible candidates. It is difficult for a man not well before Edition: current; Page: [231] the public to obtain 100,000 or 150,000 votes. Great national, or at least great departmental, notoriety is necessary to decide the suffrages of so numerous a body. Men of merely cantonal celebrity—to use a French expression, les illustrations de clocher—have less chance under this system than under any other.

But observe that the utility of voting by lists depends on circumstances. It is greatest when the electors are few, and are taken from a single class; it is then necessary in order to prevent the deputies from being the obscure representatives of little coteries. I have no doubt that if it had been adopted before 1848, it would have much diminished the inconveniences of the then existing system.

There remains your question as to the efficacy of ballot. It may be said that ballot does not give absolute secrecy; but that it much facilitates secrecy no one in France ever thought of denying. For the last sixty years the party which was in the minority, and indeed all parties, clamorously demanded it when it was not established, and defended it energetically whenever it was. The electors have always considered its preservation as a safeguard of the highest importance. How could there be such a general agreement if the institution were worthless? In fact, no side attacks or has attacked it in France, except the Government—that is to say, the only power which occupies with us a position similar to that held by your aristocracy, and that is able to take advantage, by intimidation or corruption, of the vote being made public. I must add that the present Government has not abolished it, at least directly. . .

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I will leave off now; my hand is tired, and I should think that your attention must be so. My bad writing is in itself enough to make the reading of this letter a labour. By writing it I wished at least to give you a proof of my eagerness to merit the confidence which you have placed in me, and also to thank you for the pleasure that I have derived from the perusal of your volumes. I received them only on the day before I left Paris; this prevented my finding out Lady Stanhope, and thanking her for taking the trouble of bringing them for me.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
August 10, 1853
M. Freslon
Freslon, M.

TO M. FRESLON.

Again many thanks, dear friend, for your information and for your news. The former was very useful, and the latter very interesting.

I found in the public library of Tours most of the books which you mention. . . .

My search into the state papers has already taught me much on the subject of the administrative powers of the judicial tribunals before 1789. Two things I chiefly remarked; first, that these powers gradually became more restricted as the administrative power, properly so called, grew more active and more enlightened. The rights of the tribunal of justice, not being exclusive, and being subordinate to the Administration, as represented by the Conseil d’ Étât, it could act only when the latter had not already acted. The more the Administration wished to extend its natural sphere, the more contracted became by degrees that of the tribunals.

Secondly, one is struck, when one studies these Edition: current; Page: [233] documents, with the continual interference of the Government in matters of justice. The lawyers who write on administration tell us, that the greatest vice of the internal administration under the Ancien Régime was, that the judges interfered with the executive. One might as reasonably complain, that the Government interfered with the judges. The only change is that we have improved upon the Ancien Régime in the first respect, and imitated it in the last. Till now I had been foolish enough to believe that what we call la Justice Administrative (justice administered by the Government) was a creation of Napoleon’s. It is only a part of the Ancien Régime which we have preserved. And the principle that even in a case of a contract, that is of a regular engagement formally entered into between an individual and the State, the cause is to be tried by the State—this axiom, which is unknown to most modern nations, was held as sacred by an intendant* of the Ancien Régime as it can be in our day by the personage who most resembles him—a prefect.

In reading the correspondence of the ministers of Louis XV. with their subordinates, you see a crowd of little embryo professors of imperial administrative law. So true is it, that the better one is acquainted with the Ancien Régime the more one finds that the Revolution has been far from doing either all the good or all the harm that is supposed, and that it may be said rather to have disturbed than to have altered society. This truth springs up in all directions as soon as one ploughs the ancient soil.

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Ampère and Corcelle are with us. I need not tell you how often we talk of you. Rivet came three weeks ago. Adieu.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
August 13, 1853
Comtesse de Circourt
de Circourt, Comtesse

TO THE COMTE DE CIRCOURT.

I reproach myself, dear M. de Circourt, for not having yet answered your long and interesting letter. I should have done so the next day if I had followed my inclination. I could not help reading the chief portions of it to Madame de Tocqueville and to Ampère, who is staying with us. It was decided that I should thank you on behalf of the company. Let me hope that you will not allow our correspondence to end here, and that you will not refuse to tell me now and then what is going on in the world, of which I am now as ignorant as if I lived in a desert island, or at the bottom of the cistern in which M. Jaubert passed six months.

Still, I do not complain much of my solitude; I find it better for my mind than the frivolous, barren excitement of Parisian society, where one hears nothing but far-off, and often untrue, rumours of what takes place in the political world. I lived too long in the centre of affairs not to tire very soon of on-dits. But I shall never be tired of hearing judgments on the past, and conjectures as to future events, when these conjectures and judgments are the workings of a mind in whose intelligence and perspicacity I place the fullest confidence.

We have, at last, established ourselves here comfortably. We have a good house, well situated, exposed Edition: current; Page: [235] neither to wind nor damp, in short, a proper habitation for a sick man. I hope that I shall succeed in regaining my health here. My work is sufficient to employ, yet not to fatigue my mind. I advance, therefore, very slowly; but my first object was to grow strong again; and besides, why should I hurry? Public life is certainly not likely soon again to be open to me; and in the new existence created for me by the event of December, 1852, I ought rather to fear than to desire to come to the end of my book.

Your letter, which I began by praising, has one great defect. You do not tell me enough about Madame de Circourt—what she has been doing since I last had the pleasure of seeing her; how she spends her time in the country. All these details would have interested me. Ampère desires me to say that he feels much gratified by your invitation. I think that he would like nothing better than to accept it; but I acknowledge that I oppose your cause with all my might. I hope that we shall keep him till the end of September. Pray forgive me for serving you so ill. My excuse is that I foresee a long separation from my excellent friend. Ampère, who, as you know, shares the travelling propensities of the swallow, will, I think, spend the autumn, and probably the winter, in Italy.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
September 17, 1853
M. de Corcelle
de Corcelle, M.

TO M. DE CORCELLE.

I have been often thinking and speaking of you, my dear friend, during the last fortnight. I can explain my Edition: current; Page: [236] silence only by the soporific effect produced by a life so uniform that at last it never occurs to me to do anything that I have not been doing the day before. It is a voluntary treadmill, in which I think only of lifting up one foot after the other till the wheel stops.

To answer your friendly questions, I will tell you at once that since you left us my health has been in a more satisfactory state, and my doctors continue to assure me that I shall be entirely cured. On this last point I am absolutely incredulous, and I no more expect to see my own perfect recovery than I do that of France. Our disorders are of too long standing; and all that I have learned to desire for both is a tolerable state of health. You see that as I grow older I grow more moderate in my wishes.

I have been reading your letter over again, and it seems to me that you have mistaken the sense of what I said when we talked over my new book, which is not surprising, for it is difficult to explain clearly the plan of so vast an undertaking as that which I contemplate.

I told you that it was not my intention to suggest a remedy for the state into which the Ancien Régime, the Republic, and the Empire, have thrown our country. This is true: my fixed resolution is to stop before I set foot on this ground, to consider it only from afar, and not to try to write a book of temporary interest. But it by no means follows that no clear results are to be drawn from the historical study on which I am at work, that it is to give only a vague notion of the opinions and sentiments of the author, and to leave the Edition: current; Page: [237] reader uncertain as to the judgments which he ought to form upon facts, and upon men; on the events themselves, on their causes, and as to the lessons which they teach us. It would be strange, considering that I enter upon this work with decided and often enthusiastic preferences, fixed opinions, and a clear and certain object, if I should leave the reader to float rudderless on the sea of my ideas and of his own.

I think that the books which have most roused men to reflection, and have had most influence upon their opinions and their actions, are those in which the author does not tell them dogmatically what they are to think, but puts them into the way of finding the truth for themselves. If God grants me time and strength enough to finish my task, you may be sure that no one will have any doubts as to my object.

You tell me that institutions form only half of my subject. I go farther still; I say that they do not form so much as half. You are well enough acquainted with my opinions to know that I consider institutions as exercising only a secondary influence over the destinies of man. Would to God that I could believe them to be all-powerful! I should have more hopes for our future; for we might, some day, chance to stumble upon the precious recipe which would cure all our ills, or upon a man acquainted with the nostrum. But, alas! there is no such thing; and I am convinced that the excellence of political societies does not depend upon their laws, but upon what they are prepared to become by the sentiments, principles, and opinions, the moral and intellectual qualities given by nature and education to Edition: current; Page: [238] the men of whom they consist. If this truth does not appear in every part of my book; if it does not induce the reader to apply this lesson continually to himself; if it does not, without pretending to teach, show to him in every page what are the sentiments, opinions, and morals which lead to prosperity and freedom, and what are the vices and errors infallibly opposed to these blessings, I shall not have attained the chief, and I may say the only, object that I have in view.

To turn to another subject: you are, perhaps, right in saying that I attach too much importance in religious matters to an accident—the conduct of the clergy. You must make excuses for the grief, I might almost say the despair, with which the sight of what is now going on affects a man as convinced as I am that the real greatness of mankind must arise from the combined action of liberty and religion; the one to animate, the other to restrain; and whose only political passion, for the last thirty years, has been to bring about this combination. I am far from saying that respect for our religion is not increasing among our countrymen; but, unhappily, this is not the same thing as an increase of religious belief.

My father is to spend a few days with us in the beginning of next month. After this, we shall renounce the society of the living for that of the illustrious dead: books will be our only company. I do not despair, however, of seeing, before next spring, a good friend, like yourself, tear himself from Paris for a short time to pay us a charitable visit. Do I deceive myself?

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The world seems to me to be growing narrower and narrower, so as to contain only five or six people, whose society pleases, soothes, or restores me. You are at the head of the list. You may judge, therefore, if I am satisfied with conversing with you for so many months only through the post.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
September 2, 1853
Comtesse de Circourt
de Circourt, Comtesse

TO THE COMTESSE DE CIRCOURT.

I shall not be able, Madame, to answer to-day M. de Circourt’s long and interesting letter, but I will not delay thanking you for your kind remembrance of me. It touched me extremely; for there is nothing which I value so highly as the little corner which you permit me to occupy in your heart. The more opportunities I enjoy of seeing you, the more I prize it. I wish only that a still greater intimacy might, in time, give me a chance of enlarging it. Unfortunately, I do not see my way to this at present, for Paris is naturally your headquarters, and I own that it is my intention to make it less and less of mine. I shall certainly return thither every year to rub off the rust of the country, but only for a short time, just long enough to restore the edge of my mind. A few months are enough. This year, indeed, I do not intend to return before the spring. I have certainly made a great sacrifice in establishing myself as I have done this year in the country, away from my own home, in order, if possible, to recover my health by leading a quiet life in an equable and temperate climate. I do not want to have made it for Edition: current; Page: [240] nothing, and therefore I must allow a long period of perfect stillness to succeed the anxious and sometimes painful years that I have given to politics. This peace I find here, uninterrupted even by the petty details of business; for I possess nothing, know nobody, and want nothing in Touraine. We sometimes feel our solitude; but in these times it suits me better than a crowd.

You must have experienced in your travels, Madame, a peculiar sensation on arriving in the morning in a foreign town, where all is new and strange to you—people, language, and customs. You are in a crowd, and yet you are more overpowered by the sense of solitude than if you were in the middle of a forest. This is what often happens to me in the midst of my countrymen and contemporaries. I find that there are scarcely any points of contact left between their modes of feeling and thinking and mine. I have preserved many strong feelings which they have lost; I still love passionately the things to which they have become indifferent; and I have an antipathy which grows stronger and stronger for the things which seem to please them more and more. It is not only the times that are changed, the whole race seems to me to have altered. I feel like one belonging to the old in the midst of the new. From this category I, of course, except certain persons, whose society would be an amends for contact with all the others, if only one could enjoy it. But what society is it that one can enjoy in Paris? In whose drawing-room does not one meet some of the people whom one least cares to see? In whose drawing-room especially is it that the person Edition: current; Page: [241] of whom one sees least is precisely the only one one comes to see?

In this last picture you cannot fail to recognise a drawing-room of your acquaintance. Did I, during the whole of last winter, have as much as five minutes’ conversation with you? Do not, however, from all that I have said, fancy that I am as cross as a bear. I merely say what I should have said to you an hundred times before if I had had more opportunities of seeing you; I mean of seeing you, not of seeing your friends.

Pray keep the secret of my misanthropy, and forgive me for enjoying the life that I lead here—I only wish that it were more productive. Most people would think that I made great use of my retirement. Nothing would be less true. I read a great deal, I live a great deal in the open air, I try to meditate on certain subjects. But as yet, I have not written three lines. Still, I never suffered less from ennui. Shall I confess to you, Madame, that I have gone back to school, and that I am learning a language just as if I were twelve years old? This language is German, which you are so fortunate as to be able to speak, and no doubt speak perfectly, as you do every European language. I have thrown myself valiantly into this abominable literature, where all is strange for a Frenchman—the root, the construction, and the mode of expression; and the absurd part of it is, that this ungrateful study interests me. I indeed plunge into it with the idea that it is not only useful, but indispensable for my ulterior objects.

Ampère left us two days ago. I really cannot tell you how sorry I was to see him go. No one that does Edition: current; Page: [242] not know Ampère intimately, and that has not lived with him for some time in the country, can have any idea of the pleasant, lively, and natural turn of his mind, and of the more solid qualities in his character.

Of course, you see Madame Swetchine. Do not forget to remember me to her before you leave Paris. Her extreme kindness to me last winter created a deep impression on me, and has made me regard her with an affection equal to the admiration which I have always had for her talents. They are as remarkable as her goodness, and this is not saying little.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
September 23, 1853
M. Freslon
Freslon, M.

TO M. FRESLON.

I regret, my dear friend, that you did not receive my last letter. . . .

My work, in which you interest yourself, goes on, but very slowly. . . . When one examines, as I am doing at Tours, the archives of an ancient provincial government, one finds a thousand reasons for hating the Ancien Régime, but few for loving the Revolution; for one sees that the Ancien Régime was rapidly sinking under the weight of years and a gradual change of ideas and of manners, so that with a little patience and good conduct it might have been reformed without destroying indiscriminately all that was good in it with all that was bad. It is curious to see how different was the government of 1780 from that of 1750. The laws are the same, the rules seem to be the same, the same principles are professed, on the surface everything is the Edition: current; Page: [243] same; but at the bottom, the methods, the habits, and the spirit—all are changed. One does not recognise the government or the governed. The Revolution broke out not when evils were at their worst, but when reform was beginning. Half-way down the staircase we threw ourselves out of the window, in order to get sooner to the bottom. Such, in fact, is the common course of events. It is not when a system is at its worst that it is broken up, but when it begins to improve; when it allows men to breathe, to reflect, to communicate with one another, and to measure the extent of their rights and of their grievances by comparing their present with their past state. The weight, though lessened, has become intolerable.

About the fifteenth of October, I propose to be in my winter quarters. Then I hope to be seriously at work. I shall put aside my books, I shall cease to rummage old papers, I shall begin at length to write and to work. Up to the present time I have only made preparations. In this long novitiate I lose patience and nerve. I shall throw upon paper, well or ill, the first chapter; and the result will show me whether what I have in my head is a great work, or merely the conception of one. I must succeed in this first attempt, that I may have courage to go on. There is nothing to be gained by looking at what is passing, it disturbs even my solitary labours.

You tell me to keep up my courage; it is the advice of a brave man, but how can I follow it?

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Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
October 23, 1853
M. Rivet
Rivet, M.

TO M. RIVET.

Many thanks, my dear friend, for your kind and excellent letter. Always write to me in that way, and believe that nothing which concerns you—affairs, feelings, interests, relations or friends—is indifferent to me. Such is always the case in true friendship. That which I have for you is indeed true, and it is based on the only real foundation, esteem. Of all the men whom I have ever met, you certainly are the one who possesses, in the highest degree, honour and delicacy of feeling, joined with a talent for overcoming or avoiding all the little difficulties created by the opposing passions and interests of men; and this is the real art of living. These qualities, which ought always to go together, co-exist so seldom, that one wonders when one finds them in the same person.

I have nearly finished the preparatory studies of which I spoke to you in one of your visits, and I think that I am now capable of giving a course of lectures on administrative law under the Ancien Régime. The thing to find out now is, what use I can make of these materials, which are useless rubbish if I cannot build with them something new. I shall begin actually to write in about ten days. It is then that I shall ask for your prayers, for then will be decided the formidable question, whether I can turn my future life to any account.

I dare not rely on your promise of coming to visit us Edition: current; Page: [245] in this retreat. All that I can say is, that you will be joyfully welcomed. Adieu.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
November 3, 1853
M. Gustave de Beaumont
de Beaumont, M. Gustave

TO M. GUSTAVE DE BEAUMONT.

. . . I authorized you beforehand to keep “Haxthausen” long enough to read him carefully. The book deserves attention from everybody, and especially from you; for though it will weary you to death, it is full of instruction, and especially as to the Selavonic races. In the manners which he describes, there are some curious characteristics of that race which you ought to know.

——— has just sent me a thick book, full of research and talent, in which he endeavours to prove that all that takes place in the world may be explained by the differences of race. I do not believe a word of it; and yet I think that there is in every nation, whether in consequence of race or of an education which has lasted for centuries, some peculiarity, tenacious if not permanent, which combines with all the events that befall it, and is seen both in good and in bad fortune, in every period of its history. This is especially true of the half-civilized nations which have long lived apart. To speak of them properly, it is necessary to thoroughly discern the features which distinguish them from the other members of the human family.

There is also in “Haxthausen” a picture which would alone be enough to make up for the nuisance of reading his book—that of a people still in the leading-strings of serfdom and of property in common, and yet enjoying, Edition: current; Page: [246] to a certain extent, the institutions, and even in some respects sharing the spirit, of the democratic and highly civilized times in which we live. You see them ascripti glebœ, as ours were in the sixteenth century, and yet they suffer from the perpetual restlessness of the Americans. The real reason why this author is so tiresome, is not so much his prolix, diffuse, and fatiguing style, as his subject. Among these Russian lower classes everything is absolutely uniform—opinions, laws, customs, and even the smallest external details. It is an America without liberty or intelligence, a frightful species of democracy.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
November 3, 1853
M. Freslon
Freslon, M.

TO M. FRESLON.

I was, indeed, rather uneasy about you, my dear friend, when I received your last letter.

Next week, I at length shall give up poring over books and old papers, and begin to write. I assure you that I anticipate this moment with anxiety and even dread. Shall I find what I seek? Can the subject which I have chosen yield the book that I dream of? and am I capable of realizing this dream? What should I do if I found that I had mistaken vague ideas for definite thoughts; true, but commonplace notions, for new and original discoveries? If I failed in this attempt, it would upset all my plans for the future; I should not know what to be at, for I have never been able to live for living’s sake. I have always felt compelled to do something, or at least to fancy that I am doing something.

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It is very kind of you to tell me that the public taste for books is returning; that they are again beginning to exercise some influence. I own that I like to hear you say this, though I do not believe it. My impression is, that as yet authors have no public in France. Our present state in this respect is unlike anything one finds in the history of the last 200 years; and of all the changes that time has effected in our habits and character, this is one of the most extraordinary. In the most literary nation in Europe, in that which has convulsed ideas and convulsed the world by means of abstract ideas taken from books, a generation has risen up, taking absolutely no interest in anything which is written, attaching no importance to anything but events, and only to a few facts—those which are evidently, directly, and immediately connected with physical well-being. Of all the aristocracies, that which has been most utterly destroyed by the Revolution is the aristocracy of literature.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
November 26, 1853
Comtesse de Circourt
de Circourt, Comtesse

TO THE COMTESSE DE CIRCOURT.

You have then returned to “Les Bruyères,” Madame, although it is winter. I do not pity you much. There are many reasons why you need not fear solitude; and, besides, can there be any solitude with Paris only seven miles off and so many friends?

I say nothing about myself, Madame, simply because there is nothing to say. My life passes in a uniformity, which, though pleasant, furnishes no matter for writing. Edition: current; Page: [248] We generally finish the evening by reading aloud; but there are so few books that are agreeable to read! We have been yawning over some memoirs which you must know—those of the Baroness of Oberkirk, who, they say, delighted the Faubourg St. Germain and the Faubourg St. Honoré. They are worth less than nothing; they are full of all the littlenesses of the Ancien Régime, without one of its great features; of its frivolity, without its wit; and one feels in every page the senile imbecility which is the fate of worn-out aristocracies reduced to mere drawing-room coteries, from having had the guidance of men and of affairs. And this is the only book which, according to the booksellers, has created any sensation during the last six months.

Those who think that, by turning aside men’s attention from important subjects, you can enable them to act more vigorously in the small field which is left to them, apply to the human mind the laws of matter. Steam-power or water-power moves small wheels all the better when the large wheels are out of gear; but our minds do not obey the laws of mechanics.

Adieu! Madame. I have written a stupid letter, but what else can you expect from a hermit?

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
November 22, 1853
Grote
Grote

TO MRS. GROTE.

I am determined to write to you, my dear Mrs. Grote, and yet God knows that in my solitude I have absolutely nothing to say to my friends, except that I have a great affection for them; a fact which, perhaps, would be very interesting to some of them, but which Edition: current; Page: [249] cannot have the merit of novelty for you. You cannot need to be told how great is the friendship with which we regard you. I have made up my mind, however, to write to you, though I have nothing to tell, because it annoys me to be so long without hearing of you from yourself. My news of you has all been indirect. Be so charitable then as to give us some. Do not treat us quite as if we were dead and buried, although there would be sufficient excuse for doing so. I myself am often tempted to exclaim like the drunkard in La Fontaine’s fable, who, waking up suddenly in a dark silent cavern, cries out, “I wonder whether my wife is a widow.”

Still you must not pity us too much; for though we have no noise here, we have plenty of light. We live in full sunshine, in a little cottage situated on the banks of the Loire, with the towers of Tours in the distance. We have avoided knowing any of our neighbours, as we did not wish to make acquaintances among the natives, recollecting that provincial society is an exchange of solitude for ennui. Many of our friends have taken the trouble of coming to see us, and this has been enough to keep up our taste for our fellow-creatures. The life I lead seems to have improved my health; and that of my wife, which had been so shaken, is, I hope, re-established. Our intention, therefore, is to brave another winter here, and to return to Paris only for a short time next spring, before the tour which, as you are aware, we are contemplating in Germany; a tour for which I shall not start without communicating with you again, and asking for your valuable advice and introductions.

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You will fancy, that these four months of retirement must have been of great service to my book; they have been of very little. I have read and meditated, but I have not written, and I ask myself how so many hours can have slipped away. It has been with me, as they say is the case with prisoners, who see so much leisure before them, that they put off what they have to do till next day, and reach the term of their imprisonment, or of their life, without so much as having begun the work which they would easily have finished in the midst of the bustle of the world. However, I hope that such will not be my fate, and I already feel, at times, an appetite for writing which is a good symptom.

I hope that I shall not leave this place till I have made a fair start in my work. But how difficult it is to begin! The society which preceded the French Revolution is almost as difficult to reproduce and to understand as the time before the Flood. The convulsion of our Revolution has left nothing but fragments, now covered over by a fresh soil, which must be dug up one by one to recompose from one’s imagination a world which has for ever perished. When I consider all the things that I have learnt by these preliminary studies, and all the thoughts suggested by them, it seems to me that the chief deficiency of those who have attempted to write upon the French Revolution, and even on the present time, has been the want of clear and true views of the preceding period. I think that I shall have this advantage over them, and I hope to turn it to account.

Pray remember us to Mr. Grote. I brought his last volume with me, and we read it aloud in the evenings Edition: current; Page: [251] with great enjoyment. Do not forget to mention me to Chevalier Bunsen, when you see him; tell him that I am beginning his “Hippolytus,” which seems to be interesting, though the language sometimes puzzles me. Some parts are very hard, especially for a schoolboy like myself.

In conclusion, Madame, and this is the most important and urgent request of all, think of us at least now and then—very often if you can. Keep a little of your friendship for us, and believe that there is nothing on which we set so much store as to retain our small share of your affection and memory.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
December 7, 1853
Comtesse de Circourt
de Circourt, Comtesse

TO THE COMTE DE CIRCOURT.

I was extremely sorry, dear M. de Circourt, to hear of the sad event which forced you to set off for Franche-Comté almost immediately after your return from your long journey in the South of France.

I brought with me from Paris, and I have nearly finished—I say nearly, for such a book is a serious undertaking—one that I think you recommended to me, Haxthausen, on the agricultural classes in Russia. Nothing can be more wearisome nor more instructive. The author, without having much talent, is an honest witness, who has had the good sense to consider the only thing in Russia which is at all interesting or has any dignity, and the only one that nobody goes to see—the Russian lower classes. I found in his book a mass of facts about which I knew nothing, and which seem Edition: current; Page: [252] to me to throw much light on a little known part of Europe—if, indeed, it can be called Europe. I do not wish to abuse Russia to you, for you have an excellent reason for thinking well of that country;* therefore I shall confine myself to saying, that I never felt less inclined to take up my abode in the Empire of the Czars than after reading Haxthausen. Ennui would make it intolerable—ennui breathes in every description of it. Monotony, even in liberty, is tiresome; what must it be in slavery? What must be those villages exactly alike, with inhabitants exactly alike, employed in exactly the same way, with minds all equally asleep? I own to you, in confidence, that I should prefer barbarism in all its disorder.

Just as I had finished writing to Madame de Circourt the other day, I received from her the kindest and most friendly letter conceivable. I should have written to her again on the spot to thank her for it, if I had not feared to inflict too much of myself upon her by sending another despatch so soon.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
December 31, 1853
M. de Corcelle
de Corcelle, M.

TO M. DE CORCELLE.

I wish to spend one of the last hours in this year in writing to you, my dear friend. I rejoice in knowing you to be so agreeably occupied and surrounded. May God grant to you many such days.

Our health continues good, in spite of the severity of the weather. When I got up on the day before yesterday, Edition: current; Page: [253] my thermometer was sixteen degrees and a half below zero. I never saw either in Sicily or in Africa more brilliant nights—it was a sky for an astronomer, a firmament to please a Chaldee, and abominably cold. I wonder if it is as bad in your part of the country. Amid all these glories of the sky, my meditations were disturbed by the thoughts of the numbers of the poor—shivering and starving upon the earth. This cold produces a great increase of misery, which was already great enough.

As I could not carry my whole library to this out-of-the-way retreat, I have brought at least one volume of the works of all our great writers. Their society is noble and elevating. I read the other day Bourdaloue’s sermon on “False Conscience.” I was delighted. More, perhaps, might be said on the mysterious and awful phenomenon which it is the object of this sermon to describe; but all that the preacher says of it is true and profound. What admirable language! what consummate art! It is impossible to study him sufficiently. The skill with which he varies his expressions, so as never to let the attention of the audience flag, is really marvellous. Where could Bourdaloue, who had lived so long in the provinces, have acquired all these delicate artistic touches; and besides other more essential merits, the gift of choosing the right word (there never is more than one), and thus, if I may use the expression, of pouring out the whole contents of his thought? He is as vivid as he is perspicuous.

I have also read Bossuet’s sermons. Till now I knew little of this portion of his writings, if, indeed, one can Edition: current; Page: [254] call them writings. They are improvisations, in which his genius, less hemmed in, seems often rough, and almost wild, but more vigorous, and perhaps more extraordinary, than in any of his other works.

I am quite of your opinion as to the impertinence of the “Progressive Catholicism.” It is detestable, let alone its doctrines. A religion must be absolutely true or false. How can it make progress? As you truly say, there may be progress in the application, not in the dogma. Besides, the word “progressif” must have been suggested to a French writer by the Devil himself, it is such bad French. What a face the illustrious dead, in whose society I live, would have made at it!

Here I am, dear friend, at the end of my paper; but I cannot leave off without even warmer expressions of my regard than usual, in honour of the New Year. Our good wishes to all around you, and a kiss to little François.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
January 11, 1854
Comtesse de Circourt
de Circourt, Comtesse

TO THE COMTESSE DE CIRCOURT.

I am anxious to write to you, Madame, before you leave the country, as I am convinced that no woman, however perfect she may be, when once she has returned to Paris, has leisure, or perhaps inclination, to remember absent friends. I therefore take my precautions, and try to make you think of me before it is too late.

A thousand thanks, Madame, for your last letter, and for the charming one which preceded it. They were gleams of light in my darkness. Your description of the delicious retreat which you have created does not astonish me. Three years ago I admired the skill with Edition: current; Page: [255] which you converted a peasant’s hut into a beautiful cottage, such as, unfortunately, one never does see in Switzerland. What may you not have been able to do with your present abode? I am impatient to see you in it; for where else are you to be found? In Paris one only catches a glimpse of you. Though I know no hostess who understands better the art of distributing her attentions amongst her guests, this is not enough to satisfy those who know how to appreciate you, among whom, as you know, I place myself. While I am deprived of that pleasure I live in a solitude as complete as that of a prison, only that I am at liberty to walk about the country. I am alarmed, Madame, at finding it suit me so well. I fear that my character must be based on unsociability.

As I could not bring my library to keep me company, I have had sent to me a volume of each of my favourite great authors. They amount to only twenty-five: a small shelf holds them all. Hardly one has been written within the last hundred years. I open one at hazard; it is almost as if I conversed with the writers. I am struck by seeing how, in spite of the variety of their talent, their merits are all owing to the same causes.

I study German for not less than three hours every day, and I begin to like it. But I cannot accustom myself to the gutturals. It seems to me always as if the speaker were scolding. Have soft things ever been said in German, Madame? One is told that they are said in every language, even in Iroquois.

I hope that if you write to me from Paris, you will tell me something of what is going on there; what Edition: current; Page: [256] people say, what they write, if indeed they do write. Is any subject besides the Exchange and the war ever mentioned? Such a subject would interest me. I received a kind note from Madame de Rauzan the other day. I was much touched by it, as she cannot write, and I know by experience how wearisome it is to dictate. Be so good as to thank her from me before I have the opportunity of thanking her myself.

I ought to earn news by giving you some myself. But what can a hermit offer from his cell, except his thoughts? and they are not worth your acceptance. I will therefore conclude, Madame, begging you to forgive the stupidity of this letter, and to accept the assurance of my most respectful attachment.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
February 24, 1854

EXTRACT FROM MR. SENIOR’S JOURNAL.

I reached St. Cyr this morning. We talked of the state of parties.

“I am very sorry,” said Tocqueville, “that you have not penetrated more into the salons of the Legitimists; you have never got farther than a Fusionist.

“The Legitimists are not the Russians that Z. describes them; still less do they desire to see Henri V. restored by foreign intervention. They and their cause have suffered too bitterly for having committed that crime, or that fault, for them to be capable of repeating it. They are anti-national so far as not to rejoice in any victories obtained by France under this man’s guidance; but I cannot believe that they would rejoice in her defeat.

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“They have ceased to be anxious about anything, but to be let alone. But they are a large, and rich, and comparatively well-educated body, and it will always be difficult to govern without their concurrence.

“I quite agree,” he continued, “with Z. as to the necessity of this war.

“Your interests may be more immediate and greater, but ours are very great. When I say ours, I mean those of France, as a country that is resolved to enjoy Constitutional Government.

“I am not sure that if Russia were to become mistress of the Continent, she would not allow France to continue a quasi-independent despotism under her Protectorate. But she will never willingly allow us to be powerful and free.

“I sympathise, too, with Z.’s fears as to the result. I do not believe that Napoleon himself, with all his energy, and all his diligence, and all his intelligence, would have thought it possible to conduct a great war to which his Minister of War was opposed. A man who has no heart in his business will neglect it, or do it imperfectly. His first step would have been to dismiss St. Arnaud.

“The real Prime Minister is, without doubt, Louis Napoleon himself. But he is not a man of business. He does not understand details. He may order certain things to be done; but he will not be able to ascertain whether the proper means have been taken. He does not know, indeed, what these means are. He does not trust those who do. A war which would have tasked all the power of Napoleon, and of Napoleon’s ministers and Edition: current; Page: [258] generals, is to be carried on, without any master mind to direct it, or any good instruments to execute it. I fear some great disaster.

“Such a disaster might throw,” he continued, “this man from the eminence on which he is balanced, not rooted; it might produce a popular outbreak, of which the anarchical party might take advantage. Or, what is, perhaps, more to be feared, it might frighten Louis Napoleon into a change of policy. He is quite capable of turning short round—giving up everything—Key of the Grotto, Protectorate of the Orthodox, even the Dardanelles and the Bosporus, to Nicholas, and asking to be repaid by the Rhine.

“I cannot escape from the cauchemar* that, a couple of years hence, France and England may be at war. Nicholas’s expectations have been deceived; but his plan was not unskilfully laid. He had a fair right to conjecture that you would think the dangers of this alliance such as to be even greater than those of allowing him to obtain his Protectorate.

“In deciding otherwise, you have taken the brave and the magnanimous course. I hope that it may prove the successful one.

“I am sorry,” continued Tocqueville, “to see the language of your newspapers as to the Fusion. I did not take part in it. But as a mere measure of precaution, it is a wise one. It decides what shall be the conduct of the Royalist party, in the event, not an improbable one, of France being suddenly left without a ruler.

“Your unmeasured praise of Louis Napoleon,” he Edition: current; Page: [259] continued, “and your unmeasured abuse of the Bourbons, are to a certain degree the interference in our politics which you professedly disclaim. I admit the anti-English prejudices of the Bourbons, and I admit that they are not likely to be abated by your alliance with a Bonaparte; but the opinions of a constitutional sovereign do not, like those of a despot, decide the conduct of his country. The country is anxious for peace, and, above all, for peace with you—for more than peace, for mutual good-feeling. The Bourbons cannot return, except with a constitution. It has become the tradition of the family, it is their title to the throne. There is not a vieille marquise in the Faubourg St. Germain who believes in divine right.

“The higher classes in France are Bourbonists, because they are constitutionalists, because they believe that constitutional monarchy is the government best suited to France, and that the Bourbons offer us the fairest chance of it.

“Among the middle classes there is, without doubt, much inclination for the social equality of a republic. But they are alarmed at its instability. They have never known one live for more than a year or two, or die except in convulsions.

“As for the lower classes, the country people think little about politics. The sensible portion of the artizans care about nothing but cheap bread and regular work. The others are socialists, and next to the government of a Rouge Assembly, wish for that of a Rouge despot.

“In London,” I said, “a few weeks ago, I came across a French socialist, not, indeed, of the lower orders, for Edition: current; Page: [260] he was a Professor of Mathematics, but participating in their feelings.

“ ‘I prefer,’ he said to me, ‘a Bonaparte to a Bourbon. A Bonaparte must rely on the people. One can always get something out of him.’ ‘What have you got,’ I asked, ‘from this man?’ ‘A great deal,’ he answered. ‘We got the Orleans’ confiscation; that was a great step. It was an attack on the rights of property. Then he represents the power and majesty of the people. He is like the people, above all law: Les Bourbons nous chicanaient.*

“That was the true faith of a Rouge,” said Tocqueville.

“If this man,” he added, “had any self-control; if he would allow us a very moderate degree of liberty, he might enjoy a reign, probably found a dynasty. He had everything in his favour, the prestige of his name, the acquiescence of Europe, the dread of the socialists, and the contempt felt of the republicans.

“We were tired of the Branche cadette. We remembered the Branche aînée only to dislike it, and the Assembly only to despise it. We never shall be loyal subjects; but we might have been discontented ones, with as much moderation as is in our nature.

“I am alarmed,” he continued, “by your Reform Bill. Your new six-pound franchise must, I suppose, double the constituencies. It is a further step to universal suffrage, the least remediable of institutions.

“While you preserve your aristocracy, you will preserve your freedom. If that goes, you are in danger Edition: current; Page: [261] of falling into the worst of tyrannies—that of a despot appointed and controlled, if controlled at all, by a mob.”

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
March 7, 1854
Baron Edouard de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Baron Edouard

TO BARON EDOUARD DE TOCQUEVILLE.

I direct to you, my dear friend, at Baugy, where my father tells me that you are to spend a few days. I hope that my letter will find you there, and will be a welcome interruption to your solitude.

I have nothing but good news to give you of our health. The weather, for the last eight or ten days (which I call horribly fine, being a combination of hot sun and cold wind), has affected my nerves a little; but has not made me actually ill, and it was a serious trial. The banks of the Loire resembled for a few days the shores of the ocean, and the bise* was quite as keen.

The work that you are so kind as to ask after goes on but slowly, and I cannot, even in the distance, see the end of it. It is coming, however, a little more into shape and form; and all the first part, which will make about one volume, will, I hope, be finished when I quit this place in May. As you know, it is a book upon the French Revolution, not a history, nor a series of philosophical observations, but a mixture of both. I follow the Revolution from period to period, from the commencement till the fall of the Empire; trying to seize the distinctive feature of each successive period, to find out its cause and its effect, and thus to lead the reader through all its different phases, dwelling more on the general tendency of events than on particular incidents. Edition: current; Page: [262] The subject is grand; but the merit of the book must depend on the ability of the writer—a thought which would be enough to turn me away from such an undertaking, if I had anything better to do.

I have devoted the whole of this year to doing what has never yet been done, to studying the Ancien Régime, and to finding out—what those who lived in the Ancien Régime did not know themselves—how affairs were conducted in those days, what were the political customs, regulations, &c.

I believe that I have extracted in this way many new facts and inferences, which explain why this great Revolution broke out in France; whence it derived its peculiar character; what were the causes of many subsequent events; and the sources of a host of usages, opinions, and inclinations, which we imagine to be new, but which sprung from the Ancien Régime. It is this first portion which, I repeat, is to be finished before I leave this place; and if it be so, I shall not have wasted my time. For I was obliged to go through an immense amount of preparatory labour, in which I had to grope my way. My intention is not to make more than two volumes. I am afraid that I have begun by eating my white bread. For the earlier part of the Revolution I shall have no difficulty in obtaining documents; but when I get to the Empire, I fear that I shall not meet with the same facilities. I console myself by thinking that it is a question for the future, and by saying, like the Greek, “Perhaps, between this and then, the king, or the ass, or I, shall die.” . . .

The best and the worst part of my work is, that it Edition: current; Page: [263] does not distract my mind from the present. The best, because it makes me more anxious to get on with it; the worst, because for one who thinks as I do, it is desirable to turn away entirely his thoughts from France as she now is. . . .

I say nothing about the war; for what do I know about it? I blame as much as you do those who base their opposition on our foreign policy. One must always belong more to one’s country than to one’s party; and, however I may disapprove of the existing Government, I shall always support it against a foreign enemy. . . . But enough, and too much, of politics.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
April 8, 1854

EXTRACT FROM MR. SENIOR’S JOURNAL.

We ended our walk with Plessis les Tours, Louis XI.’s castle, which stands on a flat, somewhat marshy tongue of land, stretching between the Loire and the Cher. All that remains is a small portion of one of the inner courts, probably a guard-room, and a cellar, pointed out to us as the prison in which Louis XI. kept Cardinal de la Balue for several years. The cellar itself is not bad for a prison of those days; but he is said to have passed his first year or two in a grated vault under the staircase, in which he could neither stand up nor lie at full length.

“It is remarkable,” said Tocqueville, “that the glorious reigns in French history, such as those of Louis XI., Louis XIV. and Napoleon, ended in the utmost misery and exhaustion; while the periods to which we are accustomed to look as those of disturbance and insecurity Edition: current; Page: [264] were those of comparative prosperity and progress. It seems as if tyranny were worse than civil war.”

“And yet,” I said, “the amount of revenue which the despots managed to squeeze out of France was never large. The taxation under Napoleon was much less than that under Louis Philippe.”

“Yes,” said Tocqueville; “but it was the want of power to tax avowedly that led them into indirect modes of raising money, which were far more mischievous; just as our servants put us to much more expense by their jobs than they would do if they simply robbed us to twice the amount of their indirect gains.

“Louis XIV. destroyed all the municipal franchises of France, and paved the way for this centralized tyranny, not from any dislike of municipal elections, but merely in order to be able himself to sell the places which the citizens had been accustomed to give.”

The conversation turned on our new system of throwing open the service of India and of the public offices to public competition.

“We have followed,” said Tocqueville, “that system, to a great extent, for many years. Our object was twofold. One was to depress the aristocracy of wealth, birth, and connexions. In that we have succeeded. The école polytechnique and the other schools, in which the vacancies are given to those who pass the best examinations, are filled by youths belonging to the middle and lower classes, who, undistracted by society or amusement, or by any literary or scientific pursuits except those immediately bearing on their examinations, beat their better-born competitors, who will not degrade Edition: current; Page: [265] themselves into the mere slaves of success in the concours.

“Our other object was to obtain the best public servants. In that we have failed. We have brought knowledge and ability to an average, diminished the number of incompetent employés, and reduced almost to nothing the number of distinguished ones. Continued application to a small number of subjects, and those always the same, not selected by the student, but imposed on him by the inflexible rule of the establishment, without reference to his tastes or to his powers, is as bad for the mind as the constant exercise of one set of muscles would be for the body.

“We have a name for those who have been thus educated. They are called ‘Polytechnisés.’ If you follow our example, you will increase your second-rates, and extinguish your first-rates; and what is, perhaps, a more important result, whether you consider it a good or an evil, you will make a large stride in the direction in which you have lately made so many, the removing the government and the administration of England from the hands of the higher classes into those of the middle and lower ones.”

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
June 1, 1854
Paris
Comtesse de Circourt
de Circourt, Comtesse

TO THE COMTE DE CIRCOURT.

The first thing that I did, my dear M. de Circourt, was to go to your house. As I am only passing through Paris, I must write what I had rather say to you. You will guess that it relates to the little tour in Germany, which I am anxious to make, and, I hope, Edition: current; Page: [266] shall make. I want your advice, and I trust that you will let me have it soon.

This is my programme, at least provisionally:—On the 15th of this month, I enter the valley of the Rhine, perhaps at Bonn; and I remain there, or in that neighbourhood, for about six weeks. Then I go to Dresden, as a new centre of excursions. My principal object is, to ascertain what was the state of Germany at the time when the French Revolution broke out; what was the effect on it of its intellectual intercourse, and of its wars, with us; and lastly, what were the principal events in that great country up to the moment when it rose as one man against us. The state of feeling which preceded this general rising interests me deeply.

I ask you, now, what appear to you to be the places best worth visiting for obtaining this information? what are the German books, and, above all, the men most worth consulting? I must tell you, that your opinion will much influence my conduct. Let me have it, therefore, as fully as possible and with all its grounds.

I say no more to you at present, having, as you may easily suppose, a hundred things to do during my short stay; but I cannot end without begging you to express to Madame de Circourt my great regret at being obliged to defer, until autumn, the pleasure of seeing her. Besides the delight which I always feel in her society, I had hoped to obtain from her very valuable information respecting the country which I have to visit, and which she knows so well.

Edition: current; Page: [267]
Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
June 24, 1854
Bonn
Comtesse de Circourt
de Circourt, Comtesse

TO THE SAME.

I will not delay longer, my dear M. de Circourt, thanking you for the agreeable and useful acquaintances whom you have given to me in this country. We found, as you told me that we should, the Countess Oriolla very clever, very kind, and altogether charming. Your letters have also procured me the acquaintance of the principal Professors of the University.

We have hired a pleasant apartment by the riverside, just out of the town. We propose to remain here at least during all July.

The instant that I had established myself, I set to work. Up to this time, I have so neglected living Germany for dead Germany, that I know no more of the state of feeling on the banks of the Rhine than if I were on the banks of the Loire. But I plunged headlong into the chaos of ancient Germany: not that I had to learn the old Germanic Constitution, I knew it before. I am engaged in a more arduous task, that of learning what was the ancient social and administrative condition of Germany. I find difficulties which I see not how to conquer; among others, the immense discrepancies between the different portions of this great country. No one general expression can comprehend races so different and often contrasted. The most intelligent men get confused when they attempt to do so, and fail. The only practical course seems to me to be, to examine every informant only as to the country Edition: current; Page: [268] which he knows best. By this process, you get fewer general views, but more details; and from these details you may form tolerably just general opinions. Still, after having thus limited my inquiries, I find a difficulty, arising either from the subject or from the witnesses, in obtaining good information.

The Ancien Régime, at least in this part of Germany, has been so long and so completely destroyed, that few persons can explain precisely what it was. I hope that by perseverance I may learn this; but the neighbourhood of Bonn is a very small bit of Germany, and as far as I can judge, not the most interesting to me, for, except as to its political institutions, the Ancien Régime in the valley of the Rhine resembles strikingly the Ancien Régime in France. What interests me is to know what was the Ancien Régime in those portions of Germany which retained most of the civil and administrative character of the middle ages. I am told that such was the case in Westphalia, to which I am near, and in Hamburg, in Brandenburg, and, above all, in Mecklenburgh. If you can tell me of persons in those countries who can explain best to me the ancient state of things, you will do me a great service.

For the information which I want, what would be most useful would be letters of introduction to members of the old German aristocracy, to persons with the tastes and the traditions of the old institutions; to those who still live among the ruins of that antediluvian world—tell me on these subjects your opinions. I have always found them most useful.

Edition: current; Page: [269]
Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
July 22, 1854
Bonn
M. de Corcelle
de Corcelle, M.

TO M. DE CORCELLE.

Up to this time, my dear friend, our tour has been successful; our health has been good; we have established ourselves in this place comfortably. We have made many acquaintances, either agreeable or useful. I think that I shall learn Germany better by examining leisurely and attentively a single district, than by glancing superficially at a large surface. I propose, therefore, to remain here nearly a month longer, and then to go northwards to Dresden or to Berlin. We shall not return till the end of October. As to the impression which this country has made on me, it is so incomplete and so vague that I cannot well describe it. I have lived in the Germany of the last century, and it is only occasionally, only to avoid being taken for a ghost, that I talk about Germany as it is. Every time has its peculiar business. I am no longer a public man; I try to adopt the feelings of a scholar instead of those of a politician. However, as I told you before, I have been forced occasionally to converse like the rest of the world, and have thus obtained a few general notions.

Here they are:

This country seems to me, like France, to be politically diseased.

There are many evident signs of this; but the malady seems to me to be less deeply seated than with us, and likely to last less long. The public mind, though lukewarm upon politics, has not become indifferent, as in France, to most of the studies which lift us above Edition: current; Page: [270] matter. Science and literature are still actively cultivated; even poetry has preserved its empire. Many books are published, and they find many readers. There is incessant activity of thought, and upon other subjects than material well-being. Even the languor that one remarks in politics proceeds more from the dizziness caused by the sight of all the follies which have just been committed in the endeavour after liberty, than from real indifference. Faith in free institutions still exists; they are still thought the most worthy objects of love and respect. The absence of this faith is the most alarming symptom in our disease, and I do not see it among this people. Germany is puzzled, confused, ignorant of the right path, but she is not like France, broken down and almost annihilated. At least, this is what I think. As to foreign affairs, there is a strong feeling here against Russia, and this passion inclines the Germans in favour of France, though in general they have a strong bias against us.

I have also observed in the world of morals and politics, signs of some other facts which seem to me of consequence. You are, of course, aware of the part played by philosophy during the last fifty years in Germany, and especially by the school of Hegel. He was protected, as, no doubt, you know, by the ruling powers, because his doctrines asserted that, in a political sense, all established facts ought to be submitted to as legitimate; and that the very circumstance of their existence was sufficient to make obedience to them a duty. This doctrine gave rise at length to the anti-Christian and anti-spiritual schools, which have been endeavouring to Edition: current; Page: [271] pervert Germany for the last twenty years, especially for the last ten; and finally to the socialist philosophy, which had so great a share in producing the confusion of 1848. Hegel exacted submission to the ancient established powers of his own time; which he held to be legitimate, not only from existence, but from their origin. His scholars wished to establish powers of another kind, which, as soon as they existed, became therefore, according to their views, equally legitimate and binding. This did not suit the official protectors of Hegel. Yet from this Pandora’s box have escaped all sorts of moral diseases from which the people is still suffering. But I have remarked that a general reaction is taking place against this sensual and socialist philosophy. It is no longer preached in the Universities, and is opposed by many distinguished men.

I hear on all sides, that simultaneously with this philosophical revolution there is a revival of religious feeling in all the different forms professed by Germany. These are good symptoms. I am intimate here with some of the Catholic professors (the University of Bonn is half Catholic and half Protestant); they affirm that Catholicism exhibits more vitality than it has done for the last hundred years, which they attribute to the liberty which, in spite of some petty annoyances, it substantially enjoys; and above all to its separation from the State—a separation all the more complete that the Sovereign is a Protestant. The most eminent of these professors said to me the other day, during our walk, “The French clergy seem to me to be entering upon a dangerous path, one which fills us with Edition: current; Page: [272] anxiety. How is it that they do not see that in these days we derive our strength from independence of the temporal power, and not from the always precarious, often dangerous, always invidious, support of that power? Let your priests visit us, and they will see how we congratulate ourselves on our condition. Now, when abandoned to itself, and assisted only by freedom, Catholicism has regained its vigour.” “I assure you,” he added, “that if I could at once incline the temporal power in our favour, and destroy the rivalry of the Protestants, I should, in the interest of our religion, refuse to do so.”

I was nearly forgetting one remark, perhaps the most important. I find no trace here of the sort of torpidity which the dread of socialism has created in most minds in France. The classes which with us are afflicted with this nightmare, breathe freely in this country. I have not once heard it said that a gendarme ought to be placed at the door of every house to guard the inmates from being robbed and murdered by their neighbours. You will agree with me that this is enough to mark a fundamental difference between Germany and France, for when one goes to the source of all that takes place with us, that is said and done by us, one reaches always the one passion which is the centre and origin of all—fear.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
July 27, 1854
Bonn
Comtesse de Circourt
de Circourt, Comtesse

TO THE COMTESSE DE CIRCOURT,

I am writing to you, Madame, from a place where I am constantly hearing your name. Mademoiselle Edition: current; Page: [273] d’Arnim is always speaking of her grateful remembrance of your kind hospitality. You will believe that we do not turn the conversation from this subject, and that we add no shadows to her picture. The society of Mademoiselle d’Arnim, of her charming sister, and of her brother-in-law, add much to the pleasantness of our lives. We do not, however, venture to inflict ourselves very often upon these ladies, though they have permitted us to do so. There is always a certain effort in conversing with new acquaintances. We try, therefore, not to take too much advantage of their kindness, and for this we deserve some praise. You know Mademoiselle d’Arnim too well to make it necessary for me to tell you how interesting and agreeable her conversation is. I am not aware if you are as intimate with her sister, who charmed us from the first by her grace of manner. The member of the family whom you do not know is the husband, and he is not the least worth knowing of the party. He has travelled much, seen much and well, thought much, and he is far from being a mere soldier, though he thoroughly enjoys his profession. His conversation interests me extremely. If I followed my inclination, Madame, I should call on these agreeable people every day. But I am so discreet as to be moderate. Our opinion of them seems to be shared by every one here. I have not yet met with a single person who has not spoken well of them: a rare agreement in large towns, and rarer still in small ones.

Besides the agreeable society we find at Madame d’Oriolla’s, we have many ways of passing our time here usefully and pleasantly. We live in excellent relations with several eminent members of this University, and Edition: current; Page: [274] are cordially welcomed by their families. We like this specimen of German society well enough to determine on remaining in this place much longer than we at first expected. I do not think that we shall leave it altogether till the end of August.

We are told that at first we created great alarm; and the astonishment expressed at not finding us worse than we are, shows that the reputation which the French have acquired is not favourable. The opinions of us which peep out in conversation are, indeed, either untrue or much exaggerated, sometimes absurd. I see that they are founded chiefly on the literature of the eighteenth century, and on the bad novels of our own day. The former paints a French society which has ceased to exist, and the latter a society that never has existed, and I hope never will exist. They are as much mistaken with regard to our vices as to our virtues; but we must forgive them, for we change so continually and so rapidly both our opinions and our habits, that foreigners who seek to portray us never have time to fix the resemblance. We have but one really permanent feature: it is the ease with which we submit to everything, and assume every form and every aspect according to times and events.

Adieu! Madame. Madame de Tocqueville and I are looking forward with equal delight to seeing you in the winter.

Edition: current; Page: [275]
Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
August 6, 1854
Bonn
M. Gustave de Beaumont
de Beaumont, M. Gustave

TO M. GUSTAVE DE BEAUMONT.

. . . We are still at Bonn. . . . I am working hard; and I hope, if I do not succeed in acquiring a thorough knowledge of Germany, at least to have some idea of the things which I ought most to know. It would be impossible to treat a foreigner with more attention than has been shown to me; they have even made an exception in my favour to the general regulation, that all books must be returned to the Public Library at this season of the year, and no new ones lent. We have been intimately received by many families, whom we like very much. There are certainly attractive elements in German domestic life; but will these men, who are so estimable and so distinguished in private life, ever become citizens? When I see how long they have submitted to absolute power; the mildness of its rule, the absence of all the traditions of liberty in the habits of the people; the centralization, the universal appetite for places, and the universal dependence; I ask myself if these men will ever be very different from what they now are? nevertheless, there seems to be a general feeling of instability in the country.

I had, the other day, an interesting conversation with a Prussian just returned from the United States, where he had been ambassador for ten years. His chief business was to attend to the emigration. He astonished me by saying that last year the number of Edition: current; Page: [276] emigrants from Germany to the United States reached the extraordinary amount of 140,000, and that they continue to arrive at the same rate. Formerly, none but the poor emigrated; but now there go many families in easy and even wealthy circumstances. I asked him from whence these emigrants went, and what were their motives. Few comparatively go from Prussia. Among the whole 140,000, there were only 10,000 Prussians, but most of these were well educated and comfortably off; the remainder were chiefly from the little States in the centre of Germany; many from Baden, Wirtemberg, and Bavaria. All these Germans (so said my informant), bring with them to the United States their German ideas, and, to a certain extent, keep them. They preserve their language; they do not mix much with the natives; they usually live together; and though, in the long run, they catch some of the political habits of the Americans, they always remain a distinct and foreign element. Altogether, what he told me confirmed my old opinion, that the rapid introduction into the United States of men not of the Anglo-Saxon race is the great danger to be feared in America—a danger which renders the final success of democratic institutions a problem as yet unsolved. I forgot to tell you that my informant attributed the departure of most of the German families to the pressing invitations of their relations and friends in America. But what German motive caused the emigration of those friends and relations? I could not get him to answer clearly this question, which is of great importance.

I saw the other day Henry Reeve, who is taking the Edition: current; Page: [277] waters at Aix-la-Chapelle; I returned with him to Aix to say good-bye to Lamoricière. Your friends, Sir George and Lady Theresa Lewis, arrived here yesterday. They came to see us immediately, and we talked of you; they will spend some days here, and we shall see them again to-day.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
September 1, 1854
Wildbad
M. de Circourt
de Circourt, M.

TO M. DE CIRCOURT.

I suppose, dear M. de Circourt, that you have now returned from your tour; and I write, as I promised, to give you some news of ourselves, and especially to get some from you. I hope that no untoward accident marked the end of your journey. We regretted extremely that we were not able to keep you any longer. Your society was very agreeable, and your assistance very valuable.

We left Bonn on the 19th of last month, and we have been here ten days. I do not know if, in your frequent excursions to Germany, you ever penetrated to these mountain valleys. Probably you have, for where in Europe have you not been? You know then that we are in a forest of pine-trees which seems interminable, and in a country barren, thinly inhabited, even by animals, and very wild. We have not met one acquaintance—a privation which we bear with much philosophy. But we are less patient at seeing that the waters have as yet done Madame de Tocqueville no good.

If I do not succeed in learning German, it will not be for want of perseverance. Happy man that you are, to be able to speak at will every European language! How I envy you! How is it, that with your admirable Edition: current; Page: [278] capacity, and wonderful power of understanding, classifying, and remembering everything, you have never devoted yourself for two or three years to sifting one subject, to studying one science, to the exclusion of the rest? You would have made for yourself an illustrious name. But you scatter, allow me to say, great talents, which, concentrated, would have produced great results. I regret it, both for your sake, and for that of the world. I am meddling with what does not concern me; forgive me, in consideration of the friendship and of the esteem which impel me to speak.

P.S.—I have not mentioned the outer world—it is the best plan for a man who lives among pine-forests, at the bottom of a valley so deep and so narrow that the sun rises for him two hours later and sets two hours earlier than for his fellow-creatures in general. It is for you to tell me what is going on. Let me have a letter, then—a long letter, if you please.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
October, 1854
M. Gustave de Beaumont
de Beaumont, M. Gustave

TO M. GUSTAVE DE BEAUMONT.

. . . As soon as my father leaves us, I intend to follow your advice, and set myself hard and seriously to work. . . . I tremble when I think how necessary it is for me to succeed. I really do not know what would become of me if I lost this my only occupation. I am like the poor, who, reduced in ordinary times to live upon potatoes, must die in a scarcity.

I shall soon send you back the “Memoirs of Frederick the Great,” which I have read, taking care not to displace Edition: current; Page: [279] your marks. It is certainly a remarkable book, but much less so than its author. How different is the quality of mind which makes men act, from that which enables them to write! The thought which concentrates itself within the limits of an act to be accomplished from that which extends over a large area and endeavours to judge events and their causes! How possible it is for the same man to be first-rate in the former, and common-place in the latter capacity, and vice versâ! I never saw this so clearly before. In his memoirs, too, Frederick talks of nothing but battles, about which I know nothing. What I want to know is, how Frederick managed his government, and what were his opinions on the subject of government; but I suspect that he thought this part of his life too unimportant to take the trouble to explain it. I am struck by the short-sightedness of men, even of great men. I do not find in Frederick’s works a single word which denotes that he anticipated the revolutions which were then about to change the face of Europe. His own language and his own ideas show that the Revolution was coming, but he saw nothing of it. Is it not strange, that our wretched Louis XV. saw from his dung-heap what Frederick, enlightened by all his genius, could not perceive. . . .

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
October 2, 1854
Clairoix
M. de Corcelle
de Corcelle, M.

TO M. DE CORCELLE.

My dear Friend,

An agreeable incident marked the end of our tour. Ampère, on his return from Rome, found us out among Edition: current; Page: [280] our mountains. He joined us; we brought him to Clairoix, and my father has kept him here.

The house is so small, that we had not a room for him, so my father has put him into a neighbouring cottage. For the first time in his life, Ampère has a courtyard, a mansion, and a garden to himself. You may suppose how happy we are to have him here. No one has more talents, nor more agreeable talents. To the utmost independence he joins an easiness of disposition, which makes him not only accommodate himself to every mode of life, but enjoy it.

I have attained only partially the object of my tour. I have not been able to make myself acquainted with Germany. All that I have done—and it is something—has been to acquire the power of understanding what is passing there and what I am told about it. Even this is difficult for a Frenchman, so great is the dissimilarity of the two countries.

Yet the great work of assimilation which goes on throughout the civilized world has already given Germany a likeness to France. The institutions, the social habits, the dress, the customs, all are alike in the two countries, or nearly so. What remains different is what is not seen—that is to say, the way in which events are regarded, the emotions which they produce. In short, the inner man retains his original form, while the outer man has lost it. I have acquired some notions with respect to this invisible Germany, and this is enough to prevent my thinking that my tour has been quite useless.

As to public affairs, I am not sure that the sort of Edition: current; Page: [281] paralysis which afflicts France is not still more remarkable in Germany. In a great part of the country public life still has its organs, but it does not use them. In Prussia, there is a real Parliament; the debates are public; the press is half free; the Administration is nearly independent of the Crown; old traditions of order and moderation prevail in the Government; and yet the country seems asleep.

Germany has not received even the imperfect political education which thirty-six years of representative government gave to us. It is not merely that the Germans are not well acquainted with the means by which political liberty is founded and maintained: they have scarcely a notion of them. In the midst of half liberal institutions, they preserve the habits given to them by two centuries of absolute power. The great chimæra of German unity takes, on their imagination, a much greater hold than the desire for real liberty in each of the countries of which Germany consists.

Though Germany is at present tranquil, she is not settled; she sleeps, but sleeps standing—the least touch could throw her to the right or to the left. You perceive throughout the country a vague dislike of what is existing; a feeling of stability is wanting; the old traditions have been abandoned; the respect for what is ancient, and for what is established, has disappeared. Every year the emigration becomes more enormous; 240,000 Germans sought last year in America new laws and a new country. Yet I am sure that it will be long before any political movement has its beginning in Germany. The Germans are easily set in motion; but Edition: current; Page: [282] they do not move spontaneously. Such, at least, is my opinion.

Yet you must not believe that the Revolution of 1848 passed over Germany without leaving any traces, or that, after this great disturbance, society has settled down again where it was before. It may almost be said that our Revolution of 1848 influenced Germany more than our Revolution of 1789; it is certain, at least, that all those portions of the ancient constitutions of Europe which survived the former, were put an end to for ever by the latter. The abolition of innumerable privileges which destroyed, or at least hampered, civil liberty, dates from this period, and will survive political liberty. All these results of the Revolution of 1848 were eagerly accepted even by the princes whom that Revolution most threatened. A truth which I have long acknowledged was never better proved—namely, that the great human revolution which we set in motion more than sixty-five years ago, advances towards liberty only occasionally, but towards equality with an irresistible and uninterrupted progress.

But enough about Germany. We left Wildbad on the 20th of last month. Lamoricière, with all his family, had given us a rendezvous at Heidelberg. We spent two days together, and left him with great regret. Lamoricière was never more thoroughly friendly. He and his wife endure their present position with admirable serenity. At Brussels I missed my excellent friend Bédeau. To my great sorrow, he was absent. As we entered Valenciennes, books and newspapers—in Edition: current; Page: [283] short, everything that was in print—were taken from the travellers. I recognised my own country.

Kindest regards.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
Oct. 23, 1854
Clairoix
M. de Corcelle
de Corcelle, M.

TO THE SAME.

We have hired a little house two miles off, at Compiègne. It is in a dry and sunny situation. In the beginning of January, we shall return to Paris. We shall arrive there about the same time as you will, and we shall be very glad to see you. It is probable that society in general will be melancholy enough for people of our way of thinking—an additional reason for living a great deal with each other. I rejoice to find, as time goes on, that I am not one of those who naturally bow before success. The more a cause seems to be abandoned, the more passionately I become attached to it.

You are right when you say that a bird’s-eye view of affairs is often more favourable to the prediction of events than studying them in detail; but it is on condition that one is satisfied with very general truths, extending over a wide space of time. But as to knowing how men are likely to act to-morrow, how they will deal with coming events, all who are not in a position to know what is passing in their minds, must argue at random: even when you see clearly the interests of others, you cannot be sure of their taking the same view. General observation may show you how a nation is likely to act, because nations change little; but an individual or a group of individuals soon outgrows your Edition: current; Page: [284] experience, if you are not in a position to see continually what they are doing, and, as much as possible, what they are thinking. For these reasons, I divert my mind as much as I can from the occurrences of the present, to the contemplation of the past and the future, which, though farther off, are less obscure. Those who are as far removed as we are from the official world, resemble the aged, to whose view the horizon is clear, yet, if they have no spectacles, they cannot read the book before their eyes.

The way in which the most distinguished of our clergy consider the Eastern question seems to me to be mistaken, even with reference to the only subject which they care about. They bring opinions and sentiments formed in another sphere to bear upon politics. I scarcely ever have spoken with a French or German priest without finding that he judged institutions, events, and men according to their influence, however little and however distant, on the interests of the Church. The smallest consideration of this kind surpassed, in their minds, every other. I found them admirable citizens; but their city was the Eternal City, not Germany or France. I do not mean to say that it is impossible for them to be loyal, both to their religion and to their country, nor that in some minds, and at some periods, the one feeling may not intensify the other. What heroic passions, and what glorious deeds, have sprung from the union of these two principles in the hearts of men and of nations! But I say that we do not see such things now-a-days, and that nothing distresses me so much.

The French clergy under the ancien régime, with Edition: current; Page: [285] whom I am beginning to be well acquainted, and who are generally judged too severely, were very different. In the higher ranks of the profession there were undoubtedly some unworthy members, but as a class they were devoted to their duties, sincere in their faith, regular in their lives, and strongly attached to the Church of Rome; superior, I think, to any other class of men then existing, and formed of Catholic elements as vigorous and as sensitive as could be desired. But this did not in the least cut them off from the lay world or prevent their taking even an ardent interest in all that concerned it. When you read the administrative or political documents in which the clergy of that day took a part, either in a body or individually, even down to the instructions which they gave to their representatives, you see that those priests were deeply interested in all that could contribute to the worldly prosperity of their country, or to the liberty and dignity of its citizens; that they judged institutions by their intrinsic value and political acts in a political sense, and by their social bearings. Why is this no longer the case? I think that I could assign several reasons. But they would carry me too far, and my hand is tired with writing this long letter.

I therefore bid you adieu, but not without thanking you heartily for your bibliographical discovery with regard to my book on America. The pages written by our heroic Lieut. Bellot,* which your friendship disinterred Edition: current; Page: [286] for me, gave me, I confess, intense pleasure. I must, however, tear myself from the happiness of talking to you.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
Nov. 15, 1854
Compiègne
M. de Corcelle
de Corcelle, M.

TO THE SAME.

I have excellent accounts to give you of our establishment. We have found exactly what we wanted, which is rare enough. A little house to ourselves, dry, warm, exposed to the sun (when there is any, and that is not to-day), on the skirts of the beautiful forest of Compiègne, and near all the resources of a town where, that our felicity may be perfect, we know not a soul.

I was present at the reception of Monseigneur Dupanloup* in the Academy, and immediately after the meeting I returned hither. I was especially struck by the beginning and the end of his speech. His notice of his predecessor was admirable. In this lies the great trial of skill, and it demands qualities both of heart and head. Altogether it was a capital meeting; capital for the Prelate, who gave great satisfaction and was loudly applauded even by the Institute; capital as establishing harmony between literature and the Church; neither of which can stand without the support of the other.

I sometimes reproach myself with speaking to you so freely and so strongly of the things which seem to me objectionable in the conduct of some of our clergy. But you will forgive me, my dear friend, when you remember Edition: current; Page: [287] that I can open my heart on these things only to you. You are my safety valve. I do not choose to gratify the enemies of our religion by talking to them, and I know no Catholic who combines to the extent that you do the soul of a true Frenchman with the spirit of a free man. You must therefore resign yourself to my murmurs. Perhaps I shall make up my mind to many things around us when I have not such a near view of them.

I was so unlucky as to subscribe a few months ago to a religious journal because I heard that it was a mere echo of all the other papers. This was convenient to a man who likes to hear as little politics as possible, and to be able to devour samples of all the newspapers in a quarter of an hour. But I soon saw that my expectations were false. The extracts, though various, have all the same flavour.

The other day an article in praise of liberty appeared in this paper, but the editor took care to add in a note; “We are assuredly far from regretting Parliamentary institutions. We are well aware that they are too apt to increase the vanity natural to men.” The editor does not see that other institutions may increase our natural meanness.

To restore the balance of my mind I go on reading from time to time Bourdaloue; but I am afraid that it will not be set down among my good works, as I am too much occupied by the writer’s talent and too much delighted with his style. What a master in the art of writing! I cannot too much admire the skill with which he leads his hearers, without letting them know what he is about, through familiar images to the object Edition: current; Page: [288] which he himself has in view, and the perfection with which he makes these material images correspond exactly with the invisible truths which he wishes to impress. I noticed the other day, in the sermon on almsgiving, I think, one of these indirect comparisons. It is of God to the feudal Lord; I was much struck by it, because I am as learned in feudality as a feodist. On this subject, so far removed from his ordinary studies, Bourdaloue employs the right terms with such unaffected precision, and they suit his meaning so well, that not one man in those times can have failed to understand him.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
January 22, 1855
Compiègne
N. W. Senior
Senior, N. W.

TO N. W. SENIOR, ESQ.

I hear, as you do, with great satisfaction of the mutual good feeling of our armies in the Crimea. It far exceeds my expectations.

But I am not equally pleased with your management of the war. The English ought to know that what has passed and is passing there has sensibly diminished their moral force in Europe. It is an unpleasant truth, but I ought not to conceal it from you. I see proofs of it every day, and I have been struck by it peculiarly in a late visit to Paris, where I saw persons of every rank and of every shade of political opinion.

The heroic courage of your soldiers was everywhere and unreservedly praised, but I found also a general belief that the importance of England as a military power had been greatly exaggerated, that she is utterly devoid of military talent, which is shown as much in Edition: current; Page: [289] administration as in fighting, and that even in the most pressing circumstances she cannot raise a large army.

Since I was a child I never heard such language. You are believed to be absolutely dependent on us, and in the midst of our intimacy I see rising a friendly contempt for you which, if our Governments quarrel, will make a war with you much easier than has been since the fall of Napoleon.

I grieve at all this, not only as endangering the English alliance, which, as you well know, I cherish, but as injuring the cause of liberty.

I can pardon you for discrediting it by your adulation of our despotism, but I wish that you would not serve despotism more efficaciously by your own faults, and by the comparisons which they suggest.

It seems also difficult to say what may not be the results of your long intimacy with such a Government as ours, and of the contact of the two armies. I doubt whether they will be useful to your aristocracy.

Remember me to Lord Lansdowne and to the Lewises who added such pleasure to our German tour.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
February 24, 1855
Compiègne
Grote
Grote

TO MRS. GROTE.

I write to you again from Compiègne, my dear Mrs. Grote. We can scarcely tear ourselves from this place, solitary and even uncomfortable as it is in many respects. We have led a quiet yet well-employed life, which in spite of its monotony is not without its charm. It is possible that we may wait two or three weeks before we settle ourselves in Paris.

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I continue to take a painful interest in the fate of your brave army. I am interested in it for its own sake, and also, as I was saying the other day to Senior, for that of your institutions, to which such an inefficient and inexperienced administration is very damaging, to the great delight of the enemies of political liberty. If you do not succeed in remedying this evil promptly, (and this seems to me impossible), both England and her Government will be much impaired by this struggle, whatever may be your material gains by the war, and however admirable the courage of your soldiers.

I cannot help thinking that all this may influence much, and long, and in an unexpected manner, even the progress of your affairs at home. I think that you may be pushed rather more rapidly than heretofore down the slope (not a very rapid one luckily for you), which is gradually leading you away from aristocratic institutions, at least from what was formerly meant by those words. It will be very difficult for you to have such a near view of the immense advantages of centralization in case of war, or that you should be long in contact with an army in which every soldier aspires to be, and can become, an officer, without important consequences. Will not the result of all these events be a thorough revolution in your army? and will a revolution begun there end there?

You are perhaps the only nation in the world (except perhaps Russia, and she less than you) whose officers are all gentlemen. I own that an army commanded entirely by gentlemen is not always the best versed in the art of war. It often knows better how Edition: current; Page: [291] to fight than how to provide for its subsistence, or even to manœuvre before and after the battle. We felt this under our old monarchy. But an army officered by gentlemen has many merits, which the present circumstances make us forget. The chief of these is that such an army prevents internal revolutions, while other armies make them, or allow them to be made.

Reeve wrote to me the other day, that the aristocracy had never been so strong in England; for it had never behaved with more distinguished gallantry. Military services are not enough to preserve an aristocracy. If they were, ours would not now be fallen into dust. For who could lavish life more unreservedly than the nobles of France, in every age, and from the greatest down to the least? My grandfather and great-uncle died in battle, or of their wounds. Their father and grandfather did the same, and there is not a family in my neighbourhood that might not make the same boast; and yet there are no traces of their power. The last gun which defended the old manor-house of Tourlaville, half-sunken in the ground, serves only as a stake to fasten cattle to, and the house itself has been turned into a farm. The first time that Reeve comes to visit me, I shall take him thither, to show him the fate of an aristocracy which knows how to die, but not how to govern. Till now yours has been capable of both, and therefore it still lives, though the atmosphere of the age is by no means favourable to plants of that description.

I send you a long gossip, but it will at least prove to you the pleasure which I find in conversing with Edition: current; Page: [292] you. We are delighted to hear that there is a chance of our seeing you in the spring.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
February 15, 1855
Compiègne
N. W. Senior
Senior, N. W.

TO N. W. SENIOR, ESQ.

. . . . I confess that I saw with great grief the sudden change in the expressions of the majority of the English, a year ago, respecting our Government. It was then ill consolidated, and in want of the splendid alliance which you offered to it. It was unnecessary that you should praise it, in order to keep it your friend. By doing so you sacrificed honourable opinions and tastes, without a motive.

Now things are changed. After you have lost your only army, and our master has made an alliance with Austria, which suits his feelings much better than yours did, he does not depend on you; you, to a certain extent, depend on him.

Such being now the case, I can understand the English thinking it their duty to their country to say nothing that can offend the master of France. I can understand even their praising him; I reproach them only for having done so too soon, before it was necessary.

I agree with you that England ought to be satisfied with being the greatest maritime power, and ought not to aim at being also one of the greatest military powers.

But the feelings which I described to you as prevalent in France and in Germany, arose not from your want of an army of 500,000 men. They were excited by these two facts.

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First, by what was supposed (perhaps falsely) to be the bad military administration of your only army. Secondly, and much more, by your apparent inability to raise another army.

According to continental notions, a nation which cannot raise as many troops as its wants require, loses our respect. It ceases, according to our notions, to be great, or even to be patriotic. And I must confess that, considering how difficult it is to procure soldiers by voluntary enlistment, and how easily every nation can obtain them by other means, I do not see how you will be able to hold your high rank, unless your people will consent to something resembling a conscription.

Dangerous as it is to speak of a foreign country, I venture to say that England is mistaken if she thinks that she can continue separated from the rest of the world, and preserve all her peculiar institutions uninfluenced by those which prevail over the whole of the Continent.

In the period in which we live, and, still more, in the period which is approaching, no European nation can long remain absolutely dissimilar to all the others. I believe that a law existing over the whole Continent must in time influence the laws of Great Britain, notwithstanding the sea, and notwithstanding the habits and institutions, which, still more than the sea, have separated you from us, up to the present time.

My prophecies may not be accomplished in our time; but I should not be sorry to deposit this letter with a notary, to be opened, and their truth or falsehood proved, fifty years hence.

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Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
February 21, 1850
Compiègne
Grote
Grote

TO MRS. GROTE.

I received yesterday, my dear Mrs. Grote, a few lines from you in a letter of Senior’s. Both the text and the commentary were welcome, and I thank both writers. Just before, I had received another letter from you, with a number of the Spectator, in which I found the letter to which you allude.* It seemed to me that I had been translated by a masterly hand; so much so, that I am not sure whether I do not like myself better in my English than in my French clothes. As to the publication itself, I own I was afraid that it might make people fancy that I wanted to criticise the late military operations; which would be very improper on the part of a foreigner, especially of one who was ignorant of the details. I had no intention of finding fault with what your aristocracy has lately been doing. I only said that, in the present crisis, the aristocracy, if it wishes to hold its ground, must make immense efforts, and that it must not think its safety ensured by the courage displayed by some of its members on the field of battle. I hope that those who read this little extract will have thus understood it.

From what you say, I see that you too find this severe season trying. As long as this temperature continues, I cannot, of course, think of leaving this house and establishing myself elsewhere. We keep close to Edition: current; Page: [295] our fireside, without any intention of moving; though the cold has made our abode more uncomfortable than ever. We found that the only room which, from its aspect, is warm and light in this weather, is the one which I had made my study. We have gradually retired to it, as the besieged take refuge in the donjon when the external fortifications have given way. You will imagine that we are beginning to get tired of living in this manner. I console myself, however, by fancying that I am employing myself usefully. When I am getting on well, it even seems to me that I spend my time very agreeably; but our apartment turns into a miserable hole when I am not in the humour. You know that an author is like a gambler: if the luck is in his favour, play is the most delightful of occupations; fortune changes, and it seems to him the worst of all. I think I remember when I was young hearing the same things said of love, but I no longer allow myself to make such comparisons.

Adieu, dear Mrs. Grote. My wife sends a thousand kind regards.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
February 21, 1855
Compiègne
M. Gustave de Beaumont
de Beaumont, M. Gustave

TO M. GUSTAVE DE BEAUMONT.

I received a letter from you, dear friend, the day after I wrote to you; and my wife at the same time had the happiness to receive one from yours.

The return of winter has, as yet, done me no harm. Every day, for the last week, I have walked in the forest for more than an hour. The great trees, covered with snow, remind me of the woods in Tennessee, which Edition: current; Page: [296] we explored, in still severer weather, nearly twenty-five years ago. The most different feature in the picture was myself; for twenty-five years make a complete revolution in a man’s life. I made this melancholy reflection as I was plodding my way through the snow. But, after going over this long series of years in my memory, I consoled myself by thinking that if I had to live this quarter of a century over again, I should not, on the whole, act very differently. I should try to avoid many trifling errors, and many undoubted follies; but as to the bulk of my ideas, sentiments, and even actions, I should make no change. I also remarked how little alteration there was in my views of men in general during all these years. Much is said about the dreams of youth, and the awaking of mature age. I have not noticed this in myself. I was from the first struck by the vices and weaknesses of mankind; and as to the good qualities which I then attributed to them, I must say that I still find them much the same. This little retrospect put me into a better humour; and to make myself quite happy, I reflected that I had preserved the same friend with whom I shot parrots at Memphis, and that time had only drawn closer the ties of friendship and confidence which even then united us. This was the pleasantest thought of all. . . .

I will send to ——— the paper which he asks for. Like you, I shall make it very short. I shall fancy myself in a dream when I am forced to go over my parliamentary life. Is it really true that there ever have been parliamentary assemblies in France?—that the nation took a passionate interest in all that was Edition: current; Page: [297] spoken in them? Were not these men, these constitutions, and these forms of government shadows without substance? Did the passions, the hopes, the fears, the sympathies and antipathies, which once so strongly moved us, really exist in our own time, or are they mere recollections of what we have read in history? In truth, I am tempted to believe it; for what has really existed leaves some trace, and I see none of all we imagined that we saw and felt.

If the past be a dream, let us at least endeavour to seize hold of the present.

Good-bye, dear friend; I need not tell you of our affection for you both.

P.S.—Since I wrote this letter yesterday, a foot of snow has fallen. This will interrupt my American walks.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
March 2, 1855
Paris

EXTRACTS FROM MR. SENIOR’S JOURNAL.

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 Edition: current; Page: [298] 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 Edition: current; Page: [299] 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.”

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
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 Edition: current; Page: [300] 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.’*

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“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.”

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
July 20, 1855
Swetchine
Swetchine

TO MADAME SWETCHINE.

I fear, Madame, that I am guilty of indiscretion in writing to you without having first obtained your permission. I had no other means of hearing of you, for all our mutual friends have quitted Paris. Your kindness to me has made me bold and ought to plead my excuse. I beg of you to do more than pardon me. Let me hear from yourself the state of your health, in which your Edition: current; Page: [302] friends take such a tender interest, and which is of consequence even to those who, though they as yet cannot lay claim to that title, have had the opportunity of knowing you, and are capable of appreciating you. I think I may say that I am one of the latter class, and my anxiety is no empty form, but the expression of a real feeling. You, Madame, belong to the few who inspire both respect and confidence; two sentiments which are not always found together, though they harmonize so well. The first time I saw you, I felt both; and after spending only a few minutes in your society, I felt inclined to open my heart to you with the unreserve which is in general only the result of time and experience.

Though two months have passed since I quitted Paris, I reached this place only three weeks ago. It is an intense pleasure to me, after my long absence, to find myself here once more. Besides its real advantages, this little spot is for me full of recollections of the best years in my life, and the invisible portion of my being which is connected with all around me, lends to every object a charm which exists only for me. The trees, the fields, the sea, all seem to wear a different aspect here than elsewhere.

But, Madame, I find that I am talking of myself while you were to have been the subject of this letter. I return then to its real object by entreating you again to let me hear from you. . . .

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Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
July 25, 1855
N. W. Senior
Senior, N. W.

TO N. W. SENIOR, ESQ.

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, Edition: current; Page: [304] 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.

Edition: current; Page: [305]

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.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
August 4, 1855
M. de Corcelle
de Corcelle, M.

TO M. DE CORCELLE.

My dear friend, I have just been examining all my notes to search for the information which you ask on one of my ministerial acts.

When I was looking at these papers, I thought over the past. A strange effect is produced by thus contemplating the remains of so much that agitated us; by meeting at every step with anticipated evils which never took place, with hopes that were never realized, Edition: current; Page: [306] and worse than all, by the traces of violent excitement about things which are not mentioned, and which even memory cannot recall. Such a review ought to teach us to bear patiently with all the agitations of the world. But at what age and by what means do we ever learn to correct what is rooted in our nature?

Since my arrival my health has been good. I have begun to work again, but only during the last two days, so that I am not yet quite in training, to use an expression of Pascal’s. Still I find it a great relief, and I never had a stronger proof that but one real pleasure remains for me in this world, and that consists in thoroughly occupying my mind with some subject deserving attention; and in the exclusive pursuit of truth.

This is the place that I like best; I am among people whom I like to meet, in the intimate society which I enjoy, and yet I have been invaded by the vague restlessness of mind from which I formerly suffered so much. This was caused entirely by the circumstance that, being constantly engaged in a thousand pleasant ways, I had given up any serious study in particular.

I have talked enough of myself for to-day. Do not forget your promise to visit us this autumn. Will it be impossible? Remember me affectionately to your circle, and believe me, &c.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
September 11, 1855
Austin
Austin

TO MRS. AUSTIN.

Your letter, Madame, which I received yesterday, gave us great pleasure, by proving to us how much Edition: current; Page: [307] better your health must have become, as you are able to travel. Madame de Tocqueville and I are heartily glad of this improvement. I wish I could pay you a visit, but I do not know if it will be possible, for we are farther apart than you seem to think, although we are in the same province. Trouville is more than a hundred miles off, and there is no railway. . . .

I owed to you last summer, Madame, much enjoyment and instruction. I was on the Rhine when your book upon Germany* was lent to me. I read it with great interest, and I learnt from it many things which were new to me.

I have lately been studying Germany, and for this purpose I commenced an undertaking which was anything but reasonable at my age—I began to learn German. Though I have not learnt to speak it, I can understand it and read it. Thus I was a better judge of the truth of your descriptions, and the exactness of your views.

Good bye, Madame. Remember me particularly to Mr. Austin and to Mrs. Reeve, whom I should like very much to see again, and to thank for her kind hospitality twenty years ago, at Hampstead.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
September 16, 1855
M. de Circourt
de Circourt, M.

TO M. DE CIRCOURT.

I was much alarmed, dear M. de Circourt, by the beginning of your letter; and though the end pacified Edition: current; Page: [308] me as to the result of the accident, I am most anxious to know all that has happened since you wrote.* To what frightful peril was Madame de Circourt exposed! I cannot think of it without shuddering. How many women have perished miserably from similar causes! Presence of mind and courage have never been put to a better use. I was sure that she possessed them in a remarkable degree, and I am glad to see that I was right. Pray tell her, that we all, and especially Madame de Tocqueville, feel for her and admire her, and long to hear of her complete recovery. Congratulate her on having escaped so great a danger, and, above all, let us hear soon how she is.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
September 16, 1855
N. W. Senior
Senior, N. W.

TO N. W. SENIOR, ESQ.

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 Edition: current; Page: [309] 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 Edition: current; Page: [310] 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, Edition: current; Page: [311] 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 Edition: current; Page: [312] 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.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
October 15, 1855
Swetchine
Swetchine

TO MADAME SWETCHINE.

My correspondent’s last news of you was not bad. He said that you were rather better than you usually are; your friends must make up their minds as you do so bravely to this imperfect state, since God refuses you the perfect health of which you would make such admirable use. Madame de Tocqueville and I have constantly thought of you during the vicissitudes of what you so touchingly call a civil war. You may believe that we entered fully into the impressions which such a scene must produce on a mind like yours, so open to every tender feeling, and closed against every bad passion. Alas! there is no sign of the cessation of so much public and private misery. I fear too that to the scourge of war will soon be added that of famine. It will at any rate be very hard for the poor to get through the winter, and those who are well off ought to make considerable sacrifices for their poor neighbours. I own that I do not expect this benevolence to be general.

This series of bad years seems to have worn out Edition: current; Page: [313] charity instead of exciting it. One soon becomes familiar with misery which one does not feel, so that an evil, which the longer it lasts seems greater to the sufferer, seems from the very fact of its lasting, smaller to the spectator. And then the links which ought to unite all classes have been much weakened by our revolutions. . . .

Do you not wonder with me, Madame, when you see spring from a nation so devoid of public virtue, an army so full of it? So much selfishness here, so much self-devotion there, seem incompatible. I see a peasant start to join his regiment; he is in despair, often in tears. He is little touched by the thought that he is going to defend his country; he thinks only of his fields, of the petty business and interests which he is about to leave. He curses duty for tearing him away from them. A year afterwards his letters are brought to me by his family. In them he appears ready to bear anything required by military duty; he knows that a soldier should sacrifice every day, without hesitation, his comfort or his life for the good of the service; he found these maxims and these regulations established; he adopted them with his uniform; he will shake them both off together. Once more he will become the poor clown whom we used to know, and will carry with him into the civil world none of the sentiments which he exhibited in his little military one.

Till I reflected upon the present behaviour of our armies, I thought that there was much exaggeration in the accounts handed down to us of the public virtues of the ancients. I could not understand how the Edition: current; Page: [314] men of those days were capable of them. For, after all, man is the same in every age. The every-day conduct of our armies explains the mystery. Civil society was at that time constituted as military society is now. The men of those days, as individuals, were not better than we are, in private life they were probably worse. But in public life they were subjected to an organization, a discipline, a prevailing opinion; to fixed customs and traditions, which forced them to a conduct different from ours.

I am ashamed, Madame, to see how I have been carried away by the current of my ideas. Excuse this uncalled-for dissertation, on the ground that I write to you as you permit me to talk to you, giving utterance to every thought that comes into my head.

You show so much kind interest in the work which I am engaged in, that I wish I could tell you that my stay here had been very productive. But as yet, unfortunately, such is not the case. Yet I have every inducement to work. I am fond of this place, I lead a quiet life, I enjoy retirement without the sense of loneliness; the only thing wanting has been the energy, without which one can do nothing well, though one has every motive for doing well. When, after an interval of nearly two months, I tried to return to my work, all my interest in it was gone. I was struck by all its faults, and I was attacked by one of the most violent fits of despondency that I have had for a long time. I am very subject to this mental disease, and I have not even the consolation of believing what one often hears said, that fools never suffer from it. I have met Edition: current; Page: [315] in the course of my life with people who distrusted greatly their capacity, who were inclined to think that they did nothing well, and were perfectly justified in that opinion. The truth is that great self-confidence and great self-distrust proceed from the same source, an extreme desire to shine, which prevents men from judging themselves calmly and temperately. Vanity is gay in some men, and is sad in others, equally without reason. . . . .

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
October 16, 1855
M. de Corcelle
de Corcelle, M.

TO M. DE CORCELLE.

Like you, my dear friend, I have never had much taste for metaphysics, perhaps because I have never seriously studied them, and have always thought that mere good sense would carry one as far. But, nevertheless, I acknowledge that they have had extraordinary attractions for some of the most remarkable and even religious minds that the world has ever seen; in spite of Voltaire’s saying, that metaphysics are a mere romance about the mind.

The ages in which metaphysics have been most cultivated, have in general been those in which men have been most raised above themselves. Indeed, though I care little for the study, I have always been struck by the influence which it has exercised over the things which seem least connected with it, and even over society in general. I do not think that any statesman ought to be indifferent as to whether the prevailing metaphysical opinions be materialistic or not. Condillac, I have no doubt, drove many people into materialism who had never read his book; for abstract ideas relating to Edition: current; Page: [316] human nature penetrate at last, I know not how, into public morals.

You would prefer the truth to be reached without so much ceremony, and

Qu’Aronce de plein pied épousât Clélie.*

Your sally made me laugh, but did not change my opinion on essentials.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
November 8, 1855
Comte de Circourt
de Circourt, Comte

TO THE COMTE DE CIRCOURT.

In the midst of many petty vexations, I was agreeably interrupted, dear M. de Circourt, by your letter telling me of Madame de Circourt’s convalescence. We had been alarmed by the one before. Pray remember us very particularly to the dear invalid, and tell her that we are sincerely anxious for her speedy recovery. I venture to advise her to remain in the country till her strength is completely restored, and even then to resume her Parisian life with moderation. Her real friends will go to see her, and what do the others signify? What are called the duties of society are strange enough. They may be defined as the mutual obligation of civilized beings to tease each other. Who has not one hundred times gone to see a person who wearied you, and whom you wearied, for the purpose of obliging him to come to weary you and himself at your house? Is not this a picture of the world, with the exception of the chosen few whom one cannot meet too often?

Your letters always interest us extremely, and you Edition: current; Page: [317] cannot write too often or too much. What you told me about the bad relations between the allied armies in the Crimea was confirmed to me by a very intelligent young officer, who had just come back.

It seems that neither army can bear the other. Such a result was inevitable. France and England are like two men with incompatible tempers, who, not satisfied with living on good terms with each other, determine to sail round the world in the same vessel. They will be lucky if they return to harbour without a serious quarrel.

Tell me a little about yourself, dear M. de Circourt. Your health seems to me to be bad, and your mind ill at ease; the one leads to the other, as I know but too well. I find it more difficult to recover my spirits than to cure my body—but I often succeed; and I find, on the whole, that as I grow older they become more even. It is true that the world seems to me to fall more and more short of the greatness which once filled my imagination. We are not, however, responsible for its faults or its vices, and for people who have only a short time to spend at the play, the piece is interesting enough.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
M. de Corcelle
de Corcelle, M.

TO M. DE CORCELLE.

. . . . I was much grieved by the death of Paillet. He was a man of great talent, his public conduct was noble,—and then he sat so often by our side in old times! How much our little party has diminished! In the space of three years two members have died,* two are in exile, and the rest dispersed. Providence has sent Edition: current; Page: [318] us hard trials, and has dealt heavy blows upon a small body. I am glad at least to think that not one of us has retracted.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
December 23, 1855
M. de Corcelle
de Corcelle, M.

TO THE SAME.

With M. Molé has vanished one of the last models of the dignified politeness of former days. He was also one of the last representatives of the French taste for intellectual pleasures, a taste which is every day disappearing. Nothing strikes me more than the change which has taken place, and which is still going on. By a taste for intellectual pleasures, I mean the taste for fine literary compositions and good conversation, which never ceased to reign during three hundred years in every vicissitude and in every class. Neither revolutions, martial glory, public opinion, nor material prosperity affected it in the least. It animated the priest and the layman, the nobleman and the tradesman. Nothing contributed more to making us the brilliant nation which, in spite of its faults, its follies, and its crimes, captivated the imagination of Europe.

Now it would seem that to give oneself up to such pleasures is a dangerous, or at least, a frivolous employment. Well-behaved, serious people, think that they have something better to do. M. Molé belonged to the race who believed that a strong and lively taste for intellectual pleasures might be combined with everything else. He has left no school behind him.

I hope, dear friend, that you are finishing the year 1855 better than I am. My health is feeble, and my Edition: current; Page: [319] heart sad. But this does not prevent my entertaining the most affectionate good wishes for you and yours in the year 1856.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
January 7, 1856
Swetchine
Swetchine

TO MADAME SWETCHINE.

It is very long, Madame, since I have profited by your permission to write to you. I hoped to do much better—to return to Paris and to see you. But one duty after another kept me here, and will probably detain me for three weeks longer. I will not wait so long without thanking you for your interesting and touching letter. It is a full-length portrait of yourself. I wish that I could deserve its kindness, for the friendship of such as you are, imposes obligations. Not only ought one to be grateful, but to justify it. For this reason I wish that I could cure myself entirely of the tendency to despondency which you argue against in your letter. The disease is, unfortunately, almost as old as myself, and it is not easy to get rid of it entirely. I have, however, struggled much against it during the last few years, and I have certainly diminished its violence. Your letter has helped me, and done me real good. Do not, however, think that the attack I mentioned to you was entirely due to my morbid and habitual melancholy. It especially arose from my reflections on facts which are only too real. As I proceed in the work in which you are so kind as to interest yourself, I find myself more and more carried away by a stream of feelings and opinions which are exactly opposed to those Edition: current; Page: [320] of most of my contemporaries. I still love passionately things which they no longer care for.

I still consider liberty as the first of blessings; I still see that it is one of the most fertile sources of manly virtues and great actions. No tranquillity and no material comfort can in my mind make up for its loss. And yet I see that most of the men of my time, of the most honest among them, for I care little about the others, think only of accommodating themselves to the new system, and, what most of all disturbs and alarms me, turn a taste for slavery into a virtue. I could not think and feel as they do if I tried: it is even more repugnant to my nature than to my will. An unconquerable instinct keeps me consistent.

You can hardly imagine how painful, and often bitter, it is to me to live in this moral isolation; to feel myself shut out of the intellectual commonwealth of my age and country. Solitude in a desert would be less intolerable to me than this solitude among men. For I own my weakness, I have always dreaded loneliness; I cannot be happy, or even calm, unless I meet with the encouragement and sympathy of some of my fellow-creatures. To me, more than to any one else, may be applied the saying, which has such a deep meaning, “It is not good to be alone.” This condition of my mind which I have ventured to unfold to you, will explain the utter despondency which sometimes seizes me when I am writing; for in working for the public it is sad to remember how different from one’s own are its thoughts and feelings. I wish that I possessed the virtue of indifference to success, but I do not. Long experience Edition: current; Page: [321] has taught me that the success of a book depends more upon the previously conceived opinions of the reader than upon those expressed by the writer.

You must not, however, think that the object of my book is connected, either nearly or remotely, with the events or the men of the present day. But you are as well aware as I am that however little a book may seem to have to do with the circumstances of the time, it is pervaded with a spirit which is either sympathetic or antipathetic to that of the age. This is the soul of the book, the principle by which it attracts or repels.

I have said a great deal about myself, Madame, but you yourself were the snare that drew me into this fault, which is not habitual to me. I had much rather speak of you. . . .

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
June 18, 1856
M. de Corcelle
de Corcelle, M.

TO M. DE CORCELLE.

Forgive me, my excellent friend, for not having answered your letter earlier. And yet I was deeply touched by it. I should have said so before, but my grief is not of the sort that likes to display itself, even to my best friends.* Forgive me; you know how tenderly I am attached to you, and you cannot suppose that any consolations would be more gratefully received by me. But is there any consolation for so great a misfortune? My dear and excellent father has left a void which seems to increase every day. You saw how gentle and how kind he was. These qualities were Edition: current; Page: [322] striking even to strangers; to his sons his indulgence knew no bounds; his tenderness was that of a mother; his interest in all that concerned us was incessant, yet never intrusive. Instead of becoming weaker, his sensibilities grew keener with age; I never have seen a similar instance. His disposition had always been sweet, but in his latter years he became the most amiable of men. I may say that he and my dear Marie were the only two beings who bound me strongly to life, and I tremble when I think that only one of them is left. I used to observe in my father what I have never seen in any one else: religion presided over every action, and every minute of his life, and, without ever seeking to display itself, filled all his thoughts, influenced not only his belief, but modified and sanctified his whole character. His confessor said to me on the day before his death, “Your father sends for me for consolation, and I find in him a continual subject of edification.” Indeed, to me, the greatest proofs of religion have been the life and death of my poor father.

I long for solitude; it is as much required by my body as by my mind. The former is ill at ease. Adieu, my very dear friend. A thousand tender remembrances to you all.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
June 29, 1856
M. de Corcelle
de Corcelle, M.

TO THE SAME.

My dear and excellent friend, I have just reached Tocqueville, where I found your letter of the 26th. When I read it, I felt the first pleasurable emotion which I have experienced for the last three weeks. I Edition: current; Page: [323] was anxious that you should approve of my book and as you directed to me, very rightly, to this place instead of to Paris, where business detained me longer than I expected, I was in a painful state of uncertainty as to your opinion. Before I left Paris I received many tokens of approval, which, considering from whom they came, I greatly appreciated; but all the congratulations in the world would not have enabled me to bear philosophically any sharp criticism from you; imagine, therefore, the impression produced on me by your praise, expressed so nobly, with so much delicacy, and relating to the very points which I was most anxious that a mind like yours should approve. A thousand thanks.

You have done me great good, and I was much in want of it; for I arrived with my spirits more depressed than I can tell you. My poor father was looking forward to visiting this year his “dear Tocqueville,” as he called it. He wished, he said, to see once more the home of his childhood, where he was brought up under the care of the admirable mother whom Providence bestowed upon him. Only an hour before he died, he talked to me of his youthful recollections. With all these thoughts in my head, my house looked desolate, and it still seems to me a desert. I knew that I loved my father; but I did not conceive the charm which death has spread over his memory, over all the qualities that endeared him to us; that his kindness, his gentleness, his indulgence, and his unselfishness would seem to me even more loveable when I had lost him. Part of your letter affected me even to tears—the allusion Edition: current; Page: [324] to him in the midst of your praise of me. You are quite right. If I am worth anything, I owe it above all to my education, to those examples of uprightness, simplicity, and honour which I found around me on coming into the world, and as I advanced in life. I owe to my parents much more than existence. I thank you from my heart.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
July 19, 1856
Baron Bunsen
Bunsen, Baron

TO BARON BUNSEN.

My dear Sir,

I wrote a few lines to you from Paris, when I was in great distress. I had just lost my father. I have now returned to the quiet of the country, and I write to thank you properly for the book which you sent to me through our excellent friend.* I do indeed feel the value of the present. As Mrs. Grote told you, I followed with intense interest all the discussion to which you gave rise in the Augsburg Gazette. I read the analysis of your work, and understood its spirit and its tendency. This glimpse made me wish to see the book itself. You have gratified me in the most agreeable manner, as I possess it given to me by you. I am reading, but I have not yet finished it; for I am not a first-rate German scholar, and, besides, such subjects cannot be studied quickly. But, as I go on, I find all the interest that I expected in your pages. I find the liberal spirit which struck me, even in the analysis; a spirit rare in itself, and peculiarly delightful when found in a lively theological discussion. I understand still better the sensation produced by your book in Germany, a sensation which has not yet ceased.

Edition: current; Page: [325]

I do not know if you have received the volume which I have just published, “L’Ancien Régime et la Révolution.” More than three weeks ago I sent it to M. Frank, a German bookseller, who promised to forward it to you. I am most anxious that this book should obtain the approval of so great a judge of political and historical literature. I think that it contains much that is new, and that will interest you.

I admire, Sir, the indefatigable activity with which you turn your leisure to account. I own that I am somewhat ashamed to see how little I have done during nearly four years that I have been similarly occupied, when I consider that the number of your works has not injured their depth, nor their brilliancy. May you long preserve this extraordinary vigour and fertility of mind. This must be the ardent wish of all who are interested in the progress of mankind.

Again receive my best thanks, and believe me yours truly and respectfully, &c.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
July 22, 1856
M. Charles de Rémusat
de Rémusat, M. Charles

TO M. CHARLES DE RÉMUSAT.

Although, my dear friend, I did not immediately answer your letter of the 28th of last June, you must not suppose that I was indifferent to it. I never received one that gave me greater pleasure. The approbation of such a mind was a great point for me. I own that I hoped to obtain it; but your praise was so lively, so natural, and so friendly, that the man was as much touched as the author, and I shall never forget, not only Edition: current; Page: [326] what you wrote, but the feeling with which you wrote. Experience, however, taught me long ago to depend upon your friendship.

I have not yet read the introduction you mention,* though it has often been quoted to me as a thing which must be read by every one. Twice I held the book in my hand, and even opened it; but you know my weakness—my horror, when I am writing on any subject, of reading any general remarks upon it. It was because I expected to find so much similitude in our views, that I could not bear the idea of reading your book at that time. I think I told you that you were the man in the world who most alarmed me, and made me hurry on my work. I had a presentiment that you would travel over the same ground, and I saw that you were every day putting into circulation some of the ideas on which my work is founded. Your chapter upon Richelieu gave me a sleepless night. When we meet, I will make my wife tell you what I said to her. It will amuse you.

But when, dear Rémusat, shall we have the pleasure of again being together? I mean together so as to have opportunities for conversing without arranging beforehand the time and the subject. This can be the case only in the country, and we live at the opposite ends of the world. Will you never come into these parts? You would be received in a way which would prove to you our pleasure in seeing you. To return to your book: Edition: current; Page: [327] now that I have laid my egg, I should like to enjoy yours, but I have not got it here. I hope soon, however, to have it, for our friend Ampère has promised to bring it to me from Paris.

It would be an affectation on my part if I did not tell you that I am very anxious to see what you will say of me in the Révue des Deux Mondes. I am glad, however, that the periodical press has been allowed time to notice the work, and that all the papers have appreciated it from their own peculiar points of view with all their different opinions and passions, before you come at length to sum up the defects and merits of the book, and to pronounce a final sentence upon it. Now that the public voice has been heard, I long for yours.

My correspondents tell me that all Paris is talking about Spain. You are near that country; but I dare say that you are no better informed. Our state in France is as if we were in an exhausted receiver, where distance no longer affects sound. As for Spain, I am sure that she will never be a subject of congratulation to the real friends of liberty. She seems to have been created in order to disgust all who still cherish the ridiculous fancy for freedom.

Adieu. Remember me to Madame de Rémusat, and to your two sons, whom I envy you.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
July 22, 1856
Swetchine
Swetchine

TO MADAME SWETCHINE.

Allow me, Madame, to begin by thanking you for your last letter. The kind feeling which it expressed comforted and strengthened me. Your letters have Edition: current; Page: [328] always this effect. The great reason is, I think, that your temperament is easily excited, while your mind is regulated by fixed principles. To these causes you owe your charm and your influence. I wish that I could derive more benefit than I do from such a valuable friendship, and I lament my want of success. Since I last wrote I have, however, regained some of the calm which I had lost towards the end of my stay in Paris, and during the first part of my return hither; but as yet I can take a lively interest in nothing. No book, nor even employment, has any hold upon me; a state in which I am always restless. For tranquillity with me arises not from repose, but from an active intellectual effort towards a definite point.

. . . . I hope that this letter will find you in your retreat, whither I should so much like to follow you, were it only for a single day, in order to enjoy with you long conversations, uninterrupted, as in Paris, by visitors.

The life so devoted to others which you lead there, though it procures for you the great happiness of doing good, must in the long run be trying to your health, and I rejoice in the idea of your solitude. Enjoy it, Madame, at your ease, and think of others only to remember the strong affection which some, and the esteem which all, entertain for you.

I have been reading a book which has much interested me. Albert de Broglie’s “Church and Empire of Rome in the Fourth Century.” I think it very clever. Though sincerely religious, the author has a sufficiently liberal spirit to admit of his judging impartially the Edition: current; Page: [329] men whom God used as His instruments. The whole style and arrangement of the book seemed to me very good. The decay of the Roman Empire always inspired me with disgust, and the Prince de Broglie’s is the first work that has ever interested me on the subject. . . .

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
July 18, 1856
M. Victor Lanjuinais
Lanjuinais, M. Victor

TO M. VICTOR LANJUINAIS (FORMERLY MINISTER OF COMMERCE).

I ought to have thanked you before, my dear friend, for your last letter; it not only gratified, but delighted me. The impression which my book produced on you has made me quite happy. Nothing could have given me more pleasure. At the same time, and afterwards, I received letters of congratulation, many in very flattering terms. None of them gratified me more than yours. Not only your approbation of my book, but your manner of expressing it, charmed me. I should keep your letter, even if it were not addressed and did not allude to me, for the sole pleasure of reading from time to time such sentiments so admirably expressed. You are really eloquent without intending it in this letter, and it touched us deeply.

In the midst of our satisfaction, we were much grieved to find that we were not to expect you this year. We regret it most sincerely. It will be a very long time before we meet again. I do not intend to return to Paris before the first of February. After the painful excitement of last month, solitude and rest were absolutely necessary for me. I am less able than usual to enjoy them, for my mind is restless and unoccupied. I Edition: current; Page: [330] have finished the book which employed me from morning to night. I am not inclined nor able just at present to go on to the next part. This second part, too, looks to me much more difficult than what I have already done. The subject is so well known, and has been treated so often, that it is not easy to be both new and true. I can hope to discover no secret documents. I have a confused view of enormous difficulties, and yet I have already several ideas which seem to me valuable; and I have gone so far that I ought not to turn back. I am resolved to venture on this great undertaking; but first I must have rest.

I ought to travel, but I cannot at present. The tour which I should prefer would be that which you, my dear friend, propose to me.* It would have been very pleasant to thank you in person, instead of sending to you this letter; but business of all kinds prevents my leaving home this year. My presence is indispensable. . . . . I wish, at any rate, that you would write to me sometimes; for I want to be, not only in friendship, but in frequent communication with you.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
July 20, 1856
Albert de Broglie
de Broglie, Albert

TO PRINCE ALBERT DE BROGLIE.

I should have thanked you sooner, Sir, for the book which you have been so kind as to give me, if I had not wanted first to read it. I have been able to do so with great attention, in this complete retirement. You interested me greatly. I must, however, begin by telling Edition: current; Page: [331] you (and I shall thus diminish the value of my praise), that, before reading your book, I was more ignorant than I had any right to be of the subject. I have very little studied it, and I own that the period always somewhat revolted me. The miserable spectacle of the decay of the Roman Empire is so connected with the triumph of the Church, that I was disinclined for either. Much of what you say was, therefore, new to me; and you, perhaps, excited my curiosity more powerfully than you would have done that of better judges.

Your book was a source of continual interest to me. In the introduction (which in itself is a book), your description of the first development of Christianity, its diversities, and, at the same time, its unity; the peculiarities of the different Churches, and of their founders; the excitement which caused the schism; the relations of religion with philosophy, and what they borrowed from each other; all this interested me immensely, and set me thinking. I was glad to see that sincere religious faith, seeking neither to display nor to hide itself, need not impair either the sagacity or the liberality of the historian; and could allow him to discern second causes, acting often in a contradictory sense, though guided by the hand of God. I may say the same thing of the history which follows the introduction. Your attachment to general truths does not seem to me to conceal from you the weaknesses of the men who spread them and maintain them.

In this part of your book, there are many new and striking views. For instance: till I read it, I had never so clearly perceived the features which, in the Edition: current; Page: [332] Roman Empire, distinguished the East from the West, either politically or ecclesiastically: in the former, the complete assimilation to the Roman spirit, and in the latter, the grafting of Rome on a subsisting Greek civilization. This clears up considerably all that has subsequently taken place in the world.

To conclude (that I may not tire you with a longer analysis): you have impressed on my mind a portrait of Constantine, which must, I think, resemble the original; and you have enabled us to estimate the man who decided such great events, without being himself a really great man. Till now, I had only a confused idea of him. You have made it definite and clear.

I did not, however, find in your book as much explanation as I wished, of a problem, for which I searched most anxiously, and the absence of which in all books relating to Christianity, has always greatly disturbed me. How is it that the Christian religion, which has, in so many respects, improved individuals and advanced our race, has exercised, especially in the beginning, so little influence over the progress of society? Why is it, that in proportion as men become more humane, more just, more temperate, more chaste, they seem every day more and more indifferent to public virtue; so much so, that the great family of the nation seems more corrupt, more base, and more tottering, while every little individual family is better regulated?

You several times touch upon this subject, but you never go to the bottom of it. In my opinion, it deserves particular notice; for, after all, neither you nor I feel bound, morally, to render unto Cæsar the things which are Edition: current; Page: [333] Cæsar’s, without inquiring, who is Cæsar, and what are his claims on us? This contrast, which strikes us from the beginning of Christianity, between Christian virtues and what I call public virtue, has frequently reappeared. There is nothing which seems to me so difficult of explanation, when we consider that God, and after Him, His revelation, are the foundations, or rather the sources of all virtues, the practice of which is necessary in the different states of mankind. This great question ought to be solved, and your intelligence is capable of coping with it.

I will not finish this letter, already too long, without sincerely complimenting you on the form and style of your work. Perhaps I attach too much importance to these merits, for I confess that even good thoughts, ill expressed, repel me. Your book appears to me to be well arranged, and well written. Your style belongs to a better age, and yet is not imitated, or affectedly antique. Your words depend on your thoughts, while in modern writing, the thought seems often to be made to suit and to introduce the words.

Let me add, that I finished you with regret, that I trust that you are continuing your excellent work, and will soon give us further results.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
August 4, 1856
Swetchine
Swetchine

TO MADAME SWETCHINE.

I have nothing new to say of ourselves. The longer we remain in our solitude the nearer we seem to approach the attainment of calm. It is a blessing from God, when retirement is a solace. It is a remedy against the troubles and the evils of life, which is constantly Edition: current; Page: [334] accessible; while that sought for in crowds is not always found, and sometimes aggravates the disease. I feel our improvement by the increasing quickness with which time passes. You know that our happiest days are our shortest. That such should be the test of happiness, shows more than anything else the misery of life. Yet it is true. I have not recommenced any serious work, but I have many regular employments, which, without satisfying me, interest me, so that the day goes leaving slight, but agreeable traces.

The news about my book is always good. I candidly confess that this charms me, and that I do not possess the philosophical indifference to success which I ought to affect. To you, however, I ought, perhaps, to apologise, rather for being too little, than too much, pleased; for my real mental defect is the restlessness which causes me always to long for what is beyond my grasp, and makes what I have most coveted lose its charm as soon as I have caught hold of it. It is not, I know, my especial malady, but that of human nature; still, I believe that I suffer from it peculiarly. My life has been one of considerable anxiety, intermingled with, from time to time, great joys. But to my imagination these always seemed to be mere steps to something still better. I have no right to complain of fortune, but I do complain of myself. . . .

M. J. J. Ampère
Ampère, M. J. J.
August 6, 1856
M. de Rémusat
de Rémusat, M.

TO M. DE RÉMUSAT.

My dear friend,

I received only yesterday the number of the Revue des Deux Mondes of the first of this month. Your Edition: current; Page: [335] article,* which I eagerly expected, has exceeded my hopes, and I cannot thank you too much for it. I shall always remember that I have been so well praised, and praised by you. Really I cannot tell you how grateful I am, nor how much what I have just read increases my old and sincere affection. Not only have you said the most agreeable things of me, but you have said them in a way which will make everybody read them. I should have read your article with delight, even if it had not related to me. It contains all the grace, and the sagacity, and the breadth of your mind, so that those who differ from you as to the merits of the author, will read to the very end, and with great enjoyment, all that you say of him, or about him. Next to me, the man most pleased with the article must be M. Buloz. You have been as useful to him as to me. I will say no more about it, except to repeat, that I shall never forget the service which you have rendered to me, nor the pleasure which you have given me. The substance and the form pleased me equally.

Buloz, in the letter in which he announced to me your article, pressed me to write for the Review. Certainly this is not the time at which I ought to refuse; and yet I do not know how to comply. I never wrote an article in a Review, and I am frightened at the Edition: current; Page: [336] difficulty of having to compress into so small a frame a picture which shall be worth looking at. You, who do it so well, must suggest to me a subject. When we were political colleagues, every one said, “Let us talk on this to Rémusat. He has ideas about everything.” I follow this counsel, and beg you, if it does not give you too much trouble, to tell me how to satisfy Buloz. I am full of zeal, but my mind is barren. If your intelligence and experience do not help me, at least as to the subject, I do not know how I shall manage.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
August 10, 1856
Grote
Grote

TO MRS. GROTE.

My dear Mrs. Grote,

We have lately received three papers, the Spectator, the Press, and the Examiner, which have much pleased us. We infer, from your handwriting on the covers, that we owe them to you; an instance of the active and useful friendship of which we have had such large experience during so many years. Still I have something to ask. You have not given your verdict on my book, though you must be aware how anxious I am for it. You have long known what I think of your mind, in which feminine grace, and manly vigour and breadth are so well united. It is easy, therefore, for you to understand the weight which I attach on so important a subject, to your opinion, and you ought, in charity, to have given it to me. I do not wish you to tire yourself by details. Let me have your general impression, and let me have it quickly.

We have received from Lady Theresa a charming Edition: current; Page: [337] invitation to her country house. It is very tempting, but business of all sorts, connected with the death of my poor father, keeps us at home. Up to this time we have lived in the solitude which propriety and our own feelings required. It has not been unpleasant. We have returned to the little employments which we like—among them are our daily readings together, of English and German.

In this way we have just finished Mr. Grote’s last volume. I deferred writing till then. We have been deeply interested, and deeply grieved. Mr. Grote, while he removes Alexander from legend to history, effaces the brilliant colours with which the conqueror was gilded by imagination. After all, it is a service to humanity to strip its enemies of their ill-gained brilliancy, and to reduce them to what they generally have really been—great birds of prey. Perhaps I may venture to think Alexander more of a Greek than Mr. Grote does. I do not deny the barbarism which is under his Greek skin; still I think him a product of Greek civilization—a civilization which, both by its merits and by its defects, was likely to produce such a man. Till I read Mr. Grote, I never understood the march of Alexander across Asia, the facility or the extent of his conquests, the conduct of Darius, or the causes of his fall. Like all good books, this book has not only told me much, but made me think much.

Adieu, my dear Mrs. Grote. Remember me to the great historian, and tell him confidentially, that I earnestly wish to know his opinion on my book. Above all, believe in my friendship.

Edition: current; Page: [338]
Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
September 1, 1856
M. Duvergier de Hauranne
de Hauranne, M. Duvergier

TO M. DUVERGIER DE HAURANNE.

You wrote to me three weeks ago, my dear Duvergier, an interesting and instructive letter, for which I cannot thank you too much: I recognised your friendship and your activity, which always make what has been done a starting point for doing more.

The continuation of my book, in which you are already kind enough to interest yourself, does indeed make me anxious. The difficulties alarm me; they are of all kinds. The ancien régime was little known: as soon as one had dug through the surface of ordinary opinions, one came to what was new and true. But the Revolution, especially in its earlier period, has been deeply studied by the greatest thinkers of our times. To be interesting on such a subject and yet to be true, is difficult. Again, the ancien régime is dead; the feelings associated with it are weak. The Revolution is alive: you cannot touch it without wounding somebody, and all these somebodies, much as they hate one another, join to attack the writer. On this part of my subject, which, as you may well believe, I have studied more, and indeed before turning to any other, I have not yet formed complete or consistent notions. I could not, at this instant, prudently write on it, since my thoughts are not ripe, and the active and detailed study which I am eagerly pursuing, of what was done and said at the time, may modify, in different ways, my present general ideas.

I think that I had better follow the same plan that I Edition: current; Page: [339] adopted in the composition of my last work, and indeed formerly of the “Democratie.” It is disagreeable to talk so much about oneself, but I will explain it to you, in the hope of getting from you good advice.

When I have a subject to treat, it is almost impossible for me to read what has been already written on it: the contact of the ideas of other men disturbs and affects me painfully. I try, therefore, to avoid knowing the explanations which other writers have given of the facts which I have to relate, or the inferences which they have drawn from them. Which, I may say parenthetically, makes me in danger of reproducing, without knowing it, what has been already written. I make the utmost efforts to ascertain, from contemporary evidence, what really happened; and often spend great labour in discovering what was ready to my hand. When I have gathered in this toilsome harvest, I retire, as it were, into myself; I examine with extreme care, collate and connect the notions which I have acquired, and I make it a rule to give the result, without bestowing a thought on the inferences which others may draw from what I write.

Not that I am indifferent to the opinions of my readers, but because I know from experience, that if I were to write with a purpose, in order to support some preconceived system, I should write ill—that my only means of writing well is to state clearly my own personal impressions and opinions.

Forgive, my dear friend, this long egotism, which, after all, is only for you, and confidential.

My object was this. You know now my method of working: how am I to apply it to the immediate Edition: current; Page: [340] continuation of my last book? In what direction do you recommend me to search most for facts? In what quarter do you advise me to direct my efforts to discover for myself facts which have already been studied by others; to appropriate them, and to draw from them intellectual food, which shall be my own?

I know that no new facts in the French Revolution can be discovered. What I want is your counsel as to the best means of using what is known, as to the facts, the ideas, and the passions of the period between 1789 and the Directory. Up to this time, I have attended principally to the conduct of the Constituent Assembly, and to the discussions which that conduct occasioned, both in and out of the Assembly. These are, I think, the documents that are the most authentic, the fullest of matter, and the best subjects of my early study. But there is much besides. When I was preparing the “Ancien Régime,” the great difficulty arose from the want of sufficient and certain information: with respect to the first period of the Revolution, one is embarrassed by the immense mass of contemporary publications. To disregard any is dangerous—to read all is impossible.

I once employed myself on this early revolutionary period. But this study, to which I devoted myself many years ago, has left in my mind a confused multitude of notions, from which I cannot easily extract the clear and useful ideas of which I am now in search. The mass of what I already know, prevents my seeing clearly what I have now to learn. I should value much your advice as to the mode of prosecuting this last Edition: current; Page: [341] study. You are one of those who have gone deepest into this portion of our recent history: pray let me profit by some of your great experience. You know my object; I am not writing a history of the Revolution, I shall not follow in detail its incidents, but I wish to show how that great event advanced, what was its true character, what were the principal causes which led it in one direction rather than in another, which drove it on, which turned it aside, which stopped it. How is one to choose upon this heap of evidence a point from whence one can have general views?

If you can give me advice—your long friendship authorises me to expect it, and I shall receive it with sincere gratitude. Kind regards to Madame Duvergier.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
September 4, 1856
N. W. Senior
Senior, N. W.

TO N. W. SENIOR, ESQ.

I have read, my dear Senior, your letter with great pleasure. Your criticism delights me, for I rely on your judgment and on your sincerity. I am charmed that you have found in my book more than you had learned from our conversations, on my view of our history. We have known one another so long, we have conversed so much and so unreservedly that it is difficult for either of us to write anything that the other will think new. I was afraid that what may appear original to the public might seem trite to you.

The Reeves have been with us; we have passed together an agreeable fortnight. I had charged Reeve to bring you, whether you would or not. Did he make the attempt? I am sure that you would have enjoyed Edition: current; Page: [342] your visit, and we should have rejoiced to have under our roof two such old friends as you and Reeve.

It seems that you intend this winter to anchor in Rome. It increases my regret that I cannot be there. It is out of the question. My wife’s health and mine are so much improved that the journey is not necessary, and business of all kinds keeps us at home. If you push on to Naples, you will, perhaps, enjoy the absence of the poor king whom you and I found there five years ago. I applaud the virtuous indignation of the English against this little despot, and their sympathy with the unhappy wretches whom he detains arbitrarily to die slowly in his prisons. The interest which your great nation takes in the cause of humanity and liberty, even when that cause suffers in another country, delights me. What I regret is that your generous indignation is directed against so petty a tyrant.

I must say that America is a puer robustus. Yet I cannot desire, as many persons do, its dismemberment. Such an event would inflict a great wound on the whole human race: for it would introduce war into a great continent from whence it has been banished for more than a century.

The breaking up of the American union will be a solemn moment in the history of the world. I never met an American who did not feel this, and I believe that it will not be rashly or easily undertaken. There will, before actual rupture, be always a last interval, in which one or both parties will draw back. Has not this occurred twice?

Adieu, dear Senior; do not be long without letting Edition: current; Page: [343] us hear from you, and remember us affectionately to Mrs. Senior and to your daughter.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
September 10, 1856
Swetchine
Swetchine

TO MADAME SWETCHINE.

You wrote to me, Madame, three weeks ago, the kindest and most interesting of letters, and I have not answered it. I hope that you will find in your heart, which is so full of indulgence, some excuse for me. I have none. All that I can say is that I have always been the worst of correspondents; the most irregular and the most intermittent; and that my best friends, always complaining, have always pardoned me: believing that the defect is owing, not to forgetfulness or to indifference, but to irresistible laziness. I could imitate one of my countrymen, settled in America, who, when he had an important communication to make, would travel a hundred miles rather than write a letter. Very different was the feeling of one of my neighbours, who so much preferred his pen to his voice, that if he called on you, and got engaged in an argument, he remounted his horse and galloped back to his little manor house to write his answer. I am the opposite to the latter, but not very different from the former.

Your opinion as to my book charms me. It is impossible to enter more thoroughly into my thoughts, or to master more completely the whole work. Your letter shall be kept among the select criticisms. I must indeed, tell you, Madame, that your place in my mind is singular and apart. My feelings towards you are a mixture of respect and affection, so peculiar, that Edition: current; Page: [344] they can be accounted for only by a very rare combination of different merits.

I delight in your noble hatred of slavery in all its forms. I agree with you that a more equal distribution of property and of rights is the great object at which those who govern men should aim; but my definition of political equality, is not that which we so often hear in the present day—general subjection to one ruler—but general freedom.

I suspected, I own, that you would not thoroughly approve my picture of the clergy of the ancien régime, or assent to my wish to link a clergy to their country by worldly interests. I will not enter on so great a subject by letter. But when I obtain one of the hours, so precious and so rare, in which I can talk with you freely, I hope to explain to you my whole thoughts, and to search for the truth with the help of a mind as sincere as my own, and more enlightened on these subjects. Perhaps you will allow me now to confine myself to explaining the feelings with which I wrote.

It appears to me that morality is divisible into two portions, both equally important in the eyes of God, but which His ministers do not teach with equal energy. One respects private life—the duties of mankind as fathers, children, husbands, and wives. The other respects public life—the duties of every citizen to his country, and to the portion of the human race to which he especially belongs. Am I mistaken in thinking that our clergy care much about the first branch of morality, and little about the second? This seems to me to be proved by the way in which women think and feel. I find among Edition: current; Page: [345] them a thousand private virtues—fruits of the direct influence of religion. Religion makes them faithful wives, excellent mothers, just and indulgent mistresses, and kind to the poor. But of public duties they seem not to have a notion. That they do not perform any may be natural; but they do not even inculcate their performance. This side of education has escaped their notice.

It was not so under the ancien régime. Mixed with its vices were proud masculine virtues. I have often heard that my grandmother, a woman of great piety, after having urged her young son to exercise the virtues of private life, never failed to add,—“And then, my child, never forget that a man belongs, above all, to his country; that there is no sacrifice which he must not make to it; and that God requires him to be ready to devote, on every occasion, his time, his fortune, and his life, to the service of the State and of the King.”

But I see, Madame, that I am going too deeply into a subject on which I wish to talk to you. It is too large for a letter.

I cannot end without thanking you for your quotation from Bossuet. Nothing, even in Bossuet, is finer. This one sentence contains all that can raise man, yet retain him within his proper sphere. It exhibits human greatness and Divine greatness. It is proud, yet humble. Where did you find it? It was unknown to me.

Adieu! Madame. Let us hear of you. My wife sends to you her kindest remembrances, and I beg you to believe in my tender and respectful attachment.*

Edition: current; Page: [346]
Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
October 1, 1856
Grote
Grote

TO MRS. GROTE.

My dear Mrs. Grote,

I want some information from you, as the creator and mistress of “History Hut.”* It relates to moveable fences to keep in sheep. Reeve tells me that you have some which are good and cheap—qualities important to us, who like good things as much as if we were rich, and value cheapness because we are not rich. Reeve’s description would have enabled me to send to England for some, were it not for the trouble and expense of passing them through our Custom House. I had rather, therefore, have them made here. For that purpose I must have a model. Is it too much to beg you, in your next letter, to sketch for me one of these fences, and to add its dimensions? I know that your fingers are almost as clever as your head, and that you will do it all with three or four scratches. . . . What I want, are fences which will make a little moveable inclosure, in which a few sheep can be penned, and shifted from place to place on our lawn. Afterwards, we must have fixed fences, against cattle and horses. If you can also give us any advice on this matter, and explain it by a sketch, you will add to our Edition: current; Page: [347] gratitude, and you will help us to remedy the horrible disorder of our gardens. I smile when I read over these pages, and consider the subject of our correspondence. An academician writes to one of the cleverest women in England about horses, cattle, and sheep. One would not have expected this. Laugh at me if you like, but answer me.

My request will, at least, prove to you, my dear Mrs. Grote, that from author I have turned farmer. I should like to go back to the work of which you have seen the beginning; but when the fire in one’s mind has gone out it is difficult to light it again. I feel this now very painfully. I begin to tire of inactivity, and have not spirit to do anything. There is nothing that one understands less than oneself. What is it that kindles our spirit? What is it that cools it? What is it that extinguishes it? What is it that lights it again? Alas! we know no more than if we were asking about a stranger.

Cannot you teach me how to set to work again? This is more difficult, perhaps, than to plan a sheepfold, but it would be still more useful.

Adieu! dear Mrs. Grote. Remember me to Mr. Grote, whose historic fame seems to grow every day, and believe in our sincere friendship.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
October 13, 1856
M. Lanjuinais
Lanjuinais, M.

TO M. LANJUINAIS.

It is an age since I wrote to you, my dear friend, for I knew not your direction. Now I direct to you in Paris, depending on my letter being sent on to you, as Edition: current; Page: [348] your address must be known there. Another reason for my silence was, my absolute want of news. This cause continues; but I am tired of not hearing of you, and I write as if I really had something to say.

Your last letter, from Cauteret, told me nothing of your plans. How have you since then passed your time? I do not say, “What have you been working at?” for I suspect that, like Beaumont, you talk of working and do nothing—which is a great pity. But your friends cannot help that. And, in fact, since I have been here I have not done much better. I talk every morning of what I am going to do, and in the evening I find that I have done nothing, or nothings. If, indeed, like you, I were wise enough to enjoy the far nientè! but I am not; I am a melancholy idler, while you are an agreeable mixture of idleness and contentment. Abuse me as I abuse you, and let us shame one another into industry.

Or, instead of abusing me, tell me what you think of this monetary crisis? you, who have taken your degree in this science. What does it tell you, or what does your experience tell you, as to what is passing? Will the crisis become more violent? Will it bring on a commercial crisis? Enlighten a little my ignorance on a question, the solution of which affects every one.

Adieu! You see that I was right when I told you that I had nothing to say—at least, nothing new; for I am sure that there is nothing new in my warm and sincere friendship.

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Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
October 20, 1856
Swetchine
Swetchine

TO MADAME SWETCHINE.

I assure you, Madame, that I am not tempted to use the permission of not answering you. Even if my feelings towards you, a mixture of affection and esteem, allowed me to be silent, the mere desire of having another letter from you would force me to write. Your letters give me such pleasure, that no idleness can prevent my endeavouring to deserve them.

In your last letter, you write truly and well on the inevitable obscurity of our political duties in our troubled, unstable, and revolutionary times, and on the difficulty of laying down rules for the guidance of men’s consciences. You would be right, if the thing to be done were to advise or to discountenance certain political acts, or certain political opinions.

But that was not my meaning. I believe that in politics, as in all that relates to human actions, besides the special counsels which apply only to special cases, there are principles, which ought to be inculcated; feelings, which ought to be inspired; and a general direction, which ought to be given to opinions and to intentions. I do not ask the clergy to make those whom it educates, or influences, conscientiously Republicans or Royalists. But I wish it to tell them more frequently, that while Christians, they also belong to one of the great Human Societies which God has formed, apparently in order to show more clearly the ties by which individuals ought to be mutually attached—societies Edition: current; Page: [350] which are called nations, inhabiting a territory, which they call their country. I wish the clergy to instil into their very souls that every one belongs much more to this collective Being than he does to himself; that towards this Being no one ought to be indifferent, much less, by treating such indifference as a sort of languid virtue, to enervate many of our noblest instincts; that every one is responsible for the fortunes of this collective Being; that every one is bound to work out its prosperity, and to watch that it be not governed except by respectable, beneficent, and legitimate authorities.

I know that from the Gospel of the Sunday before last, it has been inferred that the political duty of a Christian is merely to obey the existing authority, whatever it be. Permit me to think that this is rather a comment than a text, and that it is not the definition of Christian public virtue. Without doubt, Christianity can exist under every government. This is an evidence of its truth. It never has been bound, and never will be bound, to any form of government, or to the grandeur of any single nation. It can reign in the worst governments, and extract, from the calamities which they inflict, the occasion for admirable virtues. But it does not follow that it ought to render us insensible, or even indifferent, to those calamities, or that it does not impose on every citizen the duty of boldly striving to abate them by all the means which his conscience indicates and approves.

This is what I wish to have taught to men, and still more to women.

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During my experience, now long, of public life, nothing has struck me more than the influence of women on this matter—an influence all the greater, because it is indirect. I do not hesitate to say that they give to every nation a moral temperament, which shows itself in its politics. I could illustrate this by many examples. A hundred times I have seen weak men show real public virtue, because they had by their sides women who supported them, not by advice as to particulars, but by fortifying their feelings of duty and by directing their ambition. More frequently, I must confess, I have observed the domestic influence gradually transforming a man, naturally generous, noble, and unselfish, into a cowardly, common-place, place-hunting self-seeker, thinking of public business only as the means of making himself comfortable;—and this simply by daily contact with a well-conducted woman, a faithful wife, an excellent mother, but from whose mind the grand notion of public duty was entirely absent.

Forgive, Madame, these wanderings. I yield to the pleasure of showing my inmost ideas to a person whose open and genial mind will understand even those which it does not accept.

Alas! it is a pleasure which I seldom taste, and perhaps shall taste less and less the older I grow. My contemporaries tread paths so different from mine, often so contrary, that our feelings and our opinions scarcely ever are the same. I ought not to complain of them; I do not complain: we live on good terms, but there is a gap between us. They have ceased to think Edition: current; Page: [352] of what is always pressing on my mind. They care nothing for what is most dear to me. I despise or am indifferent to their new idols, while my purposes in life are no longer comprehended by them. We do not oppose, but we do not understand, one another. I have relations, and neighbours, and friends, but my mind has not a family or a country.

I assure you, Madame, that this moral and intellectual insulation makes me feel more alone than I did in the American forests. I read the other day this sentence quoted by M. de Broglie from an ancient philosopher:—“Support patiently the approach of death; for those from whom it will separate you, do not think as you do.” I do not share the position, the creed, or the philosophy of the speaker, but I have often felt like him.

Adieu! Madame. While I retain your esteem and friendship I ought not to complain.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
November 2, 1856
N. W. Senior
Senior, N. W.

TO N. W. SENIOR, ESQ.

I am grateful to you, my dear Senior, for your kindness in telling me what I most wish to hear. The judgments of such men as those with whom you have been living, while they delight me, impose on me the duty of unrelaxed efforts.

Your fortnight at Lord Aberdeen’s amused me exceedingly, and not the least amusing part were the eccentricities of A. B.

There is one point in which the English seem to me to differ from ourselves, and, indeed, from all other nations, so widely, that they form almost a distinct Edition: current; Page: [353] species of men. There is often scarcely any connexion between what they say and what they do.

No people carry so far, especially when speaking in public, violence of language, outrageousness of theories, and extravagance in the inferences drawn from those theories. Thus your A. B. says, that the Irish have not shot half enough landlords. Yet no people act with more moderation. A quarter of what is said in England at a public meeting, or even round a dinner table, without anything being done or intended to be done, would in France announce violence, which would almost always be more furious than the language had been.

We Frenchmen are not so different from our antipodes as we are from a nation, partly our own progeny, which is separated from us by only a large ditch.

I wonder whether you have heard how our illustrious master is relieving the working-people from the constant rise of house-rent. When they are turned out of their lodgings, he re-establishes them by force; if they are distrained on for non-payment of rent, he will not allow the tribunals to treat the distress as legal. What think you, as a political economist, of this form of out-door relief?

What makes the thing amusing is, that the Government which uses this violent mode of lodging the working-classes, is the very same Government which, by its mad public works, by drawing to Paris suddenly a hundred thousand workmen, and by destroying suddenly ten thousand houses, has created the deficiency of habitations. It seems, however, that the systematic intimidation and oppression of the rich in favour of the Edition: current; Page: [354] poor, is every day becoming more and more one of the principles of our Government.

I read yesterday a circular from the Prefect of . . . . a public document, stuck up on the church doors and in the market-places, which, after urging the landed proprietors of the department to assess themselves for the relief of the poor, adds, that their insensibility becomes still more odious when it is remembered that for many years they have been growing rich by the rise of prices, which is spreading misery among the lower orders.

The real character of our Government, its frightful mixture of socialism and despotism, was never better shown.

I have said enough to prevent your getting my letter. If it should escape the rogue who manages our post-office, let me know as soon as you can.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
November 7, 1856
Henry Reeve
Reeve, Henry

TO HENRY REEVE, ESQ.

Many thanks, my dear Reeve, for your kind present of the two Edinburgh Reviews; they form a valuable volume. I have read, indeed studied, with much interest and instruction, your article on the Austrian Concordat. You have put into it, knowingly or not, an anti-Catholic spirit, which is a symptom of our times. I am inclined to think that you exaggerate the prevalence of Ultra-montanism, and its Papal origin.

What is passing in Rome is a symptom of a general and more important phenomenon, which you disregard—the re-awakening of a Catholic spirit over the whole world, the new and youthful life which has been breathed into this ancient body.

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Do you suppose that the destruction of Gallicism, and the adoption of Ultra-montanism by the majority of the clergy, and of their flocks, in France, are owing to the Pope? By no means. The French Catholics are led towards it spontaneously, by motives with which Rome has nothing to do. It is not the Pope who tries to assume spiritual despotism, but the faithful who excite him to do so.

This excitement, though not universal, is general throughout the Catholic world. I was surprised to find it as strong in Germany as in France. You ought to study this phenomenon: no one could do it better. The present attitude of Rome is rather an effect than a cause. This is my conviction.

Permit me another observation: those who talk of the liberty of the Church fall often into a confusion of thought, which you have not altogether escaped. The Church may be said to be enslaved when the Pope, instead of being, as the Council of Constance supposed him to be, a constitutional monarch, becomes a despot, unrestrained by any general or local rights among the faithful. This is the present tendency. You protest very properly against this tendency, and you say that it leads to the slavery of the Church. But you do not appear to see that there is another slavery, and in Catholic—perhaps, too, in Protestant countries—a still worse slavery, where the Church is so thoroughly in the hands of the State as to become an instrument of government; of this Russia is an example. No slavery can be more formidable nor more mischievous. Those who see with pleasure a Catholic sovereign shake off the Edition: current; Page: [356] yoke of Rome, should take care that the clergy, by becoming independent of the Pope, do not become the servants of the prince; that he does not force them to give to his passions, or to his despotism, a religious sanction. Do not forget that Bossuet, who established against Rome the four articles of the Gallican Church, wrote a book to prove the divine right of kings, and the duty of passive obedience.

I think that there is a middle course. I believe that both the Pope and the King may have each his own share of ecclesiastical power. But I say, that to limit the authority of the Pope is not liberty, unless the authority of the King be also limited; and that if I must choose between the two slaveries, I had rather subject the Church to its spiritual chief, and thus separate altogether the spiritual and temporal powers, than place both Church and State under the sceptre of a layman.

Adieu! my friend. A thousand regards, and particularly to Mrs. Reeve.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
December 4, 1856
Swetchine
Swetchine

TO MADAME SWETCHINE.

You are too kind, Madame, when you are grateful for my confidence; for gratitude is due only where there has been an effort. My confidence in you has always been instinctive and involuntary. It was not, I confess, your eminent intelligence, nor the halo of virtue surrounding you, that subjugated me; it was the real sensibility, the truthfulness of thought and of feeling, still more Edition: current; Page: [357] rare, which distinguish you. I am not one of those who think all men false and treacherous. Many people are sincere in important affairs and on great occasions, but scarcely any are so in the trifles of every day; scarcely any exhibit their true feelings, but merely those which they think useful or popular; scarcely any, in ordinary conversation, seek and express their real opinions, instead of searching for what will sound ingenious or clever. This is the kind of sincerity which is rare, particularly, I must say, among women and in drawing-rooms, where even kindness has its artifices. You had from the first day I saw you my full confidence, and you have retained it. . . .

Your last letter wandered in search of me for two days. It went first to my brother. I believe, because you gave me a title. I never assumed one. I did not do so thirty years’ ago, when I entered the world—I thought myself too young. I got accustomed to be known by my Christian name, and I have kept to it.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
December 21, 1856
M. Gustave de Beaumont
de Beaumont, M. Gustave

TO M. GUSTAVE DE BEAUMONT.

. . . . I have nothing interesting to tell you. I am doing nothing, absolutely nothing. Yet my time flies pleasantly and with prodigious rapidity. This is one of the wonders of a country life; it is made up of little duties, not one important or very agreeable, which yet fill the day, one knows not how, without ennui, yet with no great pleasures. I should like, however, to give Buloz* the article which he writes for. But on what Edition: current; Page: [358] subject? If one occurs to you, and you do not wish to take it up yourself, as is too probable, pray mention it to me.

Have you read Marmont’s Memoirs? You ought to do so. The writer, though a gentleman, is one of the heroic adventurers brought forward by the Revolution, without moral greatness, detesting liberty, and all that checks physical force, but intelligent and moderate. His narrative is easy and natural, it paints well the men of his time, and especially the most extraordinary one among them all. But it is strange that a man who has taken part in such great affairs, and lived in such company, should not have more to tell. Yet the book ought to be read, especially the narrative, leaving out three-quarters of the documentary evidence.

You should read too, as we have done, the third and fourth volumes of Macaulay. It is more amusing than any novel, and almost as superficial. When I say superficial, I mean that it wants the sagacity which penetrates through the passions of the time and of the country, down to the general character of an epoch, and to its place in human progress. As to mere facts, it is far from superficial—the author has studied them well.

You must read the book to see how the substantial honesty, good sense, moderation, and virtue of a nation, and the institutions which these qualities have created or preserved, can struggle against the vices of those who manage its affairs. Never was there a set of statesmen more dishonest than those whom Macaulay here describes; never was there a society more admirable than Edition: current; Page: [359] that which grew up under their hands. Among nations, as among individuals, there are constitutions proof, not only against disease, but even against physicians.

Mr. Grote sometimes delights us by sending English newspapers. There is a charming frankness in their nationality. In their eyes the enemies of England must be rogues, and her friends great men. It is their only standard.

Ampère, whom we keep as long as we can, works like a Benedictine. Every week he gives us a lecture from his “Roman Emperors.” The book will be most interesting, and will live. He unites two rare qualities—sound learning and a style unconstrained, clear, brilliant, and full of anecdote. All is animated by a love for liberty, which warms the writer and the reader. Ampère never wrote with more spirit.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
December 29, 1856
Swetchine
Swetchine

TO MADAME SWETCHINE.

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 Edition: current; Page: [360] 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.”

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Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
July 20, 1857
M. A. Rivet
Rivet, M. A.

TO M. A. RIVET.

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 Edition: current; Page: [362] 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. . . .

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
January 27, 1857
M. J. J. Ampère
Ampère, M. J. J.

TO M. J. J. AMPÈRE.

I hope, my dear friend, that your protecting Divinity accompanied you to Rome. It must be the God who watches over drunken men. Your absence of mind gives you an equal right to his protection. With his help, I trust that you are this instant quietly established in a good lodging, enjoying Rome and good health. You must have embarked last Thursday. We were thinking about you all that day. With us the weather was warm and calm; I hope that it was so on the Mediterranean. Before and after there were storms. You must have passed between them. Oh God of the drunken, and of the absent, great is thy power! You are safe now, but we have been anxious ever since you left Tocqueville. We were afraid of Paris. You might have been attacked there by influenza, and we should Edition: current; Page: [363] have felt in some degree responsible. But you had spring weather, such as we have not enjoyed before or since.

You were most kind in spending so much time in looking for books for me. Believe me, that, if I could have procured in any other way those which you have collected for me from different libraries, I should not have troubled you, knowing how busy you must have been in Paris. I am very grateful, and what consoles me is, the serious use which I am making of my materials. I feel as if I were about to set to work in earnest here, and still more eagerly, I trust, in Paris. After all, my workmen are a greater distraction than society will be in my present state of mind. I hope, on my arrival, to plunge into libraries and archives, if it were merely to divert my attention from the thoughts which pervade my mind: for in my inmost heart there is a deep sadness, a sorrow for which there is no remedy, as I do not even wish to shake it off. It is interwoven with my best feelings, and it is that which is produced by my clear perception of what is going on in my country. . . .

Tell us about your labours in Rome; you know how they interest us. So many of them were begun at Tocqueville, that we seem to have had something to do with them. We talk of your success as ours. How I wish that you may be induced to repeat the experiment of passing three months at Tocqueville. It was not, indeed, a fortunate one, and this makes me fear for the future. Tocqueville has never been, and never will be again, so uncomfortable a residence, and I think that I may venture to say that the next time we have the Edition: current; Page: [364] happiness to receive you, it shall not be in a marsh. The paths shall be dry, and I hope, sheltered. You are an element in all our plans. When we are laying out a walk, we say, “Ampère is sure to like this.” Judge us, therefore, I pray, not according to our past shortcomings, but to our future merits.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
January 31, 1857
Grote
Grote

TO MRS. GROTE.

My dearest Mrs. Grote,

I was surprised and delighted by your letter of the 18th, following so quickly that of the 3d. I cannot thank you too much for having remembered and talked of me so kindly at Harpton Court;* one result was, a letter from Lady Theresa, as charming as yours. My wife tells me that I am being spoilt. Perhaps so. It is very pleasant.

Is it possible that I have never acknowledged the illustrated plan of sheep-folds? I scarcely believe it: I am sure that my thanks will be found in some of my letters, though, perhaps, concealed from you in the darkness of my bad handwriting. Your reproaches are very amusing, and very well deserved. You infer from the improvement in my writing a falling-off in my affection. Allow me to say you are ungrateful. It was the last effort of friendship which alone could ever have made me write tolerably. Even such friendship does not enable me to suppress erasures and interlineations, and even occasional blots. I never could copy—besides hating it, I always found that I wrote the second time worse than the first.

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I resign myself, therefore, to the complaints of my friends. Somebody told me the other day that my writing was midway between hieroglyphics and cuniform. I console myself, however, with trying to believe that there is a man who writes still worse, our excellent friend, Senior.

You are right when you say that a foreigner cannot understand the peculiarities of the English character. It is the case with almost all countries. I do not know how national character is formed, but I do know, that when once formed, it draws such broad distinctions between nations, that to discover what is passing in the minds of foreigners, one must give up one’s own nationality, almost one’s identity. Who but the French ever understood France? It is not, however, clear to me that they understand themselves. Like you, we are an agglomeration of different races, but these dissimilar elements have been amalgamated into a new composite being, resembling no other.

What you say of the simple character of the English is true. Their perception is just, somewhat narrow, but clear: they see only what they look at; they do well only one thing at a time. This accounts to me for one of their remarkable peculiarities. In the eyes of an Englishman a cause is just, if it be the interest of England that it should succeed. A man or a government that is useful to England, has every kind of merit, and one that does England harm every possible fault. The criterion of what is honourable, or great, or just, is to be found in the degree of favour or of opposition to English interests. There is much of this everywhere; Edition: current; Page: [366] but there is so much of it in England that a foreigner is astonished. This accounts for the Machiavellism, often attributed to the policy of England, which in my opinion does not exist among you more, but rather less than elsewhere. The principal reason of this phenomenon is because you see only one thing at a time, and also in your laudable desire to connect the actions of your country with objects greater and higher than mere interest, even though it be the interest of a nation. You want to succeed. You need for that purpose the help of a man, or of a government. You think of nothing else—you pass over the crimes of the one and the faults of the other. You scarcely perceive them in your concentrated eagerness for success. In France we often do things useful to ourselves and unjust to others; but their convenience does not conceal their injustice. We employ rogues, but we admit that they are rogues. I am not sure that our conduct is more moral than yours; but it shows greater comprehensiveness, it shows that we can see two sides of a question.

As for the indifference of the English to the liberty of the continental nations, which seem to forget that they ever were or can be free, I understand it. We cannot ask foreigners to care for us more than we do for ourselves. I do not require you to destroy, against your own interests, bad governments which are tolerated by their own subjects; but I cannot allow you to call them good governments. I admit that these are not times in which England can play in the World her great and ancient part of a liberal power. But then let her give it up, at least for a time. She must not ally Edition: current; Page: [367] herself to despotism in one country, and in another, for instance in Italy, to liberalism. She must choose.

Kindest regards, first to Mr. Grote, then to Senior, and then to Reeve.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
February 3, 1857
M. Freslon
Freslon, M.

TO M. FRESLON.

It seems to me, my dear friend, that I have been terribly long without writing to you. Influenza, under which I suffered for a week, and a steady resumption of work, have deprived me of the pleasure of conversing with you. I am amused with the vanity of a man who thinks that he can discover the causes of a Revolution, and does not know what makes him act himself, at different times, in different ways. This is my case. I know not why I was almost out of humour with my subject; nor do I know why it again delights me. The first state was painful, the second is pleasant. I hope that it may last. I cannot work unless I am strongly excited. At this instant, I think that I have before my eyes all the mighty movement which has carried us from the ancien régime to our present state. I think that I see it begin, rush on, slacken, and stop. The Revolution, viewed as a whole, is as yet an indistinct, undefined object, but so vast, that it excites and enlarges the imagination. It must be in the background of every picture, to keep up one’s spirits in the tiresome working out of the details.

I wish that you, too, could shake off the depression which I think that I perceived in you. I admit that we Edition: current; Page: [368] have great reason to be sad. But we live in a time of such unexpected changes, we belong to a nation so excitable and so variable, that no one need despair while he himself is consistent. Live, and good times will come. You laugh at my philosophy, and with good reason; for no one is less philosophic than I who preach philosophy. Laugh, then, at the preacher, but believe in the sermon.

Adieu. Remember me to all our friends, particularly to Lanjuinais and Dufaure.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
January 11, 1857
Henry Reeve
Reeve, Henry

TO HENRY REEVE, ESQ.

Thank you, my dear friend, for your interesting letter of the 5th. I had already read with pleasure and instruction the excellent article on Macaulay. I suspected that the article on Philip the Second was not entirely English;* but I did not know before that it was due in part to M. Guizot. Even that on Convocation interested me. You see that, whether intelligent or not, I am at least your attentive reader.

I am surprised by our statistics as much as you are. Two things must be distinguished—the migration from the country to the towns, and the absence of increase in the whole population. The former is an old tale, and is not peculiar to France. It is the necessary result of the progress of trade and manufactures. It has, indeed, been greater during the last Edition: current; Page: [369] four or five years, in consequence partly of the increase of Paris, and of the works which are going on there; and partly of the spirit of speculation, the hope of sudden wealth, which a thousand causes, and especially the temptations offered by the Government to small capitals by the State loans, have excited. In many provinces this fever has reached even the country people, and a peasant who has caught it, becomes discontented with his position, and tries to make a rapid fortune in a town.

Whatever be the cause, it is certain that the country population has been falling off throughout the last twenty-five years. Twenty-five years ago Tocqueville contained more than 700 souls. It has not now more than 600. But in five years Cherbourg has gained 10,000 inhabitants. I have watched man by man the emigration from Tocqueville. The greater part are artizans, who, in search of higher wages and greater means of employment, go to Cherbourg, Caen, or Havre, and generally get at last to Paris. They are not our best people. The remainder, which is small, consists of peasants belonging to families in easy circumstances, who become little tradesmen: they hope to rise in the world. Many such cases have occurred in my neighbourhood. This migration is easily accounted for, and would not alarm me, unless, as I fear, it should largely increase.

But I own that I cannot account for the absence of increase in our population taken as a whole. I absolutely refuse to attribute it to increasing poverty. Nothing can be more striking than the contrary. I Edition: current; Page: [370] know nothing of the provinces of the centre, nor of the south, the ancient Languedoc. I believe that in these provinces, where several of their peculiar crops have of late almost utterly failed, there is great distress. But that is a local and temporary accident. In all the provinces that I am acquainted with, the peasant is better fed, better lodged, better clothed, better off, and more industrious than he was twenty-five years ago. I judge, as I usually do, from what I see around me. I affirm that throughout all my neighbourhood, every new house is better built, neater, and more wholesome than those which were built when I was young.

Thirty years ago the peasant was dressed in linen all the year round; now, the poorest family wears warm and substantial woollens. Then he eat black bread; his bread now would have appeared a luxury even to the rich of those days. Butcher’s meat was then almost unknown. Twenty-five years ago the little town of St. Pierre had only a single butcher: he killed a cow once a week, and had great difficulty in selling his meat. Now there are nine, and they sell more in a day than was then sold in a week. Nor is this peculiar. I have observed a similar change in Touraine, in Picardy, in all the Ile-de-France, and in Lorraine.

How then is it that a population undeniably prosperous, has scarcely increased in number during five years? Accidental causes, such as the war, the bad seasons, the dearness of provisions, are insufficient, and I see no general cause, except one, which I will explain to you.

That is the one general wish in France to limit Edition: current; Page: [371] narrowly the number of children. Without entering into details, I state the fact. And it is remarkable that the most prosperous families are those which have the fewest children, and the most miserable those which have the most. The instant a family becomes rich, or even desires to do so, the number of children becomes small. The parents wish every one of their children to have the wealth and the position which they themselves have acquired. For this purpose there ought not to be more than two, or at most three. I will not say that this is the principal cause which keeps down the population of France, but it is an important one.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
February 14, 1857
Swetchine
Swetchine

TO MADAME SWETCHINE.

* * * * * *

Since I wrote to you, I have seriously resumed my work, but it has been insufficient to restore the tone of my mind. I am still unhinged; but this is nothing new. I have always been subject to a vague restlessness, and a longing for I know not what. Though this malady has become chronic, I wonder that I suffer from it so much under circumstances in which I ought to enjoy peace. Assuredly I cannot complain, and I do not wish to complain, of the lot which Providence has assigned to me. Still, the most essential of the conditions of happiness fails me, the power of quietly enjoying the present. Yet I have by my side a person whose society ought long ago to have cured me of this great, though absurd misery. And, in fact, this society has been Edition: current; Page: [372] most salutary to me. For the last twenty years it has kept my mind from giving way, but has not rendered it perfectly and habitually steady. My wife, whom the world little knows, thinks and feels strongly. Misfortune affects her sharply and violently, but she can thoroughly enjoy happiness. She does not waste herself in vain agitation. She floats calmly and quietly down the current of tranquil days and favourable circumstances. The serenity of our home sometimes extends to me, but I soon lose it, and relapse into the idle useless excitement in which my mind keeps turning like a wheel out of gear

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
March 8, 1857
N. W. Senior
Senior, N. W.

TO N. W. SENIOR, ESQ.

I shall write to you, my dear Senior, from hence. We cannot tear ourselves away from the charm of our retreat, or from a thousand little employments.

The papers tell us that your ministry has been beaten on the Chinese war. It seems to me to have been an ill-chosen battle-field. The war was, perhaps, somewhat wantonly begun, and very roughly managed; but the fault lay with distant and subordinate agents. Now that it has begun, no cabinet can avoid carrying it on vigorously. The existing ministry will do as well for this as any other. As there is no line of policy to be changed, the upsetting it is merely to put in the people who are now out.

If the ministry fall, the man least to be pitied will be our friend Lewis. He will go out after having obtained a brilliant triumph on his own ground, and he will enjoy the good fortune, rare to public men, of quitting Edition: current; Page: [373] power, greater than he was when he took it, and with the enviable reputation of owing his greatness, not merely to his talents, but also to the respect and the confidence which he has universally inspired.

All this delights me; for I feel towards him and towards all his family a true friendship.

To return to China.

It seems to me that the relations between that country and Europe are changed, and dangerously changed.

Till now Europe has had to deal only with a Chinese government—the most wretched of governments. Now you will find opposed to you a people, and a people, however miserable and corrupt, is invincible on its own territory, if it be supported and impelled by common and violent passions.

Yet I should be sorry to die before I have seen China open to the eyes as well as to the arms of Europe.

Do you believe in a dissolution? If so, when?

A thousand regards to Mrs. Grote, to the great historian, to the Reeves, and generally to all who are kind enough to remember my existence.

I delight in the prospect of meeting you in Paris; yet I fear that you will find it dull. All that I hear from the great town shows me that never, at least during the last two hundred years, has intellectual life been less active.

If there be talent in the official circles, it is not the talent of conversation, and among those who formerly possessed that talent, there is so much torpidity, such want of interest on public affairs, such Edition: current; Page: [374] ignorance as to what is passing, and so little wish to hear about it, that no one, I am told, knows on what subject to talk, nor how to make that subject amusing. Your conversation, perhaps, may put souls into these dead bodies. Come and try to work this miracle.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
May 12, 1857
M. J. J. Ampère
Ampère, M. J. J.

TO M. J. J. AMPÈRE.

Your letter of the 29th April, my dear friend, reached me four or five days ago. I am glad that you are at work; and I long to know what you are reserving for Tocqueville. Pray do not work too much at night. I am told that you take lonely walks and amuse yourself all the day and all the evening, and work from midnight till five in the morning. I implore you to avoid such excesses. Believe me, that some day you will find yourself suddenly exhausted, and be forced to recruit yourself by a long and miserable idleness. For the love of God, and of your friends, lead a life that can last. You have many friends besides those who are intimate. Your name is constantly mentioned to me by people who feel a real interest in you and in your works. They talk to me about you, in order to make me converse, as a skilful converser breaks the ice by talking to a man about himself. Two of your friends in particular, D’Oudon and Mohl, delighted me by their acute and true criticisms, the general result being, that the excellence, both of your style and of your matter, has greatly increased, and goes on increasing; which is also my opinion. . . .

Notwithstanding all that I see, and all that you say, Edition: current; Page: [375] I do not fear that we shall perish, like your Roman Empire. The resemblance is superficial; the differences are deep: the chief one is that we are only asleep, your Romans were dead.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
February 22, 1857
Comtesse de Circourt
de Circourt, Comtesse

TO THE COMTESSE DE CIRCOURT.

I have just received, Madame, an interesting pamphlet, by M. Beulé,* on the cover of which I recognised, with gratitude, your writing. Mixed with my gratitude was a deep-rooted remorse for having been silent ever since your last letter. My excuse is in the kindness of M. de Circourt, who tells us all your news, which has made me less anxious to ask you for them. I infer, from what he says, that you are slowly but surely approaching complete cure. I trust that the fine weather will restore you entirely to yourself, and to your friends. As one of them, I shall take no small part in the general joy.

M. Beulé’s speech is a distinguished work. It is marked by all his especial merits—acuteness of thought and elegance of expression. Unhappily he finds it easier to tell us what we ought not to do, than what we ought to do.

I see that architecture resembles politics. I agree with him that Gothic is not a French style; but I am not sure that, at least in churches, it is not a Catholic one. At least, I am sure that its dim sanctuaries, its spires springing up to heaven, its tall and slender forms, suit a religion full of mystery and of asceticism, which Edition: current; Page: [376] seems to employ what is material only to raise us to what is spiritual. It has been well said, that while our old cathedrals put us in mind of heaven, our rich modern palace-like churches bring us back to the enjoyments of this world. I have felt it a thousand times. The “Imitation of Jesus Christ” and Gothic architecture seem to me to belong to the same inspiration. I do not say that we ought to return to a style unsuited to modern ideas. We live in a century, not of monasteries, but of railways and Exchanges. The arts ought to belong to their age. But what is the architecture suited to this age? M. Beulé ought, I think, to have told us; but he does not.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
May 6, 1857
Paris
Lady Theresa Lewis
Lewis, Lady Theresa

TO LADY THERESA LEWIS.

I have been absent from Paris, Madame, for some days, and I have turned my leisure to profit by reading through attentively the book which you sent to me,* and I have great pleasure in describing the impression which it has left on me.

The historical period to which you have devoted yourself has always, as I think you know, especially interested me. I have read much on it; but I can sincerely say, that no history ever painted it to me so vividly as your biographies. They make me feel that I live in a real world, in the midst of the details which form the peculiar physiognomy of an epoch. I might venture, perhaps, to accuse you of having almost superstitiously Edition: current; Page: [377] sought for truth in the minutest particulars, if such a defect were not incidental to one of the rarest of merits. I had rather praise the admirable impartiality, which makes you anxious rather to find and to exhibit the truth, than to adorn it. You resemble in this rather one of our old celebrated Benedictines than a charming woman of the world. But what our Benedictines could not do, was to estimate with your wonderful good sense, tact, and impartial justice, the facts so patiently collected and described.

I never saw better, never indeed so well, the causes of the great Civil War of 1640, the spirit of those who took part in it, the circumstances which enabled it to begin, to go on, and to last for so long, and the forms, thoroughly English and aristocratic, in which human passions then exhibited themselves. Your biographies show the truth of your remark, that no two things can be more unlike than your Revolution of 1640 and ours of 1789. No two things, in fact, can be more unlike than the state of your society and of ours at those two periods. These differences, added to those between the character and the education of the two nations, are such that the two events do not admit of even comparison.

When your revolution broke out, you still preserved, in spite of the progress of knowledge, all the powerful social organization of the middle ages. The most enlightened classes were always masters of themselves, and decided for themselves the events. They were divided; they were opposed to one another, and they fought; but never, for a single day, did they abdicate. Edition: current; Page: [378] The consequences were, less boldness of intention, less violence of action, and a regularity, a mildness, even a courtesy, admirably described by you, which showed itself even in the employment of physical force. If what then passed in England is to be compared, not as to the substance, but as to the details, with any event in France, it must be with the Fronde. The passions which excited the Fronde were as wretched, and its results were as ridiculous, as the characters of the men of your Great Rebellion were grand and its results important. But, as respects the conduct towards each other of the opponents, even in the hot blood of battle, their mutual respect, kindness, and generosity, the two civil wars were alike; and your 1640 resembles much more our 1648 than our 1793.

Nothing in your work struck me more than your power of throwing yourself into the current of the thoughts and feelings of those days, so as to show what were the real motives of men so different from ourselves. One sentiment especially, dead in the hearts of our generation, lives in your pages, the idolatry of royalty which made obedience noble, and the greatest sacrifices, not merely to a principle, but to the person of the sovereign, easy. Throughout the world this sentiment is going; in France, it is gone. Even its traces have disappeared. You give to it its real power and importance. I recognised it with a pleasing remembrance, for it is associated with my earliest infancy. At this day, I remember, as if it were still before me, an evening in my father’s château, when some family rejoicing had brought together a large number of our near relations. Edition: current; Page: [379] The servants were gone, and we sat round the fire. My mother, whose voice was sweet and touching, began to sing a well-known royalist song, of which the sorrows of Louis XVI. and his death were the subject. When she ended, we were all in tears; not for our own misfortunes, not even for the loss of so many of our own blood, who had perished on the field of civil war and on the scaffold, but for the fate of a single man, who had died fifteen years before, and whom few of us who wept for him had ever seen. But this man had been our King.

Forgive, Madame, my bringing you back to times which will never return; and forgive this ill-connected letter. It proves, at least, the uninterrupted interest with which I have read your book. I owe to it emotions and reflections; two obligations, for which I am most grateful. I wish that I could be sure of being able soon to thank you in person. I hope, but not confidently, to be able to do so. Kind remembrances to Sir G. C. Lewis, and to your children.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
May 7, 1857
Paris

EXTRACTS FROM MR. SENIOR’S JOURNAL.

Tocqueville and I dined with M. and Madame de Bourke, and met there Ary Scheffer.

We talked of De la Roche’s pictures, and Scheffer agreed with me in preferring the smaller ones. He thought that De la Roche improved up to the time of his death, and preferred his “Moses” and “Drowned Edition: current; Page: [380] Martyr,” painted in 1853 and 1855, to the earlier large ones, and his “Girondins,” finished in 1856, to the earlier small ones.

We passed on to the increased and increasing population of Paris.

“The population of Paris,” I said, “is only half that of London, while that of the British Islands is not much more than three-fourths of that of France. If you were to double the population of Paris, therefore, it would still be proportionably less than that of London.”

“That is true,” said Tocqueville; “but yet there are many circumstances connected with the Parisian population, each of which renders it more dangerous than the London one. In the first place, there is the absence of any right to relief: the English workman knows that neither he nor his family can starve. The Frenchman becomes anxious as soon as his employment is irregular, and desperate when it fails. The English workmen are unacquainted with arms, and have no leaders with military experience. The bulk of the Frenchmen have served, many of them are veterans in civil war, and they have commanders skilled in street fighting. The English workmen have been gradually attracted to London by a real and permanent demand for their labour. They have wives and children. At least 100,000 men have been added to the working population of Paris since the coup d’état. They are young men, in the vigour of their strength and passions, unrestrained by wives or by families. They have been drawn hither suddenly and artificially, by the demolition and reconstruction of half Edition: current; Page: [381] the town, by the enormous local expenditure of the Government, and by the fifty millions spent in keeping the price of bread in Paris unnaturally low. The 40,000 men collected in Paris, by the construction of the fortifications, are supposed to have mainly contributed to the Revolution of 1848. What is to be expected from this addition of 100,000? Then, the repressive force is differently constituted, and differently animated.

“In England you have an army which has chosen arms as a profession, which never thinks of any other employment, and, indeed, is fit for no other, and never expects any provision except its pay and its pension. The French soldier, ever since 1789, is a citizen. He serves his six years because the law and the colonel force him to do so; but he counts the days until he can return to his province, his cottage, and his field. He sympathises with the passions of the people. In the terrible days of June, the army withstood the cries and the blessings, the imprecations and the seductions of the mob, only because they had the National Guard by their side. Their presence was a guarantee that the cause was just. The National Guard never fought before as they did in those days; yet, at the Château d’Eau, the miraculous heroism and the miraculous good-luck of Lamoricière were necessary to keep them together. If he had not exposed himself as no man ever did, and escaped as no man ever did, they would have broken.”

“I was there,” said Scheffer, “when his fourth horse was killed under him. As his horse was sinking, he drew his feet out of the stirrups, and came to the ground without falling, but his cigar dropped from his Edition: current; Page: [382] mouth. He picked it up, and went on with the order which he was giving to an aide-de-camp.”

“I saw that,” said Tocqueville. “He had placed himself immediately behind a gun, in front of the Château d’Eau, which fired down the Boulevard du Temple. A murderous fire from the windows in a corner of the Rue du Temple killed all the artillerymen. The instant that Lamoricière placed himself behind it, I thought that I saw what would happen. I implored him to get behind some shelter, or at least not to stand as a mark. ‘Recollect,’ I said, ‘that if you go on in this way, you must be killed before the day is over, and where shall we all be?’

“ ‘I see the danger of what I am doing,’ he answered; ‘and I dislike it as much as you can do, but it is necessary. The National Guards are shaking; if they break, the Line follows. I must set an example that everybody can see and can understand. This is not a time for taking precautions. If I were to shelter myself, they would run.’ ”

Tocqueville and I walked home together.

“Scheffer,” he said, “did not tell all that happened at the Château d’Eau. Men seldom do when they fight over their battles.

“The insurgents, by burrowing through walls, had got into a house in the rear of our position. They manned the windows, and suddenly fired down on us from a point whence no danger had been feared. This caused a panic among the National Guards, a force, of course, peculiarly subject to panics. They turned and ran back two hundred and fifty yards along the Boulevard Edition: current; Page: [383] St. Martin, carrying away with them the Line, and Lamoricière himself. He endeavoured to stop them by outcries, and by gesticulations, and, indeed, by force. He gave to one man, who was trying to run by him, a blow with his fist, so well meant and well directed, that it broke his collar-bone. At length he stopped them, re-formed them, and said, ‘Now you shall march, I at your head, with the drummer beating the charge, as if you were on parade, up to that house.’ They did so. After a few discharges, which miraculously missed Lamoricière, the men in the house deserted it.”

“What were you doing at the Château d’Eau?” I asked.

“We were marching,” he said, “with infantry and artillery on the Boulevard du Temple, across which there was a succession of barricades, which it was necessary to take one by one.

“As we advanced in the middle, our sappers and miners got into the houses, broke through the party-walls, and killed the men at the windows.

“Those three days,” he continued, “impress strongly on my mind the dangers of our present state.

“It is of no use to take up pavements, and straighten streets, and pierce Paris by long military roads, and loophole the barracks, if the executive cannot depend on the army. Ditches and bastions are of no use if the garrison will not man them.

“The new law of recruitment, however, may produce a great change. Instead of 80,000 conscripts, 120,000 are to be taken each year. This is about all that are fit for service. If the change ended there, our army Edition: current; Page: [384] would be still more a militia than it is now. It would be the Prussian Landwehr. But those entitled to their discharge are to be enticed by higher pay, promotion, bounties, and retiring pensions, in short by all means of seduction, to re-enter for long periods, for ten or fifteen, or perhaps twenty years. It is hoped that thus a permanent regular army will be formed, with an esprit de corps of its own—unsympathizing with the people, and ready to keep it down—and such will, I believe, be the result. But it will take nine or ten years to produce such an army, and the dangers that I fear are immediate.”

“What are the motives,” I asked, “for the changes as to the conscription—the increase of numbers, and the diminution of the time of service?”

“They are parts,” he answered, “of the system. The French peasant, and indeed the ouvrier, dislikes the service; the proportion of conscripts who will re-enlist is small; therefore the whole number must be large. The country must be bribed to submit to this, by the shortening of the term. The conscript army will be sacrificed to what is to be the regular army. It will be young and ill-trained.”

“But your new regular army,” I said, “will be more formidable to the enemy than your present force.”

“I am not sure of that,” he answered. “The merit of the French army was the impetuosity of its attack—the Furia Francese, as the Italians called it. Young troops have more of this quality than veterans. The Maison du Roi, whose charge at Steenkirk Macaulay has so well described, consisted of boys of 18.”

Edition: current; Page: [385]

“I am thinking,” I said, “of re-editing my old articles. Among them is one written in 1841, on the national character of France, England, and America, as displayed towards foreign nations. I have not much to change in what I have said of England or of America.

“England has become, perhaps, a little more prudent; America a little less so. But France seems to me to be altered. I described her as a soldier, with all the faults of that unsocial character. As ambitious, rapacious, eager for nothing but military glory and territorial aggrandizement. She seems now to have become moderate and pacific, and to be devoted rather to the arts of peace than to those of war.”

“France is changed,” answered Tocqueville, “and when compared with the France of Louis XIV. or of Napoleon, was already changed when you wrote, though the war cry raised for political purposes in 1840 deceived you.

“At the same time I will not deny that military glory would, more than any other merit, even now strengthen a government, and that military humiliation would inevitably destroy one. Nor must you attach too much importance to the unpopularity of the last war. Only a few even of the higher classes understood its motives.

“ ‘Que diable veut cette guerre?’ said my country neighbours to me. ‘Si ç’était contre les Anglais—Mais avec les Anglais, et pour le grand Turc, qu’est ce que cela peut signifier?’* But when they saw that it Edition: current; Page: [386] cost only men, that they were not invaded or overtaxed, and that prices rose, they were reconciled to it.

“It was only the speculators of Paris that got tired of it. And if, instead of the Crimea, we had fought near our own frontiers, or for some visible purpose, all our military passions, bad and good, would have broken out.”

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
May 8, 1857

Tocqueville dined with us.

A lady at the table d’hôte was full of a sermon which she had heard at the Madeleine. The preacher said, sinking his voice to an audible whisper, “I will tell you a secret, but it must go no further. There is more religion among the Protestants than with us. They are better acquainted with the Bible, and make more use of their reading; we have much to learn from them.”

I asked Tocqueville, when we were in our own room, as to the feelings of the religious world in France, with respect to heretics.

“The religious laity,” he answered, “have probably little opinion on the subject; they suppose the heretic to be less favourably situated than themselves, but do not waste much thought on him. The ignorant priests, of course, consign him to perdition. The better instructed think, like Protestants, that error is dangerous only so far as it influences practice.

“X. Y. Z. was one of the best men that I have known, but an unbeliever. The Archbishop of —— tried in his last illness to reconcile him to the Church. He failed. X. Y. Z. died as he had lived. But the Archbishop, when lamenting to me his death, expressed Edition: current; Page: [387] his own conviction that so excellent a soul could not perish. You recollect that Duchess, in St. Simon, who on the death of a sinner of illustrious race, said, ‘On me dira ce qu’on veut, on ne me persuadera pas que Dieu n’y regarde deux fois avant de damner un homme de sa qualité.’* The Archbishop’s feeling was the same, only changing qualité into virtue.

“There is something amusing,” he continued; “when, separated as we are from it by such a chasm, we look back on the prejudices of the ancien régime. An old lady once said to me, ‘I have been reading with great satisfaction the genealogies which prove that Jesus Christ descended from David. Ça montre que notre Seigneur était gentilhomme.’

“We are somewhat ashamed,” I said, “in general of Jewish blood; yet the Levis boast of their descent from the Hebrew Levi.”

“They are proud of it,” said Tocqueville; “because they make themselves out to be cousins of the blessed Virgin. They have a picture in which a Duke de Levi stands bareheaded before the Virgin.’ ‘Couvrez vous donc, mon cousin,’ she says. ‘C’est pour ma commodité, Madame,’ he answers.”

The conversation passed to literature.

“I am glad,” said Tocqueville, “to find, that imperfect as my knowledge of English is, I can feel the difference in styles.”

Edition: current; Page: [388]

“I feel strongly,” I said, “the difference of styles in prose, but little in poetry.”

“The fact is,” said Tocqueville, “that the only French poetry, except that of Racine, that is worth reading, is the light poetry, I do not think that I could now read Lamartine, though thirty years age he delighted me.”

“The French taste,” I said, “in English poetry differs from ours. You read Ossian and the Night Thoughts.”

“As for Ossian,” he answered, “he does not seem to have been ever popular in England; but the frequent reference to the Night Thoughts, in the books and letters of the last century, shows that the poem was then in everybody’s memory. Foreigners are, in fact, provincials; they take up fashions of literature, as they do fashions of dress, when the capital has left them off. When I was young you probably had ceased to be familiar with Richardson. We knew him by heart. We used to weep over the lady Clementina, whom I dare say Miss Senior never heard of.

“During the first Empire, we of the old régime abandoned Paris, as we do now, and for the same reasons. We used to live in our châteaux, where I remember, as a boy, hearing Sir Charles Grandison and Fielding read aloud. A new novel was then an event. Madame de Cottin was much more celebrated than George Sand is now; for all her books were read, and by everybody. Notwithstanding the great merits of George Sand’s style, her plots and her characters are so exaggerated and so unnatural, and her morality is so perverted, that we have ceased to read her.”

Edition: current; Page: [389]
Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
May 15, 1857

“Do you agree,” I asked, “in the general opinion as to the effect in Paris of our opposition to the Suez canal?”

“I agree,” he answered, “in it thoroughly. There is nothing that has done you so much mischief in France and in Europe. I am no engineer; I should be very sorry to pronounce a decided opinion as to the feasibility or the utility of the canal, but your opposition makes us believe that it must be practicable.”

“Those among us,” I answered, “who fear it, sometimes found their fears on grounds unconnected with its practibility. They say that it is a political, not a commercial scheme. That the object is to give to French engineers and French shareholders a strip of land, separating Egypt from Syria, and increasing the French interest in Egypt.”

“What is the value,” answered Tocqueville, “of a strip of land in the desert, where no one can live?

“And why are the shareholders to be French? The Greeks, the Styrians, the Dalmatians, the Italians, and the Sicilians, are the people who will use the canal, if any use it. They will form the bulk of the shareholders, if shareholders there be.

“My strong suspicion is, that if you had not opposed it, there never would have been any shareholders, and that if you now withdraw your opposition, and let the scheme go on until calls are made, the subscribers, who are ready enough with their names, as patriotic manifestations against you, as long as no money is to be paid, Edition: current; Page: [390] will then withdraw en masse from an undertaking which, at the very best, is a most hazardous one.

“As to our influence in Egypt, your journal shows that it is a pet project of the Viceroy’s. He hopes to get money and fame by it. You irritate both his covetousness and his vanity, and throw him for support upon us.”

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
May 20, 1857
Henry Reeve
Reeve, Henry

TO HENRY REEVE, ESQ.

I write to you, my dear friend, to recommend to your attention the first two volumes of the great work by Duvergier de Hauranne,* which have just appeared. I sincerely esteem and love the author, but I do not believe that I am influenced by those feelings, when I say that these volumes are the first really important work on the period to which they refer. You know well that one’s own time is that with which one is least acquainted. One knows only the events which one has seen, just as a soldier can tell what he himself did and saw in a battle, but cannot describe—indeed, does not understand—the battle as a whole. I have learned much from what Duvergier has already published, and I hope to learn still more from what is to come.

I have not read the first volume, which is introductory, and treats of the whole Revolution. I told Duvergier that I should not read it, and he cannot be angry, as I have only obeyed the law which I have prescribed to myself, as a means of preserving the Edition: current; Page: [391] originality of my opinions, never to read anything on the French Revolution which was not written at the time.

But I have studied carefully the second volume on the Restoration, and it is excellent. I fear that we may agree less thoroughly when he comes to recent times, such as the reign of Louis Philippe. But as yet I find no mistakes. His facts, as far as I know them, are accurate; his judgments on men are generally calm and just. History will, I think, appreciate events as he has done, and you perceive that the writer has acted a part in the greatest events of his time.

I trust that you will be as much pleased as I have been. I am anxious, for the sake both of the author and of the liberal party in France, which they represent, that your great review should devote to the work an elaborate article. The publication will be quick. Another volume is expected next year. You will have, therefore, to review successively the whole history of modern France, related by a man of strong and well-directed mind, and perfectly informed. To do so well will be a brilliant work; I may say an important action; for the manner in which this part of the past is appreciated may considerably influence the future.

I still hope to be in England next month. To see you and yours will not be one of my least pleasures. A thousand kind and cordial regards.

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Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
May 31, 1857
Paris
Grote
Grote

TO MRS. GROTE.

Though you have punished me, my dear Mrs. Grote, by not writing for three months, I must tell you that I delight in the hope of soon seeing you. I hope to be in London in the middle of June, and I need not say that I shall immediately try to find out you and Mr. Grote. Your conversation is a great pleasure, and, like other great pleasures, a rare one. Allow me to enjoy it frequently. London is now the only place for conversation. I have been passing two months in Paris. I have heard scarcely a word worth recollecting. It is not merely that the fools are still fools; but that the clever people are getting foolish.

The charming art of conversation—to touch and to set in motion a thousand thoughts, without dwelling tiresomely on any one—is among the lost arts. It must be sought for in History Hut.* There I shall look for it, unless, as is probable at this time of year, I find you in London. I know that in a great town, and in the “season,” one cannot reasonably hope to get much of one’s friends; but the little that I shall get will be very precious.

I date from Paris that you may have my address, in case, as is not very probable, you should answer me. But in fact I write from the ancient château of Chamarande, about forty miles from Paris, where my wife has lived for the last two months, in order to see her aunt every day. I pass three or four days of the week with her, and the rest in the great town.

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Chamarande recalls to me the whole history of the French aristocracy. It is immense; built in the reign of Louis XIII. It used to be surrounded by a large park, planted under Louis XIV. by Lenôtre. It was the seat of a great family, of which the last, Marquis Talaru, died without children a few years ago. Though he chose to be buried here, he forgot to devise the estate. His heirs have sold it in lots. A man who keeps a shop in Paris has bought the park, and also the house; he has not pulled it down, because the materials, being brick, are worth nothing. He lets it in apartments. He has cut down the ancient trees, and plants potatoes in the avenues. Statues of goddesses stand among cabbages. You stumble against broken marbles. The fountains work a saw-mill. The splendour of the idle higher classes is gone. Well-regulated and productive industry has not yet come.* It is a picture of revolutionary destruction; a sad picture which the nations that have not seen the reality should look at.

I am writing without thinking, and scarcely know what I have been saying, or whether it was worth saying; but I have done what I wished, which was to express my real pleasure in the hope of seeing you soon. Remember me to Mr. Grote.

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Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
July 10, 1857
London
N. W. Senior
Senior, N. W.

TO N. W. SENIOR, ESQ.

I was too ill, my dear friend, to go to you yesterday. Dr. Ferguson tells me that I have been doing too much, and prescribes perfect rest.

I have already read half your journal of 1857. It is very curious; but I am glad that you have disguised me.

It is terrible to be in London, and to see so little of you; but the force of circumstances is greater than the force of wishes.

Ever yours.
Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
July 19, 1857
Portsmouth
Lord Radnor
Radnor, Lord

TO LORD RADNOR.

I leave London, my lord, to-morrow. I cannot do so without thanking you for all your kindness, and telling you how much I enjoyed my visit to you: I regret only that it was not longer. You know my curiosity; and among its objects none interest me more than the relations between different classes of men, and their respective circumstances. These facts, I think, explain the most important social problems. I should have delighted in studying a part of the population neglected by almost every traveller, that of the middle and lower rural classes—to study their mode of life, their moral and religious education, and their management of their own affairs. Lady Mary would, perhaps, have permitted me to visit with her your cottages. She would, I think, have found me a sympathising companion, Edition: current; Page: [395] anxious to receive all the information which she would have been kind enough to give me. I had not time for so useful and agreeable an employment, and when shall I have another opportunity? You are so good as to ask me to return; but my life is so arranged at present as to admit of little travelling. My last tour will be full of precious recollections, and the best will belong to Coleshill.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
July 26, 1857
M. J. J. Ampère
Ampère, M. J. J.

TO M. J. J. AMPÈRE.

I am just arrived from England, dear friend, and I find your letter of the 26th of June. I do not wonder that you still linger on the shore of the Lake of Como. What a charming study it must make for a man who reads and writes all day out of doors!

I fear that after living in the poetry of nature, you will care little for our prose; the less, as we must expect a wet autumn. We have had the finest of springs and of summers. A cloudless sky, and the centigrade thermometer at 25°. We shall have to pay for it by torrents of rain, which will not spare you. My wife is already miserable about it. But I venture to maintain that you will not be unhappy at Tocqueville, even in the rain; for one can never be thoroughly unhappy where there are true friends to receive one with open arms, and to show deep regret when one goes away.

As I told you, I come from a tour of five weeks in England. I lived in such a vortex, that I could Edition: current; Page: [396] not write to any of my best friends; and as for you, who are at the head of the list, I did not know to what part of Europe to address a letter. Yet I had much to say. My principal object was the British Museum, which contains about 12,000 pamphlets published in France during the Revolution. This collection is larger than any that we have, but for want of a catalogue I could make little use of it. I fared rather better in the State Paper Office, which was opened to me exceptionally.* I read there an interesting correspondence between the English diplomatic agents and their Government during the first year of our Revolution. Though I did not learn as much as I expected during my tour, I was far more amused than I could have hoped. I was almost ashamed of the warmth of my reception; for you know I do not deceive myself as to the real amount of my merits.

We stay here till February. So choose your time, and believe in the delight with which we shall receive you.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
July 2, 1857
M. de Corcelle
de Corcelle, M.

TO M. DE CORCELLE.

I have so much to say on England, which I have revisited after a lapse of twenty years, and with a larger experience of men, that it would take many letters to describe the impressions and the ideas produced by the scenes which I witnessed.

The spectacle is the greatest that the world affords, though every portion of it is not great. It contains Edition: current; Page: [397] indeed things unknown in the rest of Europe—things which consoled me.

I have no doubt that there exist among the lower orders some feelings hostile to their superiors; but they do not show themselves. What does show itself is the union of all the educated classes, from the humblest tradesman to the highest noble, to defend society, and to use freely their joint efforts to manage as well as possible its affairs. I do not envy the wealth or the power of England, but I envy this union. For the first time, after many years, I breathed freely, undisturbed by the hatreds and the jealousies between different classes, which, after destroying our happiness, have destroyed our liberty.

I enjoyed, too, in England what I have long been deprived of—a union between the religious and the political world, between public and private virtue, between Christianity and liberty. I heard the members of every denomination advocate free institutions, as necessary not only to the welfare but to the morality of society. Never, on any occasion, did I see what prevails on the Continent, the moral monstrosity of pious men applauding despotism, leaving to infidels the cause of liberty.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
August 5, 1857
M. de Corcelle
de Corcelle, M.

TO M. DE CORCELLE.

You have made to me, my dear friend, an undeserved reproach. I compared England to the Continent, not Catholicism to Protestantism.

Read over my letter, and you will find that I talk of Christians of all denominations. This must include Edition: current; Page: [398] Catholics. In fact, I never met with an English Catholic who did not value, as much as any Protestant, the free institutions of his country, or who divided morality into two sections, one consisting of public virtues, which might be safely neglected, and the other of private duties, which alone need be observed. No Catholic, lay or clerical, thought this. I did not compare the religions, but the countries. I said only that I breathed freely in a country in which liberty and religion were united. And I said truly, for, from my youth, the spectacle of their disunion has oppressed my soul. I said this more than twenty years ago, in the introduction to my “Democratie.” I feel this now as I did in youth. It is the thought most constantly in my mind.

The feeling which I am going to mention is common, and seems to me symptomatic. “We have, indeed, lost political liberty, but we keep an unlimited liberty of anti-Catholic philosophy. That is enough; it supplies the place of all others. It is the highest development of man.”

What do our clergy, who delight in political neutrality and apathy, say to this? I venture to predict that in our days it will not be found safe to withdraw the human mind from political action. As soon as it ceases to act, it theorises most dangerously. The German school, pretending not to care for politics—indeed, to utterly despise them—so undermined the foundations of society, that all the German Governments, unsupported by principles or habits capable of resistance, fell at one moment, and under one blow.

A thousand kind regards to you and yours.

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Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
August 7, 1857
Lord Hatherton
Hatherton, Lord

TO LORD HATHERTON.

I tried in vain to see you, my lord, the day that I left London. Luckily I found Lady Hatherton at home; I could thank her for all the kindness which you both showed to me during my most instructive and most agreeable residence in London. No portion of it pleased me more than our little excursion to Teddesley. Your kindness made me feel as if we had been friends for twenty years.

You may easily believe that Madame de Tocqueville and I are much tempted to accept your pressing invitation to visit you this year or the next. But great as the temptation is, I doubt the possibility of our yielding to it. We are at work on our pleasure-grounds, and no one knows better than your lordship the attraction of such an employment, and the difficulty of escaping from it. Our visit must, I fear, be delayed, but we hope not to be deprived of the pleasure of seeing you in the meantime. My wife begs to repeat to Lady Hatherton the delight which we should feel in receiving you under our roof. She would find here the rusticity of ancient France, but, at the same time, hosts so happy in receiving her, that she would, I think, tolerate its inconveniences. I hope, too, my lord, that though you live in a large domain, you are not incapable of being interested by a very small one, and that in our walks you would give me good advice for my garden and for my farm.

Let me flatter myself that these hopes will be fulfilled next summer. I wish that I might rely on you. Edition: current; Page: [400] A yacht would bring you to us in eight or ten hours. It would be rather a party of pleasure than a voyage.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
August 9, 1857
Hollond
Hollond

TO MRS. HOLLOND.

The torrent by which I was carried away in London, and the suddenness of my departure, defeated, Madame, to my great regret, my intention of taking leave of you. But the copy which you gave me of your book is a recollection which can never be effaced. I brought it to this place, and Madame de Tocqueville and I have been reading it with great delight. It fulfilled as a whole the expectations raised in me by the first hundred pages. Your narrative is most attractive, above all, from its simplicity—a merit rare, and peculiarly appropriate to your subject. The painter forgets herself in her picture. The judgments are sober, moderate, and just; without ambition or affectation. Your book pleased and interested us from the first page to the last; and you bestowed upon us an intellectual enjoyment which left a salutary moral effect. These were, I believe, your objects, and you have attained them perfectly.

What you say of Channing’s reserved address explains my impression on my visit to him in 1831, at Boston. I thought him cold. I had been excited by his writings, but his conversation froze me. I was somewhat displeased, and never returned, and now regret my lost opportunity. But I knew well the Tuckermans whom you so well describe. Mr. Tuckerman and I were brought together by our common interest in prisons. Edition: current; Page: [401] The attractiveness of his admirable character made me see him frequently. What struck me as peculiarly loveable was not so much the immense good that he did, nor the labour which he underwent for that purpose, as the pleasure which he took in this sacred employment, and the frankness with which he expressed that pleasure. I remember his saying, “If God will allow me to continue to reside near ——— Street (the poorest in Boston), and pass there a part of every day, I ask for nothing more; I shall be perfectly happy.”

You have struck me by your vivid picture of one of the finest of Channing’s moral and intellectual features. Though Channing, from his lofty point of view, looked calmly on the character and the destiny of the whole human race, he considered greatness to depend upon the individual man. It was the individual whom he wished to see great, independent, noble, and free. Though some of his notions might have led him to exaggerate the importance of human societies, no one supported or honoured more man as an individual—a most useful and instructive example to this generation, which is always tempted to magnify man not as an individual, but as a mere bit of a social machine.

The end of my paper tells me that I have already been too long. Remember me to Mr. Hollond, and accept my thanks for the pleasure which you have given to me.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
August 9, 1857
M. J. J. Ampère
Ampère, M. J. J.

TO M. J. J. AMPÈRE.

I write to you, my dear friend, with no object, except to tell you our news, and to ask for yours. Not that Edition: current; Page: [402] I am anxious about you. You seem to me to be plunged in all the delights of Capua, except that you do not let them enervate you. To live with friends in a pretty villa in Upper Italy, and write in view of the Lake of Como and the Alps, is a most luxurious manner of working.

We well understand the difficulty of dragging you from this retreat to our Hyperborean country, and we make only two conditions. One, that you come before the end of September, that you may not jump suddenly from your summer to our winter; the other, that you do not run away too soon. I am trying to induce the Loménies to meet you. We have endeavoured by every means to persuade them to come, and I trust that we shall succeed.

I am not yet writing steadily, but I hope that I am getting into the humour, and that I shall also work efficiently. I judge from the disquiet and uneasiness which my barrenness gives to me, and from my anxiety, vague, but eager, to be again productive.

I want to get the machine in motion. Yours is always at work. I would to God that I resembled you. Nothing is more capricious or restive than my mind, and, unfortunately, I cannot say to it, as Turenne did to his body, “You tremble, carcass, but I shall take you into places which you will like still less.” I am very impatient to see your Cæsar with its last embellishments, to know what is the book which you allude to without telling me what it is like, and above all to embrace you, and to talk to you about everything.

India employs all our thoughts here, and, I suppose, Edition: current; Page: [403] everywhere; for no man under the sun can be indifferent to events which affect so much the destinies of the human race. I expect England to triumph, and to regain her empire. In the meantime she is in the state of a lobster changing its shell. At every other time it is invulnerable—at that instant the smallest fish may wound it. England has not merely to reconquer India, she must change its form of government; and while she is doing so, she must be at peace everywhere else. I foresee, therefore, as one of the first consequences, a greater warmth of friendship between her cabinet and ours. Her respect for our Government will return in proportion as she wants us.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
August 28, 1857
M. J. J. Ampère
Ampère, M. J. J.

TO THE SAME.

Though it is long since I heard from you, my dear friend, I suppose that you are still on the shores of your lake, and I write only to tell you some news of which you would be sorry to be ignorant.

Corcelle tells us that he, wife, and children, will be here about the 8th or 9th of September, and stay with us a fortnight. Luckily, the visit of these excellent friends coincides with that of the Loménies; and if yours could be added, for at least a part of the time, the pleasure of “Hôte” and “Hôtes” (for in French we are absurd enough to give the same appellation to the visitor and to the visited) would be complete.

I say this to inform you, not to press you. I know that when one has finished one’s arrangements, mapped out one’s route, and made one’s engagements, it is difficult to extemporise a change. So I shall forgive you, if you Edition: current; Page: [404] do not come. But you will allow me to be enchanted if you do come. This, however, you know to be at all times my feeling.

We have had splendid weather for three months, which I only half enjoy, fearing that it implies an autumnal deluge. Happily the weather, in spite of its reputation for inconstancy, does not rush, like man, inevitably, from extreme to extreme: a dry summer is sometimes followed by a dry winter.

We take in the Revue des Deux Mondes, and have read, therefore, and with the utmost pleasure, your last article on the history of Rome. It is wonderful that you can treat so long the same subject, and in the same form (which is unavoidable, since you trace the history of Rome only by its ruins), with unabated vigour, without fatiguing yourself or your reader, who derives always the same pleasure, instruction, interest, and amusement, from your pages. It is a literary tour de force, and requires all your peculiar strength and versatility. I am eager to see what you have to show us, and what, without describing it, you promise us. My wife and I are puzzling ourselves with guesses.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
September 11, 1857
M. Freslon
Freslon, M.

TO M. FRESLON.

Your friendship makes you anxious as to the inferences which I shall draw from my long study of the Revolution. You fear that I shall end by despair of the future.

It is true that I have often to struggle against it. I own that I cannot see how, with such a past history Edition: current; Page: [405] and with such results, we shall ever create permanent institutions, with which you or I can be satisfied. I confess that my inability to find a remedy for such inveterate evils throws me sometimes into a dark despondency as to politics which can lead to no good.

But I can assure you that, in the first place, I am resolved to fight with all my strength against this melancholy; and secondly, that I am certain that the black horizon which bounds our view conceals something far better beyond it. Society with us is tired—exhausted, if you choose to say so—but not worn out. It is sick, but its constitution is strong. I do not believe that we are to be compared to the Romans. We have Christianity, modern knowledge, energy, though latent; we have no slaves; we belong to one country. In all these things we differ. We no more resemble the Romans of the age of Augustus, of whom we hear so much, than we resembled twenty-five years ago the English of 1688, though there was some resemblance in the two Revolutions, and though Louis Philippe seemed to be the ghost of William the Third. Nothing is more deceitful than historical resemblances. No; we shall have something better than Rome under the Cæsars; and because I see no such dawn, I do not believe that we have sunk into a similar night.

Observe, too, that I do not blame the destruction of the ancien régime, but the mode of destruction. I am not opposed to democracies. They may be great, they may be in accordance with the will of God, if they be free. What saddens me is, not that our society is democratic, but that the vices which we have inherited and Edition: current; Page: [406] acquired make it so difficult for us to obtain or to keep well-regulated liberty. And I know nothing so miserable as a democracy without liberty.

Such is the state of my mind on these matters. I do not fear that it will give a mischievous colour to my book. Believe me when I assure you that all my efforts will be to raise men, not to depress them. But I must preserve my identity. Only feelings and opinions that belong to the very depths of the soul have the vigour and the warmth which rouse and stimulate the reader. A writer must beware of weakening the strength of his thoughts, above all in their first expression. I am far from the end of my work, and of course my friends will see it and judge it before the public does. What will it be? Really I cannot tell.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
September 24, 1857
Comtesse de Circourt
de Circourt, Comtesse

TO THE COMTESSE DE CIRCOURT.

You were right in supposing, Madame, that I must be deeply grieved by the death of Madame Swetchine. I did not expect it to be so sudden—such was not the impression produced on me by my last news of her, through M. de Circourt. Hope, in fact, I could not have, after my conversations with M. Rayer; but, without believing in her recovery, I cherished an expectation of seeing once again a person for whom I had a sincere affection and a deep respect—a union rarer than is generally supposed. I do not think that I ever met with truer, and, therefore, greater virtue, and I certainly never met with any that was more attractive. She was a happy mixture of the highest and the most endearing Edition: current; Page: [407] qualities, so harmoniously combined, that your admiration did not prevent your being at your ease and amused. Where shall I find again so much sympathy with others, so excitable a sensibility, a kindness so effectual, such quickness of apprehension and of feeling, and such a passionate love of truth—a quality very different from mere veracity, and very superior to it? Rarely does God create anything so charming, and still more rarely does He make goodness so attractive.

I am truly grieved by what you tell me of Madame de Rauzan. She must be struck down. To lose an only son so suddenly and so prematurely! If you write to Thil, mention me, and my sincere sympathy with their sorrows.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
October 18, 1857
Lady Theresa Lewis
Lewis, Lady Theresa

TO LADY THERESA LEWIS.

I must thank you immediately, Madame, for your interesting letter. India fills our thoughts at Tocqueville almost as much as it does yours in London. My wife often talks of it, and is always thinking of it. A mail has sometimes spoilt her rest for a night, yet happily she has not a relation or an intimate friend in Bengal. But though her marriage makes her French by law, she has remained in her affections, her habits, and her ideas, thoroughly English. As for me, nothing in the world interests me more than the destiny of your great nation. You may think, therefore, how anxiously we read all that you told us of the East. I recognised at once the habitual clearness and the sagacity of your Edition: current; Page: [408] mind. I think, with you, that there was more of accident in the insurrection than was at first supposed; and also, that the principal effect of the accident was to throw light on the general causes, and to accelerate their action. Perhaps I attach rather less importance than you do to the accidents, and more to the general causes, which you point out so well. I will venture to add to them one more.

England, the only civilized nation which has retained an aristocratic government, is forced, strangely enough, to destroy or degrade aristocracy in all her dependencies. It is the business of every master, native or foreign. For a hundred years you have been doing this in India, prudently but perseveringly. You have spared the native princes and higher classes, as much as was consistent with your domination. But you have been constantly employed in straitening, weakening, or destroying, some of the foreign if not hostile sovereignties which were inclosed in your territories, without being actually your subjects.

It seems to me that the time has come, when all these princes, indeed, all the higher classes, have seen (you yourselves almost telling them so) that they are to be reduced to the general level. It is only a question of time. One falls to-day, another will fall to-morrow. They have experience and intelligence enough to see this, and strength enough to hope that they can resist it. This is the critical period for an empire like yours. But it is a matter of astonishment and congratulation that no man superior to the present wretched insurgents has been able to make use of this feeling. I believe Edition: current; Page: [409] that if such a man had shown himself, you would have seen all the little princes and dominant races of Northern India march at once against you, instead of remaining, in general, mere spectators.

I venture, also, to differ from you when you say that England would not be weakened by the loss of India, and that only a heroic vanity leads you to keep it. Many enlightened Englishmen have said this to me. I never could agree with them.

It is true that, as a mere question of money and of physical strength, India costs more than it brings in—that it forces you to make distant exertions, which may paralyse your force when most wanted near home. I admit all this. Perhaps you had better have hanged Clive, instead of making him a peer. Still I think that the loss of India would greatly lower the position of England. I could give many reasons. I shall be satisfied with one.

Nothing under the sun is so wonderful as the conquest, and still more the government, of India by the English. Nothing so fixes the eyes of mankind on the little island of which the Greeks never heard even the name. Do you believe, Madame, that a nation, after having filled this vast place in the imagination of the whole human race, can safely withdraw from it? I do not. I believe that England obeys an instinct, not only heroic, but wise when, already possessing India, she resolves at any price whatever to keep it. I add, that I am convinced that she will keep it, though, perhaps, on less favourable conditions.

I am sure that you agree with me in wishing that her Edition: current; Page: [410] victory may show as few traces as possible of the revengeful passions which she cannot but feel. The civilized world is now with her. She is pitied and admired. Nothing would be easier than, by pushing repression too far, to reverse this sympathy. I see already symptoms of a change. You have, undoubtedly, to deal with savages, whose barbarity surpasses all known limits; you have witnessed in India horrors from which the human imagination recoils. But your title to govern these savages is, that you are better than they are. You ought to punish them, not to imitate them. You would imitate them if, for instance, you were to massacre the whole population of Delhi. And this has been proposed, though many of the inhabitants of Delhi were themselves pillaged and oppressed by your enemies.

Forgive my warmth. I love too passionately the glory of England, which is that of liberty, not to desire eagerly that she should be as great in her victory as she has been up to this time in her battle; and I feel that all who wield power or influence ought to labour in concert for this purpose.

I have only one fault to find with your letter, Madame, and it is no small one. You write most interestingly on politics, and say not a word of yourself or of your family. Do you suppose that politics are all that I care about in England?

I should have liked to know why you are in London, and for how long? what is become of Sir George? and of your children, who treated me as an old friend? I should have liked, too, to hear of Lord Clarendon, Edition: current; Page: [411] whom I remember so agreeably. On all these important points you are dumb, and I complain.

I ought to finish this endless letter; but I must add, what you will be glad to hear, that your Queen, short as was her visit, charmed the people of Cherbourg. This is not a mere compliment. Her graciousness and simplicity so gained the hearts of our good Normans, that, in his emotion, the editor of the local newspaper, (a better organ of the popular feeling than courtier), printed in his paper that even the Emperor was never better received.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
November 5, 1857
M. Freslon
Freslon, M.

TO M. FRESLON.

A thousand thanks, my dear friend, for your two letters. You may well believe that the second gave me much pain. I do not know whether anything was left for Cavaignac to do; but there was a great charm in his elevation of character. It is sad to see him so suddenly disappear. He was the only great figure on the dark canvas of 1848; and he will remain great in history. In fact, every year—almost every month—sees the extinction in obscurity of those who once were illustrious. They are not replaced. We are sinking gradually into general mediocrity. All who were known, or deserved to be known, disappear; and where is the new man from whom we have to hope anything in science, in art, in literature, or in politics? Set him before me, and I will confess that I am an old, ill-natured critic. It is painful to belong to such times, if you desire anything besides a life of mere comfort.

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Why did you tell me, in your former letter, that you would have written to me from the country, if you had not feared tiring me by an account of the books you read, and the subjects which interest you?

You ought to know that one of your greatest merits, and you have many others, is, that you are a conversing friend. The others say little or say nothing. The weight of lead, which oppresses us, crushes the spirit of conversation even among those whose minds are fullest of ideas, and with whom one would most like to exchange them. Their affection remains; but, like old lovers, they find nothing to say. The elasticity of your mind struggles against the weight which depresses every one else. You still feel an interest in general subjects; you like to talk, you are excited even when you think of them. All the others are advocates, or judges, or farmers, or soldiers, caring for nothing, and not wishing to care for anything, except their own little matters of business. With a few exceptions, we have come out of this revolution like labourers, who leave the field hanging their heads, worn out by the day’s work, thinking of nothing but to get home, get their supper, and get to bed.

Write to me, then, every thing that comes into your head, and be sure that every sparkle of life which you can throw into the darkness of this death will be the greatest delight of which I am now susceptible.

I am beginning again to be tolerably diligent. A thousand kind regards.

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Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
November 20, 1857
M. Gustave de Beaumont
de Beaumont, M. Gustave

TO M. GUSTAVE DE BEAUMONT.

* * * * * *

All this indisposes me to my work. Often I should have abandoned it, if the want of some really useful employment did not soon make me miserable. This want forces me back to it after I have been driven from it by despair. To the troubled state of my mind is to be added the intrinsic difficulty of the subject. To treat it with novelty seems an absurd attempt, yet I cannot repeat the common-places which we have heard ever since we were children. Even before I had tired the reader, I should be tired to death myself. Besides, I must mix ideas with facts, tell enough of the latter to make the former intelligible, to make the reader feel their importance, and do all this without writing a history, properly so called. I sometimes ask myself, and with some doubt, Can all this be done? I think that I discern the object which I wish to paint, but the light is so uncertain that its features escape me.

In your letter before last, you describe well the manner in which the little occupations of the country take possession of one’s life, and fill it till it can hold nothing else. To a certain degree I feel this, and I am surprised sometimes at the amusement which I feel in these small details, and at the importance which I attach to things which really have scarcely any. To think about the French Revolution requires an effort; one’s thoughts flow easily when their subject is how to make a sheep-fold or build a stable. But I know Edition: current; Page: [414] myself; my incurable restlessness, and the changeableness of my feelings too well, to think that mere country life and country employments would satisfy me.

As for you, do not talk to me of being sad. You have no right to be so when you have such a son. I saw him the other day, for an instant, at Sainte Barbe. I fell into the sin of envy. His person is as distinguished as his mind. It is impossible to be more intelligent, more affectionate, more noble in ideas or in feelings. I understand your anxiety as to his choice of a profession. After all, I envy you your anxiety. You do not know what it is to grow old in solitude. The happiness of my married life thus becomes itself a source of pain. It is terrible to feel that only one single being attaches me to life, and to consider what interest this world would have left for me if I lost her.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
November 15, 1857
N. W. Senior
Senior, N. W.

TO N. W. SENIOR, ESQ.

I am somewhat angry with you, my dear Senior, for not having yet given us your news.* It is treating our friendship unfairly. I have not written to you because I doubted your following exactly your intended route, but I write to you at Athens, as I think that you must now be there. Your travels will be curious and instructive.

What say you of our friends the Turks? Was it worth while to spend so much money and to shed so much blood in order to retain in Europe savages who are ill Edition: current; Page: [415] disguised as civilized men? I am impatient to talk to you, and almost equally so to read you.

I shall have little to tell you; I have not stirred from home since I left England, and am leading the life of a gentleman farmer—a life which pleases me more and more every day, and would really make me happy, if my wife were not suffering from an obstinate neuralgic affection in the face. I fear that she may have to go to some mineral waters, which she would be sorry to do, for, as you know, she hates travelling, and does no justice to the reputation for wandering possessed by the English race.

I can tell you nothing on politics which you will not find in the newspapers.

As for India, you are out, not perhaps of your difficulties, but of your greatest dangers. This affair, and that of the Crimea, show how little sympathy there is for England abroad. There was everything to interest us in your success—similarity of race, of religion, and of civilization. Your loss of India would have served no cause but that of barbarism. Yet I venture to affirm that the whole Continent, though it detested the cruelties of your enemies, did not wish you to triumph.

Much of this is, without doubt, to be attributed to the evil passions which make men always desire the fall of the prosperous and the strong. But much belongs to a less dishonourable cause—to the conviction of all nations that England considers them only with reference to her own greatness; that she has less sympathy than any other modern nation; that she never notices what passes among foreigners, what they think, feel, suffer, or do, but with relation to the Edition: current; Page: [416] use which England can make of their actions, their sufferings, their feelings, or their thoughts; and that when she seems most to care for them she really cares only for herself. All this is exaggerated, but not without truth.

Kindest regards from us both to you and to Mrs. Senior.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
November 27, 1857
Lord Hatherton
Hatherton, Lord

TO LORD HATHERTON.

I received, not long ago, my Lord, a letter from our friend Sumner, dated from Teddesley. He tells me how kindly you talked of me. I write partly to thank you and partly to ask for your news—not as a mere form, for they will interest me sincerely. I am full of grateful recollection of your simple and cordial hospitality, and I think I told you before that our little excursion to Teddesley dwells in my memory as one of the pleasantest episodes in my English tour. Writing to you recalls vividly the time passed with you so usefully and so agreeably.

Many thanks for your agricultural information. My farming is on a very small scale, and yet it occupies me considerably. All my estate is let, except some home meadows, which supply me hay and pasture. But this is enough to give me great interest in agriculture, and to amuse my solitude. My daily life is almost equally divided; in the forenoon I am an author, in the afternoon a peasant. I never forget my fields for my books; but when I am among my books, I often think of my fields. The evening brings my wife and Edition: current; Page: [417] me together, before a bright fire in a great ancient fireplace, round which many generations of my ancestors have sat. There we read our favourite books, and the time flies. You know that our country habits differ from yours. We receive our friends in summer, and are alone in the winter.

Yet we are not too much estranged from the world to follow its events with attentive curiosity. The scenes of India have excited us in the Towers of Tocqueville. I never doubted your triumph, which is that of Christianity and of civilization. I believe, too, that the shock will be salutary, and that your empire in India will rest on a firmer basis. But that will require a larger military force. This appears to me to be the worst consequence of the rebellion. It seems to me that you must gradually be forced on maintaining a large standing army. I regret it, but I believe that you will be driven on it by irresistible causes.

I once collected materials for a work on British India, an attempt which I have long given up. I must have gone thither in order to understand my subject.

The impression left on me by this study was that England, though ruling over these populations for a century, had not done for them what might have been expected from her institutions and her intelligence. It seemed to me that she had been satisfied with assuming the place of the native sovereigns, and applying, with more justice, mildness, and intelligence, the same mode of government. More was to have been hoped from her. I trust that these events will throw light on Indian affairs, and attract and fix on them the attention of the Edition: current; Page: [418] whole nation. It is the part of your administration which, till now, has been least known to others, and, indeed, to yourselves. It is for this reason, especially, that I wish to see the Company abolished, and the administration of this vast country brought under the eyes of Parliament and of the public. Then you will feel that your task is not merely to rule India, but also to civilize it—two things most closely connected.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
January 1, 1858
M. J. J. Ampere
Ampere, M. J. J.

TO M. J. J. AMPERE.

I follow the old custom, my dear friend, of wishing you a happy new year. Few will do it more cordially or more disinterestedly than I, for I earnestly desire your happiness, even if you should seek it at a distance.

This brings me to the subject of your letter of the 12th of December. It gave me some pain, which you must forgive; it proved that a great change had taken place in your life; and that it will be long before we shall see you here, except occasionally. Henceforth Rome is your centre. We are on the outer circumference. This is the bad part of the story; you must allow us to regret it. The good part is, that, after all, you lead the life which you have chosen, which pleases you, and, indeed, has much to please—the society of an amiable and distinguished family, whose habits are agreeable to you, without tying you down too much, and, above all, Rome for a residence. This is our consolation in your absence. Our friendship is strong enough to reflect on all this with great pleasure: if you do not forget us, and Edition: current; Page: [419] I am sure that you will not, we hold that we ought to be contented. Stay, then, in Italy as long as you think fit, without fearing that our affection may cool, and when you return to us, which I am sure that you will do as soon as you can, you will find ready what our servants call “M. Ampère’s room.” You will find, too, what is better than the best room—friends delighted to have you, without endeavouring to detain you.

Believe all this, and think of us. . . . .

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
January 30, 1858
Henry Reeve
Reeve, Henry

TO HENRY REEVE, ESQ.

I should have thanked you sooner, my dear friend, for the last number of the Edinburgh, but, like the rest of the world, I have been attacked by influenza. The quiet to which it condemned me, and condemns me still—for it is not quite cured—gave me leisure to read the whole, except the last article, which I have not yet begun. It has interested and instructed me. The historical fragment on Mr. Addington’s administration, and the last years of Mr. Pitt, pleased me much. All the characteristics of our friend Lewis are in it—the clearness, the precision, the accuracy of detail observable in the work of a first-rate engraver, faithful to his model. This mode of representing a man so considerable as Pitt, and so important a period, is most valuable, and I hope that Lewis will perform his promise of carrying on the subject in a subsequent number. Pray, when you see Lewis, tell him that I read it with infinite delight. Give him our kindest regards, and describe to Edition: current; Page: [420] him our reverence for a Chancellor of the Exchequer who, while he has to manage the finances of England during a Chinese war and an Indian rebellion, finds time and ideas sufficiently at his disposal to write excellent historical articles. Pray do not forget me when you see Lady Theresa.

I now come to your own article, which I sincerely think by far the most important in the whole number.* Nothing written on that subject has so much interested and struck me. The subject is too great for a single article. Much, therefore, is wanting in yours. Many questions, and considerable questions, are not brought forward. The position occupied by the Review, which is not a collection of historical essays, but one of the great organs of a political party, and also the nature of the subject itself, imposed restrictions on you, which forbad your examining narrowly the past government of India, or clearly predicting the government that is to come. Your object was merely to expose the general and habitual state of this immense dependency, and on this you have taught me much, and made me reflect much. This may not appear to you great praise. Though I have studied India more than most Frenchmen, I know much less of it than the Englishmen who have really turned their attention to it; but I believe that they are few, and that the English public must have recived from your article an impression similar to mine.

You have explained to me one important truth among others, with respect to which my ideas were confused: the difficulty of increasing your Indian income, and Edition: current; Page: [421] the peculiar nature of the land revenue, which is rather a rent than a tax. I knew that your revenue arose only from direct taxes, or monopolies; but I was not aware of the difficulty of raising a revenue by any other means—a difficulty which renders your income more burthensome and more precarious. The large number of military men, unconnected with the Government, is also an important fact, of which I knew little. I never had appreciated it. To tell you all that your article suggested to me would require not a letter, but a long conversation, or a volume. I have covered it with pencil marks.

One of my great doubts respects the advantage of introducing an European population. Even if possible, I think it so dangerous that I am inclined to renew the old prohibition of purchases by Europeans. My principle is yours, that Hindostan cannot be kept against the will of the Hindoos. Now I have always found that when not European rulers, but European settlers have been introduced into the imperfectly civilized populations of the other quarters of the globe, the real or affected superiority of the strangers has so wounded the interests and the vanity of the natives, that it has been more hateful than any real political oppression would have been. If this be true as to almost all the European races, it is peculiarly the case as to the English race, the most ingenious in turning to its own advantage the capabilities of a country; the least sociable, the most reserved, and (I may say, since this fault is intimately allied with some noble qualities), the proudest of the European races. When I think Edition: current; Page: [422] over all that you have done for your native army, its discipline, its high pay, its pensions, and its many indulgences, I feel that no auxiliary army was ever so well, so magnificently treated as that which has committed all these horrors. But, without having visited India, I can affirm that no European officer ever held himself so aloof as yours does from his Asiatic soldiers, was less acceptable to them, less one of their comrades, even with respect to those who wore the same epaulette. Though companions in arms, they were so separated by differences of civilization and race, that they felt that they were not only not equals, but not fellow-creatures.

I believe that a searching examination will show that this was the real cause of the revolt of the Indian army. Many secondary causes assisted, but this was the grand one. These horrible events were not a resistance to oppression, but a rising of barbarism against pride.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
February 14, 1858
James Stephen
Stephen, James

TO SIR JAMES STEPHEN.

Sir,

Allow me to express the pleasure with which I have just read your “Lectures on the History of France.” I do not believe that I ever found in a foreign book such knowledge of the details of our history, or so clear a comprehension of our ideas, of our laws, and of our habits. I admire, too, the impartiality which raises you above national prejudices, and allows you to appreciate all that is good and great in another country, ardently attached as you evidently are to your own.

I will not say that I thoroughly admit all your facts Edition: current; Page: [423] or all your inferences. Let me observe that after having combated, forcibly and justly, what you call the Fatalist School, you lean towards its doctrines, when, towards the end of your work, you attach such decisive importance to race, and attribute the freedom of the English principally to their Teutonic blood. I could raise many objections to this, but I had rather dwell on the many opinions which I am happy enough to hold in common with you.

I passed six weeks last summer in England. If I had then at that time read your work I should have gone to Cambridge, pressed as I was for time, to seek your acquaintance. I trust that this opportunity may return. If you ever travel in France, pray keep in mind the pleasure which I should have in receiving you. Madame de Tocqueville is English, and would be charmed to meet so distinguished a countryman. My property, from which I write, is about fifteen miles from Cherbourg. I live here when I am not in Paris—that is for eight or nine months in every year. If a residence in a remote part of France, among a rural population little known to foreigners, can interest you, I repeat that we offer to you most cordially our hospitality.

I infer, from a kind notice of me in your third edition, that you have not seen my last work. I, therefore, send it to you.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
February 14, 1858
N. W. Senior
Senior, N. W.

TO N. W. SENIOR, ESQ.

I was delighted, my dear Senior, to receive a letter from you dated Marseilles. You are right in remaining Edition: current; Page: [424] till spring in the South. We trust to meet you in Paris in March.

I say no more, for I cannot write to you on what would most interest you—French politics. Much is to be said on them; but you will understand my silence if you study our new law of Public Safety, and remember who is the new Home Minister.* For the first time in French history has such a post been filled by a general—and what a general!

I defer, therefore, until we meet, the expansion of feelings and opinions which cannot be safely transmitted through the post, and only repeat how eager I am for our meeting.

Kind regards to Mrs. Senior.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
March 6, 1858
Lord Hatherton
Hatherton, Lord

TO LORD HATHERTON.

I have long wished to write to you, my Lord, but I feared that I might trouble you. Your letter, therefore, was especially welcome.

Many thanks, also, for your offer of the Edinburgh Review. Reeve has the kindness to send it to me regularly, and I often derive considerable instruction from it. I was much struck by the article to which you refer, and I am proud to find that you agree with me in thinking that it would be impossible to convey fuller information as to Indian affairs.

One of Reeve’s proposals has raised in my mind doubts, which I have expressed to him. Reeve thinks Edition: current; Page: [425] that the two races might be brought together, and a Christian civilization promoted by the establishment of Europeans in India. I fear that these effects would not be produced. I have always seen such a measure followed by opposite results. A race, inferior by nature or by education, can tolerate the government of a superior race. The only sensible effects of this superiority are good: if the government manages well, it may be preferred even to that of the native princes; but a private individual, more civilized, more rich, more clever, and more influential than his native neighbours, is always an object of hatred and of envy. Government by foreigners is opposed only to national feelings, which are weak. The foreign settler injures, or appears to injure, in a thousand ways, private interests, which are strong. He is supposed always to use his superiority, his knowledge, his wealth, and his influence, for the purpose of growing rich at the expense of his neighbours. These little personal hatreds swell the national hatred. I have no doubt that in Algeria the Arabs and the Kabyles dislike the presence of our settlers much more than that of our soldiers.

Reeve says truly, that your great object in India is to diffuse Christian civilization; but this is the business of the Government, not of individuals. If the government applies more and more to India the general principles which have rendered Europe rich and enlightened, it will gradually attract the Hindoos, by showing to them the advantages of our civilization. I fear that the contact of European settlers will only increase their prejudices and their repugnance. Adieu! my lord. Edition: current; Page: [426] Your correspondence, if it does not give you too much trouble, gives me very great pleasure. Remember me to Lady Hatherton, and believe in my sincere regard.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
March 22, 1858
Henry Reeve
Reeve, Henry

TO HENRY REEVE, ESQ.

I am sorry, my dear friend, to lose the hope of seeing you this spring, but I feel your reasons.

I am employing my leisure profitably by reading again, and with increased attention, Grote’s “History.” It is a much greater work than I at first supposed it to be. Not that it is written with the art which so eminently distinguishes Macaulay: the want of this art may prevent its general popularity, but it is a work which will not perish, and which cannot well be added to. The learning is immense, and sound. Institutions, men, and facts, are shown and appreciated with great political experience, and this is a rare element in the works of learned historians. The modern feelings which inspire the narrator of the events of 3,000 years ago, reanimate the dead. The author, when he defends his friends, and attacks his enemies, of the hundredth Olympiad, illustrates their actions and their thoughts with as much honesty as sagacity. I could not have supposed that so old a history could have excited so vivid an interest.

I expect to find in Paris the first of all conversers, our friend Senior, charged, like a forty-eight pounder, with all the news of the East and of the West, and ready to explode, to the great pleasure of his friends. Edition: current; Page: [427] His travels in the East must have added most instructive matter to his journal. My paper is at an end.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
March 5, 1858
M. Freslon
Freslon, M.

TO M. FRESLON.

I should have thanked you sooner, my dear friend, for two most agreeable letters, if I had not been suffering for the last fortnight under a return of influenza. This little disorder attacked me slightly six weeks ago. I returned to my ordinary habits before I had quite got rid of it. An imprudent exposure to the icy winds which have afflicted our coast during the last three weeks, caused a relapse not serious, for I had no fever, but bad enough to make me very unwell, and it still forces me to remain at home, to my extreme disgust, for I had become a denizen, not indeed of the forest, but of the meadow and the fallow.

You cannot conceive the awful magnificence of an equinoctial north-easter on our coasts. All nature is convulsed, the strongest dwellings shake, and great birds are seen pursuing their terrified flight through the heavens. When I am well this spectacle gives me passionate delight. Now it seems to me melancholy. I had rather talk to you in the prosaic streets of Paris than live in the poetry of this maddened atmosphere; and I really want to be in Paris for my work. But till the weather is better, and I am well, I cannot start. Still I trust to be with you before the end of the month. I am tired not only of imprisonment, but of idleness. I have no materials to go on with

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Without your interesting letters, and the newspapers, I should know nothing of what is going on. You are quite right in admiring Washington, and putting him in the foremost rank of mankind. It shows, what indeed I well knew, that you understand and love real greatness and real glory. Of how many of my countrymen or contemporaries could I say this? Washington is the product of the society and of the times he lived in. We should have thought him flat. We want theatrical virtues, fine speeches, brilliant vices, even audacious ones are enough.

Adieu. Write to me for friendship’s sake, and for charity’s sake.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
March 16, 1858
M. Freslon
Freslon, M.

TO THE SAME.

Your letters, my dear friend, are the comforts of our solitude. There is nothing better, except your conversation. I hope to enjoy it in a fortnight.

I made the other day a visit which resembled one of Cuvier’s explorations of the antediluvian world. It was to a man, aged ninety-six, and as full of intellectual life as you or I. He is a Benedictine, a man of letters and of talent, who, without relinquishing his profession or his belief, was gained over by the principles of the Revolution. He lived with the men of thought and of action who appeared immediately before and in the first period of that Revolution. He leads a retired life a few miles from us.

I found him at his fireside, surrounded by Greek and Edition: current; Page: [429] Latin folios, which he was studying as if he were beginning his education. Think what it is to see before you a man who lived for twenty-seven years under our ancient monarchy, who was older in 1789 than I was in 1830, who was present at the meeting of the States General, and followed the labours of the Constituent Assembly when already a middle-aged man.

His mind is still more extraordinary than his age. It must have been preserved as we keep plants, by being hermetically sealed. I have before observed that in France, moral and intellectual warmth are in inverse proportion to age. The youngest are the coldest: the temperature rises as one grows older. Sages of eighteen laugh at you and me as enthusiasts. According to this rule my man of ninety-six ought to have been on fire. And so he was when he talked of his hopes in 1789, and of the great cause of liberty. He would not easily have admitted that we now enjoy the institutions which were promised by the makers of the Revolution.

I asked him if he found much moral change in France.

“Ah,” he answered, “I seem to dream when I call to mind the state of feeling when I was young; its ardour, its sincerity, its self-respect and respect for the public, the disinterestedness of even its political passions. Ah, sir,” he continued, squeezing my hands with the frankness and the earnestness of the eighteenth century, “we had then a cause, we have now mere interests. Men were then bound to one another; they are so no longer. It is sad to outlive one’s country.” Adieu.

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Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
April 26, 1858
Paris

EXTRACT FROM MR. SENIOR’S JOURNAL.

Tocqueville spent the evening with us. We talked of novels.

“I read none,” he said, “that end ill. Why should one voluntarily subject oneself to painful emotions? to emotions created by an imaginary cause, and therefore impelling you to no actions? I like vivid emotions, but I seek them in real life, in society, in travelling, in business; but above all in political business. There is no happiness comparable to political success, when your own excitement is justified by the magnitude of the question at issue, and is doubled and re-doubled by the sympathy of your supporters. Having enjoyed that, I am ashamed of being excited by the visionary sorrows of heroes and heroines.

“I have a friend,” he continued, “a Benedictine, who is now ninety-six. He was, therefore, about thirteen when Louis XVI. began to reign. He is a man of talents and knowledge, has always lived in the world, has attended to all that he has seen and heard, and is still unimpaired in mind, and so strong in body, that when I leave him he goes down to embrace me, after the fashion of the eighteenth century, at the bottom of the staircase.”

“And what effect,” I asked, “has the contemplation of seventy years of revolution produced on him? Does he look back, like Talleyrand, to the ancien régime as a golden age?”

“He admits,” said Tocqueville, “the material superiority Edition: current; Page: [431] of our own age; but he believes, that intellectually and morally, we are far inferior to our grandfathers. And I agree with him. These seventy years of revolution have destroyed our courage, our hopefulness, our self-reliance, our public spirit, and, as respects by far the majority of the higher classes, our passions, except the vulgarest and most selfish ones, vanity and covetousness.

“Even ambition seems extinct. The men who seek power, seek it not for itself, not as a means of doing good to their country, but as a means of getting money and flatterers.

“It is remarkable,” he continued, “that women whose influence is generally greatest under despotisms have none now. They have lost it, partly in consequence of the gross vulgarity of our dominant passions, and partly from their own nullity. They are like London houses, all built and furnished on exactly the same model, and that a most uninteresting one.

“Whether a girl is bred up at home or in a convent, she has the same masters, gets a smattering of the same accomplishments, reads the same dull books, and contributes to society the same little contingent of superficial information.

“When a young lady comes out, I know beforehand how her mother and her aunts will describe her.

“ ‘Elle a les goûts simples, elle est pieuse, elle aime la campagne, elle aime la lecture, elle n’aime pas le bal, elle n’aime pas le monde, elle y va seulement pour plaire à sa mère.’*

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“I try sometimes to escape from these generalities, but there is nothing behind them.”

“And how long,” I asked, “does this simple, pious, retiring character last?”

“Till the orange flowers of her wedding chaplet are withered,” he answered. “In three months she goes to the Messe d’une heure.

“What is the Messe d’une heure?” I asked.

“A priest,” he answered, “must celebrate mass fasting, and in strictness ought to do so before noon. But, to accommodate fashionable ladies who cannot rise by noon, priests are found who will starve all the morning and say mass in the afternoon. It is an irregular proceeding, though winked at by the ecclesiastical authorities. Still to attend it is rather discreditable; it is a middle term between the highly meritorious practice of going to early mass, and the scandalous one of never going at all.”

“What was the education,” I asked, “of women under the ancien régime?

“The convent,” he answered.

“It must have been better,” I said, “than the present education, since the women of that time were superior to ours.”

“It was so far better,” he answered, “that it did no harm. A girl at that time was taught nothing. She came from the convent a sheet of white paper. Now, her mind is a paper scribbled over with trash. The women of that time were thrown into a world far Edition: current; Page: [433] superior to ours, and with the sagacity, curiosity, and flexibility of French women, caught knowledge, and tact, and expression from the men.”

“I knew well,” he continued, “Madame Récamier. Few traces of her former beauty remained; but we were all her lovers and her slaves. The talent, labour, and skill, which she wasted on her salon would have gained and governed an empire. She was virtuous, if it be virtuous to persuade every one of a dozen men to believe that you wish to favour him, though some circumstances always occur to prevent your doing so. Every friend thought himself preferred. She governed us by little distinctions, by letting one man come five minutes before the others, or stay five minutes after. Just as Louis XIV. raised one courtier to the seventh heaven by giving him the taper at night, and another by taking his shirt from him in the morning. She said little, but knew what each man’s forte was, and placed from time to time a mot which led him to it. If anything were peculiarly well said, her face brightened. You saw that her attention was always active and always intelligent.

“And yet, I doubt whether she really enjoyed conversation. Tenir salon was to her a game, which she played well and almost always successfully; but she must sometimes have failed, and often must have been exhausted by the effort. Her salon was, perhaps, pleasanter to us, than it was to herself.

“One of the last,” he continued, “of that class of potentates was the Duchesse de Dinon. Her early married life was active and brilliant; but not intellectual. Edition: current; Page: [434] It was not till about forty, when she had exhausted other excitements, that she took to bel esprit. But she performed her part as if she had been bred to it.”

This was our last conversation. I left Paris the next day, and we never met again.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
May 21, 1858
M. Gustave de Beaumont
de Beaumont, M. Gustave

TO M. GUSTAVE DE BEAUMONT.

I returned home with delight, but I am not yet sufficiently at ease to work well and to enjoy it. My mind is anxious and agitated. Why, I cannot tell. The best cause that I can assign is, that I am still myself. This self I do not care for, but I cannot change. Among secondary causes the state of my health stands foremost. I am not ill, I am not in pain, but I feel a physical depression (occasioned, I think, by the spring), the immediate effect of which is mental dejection. Body and mind, however, have been better within the last two days. I think, too, that the slow progress of my work, the extension of my inquiries, to which I cannot set precise limits, and the difficulty of satisfying myself as I go on, contribute to my moral uneasiness. It might end at once, if I could find some new road to my object. But I am icebound. . . . .

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I am glad to hear of your farming. I like you to be so employed; still I should like you to do something Edition: current; Page: [435] besides. But one must judge one’s friends according to their feelings, not one’s own. We have always been very intimate, and very unlike. Your mind must be calm and tranquil before it can work. If I had enjoyed tranquillity and calm, I doubt whether I should ever have worked. It costs me so much, that if I were tolerably comfortable in inactivity, I should continue there. It has always been because my mind was uncomfortable at home that it sallied abroad to obtain, at any sacrifice, the relief of hard intellectual work. This is the case now.

I have no child to enjoy the little noise that my name may make. I do not believe that in such times as these the slightest influence can be obtained by such writings as mine, or even by any writings, except by the bad novels, which try to make us still more immoral and ill-conditioned than we are. Yet I rise at five, and sit for six hours before my paper, and often leave it still white. Sometimes I find what I am looking for, but find it painfully and imperfectly; sometimes I am in despair at not finding it at all. I leave work discontented with myself, and therefore with everything else. Why do I make these efforts? To escape from mental disquiet: while you cannot work unless you are already perfectly at ease.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
July 8, 1858
M. Freslon
Freslon, M.

TO M. FRESLON.

A few days after I abused you for your handwriting, my dear friend, Lanjuinais wrote to tell me that my own became every day more illegible. We were both Edition: current; Page: [436] right. I hope that Lanjuinais’ reproof will be as effectual as mine has been. Your last letter is a miracle of caligraphy. I only fear that your taste for writing may deteriorate as your hand improves. In that case, pray return to your pot-hooks. I had rather make them out, than not hear from you.

I see that you give us little hope of a visit. I am sorry for it, and so is my wife. . . . .

I was at this part of my letter when yours of the day before yesterday arrived. I break off to talk to you about M. Royer-Collard. I am delighted that you have to write on him, and only regret that you did not know him personally. His character was original—not easily understood by those who have observed him only in the distance, as a writer and a public man. He was a strange mixture of little passions and lofty sentiments; of unconscious vanity with elevation of mind. He possessed a dignity which was felt by all who approached him, and was altogether a noble and imposing figure. Among his contemporaries there is none that more deserves our notice. To enable you to penetrate into all the folds of his character, would require, not a letter, but long conversations.

I confine myself to what chiefly seems to interest you. You think that his life wanted unity. It did not, as I will prove to you. In the details of so long a life there may have been inconsistency. But in what long life, especially a life passed among revolutions, is there not? Taking his career throughout, guided only by the great lines traced by his actions, you will find a marked unity, which was in fact, the secret of his strength. All Edition: current; Page: [437] his principal actions are connected by two ideas, both of which governed his mind, but one far more than the other.

First, M. Royer-Collard, during his whole life, firmly believed that the spirit of liberty might be, and ought to be, distinguished from the spirit of revolution. He desired eagerly the destruction of the ancien régime, and looked with horror at the possibility of its return. He was anxious for the abolition of privileges, the equality of political rights, and the liberty and dignity of man. He detested the adventurous, violent, tyrannical, demagogic spirit which has always and everywhere marked revolution. He was convinced that it was not necessary to the overthrow of the ancien régime; he hoped for better results from the Revolution. He never desired the total destruction of the old social institutions of France; he wished to break down only the obstacles to modern ideas, to well-balanced liberty, to the equality of rights, and to the opening of every career, and every success to the hopes of every man. After the Revolution, he wished to bring us back to this ideal perfection, and, as far as it was possible and desirable, to connect the past and the present. Is there any small portion of his life inconsistent with this view? I know of none; but study it as a whole, and you will see that these principles directed and explain it.

The second ruling principle in his mind, resembling the first, but not necessarily connected with it, was this: M. Royer-Collard always believed monarchy to be necessary to France, and it was sometimes amusing to see the singular effect of this doctrine in company with the most intractable opinions and the most republican Edition: current; Page: [438] feelings that I ever encountered. He held courts in horror, but was devoted to kingship. Among Royalties, that which he thought most fitted to maintain the great liberal institutions of modern ages,—institutions which he worshipped, which he spent his life in defending, sometimes against the Revolutionists, sometimes against the Ultras and the Emigrants—was the Royalty of the Elder Branch. I never knew a man less of a legitimist, less devoted to a race or to a family, or more convinced that the best result of the Revolution would be the monarchy of the Elder Branch, controlled by the institutions necessary to secure the triumph of modern ideas. The dream of his whole life was to conciliate the old family and the new opinions, and to make them support one another. After all, liberty was his object, and the monarchy of the Elder Branch only a means. But the means and the object were so confounded by the public, that I have always thought that M. Royer-Collard, who at the time of the Revolution of July had nearly reached the end of his career, would have closed it more consistently if he had then retired from public life.

Such, my dear friend, is a general and hasty sketch of this extraordinary man. I do not say that the two principles which ruled his life were equally just. I say only that they were his principles, and that he obeyed them from the time when, as member of the Commune of Paris, he negotiated between the unhappy Louis XVI. and Danton, until his last speech, made, I think, in 1838, against a parliamentary costume. The ardent sincerity and incomparable eloquence with which he supported two maxims, often supposed to be incompatible, Edition: current; Page: [439] was one of the most extraordinary of exhibitions. It was worth while to hear him talk of the Revolution. No one could better describe the grandeur of that time, and its superiority to ours, whatever might be its weakness or its violence. The finest praises of what may be called the great victories of 1789, were uttered by him. The bitterest satires of the vices of the ancien régime, of the follies and the absurdities of the Emigrants and Ultras, were pronounced by him. But if the things to be painted were the violence, the despotism, the sanguinary follies and intolerance of what he called the revolutionary spirit, he was a Tacitus. With a couple of strokes, he drew a picture never to be forgotten. He was eminent by his writings: he will live by them; but he was incomparable as a converser. Often he failed to convince me, but he always impressed me.

A little before his death, he kindly gave me a selection from his speeches. I had begged him to do so. He arranged them evidently so as to show the progress of his ideas during his public life. It is a precious collection. I have bound it, and will send it to you with some books that are going to Paris. If you wish to know still more, come and let us talk the subject over.

Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
July 19, 1858
M. de Circourt
de Circourt, M.

TO M. DE CIRCOURT.

My dear M. de Circourt,

I direct to you at Bougival, hoping that my letter will find you or follow you. I have been anxious to thank you for having found time, while living among Edition: current; Page: [440] the chamois, to write to me such interesting letters. They breathe the elasticity of mind and body which mountain air gives to those who enjoy the happiness of health. It has not been mine for some months.

The approach of our fêtes has driven this country half wild. As the railway is opened, and a line of packets between Cherbourg and Weymouth has been established, it seems that all France and England will meet in our little corner. You will easily believe that the general enthusiasm has not reached me. I always detested official joy, even under the governments that I liked best. The only part of the spectacle which will lead me to Cherbourg is the sight of the combined French and English fleets. It will be a grand picture, but I shall see it with the pain with which, on the 20th of May, 1848, I saw the review of more than 100,000 National Guards, in the Champs de Mars. “Alas!” I said to myself as I returned; “we have been reviewing two armies which will soon be fighting in the streets of Paris.” So it was, as you know. God grant that it may not be so this time.

While England, however, has her present work to do in India, she is not to be feared. I think her situation more formidable and more difficult now, than it was the day after the insurrection. I have long thought that at the bottom of all that is going on in the East there is a new and general fact—a universal rising against the European. Will it succeed? I hope not. I believe that we have too much the start of our opponents. But of the existence of this fact, and of its being the cause of many effects that we see, I have no doubt.

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Alexis de Tocqueville
de Tocqueville, Alexis
July 28, 1858
Grote
Grote

TO MRS. GROTE.

Dear Mrs. Grote,

I have received your letter of the 5th, and ought to have answered it. I have not done so for many bad reasons, but among them is not indifference. One circumstance which has made me lately write but little to my friends is a state of physical suffering, which has communicated itself to the mind, and is difficult to shake off. I was at one time much alarmed. A month ago I had a little spitting of blood. Eight years ago a frightful illness began in the same way. I feared that I was to have another attack, and so, and even more, did my wife. She sent off in haste for my brother, who lives near Cherbourg, and for a physician. Nothing followed, but from that time I have not been the same man. I am not, even yet, recovered. I have mentioned this only to intimate friends, so keep it to yourself. To this physical uneasiness is to be added a feeling which also I tell only to intimate friends—my deep distaste for these Imperial pomps.

You see, my dear Mrs. Grote, that you need have no scruples in talking to me about yourself; for here are five pages at least about nothing except my own health, and feelings, and thoughts; but to whom could I write more freely t