Correspondence & Conversations of Alexis de Tocqueville with Nassau William Senior from 1834 to 1859, Vol. 2
Alexis de Tocqueville
Part 1 out of 5
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_CORRESPONDENCE & CONVERSATIONS OF_ ALEXIS DE TOCQUEVILLE
WITH NASSAU WILLIAM SENIOR
FROM 1834 TO 1859
_IN TWO VOLUMES VOLUME II_
LONDON: HENRY S. KING & Co., 65 CORNHILL 1872
* * * * *
CONTENTS OF THE SECOND VOLUME
The army master of France
Comparison with the 18th Brumaire
Aggressive acts of the President
Coup d'Etat planned for March 1852
Socialism leads to despotism
War necessary to maintain Louis Napoleon
State prisoners on December 2
Louis Napoleon's devotion to the Pope
Latent Bonapartism of the French
President's reception at Notre Dame
Mischievous public men
Extradition of Kossuth
January 29, 1849
Stunner's account of it contradicted
The Second Napoleon a copy of the First
Relies on Russian support
Life of a cavalry officer
Victims of the Coup d'Etat
_Letters in_ 1852-3.
Effect of the Orleans confiscation on the English
Firmness of Prussia
Mr. Greg's writings
Communication from Schwartzenberg
New Reform Bill
Democracy or aristocracy
Reform Bill not wanted
Twenty-five thousand men at Cherbourg
Easier to understand Lord Derby than Lord John
Preparations at Cherbourg a delusion
Conversation with King Leopold
No symptoms of aristocratic re-action in England
England's democratic tendencies
Idleness of young aristocrats
Death of Protection
Revolutions leading to masquerades
New Reform Bill a blunder
_Journal in_ 1853.
Prosperity in Paris
Dangers incurred by overbuilding
Discharged workmen effect Revolutions
Probable monetary panic
Empire can be firmly established only by a successful war
Agents undermining the Empire
Violence and corruption of the Government
Growing unpopularity of Louis Napoleon
Consequences of his death
He probably will try the resource of war
Conquest would establish his power
War must produce humiliation or slavery to France
Corruption is destroying the army and navy
Emperor cannot tolerate opposition
Will try a plebiscite
_Letters in_ 1853.
Blackstone a mere lawyer
Feudal institutions in France and England
Gentleman and Gentilhomme
Life of seclusion
Interference of police with letters
Mrs. Crete's conversations at St. Cyr
Great writers of the eighteenth century
Political torpor unfavourable to intellectual product
English not fond of generalities
Curious archives at Tours
Frightful picture they present
Sufficient to account for the Revolution of 1789
La Marck's memoir of Mirabeau
Court would not trust Mirabeau
The elder Mirabeau influenced by Revolution
Revolution could not have been averted
Works of David Hume
Effect of intolerance of the press
Honesty and shortsightedness of La Fayette
Laws must be originated by philosophers
Carried into effect by practical men
Napoleon carried out laws
Too fond of centralisation
Country life destroyed by it
Tocqueville independent of society
Studious and regular life
Influence of writers as compared with active politicians
_Journal in_ 1854.
Criticism of the Journals
The speakers generally recognised
Aware that they were being reported
Necessity of Crimean War
Probable management of it
English view of the Fusion
Bourbons desire Constitutional Government
Socialists would prefer the Empire
They rejoiced in the Orleans confiscation
Empire might be secured by liberal institutions
Policy of G.
English new Reform Bill
Dangers of universal suffrage
Baraguay d'Hilliers and Randon
Lent in the Provinces
Appearance of prosperity
_Petite culture_ in Touraine
Tyranny more mischievous than civil war
Centralisation of Louis XIV. a means of taxation
Under Louis Napoleon, centralisation more powerful than ever
Power of the Prefet
Courts of Law tools of the Executive
Prefet's candidate must succeed
Empire could not sustain a defeat
Loss of aristocracy in France
Napoleon estranged Legitimists by the murder of the Duc d'Enghien
Louis Philippe attempted to govern through the middle classes
Temporary restoration of aristocratic power under the republic
Overthrown by the second Empire
Legitimists inferior to their ancestors
Dulness of modern society and books
Effects of competition
_Letters in_ 1854-5.
Tocqueville attends the Academy
Proposed visit to Germany
Return to France
English adulation of Louis Napoleon
Mismanagement of Crimean War
Continental disparagement of England
Necessity for a conscription in England
Disastrous effects of the war for English aristocracy
_Journals in_ 1855.
Effects of the Emperor going to the Crimea
Discontent in England
Disparagement of England
Austria alone profited by Crimean War
Despotism of Louis Napoleon consolidated by it
Centralisation in Algeria
Criticism of Mr. Senior's Article
Places Louis Napoleon too high
English alliances not dependent on the Empire
Louis Napoleon will covet the Rhine
Childish admiration of Emperor by British public
Real friends of England are the friends of her institutions
_Extracts from Mr. Senior's Article_.
Description of political parties
Orleanist-Fusionists form the bulk of the Royalists
Legitimists unfit for public life
Republican party not to be despised
Desire only free institutions
No public opinion expressed in the Provinces
Power of Centralisation
Increased under Louis Philippe
Power of the Prefet
Foreign policy of Louis Napoleon
Of former French Sovereigns
Invasion of Rome prepared in 1847
Eastern question, a legacy from Louis Philippe
Fault as an administrator
Mismanagement of the war
His Ministers mere clerks
Free institutions may secure his throne
Revolutions followed by despotism
Lessons taught by history
_Letters in_ 1855-6.
Tocqueville burns his letter
Conversation of May 28
Amusing letters from the Army
Enjoyment of home
Fall of Sebastopol
Cost of the war
Russia dangerous to Europe
How to restrain her
Progress in the East
No public excitement in France
_Journal in 1856_.
The 'Ancien Regime'
Master of Paris, Master of France
Opposition to Suez Canal
Mischievous effect of English Opposition
Expenditure under the Empire
Effect of Opposition to the Suez Canal
'Friponnerie' of the Government
French floating batteries
Fortifications of Malta
Emperor's orders to Canrobert
A campaign must be managed on the spot
_Letters in_ 1856-7.
The 'Ancien Regime'
Lord Aberdeen on the Crimean War
Eccentricities of English public men
Remedy for rise in house-rent
The rise produced by excessive public works
Dulness of Paris
Mr. Senior's Journal in Egypt
_Journal in_ 1857.
Flatness of society in Paris
Dexterity of Louis Napoleon
Is maintained by the fear of the 'Rouges'
Due de Nemours' letter
Tocqueville disapproves of contingent promises
Empire rests on the army and the people
Slavery of the Press
Public speaking in France
English and French speakers
Length of speeches
French public men
Narvaez and Kossuth
Monsieur, Madame, and Mademoiselle
Tu and vous
Feeling respecting heretics
Prejudices of the Ancien Regime
Fashion in Literature
Montalembert's changes of opinion
Increasing population of Paris
Its dangerous character
No right to relief
Sudden influx of workmen
Soldiers likely to side with the people
Change in French only apparent
Martin's History of France
He is a centraliser and an absolutist
_Letters in_ 1857-8.
Reception in England
Unpopularity of England
Law of Public Safety
_Journal in_ 1858.
Talleyrand as a writer
English ignorance of French affairs
Change of feeling respecting Louis Napoleon
'Loi de surete publique'
Manner in which it has been carried out
Deportation a slow death
Influence of 'hommes de lettres'
Napoleon indifferent to the navy
Mr. Senior's Athens journal
Otho and Louis Napoleon
Qualities which obtain influence
Character of Louis Napoleon
Tocqueville's comments on the above conversation
Tocqueville on Novels
Intellectual and moral inferiority of the age
Education of French women
'Messe d'une heure'
Influence of Madame Recamier
Duchesse de Dino
_Letters in_ 1858-9.
Mr. Senior's visit to Sir John Boileau
Promise of Lord Stanley
Character of Guizot
Spectacle afforded by English Politics
Tocqueville at Cannes
Louis Napoleon's loss of popularity
Death of Alexis de Tocqueville
Grief it occasioned in England
_Journal at Tocqueville in_ 1861.
Madame de Tocqueville house at Valognes
Chateau de Tocqueville
Beaumont on Italian affairs
Piedmontese unpopular with the lower classes
Popular with the higher classes in Naples
Influence of Orsini
Subjection of the French
Effect of Universal Suffrage
Causes which may overthrow Louis Napoleon
Popularity of a war with England
Condition of the Roman people
Different sorts of courage in different nations
Destructiveness of war not found out at first
Effect of service on conscript
Expenditure of Louis Napoleon
Forebodings of the Empress
Ampere on Roman affairs
Torpor of Roman Government
Interference with marriages
Ampere expects Piedmont to take possession of Rome
Does not think that Naples will submit to Piedmont
Wishes of Naples only negative
Execution of three generations
Familiarity with death in 1793
The 'Chambre noire'
Violation of correspondence
Toleration of Ennui
Prisoners of State
M. and Madame de La Fayette
Mirabeau and La Fayette
Louis XVI. and Marie Antoinette
Evils of Democratic despotism
Ignorance and indolence of 'La jeune France'
Algeria a God-send
Family life in France
Moral effect of Primogeniture
Descent of Title
Shipwreck off Gatteville
Ampere reads 'Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme'
The modern Nouveau Riche
Society under the Republic
Chateaubriand and Madame Mohl
Extensiveness of French literature
French and English poetry
Tocqueville's political career
Under Louis Philippe in 1835
In 1839 and 1840
Opposition to Guizot
Inaction of Louis Philippe
Tocqueville would not submit to be a minister without power
Mistaken independence of party
Could not court popularity
Reform came too late
Faults in the Constitution
Defence of the Constitution
Tocqueville wished for a double election of the President
Centralisation useful to a usurper
England in the American War
Defence of England
Politics of a farmer
Wages in Normandy
Evils of Universal Suffrage
Influence of the clergy
Constitutional monarchy preferable to a republic
Republic preferable to a despotism
Probable gross faults of a republic
Evils of socialist opinions
Mischievous effects of strikes
Mistaken tolerance of them in England
* * * * *
Mr. Senior's report of M. de Montalembert's speech in 1854
TOCQUEVILLE DURING THE EMPIRE
FROM DECEMBER 23, 1851 TO APRIL 20, 1858.
[The _coup d'etat_ took place on the 2nd, and Mr. Senior reached Paris on
the 21st of December.--ED.]
_Paris, December_ 23, 1851.--I dined with Mrs. Grot and drank tea with
'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'etat._ 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 and the greater part of
the aristocracy, and the _bourgeoisie_, were Bonapartists; 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 2nd of December. Bonaparte's Consular Chair was sustained by all the
_elite_ of France. This man cannot obtain a decent supporter.
Montalembert, Baroche, and Fould--an Ultramontane, a country lawyer, and
a Jewish banker--are his most respectable associates. 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 November 10, 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 infamous
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 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
'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 Lamoriciere 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
'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_, therefore, 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 lambs 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 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 generaux_ for the repeal of the law of May 31. 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 tyranny 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, and of a set of military ruffians and
of infamous civilians, fit only to have formed the staff and the privy
council of Catiline. 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 necessaries to
us. If Louis Napoleon refuses them, he will be execrated as a tyrant. If
he grants them, they must destroy him. We always criticise our rulers
severely, often unjustly. It is impossible that so rash and wrong-headed
a man surrounded, and always wishing to be surrounded, by men whose
infamous character is their recommendation to him, should not commit
blunders and follies without end. They will be exposed, perhaps
exaggerated by the press, and from the tribune. As soon as he is
discredited the army will turn against him. It sympathises with the
people from which it has recently been separated 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 2nd of December is more dangerous to the rest of
Europe than it is to us. That it ought to alarm England much more than
France. _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
'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 has amused us during 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
'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 bayonets, _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 the
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
Our conversation was here interrupted by the entrance of the Abbe
Gioberti, and of Sieur Capponi, a Sicilian.
_Paris, December_ 31, 1851.--I dined with the Tocquevilles and met Mrs.
Grote, Rivet, and Corcelle.
'The gayest time,' said Tocqueville, 'that I ever passed was in the Quai
d'Orsay. The _elite_ of France in education, in birth, and in talents,
particularly in the talents of society, was collected within the walls of
'A long struggle was over, in which our part had 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'etait un feu roulant,
une pluie de bons mots." Things amused us in that state of excitement
which sound flat when repeated.
'I remember Kerrel, 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, "Voila donc ou en est reduit 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. Bedeau
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
his prisoner was mad.'
We talked of Louis Napoleon's devotion to the Pope.
'It is of recent date,' said Corcelle. '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 any love for the Pope. In fact, the Pope did not then wish for us. He
told Corcelle that 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
I mentioned to Tocqueville Beaumont'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 assignable 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. The 10th of
December showed that the memory of the Emperor, vague and indefinite, but
therefore the more imposing, still dwelt like an heroic legend in the
imaginations of the peasantry. When Louis Napoleon's violence and folly
have destroyed the charm with which he has worked, all eyes will turn,
not towards a republic, but to Henri V.'
'Was much money,' I asked, 'spent at his election?'
'Very little,' answered Tocqueville. 'The ex-Duke of Brunswick lent him
300,000 francs on a promise of assistance as soon as he should be able to
afford it; and I suppose that we shall have to perform the promise, and
to interfere to restore him to his duchy; but that was all that was
spent. In fact he had no money of his own, and scarcely anyone, except
the Duke, thought well enough of his prospects to lend him any. He used
to sit in the Assembly silent and alone, pitied by some members and
neglected by all. Silence, indeed, was necessary to his success.
_Paris, January 2nd_, 1852.--I dined with Mrs. Grote and drank tea with
'What is your report,' they asked, 'of the President's reception in Notre
Dame. We hear that it was cold.'
'So,' I answered, 'it seemed to me.'
'I am told,' said Tocqueville, 'that it was still colder on his road. He
does not shine in public exhibitions. He does not belong to the highest
class of hypocrites, who cheat by frankness and cordiality.'
'Such,' I said, 'as Iago. It is a class of villains of which the
specimens are not common.'
'They are common enough with us,' said Tocqueville. 'We call them _faux
bonshommes_. H. was an instance. He had passed a longish life with the
character of a frank, open-hearted soldier. When he became Minister, the
facts which he stated from the tribune appeared often strange, but coming
from so honest a man we accepted them. One falsehood, however, after
another was exposed, and at last we discovered that H. himself, with all
his military bluntness and sincerity, was a most intrepid, unscrupulous
'What is the explanation,' he continued, 'of Kossuth's reception in
England? I can understand enthusiasm for a democrat in America, but what
claim had he to the sympathy of aristocratic England?'
'Our aristocracy,' I answered, 'expressed no sympathy, and as to the
mayors, and corporations, and public meetings, they looked upon him
merely as an oppressed man, the champion of an oppressed country.'
'I think,' said Tocqueville, 'that he has been the most mischievous man
'More so,' I said, 'than Mazzini? More so than Lamartine?'
At this instant Corcelle came in.
'We are adjusting,' said Tocqueville, 'the palm of mischievousness.'
'I am all for Lamartine,' answered Corcelle; 'without him the others
would have been powerless.'
'But,' I said, 'if Lamartine had never existed, would not the revolution
of 1848 still have occurred?'
'It would have certainly occurred' said Tocqueville; 'that is to say, the
oligarchy of Louis Philippe would have come to an end, probably to a
violent one, but it would have been something to have delayed it; and it
cannot be denied that Lamartine's eloquence and courage saved us from
great dangers during the Provisional Government. Kossuth's influence was
purely mischievous. But for him, Austria might now be a constitutional
empire, with Hungary for its most powerful member, a barrier against
Russia instead of her slave.'
'I must put in a word,' said Corcelle, 'for Lord Palmerston. If
Lamartine produced Kossuth, Lord Palmerston produced Lamartine and
Mazzini and Charles Albert--in short, all the incendiaries whose folly
and wickedness have ended in producing Louis Napoleon.'
'Notwithstanding,' I said, 'your disapprobation of Kossuth, you joined us
in preventing his extradition.'
'We did,' answered Tocqueville. 'It was owing to the influence of Lord
Normanby over the President. It was a fine _succes de tribune_. It gave
your Government and ours an occasion to boast of their courage and of
their generosity, but a more dangerous experiment was never made. You
reckoned on the prudence and forbearance of Austria and Russia. Luckily,
Nicholas and Nesselrode are prudent men, and luckily the Turks sent to
St. Petersburg Fuad Effendi, an excellent diplomatist, a much better than
Lamoriciere or Lord Bloomfield. He refused to see either of them,
disclaimed their advice or assistance, and addressed himself solely to
the justice and generosity of the Emperor. He admitted that Russia was
powerful enough to seize the refugees, but implored him not to set such
an example, and--he committed nothing to paper. He left nothing, and took
away nothing which could wound the pride of Nicholas; and thus he
'Two days after, came a long remonstrance from Lord Palmerston, which
Lord Bloomfield was desired to read to Nesselrode, and leave with him. A
man of the world, seeing that the thing was done, would have withheld an
irritating document. But Bloomfield went with it to Nesselrode.
Nesselrode would have nothing to say to it. "Mon Dieu!" he said, "we
have given up all our demands; why tease us by trying to prove that we
ought not to have made them?" Bloomfield said that his orders were
precise. "Lisez donc," cried Nesselrode, "mais il sera tres-ennuyeux."
Before he had got half through Nesselrode interrupted him. "I have heard
all this," he said, "from Lamoriciere, only in half the number of words.
Cannot you consider it as read?" Bloomfield, however, was inexorable.'
I recurred to a subject on which I had talked to both of them before--the
tumult of January 29, 1849.
'George Sumner,' I said, 'assures me that it was a plot, concocted by
Faucher and the President, to force the Assembly to fix a day for its
dissolution, instead of continuing to sit until it should have completed
the Constitution by framing the organic laws which, even on December 2
last, were incomplete. He affirms that it was the model which was
followed on December 2; that during the night the Palais Bourbon was
surrounded by troops; that the members were allowed to enter, but were
informed, not publicly, but one by one, that they were not to be allowed
to separate until they had fixed, or agreed to fix, the day of their
dissolution; and that under the pressure of military intimidation, the
majority, which was opposed to such a dissolution, gave way and consented
to the vote, which was actually carried two days after.'
'No such proposition was made to me,' said Tocqueville, 'nor, as far as I
know, to anybody else; but I own that I never understood January 29. It
is certain that the Palais Bourbon, or at least its avenues, were taken
possession of during the night; that there was a vast display of military
force, and also of democratic force; that the two bodies remained _en
face_ for some time, and that the crowd dispersed under the influence of
a cold rain.'
'I too,' said Corcelle, 'disbelieve Sumner's story. The question as to
the time of dissolution depended on only a few votes, and though it is
true that it was voted two days after, I never heard that the military
demonstration of January 29 accelerated the vote. The explanation which
has been made to me is one which I mentioned the other day, namely, that
the President complained to Changarnier, who at that time commanded the
army of Paris, that due weight seemed not to be given to his 6,000,000
votes, and that the Assembly appeared inclined to consider him a
subordinate power, instead of the _Chef d'Etat_, to whom, not to the
Assembly, the nation had confided its destinies. In short, that the
President indicated an intention to make a _coup d'etat_, and that the
troops were assembled by Changarnier for the purpose of resisting it, if
attempted, and at all events of intimidating the President by showing him
how quickly a force could be collected for the defence of the Assembly.'
_Sunday, January_ 4.--I dined with the Tocquevilles alone. The only
guest, Mrs. Grote, who was to have accompanied me, being unwell.
'So enormous,' said Tocqueville, 'are the advantages of Louis Napoleon's
situation, that he may defy any ordinary enemy. He has, however, a most
formidable one in himself. He is essentially a copyist. He can originate
nothing; his opinions, his theories, his maxims, even his plots, all are
borrowed, and from the most dangerous of models--from a man who, though
he possessed genius and industry such as are not seen coupled, or indeed
single, once in a thousand years, yet ruined himself by the extravagance
of his attempts. It would be well for him if he would utterly forget all
his uncle's history. He might then trust to his own sense, and to that of
his advisers. It is true that neither the one nor the other would be a
good guide, but either would probably lead him into fewer dangers than a
blind imitation of what was done fifty years ago by a man very unlike
himself, and in a state of society both in France and in the rest of
Europe, very unlike that which now exists.'
Lanjuinais and Madame B., a relation of the family, came in.
Lanjuinais had been dining with Kissileff the Russian Minister. Louis
Napoleon builds on Russian support, in consequence of the marriage of his
cousin, the Prince de Lichtenstein, to the Emperor's daughter. He calls
it an _alliance de famille_, and his organs the 'Constitutionnel' and the
'Patrie' announced a fortnight ago that the Emperor had sent to him the
Order of St. Andrew, which is given only to members of the Imperial
family, and an autograph letter of congratulation on the _coup d'etat_.
Kissileff says that all this is false, that neither Order nor letter has
been sent, but he has been trying in vain to get a newspaper to insert a
denial. It will be denied, he is told, when the proper moment comes.
'It is charming,' said Madame de Tocqueville, 'to see the Emperor of
Russia, like ourselves, forced to see his name usurped without redress.'
Madame B. had just seen a friend who left his country-house, and came to
Paris without voting, and told those who consulted him that, in the
difficulties of the case, he thought abstaining was the safest course.
Immediately after the poll was over the Prefect sent to arrest him for
_malveillance_, and he congratulated himself upon being out of the way.
One of Edward de Tocqueville's sons came in soon after; his brother, who
is about seventeen, does duty as a private, has no servant, and cleans
his own horse; and is delighted with his new life. That of our young
cavalry officers is somewhat different. He did not hear of the _coup
d'etat_ till a week after it had happened.
'Our regiments,' said Lanjuinais, 'are a kind of convents. The young men
who enter them are as dead to the world, as indifferent to the events
which interest the society which they have left, as if they were monks.
This is what makes them such fit tools for a despot.'
_Thursday, January 8, 1852_.--From Sir Henry Ellis's I went to
'In this darkness,' he said, 'when no one dares to print, and few to
speak, though we know generally that atrocious acts of tyranny are
perpetrated everyday, it is difficult to ascertain precise facts, so I
will give you one. A young man named Hypolite Magin, a gentleman by birth
and education, the author of a tragedy eminently successful called
"Spartacus," was arrested on the 2nd of December. His friends were told
not to be alarmed, that no harm was intended to him, but rather a
kindness; that as his liberal opinions were known, he was shut up to
prevent his compromising himself by some rash expression. He was sent to
Fort Bicetre, where the casemates, miserable damp vaults, have been used
as a prison, into which about 3,000 political prisoners have been
crammed. His friends became uneasy, not only at the sufferings which he
must undergo in five weeks of such an imprisonment in such weather as
this, but lest his health should be permanently injured. At length they
found that he was there no longer: and how do you suppose that his
imprisonment has ended? He is at this instant at sea in a convict ship on
his way to Cayenne--untried, indeed unaccused--to die of fever, if he
escape the horrors of the passage. Who can say how many similar cases
there may be in this wholesale transportation? How many of those who are
missing and are supposed to have died at the barricades, or on the
Boulevards, may be among the transports, reserved for a more lingering
A proclamation to-day from the Prefect de Police orders all persons to
erase from their houses the words 'Liberte,' 'Egalite,' and 'Fraternite'
on pain of being proceeded against _administrativement_.
'There are,' said Tocqueville, 'now three forms of procedure:
_judiciairement, militairement_ and _administrativement._ Under the first
a man is tried before a court of law, and, if his crime be grave, is
sentenced to one or two years' imprisonment. Under the second he is tried
before a drumhead court-martial, and shot. Under the third, without any
trial at all, he is transported to Cayenne or Algiers.'
I left Paris next day.
[Footnote 1: I was not able to resist retaining this conversation in the
_Journals in France_.--ED.]
[Footnote 2: It must be remembered that M. de Corcelle is an ardent Roman
[Footnote 3: This conversation was also retained in the _Journals in
Kensington, January 5, 1852.
My dear Tocqueville,--A private messenger has just offered himself to me,
a Mr. Esmeade, who will return in about a fortnight.
The debate on Tuesday night on the Palmerston question was very
satisfactory to the Government. Lord John's speech was very well
received--Lord Palmerston's very ill; and though the constitution of the
present Ministry is so decidedly unhealthy that it is dangerous to
predict any length of life to it, yet it looks healthier than people
expected. It may last out the Session.
The feeling with respect to Louis Napoleon is stronger, and it tends more
to unanimity every day. The Orleans confiscation has, I think, almost too
much weight given to it. After his other crimes the mere robbery of a
single family, ruffian-like as it is, is a slight addition.
I breakfasted with V. yesterday. He assures me that it is false that a
demand of twenty millions, or any other pecuniary demand whatever, has
been made in Belgium. Nor has anything been said as to the demolition of
any fortresses, except those which were agreed to be dismantled in 1832,
and which are unimportant.
The feeling of the people in Belgium is excellent.
Mr. Banfield, who has just returned from the Prussian provinces, says the
same with respect to them--and Bunsen assures me that his Government will
perish rather than give up a foot of ground. I feel better hopes of the
preservation of peace.
Thiers and Duvergier de Hauranne are much _fetes_, as will be the case
with all the exiles.
I have been reading Fiquelmont. He is deeply steeped in all the _betises_
of the commercial, or rather the anti-commercial school; and holds that
the benefit of commerce consists not, as might have been supposed, in the
things which are imported, but in those which are exported.
These follies, however, are not worth reading; but his constitutional
theories--his belief, for instance, that Parliamentary Government is the
curse of Europe--are curious.
The last number of the 'Edinburgh Review' contains an article on Reform
well worth reading. It is by Greg. He wrote an admirable article in, I
think, the April number, on Alton Locke and the English Socialists, and
has also written a book, which I began to-day, on the Creed of
Christendom. I have long been anxious to get somebody to do what I have
not time to do, to look impartially into the evidences of Christianity,
and report the result. This book does it.
Lord Normanby does not return to Paris, as you probably know. No
explanation is given, but it is supposed to be in compliance with the
I have just sent to the press for the 'Edinburgh Review,' an article on
Tronson du Coudray and the 18th fructidor, which you will see in the
April number. The greater part of it was written this time last year at
Gladstone has published a new Neapolitan pamphlet, which I will try to
send you. It is said to demolish King Ferdinand.
Kindest regards to Madame de Tocqueville. We hope that you will come to
us as soon as it is safe.
P.S. and very private.--I have seen a communication from Schwartzenberg
to Russia and Prussia, of the 19th December, the doctrine of which is
that Louis Napoleon has done a great service by putting down
parliamentaryism. That in many respects he is less dangerous than the
Orleans, or elder branch, because they have parliamentary leanings. That
no alteration of the existing parties must be permitted--and that an
attempt to assume an hereditary crown should be discouraged--but that
while it shows no aggressive propensities the policy of the Continent
ought to be to countenance him, and _isoler_ l'Angleterre, as a _foyer_
of constitutional, that is to say, anarchical, principles.
Bunsen tells me that in October his King was privately asked whether he
was ready to destroy the Prussian Constitution--and that he peremptorily
Look at an article on the personal character of Louis Napoleon in the
'Times' of Monday. It is by R----, much built out of my conversation and
I have begged Mr. Esmeade to call on you--you will like him. He is a
nephew of Sir John Moore.
Kensington, March 19, 1852.
My dear Tocqueville,--I was very glad to see your hand again--though
there is little in French affairs on which liberals can write with
Ours are become very interesting. Lord John's declaration, at the meeting
the other day in Chesham Place, that he shall introduce a larger reform,
and surround himself with more advanced adherents, and Lord Derby's, on
Monday, that he is opposed to all democratic innovation, appear to me to
have changed the position of parties. The question at issue is no longer
Free-trade or Protection. Protection is abandoned. It is dead, never to
revive. Instead of it we are to fight for Democracy, or Aristocracy. I
own that my sympathies are with Aristocracy: I prefer it to either
Monarchy or Democracy. I know that it is incident to an aristocratic
government that the highest places shall be filled by persons chosen not
for their fitness but for their birth and connections, but I am ready to
submit to this inconvenience for the sake of its freedom and stability.
I had rather have Malmesbury at the Foreign Office, and Lord Derby first
Lord of the Treasury, than Nesselrode or Metternich, appointed by a
monarch, or Cobden or Bright, whom I suppose we should have under a
republic. But above all, I am for the winning horse. If Democracy is to
prevail I shall join its ranks, in the hope of making its victory less
I wish, however, that the contest had not been forced on. We were very
well, before Lord John brought in his Reform Bill, which nobody called
for, and I am not at all sure that we shall be as well after it has
As to the immediate prospects of the Ministry, the next three weeks may
change much, but it seems probable that they will be forced to dissolve
in April, or the beginning of May, that the new Parliament will meet in
July, and that they will be turned out about the end of August. And that
this time next year we shall be discussing Lord John's new Reform Bill.
I doubt whether our fears of invasion are exaggerated. At this instant,
without doubt, Louis Napoleon is thinking of nothing but the Empire; and
is kind to Belgium, and pacific to Switzerland in the hope of our
But I heard yesterday from Lord Hardinge that 25,000 men are at
Cherbourg, and that 25,000 more are going there--and that a large sum is
devoted to the navy. We know that he governs _en conspirateur_, and this
is likely to extend to his foreign as well as his civil relations.
I see a great deal of Thiers, who is very agreeable and very _triste_.
'L'exil,' he says, 'est tres-dur.' Remusat seems to bear it more
patiently. We hear that we are to have Cousin.
What are your studies in the Bibliotheque Royale? I have begun to read
Bastide, and intend to make the publication of my lectures on Political
Economy my principal literary pursuit. I delivered the last on Monday.
I shall pass the first fifteen days of April in Brussels, with my old
friend Count Arrivabene, 7 Boulevard du Regent.
* * * * *
March 25, 1852.
I send you, my dear Senior, an introduction to Lamoriciere. 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 politics 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 into democracy.
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 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 25,000 troops at
Cherbourg, to be followed by 25,000 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 general_ on the subject of a projected railway. My
reception touched and delighted me. I was unanimously, and certainly
freely, elected president.
* * * * *
A. DE TOCQUEVILLE.
Friday evening, April 17, 1852.
My dear Tocqueville,--My letter is not likely to be a very amusing one,
for I begin it on the dullest occasion and in the dullest of towns,
namely at Ostend, while waiting for the packet-boat which is to take me
A thousand thanks for your letter to Lamoriciere. He was very kind to me,
and I hope hereafter, in Paris or in London, to improve the acquaintance.
I saw no other French in Brussels. The most interesting conversation that
I had was with the King.
I found him convinced that the decree annexing Belgium to France had been
drawn up, and that it was the interference of Nicholas, and his
expression of a determination not to suffer the existing temporal limits
to be altered, that had occasioned it to be withdrawn. I am happy,
however, to think, as you also appear to think, that your great man is
now intent on peaceful triumphs.
He would scarcely have created such a mass of speculative activity in
France if he intended suddenly to check it by war. I hope that by the
time Masters in Chancery are abolished, I shall find France intersected
by a network of railroads and run from Paris to Marseilles in a day.
I venture to differ from you as to the probable progress of reaction in
England. I see no symptom of it; on the contrary, democracy seems to me
to continue its triumphant march without a check. The Protectionists are
in power, they take for their leader in the House of Commons a man
without birth or connection, merely because he is a good speaker. This
could not have been done even ten years ago. They bow to the popular will
as to free-trade, and acknowledge that, even if they have a majority in
the Houses of Lords and Commons, they will not venture to re-impose a
Corn-law if the people do not ask for it. Never was such a homage paid to
the world 'without doors.'
Then Lord John says that he objects to the Ballot, because those who have
no votes have a right to know how those who have votes use them.
The example of the Continent will not affect us, or if it do affect us,
will rather strengthen our democracy. We are not accustomed to copy, and
shall treat the reaction in France, Austria, and Prussia rather as a
warning than as a model.
I suspect that Lord John, who, though not, I think, a very wise
statesman, is a clever tactician, takes the same view that I do, and has
selected Reform for his platform, believing it to be a strong one.
We were delighted with Rivet, and hope that he will soon come again.
Lamoriciere tells me that he is going to take the waters of
_Aix-la-Chapelle_, but, if his exile continues, will probably come to
England next year.
Kindest regards to Madame de Tocqueville.
Kensington, April 30, 1852.
My dear Tocqueville,--A thousand thanks for your letter. I saw M. de
Lamoriciere three times, and had a glimpse of Madame de L. who seemed
very pleasing. I was delighted with his spirit and intelligence, but
understand the criticism that he is _soldatesque_.
I had a long and very interesting conversation with the King, and saw
much of my excellent friends Arrivabene and Quetelet. But after all
Brussels is not Paris. I was more than ever struck by the ugliness of the
country and the provincialness of the society.
I returned on April 18, sprained my ancle on the 19th, and have been on
my back ever since. I have spent the time in looking through Fonfrede,
who is a remarkable writer, and makes some remarkable prophecies, in
finishing Grote's ninth and tenth volumes, in reading Kenrick's 'Ancient
Egypt,' which is worth studying, and in reading through Horace, whom I
find that I understand much better after my Roman experience.
I differ from you as to the chances of reaction in this country. I
believe that we are still travelling the road which you have so well
mapped out, which leads to democracy. Our extreme _gauche_, which we call
the Manchester School, employs its whole efforts in that direction. It
has great energy, activity, and combination. The duties of Parliament and
of Government have become so onerous, and the facing our democratic
constituencies is so disagreeable, and an idle life of society,
literature, art, and travelling has become so pleasant, that our younger
aristocracy seem to be giving up politics, and hence you hear the
universal complaint that there are no young men of promise in public
The House of Commons is full of middle-aged lawyers, merchants,
manufacturers, and country-gentlemen, who take to politics late in life,
without the early special training which fitted for it the last
I fear that the time may come when to be in the House of Commons may be
thought a bore, a somewhat vulgar spouting club, like the Marylebone
Vestry, or the City of London Common Council.
I do not know whether Lord Derby has gained much in the last four months,
but Lord John has certainly lost. His Reform Bill was a very crude
_gachis,_ without principle, and I think very mischievous. I ventured to
say nearly as much to Lord Lansdowne, who sat by my sofa for an hour on
Sunday, and he did not take up its defence. Then his opposition to the
present Ministry has been factious, and to punish him, he was left the
other day in a minority of fifty per cent. People begin now to speculate
on the possibility of Lord Derby's reconstructing his minority on rather
a larger basis, and maintaining himself for three or four years; which,
in these times, is a good old age for a Minister. One admirable result of
these changes is the death of Protection. Those who defended it in
opposition are found to abandon it now they are in power. So it has not a
Pray send me word, by yourself or by Mrs. Grote, when you leave Paris. My
vacation begins on May 8, but I shall not move unless I recover the use
of my legs, nor then I think, if I find that you will be absent.
Kindest regards to Madame de Tocqueville.
Paris, November 13, 1852.
I am unlucky, my dear Senior, about your letters of introduction. You
know how much I have wished and tried to make the acquaintance of Lord
and Lady Ashburton, but without success. I should also, I am sure, have
had great pleasure in meeting Mr. Greg.
This time I was prevented by ill health.
* * * * *
Two or three months ago, I wrote to you from the country a letter which
was addressed to Kensington. Did you receive it? and if so, why have you
not answered it?
I wrote upon politics, but especially I asked you about yourselves, your
occupations and projects, some questions to which I was very anxious to
have answers. At any rate, do now what you ought to have done then--write
I do not now write about politics, because we do not talk, or at least
write about them in France any more than in Naples; besides, such
subjects are not suitable to an invalid.
I will only tell you, as important and authentic pieces of information,
that the new court ladies have taken to trains and little pages, and that
the new courtiers hunt the stag with their master in the Forest of
Fontainebleau in dresses of the time of Louis XIV. and cocked hats.
Good-bye! Heaven preserve you from the mistakes which lead to
revolutions, and from the revolutions which lead to masquerades. A
thousand kind regards.
A. DE TOCQUEVILLE.
London, December 4, 1852.
My dear Tocqueville,--Your letter of November 13 is, I think, the first
that I have received from you since March.
That which you addressed to me at Kensington, two months ago, did not
reach me. I have written to you one or two; I do not know with what
I grieve to hear of rheumatism and pleurisy. You say nothing of Madame de
Tocqueville, whence I hope that I may infer that she, at least, is well.
We have all been flourishing. We passed the vacation in Wales and
Ireland, and brought back a curious journal, which I hope to send or
bring to you.
I do not think that I shall venture to Paris at Christmas, though Ellice
and Thiers are trying to persuade me. I have too vivid a recollection of
the fog, cold, and dirt of last year; but I fully resolve to be with you
at Easter--that is, about March 24.
The present Government, with all its want of principle and truth, and
with all its want of experience, is doing much better than I expected.
The law reforms are far bolder than any that _my_ friends ever proposed,
and the budget, which was brought forward last night, contains more that
is good, and less that is bad, than was hoped or feared.
Its worst portion is the abolition of half the malt tax, which leaves all
the expense of collection undiminished, besides being a removal of a tax
on a luxury which I do not wish to see cheaper. It is probable, however,
that the doubling of the house tax will be rejected, in which case
Disraeli will probably retain the malt tax, and the budget will sink into
a commonplace one.
The removal of certain burdens on navigation and the change in the income
tax are thought good, and generally the Government has gained by the
budget. I am now inclined to think that it may last for some months
longer--perhaps for some years.
In the meantime we are in a state of great prosperity: high wages, great
accumulation of capital, low prices of consumable articles, and high
prices of stocks and land.
February 27, 1853.
My dear Tocqueville,--I profit by Sir H. Ellis's visit to write, not
venturing to trust the post.
We are grieved to hear that both you and Madame de Tocqueville have been
suffering. _We_ have borne this disagreeable winter better than perhaps
we had a right to expect; but still we have suffered.
Mrs. Grote tells me that you rather complain that the English newspapers
approve of the marriage; a marriage which you all disapprove.
The fact is that we like the marriage precisely because you dislike it.
We are above all things desirous that the present tyranny should end as
quickly as possible. It can end only by the general alienation of the
French people from the tyrant; and every fault that he commits delights
us, because it is a step towards his fall. To say the truth, I wonder
that you do not take the same view, and rejoice over his follies as
leading to his destruction.
Our new Government is going on well as yet. As the Opposition has turned
law reformers, we expect law reform to go on as rapidly as is consistent
with the slowly-innovating temper of the English. Large measures
respecting charities, education, secondary punishments, and the transfer
of land are in preparation, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer is at
work on the difficult--I suspect the insoluble--problem of an equitable
income tax. I foresee, however, a rock ahead.
This is reform of the constituencies. Lord John Russell, very sillily,
promised two years ago a new Reform Bill.
Still more sillily he introduced one last year, and was deservedly turned
out for it.
Still more sillily the present Government has accepted his
responsibility, and is pledged to bring in a measure of reform next year.
I have been trying to persuade them to pave the way by a Commission of
Inquiry, being certain that the facts on which we ought to agitate are
imperfectly known. But Lord John is unfavourable, and the other Ministers
do not venture to control the leader of the House of Commons. There will,
therefore, be no previous inquiry; at least only the indirect one which
the Government can make for itself. The measure will be concocted in
secrecy, will be found open to unforeseen objections; it will be thrown
out in the House, and will excite no enthusiasm in the country. If the
Government dissolve, the new Parliament will probably be still more
opposed to it than the present Parliament will be; and the Government,
being beaten again, will resign.
Such is my prophecy.
_Prenez en acte_, and we will talk it over in May 1854.
I hope to be in Paris either for the Easter or for the Whitsun
vacation--that is, either about the 24th of March or the 5th of May
next--and I trust to find you and Madame de Tocqueville, if not quite
flourishing, at least quite convalescent.
[Footnote 1: Republished in the _Biographical Sketches_. Longmans:
[Footnote 2: The letter to which this is an answer is not to be
[Footnote 3: This letter is not to be found.--ED.]
[Footnote 4: Published in 1868.--ED.]
[Footnote 5: That of the Emperor.--ED.]
_Paris, May_ 9,1853.--I drank tea with the Tocquevilles. Neither of them
In February they were caught, on their journey from Tocqueville to Paris,
by the bitter weather of the beginning of that month. It produced
rheumatism and then pleurisy with him, and inflammation of the bowels
with her; and both are still suffering from the effects either of the
disorder or of the remedies.
In the summer Paris will be too hot and Tocqueville too damp. So they
have taken a small house at St. Cyr, about a mile from Tours, where they
hope for a tolerable climate, easy access to Paris, and the use of the
fine library of the cathedral. He entered eagerly on the Eastern
question, and agreed on all points with Faucher; admitted the folly and
rashness of the French, but deplored the over-caution which had led us to
refuse interference, at least effectual interference, and to allow
Turkey to sink into virtual subservience to Russia.
_Paris, Tuesday, May_ 17.--Tocqueville and I stood on my balcony, and
looked along the Rue de Rivoli and the Place de la Concorde, swarming
with equipages, and on the well-dressed crowds in the gardens below. From
the height in which we were placed all those apparently small objects, in
incessant movement, looked like a gigantic ant-hill disturbed.
'I never,' said Tocqueville, 'have known Paris so animated or apparently
so prosperous. Much is to be attributed to the saving of the four
previous years. The parsimony of the Parisians ended in 1850; but the
parsimony of the provinces, always great, and in unsettled times carried
to actual avarice, lasted during the whole of the Republic. Commercial
persons tell me that the arrival of capital which comes up for investment
from the provinces deranges all their calculations. It is like the sudden
burst of vegetation which you have seen during the last week. We have
passed suddenly from winter to summer.
'I own,' he continued, 'that it fills me with alarm. Among the
innumerable schemes that are afloat, some must be ill-founded, some must
be swelled beyond their proper dimensions, and some may be mere swindles.
The city of Paris and the Government are spending 150,000,000_l_. in
building in Paris. This is almost as much as the fortifications cost. It
has always been said, and I believe with truth, that the revolutionary
army of 1848 was mainly recruited from the 40,000 additional workmen whom
the fortifications attracted from the country, and left without
employment when they were finished. When this enormous extra-expenditure
is over, when the Louvre, and the new rue de Rivoli, and the Halles, and
the street that is to run from the Hotel de Ville to the northern
boundary of Paris, are completed--that is to say, when a city has been
built out of public money in two or three years--what will become of the
mass of discharged workmen?
'What will become of those on the railways if they are suddenly stopped,
as yours were in 1846? What will be the shock if the Credit Foncier or
the Credit Mobilier fail, after having borrowed each its milliard?
Everything seems to me to be preparing for one of your panics, and the
Government has so identified itself with the state of prosperity and
state of credit of the country that a panic must produce a revolution.
The Government claims the merit of all that is good, and of course is
held responsible for all that is bad. If we were to have a bad harvest,
it would be laid to the charge of the Emperor.
'Of course,' he continued, 'I do not desire the perpetuation of the
present tyranny. Its duration as a dynasty I believe to be absolutely
impossible, except in one improbable contingency--a successful war.
'But though, I repeat, I do not desire or expect the permanence of the
Empire, I do not wish for its immediate destruction, before we are
prepared with a substitute. The agents which are undermining it are
sufficiently powerful and sufficiently active to occasion its fall quite
as soon as we ought to wish for that fall.'
'And what,' I said, 'are those agents?'
'The principal agents,' he answered, 'are violence in the provinces and
corruption in Paris. Since the first outbreak there has not been much
violence in Paris. You must have observed that freedom of speech is
universal. In every private society, and even in every _cafe_ hatred or
contempt of the Government are the main topics of conversation. We are
too numerous to be attacked. But in the provinces you will find perfect
silence. Anyone who whispers a word against the Emperor may be
imprisoned, or perhaps transported. The prefects are empowered by one of
the decrees made immediately after the _coup d'etat_ to dissolve any
Conseil communal in which there is the least appearance of disaffection,
and to nominate three persons to administer the commune. In many cases
this has been done, and I could point out to you several communes
governed by the prefect's nominees who cannot read. In time, of course,
tyranny will produce corruption; but it has not yet prevailed extensively
in the country, and the cause which now tends to depopularise him _there_
is arbitrary violence exercised against those whom his agents suppose to
be their enemies.
'On the other hand, what is ruining him in Paris is not violence, but
'The French are not like the Americans; they have no sympathy with
smartness. Nothing so much excites their disgust as _friponnerie_. The
main cause that overthrew Louis Philippe was the belief that he and his
were _fripons_--that the representatives bought the electors, that the
Minister bought the representatives, and that the King bought the
'Now, no corruption that ever prevailed in the worst periods of Louis
XV., nothing that was done by La Pompadour or the Du Barry resembles what
is going on now. Duchatel, whose organs are not over-acute, tells me that
he shudders at what is forced on his notice. The perfect absence of
publicity, the silence of the press and of the tribune, and even of the
bar--for no speeches, except on the most trivial subjects, are allowed to
be reported--give full room for conversational exaggeration. Bad as
things are, they are made still worse. Now this we cannot bear. It hurts
our strongest passion--our vanity. We feel that we are _exploites_ by
Persigny, Fould, and Abbattucci, and a swarm of other adventurers. The
injury might be tolerated, but not the disgrace.
'Every Government in France has a tendency to become unpopular as it
continues. If you were to go down into the street, and inquire into the
politics of the first hundred persons whom you met, you would find some
Socialists, some Republicans, some Orleanists, &c., but you would find no
Louis Napoleonists. Not a voice would utter his name without some
expression of contempt or detestation, but principally of contempt.
'If then things take their course--if no accident, such as a fever or a
pistol-shot, cut him off--public indignation will spread from Paris to
the country, his unpopularity will extend from the people to the army,
and then the first street riot will be enough to overthrow him.'
'And what power,' I said, 'will start up in his place?'
'I trust,' answered Tocqueville, 'that the reins will be seized by the
Senate. Those who have accepted seats in it excuse themselves by saying,
"A time may come when we shall be wanted." Probably the Corps Legislatif
will join them; and it seems to me clear that the course which such
bodies will take must be the proclamation of Henri V.'
'But what,' I said, 'would be the consequences of the pistol-shot or the
'The immediate consequence,' answered Tocqueville, 'would be the
installation of his successor. Jerome would go to the Tuileries as easily
as Charles X. did, but it would precipitate the end. We might bear Louis
Napoleon for four or five years, or Jerome for four or five months.'
'It has been thought possible,' I said, 'that in the event of the Jerome
dynasty being overset by a military revolution, it might be followed by a
military usurpation; that Nero might be succeeded by Galba.'
'That,' said Tocqueville, 'is one of the few things which I hold to be
impossible. Nero may be followed by another attempt at a Republic, but if
any individual is to succeed him it must be a prince. _Mere_ personal
distinction, at least such as is within the bounds of real possibility,
will not give the sceptre of France. It will be seized by no one who
cannot pretend to an hereditary claim.
'What I fear,' continued Tocqueville, 'is that when this man feels the
ground crumbling under him, he will try the resource of war. It will be a
most dangerous experiment. Defeat, or even the alternation of success and
failure, which is the ordinary course of war, would be fatal to him; but
brilliant success might, as I have said before, establish him. It would
be playing double or quits. He is by nature a gambler. His
self-confidence, his reliance, not only on himself, but on his fortune,
exceeds even that of his uncle. He believes himself to have a great
military genius. He certainly planned war a year ago. I do not believe
that he has abandoned it now, though the general feeling of the country
forces him to suspend it. That feeling, however, he might overcome; he
might so contrive as to appear to be forced into hostilities; and such is
the intoxicating effect of military glory, that the Government which
would give us _that_ would be pardoned, whatever were its defects or its
'It is your business, and that of Belgium, to put yourselves into such a
state of defence as to force him to make his spring on Italy. There he
can do you little harm. But to us Frenchmen the consequences of war
_must_ be calamitous. If we fail, they are national loss and humiliation.
If we succeed, they are slavery.'
'Of course,' I said, 'the corruption that infects the civil service must
in time extend to the army, and make it less fit for service.
'Of course it must,' answered Tocqueville. 'It will extend still sooner
to the navy? The _materiel_ of a force is more easily injured by jobbing
than the _personnel_. And in the navy the _materiel_ is the principal.
'Our naval strength has never been in proportion to our naval
expenditure, and is likely to be less and less so every year, at least
during every year of the _regne des fripons_.'
_Tuesday, May_ 24.--I breakfasted with Sir Henry Ellis and then went to
I found there an elderly man, who did not remain long.
When he went, Tocqueville said, 'That is one of our provincial prefects.
He has been describing to us the state of public feeling in the South.
Contempt for the present Government, he tells us, is spreading there from
its headquarters, Paris.
'If the Corps Legislatif is dissolved, he expects the Opposition to
obtain a majority in the new House.
'This,' continued Tocqueville, 'is a state of things with which Louis
Napoleon is not fit to cope. Opposition makes him furious, particularly
Parliamentary opposition. His first impulse will be to go a step further
in imitation of his uncle, and abolish the Corps Legislatif, as Napoleon
did the Tribunat.
'But nearly half a century of Parliamentary life has made the French of
1853 as different from those of 1803 as the nephew is from his uncle.
'He will scarcely risk another _coup d'etat_; and the only legal mode of
abolishing, or even modifying, the Corps Legislatif is by a plebiscite
submitted by ballot to universal suffrage.
'Will he venture on this? And if he do venture, will he succeed? If he
fail, will he not sink into a constitutional sovereign, controlled by an
Assembly far more unmanageable than we deputies were, as the Ministers
are excluded from it?'
'Will he not rather,' I said, 'sink into an exile?'
'That is my hope,' said Tocqueville, 'but I do not expect it quite so
soon as Thiers does,'
St. Cyr, July 2, 1853.
I am not going to talk to you, my dear Senior, about the Emperor, or the
Empress, or any of the august members of the Imperial Family; nor of the
Ministers, nor of any other public functionaries, because I am a
well-disposed subject who does not wish that the perusal of his letters
should give pain to his Government. I shall write to you upon an
historical problem, and discuss with you events which happened five
hundred years ago. There could not be a more innocent subject.
I have followed your advice, and I have read, or rather re-read,
Blackstone. I studied him twenty years ago. Each time he has made upon me
the same impression. Now, as then, I have ventured to consider him (if
one may say so without blasphemy) 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 of 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 in the period immediately
after the conquest with those of France, you find between them, not only
an analogy, but a perfect resemblance, much greater than Blackstone seems
to think, or, at any rate, chooses to say. In reality, the system in the
two countries is identical. 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 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 have 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, and if any other eminent writers have treated this
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 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.
St. Cyr, December 8, 1853.
I must absolutely write to you to-day, my dear Senior. I have long been
wishing to do so, but have been deterred by the annoyance I feel at not
being able to discuss with you a thousand subjects as interesting to you
as they are to me, but which one cannot mention in a letter; for letters
are now less secret than ever, and to insist upon writing politics to our
friends is equivalent to their not hearing from us at all. But I may, at
any rate, without making the police uneasy, assure you of the great
pleasure with which we heard that you intended paying us a little visit
There is an excellent hotel at Tours, where you will find good
apartments; for the rest, I hope that you will make our house your inn.
We are near enough to Tours for me to walk there and back, and we
regulate our clocks by the striking of theirs; so you see that it is
difficult to be nearer.
I think that it is a capital idea of yours to visit French Africa. The
country is curious in itself, also on account of the contrasts afforded
by the different populations which spread over the land without ever
You will find them materials for some of those excellent and interesting
articles which you write so well. When you come I shall be able to give
you some useful information, for I have devoted much attention to
Algiers. I have here a long report which I drew up for the Chamber in
1846, which may give you some valuable ideas, though things have
considerably changed since that time.
Kind remembrances, &c.,
A. DE TOCQUEVILLE.
[The following are some more of Mrs. Grote's interesting notes. She
preceded Mr. Senior at St. Cyr.--ED.]
The notes relating to St. Cyr are memoranda of various conversations
which I enjoyed during a stay of some ten days or so at Tours, in
February 1854, with Monsieur Alexis de Tocqueville. I occupied an
apartment in the hotel at Tours, and on almost every day passed some
hours in the company of this interesting friend, who at this time lived
at St. Cyr, in a commodious country-house having its garden, &c, which he
rented. I drove out to dine there frequently, and M. de Tocqueville
walked over on the intervening days and stayed an hour or two at the
hotel with me talking incessantly.--H.G.
_St. Cyr, February_ 13, 1854,--The French allow no author to have a claim
to the highest rank unless he joins the perfection of style with the
instructiveness of his matter. Only four first-rate writers in the
eighteenth century--_grands ecrivains, comme grands penseurs originaux;_
these being Montesquieu, Voltaire, J.J. Rousseau, and Buffon. Helvetius
not _en premiere ligne_, because his _forme_ was not up to the mark.
Alexis himself is often hung up for days together, having the thoughts,
yet not hitting off the 'phrases' in a way to satisfy his critical ear as
Thinks that when a man is capable of originating a _belle pensee_, he
ought to be also capable of clothing that thought in felicitous language.
Thinks that a torpid state of political life is unfavourable to
intellectual product in general.
I instanced the case of Louis XIV. as contradicting this. Not admitted by
Tocqueville. The civil wars of Louis XIV.'s reign had engendered
considerable activity in the minds of the educated class. This activity
generated speculation and scientific inquiry in all the departments of
human thoughts. Abstract ideas became the field on which thinkers
occupied themselves. No _practical_ outlet under despotism, but a certain
social fermentation nevertheless existing, and the want of making itself
a vent impelled intellectual life and writings. I instanced Louis XV. 'At
least,' I said, 'the torpor of political life was become yet more a
habit,' 'Yes,' said Alexis, 'but then there was the principle of
discontent very widely diffused, which was the germ of the revolution of
1789. This restless, disaffected state of the national mind gave birth to
some new forms of intellectual product, tending to rather more distinct
practical results, which filtered down among the middle classes, and
became the objects of their desires and projects.' Rousseau and Voltaire
eminently serviceable in leading the public sentiment towards the middle
of the eighteenth century.
English writers and statesmen having always enjoyed the power of applying
their minds to actual circumstances, and of appealing through a free
press and free speech also to the public of their day, have never
addressed themselves, as French philosophers did, to the cultivation of
abstract speculations and general theories. Here and there a writer has
been thrown, by his individual tastes and turn of thought, upon the study
of political philosophy; but the Englishman, taken as a public writer,
commonly addresses himself to practical legislation rather than to
recondite studies or logical analysis and investigation of the relations
between mankind and their regulations under authorised powers. Since Lord
Bacon there have been few, excepting in our later times Mill, Bentham,
and his disciples, who have explored the metaphysics of jurisprudence and
moral science in England. Hume dealt in the philosophic treatment of
political subjects, but did not work them up into anything like a
coherent system. English are not fond of generalities, but get on by
their instincts, bit by bit, as need arises.
Alexis thinks that the writers of the period antecedent to the revolution
of 1789 were quite as much _thrown up by_ the condition of public
sentiment as they were the exciters of it. Nothing _comprehensive_, in
matters of social arrangement, can be effected under a state of things
like that of England; so easy there for a peculiar grievance to get
heard, so easy for a local or class interest to obtain redress against
any form of injustice, that legislation _must_ be 'patching.' Next to
impossible to reorganise a community without a revolution.
Alexis has been at work for about a year in _rummaging_ amid archives,
partly in those of the capital, partly in those of the Touraine. In this
last town a complete collection is contained of the records of the old
'Intendance,' under which several provinces were governed. Nothing short
of a continuous and laborious poring over the details of Government
furnished by these invaluable _paperasses_ could possibly enable a
student of the past century to frame to himself any clear conception of
the working of the social relations and authorities in old France. There
exists no such tableau. The manners of the higher classes and their daily
life and habits are well portrayed in heaps of memoirs, and even pretty
well understood by our contemporaries. But the whole structure of
society, in its relations with the authorised agents of supreme power,
including the pressure of those secondary obligations arising out of
_coutumes du pays_, is so little understood as to be scarcely available
to a general comprehension of the old French world before 1789.
Alexis says that the reason why the great upheaving of that period has
never been to this day sufficiently appreciated, never sufficiently
explained, is because the actual living hideousness of the social details
and relations of that period, seen from the points of view of a
penetrating contemporary looker-on, has never yet been depicted in
true colours and with minute particulars. After having dived into the
social history of that century, as I have stated, his conviction is that
it was impossible that the revolution of 1789 should _not_ burst out.
Cause and effect were never more irrevocably associated than in this
terrible case. Nothing but the compulsory idleness and obscurity into
which Alexis has been thrown since December 1851 would have put even him
upon the researches in question. Few perhaps could have addressed
themselves to the task with such remarkable powers of interpretation, and
with such talents for exploring the connection between thought and action
as he is endowed with. Also he is singularly exempt from aristocratical
prejudices, and quite capable of sympathising with popular feeling,
though naturally not partial to democracy.
_February_ 15.--De Tocqueville came down in close carriage and sat an
hour and a half by fireside. Weather horrible. Talked of La Marck's book
on Mirabeau; said that the line Mirabeau pursued was perfectly well
known to Frenchmen prior to the appearance of La Marck's book; but that
the actual details were of course a new revelation, and highly valued
accordingly. Asked what we thought of it in England. I told him the
leading impression made by the book was the clear perception of the
impossibility of effecting any good or coming to terms in any manner of
way of the revolutionary leaders with such a Court. That we also had long
suspected Mirabeau of being what he was now proved to have been--a man
who, imbued though he was with the spirit of revolutionary action and the
conviction of the rightfulness of demanding prodigious changes, yet who
would willingly have directed the monarch in a method of warding off the
terrible consequences of the storm, and who would, if the Court had
confided to his hands the task of conciliating the popular feelings, have
perhaps preserved the forms of monarchy while affording the requisite
concessions to the national demands. But the Court was so steeped in the
old sentiment of divine right, and moreover so distrustful of Mirabeau's
honour and sagacity (the more so as he was insatiable in his pecuniary
requisitions), that they would never place their cause frankly in his
hands, nor indeed in anyone else's who was capable of discerning their
best interests. Lafayette was regarded as an enemy almost (and was
'jaloused' by Mirabeau as being so popular) on account of his popular
sympathies. De Tocqueville said that so diffused was the spirit of
revolution at the period preceding the convocation of the Etats-generaux,
that the elder Mirabeau, who was a very clever and original-minded man,
though strongly tinctured with the old feudal prejudices, nevertheless
let the fact be seen in the clearest manner in his own writings. He wrote
many tracts on public topics, and De Tocqueville says that the tone in
which Mirabeau (_pere_) handles these proves that he was perfectly
cognisant of the universal spread of revolutionary opinions, and even in
some degree influenced by them in his own person. Mirabeau (the son) was
so aware of the absolute necessity of proclaiming himself emancipated
from the old feudalities, that, among other extravagances of his conduct,
he started as a shopkeeper at Marseilles for some time, by way of
fraternizing with the _bourgeoisie; afficheing_ his liberalism. De
Tocqueville quoted Napoleon as saying in one of his conversations at St.
Helena that he had been a spectator _from a window_ of the scene at the
Tuileries, on the famous August 10, 1792, and that it was his conviction
(Napoleon's) that, even at that stage, the revolution might have been
averted--at least, the furious character of it might have been turned
aside--by judicious modes of negotiation on the part of the King's
advisers. De Tocqueville does not concur in Napoleon's opinion.
'Cahiers,' published 1789, contain the whole body of instructions
supplied to their respective delegates by the _trois etats (clerge,
noblesse, et Tiers Etat_), on assembling in convocation. Of this entire
and voluminous collection (which is deposited in the archives of France)
three volumes of extracts are to be bought which were a kind of _redige_
of the larger body of documents. In these three volumes De Tocqueville
mentioned, one may trace the course of the public sentiment with perfect
clearness. Each class demanded a large instalment of constitutional
securities; the nobles perhaps demanded the largest amount of all the
three. Nothing could be more thoroughgoing than the requisitions which
the body of the _noblesse_ charged their delegates to enforce in the
Assembly of the Etats-generaux--'egalisations des charges (taxation),
responsabilite des ministres, independance des tribunaux, liberte de la
personne, garantie de la propriete contre la couronne,' a balance-sheet
annually of the public expenses and public revenue, and, in fact, all the
salient privileges necessary in order to enfranchise a community weary of
despotism. The clergy asked for what they wanted with equal resolution,
and the _bourgeoisie_ likewise; but what the nobles were instructed to
demand was the boldest of all. We talked of the letters of the writers of
the eighteenth century, and of the correspondence of various eminent men
and women with David Hume, which Mr. Hill Burton has published in a
supplementary volume in addition to those comprised in his life of David
Hume, and which I have with me. I said that the works of Hume being
freely printed and circulated caused great pleasure to the French men of
letters, mingled with envy at the facility enjoyed by the Englishman of
publishing anything he chose; the French writers being debarred, owing to
the importunity of the clergy with Louis XV., from publishing freely
their works in France, and only managing to get themselves printed by
employing printers at the Hague, Amsterdam, and other towns beyond the
limits of the kingdom. To my surprise, De Tocqueville replied that this
disability, so far from proving disadvantageous to the _esprits forts_ of
the period, and the encyclopaedic school, was a source of gain to them in
every respect. Every book or tract which bore the stamp of being printed
at the Hague or elsewhere, _out of France_, was speedily caught up and
devoured. It was a passport to success. Everyone knowing that, since it
was printed there, it must be of a nature to give offence to the ruling
powers, and especially to the priesthood, and as such, all who were
imbued with the new opinions were sure to run after books bearing this
certificate of merit. De Tocqueville said that the _savans_ of 1760-1789
would not have printed in France, had they been free to do so, at the
period immediately preceding the accession of Louis XVI.
Talked of Lafayette: said he was as great as pure, good intentions and
noble instincts could make a man; but that he was _d'un esprit mediocre_,
and utterly at a loss how to turn affairs to profit at critical
junctures--never knew what was coming, no political foresight. Mistake in
putting Louis Philippe on the throne _sans garantie_ in 1830; misled by
his own disinterested character to think better of public men than he
ought to have done. Great personal integrity shown by Lafayette during
the Empire, and under the Restoration: not to be cajoled by any monarch.
_February_ 16.--The current fallacy of Napoleon having made the important
alterations in the laws of France. All the eminent new enactments
originated in the Constituent Assembly, only that they set to work in
such sledgehammer fashion, that the carrying out their work became
extremely troublesome and difficult. Too abstract in their notions to
estimate difficulties of detail in changing the framework of
jurisprudence. De Tocqueville said philosophers must always originate
laws, but men used to active practical life ought to undertake to direct
the transition from old to new arrangements. The Constituent Assembly did
prodigious things in the way of clearing the ground of past abominations.
Napoleon had the talent of making their work take effect; understood
administrative science, but rendered the centralising principle far too
predominant, in the view to consolidate his own power afterwards. France
has felt this, to her cost, ever since.
Habit formerly (i.e. 300 years back) as prevalent in France as it is in
England of gentlemen of moderate fortune residing wholly or by far the
greater part of the year on their estates. They ceased to do so from
the time when the sovereign took from them all local authority, from the
fifteenth century or so. The French country-houses were excessively
thickly dotted over the land even up to the year 1600; quantities pulled
down after that period. Country life becoming flat after the gentlemen
ceased to be of importance in their political relations with their
districts, they gave up rural habits and took to living in the provincial
De Tocqueville had many conversations with M. Royer Collard respecting
the events of 1789. Difficult to get much out of men of our period
relative to their own early manhood. His own father (now 82) much less
capable of communicating details of former _regime_ than might have been
supposed. Because, says De Tocqueville, youths of eighteen to twenty
hardly ever possess the faculty or the inclination to note social
peculiarities. They accept what they find going, and scarcely give a
thought to the contemplation of what is familiar to them and of every
day's experience. Royer Collard was a man of superior mind: had a great
deal to relate. De Tocqueville used to pump him whenever an opportunity
occurred. Knew Danton well, used to discuss political affairs with him.
When revolution was fairly launched, saw him occasionally. Danton was
venal to the last degree; received money from the Court over and over
again; 'agitated,' and was again sopped by the agents of Marie
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