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Correspondence and conversations of Alexis de Tocqueville with Nassau William Senior from 1834-1859 [Vol. I - 1872] - Alexis de Tocqueville



    Alexis de TocquevilleWITH

    Nassau William Senior

    FROM 1834 TO 1859*





    LONDONHenry S. King & Co., 65 Cornhill




    All rights reserved


    One day in the year 1833 a knock was heard at thedoor of the Chambers in which Mr. Senior was sitting at

    work, and a young man entered who announced himselfin these terms: 'Je suis Alexis de Tocqueville, et je

    viens faire votre connaissance,' He had no other intro-duction.

    Alexis de Tocqueville was at that time unknown to

    fame. His great work on America had not yet ap-peared.

    Mr. Senior, however, perceived at once the extra-

    ordinary qualities of his new acquaintance. M. de

    Tocqueville became a frequent visitor in Mr. Senior's

    house, and the intimacy thus begun was continued by

    letter or conversation without interruption (indeed

    every year drew it closer) until the premature death of

    Tocqueville in 1859.

    Soon after that event Mr. Senior collected and ar-

    ranged his letters and conversations with a view to

  • iv Preface.

    their publication at some future time : some extracts

    from them appeared in the ' Memoir of Tocqueville


    pubHshed in 1861.

    I have thought it would add to the interest of the

    correspondence to print Mr. Senior's letters, which were

    sent to me by M. de Beaumont after my father's death.I wish that I could have reproduced the French as

    well as the English originals, as I cannot hope in a

    translation to give an idea of the force or the grace of

    M, de Tocqueville's style.

    Mrs. Grote has kindly permitted me to insert in these

    volumes her notes of conversations in 1849 and 1854.

    I have included Mr. Senior's journal of a visit which

    we paid to Madame de Tocqueville after the death ofthe great philosopher. She had collected round her

    three or four of his most intimate friends, and he seemed

    to be still amongst us, for we talked of him continuallyand he was never absent from our thoughts. Howmuch we wished that we could once more hear his voice,which, sweet, low, and varied in its tones, added so muchto the charm of his conversation.

    In person he was small and delicate. He had verythick and rather long black hair, soft yet brilliant dark

    eyes, and a finely marked- brow. The upper lip waslong and the mouth wide, but sensitive and expressive.

    His manner was full of kindness and playfulness, and

    his fellow-countrymen used to say of him that he was

  • Preface. v

    a perfect specimen of the ' gentilhomme de I'ancien


    Although he had a keen sense of humour, his counte-

    nance was sad in repose. Indeed the 'fond' of his

    character was sad, partly from sensitiveness, partly

    from ill-health. The period in which his lot was castwas not calculated to raise his spirits ; he foresaw, only

    too clearly, the troubled future in store for France.

    The convulsions of the last two years, while theywould have deeply pained, would not have surprised

    him ; and though France could ill afford to lose such a

    man, his friends may find some consolation in the reflec-

    tion that he is at rest.

    M. C. M. Simpson.Kensington : May 7, 1872.

  • Digitized by tlie Internet Arcliive

    in 2007 witli funding fromIVIicrosoft Corporation



    Written in 1859.

    I WAS honoured by the friendship of Alexis de Tocque-ville for twenty-six yearsfrom 1833 to 1859but I

    did not attempt to preserve his conversations until 1848.

    In the May of that year I visited Paris, and I was somuch struck by the strange things which I saw andheard, that I took notes of them, which swelled into a

    regular Journal.

    The practice once begun, I continued during my sub-sequent travels, and these volumes contain perhaps the

    most valuable part of my Journalsthat which was con-tributed to them by M. de Tocqueville.Of course his conversation loses enormously by tran-

    slation. Its elegance and finesse could not be retained,

    but its knowledge and wisdom were less- volatile, and Ihave reason to hope that they have been, to a certain

    extent, preserved.

  • viii Introductory Note to the Conversations.

    In general I sent M. de Tocqueville my reports asthey were written, and he corrected them before they

    were copied.

    In one or two cases he made notes on the fair copy.That nothing of his might be lost I have reproduced

    the originals with his notes.

    Nassau William Senior.



    Letters from 1834 to 1848.PAGE

    Mr. Senior's criticisms on the ' Democratie ' 3M. de Tocqueville's answer ........ 6On M. de Beaumont's 'Marie' ....... 10On the ' Bien des pauvres ' .10Poor Law Report 12Timidity of English Ministry........ 14Whig Ministry necessarily more honest than Tory .... 14Reform Bill in reality a Revolution ,

    . . . . .15Prosperity of France . . . . . . . . .16Conversion of the Funds . . . . . . . .17Instability of French Ministry

    . . . . . ..18

    Absorption of M. de Tocqueville in preparing the latter volumes ofthe ' Democratie'........ 20

    Further criticisms on the ' Democratie ' . . . . . .22Comparison of the French and English . . . . . .22Indifference of the general public in England to conquest . . 23Causes which regulate wages . . . . . . . .24Treaty for the suppression of the Slave Trade

    .. . . . -27Should M. Guizot have resigned ? . . . . . . .27Mr. Senior's opinion that he should not 29Article on Ireland.......... 30Anxiety in France.......... 32Want of Aristocratic element........ 33Excess of the Monarchical 34

  • X Contents of the First VoltLine.


    False notions of the French on Political Economy .... 35Causes of Revolution of 1848. ....... 35Speech of M. de Tocqueville, January 27, 1848 .... 36Government of Louis Philippe ....... 37Emeute of April 16 39Attack on the Assembly, May 15 40

    Journal in Paris^ 1848.

    Tocqueville's account of May 15 41Why the Assembly should work ill ...... 44Dinner at Tocqueville's......... 44Characters of French Statesmen ....... 45Expectations of a street fight........ 46Frenchmen never bold on the defensive .47Garde Mobile 48Character of Lamartine ........ 49Comparison between the Revolutions 1789 and 1848 ... 50Contempt has taken the place of hatred against the upper classes . 5


    Decrease in the influence of women . . . . .-Si

    Letters in 1849.

    Foreign policy of English MinistersUniversal listlessness in FranceProbable character of the new AssemblyIncrease of the influence of the upper classes .English politics ......


    Notes by Mrs. Grote.

    M, de Tocqueville's account of the days of JuneStory of the ' Rouge ' Concierge .


    Journal in Paris, 1849

    Terms of peace between Austria and PiedmontPrussian aggrandisement dangerous to France


    Tocqueville's difficulties as a speakerDistinction between noble and roturier .Exertion of public speaking ....Bores in the House ....


  • Contents of the First Volume. XI

    Letter from Mr. Senior^ December 1849.

    Bugeaud's account of Febraary 24PACK


    Jotinial in Paris, 1850.

    Tocqueville disapproves of what is going on .Believes that the present Constitution might be made to workDanger of historical parallels .Objects of the Conservative party .Probable result of an EmeuteGreek affairs .....Absolute government of Louis Philippe


    Its foundation a quick sandPopularity of Lord NormanbyAll parties conspiring ....No end to Revolution in our time .No hero cast up by the Revolution of 1848Foreign policy of Lord PalmerstonPosition of clergy in France


    Depression of the Due de Broglie .Revolution of 1789 has never ceasedReview of French History from 1789 to 1850Greek affairs

    . . ...

    Preference of egalite to liberty

    Definition of egalite ....





    Journal in Normandy, 1850.

    Description of Chateau de TocquevilleThe Reign of TerrorNew election law


    Prospects of the four great parties

    Republicans powerless .Orleanists unpopularLegitimists associated with feudalismProbable re-election of the PresidentProbabilities of a FusionState of Religion ....Re-action after 1789Religion as an engine of Government







  • xii Contents of the First Vohune.

    PAGEObservances of Catholicism 107Farming at Tocqueville......... 108Condition of the peasantry ........ 109Extent and value of estate . . . . . . . . 1 10Agriculture affected by instability

    . . . .. . .Ill

    Thiers' History of the Empire . . . . . . .112Character of Napoleon I. . . . . . . . ,113Tocqueville hopes to write his history . . . . . .114Country-house life

    . . . . . . .. -USPaucity of modem great men . . . . . . .116Character of Peel

    . . . . . . . .. .116

    Character of Wellington. . . . . . . "7

    OfSoult, Bugeaud, and Lamoricifere . . . . . .118Nicholas intolerant of Constitutional Monarchy . . . "9French Army .......... 120Warlike propensities of the French . . . . . .121New education law ......... I2lEcole Polytechnique

    . . . . . . .. .122

    Exclusiveness of country society ....... 122French marriages