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rich in thought and fervent in expression, will be made public, and will give us new revelations of a period now, thanks to the powers that be, by no means comprehended.

In the biography prefixed to the letters, we have a modest and ingenuous testimonial of a lifelong friend, displaying to us a comparatively uneventful, and yet an enviable career. It is undoubtedly open to the censure applicable to so many biographies, that it depicts in exaggerated colors the virtues, and is silent respecting the defects, of the subject. But we may well excuse this partiality in a lifelong friend; still less are we able to deprecate it, inasmuch as the testimony of all who knew him coincides in giving De Tocqueville a character nearly as exemplary as that ascribed to him by his biographer. M. de Beaumont merits approbation for the delicacy with which he has avoided anything tending to offend the sensitiveness of living persons, the good taste he has manifested in the selection of private letters, the accuracy with which he has detailed public and private events, and the earnest desire he evinces to make his work a fair memorial of a life which he considers as a noble example for the imitation of philosophers and statesmen.

Alexis de Tocqueville was descended from a house which traces its origin back for many centuries. The name of the family was Clerel; but, being of gentle blood, they took their present surname of Tocqueville, which is derived from the ancient manor on which they have dwelt for many generations. Up to the middle of the seventeenth century, they lived at Rampan, a small village near St. Lo, whence they were formerly known as the Clerels de Rampan. The ancestry of Alexis, under this name, occupied an honorable, and often an eminent, rank among their contemporaries. They appear to have been actively engaged in political and military events, and to have established a family reputation, which has been worthily sustained to the present day. They were a chivalric and spirited race, and were distinguished for that lofty sense of honor, which especially marked the higher orders of French society in former times. The courtesy, energy, and independence of the ancient noblesse are easily discernible in the character of the scion of the house of Clerel of whose life we are writing.

During the seventeenth century, the Clerels removed to a small settlement on the coast of Normandy, named Tocqueville, possibly from Toki, an ancient chief in those parts. Here the heirs of the family have resided down to the present time; spending their lives in the dignity and ease of landed gentlemen, indulging in rural sports, and assuming honorable responsibilities, looked up to with respect by their humbler neighbors, and occasionally emerging to take a distinguished part in political and military movements. The father of Alexis was heir of the manor, and early came into the possession of his patrimony. During the brief and delusive lull which, in 1793, intervened between the execution of Louis XIV. and the gloomy tyranny of the Jacobins, he married Mademoiselle de Rosambo, a grand-daughter of the celebrated Malesherbes. That heroic old loyalist, after defending, at the peril of his life, the king whom he loved, before the insurgent Convention, had retired in despair to mourn the death of his sovereign, and to deplore the ruin of his country. It was a sad time in which to celebrate a marriage, and the festivities were brief and unostentatious. The felicities of the honeymoon were soon dissipated by the horrors which attended the nation without a ruler; for within a year after the celebration of the nuptials, the violence of the Revolutionists, which everywhere sought the destruction of the ancient aristocracy, descended upon their family, and the venerable statesman, after witnessing the execution of his daughter, grand-daughter, and her husband, Châteaubriand, himself paid the penalty of his devotion to royalty upon the scaffold. Even the youthful Count and his bride were seized and imprisoned for the pretended crimes of her ancestors, and would have shared a like fate, had not the fall of Robespierre restored them to freedom. They hastened from the Conciergerie to Tocqueville, where they found that their villa had happily escaped anarchical fury; and here they resided in seclusion for many years.

Alexis was born at Paris, on the 29th of July, 1805. Не was the third son, his two older brothers, Hippolyte and Edward, both of whom survived him, holding by courtesy the titles of Viscount and Baron de Tocqueville. They are frequently mentioned in his letters, and always with warm affec

tion. Although they have held a respectable position in society, they have not become eminent, and are not remarkable for those high qualities of mind which distinguished Alexis. Although his father was an aristocrat, and in good circumstances, his early education does not appear to have been well cared for. But a love of books was natural to him; and so assiduously did he devote himself to study, when his mind was sufficiently ripe to appreciate the value of knowledge, that he succeeded in entering the college of Metz about 1820; and in 1822 he was awarded the first prize in rhetorical composition. All his tastes led him to desire active, and at the same time intellectual pursuits; and he chose the law for his profession. He was soon appointed Juge Auditeur of Versailles, where his father was Prefect. He had, in the year before his appointment, made a tour of Italy and Sicily in company with his brother Edward, a journal of which we find in the volumes before us. The great subjects which subsequently engrossed his thoughts appear to have agitated him thus early in his career. Instead of dwelling upon the stately palaces and renowned temples, the relics of ancient art and the marvels of modern skill, he investigated the manners of the people, their political, moral, and religious tendencies, their estimation of and capacity for government, and the comparative intelligence and virtue of ancient and modern Italy. He was already gathering that rich fund of experience, and attaining that high capacity for observation, which years afterward enabled him to step, with one effort, into the first rank of political philosophers. His early impressions, derived from a mother who had

a witnessed the tragical desolation of her family, and who was in the midst of the terrible scenes enacted by the Revolutionists, had made him an earnest and thoughtful student of the causes and influence of those stirring events. He was fired with the contemplation of the wrongs suffered by his kindred and his countrymen, which stimulated him to attempt the interpretation of the great enigma of the eighteenth century. He had learned from the lips of surviving witnesses the contempt of order, the desecration of religion, the fierce Vandalism, and the prostitution of the name of liberty, which composed the salient features of Jacobin ascendency. He had himself experienced the degradation of the higher orders, and the subversion of the established status of society; he saw that the dangers of pure democracy counterbalanced, among a mercurial and restless race like the French, the evils of monarchy; and yet he was forced to admit that liberty and progress were incompatible with the bigoted government of Charles X. Hence we find him, at the early age of nineteen, considering the political condition of the countries through which he travelled, and deducing inferences applicable to France. Having entered upon his magisterial duties in 1827, he brought to their discharge vigilance and acuteness, and soon achieved eminence in his department. But the narrow drudgery of the bench failed to satisfy the craving of his restless and comprehensive mind. As a relief to the tedious routine of his office, he turned aside with De Beaumont, his colleague and friend, to the congenial study of history. The enthusiasm with which he pursued his favorite researches, the sagacity with which he unravelled causes and effects from the dry materials of facts and dates, and the discernment with which he deduced general principles from the habits and opinions of different ages, and by comparing different nations, predicted, when he had scarcely attained his majority, the certainty of future triumphs.

Meanwhile, the political events of 1827 – 8 portended convulsions of an extraordinary nature. The popular party began to manifest symptoms of resistance to the established order. The Legitimists, encouraged by a monarch who, to a weak and capricious intellect, added a stubborn indifference to the welfare of his people, and who did not hesitate to assert his belief in the divine right of the crown, resisted with firmness the appeals for reform which came up to Paris from every part of the nation. Literary controversy and theoretical speculation were fomenting discontent throughout the land. Charles, remembering that his prototype and namesake of England had fallen by yielding, vainly imagined that he could sustain himself by resisting. De Tocqueville, who had studied history differently, and, as subsequent events proved, far more sagaciously, looked upon the course of the king with misgiving, and predicted his inevitable downfall when Polignac became First Minister.


The young philosopher, nevertheless, viewed with dread the approach of another revolution. He saw, on one side, the intelligence, the religion, the moral and intellectual element of France; on the other, an irresponsible and anarchical power, composed of an ignorant and unreasoning mass. While the monarchy was sustained by the virtue, the revolution was sustained by the iniquity and vice of the nation. If the monarchy successfully resisted its antagonists, and built its permanence on the oppression of the people, he could see no hope of preserving the cause of constitutional liberty. If another revolution should prevail over the established order, demolishing with a sudden stroke the status which was scarcely recovered from the shock of 1789, followed by a usurpation of fanatics and atheists, with all the disastrous results of anarchy and bloodshed, there seemed but little better prospect of the restoration of tranquillity and freedom. If he had been a selfish man, his interest would have led him to support the

His father had been created a peer of France by Louis XVIII. He belonged to the old noblesse, which after the vicissitudes of 1789, and the Empire, had been restored with the Bourbon dynasty. Most of the influence he then possessed, was owing to his high birth and connections. His family had been prominent among the victims of Robespierre and Marat. He was just now entering a career which promised the richest rewards of genius. But with all these influences, he could not support a dynasty which prided itself on its opposition to the popular demand, which was gradually undermining the remnants of liberty bequeathed by the first Revolution, and which feared innovation as the instrument of its destruction. The revolution came: it was accomplished without blood ; the king was driven from the capital, and the Duc d'Orleans, his cousin, was raised to the throne. De Tocqueville was neutral in the contest. He now with great reluctance and disinclination took the oath prescribed by the new government, in the faint hope that a change for the better had been made, and that the new king would be forced to govern constitutionally, as a means of safety.

He taught himself to bear what could not be remedied, yet did not approve what his conscience condemned. He rather acquiesced

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