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the associations of his Norman home, but even the form which it assumed in his mind was without doubt affected by parental instruction.
He was born in Paris, where the family were then living, on the 29th of July, 1805, and was baptized by the name of Alexis Charles Henri Clerel de Tocqueville. Shortly afterward he was carried to his father's estate in a pannier fastened on the side of a horse, while his nurse rode on a pillion. According to De Beaumont, his early intellectual culture, which was confided to the care of the Abbé Lesueur, was much neglected; but when he was old enough to do so he entered the College of Metz, of which town his father was then Prefect. Here he did not at first attain a very high rank in the classics, though he soon acquired great skill in French composition, and in 1822 carried off the first prize in rhetoric. On leaving college he determined to adopt the law as a profession, and after completing his legal studies he visited Italy and Sicily in company with an elder brother, the Baron, afterward Vicomte Edouard de Tocqueville. Of this tour he left a voluminous narrative, which he deemed unworthy of publication, as appears from an indorsement on the cover of one of the manuscript volumes. The portion published by De Beaumont after his death is not, however, without interest, and shows at how early an age his strong bias for political and social studies was developed. What struck him in Italy and Sicily were not so much the beauty of the sky and the scenery, and the grandeur of the ruins by which he was surrounded, as the institutions, the habits and tendencies of thought, and the domestic arrangements directly affecting the condition of the people. Thus we find him recording in his journal, immediately after landing in Sicily: “ The first thing that struck us was the total absence of glass windows.” And in another place he writes : “ The visitor who should confine himself to the coast of Sicily might easily believe her to be rich and flourishing, though there is not a more wretched country in the world ; he would consider it populous, whilst the fields are deserted, and will remain so till the subdivision of property and an outlet for produce, give the people a sufficient interest in the soil to call them back.” VOL. LXXIII. 5TH S. VOL. XI. NO. III.
Early in April, 1827, he was recalled to France by a royal mandate appointing him Juge Auditeur, a sort of prosecuting attorney, and attaching him to the inferior courts of Versailles. Among his colleagues was Gustave de Beaumont, then a young man of nearly the same age; and between them a friendship at once sprung up, which terminated only with death. Congeniality of tastes and disposition led them to pursue together the same course of historical and literary studies, which were all made subordinate to an investigation into the actual condition of France, with the view of applying the teachings of the past to the wants of the present hour. According to the survivor, De Tocqueville had appeared only a few times in the Cour d'Assises before he became distinguished; but we are inclined to think that this is a somewhat extravagant statement. It is probable, indeed, that he was always a grave and impressive speaker, and that “his serious turn of thought, and the ripeness of his judgment,” were apparent to every one, even at the age of twenty-two or twenty-three; but in one of his letters, written in the following July, to his earliest and most intimate friend, Louis de Kergorlay, he says, in answer to the inquiry low he likes his new position : “My knowledge of law was about equal to that which a young man who has just left college has of science. I have the raw material in my head, and that is all. When I have to apply the principles, I am quite bewildered; my incompetence throws me into despair. I am certainly more ignorant than any of my colleagues; and though my vanity, which is as great as that of others, tells me that, when I shall have worked as long as they have done, I shall be quite equal to them, I still feel hurt.” Nevertheless, it is certain that, while he was profoundly interested in the law as a study, it had few attractions to him as a profession. He continued, however, to discharge his official duties during the remainder of the reign of Charles X. and for a few months after the accession of Louis Philippe, to whose government he gave an unhesitating, though not perhaps a very cordial adhesion.
Animated by an ardent patriotism, and perceiving no way in which he could now render a useful service at home to his country, he determined to visit America, that he might study
on the spot the nature and working of the institutions under which the United States had risen to so marvellous a degree of prosperity, and then carry back to France the lessons of political wisdom which he had learned here. In order to accomplish this design, it was necessary for him to obtain leave of absence from his post, and some kind of official commission to open to him the best sources of information. Accordingly, in connection with his friend De Beaumont, he procured from the Ministry of the Interior an appointment to investigate the penitentiary system of the United States, and especially of the State of Pennsylvania ; but that this was not the real object of the travellers is certain from the positive statement of De Beaumont, as well as from the explicit language of De Tocqueville in a letter written at the time. “We set forth,” he wrote, under date of February 21, 1831, to his friend Eugène Stoffels, “ with the intention of examining as fully and as scientifically as possible all the springs of that vast machine, American society, everywhere talked of, and nowhere understood. And if public affairs at home give us time, we expect to bring back the materials for a valuable book, or at least a new book ; for there is nothing whatever estant on the subject.” The two friends embarked about the 1st of April, and landed in New York on the 10th of May, 1831. By the help of De Tocqueville's letters and a few extracts from his companion's journal, we can follow their course, and to some extent.can trace the progress of his opinions while here. Some of his earliest impressions were singularly false and absurd, but, for the most part, they were correctly taken, and were confirmed by subsequent observation and study: we find them in his later writings in nearly the same words in which they were recorded at first. In prosecution of the avowed object of their mission, the travellers carefully examined the great prisons at Auburn and Sing-Sing in the State of New York, at Wethersfield in Connecticut, and at Philadelphia, beside many other houses of confinement of lesser note; and then they turned their attention more directly to the purpose which they had especially in view. During their visit to this country, they appear to have accomplished two extensive and well-planned journeys. In the first instance,
they ascended the Hudson to Albany, from which place they proceeded to Buffalo, where they embarked for the West, visiting Detroit and other places on the way, and penetrating almost to the northern extremity of Lake Michigan. Of this part of the journey, De Tocqueville left a very charming narrative, which is printed by De Beaumont. On their return, they visited Niagara, spent some time in the two Canadas, and, ascending Lake Champlain, travelled through the New England States. In Boston, De Tocqueville saw Dr. Channing, toward whom he does not appear to have been much attracted at the time, though he was very strongly impressed by Dr. Tuckerman. Referring to the former in a letter written many years afterward, he says: “I thought him cold. I had been excited by his writings, but his conversation froze me. I was somewhat displeased, and never returned, and now regret my lost opportunity. But I knew well the Tuckermans whom you so well describe. Mr. Tuckerman and I were brought together by our common interest in prisons. The attractiveness of his admirable character made me see him frequently. What struck me as peculiarly lovable was, not so much the immense good that he did, nor the labor which he underwent for that purpose, as the pleasure which he took in this sacred employment, and the frankness with which he expressed that pleasure.” In the second instance, they travelled through Pennsylvania to Wheeling in Virginia, from which point they descended the Ohio, in December, to Louisville, where they took a stage over the rough Western roads of that day to Nashville. Thence they went to Memphis, in order to embark on a steamer for a voyage down the Mississippi ; but on the road to Memphis De Tocqueville was taken suddenly and dangerously ill, and it was not until the 1st of January, 1832, that they reached New Orleans. They returned through the Southern States, and then sailed for France, after nearly a year's absence.
The first-fruits of their Cisatlantic researches were De Beaumont's report “ On the Penitentiary System of the United States, and its Application to France,” which was published shortly after their return home, and De Tocqueville's “Democracy in America,” which appeared a few years later. The
first is a joint production, though it is commonly associated with the name of De Beaumont, rather than with that of De Tocqueville, and is a work of great and acknowledged ability. On its first publication, it attained a very considerable degree of success, and was soon translated into two or three languages. But even before its appearance its authors had ceased to have any official connection with the government. De Beaumont, having refused to take part in a prosecution which he deemed discreditable, was summarily dismissed from his office; and De Tocqueville, who warmly espoused his cause, at once tendered his own resignation, and followed him into retirement. The next two or three years were mainly occupied in the preparation of the “ Democracy in America," and in the studies connected with the subject. Keeping constantly in view his one great object of deriving from what he had seen here profitable instruction for his own countrymen, De Tocqueville threw his whole energies into the performance of his self-imposed task, and labored with a single-hearted devotion which was sure to be crowned with success. “Though I seldom mentioned France,” he says in a letter to Louis de Kergorlay in 1843, “ I did not write a page without thinking of her, and placing her as it were before me. And what I especially tried to draw out, and to explain in the United States, was, not the whole condition of that foreign society, but the points in which it differs from our own, or resembles us.” In a letter to Mr. J. S. Mill, written several years before, he makes a similar statement, — “ America was only the frame, my picture was democracy.” When the first two volumes were completed, it was with difficulty that he could find a publisher; and it was only after much hesitation and reluctance that the publication was undertaken by a well-known bookseller in Paris. « On the day before yesterday, I went again to Gosselin," he writes, in a letter to De Beaumont, dated in July, 1834. “If he had read my manuscript, the result of my visit would not have been flattering; for the more questions of his I answered about the book, the more frightened he became.” To this he adds,“ Gosselin is horribly afraid of losing, or at least of gaining very little, by my book.” The edition, we believe, was only of five hundred copies.