« ElőzőTovább »
For sixpence more, on the other side !
My Dear, I know that dreadful thought
If you're but prudent, year by year
My love to John! And pray, my Dear,
But, though you yet may much improve, In marriage be it still confess'd There's not much merit at the best. Some half-a-dozen lives, indeed, Which else would not have had the need, Get food and nurture, as the price Of ante-dated Paradise ; But what's that to the varied want Succour'd by Mary, your dear Aunt, Who put the bridal crown thrice by, For that of which virginity, So used, has hope. She sends her love, As usual with a proof thereof, Papa's Discourse, which you, no doubt, Heard none of, neatly copied out Whilst we were dancing. All are well. Adieu, for there's the Luncheon Bell.
(To be continued.)
ALEXIS DE TOCQUEVILLE 1
BY HENRY SIDGWICK.
In the cluster of great writers who were swept from the world in the fatal year 1859, Alexis de Tocqueville holds a distinguished place. Perhaps there is no foreign author of this century whose works have been received in England with so universal an echo of applause and assent. His first and only complete work—the “ Democracy in America”was, from the nature of its subject, one which especially excited English interest and appealed to English judg. ment: and the unique and strongly defined position which he occupies, as a political thinker, in France, gives him at once a peculiar value as a teacher for us, and a peculiar claim on our sympathy. He himself ever manifested a more than stranger's interest for England, where, as his correspondence will show, he had many friends : his admiration for our institutions and character was no mere theoretic enthusiasm, but was founded on a close acquaintance and a temperate
appreciation of our merits and faults alike: and he attached so much importance to the estimate formed in England of his writings, that in one letter he speaks of her as “almost a second fatherland intellectually.” It was only a fit testimony to these close relations, that English voices should join in the tribute of regret paid by his countrymen to his memory.
The recent publication, by M. Gustave de Beaumont, of his friend's remains, has been the signal for some utterances of English feeling. M. Beaumont's collection has been received, both in France and in England, with an eagerness fully merited. In the case of a man who wrote so little and so carefully as Tocqueville, the few fragments left behind unpublished are of peculiar value ; while the letters that M. Beaumont has given to the world seem to have been selected and arranged with skill and good taste; and the short memoir which forms a prelude to the collection is gracefully written, and shows an enlightened appreciation of Tocqueville's character, as well literary as personal.
1 - Memoir, Letters, and Remains of Alexis de Tocqueville. Translated from the French
o by the Translator of Napoleon's Correspondence with King Joseph. With large additions. Two
those of omission. In the first place, I think M. de Beaumont's refusal to publish anything that has not received the author's last touches, displays an excessive scrupulousness, an exaggerated sensitiveness for his friend's fame. It is tantalizing to learn how large and how valuable a portion of the fruits of Tocqueville's studies is kept from us for this reason. When we read those letters of Tocqueville, in which we are admitted, as it were, into his literary workshop; when we see the eager determination with which he ensures his originality, the laborious patience with which he gathers his ideas one by one in their native soil ; we feel that thoughts so slowly and carefully obtained ought not lightly to be withheld from the world, because they have not been completely arranged and polished. M. Beaumont himself notices how he "observed much and noted little ;" how rarely he found himself mistaken in those original notes; how rarely he did more than develop them; how frequently they were incorporated verbatim into the substance of the ultimate work. We cannot but regret that these cogent reasons did not induce his editor to modify his rigid resolution.
Nor is the brief memoir prefixed to the collection quite satisfactory. The sketch is flowing and interesting; the indications of character good as far as they go ; the criticisms of Tocqueville's writings just and appropriate. But M. Beaumont does not show us the man himself at all; he envelopes him in a veil of vague phrases and general expressions of praise, which leave no idea behind. He tells us, for instance, that " the striking features of Tocqueville's “ political life are firmness combined “ with moderation, and moral greatness ".combined with ambition.” Is not this worthy of Sir Archibald Alison ?
There is another omission, for which, however, no blame is due to M. Beaumont. The political life of Tocqueville, which began in 1840, and died at the death of French liberty, could necessarily only be sketched with the faintest
reference to the earlier part would have been, as M. Beaumont says, to revive antagonisms now buried in a common mourning ; while a more definite and obvious restraint compels the curtailing of the more recent letters. This forced imperfection in the picture is strongly felt. For, whether in public life or not, Tocqueville was eminently a politician. His patriotism was no intermittent enthusiasm, no latent fire-it was the guiding principle of his whole life. His sole profession was to devote the rare powers of thought that nature had bestowed on him to his country's service.
Fortunately this omission has been to a great extent supplied in the English translation, recently published, of M. Beaumont's book. This translation is enriched with several new fragments of correspondence, and some valuable extracts from the journal of Mr. Senior, one of Tocqueville's numerous English friends. Besides filling up the blank we have mentioned, these additions serve another important end ; 'they give us the talk of Tocqueville to compare with his writings. Both are marked by exactly the same traits; the same eager activity of mind; the same energetic originality ; that rich fertility in epigrams, which is not uncommon among the countrymen of Voltaire, but which in Tocqueville was kept in perfect restraint, 'so that the pointed phrase always served to make some truth more clear and impressive. Indeed he might himself have adopted a boast of Voltaire's that he quotes, “Madame, je n'ai jamais fait une phrase de ma vie ;" so free and natural are his most piquant sayings. That rare faculty of illustration, that fixes in the memory so many isolated passages in his writings, shows even more exuberantly in his conversation; while the rapidity with which his clear and ready mind seized every new fact, to systematize and generalize, contrasts well with the patient soberness of judgment that kept sifting and examining his first conclusions, till it evolved that calm and lucid exposition of causes
The difficulties of translation, in both matter and style, apparently withrespect of the letters, have been well out effort, to suit correspondents of the overcome by the English translator. It most various opinions, and the most is always a bold undertaking to trans- various degrees of intellectual culture. late French memoirs or correspondence, A comparison of the two first series of as the French language is so peculiarly letters in the book, those to his two adapted by nature to this kind of com- oldest friends, Louis de Kergorlay and position. And Tocqueville's style is Alexis Stoffels, will afford an excellent one that brings into play all the re- example of this. At the same time this sources of his native tongue. The more happy versatility never involves the we examine any of his most careless sacrifice of the smallest tittle of his effusions, the more we are struck with individual convictions. A sensitive the exactness and subtlety of his ex- hatred of insincerity is one of the most pressions: we feel the difficulty of marked features of his character. “You altering any of them without spoiling “know," he writes to M. de Corcelle, the sense. It must have cost more « that I set a particular value on your trouble than appears on the surface to " friendship. ... I have always found preserve so much of their character in “ that you believed what you said, and felt an English dress.
“ what you expressed. This alone would I have said enough to show my “ have been enough to distinguish you admiration for these letters. Indeed " from others.". The same sentiment they seem to me to bear comparison in recurs in more than one of his letters. most respects with any similar collection, He expresses his general feeling on the ancient or modern. They bear testi- point in a letter to Madame Swetchine, mony to the truth of the old saying, warmly, but with his usual avoidance “that politeness is but the best ex- of exaggeration. “I am not one of pression of true feeling." The warm “ those,” he writes, “who think all men affection that breathes in them shows " false and treacherous. Many people beautifully through the dress of delicate " are sincere in important affairs and on compliment, varied by most genial " great occasions, but scarcely any are humour, in which it is clothed. M. Beau “ so in the trifles of every day. Scarcely mont observes on “the immense space “any exhibit their true feelings, but that friendship occupied in his life.” “merely those which they think useful The same fact will strike every reader of “ or popular; scarcely any, in ordinary the letters. Tocqueville's heart and “conversation, seek and express their mind shared the same restless activity. “real opinions, instead of searching for He could not, therefore, be happy with " what will sound ingenious or clever. out a wide field of personal relations. “ This is the kind of sincerity which is It was as impossible for him to rest “rare-particularly, I must say, among satisfied with that abstract philanthropy, “women and in drawing-rooms, where which, absorbed in plans for the general “even kindness has its artifices." Singood, neglects individual ties, as it was cerity, such as he here longs for, was not to assent to the “modern realism" (as he merely a principle with Tocqueville, it called it), which ignores all individual was a necessity. Without it, correrights in behalf of the general utility of spondence would have lost its whole society. His hatred of this tendency charm for him. There are two or three seems to spring from a one-sided ex- letters in which he endeavours to smooth perience, and one may feel it exaggerated; away, if possible, the dissent which some but he calls it himself one of his "cen opinion of his has evoked. Here we tral opinions," and it was curiously in see the eager desire for sympathy comharmony with many others of his ways bined with the resolution not to modify of feeling and thinking. Another thing or disguise his sentiments in the smallest that strikes one in the correspondence point. In compositions of all kinds,