Alexis de Tocqueville

Childhood memory : a touching family scene around the lament of the Béarn Troubadour :
"I remember as though it were yesterday a night in the chateau my father was living in at the time, where a good many of our close relatives had gathered for a family occasion. My mother, who had a sweet, affecting voice, began to sing a famous tune from a time of civil unrest, the words of which had to do with the misfortunes and death of King Louis XVI. When she stopped, everyone wept, not for the many personal miseries they had endured or even for the many relatives they had lost in the civil war or on the scaffold, but for the fate of this man, who had died more than fifteen years earlier and whom most of the people who shed their tears for him had never seen. But that man had been king."
(Letter to Lady Lewis, May 6, 1857)

An account of the grave religious crisis that Tocqueville experienced at age sixteen:
"I do not know if I ever told you about an incident in my youth that left a deep impression on me. Confined as I was, in the years immediately following childhood, to a kind of solitude, and driven by an insatiable curiosity that could find nothing to satisfy it other than the books in a large library, I accumulated a haphazard assortment of notions and ideas that usually belong to a different stage of life. My life until then had been steeped in an inward faith so secure that no doubt had been allowed to penetrate my soul. Now, however, doubt arrived, or, rather, came storming in with extraordinary violence, not just doubt about this or that but universal doubt. I suddenly experienced the sensation that everyone who has been through an earthquake describes: the ground moves beneath your feet, the walls move, the ceiling overhead moves, the furniture to which you cling no longer stands still, and all of nature shifts before your eyes. I was gripped by the blackest melancholy, overcome by disgust with a life I did not yet know, and almost dumbfounded with confusion and terror at the thought of the path I had yet to travel in this world."
(Letter to Mme Swetchine, February 26, 1857)

Réflexions sur la carrière de magistrat dans une lettre adressée à Louis de Kergorlay

Récit de ses nouvelles amitiés à Versailles dans une lettre adressée à Louis de Kergorlay

"Oh! The memory of those two awful days is indelibly inscribed in my memory. You said, and you were quite right to say, that it is nothing to die amid the horrors that I have witnessed, but to see Frenchmen cutting one another's throats with abandon, to hear cries of rage and despair uttered in the same language, and those poor soldiers, those wretches, who sacrificed their lives for an opinion they do not share and in defense of a man who should have died at their head."
(Letter to Mary Mottley, July 30, 1830)

"I have finally taken the oath. My conscience offers no reproach, but I am nevertheless deeply wounded, and I shall count this day among the unhappiest of my life. Mary, this is the first time in my life that I find myself obliged to avoid the presence of people whom I esteem yet of whom I also disapprove. Oh! . The thought eats away at me. All my inherited pride rebels, and yet I did not fail in my duty, I even did what I owed to my country, whose only salvation lies in the government that is establishing its power by saving us from anarchy. . I am at war with myself. This is a new condition, terrifying to me. . As I uttered those three words, my voice changed, and I felt my heart pounding so hard that I thought my chest would burst."
(Letter to Mary Mottley, August 17, 1830)

Hervé de Tocqueville rend hommage à son beau-père dans ses Mémoires

"I had never seen a prison. I cannot convey how I felt when I was obliged to bend low to pass through a gate three feet high and heard the huge keys turn in the locks behind us. . The prison resounded with the moans of women. Every day, cries of suffering announced the loss of a father, a mother, a brother, or a friend."
()Memoirs), Hervé de Tocqueville)

"On October 20, ten months to the day after we were arrested, our freedom was restored. . How serene the sky looked to us! How pure the air seemed! How vast the horizon! Yet painful thoughts intruded upon our joy and cast a shadow over it. Nine of us had entered that house of woe, and only four came out. Our relatives and friends had disappeared, and what was left of two families had for its head only a young man of twenty-two, who knew little of the world and whose only experience was of woe.
(Memoirs, Hervé de Tocqueville)

Récit du serment à Louis-Philippe dans une lettre adressée à Marie Mottley

"My good and beloved father leaves empty a place that seems to grow larger every day. You saw his affability and kindness. Strangers were struck by these qualities, but with his sons they were transformed into boundless indulgence and a maternal tenderness, a constant, sensitive concern with everything that affected us. His acuteness grew with age, something I have not seen in any other man. He had always been good, but as he grew older he became the best of men. . In my father I saw something I saw in no one else: religion was present and intact in the least of his actions and in every minute of his life. It entered unobtrusively into all his thoughts, all his feelings, all his actions. Its influence was felt not only in what he believed but also in the way it improved everything it touched."
(Letter to Francisque de Corcelle, June 18, 1856)

"I shall never be able to express how grateful I feel in the very depths of my soul for what he has just done. I know that people talk a great deal about fine sentiments. That is easy. What is more difficult and rare, however, is to exile oneself in the dead of winter to a place three hundred leagues from the center of everything and to spend three months there taking care of a brother often made quite cross by illness and horribly tedious as always. That is rare, and it deserves to be rewarded with uncommon gratitude. My excellent brother's act will remain in my memory indelibly, and in my heart, which is better at remembering the things by which one has been deeply touched."
(Letter to his sister-in-law Emilie, February 23, 1859)

Dissidences d'opinion amer pour Alexis dans une lettre adressée à son frère Edouard

"I loved our good old friend as I loved our father. He always shared in our care, our anxieties, and our affections, and all the while he clung to us by sheer force of will, yet when he left us forever, I was unable to receive his ultimate blessing. You may say, my dear friend, that one has to be prepared to lose an old man of eighty, but, no, it is impossible to accept the idea that the mainstay of one's childhood, one's lifelong friend-and what a friend!-can vanish in an instant. . We have lost what neither time, nor friendship, nor the future, come what may, can restore, something that is given to very few people in this world: a man whose every thought and affection was reserved for us alone, who seemed to live only for us. . How selflessly he always sacrificed his happiness to ours!"
(Letter to his brother Edouard, September 12, 1831)

"I found her pleasant if not exactly pretty. I liked her wit; I liked even better what I thought I saw in her of loftiness of soul and character. Last but not least, I believed that a woman like her could give me the inner happiness I need after the rather adventurous and chaotic life I have led until now. But money was the catch. The person in question brings an income of eight to ten thousand at marriage and nothing thereafter. When one has the same oneself and can expect only the same or a little more later on, such a modest fortune poses a real obstacle."
(Letter to Camille d'Orglandes, October 14, 1835)

Extrait d'une déclaration d'amour adressée à Marie

"I see in you something great, something truly remarkable, which is not properly appreciated by others, even those closest to you, and of which you are scarcely aware yourself. I see in you the seed of extraordinary things, and I also see that that seed may be nipped in the bud and that you may die without making your mark or producing anything of note. In you I also find a strange combination of strength and weakness, great qualities and petty faults, truly unique traits and purely bizarre ones, but nothing ordinary or moderate, and all of it developed to an unusual degree, to yield a character that seems all the more original to me as my experience of other men increases. And yet this man may make no more of a mark in the world than that host of men who differ from one another scarcely more than old coins that have been in circulation so long that their markings are half effaced and you can't see the year in which they were minted."
(Letter to Louis de Kergorlay, September 24, 1836)

"I hope, gentlemen of the jury, that you will find nothing insulting in my words: should you take offense, however, as I cannot believe you will, I beg you to blame me alone. Only yesterday the accused had no idea that I would speak up in court, and I represent no one but myself. But when I see him misunderstood, accused, prosecuted, and insulted in these very halls . Allow me to add today, in view of the defamatory punishment for which the prosecution has asked, that I cannot remain silent. I wish I could take a seat on these ignoble benches, which his presence honors. Today I can only say that he has never stood higher in my esteem, nor has he ever, in my view, more fully lived up to the promise of his youth. Never have I felt prouder of the sacred friendship that binds us."
(Gazette des Tribunaux, Court of Assizes of the Loire [Montbrison], March 9, 1833)

Letter from Cannes: "My dear friend, I'm not sure that I've ever found anything as difficult to say as what I am about to say to you: I beg you to come. We are alone here. Hippolyte has vanished, and Edouard, who is in Nice, is about to do the same. Here, when strength returns, when intellectual and physical activity revive, we are left in solitude. If ever you could do us some good, now is the time. Still, I wouldn't call you away from the delightful life you're leading to plunge you into the pit in which we find ourselves without a reason that I can say only to you but that will give you an idea of the urgency of the need: my wife's state of mind frightens me, my friend. She is suffering, sicker than she has been for the past month. It is apparent that she is coming to the end of her physical and moral strength, and this state fills her soul with ideas, feelings, pains, and fears that may lead her mind I know not where. You know Mary. Reason personified, until suddenly the reins lose their grip. What is more, our servants, especially Auguste, are half sick themselves, so that the service has been sluggish when it should have been a hundred times more ardent and zealous. What can I say, my friend, other than, COME. COME as quickly as you can. Only you can get us going again. Your gaiety, your courage, your drive, your thorough knowledge of us and our affairs will make easy for you what would be impossible for another. Come. I know that I'm asking you for an immense token of friendship. I know, but I know the man to whom I'm speaking. Two weeks here should be more than enough. Say no more about the inn. Let me treat you as a brother. Haven't you been a thousand times more than that in a thousand different circumstances? The room that Hippolyte was staying in will be ready for you. Do not answer this letter. Come. Do not be too cross with the man who imposes this cruel chore on you. Think rather of the unhappy man, the friend of more than thirty years, who is afraid of so many kinds of ills, if you don't come to his aid. The best route is to take a train from Paris to Marseilles, which takes just nineteen hours. Once in Marseilles, take the stagecoach for Nice. There is one every day. This will take you to Cannes in twenty-three hours. There, since you'll have a small trunk, take a cabriolet, which will bring you to my house for forty sous, I think. We are three-quarters of a league from the city. Come. I beg Madame de Beaumont's pardon, or, rather, I am sure that she has already given it. I hug you from the bottom of my heart.
A. de Tocuqeville
(Letter to Gustave de Beaumont, March 4, 1859)

Eloges sur son fidèle ami Ampère dans une lettre adressée à Francisque de Corcelle

Alexis dans une lettre adressée à Gustave de Beaumont dresse un portrait psychologique de Corcelle des plus significatifs

"Yesterday I went to see our old friend Royer-Collard. I found him sick and weak. He received me paternally. I was truly touched. In keeping with his paternal customs, he began by preaching to me. He told me that my only fault was to be preoccupied with myself. I admitted that to a certain extent this was true, but I said that if an occasion to forget myself arose, he would see that I was capable of enlisting in a great cause. He replied that he had no doubt this was true, that he knew the resources of my soul; He continued in this vein for an hour, mingling criticism and praise with infinite grace and kindness. I was at once grateful for his friendship and in full agreement with the truths he imparted, and yet I could not help smiling inwardly at the sight of him invoking his own example constantly in order to prove to me that one should never think of oneself. All these precepts were interspersed with lengthy tirades that began as follows: 'For example, I have never been preoccupied with myself or my role or with the figure I cut in society.' He repeated this ten times in an hour. Despite this weakness, and several others of which he is unaware, there is nevertheless real grandeur in this old man, a loftiness of soul and of thought that make him supremely worthy of affection and respect. He is the last of the Romans."
(Letter to Mary Mottley, December 1841)

Dans ses Souvenirs, Tocqueville nous livre son amitié pour Lanjuinais

Tocqueville évoque son ami Dufaure dans ses Souvenirs

"I have great affection for you, despite the disputes that you accuse me with some justice of instigating. . I am very attached to you. I have respect and affection for you. But our temperaments are very different, and even hostile, and the differences between our two souls give rise to the things of which you complain, not without justification. I like people. It is very agreeable to me to be able to hold them in esteem, and I know nothing finer than the sentiment of admiration, when it is possible. When I cannot esteem or admire my fellow man, which, I confess, is often the case, I like at least to look for the good points among the flaws, and it pleases me to focus on those points of light that stand out against the dark background. As for you, whether because of your nature or as a consequence of the harsh battles into which you courageously threw yourself in your youth, you have become used to drawing strength from the contempt that humanity in general and your country in particular inspire in you."
(Letter to Arthur de Gobineau, September 16, 1858)

Déclaration d'amitié dans une lettre adressée à Mme Swetchine