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Pierre Paul Royer-Collard
« M. Royer-Collard was an admirable example to all of France, a great mind . but for me he was something else as well. He made me look upon him almost as a father. »
(Letter to Madame Royer-Collard,
August 9, 1845)

Pierre-Paul Royer-Collard was already seventy-two years old when he met Alexis de Tocqueville in 1835. He held a seat in the Chamber of Deputies as the representative from Vitry-le-François, having finally rallied to the support of the July Monarchy, considering it to be a lesser evil in its role as a rampart against political anarchy. He cultivated his independence with respect to other deputies, and was seen as a grand old man of another age, wreathed in memories of the great political debates under the Restoration, in which his talents as a JansenistJansenism
A theological movement inspired by the Dutch bishop Cornelius Jansenius (1585-1638). Jansenism won adherents in France, the Netherlands, and Italy up to the end of the eighteenth century. Opposed to Scholastic theology, it was presented as the authentic doctrine of Saint Augustine concerning predestination and divine grace in relation to man's free will.
orator were revealed. And indeed, since the time of the French Revolution - with the exception of the imperial period, when he taught the history of philosophy at the Sorbonne - Royer-Collard had always been at the forefront of the political scene. In particular, he played a key role under the Restoration as deputy from the Marne, president of the State Education Committee (1815-1820), and leader of the Doctrinaires Party.
Nevertheless, after the July Revolution, Royer-Collard was more taken up with the Académie Française - to which he had been named in 1827 - than the Chamber of Deputies. It was thus that he passionately defended Democracy in America before his fellow academicians. He was one of the book's most enthusiastic readers, and sought out Tocqueville in order to meet him. He was no doubt drawn to Tocqueville by their similar opinions about the inevitable progress of democracy in the modern world, but the two men's friendship revealed many other intellectual affinities that lay behind their master-disciple - and even father-son - relationship. Such ties also explain how their relations were not entirely free of misunderstandings, reprimands, and humiliations, as well as political differences when, starting in 1839, both were members of the same Chamber. Their mutual intellectual esteem, however, bridged all of these disagreements, and Royer-Collard was one of the few readers of the second volume of Democracy in America to appreciate its true value. When he died in 1845, Tocqueville paid homage to one of his best friends, and perhaps the one who had understood his work the best.  play sound extractlire l'extrait sonore  

Portrait of Pierre-Paul Royer-Collard

Portrait of Pierre-Paul Royer-Collard, anonymous; Département des Estampes
© BNF

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