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England and Ireland

Second trip to England (1835)

The second trip that Tocqueville made to England was very different from his first. This time he did not travel alone, but with Beaumont and his goal was as much to examine the political situation in England as to meet the family of Marie Mottley , whom he would wed upon his return to France. In addition, instead of visiting the England of stately homes, this trip was the chance to discover the industrial England in the North and West. Finally, Tocqueville's status itself had changed since the publication of the first volume of Democracy in America. He was welcomed in all the salons with esteem and respect, as was Beaumont, thanks to the immediate success of his novel Marie.

« A minority that owns property confronts a vast majority that owns nothing, and nowhere is the question posed in a more frightening way between those who have everything and those who have nothing. »
(Letter to Count Molé,
May 19, 1835)

The two friends arrived in the British capital on April 23, 1835 and found quarters in Regent Street. Although both stated that they wanted "to mix with every class" and to "attempt every contact", in reality they spent time with the elite social class in London. This trip provided the occasion to forge particular friendships with Mr. and Mrs. GroteGeorge Grote (1794-1871)
English historian. Author of History of Greece (1846-1856). Banker, founder of University College London. Whig MP representing the City of London from 1832 to 1841

Harriet Grote (1792-1878)
Wife of George Grote. Close friend of the Senior family and, through them, of Tocqueville. It was to her that Tocqueville sent his detailed account of the events of December 2, 1851, for publication in the Times.
, Henry Reeve (the future English translator of Democracy in America, who would also become a friend), as well as John Stuart Mill. Mill, who was excited by what he had read, invited Tocqueville to become a contributor to the London and Westminster Review, which he had just founded. At the end of June 1835, the two travelers decided to leave London and visit the cities of Coventry, Birmingham and Liverpool, the last of which they reached on July 3rd. They were fascinated by the industrial landscapes they discovered in these cities, which were at the forefront of the industrial revolution, but most of all the two men were filled with dread. In a page of his travel notes, Tocqueville described the apocalyptic vision of the wretched neighborhoods of Manchester where, across from the "palaces of industry", workers languished in miserably overcrowded conditions.   play sound extractlire l'extrait sonore  
This vision made Tocqueville aware that England might not escape a political revolution, as he had once thought. Concurrent with the emergence of a new money-based aristocracy, the specter of a new type of feudalism arose, which could bring with it the seeds of a democratic revolution - this time a proletarian one.


Manchester, Anonymous


Liverpool, Anonymous

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