Download Selected Letters on Politics and Society by Alexis de Tocqueville PDF

By Alexis de Tocqueville

Correspondence via the eminent nineteenth-century French historian records his polical perspectives, his careers as a author and flesh presser, and his complicated character.

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No one can conceive, without having experienced it, what it is to turn one's attention seriously to one's subject, and ultimately one cannot help being interested in this work. So law, which disgusts me in theory, no longer produces the same effect on me in practice. All my faculties are marshaled to find a solution or an approach; I feel my mind acting with all its power, and the result of that is the same satisfaction that I have felt in my heart when I was in love and when, I was saying, I felt myself alive.

England, by contrast, had mired itself in aristocracy. From England he wrote: "T he aristocratic spirit appears to me to have descended into all classes .. . In short, I do not recognize our America here in any point" (Letter 1 5). Nearly a quarter of a century later, despite admiring the class cooperation in England and bemoaning France's class conflict, he still concluded that " the aristocracy (seems] to be more solidly in place than ever" and England left "government in the hands of a very small number of families'' (Letter 97).

At first sight, it presents, like all others, a mixture of vices and virtues that is rather difficult to classify and that does not form a single picrurc. Mores here arc very pure. The bond of marriage in particular is more sacred here than anywhere else in the world. Respect for religion is pushed to the point of scrupulousne-ss. No one, for example, would be permiued to go on a hunt, to dance, or even to play an insrmment on Sunday. Even a foreigner is not free on this point. I have seen streets blocked off before churches at the hour of holy services.

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