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It seems also difficult to say what may not be the results of your long intimacy with such a Government as ours, and of the contact of the two armies. I doubt whether they will be useful to your aristocracy.
Remember me to Lord Lansdowne and to the Lewises, who added such pleasure to our German tour.
Compiègne, February 15, 1855. I conclude that this frightful weather is still keeping you in London, my dear Senior. I am comforted by the fact that I myself shall not reach Paris before the 28th.
do not wish to act the part of the pedagogue in the fable who preaches to people when his sermon can no longer be of any possible use, but I cannot help telling you that it is a great imprudence on your part to allow yourself to be caught in this way by the winter in England. What you now suffer from is only a trifling malady, but it may become a real illness if you persist in preferring pleasure to health. Pray think of this in the future and do not tempt the devil.
I have not read the article to which you refer."
I can perfectly understand the reserve which was imposed upon you, and which you were forced to impose on yourself.
I confess that I saw with great grief the sudden change in the expressions of the majority of the English, a year ago, respecting our Government. It was then ill consoli
1 An article in the North British Review, see p. 107.—ED.
Mismanagement of Crimean War.
dated, and in want of the splendid alliance which you offered to it. It was unnecessary that you should praise it, in order to keep it your friend. By doing so you sacrificed honourable opinions and tastes without a motive.
Now things are changed. After you have lost your only army, and our master has made an alliance with Austria, which suits his feelings much better than yours did, he does not depend on you; you, to a certain extent, depend on him. Such being now the case, I can understand the English thinking it their duty to their country to say nothing that can offend the master of France. I can understand even their praising him; I reproach them only for having done so too soon, before it was necessary.
I agree with you that England ought to be satisfied with being the greatest maritime Power, and ought not to aim at being also one of the greatest military Powers.
But the feelings which I described to you as prevalent in France and in Germany, arose not from your want of an army of 500,000 men. They were excited by these two facts.
First, by what was supposed (perhaps falsely) to be the bad military administration of your only army. Secondly, and much more, by your apparent inability to raise another army.
According to continental notions, a nation which cannot raise as many troops as its wants require, loses our respect. It ceases, according to our notions, to be great or even to be patriotic. And I must confess that, con:sidering how difficult it is to procure soldiers by voluntary enlistment, and how easily every nation can obtain them by other means, I do not see how you will be able to hold your high rank, unless your people will consent to something resembling a conscription.
Dangerous as it is to speak of a foreign country, I venture to say that England is mistaken if she thinks that she can continue separated from the rest of the world, and preserve all her peculiar institutions uninfluenced by those which prevail over the whole of the Continent
In the period in which we live, and, still more, in the period which is approaching, no European nation can long remain absolutely dissimilar to all the others. I believe that a law existing over the whole Continent must in time influence the laws of Great Britain, notwithstanding the sea, and notwithstanding the habits and institutions. which, still more than the sea, have separated you from us, up to the present time.
My prophecies may not be accomplished in our time; but I should not be sorry to deposit this letter with a notary, to be opened, and their truth or falsehood proved, fifty years hence.
Compiègne, February 23, 1855. My object in my last letter was not by any means, as you seem to think, to accuse your aristocracy of having mismanaged the Crimean war. It has certainly been mismanaged, but who has been in fault?
Indeed I know not, and if I did I should think at the
same time that it would not be becoming in a foreigner to set himself up as a judge of the blunders of Government than his own.
I thought that I had expressed myself clearly. At any rate what I wanted to say, if I did not say it, is, that the present events created in my opinion a new and great danger for your aristocracy, and that it will suffer severely from the rebound, if it does not make enormous efforts to show itself capable of repairing the past; and that it would be wrong to suppose that by fighting bravely on the field of battle it could retain the direction of the Government.
I did not intend to say more than this.
I will now add that if it persuades itself that it will easily get out of the difficulty by making peace, I think that it will find itself mistaken.
Peace, after what has happened, may be a good thing for England in general, and useful to us, but I doubt whether it will be a gain for your aristocracy. I think that if Chatham could return to life he would agree with me, and would say that under the circumstances the remedy would not be peace but a more successful
Kind regards, &c.
A. DE TOCQUEVILLE.
Paris, Hôtel Bedford.-Friday, March 2, 1855.We slept on the 27th at Calais, on the 28th at Amiens, and reached this place last night.
Tocqueville called on us this morning. We talked of the probability of Louis Napoleon's going to the Crimea.
I said, 'that the report made by Lord John Russell, who talked the matter over with him, was, that he certainly had once intended to go, and had not given it up.'
'I do not value,' said Tocqueville, ‘Lord John's inferences from anything that he heard or saw in his audiences. All Louis Napoleon's words and looks are, whether intentionally or not, misleading. Now that his having direct issue seems out of the question, and that the deeper and deeper discredit into which the heir
presumptive is falling, seems to put him out of the question too, we are looking to this journey with great alarm. We feel that, for the present, his life is necessary to us, and we feel that it would be exposed to many hazards. He ought to incur some military risks, if he is present at a battle or an assault, and his courage and his fatalism will lead him to many which he ought to avoid. But it is disease rather than bullets that we fear. He will have to travel hard, and to be exposed, under exciting circumstances, to a climate which is not a safe one even to the strong.'
‘But,' I said, 'he will not be exposed to it long. I have heard thirty, or at moșt forty, days proposed as the length of his absence.'
Who can say that?' answered Tocqueville. 'If he goes there, he must stay there until Sebastopol falls. It will not do for him to leave Paris in order merely to look at the works, pat the generals on the back, compliment