Some clean splits as folds without loss of text, one letter with small hole where sealed. In a half morocco and cloth clamshell case, spine gilt.
An important, newly-discovered collection of correspondence from the author of Democracy in America to the French political figure, Alexandre-François Auguste Vivien. Vivien was a prominent magistrate and government minister who served with Tocqueville in the Chamber of Deputies during the July Monarchy, and in the Constituent Assembly during the 1848 Revolution. Like Tocqueville, Vivien wrote extensively on social issues and policy, authoring some of the earliest and most significant 19th-century works on public administration, predating Lorenz von Stein's work on the subject by several years, and Woodrow Wilson's by decades. After 1848, both Vivien and Tocqueville found themselves on the wrong side of Louis Napoléon, and were forced into retirement following his coup d'état in December 1851. Both spent their last years writing. Vivien died in 1854 and Tocqueville five years later.
The present series of letters from Tocqueville to Vivien encompasses what was likely the entire span of their acquaintance, from April 1839—a month after Tocqueville was elected to the Chamber of Deputies (where Vivien had been serving since 1833)—to April 1854—two months before Vivien's death. The correspondence begins with Tocqueville's acknowledgement of mutual acquaintances and an invitation to dinner. The second, sent September 1853, discusses Gustave de Beaumont, Tocqueville's friend and travel companion on his famous trip to America in 1831. Beaumont would be elected to the Chamber of Deputies in December of that year, by which time a long-lasting rift had begun between the two over political alliances. In 1840, Tocqueville sent Vivien a copy of the second part of De La Démocratie En Amérique, which had just been published. At this point Vivien was a government minister in a post roughly equivalent to attorney general. Several undated letters follow (evidently during the early and mid-1840s), and contain invitations to Tocqueville's home and brief discussions of books and articles. The final two undated letters and five letters from 1853 and 1854 find Tocqueville entering into deeper conversations on politics and, ultimately, close personal matters. In the undated letters he comments on the "affaire Lesseps," in which Ferdinand de Lesseps was recalled by the French government from his negotiations with Rome and Holy See in 1849, ending his diplomatic career. In the last portion of his correspondence, composed after his and Vivien's departure from government and the establishment of the Second Empire, Tocqueville frequently expresses his aversion to the new French state, hoping to see it replaced by a non-despotic monarchy.
In a letter from Paris dated March 14, 1853, Tocqueville describes his sense of powerlessness and discouragement in his forced retirement, comparing his own situation to that of France: "La France toute entière est pour nous en ce moment, comme une grande prison, où l'oisivetée forcée, l'absence forcée, l'absence d'émotions, de nouvelle, de bruit même, le silence universel abattent l'esprit." On 18 October of that year, he writes that the more respected members of the contemporary French literary world were "very hostile" to the new government, holding that "among men of talent" he hardly knew of anyone but Sainte-Beuve and Mérimée who had dared to "take the livery of the new power." He goes on in the final letters to discuss other prominent figures, including Beaumont, with whom he had reconciled in 1848; his work on L'ancién Régime Et La Révolution (which would be published in 1856); and his "vie de Bénédictine" at Saint-Cyr-sur-Loire in Touraine, where he stayed from June 1853 to the summer of the following year.
The collection presents a remarkable opportunity to explore Tocqueville's personal thoughts on the drastically changing political landscape of France during the course of his own political career, as communicated in an increasingly intimate series of letters to Vivien, a colleague and friend whose final years closely paralleled Tocqueville's own. Any Tocqueville manuscript material is very rare in the market.
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