9 MAY 1840, Page 15


THE previous volumes of this most comprehensive anti philosophical work, embraced a general view of the history of the American colonies, and their early institutions, in which originated the present denmerasical government of the United States. They fully explained the structure of that government, from the executive and federal representative bodies down to the smallest municipalities or parishes : they also exhibited the political results of that government sn the power and conduct of the people, and investigated the probable fortunes of American Democracy in coming time. The volumes before us, which complete the work, contain matter of a less tangible kind ; embracing opinions, feelings, manners, and society, so Ihr as these can be supposed to be influenced by government and institutions. It will therefore be understood that the First Part of Democracy in America deals chiefly with the forms of society, the Second Part with its spirit : in the one tlse structure was anatomized and explained, in the other the characteristics of the living creature are presented.

Besides this source of greater interest, the Second Part has yet another for European readers—its observations arc snore applicable to themselves. Although Democracy—meaning general equality of conditions rather than forms of government—is nominally treated of as it is displayed in America, yet a reference is constantly made to Europe, either indirectly to contrast the democratic characteristics of the New World with those formed under the aristocracies of the Old, or directly to investigate the causes and nature of the present tendencies in Europe to Democracy ; whilst not unfrequently the subject is treated in its largest sense, without any limitation beyond its own nature and the materials on which the political philosopher must exercise his judgment or his speculations. The new volumes are divided into four sections. The first section treats of the influence of Democracy on the progress of opinion; the second upon its effects on the feelings of the Americans; the third on " manners properly so called,"—meaning not so much modes of behaviour as the conduct of men towards each other in the social relations ; the fourth discusses the influence of democratic opinions and sentiments on political society,—which tends, M. DE ToequEvILLE conceives, to produce the centralization of government, adding greatly to its influence, and its authority over private individuals, but diminishing the stability of the rulers. Each of these four leading divisions is discussed under a variety of separate heads, and in considerable detail.

To cutter into all of these particulars in our pages is of course impossible. It will be more satisfiuctory, and at the same time enable its to convey a better idea of M. im TocoueviLLe's work, to select some single section for examination : and we will take the one relating to Manners, as the more popular, if not the more important.

The reader who has derived his notions on this subject from Ales. Tusnamet: or even front authors of more credit sisal authority, will be somewhat surprised at the estimate of M. De Tocotsevua.E. Part of the diflbrence is no doubt traceable to the circumstance, that the English or American writers are speaking only of behaviour, or conventional observances ; whilst the Frenchman is using the word in the more comprehensive sense of the classics. It is possible, too, that the philosopher looked at those broader features

and snore essential points which constitute national diflbrences ; the arbitri elegant/arum at the minute peculiarities of individual men. Or it may be, that having formed in his own mind some theory upon the subject, he may have allowed a preconceived °pluton to influence his examination of' the reality. however, he draws a more flattering, or at least a snore respectable picture of the American manners, than of the English. They may be devoid of finish, and of' what we should call courtesy; they may be cold, and verging upon coarseness ; but they arc not strained or pretending.


If two Englishmen chance to meet at the Antipodes, where they are surrounded by changers whose language and mssuiuscre are almost unknown to them, they will first stare at each other with much curiosity and a kind of secret uueasiness ; they will then turn away, or, if one accosts the other, they will take care only to converse with a constrained and absent air upon very unimportant subjects. Yet there is no enmity between these men; they have never seen each other before, and each believes the other to be a respectable person. Why then should they stand so cautiously apart? We ntust go back to England to learn the reason. When it is birth alone, independent of wealth, which classes men in society, every one knows exactly what his own position is upon the social scale; he does not seek to rise, he does not fear to sink. In a community thus organized, men of different castes communicate very little with each other ; bat if accident brings them together, they are ready to converse without hoping or fearing to lose their own position. Their intercourse is not upon a footing of equality, but it is not constrained.

When monied aristocracy succeeds to aristocracy of birth, the case is altered. The privileges of some are still extremely great, but the possibility of acquiring those privileges is open to all: whence it follows, that those who possess them are constantly haunted by the apprehension of losing them, or of other men's sharing diens; those who do not yet enjoy them, long to possess them at any cost ; or, if they WI, to appear at least to possess them, which is not impossible. As the social importance of men is no longer ostensibly and per

manently fixed by blood, and is infinitely varied by wealth, ranks still exist, but it is not easy clearly to distinguish at a glance those who respectively belong to them. Secret hostilities then arise in the community ; one set of men endeavour by innumerable artifices to penetrate, or to appear to penetrate, amongst those who are above them ; another set are constantly in arms against these usurpers of their rights; or rather the same individual does both at once, and whilst he seeks to raise himself into a higher circle, he is always on the defensive against the intrusion of those below him. Such is the condition of England at the present time; and Tam of opinion that the peculiarity before adverted to is principally to be attributed to this cause. As aristocratic pride is still extremely great amongst the English, and as the limits of aristocracy are ill-defined, everybody lives in constant dread lest advantage should be taken of his familiarity. Unable to judge at once of the social position of those he meets, an Englishman prudently avoids all contact with them. Men are afraid lest sonic slight service rendered should draw them into an unsuitable acquaintance ; they dread civilities, and they avoid * * the obtrusive gratitude of a stranger quite as much as his hatred. * In America, where the privileges of birth never existed, and where riches confer no peculiar rights on their possessors, men unacquainted with each other are very ready to frequent the same places, and find neither peril nor advantage in the free interchauge of their thoughts. If they meet by accident they neither seek nor avoid intercourse ; their manner is therefore natural, frank, and open. It is easy to see that they hardly expect or apprehend any thing from each other, and that they do not care to display any more than to conceal their position in the world. It' their demeanour is often cold and serious, it is never haughty or constrained ; and if they do not converse, it is because they are not in a humour to talk, not because they think it their interest to be silent.

In a foreign country two Americans are at once friends, simply because they are Americans. They are repulsed by no prejudice ; they are attracted by their CW11111011 country. For two Englishmen the same blood is not enough) they must be brought together by the same rank. The Americans remark this unsociable mood of the English as much as the French do, and they are not less astonished by it.

Of American servants be also speaks in opposition to the opinion of all other writers; but then, he seems to have expected a different class from the different circumstances under which they are formed, and not to have looked in democratic America for the feudal obedience and attachment of aristocratic Europe. His chapter upon this subject is so curious, and is distinguished by so profound and penetrating an observation, that we will quote rather fully from it, as an example of the author's mind and method.


Amongst aristocratic nations servants form a distinct class, not more variously composed than that of masters. A settled order is soon established ; in the former as well as in the latter class a Beale is formed, with numerous distinctions or marked gradations of rank, and generations succeed each other thus without any change of position. These two communities arc superposed one above the other, always distinct, but regulated by analogous principles. This aristocratic constitution does not exert a less powerful influence on the notions and manners of servants than on those of masters ; and, although the effects are different, the same cause may easily be traced.

Both classes constitute small communities in the heart of the nation, and certain permanent notions of sight and wrong are ultilnately engendered amongst them. The different acts of human life are viewed by one particular and unchanging light. In the society of servants as in that of masters, men exercise a great influence over each other : they acknowledge settled rules, and in the absence of law they are guided by a sort of public opinion ; their habits are seta:it, and their conduct Is placed under a certain control.

These men, whose destiny it is to Obey, certainly do not understand fame, virtue, honesty, an i

d honour, n the same manner as their masters ; but they have a pride, a virtue, and an honesty pertaining to their condition ; and they have a notion, if I may use the expression, of a sort of servile honour. * * The permanent inequality of conditions not only gives servants certain peMillar virtues and vices, but itylaces them in a peculiar relation with respect to their masters. Amongst aristocratic nations the poor man is familiarized from his childhood with the notion of being commanded; to whichever side he turns his eyes the graduated structure of society and the aspect of obedience meet his view. Bence in those countries the master readily obtains prompt, complete, respectful, and easy obedience from his servants, because they revere in him not only their master but the class of masters. He weighs down their will by the whole weight of the aristocracy. Ile orders their actions—to a certain extent lie even directs their thoughts. In aristocracies the master often exercises, even without being aware of it, an amazing sway -over the opinions, the habits, and the manners ofthose who obey him, and his influence extends even fbrtlwr than his authority.

In aristocratic communities, there are not only hereditary families of servants as well as of masters, but the same families of servants adhere for several generations to the same families of masters (like two parallel lines which neither meet nor separate); and this considerably modifies the mutual relations of these two classes of persons. Thus, although in aristocratic society the master and servant have no natural resemblance—although, on the contrary, they are placed at an immense distance on the scale of human beings by their fortune, education, and opinions, yet time ultimately binds them together. They are connected by a long series of common reminiscences, and however different they may be, they grow alike ; whilst in democracies, where they are naturally almost alike they always remain strangers to each other. Amongst an aristocratic people the master gets to look upon his servants as an inferior and secondary part of himself; and he often takes an interest in their lot by a last stretch ot egotism.


Equality of conditions turns servants and masters into new beings, and places them in new relative positions. When social conditions are nearly equal, men are constantly changing their situations in life : there is still a class of menials and a class of masters, but these classes are not always composed of the same individuals, still less of the same families ; and those who command are not more secure of perpetuity than those who obey. As servants do not form a separate people, they have no habits, prejudices, or manners peculiar to themselves : they are not remarkable tbr any particular turn of mind or moods of feeling. They know no vices or virtues of their condition, but they partake of the education, the opinions, the feelings, the virtues, and the vices of their contemporaries; and they are honest men or scoundrels in the same way as their masters are.

The conditions of servants are not less equal than those of masters. As no marked ranks or fixed subordination are to be found amongst them, they will not display either the meanness or the greatness which characterize the aristocracy of menials as well as all other aristocracies. I never saw a man in the Baited States who reminded me of that class of confidential servants of which we still retain a reminiscence in Europe, neither did I ever meet with such a thing as a lacquey : all traces of the one and of the other have disappeared.

When the greater part of the community have long attained a condition

nearly alike, and when equality is an old and acknowledged fact, the mind, which is never affected by exceptions, assigns certaine

the value of man, above or below which no man can lon r

is in vain that wealth and poverty, authority and obedience, aecaesal terpose great distances between two men ; pablic opinion, found d usual order of things, draws them to a common level, and create; uimaginary equality betweenthem, in spite of the real inequality ta't1.-i41 ditions. This all-powerful opinion penetrates at length even into tliea of those NAOS° interest might aria them to resist it ; it affects theirjet,lioq whilst it subdues their wilL

any deep-seated difference between them, and they neither hopeleerrY,,'"ti meet with any such at any time. * * * In their imnost convictions the master and the seglainot, itticielroenisir:1 But in the Northern States, especially in New En

number of Whites, who agree, for wages, to yield a temporary obeilienac will of their fellow-citizens. I have heard that these servants commoneitso' form the duties of their situation with punctuality and intelligence; 114 without thinking themselves naturally inferior to the person who orderek they submit without reluctance to obey him.

They appeared to nie to carry into service some of those manly habits*

independence and equality engender. flaying alIC.0 selre a rs lC life, they do not seek to escape from it by indirect means ; anti they hav tient respect for themselves not to refuse to their masters that 44: which they have freely promised. On their part, masters require nothing of their servants but the fainifsho rigorous performance of the covenant : they do not ask fur marks of tes;ct. they do not claim their love or devoted attachment ; it is enough that, vants, they are exact and honest. It would not then be true to assert that, in democratic society, thereat,' of servants and masters is disorganized : it is organized on another foolini; the rule is different, but there is a rule.

It is not my purpose to inquire whether the new state of things whid, have just described is inferior to that which preceded ,iit,,00(rxsai,n11:11,1,ictdLittrerpeu„ti meet among men is not any g,iven ordering, but order.

Enough for nie that it is fixed and determined; lbr what is most important So large is the interpretation which Mi. nt: upon Manners, that he discusses under its head the rise of renh

and the relation of landlord and tenant : and a very important chapter it forms, for the views it opens up as to his leading theorr, and the opinion he constantly advocates that the progress of DC.. moeracy is a law of nature, v•hich circumstances may hasten or re. turd but which nothing can stop. The reader must not home confound Democracy with Republicanism, or in fact with any pan ticular form of' government. '117he meaning Di: Toeot-nvn,LE scan to attach to it is a general eguulily coralidon ; in wlik ii great we* may exist, and great poverty, but exist as exceptions ; in which there will be differences in the property and pursuits of' men; but in whieb the great bulk of the community shall be in easy eircumstances,aol public opinion, upholding the general equality of men, shall not per. flit assumption of' superiority by any class, whilst the circumstances of society shall oppose great obstacles to the attainment of individual distinction. M. DE TOCQUEV MEE does not attempt to conceal from his reader that this state is likely to reduce the mind and character of society, as well as its condition, to a dead level; no: does he seem to admire the more easy and happy democracy,whiell is to replace the more noble, dignified, and stirring social state that sprung from a union of feudality and chivalry. But he is dealial with what he holds to be inevitable—with results which his on wishes cannot alter ; results as sure, he conceives, to arrive in the old aristocratical countries of Europe as in the new states but no growing up in the Western world, though the difficulties they nil have to encounter and the ordeals they will have to pass will Is very trying. One result of this equality will be to substitute wealth for the other objects of desire : and perhaps this regard for money, (not so much improper as exclusive,) will be the means of inducing its establishment, as it may be counted a symptom of its approach. Here is M. DE Toeteetsvmds exposition of one phrase of it.


I believe that in democratic as well as in aristocratic countries there will bc landowners and tenants, but the connexion existing between them trill he of a different kind. In aristocracies the hire of a titian is psinl to the landlord, not only in rent, but in respect, regard, and duty : in democracies the wholeis paid in cash. When estates are divided and passed from hand to hand, and the permanent connexion which existed between families and the soil is (Ms solved, the landowner and the tenant are only casually brought into contact. They meet for a moment to settle the conditions of the agreement, and tied lose sight of each other; they are two strangers brought together by nommen interest, and who keenly talk over a matter of business, the sole object of which is to make money.

In proportion as property is subdivided and wealth distributed over the country, the community is tilled with people whose former opulence is declining, and with others whose fortunes are of recent growth, and whose wants increase more rapidly than their resources. For all such persons the smallest pecuniary profit is a matter of importance, and none of them feel disposed to waive any of their claims or to lose any portion of their income.

As ranks are intermingled, and as very large as well as very scanty fortune: become more rare, every day brings the social condition of the landowner neat to that of' the farmer ; the one has not naturally any uncontested superiorit: over the other; between two men who are equal fold not rut ease in their einem stances, the contract of hire is exclusively an affair of money. A man whose estate extends over a whole district, and who owns an lam tired farms, is well aware of the importance of gaining at the same time th affections of some thousands of men ; this object appears to call for his eta *ions, and to attain it he will readily make considerable sacrifices.

owns an hundred acres is insensible to similar considerations, and lie caresrheesvbiti little to win the private regard of his tenant.

This is general ; what follows, if not peculiar, touches us closel;


An aristocracy does not expire, like a man, in a single day ; the aristocrat principle is slowly undermined in men's opinion, before it is attacked their laws. Long before open war is declared against it, the tic which In hitherto united the higher classes to the lower may be seen to be gradually lased. Indifference and contempt are betrayed by one class, jealous), mid h tred by the others; the intercourse between rich and poor becomes less fr quent and less kind, and rents are raised. This is not the consequence of democratic revolution, but its certain harbinger; for an aristocracy which 11

lost the affections of the people, once and for ever, is like a tree dead at the root, which is the more easily tom up by the winds the higher its branches

1MYC spread. In the course of the last fifty years the rents of farms have amazingly, in creased, not only in France but throughout the greater part of Europe. The remarkable improvements which have taken place in agriculture and manufactures within the same period do not suffice in my opinon to esplain this fact : recourse must be had to another cause more powerful and more concealed. I believe that cause is to be !band in the democratic institutions which several European nations have adopted, and in the democratic passions which more or less agitate all the rest.

I have frequently heard great English landowners congratulate themselves that, at the present day, they derive a much larger income from their estates than their fathers did. They have perhaps good reason to be glad ; but most assuredly they know not svhat they are glad of They think they are snaking a clear gam, when it is in reality only an exchange ; their influence is what they are parting with for cash : and what they gam in money will ere long be lost in power.

It is not merely in rents, however, that this operation is going on ; it pervades society. The rule of doing the best we can for ourselves has superseded the principle of what is handsome towards others. It may be noticed in the most trivial affitirs. Some of our readers may remember old-fashioned people (not, of course, professed players) who would never lead at whist from a single card: a person who should now avoid doing such a thing, would not be considered particular, but stupid. The modern practice is no doubt the right one at whist, but it is probably extended to other things snore questionable.

The chapter on the influence of democracy on kindred—in which the author traces to an aristocratical feeling the power and authority of a father as a head, and follows out its effects upon the European family, contrasting it afterwards with the family relations as they exist in America—is very valuable. It is also snore consoling than some of the other speculations, as showing that whatever may happen to artificial characteristics, a natural relation is improved by a More natural state ; and that it' there is a promise of less moral dignity and less Intellectual excellence in the future, there is the likelihood of greater happiness. Very able too are the chapters on American women, on the aversion which an established democracy will always feel to revolutions and war, even it' indebted to them far its own existence, and on the • character of soldiers under a democracy, as well as the dangers to be apprehended from the profession of arms.

We will conclude our extracts with two striking passages, from the difffirent parts of the section on Manners, which indicate what is to be feared and what is to be hoped from the spread of Democracy.


Amidst the ruins which surround me, shall I dare to say that revolutions are not what I most fear for coming generations ? If men continue to shut themselves more closely within the narrow circle of domestic interests, and to live upon that kind of excitement, it is to be apprehended that they may ultimately become inaeressible to those great and powerful public emotions which perturb nations, but which enlarge them and recruit them. When property becomes so fluctuating, and the hive of property so restless and so ardent, I cannot lust fear that mess may arrive at such a state as to regard every DOW theory as a peril, every innovation as an irksome toil, every social improvement as a steppingstone to revolution, and so refuse to move altogether for fear of being moved too far. I dread, and I confess it, lest they should at last so entirely give way to a cowardly love of present enjoyment, as to lose sight of the interests of their future selves and of those of their descendants ; aunt to prefer to glide along the easy current of life rather than to snake, when it is necessary, a strong and sudden effort to a higher purpose.

It is believed by some that modern society will be ever changing its aspect ; for myself; I fear that it will ultimately be too invariably fixed in tile same institutions, the same prejudices, the same manners, so that mankind will be stopped and circumscribed ; that the mind will swing backwards and ihrwaills for ever, without begetting fresh ideas ; that man will waste Isis strength in bootless and solitary trifling; and, thought in continual motion, that humanity will cease to advance.

'rue rur ens GOOD.

Nevertheless, in the midst of a prospect so wide, so novel, and so confused, some of the more prominent characteristics may already be discerned and pointed out, The good things and the evils of' live are more equally distributed is the world: great wealth tends to disappear, the number of small fortunes to increase; desires and gratifications are multiplied, but extraordinary prosperity and irremediable penury are alike unknown. The sentiment of ambition is universal, but the scope of ambition is seldom vast. Each individual stands apart in solitary weakness ; but society at large is active, provident, and powerful: the performances of private persons are insignificant, those of the State immense.

'There is little energy of character, but manners are mild and laws humane. If there be few instsinces of exalted heroism or of virtues of the highest, brightest, and purest temper, men's habits are regular, violence is rare, and cruelty almost unknown. Homan existence becomes longer and property snore secure; life is nut adorned with brilliant trophies, but it Is extremely easy and tranquil. Pew pleasures are either very refined or very coarse; and highly polished manners are as uncommon as great brutality of tastes. Neither men of great learning, nor extremely ignorant communities, are to be snot with ; genius becomes niore rare, information snore diffused. The human mind is impelled by the small efforts of all mankind combined together, not by the !strenuous activity of certain men. There is less perfection, but snore abundance in all the productions of the arts. The ties of race, of rank, and of country are relaxed ; the great bond of humanity is strengthened. If I endeavour to timid out the most general and the most prominent of all these different characteristics, I shall have occasion to perceive, that what is taking place in men's fortunes manifests itself under a thousand other forms. Almost all extremes are softened or blunted ; all that was most prominent is superseded by some swan term, at once less lofty and less low, less brilliant and less obscure, than what before existed in the world. When I survey this countless multitude of beings, shaped in each other's likeness, amidst whom nothing rises and nothing falls, the sight of such universal uniformity saddens and chills me, and I am tempted to regret that state of society which has ceased to be. When the world was full of men of great importance and extreme insignificance, Of great wealth and extreme Poverty, of great learning and extreme ignorance, I turned aside from the latter to fix my observation on the former alone, who gratified may sympathies. Bat I admit that this gratification arose from my own weakness; it is because

I am unable to see at once all that is around me, that I am allowed thus to select and separate the objects of may predilection from among so many others. Such is not the case with that Almighty and Eternal Being whose gaze necessarily includes the whole of created things, and who surveys distinctly, though at once, mankind and man.

We may naturally believe that it is not the singular prosperity of the few, but the greater wellbeing of all, which is most pleasing in the sight of the Creator and Preserver of tnen. What appears to me to be man's decline, is to Ilia eye advancement ; what afflicts me is acceptable to Ilium. A state of equality is perhaps less elevated, but it is more just; and its justice constitutes its greatness and its beauty ; I would strive then to raise myself to this point of the divine contemplation, and thence to view and to judge the concerns of men."

We must not conclude this scanty notice without recommending Democracy in America as the most philosophical treatise on polity which has appeared since the time of Beam:, and which unites to comprehension of grasp and profoundness of view, an interest rarely found in scientific disquisition, and a high degree of attraction in its subject, from its passing nature and immediate influence. It will not of course be understood from this that we implicitly follow M. DE TOCQUEVILLE in all his opinions, or agree with him in all his views. Sometimes we think him more inclined to snake principles dovetail with his preconceived theory, than to deduce them from the reality ; sometimes we incline to hold our judgment in suspense ; and sometimes we suspect he draws a general conclusion from a particular fact. For example, in his remarks on one of' the dangers of subsiding into a despotism to which democracy is exposed, we think he has France altogether in his eye, where a violent convulsion has swept away eltsses, institutions, and establishments, leaving indeed little beyond two divisions in society, those out of place and those in. There, no doubt, a mild desponsin might easily be established if circumstances were favourable: but in a country like England, where distinct orders of society would exist if privileges were abolished—where the Church, the Law, the Municipalities, and even the Parish, could each oppose a corporate resistance—the result is less likely to take place,. and would be very difficult to effect. The greatest danger to be apprehended with us, is lest a blind resistance on the part of the aristocracy to changes which are inevitable, and for which the feelings and opinions of mankind are preparing, should induce a revolution of violence, and, after scenes of misery to which history furnishes no parallel, should leave the country a populace, not a nation.