French Literature Of The 19th Century:
Literature Under The Empire 1852-1870
The Rise Of Realism
Literature Under The Republic-1870-1899
Read More Articles About: French Literature Of The 19th Century
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
Americans should feel special interest in the French historian who revealed to Europe, and even to America itself, the real meaning and tendency of the institutions established here. Alexis Charles Henri Clérel de Tocqueville, to give him his full due, was a philosopher rather than an historian. His study was of the democratic principle rather than the democracy then entering upon the second experimental stage of it. He was born in Paris in 1805, studied law and was made a judge. In 1831 he visited the United States, being sent with G. de Beaumont to examine the penitentiaries. After his return he published "La Démocratic en Amérique" (4 vols., 1835-40) in which he predicted the progress and predominance of democracy in the world. He had a gift for true perception and his work has not receded from the place originally accorded to it by common consent. He believed in the principles of enlightened Liberalism and he anticipated their ultimate triumph, but frankly exposed the errors, observable in this country and his own. He himself be-came minister of foreign affairs under the French Republic of 1848 and was driven from the public service by the coup d'état of 1851. Five years later he published "L'Ancien Régime et la Révolution," a further testimony to his abiding interest in political philosophy. His searching analysis and forecast of popular destiny deserve honor-able mention in literature.