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Society for French Historical Studies The Religious Beliefs of Alexis de Tocqueville Author(s): Doris S.

Society for French Historical Studies

The Religious Beliefs of Alexis de Tocqueville Author(s): Doris S. Goldstein Source: French Historical Studies, Vol. 1, No. 4 (Autumn, 1960), pp. 379-393 Published by: Duke University Press

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THE RELIGIOUSBELIEFS OF

ALEXIS DE TOCQUEVILLE

BY Doms S. GoLDsIN

The

on

question

many

of the

de Tocque-

from

of view, but because of its directbear-

the numerousre- the need to relate of the

precise

long

nature of Alexis

been of

interest,

ville's religious beliefshas

the biographicalpoint

Among

maining tasksof Tocquevillescholarship is

his

religion with the French liberal Catholic outlook.

function of

ing

not

only

facets of his work.

his

philosophy of history,'

sociological analyses

society,

in modern

and his connection

movement, to his personal

religious Fromthe time of

lem of the natureandextentof his

tended to become clouded

apologetics, so that at present,

death of

still rife. At a recent

cialists, for

Tocqueville's death, however, the prob-

religious

commitmentshas

by specialpleading and sectarian

one hundred

years

after the

centenarymeeting

the

of

symposia dealt

was a

with the

and

Catholic,

still

Tocqueville, argument and counterargument are

Tocqueville spe-

ques-

example, one of

tion of

in which

lished volumes of the new

outlookmust

background bound

him to the old traditions, to Catholicismas well as to mon-

archy.

begin

sharp

existshas

the resultscan be at best

light relevantnew material.

whether

Tocqueville

disagreement

was revealed.

The fact that controversy

CEuvres completes may bring

prompted the followinginvestigation, one

tentative,

since the as

yet unpub-

to

Any understanding of Tocqueville'sreligious

with the realizationthat his

family

Antoine Redier has

ably pointed

young

out

how pervasive

these influences were, how the

broughtup

amidmen andmemoriesof the ancien regime.2 Tracesof his

early environmentremained, and help to

Alexiswas

explain what John

the

of

edition of L'ancien

Tome

CEuvres

completes

"On

question

see

V.

of

Georges

the

Lefebvre's

religious

elements

in

Tocqueville's

introduction

philosophy

to

the

new

to

history,

II,

2 Antoine

remarks in the

otherwise

new

edition,

the

1926), pp. 32-34.

regime

23-24).

are to

et la Revolution.

Unless

(CEuvres completes,

noted,

1, pp.

all references

the old Beaumont edition.

Redier, Comme disait M. de Tocqueville

(Paris,

1379]

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380 FRENCHHISTORICALSTUDIES

Stuart Mill described as

"beaucoup

religieux."

cling

plus que moi au passe, surtout par son c6te

Tocqueville's

tendency

to

3

Probably the most important single

Tocqueville

to the

religion

that

of his fathers was the

charge himself that tells us

of his edu-

factor of his

youth

bound

example

cation. It is the evidence of

how great a mark this priest left upon his

written to his brother

ville spoke of the Abbe's selflessness and devotion, and testi-

fied to his deep affection and respect lived

cluded

comme un saint,"' con-

for Lesueur.4 This man

of the Abbe Lesueur, who was in

Tocqueville

pupil. In a letter

shortly after Lesueur's death, Tocque-

only to do good, "je rai prie

Tocqueville.

It was probably

in no small degree due to the efforts and

permeated quality. He was an

possible per- ideal. He strove after

things of the spirit; always endeavoring to rise to a higher

Restlessness and

throughout his life.

Kergorlay in 1838,7 and analyzed

during the fifties in a letter to Mme. Swetchine.

because of the insight

example

with an intense

of Lesueur that

spiritual

Tocqueville's

and

religious

life was

idealist, if one defines fecton of life in

the

level of

idealism as belief in the

understanding.

harmony with a spiritual

and moral

spiritual

discontent followed,8 and dogged him

He spoke of it in a letter to

it most

clearly

This letter merits

lengthy quotation

it provides into Tocqueville's

character.

Je crois que

puissance.

grandes

pouvoir jamais

tristesse d'habiter dans un monde

mon sentiment et mon desir sont

Je

crois

Dieu

m'a donne

le

que

grandes vertus, et

grand objet qui

que

flotte

et dans un

le

ces impressions,

causes de ce

December

15,

plus

gout

hauts

que

naturel

qui

ge

desespoir

mes

ma

des

de ne

actions et des

je

saisir ce

crois,

une des

dis-je,

of Mill to

Tome VI

yeux, la

repondent

mon Ame aime n'att6nue en

malaise interieur, dont je

devant

temps

queque

si peu i cette creation ideale au milieu de laquelle

i vivre,

rien, sont

n'ai jamais pu me guerir.8

'Letter

Tocqueville,

'Tocqueville,

grandes

1856, (Euvres complates,

p.

350.

new edition,

(Correspondanceanglaise),

ldouard

de

letter to

Tocqueville, September 10, 1831,

(Euvres completes,VII, 58.

6

'

Ibid.,

p.

61.

siecle."

York, 1938) p.

Pierson has noted the similarity

George

W.

743,

Pierson,

note.

between this and the romantic "mal de

Beaumont

in America

(New

Tocqueville and

7

'

Tocqueville, letter to Kergorlay, March 21, 1838, op. cit., V, 353,

Redier,

op.

cit., p. 282,

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RELGIOUS BELIEFSOF TocQUEVILLE

381

Tocqueville's intense spirituality had as its obversea sov-

scornfor all

materialism, whetherit was the crude

Louis-Philippe era or the

fought

political life,

reduced men to beasts and automatons.9

also criticized

philosophy.10

Systems

of

pure materialism, of

ascendency in

anti-spiri-

ereign

"enrichessez-vous"attitudeof the

variousformsof philosophical materialism.Just as he

the ideaof narrowself-interestas the basisof

sohehadno patience withthemechanistictheoriesof Buckle

which, he said,

Tocqueville

Hegelian philosophy,saying that

its doctrineshave given rise to anti-Christianand

tual schoolsof

He held that theorieswhich makeman into a beast at the

grossperversions of the natureof

physicalwell-being as

the goal of life could not, Tocqueville was convinced, gain

man.

mercy of his instinctswere

permanent

would inevitably break through, and if they did not, it would

be both surprising and unfortunate.l2 Proof that man has a

towardsideal values is furnished by the fact

strongtendency

thatthe bookswhichhave had the greatest influenceoverthe

humanmindarethose"oules

grandsprincipes du beau et du

bon, les hautes et salutairestheories de l'existencede Dieu

et de l'immortalitede l'ame ont le plus profondement

any society.1'Higher aspirations

penetre."

13

It shouldbe noted that in the abovestatement Tocqueville

orientationtowardsthe

predominance and enters the realmof reli-

He introducesbelief in God as one criterionof anti-

prevailing motifs

spiritualaspirations could only

to oneof the

thought: the idea

that

in one of his

goes beyond a vague

of the spiritual element in life,

gion.

materialism.Thisleads

of his

directly

be definedin religious terms. In other words, concernwith

fundamental philosophical and metaphysicalproblems meant

concernwith

religion.l4Tocqueville explained

'Tocqueville,

dants

w Tocqueville,

260-261.

4

This was

anti-religious

of

strong

Saint-Simon,

letter to Edward

Childe, July 19, 1858,

1912),

pp.

75-76.

22,

Quelques correspon-

VI,

de Mr. et Mrs. Childe

letter

510.

letter

to

(London,

Corcelle,

to Beckwith,

July

September 7, 1858, op. cit., VII,

1854, (Euvres

22, 1838, op. cit.,

his

due to

early

although

completes,

VI,

' Tocqueville, letter

1Ibid.,

sTocqueville,

VII,

610.

The

were

to Beaumont,

April

extent

84.

training.

probably to a great

idealism of Michelet, or the vague mysticism

seem

not

to

have

interested

1830 and 1848.

him,

of the followers

both

in the years between

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382 FRENCHHISTORICALSTUDIES

letters to Gobineau

necessary andinevitable. Religion inculcatesbelief in another

world,

why

he believed this

relationship to be

and when faith in

immortality wanes, this life, with

of central importance.15

its

Philosophies then come forward to rationalize the

of view, and produce doctrines of

religious

to the

goods and interests, becomes

new point

"self-interest".'6 Conversely,

asceticism and abstinence are useful counter-forces

atti-

necessarily

bread alone" into

He was

belief that the

be

beings subject are of a

human propensity for purely material happiness.17

the

identity

converted

of

spiritual

and

religious

the idealistic, but not

for religion.

through religious

beset

human

could

By assuming

tudes, Tocqueville

religious, dictum that "man cannot live by

a definite statement of the human need

convinced that it was only which

spiritual problems

solved.18It is

nature, rather than

general psychological

statements of is evident that

who preach religion as the panacea for "man," while reserv-

even disbelief. He did not

ing to themselves feel himself to be

faith,

plus insupportable des maux

de ce monde, But the crucial

true that his remarks on this

or sociological

personal religious

commitment. Nevertheless, it

Tocqueville cannot be numbered among those

or

scepticism from the common human need for

9

was afflicted with

exempt and spoke of doubt as "le

pire que

point

is

despair

the

la mort." that Tocqueville

age

doubt. In a letter written to

described his

to

suffering which

ville

his

the same incident, stating

Mme. Swetchine in 1857 he

began

when, at the

depth

that

of sixteen, he

caused

question

betrays

teachings of the Church.20The shock and

this experience apparently of belief.

in 1820 Tocqueville read some

Pierson mentions

Tocque-

previous

16 Tocqueville, letter to Gobineau, October 2, 1843, (Euvres completes, new

edition, Tome IX

Gobineau),

(Correspondance d'Alexis

probable

he

that

Tocqueville

and Gobineau

and Conversations

(London, 1872),

of

is

I,

de Tocqueville et d'Arthur de

philoso- time.

4, 1851,

to Bentham's

p. 58.

is

'Ibid.

It

referring

phy, since both

were

of Tocqueville

studying

Alexis

Bentham

at this

21 Tocqueville, conversation

Correspondence

William

8 Tocqueville,

Amerique),

Senior

p.

(Euvres

310;

vol.

1"Tocqueville,

152.

2Redier,

ruary 26,

and Senior, February

de

vol.

Tocqueville with

1

(De

Nassau

II, 207.

completes,

2, pp.

Tome

27-28. References

la democratie

are to the new edition.

en

completes, VI,

letter

Feb-

letter to

pp.

Mme.

Corcelle, August

287-288,

Swetchine.

quoting

1, 1850, (Euvres

from

unpublished

op. cit.,

1857

to

of

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RELIGIOUS BELIEFSOF TOCQUEVILLE

383

sceptical or agnostic

make him atheistic.21There is no evidence that

regained those firmand fixed religious

so

when he saw a

tremed'arrivera

que

the Tocqueville-

Gobineau correspondence, which containsthe followingpas-

sage: "Je ne suis

me vanter) mais tout incroyantque je sois, je n'ai jamaispu

me defendred'une emotion

Sincethis letter was writtenin

a temporaryreligious

and

then returnto the Church.In all likelihood, he was an "in-

croyant" indeed an unbelieverfor

show that he became a convincedCatholic after 1843 must

be

that containedin the letter to Gobineau.

workswhich shookhis faith but did not

Tocqueville convictionswhich he

earnestly

cela

The most

desired.In a letter to Kergorlay he wrote that

he felt "uneenvie ex-

truly religiousperson

penser

et a sentirde meme, avec l'evidence

significant statementon this question

suis loin de dire

pour

en lisant

l':vangile."

23

one must concludethat

a not uncommon

experience,

Tocqueville was to

years, any attempt

precise and documentary as

m'est impossible." 22

precise

and

is to be foundin a letterin the new editionof

pas croyant(ce que je

profonde

1843,

youth, certainly

Tocqueville did not merelygo through

crisis in

from 1820 until at least 1843. If

twenty

three

evidence as

supportedby

Another

interestingaspect of the above quotation

is the

mannerin which

Tocqueville of belief. There is a rueful and

phrase "ce que je suis loin de dire pour

to indicate that

Tocqueville's ance"was not one of

was a sourceof unhappiness. This

revealedto Gobineauhis lack

about the

regretful quality me vanter."It seems

attitude toward his

"incroy-

pride

or satisfaction, but ratherthat it

confirmsthe point which

2Pierson,

though

ville's)

Lesueur:

Lesueur

the

as evidence of

hand,

in

321.

of

to

mentions

that

a

this

on

to bear

Catholic

"Je

it

op.

p.

out his

faith

cit.,

17. Pierson

statement

in

a note

as

(Tocque-

to

is from a letter

this

incident

made

"shook his

by

page,

irreparably,"

puis

remark

The

1824.

Tocqueville

crois, mais ne

Tocqueville

is

Tocqueville's

to

written

pratiquer."

September

8,

interpret

from

quotation

Since

we

of

do not

does,

On the other

belief

know

context,

probably safest

to

estrangement a priest may

the remark as Pierson

as meaning

(Euvres

Tocqueville

the

n'ai

.

completes,

et

d'Arthur

.

.

Catholicism.

be interpreted

June 25, 1834, (Euvres

1843,

"Je crois"

Catholicism.

22Tocqueville,

"

Tocqueville,

Tome IX

p.

57.

letter

letter to Gobineau, October

d'Alexis

to Kergorlay,

Schemann

completes, V,

new

de

Tocqueville-Gobirieau

2,

edition,

Gobineau),

correspondence, published in 1908, only the words "je

appear.

(Correspondance

In

the

de

of

edition

l'Pvangile"

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384

FRENCHHISTORICALSTUDIES

has been made above: to

ardently sought who did not look

liberationinto the worldof free

thought, and whose spiritual

and emotionalattitudeswere therefore vastly differentfrom

thoseof eighteenth-century rational scepticism or nineteenth

centurypositivism.

words

usual

"incroyant." To Tocqueville,being

the doctrinesof the RomanCatholic

from

below. The nature of his beliefs can be determinedmore

ciselyby

Christianity. Tocqueville's

the immortality of the soul,

of the

religiousthinking. his brotherafter the Abbe Lesueur'sdeath in 1831 tells us

that Tocqueville

writes, has

problem

persuaded him more completely

mortality

goodness of this man will not receive its just reward.25This

was not

shockof Lesueur's death, for

ville disclosedto Mme.Swetchinehis convictionthat the in-

justices in another.26 The idea of retributionfor

Tocquevillereligious faith was an

was an

"incroyant"

after desideratum.He

upon unbeliefas a breaking of shackles, a

Indeed, it is

possible

that in using these

Tocqueville

wished to disassociatehimself from the

connotations, at least in nineteenth-century France, of

an unbelievermeant that

he was unableto

accept

Church, but there

is no indication of

estrangement

Christianethical and philosophicalconcepts,

as will be seen

pre-

examining themvis-a-vissomeof the basictenets of

attitude towards the doctrineof certainly one of the fundamentals

Christian religion,strikingly reveals some of the dis-

A letter writtento

tinctivefeaturesof his

had been reading and thinking about the

than ever before of the im-

for he cannot bear to think that the

temporary and superficialresponse to the

twenty-fiveyears

later

Tocque-

of the after-life.24The Abbe'sdeath, he

of the soul,

merely

a

and inconsistenciesof this world would be rectified

good and evil was one pillar

of his belief in this doctrine.A second was the consolation

2

Tocqueville,

letter

contre

n'avais

to

Edouard

de

Tocqueville,

qui,

sort

September 10, 1831,

comme notre bon ami,

grands

(Euvres

26 Ibid.

n'a vecu

criminels,

violence

completes, VII,

The

quotation

que

voila

pour

que je

61.

jamais

is as follows:

subisse

"Que celui

le meme

bien faire,

quoi

que

les

plus

ma raison et mon coeur se

avec une

December 29, 1866, op. cit., VI,

soulevent

2

360.

sentie."

Mme. Swetchine,

Tocqueville, letter to

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RELIGIOUS BELIEFS OF TOCQUEVILLE

385

which belief in an after-lifeaffordedto human

one point he stated bluntly that "il n'y a, apres tout, que

religionqui apprenne a mourir.28

beings.27 At

la

Some significant facts emerge. First, Tocqueville did not

revealed

simply accept immortality of the soul as a divinely

dogma. Nor did he appeal to the verdict of logic or history.

It was

futable proof of the after-life: He as a human

against the possibility that there is no ultimate judgment of

and evil. Also, man needs belief in immortality in order

knowledge of death with courage

Here again is evidence of Tocqueville's tendency to consider

religion from the point of view of man's secular well-being.

Released from dogmatic adherence to Catholicism by the

inroads of doubt, he looked for verification of its basic

ciples One of the was

tianity

constituted its essential difference from the pagan

religions:

for its spiritual and ethical elevation. This

to Chris-

prin-

good to endure the

rather in his own nature that he found the most irre-

being

rebels

and

nobility.

to the

psychological ties that bound

strongest

respect

realities of human existence.

Tocqueville

by its glorification of man's highest rose to hitherto unattained heights.

be found "cette sorte

phere

the Koran for

Christianity

can

libre que cause une atmos-

criticized

potentialities

Only in the Gospel

d'aspiration

morale plus vaste et

plus pure".30Tocqueville between

being merely a compromise

although

spiritual-

the Koran was an

that

ism and

advance over

after his own father's

death

religious

belief and an ethical life. His father's deeds and thoughts, his

entire character, were

ity which permeated his life.32As a result, writes Tocqueville,

his father's life and death have provided him with the

great-

that devotion to Christian-

materialism, saying

polytheism, In a letter written to Corcelle

Tocqueville

it was far inferior to the

Gospel.31

shortly affirmedthe connection between

purified by

" Tocqueville, letter to Bouchitte,

See also, Tocqueville, Extrait

January

15, 1836, op. cit., VII, 146-147.

du Journal des Debats, May 18, 1837.

8 Tocqueville, letter to Comtesse de Grancey, October 4, 1835, op. cit., VII,

143.

" Tocqueville, letter to Gobineau, October 2, 1843, (Euvres completes, new

de

edition, Tome IX

Gobineau),

(Correspondance

d'Alexis

de Tocqueville

et d'Arthur

pp.

57.

57-59.

Ibid., p.

a Tocqueville, letter to Kergorlay,

354.

March 21, 1838, (Euvres

completes, V,

" Tocqueville, letter to Corcelle, June 18, 1856, op. cit., VI, 310.

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386 FRENCHHISTORICALSTUDIES

est

those who called themselves

particular

violence

Louis-Napoleon era produced many

them

duite pure, lIame fiere et les

cette fagon-la."34 Whether this outburst is to

literally

point

spiritual ity. We are again led to take note of the

the

proofs

of

their

brand of religion did not deter them from evil and

of the

such "Christians"and to

The pseudo-religiosity of the

of

religion.33Conversely, he was contemptuous

good

Christians, although

early

years

mains

nettes,

que

be taken

question. Nevertheless, it does serve

Tocqueville

Tocqueville

is

open

to

raged: "Soyez plutot paiens avec la con-

chretiens de

quite

to

was concerned with

out the extent to which

of his

and ethical values to be

religiousthought.

splendidly

derived from Christian-

pragmatic

"human"

quality

tianity

He finds the soul of Chris-

in its superior conception of

earlyreligious

faith,

Toc-

revealed most

mans natureand

Unlike

many

goals. who have lost their

queville

paths

metaphysical problems.35 It was in Revelationthat he found the clearest

to

plicitly

did not findit necessary to wanderinto the devious

of

philosophicalspeculation.

stated that nowherein

contrary, he ex-

philosophy had he been able

On the

and ethical

find fruitful answers to basic

ideasaboutthe origin and purpose of the world, freewill and of

responsibility.36Analysis

tion does indeed revealits

Tocqueville'sphilosophicalposi-

affinity to Christianity. Belief in a

FirstCause provided the foundation; from thencehe moved

on to

des lois fixes

poser quent a sa justice; auquel on a permis

par consequent,

le monde

physique laisse voir et qu'il faut sup-

de Dieu, par conse-

la responsabilit6 des actions de lhomme,

que

dans le monde moral;i

i

la

providence

de connaltre, qu'il y

a un bien et un mal, et,

a une autre vie.37

This passage has been quoted at length because it is

Tocqueville's mostdetailedstatementof his essential philoso-

3Ibid.

"'Tocqueville,

new

de Gobineau),

VII,

6 Ibid., VII, 3"Ibid., VII,

476.

edition,

p.

Tocqueville,

476.

476.

letter

Tome IX

278.

letter

to Gobineau, January

(Correspondance

to Bouchitte,

24, 1857,

de

CEuvres completes,

Tocqueville et d'Arthur

completes,

d'Alexis

January

8, 1858,

(Euvres

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RELIGIOUS BELIEFS OF TOCQUEVILLE

387

phical whichhavebeen

ideas.It

be said to crystallize thosetendencies

aswell as point towarda

may

previously noted,

more

there were areas of human life in which it

accept dogmatic,

he

speaks more fundamental is his

was in the same

generalinterpretation. For example, his assumption that

was wisest to

when

of fixedmorallaws which one must assume.Even

absolute

explanations, is perceptible

of

acceptance

of

the philosophical

spirit

in which

Christianity. It

grandeur

doctrineof the immortality of the soul

of the

Gospel,

that he

admitted

author-

nor even

wholly upon

faith, but ratherbecause of their

noblest

impulses

of man. It is

signi-

in the above letter and elsewhereToc-

agreement with the ethicaland

the

Gospel, of the Incarnation, nor to

he nowherede-

dogma

postulates

he had assentedto the

and the ethical

the philosophicalsupremacy of Christianity: not upon

ity,

efficacy in furthering the

although queville openlyexpressed his

philosophical ideas expressed in

claredhis adherenceto the

any of the specifically theological doctrines of Catholic

Christianity. Nevertheless, thereare interpretations whichmaintainthat

ficant that

Tocqueville gravitated

towards completeacceptance of Catholicism, and ended his

life a convincedmemberof the Church.The Abbe Baunard,

writing in the eighteen-eighties, was the firstto take up

position, been restated

recently

by his progressive

turn to Catholicism was brought about

during

the last decade of his life

this

which was reinforced

by

by

Antoine Redier, and has

John Lukacs.38

According to the Abbe

Baunard's study,39Tocqueville's re-

programs and

condition.40It was

governments, as

only

his dis-

underLouis-

underLouis-

acceptance, the

disillusionmentwith secular

well as

gust with the obsequious conductof the clergy

Napoleon that kept

by his weak physical

him fromfinal and total

38 Tocqueville,

neau,

s

ed. and

Baunard,

(2

vols.;

Paris,

judge

rather

of

"The European Revolution" and

tr.

Abbe

by John

1884).

to

Lukacs,

La

New

foi

et

York,

ses

(Louis),

This

interpretation

For

understand.

religious

part

is

Correspondence

(Anchor

with Gobi-

present

tendency

sympathetic

to

ad-

"half-

this

Tocque-

1959.

victoires

is

Books).

siecle

a

of

the

was

regretful

only

elements

of

dans

le

marred

by

instead

merely

Tocqueville

the

than

example,

precisely

if

we

analysis

mission

Catholic"

"half-Catholicism"

ville's

p.

Tocqueville's

during

287).

a

ideas there is

of

his

life

that

(II,

religious

327.

good

It

however

which must

be examined

are to clarify

position.

Ibid.,

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388 FRENCHHISTORICALSTUDIE

Abbemaintains.4'He adducesas

thatin a letterto Reeveof 1856 Tocqueville defendedCatho-

licism.42In this letter Reeve is Catholic spirit, but this seems

sympathy and respect

an anti-

against evocative of that

proof

of his

theory

the fact

cautioned

merely

for Catholicismwhich was consistent

noris there

any

in which

throughoutTocqueville's life.43Thereis no personaltestimony

of a

in the other letter which Baunardcites. This is the letter to

Corcellewritten

he

speaks life.44Thereis no

noted in

thirties: a sensitive and

spiritual to thinkof death withoutthe solace of

thorough-going Catholicismin this letter,

after Tocqueville's father's death,

of the vital role played by religion in his father's

change

in attitudehere fromthatwhich we

Tocqueville'sresponse to Lesueur'sdeath in the

nature which cannot bear

immortality. NeitherRediernorLukacs providesanyproof that

Tocqueville's

that he was then a

Tocquevillerejects

des races

the

Tocque-

the fifties. Lukacs

does indeed assert that

"especially after 1852 indicate

Christian",45but there is no supporting documentation.The

correspondence with Gobineau, and particularly those magni-

ficentletters in which

the Essai sur rinegalite

bued with Christianethicaland

surely not identicalwith belief in Roman

ever. The fact that

asking for and receiving

is im-

ville became a convincedCatholic

during letters to Gobineau

believing

of

philosophy

humaines, certainly

philosophical values. This is

Catholicism, how-

Tocquevilleapparently

died as a Catholic,

extreme unction, is of course the

strongpoint

even on this matterhave neverthelessnot been

conversationwith Senior and Mignet, Beaumont

in the

Baunard argument. Differencesof opinion

lacking.

In a

explained

lbid.,

p. 327.

pp.

*Ibid.,

ber

328-329,

quoting

completes,

from

VII,

Tocqueville,

351-54.

letter

to Reeve,

of the

clergy

November

letter

to

to

Correspondence

in the

preceding

representing

Novem-

which Tocqueville

the

7, 1856,

" The

(Euvres

same attitude is

shown in

a letter to Corcelle in

of his

letter

disapproval

Corcelle,

to

explains

enemies of Catholicism.

op. cit., VI, 280-81.

that he

prefers not to speak

Tocqueville,

p.

VI,

331,

by

of

15, 1854,

Coreelle,

with

sen-

"the

"Baunard,

June

'

18,

1856,

Tocqueville,

ed.

Mr.

op. cit.,

op.

"The

and tr.

quoted from

Lukacs,

the

letters

to

Tocqueville,

Gobineau

310.

European

John

Revolution" and

p. 25. Since

Gobineau,

tence

Catholic Christian

should be taken

Lukacs

speaks

to

Tocqueville,"

mean

we are

assuming that "believing. Christian" Catholic."

"believing

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RELIGIOUS BELIEFS OF TOCQUEVILLE

389

that Tocqueville receivedthe last sacrament"non

leur efficacite"but in orderto avoid scandaland at

croyait his wife's behest.46Both Baunardand Redier counter this

Tocqueville's desireto die a

professed Catholic.47

with evidenceof the

parcequ'il

a

sincerity of

Until

recently,

evidence

it has seemed that in the absence of more

corroborating the Beaumont interpretation,

Tocqueville's

death must be

remarked, we have no

[their] faith or the lack of it

[their] unexpressed motives." 48

edition of the

Tocqueville-

is

clearly

precise

the Baunard-Redieraccount of

accepted. For, as Lukacs has aptly

right to "assertthe sincerity of

fromour own attributionof

With the

Gobineau

indicated. In his excellent introduction to the

Chevallier

publication of the new

correspondence, however, a reappraisal

quotes from an unpublished

a moving

of the last rites.

correspondence, J.-J. Beaumont document

account of the circumstances sur-

According

in which there is

rounding Tocqueville's acceptance

to Beaumont,

subject of confession to her husband he

stating that he would not lie to himself "et faire des grimaces

de foi

quand la foi me manque."49 When his wife persisted,

Tocqueville again refused, explaining:

when Mme. de Tocqueville first mentioned the

replied negatively,

Ce n'est point la confession en elle-meme qui me repugne; au

contraireelle me serait douce; c'est une des plus belles et admir-

ables choses de la religion chretienne que

l'orgueil

coeur qui se verse tout entier dans une autre ame

mais la

dans tous les

toujours

ni

cette humiliation

cet

de

du

humain, avouer

premiere

ses faiblesses,

et

epanchement

pour s'y purifier;

c'est la

foi

dogmes,

condition de la

confession catholique,

ne veux

a ne

les pas

dogmes de l'Eglise catholique;

par

ma raison,

que je

et ce sont ces

pas

contestes

reconnaitre

admettrel 50

approuver lorsqu'en realite je persiste

After his wife

him that in order to

repeatedly

returned to the

subject, convincing

be

receive the last rites he

need

only

'"D'Eichthal,

1897),

(Paris,

p.

op.

tr.

47

8

Baunard,

Tocqueville,

neau,

'

d'Alexis de

ed.

and

Tocqueville,

Ibid., pp.

Eugene,

216.

cit.,

"The

by

(Euvres

Alexis

de

Tocqueville

Redier, op. cit.,

et

la

democratie

292-297.

13.

liberale

pp. 348-354;

European

Revolution" and

edition,

pp. Correspondence with Gobi-