Alexis de Tocqueville to Edward Lee Childe
Tocqueville, January 4, 1857
Dear Mr. Edward,
I have received your letter of November 28 and I thank you for it. Everything in it that refers to your mother, Mrs. Childe, has particularly touched me. I can imagine your profound emotion when placing that coffin in your family vault. The account alone has profoundly moved me. I still cannot accustom myself to the thought of her death, or to the idea that I shall never see her again. Such thoughts had never come to my mind before that terrible event occurred. In seeing her still so young, so full of life, so outwardly healthy, so cheerful, so sparkling, who could have imagined that she would abruptly plunge into death! This event – so sudden and so unexpected – has filled me not only with sadness but also with horror and made an impression on me that will never fade away. Mrs. Childe had many sincere friends, but I doubt that she had met anyone else who could penetrate into the depths of her soul more than me. She took as much care to conceal from the world her most truly attractive qualities as others do to display them. One needed, as it were, to force her to remove this casual and easy-going appearance with which she loved to cover herself in order to perceive what was serious, noble, and right in her heart, what was sound and singularly powerful in her mind.