Tocqueville om den mest fundamentala skillnaden mellan Englands och Frankrikes politiska historia

Ur ett brev till Gustave de Beaumont skrivet 5:e oktober 1828, postumt publicerat under titeln Reflections on English History.

Now, listen. Suppose that two men have been engaged in a long and determined fight although one of them is a little weaker than the other. A third man comes up, weaker than either of the two but who, whichever side he took, would be sure to tilt the balance that way. But who will think of asking him for help, who will urge his claim for help most strongly? It is sure to be he who feels himself weakest. When the two weak ones join together, the strongest enemy will be defeated. But which of the two allies will have the upper hand? The fight begins again, and ends in full or partial victory for one of them.

There, my dear friend, is the whole history of France and England in the story of those three men, but with this difference that in France it was the king who was the weaker of the first pair and therefore the one to call the Commons to his aid, to join forces with them and lead them, to use their help to destroy the feudal system, and in the end be swallowed up by them when the two were left face to face in 1789. In England, on the the hand, the feudal nobility started weaker of the two and so was the one to call the third estate to Parliament, year by year to put forward claims in its interest as if they were their own, to build up its strength, promote and sustain it every time. When the king’s power was gone, it was the third estate which threw over the nobility in 1640 and established the republic.

Tocqueville, Alexis de (1988). Journeys to England and Ireland. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, s. 27–28.