Page:Englishmen in the French Revolution.djvu/16
not always proved fruitless, and collected materials which afford some idea of the enthusiasms and terrors, the festivities and privations, the honours and insults, the thrills of exultation and anguish, of the Englishmen who were voluntary or involuntary eye-witnesses of the Revolution.
This book is not written to point a moral, though it may induce moralising. It passes no judgment on the Revolution, albeit an Englishman can happily do so with as perfect impartiality as if it had taken place in a distant planet, whereas every Frenchman is more or less biassed. The Revolution is the touchstone of French politicians, not so much that their view of the Revolution governs their opinion on questions of the day, as that the latter governs their opinion of the Revolution. More deliberate falsehood, too, has been written on the Revolution than on any other historical event. Happily this ocean of falsehood but very slightly affects that side of it delineated in this book. The well of English testimony is comparatively unpolluted. We may leave Louis Blanc to credit the ridiculous story of English emissaries in the September massacres, and Michelet to regard these phantoms as eccentric Britons in search of a sensation. I have neither to justify nor impeach the conduct of the English Government towards the Revolution. International controversies have no place here. I have simply to deal with individual experiences.