Page:Englishmen in the French Revolution.djvu/306

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286

THE FRENCH REVOLUTION.

the growth of the finest flowers and of the most noxious weeds. Men who in ordinary times would have been commonplace, neither very good nor very bad, were developed by it into heroes or demons. Englishmen, indeed, never played more than a secondary part, and had not the opportunity either of soaring to such heights or sinking to such depths as natives, yet the maxim noscitur à sociis is strikingly applicable. A French proverb says, "Tell me whom you like and I will tell you what you are like." What Englishmen might have been is evidenced by their hero-worship as well as to some extent by their acts. Grieve was not only the admirer but in his way the imitator of Marat, as Arthur was of Robespierre, as Helen Williams was of Madame Roland, minus her ambition and impatience of social superiority. The two O'Sullivans realised the calumnious legend of André Chénier's betrayal by his brother, and the two Badgers are a parallel to Frenchmen who eagerly perished by mistake for fathers or brothers. Pigott, however, with his reforms in food and costume, is perhaps sui generis. The Abbé Edgeworth, facing what he believed to be certain death, towers head and shoulders over his countrymen; but Money was ready to risk his life for the King and his Swiss, though the King was not his sovereign nor the Swiss his countrymen; Helen Williams sheltered a proscript, and scorned to bow the knee to Napoleon; even