William Godwin's Diary


The first anniversary of the fall of the Bastille was celebrated with a ‘Feast of the Federation’ which took place in the Champs de Mars, Paris. Some 350,000 people attended including the king. The event served as the starting point for Godwin’s friend Helen Maria Williams’s 8-volume eyewitness account of the revolution and she described it as ‘the most sublime spectacle which, perhaps, was ever represented on the theatre of this earth’.

Godwin may be referring to the dinner held on this day at the Crown and Anchor tavern in honour of the revolution's anniversary, tickets for which were available at 7s. 6d. each. See the advertisement in The Times, 14 July 1790.

See William Doyle, The Oxford History of the French Revolution, 2nd edn (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), p. 128; Simon Schama, Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution (London: Penguin, 2004), pp. 429-36 and Helen Maria Williams, Letters Written in France, ed. by Neil Fraistat and Susan S. Lanser (Ontario: Broadview Press, 2001), p. 63.