Recommended Translation: Recollections: The French Revolution of 1848, ed. J.P. Mayer and A.P. Kerr. (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Press, 1987). Originally published in 1893.
Removed for a time from the scene of public life, I am constrained, in the midst of my solitude, to turn my thoughts upon myself, or rather to reflect upon contemporary events in which I have taken part or acted as a witness. And it seems to me that the best use I can make of my leisure is to retrace these events, to portray the men who took part in them under my eyes, and thus to seize and engrave, if I can, upon my memory the confused features which compose the disturbed physiognomy of my time.
In taking this resolve I have taken another, to which I shall be no less true: these recollections shall be a relaxation of the mind rather than a contribution to literature. I write them for myself alone. They shall be a mirror in which I will amuse myself in contemplating my contemporaries and myself; not a picture painted for the public. My most intimate friends shall not see them, for I wish to retain the liberty of depicting them as I shall depict myself, without flattery. I wish to arrive truly at the secret motives which have caused them, and me, and others to act; and, when discovered, to reveal them here. In a word, I wish this expression of my recollections to be a sincere one; and to effect this, it is essential that it should remain absolutely secret.
I intend that my recollections shall not go farther back than the Revolution of 1848, nor extend to a later date than the 30th of October 1849, the day upon which I resigned my office. It is only within these limits that the events which I propose to relate have any importance, or that my position has enabled me to observe them well.