— John Dalberg-Acton, 1st Baron Acton British politician and historian 1834 - 1902
Context: ADVICE TO PERSONS ABOUT TO WRITE HISTORY — DON’T
In the Moral Sciences Prejudice is Dishonesty.
A Historian has to fight against temptations special to his mode of life, temptations from Country, Class, Church, College, Party, Authority of talents, solicitation of friends.
The most respectable of these influences are the most dangerous.
The historian who neglects to root them out is exactly like a juror who votes according to his personal likes or dislikes.
In judging men and things Ethics go before Dogma, Politics or Nationality. The Ethics of History cannot be denominational.
Judge not according to the orthodox standard of a system religious, philosophical, political, but according as things promote, or fail to promote the delicacy, integrity, and authority of Conscience.
Put conscience above both system and success.
History provides neither compensation for suffering nor penalties for wrong.
Postscript of letter to Mandell Creighton (5 April 1887), puplished in Historical Essays and Studies, by John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton (1907), edited by John Neville Figgis and Reginald Vere Laurence, Appendix, p. 505 http://oll.libertyfund.org/?option=com_staticxt&staticfile=show.php%3Ftitle=2201&chapter=203934&layout=html&Itemid=27