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His grandfather was a man of ability, an enterprising of many tears and some blood, I purchased the knowledge merchant of London, one of the commissioners of customs of the Latin syntax," but manifestly, in his own opinion, under the Tory ministry during the last four years of the Arabian Nights, Pope's Homer, and Dryden's Virgil, Queen Anne, and, in the judgment of Lord Bolingbroke, eagerly read, had at this period exercised à much more as deeply versed in the "commerce and finances of Eng- powerful influence on his intellectual development than Phælood" a3 any man of his time. He was not always wise, drus and Cornelius Nepos, “painfully construed and darkly however, either for himself or his country; for he became understood.” deeply involved in the South Sea Scheme, in the disastrous In December 1747 his mother died, and he was taken collapse of which (1720) he lost the ample wealth, he home. After a short time his father removed to the had amassed. As a director of the company, moreover, "rustic solitude” of Buriton (Hants), but


Gibbon he was suspected of fraudulent complicity, taken into lived chiefly at the house of his maternal grandfather, custody, and heavily fined; but £10,000 was allowed at Putney, where, under the care of his devoted aunt, he him out of the wreck of his estate, and with this his skill developed, he tells us, that passionate love of reading and enterprise soon constructed a second fortune. He died "which he would not exchange for all the treasures of at Putney in 1736, leaving the balk of his property to his India,” and where his mind received its most decided two daughters -nearly disinheriting his only son, the father stimulus. Of 1748 he says, “This year, the twelfth of the historian, for having married against his wishes. of my age, I shall note as the most propitious to the This son (by name Edward) was educated at Westminster growth of my intellectual stature.” After detailing the and Cambridge, but never took a degree, travelled, be circumstances which unlocked for him the door of his came member of Parliament, first for Petersfield (1734), grandfather's “tolerable library,” he says, “I turned over then for Southampton (1741), joined the party against Sir many English pages of poetry and romance, of history and Robert Walpole, and (as his son confesses, not much to his travels. Where a title attracted my eye, without fear or father's honour) was animated in so doing by “private awe I spatched the volume from the shelf.” In 1749, revenge" against the supposed “ oppressor" of his family in his twelfth year, he was sent to Westminster, still residin the South Seo affair. If so, revenge, as usual, was ing, however, with his aunt, who, rendered destitute by her blind; for Walpole bad sought rather to inoderate than father's bankruptcy, but unwilling to live a life of dependto inflame public feeling against the projectors.

ence, had opened a boarding-house for Westminster school. The historian was born at Putney, Surrey, April 27 (Old Here in the course of two years (1749–50), interrupted by Style), 1737. His mother, Judith Porten, was the daughter danger and debility, he "painfully climbed into the third of a London merchant. He was the eldest of a family of form ;” but it was left to his riper age to "acquire the six sons and a daughter, and the only one who survived | beauties of the Latin and the rudiments of the Greek childhood ; his own life in youth hung by so mere a thread tongue." The continual attacks of sickness which had reas to be again and again despaired of. His mother, bo- tarded his progress induced his aunt, by medical advice, to tween domestic cares and constant infirmities (which, huw- take him to Bath ; but the mineral waters had no effect. ever, did not prevent an occasional plunge into fashionable He then resided for a time in the house of a physician at dissipation in compliance with her husband's wishes), did Winchester; the physician did as little as the mineral but little for liim." The “true mother of his mind as well waters; and, after a further trial of Bath, he once more as of his health " was & maiden aunt—Catherine Porten returned to Putney, and made a last futile attempt to study by name—with respect to whom he expresses himself in at Westminster. Finally, it was concluded that he would language of the most grateful remembrance

. “Many never be able to encounter the discipline of a school ; and anxious and solitary days," says Gibbon, “ did she consume casual instructors, at various times and places, were prowith patient trial of every mode of relief and amusement. vided for him. Meanwhile his indiscriminate appetite for Many wakeful nights did she sit by my bedside in tremb reading had begun to fix itself more and more decidedly upon ling expectation that each hour would be my last.” As cir- history ; aud the list of historical works devoured by him eanstances allowed, she appears to have taught him read- during this period of chronic ill-health is simply astonishing. ing, writing, and arithmetic-acquisitions made with so little It included, besides Hearne's Ductor Historicus and the of remembered pain that “were not the error corrected by successive volumes of the Universal History, which was analogy,” he says, “I should be tempted to conceive them then in course of publication, Littlebury's Herodotus, as innate.” At seven he was committed for eighteen months Spelman's Xenophon, Gordon's Tacitus, an anonymous to the care of a private tutor, John Kirkby by name, and translation of Procopius ; "many crude lumps of Speed, the author, among other things, of a "philosophical fiction," Rapin, Mezeray, Davila, Machiavel, Father Paul, Bower, entitled the Life of Automathes. Of Kirkby, from whom &c., were hastily gulped. I devoured them like so many he learned the rudiments of English and Latin grammar, novels; and I swallowed with the same voracious appetite he speaks gratefully, and doubtless truly, so far as he the descriptions of India and China, of Mexico and could trust the impressions of childhood. With reference to Peru." His first introduction to the historic scenes Automathes he is much more reserved in his praise, deny- the study of which afterwards formed the passion of ing alike its originality, its depth, and its elegance; but, his life took place in 1751, when, while along with his he adds, “the book is not devoid of entertainment or in- father visiting a friend in Wiltshire, he discovered in the straction."

library "a common book, the continuation of Echard's In his ninth year (1746), during a “lucid interval of Roman History.“ To me the reigns of the successors of comparative health," he was sent to a school at Kingston-Constantine were absolutely new; and I was immersed in upon-Thames; but his former infirmities soon returned, and the passage of the Goths over the Danube, when the sumhis progress, hy his own confession, was slow and unsatisfac- mons of the dinner bell reluctantly dragged me from my tory. “My timid reserve was astonished by the crowd and intellectual feast.” Soon afterwards his fancy kindled with tumult of the school; the want of strength and activity the first glimpses into Oriental history, the wild" barbarico disqualified me for the sports of the play-field. charm of which he never ceased to feel. Ockley's book on By the common methods of discipline, at the expense the Saracens "first opened his eyes” to the striking career * The celebrated William Law had been for some time the private

of Mahomet and his bordes; and with his characteristic dator of this Edward Gibbon, who is supposed to have been the origini ardour of literary research,

after exhausting all that could al the rather clever sketch of “Flatus" in the Serious Call

be learned in English of the Arabs and Persians, the


Tartars and Turks, he forthwith plungod into the French | resolved to write a book ;” but the discovery of bis own of D'Herbelot, and the Latin of Pocock's version of weakness, he adds, was the first symptom of taste. On his Abulsaragius, sometimes understanding them, but oftener first return to Oxford the work was wwisely relinquished," only guessing their meaning. Ho soon learned to call and never afterwards resumed. The most memorable incito his aid the subsidiary sciences of geography and dent, however, in Gibbon's stay at Oxford was his temchronology, and before he was quite capable of reading porary conversion to the doctrines of the church of Rome. them had already attempted to weigh in his childish The bold criticism of Middleton's recently (1749) published balance the competing systems of Scaliger and Petavius, Free Enquiry into the Miraculous Powers which are supposed of Marsham and Newton. At this early period he seems to have subsisted in the Christian Church, appears to have already to have adopted in some degree the plan of study given the first shock to his Protestantism, not indeed by he followed in after life, and recommended in his Essai sur destroying his previous belief that the gift of miraculous l'Étude--that is, of letting his subject rather than his author powers had continued to subsist in the church during the determine his course, of suspending the perusal of a book first four or five centuries of Christianity, but by con-' to reflect, and to compare the statements with those of other vincing him that within the same period most of the authors, --so that he often read portions of many volumes leading doctrines of popery had been already introduced while mastering ono.

both in theory and in practice. At this stage he was Towards his sixteenth year he tells us nature dis- introduced by a friend (Mr Molesworth) to Bossuet's played in his favour her mysterious energies," and all Variations of Protestantism, and Exposition of Catholic his infirmities suddenly vanished. Thenceforward, while Doctrine (see Gibbon, Decline and Fall, c. xv., note 79). never possessing or abusing the insolence of health, he “ These works,” says he, "achieved my conversion, and I could say “few persons have been more exempt from real surely fell by a noble hand." In bringing about this “fall," or imaginary ills." His unexpected recovery revived his however, Parsons the Jesuit appears to have had a confather's hopes for his education, hitherto so much neglected siderable share ; at least Lord Sheffield has recorded that if judged by ordinary standards ; and accordingly in Janu- on the only oceasion on which Gibbon talked with him on ary 1752 he was placed at Esher, Surrey, under the care of the subject he imputed the change in his religious views Dr Francis, the well known translator of Horace. But principally to that vigorous writer, who, in his opinion, had. Gibbon's friends in a few weeks discovered tbat the new urged all the best arguments in favour of Roman Catholitutor preferred the pleasures of London to the instruction cism. But be this as it may, he had no sooner adopted his of his pupils, and in this perplexity decided to send him new creed than he resolved to profess it ; "a momentary propiaturely to Oxford, where he was matriculated as a glow of enthusiasm" had raised him above all temporal congentleman commoner of Magdalen College, 3d April, 1752. siderations, and accordingly, on June 8, 1753, he rds According to his own testimony, he arrived at the university that having “privately abjured the heresies ” of his child" with a stock of information which might have puzzled a hood before a Catholic priest of the name of Baker, a doctor, and a degree of ignorance of which a school-boy Jesuit, in London, he announced the same to his father in might be ashamed.” And indeed his huge wallet of scraps an elaborate controversial epistle which his spiritual adviser stood him in little stead at the trim banquets to which he much approved, and wbich he himself afterwards described was invited at Oxford, while the wandering habits by to Lord Sheffield as having been “written with all the which he had filled it absolutely unfitted him to be a guest. pomp, the dignity, and self-satisfaction of a martyr." He was not well grounded in any of the elementary branches, The elder Gibbon heard with indignant surprise of this which are essential to university studies, and to all success act of juvenile apostasy, and, indiscreetly giving in their prosecution. It was natural therefore that he his wrath, precipitated the expulsion of his son from should dislike the university, and as natural that the uni- Oxford, a punishment which the culprit, in after yeărs at versity should dislike him. Many of his complaints of the least, found no cause to deplore. In his Memoirs he speaks system were certainly just; but it may be doubted whether of the results of his “childish revolt against the religion of any university system would have been profitable to him, his country” with undisguised self-gratulation. It had de considering his antecedents. He complains especially of his livered him for ever from the "port and prejudice" of the tutors, and in one case with abundant reason ; but, by his university, and led him into the bright paths of philosophic own confession, they might have recriminated with justice, freedom. That his conversion was sincere at the time, for he indulged in gay society, and kept late hours. His that it marked a real if but a transitory phase of genuine observations, however, on the defects of the English univer- religious conviction, we have no reason to doubt, notwithsity system, some of which have only very recently been standing the scepticism he has himself expressed. "To removed, are acute and well worth pondering, however little my present feelings it seems incredible that I should ever relevant to his own case. He remained at Magdalen about believe that I believed in transubstantiation," he indeed defourteen months. To the university of Oxford,” he says, clares; but his incredulous astonishment is not unmixed "I acknowledge no obligation; and she will as cheerfully with undoubting pride. "I could not blush that my tender renounce' me for a son as I am willing to disclaim her for mind was entangled in the sophistry which had reduced the a mother. I spent fourteen months at Magdalen College ; acute and manly understandings of a Chillingworth or a they proved the fourteen months the most idle and unpro- Bayle." Nor is the sincerity of the Catholicism he professed fitable of my whole life.”

in these boyish days in any way discredited by the fact of But thus “idlo " though he may have been as a “stu- his subsequent lack of religion. Indeed, as one of the dent,” he already meditated authorship. In the first long acutest and most sympathetic of his critics has remarked, vacation-during which he, doubtless with some sarcasm, the deep and settled grudge he has betrayed towards every says that “his tusto for books began to revive"-he con- form of Christian belief, in all the writings of his maturity, templated a treatise on the age of Sesostris, in which may be taken as evidence that he had at one time. experi(and it was characteristic) his chief object was to investi- enced in his own person at least some of the painful gate not so much the events as the probable epoch of the workings of a positive faith. reign of that semi-mythical monarch, whom he was inclined But little time was lost by the elder Gibbon in the formato regard as beving been contemporary with Solomon. tion of a new plan of education for his son, and in devising

Unprovided with original learning, unformed in the some method which if possible might effect the cure of his habits of thinking, unskilled in the arts of composition, I | "spiritual malady." The result of deliberation, aided by the

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advice and experience of Lord Eliot, was that it was almost , Although, nowever, he adds that at this

point he suspended immediately decided to fix Gibbon for some years avroad | his religious inquiries, "acquiescing with implicit belief in under the roof of M. Pavilliard, a Calvinist minister at the tenets and mysteries which are adopted by the general Lausanne. In as far as regards the instructor and guide consent of Catholics and Protestants,” his readers will pro ibus selected, a more fortunate choice could scarcely have bably do him no great injustice if they assume that even been made. From the testimony of his pupil, and the still then it was rather to the negations than to the affirmations more conclusive evidence of his own correspondence with of Protestantism that he most heartily assented. the father, Pavilliard seems to have been a man of singular With all his devotion to study at Lausannel (he read'ten or good sense, temper, and tact. At the outset, indeed, there was twelve hours a day), he still found some time for the acquione considerable obstacle to the free intercourse of tutor and sition of some of the lighter accomplishments, such as riding pupil: M. Pavilliard appears to have known little of Eng- dancing, drawing, and also for mingling in such society as lish

, and young Gibbon knew practically nothing of French. the place had to offer. In September 1755 he writes to But this difficulty was soon removed by the pupil's dili- his aunt, “I find a great many agreeable people here, see gence; the very exigencies of his situation were of service them sometimes, and can say upon the whole, without to him in calling forth all his powers, and be studied the vanity, that, though I am the Englishman here who spends language with such success that at the close of his five the least money, I am he who is most generally liked." years' exile he declares that he “spontaneously thought" in Thus his.studious and sedentary life” passed pleasantly French rather than in English, and that it had become more enough, interrupted only at rare intervals by boyish exfamiliar to “ear, tongue, and pen.”;" It is well known that cursions of a day or a week in the neighbourhood, and in after years hé had doubts whether he should not compose by at least one memorable tour of Switzerland, by Basel his great work in French; and it is certain that liis Zürich, Lucerne, and Bern, made along with Pavilliard familiarity with that language, in spite of considerable in the autumn of 1755. The last eighteen months of :fforts to counteract its effects, tinged his style to the last. this residence abroad saw the infusion of two new

Under the judicious regulations of his new tutor a elements-one of them at least of considerable import methodical course of reading was marked out, and most ance-into his life. In 1757 Voltaire came to reside andently prosecuted; the pupil's progress was proportionat Lausanne; and although he took but little notice of ably rapid* With the systematic study of the Latin, the young Englishman of twenty, who eagerly sought and to a slight extent also of the Greek classics, he con- and easily obtained an introduction, the establishment joined that of logic in the prolix “system of Crousaz; and of the theatre at Monrepos, where the brilliant versifier he farther invigorated his reasoning powers, as well as himself declaimed before select audiences his own pro. enlarged his knowledge of metaphysics and jurisprudence, ductions on the stage, had no small influence in fortiby the perusál of Locke, Grotius, and Montesquieu. He fying Gibbon's taste for the French theatre, and in at also read largely, though somewhat indiscriminately, in the same time abating that “idolatry for the gigantic French literature, and appears to have been particularly genius of Shakespeare which is inculcated from our instruck with Pascal's Provincial Letters, which he tells us he fancy as the first duty of an Englishman.” In the same repcrused almost every year of his subsequent life with new year—apparently about June-he saw for the first tiine, pleasure, and which he particularly mentions as having been, and forth with loved, the beautiful, intelligent, and accomalong with Bleterie's Life of Julian and Giannone's Ilistory plished Mademoiselle Susan Curchod, daughter of the of Naples, a book which probably contributed in a special pasteur of Crassier.' That the passion which she inspired in zense to form the historian of the Roinan empire. The him was tender, pure, and fitted to raise to a higher level comprehensive scheme of study included mathematics also, a nature which in some respects was much in need of such in which he advanced as far as the conic sections in the elevation will be doubted by none but the hopelessly treatise of L'Hôpital. : He assures us that his tutor did not cynical; and probably there are few readers who can peruse complain of any inaptitude on the pupil's part, and that the paragrapli in which Gibbon “approaches the delicate the pupil was as happily unconscious of any on his own; subject of his early love” without discerning in it a pathos but here he broke off. He adds, what is not quite clear much deeper than that of which the wiiter was himself from one who so frankly acknowledges his limited acquaint-aware. During the remainder of his residence at Lausanne auce with the science, that he had reason to congratulate he had good reason to “indulge his dream of felicity”; himself that he knew no more.

“ As soon,” he says, but on his return to England, “ I soon discovered that my I understood the principles, I relinquished for ever the father would not hear of this strange alliance, and that pursuit of the mathematics; nor can I lament that I without his consent I was myself destitute and helpless, desisted before my mind was hardened by the habit of rigid demonstration, so destructive of the finer feelings of moral 1 The Journal for 1755 records that during that year, besides evidence, which must, however. determine the actions and writing and translating a great deal in Latin and French, he had opinions of our lives."

rend, amongst other works, Cicero's Epistolæ ad Familiares, his Under the new influences which were brought to bear on

Brutus, all his Orations, his dialogues De Amicitia and De Senectute,

Terence (twice), and Pliny's Epistles. In January 1756 he says :him, he in less than two years resumed his Protestantism.

“I deterinined to read over the Latin authors in order, and read this " He is willing," he says, to allow M. Pavilliard a “hand-year Virgil

, Sallust, Livy, Velleius Paterculus, Valerius Maximus, 30mo share in his reconversion,” though he maintains, and Tacitus, Suetonius, Quintus Curtius, Justin, Florus, Plautus, Terence no doubt rightly, that it was principally due "to his own

and Lucretius. I also read and meditated Locke Upon the Understand. solitary reflections." He particularly congratulated himself ingin Again in January 1757 he writes: "I began to study algebra

under M. de Traytorrens, went through the elements of algebra and on having discovered the philosophical argument” against geometry, and the three first books of the Marquis de l'Hôpital's Conis transubstantiation, that the text of Scripture which seems

I also read Tibullus, Catullus, Propertius, Horace (with to inculcate the real presence is attested only by a single riac's commentary, the Ars Amandi, and the Elegies; likewise the

Dacier's and Torrentius's notes), Virgil, Ovid's Epistles, with Mezi. sense-our sight, while the real presence itself is disproved Augustus and Tiberius of Suetonius, and a Latin translation of Dion by three of our senses--the sight, the touch, and the taste." Cassius from the death of Julius Cæsar to the death of Augustus. I Before a similar mode of reasoning, all the other distinctive also continued my correspondence, begun last year, with M. Allamand articles of the Romish creed " disappeared like a dream”; with the Professor Gesner of Göttingen. N.B. - Last year and this

of Bex, and the Professor Breitinger of Zürich, and opened a new one and "after a full conviction," on Christmas day, 1754, he received the sacrament in the church of Lausanne.

read St John's Gospel, with part of Xenophon's Cyropædia, the Iliad and Herodotus; but, upon the whole, I rather neglected my






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After a painful struggle I yielded to my fate ; I sighed as sometimes interrupted with a sigh, which I brectheo a lover, I obeyed as a son ; my wound was insepsibly healed towards Lausanne ; and on the approach of spring I with by time, absence, and the habits of a new life.”

drew without reluctance from the noisy and extensive scene In 1758 he returned with mingled joy and regret to Eng- of crowds without company, and dissipation without plea land, and was kindly received at home, But be found a sure.” He renewed former acquaintance, however, with stepmother there; and this apparition on his father's hearth the “poet” Mallet, and through him gained access to at first rather appalled him. The cordial and gentle Lady Hervey's circle, where a congenial admiration, not to manners of Mrs Gibbon, however, and her unremitting care say affectation, of French manners and literature made him for his 'happiness, won him from his first prejudices, and a welcome guest. It ought to be added that in each of the gave her a permanent place in his esteem and affection. twenty-five years of his subsequent acquaintance with He seems to have been much indulged, and to have led a London "the prospect gradually brightened," and his social very pleasant life of it; he pleased himself in moderate as well as his intellectual qualities secured him a wide circle excursions, frequented the theatre, mingled, though not of friends. In one respect Mallet gave him good counsel very often, in society; was sometimes a little extravagant, in those early days. He advised him to addict himself to and sometimes a little dissipated, but never lost the benefits an assiduous study of the more idiomatic English writers, of his Lauzanne exile; and easily settled into a sober, dis such as Swift and Addison,—with a view to unlearn his creet, calculating Epicurean philosopher, who sought the foreign idiom, and recover his half-forgotten vernacular,summum bonum of man in temperate, regulated, and elevated a task, however, which he never perfectly accomplished. pleasure. The first two years after bis return to England Much as he admired these writers, Hume and Robertson he spent principally at his father's country seat at Buriton, were still greater favourites, as well from their subject as in Hampshire, only nine months being given to the metro- for their style. Of his admiration of Hume's style, of its polis. He has left an amusing account of his employments nameless grace of simple elegance, he has left us a strong in the country, where his love of study was at once inflamed expression, when he tells us that it often compelled him to by a large and unwonted command of books and checked close the historian's volumes with a mixed sensation of by thọ necessary interruptions of his otherwise happy delight and despair. domestic life. After breakfast "he was expected,” he In 1761 Gibbon, at the age of twenty-four, after many says, to spend an hour with Mrs Gibbon ; after tea his delays, and with many flutterings of hope and fear, gave father claimed his conversation ; in the midst of an in- to the world, in French, his maiden publication, an Essai teresting work he was often called down to entertain idle sur l'Etude de la Littérature, which he had composed two visitors; and, worst of all, he was periodically compelled years before. It was published partly in compliance with to return the well-meant compliments. He mentions that his father's wishes, who thought that the proof of some he dreaded the “recurrence of the full moon,” which was literary talent might introduce him favo ly to public the period generally selected for the more convenient notice, and secure the recommendation of his friends for accomplishment of such formidable excursions.

some appointment in connexion with the mission of the His father's library, though large in comparison with that English plenipotentiaries to the congress at Augsburg which he commanded at Lausanne, contained, he says, “ much

was at that time in contemplation. But in yielding to trash ;" but a gradual process of reconstruction transformed paternal authority, Gibbon frankly owns that he it at length into that «i numerous and select” library which plied, like a pious son, with the wish of his own heart.” was “the foundation of his works, and the best comfort of The subject of this youthful effort was suggested, its bis life both at home and abroad.” No sooner had he re- author says, by a refinement of vanity-"the desire of turned home than he began the work of accumulation, and justifying and praising the object of a favourite pursuit," records that, on the receipt of his first quarter’s allowance, namely, the study of ancient literature. . Partly owing to a large share was appropriated to his literary wants. “He its being written in French, partly to its character, the could never forget," he declares, “the joy with which he Essai excited more attention abroad than at home. Gibbon exchanged a bank note of twenty pounds for the twenty has criticized it with the utmost frankness, not to say volumes of the Memoirs of the Academy of Inscriptions," severity; but, after every abatement, it is unquestionably an Academy which has been well characterized (by Sainte- a surprising effort for a mind so young, and contains many Beuve) as Gibbon's intellectual fatherland. It may not be thoughts which would not have disgraced a thinker or a uninteresting here to note the principles which guided him scholar of much maturer age. His account of its first roboth now and afterwards in his literary purchases. “I am ception and subsequent fortunes in England deserves to be not conscious," says he, "of having ever bought a book cited as a curious piece of literary history. "In England," from a motive of ostentation; every volume, before it was he says, " it was received with cold indifference, little read, deposited on the shelf, was either read or sufficiently ex- and speedily forgotten. A small impression was slowly disamined”; he also mentions that he soon adopted the persed; the bookseller murmured, and the author (had his tolerating maxim of the elder Pliny, that no book is ever so feelings been more exquisite) might have wept over the bad as to be absolutely good for nothing.

blunders and baldness of the English translation. The In London he seems to have seen but little select society, publication of my history fifteen years afterwards revived the ---partly from his father's taste, “which had always preferred memory of my first performance, and the essay was eagerly the highest and the lowest company,” and partly from his sought in the shops. But I refused the permission which own reserve and timidity, increased by his foreign educa- Becket solicited of reprinting it; the public curiosity was tion, which had made English habits unfamiliar, and the imperfectly satisfied by a pirated copy of the bookseliers of very language in some degree strange. And thus he was Dublin ; and when a copy of the original edition has been led to draw that interesting picture of the literary recluse discovered in a sale, the primitive value of half-a-crown has among the crowds of London: “While coaches were risen to the fanciful price of a guinea or thirty shillings. "? rattling through Bond Street, I have passed many & solitary Sometime before the publication of the essay, Gibbon evening in my lodging with my books. My studies were


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· The Essai, in a good English translation, now appears in the 1 The affair, however, was not finally broken off till 1763. Malle. Miscellaneous Works. Villemain finds in it " peu de vues, Curchod soon afterwards became the wife of Necker, the famous finan- originalité surtout, mais ’nne grande passion littéraire, l'amour des cier; and Gibbon and the Neckers frequently afterwards met on terms recherches savantes et du beau langage.Sainte-Beuve's criticism is of mutual friendship and esteen.

almost identical with Gibbon's own, but though he finds that "La



had entered a new and, one might suppose, a very uncon- pendent, I should have prolonged and pernaps have fixea genial scene of life. In an hour of patriotic ardour he my residence at Paris.” became (June 12, 1759) a captain in the Hampshire From France he proceeded to Switzerland, and spent militia, and for more than two years (May 10, 1760, to nearly a year at Lausanne, where many old friendships and December 23, 1762) led a wandering ife of " military ser- studies were resumed, and new ones begun. His reading vitade." Hampshire, Kent, Wiltshire, and Dorsetshire was largely designed to enable him fully to profit by the long formed the successive theatres of what he calls his “ blood contemplated Italian tour which began in April 1764, and less and inglorious campaigns." He complains of the lasted somewhat more than a year. He has recorded one busy idleness in which his time was spent; but, con- or two interesting notes on Turin, Genoa, Florence, and other sidering the circumstances, so adverse to study, one is towns at which halt was made on his route; but Rome was rather surprised that the military student should have the great object of his pilgrimage, and the words in which done so much, than that he did so little; and never pro- he has alluded to the feelings with which he approached it bably before were so many hours of literary study spent in are such as cannot be omitted from any sketch of Gibbon, a tent. In estimating the comparative advantages and dis. however brief. “My temper is not very susceptible of advantages of this wearisome period of his life, he has enthusiasm, and the enthusiasm which I do not feel I have summed up with the impartiality of a philosopher and ever scorned to affect. But at the distance of twenty-five tha sagacity of a man of the world. Irksome as were his years I can neither forget nor express the strong emotions employments, grievous as was the waste of time, uncongenial which agitated my mind as I first approached and entered as were his companions, solid benefits were to be set off the Eternal City After a sleepless night, I trod with a against these things : his health became robust, his know- lofty step the ruins of the forum ; each memorable spot, ledge of the world was enlarged, he wore off some of his where Romulus stood, or Tully spoke, or Cæsar fell, was at foreign idiom, got rid of much of his reserve; he adds- once present to my eye; and several days of intoxication and perhaps in his estimate it was the benefit to be most were lost or enjoyed before I could descend to a cool and prized of all—“the discipline and evolutions of a modern minute investigation.” Here 'at last his long yearning for battalion gave me a clearer notion of the phalanx and the some great theme worthy of his historic genius was gratised. legion, and the captain of the Hampshire grenadiers (the The first conception of the Decline and Fall arose as he reader may smile) has not been useless to the historian of lingered one evening amidst the vestiges of ancient glory. the Roman empire."

“It was at Rome, on the 15th of October 1764, as I sat It was during this period that he read Homer and Lon-musing amidst the ruins of the Capitol, while the barefooted ginus, having for the first time acquired some real mastery friars were singing vespers in the temple of Jupiter, that the of Greek; and after the publication of the Essai, his mind idea of writing the declive and fall of the city first started was full of projects for a new literary effort. The Italian

to my mind." expedition of Charles VIIL of France, the crusade of The five years and a half which intervened between his Richard I., the wars of the barons, the lives and com- return from this tour, in June 1765, and the death of his parisons of Henry V. and the emperor Titus, the history father, in November 1770, seem to have formed the porof the Black Prince, the life of Sir Philip Sydney, that of tion of bis life which "he passed with the least enjoyment, Montrose, and finally that of Sir W. Raleigh, were all and remembered with the least satisfaction." He attended of them seriously contemplated and successively rejected. every spring the meetings of the militia at Southampton, By their number they show how strong was the impulse to and rose successively to the rank of major and lieutenantliterature, and by their character, how determined the bent colonel commandant; but was each year “more disgusted of his mind in the direction of history; while their variety with the inn, the wine, the company, and the tiresome re makes it manifest also that he had then at least no special petition of annual attendance and daily exercise.” From purpose to serve, no preconceived theory to support, no his own account, however, it appears that other and deeper particular prejudice or belief to overthrow.

causes produced this discontent. Sincerely attached to his The militia was disbanded in 1762, and Gibbon joyfully home, he yet felt the anomaly of his position. At thirty, shook off his bonds; but his literary projects were still to still a dependaut, without a settled occupation, without a be postponed. Following his own wishes, though with his definite social status, he often regretted that he had not father's consent, he had early in 1760 projected a Conti- “embraced the lucrative pursuits of the law or of trade, nental tour as the completion “of an English gentleman's the chances of civil office or India adventure, or even the education." This had been interrupted by the episode of fat slumbers of the church." From the emoluments of a the militia ; now, however, he resumed his purpose, and left profession he "might have derived an ample fortune, or a England in January 1763. Two years were “loosely de- competent income, instead of being stinted to the same fined as the term of his absence,” which he exceeded by narrow allowance, to be increased only by an event half a year–returning June 1765. He first visited Paris, which he sincerely deprecated.” Doubtless the secret where he saw a good deal of D'Alembert, Diderot, Bar- fire of a consuming, but as yet ungratified, literary ambithélemy, Raynal, Helvétius, Baron d'Holbach, and others tion also troubled his repose. He was still contemplat. of that circle, and was often a welcome guest in the ing “at an awful distance" The Decline and Fall, and Baloons of Madame Geoffrin and Madame du Deffand.1 meantime revolved some other subjects, that seemed Voltaire was at Geneva, Rousseau at Montmorency, and more immediately practicable. Hesitating for some time Buffon he neglected to visit ; but so congenial did he find between the revolutions of Florence and those of Switzerthe society for which his education had so well prepared land, he consulted M. Deyverdun, a young Swiss with him, and into which some literary reputation had already whom he had formed a close and intimate friendship preceded him, that he declared, “Had I been rich and inde- during his first residence at Lausanne, and finally decided lectare en est assez difficile et parfois obscure, la liaison des idées

in favour of the land which was his "friend's by birth" and échappe souvent par trop de concision et par le désir qu'a eu le jeune his own by adoption." He executed the first book in auteur d'y faire entrer, d'y condeuser la plupart de ses notes," he French ; it was read (in 1767), as an anonymous producadds, " Il y a, chemin faisant, de vues neuves et qui seutent l'his- tion, before a literary society of foreigners in London, and torien."

Her letters to Walpole about Gibbon contain some interesting condemned. Gibbon sat and listened unobserved to their remarks by this "aveugle clairvoyante," as Voltaire calls her ; but strictures. - It never got beyond that rehearsal; Hume, they belong to a later period (1777).

indeed, approved of the performance, only deprecating as


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