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Printed and fold by J. J. TOURNEISEN.

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THE

HE melancholy duty of examining the Papers of my deceased Friend devolved upon me at a time when I was depreffed by fevere afflictions.

In that state of mind, I hefitated to undertake the task of selecting and preparing his Manuscripts for the prefs. The warmth of my early and long attachment to Mr. Gibbon made me confcious of a partiality, which it was not proper to indulge, especially in revifing many of his juvenile and unfinished compofitions. I had to guard, not only against a senti→ ment like my own, which I found extenfively diffused, but also against the eagernefs occafioned by a very general curiofity to fee in print every literary relick, however imperfect, of so distinguished a writer.

Being aware how difgracefully Authors of Eminence have been often treated, by an indiscreet pofthumous publication of fragments and careless effufions; when I had selected those Papers which to myself appeared the fitteft for the public eye,

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I confulted fome of our common friends, whom I knew to be equally anxious with myself for

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Mr. Gibbon's fame, and fully competent, from their judgment, to protect it.

Under fuch a fanction it is, that, no longer fufpecting myself to view through too favorable a medium the compofitions of my Friend, I now venture to publifh them: and it may here be proper to give some information to the Reader, refpecting the Contents of thefe Volumes.

The most important part confifts of Memoirs of Mr. Gibbon's Life and Writings, a work which he feems to have projected with peculiar folicitude and attention, and of which he left Six different sketches, all in his own hand-writing. One of these sketches, the moft diffufe and circumftantial, fo far as it proceeds, ends at the time when he quitted Oxford. Another at the year 1764, when he travelled to Italy. A third, at his father's death, in 1770. A fourth, which he continued to a fhort time after his return to Lausanne in 1788, appears in the form of Annals, much lefs detailed than the others. The two remaining sketches are ftill more imperfect. It is difficult to discover the order in which these several Pieces were written, but there is reafon to believe that the most copious was the laft. From all these the following Memoirs have been carefully felected, and put together.

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My hesitation in giving thefe Memoirs to the world arofe, principally, from the circumftance of Mr. Gibbon's appearing, in some respect, not to have been fatisfied with them, as he had fo frequently varied their form: yet, notwithstanding this diffidence, the compofitions, though unfinished, are fo excellent, that they may juftly entitle my Friend to appear as his own biographer, rather than to have that talk undertaken by any other perfon lefs qualified for it.

This opinion has rendered me anxious to publish the prefent Memoirs, without any unnecessary delay; for I am perfuaded, that the Author of them cannot be made to appear in a truer light than he does in the following pages. In them, and in his different Letters, which I have added, will be found a complete picture of his talents, his dispofition, his ftudies, and his attainments.

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Those flight variations of character, which naturally arose in the progrefs of his Life, will be unfolded in a series of Letters, felected from a Cor respondence between him and myself, which continued fully thirty years, and ended with his death.

It is to be lamented, that all the sketches of the Memoirs, except that compofed in the form of Annals, and which feems rather defigned as heads

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