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epithet, for the energy given to thought by precise words concisely turned. Such turns and expressions are the more to be remarked in Gibbon's first volumes, since he there brings them 2nt by contrasts, not the less effective, because their object is seen through, while as we proceed farther, we find cause to regret that a labour always happy, was not sometimes better concealed. In an early stage of this progress, Gibbon, as I have already observed, obtained a seat in parliament. To express his thoughts in the most appropriate form was always a difficulty, which unfitted him for public speaking; and the consciousness of this defect, together with his awkwardness of manner, produced a timidity which he never could overcome. During eight sessions he sat a silent member. Tied to no party, either by self-love or any public expression of opinion, there was no obstacle to his accepting in 1779, the office of a Lord Commissioner of Trado and Plantations, which was obtained for him by the friendship of Mr. Wedderburne, afterwards Lord Loughborough. . For this step, he has been much censured; and certainly his political 99nduct was that of a man weak in character, and unsettled in his opinions. But this, perhaps, ought not to offend us in one whose education had not formed him to the habits and ideas of his native country. After a residence of five years at Lausanne, he had, as he himself says, “ceased to be an Englishman 3” and then he continues thus: “At the flexible period of youth, from the age of sixteen to twenty-one, my opinions, habits, and sentiments were cast in a foreign mould ; the faint and distant remembrance of England was almost obliterated ; my native language was grown less familiar.” He could not at that period write a letter fluently in English ; and even towards the close of his life, he used in his correspondence Gallicisms, which, fearing that they might not be otherwise intelligible, he explained by the French expression in which they originated." After Gibbon's first return to England, his father was desirous to see him a member of parliament. The young man, very sensibly, thought that the sum which an election would cost might be employed more profitably for his talent and his reputation if spent in travelling. The letter which he addressed to his father on this subject has been preserved ; after urging in it his unfit; ness for public oratory, he added, that he had neither the national nor the party prejudices, without which it would be impossible to obtain success or advantage in such a career. Tempted to accept a seat offered to him after his parent's death, he repeatedly declared that he took it without either patriotism or ambition : nor did his views in the sequel ever rise beyond the convenient and honourable post of a lord of trade. It might, perhaps, *

• In his letter to Lord Sheffield, No. ccxi, he says, “It is my intention to find myself (re trouver) in Loudou, ou or before the glorious lst of August.”

xxviii A MEMOIR OF

desirable that a man of talent should not have avowed so frankly a moderation, that aspired not beyond the sufficiency of an income unlaboriously acquired; but Gibbon expressed this sentiment aS openly as he felt it; it was only b experience that the disgusting side of office was disclosed to him. His letters shew how deeply sensible he was that such dependence degraded - zhim, and how he regretted that he had placed himself in a situation so unworthy of his character. He had, however, lost his lace when he wrote thus: he was deprived of it in 1782 ; f ministry p , by a change of mini - For this reverse he was consoled by the liberty to which it restored him. Renouncing all ambitious desires, and turning from the delusive hope that another change might give him back his lost appointment, he determined to leave England. His narrow in one did not allow him § o: o: the mode of life which the Poy of office had enabled him to lea Lausanne the ... His first discomforts and of his first pleasures, which he had since revisited with joy and affection, invited him to return. A friend of thirty years, M. Deyverdo, offered to share his fijne'...ith *, on terms that, improved the means of both. Thi ern ent held out to Gibbon the prospect of a societ his arrang - - - - y a. ble to His sedentary tastes, combined with , a retirement . *::: the undisturbed prosecution of his labours. The j, ent % the plan in iT83 was ever afterwards a source - to him - 11 - - of ho rought to a conclusion, his great work, on the e Fall of the Roman Empire. I have presumed,” łos Memoirs, “to mark o conception ; I e Said lll r of my final deliverance. It commemorate the hot! *"...o.o.o."o.o.o..."..."...”. between the h9'." of eleven an . in my garden ‘A’. ii. of the last Pago, in a sumo form, in a o : cool . flo ;| o .# a prospect of the country, the walk of acacito - man - *3 lake, and the mountains. The a1 o*...*.*.*.*. serene, the silver orb of the moor> ot dissemble the first emotion and all nature was silent. I will 2 and, perhaps, the establishof joy on the recovery of my freedo as soon humbled, and a sober ment of my fame. But my pride ind by the idea that I had melancholy was spread over In and agreeable companion taken an everlasting leave of as “. 1ture fate of my history, the and that whatsoever might be je f 3 precarious.” Such refleclife of the historian must be sh a *.io in the consciousness of - or to W O tions could not long depress a 1" arded length of days g a 11 reg g yS as health and the calm of imaginatio’’ 111 his last moments, calcuHonio "“” “ able number of his re

reward of his labours, he returned that year to England and superintended the printing of his last volumes. Still he there looked fondly back on Switzerland. Under the first two Georges, letters and talents had found no patronage at court. The duke of Cumberland, whose levée Gibbon one day attended, addressed him, exclaiming “What, Mr. Gibbon, still scribble, scribble !” Little regret, therefore, did he feel, on again, after a year's residence, leaving his country and returning to Lausanne, where he was happy in himself and beloved by others. He could not fail to awaken a feeling of attachment in those among whom he lived, and who were sensible of the advantage of associating with one so easily pleased and so satisfied with his own enjoyments. Excited by no unreasonable desires, neither men nor things ruffled his contented mind. He often reviewed his poe:tion in life, with a satisfaction consonant with the moderation that pervaded his character. As the Optimist says:

“Jesuis Français, Tourangeau, gentilhomme,
Je pouvais maitre Turc, Linuousin, paysan.”

so Gibbon, in his memoirs, said, “My lot might have been that of a slave, a savage, or a peasant : nor can I reflect without pleasure on the bounty of nature, which cast my birth in a free and civilized country, in an age of science and philosophy, in a family of honourable rank, and decently endowed with the gifts of fortune.” The “ golden mediocrity” of that fortune was happiness to him, since he was placed by it in the circumstances most favourable for acquiring a noble fame. “My spirit,” he said, “would have been broken by poverty and contempt, and my industry might have been relaxed in the labour and luxury of a superfluous fortune.” After escaping from the long perils of his childhood, his delicate constitution had been fortified by time, but he had never known “the madness of superfluous health.” He enjoyed the twenty happy years, animated by the labour of his history, and no less did he enjoy in unostentatious retirement. the competence and reputation by which they were rewarded. Pleased with his position everything added to its comforts; and having undoubtedly endured with patience that of a lord of trade, his release from the slavery which it imposed, was to him a subject for sincere self-gratulation. His memoirs are highly interesting, as well as the letters which follow them, most of which are addressed to Lord Sheffield; they bear the impress of those kindly dispositions which accompany moderation and contentment, and of feelings, if not very tender, at least very affectionate for those to whom he was bound b family or friendly ties. This affection is not expressed with muc warmth, but it gives evidence of its sincerity. His long and intimate friendships with Lord Sheffield and M. Deyverdun, prove

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England, his complaint, which had originated more than thirty years before, became so much worse that he was obliged to undergo an operation. This was several times repeated, and afforded some relief, which encouraged a hope of convalescence, till the 16th of January, 1794, when he died without disquietude and without pain. The memory of Gibbon was dear to all who knew him, and his reputation pervaded all Europe. In his History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire there may be neglected portions, which evince the fatigue of such protracted labour; it may sometimes want that vivacity of imagination which transports the reader into the midst of the scenes described, and that warmth of feeling which makes him an actor in them, with all his own interests and passions; the estimate of virtues and of vices may sometimes be too impartial ; and it may be regretted, that the piercing ingenuity so often exercised in dissecting and scattering the various parts of a fact, did not occasionally give way to the staid philo ophy which re-combines them and throws the reality of a new life into what it so constructs. But all must be struck with the propriety of that vast picture, with the accurate and profound views which it presents, and with those clear developments which fix attention without wearying it, while imagination is never perplexed by embarrassing vagueness. Nor less striking is that rare extensiveness of mind, which traversing the wide field of history explores its remotest parts, surveys it in every possible point of view, and exhibiting events and men under all their varied aspects, proves to the reader that incomplete perceptions are always false; and that in an order of things where all are connected and intertwined, all must be known before any right can be acquired to judge of the smallest detail. While perusing the History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire the interest never flags; it is kept awake in every page by the penetration of the writer, by that admirable sagacity which discerns and follows the actual march of events, and places their most hidden causes in the fullest light. . In my opinion, we can neither value too highly nor too warmly praise that immense assemblage of knowledge and of thought, the courage that ventured to employ it, and the perseverance which conducted the work to its successful issue; but most do we owe to that freely judging mind, which no institutions or times could fetter, and without which no historian can be great or any history truthful: If words can add to Gibbon's glory i conclude with these—that before him no such work was ever written, nor whatever attempts might here and there be made to continue or complete it, has he left any room for such another.

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