Page images

approached it are such as cannot be omitted from any sketch | shades, the initiation of Aeneas, as a lawgiver, into the Eleusinian of Gibbon, however brief. “My temper is not very susceptible mysteries. This theory Gibbon completely exploded in his of enthusiasm, and the enthusiasm which I do not feel I have Critical Observations (1770)—no very difficult task, indeed, ever scorned to affect. But at the distance of twenty-five years but achieved in a style, and with a profusion of learning, which I can neither forget nor express the strong emotions which called forth the warmest commendations both at home and agitated my mind as I first approached and entered the Eternal abroad. Warburton never replied; and few will believe that City. After a sleepless night, I trod with a lofty step the ruins he would not, if he had not thought silence more discreet. of the forum; each memorable spot, where Romulus stood, Gibban, however, regrets that the style of his pamphlet was or Tully spoke, or Caesar fell, was at once present to my eye; too acrimonious; and this regret, considering his antagonist's and several days of intoxication were lost or enjoyed before I slight claims to forbearance, is creditable to him. “I cannot could descend to a cool and minute investigation.” Here at forgive myself the contemptuous treatment of a man who, last his long yearning for some great theme worthy of his historic with all his faults, was entitled to my esteem; and I can less genius was gratified. The first conception of the Decline and forgive, in a personal attack, the cowardly concealment of my Fall arose as he lingered one evening amidst the vestiges of name and character." ancient glory. “It was at Rome, on the 15th of October 1764, Soon after his “release from the fruitless task of the Swiss as I sat musing amidst the ruins of the Capitol, while the bare- revolution ” in 1768, he had gradually advanced from the wish footed friars were singing vespers in the temple of Jupiter, that to the hope, from the hope to the design, from the design to the the idea of writing the decline and fall of the city first started execution of his great historical work. His preparations were to my mind."

indeed vast. The classics," as low as Tacitus, Pliny the Younger The five years and a half which intervened between his return and Juvenal,” had been long familiar. He now "plunged into from this tour, in June 1765, and the death of his father, in the ocean of the Augustan history,” and “with pon almost November 1790, scem to have formed the portion of his life always in hand,” pored over all the original records, Greck and which “ he passed with the least enjoyment and remembered Latin, between Trajan and the last of the Western Caesars, with the least satisfaction.” He attended every spring the “ The subsidiary rays of medals and inscriptions, of geography meetings of the militia at Southampton, and rose successively and chronology, were thrown on their proper objects; and I to the rank of major and licutenant-colonel commandant; but applied the collections of Tillemont, whose inimitable accuracy was each year “ more disgusted with the inn, the wine, the com- almost assumes the character of genius, to fix and arrange pany, and the tiresome repetition of annual attendance and within my reach the loose and scattered atoms of historical daily exercise.” From his own account, however, it appears information.” The Christian apologists and their pagan that other and deeper causes produced this discontent. Sincerely assailants; the Theodosian Code, with Godefroy's commentary; attached to his home, he yet felt the anomaly of his position. the Annals and Antiquities of Muratori, collated with "the At thirty, still a dependant, without a settled occupation, without parallel or transverse lines” of Sigonius and Maffei, Pagi and a definite social status, he often regretted that he had not Baronius, were all critically studied. Still following the wise

embraced the lucrative pursuits of the law or of trade, the maxim which he had adopted as a student, "multum legere chances of civil office or India adventure, or even the fat slumbers potius quam multa,” he reviewed again and again the immortal of the church.” From the emoluments of a profession he works of the French and English, the Latin and Italian classics. “ might have derived an ample fortunc, or a competent income He deepened and extended his acquaintance with Greek, parinstead of being stinted to the same narrow allowance, to be ticularly with his favourite authors Homer and Xenophon; increased only by an event which he sincerely deprecated.” and, to crown all, he succeeded in achieving the third perusal Doubtless the secret fire of a consuming, but as yet ungratified, of Blackstone's Commentaries. literary ambition also troubled his repose. He was still contem- The course of his study was for some time seriously interrupted plating " at an awful distance" The Decline and Fall, and by his father's illness and death in 1770, and by the many dismeantime revolved some other subjects, that scemed more tractions connected with the transference of his residence from immediately practicable. Hesitating for some time between Buriton to London. It was not, indeed, until October 1772 that the revolutions of Florence and those of Switzerland, he consulted | he found himself at last independent, and fairly settled in his M. Deyverdun, a young Swiss with whom he had formed a close house and library, with full leisure and opportunity to set about and intimate friendship during his first residence at Lausanne, the composition of the first volume of his history. Even then and finally decided in favour of the land which was his " friend's it appears from his own consession that he long brooded over by birth” and “ his own by adoption.” He executed the first the chaos of materials he had amassed before light dawned upon book in French; it was read (in 1767), as an anonymous produc-it. At the commencement, he says, “all was dark and doubition, before a literary society of foreigners in London, and ful”; the limits, divisions, even the title of his work were condemned. Gibbon sat and listened unobscrved to their undetermined; the first chapter was composed three times, strictures. It never got beyond that rehearsal; Hume, indeed, and the second and third iwice, before he was satisfied with his approved of the performance, only deprecating as unwise the efforts. This prolonged meditation on his design and its execuauthor's preference for French; but Gibbon cided with the tion was ultimately well repaid by the result: so methodical majority.

did his ideas become, and so readily did his materials shape In 1767 also he joined with M. Deyverdun in starting a literary themselves, that, with the above exceptions, the original MS. journal under the title of Mémoires littéraires de la Grande- of the entire six quartos was sent uncopied to the printers. He Bretagne. But its circulation was limited, and only the second also says that not a sheet had been seen by any other eyes than volume had appeared (1768) when Deyverdun went abroad. those of author and printer, a statement indeed which must be The materials already collected for a third volume were sup- taken with a small deduction; or rather we must suppose that a pressed. It is interesting, however, to know, that in the first few chapters had been submitted, if not to the "eyes," to the volume is a review by Gibbon of Lord Lyttelton's History of " cars" of others; for he elsewhere tells us that he was “sova Henry II., and that the second volume contains a contribution disgusted with the modest practice of reading the manuscript by Hume on Walpole's Historic Doubls.

to his friends.” Such, however, were his preliminary difficulties The next appearance of the historian made a deeper impression. that he confesses he was often “tempted to cast away the labour It was the first distinct print of the lion's foot. “Ex ungue of seven years "; and it was not until February 1776 that the leonem” might have been justly said, for he attacked, and first volume was published. The success was instant, and, for a attacked successfully, the redoubtable Warburton. Of the quarto, probably unprecedented. The entire impression was many paradoxes in the Divine Legation, few are more extravagant exhausted in a few days; a second and a third edition rere than the theory that Virgil, in the sixth book of his Aencid, scarcely adequate to the demand. The author might almost bave intended to allegorize, in the visit of his hero and the Sibyl to the I said, as Lord Byron after the publication of Childe Harold,


[ocr errors]

that " he awoke one morning and found himself famous.” In | all my views tended to the convenient and respectable place of addition to public applause, he was gratified by the more select a lord of trade." praises of the highest living authorities in that branch of In April 1781 the second and third quartos of his History literature: “the candour of Dr Robertson embraced his were published. They excited no controversy, and were comdisciple "; Hume's letter of congratulation “overpaid the paratively little talked about--so little, indeed, as to have labour of ten years.” The latter, however, with his usual extorted from him a half murmur about “coldness and presagacity, anticipated the objections which he saw could be judice." The volumes, however, were bought and read with urged against the famous fifteenth and sixteenth chapters. “I silent avidity. Meanwhile public events were developing in a think you have observed a very prudent temperament; but it manner that had a considerable influence upon the manner in was impossible to treat the subject so as not to give grounds of which the remaining years of the historian's life were spent. suspicion against you, and you may expect that a clamour will At the general election in 1780 he had lost his seat for Liskeard,

but had subsequently been elected for Lymington. The ministry The clamour thus predicted was not slow to make itself of Lord North, however, was tottering, and soon after fell; the heard. Within two years the famous chapters had elicited Board of Trade was abolished by the passing of Burke's bill in what might almost be called a library of controversy. The 1782, and Gibbon's salary vanished with it-no trifle, for his only attack, however, to which Gibbon deigned to make any expenditure had been for three years on a scale somewhat reply was that of Davies, who had impugned his accuracy or disproportionate to his private fortune. He did not like to good faith. His Vindicalicn appeared in February 1779; and, depend on statesmen's promises, which are proverbially unas Milman remarks, “this single discharge from the ponderous certain of fulfilment; he as little liked to retrench; and he artillery of learning and sarcasm laid prostrate the whole dis- was wearied of parliament, where he had never given any but orderly squadron ” of his rash and seeble assailants.

silent votes. Urged by such considerations, he once more Two years before the publication of this first volume Gibbon turned his eyes to the scene of his early exile, where he might was elected member of parliament for Liskeard (1774). His live on his decent patrimony in a style which was impossible in political duties did not suspend his prosecution of his history, England, and pursue unembarrassed his literary studies. He except on one occasion, and for a little while, in 1779, when he therefore resolved to fix himself at Lausanne. undertook, on behalf of the ministry, a task which, if well A word only is necessary on his parliamentary career. Neither performed, was also, it must be added, well rewarded. The nature nor acquired habits qualified him to be an orator; his French government had issued a manifesto preparatory to a late entrance on public life, his natural timidity, his feeble voice, declaration of war, and Gibbon was solicited by Chancellor his limited command of idiomatic English, and even, as he Thurlow and Lord Weymouth, secretary of state, to answer it. candidly confesses, his literary fame, were all obstacles to success. In compliance with this request he produced the able Mémoire After a fleeting, illusive hope, prudence condemned me to justificatif, composed in French, and delivered to the courts of acquiesce in the humble station of a mute. ... I was not Europe; and shortly afterwards he received a seat at the armed by nature and education with the intrepid energy of Board of Trade and Plantations-little more than a sinecure mind and voice-Vincentem strepitus et natum rebus agendis.' in itself, but with a very substantial salary of nearly [800 per Timidity was fortified by pride, and even the success of my

His acceptance displeased some of his former political pen discouraged the trial of my voice.” His repugnance to public associates, and he was accused of "deserting his party.” In his life had been strongly expressed to his father in a letter of a very Memoir, indeed, Gibbon denies that he had ever enlisted with early date, in which he begged that the money which a seat in the Whigs. A note of Fox, however, on the margin of a copy

the House of Commons would cost might be expended in a mode of The Decline and Fall records a very distinct remembrance more agreeable to him. Gibbon was eight-and-thirty when he of the historian's previous vituperation of the ministry; within entered parliament; and the obstacles which even at an earlier a fortnight of the date of his acceptance of office, he is there period he had not had courage to encounter were hardly likely alleged to have said that "there was no salvation for this country to be vanquished then. Nor had he much political sagacity. until six heads of the principal persons in administration were He was better skilled in investigating the past than in divining laid upon the table.” Lord Sheffield merely replies, somewhat the future. While Burke and Fox and so many great statesmen weakly it must be said, that his friend never intended the words proclaimed the consequences of the collision with America, to be taken literally. More to the point is the often-quoted Gibbon saw nothing but colonies in rebellion, and a paternal passage from Gibbon's letter to Deyverdun, where the frank government justly incensed. His silent votes were all given on revelation is made: “ You have not forgotten that I went into that hypothesis. In a similar manner, while he abhorred the parliament without patriotism and without ambition, and that French Revolution when it came, he seems to have had no

apprehension, like Chesterfield, Burke, or even Horace Walpole, ! For a very full list of publications in answer to Gibbon's attack on of its approach; nor does he appear to have at all suspected that Christianity reference may be made to the Bibliographer's Manual, it had had anything to do with the speculations of the philosophic pp. 885-886 (1858). Of these the carliest were Watson's Apology coteries in which he had taken such delight. But while it may Remarks (1776).' In 1778 the Few Remarks by a Gentleman (Francis be doubted whether his presence in parliament was of any Eyre), the Reply of Loftus, the Letters of Apthorpe and the Examina- direct utility to the legislative business of the country, there can tion of Davies appeared. Gibbon's Vindication (1779) called forth a Reply by Davies (1779), and A Short Appeal to the Public by Francis - it in the prosecution of the great work of his life-an advantage

be no question of the present advantage which he derived from Eyre (1779): Laughton's polemical treatise was published in 1780, and those of Milner and Taylor in 1781. Chelsum returned to the

of which he was fully conscious when he wrote: “ The eight attack in 1785 (A Reply lo M, Gibbon's Vindication ), and Sir David sessions that I sat in parliament were a school of civil prudence, Dalrymple' (Ăn Inquiry into the Secondary Causes, &c.) made his the first and most essential virtue of an historian." first appearance in the controversy in 1786... Travis's Lellers on ! John v. 7 are dated 1784: and Spedalieri's Confutazione del

Having sold all his property except his library--to him i esame del Cristianismo fatto da Gibbon was published at Rome (2 equally a necessary and a luxury-Gibbon repaired to Lausanne vols. 4to) in the same year. It is impossible not to concur in almost in September 1783, and took up his abode with his early friend every point with Gibbon's own estimate of his numerous assailants: Deyverdun, now a resident there. Perfectly free from every Their crude productions, for the most part, were conspicuous rather for insolence and abusiveness than for logic or learning. Those of

engagement but those which his own tastes imposed, easy in Bishop Watson and Lord Hailes were the best, but simply because his circumstances, commanding just as much society, and ihat they contented themselves with a dispassionate exposition of the as select, as he pleased, with the noblest scenery spread out at general argument in favour of Christianity;. The most foolish and his feet, no situation can be imagined more favourable for the discreditable was certainly that of Davies, his unworthy attempt to depreciate the great historian's learning, and his captious, cavilling, . In 1775 he writes to Holroyd: "I am still a mute; it is more ecrimonious charges of petty inaccuracies and discreditable falsin. tremendous than I imagined; the great speakers fill me with despair; cation gave the object of his attack an easy triumph.

the bad ones with terror."





prosecution of his literary enterprise; a hermit in his study as the quiet valleys of Switzerland, further troubled his repose. long as he chose, he found the most delightful recreation always For some months he found amusement in the preparation of the ready for him at the threshold. “In London," says he, “ I was delightful Memoirs (1789) from which most of our knowledge lost in the crowd; I ranked with the first families in Lausanne, of his personal history is derived; but his letters to friends in and my style of prudent expense enabled me to maintain a England, written between 1788 and 1793 occasionally betray fair balance of reciprocal civilities. Instead of a small a slight but unmistakable tone of ennui. In April 1793 he un. house between a street and a stable-yard, I began to occupy a expectedly received tidings of the death of Lady Sheffield; spacious and convenient mansion, connected on the north side and the motive of friendship thus supplied combined with the with the city, and open on the south to a beautiful and boundless pressure of public events to urge him homewards. He arrived horizon. A garden of four acres had been laid out by the taste in England in the following June, and spent the summer at of M. Deyverdun: from the garden a rich scenery of meadows Sheffield Place, where his presence was even more highly prized and vineyards descends to the Leman Lake, and the prospect than it had ever before been. Returning to London early in far beyond the lake is crowned by the stupendous mountains of November, he found it necessary to consult his physicians for Savoy," In this enviable retreat, it is no wonder that a year a symptom which, neglected since 1761, had gradually become should have been suffered to roll round before he vigorously complicated with hydrocele, and was now imperatively demandTesumed his great work—and with many men it would never ing surgical aid; but the painful operations which had to be have been resumed in such a paradise. We may remark in performed did not interfere with his customary cheerfulness, passing that the retreat was often enlivened, or invaded, by nor did they prevent him from paying a Christmas visit to friendly tourists from England, whose “ frequent incursions Sheffield Place. Here, however, fever made its appearance; into Switzerland our recluse seems half to lament as an evil. and a removal to London (January 6, 1794) was considered Among his more valued visitors were M. and Mme Necker; imperative. Another operation brought him some relief; but Mr Fox also gave him two welcome “ days of free and private a relapse occurred during the night of the 15th, and on the society" in 1788. Differing as they did in politics, Gibbon's following day he peacefully breathed his last. His remains testimony to the genius and character of the great statesman were laid in the burial place of the Sheffield family, Fletching, is highly honourable to both: “ Perhaps no human being," he Sussex, where an epitaph by Dr Parr describes his character and

was ever more perfectly exempt from the taint of male- work in the language at once of elegance, of moderation and of volence, vanity, or falsehood."

truth. When once fairly reseated at his task, he proceeded in this The personal appearance of Gibbon as a lad of sixteen is delightful retreat leisurely, yet rapidly, to its completion. The brought before us somewhat dimly in M. Pavilliard's description fourth volume, partly written in 1782, was completed in June of the “thin little figure, with a large head, disputing and 1784; the preparation of the fifth volume occupied less than arguing, with the greatest ability, all the best arguments tbat

while the sixth and last, begun 18th May 1786, was had ever been used in favour of popery." What he afterwards finished in thirteen months. The scelings with which he brought became has been made more vividly familiar by the clever his labours to a close must be described in his own inimitable silhouette prefixed to the Miscellaneous Works (Gibbon himself, words: “It was on the day, or rather night, of the 27th of June at least, we know, did not regard it as a caricature), and by 1787, between the hours of eleven and twelve, that I wrote the Sir Joshua Reynolds's portrait so often engraved. It is hardly last lines of the last page in a summer house in my garden. fair perhaps to add a reference to Suard's highly-coloured After laying down my pen, I took several turns in a berceau or description of the short Silenus-like figure, not more than 56 in. covered walk of acacias, which commands a prospect of the in height, the slim legs, the large turned-in feet, the shrill piercing country, the lake, and the mountains. The air was temperate, voice; but almost every one will remember, from Croker's the sky was serene, the silver orb of the moon was reflected Boswell, Colman's account of the great historian "tapping his from the waters, and all nature was silent. I will not dissemble snuff-box, smirking and smiling, and rounding his periods ” the first emotions of joy on the recovery of my freedom, and, from that mellifluous mouth. It has already been seen that perhaps, the establishment of my fame. But my pride was soon Gibbon's early ailments all left him on the approach of manhood; humbled, and a sober melancholy was spread over my mind by thenceforward, “ till admonished by the gout,” he could truly the idea that I had taken an everlasting leave of an old and boast of an immunity well-nigh perfect from every bodily agreeable companion, and that whatsoever might be the future complaint; an exceptionally vigorous brain, and a stomach date of my History, the life of the historian must be short and “almost too good,” united to bestow upon him a vast capacity precarious."

alike for work and for enjoyment. This capacity he never Taking the manuscript with him, Gibbon, after an absence abused so as to burden his conscience or depress his spirits. of four years, once more visited London in 1787; and the 51st “ The madness of superfluous health I have never known." anniversary of the author's birthday (27th April 1788) witnessed To illustrate the intensity of the pleasure he found alike in the the publication of the last three volumes of The Decline and solitude of his study and in the relaxations of genial social Fall. They met with a quick and easy sale, were very extensively intercourse, almost any page taken at random, either from the read, and very liberally and deservedly praised for the unflagging Lise or from the Letters, would suffice; and many incidental industry and vigour they displayed, though just exception, if touches show that he was not a stranger to the delights of quict only on the score of good taste, was taken to the scoffing tone contemplation of the beauties and grandeurs of nature. His he continued to maintain in all passages where the Christian manners, if formal, were refined; his conversation, when he religion was specially concerned, and much fault was found with felt himself at home, interesting and unaflected; and that be the indecency of some of his notes.

was capable alike of feeling and inspiring a very constant friendHe returned to Switzerland in July 1788, cherishing vague ship there are many witnesses to show. That his temperament schemes of fresh literary activity; but genuine sorrow caused at the same time was frigid and comparatively passionless by the death of his friend Deyverdun interfered with steady cannot be denied; but neither ought this to be imputed to him work, nor was it easy for him to fix on a new subject which should as a fault; hostile criticisms upon the grief for a father's death, be at once congenial and proportioned to his powers; while the that was soothed by the conscious satisfaction that I had premonitory mutterings of the great thundersiorm of the French discharged all the duties of filial piety," seem somewhat out of Revolution, which reverberated in hollow echoes even through place. His most ardent admirers, however, are constrained

An anonymous pamphlet, entitled Observations on the three last to admit that he was deficient in large-hearted benevolence; volumes of the Roman History, appeared in 1788; Disney's Sermon, that he was destitute of any “ enthusiasm of humanity"; and with Strictures, in 1790; and Whitaker's Review, in 1791. With regard to the second of the above complaints, surprise will probably

that so far as every sort of religious yearning or aspiration is be felt that it was not extended to portions of the text as well as to concerned, his poverty was almost unique. Gibbon was such

a man as Horace might have been, had the Roman Epicurean

the notes.

[ocr errors]

as a

been fonder of hard intellectual work, and less prone than he fifteenth and sixteenth, in which the historian traces the early was to the indulgence of emotion.

(H. Ro.; J. S. BL.) progress of Christianity and the policy of the Roman government Gibbon's literary art, the sustained excellence of his style, towards it. The flavour of these chapters is due to the irony his piquant epigrams and his brilliant irony, would perhaps which Gibbon has employed with consummate art and felicity. not secure for his work the immortality which it seems likely There was a practical motive for using this weapon. An attack to enjoy, if it were not also marked by ecumenical grasp, extra- on Christianity laid a writer open to prosecution and penalties ordinary accuracy and striking acuteness of judgment. It is under the statutes of the realm (9 and 10 William III. c. 22, needless to say that in many points his statements and conclu- still unrepealed). Gibbon's stylistic artifice both averted the sions must now be corrected. He was never content with peril of prosecution and rendered the attack more telling. In secondhand accounts when the primary sources were accessible; his Autobiography he alleges that he learned from the Provincial I have always endeavoured,” he says,

to draw from the Letters of Pascal “ to manage the weapon of grave and temperate fountainhead; my curiosity, as well as a sense of duty, has irony, even on subjects of ecclesiastical solemnity.” It is not always urged me to study the originals; and if they have easy, however, to perceive much resemblance between the sometimes eluded my search, I have carefully marked the method of Pascal and that of Gibbon, though in particular secondary evidence on whose faith a passage or a fact were passages we may discover the influence which Gibbon acknowreduced to depend.” Since he wrote, new authorities have ledges. For instance, the well-known description (in chap. been discovered or rendered accessible; works in Greek, Latin, xlvii.) of the preposition “in” occurring in a thcological dogma Slavonic, Armenian, Syriaç, Arabic and other languages, which

momentous particle which the memory rather than the he was unable to consult, have been published. Again, many understanding must retain” is taken directly from the first of the authorities which he used have been edited in superior Provincial Letter. The main points in the general conclusions texts. The relative weights of the sources have been more of these chapters have been borne out by subsequent research. nicely determined by critical investigation. Archaeology has The account of the causes of the expansion of Christianity is become a science. In the immense region which Gibbon surveyed chiefly to be criticized for its omissions. There were a number there is hardly a section which has not been submitted to the of important contributory conditions (enumerated in Harnack's microscopic examination of specialists.

Mission und Ausbreitung des Christentums) which Gibbon did But apart from the incvitable advances made in the course not take into account. He rightly insisted on the facilities of of a century during which historical research entered upon a communication created by the Roman empire, but did not new phase, the reader of Gibbon must be warned against one emphasize the diffusion of Judaism. And he did not realize capital defect. In judging the Decline and Fall it should carefully the importance of the kinship between Christian doctrine and be observed that it falls into two parts which are hetcrogeneous Hellenistic syncretism, which helped to promote the reception in the method of treatment. The first part, a little more than of Christianity. He was ignorant of another fact of great five-eighths of the work, supplies a very full history of 460 years importance (which has only in recent years been fully appreciated (A.D. 180-641); the second and smaller part is a summary through the researches of F. Cumont), the wide diffusion of the history of about 800 years (A.D. 641-1453) in which certain Mithraic religion and the close analogies between its doctrines episodes are selected for fuller treatment and so made prominent. and those of Christianity. In regard to the attitude of the To the first part unstinted praise must be accorded; it may be Roman government towards the Christian religion, there are said that, with the materials at the author's disposition, it questions still sub judice; but Gibbon had the merit of reducing hardly admitted of improvement, except in trilling details. the number of martyrs within probable limits. But the second, not withstanding the brilliancy of the narrative Gibbon's verdict on the history of the middle ages is contained and the masterly art in the grouping of events, suffers from a in the famous sentence, "I have described the triumph of radical defect which renders it a misleading guide. The author barbarism and religion.” It is important to understand clearly designates the story of the later empire at Constantinople the criterion which he applied; it is frequently misapprehended. (after Heraclius) as “ a uniform tale of weakness and misery,” He was a son of the 18th century; he had studied with syma judgment which is entirely false; and in accordance with pathy Locke and Montesquieu; no one appreciated more keenly this doctrine, he makes the empire, which is his proper subject, than he did political liberty and the freedom of an Englishman. merely a string for connecting great movements which affected This is illustrated by his love of Switzerland, his intense interest it, such as the Saracen conquests, the Crusades, the Mongol in the fortunes of that country, his design of writing “The invasions, the Turkish conquests. He failed to bring out the History of the Liberty of the Swiss "--a theme, he says “ from momentous fact that up to the 12th century the empire was the which the dullest stranger would catch fire.” Such views and bulwark of Europe against the East, nor did he appreciate its sentiments are incompatible with the idealization of a benevolent importance in preserving the heritage of Greek civilization. despotism. Yet in this matter Gibbon has been grossly misappreHe compressed into a single chapter the domestic history and hended and misrepresented. For instance, Mirabeau wrote thus policy of the emperors from the son of Heraclius to Isaac Angelus; to Sir Samuel Romilly: "I have never been able to read the and did no justice to the remarkable ability and the indefatigable work of Mr Gibbon without being astounded that it should ever industry shown in the service of the state by most of the sovereigns have been written in English; or without being tempted to turn from Leo III. to Basil II. He did not penetrate into the deeper to the author and say, “You an Englishman? No, indeed.' causes underlying the revolutions and palace intrigues. His That admiration for an empire of more than two hundred millions eye rested only on superficial characteristics which have served of men, where not one had the right to call himself free; that to associate the name Byzantine " with trcachery, cruelty, efseminate philosophy which has more praise for luxury and bigotry and decadence. It was reserved for Finlay to depict, pleasures than for all the virtues; that style always elegant and with greater knowledge and a juster perception, the lights and never energetic, reveal at the most the elector of Hanover's slave." shades of Byzantine history. Thus the later part of the Decline This criticism is based on a perverse misreading of the historian's and Fall, while the narrative of certain episodes will always observations on the age of Trajan, Hadrian and the Antonines. be read with profit, docs not convey a true idea of the history of He enlarges, as it was his business to do, on the tranquillity and the empire or of its significance in the history of Europe. It prosperity of the empire in that period, but he does not fail to must be added that the pages on the Slavonic peoples and their place his finger on the want of political liberty as a fatal defect. relations to the empire are conspicuously insufficient; but it He points out that under this benevolent despotism, though men must be taken into account that it was not till many years after might be happy, their happiness was unstable, because it deGibbon's death that Slavonic history began to receive due pended on the character of a single man; and the highest praise attention, in consequence of the rise of competent schoiars ho can give to those virtuous princes is that they “ deserved the among the Slavs themselves.

honour of restoring the republic, had the Romans of their days The most famous chapters of the Decline and Fall are the been capable of a rational freedom.” The criterion by which

Gibbon judged civilization and progress was the measure in which | Assam, H. lar of Arakan and Pegu, H. enlellöides of Tenasserim the happiness of men is secured, and of that happiness he con- (fig.), and H. agilis of Sumatra are well-known representatives. sidered political freedom an essential condition. He was essenti- A female of the Hainan gibbon (H. hainanus) in confinement ally humane; and it is worthy of notice that he was in favour of changed from uniform sooty-black (without the white frontal the abolition of slavery, while humane men like his friend Lord Sheffield, Dr Johnson and Boswell were opposed to the antislavery movement.

BIBLIOGRAPHY.Of the original quarto edition of The Decline and Fall, vol. i. appeared, as has already been stated, in 1776, vols. ii. and iii. in 1781 and vols. iv.-vi, (inscribed to Lord North) in 1788. In later editions vol. i. was considerably altered by the author; the others hardly at all. The number of modern reprints has been very considerable. For many years the most important and valuable English edition was that of Milman (1839 and 1845), which was reissued with many critical additions by Dr W. Smith (8 vols. 8vo, 1854 and 1872). "This has now been superseded by the edition, with copious notes, by Professor J. B. Bury (7 vols. 8vo, 1896 1900). The edition in Bohn's British Classics (7 vols., 1853) deserves mention. See also the essay on Gibbon in Sir Spencer Walpole's Essays and Biographies (1907). As a curiosity of literature Bowdler's edition, “ adapted to the use of families and young persons," by the expurgation of "the indecent expressions and all allusions of an improper tendency (5 vols. 8vo, 1825), may be noticed. The French translation of Le Clerc de Septchênes, continued by Démeunier, Boulard and Cantwell (1788-1795), has been frequently reprinted in France. It seems to be certain that the portion usually attributed to Septchênes was, in part at least, the work of his distinguished pupil, Louis XVI. A new edition of the complete translation, prefaced by a letter on Gibbon's life and character, from the pen of Suard, and annotated by Guizot, appeared in 1812 (and again in 1828). There are at least two German translations of The Dedine and Fall, one by Wenck, Schreiter and Beck (1805-1807), and a second by Johann C. Sporschil (1837, new ed. 1862). The Italian translation (alluded to by Gibbon himself) was, along with Spedalieri's Confutazione, reprinted at Milan in 1823. There is a Russian translation by Neviedomski (7 parts, Moscow, 1883-1886), and an Hungarian version of cc. 1-38 by K. Hegyessy (Pest, 1868-1869). Gibbon's Miscellaneous Works, with Memoirs of his Life and Writings, composed by himself; illustrated from his Letters, with occasional Noles

The Tenasserim Gibbon (Hylobates entellöides). and Narrative, published by Lord Sheffield in two volumes in 1796, has been often reprinted. The new edition in five volumes (1814) band of the black phase of the hulock) to puce-grey; but it is fragment on the revolutions of Switzerland. 'A French translation probable that

this was only an individual, or at most a sexual, of the Miscellaneous Works by Marigné appeared at Paris in 1798. peculiarity. The range of the genus extends from the southern There is also a German translation (Leipzig, 1801). It may be added bank of the Bramaputra in Assam to southern China, the Malay historische Übersicht des römischen Rechts) was published by Hugo Peninsula, Java, Sumatra and Bornco.

(R. L.) at Göttingen in 1839, and has frequently been used as a text-book in

GIBBONS, GRINLING (1648–1721), English wood-carver, German universities. This chapter has also appeared in Polish was born in 1648, according to some authorities of Dutch parents (Cracow, 1844) and Greek (Athens, 1840). The centenary of

at Rotterdam, and according to others of English parents at Gibbon's death was celebrated in 1894 under the auspices of the Royal Historical Society: Proceedings of the Gibbon Commemoration, London. By the former he is said to have come to London after 1794-1894, by R. I: T. Ball (1895).

(J. B. B.) the great fire in 1666. He early displayed great cleverness and GIBBON, the collective title of the smaller man-like apes ingenuity in his art, on the strength of which he was recommended of the Indo-Malay countries, all of which may be included in by Evelyn to Charles II., who employed him in the execution the single genus Hylobales. Till recently these apes have been both of statuary and of ornamental carving in wood. In the generally included in the same family (Simiidae) with the carly part of the 18th century he worked for Sir Christopher chimpanzee, gorilla and orang-utan, but they are now regarded Wren. In statuary one of his principal works is a life-size bronze by several naturalists as representing a family by themselves, statue in the court of Whitehall

, representing James II. in the the Hylobatidae.. One of the distinctive features of this family dress of a Roman emperor, and he also designed the base of the is the presence of small naked callosities on the buttocks; statue of Charles I. at Charing Cross. It is, however, chiefly as another being a difference in the number of vertebrae and ribs a sculptor in wood that he is famous. He was employed to as compared with those of the Simiidae. The extreme length execute the ornamental carving for the chapel at Windsor, the of the limbs and the absence of a tail are other features of these foliage and festoons in the choir of St Paul's, the baptismal fonts small apes, which are thoroughly arboreal in their habits, and in St James's, and an immense quantity of ornamental work make the woods resound with their unearthly cries at night. at Burleigh, Chatsworth, and other aristocratic mansions. The In agility they are unsurpassed; in fact they are stated to be so finest of all his productions in this style is believed to be the swift in their movements as to be able to capture birds on the ceiling which he devised for a room at Pet worth. His subjects wing with their paws. When they descend to the ground—which are chiefly birds, flowers, foliage, fruit and lace, and many of they must often do in order to obtain water-they frequently his works, for delicacy and elaboration of details, and truthfulness walk in the upright posture, either with the hands crossed behind of imitation, have never been surpassed. He, however, some the neck, or with the knuckles resting on the ground. Their times wasted his ingenuity on trifling subjects; many of his usual food consists of leaves and fruits. Gibbons may be divided flowers used to move on their stems like their natural prototype into two groups, the one represented by the siamang, Hylobales when shaken by a breeze. In 1714 Gibbons was appointed (Symphalangus) syndactylus, of Sumatra and the Malay Peninsula, master carver in wood to George I. He died at London on the and the other by a number of closely allied species. The union 3rd of August 1721. of the index and middle fingers by means of a web extending GIBBONS, JAMES (1834- ), American Roman Catholic as far as the terminal joints is the distinctive feature of the cardinal and archbishop, was born in Baltimore, Maryland, siamang, which is the largest of the group, and black in colour on the 23rd of July 1834, and was educated at St Charles College, with a white frontal band. Black or puce-grey is the prevailing Ellicott City, Maryland, and St Mary's Seminary, Baltimore

, colour in the second group, of which the hulock (H. hulock) of | where be finished his theological training and was ordained priest

« PreviousContinue »