« PreviousContinue »
close-fitting and for the most part somewhat irregular hexagons, | His eldest brother being a prodigal he succeeded to the paternal made up of articulated portions varying from a few inches to estate, but threw the will into the fire on his brother's promising some feet in depth, and concave or convex at the upper and to reform. In 1741 he was ordained minister of the large Seceslower surfaces. In diameter the pillars vary from 15 to 20 in., sion congregation of Bristo Street, Edinburgh. In 1745 he was and in height some are as much as 20 ft. The Great Causeway almost the only minister of Edinburgh who continued to preach is chiefly from 20 to 30, and for a few yards in some places nearly against rebellion while the troops of Charles Edward were in 40 ft. in breadth, exclusive of outlying broken pieces of rock. occupation of the town. When in 1747 " the Associate Synod," It is highest at its narrowest part. At about half a dozen yards by a narrow majority, decided not to give full immediate effect from the cliff, widening and becoming lower, it extends outwards to a judgment which had been passed in the previous year into a platform, which has a slight seaward inclination, but is against the lawfulness of the “Burgess Oath," Gib led the easy to walk upon, and for nearly 100 yds. is always above protesting minority, who separated from their brethren and
At the distance of about 150 yds. from the cliff it turns formed the Antiburgher Synod (April 1oth) in his own house in a little to the eastward for 20 or 30 yds., and then sinks into the Edinburgh. It was chiefly under his influence that it was agreed
The neighbouring cliffs exhibit in many places columns by this ecclesiastical body at subsequent meetings to summon to similar to those of the Giant's Causeway, a considerable exposure the bar their “ Burgher” brethren, and finally to depose and of them being visible at a distance of 500 to 600 yds. in the bay excommunicate them for contumacy. Gib's action in forming to the cast. A group of these columns, from their arrangement, the Antiburgher Synod led, after prolonged litigation, to his have been fancifully named the “Giant's Organ.” The most exclusion from the building in Bristo Street where his congregaremarkable of the cliffs is the Pleaskin, the upper pillars of tion had met. In 1765 he made a vigorous and able reply to which have the appearance of a colonnade, and are 60 ft. in the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, which had height; beneath these is a mass of coarse black amygdaloid, stigmatized the Secession as “threatening the peace of the of the same thickness, underlain by a second range of basaltic country.” From 1753 till within a short period of his death, pillars, from 40 to 50 ft. in hcight. The view eastward over which took place on the 18th of June 1788, he preached regularly Bengore and towards Fair Head is magnificent. Near the in Nicolson Street church, which was constantly filled with an Giant's Causeway are the ruins of the castles of Dunseverick and audience of two thousand persons. His dogmatic and fearless Dunluce, situated high above the sea on isolated crags, and the attitude in controversy earned for him the nickname “ Pope swinging bridge of Carrick-a-Rede, spanning a chasm 80 ft. Gib." deep, and connecting a rock, which is used as a salmon-fishing Principal publications: Tables for the Four Evangelists (1770, station, with the mainland. In 1883 an electric railway, and with author's name, 1800); The Present Truth, a Display of the
Secession Testimony (2 vols., 1774); Vindiciae dominicae (Edin., the first in the United Kingdom, was opened for traffic, connect.
1780). See Chambers's Eminent Scotsmen; also article UNITED ing the Causeway with Portrush and Bushmills. After a pro- PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, tracted lawsuit (1897-1898) the Causeway, and certain land in GIBARA, or JIBARA (once “ Punta del Yarey" and " Yarey the vicinity, were declared to be private property, and a charge de Gibara "), a north-coast city of Oriente Province, Cuba, is made for admission.
80 m. N.W. of Santiago de Cuba. Pop. (1907) 6170. It is served GIANT'S KETTLE, Giant's CauldRON or Pot-HOLE, in by railway to the S.S.W., to Holguín and Cacocum (where it physical geography, the name applied to cavities or holes which connects with the main line between Santiago and Havana), appear to have been drilled in the surrounding rocks by eddying and is a port of call for the American Munson Line. It lies on a currents of water bearing stones, gravel and other detrital circular harbour, about 1 m. in diameter, which, though open matter. The size varies from a few inches to several feet into the N., affords fair shelter. At the entrance to the harbour depth and diameter. The commonest occurrence is in regions is San Fernando, an old fort (1817), and the city is very quaint where glaciers exist or have existed; a famous locality is the in appearance. At the back of the city are three stone-topped Gletscher Garten of Lucerne, where there are 32 giant's kettles, hills, Silla, Pan and Tabla, reputed to be those referred to by the largest being 26 ft. wide and 30 ft. deep; they are also Columbus in his journal of his first voyage. Enclosing the town common in Germany, Norway and in the United States.
It is a stone wall, built by the Spaniards as a defence against attack appears that water, produced by the thawing of the ice and during the rebellion of 1868-1878. Gibara is the port of Holguín.
forms streams on the surface of the glacier, which, having It exports cedar, mahogany, tobacco, sugar, tortoise-shell, gathered into their courses a certain amount of morainic débris, Indian corn, cattle products, coco-nuts and bananas; and is are finally cast down a crevasse as a swirling cascade or moulin. the centre of the banana trade with the United States. Gibara The sides of the crevasse are abraded, and a vertical shaft is is an old settlement, but it did not rise above the status of a formed in the ice. The erosion may be continued into the bed petty village until after 1817; its importance dates from the of the glacier, and, the ice having left the district, the giant's opening of the port to commerce in 1827. kettle so formed is seen as an empty shaft, or as a pipe filled with GIBBON, EDWARD (1737-1794),, English historian, was gravel, sand or boulders. Such cavities and pipes assord valuable descended, he tells us in his autobiography, from a Kentish evidence as to the former extent of glaciers (see J. Geikie, The family of considerable antiquity; among his remoter ancestors Greal Ice Age). Similar holes are met with in river beds at the he reckons the lord high treasurer Fiennes, Lord Say and Sele, foot of cascades, and under some other circumstances. The whom Shakespeare has immortalized in his Henry VI. His
pot-hole ” is also sometimes used synonymously with grandfather was a man of ability, an enterprising merchant of “swallow-hole" (q.v.).
London, one of the commissioners of customs under the Tory GIAOUR (a Turkish adaptation of the Pers. gåwr or gör, ministry during the last four years of Queen Anne, and, in the an infidel), a word used by the Turks to describe all who are judgment of Lord Bolingbroke, as deeply versed in the not Mahommedans, with especial reference to Christians. The merce and finances of England” as any man of his time. He word, first employed as a term of contempt and reproach, has was not always wise, however, either for himself or his country; become so general that in most cases no insult is intended in its for he became deeply involved in the South Sea Scheme, in the use; similarly, in parts of China, the term “foreign devil” disastrous collapse of which (1720) he lost the ample wealth has become void of offence. A strict analogy to giaour is found he had amassed. As a director of the company, moreover, he in the Arabic kafir, or unbeliever, which is so commonly in use was suspected of fraudulent complicity, taken into custody and as to have become the proper name of peoples and countries. heavily fined; but £10,000 was allowed him out of the wreck
GIB, ADAM (1714-1788), Scottish divine and leader of the of his estate, and with this his skill and enterprise soon conAntiburgher section of the Scottish Secession Church, was born structed a second fortune. He died at Putney in 1736, leaving on the 14th of April 1714 in the parish of Muckhart, Perthshire, the bulk of his property to his two daughters-nearly disinheriting and, on the completion of his literary and theological studies his only son, the father of the historian, for having married &t Edinburgh and Perth, was licensed as a preacher in 1740. ! against his wishes. This son (by name Edward) was educated
at Westminster! and Cambridge, but never took a degree, I house for Westminster school. Here in the course of two years travelled, became member of parliament, first for Petersfield (1749-1750), interrupted by danger and debility, he “painfully (1734), then for Southampton (1741), joined the party against climbed into the third form"; but it was left to his riper age Sir Robert Walpole, and (as his son confesses, not much to his to “ acquire the beauties of the Latin and the rudiments of the father's honour) was animated in so doing by“ private revenge Greek tongue.” The continual attacks of sickness which had against the supposed “oppressor" of his family in the South retarded his progress induced his aunt, by medical advice, to Sea affair. If so, revenge, as usual, was blind; for Walpole take him to Bath; but the mineral waters had no effect. He had sought rather to moderate than to inflame public feeling then resided for a time in the house of a physician at Winchester; against the projectors.
the physician did as little as the mineral waters; and, after a The historian was born at Putney, Surrey, April 27 (Old further trial of Bath, he once more returned to Putney, and made Style), 1737. His mother, Judith Porten, was the daughter a last futile attempt to study at Westminster. Finally, it was of a London merchant. He was the eldest of a family of six concluded that he would never be able to encounter the discipline sons and a daughter, and the only one who survived childhood; of a school; and casual instructors, at various times and places, his own life in youth hung by so mere a thread as to be again were provided for him. Meanwhile bis indiscriminate appetite and again despaired of. His mother, bet ween domestic cares for reading had begun to fix itself more and more decidedly upon and constant infirmities (which, however, did not prevent an history; and the list of historical works devoured by him occasional plunge into fashionable dissipation in compliance during this period of chronic ill-health is simply astonishing. with her husband's wishes), did but little for him. The “true It included, besides Hearne's Duclor historicus and the successive mother of his mind as well as of his health "was a maiden aunt-volumes of the Universal History, which was then in course Catherine Porten by name—with respect to whom he expresses of publication, Littlebury's Herodotus, Spelman's Xenophon, himself in language of the most grateful remembrance. “Many Gordon's Tacitus, an anonymous translation of Procopius; anxious and solitary days," says Gibbon, “ did she consume “many crude lumps of Speed, Rapin, Mezeray, Davila, Machiavel, with patient trial of every mode of relief and amusement. Father Paul, Bower, &c., were hastily gulped. I devoured them Many wakeful nights did she sit by my bedside in trembling like so many novels; and I swallowed with the same voracious expectation that cach hour would be my last.” As circumstances appetite the descriptions of India and China, of Mexico and allowed, she appears to have taught him reading, writing and Peru.” His first introduction to the historic scenes the study of arithmetic-acquisitions made with so little of remembered pain which afterwards formed the passion of his life took place in that“ were not the error corrected by analogy," he says, “I 1751, when, while along with his father visiting a friend in should be tempted to conceive them as innate." At seven he | Wiltshire, he discovered in the library “a common book, the was committed for eighteen months to the care of a private continuation of Echard's Roman History." "To me the reigns tutor, John Kirkby by name, and the author, among other things, of the successors of Constantine were absolutely new; and I was of a "philosophical fiction ” entitled the Life of Automathes. immersed in the passage of the Goths over the Danube, when Of Kirkby, from whom he learned the rudiments of English the summons of the dinner bell reluctantly dragged me from my and Latin grammar, he speaks gratefully, and doubtless truly, intellectual feast.” Soon afterwards his fancy kindled with the so far as he could trust the impressions of childhood. With first glimpses into Oriental history, the wild "barbaric" charm reference to Automathes he is much more reserved in his praise, of which he never ceased to seel. Ockley's book on the Saracens denying alike its originality, its depth and its elegance; but, he “ first opened his eyes to the striking career of Mahomet adds, “ the book is not devoid of entertainment or instruction." and his hordes; and with his characteristic ardour of literary
In his ninth year (1746), during a “lucid interval of com- research, after exhausting all that could be learned in English of parative health,” he was sent to a school at Kingston-upon- the Arabs and Persians, the Tatars and Turks, he forthwith Thames; but his former infirmitics. soon returned, and his plunged into the French of D'Herbelot, and the Latin of Pocock's progress, by his own confession, was slow and unsatisfactory. version of Abulfaragius, sometimes understanding them, but "My timid reserve was astonished by the crowd and tumult of oftener only guessing their meaning. He soon learned to call the school; the want of strength and activity disqualified me to his aid the subsidiary sciences of geography and chronology, for the sports of the play-field. . By the common methods and before he was quite capable of reading them had already of discipline, at the expense of many tears and some blood, attempted to weigh in his childish balance the competing I purchased the knowledge of the Latin syntax," but manifestly, systems of Scaliger and Petavius, of Marsham and Newton. in his own opinion, the Arabian Nights, Pope's Homer, and At this early period he seems already to have adopted in some Dryden's Virgil, eagerly read, had at this period exercised a degree the plan of study he followed in after life and recommuch more powerful influence on his intellectual development mended in his Essai sur l'étude that is, of letting his subject than Phaedrus and Cornelius Nepos, “painfully construed and rather than his author determine his course, of suspending the darkly understood."
perusal of a book to reflect, and to compare the statements with In December 1747 his mother died, and he was taken home. those of other authors-so that he often read portions of many After a short time his father removed to the “rustic solitude" volumes while mastering one. of Buriton (Hants), but young Gibbon lived chiefly at the house Towards his sixteenth year he tell us“ nature displayed in his of his maternal grandfather at Putney, where, under the care of favour her mysterious energies," and all his infirmities suddenly his devoted aunt, he developed, he tells us, that passionate love vanished. Thenceforward, while never possessing or abusing of reading“ which he would not exchange for all the treasures of the insolence of health, he could say “few persons have been India," and where his mind received its most decided stimulus. more exempt from real or imaginary ills." His unexpected Of 1748 he says, “ This year, the twelfth of my age, I shall notc recovery revived his father's hopes for his education, bitherto as the most propitious to the growth of my intellectual stature." so much neglected if judged by ordinary standards; and accordAfter detailing the circumstances which unlocked for him the ingly in January 1752 he was placed at Esher, Surrey, under the door of his grandfather's “ tolerable library,” he says, “ I turned care of Dr Francis, the well-known translator of Horace. But over many English pages of poetry and romance, of history and Gibbon's friends in a few weeks discovered that the new tutor travels. Where a title attracted my eye, without scar or awe preferred the pleasures of London to the instruction of his pupils, I snatched the volume from the shelf." In 1749, in his twelfth and in this perplexity decided to send him prematurely to Oxford, year, he was sent to Westminster, still residing, however, with where he was matriculated as a gentleman commoner of Magdalen his aunt, who, rendered destitute by her father's bankruptcy, College, 3rd April 1752. According to his own testimony he but unwilling to live a life of dependence, had opened a boarding- arrived at the university “ with a stock of information which
.. The celebrated William Law had been for some time the private might have puzzled a doctor, and a degree of ignorance of which tutor of this Edward Gibbon, who is supposed to have been the a schoolboy might be ashamed." And indeed his huge wallet original of the rather clever sketch of " Flatus ' in the Serious Call. of scraps stood him in little stead at the trim banquets to which
he was invited at Oxford, while the wandering habits by which he gratulation. It had delivered him for ever from the “port and had filled it absolutely unfilted him to be a guest. He was not prejudice "of the university, and led him into the bright paths of well grounded in any of the elementary branches, which are philosophic freedom. That his conversion was sincere at the essential to university studies and to all success in their prosecu- time, that it marked a real if but a transitory phase of genuine tion. It was natural, therefore, that he should dislike the religious conviction, we have no reason to doubt, not withstanding university, and as natural that the university should dislike the scepticism he has himself expressed. “To my present him. Many of his complaints of the system were certainly just; feelings it seems incredible that I should ever believe that I but it may be doubled whether any university system would have believed in transubstantiation,” he indeed declares; but his been profitable to him, considering his antecedents. He com- incredulous astonishment is not unmixed with undoubting pride. plains especially of his tutors, and in one case with abundant “I could not blush that my tender mind was entangled in the reason; but, by his own confession, they might have recriminated sophistry which had reduced the acute and manly understandings with justice, for he indulged in gay society, and kept late hours. of a Chillingworth or a Bayle.” Nor is the sincerity of the His observations, however, on the defects of the English univer- Catholicism he professed in these boyish days in any way dissity system, some of which have only very recently been removed, credited by the fact of his subsequent lack of religion. Indeed, are acute and well worth pondering, however little relevant to as one of the acutest and most sympathetic of his critics has his own case. He remained at Magdalen about fourteen months. remarked, the deep and settled grudge he has betrayed towards " To the university of Oxford,” he says, “I acknowledge no every form of Christian belief, in all the writings of his maturity, obligation; and she will as cheersully renounce me for a son as may be taken as evidence that he had at one time experienced I am willing to disclaim her fora mother. I spent fourteen months in his own person at least some of the painful workings of a at Magdalen College; they proved the fourteen months the most positive faith. idle and unprofitable of my whole life.”
But little time was lost by the elder Gibbon in the formation But thus" idle” though he may have been as a “student," of a new plan of education for his son, and in devising some he already meditated authorship. In the first long vacation method which if possible might effect the cure of his "spiritual during which doubiless with some sarcasm, says that “his malady." The result deliberation, aided by the advice and taste for books began to revive "-he contemplated a treatise on experience of Lord Eliot, was that it was almost immediately the age of Sesostris, in which (and it was characteristic) his chief decided to fix Gibbon for some years abroad under the roof of object was to investigate not so much the events as the probable M. Pavilliard, a Calvinist minister at Lausanne. In as far as epoch of the reign of that semi-mythical monarch, whom he was regards the instructor and guide thus selected, a more fortunate inclined to regard as having been contemporary with Solomon. choice could scarcely have been made. From the testimony of “Unprovided with original learning, unformed in the habits of his pupil, and the still more conclusive evidence of his own thinking, unskilled in the arts of composition, I resolved to write correspondence with the father, Pavilliard seems to have been a book "; but the discovery of his own weakness, he adds, was a man of singular good sense, temper and tact. At the outset, the first symptom of taste. On his first return to Oxford the work indeed, there was one considerable obstacle to the free intercourse
wisely relinquished,” and never afterwards resumed. of tutor and pupil: M. Pavilliard appears to have known little The most memorable incident, however, in Gibbon's stay at of English, and young Gibbon knew practically nothing of French. Oxford was his temporary conversion to the doctrines of the But this difficulty was soon removed by the pupil's diligence; church of Rome. The bold criticism of Middleton's recently the very exigencies of his situation were of service to him in (1749) published Free Enquiry into the Miraculous Powers which calling forth all his powers, and he studied the language with such are supposed to have subsisted in the Christian Church appears to success that at the close of his five years' exile he declares that he have given the first shock to his Protestantism, not indeed by spontancously thought " in French rather than in English, destroying his previous belief that the gift of miraculous powers and that it had become more familiar to "ear, tongue and pen." had continued to subsist in the church during the first four or It is well known that in after years he had doubts whether he five centuries of Christianity, but by convincing him that within should not compose his great work in French; and it is certain the same period most of the leading doctrines of popery had been that his familiarity with that language, in spite of considerable already introduced both in theory and in practice. At this stage efforts to counteract its effects, tinged his style to the last. he was introduced by a friend (Mr Molesworth) to Bossuet's Under the judicious regulations of his new tutor a methodical Variations of Protestantism and Exposilion of Catholic Doctrine course of reading was marked out, and most ardently prosecuted; (see Gibbon, Decline and Fall, c. xv., note 79). “These works,” the pupil's progress was proportionably rapid. With the says he, “ achieved my conversion, and I surely fell by a noble systematic study of the Latin, and to a slight extent also of the hand." In bringing about this "fall,” however, Parsons the Greek classics, he conjoined that of logic in the prolix system Jesuit appears to have had a considerable share; at least Lord of Crousaz; and he further invigorated his reasoning powers, Sheffield has recorded that on the only occasion on which Gibbon as well as enlarged his knowledge of metaphysics and juristalked with him on the subject be imputed the change in his prudence, by the perusal of Locke, Grotius and Montesquieu. religious views principally to that vigorous writer, who, in his He also read largely, though somewhat indiscriminately, in opinion, had urged all the best arguments in favour of Roman French literature, and appears to have been particularly struck Catholicism. But be this as it may, he had no sooner adopted his with Pascal's Provincial Letters, which he tells us he reperused new creed than he resolved to profess it; “ a momentary glow almost every year of his subsequent life with new pleasure, and of enthusiasm "had raised him above all temporal considerations, which he particularly mentions as having been, along with and accordingly, on June 8, 1753, he records that having Bleterie's Life of Julian and Giannone's History of Naples, a
privately abjured the heresies" of his childhood before a Catholic book which probably contributed in a special sense to form the priest of the name of Baker, a Jesuit, in London, he announced historian of the Roman empire. The comprehensive scheme the same to his father in an elaborate controversial epistle which of study included mathematics also, in which he advanced as his spiritual adviser much approved, and which he himself far as the conic sections in the treatise of L'Hôpital. He assures afterwards described to Lord Sheffield as having been “ written us that his tutor did not complain of any inaptitude on the pupil's with all the pomp, the dignity, and self-satisfaction of a part, and that the pupil was as happily unconscious of any on martyr.”
his own; but here he broke off. He adds, what is not quite The elder Gibbon heard with indignant surprise of this act clear from one who so frankly acknowledges his limited acquaintof juvenile apostasy, and, indiscreetly giving vent to his wrath, ance with the science, that he had reason to congratulate himself precipitated the expulsion of his son from Oxford, a punishment that he knew no more. “As soon,” he says, " as I understood which the culprit, in after years at least, found no cause to deplore. the principles, I relinquished for ever the pursuit of the matheIn his Memoirs he speaks of the results of his “childish revolt matics; nor can I lament that I desisted before my mind was against the religion of his country” with undisguised self-hardened by the habit of rigid demonstration, so destructive of the finer feelings of moral evidence, which must, however, respects was much in need of such elevation will be doubted determine the action and opinions of our lives.”
by none but the hopelessly cynical; and probably there are Under the new influences which were brought to bear on few readers who can peruse the paragraph in which Gibbon him, he in less than two years resumed his Protestantism. “He “ approaches the delicate subject of his early love ” without is willing," he says, to allow M. Pavilliard a “ handsome share discerning in it a pathos much deeper than that of which the in his reconversion,” though he maintains, and no doubt rightly, writer was himself aware. During the remainder of his residence that it was principally due “to his own solitary reflections." at Lausanne he had good reason to “indulge his dream of He particularly congratulated himself on having discovered the felicity"; but on his return to England, “I soon discovered “philosophical argument ” against transubstantiation, “ that that my father would not hear of this strange alliance, and that the text of Scripture which seems to inculcate the real presence without his consent I was myself destitute and helpless. After is attested only by a single sense-our sight, while the real a painful struggle I yielded to my fate; I sighed as a lover, I presence itself is disproved by three of our senses-the sight, obeyed as a son; my wound was insensibly healed by time, the touch, and the taste." Before a similar mode of reasoning, absence, and the habits of a new life.” ? all the other distinctive articles of the Romish creed“ disappeared In 1758 he returned with mingled joy and regret to England, like a dream "; and “after a full conviction," on Christmas and was kindly received at home. But he found a stepmother day, 1754, he received the sacrament in the church of Lausanne. there; and this apparition on his father's hearth at first rather Although, however, he adds that at this point he suspended appalled him. The cordial and gentle manners of Mrs Gibbon, his religious inquiries, “ acquiescing with implicit belief in the however, and her unremitting care for his happiness, won him tenets and mysteries which are adopted by the general consent from his first prejudices, and gave her a permanent place in his of Catholics and Protestants,” bis readers will probably do him esteem and affcction. He seems to have been much indulgod, no great injustice if they assume that even then it was rather and to have led a very pleasant life of it; he pleased himseli to the negations than to the affirmations of Protestantism that in moderate excursions, frequented the theatre, mingled, though he most heartily assented.
not very often, in society; was sometimes a little extravagant, With all his devotion to study at Lausanne' (he read ten or and sometimes little dissipated, but never lost the benefits twelve hours a day), he still found some time for the acquisition of his Lausanne exile; and easily settled into a sober, discreet, of some of the lighter accomplishments, such as riding, dancing, calculating Epicurean philosopher, who sought the summar drawing, and also for mingling in such society as the place had bonum of man in temperate, regulated and elevated pleasure. to offer. In September 1755 he writes to his aunt: “I find a The first two years after his return 10 England he spent princigreat many agreeable people here, see them sometimes, and can pally at his father's country seat at Buriton, in Hampshire, say upon the whole, without vanity, that, though I am the only nine months being given to the metropolis. He has leit Englishman here who spends the least money, I am he who is an amusing acccunt of his employments in the country, where most generally liked." Thus his “studious and sedentary life" his love of study was at once inflamed by a large and unwonted passed pleasantly enough, interrupted only at rare intervals command of books and checked by the necessary interruptions by boyish excursions of a day or a week in the neighbourhood, of his otherwise happy domestic life. After breakfast "he was and by at least one memorable tour of Switzerland, by Basel, expected," he says, to spend an hour with Mrs Gibbon; after Zürich, Lucerne and Bern, made along with Pavilliard in the tea his father claimed his conversation; in the midst of an autumn of 1755. The last eighteen months of this residence interesting work he was often called down to entertain idie abroad saw the infusion of two new elements one of them at visitors; and, worst of all, he was periodically compelled to least of considerable importance-into his life. In 1757 Voltaire return the well-meant compliments. He mentions that he came to reside at Lausanne; and although he took but little dreaded the “recurrence of the full moon," which was the period notice of the young Englishman of twenty, who eagerly sought generally selected for the more convenient accomplishment of and easily obtained an introduction, the establishment of the such formidable excursions. theatre at Monrepos, where the brilliant versifier himself de- His father's library, though large in comparison with that he claimed before select audiences his own productions on the stage, commanded at Lausanne, contained, he says, much trash "; had no small influence in fortifying Gibbon's taste for the but a gradual process of reconstruction transformed it at length French theatre, and in at the same time abating that "idolatry into that “numerous and select " library which was "ibe for the gigantic genius of Shakespeare which is inculcated from foundation of his works, and the best comfort of his life both at our infancy as the first duty of an Englishman.” In the same home and abroad."' 'No sooner bad he returned home than be year-apparently about June-he saw for the first time, and began the work of accumulation, and records that, on the forthwith loved, the beautiful, intelligent and accomplished receipt of his first quarter's allowance, a large share was approMademoiselle Susan Curchod, daughter of the pasteur of Crassier. priated to his literary wants. • He could never forget," be That the passion which she inspired in him was tender, pure declares, "the joy with which he exchanged a bank note of and fitted to raise to a higher level a nature which in some twenty pounds for the twenty volumes of the Memoirs of the
! The Journal for 1755 records that during that, year, besides Academy of Inscriptions,” an Academy which has been well writing and translating a great deal in Latin and French, he had characterized (by Sainte-Beuve) as Gibbon's intellectual father. read, amongst other works, Cicero's Epistolae ad familiares, his land. It may not be uninteresting here to note the principles Brulus, all his Orations, his dialogues De amicitia and De seneciwe, which guided him both now and afterwards in his literary
I determined to read over the Latin authors in order, and read this purchases. “I am not conscious," says he, “of having ever year Virgil, Sallust, Livy, Velleius Paterculus, Valerius Maximus, bought a book from a motive of ostentation; every volume, Tacitus, Suetonius, Quintus Curtius, Justin, Florus, Plautus, Terence before it was deposited on the shelf, was either read of and Lucretius. I also read and meditated Locke Upon the Under- sufficiently examined ”; he also mentions that he soon adopted standing." Again in January 1757 he writes: “I began to study the tolerating maxim of the elder Pliny, that no book is ever so algebra under M. de Traytorrens, went through the elements of algebra and geometry, and the three first books of the Marquis de bad as to be absolutely good for nothing. l'Hôpital's Conic Sections. I also read Tibullus, Catullus, Propertius, In London he seems to have seen but little select society Horace (with Dacier's and Torrentius's notes), Virgil, Ovid's Epistles, -partly from his father's taste, “which had always preierred with Meziriac's commentary, the Ars amandi and Elegies; the highest and lowest company,” and partly from his own likewise the Augustus and Tiberius of Suetonius, and a Latin trans. lation of Dion Cassius from the death of Julius Caesar to the death of
reserve and timidity, increased by his foreign education, which Augustus. I also continued my correspondence, begun last year, had made English habits unfamiliar, and the very language with M. Allamand of Bex, and the Professor Breitinger of Zürich, and opened a new one with the Professor Gesner of Göttingen. N.B.- * The affair, however, was not finally broken off till 1763. Mdle Last year and this I read St John's Gospel, with part of Xenophon's Curchod soon afterwards became the wife of Necker, the famous Cyropacdia, the Iliad, and Herodotus; but, upon the whole, I rather financier; and Gibbon and the Neckers frequently afterwards met neglected my Greek.”
on terms of mutual friendship and esteem.
in some degree strange. 'And thus he was led to draw that Some time before the publication of the essay, Gibbon had interesting picture of the literary recluse among the crowds of entered a new and, one might suppose, a very uncongenial London: “While coaches were rattling through Bond Street, scene of life. In an hour of patriotic ardour he became (June 12, I have passed many a solitary evening in my lodging with my 1759) a captain in the Hampshire militia, and for more than books. My studies were sometimes interrupted with a sigh, two years (May 10, 1700, to December 23, 1762) led a wandering which I breathed towards Lausanne; and on the approach of life of " military servitude.” Hampshire, Kent, Wiltshire and spring I withdrew without reluctance from the noisy and Dorsetshire formed the successive theatres of what he calls his extensive scene of crowds without company, and dissipation “ bloodless and inglorious campaigns." He complains of the without pleasure.” He renewed former acquaintance, however, busy idleness in which his time was spent; but, considering the with the "poet" Mallet, and through him gained access to circumstances, so adverse to study, one is rather surprised that Lady Hervey's circle, where a congenial admiration, not to say the military student should have done so much, than that he affectation, of French manners and literature made him a did so little; and never probably before were so many hours welcome guest. It ought to be added that in each of the twenty- of literary study spent in a tent. In estimating the comparative five years of his subsequent acquaintance with London “ the advantages and disadvantages of this wearisome period of his prospect gradually brightened," and his social as well as his life, he has summed up with the impartiality of a philosopher intellectual qualities secured him a wide circle of friends. In and the sagacity of a man of the world. Irksome as were his one respect Mallet gave him good counsel in those early days. employments, grievous as was the waste of time, uncongenial He advised him to addict himself to an assiduous study of the as were his companions, solid benefits were to be set off against more idiomatic English writers, such as Swift and Addison- these things; his health became robust, his knowledge of the with a view to unlearn his foreign idiom and recover his half-world was enlarged, he wore off some of his foreign idiom, got forgotten vernacular-a task, however, which he never per- rid of much of his reserve; he adds and perhaps in his estimate fectly accomplished. Much as he admired these writers, Hume it was the benefit to be most prized of all-—"the discipline and and Robertson were still greater favourites, as well from their evolutions of a modern battalion gave me a clearer notion of the subject as for their style. Of his admiration of Hume's style, phalanx and the legion, and the captain of the Hampshire of its nameless grace of simple elegance, he has left us a strong grenadiers (the reader may smile) has not been useless to the expression, when he tells us that it often compelled him to close historian of the Roman empire." the historian's volumes with a mixed sensation of delight and It was during this period that he read Homer and Longinus, despair.
having for the first time acquired some real mastery of Greek; In 1761 Gibbon, at the age of twenty-four, after many delays, and after the publication of the Essai, his mind was full of projects and with many flutterings of hope and fear, gave to the world, for a new literary effort. The Italian expedition of Charles VIII. in French, his maiden publication, an Essai sur l'étude de la of France, the crusade of Richard I., the wars of the barons, lillêrature, which he had composed two years before. It was the lives and comparisons of Henry V. and the emperor Titus, published partly in compliance with his father's wishes, who the history of the Black Prince, the life of Sir Philip Sidney, thought that the proof of some literary talent might introduce that of Montrose, and finally that of Sir W. Raleigh, were all him favourably to public notice, and secure the recommendation of them seriously contemplated and successively rejected. of his friends for some appointment in connexion with the mission By their number they show how strong was the impulse to of the English plenipotentiaries to the congress at Augsburg literature, and by their character, how determined the bent which was at that time in contemplation. But in yielding to of his mind in the direction of history; while their variety makes paternal authority, Gibbon frankly owns that he "complied, it manifest also that he had then at least no special purpose to like a pious son, with the wish of his own heart.”
serve, no preconceived theory to support, no particular prejudice The subject of this youthful effort was suggested, its author or belief to overthrow. says, by a refinement of vanity—“ the desire of justifying and The militia was disbanded in 1762, and Gibbon joyfully shook praising the object of a favourite pursuit," namely, the study off his bonds; but his literary projects were still to be postponed. of ancient literature. Partly owing to its being written in Following his own wishes, though with his father's consent, French, partly to its character, the Essai excited more attention he had early in 1760 projected a Continental tour as the compleabroad than at home. Gibbon has criticized it with the utmost tion “of an English gentleman's education.” This had been frankness, not to say severity; but, after every abalement, it interrupted by the episode of the militia; now, however, he is unquestionably a surprising effort for a mind so young, and resumed his purpose, and left England in January 1763. Two contains many thoughts which would not have disgraced a years were “ loosely dctined as the term of his absence," which thinker or a scholar of much maturer age. His account of its he exceeded by half a year-returning June 1765. He first first reception and subsequent fortunes in England deserves to visited Paris, where he saw a good deal of d'Alembert, Diderot, be cited as a curious piece of literary history. "In England," Barthélemy, Raynal, Helvétius, Baron d'Holbach and others he says, “it was received with cold indifference, little read, and of that circle, and was often a welcome guest in the saloons of speedily forgotten. A small impression was slowly dispersed; Madame Geoffrin and Madame du Deffand.? Voltaire was at the bookseller murmured, and the author (had his feelings been Geneva, Rousseau at Montmorency, and Buffon he neglected more exquisite) might have wept over the blunders and baldness to visit; but so congenial did he find the society for which his of the English translation. The publication of my history education had so well prepared him, and into which some literary fsteen years afterwards revived the memory of my first perform- reputation had already preceded him, that he declared, “Had ance, and the essay was eagerly sought in the shops. But 1 I been rich and independent, I should have prolonged and refused the permission which Becket solicited of reprinting it; the perhaps have fixed my residence at Paris." public curiosity was imperfectly satisfied by a pirated copy of the From France he proceeded to Switzerland, and spent nearly a booksellers of Dublin; and when a copy of the original edition year at Lausanne, where many old friendships and studies were has been discovered in a sale, the primitive value of half-a-crown resumed, and new ones begun. His reading was largely designed has risen to the fancisul price of a guinea or thirty shillings.". to enable him fully to profit by the long-contemplated Italian
tour which began in April 1764 and lasted somewhat more than 1 The Essai, in a good English translation, now appears in the Miscellaneous Works. Villemain finds in it peu de vues, nulle
a year. He has recorded one or two interesting notes on Turin, originalité surtout, mais une grande passion littéraire, l'amour des Genoa, Florence and other towns at which halt was made on his recherches savantes et du beau langage." Sainte-Beuve's criticism is route; but Rome was the great object of his pilgrimage, and the almost identical with Gibbon's own; but though he finds that " la words in which he has alluded to the feelings with which he lecture en est assez difficile et parfois obscure, la liaison des idées échappe souvent par trop de concision et par le désir qu'a eu le jeune : Her letters to Walpole about Gibbon contain some interesting auteur d'y faire entrer, d'y condenser la plupart de ses notes," he adds, remarks by this " aveugle clairvoyante," as Voltaire calls her; but ** il y a, chemin faisant, des vues neuves et qui sentent l'historien." | they belong to a later period (1777).