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finer feelings of moral evidence, which must determine the actions and opinions of our lives." So easy is it to find a plausible excuse for neglecting what we want the power or the inclination to follow.
To his classical acquirements, while at Lausanne, he added the study of Grotius, and Puffendorff, Locke, and Montesquieu ; and he mentions Pascal's “ Provincial Letters,” La Bleterie's “ Life of Julian," and Giannone's civil "
History of Naples," as having remotely contributed to form the historian of the Roman empire. From Pascal, he tells us that he learned to manage the weapon of grave and temperate irony, even on subjects of ecclesiastical solemnity, forgetting that irony in every shape is beneatb the dignity of the historical style, and subjects the historian to the suspicion that his courage and his argument are exhausted. It is more to his credit that at this time he established a correspondence with several literary characters, to whom he looked for instruction and direction, with Crevier and Breitinger, Gesner and Allamand; and that by the acuteness of his remarks, and his zeal for knowledge, he proved himself not unworthy of their confidence. He had an opportunity also of seeing Voltaire, who received him as an English youth, but without any peculiar notice or distinction. Voltaire diffused gaiety around him by erecting a temporary theatre, on which he performed his own favourite characters, and Mr. Gibbon became so enamoured of the French stage, as to lose much of his veneration for Shakspeare. He was now familiar in some, and acquainted in many families, and his evenings were generally devoted to cards and conversation, either in private parties, or more numerous assemblies.
During this alternation of study and pleasure, he became enamoured of a mademoiselle Susan Curchod, a young lady whose personal attractions were embellished by her virtues and talents. His addresses were favoured by her and by her parents, but his father, on being consulted, expressed the utmost reluctance to this “strange alliance," and Mr. Gibbon yielded to his pleasure. His wound, he tells us, was insensibly healed by time, and the lady was not unhappy. She afterwards became the wife of the ceJebrated M, Neckar.
In 1758 he was permitted to return to England, after an absence of nearly five years. His father received him with more kindness than he expected, and rejoiced in the suc
cess of his plan of education. During his absence his father had married his second wife, miss Dorothea Patton, whom his son was prepared to dislike, but found an amiable and deserving woman. At home he was left at liberty to consult his taste in the choice of place, company, and amusements, and his excursions were bounded only by the limits of the island and the measure of his income.
He had now reached his twenty-first year; and some faint efforts were made to procure him the employment of secretary to a foreign embassy. His step-mother recommended the study of the law ; but the former scheme did not succeed, and the latter he declined. Of his first two years in England, he passed about nine months in London, and the remainder in the country.
But London had few charms, except the common ones that can be purchased. His father had no fixed residence there, and no circles into which he might introduce his son. He acquired an intimacy, however, in the house of David Mallet, and by his means was introduced to lady Hervey's parties. The want of society seems never to have given him much uneasiness, nor does it appear that at any period of his life he knew the misery of having hours which he could not fill up. At bis father's house at Buriton, near Petersfield, in Hampshire, he enjoyed much leisure and many opportunities of adding to his stock of learning. Books became more and more the source of all his wishes and pleasures, and although his father endeavoured to inspire him with a love and knowledge of farming, he could not succeed farther than occasionally to obtain his company in such excursions as are usual with country gentlemen.
The leisure he could borrow from his more regular plan of study, was employed in perusing the works of the best English authors since the revolution, in hopes that the purity of his own language, corrupted by the long use of a foreign idiom, might be restored. Of Swift and Addison, who were recommended by Mallet, he seems to fix the true value, praising Swift for his manly original vigour, and Addison for elegance and mildness. The perfect composition, the nervous language, and well-turned periods of Robertson, inflamed him with the ambitious hope that he might one day tread in his footsteps. But charmed as he was at this time with Swift and Addison, Robertson and Hume, and well as he knew how to appreciate the excellence of their respective styles, he lost sight of every
model when he became a writer of history, and formed a style peculiar to himself.
In 1761 his first publication made its appearance, under the title of “ Essai sur l'etude de la litterature," a small volume in 12mo. Part of this had been written at Lausanne, and the whole completed in London. He consulted Dr. Maty, a man of extensive learning and judgment, who encouraged him to publish the work, but this he would have probably delayed for some time, had not his father insisted upon it, thinking that some proof of literary talents might introduce him to public notice. The design of this essay was to prove that all the faculties of the mind may be exercised and displayed by the study of ancient literature, in opposition to D'Alembert and others of the French encyclopedists, who contended for that new philosop that has since produced such miserable consequences. He introduces, however, a variety of topics not immediately connected with this, and evinces that in the study of the belles lettres, and in criticism, his range was far more extensive than could have been expected from his years. His style approaches to that of Voltaire, and is often sententious and Aippant, and the best excuse that can be offered for his writing in French, is, that his principal object relates to the literature of that country, with which he seems to court an alliance, and with which it is certain he was more familiar than with that of England. This essay accordingly was praised in the foreign journals, but attracted very little notice at home, and was soon forgotten. Of its merits he speaks in his Memoirs, with a mixture of praise and blame, but the former predominates, and with justice. Had the French language been then as common in the literary world as it is now, so extraordinary a production from a young man would have raised very high expectations.
About the time when this essay appeared, Mr. Gibbon was induced to embrace the military profession. He was appointed captain of the south battalion of the Harnpshire militia, and for two years and a half endured “ a wandering life of military servitude." It is seldom that the memoirs of a literary character are enlivened by an incident like this. Mr. Gibbon, as may be expected, could not divest his mind of its old babits, and therefore endeavoured to unite the soldier and the scholar. He studied the art of war in the Memoires Militaires of Quintus Icilius (M. Gui
chardt), while from the discipline and evolutions of a modern battalion, he was acquiring a clearer notion of the phalanx and the legion, and what he seems to have valued at its full worth, a more intimate knowledge of the world, and such an increase of acquaintance as made him better known than he could have been in a much longer time, had he regularly passed his summers at Buriton, and his winters in London. He snatched also some hours from his military duties for study, and upon the whole, although he does not look back with much pleasure on this period of his life, he permits the reader to smile at the advantages which the historian of the Roman empire derived from the captain of the Hampshire grenadiers. At the peace in 1762-3, his regiment was disbanded, and he resumed his studies, the regularity of which had been so much interrupted, that he speaks of now entering on a new plan. After hesitating, probably not long, between the mathematics and the Greek language, he gave the preference to the latter, and pursued his reading with vigour. But whatever he read or studied, he appears to have read and studied with a view to historical composition, and he as. pired to the character of a historian long before he could fix upon a subject. The time was favourable to Mr. Gibbon's ambition. He was daily witnessing the triumphs of Hume and Robertson, and he probably thought that a subject only was wanting to form his claim to equal honours.
During his service in the militia, he revolved several subjects for historical composition, and by the variety of them, it does not appear that he had any particular pur, pose to serve, or preconceived theory to which facts were to bend. Among the subjects he has enumerated, we find the expedition of Charles VIII. of France into Italy—the crusade of Richard I.-the barons' wars against John and Henry III.—the history of Edward the Black Prince-the lives, with comparisons of Henry V. and the emperor Titus—the life of sir Philip Sidney, and that of the marquis of Montrose. These were rejected in their turns, but he dwelt with rather more fondness on the life of sir Wal. ter Raleigh; and when that was discarded, meditated either the history of the Liberty of the Swiss; or that of the republic of Florence under the house of Medicis.
His designs were, however, now interrupted by a visit to the continent, which, according to custom, his father
thought necessary to complete the education of an English gentleman. Previous to his departure he obtained recommendatory letters from lady Hervey, Horace Walpole (the late lord Orford), Mallet, and the duke de Nivernois, to various persons of distinction in France. In acknowledge ing the duke's services, he notes a circumstance which in some degree unfolds his own character, and exhibits that superiority of pretensions from which he never departed. “ The duke received me civilly, but (perhaps ihrough Maty's fault) treated me more as a man of letters than as a man of fashion.” Congreve and Gray were weak enough to be offended on a similar account, but that Mr. Gibbon, whose sole ambition was to rise to literary fame, should have for a moment preferred the equivocal character of a man of fashion, is as unaccountable as it is wonderful that, at an advanced period of life, he should have recorded the incident.
In France, however, the fame of his essay had preceded him, and he was gratified by being considered as a man of letters, who wrote for bis amusement. Here he mixed in familiar society with D'Alembert, Diderot, count de Caylus, the abbé de Bleterie, Barthelemy, Raynal, Arnaud, Helvetius, and others, wbo were confessedly at the head of French literature. After passing fourteen weeks in Paris, he revisited (in the month of May 1763) his old friends at Lausanne, where he remained nearly a year. Among the occurrences here which he records with most pleasure, is his forming an acquaintance with Mr. Holroyd, now lord Sheffield, who has since done so much honour to his memory, and whom he characterises as "a friend whose activity in the ardour of youth was always prompted by a benevolent heart, and directed by a strong understanding.”
In 1764 he set out for Italy, after having studied the geography and ancient history of the seat of the Roman empire, with such attention as might render his visit profitable. Although he disclaims that enthusiasm which takes fire at every novelty, the sight of Rome appears to have conquered his apathy, and at once fixed the source of his fame. “ It was at Rome, on the 15th of October 1764, as he sat musing amidst the ruins of the capitol, while the bare-footed friars were singing vespers in the temple of Jupiter (now the church of the Zoccolants, or Franciscan friars) that the idea of writing the Decline and Fall of the city first started to his mind.” But this appears to have