Miscellaneous works: of Edward Gibbon, Esquire. With memoirs of his life and writings, composed by himself: illustrated from his letters, with occasional notes and narrative, by John Lord Sheffield. In two volumes. ... [pt.1]

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See Appendix. Vol. I. Letter XVII.

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MISCELLANEOUS WORKS OF EDWARD GIBBON, Esquire.

WITH MEMOIRS OF HIS LIFE AND WRITINGS, COMPOSED BY HIMSELF: ILLUSTRATED FROM HIS LETTERS, WITH OCCASIONAL NOTES AND NARRATIVE, BY JOHN LORD SHEFFIELD.

IN TWO VOLUMES.

VOL. I.

LONDON: PRINTED FOR A. STRAHAN, AND T. CADELL JUN. AND W. DAVIES, (SUCCESSORS TO MR. CADELL,) IN THE STRAND.

MDCCXCVI.

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THE melancholy duty of examining the Papers of my deceased Friend devolved upon me at a time when I was depressed by severe afflictions.

In that state of mind, I hesitated to undertake the task of selecting and preparing his Manuscripts for the press. The warmth of my early and long attachment to Mr. Gibbon made me conscious of a partiality, which it was not proper to indulge, especially in revising many of his juvenile and unfinished compositions. I had to guard, not only against a sentiment like my own, which I found extensively diffused, but also against the eagerness occasioned by a very general curiosity to see in print every literary relick, however imperfect, of so distinguished a writer.

Being aware how disgracefully Authors of Eminence have been often treated, by an indiscreet posthumous publication of fragments and careless effusions; when I had selected those Papers which to myself appeared the fittest for the public eye, I consulted some of our common [Page iv] friends, whom I knew to be equally anxious with myself for Mr. Gibbon's fame, and fully competent, from their judgment, to protect it.

Under such a sanction it is, that, no longer suspecting myself to view through too favourable a medium the compositions of my Friend, I now venture to publish them: and it may here be proper to give some information to the Reader, respecting the Contents of these Volumes.

The most important part consists of Memoirs of Mr. Gibbon's Life and Writings, a work which he seems to have projected with peculiar solicitude and attention, and of which he left Six different sketches, all in his own hand-writing. One of these sketches, the most diffuse and circumstantial, so far as it proceeds, ends at the time when he quitted Oxford. Another at the year 1764, when he travelled to Italy. A third, at his father's death, in 1770. A fourth, which he continued to a short time after his return to Lausanne in 1788, appears in the form of Annals, much less detailed than the others. The two remaining sketches are still more imperfect. It is difficult to discover the order in which these several Pieces were written, but there is reason to believe that the most copious was the last. From all these the following Memoirs have been carefully selected, and put together.

[Page v] My hesitation in giving these Memoirs to the world arose, principally, from the circumstance of Mr. Gibbon's appearing, in some respect, not to have been satisfied with them, as he had so frequently varied their form: yet, notwithstanding this diffidence, the compositions, though unfinished, are so excellent, that they may justly entitle my Friend to appear as his own biographer, rather than to have that task undertaken by any other person less qualified for it.

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

Those slight variations of character, which naturally arose in the progress of his Life, will be unfolded in a series of Letters, selected from a Correspondence between him and myself, which continued full thirty years, and ended with his death.

It is to be lamented, that all the sketches of the Memoirs, except that composed in the form of Annals, and which seems rather designed as heads for a future Work, [Page vi] cease about twenty years before Mr. Gibbon's death; and consequently, that we have the least detailed account of the most interesting part of his Life. His Correspondence during that period will, in great measure, supply the deficiency. It will be separated from the Memoirs and placed in an Appendix, that those who are not disposed to be pleased with the repetitions, familiarities, and trivial circumstances of epistolary writing, may not be embarrassed by it. By many, the Letters will be found a very interesting part of the present Publication. They will prove, how pleasant, friendly, and amiable Mr. Gibbon was in private life; and if, in publishing Letters so flattering to myself, I incur the imputation of vanity, I shall meet the charge with a frank confession, that I am indeed highly vain of having enjoyed, for so many years, the esteem, the confidence, and the affection of a man, whose social qualities endeared him to the most accomplished society, and whose talents, great as they were, must be acknowledged to have been fully equalled by the sincerity of his friendship.

Whatever censure may be pointed against the Editor, the Public will set a due value on the Letters for their intrinsic merit. I must, indeed, be blinded, either by vanity or affection, if they do not display the heart and mind of their Author, in [Page vii] such a manner as justly to increase the number of his admirers.

I have not been solicitous to garble or expunge passages which, to some, may appear trifling. Such passages will often, in the opinion of the observing Reader, mark the character of the Writer, and the omission of them would materially take from the ease and familiarity of authentic letters.

Few men, I believe, have ever so fully unveiled their own character, by a minute narrative of their sentiments and pursuits, as Mr. Gibbon will here be found to have done; not with study and labour—not with an affected frankness—but with a genuine confession of his little foibles and peculiarities, and a good-humoured and natural display of his own conduct and opinions.

Mr. Gibbon began a Journal, a work distinct from the sketches already mentioned, in the early part of his Life, with the following declaration:

‘I propose from this day, August 24th 1761, to keep an exact Journal of my actions and studies, both to assist my memory, and to accustom me to set a due value on my time. I shall begin by setting down some few events of my past life, the dates of which I can remember.’

[Page viii] This industrious project he pursued occasionally in French, under various titles, and with the minuteness, fidelity, and liberality of a mind resolved to watch over and improve itself.

The Journal is continued under different titles, and is sometimes very concise, and sometimes singularly detailed. One part of it is entitled "My Journal," another "Ephemerides, or Journal of my Actions, Studies, and Opinions." The other parts are entitled, "Ephemerides, ou Journal de ma Vie, de mes Etudes, et de mes Sentimens." In this Journal, among the most trivial circumstances, are mixed very interesting observations and dissertations on a Satire of Juvenal, a Passage of Homer, or of Longinus, or of any other author whose works he happened to read in the course of the day; and he often passes from a Remark on the most common event, to a critical Disquisition of considerable learning, or an Enquiry into some abstruse point of Philosophy.

It certainly was not his intention that this private and motley Diary should be presented to the Public; nor have I thought myself at liberty to present it, in the shape in which he left it. But by reducing it to an account of his literary occupations, it formed so singular and so interesting a portrait of an indefatigable Student, that I persuade myself it will be regarded as a [Page ix] valuable acquisition by the Literary World, and as an accession of fame to the memory of my Friend. With the Extracts from Mr. Gibbon's Journal will be printed, his Dissertations entitled "Extraits raisonnés de mes Lectures:" and "Recueil de mes Observations, et Pieces détachées sur différens Sujets." A few other passages from other parts of the Journals, introduced in Notes, will make a curious addition to the Memoirs.

His First Publication, "Essai sur l'Etude de la Litterature," with corrections and additions from an interleaved copy which my Friend gave to me several years ago, is reprinted as part of these volumes.

Three more of his smaller Publications are also reprinted. 1. His masterly Criticism on the Sixth Book of Virgil, in answer to Bishop Warburton. 2. His own Vindication of the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Chapters of his History, in answer to Mr. Davis and others. And 3. His "Reponse à l'Exposé de la Cour de France,"—an occasional composition, which obtained the highest applause in Foreign Courts, and of which he spoke to me with some pleasure, observing that it had been translated even into the Turkish language*.

Of these various writings the Author has spoken himself, in describing his own Life. I have yet to notice [Page x] some articles not mentioned in his Memoirs, and which will be found in this Publication. 1. A juvenile sketch, entitled, "Outlines of the History of the World." 2. A Dissertation, which he had shewn to a few friends, on that curious subject, "L'Homme au Masque de Fer." 3. A more considerable work, "The Antiquities of the House of Brunswick;" an historical discourse, composed about the year 1790. In this Work he intended to appropriate separate books: 1. To the Italian descent; 2. To the Germanic reign: and, 3. To the British Succession of the House of Brunswick. The Manuscript closes in completing the Italian branch of his subject.

Among the most splendid passages of that unfinished work may be enumerated, the characters of Leibnitz and Muratori: A sketch of Albert-Azo the Second, a prince who retained his faculties and reputation beyond the age of one hundred years: An account of Padua and its university, and remarks on the epic glory of Ferrara.

The last Paper of these Volumes has the mournful attraction of being a sketch interrupted by death, and affords an honourable proof that my Friend's ardour for the promotion of historical knowledge attended him to the last. It is entitled merely, "An Address;" and expresses a wish that our Latin memorials of the middle ages, the "Scriptores Rerum Anglicarum," may be published in [Page xi] England, in a manner worthy of the subject, and of the country. He mentions Mr. John Pinkerton as a person well qualified for the conduct of such a national undertaking.

In the collection of writings which I am now sending to the press, there is no article that will so much engage the public attention as the Memoirs. I will therefore close all I mean to say as their Editor, by assuring the Reader, that, although I have in some measure newly arranged those interesting Papers, by forming one regular narrative from the Six different sketches, I have nevertheless adhered with scrupulous fidelity to the very words of their Author; and I use the letter S. to mark such Notes of my own, as it seemed necessary to add.

It remains only to express a wish, that in discharging this latest office of affection, my regard to the memory of my Friend may appear, as I trust it will do, proportioned to the high satisfaction which I enjoyed for many years in possessing his entire confidence, and very partial attachment.

SHEFFIELD.

CONTENTS OF THE FIRST VOLUME.

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  • THE AUTHOR'S INTRODUCTION. Page 1
  • Account and anecdotes of his family. Page 4
  • South Sea scheme, and the bill of pains and penalties against the Directors; among whom was the Author's grandfather. Page 11
  • Character of Mr. William Law. Page 14
  • Mr. Gibbon's birth; he is put under the care of Mr. Kirkby; some account of Mr. Kirkby. Page 17
  • The Author is sent to Dr. Wooddeson's school, whence he is removed on the death of his mother.—Affectionate observations on his aunt, Mrs. Catharine Porten. Page 22
  • Is entered at Westminster school; is removed on account of ill health, and afterwards placed under the care of the Rev. Mr. Francis. Page 26
  • Enters a Gentleman Commoner at Magdalen College, Oxford.—Remarks on that University.—Some account of Magdalen College.—Character of Dr. Waldegrave, Mr. Gibbon's first tutor. Page 28
  • The Author determines to write an history; its subject.—Solution of a chronological difficulty.—Mr. Gibbon is converted to the Roman Catholic religion; cites the examples of Chillingworth and Bayle; their characters.—Mr. Gibbon obliged to leave Oxford.—Farther remarks on the University. Page 41
  • The Author is removed to Lausanne, and placed under the care of Mr. Pavilliard. Reflections on his change of situation. Character of [Page xiv] Mr. Pavilliard, and an account of his manner of restoring Mr. Gibbon to the Protestant Church. Mr. Gibbon received the sacrament in the church of Lausanne on Christmas-day 1754. Page 53
  • The Author's account of the books he read, and of the course of study he pursued. Page 60
  • Mr. Gibbon makes the tour of Switzerland; forms a correspondence with several literary characters; is introduced to Voltaire, and sees him perform several characters in his own plays.—Remarks on his acting. Page 68
  • Some account of Mademoiselle Curshod, (afterwards Madame Necker). —Reflections on his education at Lausanne;—he returns to England;—his manner of spending his time. Page 73
  • Mr. Gibbon publishes his first work, Essai sur l'Etude de la Litterature.—Some observations on the plan, and the character of the performance.—Character of Dr. Maty Page 86
  • The Author's manner of passing his time in the Hampshire militia, and reflections upon it. Page 95
  • Mr. Gibbon resumes his studies; determines to write upon some historical subject; considers various subjects, and makes remarks upon them for that purpose.—Sees Mallet's Elvira performed.—Character of that play. Page 105
  • The Author passes some time at Paris, gives an account of the persons with whom he chiefly associated; proceeds through Dijon and Besançon, to Lausanne.—Characterises a society there, called La Societé du Printems.—Becomes acquainted with Mr. Holroyd, now Lord Sheffield.—Remarks on their meeting. Page 113
  • Some account of Mr. Gibbon's studies at Lausanne, preparatory to his Italian journey.—He travels into Italy; his feelings and observations upon his arrival at Rome.—He returns to England.—His reflections upon his situation.—Some account of his friends Mr. Deyverdun.—He writes, and communicates to his friends, an historical Essay upon the Liberty of the Swiss.—Their unfavourable judgment.—Mr. Hume's opinion. Page 121
  • Mr. Gibbon and Mr. Deyverdun engage in a periodical work, intended as a continuation of Dr. Maty's Journal Britannique; intitled, Memoires Litteraires de la Grande Bretagne.—Account of the [Page xv] work.—Mr. Gibbon publishes his Observations on the VIth Aeneid of Virgil, in opposition to Bishop Warburton's hypothesis.—Mr. Heyne's and Mr. Hayley's opinions of that Essay.—Mr. Gibbon determines to write the History of the Decline and Fall.—His preparatory studies.—Reflections on his domestic circumstances; his father's death and character. Page 135
  • Mr. Gibbon settles in London.—Begins his History of the Decline and Fall.—Becomes a Member of the House of Commons.—Characters of the principal speakers.—Publishes his first volume; its reception.—Mr. Hume's opinion, in a letter to the Author.—Makes a second visit to Paris.—His dispute with the Abbé Mably.—He enumerates and characterises the writers who wrote against his 15th and 16th Chapters. Page 143
  • Mr. Gibbon, by the desire of Ministry, writes the Memoire Justificatif.—By the interest of Lord Loughborough is appointed one of the Lords of Trade.—Publishes his second and third volumes of his History; their reception.—Mentions Archdeacon Travis's attack upon him, and commends Mr. Porson's answer to the Archdeacon.—Notices also Bishop Newton's censure. Page 156
  • The Author proceeds in his History; leaves London, and settles at Lausanne, in the house of his friend Mr. Deyverdun; his reasons for doing so.—Reflections on his change of situation.—Short characters of Prince Henry of Prussia and of Mr. Fox, both of whom he sees at Lausanne.—Proceeds in, and finishes his History.—Interesting remarks on concluding it. Page 163
  • Mr. Gibbon pays a visit to Lord Sheffield in England.—Remarks on Lord Sheffield's writings; publishes the remainder of his History; returns to Lausanne; his manner of employing his time.—The death of Mr. Deyverdun.—Observations of the Author upon the French revolution, the government of Berne, and his own situation.—The Memoirs end. Page 171
  • Narrative continued by Lord Sheffield, and by letters from Mr. Gibbon. Page 186
  • Mr. Gibbon's account of his journey to, and arrival at, Lausanne.—The state of Mr. Deyverdun's health, and an account of a visit from Mr. Fox and Mr. Douglas. Page 189
  • [Page xvi] Mirabeau's work, Sur la Monarchie Prussienne, and his Correspondence Secrette characterised.—Mr. Deyverdun's death.—Reflections on that event.—Mr. Gibbon thinks of purchasing Mr. Deyverdun's estate at Lausanne.—Reflections on the French revolution. Page 194
  • Private circumstances discussed.—Farther reflections on the French revolution.—Some account of Mr. Gibbon's health. Page 205
  • Account of Monsieur Necker.—Character of Mr. Burke's book on the French revolution.—Mr. Gibbon proposes a declaration to be signed by the most considerable men of all parties.—Observations on Lord Sheffield's election for Bristol.—Reflections on his own situation at Lausanne.—Invitation from Mr. Gibbon to Lord Sheffield and his family to visit him at Lausanne. Page 213
  • Narrative continued by Lord Sheffield.—An account of his visit to Lausanne.—Letter from Mr. Gibbon to the Honourable Miss Holroyd.—Account of a visit to M. Necker. Page 225
  • Political reflections.—Slave Trade.—Jockey Club.—Mr. Grey's motion.—Conduct of the French towards Geneva.—French affairs. Page 241
  • Second letter to the Honourable Miss Holroyd.—Her account (in answer) of the Massacre aux Carmes.—Account of General Montesquieu.—Revolution of Geneva. Page 258
  • Personal reflections on Mr. Gibbon's situation.—Mr. de Severy's death. Reflections on public affairs.—Lady Sheffield's death.—Mr. Gibbon returns to England upon that event. Page 272
  • Narrative continued by Lord Sheffield.—Account of Mr. Gibbon's health; his death; his disorder.—Abstract of Mr. Gibbon's will. Page 284

APPENDIX.

  • Introduction by the Editor to the Letters contained in the Appendix. Page 305
  • LETTER 1. Mr. Crevier to Mr. Gibbon.—On a disputed Passage in Livy, lib. xxx. c. 44. Aug. 7, 1756. Page 307
  • LETTER 2. Mr. Allamand to Mr. Gibbon.—On Mr. Locke's Theory of Innate Ideas. Sept. 14, 1756. Page 310
  • LETTER 3. The Same to the Same.—The Subject continued. Oct. 12, 1756. Page 319
  • LETTER 4. Professor Breitinger to Mr. Gibbon.—On different Passages of Justin. Oct. 22, 1756. Page 326
  • LETTER 5. The Same to the Same.—The Subject continued. Page 343
  • LETTER 6. Mr. Gibbon to Mr. Gesner.—Concerning Piso, to whom Horace addressed his Art of Poetry, and the Time of Catullus's Death. Page 351
  • LETTER 7. Mr. Gesner to Mr. Gibbon.—In Answer to the former. Page 364
  • LETTER 8. Mr. Gibbon to Mr. Gesner.—The same Subject continued. Page 375
  • LETTER 9. Mr. Gibbon to ***.—On the Government of Berne. Page 388
  • LETTER 10. Mr. Gibbon to Mrs. Porten. 1756. Page 414
  • LETTER 11. Dr. Waldergrave to Mr. Gibbon. Dec. 7, 1758. Page 417
  • LETTER 12. Mr. Gibbon to his Father.—Upon the Subject of visiting Italy. 1760. Page 418
  • LETTER 13. Mr. Mallet to Mr. Gibbon.—Inclosing a Letter from Count de Caylus. 1761. Page 422
  • LETTER 14. Mr. G. L. Scott to Mr. Gibbon.—Upon his Mathematical Studies. Page 424
  • LETTER 15. Mr. Gibbon to Mrs. Gibbon.—Account of Mr. Helvetius. Feb. 12, 1763. Page 429
  • LETTER 16. Mr. Gibbon to his Father.—Account of his Connections at Paris. Feb. 24, 1763. Page 431
  • LETTER 17. Mr. Gibbon to Mr. Holroyd.—Account of the Boromean Islands and Turin. May 16, 1764. Page 434
  • [Page xviii] LETTER 18. Mr. Gibbon to Mr. Holroyd.—Account of his Return through Paris, and of Madame Necker. Oct. 31, 1765. Page 437
  • LETTER 19. The Same to the Same.—Upon Mr. Holroyd's Marriage. April 29, 1767. Page 440
  • LETTER 20. The Same to the Same. Beriton, Oct. 16, 1769. Page 442
  • LETTER 21. The Same to the Same. Pall-mall, Dec. 25, 1769. Page 443
  • LETTER 22. The Same to the Same. Oct. 6, 1771. Page 443
  • LETTER 23. The Same to the Same. Nov. 18, 1771. Page 445
  • LETTER 24. The Same to the Same.—News from Denmark. 1772. Page 445
  • LETTER 25. The Same to the Same. Feb. 3, 1772. Page 446
  • LETTER 26. The Same to the Same.—Test Act. Feb. 8, 1772. Page 447
  • LETTER 27. The Same to the Same.—Princess of Wales. Feb. 13, 1772. Page 448
  • LETTER 28. The Same to the Same.—Mr. Fox's Resignation. Feb. 21, 1772. Page 449
  • LETTER 29. Mr. Gibbon to Mrs. Gibbon. March 21, 1772. Page 451
  • LETTER 30. Mr. Gibbon to Mr. Holroyd. May 26, 1772, Page 452
  • LETTER 31. Mr. Gibbon to Mrs. Holroyd senior.—On the Death of Mr. Holroyd's Son. July 17, 1772. Page 453
  • LETTER 32. Mr. Gibbon to Mr. Holroyd.—On the same Subject. July 30, 1772. Page 453
  • LETTER 33. The Same to Mrs. Gibbon. Aug. 7, 1772. Page 454
  • LETTER 34. Dr. Hurd to Mr. Gibbon.—On the Authenticity of the Book of Daniel, and a Fragment on the same Subject. Aug. 29, 1772. Page 455
  • LETTER 35. Mr. Gibbon to Mr. Holroyd. Oct. 13, 1772. Page 465
  • LETTER 36. The Same to the Same. Dec. 11, 1772. Page 466
  • LETTER 37. The Same to the Same. Dec. 1772. Page 467
  • LETTER 38. The Same to the Same.—East India Affairs. Jan. 12, 1773. Page 468
  • LETTER 39. The Same to the Same.—East India Affairs. May 11, 1773. Page 469
  • LETTER 40. The Same to the Same, at Edinburgh.—David Hume, &c. Aug. 7, 1773. Page 470
  • LETTER 41. The Same to the Same, from Port-Eliot. Sept. 10, 1773. Page 472
  • LETTER 42. The Same to the Same. Jan. 1774. Page 474
  • LETTER 43. The Same to the Same.—Colman's Play. Jan. 29, 1774. Page 475
  • LETTER 44. The Same to the Same. 1774. Page 476
  • LETTER [Page xix] 45. Mr. Gibbon to Mr. Holroyd. Feb. 1774. Page 476
  • LETTER 46. The Same to the Same.—Boston Port Bill. March 16, 1774. Page 477
  • LETTER 47. The Same to the Same.—American Affairs. March 29, 1774. Page 478
  • LETTER 48. The Same to the Same.—Account of Mr. Clarke's Death. April 2, 1774. Page 479
  • LETTER 49. The Same to the Same. April 13, 1774. Page 479
  • LETTER 50. The Same to the Same. April 21, 1774. Page 481
  • LETTER 51. The Same to the Same.—Account of a Masquerade. May 4, 1774. Page 482
  • LETTER 52. Mr. Gibbon to Mrs. Gibbon. May 24, 1774. Page 483
  • LETTER 53. The Same to Mr. Holroyd. May 24, 1774. Page 484
  • LETTER 54. The Same to the Same.—General Romanzow. Aug. 27, 1774. Page 485
  • LETTER 55. The Same to the Same.—Mentions the Offer of a Seat in Parliament. Sept. 10, 1774. Page 486
  • LETTER 56. The Same to the Same. Dec. 2, 1774. Page 487
  • LETTER 57. The Same to the Same.—Mentions his Intention of speaking on American Affairs. Jan. 31, 1775. Page 487
  • LETTER 58. The Same to Mrs. Gibbon. Jan. 31, 1775. Page 488
  • LETTER 59. The Same to Mr. Holroyd.—American Affairs. Feb. 8, 1775. Page 489
  • LETTER 60. The Same to the Same.—Parliamentary. Feb. 25, 1775. Page 490
  • LETTER 61. Mr. Gibbon to Mrs. Gibbon.—Doubts whether he should speak in Parliament. March 30, 1775. Page 491
  • LETTER 62. The Same to the Same. May 2, 1775. Page 492
  • LETTER 63. The Same to Mr. Holroyd.—Account of his History. Aug. 1, 1775. Page 493
  • LETTER 64. The Same to Mrs. Gibbon. Aug. 1775. Page 494
  • LETTER 65. The same to Mr. Holroyd.—Political. Oct. 14, 1775. Page 495
  • LETTER 66. Mr. G. L. Scott to Mr. Gibbon.—On the first Volume of his History. Dec. 29, 1775. Page 496
  • LETTER 67. Mr. Gibbon to Mr. Holroyd.—Political. Jan. 18, 1776. Page 497
  • LETTER 68. The Same to the Same. Jan. 29, 1776. Page 497
  • LETTER 69. The Same to the Same. Feb. 9, 1776. Page 498
  • LETTER 70. Dr. Robertson to Mr. Strahan.—On Mr. Gibbon's first Volume. March 15, 1776. Page 498
  • [Page xx] LETTER 71. Mr. Ferguson to Mr. Gibbon.—On the same Subject. March 19, 1776. Page 499
  • LETTER 72. Mr. Hume to Mr. Strahan.—On the same Subject. April 8, 1776. Page 500
  • LETTER 73. Mr. Ferguson to Mr. Gibbon.—Account of Mr. Hume's Health, &c. April 18, 1776. Page 501
  • LETTER 74. Mr. Gibbon to Mr. Holroyd.—Madame Necker's Visit to England. May 20, 1776. Page 503
  • LETTER 75. The Same to the Same.—American News, and Publication of the first Volume. Page 504
  • LETTER 76. The Same to the Same. June 24, 1776. Page 505
  • LETTER 77. Dr. Campbell to Mr. Strahan.—On Mr. Gibbon's first Volume. June 25, 1776. Page 506
  • LETTER 78. Mr. Gibbon to Mr. Holroyd.—American Affairs. Aug. 1776. Page 506
  • LETTER 79. The Same to the Same. 1776. Page 507
  • LETTER 80. Mr. Wallace to Mr. Strahan.—On Mr. Gibbon's first Volume. Aug. 30, 1776. Page 508
  • LETTER 81. Mr. Gibbon to Mr. Holroyd.—American Affairs; Attacks upon the first Volume. 1776. Page 509
  • LETTER 82. Mr. Gibbon to Dr. Watson.—On Mr. Gibbon's first Volume. Nov. 2, 1776. Page 510
  • LETTER 83. Dr. Watson to Mr. Gibbon.—On the same Subject. Nov. 4, 1776. Page 511
  • LETTER 84. Mr. Gibbon to Mr. Holroyd.—American Affairs. Nov. 7, 1776. Page 511
  • LETTER 85. The Same to the Same.—Political. Nov. 22, 1776. Page 512
  • LETTER 86. The Same to the Same.—American Affairs. Jan. 18, 1777. Page 512
  • LETTER 87. The Same to the Same. Page 514
  • LETTER 88. The Same to the Same.—American Affairs 1777. Page 514
  • LETTER 89. The Same to the Same.—La Fayette. April 12, 1777. Page 515
  • LETTER 90. The Same to the Same. April 19, 1777. Page 516
  • LETTER 91. The Same to the Same. April 21, 1777. Page 516
  • LETTER 92. The Same to the Same. April 23, 1777. Page 517
  • LETTER 93. The Same to the Same.—Sets out for Paris. May 6, 1777. Page 517
  • [Page xxi] LETTER 94. Mr. Gibbon to Mr. Holroyd.—From Calais. May 7, 1777. Page 518
  • LETTER 95. Dr. Robertson to Mr. Gibbon.—With a Copy of his History of America. June 5, 1777. Page 518
  • LETTER 96. Mr. Gibbon to Dr. Robertson.—History of America. 1777. Page 519
  • LETTER 97. Dr. Robertson to Mr. Gibbon.—In Answer. 1777. Page 521
  • LETTER 98. Mr. Gibbon to Mr. Holroyd.—Account of his Visit to Paris. June 16, 1777. Page 523
  • LETTER 99. The Same to the Same.—The same Subject. Aug. 13, 1777. Page 525
  • LETTER 100. The Same to the Same. Nov. 1777. Page 528
  • LETTER 101. The Same to the Same. Nov. 14, 1777. Page 528
  • LETTER 102. The Same to the Same.—American Affairs. Dec. 2, 1777. Page 529
  • LETTER 103. The Same to the Same. Dec. 1777. Page 529
  • LETTER 104. The Same to the Same.—Capture of Burgoyne's Army. Dec. 4, 1777. Page 530
  • LETTER 105. The Same to the Same. Feb. 28. 1778. Page 530
  • LETTER 106. The Same to the Same.—American Affairs. Feb. 23. 1778. Page 531
  • LETTER 107. The Same to the Same.—Departure of French Ambassador. March 21, 1778. Page 532
  • LETTER 108. The Same to the Same. June 12, 1778. Page 533
  • LETTER 109. The Same to the Same. July 1, 1778. Page 534
  • LETTER 110. The Same to the Same. July 7, 1778. Page 534
  • LETTER 111. The Same to the Same.—Spanish Preparations. Sept. 25, 1778. Page 535
  • LETTER 112. The Same to the Same.—Anticipation. Nov. 1778. Page 535
  • LETTER 113. The Same to the Same.—Private Business. 1778. Page 536
  • LETTER 114. Dr. Watson to Mr. Gibbon. Jan. 14, 1779. Page 537
  • LETTER 115. Mr. Gibbon to Mr. Holroyd.—Sir Hugh Paliser. Feb. 6, 1779. Page 538
  • LETTER 116. Dr. Robertson to Mr. Gibbon.—On his Vindication. March 10, 1779. Page 539
  • LETTER 117. Mr. Gibbon to Mr. Holroyd. May 7, 1779. Page 540
  • LETTER 118. The Same to the Same. May 1779. Page 540
  • LETTER 119. The Same to the Same. 1779. Page 541
  • LETTER 120. The Same to the Same.—On being appointed Lord of Trade. July 2, 1779. Page 542
  • LETTER 121. The Same to Mrs. Gibbon.—Mentions the second and third Vols. of the History. Sept. 17, 1779. Page 543
  • [Page xxii] LETTER 122. Mr. Gibbon to Mr. Holroyd.—On his Election for Coventry. Feb. 7, 1780. Page 544
  • LETTER 123. The Same to Mrs. Gibbon. March 10, 1780. Page 545
  • LETTER 124. The Same to Mrs. Gibbon.—Lord George Gordon. June 6, 1780. Page 545
  • LETTER 125. The Same to the Same.—Upon the Riots in 1780. June 8, 1780. Page 546
  • LETTER 126. The Same to the Same.—The same Subject. June 10, 1780. Page 547
  • LETTER 127. The Same to the Same.—The same Subject. June 27, 1780. Page 547
  • LETTER 128. The Same to Colonel Holroyd. July 25, 1780. Page 548
  • LETTER 129. The Same to the Same. Nov. 28, 1780. Page 549
  • LETTER 130. The Same to Mrs. Gibbon. Dec. 21, 1780. Page 549
  • LETTER 131. The Same to the Same.—With his second and third Volumes. Feb. 24, 1781. Page 550
  • LETTER 132. Dr. Robertson to Mr. Gibbon.—On his second and third Volumes. May 12, 1781. Page 550
  • LETTER 133. Mr. Gibbon to Lady Sheffield. 1781. Page 552
  • LETTER 134. Sir William Jones to Mr. Gibbon. June 30, 1781. Page 553
  • LETTER 135. Lord Hardwicke to the Same. Sept. 20, 1781. Page 555
  • LETTER 136. Dr. Robertson to the Same.—With a Character of Hayley's Essay on History. Nov. 6, 1781. Page 556
  • LETTER 137. Mr. Gibbon to Mrs. Gibbon.—An Account of a Visit to Mr. Hayley. Nov. 2, 1781. Page 557
  • LETTER 138. The Same to the Same.—Change in Ministry; Character of Mr. Hayley's Poetry. July 3, 1782. Page 558
  • LETTER 139. The Same to the Lord Sheffield.—New Administration. 1782. Page 559
  • LETTER 140. The Same to the Same.—Compares his Situation to that of a Dragoon. Sept. 29, 1782. Page 560
  • LETTER 141. The Same to the Same.—Political. Oct. 14, 1782. Page 561
  • LETTER 142. The Same to the Same. 1782. Page 562
  • LETTER 143. The Same to the Same. Jan. 17, 1783. Page 563
  • LETTER 144. The Same to Dr. Priestley.—Upon receiving his History of the Corruptions of Christianity. Jan. 23, 1783. Page 564
  • LETTER 145. Dr. Priestley to Mr. Gibbon.—In Answer. Feb. 3, 1783. Page 565
  • LETTER 146. Mr. Gibbon to Dr. Priestley. Feb. 6, 1783. Page 568
  • LETTER 147. Dr. Priestley to Mr. Gibbon. Feb. 10, 1783. Page 568
  • LETTER [Page xxiii] 148. Mr. Gibbon to Dr. Priestley. Feb. 22, 1783. Page 569
  • LETTER 149. Dr. Priestley to Mr. Gibbon. Feb. 25, 1783. Page 569
  • LETTER 150. Mr. Gibbon to Mr. Deyverdun.—Upon his Intention of quitting London and living at Lausanne. May 20, 1783. Page 570
  • LETTER 151. Mr. Deyverdun to Mr. Gibbon.—In Answer. June 10, 1783. Page 575
  • LETTER 152. Mr. Gibbon to Mr. Deyverdun.—Upon the same Subject. June 24, 1783. Page 582
  • LETTER 153. Mr. Deyverdun to Mr. Gibbon.—In Answer. Page 589
  • LETTER 154. Mr. Gibbon to Mr. Deyverdun. July 1, 1783. Page 592
  • LETTER 155. The Same to Lord Sheffield.—Upon his Intention of quitting England. July 10, 1783. Page 593
  • LETTER 156. The Same to Mr. Deyverdun. July 31, 1783. Page 595
  • LETTER 157. The Same to Lord Sheffield. Aug. 18, 1783. Page 598
  • LETTER 158. The Same to the Same. Aug. 20, 1783. Page 599
  • LETTER 159. Mr. Deyverdun to Mr. Gibbon. Aug. 20, 1783. Page 599
  • LETTER 160. Mr. Gibbon to Lord Sheffield. Aug. 22, 1783. Page 601
  • LETTER 161. The Same to Lord Sheffield. Aug. 30, 1783. Page 602
  • LETTER 162. The Same to Lord Sheffield. Sept. 8, 1783. Page 603
  • LETTER 163. The Same to Mr. Deyverdun. Sept. 9, 1783. Page 604
  • LETTER 164. The Same to Lord Sheffield. Sept. 11, 1783. Page 605
  • LETTER 165. The Same to the Same. Sept. 12, 1783. Page 606
  • LETTER 166. The Same to the Same. Sept. 13, 1783. Page 607
  • LETTER 167. The Same to the Same.—From Dover and Boulogne. Sept. 17, 1783. Page 608
  • LETTER 168. The Same to the Same.—Account of his Journey to Langres. Sept. 23, 1783. Page 609
  • LETTER 169. The Same to the Same.—His Arrival at Laufanne; Mention of the Abbé Raynal. Sept. 30, 1783. 610.
  • LETTER 170. The Same to Lady Sheffield.—Manner of passing his Time at Lausanne. Oct. 28, 1783. Page 612
  • LETTER 171. The Same to Lord Sheffield.—Comparison of Lord Sheffield's Situation as a Politician, with his at Lausanne. Nov. 14, 1783. Page 614
  • LETTER 172. The Same to the Same.—Political; India Bill, &c. Dec. 20, 1783. Page 617
  • [Page xxiv] LETTER 173. Mr. Gibbon to Mrs. Porten.—Account of his Situation. Dec. 27, 1783. Page 620
  • LETTER 174. The Same to Lord Sheffield.—On the Dismission of the Coalition Administration, &c. Jan. 24, 1784. Page 623
  • LETTER 175. The Same to the Same.—Political. Feb. 2, 1784. Page 626
  • LETTER 176. The Same to the Same.—Upon losing his Seat for Coventry; Exhortation to relinquish Parliament and Politics. May 11, 1784. Page 628
  • LETTER 177. The Same to Mrs. Gibbon.—Account of his Situation. May 28, 1784. Page 633
  • LETTER 178. The Same to Lord Sheffield. June 19, 1784. Page 637
  • LETTER 179. The Same to the Same.—On Business. Oct. 18, 1784. Page 637
  • LETTER 180. The Same to Lady Sheffield.—Extraordinary Persons at Lausanne, M. Necker, Prince Henry, &c.; Account of his Situation. Oct. 22, 1784. Page 639
  • LETTER 181. The Same to Lord Sheffield.—On Business; Necker on Finance. March 13, 1785. Page 646
  • LETTER 182. The Same to the Same.—On the Report of Mr. Gibbon's Death; English at Lausanne. Sept. 5, 1785. Page 650
  • LETTER 183. The Same to the Same.—Some Account of his Studies. Jan. 17, 1786. Page 656
  • LETTER 184. The Same to the Same.—Affecting Letter on Mrs. Porten's Death. May 10, 1786. 658.
  • LETTER 185. The Same to Sir Stanier Porten.—On the same Subject. May 12, 1786. Page 661
  • LETTER 186. The Same to Lord Sheffield.—Observations on Lord Sheffield's Publications, &c. July 22, 1786. Page 662
  • LETTER 187. The Same to Mr. Cadell.—On his three last Volumes. Dec. 16, 1786. Page 665
  • LETTER 188. The Same to Lord Sheffield.—On the same Subject, the Commercial Treaty, and Caroline de Litchfield. Jan. 20, 1787. Page 667
  • LETTER 189. The Same to Mr. Cadell. Feb. 24, 1787. Page 671
  • LETTER 190. The Same to Lord Sheffield.—On the Conclusion of his History. June 2, 1787. Page 672
  • [Page xxv] LETTER 191. Mr. Gibbon to Lord Sheffield. July 21, 1787. Page 673
  • LETTER 192. The Same to the Same.—Announcing his Arrival in London. Aug. 8, 1787. Page 675
  • LETTER 193. The Same to the Same. 1787. Page 675
  • LETTER 194. The Same to Lady Sheffield. Dec. 18, 1787. Page 676
  • LETTER 195. Dr. Robertson to Mr. Gibbon. Feb. 27, 1788. Page 678
  • LETTER 196. Mr. Gibbon to Lord Sheffield. June 21, 1788. Page 679
  • LETTER 197. The Same to the Same.—On his Departure. Page 680
  • LETTER 198. The Same to the Same.—Hastings's Trial; Sheridan's Speech. June, 1788. Page 681
  • LETTER 199. Dr. Robertson to Mr. Gibbon.—With Thanks for his three last Volumes. July 30, 1788. Page 681
  • LETTER 200. Dr. A. Smith to Mr. Gibbon.—With Thanks for his three last Volumes. Dec. 10, 1788. Page 683
  • LETTER 201. Mr. Gibbon to Mr. Cadell.—On the several Divisions of his Works. Feb. 11, 1789. 683.
  • LETTER 202. Mr. Same to Lady Porten.—On Sir Stanier Porten's Death. June 27, 1789. Page 685
  • LETTER 203. The Same to Mr. Cadell.—On a seventh Volume of his History. Nov. 17, 1790. Page 686
  • LETTER 204. The Same to the Same. April 27, 1791. Page 691
  • LETTER 205. The Same to Mrs. Gibbon.—French Affairs.—Emigrants. May 18, 1791. Page 689
  • LETTER 206. Dr. Robertson to Mr. Gibbon.—Upon his Disquisition on India. Aug. 25, 1791. Page 689
  • LETTER 207. Mr. Gibbon to Mrs. Gibbon.—On French Affairs, &c. Aug. 1, 1792. Page 693
  • LETTER 208. The Same to the Right Honourable Lady *****, at Florence. Nov. 8, 1792. Page 695
  • LETTER 209. The Same to the Same.—On the Murder of the King of France. April 4, 1793. Page 699
  • LETTER 210. The Same to Lord *****. Feb. 23, 1793. Page 702

ERRATA.

[Page]
  • Page 95. line 29. for our read an.
  • 104.—ult. note, for Letter, No. XI. read No. XIV.
  • 126.—for No. XII. read No. XVII.
  • 140.—penult. for withdrew read drew.
  • 141.—7. after esteem put a full stop.
  • ib.—28. for (1772) read (1770).
  • 153.—ult. note, for No. LXVIII. LXIX. C. read LXXXII. LXXXIII. CXIV.
  • 154.—penult note, for No. CXIX. read CXLIV.
  • 154.—ult. dele CXXIV.
  • 165.—antipen. note, for No. CXXV. CXXVI. CXXVII. CXXVIII. CXXIX. CXXX. read No. CL. CLI. CLII. CLIII. CLIV. CLVI. CLIX.
  • ib.—ult. note, for No. CL. read No. CLXXVI.
  • 166.—for No. CXLVI. read No. CLXXI. CLXXVI.
  • 225.—9. for in private societies and in my passage read and in private societies and also in my passage.
  • 228.—penult. note, for M. de Malherbes read M. de Malzherbes.
  • 239.—21. for M. de Germain read M. de Germany.
  • 243.—12. for one read on.
  • 258.—22. for designed. read deigned.
  • 260.—10. dele this.
  • 299.—12. note, for vaginati read vaginali.
  • 299.—23. note, for masculi read musculi.
  • 326.—4 from the bottom, for ravished read ravaged.
  • 515.—14. for a thousand a year read a thousand pounds.
  • 642.—5. after had insert the.

1. MEMOIRS OF MY LIFE AND WRITINGS.

[Page]

IN the fifty-second year of my age, after the completion of an arduous and successful work, I now propose to employ some moments of my leisure in reviewing the simple transactions of a private and literary life. Truth, naked, unblushing truth, the first virtue of more serious history, must be the sole recommendation of this personal narrative. The style shall be simple and familiar: but style is the image of character; and the habits of correct writing may produce, without labour or design, the appearance of art and study. My own amusement is my motive, and will be my reward: and if these sheets are communicated to some discreet and indulgent friends, they will be secreted from the public eye till the author shall be removed beyond the reach of criticism or ridicule*.

[Page 2] A lively desire of knowing and of recording our ancestors so generally prevails, that it must depend on the influence of some common principle in the minds of men. We seem to have lived in the persons of our forefathers; it is the labour and reward of vanity to extend the term of this ideal longevity. Our imagination is always active to enlarge the narrow circle in which Nature has confined us. Fifty or an hundred years may be allotted to an individual, but we step forwards beyond death with such hopes as religion and philosophy will suggest; and we fill up the silent vacancy that precedes our birth, by associating ourselves to the authors of our existence. Our calmer judgment will rather tend to moderate, than to suppress, the pride of an antient and worthy race. The satyrist may laugh, the philosopher may preach; but Reason herself will respect the prejudices and habits, which have been consecrated by the experience of mankind.

Wherever the distinction of birth is allowed to form a superior order in the state, education and example should always, and will often, produce among them a dignity of sentiment and propriety of conduct, which is guarded from dishonour by their own and the public esteem. If we read of some illustrious line so antient that it has no beginning, so worthy that it ought to have no end, we sympathize in its various fortunes; nor can we blame the generous enthusiasm, or even the harmless vanity, of those who are allied to the honours of its name. For my own part, could I draw my pedigree from a general, a statesman, or a celebrated author, I should study their lives with the diligence of filial love. In the investigation of past events, our curiosity is stimulated by the immediate or indirect reference to ourselves; but in the estimate of honour we should learn to value the gifts of Nature above those of Fortune; to esteem in our ancestors the qualities that best promote the interests of society; and to pronounce the descendant of a king less truly noble than the offspring of a man of genius, whose writings will instruct [Page 3] or delight the latest posterity. The family of Confucius is, in my opinion, the most illustrious in the world. After a painful ascent of eight or ten centuries, our barons and princes of Europe are lost in the darkness of the middle ages; but, in the vast equality of the empire of China, the posterity of Confucius have maintained, above two thousand two hundred years, their peaceful honours and perpetual succession. The chief of the family is still revered, by the sovereign and the people, as the lively image of the wisest of mankind. The nobility of the Spencers has been illustrated and enriched by the trophies of Marlborough; but I exhort them to consider the Fairy Queen as the most precious jewel of their coronet. I have exposed my private feelings, as I shall always do, without scruple or reserve. That these sentiments are just, or at least natural, I am inclined to believe, since I do not feel myself interested in the cause; for I can derive from my ancestors neither glory nor shame.

Yet a sincere and simple narrative of my own life may amuse some of my leisure hours; but it will subject me, and perhaps with justice, to the imputation of vanity. I may judge, however, from the experience both of past and of the present times, that the public are always curious to know the men, who have left behind them any image of their minds: the most scanty accounts of such men are compiled with diligence, and perused with eagerness; and the student of every class may derive a lesson, or an example, from the lives most similar to his own. My name may hereafter be placed among the thousand articles of a Biographia Britannica; and I must be conscious, that no one is so well qualified, as myself, to describe the series of my thoughts and actions. The authority of my masters, of the grave Thuanus, and the philosophic Hume, might be sufficient to justify my design; but it would not be difficult to produce a long list of antients and moderns, who, in various forms, have exhibited their own portraits. Such portraits are often the most interesting, and sometimes the only interesting parts of their writings; and, if they [Page 4] be sincere, we seldom complain of the minuteness or prolixity of these personal memorials. The lives of the younger Pliny, of Petrarch, and of Erasmus, are expressed in the epistles, which they themselves have given to the world. The essays of Montagne and Sir William Temple bring us home to the houses and bosoms of the authors: we smile without contempt at the headstrong passions of Benevenuto Cellini, and the gay follies of Colley Cibber. The confessions of St. Austin and Rousseau disclose the secrets of the human heart: the commentaries of the learned Huet have survived his evangelical demonstration; and the memoirs of Goldoni are more truly dramatic than his Italian comedies. The heretic and the churchman are strongly marked in the characters and fortunes of Whiston and Bishop Newton; and even the dullness of Michael de Marolles and Anthony Wood acquires some value from the faithful representation of men and manners. That I am equal or superior to some of these, the effects of modesty or affectation cannot force me to dissemble.

MY family is originally derived from the county of Kent. The southern district, which borders on Sussex and the sea, was formerly overspread with the great forest Anderida, and even now retains the denomination of the Weald, or Woodland. In this district, and in the hundred and parish of Rolvenden, the Gibbons, were possessed of lands in the year one thousand three hundred and twenty-six; and the elder branch of the family, without much increase or diminution of property, still adheres to its native soil. Fourteen years after the first appearance of his name, John Gibbon is recorded as the Marmorarius or architect of King Edward the Third: the strong and stately castle of Queensborough, which guarded the entrance of the Medway, was a monument of his skill; and the grant of an hereditary toll on the passage from Sandwich to Stonar, in the Isle of [Page 5] Thanet, is the reward of no vulgar artist. In the visitations of the heralds, the Gibbons are frequently mentioned: they held the rank of Esquire in an age, when that title was less promiscuously assumed: one of them, under the reign of Queen Elizabeth, was captain of the militia of Kent; and a free school, in the neighbouring town of Benenden, proclaims the charity and opulence of its founder. But time, or their own obscurity, has cast a veil of oblivion over the virtues and vices of my Kentish ancestors; their character or station confined them to the labours and pleasures of a rural life: nor is it in my power to follow the advice of the Poet, in an inquiry after a name—

"Go! search it there, where to be born, and die,
"Of rich and poor makes all the history."
So recent is the institution of our parish registers. In the beginning of the seventeenth century, a younger branch of the Gibbons of Rolvenden migrated from the country to the city; and from this branch I do not blush to descend. The law requires some abilities; the church imposes some restraints; and before our army and navy, our civil establishments, and India empire, had opened so many paths of fortune, the mercantile profession was more frequently chosen by youths of a liberal race and education, who aspired to create their own independence. Our most respectable families have not disdained the counting-house, or even the shop; their names are inrolled in the Livery and Companies of London; and in England, as well as in the Italian commonwealths, heralds have been compelled to declare, that gentility is not degraded by the exercise of trade.

The armorial ensigns which, in the times of chivalry, adorned the crest and shield of the soldier, are now become an empty decoration, which every man, who has money to build a carriage, may paint according to his fancy on the pannels. My family arms are the same, which were borne by the Gibbons of Kent in an age, when the College of Heralds religiously guarded the distinctions of blood and [Page 6] name: a lion rampant gardant, between three schallop-shells Argent, on a field Azure*. I should not however have been tempted to blazon my coat of arms, were it not connected with a whimsical anecdote.—About the reign of James the First, the three harmless schallop-shells were changed by Edmund Gibbon esq. into three Ogresses, or female cannibals, with a design of stigmatizing three ladies, his kinswomen, who had provoked him by an unjust law-suit. But this singular mode of revenge, for which he obtained the sanction of Sir William Seagar, king at arms, soon expired with its author; and, on his own monument in the Temple church, the monsters vanish, and the three schallop-shells resume their proper and hereditary place.

Our alliances by marriage it is not disgraceful to mention. The chief honour of my ancestry is James Fiens, Baron Say and Seale, and Lord High Treasurer of England, in the reign of Henry the Sixth; from whom by the Phelips, the Whetnalls, and the Cromers, I am lineally descended in the eleventh degree. His dismission and imprisonment in the Tower were insufficient to appease the popular clamour; and the Treasurer, with his son-in-law Cromer, was beheaded (1450), after a mock trial by the Kentish insurgents. The black list of his offences, as it is exhibited in Shakespeare, displays the ignorance and envy of a plebeian tyrant. Besides the vague reproaches of selling Maine and Normandy to the Dauphin, the Treasurer is specially accused of luxury, for riding on a foot-cloth; and of treason, for speaking French, the language of our enemies: ‘Thou hast most traiterously corrupted the youth of the realm,’ says Jack Cade to the unfortunate Lord, ‘in erecting a grammar-school; and whereas before our forefathers had no other books than the score and the tally, thou hast caused printing to be used; and, [Page 7] contrary to the king, his crown, and dignity, thou hast built a paper-mill. It will be proved to thy face, that thou hast men about thee, who usually talk of a noun and a verb, and such abominable words, as no christian ear can endure to hear.’ Our dramatic poet is generally more attentive to character than to history; and I much fear that the art of printing was not introduced into England, till several years after Lord Say's death: but of some of these meritorious crimes I should hope to find my ancestor guilty; and a man of letters may be proud of his descent from a patron and martyr of learning.

In the beginning of the last century Robert Gibbon esq. of Rolvenden in Kent, (who died in 1618,) had a son of the same name of Robert, who settled in London, and became a member of the Cloth-workers' Company. His wife was a daughter of the Edgars, who flourished about four hundred years in the county of Suffolk, and produced an eminent and wealthy serjeant-at-law, Sir Gregory Edgar, in the reign of Henry the Seventh. Of the sons of Robert Gibbon, (who died in 1643,) Matthew did not aspire above the station of a linen-draper in Leadenhall-street; but John has given to the public some curious memorials of his existence, his character, and his family. He was born on the 3d of November in the year 1629; his education was liberal, at a grammar-school, and afterwards in Jesus College at Cambridge; and he celebrates the retired content which he enjoyed at Allesborough in Worcestershire, in the house of Thomas Lord Coventry, where John Gibbon was employed as a domestic tutor, the same office which Mr. Hobbes exercised in the Devonshire family. But the spirit of my kinsman soon immerged into more active life: he visited foreign countries as a soldier and a traveller, acquired the knowledge of the French and Spanish languages, passed some time in the Isle of Jersey, crossed the Atlantic, and resided upwards of a twelvemonth (1659) in the rising colony of Virginia. In this remote province, his taste, or rather passion, for heraldry found a singular [Page 8] gratification at a war-dance of the native Indians. As they moved in measured steps, brandishing their tomahawks, his curious eye contemplated their little shields of bark, and their naked bodies, which were painted with the colours and symbols of his favourite science. ‘At which I exceedingly wondered; and concluded that heraldry was ingrafted naturally into the sense of human race. If so, it deserves a greater esteem than now-a-days is put upon it.’ His return to England after the Restoration was soon followed by his marraige—his settlement in a house in St. Catherine's Cloyster, near the Tower, which devolved to my grandfather—and his introduction into the Heralds' College (in 1671) by the style and title of Blue-mantle Pursuivant at Arms. In this office he enjoyed near fifty years the rare felicity of uniting, in the same pursuit, his duty and inclination: his name is remembered in the College, and many of his letters are still preserved. Several of the most respectable characters of the age, Sir William Dugdale, Mr. Ashmole, Dr. John Betts, and Dr. Nehemiah Grew, were his friends; and in the society of such men, John Gibbon may be recorded without disgrace as the member of an astrological club. The study of hereditary honours is favourable to the Royal prerogative; and my kinsman, like most of his family, was a high Tory both in church and state. In the latter end of the reign of Charles the Second, his pen was exercised in the cause of the Duke of York: the Republican faction he most cordially detested; and as each animal is conscious of its proper arms, the heralds' revenge was emblazoned on a most diabolical escutcheon. But the triumph of the Whig government checked the preferment of Blue-mantle; and he was even suspended from his office, till his tongue could learn to pronounce the oath of abjuration. His life was prolonged to the age of ninety; and, in the expectation of the inevitable though uncertain hour, he wishes to preserve the blessings of health, competence, and virtue. In the year 1682 he published at London his Introductio ad Latinam Blafoniam, an original attempt, [Page 9] which Camden had desiderated, to define, in a Roman idiom, the terms and attributes of a Gothic institution. It is not two years since I acquired, in a foreign land, some domestic intelligence of my own family; and this intelligence was conveyed to Switzerland from the heart of Germany. I had formed an acquaintance with Mr. Langer, a lively and ingenious scholar, while he resided at Lausanne as preceptor to the Hereditary Prince of Brunswick. On his return to his proper station of Librarian to the Ducal Library of Wolfenbuttel, he accidentally found among some literary rubbish a small old English volume of heraldry, inscribed with the name of John Gibbon. From the title only Mr. Langer judged that it might be an acceptable present to his friend; and he judged rightly. His manner is quaint and affected; his order is confused; but he displays some wit, more reading, and still more enthusiasm; and if an enthusiast be often absurd, he is never languid. An English text is perpetually interspersed with Latin sentences in prose and verse; but in his own poetry he claims an exemption from the laws of prosody. Amidst a profusion of genealogical knowledge, my kinsman could not be forgetful of his own name; and to him I am indebted for almost the whole of my information concerning the Gibbon family. From this small work (a duodecimo of one hundred and sixty-five pages) the author expected immortal fame: and at the conclusion of his labour he sings, in a strain of self-exultation;

"Usque huc corrigitur Romana Blasonia per me;
"Verborumque dehinc barbara forma cadat.
"Hic liber, in meritum si forsitan incidet usum,
"Testis rite meae sedulitatis erit.
"Quicquid agat Zoilus, ventura fatebitur aetas
"Artis quôd fueram non Clypearis inops."

Such are the hopes of authors! In the failure of those hopes John Gibbon has not been the first of his profession, and very possibly may not be the last of his name. His brother Matthew Gibbon, the [Page 10] draper, had one daughter and two sons—my grandfather Edward, who was born in the year 1666, and Thomas, afterwards Dean of Carlisle. According to the mercantile creed, that the best book is a profitable ledger, the writings of John the herald would be much less precious, than those of his nephew Edward: but an author professes at least to write for the public benefit; and the slow balance of trade can be pleasing to those persons only, to whom it is advantageous. The successful industry of my grandfather raised him above the level of his immediate ancestors; he appears to have launched into various and extensive dealings: even his opinions were subordinate to his interest; and I find him in Flanders clothing King William's troops, while he would have contracted with more pleasure, though not perhaps at a cheaper rate, for the service of King James. During his residence abroad, his concerns at home were managed by his mother Hester, an active and notable woman. Her second husband was a widower, of the name of Acton: they united the children of their first nuptials. After his marriage with the daughter of Richard Acton, goldsmith in Leadenhall-street, he gave his own sister to Sir Whitmore Acton, of Aldenham; and I am thus connected, by a triple alliance, with that ancient and loyal family of Shropshire baronets. It consisted about that time of seven brothers, all of gigantic stature; one of whom, a pigmy of six feet two inches, confessed himself the last and least of the seven; adding, in the true spirit of party, that such men were not born since the Revolution. Under the Tory administration of the four last years of Queen Anne (1710—1714) Mr. Edward Gibbon was appointed one of the Commissioners of the Customs; he sat at that Board with Prior: but the merchant was better qualified for his station than the poet; since Lord Bolingbroke has been heard to declare, that he had never conversed with a man, who more clearly understood the commerce and finances of England. In the year 1716 he was elected one of the Directors of the South Sea Company; and his books exhibited the proof that, [Page 11] before his acceptance of this fatal office, he had acquired an independent fortune of sixty thousand pounds.

But his fortune was overwhelmed in the shipwreck of the year twenty, and the labours of thirty years were blasted in a single day. Of the use or abuse of the South Sea scheme, of the guilt or innocence of my grandfather and his brother Directors, I am neither a competent nor a disinterested judge. Yet the equity of modern times must condemn the violent and arbitrary proceedings, which would have disgraced the cause of justice, and would render injustice still more odious. No sooner had the nation awakened from its golden dream, than a popular and even a parliamentary clamour demanded their victims: but it was acknolwedged on all sides that the South Sea Directors, however guilty, could not be touched by any known laws of the lands. The speech of Lord Molesworth, the author of the State of Denmark, may shew the temper, or rather the intemperance, of the House of Commons. ‘Extraordinary crimes (exclaimed that ardent Whig) call aloud for extraordinary remedies. The Roman lawgivers had not foreseen the possible existence of a parricide: but as soon as the first monster appeared, he was sown in a sack, and cast headlong into the river; and I shall be content to inflict the same treatment on the authors of our present ruin.’ His motion was not literally adopted; but a bill of pains and penalties was introduced, a retroactive statute, to punish the offences, which did not exist at the time they were committed. Such a pernicious violation of liberty and law can be excused only by the most imperious necessity; nor could it be defended on this occasion by the plea of impending danger or useful example. The legislature restrained the persons of the Directors, imposed an exorbitant security for their appearance, and marked their characters with a previous note of ignominy: they were compelled to deliver, upon oath, the strict value of their estates; and were disabled from making any transfer or alienation of any part of their property. Against a bill of pains and penalties it is the [Page 12] common right of every subject to be heard by his counsel at the bar: they prayed to be heard; their prayer was refused; and their oppressors, who required no evidence, would listen to no defence. It had been at first proposed that one-eighth of their respective estates should be allowed for the future support of the Directors; but it was speciously urged, that in the various shades of opulence and guilt such an unequal proportion would be too light for many, and for some might possibly be too heavy. The character and conduct of each man were separately weighed; but, instead of the calm solemnity of a judicial inquiry, the fortune and honour of three and thirty Englishmen were made the topic of hasty conversation, the sport of a lawless majority; and the basest member of the committee, by a malicious word or a silent vote, might indulge his general spleen or personal animosity. Injury was aggravated by insult, and insult was embittered by pleasantry. Allowances of twenty pounds, or one shilling, were facetiously moved. A vague report that a Director had formerly been concerned in another project, by which some unknown persons had lost their money, was admitted as a proof of his actual guilt. One man was ruined because he had dropt a foolish speech, that his horses should feed upon gold; another because he was grown so proud, that, one day at the Treasury, he had refused a civil answer to persons much above him. All were condemned, absent and unheard, in arbitrary fines and forfeitures, which swept away the greatest part of their substance. Such bold oppression can scarcely be shielded by the omnipotence of parliament: and yet it may be seriously questioned, whether the Judges of the South Sea Directors were the true and legal representatives of their country. The first parliament of George the First had been chosen (1715) for thre years: the term had elapsed, their trust was expired; and the four additional years (1718—1722), during which they continued to sit, were derived not from the people, but from themselves; from the strong measure of the septennial bill, which can only be paralleled by il serar [Page 13] di consiglio of the Venetian history. Yet candour will own that to the same parliament every Englishman is deeply indebted: the septennial act, so vicious in its origin, has been sanctioned by time, experience, and the national consent. Its first operation secured the House of Hanover on the throne, and its permanent influence maintains the peace and stability of government. As often as a repeal has been moved in the House of Commons, I have given in its defence a clear and conscientious vote.

My grandfather could not expect to be treated with more lenity than his companions. His Tory principles and connections rendered him obnoxious to the ruling powers: his name is reported in a suspicious secret; and his well-known abilities could not plead the excuse of ignorance or error. In the first proceedings against the South Sea Directors, Mr. Gibbon is one of the few who were taken into custody; and, in the final sentence, the measure of his fine proclaims him eminently guilty. The total estimate which he delivered on oath to the House of Commons amounted to one hundred and six thousand five hundred and forty-three pounds five shillings and sixpence, exclusive of antecedent settlements. Two different allowances of fifteen and of ten thousand pounds were moved for Mr. Gibbon; but, on the question being put, it was carried without a division for the smaller sum. On these ruins, with the skill and credit, of which parliament had not been able to despoil him, my grandfather at a mature age erected the edifice of a new fortune: the labours of sixteen years were amply rewarded; and I have reason to believe that the second structure was not much inferior to the first. He had realized a very considerable property in Sussex, Hampshire, Buckinghamshire, and the New River Company; and had acquired a spacious house*, with gardens and lands, at Putney, in Surry, where he resided in decent hospitality. He died in December 1736, [Page 14] at the age of seventy; and by his last will, at the expence of Edward, his only son, (with whose marriage he was not perfectly reconciled,) enriched his two daughters, Catherine and Hester. The former became the wife of Mr. Edward Elliston, an East India captain: their daughter and heiress Catherine was married in the year 1756 to Edward Eliot esq. (now Lord Eliot), of Port Eliot, in the county of Cornwall; and their three sons are my nearest male relations on the father's side. A life of devotion and celibacy was the choice of my aunt, Mrs. Hester Gibbon, who, at the age of eighty-five, still resides in a hermitage at Cliffe, in Northamptonshire; having long survived her spiritual guide and faithful companion Mr. William Law, who, at an advanced age, about the year 1761, died in her house. In our family he had left the reputation of a worthy and pious man, who believed all that he professed, and practised all that he enjoined. The character of a nonjuror, which he maintained to the last, is a sufficient evidence of his principles in church and state; and the sacrifice of interest to consicence will be always respectable. His theological writings, which our domestic connection has tempted me to peruse, preserve an imperfect sort of life, and I can pronounce with more confidence and knowledge on the merits of the author. His last compositions are darkly tinctured by the incomprehensible visions of Jacob Behmen; and his discourse on the absolute unlawfulness of stage-entertainments is sometimes quoted for a ridiculous intemperance of sentiment and language.—‘The actors and spectators must all be damned: the playhouse is the porch of Hell, the place of the Devil's abode, where he holds his filthy court of evil spirits: a play is the Devil's triumph, a sacrifice performed to his glory, as much as in the heathen temples of Bacchus or Venus, &c. &c.’ But these sallies of religious phrensy must not extinguish the praise, which is due to Mr. William Law as a wit and a scholar. His argument on topics of less absurdity is specious and acute, his manner is lively, his style forcible and clear; and, had not his vigorous mind been [Page 15] clouded by enthusiasm, he might be ranked with the most agreeable and ingenious writers of the times. While the Bangorian controversy was a fashionable theme, he entered the lists on the subject of Christ's kingdom, and the authority of the priesthood: against the plain account of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper he resumed the combat with Bishop Hoadley, the object of Whig idolatry, and Tory abhorrence; and at every weapon of attack and defence the nonjuror, on the ground which is common to both, approves himself at least equal to the prelate. On the appearance of the Fable of the Bees, he drew his pen against the licentious doctrine that private vices are public benefits, and morality as well as religion must join in his applause. Mr. Law's master-work, the Serious Call, is still read as a popular and powerful book of devotion. His precepts are rigid, but they are founded on the gospel: his satire is sharp, but it is drawn from the knowledge of human life; and many of his portraits are not unworthy of the pen of La Bruyere. If he finds a spark of piety in his reader's mind, he will soon kindle it to a flame; and a philosopher must allow that he exposes, with equal severity and truth, the strange contradiction between the faith and practice of the Christian world. Under the names of Flavia and Miranda he has admirably described my two aunts—the heathen and the christian sister.

My father, Edward Gibbon, was born in October 1707: at the age of thriteen he could scarcely feel that he was disinherited by act of parliament; and, as he advanced towards manhood, new prospects of fortune opened to his view. A parent is most attentive to supply in his children the deficiencies, of which he is conscious in himself: my grandfather's knowledge was derived from a strong understanding, and the experience of the ways of men; but my father enjoyed the benefits of a liberal education as a scholar and a gentleman. At Westminster School, and afterwards at Emanuel College in Cambridge, he passed through a regular course of academical discipline; [Page 16] and the care of his leanring and morals was entrusted to his private tutor, the same Mr. William Law. But the mind of a saint is above or below the present world; and while the pupil proceeded on his travels, the tutor remained at Putney, the much-honoured friend and spiritual director of the whole family. My father resided some time at Paris to acquire the fashionable exercises; and as his temper was warm and social, he indulged in those pleasures, for which the strictness of his former education had given him a keener relish. He afterwards visited several provinces of France; but his excursions were neither long nor remote; and the slender knowledge, which he had gained of the French language, was gradually obliterated. His passage through Besançon is marked by a singular consequence in the chain of human events. In a dangerous illness Mr. Gibbon was attended, at his own request, by one of his kinsmen of the name of Acton, the younger brother of a younger brother, who had applied himself to the study of physic. During the slow recovery of his patient, the physician himself was attacked by the malady of love: he married his mistress, renounced his country and religion, settled at Besançon, and became the father of three sons; the eldest of whom, General Acton, is conspicuous in Europe as the principal Minister of the King of the Two Sicilies. By an uncle whom another stroke of fortune had transplanted to Leghorn, he was educated in the naval service of the Emperor; and his valour and conduct in the command of the Tuscan frigates protected the retreat of the Spaniards from Algiers. On my father's return to England he was chosen, in the general election of 1734, to serve in parliament for the borough of Petersfield; a burgage tenure, of which my grandfather possessed a weighty share, till he alienated (I know not why) such important property. In the opposition to Sir Robert Walpole and the Pelhams, prejudice and society connected his son with the Tories,—shall I say Jacobites? or, as they were pleased to style themselves, the country gentlemen? with them he gave many a vote; with them he drank [Page 17] many a bottle. Without acquiring the fame of an orator or a statesman, he eagerly joined in the great opposition, which, after a seven years chase, hunted down Sir Robert Walpole: and in the pursuit of an unpopular minister, he gratified a private revenge against the oppressor of his family in the South Sea persecution.

I was born at Putney, in the county of Surry, the 27th of April, O. S. in the year one thousand seven hundred and thirty-seven; the first child of the marriage of Edward Gibbon esq. and of Judith Porten*. My lot might have been that of a slave, a savage, or a peasant; nor can I reflect without pleasure on the bounty of Nature, which cast my birth in a free and civilized country, in an age of science and philosophy, in a family of honourable rank, and decently endowed with the gifts of fortune. From my birth I have enjoyed the right of primogeniture; but I was succeeded by five brothers and one sister, all of whom were snatched away in their infancy. My five brothers, whose names may be found in the parish register of Putney, I shall not pretend to lament: but from my childhood to the present hour I have deeply and sincerely regretted my sister, whose life was somewhat prolonged, and whom I remember to have seen an amiable infant. The relation of a brother and a sister, especially if they do not marry, appears to me of a very singular nature. It is a familiar and tender friendship with a female, much about our own age; an affection perhaps softened by the secret influence of sex, but pure from any mixture of sensual desire, the sole species of Platonic love that can be indulged with truth, and without danger.

[Page 18] At the general election of 1741, Mr. Gibbon and Mr. Delmé stood an expensive and successful contest at Southampton, against Mr. Dummer and Mr. Henly, afterwards Lord Chancellor and Earl of Northington. The Whig candidates had a majority of the resident voters; but the corporation was firm in the Tory interest: a sudden creation of one hundred and seventy new freemen turned the scale; and a supply was readily obtained of respectable volunteers, who flocked from all parts of England to support the cause of their political friends. The new parliament opened with the victory of an opposition, which was fortified by strong clamour and strange coalitions. From the event of the first divisions, Sir Robert Walpole perceived that he could no longer lead a majority in the House of Commons, and prudently resigned (after a dominion of one and twenty years) the guidance of the state (1742). But the fall of an unpopular minister was not succeeded, according to general expectation, by a millenium of happiness and virtue: some courtiers lost their places, some patriots lost their characters, Lord Orford's offences vanished with his power; and after a short vibration, the Pelham government was fixed on the old basis of the Whig aristocracy. In the year 1745, the throne and the constitution were attacked by a rebellion, which does not reflect much honour on the national spirit: since the English friends of the Pretender wanted courage to join his standard, and his enemies (the bulk of the people) allowed him to advance into the heart of the kingdom. Without daring, perhaps without desiring, to aid the rebels, my father invariably adhered to the Tory opposition. In the most critical season he accepted, for the service of the party, the office of alderman in the city of London: but the duties were so repugnant to his inclination and habits, that he resigned his gown at the end of a few months. The second parliament in which he sat was prematurely dissolved (1747): and as he was unable or unwilling to maintain a second contest for Southampton, the life of the senator expired in that dissolution.

[Page 19] The death of a new-born child before that of its parents may seem an unnatural, but it is strictly a probable, event: since of any given number the greater part are extinguished before their ninth year, before they possess the faculties of the mind or body. Without accusing the profuse waste or imperfect workmanshiop of Nature, I shall only observe, that this unfavourable chance was multiplied against my infant existence. So feeble was my constitution, so precarious my life, that, in the baptism of each of my brothers, my father's prudence successively repeated my christian name of Edward, that, in case of the departure of the eldest son, this patronymick appellation might be still perpetuated in the family. ‘—Uno avulso non deficit alter.’ To preserve and to rear so frail a being, the most tender assiduity was scarcely sufficient; and my mother's attention was somewhat diverted by her frequent pregnancies, by an exclusive passion for her husband, and by the dissipation of the world, in which his taste and authority obliged her to mingle. But the maternal office was supplied by my aunt, Mrs. Catherine Porten; at whose name I feel a tear of gratitude trickling down my cheek. A life of celibacy transferred her vacant affection to her sister's first child: my weakness excited her pity; her attachment was fortified by labour and success: and if there be any, as I trust there are some, who rejoice that I live, to that dear and excellent woman they must hold themselves indebted. Many anxious and solitary days did she consume in the patient trial of every mode of relief and amusement. Many wakeful nights did she sit by my bed-side in trembling expectation that each hour would be my last. Of the various and frequent disorders of my childhood my own recollection is dark; nor do I wish to expatiate on so disgusting a topic. Suffice it to say, that while every practitioner, from Sloane and Ward to the Chevalier Taylor, was successively summoned to torture or relieve me, the care of my mind was too frequently neglected for that of my health: compassion always suggested [Page 20] an excuse for the indulgence of the master, or the idleness of the pupil; and the chain of my education was broken, as often as I was recalled from the school of learning to the bed of sickness.

As soon as the use of speech had prepared my infant reason for the admission of knowledge, I was taught the arts of reading, writing, and arithmetic. So remote is the date, so vague is the memory of their origin in myself, that, were not the error corrected by analogy, I should be tempted to conceive them as innate. In my childhood I was praised for the readiness, with which I could multiply and divide, by memory alone, two sums of several figures: such praise encouraged my growing talent; and had I persevered in this line of application, I might have acquired some fame in mathematical studies.

After this previous institution at home, or at a day-school at Putney, I was delivered at the age of seven into the hands of Mr. John Kirkby, who exercised about eighteen months the office of my domestic tutor. His own words, which I shall here transcribe, inspire in his favour a sentiment of pity and esteem.—‘During my abode in my native county of Cumberland, in quality of an indigent curate, I used now-and-then in a Summer, when the pleasantness of the season invited, to take a solitary walk to the sea-shore, which lies about two miles from the town where I lived. Here I would amuse myself, one while in viewing at large the agreeable prospect which surrounded me, and another while (confining my sight to nearer objects) in admiring the vast variety of beautiful shells, thrown upon the beach; some of the choicest of which I always picked up, to divert my little ones upon my return. One time among the rest, taking such a journey in my head, I sat down upon the declivity of the beach with my face to the sea, which was now come up within a few yards of my feet; when immediately the sad thoughts of the wretched condition of my family, and the unsuccessfulness of all endeavours to amend it, came crowding into [Page 21] my mind, which drove me into a deep melancholy, and ever and anon forced tears from my eyes.’ Distress at last forced him to leave the country. His learning and virtue introduced him to my father; and at Putney he might have found at least a temporary shelter, had not an act of indiscretion again driven him into the world. One day reading prayers in the parish church, he most unluckily forgot the name of King George: his patron, a loyal subject, dismissed him with some reluctance, and a decent reward; and how the poor man ended his days I have never been able to learn. Mr. John Kirkby is the author of two small volumes; the Life of Automathes (London, 1745), and an English and Latin Grammar (London, 1746); which, as a testimony of gratitude, he dedicated (November 5th, 1745) to my father. The books are before me: from them the pupil may judge the preceptor; and, upon the whole, his judgment will not be unfavourable. The grammar is executed with accuracy and skill, and I know not whether any better existed at the time in our language: but the life of Automathes aspires to the honours of a philosophical fiction. It is the story of a youth, the son of a shipwrecked exile, who lives alone on a desert island from infancy to the age of manhood. A hind is his nurse; he inherits a cottage, with many useful and curious instruments; some ideas remain of the education of his two first years; some arts are borrowed from the beavers of a neighbouring lake; some truths are revealed in supernatural visions. With these helps, and his own industry, Automathes becomes a self-taught thought speechless philosopher, who had investigated with success his own mind, the natural world, the abstract sciences, and the great principles of morality and religion. The author is not entitled to the merit of invention, since he has blended the English story of Robinson Crusoe with the Arabian romance of Hai Ebn Yokhdan, which he might have read in the Latin version of Pocock. In the Automathes I cannot praise either the depth of thought or elegance of style; but the book is not devoid [Page 22] of entertainment or instruction; and among several interesting passages, I would select the discovery of fire, which produces by accidental mischief the discovery of conscience. A man who had though so much on the subjects of language and education was surely no ordinary preceptor: my childish years, and his hasty departure, prevented me from enjoying the full benefit of his lessons; but they enlarged my knowledge of arithmetic, and left me a clear impression of the English and Latin rudiments.

In my ninth year (January 1746), in a lucid interval of comparative health, my father adopted the convenient and customary mode of English education; and I was sent to Kingston upon Thames, to a school of about seventy boys, which was kept by Dr. Wooddeson and his assistants. Every time I have since passed over Putney Common, I have always noticed the spot where my mother, as we drove along in the coach, admonished me that I was now going into the world, and must learn to think and act for myself. The expression may appear ludicrous; yet there is not, in the course of life, a more remarkable change than the removal of a child from the luxury and freedom of a wealthy house, to the frugal diet and strict subordination of a school; from the tenderness of parents, and the obsequiousness of servants, to the rude familiarity of his equals, the insolent tyranny of his seniors, and the rod, perhaps, of a cruel and capricious pedagogue. Such hardships may steel the mind and body against the injuries of fortune; but my timid reserve was astonished by the crowd and tumult of the school; the want of strength and activity disqualified me for the sports of the play-field; nor have I forgotten how often in the year forty-six I was reviled and buffetted for the sins of my Tory ancestors. By the common methods of discipline, at the expence of many tears and some blood, I purchased the knowledge of the Latin syntax: and not long since I was possessed of the dirty volumes of Phaedrus and Cornelius Nepos, which I painfully construed and darkly understood. The choice of these authors [Page 23] is not injudicious. The lives of Cornelius Nepos, the friend of Atticus and Cicero, are composed in the style of the purest age: his simplicity is elegant, his brevity copious: he exhibits a series of men and manners; and with such illustrations, as every pedant is not indeed qualified to give, this classic biographer may initiate a young student in the history of Greece and Rome. The use of fables or apologues has been approved in every age from antient India to modern Europe. They convey in familiar images the truths of morality and prudence; and the most childish understanding (I advert to the scruples of Rousseau) will not suppose either that beasts do speak, or that men may lie. A fable represents the genuine characters of animals; and skilful master might extract from Pliny and Buffon some pleasing lessons of natural history, a science well adapted to the taste and capacity of children. The Latinity of Phaedrus is not exempt from an alloy of the silver age; but his manner is concise, terse, and sententious: the Thracian slave discreetly breathes the spirit of a freeman; and when the text is found, the style is perspicuous. But his fables, after a long oblivion, were first published by Peter Pithou, from a corrupt manuscript. The labours of fifty editors confess the defects of the copy, as well as the value of the original; and the school-boy may have been whipt for misapprehending a passage, which Bentley could not restore, and which Burman could not explain.

My studies were too frequently interrupted by sickness; and after a real or nominal residence at Kingston-school of near two years, I was finally recalled (December 1747) by my mother's death, which was occasioned, in her thirty-eighth year, by the consequences of her last labour. I was too young to feel the importance of my loss; and the image of her person and conversation is faintly imprinted in my memory. The affectionate heart of my aunt, Catherine Porten, bewailed a sister and a friend; but my poor father was inconsolable, and the transport of grief seemed to threaten his life or his reason. [Page 24] I can never forget the seene of our first interview, some weeks after the fatal event; the awful silence, the room hung with black, the mid-day tapers, his sighs and tears; his praises of my mother, a saint in heaven; his solemn adjuration that I would cherish her memory and imitate her virtues; and the fervor with which he kissed and blessed me as the sole surviving pledge of their loves. The storm of passion insensibly subsided into calmer melancholy. At a convivial meeting of his friends, Mr. Gibbon might affect or enjoy a gleam of cheerfulness; but his plan of happiness was for ever destroyed: and after the loss of his companion he was left alone in a world, of which the business and pleasures were to him irksome or insipid. After some unsuccessful trials he renounced the tumult of London and the hospitality of Putney, and buried himself in the rural or rather rustic solitude of Buriton; from which, during several years, he seldom emerged.

As far back as I can remember, the house, near Putney-bridge and church-yard, of my maternal grandfather appears in the light of my prper and native home. It was there that I was allowed to spend the greatest part of my time, in sickness or in health, during my school vacations and my parents' residence in London, and finally after my mother's death. Three months after that event, in the spring of 1748, the commercial ruin of her father, Mr. James Porten, was accomplished and declared. He suddenly absconded: but as his effects were not sold, nor the house evacuated, till the Christmas following, I enjoyed during the whole year the society of my aunt, without much consciousness of her impending fate. I feel a melancholy pleasure in repeating my obligations to that excellent woman, Mrs. Catherine Porten, the true mother of my mind as well as of my health. Her natural good sense was improved by the perusal of the best books in the English language; and if her reason was sometimes clouded by prejudice, her sentiments were never disguised by hypocrisy or affectation. Her indulgent tenderness, the frankness of [Page 25] her temper, and my innate rising curiosity, soon removed all distance between us: like friends of an equal age, we freely conversed on every topic, familiar or abstruse; and it was her delight and reward to observe the first shoots of my young ideas. Pain and languor were often soothed by the voice of instruction and amusement; and to her kind lessons I ascribe my early and invincible love of reading, which I would not exchange for the treasures of India. I should perhaps be astonished, were it possible to ascertain the date, at which a favourite tale was engraved, by frequent repetition, in my memory: the Cavern of the Winds; the Palace of Felicity; and the fatal moment, at the end of three months or centuries, when Prince Adolphus is overtaken by Time, who had worn out so many pair of wings in the pursuit. Before I left Kingston school I was well acquainted with Pope's Homer and the Arabian Nights Entertainments, two books which will always please by the moving picture of human manners and specious miracles: nor was I then capable of discerning that Pope's translation is a portrait endowed with every merit, excepting that of likeness to the original. The verses of Pope accustomed my ear to the sound of poetic harmony: in the death of Hector, and the shipwreck of Ulysses, I tasted the new emotions of terror and pity; and seriously disputed with my aunt on the vices and virtues of the heroes of the Trojan war. From Pope's Homer to Dryden's Virgil was an easy transition; but I know not how, from some fault in the author, the translator, or the reader, the pious Aeneas did not so forcibly seize on my imagination; and I derived more pleasure from Ovid's Metamorphoses, especially in the fall of Phaeton, and the speeches of Ajax and Ulysses. My grandfather's flight unlocked the door of a tolerable library; and I turned over many English pages of poetry and romance, of history and travels. Where a title attracted my eye, without fear or awe I snatched the volume from the shelf; and Mrs. Porten, who indulged herself in moral and religious speculations, was more prone to encourage than to check a curiosity above the [Page 26] strength of a boy. This year (1748), the twelfth of my age, I shall note as the most propitious to the growth of my intellectual statue.

The relies of my grandfather's fortune afforded a bare annuity for his own maintenance; and his daughter, my worthy aunt, who had already passed her fortieth year, was left destitute. Her noble spirit scorned a life of obligation and dependence; and after revolving several schemes, she preferred the humble industry of keeping a boarding-house for Westminster-school*, where she laboriously earned a competence for her old age. This singular opportunity of blending the advantages of private and public education decided my father. After the Christmas holidays in January 1749, I accompanied Mrs. Porten to her new house in College-street; and was immediately entered in the school, of which Dr. John Nicoll was at that time headmaster. At first I was alone: but my aunt's resolution was praised; her character was esteemed; her friends were numerous and active: in the course of some years she became the mother of forty or fifty boys, for the most part of family and fortune; and as her primitive habitation was too narrow, she built and occupied a spacious mansion in Dean's Yard. I shall always be ready to join in the common opinion, that our public schools, which have produced so many eminent characters, are the best adapted to the genius and constitution of the English people. A boy of spirit may acquire a previous and practical experience of the world; and his playfellows may be the future friends of his heart or his interest. In a free intercourse with his equals, the habits of truth, fortitude, and prudence will insensibly be matured. Birth and riches are measured by the standard of personal merit; and the mimic scene of a rebellion has displayed, in their true colours, the ministers and patriots of the rising generation. Our seminaries of learning do not exactly correspond with the [Page 27] precept of a Spartan king, ‘that the child should be instructed in the arts, which will be useful to the man;’ since a finished scholar may emerge from the head of Westminster or Eton, in total ignorance of the business and conversation of English gentlemen in the latter end of the eighteenth century. But these schools may assume the merit of teaching all that they pretend to teach, the Latin and Greek languages: they deposit in the hands of a disciple the keys of two valuable chests; nor can he complain, if they are afterwards lost or neglected by his own fault. The necessity of leading in equal ranks so many unequal powers of capacity and application, will prolong to eight or ten years the juvenile studies, which might be dispatched in half that time by the skilful master of a single pupil. Yet even the repetition of exercise and discipline contributes to fix in a vacant mind the verbal science of grammar and prosody: and the private or voluntary student, who possesses the sense and spirit of the classics, may offend, by a false quantity, the scrupulous ear of a well-flogged critic. For myself, I must be content with a very small share of the civil and literary fruits of a public school. In the space of two years (1749, 1750), interrupted by danger and debility, I painfully climbed into the third form; and my riper age was left to acquire the beauties of the Latin, and the rudiments of the Greek tongue. Instead of audaciously mingling in the sports, the quarrels, and the connections of our little world, I was still cherished at home under the maternal wing of my aunt; and my removal from Westminster long preceded the approach of manhood.

The violence and variety of my complaints, which had excused my frequent absence from Westminster-school, at length engaged Mrs. Porten, with the advice of physicians, to conduct me to Bath: at the end of the Michaelmas vacation (1750) she quitted me with reluctance, and I remained several months under the care of a trusty maid-servant. A strange nervous affection, which alternately contracted my legs, and produced, without any visible symptoms, the [Page 28] most excruciating pain, was ineffectually opposed by the various methods of bathing and pumping. From Bath I was transported to Winchester, to the house of a physician; and after the failure of his medical skill, we had again recourse to the virtues of the Bath waters. During the intervals of these fits, I moved with my father to Buriton and Putney; and a short unsuccessful trial was attempted to renew my attendance at Westminster-school. But my infirmities could not be reconciled with the hours and discipline of a public seminary; and instead of a domestic tutor, who might have watched the favourable moments, and gently advanced the progress of my learning, my father was too easily content with such occasional teachers, as the different places of my residence could supply. I was never forced, and seldom was I persuaded, to admit these lessons: yet I read with a clergyman at Bath some odes of Horace, and several episodes of Virgil, which gave me an imperfect and transient enjoyment of the Latin poets. It might now be apprehended that I should continue for life an illiterate cripple: but, as I approached my sixteenth year, Nature displayed in my favour her mysterious energies: my constitution was fortified and fixed; and my disorders, instead of growing with my growth and strengthening with my strength, most wonderfully vanished. I have never possessed or abused the insolence of health: but since that time few persons have been more exempt from real or imaginary ills; and, till I am admonished by the gout, the reader will no more be troubled with the history of my bodily complaints. My unexpected recovery again encouraged the hope of my education; and I was placed at Esher, in Surry, in the house of the Reverend Mr. Philip Francis, in a pleasant spot, which promised to unite the various benefits of air, exercise, and study (January 1752). The translator of Horace might have taught me to relish the Latin poets, had not my friends discovered in a few weeks, that he preferred the pleasures of London, to the instruction of his pupils. My father's perplexity at this time, rather than his prudence, was urged to embrace [Page 29] a singular and desperate measure. Without preparation or delay he carried me to Oxford; and I was matriculated in the university as a gentleman commoner of Magdalen college, before I had accomplished the fifteenth year of my age (April 3, 1752).

The curiosity, which had been implanted in my infant mind, was still alive and active; but my reason was not sufficiently informed to understand the value, or to lament the loss, of three precious years from my entrance at Westminster to my admission at Oxford. Instead of repining at my long and frequent confinement to the chamber or the couch, I secretly rejoiced in those infirmities, which delivered me from the exercises of the school, and the society of my equals. As often as I was tolerably exempt from danger and pain, reading, free desultory reading, was the employment and comfort of my solitary hours. At Westminster, my aunt sought only to amuse and indulge me; in my stations at Bath and Winchester, at Buriton and Putney, a false compassion respected my sufferings; and I was allowed, without controul or advice, to gratify the wanderings of an unripe taste. My indiscriminate appetite subsided by degrees in the historic line: and since philosophy has exploded all innate ideas and natural propensities, I must ascribe this choice to the assiduous perusal of the Universal History, as the octavo volumes successively appeared. This unequal work, and a treatise of Hearne, the Ductor historicus, referred and introduced me to the Greek and Roman historians, to as many at least as were accessible to an English reader. All that I could find were greedily devoured, from Littlebury's lame Herodotus, and Spelman's valuable Xenophon, to the pompous folios of Gordon's Tacitus, and a ragged Procopius of the beginning of the last century. The cheap acquisition of so much knowledge confirmed my dislike to the study of languages; and I argued with Mrs. Porten, that, were I master of Greek and Latin, I must interpret to myself in English the thoughts of the original, and that such extemporary versions must be inferior to the elaborate translations of [Page 30] professed scholars; a silly sophism, which could not easily be confuted by a person ignorant of any other language than her own. From the ancient I leaped to the modern world: many crude lumps of Speed, Rapin, Mezeray, Davila, Machiavel, Father Paul, Bower, &c. I devoured like so many novels; and I swallowed with the same voracious appetite the descriptions of India and China, of Mexico and Peru.

My first introduction to the historic scenes, which have since engaged so many years of my life, must be ascribed to an accident. In the summer of 1751, I accompanied my father on a visit to Mr. Hoare's, in Wiltshire; but I was less delighted with the beauties of Stourhead, than with discovering in the library a common book, the Continuation of Echard's Roman History, which is indeed executed with more skill and taste than the previous work. To me the reigns of the successors of Constantine were absolutely new; and I was immersed in the passage of the Goths over the Danube, when the summons of the dinner-bell reluctantly dragged me from my intellectual feast. This transient glance served rather to irritate than to appease my curiosity; and as soon as I returned to Bath I procured the second and third volumes of Howel's History of the World, which exhibit the Byzantine period on a larger scale. Mahomet and his Saracens soon fixed my attention; and some instinct of criticism directed me to the genuine sources. Simon Ockley, an original in every sense, first opened my eyes; and I was led from one book to another, till I had ranged round the circle of Oriental history. Before I was sixteen, I had exhausted all that could be learned in English of the Arabs and Persians, the Tartars and Turks; and the same ardour urged me to guess at the French of D'Herbelot, and to construe the barbarous Latin of Pocock's Abulfaragius. Such vague and multifarious reading could not teach me to think, to write, or to act; and the only principle, that darted a ray of light into the indigested chaos, was an early and rational application to the order [Page 31] of time and place. The maps of Cellarius and Wells imprinted in my mind the picture of ancient geography: from Stranchius I imbibed the elements of chronology: the Tables of Helvicus and Anderson, the Annals of Usher and Prideaux, distinguished the connection of events, and engraved the multitude of names and dates in a clear and indelible series. But in the discussion of the first ages I overleaped the bounds of modesty and use. In my childish balance I presumed to weigh the systems of Scaliger and Petavius, of Marsham and Newton, which I could seldom study in the originals; and my sleep has been disturbed by the difficulty of reconciling the Septuagint with the Hebrew computation. I arrived at Oxford with a stock of erudition, that might have puzzled a doctor, and a degree of ignorance, of which a school-boy would have been ashamed.

At the conclusion of this first period of my life, I am tempted to enter a protest against the trite and lavish praise of the happiness of our boyish years, which is echoed with so much affectation in the world. That happiness I have never known, that time I have never regretted; and were my poor aunt still alive, she would bear testimony to the early and constant uniformity of my sentiments. It will indeed be replied, that I am not a competent judge; that pleasure is incompatible with pain; that joy is excluded from sickness; and that the felicity of a school-boy consists in the perpetual motion of thoughtless and playful agility, in which I was never qualified to excel. My name, it is most true, could never be enrolled among the sprightly race, the idle progeny of Eton or Westminster,

"Who foremost may delight to cleave,
"With pliant arm, the glassy wave,
"Or urge the flying ball."
The poet may gaily describe the short hours of recreation; but he forgets the daily tedious labours of the school, which is approached each morning with anxious and reluctant steps.

[Page 32] A traveller, who visits Oxford or Cambridge, is surprised and edified by the apparent order and tranquillity that prevail in the seats of the English muses. In the most celebrated universities of Holland, Germany, and Italy, the students, who swarm from different countries, are loosely dispersed in private lodgings at the houses of the burghers: they dress according to their fancy and fortune; and in the intemperate quarrels of youth and wine, their swords, though less frequently than of old, are sometimes stained with each other's blood. The use of arms is banished from our English universities; the uniform habit of the academics, the square cap, and black gown, is adapted to the civil and even clerical profession; and from the doctor in divinity to the under-graduate, the degrees of learning and age are externally distinguished. Instead of being scattered in a town, the students of Oxford and Cambridge are united in colleges; their maintenance is provided at their own expence, or that of the founders; and the stated hours of the hall and chapel represent the discipline of a regular, and, as it were, a religious community. The eyes of the traveller are attracted by the size or beauty of the public edifices; and the principal colleges appear to be so many palaces, which a liberal nation has erected and endowed for the habitation of science. My own introduction to the university of Oxford forms a new aera in my life; and at the distance of forty years I still remember my first emotions of surprise and satisfaction. In my fifteenth year I felt myself suddenly raised from a boy to a man: the persons, whom I respected as my superiors in age and academical rank, entertained me with every mark of attention and civility; and my vanity was flattered by the velvet cap and silk gown, which distinguish a gentleman commoner from a plebeian student. A decent allowance, more money than a school-boy had ever seen, was at my own disposal; and I might command, among the tradesmen of Oxford, an indefinite and dangerous latitude of credit. A key was delivered into my hands, which gave me [Page 33] the free use of a numerous and learned library: my apartment consisted of three elegant and well-furnished rooms in the new building, a stately pile, of Magdalen College; and the adjacent walks, had they been frequented by Plato's disciples, might have been compared to the Attic shade on the banks of the Ilissus. Such was the fair prospect of my entrance (April 3, 1752) into the university of Oxford.

A venerable prelate, whose taste and erudition must reflect honour on the society in which they were formed, has drawn a very interesting picture of his academical life.—‘I was educated (says Bishop Lowth) in the UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD. I enjoyed all the advantages, both public and private, which that famous seat of learning so largely affords. I spent many years in that illustrious society, in a well-regulated course of useful discipline and studies, and in the agreeable and improving commerce of gentlemen and of scholars; in a society where emulation without envy, ambition without jealousy, contention without animosity, incited industry, and awakened genius; where a liberal pursuit of knowledge, and a genuine freedom of thought, was raised, encouraged, and pushed forward by example, by commendation, and by authority. I breathed the same atmosphere that the HOOKERS, the CHILLINGWORTHS, and the LOCKES had breathed before; whose benevolence and humanity were as extensive as their vast genius and comprehensive knowledge; who always treated their adversaries with civility and respect; who made candour, moderation, and liberal judgment as much the rule and law as the subject of their discourse. And do you reproach me with my education in this place, and with my relation to this most respectable body, which I shall always esteem my greatest advantage and my highest honour?’ I transcribe with pleasure this eloquent passage, without examining what benefits or what rewards were derived by Hooker, or Chillingworth, or Locke, from their academical institution; without [Page 34] inquiring, whether in this angry controversy the spirit of Lowth himself is purified from the intolerant zeal, which Warburton had ascribed to the genius of the place. It may indeed be observed, that the atmosphere of Oxford did not agree with Mr. Locke's constitution, and that the philosopher justly despised the academical bigots, who expelled his person and condemned his principles. The expression of gratitude is a virtue and a pleasure: a liberal mind will delight to cherish and celebrate the memory of its parents; and the teachers of science are the parents of the mind. I applaud the filial piety, which it is impossible for me to imitate; since I must not confess an imaginary debt, to assume the merit of a just or generous retribution. To the university of Oxford I acknowledge no obligation; and she will as cheerfully renounce me for a son, as I am willing to disclaim her for a mother. I spent fourteen months at Magdalen College; they proved the fourteen months the most idle and unprofitable of my whole life: the reader will pronounce between the school and the scholar; but I cannot affect to believe that Nature had disqualified me for all literary pursuits. The specious and ready excuse of my tender age, imperfect preparation, and hasty departure, may doubtless be alleged; nor do I wish to defraud such excuses of their proper weight. Yet in my sixteenth year I was not devoid of capacity or application; even my childish reading had displayed an early though blind propensity for books; and the shallow flood might have been taught to flow in a deep channel and a clear stream. In the discipline of a well-constituted academy, under the guidance of skilful and vigilant professors, I should gradually have risen from translations to originals, from the Latin to the Greek classics, from dead languages to living science: my hours would have been occupied by useful and agreeable studies, the wanderings of fancy would have been restrained, and I should have escaped the temptations of idleness, which finally precipitated my departure from Oxford.

[Page 35] Perhaps in a separate annotation I may coolly examine the fabulous and real antiquities of our sister universities, a question which has kindled such fierce and foolish disputes among their fanatic sons. In the mean while it will be acknolwedged, that these venerable bodies are sufficiently old to partake of all the prejudices and infirmities of age. The schools of Oxford and Cambridge were founded in a dark age of false and barbarous science; and they are still tainted with the vices of their origin. Their primitive discipline was adapted to the education of priests and monks; and the government still remains in the hands of the clergy, an order of men whose manners are remote from the present world, and whose eyes are dazzled by the light of philosophy. The legal incorporation of these societies by the charters of popes and kings had given them a monopoly of the public instruction; and the spirit of monopolists is narrow, lazy, and oppressive: their work is more costly and less productive than that of independent artists; and the new improvements so eagerly grasped by the competition of freedom, are admitted with slow and sullen reluctance in those proud corporations, above the fear of a rival, and below the confession of an error. We may scarcely hope that any reformation will be a voluntary act; and so deeply are they rooted in law and prejudice, that even the omnipotence of parliament would shrink from an inquiry into the state and abuses of the two universities.

The use of academical degrees, as old as the thirteenth century, is visibly borrowed from the mechanic corporations; in which an apprentice, after serving his time, obtains a testimonial of his skill, and a licence to practise his trade and mystery. It is not my design to depreciate those honours, which could never gratify or disappoint my ambition; and I should applaud the institution, if the degrees of bachelor or licentiate were bestowed as the reward of manly and successful study: if the name and rank of doctor or master were strictly [Page 36] reserved for the professors of science, who have approved their title to the public esteem.

In all the universities of Europe, excepting our own, the languages and sciences and distributed among a numerous list of effective professors: the students, according to their taste, their calling, and their diligence, apply themselves to the proper masters; and in the annual repetition of public and private lectures, these masters are assiduously employed. Our curiosity may inquire what number of professors has been instituted at Oxford? (for I shall now confine myself to my own university;) by whom are they appointed, and what may be the probable chances of merit or incapacity? how many are stationed to the three faculties, and how many are left for the liberal arts? what is the form, and what the substance, of their lessons? But all these questions are silenced by one short and singular answer, ‘That in the university of Oxford, the greater part of the public professors have for these many years given up altogether even the pretence of teaching.’ Incredible as the fact may appear, I must rest my belief on the positive and impartial evidence of a master of moral and political wisdom, who had himself resided at Oxford. Dr. Adam Smith assigns as the cause of their indolence, that, instead of being paid by voluntary contributions, which would urge them to increase the number, and to deserve the gratitude of their pupils, the Oxford professors are secure in the enjoyment of a fixed stipend, without the necessity of labour, or the apprehension of controul. It has indeed been observed, nor is the observation absurd, that excepting in experimental sciences, which demand a costly apparatus and a dexterous hand, the many valuable treatises, that have been published on every subject of learning, may now supersede the ancient mode of oral instruction. Were this principle true in its utmost latitude, I should only infer that the offices and salaries, which are become useless, ought without delay to be abolished. But there still remains a material [Page 37] difference between a book and a professor; the hour of the lecture inforces attendance; attention is fixed by the presence, the voice, and the occasional questions of the teacher; the most idle will carry something away; and the more diligent will compare the instructions, which they have heard in the school, with the volumes, which they peruse in their chamber. The advice of a skilful professor will adapt a course of reading to every mind and every situation; his authority will discover, admonish, and at last chastise the negligence of his disciples; and his vigilant inquiries will ascertain the steps of their literary progress. Whatever science he professes he may illustrate in a series of discourses, composed in the leisure of his closet, pronounced on public occasions, and finally delivered to the press. I observe with pleasure, that in the university of Oxford Dr. Lowth, with equal eloquence and erudition, has executed this task in his incomparable Praelections on the Poetry of the Hebrews.

The college of St. Mary Magdalen was founded in the fifteenth century by Wainfleet bishop of Winchester; and now consists of a president, forty fellows, and a number of inferior students. It is esteemed one of the largest and most wealthy of our academical corporations, which may be compared to the Benedictine abbeys of catholic countries; and I have loosely heard that the estates belonging to Magdalen College, which are leased by those indulgent landlords at small quit-rents and occasional sines, might be raised, in the hands of private avarice, to an annual revenue of nearly thirty thousand pounds. Our colleges are supposed to be schools of science, as well as of education; nor is it unreasonable to expect that a body of literary men, devoted to a life of celibacy, exempt from the care of their own subsistence, and amply provided with books, should devote their leisure to the prosecution of study, and that some effects of their studies should be manifested to the world. The shelves of their library groan under the weight of the Benedictine folios, of the editions of the fathers, and the collections [Page 38] of the middle ages, which have issued from the single abbey of St. Germain de Préz at Paris. A composition of genius must be the offspring of one mind; but such works of industry, as may be divided among many hands, and must be continued during many years, are the peculiar province of a laborious community. If I inquire into the manufactures of the monks of Magdalen, if I extend the inquiry to the other colleges of Oxford and Cambridge, a silent blush, or a scornful frown, will be the only reply. The fellows or monks of my time were decent easy men, who supinely enjoyed the gifts of the founder: their days were filled by a series of uniform employments; the chapel and the hall, the coffee-house and the common room, till they retired, weary and well satisfied, to a long slumber. From the toil of reading, or thinking, or writing, they had absolved their conscience; and the first shoots of learning and ingenuity withered on the ground, without yielding any fruits to the owners or the public. As a gentleman commoner, I was admitted to the society of the fellows, and fondly expected that some questions of literature would be the amusing and instructive topics of their discourse. Their conversation stagnated in a round of college business, Tory politics, personal anecdotes, and private scandal: their dull and deep potations excused the brisk intemperance of youth; and their constitutional toasts were not expressive of the most lively loyalty for the house of Hanover. A general election was now approaching: the great Oxfordshire contest already blazed with all the malevolence of party-zeal. Magdalen College was devoutly attached to the old interest! and the names of Wenman and Dashwood were more frequently pronounced, than those of Cicero and Chrysostom. The example of the senior fellows could not inspire the under-graduates with a liberal spirit or studious emulation; and I cannot describe, as I never knew, the discipline of college. Some duties may possibly have been imposed on the poor scholars, whose ambition aspired to the peaceful honours of a fellowship (ascribi [Page 39] quietis ordinibus—Deorum); but no independent members were admitted below the rank of a gentleman commoner, and our velvet cap was the cap of liberty. A tradition prevailed that some of our predecessors had spoken Latin declamations in the hall; but of this ancient custom no vestige remained: the obvious methods of public exercises and examinations were totally unknown; and I have never heard that either the president or the society interfered in the private oeconomy of the tutors and their pupils.

The silence of the Oxford professors, which deprives the youth of public instruction, is imperfectly supplied by the tutors, as they are styled, of the several colleges. Instead of confining themselves to a single science, which had satisfied the ambition of Burman or Bernoulli, they teach, or promise to teach, either history or mathematics, or ancient literature, or moral philosophy; and as it is possible that they may be defective in all, it is highly probable that of some they will be ignorant. They are paid, indeed, by private contributions; but their appointment depends on the head of the house: their diligence is voluntary, and will consequently be languid, while the pupils themselves, or their parents, are not indulged in the liberty of choice or change. The first tutor into whose hands I was resigned appears to have been one of the best of the tribe: Dr. Waldegrave was a learned and pious man, of a mild disposition, strict morals, and abstemious life, who seldom mingled in the politics or the jollity of the college. But his knowledge of the world was confined to the university; his learning was of the last, rather than of the present age; his temper was indolent; his faculties, which were not of the first rate, had been relaxed by the climate, and he was satisfied, like his fellows, with the slight and superficial discharge of an important trust. As soon as my tutor had sounded the insufficiency of his disciple in school-learning, he proposed that we should read every morning from ten to eleven the comedies of Terence. [Page 40] The sum of my improvement in the university of Oxford is confined to three or four Latin plays; and even the study of an elegant classic, which might have been illustrated by a comparison of ancient and modern theatres, was reduced to a dry and literal interpretation of the author's text. During the first weeks I constantly attended these lessons in my tutor's room; but as they appeared equally devoid of profit and pleasure, I was once tempted to try the experiment of a formal apology. The apology was accepted with a smile. I repeated the offence with less ceremony; the excuse was admitted with the same indulgence: the slightest motive of laziness or indisposition, the most trifling avocation at home or abroad, was allowed as a worthy impediment; nor did my tutor appear conscious of my absence or neglect. Had the hour of lecture been constantly filled, a single hour was a small portion of my academic leisure. No plan of study was recommended for my use; no exercises were prescribed for his inspection; and, at the most precious season of youth, whole days and weeks were suffered to elapse without labour or amusement, without advice or account. I should have listened to the voice of reason and of my tutor; his mild behaviour had gained my confidence. I preferred his society to that of the younger students; and in our evening walks to the top of Heddington-hill, we freely conversed on a variety of subjects. Since the days of Pocock and Hyde, Oriental learning has always been the pride of Oxford, and I once expressed an inclination to study Arabic. His prudence discouraged this childish fancy; but he neglected the fair occasion of directing the ardour of a curious mind. During my absence in the Summer vacation, Dr. Waldegrave accepted a college living at Washington in Sussex, and on my return I no longer found him at Oxford. From that time I have lost sight of my first tutor; but at the end of thirty years (1781) he was still alive; and the practice of exercise and temperance had entitled him to a healthy old age.

[Page 41] The long recess between the Trinity and Michaelmas terms empties the colleges of Oxford, as well as the courts of Westminster. I spent, at my father's house at Buriton in Hampshire, the two months of August and September. It is whimsical enough, that as soon as I left Magdalen College, my taste for books began to revive; but it was the same blind and boyish taste for the pursuit of exotic history. Unprovided with original learning, unformed in the habits of thinking, unskilled in the arts of composition, I resolved—to write a book. The title of this first Essay, the Age of Sesostris, was perhaps suggested by Voltaire's Age of Lewis XIV. which was new and popular; but my sole object was to investigate the probable date of the life and reign of the conqueror of Asia. I was then enamoured of Sir John Marsham's Canon Chronicus; an elaborate work, of whose merits and defects I was not yet qualified to judge. According to his specious, though narrow plan, I settled my hero about the time of Solomon, in the tenth century before the Christian aera. It was therefore incumbent on me, unless I would adopt Sir Isaac Newton's shorter chronology, to remove a formidable objection; and my solution, for a youth of fifteen, is not devoid of ingenuity. In his version of the Sacred Books, Manetho the high priest has identified Sethosis, or Sesostris, with the elder brother of Danaus, who landed in Greece, according to the Parian Marble, fifteen hundred and ten years before Christ. But in my supposition the high priest is guilty of a voluntary error; flattery is the prolific parent of falsehood. Manetho's History of Egypt is dedicated to Ptolemy Philadelphus, who derived a fabulous or illegitimate pedigree from the Macedonian kings of the race of Hercules. Danaus is the ancestor of Hercules; and after the failure of the elder branch, his descendants, the Ptolemies, are the sole representatives of the royal family, and may claim by inheritance the kingdom which they hold by conquest. Such were my juvenile discoveries; at a riper age, I no longer presume to connect the [Page 42] Greek, the Jewish, and the Egyptian antiquities, which are lost in a distant cloud. Nor is this the only instance, in which the belief and knowledge of the child are superseded by the more rational ignorance of the man. During my stay at Buriton, my infant-labour was diligently prosecuted, without much interruption from company or country diversions; and I already heard the music of public applause. The discovery of my own weakness was the first symptom of taste. On my return to Oxford, the Age of Sesostris was wisely relinquished; but the imperfect sheets remained twenty years at the bottom of a drawer, till, in a general clearance of papers, (November 1772,) they were committed to the flames.

After the departure of Dr. Waldgrave, I was transferred, with his other pupils, to his academical heir, whose literary character did not command the respect of the college. Dr. *** well remembered that he had a salary to receive, and only forgot that he had a duty to perform. Instead of guiding the studies, and watching over the behaviour of his disciple, I was never summoned to attend even the ceremony of a lecture; and, excepting one voluntary visit to his rooms, during the eight months of his titular office, the tutor and pupil lived in the same college as strangers to each other. The want of experience, of advice, and of occupation, soon betrayed me into some improprieties of conduct, ill-chosen company, late hours, and inconsiderate expence. My growing debts might be secret; but my frequent absence was visible and scandalous: and a tour to Bath, a visit into Buckinghamshire, and four excursions to Lodon in the same winter, were costly and dangerous frolics. They were, indeed, without a meaning, as without an excuse. The irksomeness of a cloistered life repeatedly tempted me to wander; but my chief pleasure was that of travelling; and I was too young and bashful to enjoy, like a Manly Oxonian in Town, the pleasures of London. In all these excursions I eloped from Oxford; I returned to college; in a few days I eloped again, as if I had been an independent stranger in a [Page 43] hired lodging, without once hearing the voice of admonition, without once feeling the hand of control. Yet my time was lost, my expences were multiplied, my behaviour abroad was unknown; folly as well as vice should have awakened the attention of my superiors, and my tender years would have justified a more than ordinary degree of restraint and discipline.

It might at least be expected, that an ecclesiastical school should inculcate the orthodox principles of religion. But our venerable mother had contrived to unite the opposite extremes of bigotry and indifference: an heretic, or unbeliever, was a monster in her eyes; but she was always, or often, or sometimes, remiss in the spiritual education of her own children. According to the statutes of the university, every student, before he is matriculated, must subscribe his assent to the thirty-nine articles of the church of England, which are signed by more than read, and read by more than believe them. My insufficient age excused me, however, from the immediate performance of this legal ceremony; and the vice-chancellor directed me to return, as soon as I should have accomplished my fifteenth year; recommending me, in the mean while, to the instruction of my college. My college forgot to instruct: I forgot to return, and was myself forgotten by the first magistrate of the university. Without a single lecture, either public or private, either christian or protestant, without any academical subscription, without any episcopal confirmation, I was left by the dim light of my catechism to grope my way to the chapel and communion-table, where I was admitted, without a question, how far, or by what means, I might be qualified to receive the sacrament. Such almost incredible neglect was productive of the worst mischiefs. From my childhood I had been fond of religious disputation: my poor aunt has been often puzzled by the mysteries which she strove to believe; nor had the elastic spring been totally broken by the weight of the atmosphere of Oxford. The blind activity of idleness urged me to advance without armour into the dangerous [Page 44] mazes of controversy; and at the age of sixteen, I bewildered myself in the errors of the church of Rome.

The progress of my conversion may tend to illustrate, at least, the history of my own mind. It was not long since Dr. Middleton's free inquiry had sounded an alarm in the theological world: much ink and much gall had been spilt in the defence of the primitive miracles; and the two dullest of their champions were crowned with academic honours by the university of Oxford. The name of Middleton was unpopular; and his proscription very naturally led me to peruse his writings, and those of his antagonists. His bold criticism, which approaches the precipice of infidelity, produced on my mind a singular effect; and had I persevered in the communion of Rome, I should now apply to my own fortune the prediction of the Sybil,

—Via prima salutis,
Quod minimé reris, Graiâ, pandetur ab urbe.
The elegance of style and freedom of argument were repelled by a shield of prejudice. I still revered the character, or rather the names, of the saints and fathers whom Dr. Middleton exposes; nor could he destroy my implicit belief, that the gift of miraculous powers was continued in the church, during the first four or five centuries of christianity. But I was unable to resist the weight of historical evidence, that within the same period most of the leading doctrines of popery were already introduced in theory and practice: nor was my conclusion absurd, that miracles are the test of truth, and that the church must be orthodox and pure, which was so often approved by the visible interposition of the Deity. The marvellous tales which are so boldly attested by the Basils and Chrysostoms, the Austins and Jeroms, compelled me to embrace the superior merits of celibacy, the institution of the monastic life, the use of the sign of the cross, of holy oil, and even of images, the invocation of saints, the worship of relics, the rudiments of purgatory in prayers for the dead, and [Page 45] the tremendous mystery of the sacrifice of the body and blood of Christ, which insensibly swelled into the prodigy of transubstantiation. In these dispositions, and already more than half a convert, I formed an unlucky intimacy with a young gentleman of our college, whose name I shall spare. With a character less resolute, Mr. **** had imbibed the same religious opinions; and some Popish books, I know not through what channel, were conveyed into his possession. I read, I applauded, I believed: the English translations of two famous works of Bossuet Bishop of Meaux, the Exposition of the Catholic Doctrine, and the History of the Protestant Variations, atchieved my conversion, and I surely fell by a noble hand*. I have since examined the originals with a more discerning eye, and shall not hesitate to pronounce, that Bossuet is indeed a master of all the weapons of controversy. In the Exposition, a specious apology, the orator assumes, with consummate art, the tone of candour and simplicity; and the ten-horned monster is transformed, at his magic touch, into the milk-white hind, who must be loved as soon as she is seen. In the History, a bold and well-aimed attack, he displays, with a happy mixture of narrative and argument, the faults and follies, the changes and contradictions of our first reformers; whose variations (as he dexterously contends) are the mark of historical error, while the perpetual unity of the catholic church is the sign and test of infallible truth. To my present feelings it seems incredible that I should ever believe that I believed in transubstantiation. But my conqueror oppressed me with the sacramental words, "Hoc est corpus meum," and dashed against each other the figurative half-meanings of the protestant sects: every objection was resolved into omnipotence; and after repeating at St. Mary's the Athanasian [Page 46] creed, I humbly acquiesced in the mystery of the real presence.
"To take up half on trust, and half of try,
"Name it not faith, but bungling bigotry.
"Both knave and fool, the merchant we may call,
"To pay great sums, and to compound the small,
"For who would break with Heaven, and would not break for all?"
No sooner had I settled my new religion than I resolved to profess myself a catholic. Youth is sincere and impetuous; and a momentary glow of enthusiasm had raised me above all temporal considerations*.

By the keen protestants, who would gladly retaliate the example of persecution, a clamour is raised of the increase of popery: and they are always loud to declaim against the toleration of priests and jesuits, who pervert so many of his majesty's subjects from their religion and allegiance. On the present occasion, the fall of one or more of her sons directed this clamour against the university; and it was confidently affirmed that popish missionaries were suffered, under various disguises, to introduce themselves into the colleges of Oxford. But justice obliges me to declare, that, as far as relates to myself, this assertion is false; and that I never conversed with a priest, or even with a papist, till my resolution from books was absolutely fixed. In my last excursion to London, I addressed myself to Mr. Lewis, a Roman catholic bookseller in Russell-street, Covent Garden, who recommended me to a priest, of whose name and order I am at present ignorant. In our first interview he soon discovered that persuasion was needless. After sounding the motives and merits of my [Page 47] conversion, he consented to admit me into the pale of the church; and at his feet, on the eighth of June 1753, I solemnly, though privately, abjured the errors of heresy. The seduction of an English youth of family and fortune was an act of as much danger as glory; but he bravely overlooked the danger, of which I was not then sufficiently informed. ‘Where a person is reconciled to the see of Rome, or procures others to be reconciled, the offence (says Blackstone) amounts to high treason.’ And if the humanity of the age would prevent the execution of this sanguinary statute, there were other laws of a less odious cast, which condemned the priest to perpetual imprisonment, and transferred the proselyte's estate to his nearest relation. An elaborate controversial epistle, approved by my director, and addressed to my father, announced and justified the step which I had taken. My father was neither a bigot nor a philosopher; but his affection deplored the loss of an only son; and his good sense was astonished at my strange departure from the religion of my country. In the first sally of passion he divulged a secret which prudence might have suppressed, and the gates of Magdalen College were for ever shut against my return. Many years afterwards, when the name of Gibbon was become as notorious as that of Middleton, it was industriously whispered at Oxford, that the historian had formerly "turned papist:" my character stood exposed to the reproach of inconstancy; and this invidious topic would have been handled without mercy by my opponents, could they have separated my cause from that of the university. For my own part, I am proud of an honest sacrifice of interest to conscience. I can never blush, if my tender mind was entangled in the sophistry that seduced the acute and manly understandings of CHILLINGWORTH and BAYLE, who afterwards emerged from supersition to scepticism.

While Charles the First goverened England, and was himself governed by a catholic queen, it cannot be denied that the missionaries [Page 48] of Rome laboured with impunity and success in the court, the country, and even the universities. One of the sheep,

—Whom the grim wolf with privy paw
Daily devours apace, and nothing said,
is Mr. William Chillingworth, Master of Arts, and Fellow of Trinity College, Oxford; who, at the ripe age of twenty-eight years, was persuaded to elope from Oxford, to the English seminary at Douay in Flanders. Some disputes with Fisher, a subtle jesuit, might first awaken him from the prejudices of education; but he yielded to his own victorious argument, ‘that there must be somewhere an infallible judge; and that the church of Rome is the only christian society which either does or can pretend to that character.’ After a short trial of a few months, Mr. Chillingworth was again tormented by religious scruples: he returned home, resumed his studies, unravelled his mistakes, and delivered his mind from the yoke of authority and superstition. His new creed was built on the principle, that the Bible is our sole judge, and private reason our sole interpreter: and he ably maintains this principle in the Religion of a Protestant, a book which, after startling the doctors of Oxford, is still esteemed the most solid defence of the Reformation. The learning, the virtue, the recent merits of the author, entitled him to fair preferment: but the slave had now bróken his fetters; and the more he weighed, the less was he disposed to subscribe to the thirty-nine articles of the church of England. In a private letter he declares, with all the energy of language, that he could not subscribe to them without subscribing to his own damnation; and that if ever he should depart from this immoveable resolution, he would allow his friends to think him a madman, or an atheist. As the letter is without a date, we cannot ascertain the number of weeks or months that elapsed between this passionate abhorrence and the Salisbury Register, which is still extant. ‘Ego Gulielmus Chillingworth,...omnibus hisce articulis,...et singulis [Page 49] in iisdem contentis volens, et ex animo subscribo, et consensum meum iisdem praebeo. 20 die Julii 1638.’ But, alas! the chancellor and prebendary of Sarum soon deviated from his own subscription: as he more deeply scrutinized the article of the Trinity, neither scripture nor the primitive fathers could long uphold his orthodox belief; and he could not but confess, ‘that the doctrine of Arius is either a truth, or at least no damnable heresy.’ From this middle region of the air, the descent of his reason would naturally rest on the firmer ground of the Socinians: and if we may credit a doubtful story, and the popular opinion, his anxious inquiries at last subsided in philosophic indifference. So conspicuous, however, were the candour of his nature and the innocence of his heart, that this apparent levity did not affect the reputation of Chillingworth. His frequent changes proceeded from too nice an inquisition into truth. His doubts grew out of himself; he assisted them with all the strength of his reason: he was then too hard for himself; but finding as little quiet and repose in those victories, he quickly recovered, by a new appeal to his own judgment: so that in all his fallies and retreats, he was in fact his own convert.

Bayle was the son of a Calvinist minister in a remote province of France, at the foot of the Pyrenees. For the benefit of education, the protestants were tempted to risk their children in the catholic universities; and in the twenty-second year of his age, young Bayle was seduced by the arts and arguments of the jesuits of Thoulouse. He remained about seventeen months (19th March 1669—19th August 1670) in their hands, a voluntary captive; and a letter to his parents, which the new convert composed or subscribed (15th April 1670), is darkly tinged with the spirit of popery. But Nature had designed him to think as he pleased, and to speak as he thought: his piety was offended by the excessive worship of creatures; and the study of physics convinced him of the impossibility of transubstantiation, which is abundantly refuted by the testimony of our senses. [Page 50] His return to the communion of a falling sect was a bold and disinterested step, that exposed him to the rigour of the laws; and a speedy flight to Geneva protected him from the resentment of his spiritual tyrants, unconscious as they were of the full value of the prize, which they had lost. Had Bayle adhered to the catholic church, had he embraced the ecclesiastical profession, the genius and favour of such a proselyte might have aspired to wealth and honours in his native country: but the hypocrite would have found less happiness in the comforts of a benefice, or the dignity of a mitre, than he enjoyed at Rotterdam in a private state of exile, indigence, and freedom. Without a country, or a patron, or a prejudice, he claimed the liberty and subsisted by the labours of his pen: the inequality of his voluminous works is explained and excused by his alternately writing for himself, for the booksellers, and for posterity; and if a severe critic would reduce him to a single folio, that relic, like the books of the Sybil, would become still more valuable. A calm and lofty spectator of the religious tempest, the philosopher of Rotterdam condemned with equal firmness the persecution of Lewis the Fourteenth, and the republican maxims of the Calvinists; their vain prophecies, and the intolerant bigotry which sometimes vexed his solitary retreat. In reviewing the controversies of the times, he turned against each other the arguments of the disputants; successively wielding the arms of the catholics and protestants, he proves that neither the way of authority, nor the way of examination can afford the multitude any test of religious truth; and dexterously concludes that custom and education must be the sole grounds of popular belief. The ancient paradox of Plutarch, that atheism is less pernicious than superstition, acquires a tenfold vigor, when it is adorned with the colours of his wit, and pointed with the acuteness of his logic. His critical dictionary is a vast repository of facts and opinions; and he balances the false religions in his sceptical scales, till the opposite quantities (if I may use the language of algebra) annihilate each other. The wonderful power which he [Page 51] so boldly exercised, of assembling doubts and objections, had tempted him jocosely to assume the title of the [...], the cloud-compelling Jove; and in a conversation with the ingenious Abbé (afterwards Cardinal) de Polignac, he freely disclosed his universal Pyrrhonism. ‘I am most truly (said Bayle) a protestant; for I protest indifferently against all systems and all sects.’

The academical resentment, which I may possibly have provoked, will prudently spare this plain narrative of my studies, or rather of my idleness; and of the unfortunate event which shortened the term of my residence at Oxford. But it may be suggested, that my father was unlucky in the choice of a society, and the chance of a tutor. It will perhaps be asserted, that in the lapse of forty years many improvements have taken place in the college and in the university. I am not unwilling to believe, that some tutors might have been found more active than Dr. Waldgrave, and less contemptible than Dr. ****. About the same time, and in the same walk, a Bentham was still treading in the footsteps of a Burton, whose maxims he had adopted, and whose life he had published. The biographer indeed preferred the school-logic to the new philosophy, Bugursdicius to Locke; and the hero appears, in his own writings, a stiff and conceited pedant. Yet even these men, according to the measure of their capacity, might be diligent and useful; and it is recorded of Burton, that he taught his pupils what he knew; some Latin, some Greek, some ethics and metaphysics; referring them to proper masters for the languages and sciences of which he was ignorant. At a more recent period, many students have been attracted by the merit and reputation of Sir William Scott, then a tutor in University College, and now conspicuous in the profession of the civil law: my personal acquaintance with that gentleman has inspired me with a just esteem for his abilities and knowledge; and I am assured that his lectures on history would compose, were they given to the public, a most valuable treatise. Under the auspices of the present Archbishop of York, [Page 52] Dr. Markham, himself an eminent scholar, a more regular discipline has been introduced, as I am told, at Christ Church*; a course of classical and philosophical studies is proposed, and even pursued, in that numerous seminary: learning has been made a duty, a pleasure, and even a fashion; and several young gentlemen do honour to the college in which they have been educated. According to the will of the donor, the profit of the second part of Lord Clarendon's History has been applied to the establishment of a riding-school, that the polite exercises might be taught, I know not with what success, in the university. The Vinerian professorship is of far more serious importance; the laws of his country are the first science of an Englishman [Page 53] of rank and fortune, who is called to be a magistrate, and may hope to be a legislator. This judicious institution was coldly entertained by the graver doctors, who complained (I have heard the complaint) that it would take the young people from their books: but Mr. Viner's benefaction is not unprofitable, since it has at least produced the excellent commentaries of Sir William Blackstone.

After carrying me to Putney, to the house of his friend Mr. Mallet*, by whose philosophy I was rather scandalized than reclaimed, it was necessary for my father to form a new plan of education, and to devise some method which, if possible, might effect the cure of my spiritual malady. After much debate it was determined, from the advice and personal experience of Mr. Eliot (now Lord Eliot) to fix me, during some years, at Lausanne in Switzerland. Mr. Frey, a Swiss gentleman of Basil, undertook the conduct of the journey: we left London the 19th of June, crossed the sea from Dover to Calais, travelled post through several provinces of France, by the direct road of St. Quentin, Rheims, Langres, and Besançon, and arrived the 30th of June at Lausanne, where I was immediately settled under the roof and tuition of Mr. Pavilliard, a Calvinist minister.

The first marks of my father's displeasure rather astonished than afflicted me: when he threatened to banish, and disown, and disinherit a rebellious son, I cherished a secret hope that he would not be able or willing to effect his menaces; and the pride of conscience encouraged me to sustain the honourable and important part which I was now acting. My spirits were raised and kept alive by the rapid motion of my journey, the new and various scenes of the Continent, and the civility of Mr. Frey, a man of sense, who was not ignorant of books or the world. But after he had resigned me into Pavilliard's hands, and I was fixed in my new habitation, I had leisure to contemplate [Page 54] the strange and melancholy prospect before me. My first complaint arose from my ignorance of the language. In my childhood I had once studied the French grammar, and I could imperfectly understand the easy prose of a familiar subject. But when I was thus suddenly cast on a foreign land, I found myself deprived of the use of speech and of hearing; and, during some weeks, incapable not only of enjoying the pleasures of conversation, but even of asking or answering a question in the common intercourse of life. To a home-bred Englishman every object, every custom was offensive; but the native of any country might have been disgusted with the general aspect of his lodging and entertainment. I had now exchanged my elegant apartment in Magdalen College, for a narrow, gloomy street, the most unfrequented of an unhandsome town, for an old inconvenient house, and for a small chamber ill-contrived and ill-furnished, which, on the approach of Winter, instead of a companionable fire, must be warmed by the dull invisible heat of a stove. From a man I was again degraded to the dependance of a school-boy. Mr. Pavilliard managed my expences, which had been reduced to a diminutive state: I received a small monthly allowance for my pocket-money; and helpless and awkward as I have ever been, I no longer enjoyed the indispensable comfort of a servant. My condition seemed as destitute of hope, as it was devoid of pleasure: I was separated for an indefinite, which appeared an infinite term from my native country; and I had lost all connection with my catholic friends. I have since reflected with surprise, that as the Romish clergy of every part of Europe maintain a close correspondence with each other, they never attempted, by letters or messages, to rescue me from the hands of the heretics, or at least to confirm my zeal and constancy in the profession of the faith. Such was my first introduction to Lausanne; a place where I spent nearly five years with pleasure and profit, which I afterwards revisited without compulsion, and which I have finally selected as the most grateful retreat for the decline of my life.

[Page 55] But it is the peculiar felicity of youth that the most unpleasing objects and events seldom make a deep or lasting impression; it forgets the past, enjoys the present, and anticipates the future. At the flexible age of sixteen I soon learned to endure, and gradually to adopt, the new forms of arbitrary manners: the real hardships of my situation were alienated by time. Had I been sent abroad in a more splendid style, such as the fortune and bounty of my father might have supplied, I might have returned home with the same stock of language and science, which our countrymen usually import from the Continent. An exile and a prisoner as I was, their example betrayed me into some irregularities of wine, of play, and of idle excursions: but I soon felt the impossibility of associating with them on equal terms; and after the departure of my first acquaintance, I held a cold and civil correspondence with their successors. This seclusion from English society was attended with the most solid benefits. In the Pays de Vaud, the French language is used with less imperfection than in most of the distant provinces of France: in Pavilliard's family, necessity compelled me to listen and to speak; and if I was at first disheartened by the apparent slowness, in a few months I was astonished by the rapidity of my progress. My pronunciation was formed by the constant repetition of the same sounds; the variety of words and idioms, the rules of grammar, and distinctions of genders, were impressed in my memory: ease and freedom were obtained by practice; correctness and elegance by labour; and before I was recalled home, French, in which I spontaneously thought, was more familiar than English to my ear, my tongue, and my pen. The first effect of this opening knowledge was the revival of my love of reading, which had been chilled at Oxford; and I soon turned over, without much choice, almost all the French books in my tutor's library. Even these amusements were productive of real advantage: my taste and judgment were now somewhat riper. I was introduced to a new mode of style and literature: by the comparison of manners [Page 56] and opinions, my views were enlarged, my prejudices were corrected, and a copious voluntary abstract of the Histoire de l'Eglise at de l'Empire, by le Sueur, may be placed in a middle line between my childish and my manly studies. As soon as I was able to converse with the natives, I began to feel some satisfaction in their company: my awkward timidity was polished and emboldened; and I frequented, for the first time, assemblies of men and women. The acquaintance of the Pavilliards prepared me by degrees for more elegant society. I was received with kindness and indulgence in the best families of Lausanne; and it was in one of these that I formed an intimate and lasting connection with Mr. Deyverdun, a young man of an amiable temper and excellent understanding. In the arts of fencing and dancing, small indeed was my proficiency; and some months were idly wasted in the riding-school. My unfitness to bodily exercise reconciled me to a sedentary life, and the horse, the favourite of my countrymen, never contributed to the pleasures of my youth.

My obligations to the lessons of Mr. Pavilliard, gratitude will not suffer me to forget: he was endowed with a clear head and a warm heart; his innate benevolence had assuaged the spirit of the church; he was rational, because he was moderate: in the course of his studies he had acquired a just though superficial knowledge of most branches of literature; by long practice, he was skilled in the arts of teaching; and he laboured with assiduous patience to know the character, gain the affection, and open the mind of his English pupil*. As soon as [Page 57] we began to understand each other, he gently led me, from a blind and undistinguishing love of reading, into the path of instruction. I consented with pleasure that a portion of the morning-hours should be consecrated to a plan of modern history and geography, and to the critical perusal of the French and Latin classics; and at each step I felt myself invigorated by the habits of application and method. His prudence repressed and dissembled some youthful fallies; and as soon as I was confirmed in the habits of industry and temperance, he gave the reins into my own hands. His favourable report of my behaviour and progress gradually obtained some latitude of action and expence; and he wished to alleviate the hardships of my lodging and entertainment. The principles of philosophy were associated with the examples of taste; and by a singular chance, the book, as well as the man, which contributed the most effectually to my education, has a stronger claim on my gratitude than on my admiration. Mr. De Crousaz, the adversary of Bayle and Pope, is not distinguished by lively fancy or profound reflection; and even in his own country, at the end of a few years, his name and writings are almost obliterated. But his philosophy had been formed in the school of Locke, his divinity [Page 58] in that of Limborch and Le Clerc; in a long and laborious life, several generations of pupils were taught to think, and even to write; his lessons rescued the academy of Lausanne from Calvinistic prejudice; and he had the rare merit of diffusing a more liberal spirit among the clergy and people of the Pays de Vaud. His system of logic, which in the last editions has swelled to six tedious and prolix volumes, may be praised as a clear and methodical abridgment of the art of reasoning, from our simple ideas to the most complex operations of the human understanding. This system I studied, and meditated, and abstracted, till I have obtained the free command of an universal instrument, which I soon presumed to exercise on my catholic opinions. Pavilliard was not unmindful that his first task, his most important duty, was to reclaim me from the errors of popery. The intermixture of sects has rendered the Swiss clergy acute and learned on the topics of controversy; and I have some of his letters in which he celebrates the dexterity of his attack, and my gradual concessions, after a firm and well-managed defence*. I was willing, and I am now willing, to allow him a handsome share of the honour of my conversion: yet I must observe, that it was principally effected by my private reflections; and I still remember my solitary transport at the discovery of a philosophical argument against the doctrine of transubstantiation: that the text of scripture, which seems to inculcate the real presence, is attested only by a single sense—our sight; while the real presence itself is disproved by three of our senses—the sight, the touch, and the taste. The various articles of the Romish creed disappeared like a dream; and after a full conviction, on Christmas-day 1754, I received the sacrament in the church of Lausanne. It was [Page 59] here that I suspended my religious inquiries, acquiescing with implicit belief in the tenets and mysteries, which are adopted by the general consent of catholics and protestants*.

[Page 60] Such, from my arrival at Lausanne, during the first eighteen or twenty months (July 1753—March 1755), were my useful studies, the foundation of all my future improvements. But every man who rises above the common level has received two educations: the first from his teachers; the second, more personal and important, from himself. He will not, like the fanatics of the last age, define the moment of grace; but he cannot forget the aera of his life, in which his mind has expanded to its proper form and dimensions. My worthy tutor had the good sense and modesty to discorn how far he could be useful: as soon as he felt that I advanced beyond his speed and measure, he wisely left me to my genius; and the hours of lesson [Page 61] were soon lost in the voluntary labour of the whole morning, and sometimes of the whole day. The desire of prolonging my time, gradually confirmed the salutary habit of early rising; to which I have always adhered, with some regard to seasons and situations: but it is happy for my eyes and my health, that my temperate ardour has never been seduced to trespass on the hours of the night. During the last three years of my residence at Lausanne, I may assume the merit of serious and solid application; but I am tempted to distinguish the last eight months of the year 1755, as the period of the most extraordinary diligence and rapid progress*. In my French and Latin translations I adopted an excellent method, which, from my own success, I would recommend to the imitation of students. I chose some classic writer, such as Cicero and Vertot, the most approved for purity and elegance of style. I translated, for instance, an epistle of Cicero into French; and after throwing it aside, till the words and phrases were obliterated from my memory, I re-translated my French into such Latin as I could find; and then compared each sentence of my imperfect version, with the ease, the grace, the propriety of the Roman orator. A similar experiment was made on several pages of the Revolutions of Vertot; I turned them into Latin, returned them [Page 62] after a sufficient interval into my own French, and again scrutinized the resemblance or dissimilitude of the copy and the original. By degrees I was less ashamed, by degrees I was more satisfied with myself; and I persevered in the practice of these double translations, which filled several books, till I had acquired the knowledge of both idioms, and the command at least of a correct style. This useful exercise of writing was accompanied and succeeded by the more pleasing occupation of reading the best authors. The perusal of the Roman classics was at once my exercise and reward. Dr. Middleton's History, which I then appreciated above its true value, naturally directed me to the writings of Cicero. The most perfect editions, that of Olivet, which may adorn the shelves of the rich, that of Ernesti, which should lie on the table of the learned, were not in my power. For the familiar epistles I used the text and English commentary of Bishop Ross: but my general edition was that of Verburgius, published at Amsterdam in two large volumes in folio, with an indifferent choice of various notes. I read, with application and pleasure, all the epistles, all the orations, and the most important treatises of rhetoric and philosophy; and as I read, I applauded the observation of Quintillian, that every student may judge of his own proficiency, by the satisfaction which he receives from the Roman orator. I tasted the beauties of language, I breathed the spirit of freedom, and I imbibed from his precepts and examples the public and private sense of a man. Cicero in Latin, and Xenophon in Greek, are indeed the two ancients whom I would first propose to a liberal scholar; not only for the merit of their style and sentiments, but for the admirable lessons, which may be applied almost to every situation of public and private life. Cicero's Epistles may in particular afford the models of every form of correspondence, from the careless effusions of tenderness and friendship, to the well-guarded declaration of discreet and dignified resentment. After finishing this [Page 63] great author, a library of eloquence and reason, I formed a more extensive plan of reviewing the Latin classics*, under the four divisions of, 1. historians, 2. poets, 3. orators, and 4. philosophers, in a chronological series, from the days of Plautus and Sallust, to the decline of the language and empire of Rome: and this plan, in the last twenty-seven months of my residence at Lausanne (January 1756—April 1758), I nearly accomplished. Nor was this review, however rapid, either hasty or supersicial. I indulged myself in a second and even a third perusal of Terence, Virgil, Horace, Tacitus, &c. and studied to imbibe the sense and spirit most congenial to my own. I never suffered a difficult or corrupt passage to escape, till I had viewed it in every light of which it was susceptible: though often disappointed, I always consulted the most learned or ingenious commentators, Torrentius and Dacier on Horace, Catrou and Servius on Virgil, Lipsius on Tacitus, Meziriac on Ovid, &c.; and in the ardour of my inquiries, I embraced a large circle of historical and critical erudition. My abstracts of each book were made in the French language: my observations often branched into particular essays; and I can still read, without contempt, a dissertation of eight folio pages on eight lines (287-294) of the fourth Georgic of Virgil. Mr. Deyverdun, my friend, whose name will be frequently repeated, had joined with equal zeal, though not with equal perseverance, in the same undertaking. To him every thought, every composition, was instantly communicated; with him I enjoyed the benefits of a free conversation on the topics of our common studies.

But it is scarcely possible for a mind endowed with any active curiosity to be long conversant with the Latin classics, without aspiring [Page 64] to know the Greek originals, whom they celebrate as their masters, and of whom they so warmly recommend the study and imitation;

—Vos exemplaria Graeca
Nocturnâ versate manu, versate diurnâ.

It was now that I regretted the early years which had been wasted in sickness or idleness, or mere idle reading; that I condemned the perverse method of our schoolmasters, who, by first teaching the mother-language, might descend with so much ease and perspicuity to the origin and etymology of a derivative idiom. In the nineteenth year of my age I determined to supply this defect; and the lessons of Pavilliard again contributed to smooth the entrance of the way, the Greek alphabet, the grammar, and the pronunciation according to the French accent. At my earnest request we presumed to open the Iliad; and I had the pleasure of beholding, though darkly and through a glass, the true image of Homer, whom I had long since admired in an English dress. After my tutor had left me to myself, I worked my way through about half the Iliad, and afterwards interpreted alone a large portion of Xenophon and Herodotus. But my ardour, destitute of aid and emulation, was gradually cooled, and, from the barren task of searching words in a lexicon, I withdrew to the free and familiar conversation of Virgil and Tacitus. Yet in my residence at Lausanne I had laid a solid foundation, which enabled me, in a more propitious season, to prosecute the study of Grecian literature.

From a blind idea of the usefulness of such abstract science, my father had been desirous, and even pressing, that I should devote some time to the mathematics*; nor could I refuse to comply with [Page 65] so reasonable a wish. During two winters I attended the private lectures of Monsieur de Traytorrens, who explained the elements of algebra and geometry, as far as the conic sections of the Marquis de l'Hôpital, and appeared satisfied with my diligence and improvement*. But as my childish propensity for numbers and calculations [Page 66] was totally extinct, I was content to receive the passive impression of my Professor's lectures, without any active exercise of my own powers. As soon as I understood the principles, I relinquished for ever the pursuit of the mathematics; nor can I lament that I desisted, before my mind was hardened by the habit of rigid demonstration, so destructive of the siner feelings of moral evidence, which must, however, determine the actions and opinions of our lives. I listened with more pleasure to the proposal of studying the law of nature and nations, which was taught in the academy of Lausanne by Mr. Vicat, a professor of some learning and reputation. But, instead of attending his public or private course, I preferred in my closet the lessons of his masters, and my own reason. Without being disgusted by Grotius or Puffendorf, I studied in their writings the duties of a man, the rights of a citizen, the theory of justice (it is, alas! a theory), and the laws of peace and war, which have had some influence on the practice of modern Europe. My fatigues were alleviated by the good sense of their commentator Barbeyrac. Locke's Treatise of Government instructed me in the knowledge of Whig principles, which are rather founded in reason than experience; but my delight was in the frequent perusal of Montesquieu, whose energy of style, and boldness of hypothesis, were powerful to awaken and stimulate the genius of the age. The logic of De Crousaz had prepared me to [Page 67] engage with his master Locke, and his antagonist Bayle; of whom the former may be used as a bridle, and the latter applied as a spur, to the curiosity of a young philosopher. According to the nature of their respective works, the schools of argument and objection, I carefully went through the Essay on Human Understanding, and occasionally consulted the most interesting articles of the Philosophic Dictionary. In the infancy of my reason I turned over, as an idle amusement, the most serious and important treatise: in its maturity, the most trifling performance could exercise my taste or judgment; and more than once I have been led by a novel into a deep and instructive train of thinking. But I cannot forbear to mention three particular books, since they may have remotely contributed to form the historian of the Roman empire. 1. From the Provincial Letters of Pascal, which almost every year I have perused with new pleasure, I learned to manage the weapon of grave and temperate irony, even on subjects of ecclesiastical solemnity. 2. The Life of Julian, by the Abbé de la Bleterie, first introduced me to the man and the times; and I should be glad to recover my first essay on the truth of the miracle which stopped the rebuilding of the Temple of Jerusalem. 3. In Giannone's Civil History of Naples, I observed with a critical eye the progress and abuse of sacerdotal power, and the revolutions of Italy in the darker ages. This various reading, which I now conducted with discretion, was digested, according to the precept and model of Mr. Locke, into a large common-place book; a practice, however, which I do not strenuously recommend. The action of the pen will doubtless imprint an idea on the mind as well as on the paper: but I much question whether the benefits of this laborious method are adequate to the waste of time; and I must agree with Dr. Johnson, (Idler, No. 74.) ‘that what is twice read, is commonly better remembered, than what is transcribed.’

[Page 68] During two years, if I forget some boyish excursions of a day or a week, I was fixed at Lausanne; but at the end of the third summer, my father consented that I should make the tour of Switzerland with Pavilliard: and our short absence of one month (September 21st—October 20th, 1755) was a reward and relaxation of my assiduous studies. The fashion of climbing the mountains and [Page 69] reviewing the Glaciers, had not yet been introduced by foreign travellers, who seek the sublime beauties of nature. But the political face of the country is not less diversified by the forms and spirit of so many various republics, from the jealous government of the few to the licentious freedom of the many. I contemplated with pleasure the new prospects of men and manners; though my conversation with the natives would have been more free and instructive, had I possessed the German, as well as the French language. We passed through most of the principal towns of Switzerland; Neufchâtel, Bienne, Soleurre, Arau, Baden, Zurich, Basil, and Bern. In every place we visited the churches, arsenals, libraries, and all the most eminent persons; and after my return, I digested my notes in fourteen or fifteen sheets of a French journal, which I dispatched to my father, as a proof that my time and his money had not been mis-spent. Had I found this journal among his papers, I might be tempted to select some passages; but I will not transcribe the printed accounts, and it may be sufficient to notice a remarkable spot, which left a deep and lasting impression on my memory. From Zurich we proceeded to the Benedictine Abbey of Einfidlen, more commonly styled Our Lady of the Hermits. I was astonished by the profuse ostentation of riches in the poorest corner of Europe; amidst a savage scene of woods and mountains, a palace appears to have been erected by magic; and it was erected by the potent magic of religion. A crowd of palmers and votaries was prostrate before the altar. The title and worship of the Mother of God provoked my indignation; and the lively naked image of superstition suggested to me, as in the same place it had done to Zuinglius, the most pressing argument for the reformation of the church. About two years after this tour, I passed at Geneva a useful and agreeable month; but this excursion, and some short visits in the Pais de Vaud, did not materially interrupt my studious and sedentary life at Lausanne.

[Page 70] My thirst of improvement, and the languid state of science at Lausanne, soon prompted me to solicit a literary correspondence with several men of learning, whom I had not an opportunity of personally consulting. 1. In the perusal of Livy▪ (xxx. 44.) I had been stopped by a sentence in a speech of Hannibal, which cannot be reconciled by any torture with his character or argument. The commentators dissemble, or confess their perplexity. It occurred to me, that the change of a single letter, by substituting odio instead of odio, might restore a clear and consistent sense; but I wished to weigh my emendation in scales less partial than my own. I addressed myself to M. Crevier*, the successor of Rollin, and a professor in the university of Paris, who had published a large and valuable edition of Livy. His answer was speedy and polite; he praised my ingenuity, and adopted my conjecture. 2. I maintained a Latin correspondence, at first anonymous, and afterwards in my own name, with Professor Breitinger of Zurich, the learned editor of a Septuagint Bible. In our frequent letters we discussed many questions of antiquity, many passages of the Latin classics. I proposed my interpretations and amendments. His censures, for he did not spare my boldness of conjecture, were sharp and strong; and I was encouraged by the consciousness of my strength, when I could stand in free debate against a critic of such eminence and erudition. 3. I corresponded on similar topics with the celebrated Professor Matthew Gesner, of the university of Gottingen; and he accepted, as courteously as the two former, the invitation of an unknown youth. But his abilities might possibly be decayed; his elaborate letters were feeble and prolix; and when I asked his proper direction, the vain old man covered half a sheet of paper with the foolish enumeration of his titles and offices. 4. These Professors of Paris, Zurich, and Gottingen, were strangers, whom I presumed to [Page 71] address on the credit of their name; but Mr. Allamand*, Minister at Bex, was my personal friend, with whom I maintained a more free and interesting correspondence. He was a master of language, of science, and, above all, of dispute; and his acute and flexible logic could support, with equal address, and perhaps with equal indifference, the adverse sides of every possible question. His spirit was active, but his pen had been indolent. Mr. Allamand had exposed himself to much scandal and reproach, by an anonymous letter (1745) to the Protestants of France; in which he labours to persuade them that public worship is the exclusive right and duty of the state, and that their numerous assemblies of dissenters and rebels were not authorised by the law or the gospel. His style is animated, his arguments specious; and if the papist may seem to lurk under the mask of a protestant, the philosopher is concealed under the disguise of a papist. After some trials in France and Holland, which were defeated by his fortune or his character, a genius that might have enlightened or deluded the world, was buried in a country living, unknown to fame, and discontented with mankind. Est sacrificulus in pago, et rusticos decipit. As often as private or ecclesiastical business called him to Lausanne, I enjoyed the pleasure and benefit of his conversation, and we were mutually flattered by our attention to each other. Our correspondence, in his absence, chiefly turned on Locke's metaphysics, which he attacked, and I defended; the origin of ideas, the principles of evidence, and the doctrine of liberty; ‘And found no end, in wandering mazes lost.’ By fencing with so skilful a master, I acquired some dexterity in the use of my philosophic weapons; but I was still the slave of education and prejudice. He had some measures to keep; and I much [Page 72] suspect that he never shewed me the true colours of his secret scepticism.

Before I was recalled from Switzerland, I had the satisfaction of seeing the most extraordinary man of the age; a poet, an historian, a philosopher, who has filled thirty quartos, of prose and verse, with his various productions, often excellent, and always entertaining. Need I add the name of Voltaire? After forfeiting, by his own misconduct, the friendship of the first of kings, he retired, at the age of sixty, with a plentiful fortune, to a free and beautiful country, and resided two winters (1757 and 1758) in the town or neighbourhood of Lausanne. My desire of beholding Voltaire, whom I then rated above his real magnitude, was easily gratified. He received me with civility as an English youth; but I cannot boast of any peculiar notice or distinction, Virgilium vidi tantum.

The ode which he composed on his first arrival on the banks of the Leman Lake, O Maison d' Aristippe! O Jardin d'Epicure, &c. had been imparted as a secret to the gentleman by whom I was introduced. He allowed me to read it twice; I knew it by heart; and as my discretion was not equal to my memory, the author was soon displeased by the circulation of a copy. In writing this trivial anecdote, I wished to observe whether my memory was impaired, and I have the comfort of finding that every line of the poem is still engraved in fresh and indelible characters. The highest gratification which I derived from Voltaire's residence at Lausanne, was the uncommon circumstance of hearing a great poet declaim his own productions on the stage. He had formed a company of gentlemen and ladies, some of whom were not destitute of talents. A decent theatre was framed at Monrepos, a country-house at the end of a suburb; dresses and scenes were provided at the expence of the actors; and the author directed the rehearsals with the zeal and attention of paternal love. In two successive winters his tragedies of Zayre, Alzire, Zulime, and his sentimental comedy of the Enfant [Page 73] Prodigue, were played at the theatre of Monrepos. Voltaire represented the characters best adapted to his years, Lusignan, Alvaréz, Benassar, Euphemon. His declamation was fashioned to the pomp and cadence of the old stage; and he expressed the enthusiasm of poetry, rather than the feelings of nature. My ardour, which soon became conspicuous, seldom failed of procuring me a ticket. The habits of pleasure fortified my taste for the French theatre, and that taste has perhaps abated my idolatry for the gigantic genius of Shakespeare, which is inculcated from our infancy as the first duty of an Englishman. The wit and philosophy of Voltaire, his table and theatre, refined, in a visible degree, the manners of Lausanne; and, however addicted to study, I enjoyed my share of the amusements of society. After the representation of Monrepos I sometimes supped with the actors. I was now familiar in some, and acquainted in many houses; and my evenings were generally devoted to cards and conversation, either in private parties or numerous assemblies.

I hesitate, from the apprehension of ridicule, when I approach the delicate subject of my early love. By this word I do not mean the polite attention, the gallantry, without hope or design, which has originated in the spirit of chivalry, and is interwoven with the texture of French manners. I understand by this passion the union of desire, friendship, and tenderness, which is inflamed by a single female, which prefers her to the rest of her sex, and which seeks her possession as the supreme or the sole happiness of our being. I need not blush at recollecting the object of my choice; and though my love was disappointed of success, I am rather proud that I was once capable of feeling such a pure and exalted sentiment. The personal attractions of Mademoiselle Susan Curchod were embellished by the virtues and talents of the mind. Her fortune was humble, but her family was respectable. Her mother, a native of France, had preferred her religion to her country. The profession [Page 74] of her father did not extinguish the moderation and philosophy of his temper, and he lived content with a small salary and laborious duty, in the obscure lot of minister of Crassy, in the mountains that separate the Pays de Vaud from the county of Burgundy*. In the solitude of a sequestered village he bestowed a liberal, and even learned, education on his only daughter. She surpassed his hopes by her proficiency in the sciences and languages; and in her short visits to some relations at Lausanne, the wit, the beauty, and erudition of Mademoiselle Curchod were the theme of universal applause. The report of such a prodigy awakened my curiosity; I saw and loved. I found her learned without pedantry, lively in conversation, pure in sentiment, and elegant in manners; and the first sudden emotion was fortified by the habits and knowledge of a more familiar acquaintance. She permitted me to make her two or three visits at her father's house. I passed some happy days there, in the mountains of Burgundy, and her parents honourably encouraged the connection. In a calm retirement the gay vanity of [Page 75] youth no longer fluttered in her bosom; she listened to the voice of truth and passion, and I might presume to hope that I had made some impression on a virtuous heart. At Crassy and Lausanne I indulged my dream of felicity: but on my return to England, I soon discovered that my father would not hear of this strange alliance, and that without his consent I was myself destitute and helpless. After a painful struggle I yielded to my fate: I sighed as a lover, I obeyed as a son*; my wound was insensibly healed by time, absence, and the habits of a new life. My cure was accelerated by a faithful report of the tranquillity and cheerfulness of the lady herself, and my love subsided in friendship and esteem. The minister of Crassy soon afterwards died; his stipend died with him: his daughter retired to Geneva, where, by teaching young ladies, she earned a hard subsistence for herself and her mother; but in her lowest distress she maintained a spotless reputation, and a dignified behaviour. A rich banker of Paris, a citizen of Geneva, had the good fortune and good sense to discover and possess this inestimable treasure; and in the capital of taste and luxury she resisted the temptations of wealth, as she had sustained the hardships of indigence. The genius of her husband has exalted him to the most conspicuous station in Europe. In every change of prosperity and disgrace he has reclined on the bosom of a faithful friend; and Mademoiselle Curchod is now the wife of M. Necker, the minister, and perhaps the legislator, of the French monarchy.

Whatsoever have been the fruits of my education, they must be ascribed to the fortunate banishment which placed me at Lausanne. I have sometimes applied to my own fate the verses of Pindar, which remind an Olympic champion that his victory was the consequence [Page 76] of his exile; and that at home, like a domestic fowl, his days might have rolled away inactive or inglorious.

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[...] *
Wesps Pindar. Olymp. xii.

If my childish revolt against the religion of my country had not stripped me in time of my academic gown, the five important years, so liberally improved in the studies and conversation of Lausanne, would have been steeped in port and prejudice among the monks of Oxford. Had the fatigue of idleness compelled me to read, the path of learning would not have been enlightened by a ray of philosophic freedom. I should have grown to manhood ignorant of the life and language of Europe, and my knowledge of the world would have been confined to an English cloister. But my religious error fixed me at Lausanne, in a state of banishment and disgrace. The rigid course of discipline and abstinence, to which I was condemned, invigorated the constitution of my mind and body; poverty and pride estranged me from my countrymen. One mischief, however, and in their eyes a serious and irreparable mischief, was derived from the success of my Swiss education: I had ceased to be an Englishman. At the flexible period of youth, from the age of sixteen to twenty-one, my opinions, habits, and sentiments were cast [Page 77] in a foreign mould; the faint and distant remembrance of England was almost obliterated; my native language was grown less familiar; and I should have cheerfully accepted the offer of a moderate independence on the terms of perpetual exile. By the good sense and temper of Pavilliard my yoke was insensibly lightened: he left me master of my time and actions; but he could neither change my situation, nor increase my allowance, and with the progress of my years and reason I impatiently sighed for the moment of my deliverance. At length, in the Spring of the year one thousand seven hundred and fifty-eight, my father signified his permission and his pleasure that I should immediately return home. We were then in the midst of a war: the resentment of the French at our taking their ships without a declaration, had rendered that polite nation somewhat peevish and difficult. They denied a passage to English travellers, and the road through Germany was circuitous, toilsome, and perhaps in the neighbourhood of the armies, exposed to some danger. In this perplexity, two Swiss officers of my acquaintance in the Dutch service, who were returning to their garrisons, offered to conduct me through France as one of their companions; nor did we sufficiently reflect that my borrowed name and regimentals might have been considered, in case of a discovery, in a very serious light. I took my leave of Lausanne on the 11th of April 1758, with a mixture of joy and regret, in the firm resolution of revisiting, as a man, the persons and places which had been so dear to my youth. We travelled slowly, but pleasantly, in a hired coach, over the hills of Franche-compté and the fertile province of Lorraine, and passed, without accident or inquiry, through several fortified towns of the French frontier: from thence we entered the wild Ardennes of the Austrian dutchy of Luxemburg; and after crossing the Meuse at Liege, we traversed the heaths of Brabant, and reached, on the fifteenth day, our Dutch garrison of Bois le Duc. In our passage through Nancy, my eye was gratified by the aspect of a regular and beautiful city, the work of Stanislaus, [Page 78] who, after the storms of Polish royalty, reposed in the love and gratitude of his new subjects of Lorraine. In our halt at Maestricht I visited Mr. de Beaufort, a learned critic, who was known to me by his specious arguments against the five first centuries of the Roman History. After dropping my regimental companions, I stepped aside to visit Rotterdam and the Hague. I wished to have observed a country, the monument of freedom and industry; but my days were numbered, and a longer delay would have been ungraceful. I hastened to embark at the Brill, landed the next day at Harwich, and proceeded to London, where my father awaited my arrival. The whole term of my first absence from England was four years ten months and fifteen days.

In the prayers of the church our personal concerns are judiciously reduced to the threefold distinction of mind, body, and estate. The sentiments of the mind excite and exercise our social sympathy. The review of my moral and literary character is the most interesting to myself and to the public; and I may expatiate, without reproach, on my private studies; since they have produced the publc writings, which can alone entitle me to the esteem and friendship of my readers. The experience of the world inculcates a discreet reserve on the subject of our person and estate, and we soon learn that a free disclosure of our riches or poverty would provoke the malice of envy, or encourage the insolence of contempt.

The only person in England whom I was impatient to see was my aunt Porten, the affectionate guardian of my tender years. I hastened to her house in College-street, Westminster; and the evening was spent in the effusions of joy and confidence. It was not without some awe and apprehension that I approached the presence of my father. My infancy, to speak the truth, had been neglected at home; the severity of his look and language at our last parting still dwelt on my memory; nor could I form any notion of his character, or my probable reception. They were both more agreeable than I could expect. The domestic discipline of our ancestors has [Page 79] been relaxed by the philosophy and softness of the age; and if my father remembered that he had trembled before a stern parent, it was only to adopt with his own son an opposite mode of behaviour. He received me as a man and a friend; all constraint was banished at our first interview, and we ever afterwards continued on the same terms of easy and equal politeness. He applauded the success of my education; every word and action was expressive of the most cordial affection; and our lives would have passed without a cloud, if his oeconomy had been equal to his fortune, or if his fortune had been equal to his desires. During my absence he had married his second wife, Miss Dorothea Patton, who was introduced to me with the most unfavourable prejudice. I considered his second marriage as an act of displeasure, and I was disposed to hate the rival of my mother. But the injustice was in my own fancy, and the imaginary monster was an amiable and deserving woman. I could not be mistaken in the first view of her understanding, her knowledge, and the elegant spirit of her conversation: her polite welcome, and her assiduous care to study and gratify my wishes, announced at least that the surface would be smooth; and my suspicions of art and falsehood were gradually dispelled by the full discovery of her warm and exquisite sensibility. After some reserve on my side, our minds associated in confidence and friendship; and as Mrs. Gibbon had neither children nor the hopes of children, we more easily adopted the tender names and genuine characters of mother and of son. By the indulgence of these parents, I was left at liberty to consult my taste or reason in the choice of place, of company, and of amusements; and my excursions were bounded only by the limits of the island, and the measure of my income. Some faint efforts were made to procure me the employment of secretary to a foreign embassy; and I listened to a scheme which would again have transported me to the continent. Mrs. Gibbon, with seeming wisdom, exhorted me to take chambers in the Temple, and devote my leisure to the study of the law. I cannot repent of having neglected her [Page 80] advice. Few men, without the spur of necessity, have resolution to force their way through the thorns and thickets of that gloomy labyrinth. Nature had not endowed me with the bold and ready eloquence which makes itself heard amidst the tumult of the bar; and I should probably have been diverted from the labours of literature, without acquiring the fame or fortune of a successful pleader. I had no need to call to my aid the regular duties of a profession; every day, every hour, was agreeably filled; nor have I known, like so many of my countrymen, the tediousness of an idle life.

Of the two years (May 1758—May 1760,) between my return to England and the embodying of the Hampshire militia, I passed about nine months in London, and the remainder in the country. The metropolis affords many amusements, which are open to all. It is itself an astonishing and perpetual spectacle to the curious eye; and each taste, each sense may be gratified by the variety of objects which will occur in the long circuit of a morning walk. I assiduously frequented the theatres at a very propitious aera of the stage, when a constellation of excellent actors, both in tragedy and comedy, was eclipsed by the meridian brightness of Garrick in the maturity of his judgement, and vigour of his performance. The pleasures of a town-life are within the reach of every man who is regardless of his health, his money, and his company. By the contagion of example I was sometimes seduced; but the better habits, which I had formed at Lausanne, induced me to seek a more elegant and rational society; and if my search was less easy and successful than I might have hoped, I shall at present impute the failure to the disadvantages of my situation and character. Had the rank and fortune of my parents given them an annual establishment in London, their own house would have introduced me to a numerous and polite circle of acquaintance. But my father's taste had always preferred the highest and the lowest company, for which he was equally qualified; and after a twelve years retirement, he was no longer in the memory of the great with whom he had associated. I found myself a stranger in [Page 81] the midst of a vast and unknown city; and at my entrance into life I was reduced to some dull family parties, and some scattered connections, which were not such as I should have chosen for myself. The most useful friends of my father were the Mallets: they received me with civility and kindness at first on his account, and afterwards on my own; and (if I may use Lord Chesterfield's words) I was soon domesticated in their house. Mr. Mallet, a name among the English poets, is praised by an unforgiving enemy, for the ease and elegance of his conversation, and his wife was not destitute of wit or learning. By his assistance I was introduced to lady Hervey, the mother of the present earl of Bristol. Her age and infirmities confined her at home; her dinners were select; in the evening her house was open to the best company of both sexes and all nations; nor was I displeased at her preference and affectation of the manners, the language, and the literature of France. But my progress in the English world was in general left to my own efforts, and those efforts were languid and slow. I had not been endowed by art or nature with those happy gifts of confidence and address, which unlock every door and every bosom; nor would it be reasonable to complain of the just consequences of my sickly childhood, foreign education, and reserved temper. While coaches were rattling through Bond-street, I have passed many a solitary evening in my lodging with my books. My studies were sometimes interrupted by a sigh, which I breathed towards Lausanne; and on the approach of Spring, I withdrew without reluctance from the noisy and extensive scene of crowds without company, and dissipation without pleasure. In each of the twenty-five years of my acquaintance with London (1758—1783) the prospect gradually brightened; and this unfavourable picture most properly belongs to the first period after my return from Switzerland.

[Page 82] My father's residence in Hampshire, where I have passed many light, and some heavy hours, was at Buriton, near Peterssield, one mile from the Portsmouth road, and at the easy distance of fifty-eight miles from London* An old mansion, in a state of decay, had been converted into the fashion and convenience of a modern house: and if strangers had nothing to see, the inhabitants had little to desire. The spot was not happily chosen, at the end of the village and the bottom of the hill: but the aspect of the adjacent grounds was various and cheerful; the downs commanded a noble prospect, and the long hanging woods in sight of the house could not perhaps have been improved by art or expence. My father kept in his own hands the whole of the estate, and even rented some additional land; and whatsoever might be the balance of profit and loss, the farm supplied him with amusement and plenty. The produce maintained a number of men and horses, which were multiplied by the intermixture of domestic and rural servants; and in the intervals of labour the favourite team, a handsome set of bays or greys, was harnessed to the coach. The oeconomy of the house was regulated by the taste and prudence of Mrs. Gibbon. She prided herself in the elegance of her occasional dinners; and from the uncleanly avarice of Madame Pavilliard, I was suddenly transported to the daily neatness and luxury of an English table. Our immediate neighbourhood was rare and rustic; but from the verge of our hills, as far as Chichester and Goodwood, the western district of Sussex was interspersed with noble seats and hospitable families, with whom we cultivated a friendly, and might have enjoyed a very frequent, intercourse. As my stay at Buriton was always voluntary, I was received and dismissed with smilies; but the comforts of my retirement did not depend on the ordinary pleasures of the country. My [Page 83] father could never inspire me with his love and knowledge of farming. I never handled a gun, I seldom mounted an horse; and my philosophic walks were soon terminated by a shady bench, where I was long detained by the sedentary amusement of reading or meditation. At home I occupied a pleasant and spacious apartment; the library on the same floor was soon considered as my peculiar domain; and I might say with truth, that I was never less alone than when by myself. My sole complaint, which I piously suppressed, arose from the kind restraint imposed on the freedom of my time. By the habit of early rising I always secured a sacred portion of the day, and many scattered moments were stolen and employed by my studious industry. But the family hours of breakfast, of dinner, of tea, and of supper, were regular and long; after breakfast Mrs. Gibbon expected my company in her dressing-room; after tea my father claimed my conversation and the perusal of the newspapers; and in the midst of an interesting work I was often called down to receive the visit of some idle neighbours. Their dinners and visits required, in due season, a similar return; and I dreaded the period of the full moon, which was usually reserved for our more distant excursions. I could not refuse attending my father, in the summer of 1759, to the races at Stockbridge, Reading, and Odiam, where he had entered a horse for the hunter's plate; and I was not displeased with the sight of our Olympic games, the beauty of the spot, the fleetness of the horses, and the gay tumult of the numerous spectators. As soon as the militia business was agitated, many days were tediously consumed in meetings of deputy-lieutenants at Petersfield, Alton, and Winchester. In the close of the same year, 1759, Sir Simeon (then Mr.) Stewart attempted an unsuccessful contest for the county of Southampton, against Mr. Legge, Chancellor of the Exchequer: a well-known contest, in which Lord Bute's influence was first exerted and censured. Our canvas at Portsmouth and Gosport lasted several days; but [Page 84] the interruption of my studies was compensated in some degree by the spectacle of English manners, and the acquisition of some practical knowledge.

If in a more domestic or more dissipated scene my application was somewhat relaxed, the love of knowledge was inflamed and gratified by the command of books; and I compared the poverty of Lausanne with the plenty of London. My father's study at Buriton was stuffed with much trash of the last age, with much high church divinity and politics, which have long since gone to their proper place: yet it contained some valuable editions of the classics and the fathers, the choice, as it should seem, of Mr. Law; and many English publications of the times had been occasionally added. From this slender beginning I have gradually formed a numerous and select library, the foundation of my works, and the best comfort of my life, both at home and abroad. On the receipt of the first quarter, a large share of my allowance was appropriated to my literary wants. I cannot forget the joy with which I exchanged a bank-note of twenty pounds for the twenty volumes of the Memoirs of the Academy of Inscriptions; nor would it have been easy, by any other expenditure of the same sum, to have procured so large and lasting a fund of rational amusement. At a time when I most assiduously frequented this school of antient literature, I thus expressed my opinion of a learned and various collection, which since the year 1759 has been doubled in magnitude, though not in merit— ‘Une de ces societés, qui ont mieux immortalisé Louis XIV. qu'un ambition souvent pernicieuse aux hommes, commençoit deja ces recherches qui réunissent la justesse de l'esprit, l'ameneté & l'erudition: où l'on voit tant des dècouvertes, et quelquefois, ce qui ne cede qu'à peine aux decouvertes, une ignorance modeste et savante. ’ The review of my library must be reserved for the period of its maturity; but in this place I may allow myself to observe, that I am not conscious of having ever bought a book from a [Page 85] motive of ostentation, that every volume, before it was deposited on the shelf, was either read or sufficiently examined, and that I soon adopted the tolerating maxim of the elder Pliny, ‘nullum esse librum tam malum ut non ex aliquâ parte prodesset.’ I could not yet find leisure or courage to renew the pursuit of the Greek language, excepting by reading the lessons of the Old and New Testament every Sunday, when I attended the family to church. The series of my Latin authors was less strenuously completed; but the acquisition, by inheritance or purchase, of the best editions of Cicero, Quintilian, Livy, Tacitus, Ovid, &c. afforded a fair prospect, which I seldom neglected. I persevered in the useful method of abstracts and observations; and a single example may suffice, of a note which had almost swelled into a work. The solution of a passage of Livy (xxxviii. 38.) involved me in the dry and dark treatises of Greaves, Arbuthnot, Hooper, Bernard, Eisenschmidt, Gronovius, La Barré, Freret, &c; and in my French essay (chap. 20.) I ridiculously send the reader to my own manuscript remarks on the weights, coins, and measures of the ancients, which were abruptly terminated by the militia drum.

As I am now entering on a more ample field of society and study, I can only hope to avoid a vain and prolix garrulity, by overlooking the vulgar crowd of my acquaintance, and confining myself to such intimate friends among books and men, as are best entitled to my notice by their own merit and reputation, or by the deep impression which they have left on my mind. Yet I will embrace this occasion of recommending to the young student a practice, which about this time I myself adopted. After glancing my eye over the design and order of a new book, I suspended the perusal till I had finished the task of self-examination, till I had revolved, in a solitary walk, all that I knew or believed, or had thought on the subject of the whole work, or of some particular chapter: I was then qualified to discern how much the author added to my original stock; and [Page 86] I was sometimes satisfied by the agreement, I was sometimes armed by the opposition, of our ideas. The favourite companions of my leisure were our English writers since the Revolution: they breathe the spirit of reason and liberty; and they most seasonably contributed to restore the purity of my own language, which had been corrupted by the long use of a foreign idiom. By the judicious advice of Mr. Mallet, I was directed to the writings of Swift and Addison; wit and simplicity are their common attributes: but the style of Swift is supported by manly original vigour; that of Addison is adorned by the female graces of elegance and mildness. The old reproach, that no British altars had been raised to the muse of history, was recently disproved by the first performances of Robertson and Hume, the histories of Scotland and of the Stuarts. I will assume the presumption of saying, that I was not unworthy to read them: nor will I disguise my different feelings in the repeated perusals. The perfect composition, the nervous language, the well-turned periods of Dr. Robertson, inflamed me to the ambitious hope that I might one day tread in his footsteps: the calm philosophy, the careless inimitable beauties of his friend and rival, often forced me to close the volume with a mixed sensation of delight and despair.

The design of my first work, the Essay on the Study of Literature, was suggested by a refinement of vanity, the desire of justifying and praising the object of a favourite pursuit. In France, to which my ideas were confined, the learning and language of Greece and Rome were neglected by a philosophic age. The guardian of those studies, the Academy of Inscriptions, was degraded to the lowest rank among the three royal societies of Paris: the new appellation of Erudits was contemptuously applied to the successors of Lipsius and Casaubon; and I was provoked to hear (see M. d'Alembert Discours preliminaire à l'Encyclopedie) that the exercise of the memory, their sole merit, had been superseded by the nobler faculties of the imagination and the judgment. I was ambitious of proving by my own [Page 87] example, as well as by my precepts, that all the faculties of the mind may be exercised and displayed by the study of ancient literature: I began to select and adorn the various proofs and illustrations which had offered themselves in reading the classics; and the first pages or chapters of my essay were composed before my departure from Lausanne. The hurry of the journey, and of the first weeks of my English life, suspended all thoughts of serious application: but my object was ever before my eyes; and no more than ten days, from the first to the eleventh of July, were suffered to elapse after my summer establishment at Buriton. My essay was finished in about six weeks; and as soon as a fair copy had been transcribed by one of the French prisoners at Peterssield, I looked round for a critic and judge of my first performance. A writer can seldom be content with the doubtful recompence of solitary approbation; but a youth ignorant of the world, and of himself, must desire to weigh his talents in some scales less partial than his own: my conduct was natural, my motive laudable, my choice of Dr. Maty judicious and fortunate. By descent and education Dr. Maty, though born in Holland, might be considered as a Frenchman; but he was fixed in London by the practice of physic, and an office in the British Museum. His reputation was justly founded on the eighteen volumes of the Journal Britannique, which he had supported, almost alone, with perseverance and success. This humble though useful labour, which had once been dignisied by the genius of Bayle and the learning of Le Clerc, was not disgraced by the taste, the knowledge, and the judgment of Maty: he exhibits a candid and pleasing view of the state of literature in England during a period of six years (January 1750—December 1755); and, far different from his angry son, he handles the rod of criticism with the tenderness and reluctance of a parent. The author of the Journal Britannique sometimes aspires to the character of a poet and philosopher: his style is pure and elegant; and in his virtues, or even in his defects, he may be ranked as one of the last [Page 88] disciples of the school of Fontenelle. His answer to my first letter was prompt and polite: after a careful examination he returned my manuscript, with some animadversion and much applause; and when I visited London in the ensuing winter, we discussed the design and execution in several free and familiar conversations. In a short excursion to Buriton I reviewed my essay, according to his friendly advice; and after suppressing a third, adding a third, and altering a third, I consummated my first labour by a short preface, which is dated February 3d, 1759. Yet I still shrunk from the press with the terrors of virgin modesty: the manuscript was safely deposited in my desk; and as my attention was engaged by new objects, the delay might have been prolonged till I had fulfilled the precept of Horace, ‘nonumque prematur in annum.’ Father Sirmond, a learned jesuit, was still more rigid, since he advised a young friend to expect the mature age of fifty, before he gave himself or his writings to the public (Olivet Histoire de l'Academie Françoise, tom. ii. p. 143.). The counsel was singular; but it is still more singular that it should have been approved by the example of the author. Sirmond was himself fifty-five years of age when he published (in 1614) his first work, an edition of Sidonius Apollinaris, with many valuable annotations: (see his life, before the great edition of his works in five volumes folio, Paris, 1696, é Typographiâ Regiâ).

Two years elapsed in silence: but in the spring of 1761 I yielded to the authority of a parent, and complied, like a pious son, with the wish of my own heart*. My private resolves were influenced [Page 89] by the state of Europe. About this time the belligerent powers had made and accepted overtures of peace; our English plenipotentiaries were named to assist at the Congress of Augsbourg, which never met: I wished to attend them as a gentleman or a secretary; and my father fondly believed that the proof of some literary talents might introduce me to public notice, and second the recommendations of my friends. After a last revisal I consulted with Mr. Mallet and Dr. Maty, who approved the design and promoted the execution. Mr. Mallet, after hearing me read my manuscript, received it from my hands, and delivered it into those of Becket, with whom he made an agreement in my name; an easy agreement: I required only a certain number of copies; and, without transferring my property, I devolved on the bookseller the charges and profits of the edition. Dr. Maty undertook, in my absence, to correct the sheets: he inserted, without my knowledge, an elegant and flattering epistle to the author; which is composed, however, with so much art, that, in case of a defeat, his favourable report might have been ascribed to the indulgence of a friend for the rash attempt of a young English gentleman. The work was printed and published, under the title of Essai sur l'Étude de la Litterature, à Londres, chez T. Becket et P. A. de Hondt, 1761, in a small volume in duodecimo: my dedication to my father, a [Page 90] proper and pious address, was composed the twenty-eighth of May: Dr. Maty's letter is dated the 16th of June; and I received the first copy (June 23d) at Alresford, two days before I marched with the Hampshire militia. Some weeks afterwards, on the same ground, I presented my book to the late Duke of York, who breakfasted in Colonel Pitt's tent. By my father's direction, and Mallet's advice, many literary gifts were distributed to several eminent characters in England and France; two books were sent to the Count de Caylus, and the Duchesse d'Aiguillon, at Paris: I had reserved twenty copies for my friends at Lausanne, as the first fruits of my education, and a grateful token of my remembrance: and on all these persons I levied an unavoidable tax of civility and compliment. It is not surprising that a work, of which the style and sentiments were so totally foreign, should have been more successful abroad than at home. I was delighted by the copious extracts, the warm commendations, and the flattering predictions of the Journals of France and Holland: and the next year (1762) a new edition (I believe at Geneva) extended the fame, or at least the circulation, of the work. In England it was received with cold indifference, little read, and speedily forgotten: a small impression was slowly dispersed; the bookseller murmured, and the author (had his feelings been more exquisite) might have wept over the blunders and baldness of the English translation. The publication of my History fifteen years afterwards revived the memory of my first performance, and the Essay was eagerly sought in the shops. But I refused the permission which Becket solicited of reprinting it: the public curiosity was imperfectly satisfied by a pirated copy of the booksellers of Dublin; and when a copy of the original edition has been discovered in a sale, the primitive value of half-a-crown has risen to the fanciful price of a guinea or thirty shillings.

I have expatiated on the petty circumstances and period of my first publication, a memorable aera in the life of a student, when he [Page 91] ventures to reveal the measure of his mind: his hopes and fears are multiplied by the idea of self-importance, and he believes for a while that the eyes of mankind are sixed on his person and performance. Whatever may be my present reputation, it no longer rests on the merit of this first essay; and at the end of twenty-eight years I may appreciate my juvenile work with the impartiality, and almost with the indifference, of a stranger. In his answer to Lady Hervey, the Count de Caylus admires, or affects to admire, ‘les livres sans nombre que Mr. Gibbon a lus et tres bien lus* ’. But, alas! my stock of erudition at that time was scanty and superficial; and if I allow myself the liberty of naming the Greek masters, my genuine and personal acquaintance was consined to the Latin classics. The most serious defect of my Essay is a kind of obscurity and abruptness which always fatigues, and may often elude, the attention of the reader. Instead of a precise and proper definition of the title itself, the sense of the word Litterature is loosely and variously applied: a number of remarks and examples, historical, critical, philosophical, are heaped on each other without method or connection; and if we except some introductory pages, all the remaining chapters might indifferently be reversed or transposed. The obscurity of many passages is often affected, brevis esse laboro, obscurus fio; the desire of expressing perhaps a common idea with sententious and oracular brevity: alas! how fatal has been the imitation of Montesquieu! But this obscurity sometimes proceeds from a mixture of light and darkness in the author's mind; from a partial ray which strikes upon an angle, instead of spreading itself over the surface of an object. After this fair confession I shall presume to say, that the Essay does credit to a young writer of two and twenty years of age, who had read with taste, who thinks with freedom, and who writes in a foreign language with spirit and elegance. The defence of the early History of Rome and the new Chronology of Sir Isaac Newton [Page 92] form a specious argument. The patriotic and political design of the Georgies is happily conceived; and any probable conjecture, which tends to raise the dignity of the poet and the poem, deserves to be adopted, without a rigid scrutiny. Some dawnings of a philosophic spirit enlighten the general remarks on the study of history and of man. I am not displeased with the inquiry into the origin and nature of the gods of polytheism, which might deserve the illustration of a riper judgment. Upon the whole, I may apply to the first labour of my pen the speech of a far superior artist, when he surveyed the first productions of his pencil. After viewing some portraits which he had painted in his youth, my friend Sir Joshua Reynolds acknowledged to me, that he was rather humbled than flattered by the comparison with his present works; and that after so much time and study, he had conceived his improvement to be much greater than he found it to have been.

At Lausanne I composed the first chapters of my Essay in French, the familiar language of my conversation and studies, in which it was easier for me to write than in my mother-tongue. After my return to England I continued the same practice, without any affectation, or design of repudiating (as Dr. Bentley would say) my vernacular idiom. But I should have escaped some Anti-gallican clamour, had I been content with the more natural character of an English author. I should have been more consistent had I rejected Mallet's advice, of prefixing an English dedication to a French book; a confusion of tongues that seemed to accuse the ignorance of my patron. The use of a foreign dialect might be excused by the hope of being employed as a negociator, by the desire of being generally understood on the continent; but my true motive was doubtless the ambition of new and singular fame, an Englishman claiming a place among the writers of France. The Latin tongue had been consecrated by the service of the church, it was refined by the imitation of the ancients; and in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries the scholars [Page 93] of Europe enjoyed the advantage, which they have gradually resigned, of conversing and writing in a common and learned idiom. As that idiom was no longer in any country the vulgar speech, they all stood on a level with each other; yet a citizen of old Rome might have smiled at the best Latinity of the Germans and Britons; and we may learn from the Ciceronianus of Erasmus, how difficult it was found to steer a middle course between pedantry and barbarism. The Romans themselves had sometimes attempted a more perilous task, of writing in a living language, and appealing to the taste and judgment of the natives. The vanity of Tully was doubly interested in the Greek memoirs of his own consulship; and if he modestly supposes that some Latinisms might be detected in his style, he is confident of his own skill in the art of Isocrates and Aristotle; and he requests his friend Atticus to disperse the copies of his work at Athens, and in the other cities of Greece, (ad Atticum, i. 19. ii. 1.) But it must not be forgotten, that from infancy to manhood Cicero and his contemporaries had read and declaimed, and composed with equal diligence in both languages; and that he was not allowed to frequent a Latin school till he had imbibed the lessons of the Greek grammarians and rhetoricians. In modern times, the language of France has been diffused by the merit of her writers, the social manners of the natives, the influence of the monarchy, and the exile of the protestants. Several foreigners have seized the opportunity of speaking to Europe in this common dialect, and Germany may plead the authority of Leibnitz and Frederic, of the first of her philosophers, and the greatest of her kings. The just pride and laudable prejudice of England has restrained this communication of idioms; and of all the nations on this side of the Alps, my countrymen are the least practised, and least perfect in the exercise of the French tongue. By Sir William Temple and Lord Chesterfield it was only used on occasions of civility and business, and their printed letters will not be quoted as models of composition. Lord Bolingbroke may [Page 94] have published in French a sketch of his Reflections on Exile: but his reputation now reposes on the address of Voltaire, ‘Docte sermones utriusque linguae;’ and by his English dedication to Queen Caroline, and his Essay on Epic Poetry, it should seem that Voltaire himself wished to deserve a return of the same compliment. The exception of Count Hamilton cannot fairly be urged; though an Irishman by birth, he was educated in France from his childhood. Yet I am surprised that a long residence in England, and the habits of domestic conversation, did not affect the ease and purity of his inimitable style; and I regret the omission of his English verses, which might have afforded an amusing object of comparison. I might therefore assume the primus ego in patriam, &c.; but with what success I have explored this untrodden path must be left to the decision of my French readers. Dr. Maty, who might himself be questioned as a foreigner, has secured his retreat at my expence. ‘Je ne crois pas que vous vous piquiez d'être moins facile à reconnoitre pour un Anglois que Lucullus pour un Romain.’ My friends at Paris have been more indulgent, they received me as a countryman, or at least as a provincial; but they were friends and Parisians*. The defects which Maty insinuates, ‘Ces traits saillans, ces figures hardies, ce sacrifice de la régle au sentiment, et de la cadence à la force,’ are the faults of the youth, rather than of the stranger: and after the long and laborious exercise of my own language, I am conscious that my French style has been ripened and improved.

I have already hinted, that the publication of my Essay was delayed till I had embraced the military profession. I shall now amuse myself with the recollection of an active scene, which bears no affinity to any other period of my studious and social life.

[Page 95] In the outset of a glorious war, the English people had been defended by the aid of German mercenaries. A national militia has been the cry of every patriot since the Revolution; and this measure, both in parliament and in the field, was supported by the country gentlemen or Tories, who insensibly transferred their loyalty to the house of Hanover: in the language of Mr. Burke, they have changed the idol, but they have preserved the idolatry. In the act of offering our names and receiving our commissions, as major and captain in the Hampshire regiment, (June 12th, 1759,) we had not supposed that we should be dragged away, my father from his farm, myself from my books, and condemned, during two years and a half, (May 10, 1760—December 23, 1762,) to a wandering life of military servitude. But a weekly or monthly exercise of thirty thousand provincials would have left them useless and ridiculous; and after the pretence of an invasion had vanished, the popularity of Mr. Pitt gave a sanction to the illegal step of keeping them till the end of the war under arms, in constant pay and duty, and at a distance from their respective homes. When the King's order for our embodying came down, it was too late to retreat, and too soon to repent. The South battalion of the Hampshire militia was a small independent corps of four hundred and seventy-six, officers and men, commanded by lieutenant-colonel Sir Thomas Worsley, who, after a prolix and passionate contest, delivered us from the tyranny of the lord lieutenant, the Duke of Bolton. My proper station, as first captain, was at the head of my own, and afterwards of the grenadier, company; but in the absence, or even in the presence, of the two field officers, I was entrusted by my friend and my father with the effective labour of dictatig the orders, and exercising the battalion. With the help of our original journal, I could write the history of my bloodless and inglorious campaigns; but as these events have lost much of their importance in my own eyes, they shall be dispatched in a few words. From Winchester, the first place of assembly, (June 4, 1760,) [Page 96] we were removed, at our own request, for the benefit of a foreign education. By the arbitrary, and often capricious, orders of the War-office, the battalion successively marched to the pleasant and hospitable Blandford (June 17); to Hilsea barracks, a seat of disease and discord (September 1); to Cranbrook in the weald of Kent (December 11); to the sea-coast of Dover (December 27); to Winchester camp (June 25, 1761); to the populous and disorderly town of Devizes (October 23); to Salisbury (February 28, 1762); to our beloved Blandford a second time (March 9); and finally, to the fashionable resort of Southampton (June 2); where the colours were fixed till our final dissolution (December 23). On the beach at Dover we had exercised in sight of the Gallic shores. But the most splendid and useful scene of our life was a four months encampment on Winchester Down, under the command of the Earl of Effingham. Our army consisted of the thirty-fourth regiment of foot and six militia corps. The consciousness of our defects was stimulated by friendly emulation. We improved our time and opportunities in morning and evening field-days; and in the general reviews the South Hampshire were rather a credit than a disgrace to the line. In our subsequent quarters of the Devizes and Blandford, we advanced with a quick step in our military studies; the ballot of the ensuing summer renewed our vigour and youth; and had the militia subsisted another year, we might have contested the prize with the most perfect of our brethren.

The loss of so many busy and idle hours was not compensated by any elegant pleasure; and my temper was insensibly soured by the society of our rustic officers. In every state there exists, however, a balance of good and evil. The habits of a sedentary life were usefully broken by the duties of an active profession: in the healthful exercise of the field I hunted with a battalion, instead of a pack; and at that time I was ready, at any hour of the day or night, to fly from quarters to London, from London to quarters, on the [Page 97] slightest call of private or regimental business. But my principal obligation to the militia, was the making me an Englishman, and a soldier. After my foreign education, with my reserved temper, I should long have continued a stranger in my native country, had I not been shaken in this various scene of new faces and new friends: had not experience forced me to feel the characters of our leading men, the state of parties, the forms of office, and the operation of our civil and military system. In this peaceful service, I imbibed the rudiments of the language, and science of tactics, which opened a new field of study and observation. I diligently read, and meditated, the Memoires Militaires of Quintus Icilius, (Mr. Guichardt,) the only writer who has united the merits of a professor and a veteran. The discipline and evolutions of a modern battalion gave me a clearer notion of the phalanx and the legion; and the captain of the Hampshire grenadiers (the reader may smile) has not been useless to the historian of the Roman empire.

A youth of any spirit is fired even by the play of arms, and in the first sallies of my enthusiasm I had seriously attempted to embrace the regular profession of a soldier. But this military fever was cooled by the enjoyment of our mimic Bellona, who soon unveiled to my eyes her naked deformity. How often did I sigh for my proper station in society and letters. How often (a proud comparison) did I repeat the complaint of Cicero in the command of a provincial army: ‘Clitellae bovi sunt impositae. Est incredibile quam me negotii taedeat. Non habet satis magnum campum ille tibi non ignotus cursus animi; et industriae meae praeclara opera cessat. Lucem, libros, urbem, domum, vos desidero. Sed feram, ut potero; sit modo annuum. Si prorogatur, actum est* ’. From a service without danger I might indeed have retired without disgrace; but as often as I hinted a wish of resigning, my fetters were rivetted by the friendly intreaties of the colonel, the parental authority of the major, and my own regard for the honour and [Page 98] welfare of the battalion. When I felt that my personal escape was impracticable, I bowed my neck to the yoke: my servitude was protracted far beyond the annual patience of Cicero; and it was not till after the preliminaries of peace that I received my discharge, from the act of government which disembodied the militia*.

[Page 99] When I complain of the loss of time, justice to myself and to the militia must throw the greatest part of that reproach on the first [Page 100] seven or eight months, while I was obliged to learn as well as to teach. The dissipation of Blandford, and the disputes of Portsmouth, [Page 101] consumed the hours which were not employed in the field; and amid the perpetual hurry of an inn, a barrack, or a guard-room, all [Page 102] literary ideas were banished from my mind. After this long fast, the longest which I have ever known, I once more tasted at Dover [Page 103] the pleasures of reading and thinking; and the hungry appetite with which I opened a volume of Tully's philosophical works is still present to my memory. The last review of my Essay before its publication, had prompted me to investigate the nature of the gods; my inquiries led me to the Histoire Critique du Manichèisme of Beausobre, [Page 104] who discusses many deep questions of Pagan and Christian theology: and from this rich treasury of facts and opinions, I deduced my own consequences, beyond the holy circle of the author. After this recovery I never relapsed into indolence; and my example might prove, that in the life most averse to study, some hours may be stolen, some minutes may be snatched. Amidst the tumult of Winchester camp I sometimes thought and read in my tent; in the more settled quarters of the Devizes, Blandford, and Southampton, I always secured a separate lodging, and the necessary books; and in the summer of 1762, while the new militia was raising, I enjoyed at Beriton two or three months of literary repose*. In forming a new plan of study, I hesitated between the mathematics and the Greek language; both of which I had neglected since my return from Lausanne. I consulted a learned and friendly mathematician, Mr. George Scott, a pupil of de Moivre; and his map of a country which I have never explored, may perhaps be more serviceable to others. As soon as I had given the preference to Greek, the example of Scaliger and my own reason determined me [Page 105] on the choice of Homer, the father of poetry, and the Bible of the ancients: but Scaliger ran through the Iliad in one and twenty days; and I was not dissatisfied with my own diligence for performing the same labour in an equal number of weeks. After the first difficulties were surmounted, the language of nature and harmony soon became easy and familiar, and each day I sailed upon the ocean with a brisker gale and a more steady course.

[...]
[...]
[...] *.
Ilias, A. 481.

In the study of a poet who has since become the most intimate of my friends, I successively applied many passages and fragments of Greek writers; and among these I shall notice a life of Homer, in the Opuscula Mythologica of Gale, several books of the geography of Strabo, and the entire treatise of Longinus, which, from the title and the style, is equally worthy of the epithet of sublime. My grammatical skill was improved, my vocabulary was enlarged; and in the militia I acquired a just and indelible knowledge of the first of languages. On every march, in every journey, Horace was always in my pocket, and often in my hand: but I should not mention his two critical epistles, the amusement of a morning, had they not been accompanied by the elaborate commentary of Dr. Hurd, now Bishop of Worcester. On the interesting subjects of composition and imitation of epic and dramatic poetry, I presumed to think for myself; and thirty close-written pages in folio could scarcely comprise my full and free discussion of the sense of the master and the pedantry of the servant.

[Page 106] After his oracle Dr. Johnson, my friend Sir Joshua Reynolds denies all original genius, any natural propensity of the mind to one art or science rather than another. Without engaging in a metaphysical or rather verbal dispute, I know, by experience, that from my early youth I aspired to the character of an historian. While I served in the militia, before and after the publication of my essay, this idea ripened in my mind; nor can I paint in more lively colours the feelings of the moment, than by transcribing some passages, under their respective dates, from a journal which I kept at that time.

1.1.

(In a short excursion from Dover.)

Having thought of several subjects for an historical composition, I chose the expedition of Charles VIII. of France into Italy. I read two memoirs of Mr. de Foncemagne in the Academy of Inscriptions (tom. xvii. p. 539—607.), and abstracted them. I likewise finished this day a dissertation, in which I examine the right of Charles VIII. to the crown of Naples, and the rival claims of the House of Anjou and Arragon: it consists of ten folio pages, besides large notes*.

1.2.

(In a week's excursion from Winchester camp.)

After having long revolved subjects for my intended historical essay, I renounced my first thought of the expedition of Charles VIII. as too remote from us, and rather an introduction to great events, than great and important in itself. I successively chose and rejected the crusade of Richard the First, the barons' wars against John and Henry the Third, the history of Edward the Black Prince, the lives and comparisons of Henry V. and the Emperor Titus, the life of Sir Philip Sidney, and that of the Marquis of Montrose. At length I have fixed on Sir Walter Raleigh for [Page 107] my hero. His eventful story is varied by the characters of the soldier and sailor, the courtier and historian; and it may afford such a fund of materials as I desire, which have not yet been properly manufactured. At present I cannot attempt the execution of this work. Free leisure, and the opportunity of consulting many books, both printed and manuscript, are as necessary as they are impossible to be attained in my present way of life. However, to acquire a general insight into my subject and resources, I read the life of Sir Walter Raleigh by Dr. Birch, his copious article in the General Dictionary by the same hand, and the reigns of Queen Elizabeth and James the First in Hume's History of England.

1.3.

(In a month's absence from the Devizes.)

During this interval of repose, I again turned my thoughts to Sir Walter Raleigh, and looked more closely into my materials. I read the two volumes in quarto of the Bacon Papers, published by Dr. Birch; the Fragmenta Regalia of Sir Robert Naunton, Mallet's Life of Lord Bacon, and the political treatises of that great man in the first volume of his works, with many of his letters in the second; Sir William Monson's Naval Tracts, and the elaborate Life of Sir Walter Raleigh, which Mr. Oldys has prefixed to the best edition of his History of the World. My subject opens upon me, and in general improves upon a nearer prospect.

1.4.

(During my summer residence.)

I am afraid of being reduced to drop my hero; but my time has not, however, been lost in the research of his story, and of a memorable aera of our English annals. The Life of Sir Walter Raleigh, by Oldys, is a very poor performance; a servile panegyric, or flat apology, tediously minute, and composed in a dull [Page 108] and affected style. Yet the author was a man of diligence and learning, who had read every thing relative to his subject, and whose ample collections are arranged with perspicuity and method. Excepting some anecdotes lately revealed in the Sidney and Bacon Papers, I know not what I should be able to add. My ambition (exclusive of the uncertain merit of style and sentiment) must be confined to the hope of giving a good abridgment of Oldys. I I have even the disappointment of finding some parts of this copious work very dry and barren; and these parts are unluckily some of the most characteristic: Raleigh's colony of Virginia, his quarrels with Essex, the true secret of his conspiracy, and, above all, the detail of his private life, the most essential and important to a biographer. My best resource would be in the circumjacent history of the times, and perhaps in some digressions artfully introduced, like the fortunes of the Peripatetic philosophy in the portrait of Lord Bacon. But the reigns of Elizabeth and James the First are the periods of English history, which have been the most variously illustrated: and what new lights could I reflect on a subject, which has exercised the accurate industry of Birch, the lively and curious acuteness of Walpole, the critical spirit of Hurd, the vigorous sense of Mallet and Robertson, and the impartial philosophy of Hume? Could I even surmount these obstacles, I should shrink with terror from the modern history of England, where every character is a problem, and every reader a friend or an enemy; where a writer is supposed to hoist a flag of party, and is devoted to damnation by the adverse faction. Such would be my reception at home: and abroad, the historian of Raleigh must encounter an indifference far more bitter than censure or reproach. The events of his life are interesting; but his character is ambiguous, his actions are obscure, his writings are English, and his fame is confined to the narrow limits of our language and our island. I must embrace a safer and more extensive theme.

[Page 109] There is one which I should prefer to all others, The History of the Liberty of the Swiss, of that independence which a brave people rescued from the House of Austria, defended against a Dauphin of France, and finally sealed with the blood of Charles of Burgundy. From such a theme, so full of public spirit, of military glory, of examples of virtue, of lessons of government, the dullest stranger would catch fire: what might not I hope, whose talents, whatsoever they may be, would be inflamed with the zeal of patriotism. But the materials of this history are inaccessible to me, fast locked in the obscurity of an old barbarous German dialect, of which I am totally ignorant, and which I cannot resolve to learn for this sole and peculiar purpose.

I have another subject in view, which is the contrast of the former history: the one a poor, warlike, virtuous republic, which emerges into glory and freedom; the other a commonwealth, soft, opulent, and corrupt; which, by just degrees, is precipitated from the abuse to the loss of her liberty: both lessons are, perhaps, equally instructive. This second subject is, The History of the Republic of Florence, under the House of Medicis: a period of one hundred and fifty years, which rises or descends from the dregs of the Florentine democracy, to the title and dominion of Cosmo de Medicis in the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. I might deduce a chain of revolutions not unworthy of the pen of Vertot; singular men, and singular events; the Medicis four times expelled, and as often recalled; and the Genius of Freedom reluctantly yielding to the arms of Charles V. and the policy of Cosmo. The character and fate of Savanerola, and the revival of arts and letters in Italy, will be essentially connected with the elevation of the family and the fall of the republic. The Medicis (stirps quasi fataliter nata ad instauranda vel fovenda studia (Lipsius ad Germanos et Gallos, Epist. viii.) were illustrated by the patronage of learning; and enthusiasm was the most formidable weapon of their adversaries. [Page 110] On this splendid subject I shall most probably six; but when, or where, or how will it be executed? I behold in a dark and doubtful perspective.

’ ‘Res altâ terrâ, et caligine mersas *.’

[Page 111] The youthful habits of the language and manners of France had left in my mind an ardent desire of revisiting the Continent on a larger and more liberal plan. According to the law of custom, and perhaps of reason, foreign travel completes the education of an English gentleman: my father had consented to my wish, but I was detained above four years by my rash engagement in the militia. I eagerly grasped the first moments of freedom: three or four weeks in Hampshire and London were employed in the preparations of my journey, and the farewell visits of friendship and civility: my last act in town was to applaud Mallet's new tragedy of Elvira; a postchaise [Page 112] conveyed me to Dover, the packet to Boulogne, and such was my diligence, that I reached Paris on the 28th of January 1763, only thirty-six days after the disbanding of the militia. Two or three years were loosely defined for the term of my absence; and I was left at liberty to spend that time in such places and in such a manner as was most agreeable to my taste and judgment.

[Page 113] In this first visit I passed three months and a half, (January 28 —May 9,) and a much longer space might have been agreeably filled, without any intercourse with the natives. At home we are content to move in the daily round of pleasure and business; and a scene which is always present is supposed to be within our knowledge, or at least within our power. But in a foreign country, curiosity is our business and our pleasure; and the traveller, conscious of his ignorance, and covetous of his time, is diligent in the search and the view of every object that can deserve his attention. I devoted many hours of the morning to the circuit of Paris and the neighbourhood, to the visit of churches and palaces conspicuous by their architecture, to the royal manufactures, collections of books and pictures, and all the various treasures of art, of learning, and of luxury. An Englishman may hear without reluctance, that in these curious and costly articles Paris is superior to London; since the opulence of the French capital arises from the defects of its government and religion. In the absence of Louis XIV. and his successors, the Louvre has been left unfinished: but the millions which have been lavished on the sands of Versailles, and the morass of Marli, could not be supplied by the legal allowance of a British king. The splendour of the French nobles is confined to their town residence; that of the English is more usefully distributed in their country feats; and we should be astonished at our own riches, if the labours of architecture, the spoils of Italy and Greece, which are now scattered from Inverary to Wilton, were accumulated in a few streets between Marybone and Westminster. All superfluous ornament is rejected by the cold frugality of the protestants; but the catholic superstition, which is always the enemy of reason, is often the parent of the arts. The wealthy communities of priests and monks expend their revenues in stately edifices; and the parish church of St. Sulpice, one of the noblest structures in Paris, was built and adorned [Page 114] by the private industry of a late curé. In this outset, and still more in the sequel of my tour, my eye was amused; but the pleasing vision cannot be fixed by the pen; the particular images are darkly seen through the medium of five-and-twenty years, and the narrative of my life must not degenerate into a book of travels*.

But the principal end of my journey was to enjoy the society of a polished and amiable people, in whose favour I was strongly prejudiced, and to converse with some authors, whose conversation, as I fondly imagined, must be far more pleasing and instructive than their writings. The moment was happily chosen. At the close of a successful war the British name was respected on the continent.

Clarum et venerabile nomen
Gentibus.

Our opinions, our fashions, even our games, were adopted in France, a ray of national glory illuminated each individual, and every Englishman was supposed to be born a patriot and a philosopher. For myself, I carried a personal recommendation; my name and my Essay were already known; the compliment of having written in [Page 115] the French language entitled me to some returns of civility and gratitude. I was considered as a man of letters, who wrote for amusement. Before my departure I had obtained from the Duke de Nivernois, Lady Hervey, the Mallets, Mr. Walpole, &c. many letters of recommendation to their private or literary friends. Of these epistles the reception and success were determined by the character and situation of the persons by whom and to whom they were addressed: the seed was sometimes cast on a barren rock, and it sometimes multiplied an hundred fold in the production of new shoots, spreading branches, and exquisite fruit. But upon the whole, I had reason to praise the national urbanity, which from the court has diffused its gentle influence to the shop, the cottage, and the schools. Of the men of genius of the age, Montesquieu and Fontenelle were no more; Voltaire resided on his own estate near Geneva; Rousseau in the preceding year had been driven from his hermitage of Montmorency; and I blush at my having neglected to seek, in this journey, the acquaintance of Buffon. Among the men of letters whom I saw, D'Alembert and Diderot held the foremost rank in merit, or at least in fame. I shall content myself with enumerating the well-known names of the Count de Caylus, of the Abbé de la Bleterie, Barthelemy, Reynal, Arnaud, of Messieurs de la Condamine, du Clos, de Ste Palaye, de Bougainville, Caperonnier, de Guignes, Suard, &c. without attempting to discriminate the shades of their characters, or the degrees of our connection. Alone, in a morning visit, I commonly found the artists and authors of Paris less vain, and more reasonable, than in the circles of their equals, with whom they mingle in the houses of the rich. Four days in a week I had a place, without invitation, at the hospitable tables of Mesdames Geoffrin and du Bocage, of the celebrated Helvetius, and of the Baron d'Olbach. In these symposia the pleasures of the table were improved by lively and liberal conversation; [Page 116] the company was select, though various and voluntary*.

The society of Madame du Bocage was more soft and moderate than that of her rivals, and the evening conversations of M. de Foncemagne were supported by the good sense and learning of the principal members of the Academy of Inscriptions. The opera and the Italians I occasionally visited; but the French theatre, both in [Page 117] tragedy and comedy, was my daily and favourite amusement. Two famous actresses then divided the public applause. For my own part, I preferred the consummate art of the Clairon, to the intemperate sallies of the Dumesnil, which were extolled by her admirers, as the genuine voice of nature and passion. Fourteen weeks insensibly stole away; but had I been rich and independent, I should have prolonged, and perhaps have fixed, my residence at Paris.

Between the expensive style of Paris and of Italy it was prudent to interpose some months of tranquil simplicity; and at the thoughts of Lausanne I again lived in the pleasures and studies of my early youth. Shaping my course through Dijon and Besançon, in the last of which places I was kindly entertained by my cousin Acton, I arrived in the month of May 1763 on the banks of the Leman Lake. It had been my intention to pass the Alps in the autumn, but such are the simple attractions of the place, that the year had almost expired before my departure from Lausanne in the ensuing spring. An absence of five years had not made much alteration in manners, or even in persons. My old friends, of both sexes, hailed my voluntary return; the most genuine proof of my attachment. They had been flattered by the present of my book, the produce of their soil; and the good Pavilliard shed tears of joy as he embraced a pupil, whose literary merit he might fairly impute to his own labours. To my old list I added some new acquaintance, and among the strangers I shall distinguish Prince Lewis of Wirtemberg, the brother of the reigning Duke, at whose country-house, near Lausanne, I frequently dined: a wandering meteor, and at length a falling star, his light and ambitious spirit had successively dropped from the firmament of Prussia, of France, and of Austria; and his faults, which he stiled his misfortunes, had driven him into philosophic exile in the Pais de Vaud. He could now moralize on the vanity of the world, the equality of mankind, and the happiness of a private station. His address was affable and polite, and as he had [Page 118] shone in courts and armies, his memory could supply, and his eloquence could adorn, a copious fund of interesting anecdotes. His first enthusiasm was that of charity and agriculture; but the sage gradually lapsed in the saint, and Prince Lewis of Wirtemberg is now buried in a hermitage near Mayence, in the last stage of mystic devotion. By some ecclesiastical quarrel, Voltaire had been provoked to withdraw himself from Lausanne, and retire to his castle at Ferney, where I again visited the poet and the actor, without seeking his more intimate acquaintance, to which I might now have pleaded a better title. But the theatre which he had founded, the actors whom he had formed, survived the loss of their master; and recent from Paris, I attended with pleasure at the representation of several tragedies and comedies. I shall not descend to specify particular names and characters; but I cannot forget a private institution, which will display the innocent freedom of Swiss manners. My favourite society had assumed, from the age of its members, the proud denomination of the spring (la société du printems). It consisted of fifteen or twenty young unmarried ladies, of genteel, though not of the very first families; the eldest perhaps about twenty, all agreeable, several handsome, and two or three of exquisite beauty. At each other's houses they assembled almost every day, without the controul, or even the presence, of a mother or an aunt; they were trusted to their own prudence, among a crowd of young men of every nation in Europe. They laughed, they sung, they danced, they played at cards, they acted comedies; but in the midst of this careless gaiety, they respected themselves, and were respected by the men; the invisible line between liberty and licentiousness was never trangressed by a gesture, a word, or a look, and their virgin chastity was never sullied by the breath of scandal or suspicion. A singular institution, expressive of the innocent simplicity of Swiss manners. After having tasted the luxury of England and Paris, I could not have returned with satisfaction to the coarse and homely table of Madame [Page 119] Pavilliard; nor was her husband offended that I now entered myself as a pensionaire, or boarder, in the elegant house of Mr. De Mesery, which may be entitled to a short remembrance, as it has stood above twenty years, perhaps, without a parallel in Europe. The house in which we lodged was spacious and convenient, in the best street, and commanding, from behind, a noble prospect over the country and the Lake. Our table was served with neatness and plenty; the boarders were select; we had the liberty of inviting any guests at a stated price; and in the summer the scene was occasionally transferred to a pleasant villa, about a league from Lausanne. The characters of Master and Mistress were happily suited to each other, and to their situation. At the age of seventy-five, Madame de Mesery, who has survived her husband, is still a graceful, I had almost said a handsome woman. She was alike qualified to preside in her kitchen and her drawing-room; and such was the equal propriety of her conduct, that of two or three hundred foreigners, none ever failed in respect, none could complain of her neglect, and none could ever boast of her favour. Mesery himself, of the noble family of De Crousaz, was a man of the world, a jovial companion, whose easy manners and natural fallies maintained the cheerfulness of his house. His wit could laugh at his own ignorance: he disguised, by an air of profusion, a strict attention to his interest; and in this situation, he appeared like a nobleman who spent his fortune and entertained his friends. In this agreeable society I resided nearly eleven months (May 1763—April 1764); and in this second visit to Lausanne, among a crowd of my English companions, I knew and esteemed Mr. Holroyd (now Lord Sheffield); and our mutual attachment was renewed and fortified in the subsequent stages of our Italian journey. Our lives are in the power of chance, and a slight variation on either side, in time or place, might have deprived me of a friend, whose activity in the ardour of youth was always [Page 120] prompted by a benevolent heart, and directed by a strong understanding*.

[Page 121] If my studies at Paris had been consined to the study of the world, three or four months would not have been unprofitably spent. My [Page 122] visits, however superficial, to the Academy of Medals and the public libraries, opened a new field of inquiry; and the view of so many [Page 123] manuscripts of different ages and characters induced me to consult the two great Benedictine works, the Diplomatica of Mabillon, and the Palaeographia of Montfaucon. I'studied the theory without attaining the practice of the art: nor should I complain of the intricacy of [Page 124] Greek abbreviations and Gothic alphabets, since every day, in a familiar language, I am at a loss to decypher the hieroglyphics of a female note. In a tranquil scene, which revived the memory of my first studies, idleness would have been less pardonable: the public libraries of Lausanne and Geneva liberally supplied me with books; and if many hours were lost in dissipation, many more were employed in literary labour. In the country, Horace and Virgil, Juvenal and Ovid, were my assiduous companions: but, in town, I formed and executed a plan of study for the use of my Transalpine expedition: the topography of old Rome, the ancient geography of Italy, and the science of medals. 1. I diligently read, almost always with my pen in my hand, the elaborate treatises of Nardini, Donatus, &c. which fill the fourth volume of the Roman Antiquities of Graevius. 2. I next undertook and finished the Italia Antiqua of Cluverius, a learned native of Prussia, who had measured, on foot, every spot, and has compiled and digested every passage of the ancient writers. These passages in Greek or Latin authors I perused in the text of Cluverius, in two folio volumes: but I separately read the descriptions of Italy by Strabo, Pliny, and Pomponius Mela, the Catalogues of the Epic poets, the Itineraries of Wesseling's Antoninus, and the coasting Voyage of Rutilius Numatianus; and I studied two kindred subjects in the Mesures Itineraires of d'Anville, and the copious work of Bergier, Histoire des grands Chemins de l'Empire Romain. From these materials I formed a table of roads and distances reduced to our English measure; filled a folio common-place book with my collections and remarks on the geography of Italy; and inferted in my journal many long and learned notes on the insulae and populousness of Rome, the social war, the passage of the Alps by Hannibal, &c. 3. After glancing my eye over Addison's agreeable dialogues, I more seriously read the great work of Ezechiel Spanheim de Praestantiâ et Usù Numismatum, and applied with him the medals [Page 125] of the kings and emperors, the families and colonies, to the illustration of ancient history. And thus was I armed for my Italian journey*.

I shall advance with rapid brevity in the narrative of this tour, in which somewhat more than a year (April 1764—May 1765) was agreeably employed. Content with tracing my line of march, and slightly touching on my personal feelings, I shall wave the minute investigation of the scenes which have been viewed by thousands, and described by hundreds, of our modern travellers. ROME is the [Page 126] great object of our pilgrimage: and 1st, the journey; 2d, the residence; and 3d, the return; will form the most proper and perspicuous division. 1. I climbed Mount Cenis, and descended into the plain of Piedmont, not on the back of an elephant, but on a light osier seat, in the hands of the dextrous and intrepid chairmen of the Alps. The architecture and government of Turin presented the same aspect of tame and tiresome uniformity: but the court was regulated with decent and splendid oeconomy; and I was introduced to his Sardinian majesty* Charles Emanuel, who, after the incomparable Frederic, held the second rank (proximus longo tamen intervallo) among the kings of Europe. The size and populousness of Milan could not surprise an inhabitant of London: but the fancy is amused by a visit to the Boromean Islands, an enchanted palace, a work of the fairies in the midst of a lake encompassed with mountains, and far removed from the haunts of men. I was less amused by the marble palaces of Genoa, than by the recent memorials of her deliverance (in December 1746) from the Austrian tyranny; and I took a military survey of every scene of action within the inclosure of her double walls. My steps were detained at Parma and Modena, by the precious relics of the Farnese and Este collections: but, alas! the far greater part had been already transported, by inheritance or purchase, to Naples and Dresden. By the road of Bologna and the Apennine I at last reached Florence, where I reposed from June to September, during the heat of the summer months. In the Gallery, and especially in the Tribune, I first acknowledged, at the feet of the Venus of Medicis, that the chissel may dispute the pre-eminence with the pencil, a truth in the fine arts which cannot on this side of the Alps be felt or understood. At home I had taken some lessons of Italian: on the spot I read, with a learned native, the classics of the Tuscan idiom: but the shortness of my time, and the use of the [Page 127] French language, prevented my acquiring any facility of speaking; and I was a silent spectator in the conversations of our envoy, Sir Horace Mann, whose most serious business was that of entertaining the English at his hospitable table*. After leaving Florence, I compared the solitude of Pisa with the industry of Lucca and Leghorn, and continued my journey through Sienna to Rome, where I arrived in the beginning of October. 2. My temper is not very susceptible of enthusiasm; and the enthusiasm which I do not feel, I have ever scorned to affect. But, at the distance of twenty-five years, I can neither forget nor express the strong emotions which agitated my mind as I first approached and entered the eternal city. After a sleepless night, I trod, with a lofty step, the ruins of the Forum; each memorable spot where Romulus stood, or Tully spoke, or Caesar fell, was at once present to my eye; and several days of intoxication were lost or enjoyed before I could descend to a cool and minute investigation. My guide was Mr. Byers, a Scotch antiquary of experience and taste; but, in the daily labour of eighteen weeks, the powers of attention were sometimes fatigued, till I was myself qualified, in a last review, to select and study the capital works of ancient and modern art. Six weeks were borrowed for my tour of Naples, the most populous of cities, relative to its size, whose luxurious inhabitants seem to dwell on the consines of paradise and hellsire. I was presented to the boy-king by our new envoy, Sir William Hamilton; who, wisely diverting his correspondence from the Secretary of State to the Royal Society and British Museum, has elucidated [Page 128] a country of such inestimable value to the naturalist and antiquarian. On my return, I fondly embraced, for the last time, the miracles of Rome; but I departed without kissing the feet of Rezzonico (Clement XIII.), who neither possessed the wit of his predecessor Lambertini, nor the virtues of his successor Ganganelli. 3. In my pilgrimage from Rome to Loretto I again crossed the Apennine; from the coast of the Adriatic I traversed a fruitful and populous country, which could alone disprove the paradox of Montesquieu, that modern Italy is a desert. Without adopting the exclusive prejudice of the natives, I sincerely admire the paintings of the Bologna school. I hastened to escape from the sad solitude of Ferrara, which in the age of Caesar was still more desolate. The spectacle of Venice afforded some hours of astonishment; the university of Padua is a dying taper: but Verona still boasts her amphitheatre, and his native Vicenza is adorned by the classic architecture of Palladio: the road of Lombardy and Piedmont (did Montesquieu find them without inhabitants?) led me back to Milan, Turin, and the passage of Mount Cenis, where I again crossed the Alps in my way to Lyons.

The use of foreign travel has been often debated as a general question; but the conclusion must be finally applied to the character and circumstances of each individual. With the education of boys, where or how they may pass over some juvenile years with the least mischief to themselves or others, I have no concern. But after supposing the previous and indispensable requisites of age, judgment, a competent knowledge of men and books, and a freedom from domestic prejudices, I will briefly describe the qualifications which I deem most essential to a traveller. He should be endowed with an active, indefatigable vigour of mind and body, which can seize every mode of conveyance, and support, with a careless smile, every hardship of the road, the weather, or the inn. The benefits of foreign travel will correspond with the degrees of these qualifications; but, [Page 129] in this sketch, those to whom I am known will not accuse me of framing my own panegyric. It was at Rome, on the 15th of October 1764, as I sat musing amidst the ruins of the Capitol, while the bare-footed fryars were singing vespers in the Temple of Jupiter*, that the idea of writing the decline and fall of the city first started to my mind. But my original plan was circumscribed to the decay of the city rather than of the empire: and, though my reading and reflections began to point towards that object, some years elapsed, and several avocations intervened, before I was seriously engaged in the execution of that laborious work.

I had not totally renounced the southern provinces of France, but the letters which I found at Lyons were expressive of some impatience. Rome and Italy had satiared my curious appetite, and I was now ready to return to the peaceful retreat of my family and books. After a happy fortnight I reluctantly left Paris, embarked at Calais, again landed at Dover, after an interval of two years and five months, and hastily drove through the summer dust and solitude of London. On the 25th of June 1765 I arrived at my father's house: and the five years and a half between my travels and my father's death (1770) are the portion of my life which I passed with the least enjoyment, and which I remember with the least satisfaction. Every spring I attended the monthly meeting and exercise of the militia at Southampton; and by the resignation of my father, and the death of Sir Thomas Worsley, I was successively promoted to the rank of major and lieutenant-colonel commandant: but I was each year more disgusted with the inn, the wine, the company, and the tiresome repetition of annual attendance and daily exercise. At home, the oeconomy of the family and farm still maintained the same creditable appearance. My connection with Mrs. Gibbon was mellowed into a warm and solid attachment: my growing years abolished the distance [Page 130] that might yet remain between a parent and a son, and my behaviour satisfied my father, who was proud of the success, however imperfect in his own life-time, of my literary talents. Our solitude was soon and often enlivened by the visit of the friend of my youth, Mr. Deyverdun, whose absence from Lausanne I had sincerely lamented. About three years after my first departure, he had emigrated from his native lake to the banks of the Oder in Germany. The res angusta domi, the waste of a decent patrimony, by an improvident father, obliged him, like many of his countrymen, to confide in his own industry; and he was entrusted with the education of a young prince, the grandson of the Margrave of Schavedt, of the Royal Family of Prussia. Our friendship was never cooled, our correspondence was sometimes interrupted; but I rather wished than hoped to obtain Mr. Deyverdun for the companion of my Italian tour. An unhappy, though honourable passion, drove him from his German court; and the attractions of hope and curiosity were fortified by the expectation of my speedy return to England. During four successive summers he passed several weeks or months at Beriton, and our free conversations, on every topic that could interest the heart or understanding, would have reconciled me to a desert or a prison. In the winter months of London my sphere of knowledge and action was somewhat enlarged, by the many new acquaintance which I had contracted in the militia and abroad; and I must regret, as more than an acquaintance, Mr. Godfrey Clarke of Derbyshire, an amiable and worthy young man, who was snatched away by an untimely death. A weekly convivial meeting was established by myself and travellers, under the name of the Roman Club*.

[Page 131] The renewal, or perhaps the improvement, of my English life was embittered by the alteration of my own feelings. At the age of twenty-one I was, in my proper station of a youth, delivered from the yoke of education, and delighted with the comparative state of liberty and affluence. My silial obedience was natural and easy; and in the gay prospect of futurity, my ambition did not extend beyond the enjoyment of my books, my leisure, and my patrimonial estate, undisturbed by the cares of a family and the duties of a profession. But in the militia I was armed with power; in my travels, I was exempt from controul; and as I approached, as I gradually passed my thirtieth year, I began to feel the desire of being master in my own house. The most gentle authority will sometimes frown without reason, the most cheerful submission will sometimes murmur without cause; and such is the law of our imperfect nature, that we must either command or obey; that our personal liberty is supported by the obsequiousness of our own dependants. While so many of my acquaintance were married or in parliament, or advancing with a rapid step in the various roads of honour and fortune, I stood alone, immoveable and insignificant; for after the monthly meeting of 1770, I had even withdrawn myself from the militia, by the resignation of an empty and barren commission. My temper is not susceptible of envy, and the view of successful merit has always excited my warmest applause. The miseries of a vacant life were never known to a man whose hours were insufficient for the inexhaustible pleasures of study. But I lamented that at the proper age I had not embraced the lucrative pursuits of the law or of trade, the chances of civil office or India adventure, or even the fat slumbers of the church; and my repentance became more lively as the loss of time was more irretrievable. Experience shewed me the use of grafting my private consequence on the importance of a great professional body; the benefits of those firm connections which are cemented by hope and interest, by gratitude [Page 132] and emulation, by the mutual exchange of services and favours. From the emoluments of a profession I might have derived an ample fortune, or a competent income, instead of being stinted to the same narrow allowance, to be increased only by an event which I sincerely deprecated. The progress and the knowledge of our domestic disorders aggravated my anxiety, and I began to apprehend that I might be left in my old age without the fruits either of industry or inheritance.

In the first summer after my return, whilst I enjoyed at Beriton the society of my friend Deyverdun, our daily conversations expatiated over the field of antient and modern literature; and we freely discussed my studies, my first Essay, and my future projects. The Decline and Fall of Rome I still contemplated at an awful distance: but the two historical designs which had balanced my choice were submitted to his taste; and in the parallel between the Revolutions of Florence and Switzerland, our common partiality for a country which was his by birth, and mine by adoption, inclined the scale in favour of the latter. According to the plan, which was soon conceived and digested, I embraced a period of two hundred years, from the association of the three peasants of the Alps to the plenitude and prosperity of the Helvetic body in the sixteenth century. I should have described the deliverance and victory of the Swiss, who have never shed the blood of their tyrants but in a field of battle; the laws and manners of the confederate states; the splendid trophies of the Austrian, Burgundian, and Italian wars; and the wisdom of a nation, who, after some sallies of martial adventure, has been content to guard the blessings of peace with the sword of freedom.

—Manus haec inimica tyrannis
Ense petit placidam sub libertate quietem.

My judgment, as well as my enthusiasm, was satisfied with the glorious theme; and the assistance of Deyverdun seemed to remove [Page 133] an insuperable obstacle. The French or Latin memorials, of which I was not ignorant, are inconsiderable in number and weight; but in the perfect acquaintance of my friend with the German language, I found the key of a more valuable collection. The most necessary books were procured; he translated, for my use, the folio volume of Schilling, a copious and contemporary relation of the war of Burgundy; we read and marked the most interesting parts of the great chronicle of Tschudi; and by his labour, or that of an inferior assistant, large extracts were made from the History of Lauffer and the Dictionary of Lew: yet such was the distance and delay, that two years elapsed in these preparatory steps; and it was late in the third summer (1767) before I entered, with these slender materials, on the more agreeable task of composition. A specimen of my History, the first book, was read the following winter in a literary society of foreigners in London; and as the author was unknown, I listened, without observation, to the free strictures, and unfavourable sentence, of my judges*. The momentary sensation was painful; [Page 134] but their condemnation was ratified by my cooler thoughts. I delivered my imperfect sheets to the flames, and forever renounced a design in which some expence, much labour, and more time, had been so vainly consumed. I cannot regret the loss of a slight and superficial essay; for such the work must have been in the hands of a stranger, uninformed by the scholars and statesmen, and remote from the libraries and archives of the Swiss republics. My antient habits, and the presence of Deyverdun, encouraged me to write in French for the continent of Europe; but I was conscious myself that my style, above prose and below poetry, degenerated into a verbose and turgid declamation. Perhaps I may impute the failure to the injudicious choice of a foreign language. Perhaps I may suspect that the language itself is ill adapted to sustain the vigour and dignity of an important narrative. But if France, so rich in literary merit, had produced a great original historian, his genius would have formed and fixed the idiom to the proper tone, the peculiar mode of historical eloquence.

[Page 135] It was in search of some liberal and lucrative employment that my friend Deyverdun had visited England. His remittances from home were scanty and precarious. My purse was always open, but it was often empty; and I bitterly felt the want of riches and power, which might have enabled me to correct the errors of his fortune. His wishes and qualifications solicited the station of the travelling governor of some wealthy pupil; but every vacancy provoked so many eager candidates, that for a long time I struggled without success; nor was it till after much application that I could even place him as a clerk in the office of the secretary of state. In a residence of several years he never acquired the just pronunciation and familiar use of the English tongue, but he read our most difficult authors with ease and taste: his critical knowledge of our language and poetry was such as few foreigners have possessed; and few of our countrymen could enjoy the theatre of Shakespeare and Garrick with more exquisite feeling and discernment. The consciousness of his own strength, and the assurance of my aid, emboldened him to imitate the example of Dr. Maty, whose Journal Britannique was esteemed and regretted; and to improve his model, by uniting with the transactions of literature a philosophic view of the arts and manners of the British nation. Our Journal for the year 1767, under the title of Memoires Literaires de la Grand Bretagne, was soon finished and sent to the press. For the first article, Lord Lyttelton's History of Henry II. I must own myself responsible; but the public has ratified my judgment of that voluminous work, in which sense and learning are not illuminated by a ray of genius. The next specimen was the choice of my friend, the Bath Guide, a light and whimsical performance, of local, and even verbal, pleasantry. I started at the attempt: he smiled at my fears: his courage was justified by success; and a master of both languages will applaud the curious felicity with which he has transfused into French [Page 136] prose the spirit, and even the humour, of the English verse. It is not my wish to deny how deeply I was interested in these Memoirs, of which I need not surely be ashamed; but at the distance of more than twenty years, it would be impossible for me to ascertain the respective shares of the two associates. A long and intimate communication of ideas had cast our sentiments and style in the same mould. In our social labours we composed and corrected by turns; and the praise which I might honestly bestow, would fall perhaps on some article or passage most properly my own. A second volume (for the year 1768) was published of these Memoirs. I will presume to say, that their merit was superior to their reputation; but it is not less true, that they were productive of more reputation than emolument. They introduced my friend to the protection, and myself to the acquaintance, of the Earl of Chesterfield, whose age and infirmities secluded him from the world; and of Mr. David Hume, who was under-secretary to the office in which Deyverdun was more humbly employed. The former accepted a dedication, (April 12th, 1769,) and reserved the author for the future educacation of his successor: the latter enriched the Journal with a reply to Mr. Walpole's Historical Doubts, which he afterwards shaped into the form of a note. The materials of the third volume were almost completed, when I recommended Deyverdun as governor to Sir Richard Worsley, a youth, the son of my old Lieutenant-colonel, who was lately deceased. They set forwards on their travels; nor did they return to England till some time after my father's death.

My next publication was an accidental sally of love and resentment; of my reverence for modest genius, and my aversion for insolent pedantry. The sixth book of the Aeneid is the most pleasing and perfect composition of Latin poetry. The descent of Aeneas and the Sybil to the infernal regions, to the world of spirits, expands [Page 137] an awful and boundless prospect, from the nocturnal gloom of the Cumaean grot, ‘Ibant obscuri-solâ sub nocte per umbram,’ to the meridian brightness of the Elysian fields;

Largior hic campos aether et lumine vestit
Purpureo—
from the dreams of simple Nature, to the dreams, alas! of Egyptian theology, and the philosophy of the Greeks. But the final dismission of the hero through the ivory gate, whence ‘Falsa ad coelum mittunt insomnia manes,’ seems to dissolve the whole enchantment, and leaves the reader in a state of cold and anxious scepticism. This most lame and impotent conclusion has been variously imputed to the taste or irreligion of Virgil; but, according to the more elaborate interpretation of Bishop Warburton, the descent to hell is not a false, but a mimic scene; which represents the initiation of Aeneas, in the character of a law-giver, to the Eleusinian mysteries. This hypothesis, a singular chapter in the Divine Legation of Moses, had been admitted by many as true; it was praised by all as ingenious; nor had it been exposed, in a space of thirty years, to a fair and critical discussion. The learning and the abilities of the author had raised him to a just eminence; but he reigned the dictator and tyrant of the world of literature. The real merit of Warburton was degraded by the pride and presumption with which he pronounced his infallible decrees; in his polemic writings he lashed his antagonists without mercy or moderation; and his servile flatterers, (see the base and malignant Essay on the Delicacy of Friendship,) exalting the master critic far above Aristotle and Longinus, assaulted every modest dissenter who refused to consult the oracle, and to adore the idol. In a land of liberty, such despotism must provoke a general opposition, [Page 138] and the zeal of opposition is seldom candid or impartial. A late professor of Oxford, (Dr. Lowth,) in a pointed and polished epistle, (August 31st, 1765,) defended himself, and attacked the Bishop; and, whatsoever might be the merits of an insignificant controversy, his victory was clearly established by the silent confusion of Warburton and his slaves. I too, without any private offence, was ambitious of breaking a lance against the giant's shield; and in the beginning of the year 1770, my Critical Observations on the Sixth Book of the Aeneid were sent, without my name, to the press. In this short Essay, my first English publication, I aimed my strokes against the person and the hypothesis of Bishop Warburton. I proved, at least to my own satisfaction, that the antient lawgivers did not invent the mysteries, and that Aeneas was never invested with the office of lawgiver: that there is not any argument, any circumstance, which can melt a fable into allegory, or remove the seene from the Lake Avernus to the Temple of Ceres: that such a wild supposition is equally injurious to the poet and the man: that if Virgil was not initiated he could not, if he were he would not, reveal the secrets of the initiation: that the anathema of Horace (vetabo qui Cereris sacrum vulgarit, &c.) at once attests his own ignorance and the innocence of his friend. As the Bishop of Gloucester and his party maintained a discreet silence, my critical disquisition was soon lost among the pamphlets of the day; but the public coldness was overbalanced to my feelings by the weighty approbation of the last and best editor of Virgil, Professor Heyne of Gottingen, who acquiesces in my confutation, and stiles the unknown author, doctus—et elegantissimus Britannus. But I cannot resist the temptation of transcribing the favourable judgment of Mr. Hayley, himself a poet and a scholar: ‘An intricate hypothesis, twisted into a long and laboured chain of quotation and argument, the Dissertation on the Sixth Book of Virgil, remained some time unrefuted.—At length, a superior, but anonymous, [Page 139] critic arose, who, in one of the most judicious and spirited essays that our nation has produced, on a point of classical literature, completely overturned this ill-founded edifice, and exposed the arrogance and futility of its assuming architect.’ He even condescends to justify an acrimony of style, which had been gently blamed by the more unbiassed German; ‘ Paullo acrius quam velis —perstrinxit*. But I cannot forgive myself the contemptuous treatment of a man who, with all his faults, was entitled to my esteem; and I can less forgive, in a personal attack, the cowardly concealment of my name and character.

In the fifteen years between my Essay on the Study of Literature and the first volume of the Decline and Fall, (1761—1776,) this criticism on Warburton, and some articles in the Journal, were my sole publications. It is more especially incumbent on me to mark the employment, or to confess the waste of time, from my travels to my father's death, an interval in which I was not diverted by any professional duties from the labours and pleasures of a studious life. 1. As soon as I was released from the fruitless task of the Swiss revolutions, (1768,) I began gradually to advance from the wish to the hope, from the hope to the design, from the design to the execution, of my historical work, of whose limits and extent I had yet a very inadequate notion. The Classics, as low as Tacitus, the younger Pliny, and Juvenal, were my old and familiar companions. [Page 140] I insensibly plunged into the ocean of the Augustan history; and in the descending series I investigated, with my pen almost always in my hand, the original records, both Greek and Latin, from Dion Cassius to Ammianus Marcellinus, from the reign of Trajan to the last age of the Western Caesars. The subsidiary rays of medals, and inscriptions of geography and chronology, were thrown on their proper objects; and I applied the collections of Tillemont, whose inimitable accuracy almost assumes the character of genius, to fix and arrange within my reach the loose and scattered atoms of historical information. Through the darkness of the middle ages I explored my way in the Annals and Antiquities of Italy of the learned Muratori; and diligently compared them with the parallel or transverse lines of Sigonius and Maffei, Baronius and Pagi, till I almost grasped the ruins of Rome in the fourteenth century, without suspecting that this final chapter must be attained by the labour of six quartos and twenty years. Among the books which I purchased, the Theodocian Code, with the commentary of James Godefroy, must be gratefully remembered. I used it (and much I used it) as a work of history, rather than of jurisprudence: but in every light it may be considered as a full and capacious repository of the political state of the empire in the fourth and fifth centuries. As I believed, and as I still believe, that the propagation of the Gospel, and the triumph of the church, are inseparably connected with the decline of the Roman monarchy, I weighed the causes and effects of the revolution, and contrasted the narratives and apologies of the Christians themselves, with the glances of candour or enmity which the Pagans have cast on the rising sects. The Jewish and Heathen testimonies, as they are collected and illustrated by Dr. Lardner, directed, without superseding, my search of the originals; and in an ample dissertation on the miraculous darkness of the passion, I privately withdrew my conclusions from the silence of an unbelieving age. I have assembled the preparatory studies, directly [Page 141] or indirectly relative to my history; but, in strict equity, they must be spread beyond this period of my life, over the two summers (1771 and 1772) that elapsed between my father's death and my settlement in London. 2. In a free conversation with books and men, it would be endless to enumerate the names and characters of all who are introduced to our acquaintance; but in this general acquaintance we may select the degrees of friendship and esteem, according to the wise maxim, Multum legere potius quam multa. I reviewed, again and again, the immortal works of the French and English, the Latin and Italian classics. My Greek studies (though less assiduous than I designed) maintained and extended my knowledge of that incomparable idiom. Homer and Xenophon were still my favourite authors; and I had almost prepared for the press an Essay on the Cyropoedia, which, in my own judgment, is not unhappily laboured. After a certain age, the new publications of merit are the sole food of the many; and the most austere student will be often tempted to break the line, for the sake of indulging his own curiosity, and of providing the topics of fashionable currency. A more respectable motive may be assigned for the third perusal of Blackstone's Commentaries, and a copious and critical abstract of that English work was my first serious production in my native language. 3. My literary leisure was much less complete and independent than it might appear to the eye of a stranger. In the hurry of London I was destitute of books; in the solitude of Hampshire I was not master of my time. My quiet was gradually disturbed by our domestic anxiety, and I should be ashamed of my unfeeling philosophy, had I found much time or taste for study in the last fatal summer (1772) of my father's decay and dissolution.

The disembodying of the militia at the close of the war (1763) had restored the Major (a new Cincinnatus) to a life of agriculture. His labours were useful, his pleasures innocent, his wishes moderate; and my father seemed to enjoy the state of happiness which is [Page 142] celebrated by poets and philosophers, as the most agreeable to nature, and the least accessible to fortune.

Beatus ille, qui procul negotiis
(Ut prisca gens mortalium)
Paterna rura bubus exercet suis,
Solutus omni foenore*.
FRANCIS. HOR. Epod. ii.

But the last indispensable condition, the freedom from debt, was wanting to my father's felicity; and the vanities of his youth were severely punished by the solicitude and sorrow of his declining age. The first mortgage, on my return from Lausanne, (1758,) had afforded him a partial and transient relief. The annual demand of interest and allowance was a heavy deduction from his income; the militia was a source of expence, the farm in his hands was not a profitable adventure, he was loaded with the costs and damages of an obsolete law-suit; and each year multiplied the number, and exhausted the patience, of his creditors. Under these painful circumstances, I consented to an additional mortgage, to the sale of Putney, and to every sacrifice that could alleviate his distress. But he was no longer capable of a rational effort, and his reluctant delays postponed not the evils themselves, but the remedies of those evils (remedia malorum potius quam mala differebat). The pangs of shame, tenderness, and self-reproach, incessantly preyed on his vitals; his constitution was broken; he lost his strength and his sight; the rapid progress of a dropsy admonished him of his end, and he sunk into the grave on the 10th of November 1770, in the sixty-fourth year of his age. A family-tradition insinuates that Mr. William Law had drawn his pupil in the light and inconstant character of [Page 143] Flatus, who is ever confident, and ever disappointed in the chace of happiness. But these constitutional failings were happily compensated by the virtues of the head and heart, by the warmest sentiments of honour and humanity. His graceful person, polite address, gentle manners, and unaffected cheerfulness, recommended him to the favour of every company; and in the change of times and opinions, his liberal spirit had long since delivered him from the zeal and prejudice of a Tory education. I submitted to the order of Nature; and my grief was soothed by the conscious satisfaction that I had discharged all the duties of filial piety.

As soon as I had paid the last solemn duties to my father, and obtained, from time and reason, a tolerable composure of mind, I began to form the plan of an independent life, most adapted to my circumstances and inclination. Yet so intricate was the net, my efforts were so awkward and feeble, that nearly two years (November 1770—October 1772) were suffered to elapse before I could disentangle myself from the management of the farm, and transfer my residence from Beriton to a house in London. During this interval I continued to divide my year between town and the country; but my new situation was brightened by hope; my stay in London was prolonged into the summer; and the uniformity of the summer was occasionally broken by visits and excursions at a distance from home. The gratification of my desires (they were not immoderate) has been seldom disappointed by the want of money or credit; my pride was never insulted by the visit of an importunate tradesman; and my transient anxiety for the past or future has been dispelled by the studious or social occupation of the present hour. My conscience does not accuse me of any act of extravagance or injustice, and the remnant of my estate affords an ample and honourable provision for my declining age. I shall not expatiate on my oeconomical affairs, which cannot be instructive or amusing to the reader. It is a rule of prudence, as well as of politeness, to reserve such confidence for [Page 144] the ear of a private friend, without exposing our situation to the envy or pity of strangers; for envy is productive of hatred, and pity borders too nearly on contempt. Yet I may believe, and even assert, that in circumstances more indigent or more wealthy, I should never have accomplished the task, or acquired the fame, of an historian; that my spirit would have been broken by poverty and contempt, and that my industry might have been relaxed in the labour and luxury of a superfluous fortune.

I had now attained the first of earthly blessings, independence: I was the absolute master of my hours and actions: nor was I deceived in the hope that the establishment of my library in town would allow me to divide the day between study and society. Each year the circle of my acquaintance, the number of my dead and living companions, was enlarged. To a lover of books, the shops and sales of London present irresistible temptations; and the manufacture of my history required a various and growing stock of materials. The militia, my travels, the House of Commons, the fame of an author, contributed to multiply my connections: I was chosen a member of the fashionable clubs; and, before I left England in 1783, there were few persons of any eminence in the literary or political world to whom I was a stranger*. It would most assuredly be in my power to amuse the reader with a gallery of portraits and a collection of anecdotes. But I have always condemned the practice of transforming a private memorial into a vehicle of satire or praise. By my own choice I passed in town the greatest part of the year; but whenever I was [Page 145] desirous of breathing the air of the country, I possessed an hospitable retreat at Sheffield-place in Sussex, in the family of my valuable friend Mr. Holroyd, whose character, under the name of Lord Sheffield, has since been more conspicuous to the public.

No sooner was I settled in my house and library, than I undertook the composition of the first volume of my History. At the outset all was dark and doubtful; even the title of the work, the true aera of the Decline and Fall of the Empire, the limits of the introduction, the division of the chapters, and the order of the narrative; and I was often tempted to cast away the labour of seven years. The style of an author should be the image of his mind, but the choice and command of language is the fruit of exercise. Many experiments were made before I could hit the middle tone between a dull chronicle and a rhetorical declamation: three times did I compose the first chapter, and twice the second and third, before I was tolerably satisfied with their effect. In the remainder of the way I advanced with a more equal and easy pace; but the fifteenth and sixteenth chapters have been reduced by three successive revisals, from a large volume to their present size; and they might still be compressed, without any loss of facts or sentiments. An opposite fault may be imputed to the concise and superficial narrative of the first reigns from Commodus to Alexander; a fault of which I have never heard, except from Mr. Hume in his last journey to London. Such an oracle might have been consulted and obeyed with rational devotion; but I was soon disgusted with the modest practice of reading the manuscript to my friends. Of such friends some will praise from politeness, and some will criticise from vanity. The author himself is the best judge of his own performance; no one has so deeply meditated on the subject; no one is so sincerely interested in the event.

By the friendship of Mr. (now Lord) Eliot, who had married my first cousin, I was returned at the general election. for the borough [Page 146] of Leskeard. I took my seat at the beginning of the memorable contest between Great Britain and America, and supported, with many a sincere and silent vote, the rights, though not, perhaps, the interest, of the mother country. After a fleeting illusive hope, prudence condemned me to acquiesce in the humble station of a mute. I was not armed by Nature and education with the intrepid energy of mind and voice.

‘Vincentem strepitus, et natum rebus agendis.’

Timidity was fortified by pride, and even the success of my pen discouraged the trial of my voice*. But I assisted at the debates of a free assembly; I listened to the attack and defence of eloquence and reason; I had a near prospect of the characters, views, and passions of the first men of the age. The cause of government was ably vindicated by Lord North, a statesman of spotless integrity, a consummate master of debate, who could wield, with equal dexterity, the arms of reason and of ridicule. He was seated on the Treasury-bench between his Attorney and Solicitor General, the two pillars of the law and state, magis pares quam similes; and the minister might indulge in a short slumber, whilst he was upholden on either hand by the majestic sense of Thurlow, and the skilful eloquence of Wedderburne. From the adverse side of the house an ardent and powerful opposition was supported, by the lively declamation of Barré, the legal acuteness of Dunning, the profuse and philosophic fancy of Burke, and the argumentative vehemence of Fox, who in the conduct of a party approved himself equal to the conduct of an empire. [Page 147] By such men every operation of peace and war, every principle of justice or policy, every question of authority and freedom, was attacked and defended; and the subject of the momentous contest was the union or separation of Great Britain and America. The eight sessions that I sat in parliament were a school of civil prudence, the first and most essential virtue of an historian.

The volume of my History, which had been somewhat delayed by the novelty and tumult of a first session, was now ready for the press. After the perilous adventure had been declined by my friend Mr. Elmsly, I agreed, upon easy terms, with Mr. Thomas Cadell, a respectable bookseller, and Mr. William Strahan, an eminent printer; and they undertook the care and risk of the publication, which derived more credit from the name of the shop than from that of the author. The last revisal of the proofs was submitted to my vigilance; and many blemishes of style, which had been invisible in the manuscript, were discovered and corrected in the printed sheet. So moderate were our hopes, that the original impression had been stinted to five hundred, till the number was doubled by the prophetic taste of Mr. Strahan. During this awful interval I was neither elated by the ambition of fame, nor depressed by the apprehension of contempt. My diligence and accuracy were attested by my own conscience. History is the most popular species of writing, since it can adapt itself to the highest or the lowest capacity. I had chosen an illustrious subject. Rome is familiar to the school-boy and the statesman; and my narrative was deduced from the last period of classical reading. I had likewise flattered myself, that an age of light and liberty would receive, without scandal, an inquiry into the human causes of the progress and establishment of Christianity.

I am at a loss how to describe the success of the work, without betraying the vanity of the writer. The first impression was exbausted in a few days; a second and third edition were scarcely [Page 148] adequate to the demand; and the bookseller's property was twice invaded by the pirates of Dublin. My book was on every table, and almost on every toilette; the historian was crowned by the taste or fashion of the day; nor was the general voice disturbed by the barking of any profane critic. The favour of mankind is most freely bestowed on a new acquaintance of any original merit; and the mutual surprize of the public and their favourite is productive of those warm sensibilities, which at a second meeting can no longer be rekindled. If I listened to the music of praise, I was more seriously satisfied with the approbation of my judges. The candour of Dr. Robertson embraced his disciple. A letter from Mr. Hume overpaid the labour of ten years; but I have never presumed to accept a place in the triumvirate of British historians.

That curious and original letter will amuse the reader, and his gratitude should shield my free communication from the reproach of vanity.

DEAR SIR,

As I ran through your volume of history with great avidity and impatience, I cannot forbear discovering somewhat of the same impatience in returning you thanks for your agreeable present, and expressing the satisfaction which the performance has given me. Whether I consider the dignity of your style, the depth of your matter, or the extensiveness of your learning, I must regard the work as equally the object of esteem; and I own that if I had not previously had the happiness of your personal acquaintance, such a performance from an Englishman in our age would have given me some surprize. You may smile at this sentiment; but as it seems to me that your countrymen, for almost a whole generation, have given themselves up to barbarous and absurd faction, and have totally neglected all polite letters, I no longer expected any valuable production ever to come from them. I know it will give you pleasure (as it did me) [Page 149] to find that all the men of letters in this place concur in their admiration of your work, and in their anxious desire of your continuing it.

When I heard of your undertaking, (which was some time ago,) I own I was a little curious to see how you would extricate yourself from the subject of your two last chapters. I think you have observed a very prudent temperament; but it was impossible to treat the subject so as not to give grounds of suspicion against you, and you may expect that a clamour will arise. This, if any thing, will retard your success with the public; for in every other respect your work is calculated to be popular. But among many other marks of decline, the prevalence of superstition in England prognosticates the fall of philosophy and decay of taste; and though nobody be more capable than you to revive them, you will probably find a struggle in your first advances.

I see you entertain a great doubt with regard to the authenticity of the poems of Ossian. You are certainly right in so doing. It is indeed strange that any men of sense could have imagined it possible, that above twenty thousand verses, along with numberless historical facts, could have been preserved by oral tradition during fifty generations, by the rudest, perhaps, of all the European nations, the most necessitous, the most turbulent, and the most unsettled. Where a supposition is so contrary to common sense, any positive evidence of it ought never to be regarded: Men run with great avidity to give their evidence in favour of what flatters their passions and their national prejudices. You are therefore over and above indulgent to us in speaking of the matter with hesitation.

I must inform you that we are all very anxious to hear that you have fully collected the materials for your second volume, and that you are even considerably advanced in the composition of it. I speak this more in the name of my friends than in my own; as I cannot [Page 150] expect to live so long as to see the publication of it. Your ensuing volume will be more delicate than the preceding, but I trust in your prudence for extricating you from the difficulties; and, in all events, you have courage to despise the clamour of bigots.

I am, with great regard,

Dear Sir,

Your most obedient, and most humble Servant, DAVID HUME.

Some weeks afterwards I had the melancholy pleasure of seeing Mr. Hume in his passage through London; his body feeble, his mind firm. On the 25th of August of the same year (1776) he died, at Edinburgh, the death of a philosopher.

My second excursion to Paris was determined by the pressing invitation of M. and Madame Necker, who had visited England in the preceding summer. On my arrival I found M. Necker Director-general of the finances, in the first bloom of power and popularity. His private fortune enabled him to support a liberal establishment; and his wife, whose talents and virtues I had long admired, was admirably qualified to preside in the conversation of her table and drawing-room. As their friend, I was introduced to the best company of both sexes; to the foreign ministers of all nations, and to the first names and characters of France; who distinguished me by such marks of civility and kindness, as gratitude will not suffer me to forget, and modesty will not allow me to enumerate. The fashionable suppers often broke into the morning hours; yet I occasionally consulted the Royal Library, and that of the Abbey of St. Germain, and in the free use of their books at home, I had always reason to praise the liberality of those institutions. The society of men of letters I neither courted nor declined; but I was [Page 151] happy in the acquaintance of M. de Buffon, who united with a sublime genius the most amiable simplicity of mind and manners. At the table of my old friend, M. de Foncemagne, I was involved in a dispute with the Abbé de Mably; and his jealous irascible spirit revenged itself on a work which he was incapable of reading in the original.

As I might be partial in my own cause, I shall transcribe the words of an unknown critic, observing only, that this dispute had been preceded by another on the English constitution, at the house of the Countess de Froulay, an old Jansenist lady.

‘Vous étiez chez M. de Foncemagne, mon cher Theodon, le jour que M. l'Abbé de Mably et M. Gibbon y dinerent en grande compagnie. La conversation roula presque entièrement sur l'histoire. L'Abbé etant un profond politique, la tourna sur l'administration, quand on fut au desert: et comme par caractère, par humeur, par l'habitude d'admirer Tite Live, il ne prise que le systême republicain, il se mit à vanter l'excellence des republiques; bien persuadé que le savant Anglois l'approuveroit en tout, et admireroit la profondeur de génie qui avoit fait deviner tous ces avantages à un François. Mais M. Gibbon, instruit par l'experience des inconveniens d'un gouvernement populaire, ne fut point du tout de son avis, et il prit généreusement la défense du gouvernement monarchique. L'Abbé voulut le convaincre par Tite Live, et par quelques argumens tirés de Plutarque en faveur des Spartiates. M. Gibbon, doué de la memoire la plus heureuse, et ayant tous lès faits presens à la pensée, domina bien-tot la conversation; l'Abbé se facha, il s'emporta, il dit des choses dures; l'Anglois, conservant le phlegme de son pays, prenoit ses avantages, et pressoit l'Abbé avee d'autant plus de succès que la colere le troubloit de plus en plus. La conversation s'echauffoit, et M. de Foncemagne la rompit en se levant de table, et en passant dans le salon, où personne ne fut tenté [Page 152] de la renouer.’ Supplément de la Manière d' ecrire l' Histoire, p. 125, &c.*

Nearly two years had elapsed between the publication of my first and the commencément of my second volume; and the causes must be assigned of this long delay. 1. After a short holiday, I indulged my curiosity in some studies of a very different nature, a course of anatomy, which was demonstrated by Doctor Hunter; and some lessons of chymistry, which were delivered by Mr. Higgins. The principles of these sciences, and taste for books of natural history, contributed to multiply my ideas and images; and the anatomist and chymist may sometimes track me in their own snow. 2. I dived, perhaps too deeply, into the mud of the Arian controversy; and many days of reading, thinking, and writing were consumed in the pursuit of a phantom. 3. It is difficult to arrange, with order and perspicuity, the various transactions of the age of Constantine; and so much was I displeased with the first essay, that I committed to the flames above fifty sheets. 4. The six months of Paris and pleasure must be deducted from the account. But when I resumed my task I felt my improvement; I was now master of my style and subject, and while the measure of my daily performance was enlarged, I discovered [Page 153] less reason to cancel or correct. It has always been my practice to cast a long paragraph in a single mould, to try it by my ear, to deposit it in my memory, but to suspend the action of the pen till I had given the last polish to my work. Shall I add, that I never found my mind more vigorous, nor my composition more happy, than in the winter hurry of society and parliament?

Had I believed that the majority of English readers were so fondly attached even to the name and shadow of Christianity; had I forescen that the pious, the timid, and the prudent, would feel, or affect to feel, with such exquisite sensibility; I might, perhaps, have sostened the two invidious chapters, which would create many enemies, and conciliate few friends. But the shaft was shot, the alarm was sounded, and I could only rejoice, that if the voice of our priests was clamorous and bitter, their hands were disarmed from the powers of persecution. I adhered to the wise resolution of trusting myself and my writings to the candour of the public, till Mr. Davies of Oxford presumed to attack, not the faith, but the fidelity, of the historian. My Vindication, expressive of less anger than contempt, amused for a moment the busy and idle metropolis; and the most rational part of the laity, and even of the clergy, appear to have been satisfied of my innocence and accuracy. I would not print this Vindication in quarto, lest it should be bound and preserved with the history itself. At the distance of twelve years, I calmly affirm my judgment of Davies, Chelsum, &c. A victory over such antagonists was a sufficient humiliation. They, however, were rewarded in this world. Poor Chelsum was indeed neglected; and I dare not boast the making Dr. Watson a bishop; he is a prelate of a large mind and liberal spirit*: but I enjoyed the pleasure of giving a Royal pension to Mr. Davies, and of collating Dr. Apthorpe to an archiepiscopal living. [Page 154] Their success encouraged the zeal of Taylor the Arian*, and Milner the Methodist, with many others, whom it would be difficult to remember, and tedious to rehearse. The list of my adversaries, however, was graced with the more respectable names of Dr. Priestley, Sir David Dalrymple, and Dr. White; and every polemic, of either university, discharged his sermon or pamphlet against the impenetrable silence of the Roman historian. In his History of the Corruptions of Christianity, Dr. Priestley threw down his two gauntlets to Bishop Hurd and Mr. Gibbon. I declined the challenge in a letter, exhorting my opponent to enlighten the world by his philosophical discoveries, and to remember that the merit of his predecessor Servetus is now reduced to a single passage, which indicates the smaller circulation of the blood through the lungs, from and to the heart Instead of listening to this friendly advice, the dauntless philosopher of Birmingham continued to sire away his double battery against those who believed too little, and those who believed too much. From my replies he has nothing to hope or fear: but his Socinian shield has repeatedly been pierced by the spear of Horsley, and his trumpet of sedition may at length awaken the magistrates of a free country.

The profession and rank of Sir David Dalrymple (now a Lord of Session) has given a more decent colour to his style. But he scrutinized [Page 155] each separate passage of the two chapters with the dry minuteness of a special pleader; and as he was always solicitous to make, he may have succeeded sometimes in finding, a flaw. In his Annals of Scotland, he has shewn himself a diligent collector and an accurate critic.

I have praised, and I still praise, the eloquent sermons which were preached in St. Mary's pulpit at Oxford by Dr. White. If he assaulted me with some degree of illiberal acrimony, in such a place, and before such an audience, he was obliged to speak the language of the country. I smiled at a passage in one of his private letters to Mr. Badcock; ‘The part where we encounter Gibbon must be brilliant and striking.’

In a sermon preached before the university of Cambridge, Dr. Edwards complimented a work, ‘which can only perish with the language itself;’ and esteems the author a formidable enemy. He is, indeed, astonished that more learning and ingenuity has not been shewn in the defence of Israel; that the prelates and dignitaries of the church (alas, good man!) did not vie with each other, whose stone should sink the deepest in the forehead of this Goliah.

‘But the force of truth will oblige us to confess, that in the attacks which have been levelled against our sceptical historian, we can discover but slender traces of profound and exquisite erudition, of solid criticism and accurate investigation; but we are too frequently disgusted by vague and inconclusive reasoning; by unseasonable banter and senseless witticisms; by imbittered bigotry and enthusiastic jargon; by futile cavils and illiberal invectives. Proud and elated by the weakness of his antagonists, he condescends not to handle the sword of controversy*.’

Let me frankly own that I was startled at the first discharge of ecclesiastical ordnance; but as soon as I found that this empty noise was mischievous only in the intention, my fear was converted into [Page 156] indignation; and every feeling of indignation or curiosity has long since subsided in pure and placid indifference.

The prosecution of my history was soon afterwards checked by another controversy of a very different kind. At the request of the Lord Chancellor, and of Lord Weymouth, then Secretary of State, I vindicated, against the French manifesto, the justice of the British arms. The whole correspondence of Lord Stormont, our late ambassador at Paris, was submitted to my inspection, and the Memoire Justificatif, which I composed in French, was first approved by the Cabinet Ministers, and then delivered as a state paper to the courts of Europe. The style and manner are praised by Beaumarchais himself, who, in his private quarrel, attempted a reply; but he flatters me, by ascribing the memoir to Lord Stormont; and the grossness of his invective betrays the loss of temper and of wit; he acknowledged*, that le style ne seroit pas sans grace, ni la logique sans justesse, &c. if the facts were true which he undertakes to disprove. For these facts my credit is not pledged; I spoke as a lawyer from my brief, but the veracity of Beaumarchais may be estimated from the assertion that France, by the treaty of Paris (1763), was limited to a certain number of ships of war. On the application of the Duke of Choiseul, he was obliged to retract this daring falsehood.

Among the honourable connections which I had formed, I may justly be proud of the friendship of Mr. Wedderburne, at that time Attorney General, who now illustrates the title of Lord Loughborough, and the office of Chief Justice of the Common Pleas. By his strong recommendation, and the favourable disposition of Lord North, I was appointed one of the Lords Commissioners of Trade and Plantations; and my private income was enlarged by a clear addition of between seven and eight hundred pounds a-year. The fancy of an hostile orator may paint, in the strong colours of ridicule, [Page 157] ‘the perpetual virtual adjournment, and the unbroken sitting vacation of the Board of Trade*.’ But it must be allowed that our duty was not intolerably severe, and that I enjoyed many days and weeks of repose, without being called away from my library to the office. My acceptance of a place provoked some of the leaders of opposition, with whom I had lived in habits of intimacy; and I was most unjustly accused of deserting a party, in which I had never inlisted.

[Page 158] The aspect of the next session of parliament was stormy and perilous; county meetings, petitions, and committees of correspondence, announced the public discontent; and instead of voting with a triumphant majority, the friends of government were often exposed to a struggle, and sometimes to a defeat. The House of Commons adopted Mr. Dunning's motion, ‘That the influence of the Crown had increased, was increasing, and ought to be diminished:’ and Mr. Burke's bill of reform was framed with skill, introduced with eloquence, and supported by numbers. Our late president, the American Secretary of State, very narrowly escaped the sentence of proscription; but the unfortunate Board of Trade was abolished in the committee by a small majority (207 to 199) of eight votes. The storm, however, blew over for a time; a large defection of country gentlemen eluded the sanguine hopes of the patriots: the Lords of Trade were revived; administration recovered their strength and spirit; and the flames of London, which were kindled by a mischievous madman, admonished all thinking men of the danger of an appeal to the people. In the premature dissolution which followed this session of parliament I lost my seat. Mr. Elliot was now deeply engaged in the measures of opposition, and the electors of Leskeard* are commonly of the same opinion as Mr. Elliot.

[Page 159] In this interval of my senatorial life, I published the second and third volumes of the Decline and Fall. My ecclesiastical history still breathed the same spirit of freedom; but protestant zeal is more indifferent to the characters and controversies of the fourth and fifth centuries. My obstinate silence had damped the ardour of the polemics. Dr. Watson, the most candid of my adversaries, assured me that he had no thoughts of renewing the attack, and my impartial balance of the virtues and vices of Julian was generally praised. This truce was interrupted only by some animadversions of the Catholics of Italy, and by some angry letters from Mr. Travis, who made me personally responsible for condemning, with the best critics, the spurious text of the three heavenly witnesses.

The piety or prudence of my Italian translator has provided an antidote against the poison of his original. The 5th and 7th volumes are armed with five letters from an anonymous divine to his friends, Foothead and Kirk, two English students at Rome; and this meritorious service is commended by Monsignor Stonor, a prelate of the same nation, who discovers much venom in the fluid and nervous style of Gibbon. The critical essay at the end of the third volume was furnished by the Abbate Nicola Spedalieri, whose zeal has gradually swelled to a more solid confutation in two quarto volumes.— Shall I be excused for not having read them?

The brutal insolence of Mr. Travis's challenge can only be excused by the absence of learning, judgment, and humanity; and to that excuse he has the fairest or foulest pretension. Compared with Archdeacon Travis, Chelsum and Davies assume the title of respectable enemies.

The bigotted advocate of popes and monks may be turned over even to the bigots of Oxford; and the wretched Travis still smarts under the lash of the merciless Porson. I consider Mr. Porson's answer to Archdeacon Travis as the most acute and accurate piece of criticism which has appeared since the days of Bentley. His strictures [Page 160] are founded in argument, enriched with learning, and enlivened with wit; and his adversary neither deserves nor finds any quarter at his hands. The evidence of the three heavenly witnesses would now be rejected in any court of justice: but prejudice is blind, authority is deaf, and our vulgar bibles will ever be polluted by this spurious text, ‘sedet aeternumque sedebit.’ The more learned ecclesiastics will indeed have the secret satisfaction of reprobating in the closet what they read in the church.

I perceived, and without surprise, the coldness and even prejudice of the town; nor could a whisper escape my ear, that, in the judgment of many readers, my continuation was much inferior to the original attempts. An author who cannot ascend will always appear to sink: envy was now prepared for my reception, and the zeal of my religious, was fortified by the motive of my political, enemies. Bishop Newton, in writing his own life, was at full liberty to declare how much he himself and two eminent brethren were disgusted by Mr. G.'s prolixity, tediousness, and affectation. But the old man should not have indulged his zeal in a false and feeble charge against the historian*, who had faithfully and even cautiously rendered Dr. [Page 161] Burnet's meaning by the alternative of sleep or repose. That philosophic divine supposes, that, in the period between death and the resurrection, human souls exist without a body, endowed with internal consciousness, but destitute of all active or passive connection with the external world. ‘Secundum communem dictionem sacrae scripturae, mors dicitur somnus, et morientes dicuntur abdormire, [Page 162] quod innuere mihi videtur statum mortis esse statum quietis, silentii, et [...].’ (De Statû Mortuorum, ch. v. p. 98.)

I was however encouraged by some domestic and foreign testimonies of applause; and the second and third volumes insensibly rose in sale and reputation to a level with the first. But the public is seldom wrong; and I am inclined to believe that, especially in the beginning, they are more prolix and less entertaining than the first: my efforts had not been relaxed by success, and I had rather deviated into the opposite fault of minute and superfluous diligence. On the Continent, my name and writings were slowly diffused: a French translation of the first volume had disappointed the booksellers of Paris; and a passage in the third was construed as a personal reflection on the reigning monarch*.

Before I could apply for a seat at the general election the list was already full; but Lord North's promise was sincere, his recommendation was effectual, and I was soon chosen on a vacancy for the borough of Lymington, in Hampshire. In the first session of the new parliament, administration stood their ground; their final overthrow was reserved for the second. The American war had once been the favourite of the country: the pride of England was irritated by the resistance of her colonies, and the executive power was driven by national clamour into the most vigorous and coercive measures. But the length of a fruitless contest, the loss of armies, the accumulation of debt and taxes, and the hostile confederacy of France, Spain, and Holland, indisposed the public to the American war, and the [Page 163] persons by whom it was conducted; the representatives of the people, followed, at a slow distance, the changes of their opinion; and the ministers who refused to bend, were broken by the tempest. As soon as Lord North had lost, or was about to lose, a majority in the House of Commons, he surrendered his office, and retired to a private station, with the tranquil assurance of a clear conscience and a cheerful temper: the old fabric was dissolved, and the posts of government were occupied by the victorious and veteran troops of opposition. The lords of trade were not immediately dismissed, but the board itself was abolished by Mr. Burke's bill, which decency had compelled the patriots to revive; and I was stripped of a convenient salary, after having enjoyed it about three years.

So flexible is the title of my History, that the final aera might be fixed at my own choice; and I long hesitated whether I should be content with the three volumes, the fall of the Western empire, which fulfilled my first engagement with the public. In this interval of suspence, nearly a twelvemonth, I returned by a natural impulse to the Greek authors of antiquity; I read with new pleasure the Iliad and the Odyssey, the Histories of Herodotus, Thucydides, and Xenophon, a large portion of the tragic and comic theatre of Athens, and many interesting dialogues of the Socratic school. Yet in the luxury of freedom I began to wish for the daily task, the active pursuit, which gave a value to every book, and an object to every inquiry: the preface of a new edition announced my design, and I dropped without reluctance from the age of Plato to that of Justinian. The original texts of Procopius and Agathias supplied the events and even the characters of his reign: but a laborious winter was devoted to the Codes, the Pandects, and the modern interpreters, before I presumed to form an abstract of the civil law. My skill was improved by practice, my diligence perhaps was quickened by the loss of office; and, excepting the last chapter, I had finished the [Page 164] fourth volume before I sought a retreat on the banks of the Leman Lake.

It is not the purpose of this narrative to expatiate on the public or secret history of the times: the schism which followed the death of the Marquis of Rockingham, the appointment of the Earl of Shelburne, the resignation of Mr. Fox, and his famous coalition with Lord North. But I may assert, with some degree of assurance, that in their political conflict those great antagonists had never felt any personal animosity to each other, that their reconciliation was easy and sincere, and that their friendship has never been clouded by the shadow of suspicion or jealousy. The most violent or venal of their respective followers embraced this fair occasion of revolt, but their alliance still commanded a majority in the House of Commons; the peace was censured, Lord Shelburne resigned, and the two friends knelt on the same cushion to take the oath of secretary of state. From a principle of gratitude I adhered to the coalition: my vote was counted in the day of battle, but I was overlooked in the division of the spoil. There were many claimants more deserving and importunate than myself: the board of trade could not be restored; and, while the list of places was curtailed, the number of candidates was doubled. An easy dismission to a secure seat at the board of customs or excise was promised on the first vacancy: but the chance was distant and doubtful; nor could I solicit with much ardour an ignoble servitude, which would have robbed me of the most valuable of my studious hours: at the same time the tumult of London, and the attendance on parliament, were grown more irksome; and, without some additional income, I could not long or prudently maintain the stile of expence to which I was accustomed.

From my early acquaintance with Lausanne I had always cherished a secret wish, that the school of my youth might become the retreat of my declining age. A moderate fortune would secure the blessings [Page 165] of ease, leisure, and independence: the country, the people, the manners, the language, were congenial to my taste; and I might indulge the hope of passing some years in the domestic society of a friend. After travelling with several English* Mr. Deyverdun was now settled at home, in a pleasant habitation, the gift of his deceased aunt: we had long been separated, we had long been silent; yet in my first letter I exposed, with the most perfect confidence, my situation, my sentiments, and my designs. His immediate answer was a warm and joyful acceptance: the picture of our future life provoked my impatience; and the terms of arrangement were short and simple, as he possessed the property, and I undertook the expence of our common house Before I could break my English chain, it was incumbent on me to struggle with the feelings of my heart, the indolence of my temper, and the opinion of the world, which unanimously condemned this voluntary banishment. In the disposal of my effects, the library, a sacred deposit, was alone excepted: as my post-chaise moved over Westminster-bridge I bid a long farewel to the ‘fumum et opes strepitum{que} Romae.’ My journey by the direct road through France was not attended with any accident, and I arrived at Lausanne nearly twenty years after my second departure. Within less than three months the coalition struck on some hidden rocks: had I remained on board, I should have perished in the general shipwreck.

Since my establishment at Lausanne, more than seven years have elapsed; and if every day has not been equally soft and serene, not a day, not a moment, has occurred in which I have repented of my choice. During my absence, a long portion of human life, many changes had happened: my elder acquaintance had left the stage; [Page 166] virgins were ripened into matrons, and children were grown to the age of manhood. But the same manners were transmitted from one generation to another: my friend alone was an inestimable treasure; my name was not totally forgotten, and all were ambitious to welcome the arrival of a stranger and the return of a fellow-citizen. The first winter was given to a general embrace, without any nice discrimination of persons and characters. After a more regular settlement, a more accurate survey, I discovered three solid and permanent benefits of my new situation. 1. My personal freedom had been somewhat impaired by the House of Commons and the Board of Trade; but I was now delivered from the chain of duty and dependence, from the hopes and fears of political adventure: my sober mind was no longer intoxicated by the fumes of party, and I rejoiced in my escape, as often as I read of the midnight debates which preceded the dissolution of parliament*. 2. My English oeconomy had been that of a solitary bachelor, who might afford some occasional dinners. In Switzerland I enjoyed at every meal, at every hour, the free and pleasant conversation of the friend of my youth; and my daily table was always provided for the reception of one or two extraordinary guests. Our importance in society is less a positive than a relative weight: in London I was lost in the crowd; I ranked with the first families of Lausanne, and my style of prudent expence enabled me to maintain a fair balance of reciprocal civilities. 3. Instead of a small house between a street and a stable-yard, I began to occupy a spacious and convenient mansion, connected on the north side with the city, and open on the south to a beautiful and boundless horizon. A garden of four acres had been laid out by the taste of Mr. Deyverdun: from the garden a rich scenery of meadows and vineyards descends to the Leman Lake, and the prospect far beyond the Lake is crowned by the stupendous mountains of Savoy. My books and my acquaintance had been first united in London; but this happy position [Page 167] of my library in town and country was finally reserved for Lausanne. Possessed of every comfort in this triple alliance, I could not be tempted to change my habitation with the changes of the seasons.

My friends had been kindly apprehensive that I should not be able to exist in a Swiss town at the foot of the Alps, after having so long conversed with the first men of the first cities of the world. Such lofty connections may attract the curious, and gratify the vain; but I am too modest, or too proud, to rate my own value by that of my associates; and whatsoever may be the fame of learning or genius, experience has shewn me that the cheaper qualifications of politeness and good sense are of more useful currency in the commerce of life. By many, conversation is esteemed as a theatre or a school: but, after the morning has been occupied by the labours of the library, I wish to unbend rather than to exercise my mind; and in the interval between tea and supper I am far from disdaining the innocent amusement of a game at cards. Lausanne is peopled by a numerous gentry, whose companionable idleness is seldom disturbed by the pursuits of avarice or ambition: the women, though consined to a domestic education, are endowed for the most part with more taste and knowledge than their husbands and brothers: but the decent freedom of both sexes is equally remote from the extremes of simplicity and refinement. I shall add as a misfortune rather than a merit, that the situation and beauty of the Pays de Vaud, the long habits of the English, the medical reputation of Dr. Tissot, and the fashion of viewing the mountains and Glaciers, have opened us on all sides to the incursions of foreigners. The visits of Mr. and Madame Necker, of Prince Henry of Prussia, and of Mr. Fox, may from some pleasing exceptions; but, in general, Lausanne has appeared most agreeable in my eyes, when we have been abandoned to our own society. I had frequently seen Mr. Necker, in the summer of 1784, at a country house near Lausanne, where he composed his [Page 168] Treatise on the Administration of the Finances. I have since, in October 1790, visited him in his present residence, the castle and barony of Copet, near Geneva. Of the merits and measures of that statesman various opinions may be entertained; but all impartial men must agree in their esteem of his integrity and patriotism.

In the month of August 1784, Prince Henry of Prussia, in his way to Paris, passed three days at Lausanne. His military conduct has been praised by professional men; his character has been vilified by the wit and malice of a daemon*; but I was flattered by his affability, and entertained by his conversation.

In his tour of Switzerland (September 1788) Mr. Fox gave me two days of free and private society. He seemed to feel, and even to envy, the happiness of my situation; while I admired the powers of a superior man, as they are blended in his attractive character with the softness and simplicity of a child. Perhaps no human being was ever more perfectly exempt from the taint of malevolence, vanity, or falsehood.

My transmigration from London to Lausanne could not be effected without interrupting the course of my historical labours. The hurry of my departure, the joy of my arrival, the delay of my tools, suspended their progress; and a full twelvemonth was lost before I could resume the thread of regular and daily industry. A number of books most requisite and least common had been previously selected; the academical library of Lausanne, which I could use as my own, contained at least the fathers and councils; and I have derived some occasional succour from the public collections of Berne and Geneva. The fourth volume was soon terminated, by an abstract of the controversies of the Incarnation, which the learned Dr. Prideaux was apprehensive of exposing to profane eyes. It had been the original design of the learned Dean Prideaux to write the [Page 169] history of the ruin of the Eastern Church. In this work it would have been necessary, not only to unravel all those controversies which the Christians made about the hypostatical union, but also to unfold all the niceties and subtle notions which each sect entertained concerning it. The pious historian was apprehensive of exposing that incomprehensible mystery to the cavils and objections of unbelievers; and he durst not, ‘seeing the nature of this book, venture it abroad in so wanton and lewd an age*.’

In the fifth and sixth volumes the revolutions of the empire and the world are most rapid, various, and instructive; and the Greek or Roman historians are checked by the hostile narratives of the barbarians of the East and the West.

It was not till after many designs, and many trials, that I preferred, as I still prefer, the method of grouping my picture by nations; and the seeming neglect of chronological order is surely compensated by the superior merits of interest and perspicuity. The style of the first volume is, in my opinion, somewhat crude and elaborate; in the second and third it is ripened into ease, correctness, and numbers; but in the three last I may have been seduced by the facility of my pen, and the constant habit of speaking one language and writing another may have infused some mixture of Gallic idioms. Happily for my eyes, I have always closed my studies with the day, and commonly with the morning; and a long, but temperate, labour has been accomplished, without fatiguing either the mind or body; but when I computed the remainder of my time and my task, it was apparent that, according to the season of publication, the delay of a month would be productive of that of a year. I was now straining for the goal, and in the last winter many evenings [Page 170] were borrowed from the social pleasures of Lausanne. I could now wish that a pause, an interval, had been allowed for a serious revisal.

I have presumed to mark the moment of conception: I shall now commemorate the hour of my final deliverance. It was on the day, or rather night, of the 27th of June 1787, between the hours of eleven and twelve, that I wrote the last lines of the last page, in a summer-house in my garden. After laying down my pen, I took several turns in a berceau, or covered walk of acacias, which commands a prospect of the country, the lake, and the mountains. The air was temperate, the sky was serene, the silver orb of the moon was reflected from the waters, and all nature was silent. I will not dissemble the first emotions of joy on the recovery of my freedom, and, perhaps, the establishment of my fame. But my pride was soon humbled, and a sober melancholy was spread over my mind, by the idea that I had taken an everlasting leave of an old and agreeable companion, and that whatsoever might be the future date of my History, the life of the historian must be short and precarious. I will add two facts, which have seldom occurred in the composition of six, or at least of five, quartos. 1. My first rough manuscript, without any intermediate copy, has been sent to the press. 2. Not a sheet has been seen by any human eyes, excepting those of the author and the printer: the faults and the merits are exclusively my own*.

I cannot help recollecting a much more extraordinary fact, which is affirmed of himself by Retif de la Bretorme, a voluminous and original writer of French novels. He laboured, and may still labour, [Page 171] in the humble office of corrector to a printing-house; but this office enabled him to transport an entire volume from his mind to the press; and his work was given to the public without ever having been written with a pen.

After a quiet residence of four years, during which I had never moved ten miles from Lausanne, it was not without some reluctance and terror that I undertook, in a journey of two hundred leagues, to cross the mountains and the sea. Yet this formidable adventure was atchieved without danger or fatigue; and at the end of a fortnight I found myself in Lord Sheffield's house and library, safe, happy, and at home. The character of my friend (Mr. Holroyd) had recommended him to a seat in parliament for Coventry, the command of a regiment of light dragoons, and an Irish peerage. The sense and spirit of his political writings have decided the public opinion on the great questions of our commercial interest with America and Ireland*.

The sale of his Observations on the American States was diffusive, their effect beneficial; the Navigation Act, the palladium of Britain, was defended, and perhaps saved, by his pen; and he proves, by the weight of fact and argument, that the mother-country may survive and flourish after the loss of America. My friend has never cultivated the arts of composition; but his materials are copious and correct, and he leaves on his paper the clear impression of an active and vigorous mind. His "Observations on the Trade, Manufactures, and present State of Ireland," were intended to guide the industry, to correct the prejudices, and to assuage the passions of a country which seemed to forget that she could be free and prosperous only by a friendly connection with Great Britain. The concluding observations are written with so much ease and spirit, that they may be read by those who are the least interested in the subject.

[Page 172] He fell (in 1784) with the unpopular coalition; but his merit has been acknowledged at the last general election, 1790, by the honourable invitation and free choice of the city of Bristol. During the whole time of my residence in England I was entertained at Sheffield-Place and in Downing-Street by his hospitable kindness; and the most pleasant period was that which I passed in the domestic society of the family. In the larger circle of the metropolis I observed the country and the inhabitants with the knowledge, and without the prejudices, of an Englishman; but I rejoiced in the apparent increase of wealth and prosperity, which might be fairly divided between the spirit of the nation and the wisdom of the minister. All party-resentment was now lost in oblivion: since I was no man's rival, no man was my enemy. I felt the dignity of independence, and as I asked no more, I was satisfied with the general civilities of the world. The house in London which I frequented with most pleasure and assiduity was that of Lord North. After the loss of power and of sight, he was still happy in himself and his friends; and my public tribute of gratitude and esteem could no longer be suspected of any intrested motive. Before my departure from England, I was present at the august spectacle of Mr. Hastings's trial in Westminster Hall. It is not my province to absolve or condemn the Governor of India; but Mr. Sheridan's eloquence demanded my applause; nor could I hear without emotion the personal compliment which he paid me in the presence of the British nation*.

From this display of genius, which blazed four successive days, I shall stoop to a very mechanical circumstance. As I was waiting in the managers' box, I had the curiosity to inquire of the shorthand [Page 173] writer, how many words a ready and rapid orator might pronounce in an hour? From 7000 to 7500 was his answer. The medium of 7200 will afford 120 words in a minute, and two words in each second. But this computation will only apply to the English language.

As the publication of my three last volumes was the principal object, so it was the first care of my English journey. The previous arrangements with the bookseller and the printer were settled in my passage through London, and the proofs, which I returned more correct, were transmitted every post from the press to Sheffield-Place. The length of the operation, and the leisure of the country, allowed some time to review my manuscript. Several rare and useful books, the Assises de Jerusalem, Ramusius de Bello C. Paro, the Greek Acts of the Synod of Florence, the Statuta Urbis Romae, &c. were procured, and introduced in their proper places the supplements which they afforded. The impression of the fourth volume had consumed three months. Our common interest required that we should move with a quicker pace; and Mr. Strahan fulfilled his engagement, which few printers could sustain, of delivering every week three thousand copies of nine sheets. The day of publication was, however, delayed, that it might coincide with the fifty-first anniversary of my own birth-day; the double festival was celebrated by a cheerful literary dinner at Mr. Cadell's house; and I seemed to blush while they read an elegant compliment from Mr. Hayley*, whose poetical [Page 174] talents had more than once been employed in the praise of his friend. Before Mr. Hayley inscribed with my name his epistles on history, I was not acquainted with that amiable man and elegant poet. He [Page 175] afterwards thanked me in verse for my second and third volumes and in the summer of 1781, the Roman Eagle (a proud title) accepted [Page 176] the invitation of the English Sparrow, who chirped in the groves of Eartham, near Chichester. As most of the former purchasers were naturally desirous of completing their sets, the sale of the quarto edition was quick and easy; and an octavo size was printed, to satisfy at a cheaper rate the public demand. The conclusion of my work was generally read, and variously judged. The style has been exposed to much academical criticism; a religious clamour was revived, and the reproach of indecency has been loudly echoed by the rigid censors of morals. I never could understand the clamour that has been raised against the indecency of my three last volumes. 1. An equal degree of freedom in the former part, especially in the first volume, had passed without reproach. 2. I am justified in painting the manners of the times; the vices of Theodora form an essential feature in the reign and character of Justinian. 3. My English text is chaste, and all licentious passages are left in the obscurity of a learned language. Le Latin dans ses mots brave l'honnêteté, says the correct Boileau, in a country and idiom more scrupulous than our own. Yet, upon the whole, the History of the Decline and Fall seems to have struck root, both at home and abroad, and may, perhaps, a hundred years hence still continue to [Page 177] be abused. I am less flattered by Mr. Porson's high encomium on the style and spirit of my history, than I am satisfied with his honourable testimony to my attention, diligence, and accuracy; those humble virtues, which religious zeal had most audaciously denied. The sweetness of his praise is tempered by a reasonable mixture of acid*. As the book may not be common in England, I shall transcribe my own character from the Bibliotheca Historica of Meuselius, a learned and laborious German. ‘Summis aevi nostri historicis Gibbonus sine dubio adnumerandus est. Inter capitolii ruinas stans primum hujus operis scribendi consilium cepit. Florentissimos vitae annos colligendo et laborando eidem impendit. Enatum inde monumentum aere perennius, licet passim appareant sinistrè dicta, minus perfecta, veritati non satis consentanea. Videmus quidem ubique fere studium scrutandi veritatemque scribendi maximum: tamen sine Tillemontio duce ubi scilicet hujus historia finitur saepius noster titubat atque hallucinatur. Quod vel maxime fit, ubi de rebus Ecclesiasticis vel de juris prudentiâ Romanâ (tom. iv.) tradit, et in aliis locis. Attamen naevi hujus generis haud impediunt quo minus operis summam et [...] praeclare dispositam, delectum rerum sapientissimum, argutum quoque interdum, dictionemque seu stylum historico aeque ac philosopho dignissimum, et vix a quoque alio Anglo, Humio ac Robertsono haud exceptis (praereptum?) vehementer laudemus, atque saeculo nostro de hujusmodi historiâ gratulemur..... Gibbonus adversarios cum in tum extra patriam nactus est, quia propogationem religionis Christianae, non, ut vulgo, fieri solet, aut more Theologorum, sed ut Historicum et Philosophum decet, exposuerat.’

The French, Italian, and German translations have been executed with various success; but, instead of patronizing, I should willingly [Page 178] suppress such imperfect copies, which injure the character, while they propagate the name of the author. The first volume had been feebly, though faithfully, translated into French by M. Le Clerc de Septchenes, a young gentleman of a studious character and liberal fortune. After his decease the work was continued by two manufacturers of Paris, M. M. Desmuniers and Cantwell: but the former is now an active member in the national assembly, and the undertaking languishes in the hands of his associate. The superior merit of the interpreter, or his language, inclines me to prefer the Italian version: but I wish that it were in my power to read the German, which is praised by the best judges. The Irish pirates are at once my friends and my enemies. But I cannot be displeased with the two numerous and correct impressions which have been published for the use of the continent at Basil in Switzerland*. The conquests of our language and literature are not confined to Europe alone, and a writer who succeeds in London, is speedily read on the banks of the Delaware and the Ganges.

In the preface of the fourth volume, while I gloried in the name of an Englishman, I announced my approaching return to the neighbourhood of the Lake of Lausanne. This last trial confirmed my assurance that I had wisely chosen for my own happiness; nor did I once, in a year's visit, entertain a wish of settling in my native country. Britain is the free and fortunate island; but where is the spot in which I could unite the comforts and beauties of my establishment at Lausanne? The tumult of London astonished my eyes and ears; the amusements of public places were no longer adequate to the trouble; the clubs and assemblies were filled with new faces and young men; and our best society, our long and late dinners, would [Page 179] soon have been prejudicial to my health. Without any share in the political wheel, I must be idle and insignificant: yet the most splendid temptations would not have enticed me to engage a second time in the servitude of parliament or office. At Tunbridge, some weeks after the publication of my History, I reluctantly quitted Lord and Lady Sheffield, and, with a young Swiss friend*, whom I had introduced to the English world, I pursued the road of Dover and Lausanne. My habitation was embellished in my absence, and the last division of books, which followed my steps, increased my chosen library to the number of between six and seven thousand volumes. My seraglio was ample, my choice was free, my appetite was keen. After a full repast on Homer and Aristophanes, I involved myself in the philosophic maze of the writings of Plato, of which the dramatic is, perhaps, more interesting than the argumentative part: but I stepped aside into every path of inquiry which reading or reflection accidentally opened.

Alas! the joy of my return, and my studious ardour, were soon damped by the melancholy state of my friend Mr. Deyverdun. His health and spirits had long suffered a gradual decline, a succession of apoplectic fits anounced his dissolution; and before he expired, those who loved him could not wish for the continuance of his life. The voice of reason might congratulate his deliverance, but the feelings of nature and friendship could be subdued only by time: his amiable character was still alive in my remembrance; each room, each walk, was imprinted with our common footsteps; and I should blush at my own philosophy, if a long interval of study had not preceded and followed the death of my friend. By his last will he left to me the option of purchasing his house and garden, or of possessing them during my life, on the payment either of a stipulated price, or of [Page 180] an easy retribution to his kinsman and heir. I should probably have been tempted by the daemon of property, if some legal difficulties had not been started against my title: a contest would have been vexatious, doubtful, and invidious; and the heir most gratefully subscribed an agreement, which rendered my life-possession more perfect, and his future condition more advantageous. Yet I had often revolved the judicious lines in which Pope answers the objections of his long-sighted friend:

Pity to build without or child or wife;
Why, you'll enjoy it only all your life:
Well, if the use be mine, does it concern one,
Whether the name belong to Pope or Vernon?

The certainty of my tenure has allowed me to lay out a considerable sum in improvements and alterations: they have been executed with skill and taste; and few men of letters, perhaps, in Europe, are so desirably lodged as myself. But I feel, and with the decline of years I shall more painfully feel, that I am alone in paradise. Among the circle of my acquaintance at Lausanne, I have gradually acquired the solid and tender friendship of a respectable family*: the four persons of whom it is composed are all endowed with the virtues best adapted to their age and situation; and I am encouraged to love the parents as a brother, and the children as a father. Every day we seek and find the opportunities of meeting: yet even this valuable connection cannot supply the loss of domestic society.

Within the last two or three years our tranquillity has been clouded by the disorders of France: many families at Lausanne were alarmed and affected by the terrors of an impending bankruptcy; but the revolution, or rather the dissolution of the kingdom has been heard and felt in the adjacent lands.

[Page 181] I beg leave to subscribe my assent to Mr. Burke's creed on the revolution of France. I admire his eloquence, I approve his politics, I adore his chivalry, and I can almost excuse his reverence for church establishments. I have sometimes thought of writing a dialogue of the dead, in which Lucian, Erasmus, and Voltaire should mutually acknowledge the danger of exposing an old superstition to the contempt of the blind and fanatic multitude.

A swarm of emigrants of both sexes, who escaped from the public ruin, has been attracted by the vicinity, the manners, and the language of Lausanne; and our narrow habitations in town and country are now occupied by the first names and titles of the departed monarchy. These noble fugitives are entitled to our pity; they may claim our esteem, but they cannot, in their present state of mind and fortune, much contribute to our amusement. Instead of looking down as calm and idle spectators on the theatre of Europe, our domestic harmony is somewhat embittered by the infusion of party spirit: our ladies and gentlemen assume the character of self-taught politicians; and the sober dictates of wisdom and experience are silenced by the clamour of the triumphant democrates. The fanatic missionaries of sedition have scattered the seeds of discontent in our cities and villages, which had flourished above two hundred and fifty years without fearing the approach of war, or feeling the weight of government. Many individuals, and some communities, appear to be infested with the Gallic phrenzy, the wild theories of equal and boundless freedom; but I trust that the body of the people will be faithful to their sovereign and to themselves; and I am satisfied that the failure or success of a revolt would equally terminate in the ruin of the country. While the aristocracy of Bern protects the happiness, it is superfluous to enquire whether it be founded in the rights, of man: the oeconomy of the state is liberally supplied without the aid of taxes; and the magistrates must reign with prudence and equity, since they are unarmed in the midst of an armed nation.

[Page 182] The revenue of Bern, excepting some small duties, is derived from church lands, tithes, feudal rights, and interest of money. The republic has nearly 500,000l. sterling in the. English funds, and the amount of their treasure is unknown to the citizens themselves. For myself (may the omen be averted) I can only declare, that the first stroke of a rebel drum would be the signal of my immediate departure.

When I contemplate the common lot of mortality, I must acknowledge that I have drawn a high prize in the lottery of life. The far greater part of the globe is overspread with barbarism or slavery: in the civilized world, the most numerous class is condemned to ignorance and poverty; and the double fortune of my birth in a free and enlightened country, in an honourable and wealthy family, is the lucky chance of an unit against millions. The general probability is about three to one, that a new-born infant will not live to complete his fiftieth year*. I have now passed that age, and may fairly estimate the present value of my existence in the three-fold division of mind, body, and estate.

1. The first and indispensable requisite of happiness is a clear conscience, unsullied by the reproach or remembrance of an unworthy action.

—Hic murus aheneus esto,
Nil conscire sibi, nullâ pallescere culpâ.

I am endowed with a cheerful temper, a moderate sensibility, and a natural disposition to repose rather than to activity: some mischievous appetites and habits have perhaps been corrected by philosophy or time. The love of study, a passion which derives fresh vigour from enjoyment, supplies each day, each hour, with a perpetual source of independent and rational pleasure; and I am not sensible [Page 183] of any decay of the mental faculties. The original soil has been highly improved by cultivation; but it may be questioned, whether some flowers of fancy, some grateful errors, have not been eradicated with the weeds of prejudice. 2. Since I have escaped from the long perils of my childhood, the serious advice of a physician has seldom been requisite. ‘The madness of superfluous health’ I have never known; but my tender constitution has been fortified by time, and the inestimable gift of the sound and peaceful slumbers of infancy may be imputed both to the mind and body. 3. I have already described the merits of my society and situation; but these enjoyments would be tasteless or bitter if their possession were not assured by an annual and adequate supply. According to the scale of Switzerland, I am a rich man; and I am indeed rich, since my income is superior to my expence, and my expence is equal to my wishes. My friend Lord Sheffield has kindly relieved me from the cares to which my taste and temper are most adverse: shall I add, that since the failure of my first wishes, I have never entertained any serious thoughts of a matrimonial connection?

I am disgusted with the affectation of men of letters, who complain that they have renounced a substance for a shadow; and that their fame (which sometimes is no insupportable weight) affords a poor compensation for envy, censure, and persecution*. My own experience, at least, has taught me a very different lesson: twenty happy years have been animated by the labour of my History; and its success has given me a name, a rank, a character, in the world, to which I should not otherwise have been entitled. The freedom of my writings has indeed provoked an implacable tribe; but, as I [Page 184] was safe from the stings, I was soon accustomed to the buzzing of the hornets: my nerves are not tremblingly alive, and my literary temper is so happily framed, that I am less sensible of pain than of pleasure. The rational pride of an author may be offended, rather than flattered, by vague indiscriminate praise; but he cannot, he should not, be indifferent to the fair testimonies of private and public esteem. Even his moral sympathy may be gratified by the idea, that now, in the present hour, he is imparting some degree of amusement or knowledge to his friends in a distant land: that one day his mind will be familiar to the grandchildren of those who are yet unborn*. I cannot boast of the friendship or favour of princes; the patronage of English literature has long since been devolved on our booksellers, and the measure of their liberality is the least ambiguous test of our common success. Perhaps the golden mediocrity of my fortune has contributed to fortify my application.

The present is a fleeting moment, the past is no more; and our prospect of futurity is dark and doubtful. This day may possibly be my last: but the laws of probability, so true in general, so fallacious in particular, still allow about fifteen years. I shall soon enter into [Page 185] the period which, as the most agreeable of his long life, was selected by the judgment and experience of the sage Fontenelle. His choice is approved by the eloquent historian of nature, who sixes our moral happiness to the mature season in which our passions are supposed to be calmed, our duties fulfilled, our ambition satisfied, our fame and fortune established on a solid basis*. In private conversation, that great and amiable man added the weight of his own experience; and this autumnal felicity might be exemplified in the lives of Voltaire, Hume, and many other men of letters. I am far more inclined to embrace than to dispute this comfortable doctrine. I will not suppose any premature decay of the mind or body; but I must reluctantly observe that two causes, the abbreviation of time, and the failure of hope, will always tinge with a browner shade the evening of life.

[Page 187] WHEN I first undertook to prepare Mr. Gibbon's Memoirs for the press, I supposed that it would be necessary to introduce some continuation of them, from the time when they cease, namely, soon after his return to Switzerland in the year 1788; but the examination of his correspondence with me suggested, that the best continuation would be the publication of his letters from that time to his death. I shall thus give more satisfaction, by employing the language of Mr. Gibbon, instead of my own; and the public will see him in a new and (I think) an admirable light, as a writer of letters. By the insertion of a few occasional sentences, I shall obviate the disadvantages that are apt to arise from an interrupted narration. A prejudiced or a fastidious critic may condemn, perhaps, some parts of the letters as trivial; but many readers, I flatter myself, will be gratified by discovering even in these my friend's affectionate feelings, and his character in familiar life. His letters in general bear a strong resemblance to the style and turn of his conversation; the characteristics of which were vivacity, elegance, and precision, with knowledge astonishingly extensive and correct. He never ceased to be instructive and entertaining; and in general there was a vein of pleasantry in his conversation which prevented its becoming languid, even during a residence of many months with a family in the country.

It has been supposed that he always arranged what he intended to say, before he spoke; his quickness in conversation contradicts this [Page 188] notion: but it is very true, that before he sat down to write a note or letter, he completely arranged in his mind what he meant to express. he pursued the same method in respect to other composition; and he occasionally would walk several times about his apartment before he had rounded a period to his taste. He has pleasantly remarked to me, that it sometimes cost him many a turn before he could throw a sentiment into a form that gratified his own criticism. His systematic habit of arrangement in point of style, assisted, in his instance, by an excellent memory and correct judgment, is much to be recommended to those who aspire to any perfection in writing.

Although the Memoirs extend beyond the time of Mr. Gibbon's return to Lausanne, I shall insert a few Letters, written immediately after his arrival there, and combine them so far as to include even the last note which he wrote a few days previously to his death. Some of them contain few incidents; but they connect and carry on the account either of his opinions or of his employment.

2. LETTERS FROM EDWARD GIBBON Esq. TO THE Right Hon. LORD SHEFFIELD.

[Page 189]

I HAVE but a moment to say, before the departure of the post, that after a very pleasant journey I arrived here about half an hour ago; that I am as well arranged, as if I had never stirred from this place; and that dinner on the table is just announced. Severy I dropt at his country-house about two leagues off. I just saluted the family, who dine with me the day after to-morrow, and return to town for some days, I hope weeks, on my account. The son is an amiable and grateful youth; and even this journey has taught me to know and to love him still better. My satisfaction would be complete, had I not found a sad and serious alteration in poor Deyverdun: but thus our joys are chequered! I embrace all; and at this moment feel the last pang of our parting at Tunbridge. Convey this letter or information, without delay, from Sheffield-Place to Bath. In a few days I shall write more amply to both places.

[Page 190]

AFTER such an act of vigor as my first letter, composed, finished, and dispatched within half an hour after my landing, while the dinner was smoaking on the table, your knowledge of the animal must have taught you to expect a proportionable degree of relaxation; and you will be satisfied to hear, that, for many Wednesdays and Saturdays, I have consumed more time than would have sufficed for the epistle, in devising reasons for procrastinating it to the next post. At this very moment I begin so very late, as I am just going to dress, and dine in the country, that I can take only the benefit of the date, October the first, and must be content to seal and send my letter next Saturday.

SATURDAY is now arrived, and I much doubt whether I shall have time to finish. I rose, as usual, about seven; but as I knew I should have so much time, you know it would have been ridiculous to begin any thing before breakfast. When I returned from my breakfast-room to the library, unluckily I found on the table some new and interesting books, which instantly caught my attention; and without injuring my correspondent, I could safely bestow a single hour to gratify my curiosity. Some things which I found in them insensibly led me to other books, and other enquiries; the morning has stolen away, and I shall be soon summoned to dress and dine with the two Severys, father and son, who are returned from the country on a disagreeable errand, an illness of Madame, from which she is however recovering. Such is the faithful picture of my mind and manners, and from a single day disce omnes. After having been so long chained to the oar, in a splendid galley indeed, I freely and fairly enjoy my liberty as I promised in my preface; range without [Page 191] control over the wide expanse of my library; converse, as my fancy prompts me, with poets and historians, philosophers and orators, of every age and language; and often indulge my meditations in the invention and arrangement of mighty works, which I shall probably never find time or application to execute. My garden, berçeau, and pavilion often varied the scene of my studies; the beautiful weather which we have enjoyed exhilarated my spirits, and I again tasted the wisdom and happiness of my retirement, till that happiness was interrupted by a very serious calamity, which took from me for above a fortnight all thoughts of study, of amusement, and even of correspondence. I mentioned in my first letter the uneasiness I felt at poor Deyverdun's declining health, how much the pleasure of my life was embittered by the sight of a suffering and languid friend. The joy of our meeting appeared at first to revive him; and, though not satisfied, I began to think, at least to hope, that he was every day gaining ground; when, alas! one morning I was suddenly recalled from my berçeau to the house, with the dreadful intelligence of an apoplectic stroke; I found him senseless: the best assistance was instantly collected; and he had the aid of the genius and experience of Mr. Tissot, and of the assiduous care of another physician, who for some time scarcely quitted his bedside either night or day. While I was in momentary dread of a relapse, with a confession from his physicians that such a relapse must be fatal, you will feel that I was much more to be pitied than my friend. At length, art or nature triumphed over the enemy of life. I was soon assured that all immediate danger was past; and now for many days I have had the satisfaction of seeing him recover, though by slow degrees, his health and strength, his sleep and appetite. He now walks about the garden, and receives his particular friends, but has not yet gone abroad. His future health will depend very much upon his own prudence: but, at all events, this has been a very serious warning; and the slightest indisposition will hereafter assume a very formidable aspect. But let us [Page 192] turn from this melancholy subject.—The Man of the People escaped from the tumult, the bloody tumult of the Westminster election, to the lakes and mountains of Switzerland, and I was informed that he was arrived at the Lyon d'Or. I sent a compliment; he answered it in person, and settled at my house for the remainder of the day. I have eat and drank, and conversed and sat up all night with Fox in England; but it never has happened, perhaps it never can happen again, that I should enjoy him as I did that day, alone, from ten in the morning till ten at night. Poor Deyverdun, before his accident, wanted spirits to appear, and has regretted it since. Our conversation never flagged a moment; and he seemed thoroughly pleased with the place and with his company. We had little politics; though he gave me, in a few words, such a character of Pitt, as one great man should give of another his rival: much of books, from my own, on which he flattered me very pleasantly, to Homer and the Arabian Nights: much about the country, my garden (which he understands far better than I do), and, upon the whole, I think he envies me, and would do so were he minister. The next morning I gave him a guide to walk him about the town and country, and invited some company to meet him at dinner. The following day he continued his journey to Bern and Zurich, and I have heard of him by various means. The people gaze on him as a prodigy, but he shews little inclination to converse with them, &c. &c. &c. Our friend Douglas has been curious, attentive, agreeable; and in every place where he has resided some days, he has left acquaintance who esteem and regret him: I never knew so clear and general an impression.

After this long letter I have yet many things to say, though none of any pressing consequence. I hope you are not idle in the deliverance of Beriton, though the late events and edicts in France begin to reconcile me to the possession of dirty acres. What think you of Necker and the States Generales? Are not the public expectations [Page 193] too sanguine? Adieu. I will write soon to my lady separately, though I have not any particular subject for her ear. Ever yours.

As I have no correspondents but yourself, I should have been reduced to the stale and stupid communications of the newspapers, if you had not dispatched me an excellent sketch of the extraordinary state of things. In so new a case the salus populi must be the first law; and any extraordinary acts of the two remaining branches of the legislature must be excused by necessity, and ratified by general consent. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

* * Till things are settled, I ecpect a regular journal.

From kingdoms I descend to farms. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *. Adieu.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *. Of public affairs I can only hear with curiosity and wonder: careless as you may think me, I feel myself deeply interested. You must now write often; make Miss Firth copy any curious fragments; and stir up any of my well-informed acquaintance, Batt, Douglas, Adam, perhaps Lord Loughborough, to correspond with me; I will answer them.

We are now cold and gay at Lausanne. The Severys came to town yesterday. I saw a good deal of Lords Malmsbury and Beauchamp, and their ladies; Ellis, of the Rolliad, was with them; I like him much: I gave them a dinner.

Adieu for the present. Deyverdun is not worse.

[Page 194]

BEFORE your letter, which I received yesterday, I was in the anxious situation of a king, who hourly expects a courier from his general, with the news of a decisive engagement. I had abstained from writing, for fear of dropping a word, or betraying a feeling, which might render you too cautious or too bold. On the famous 8th of April, between twelve and two, I reflected that the business was determined; and each succeeding day I computed the speedy approach of your messenger, with favourable or melancholy tidings. When I broke the seal, I expected to read, ‘What a damned unlucky fellow you are! Nothing tolerable was offered, and I indignantly withdrew the estate.’ I did remember the fate of poor Lenborough, and I was afraid of your magnanimity, &c. It is whimsical enough, but it is human nature, that I now begin to think of the deep-rooted foundations of land, and the airy fabric of the funds. I not only consent, but even wish, to have eight or ten thousand pounds on a good mortgage. The pipe of wine you sent to me was seized, and would have been confiscated, if the government of Berne had not treated me with the most flattering and distinguished civility: they not only released the wine, but they paid out of their own pocket the shares to which the bailiff and the informer were entitled by law. I should not forget that the bailiff refused to accept of his part. Poor Deyverdun's constitution is quite broken; he has had two or three attacks, not so violent as the first: every time the door is hastily opened, I expect to hear of some fatal accident: the best or worst hopes of the physicians are only that he may linger some time longer; but, if he lives till the summer, they propose sending him to some mineral waters at Aix, in Savoy. You will be glad to hear that I am now assured of possessing, during my life, this delightful house and garden. The act has been lately executed in the best form, and the handsomest manner. I know not what to say of your [Page 195] miracles at home: we rejoice in the king's recovery, and its ministerial consequences; and I cannot be insensible to the hope, at least the chance, of seeing in this country a first lord of trade, or secretary at war. In your answer, which I shall impatiently expect, you will give me a full and true account of your designs, which by this time must have dropt, or be determined at least, for the present year. If you come, it is high time that we should look out for a house—a task much less easy than you may possibly imagine. Among new books, I recommend to you the Count de Mirabeau's great work, "Sur la Monarchie Prussienne;" it is in your own way, and gives a very just and complete idea of that wonderful machine. His "Correspondence Secrette" is diabolically good. Adieu. Ever yours.

YOU are in truth a wise, active, indefatigable, and inestimable friend; and as our virtues are often connected with our faults, if you were more tame and placid, you would be perhaps of less use and value. A very important and difficult transaction seems to be nearly terminated with success and mutual satisfaction: we seem to run before the wind with a prosperous gale; and, unless we should strike on some secret rocks which I do not foresee, shall, on or before the 31st July, enter the harbour of Content; though I cannot pursue the metaphor by adding we shall land, since our operation is of a very opposite tendency. I could not easily forgive myself for shutting you up in a dark room with parchments and attornies, did I not reflect that this probably is the last material trouble that you will ever have on my account; and that after the labours and delays of twenty years, I shall at last attain what I have always sighed for, a clear and competent income, above my wants, and equal to my wishes. In this contemplation you will be sufficiently rewarded. I hope * * * * * will be content with our title-deeds, for I cannot furnish [Page 196] another shred of parchment. Mrs. Gibbon's jointure is secured on the Beriton estate, and her legal consent is requisite for the sale. Again and again I must repeat my hope that she is perfectly satisfied, and that the close of her life may not be embittered by suspicion, or fear, or discontent. What new security does she prefer,— the funds, the mortgage, or your land? At all events she must be made easy. I wrote to her again some time ago, and begged that if she were too weak to write, she would desire Mrs. Gould or Mrs. Holroyd to give me a line concerning her state of health. To this no answer; I am afraid she is displeased.

Now for the disposal of the money: I approve of the 8000l. mortgage on Beriton; and honour your prudence in not shewing, by the comparison of the rent and interest, how foolish it is to purchase land. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *. There is a chance of my drawing a considerable sum into this country, for an arrangement which you yourself must approve, but which I have not time to explain at present. For the sake of dispatching, by this evening's post, an answer to your letter which arrived this morning, I confine myself to the needful, but in the course of a few days I will send a more familiar epistle. Adieu. Ever yours.

POOR Deyverdun is no more: he expired Saturday the 4th instant; and in his unfortunate situation, death could only be viewed by himself, and by his friends, in the light of a consummation devoutly to be wished. Since September he has had a dozen apoplectic strokes, more or less violent: in the intervals between them his strength gradually decayed; every principle of life was exhausted; and had he continued to drag a miserable existence, he must probably have survived the loss of his faculties. Of all misfortunes this was what he [Page 197] himself most apprehended: but his reason was clear and calm to the last; he beheld his approaching dissolution with the firmness of a philosopher. I fancied that time and reflection had prepared me for the event; but the habits of three-and-thirty years friendship are not so easily broken. The first days, and more especially the first nights, were indeed painful. Last Wednesday and Saturday it would not have been in my power to write. I must now recollect myself, since it is necessary for me not only to impart the news, but to ask your opinion in a very serious and doubtful question, which must be decided without loss of time. I shall state the facts, but as I am on the spot, and as new lights may occur, I do not promise implicit obedience.

Had my poor friend died without a will, a female first cousin settled somewhere in the north of Germany, and whom I believe he had never seen, would have been his heir at law. In the next degree he had several cousins; and one of these, an old companion, by name Mr. de Montagny, he has chosen for his heir. As this house and garden was the best and clearest part of poor Deyverdun's fortune; as there is a heavy duty or fine (what they call lods) on every change of property out of the legal descent; as Montagny has a small estate and a large family, it was necessary to make some provision in his favour. The will therefore leaves me the option of enjoying this place during my life, on paying the sum of 250l. (I reckon in English money) at present, and an annual rent of 30l.; or else, of purchasing the house and garden for a sum which, including the duty, will amount to 2500l. If I value the rent of 30l. at twelve years purchase, I may acquire my enjoyment for life at about the rate of 600l.; and the remaining 1900l. will be the difference between that tenure and absolute perpetual property. As you have never accused me of too much zeal for the interest of posterity, you will easily guess which scale at first preponderated. I deeply felt the advantage of acquiring, for the smaller sum, every possible enjoyment, [Page 198] as long as I myself should be capable of enjoying: I rejected, with scorn, the idea of giving 1900l. for ideal posthumous property; and I deemed it of little moment whose name, after my death, should be inscribed on my house and garden at Lausanne. How often did I repeat to myself the philosophical lines of Pope, which seem to determine the question:

Pray Heaven, cries Swift, it last as you go on;
I wish to God this house had been your own.
Pity to build without or son or wife:
Why, you'll enjoy it only all your life.
Well, if the use be mine, does it concern one,
Whether the name belong to Pope or Vernon?

In this state of self-satisfaction I was not much disturbed by all my real or nominal friends, who exhort me to prefer the right of purchase: among such friends, some are careless and some are ignorant; and the judgment of those, who are able and willing to form an opinion, is often biassed by some selfish or social affection, by some visible or invisible interest. But my own reflections have gradually and forcibly driven me from my first propensity; and these reflections I will now proceed to enumerate:

1. I can make this purchase with ease and prudence. As I have had the pleasure of not hearing from you very lately, I flatter myself that you advance on a carpet road, and that almost by the receipt of this letter (July 31st) the acres of Beriton will be transmuted into sixteen thousand pounds: if the payment be not absolutely completed by that day, * * * * * will not scruple, I suppose, depositing the 2600l. at Gosling's, to meet my draught. Should he hesitate, I can desire Darrel to sell quantum sufficit of my short annuities. As soon as the new settlement of my affairs is made, I shall be able, after deducting this sum, to square my expence to my income, &c.

2. On mature consideration, I am perhaps less selfish and less philosophical than I appear at first sight: indeed, were I not so, it [Page 199] would now be in my power to turn my fortune into life-annuities, and let the Devil take the hindmost. I feel, (perhaps it is foolish,) but I feel that this little paradise will please me still more when it is absolutely my own; and that I shall be encouraged in every improvement of use or beauty, by the prospect that, after my departure, it will be enjoyed by some person of my own choice. I sometimes reflect with pleasure that my writings will survive me; and that idea is at least as vain and chimerical.

3. The heir, Mr. de Montagny, is an old acquaintance. My situation of a life-holder is rather new and singular in this country: the laws have not provided for many nice cases which may arise between the landlord and tenant: some I can foresee, others have been suggested, many more I might feel when it would be too late. His right of property might plague and confine me; he might forbid my lending to a friend, inspect my conduct, check my improvements, call for securities, repairs, &c. But if I purchase, I walk on my own terrace fierce and erect, the free master of one of the most delicious spots on the globe.

Should I ever migrate homewards, (you stare, but such an event is less improbable than I could have thought it two years ago,) this place would be disputed by strangers and natives.

Weigh these reasons, and send me without delay a rational explicit opinion, to which I shall pay such regard as the nature of circumstances will allow. But, alas! when all is determined, I shall possess this house, by whatsoever tenure, without friendship or domestic society. I did not imagine, six years ago, that a plan of life so congenial to my wishes, would so speedily vanish. I cannot write upon any other subject. Adieu, your's ever.

AFTER receiving and dispatching the power of attorny, last Wednesday, I opened, with some palpitation, the unexpected missive [Page 200] which arrived this morning. The perusal of the contents spoiled my breakfast. They are disagreeable in themselves, alarming in their consequences, and peculiarly unpleasant at the present moment, when I hoped to have formed and secured the arrangements of my future life. I do not perfectly understand what are these deeds which are so inflexibly required; the wills and marriage-settlements I have sufficiently answered. But your arguments do not convince * * * * *, and I have very little hope from the Lenborough search. What will be the event? If his objections are only the result of legal scrupulosity, surely they might be removed, and every chink might be filled, by a general bond of indemnity, in which I boldly ask you to join, as it will be a substantial important act of friendship, without any possible risk to yourself or your successors. Should he still remain obdurate, I must believe what I already suspect, that * * * repents of his purchase, and wishes to elude the conclusion. Our case would be then hopeless, ibi omnis effusus labor, and the estate would be returned on our hands with the taint of a bad title. The refusal of mortgage does not please me; but surely our offer shews some confidence in the goodness of my title. If he will not take eight thousand pounds at four per cent. we must look out elsewhere; new doubts and delays will arise, and I am persuaded that you will not place an implicit confidence in any attorney. I know not as yet your opinion about my Lausanne purchase. If you are against it, the present position of affairs gives you great advantage, &c. &c. The Severys are all well; an uncommon circumstance for the four persons of the family at once. They are now at Mex, a country-house six miles from hence, which I visit to-morrow for two or three days. They often come to town, and we shall contrive to pass a part of the autumn together at Rolle. I want to change the scene; and beautiful as the garden and prospect must appear to every eye, I feel that the state of my own mind casts a gloom over them; every spot, every walk, every bench, recals the memory of [Page 201] those hours, of those conversations, which will return no more. But I tear myself from the subject. I could not help writing to-day, though I do not find I have said any thing very material. As you must be conscious that you have agitated me, you will not postpone any agreeable, or even decisive intelligence. I almost hesitate, whether I shall run over to England, to consult with you on the spot, and to fly from poor Deyverdun's shade, which meets me at every turn. I did not expect to have felt his loss so sharply. But six hundred miles! Why are we so far off?

Once more, What is the difficulty of the title? Will men of sense, in a sensible country, never get rid of the tyranny of lawyers? more oppressive and ridiculous than even the old yoke of the clergy. Is not a term of seventy or eighty years, nearly twenty in my own person, sufficient to prove our legal possession? Will not the records of fines and recoveries attest that I am free from any bar of entails and settlements? Consult some sage of the law, whether their present demand be necessary and legal. If your ground be firm, force them to execute the agreement or forfeit the deposit. But if, as I much fear, they have a right, and a wish, to elude the consummation, would it not be better to release them at once, than to be hung up for five years, as in the case of Lovegrove, which cost me in the end four or five thousand pounds? You are bold, you are wise; consult, resolve, act. In my penultimate letter I dropped a strange hint, that a migration homeward was not impossible. I know not what to say; my mind is all afloat; yet you will not reproach me with caprice or inconstancy. How many years did you damn my scheme of retiring to Lausanne! I executed that plan; I found as much happiness as is compatible with human nature, and during four years (1783—1787) I never breathed a sigh of repentance. On my return from England the scene was changed: I found only a faint semblance of Deyverdun, and that semblance was each day fading from my sight. I have passed an anxious year, but my [Page 202] anxiety is now at an end, and the prospect before me is a melancholy solitude. I am still deeply rooted in this country; the possession of this paradise, the friendship of the Severys, a mode of society suited to my taste, and the enormous trouble and expence of a migration. Yet in England (when the present clouds are dispelled) I could form a very comfortable establishment in London, or rather at Bath; and I have a very noble country-seat at about ten miles from East Grinstead in Sussex*. That spot is dearer to me than the rest of the three kingdoms; and I have sometimes wondered how two men, so opposite in their tempers and pursuits, should have imbibed so long and lively a propensity for each other. Sir Stanier Porten is just dead. He has left his widow with a moderate pension, and two children, my nearest relations: the eldest, Charlotte, is about Louisa's age, and also a most amiable sensible young creature. I have conceived a romantic idea of educating and adopting her; as we descend into the vale of years our infirmities require some domestic female society: Charlotte would be the comfort of my age, and I could reward her care and tenderness with a decent fortune. A thousand difficulties oppose the execution of the plan, which I have never opened but to you; yet it would be less impracticable in England than in Switzerland. Adieu. I am wounded; pour some oil into my wounds: yet I am less unhappy since I have thrown my mind upon paper.

Are you not amazed at the French revolution? They have the power, will they have the moderation, to establish a good constitution? Adieu, ever yours.

WITHIN an hour after the reception of your last, I drew my pen for the purpose of a reply, and my exordium ran in the following words: ‘I find by experience, that it is much more rational, as well [Page 203] as easy, to answer a letter of real business by the return of the post.’ This important truth is again verified by my own example. After writing three pages I was called away by a very rational motive, and the post departed before I could return to the conclusion. A second delay was coloured by some decent pretence▪ Three weeks have slipped away, and I now force myself on a task, which I should have dispatched without an effort on the first summons. My only excuse is, that I had little to write about English business, and that I could write nothing definitive about my Swiss affairs. And first, as Aristotle says of the first,

1. I was indeed in low spirits when I sent what you so justly stile my dismal letter; but I do assure you, that my own feelings contributed much more to sink me, than any events or terrors relative to the sale of Beriton. But I again hope and trust, from your consolatory epistle, that, &c. &c.

2. My Swiss transaction has suffered a great alteration. I shall not become the proprietor of my house and garden at Lausanne, and I relinquish the phantom with more regret than you could easily imagine. But I have been determined by a difficulty, which at first appeared of little moment, but which has gradually swelled to an alarming magnitude. There is a law in this country, as well as in some provinces of France, which is styled le droit de retrait, le retrait lignagere, (Lord Loughborough must have heard of it,) by which the relations of the deceased are entitled to redeem a house or estate at the price for which it has been sold; and as the sum fixed by poor Deyverdun is much below its known value, a crowd of competitors are beginning to start. The best opinions (for they are divided) are in my favour, that I am not subject to le droit de retrait, since I take not as a purchaser, but as a legatee. But the words of the will are somewhat ambiguous, the event of law is always uncertain, the administration of justice at Bern (the last appeal) depends too much on favour and intrigue; and it is very doubtful whether I could revert to the life-holding, after having chosen and lost the [Page 204] property. These considerations engaged me to open a negociation with Mr. de Montagny, through the medium of my friend the judge; and as he most ardently wishes to keep the house, he consented, though with some reluctance, to my proposals. Yesterday he signed a covenant in the most regular and binding form, by which he allows my power of transferring my interest, interprets in the most ample sense my right of making alterations, and expressly renounces all claim, as landlord, of visiting or inspecting the premises. I have promised to lend him twelve thousand livres, (between seven and eight hundred pounds,) secured on the house and land. The mortgage is four times its value; the interest of four pounds per cent. will be annually discharged by the rent of thirty guineas. So that I am now tranquil on that score for the remainder of my days. I hope that time will gradually reconcile me to the place which I have inhabited with my poor friend; for in spite of the cream of London, I am still persuaded that no other place is so well adapted to my taste and habits of studious and social life.

Far from delighting in the whirl of a metropolis, my only complaint against Lausanne is the great number of strangers, always of English, and now of French, by whom we are infested in summer. Yet we have escaped the damned great ones, the Count d'Artois, the Polignacs, &c. who slip by us to Turin. What a scene is France! While the assembly is voting abstract propositions, Paris is an independent republic; the provinces have neither authority nor freedom, and poor Necker declares that credit is no more, and that the people refuse to pay taxes. Yet I think you must be seduced by the abolition of tithes. If Eden goes to Paris you may have some curious information. Give me some account of Mr. and Mrs. Douglas. Do they live with Lord North? I hope they do. When will parliament be dissolved? Are you still Coventry-mad? I embrace my Lady, the sprightly Maria, and the smiling Louisa. Alas! alas! you will never come to Switzerland. Adieu, ever yours.

[Page 205]

Alas! what perils do environ
The man who meddles with cold iron.

ALAS! what delays and difficulties do attend the man who meddles with legal and landed business! Yet if it be only to disappoint your expectation, I am not so very nervous at this new provoking obstacle. I had totally forgotten the deed in question, which was contrived in the last year of my father's life, to tie his hands and regulate the disorder of his affairs; and which might have been so easily cancelled by Sir Stanier, who had not the smallest interest in it, either for himself or his family. The amicable suit, which is now become necessary, must, I think, be short and unambiguous, yet I cannot help dreading the crotchets, that lurk under the chancellor's great wig; and, at all events, I foresee some additional delay and expence. The golden pill of the two thousand eight hundred pounds has soothed my discontent; and if it be safely lodged with the Goslings, I agree with you, in considering it as an unequivocal pledge of a fair and willing purchaser. It is indeed chiefly in that light I now rejoice in so large a deposit, which is no longer necessary in its full extent. You are apprised by my last letter that I have reduced myself to the life-enjoyment of the house and garden. And, in spite of my feelings, I am every day more convinced that I have chosen the safer side. I believe my cause to have been good, but it was doubtful. Law in this country is not so expensive as in England, but it is more troublesome; I must have gone to Bern, have solicited my judges in person; a vile custom! the event was uncertain; and during at least two years, I should have been in a state of suspense and anxiety; till the conclusion of which it would have been madness to have attempted any alteration or improvement. According to my present arrangement I shall want no more than eleven hundred pounds of the two thousand, and I suppose you will [Page 206] direct Gosling to lay out the remainder in India bonds, that it may not lie quite dead, while I am accountable to * * * * for the interest. The elderly lady in a male habit, who informed me that Yorkshire is a register county, is a certain judge, one Sir William Blackstone, whose name you may possibly have heard. After stating the danger of purchasers and creditors, with regard to the title of estates on which they lay out or lend their money, he thus continues: ‘In Scotland every act and event regarding the transmission of property is regularly entered on record; and some of our own provincial divisions, particularly the extended county of York and the populous county of Middlesex, have prevailed with the legislature to erect such registers in their respective districts.’ (Blackstone's Commentaries, vol. ii. p. 343, edition of 1774, in quarto.) If I am mistaken, it is in pretty good company; but I suspect that we are all right, and that the register is confined to one or two ridings. As we have, alas! two or three months before us, I should hope that your prudent sagacity will discover some sound land, in case you should not have time to arrange another mortgage. I now write in a hurry, as I am just setting out for Rolle, where I shall be settled with cook and servants in a pleasant apartment, till the middle of November. The Severys have a house there, where they pass the autumn. I am not sorry to vary the scene for a few weeks, and I wish to be absent while some alterations are making in my house at Lausanne. I wish the change of air may be of service to Severy the father, but we do not at all like his present state of health. How completely, alas, how completely! could I now lodge you: but your firm resolve of making me a visit seems to have vanished like a dream. Next summer you will not find five hundred pounds for a rational friendly expedition; and should parliament be dissolved, you will perhaps find five thousand for—. I cannot think of it with patience. Pray take serious strenuous measures for sending me a pipe of excellent Madeira in cask, with some dozens [Page 207] of Malmsey Madeira. It should be consigned to Messrs. Romberg Voituriers at Ostend, and I must have timely notice of its march. We have so much to say about France, that I suppose we shall never say any thing. That country is now in a state of dissolution. Adieu.

YOU have often reason to accuse my strange silence and neglect in the most important of my own affairs; for I will presume to assert, that in a business of yours of equal consequence, you should not find me cold or careless. But on the present occasion my silence is, perhaps, the highest compliment I ever paid you. You remember the answer of Philip of Macedon: ‘Philip may sleep, while he knows that Parmenio is awake.’ I expected, and, to say the truth, I wished that my Parmenio would have decided and acted, without expecting my dilatory answer, and in his decision I should have acquiesced with implicit confidence. But since you will have my opinion, let us consider the present state of my affairs. In the course of my life I have often known, and sometimes felt, the difficulty of getting money, but I now find myself involved in a more singular distress, the difficulty of placing it, and if it continues much longer, I shall almost wish for my land again.

I perfectly agree with you, that it is bad management to purchase in the funds when they do not yield four pounds per cent. * * * * * * * * * * * * *. Some of this money I can place safely, by means of my banker here; and I shall possess, what I have always desired, a command of cash, which I cannot abuse to my prejudice, since I have it in my power to supply with my pen any extraordinary or fanciful indulgence of expence. And so much, much indeed, for pecuniary matters. What would you have me say of the affairs of France? We are too near, and too remote, to form an accurate judgment of that wonderful scene. The abuses of the court and government [Page 208] called aloud for reformation; and it has happened, as it will always happen, tha an innocent well-disposed Prince has paid the forfeit of the sins of his predecessors; of the ambition of Lewis the Fourteenth, of the profusion of Lewis the Fifteenth. The French nation had a glorious opportunity, but they have abused, and may lose their advantages. If they had been content with a liberal translation of our system, if they had respected the prerogatives of the crown, and the privileges of the nobles, they might have raised a solid fabric on the only true foundation, the natural aristocracy of a great country. How different is the prospect! Their King brought a captive to Paris, after his palace had been stained with the blood of his guards; the nobles in exile; the clergy plundered in a way which strikes at the root of all property; the capital an independent republic; the union of the provinces dissolved; the flames of discord kindled by the worst of men; (in that light I consider Mirabeau;) and the honestest of the assembly, a set of wild visionaries, (like our Dr. Price,) who gravely debate, and dream about the establishment of a pure and perfect democracy of five-and-twenty millions, the virtues of the golden age, and the primitive rights and equality of mankind, which would lead, in fair reasoning, to an equal partition of lands and money. How many years must elapse before France can recover any vigour, or resume her station among the Powers of Europe! As yet, there is no symptom of a great man, a Richlieu or a Cromwell, arising, either to restore the monarchy, or to lead the commonwealth. The weight of Paris, more deeply engaged in the funds than all the rest of the kingdom, will long delay a bankruptcy; and if it should happen, it will be, both in the cause and the effect, a measure of weakness, rather than of strength. You send me to Chamberry, to see a Prince and an Archbishop. Alas! we have exiles enough here, with the Marshal de Castries and the Duke de Guignes at their head; and this inundation of strangers, which used to be confined to the summer, will now stagnate all the [Page 209] winter. The only ones whom I have seen with pleasure are Mr. Mounier, the late president of the national assembly, and the Count de Lally; they have both dined with me. Mounier, who is a serious dry politician, is returned to Dauphine. Lally is an amiable man of the world, and a poet: he passes the winter here. You know how much I prefer a quiet select society to a crowd of names and titles, and that I always seek conversation with a view to amusement, rather than information. What happy countries are England and Switzerland, if they know and preserve their happiness.

I have a thousand things to say to my Lady, Maria, and Louisa, but I can add only a short postscript about the Madeira. Good Madeira is now become essential to my health and reputation. May your hogshead prove as good as the last; may it not be intercepted by the rebels or the Austrians. What a scene again in that country! Happy England! Happy Switzerland! I again repeat, adieu.

YOUR two last epistles, of the 7th and 11th instant, were somewhat delayed on the road; they arrived within two days of each other, the last this morning (the 27th); so that I answer by the first, or at least by the second post. Upon the whole, your French method, though sometimes more rapid, appears to me less sure and steady than the old German highway, &c. &c. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * But enough of this. A new and brighter prospect seems to be breaking upon us, and few events of that kind have ever given me more pleasure than your successful negociation and * * * *'s satisfactory answer. The agreement is, indeed, equally convenient for both parties: no time or expence will be wasted in scrutinizing the title of the estate; the interest will be secured by the clause of five per cent. and I lament with you, that no larger sum than eight thousand [Page 210] pounds can be placed on Beriton, without asking (what might be somewhat impudent) a collateral security, &c. &c. * * * * * * * * * * * * * *. But I wish you to choose and execute one or the other of these arrangements with sage discretion and absolute power. I shorten my letter, that I may dispatch it by this post. I see the time, and I shall rejoice to see it at the end of twenty years, when my cares will be at an end, and our friendly pages will be no longer sullied with the repetition of dirty land and vile money; when we may expatiate on the politics of the world and our personal sentiments. Without expecting your answer of business, I mean to write soon in a purer style, and I wish to lay open to my friend the state of my mind, which (exclusive of all worldly concerns) is not perfectly at ease. In the mean while, I must add two or three short articles. 1. I am astonished at Elmsley's silence, and the immobility of your picture, Mine should have departed long since, could I have found a sure opportunity, &c. &c. Adieu, yours.

SINCE the first origin (ab ovo) of our connection and correspondence, so long an interval of silence has not intervened, as far as I remember, between us, &c. &c.

From my silence you conclude that the moral complaint, which I had insinuated in my last, is either insignificant or fanciful. The conclusion is rash. But the complaint in question is of the nature of a slow lingering disease, which is not attended with any immediate danger. As I have not leisure to expatiate, take the idea in three words: ‘Since the loss of poor Deyverdun, I am alone; and even in Paradise, solitude is painful to a social mind. When I was a dozen years younger, I scarcely felt the weight of a single existence amidst the crowds of London, of parliament, of clubs; but it will press more [Page 211] heavily upon me in this tranquil land, in the decline of life, and with the increase of infirmities. Some expedient, even the most desperate, must be embraced, to secure the domestic society of a male or female companion. But I am not in a hurry; there is time for reflection and advice.’ During this winter such siner feelings have been suspended by the grosser evil of bodily pain. On the ninth of February I was seized by such a fit of the gout as I had never known, though I must be thankful that its dire effects have been confined to the feet and knees, without ascending to the more noble parts. With some vicissitudes of better and worse, I have groaned between two and three months; the debility has survived the pain, and though now easy, I am carried about in my chair, without any power, and with a very distant chance, of supporting myself, from the extreme weakness and contraction of the joints of my knees. Yet I am happy in a skilful physician, and kind assiduous friends: every evening, during more than three months, has been enlivened (excepting when I have been forced to refuse them) by some cheerful visits, and very often by a chosen party of both sexes. How different is such society from the solitary evenings which I have passed in the tumult of London! It is not worth while fighting about a shadow, but should I ever return to England, Bath, not the metropolis, would be my last retreat.

Your portrait is at last arrived in perfect condition, and now occupies a conspicuous place over the chimney-glass in my library. It is the object of general admiration; good judges (the few) applaud the work; the name of Reynolds opens the eyes and mouths of the many; and were not I afraid of making you vain, I would inform you that the original is not allowed to be more than five-and-thirty. In spite of private reluctance and public discontent, I have honourably dismissed myself *. I shall arrive at Sir Joshua's before the end of the month; he will give me a look, and perhaps a touch; and [Page 212] you will be indebted to the president one guinea for the carriage. Do not be nervous, I am not rolled up; had I been so, you might have gazed on my charms four months ago. I want some account of yourself, of my Lady, (shall we never directly correspond?) of Louisa, and of Maria. How has the latter since her launch supported a quiet winter in Sussex? I so much rejoice in your divorce from that b—Kitty Coventry, that I care not what marriage you contract. A great city would suit your dignity, and the duties which would kill me in the first session, would supply your activity with a constant fund of amusement. But tread softly and surely; the ice is deceitful, the water is deep, and you may be soused over head and ears before you are aware. Why did not you or Elmsley send me the African pamphlet* by the post? it would not have cost much. You have such a knack of turning a nation, that I am afraid you will triumph (perhaps by the force of argument) over justice and humanity. But do you not expect to work at Belzebub's sugar plantations in the infernal regions, under the tender government of a negro-driver? I should suppose both my Lady and Miss Firth very angry with you.

As to the bill for prints, which has been too long neglected, why will you not exercise the power, which I have never revoked, over all my cash at the Goslings? The Severy family has passed a very favourable winter; the young man is impatient to hear from a family which he places above all others: yet he will generously write next week, and send you a drawing of the alterations in the house. Do not raise your ideas; you know I am satisfied with convenience in architecture, and some elegance in furniture. I admire the coolness with which you ask me to epistolize Reynell and Elmsley, as if a letter were so easy and pleasant a task; it appears less so to me every day.

[Page 213] 1790.

YOUR indignation will melt into pity, when you hear that for several weeks past I have been again confined to my chamber and my chair. Yet I must hasten, generously hasten, to exculpate the gout, my old enemy, from the curses which you already pour on his head. He is not the cause of this disorder, although the consequences have been somewhat similar. I am satisfied that this effort of nature has saved me from a very dangerous, perhaps a fatal, crisis; and I listen to the flattering hope that it may tend to keep the gout at a more respectful distance, &c. &c. &c.

The whole sheet has been filled with dry selfish business; but I must and will reserve some lines of the cover for a little friendly conversation. I passed four days at the castle of Copet with Necker; and could have wished to have shewn him, as a warning to any aspiring youth possessed with the daemon of ambition. With all the means of private happiness in his power, he is the most miserable of human beings: the past, the present, and the future are equally odious to him. When I suggested some domestic amusements of books, building, &c. he answered, with a deep tone of despair, ‘Dans l'êtat ou je suis, je ne puis sentir que le coup de vent qui m'a abbatû.’ How different from the careless cheerfulness with which our poor friend Lord North supported his fall! Madame Necker maintains more external composure, mais le Diable n'y perd rien. It is true that Necker wished to be carried into the closet, like old Pitt, on the shoulders of the people; and that he has been ruined by the democracy which he had raised. I believe him to be an able financier, and know him to be an honest man; too honest, perhaps, for a minister. His rival Calonne has passed through Lausanne, in his way from Turin; and was soon followed by the Prince of Condé, with his son and grandson; but I was too much indisposed to see them. They have, or have had, some wild projects of a counter-revolution: horses have been bought, men levied: such foolish attempts must [Page 214] end in the ruin of the party. Burke's book is a most admirable medicine against the French disease, which has made too much progress even in this happy country. I admire his eloquence, I approve his politics, I adore his chivalry, and I can forgive even his superstition. The primitive church, which I have treated with some freedom, was itself at that time an innovation, and I was attached to the old Pagan establishment. The French spread so many lies about the sentiments of the English nation, that I wish the most considerable men of all parties and descriptions would join in some public act, declaring themselves satisfied and resolved to support our present constitution. Such a declaration would have a wonderful effect in Europe; and, were I thought worthy, I myself would be proud to subscribe it. I have a great mind to send you something of a sketch, such as all thinking men might adopt.

I have intelligence of the approach of my Madeira. I accept with equal pleasure the second pipe, now in the Torrid Zone. Send me some pleasant details of your domestic state, of Maria, &c. If my Lady thinks that my silence is a mark of indifference, my Lady is a goose. I must have you all at Lausanne next summer.

I ANSWER at once your two letters; and I should probably have taken earlier notice of the first, had I not been in daily expectation of the second. I must begin on the subject of what really interests me the most, your glorious election for Bristol. Most sincerely do I congratulate your exchange of a cursed expensive jilt, who deserted you for a rich Jew, for an honourable connection with a chaste and virtuous matron, who will probably be as constant as she is disinterested. In the whole range of election from Caithness to St. Ives, I much doubt whether there be a single choice so truly honourable to the member and the constituents. The second commercial city invites, from a distant province, an independent gentleman, known [Page 215] only by his active spirit, and his writings on the subject of trade; and names him, without intrigue or expence, for her representative: even the voice of party is silenced, while factions strive which shall applaud the most.

You are now sure, for seven years to come, of never wanting food; I mean business: what a crowd of suitors or complainants will besiege your door! what a load of letters and memorials will be heaped on your table! I much question whether even you will not sometimes exclaim, Ohe! jam satis est! but that is your affair. Of the excursion to Coventry I cannot decide, but I hear it is pretty generally blamed: but, however, I love gratitude to an old friend; and shall not be very angry if you damned them with a farewel to all eternity. But I cannot repress my indignation at the use of those foolish, obsolete, odious words, Whig and Tory. In the American war they might have some meaning; and then your Lordship was a Tory, although you supposed yourself a Whig: since the coalition, all general principles have been confounded; and if there ever was an opposition to men, not measures, it is the present. Luckily both the leaders are great men; and, whatever happens, the country must fall upon its legs. What a strange mist of peace and war seems to hang over the ocean! We can perceive nothing but secrecy and vigor; but those are excellent qualities to perceive in a minister. From yourself and politics I now return to my private concerns, which I shall methodically consider under the three great articles of mind, body, and estate.

1. I am not absolutely displeased at your firing so hastily at the hint, a tremendous hint, in my last letter. But the danger is not so serious or imminent as you seem to suspect; and I give you my word, that, before I take the slightest step which can bind me either in law, conscience, or honour, I will faithfully communicate, and we will freely discuss, the whole state of the business. But at present there is not any thing to communicate or discuss; I do assure you [Page 216] that I have not any particular object in view: I am not in love with any of the hyaenas of Lausanne, though there are some who keep their claws tolerably well pared. Sometimes, in a solitary mood, I have fancied myself married to one or another of those whose society and conversation are the most pleasing to me; but when I have painted in my fancy all the probable consequences of such an union, I have started from my dream, rejoiced in my escape, and ejaculated a thanksgiving that I was still in possession of my natural freedom. Yet I feel, and shall continue to feel, that domestic solitude, however it may be alleviated by the world, by study, and even by friendship, is a comfortless state, which will grow more painful as I descend in the vale of years. At present my situation is very tolerable; and if at dinner-time, or at my return home in the evening, I sometimes sigh for a companion, there are many hours, and many occasions, in which I enjoy the superior blessing of being sole master of my own house. But your plan, though less dangerous, is still more absurd than mine: such a couple as you describe could not be found; and, if found, would not answer my purpose; their rank and position would be awkward and ambiguous to myself and my acquaintance; and the agreement of three persons of three characters would be still more impracticable. My plan of Charlotte Porten is undoubtedly the most desirable; and she might either remain a spinster (the case is not without example), or marry some Swiss of my choice, who would increase and enliven our society; and both would have the strongest motives for kind and dutiful behaviour. But the mother has been indirectly sounded, and will not hear of such a proposal for some years. On my side, I would not take her, but as a piece of soft wax which I could model to the language and manners of the country: I must therefore be patient.

Young Severy's letter, which may be now in your hands, and which, for these three or four last posts, has furnished my indolence with a new pretence for delay, has already informed you of the [Page 217] means and circumstances of my resurrection. Tedious indeed was my confinement, since I was not able to move from my house or chair, from the ninth of February to the first of July, very nearly five months. The first weeks were accompanied with more pain than I have ever known in the gout, with anxious days and sleepless nights; and when that pain subsided, it left a weakness in my knees which seemed to have no end. My confinement was however softened by books, by the possession of every comfort and convenience, by a succession each evening of agreeable company, and by a flow of equal spirits and general good health. During the last weeks I descended to the ground floor, poor Deyverdun's apartment, and constructed a chair like Merlin's, in which I could wheel myself in the house and on the terrace. My patience has been universally admired; yet how many thousands have passed those five months less easily than myself. I remember making a remark perfectly simple, and perfectly true: ‘At present, (I said to Madame de Severy,) I am not positively miserable, and I may reasonably hope a daily or weekly improvement, till sooner or later in the summer I shall recover new limbs, and new pleasures, which I do not now possess: have any of you such a prospect?’ The prediction has been accomplished, and I have arrived to my present condition of strength, or rather of feebleness: I now can walk with tolerable ease in my garden and smooth places; but on the rough pavement of the town I use, and perhaps shall use, a sedan chair. The Pyrmont waters have performed wonders; and my physician (not Tissot, but a very sensible man) allows me to hope, that the term of the interval will be in proportion to that of the fit.

Have you read in the English papers, that the government of Berne is overturned, and that we are divided into three democratical leagues? true as what I have read in the French papers, that the English have cut off Pitt's head, and abolished the House of Lords. The people of this country are happy; and in spite of some miscreants, [Page 218] and more foreign emissaries, they are sensible of their happiness.

Finally—Inform my Lady, that I am indignant at a false and heretical assertion in her last letter to Severy, ‘that friends at a distance cannot love each other, if they do not write.’ I love her better than any woman in the world; indeed I do; and yet I do not write. And she herself—but I am calm. We have now nearly one hundred French exiles, some of them worth being acquainted with; particularly a Count de Schomberg, who is become almost my friend; he is a man of the world, of letters, and of sufficient age, since in 1753 he succeeded to Marshal Saxe's regiment of dragoons. As to the rest, I entertain them, and they flatter me: but I wish we were reduced to our Lausanne society. Poor France! the state is dissolved, the nation is mad! Adieu.

FIRST, of my health: it is now tolerably restored, my legs are still weak, but the animal in general is in a sound and lively condition; and we have great hopes from the fine weather and the Pyrmont waters. I most sincerely wished for the presence of Maria, to embellish a ball which I gave the 29th of last month to all the best company, natives and foreigners, of Lausanne, with the aid of the Severys, especially of the mother and son, who directed the oeconomy, and performed the honours of the fête. It opened about seven in the evening; the assembly of men and women was pleased and pleasing, the music good, the illumination splendid, the refreshments profuse: at twelve, one hundred and thirty persons sat down to a very good supper: at two, I stole away to bed, in a snug corner; and I was informed at breakfast, that the remains of the veteran and young troops, with Severy and his sister at their head, had concluded the last dance about a quarter before seven. This magnificent entertainment has gained me great credit; and the expence was more reasonable than you can easily imagine. [Page 219] This was an extraordinary event, but I give frequent dinners; and in the summer I have an assembly every Sunday evening. What a wicked wretch! says my Lady.

I cannot pity you for the accumulation of business, as you ought not to pity me, if I complained of the tranquillity of Lausanne; we suffer or enjoy the effects of our own choice. Perhaps you will mutter something, of our not being born for ourselves, of public spirit (I have formerly read of such a thing), of private friendship, for which I give you full and ample credit, &c. But your parliamentary operations, at least, will probably expire in the month of June; and I shall refuse to sign the Newhaven conveyance, unless I am satisfied that you will execute the Lausanne visit this summer. On the 15th of June, suppose Lord, Lady, Maria, and maid, (poor Louisa!) in a post coach, with Elienne on horseback, set out from Downing-Street, or Sheffield-Place, cross the channel from Brighton to Dieppe, visit the National Assembly, buy caps at Paris, examine the ruins of Versailles, and arrive at Lausanne, without danger or fatigue, the second week in July; you will be lodged pleasantly and comfortably, and will not perhaps despise my situation. A couple of months will roll, alas! too hastily away: you will all be amused by new scenes, new people; and whenever Maria and you, with Severy, mount on horseback to visit the country, the glaciers, &c. my Lady and myself shall form a very quiet tête-à-tête at home. In September, if you are tired, you may return by a direct or indirect way; but I only desire that you will not make the plan impracticable, by grasping at too much. In return, I promise you a visit of three or four months in the autumn of ninety-two: you and my booksellers are now my principal attractions in England. You had some right to growl at hearing of my supplement in the papers: but Cadell's indiscretion was founded on a hint which I had thrown out in a letter, and which in all probability will never be executed. Yet I am not totally idle. Adieu.

[Page 220]

I WRITE a short letter, on small paper, to inform you, that the various deeds, which arrived safe and in good condition, have this morning been sealed, signed, and delivered, in the presence of respectable and well-known English witnesses. To have read the aforesaid acts, would have been difficult; to have understood them, impracticable. I therefore signed them with my eyes shut, and in that implicit confidence, which we freemen and Britons are humbly content to yield to our lawyers and ministers. I hope however, most seriously hope, that every thing has been carefully examined, and that I am not totally ruined. It is not without much impatience that I expect an account of the payment and investment of the purchase-money. It was my intention to have added a new edition of my will; but I hve an unexpected call to go to Geneva to-morrow with the Severys, and must defer that business a few days till after my return. On my return I may possibly find a letter from you, and will write more fully in answer: my posthumous work, contained in a single sheet, will not ruin you in postage. In the mean while let me desire you either never to talk of Lausanne, or to execute the journey this summer; after the dispatch of public and private business, there can be no real obstacle but in yourself. Pray do not go to war with Russia; it is very foolish. I am quite angry with Pitt. Adieu.

AT length I see a ray of sunshine breaking from a dark cloud. Your epistle of the 13th arrived this morning, the 25th instant, the day after my return from Geneva; it has been communicated to Severy. We now believe that you intend a visit to Lausanne this summer, and we hope that you will execute that intention. If you are a man of honour, you shall find me one; and, on the day of [Page 221] your arrival at Lausanne, I will ratify my engagement of visiting the British isle before the end of the year 1792, excepting only the fair and foul exception of the gout. You rejoice me, by proposing the addition of dear Louisa; it was not without a bitter pang that I threw her overboard, to lighten the vessel and secure the voyage: I was fearful of the governess, a second carriage, and a long train of difficulty and expence, which might have ended in blowing up the whole scheme. But if you can bodkin the sweet creature into the coach, she will find an easy welcome at Lausanne. The first arrangements which I must make before your arrival, may be altered by your own taste, on a survey of the premises, and you will all be commodiously and pleasantly lodged. You have heard a great deal of the beauty of my house, garden, and situation; but such are their intrinsic value, that, unless I am much deceived, they will bear the test even of exaggerated praise. From my knowledge of your Lordship, I have always entertained some doubt how you would get through the society of a Lausanne winter: but I am satisfied that, exclusive of friendship, your summer visits to the banks of the Leman Lake will long be remembered as one of the most agreeable periods of your life; and that you will scarcely regret the amusement of a Sussex Committee of Navigation in the dog days. You ask for details: what details? a map of France and a post-book are easy and infallible guides. If the ladies are not afraid of the ocean, you are not ignorant of the passage from Brighton to Dieppe: Paris will then be in your direct road; and even allowing you to look at the Pandaemonium, the ruins of Versailles, &c. a fortnight diligently employed will clear you from Sheffield Place to Gibbon Castle. What can I say more?

As little have I to say on the subject of my worldly matters, which seem now, Jupiter be praised, to be drawing towards a final conclusion; since when people part with their money, they are indeed serious. I do not perfectly understand the ratio of the precise sum [Page 222] which you have poured into Gosling's reservoir, but suppose it will be explained in a general account.

You have been very dutiful in sending me, what I have always desired, a cut Woodfall on a remarkable debate; a debate, indeed, most remarkable! Poor * * * * * is the most eloquent and rational madman that I ever knew. I love * * *'s feelings, but I detest the political principles of the man, and of the party. Formerly, you detested them more strongly during the American war, than myself. I am half afraid that you are corrupted by your unfortunate connections. Should you admire the National Assembly, we shall have many an altercation, for I am as high an aristocrat as Burke himself; and he has truly observed, that it is impossible to debate with temper on the subject of that cursed revolution. In my last excursion to Geneva I frequently saw the Neckers, who by this time are returned to their summer residence at Copet. He is much restored in health and spirits, especially since the publication of his last book, which has probably reached England. Both parties, who agree in abusing him, agree likewise that he is a man of virtue and genius; but I much fear that the purest intentions have been productive of the most baneful consequences. Our military men, I mean the French, are leaving us every day for the camp of the Princes at Worms, and support what is called representation. Their hopes are sanguine; I will not answer for their being well grounded: it is certain, however, that the emperor had an interview the 19th instant with the Count of Artois at Mantua; and the aristocrats talk in mysterious language of Spain, Sardinia, the Empire, four or five armies, &c. They will doubtless strike a blow this summer: may it not recoil on their own heads! Adieu. Embrace our female travellers. A short delay!

[Page 223]

I NOW begin to see you all in real motion, swimming from Brighton to Dieppe, according to my scheme, and afterwards treading the direct road, which you cannot well avoid, to the turbulent capital of the late kingdom of France. I know not what more to say, or what further instructions to send; they would indeed be useless, as you are travelling through a country which has been sometimes visited by Englishmen: only this let me say, that in the midst of anarchy the roads were never more secure than at present. As you will wish to assist at the national assembly, you will act prudently in obtaining from the French in London a good recommendation to some leading member; Cazales, for instance, or the Abbé Maury. I soon expect from Elmsley a cargo of books; but you may bring me any new pamphlet of exquisite flavour, particularly the last works of John Lord Sheffield, which the dog has always neglected to send. You will have time to write once more, and you must endeavour, as nearly as possible, to mark the day of your arrival. You may come either by Lyons and Geneva, by Dijon and les Rousses, or by Dole and Pontarliere. The post will fail you on the edge of Switzerland, and must be supplied by hired horses. I wish you to make your last day's journey easy, so as to dine upon the road, and arrive by tea-time. The pulse of the counter-revolution beats high, but I cannot send you any certain facts. Adieu. I want to hear my Lady abusing me for never writing. All the Severys are very impatient.

Notwithstanding the high premium, I do not absolutely wish you drowned. Besides all other cares, I must marry and propagate, which would give me a great deal of trouble.

[Page 224]

IN obedience to your orders I direct a flying shot to Paris, though I have not any thing particular to add, excepting that our impatience is increased in the inverse ratio of time and space. Yet I almost doubt whether you have passed the sea. The news of the King of France's escape must have reached you before the 28th, the day of your departure, and the prospect of strange unknown disorder may well have suspended your firmest resolves. The royal animal is again caught, and all may probably be quiet. I was just going to exhort you to pass through Brussels and the confines of Germany; a fair Irishism, since if you read this, you are already at Paris. The only reasonable advice which now remains, is to obtain, by means of Lord Gower, a sufficiency, or even superfluity, of forcible passports, such as leave no room for cavil on a jealous frontier. The frequent intercourse with Paris has proved that the best and shortest road, instead of Besançon, is by Dijon, Dole, Les Rousses, and Nyon. Adieu. I warmly embrace the Ladies. It would be idle now to talk of business.

3.

[Page 225]

IT has appeared from the foregoing Letters, that a visit from myself and my family, to Mr. Gibbon at Lausanne, had been for some time in agitation. This long-promised excursion took place in the month of June 1791, and occasioned a considerable cessation of our correspondence. I landed at Dieppe immediately after the flight from, and return to, Paris of the unfortunate Lewis XVI. During my stay in that capital, I had an opportunity of seeing the extraordinary ferment of men's minds, both in the national assembly, in private societies, and in my passage through France to Lausanne, where I recalled to my memory the interesting scenes I had witnessed, by frequent conversations with my deceased friend. I might have wished to record his opinions on the subject of the French revolution, if he had not expressed them so well in the annexed Letters. He seemed to suppose, as some of his Letters hint, that I had a tendency to the new French opinions. Never indeed, I can with truth aver, was suspicion more unfounded; nor could it have been admitted into Mr. Gibbon's mind, but that his extreme friendship for me, and his utter abhorrence of these notions, made him anxious and jealous, even to an excess, that I should not entertain them. He was, however, soon undeceived; he found that I was full as averse to them as himself. I had from the first expressed an opinion, that such a change as was aimed at in France, must derange all the regular governments in Europe, hazard the internal quiet and dearest interests of this country, and probably end in bringing on mankind a much greater portion of misery, than the most sanguine reformer [Page 226] had ever promised to himself or others to produce of benefit, by the visionary schemes of liberty and equality, with which the ignorant and vulgar were misled and abused.

Mr. Gibbon at first, like many others, seemed pleased with the prospect of the reform of inveterate abuses; but he very soon discovered the mischief which was intended, the imbecility with which concessions were made, and the ruin that must arise, from the want of resolution or conduct, in the administration of France. He lived to reprobate, in the strongest terms possible, the folly of the first reformers, and the something worse than extravagance and ferocity of their successors. He saw the wild and mischievous tendency of those pretended reformers, which, while they professed nothing but amendment, really meant destruction to all social order; and so strongly was his opinion fixed, as to the danger of hasty innovation, that he became a warm and zealous advocate for every sort of old establishment, which he marked in various ways, sometimes rather ludicrously; and I recollect, in a circle where French affairs were the topic, and some Portuguese present, he, seemingly with seriousness, argued in favour of the inquisition at Lisbon, and said he would not, at the present moment, give up even that old establishment.

It may, perhaps, not be quite uninteresting to the readers of these Memoirs, to know, that I found Mr. Gibbon at Lausanne in possession of an excellent house; the view from which, and from the terrace, was so uncommonly beautiful, that even his own pen would with difficulty describe the scene which it commanded. This prospect comprehended every thing grand and magnificent, which could be furnished by the finest mountains among the Alps, the most extensive view of the Lake of Geneva, with a beautifully varied and cultivated country, adorned by numerous villas, and picturesque buildings, intermixed with beautiful masses of stately trees. Here my friend received us with an hospitality and kindness which I can never [Page 227] forget. The best apartments of the house were appropriated to our use; the choicest society of the place was sought for, to enliven our visit, and render every day of it cheerful and agreeable. It was impossible for any man to be more esteemed and admired than Mr. Gibbon was at Lausanne. The preference he had given to that place, in adopting it for a residence, rather than his own country, was felt and acknowledged by all the inhabitants; and he may have been said almost to have given the law to a set of as willing subjects as any man ever presided over. In return for the deference shewn to him, he mixed, without any affectation, in all the society, I mean all the best society, that Lausanne afforded; he could indeed command it, and was, perhaps, for that reason the more partial to it; for he often declared that he liked society more as a relaxation from study, than as expecting to derive from it amusement or instruction; that to books he looked for improvement, not to living persons. But this I considered partly as an answer to my expressions of wonder, that a man who might choose the most various and most generally improved society in the world, namely, in England, that he should prefer the very limited circle of Lausanne, which he never deserted, but for an occasional visit to M. and Madame Necker. It must not, however, be understood, that in chusing Lausanne for his home, he was insensible to the merits of a residence in England: he was not in possession of an income which corresponded with his notions of ease and comfort in his own country. In Switzerland, his fortune was ample. To this consideration of fortune may be added another, which also had its weight; from early youth Mr. Gibbon had contracted a partiality for foreign taste and foreign habits of life, which made him less a stranger abroad than he was, in some respects, in his native country. This arose, perhaps, from having been out of England from his sixteenth to his twenty-first year; yet, when I came to Lausanne, I found him apparently without relish for French society. During the [Page 228] stay I made with him he renewed his intercourse with the principal French who were at Lausanne; of whom there happened to be a considerable number, distinguished for rank or talents; many indeed respectable for both*. During my stay in Switzerland I was not absent from my friend's house, except during a short excursion that we made together to Mr. Necker's at Copet, and a tour to Geneva, Chamouny, over the Col de Balme, to Martigny, St. Maurice, and round the Lake by Vevay to Lausanne. In the social and singularly pleasant months that I passed with Mr. Gibbon, he enjoyed his usual cheerfulness, with good health. Since he left England, in 1788, he had had a severe attack, mentioned in one of the foregoing letters, of an Erysipelas, which at last settled in one of his legs, and left something of a dropsical tendency; for at this time I first perceived a considerable degree of swelling about the ancle.

In the beginning of October I left this delightful residence; and some time after my return to England, our correspondence recommenced.

4. LETTERS FROM EDWARD GIBBON Esq. TO LORD SHEFFIELD, and Others.

[Page 229]

GULLIVER is made to say, in presenting his interpreter, ‘My tongue is in the mouth of my friend.’ Allow me to say, with proper expressions and excuses, "My pen is in the hand of my friend" and the aforesaid friend begs leave thus to continue*.

I remember to have read somewhere in Rousseau, of a lover quitting very often his mistress, to have the pleasure of corresponding with her. Though not absolutely your lover, I am very much your admirer, and should be extremely tempted to follow the same example. The spirit and reason which prevail in your conversation, appear to great advantage in your letters. The three which I have [Page 203] received from Berne, Coblentz, and Brussels have given me much real pleasure; first, as a proof that you are often thinking of me; secondly, as an evidence that you are capable of keeping a resolution; and thirdly, from their own intrinsic merit and entertainment. The style, without any allowance for haste or hurry, is perfectly correct; the manner is neither too light, nor too grave; the dimensions neither too long, nor too short: they are such, in a word, as I should like to receive from the daughter of my best friend. I attend your lively journal, through bad roads, and worse inns. Your description of men and manners conveys very satisfactory information; and I am particularly delighted with your remark concerning the irregular behaviour of the Rhine. But the Rhine, alas! after some temporary wanderings, will be content to flow in his old channel, while man—man is the greatest fool of the whole creation.

I direct this letter to Sheffield-Place, where I suppose you arrived in health and safety. I congratulate my Lady on her quiet establishment by her fireside; and hope you will be able, after all your excursions, to support the climate and manners of Old England. Before this epistle reaches you, I hope to have received the two promised letters from Dover and Sheffield-Place. If they should not meet with a proper return, you will pity and forgive me. I have not yet heard from Lord Sheffield, who seems to have devolved on his daughter, the task which she has so gloriously executed. I shall probably not write to him, till I have received his first letter of business from England; but with regard to my Lady, I have most excellent intentions.

I never could understand how two persons of such superior merit, as Miss Holroyd and Miss Lausanne, could have so little relish for one another, as they appeared to have in the beginning; and it was with great pleasure that I observed the degrees of their growing intimacy, and the mutual regret of their separation. Whatever you may imagine, your friends at Lausanne have been thinking as frequently [Page 231] of yourself and company, as you could possibly think of them; and you will be very ungrateful, if you do not seriously resolve to make them a second visit, under such name and title as you may judge most agreeable. None of the Severy family, except perhaps my secretary, are inclined to forget you; and I am continually asked for some account of your health, motions, and amusements. Since your departure, no great events have occurred. I have made a short excursion to Geneva and Copet, and found Mr. Necker in much better spirits than when you saw him. They pressed me to pass some weeks this winter in their house at Geneva; and I may possibly comply, at least, in part, with their invitation. The aspect of Lausanne is peaceful and placid; and you have no hopes of a revolution driving me out of this country. We hear nothing of the proceedings of the commission*, except by playing at cards every evening with Monsieur Fischer, who often speaks of Lord Sheffield with esteem and respect. There is no appearance of Rosset and La Motte being brought to a speedy trial, and they still remain in the castle of Chillon, which (according to the geography of the National Assembly) is washed by the sea. Our winter begins with great severity; and we shall not probably have many balls, which, as you may imagine, I lament much. Angletine does not consider two French words as a letter. Montrond sighs and blushes whenever Louisa's name is mentioned: Philippine wishes to converse with her on men [Page 232] and manners. The French ladies are settled in town for the winter, and they form, with Mrs. Trevor, a very agreeable addition to our society. It is now enlivened by a visit of the Chevalier de Boufflers, one of the most accomplished men in the ci devant kingdom of France.

As Mrs. Wood*, who has miscarried, is about to leave us, I must either cure or die; and, upon the whole, I believe the former will be most expedient. You will see her in London, with dear Corea, next winter. My rival magnificently presents me with an hogshead of Madeira; so that in honour I could not supplant him: yet I do assure you, from my heart, that another departure is much more painful to me. The apartment below is shut up, and I know not when I shall again visit it with pleasure. Adieu. Believe me, one and all, most affectionately yours.

ALAS! alas! the daemon of procrastination has again possessed me. Three months have nearly rolled away since your departure; and seven letters, five from the most valuable Maria, and two from yourself, have extorted from me only a single epistle, which perhaps would never have been written, had I not used the permission of employing my own tongue and the hand of a secretary. Shall I tell you, that, for these last six weeks, the eve of every day has witnessed a firm resolution, and the day itself has furnished some ingenious delay? This morning, for instance, I determined to invade you as soon as the breakfast things should be removed: they were removed; but I had something to read, to write, to meditate, and there was time [Page 233] enough before me. Hour after hour has stolen away, and I finally begin my letter at two o'clock, evidently too late for the post, as I must dress, dine, go abroad, &c. A foundation, however, shall be laid, which will stare me in the face; and next Saturday I shall probably be roused by the awful reflection that it is the last day in the year.

After realizing this summer an event which I had long considered as a dream of fancy, I know not whether I should rejoice or grieve at your visit to Lausanne. While I possessed the family, the sentiment of pleasure highly predominated; when, just as we had subsided in a regular, easy, comfortable plan of life, the last trump sounded, and, without speaking of the pang of separation, you left me to one of the most gloomy, solitary months of October which I have ever passed. For yourself and daughters, however, you have contrived to snatch some of the most interesting scenes of this world. Paris, at such a moment, Switzerland, and the Rhine, Strasburg, Coblentz, have suggested a train of lively images and useful ideas, which will not be speedily erased. The mind of the young damsel, more especially, will be enlarged and enlightened in every sense. In four months she has lived many years; and she will much deceive and displease me, if she does not review and methodize her journal, in such a manner as she is capable of performing, for the amusement of her particular friends. Another benefit which will redound from your recent view is, that every place, person, and object, about Lausanne, are now become familiar and interesting to you. In our future correspondence (do I dare pronounce the word correspondence?) I can talk to you as freely of every circumstance as if it were actually before your eyes. And first, of my own improvements. —All those venerable piles of ancient verdure which you admired have been eradicated in one fatal day. Your faithful substitutes, William de Severy and Levade, have never ceased to persecute me, till I signed their death warrant. Their place is now supplied [Page 234] by a number of picturesque naked poles, the foster-fathers of as many twigs of Platanusses, which may afford a grateful but distant shade to the founder, or to his seris Nepotibus. In the mean while I must confess that the terrace appears broader, and that I discover a much larger quantity of snow than I should otherwise do. The workmen admire your ingenious plan for cutting out a new bedchamber and book-room; but, on mature consideration, we all unanimously prefer the old scheme of adding a third room on the terrace beyond the library, with two spacious windows, and a fire-place between. It will be larger (28 feet by 21), and pleasanter, and warmer: the difference of expence will be much less considerable than I imagined: the door of communication with the library will be artfully buried in the wainscot; and, unless it be opened by my own choice, may always remain a profound secret. Such is the design; but, as it will not be executed before next summer, you have time and liberty to state your objections. I am much colder about the staircase, but it may be finished, according to your idea, for thirty pounds; and I feel they will persuade me. Am I not a very rich man? When these alterations are completed, few authors of six volumes in quarto will be more agreeably lodged than myself. Lausanne is now full and lively; all our native families are returned from the country; and, praised be the Lord! we are infested with few foreigners, either French or English. Even our democrats are more reasonable or more discreet; it is agreed, to wave the subject of politics, and all seem happy and cordial. I have a grand dinner this week, a supper of thirty or forty people on Twelfth-day, &c.; some concerts have taken place, some balls are talked of; and even Maria would allow (yet it is ungenerous to say even Maria) that the winter scene at Lausanne is tolerably gay and active. I say nothing of the Severys, as Angletine has epistolized Maria last post. She has probably hinted that her brother meditates a [Page 235] short excursion to Turin: that worthy fellow Trevor has given him a pressing invitation to his own house. In the beginning of February I propose going to Geneva for three or four weeks. I shall lodge and eat with the Neckers; my mornings will be my own, and I shall spend my evenings in the society of the place, where I have many acquaintance. This short absence will agitate my stagnant life, and restore me with fresh appetite to my house, my library, and my friends. Before that time (the end of February) what events may happen, or be ready to happen! The National Assembly (compared to which the former was a senate of heroes and demi-gods) seem resolved to attack Germany avec quatre millions de bayonettes libres; the army of the princes must soon either sight, or starve, or conquer. Will Sweden draw his sword? will Russia draw her purse? an empty purse! All is darkness and anarchy: neither party is strong enough to oppose a settlement; and I cannot see a possibility of an amicable arrangement, where there are no heads (in any sense of the word) who can answer for the multitude. Send me your ideas, and those of Lord Guildford, Lord Loughborough, Fox, &c.

Before I conclude, a word of my vexatious affairs.—Shall I never sail on the smooth stream of good security and half-yearly interest? will every body refuse my money? I had already written to Darrel and Gosling to obey your commands, and was in hopes that you had already made large and salutary evacuations. During your absence I never expected much effect from the cold indifference of agents; but you are now in England—you will be speedily in London: set all your setting-dogs to beat the field, hunt, enquire, why should you not advertise? Yet I am almost ashamed to complain of some stagnation of interest, when I am witness to the natural and acquired philosophy of so many French, who are reduced from riches, not to indigence, but to absolute want and beggary. A Count Argout has just left us, who possessed ten thousand a-year in [Page 236] the island of St. Domingo; he is utterly burnt and ruined; and a brother, whom he tenderly loved, has been murdered by the negroes. These are real misfortunes. I have much revolved the plan of the Memoirs I once mentioned; and, as you do not think it ridiculous, I believe I shall make an attempt: if I can please myself, I am confident of not displeasing; but let this be a profound secret between us: people must not be prepared to laugh; they must be taken by surprise. Have you looked over your, or rather my, letters? Surely, in the course of the year, you may find a safe and cheap occasion of sending me a parcel; they may assist me. Adieu. I embrace my Lady: send me a favourable account of her health. I kiss the Marmaille. By an amazing push of remorse and diligence I have finished my letter (three pages and a half) this same day since dinner; but I have not time to read it.

Ever yours.

To-morrow a new year, multos et felices!

I NOW most sincerely repent of my late repentance, and do almost swear never to renounce the amiable and useful practice of procrastination. Had I delayed, as I was strongly tempted, another post, your missive of the 13th, which did not reach me till this morning (three mails were due), would have arrived in time, and I might have avoided this second Herculean labour. It will be, however, no more than an infant Hercules. The topics of conversation have been fully discussed, and I shall now confine myself to the needful of the new business. Felix faustumque sit! may no untoward accident disarrange your Yorkshire mortgage; the conclusion of which will place me in a clear and easy state, such as I have never known since the first hour of property. * * * *

[Page 237] The three per cents are so high, and the country is in such a damned state of prosperity under that fellow Pitt, that it goes against me to purchase at such low interest. In my visit to England next autumn, or in the spring following, (alas! you must acquiesce in the alternative,) I hope to be armed with sufficient materials to draw a sum, which may be employed as taste or fancy shall dictate, in the improvement of my library, a service of plate, &c. I am not very sanguine, but surely this is no uncomfortable prospect. This pecuniary detail, which has not indeed been so unpleasant as it used formerly to be, has carried me farther than I expected. Let us now drink and be merry. I flatter myself that your Madeira, improved by its travels, will set forwards for messrs. Romberg, at Ostend, early in the spring; and I should be very well pleased if you could add a hogshead of excellent Claret, for which we should be entitled to the drawback: they must halt at Baste, and send notice to me for a safeconduct. Have you had any intelligence from Lord Auckland about the wine which he was to order from Bourdeaux, by Marseilles and the Rhone? The one need not impede the other; I wish to have a large stock. Corea has promised me a hogshead of his native Madeira, for which I am to give him an order on Cadell for a copy of the Decline and Fall: he vanished without notice, and is now at Paris. Could you not fish out his direction by Mrs. Wood, who by this time is in England? I rejoice in Lally's prosperity. Have you reconsidered my proposal of a declaration of constitutional principles from the heads of the party? I think a foolish address from a body of Whigs to the National Assembly renders it still more incumbent on you. Atchieve my worldly concerns, et eris mihi magnus Apollo. Adieu, ever yours.

[Page 238]

FOR fear you should abuse me, as usual, I will begin the attack, and scold at you, for not having yet sent me the long-expected intelligence of the completion of my mortgage. You had positively assured me that the second of February would terminate my worldly cares, by a consummation so devoutly to be wished. The news, therefore, might reach me about the eighteenth; and I argued with the gentle logic of laziness, that it was perfectly idle to answer your letter, till I could chaunt a thanksgiving song of gratitude and praise. As every post disappointed my hopes, the same argument was repeated for the next; and twenty empty-handed postilions have blown their insignificant horns, till I am provoked at last to write by sheer impatience and vexation. Facit indignatio versum. Cospetto di Baccho; for I must ease myself by swearing a little. What is the cause, the meaning, the pretence, of this delay? Are the York-shire mortgagers inconstant in their wishes? Are the London lawyers constant in their procrastination? Is a letter on the road, to inform me that all is concluded, or to tell me that all is broken to pieces? Had the money been placed in the three per cents last May; besides the annual interest, it would have gained by the rise of stock nearly twenty per cent. Your Lordship is a wise man, a successful writer, and an useful senator; you understand America and Ireland, corn and slaves, but your prejudice against the funds*, in which I am often tempted to join, makes you a little blind to their increasing value in the hands of our virtuous and excellent minister. But our regret is vain; one pull more and we reach the shore; and our future correspondence will be no longer tainted with business. Shall I then be more diligent and regular? I hope and believe so; for now that I have got over this article of worldly interest, my letter [Page 239] seems to be almost finished. A propos of letters, am I not a sad dog to forget my Lady and Maria? Alas! the dual number has been prejudicial to both. How happy could I be with either, were t'other dear charmer away. I am like the ass of famous memory; I cannot tell which way to turn first, and there I stand mute and immoveable. The Baronial and maternal dignity of my Lady, supported by twenty years friendship, may claim the preference. But the sive incomparable letters of Maria!—Next week, however.— Am I not ashamed to talk of next week?

I have most successfully, and most agreeably, executed my plan of spending the month of March at Geneva, in the Necker-house, and every circumstance that I had arranged turned out beyond my expectation; the freedom of the morning, the society of the table and drawing-room, from half an hour past two till six or seven; an evening assembly and card-party, in a round of the best company, and, excepting one day in the week, a private supper of free and friendly conversation. You would like Geneva better than Lausanne; there is much more information to be got among the men; but though I found some agreeable women, their manners and stile of life are, upon the whole, less easy and pleasant than our own. I was much pleased with Necker's brother Mr. De Germain, a good-humoured, polite, sensible man, without the genius and fame of the statesman, but much more adapted for private and ordinary happiness. Madame de Stael is expected in a few weeks at Copet, where they receive her, and where, ‘the pleasing anxious being,’ she will have leisure to regret ‘to dumb forgetfulness a prey,’ which she enjoyed amidst the storms of Paris. But what can the poor creature do? her husband is in Sweden, her lover is no longer secretary at war, and her father's house is the only place where she can reside with the least degree of prudence and decency. Of that father I have really a much higher idea than I ever had before; in our domestic intimacy he cast away his gloom and reserve; I saw a great deal of his mind, [Page 240] and all that I saw is fair and worthy. He was overwhelmed by the hurricane, he mistook his way in the fog, but in such a perilous situation, I much doubt whether any mortal could have seen or stood. In the meanwhile, he is abused by all parties, and none of the French in Geneva will set their foot in his house. He remembers Lord Sheffield with esteem; his health is good, and he would be tranquil in his private life, were not his spirits continually wounded by the arrival of every letter and every newspaper. His sympathy is deeply interested by the fatal consequences of a revolution, in which he had acted so leading a part; and he feels as a friend for the danger of M. de Lessart, who may be guilty in the eyes of the Jacobius, or even of his judges, by those very actions and dispatches which would be most approved by all the lovers of his country. What a momentous event is the Emperor's death! In the forms of a new reign, and of the Imperial election, the democrats have at least gained time, if they knew how to use it. But the new monarch, though of a weak complexion, is of a martial temper; he loves the soldiers, and is beloved by them; and the slow fluctuating politics of his uncle may be succeeded by a direct line of march to the gates of Strasbourg and Paris. It is the opinion of the master movers in France, (I know it most certainly,) that their troops will not fight, that the people have lost all sense of patriotism, and that on the first discharge of an Austrian cannon the game is up. But what occasion for Austrians or Spaniards? the French are themselves their greatest enemies; four thousand Marseillois are marched against Arles and Avignon, the troupes de ligne are divided between the two parties, and the flame of civil war will soon extend over the southern provinces. You have heard of the unworthy treatment of the Swiss regiment of Ernst. The canton of Berne has bravely recalled them, with a stout letter to the King of France, which must be inserted in all the papers. I now come to the most unpleasant article, our home politics. Bosset and La Motte are condemned to [Page 241] fine and twenty years imprisonment in the fortress of Arbourg. We have not yet received their official sentence, nor is it believed that the proofs and proceedings against them will be published; an aukward circumstance, which it does not seem easy to justify. Some (though none of note) are taken up, several are fled, many more are suspected and suspicious. All are silent, but it is the silence of fear and discontent; and the secret hatred which rankled against government begins to point against the few who are known to be well-affected. I never knew any place so much changed as Lausanne, even since last year; and though you will not be much obliged to me for the motive, I begin very seriously to think of visiting Sheffield-Place by the month of September next. Yet here again I am frightened, by the dangers of a French, and the difficulties of a German, route. You must send me an account of the passage from Dieppe to Brighton, with an itinerary of the Rhine, distances, expences, &c. As usual, I just save the post, nor have I time to read my letter, which, after wasting the morning in deliberation, has been struck off in a heat since dinner. No news of the Madeira. Your views of S. P. are just received; they are admired, and shall be framed. Severy has spent the carnival at Turin. Trevor is only the best man in the world.

AFTER the receipt of your penultimate, eight days ago, I expected, with much impatience, the arrival of your next-promised epistle. It arrived this morning, but has not completely answered my expectations. I wanted, and I hoped for a full and fair picture of the present and probable aspect of your political world, with which, at this distance, I seem every day less satisfied. In the slave question you triumphed last session, in this you have been defeated. What [Page 242] is the cause of this alteration? If it proceeded only from an impulse of humanity, I cannot be displeased, even with an error; since it is very likely that my own vote (had I possessed one) would have been added to the majority. But in this rage against slavery, in the numerous petitions against the slave trade, was there no leaven of new democratical principles? no wild ideas of the rights and natural equality of man? It is these, I fear. Some articles in newspapers, some pamphlets of the year, the Jockey Club, have fallen into my hands. I do not infer much from such publications; yet I have never known them of so black and malignant a cast. I shuddered at Grey's motion; disliked the half-support of Fox, admired the firmness of Pitt's declaration, and excused the usual intemperance of Burke. Surely such men as * * *, * * * *, * * * *, * * * *, * * *, have talents for mischief. I see a club of reform which contains some respectable names. Inform me of the professions, the principles, the plans, the resources, of these reformers. Will they heat the minds of the people? Does the French democracy gain no ground? Will the bulk of your party stand firm to their own interest, and that of their country? Will you not take some active measures to declare your sound opinions, and separate yourselves from your rotten members? If you allow them to perplex government, if you trifle with this solemn business, if you do not resist the spirit of innovation in the first attempt, if you admit the smallest and most specious change in our parliamentary system, you are lost. You will be driven from one step to another; from principles just in theory, to consequences most pernicious in practice; and your first concessions will be productive of every subsequent mischief, for which you will be answerable to your country and to posterity. Do not suffer yourselves to be lulled into a false security; remember the proud fabric of the French monarchy. Not four years ago it stood founded, as it might seem, on the rock of time, force, and opinion, supported by the triple aristocracy of the church, the nobility, and the parliaments. They are crumbled into [Page 243] dust; they are vanished from the earth. If this tremendous warning has no effect on the men of property in England; if it does not open every eye, and raise every arm, you will deserve your fate. If I am too precipitate, enlighten; if I am too desponding, encourage me.

My pen has run into this argument; for, as much a foreigner as you think me, on this momentous subject, I feel myself an Englishman.

The pleasure of residing at Sheffield-Place is, after all, the first and the ultimate object of my visit to my native country. But when or how will that visit be effected? Clouds and whirlwinds, Austrian Croats and Gallic cannibals, seem one very side to impede my passage. You seem to apprehend the perils or dfficulties of the German road, and French peace is more sanguinary than civilized war. I must pass through, perhaps, a thousand republics or municipalities, which neither obey nor are obeyed. The strictness of passports, and the popular ferment, are much increased since last summer: aristocrate is in every mouth, lanterns hang in every street, and an hasty word, or a casual resemblance, may be fatal. Yet, on the other hand, it is probable that many English, men, women, and children, will traverse the country without any accident before next September; and I am sensible that many things appear more formidable at a distance than on a nearer approach. Without any absolute determination, we must see what the events of the next three or four months will produce. In the mean while, I shall expect with impatience your next letter: let it be speedy; my answer shall be prompt.

You will be glad, or sorry, to learn that my gloomy apprehensions are much abated, and that my departure, whenever it takes place, will be an act of choice, rather than of necessity. I do not pretend to affirm, that secret discontent, dark suspicion, private animosity, are very materially assuaged; but we have not experienced, nor do we now apprehend, any dangerous acts of violence, which may [Page 244] compel me to seek a refuge among the friendly Bears*, and to abandon my library to the mercy of the democrats. The firmness and vigour of government have crushed, at least for a time, the spirit of innovation; and I do not believe that the body of the people, especially the peasants, are disposed for a revolution. From France, praised be the demon of anarchy! the insurgents of the Pays de Vaud could not at present have much to hope; and should the gardes nationales, of which there is little appearance, attempt an incursion, the country is armed and prepared, and they would be resisted with equal numbers and superior discipline. The Gallic wolves that prowled round Geneva are drawn away, some to the south and some to the north, and the late events in Flanders seem to have diffused a general contempt, as well as abhorrence, for the lawless savages, who fly before the enemy, hang their prisoners, and murder their officers. The brave and patient regiment of Ernest is expected home every day, and as Berne will take them into present pay, that veteran and regular corps will add to the security of our frontier.

I rejoice that we have so little to say on the subject of worldly affairs. * * * * This summer we are threatened with an inundation, besides many nameless English and Irish; but I am anxious for the Duchess of Devonshire and the Lady Elizabeth Foster, who are on their march. Lord Malmsbury, the audacieux Harris, will inform you that he has seen me: him I would have consented to keep.

One word more before we part; call upon Mr. John Nicholls, bookseller and printer, at Cicero's Head, Red-Lion-Passage, Fleet-Street, and ask him whether he did not, about the beginning of March, receive a very polite letter from Mr. Gibbon of Lausanne? To which, either as a man of business or a civil gentleman, he should have returned an answer. My application related to a domestic article in the Gentleman's Magazine of August 1788, [Page 245] (p. 698,) which had lately fallen into my hands, and concerning which I requested some farther lights. Mrs. Moss delivered the letters* into my hands, but I doubt whether they will be of much service to me; the work appears far more difficult in the execution than in the idea, and as I am now taking my leave for some time of the library, I shall not make much progress in the memoirs of P. P. till I am on English ground. But is it indeed true, that I shall eat any Sussex pheasants this autumn? The event is in the book of Fate, and I cannot unroll the leaves of September and October. Should I reach Sheffield-Place, I hope to find the whole family in a perfect state of existence, except a certain Maria Holroyd, my fair and generous correspondent, whose annihilation on proper terms I most fervently desire. I must receive a copious answer before the end of next month, June, and again call upon you for a map of your political world. The chancellor roars; does he break his chain? Valc.

WHEN I inform you, that the design of my English expedition is at last postponed till another year, you will not be much surprised. The public obstacles, the danger of one road, and the difficulties of another, would alone be sufficient to arrest so unwieldy and inactive a being; and these obstacles, on the side of France, are growing every day more insuperable. On the other hand, the terrors which might have driven me from hence have, in a great measure, subsided; our state-prisoners are forgotten: the country begins to recover its old good humour and unsuspecting confidence, and the last revolution [Page 246] of Paris appears to have convinced almost every body of the fatal consequences of democratical principles, which lead by a path of flowers into the abyss of hell. I may therefore wait with patience and tranquillity till the Duke of Brunswick shall have opened the French road. But if I am not driven from Lausanne, you will ask, I hope with some indignation, whether I am not drawn to England, and more especially to Sheffield-Place? The desire of embracing you and yours is now the strongest, and must gradually become the sole, inducement that can force me from my library and garden, over seas and mountains. The English world will forget and be forgotten, and every year will deprive me of some acquaintance, who by courtesy are styled friends: Lord Guildford and Sir Joshua Reynolds! two of the men, and two of the houses in London, on whom I the most relied for the comforts of society.

THUS far had I written in the full confidence of finishing and sending my letter the next post; but six post-days have unaccountably slipped away, and were you not accustomed to my silence, you would almost begin to think me on the road. How dreadfully, since my last date, has the French road been polluted with blood! and what horrid scenes may be acting at this moment, and may still be aggravated, till the Duke of Brunswick is master of Paris! On every rational principle of calculation he must succeed; yet sometimes, when my spirits are low, I dread the blind efforts of mad and desperate multitudes fighting on their own ground. A few days or weeks must decide the military operations of this year, and perhaps for ever; but on the fairest supposition, I cannot look forwards to any firm settlement, either of a legal or an absolute government. I cannot pretend to give you any Paris news. Should I inform you, as we believe, that Lally is still among the cannibals, you would possibly [Page 247] answer, that he is now sitting in the library at Sheffield. Madame de Stael, after miraculously escaping through pikes and poignards, has reached the castle of Copet, where I shall see her before the end of the week. If any thing can provoke the King of Sardinia and the Swiss, it must be the foul destruction of his cousin Madame de Lamballe, and of their regiment of guards. An extraordinary council is summoned at Berne, but resentment may be checked by prudence. In spite of Maria's laughter, I applaud your moderation, and sigh for a hearty union of all the sense and property of the country. The times require it; but your last political letter was a cordial to my spirits. The Duchess of D. rather dislikes a coalition: amiable creature! The Eliza (we call her Bess) is furious against you for not writing. We shall lose them in a few days; but the motions of Bess and the Duchess for Italy or England, are doubtful. Ladies Spencer and Duncannon certainly pass the Alps. I live with them. Adieu. Since I do not appear in person, I feel the absolute propriety of writing to my Lady and Maria; but there is far from the knowledge to the performance of a duty. Ever your's.

AS our English newspapers must have informed you of the invasion of Savoy by the French, and as it is possible that you may have some trifling apprehensions of my being killed and eaten by those cannibals, it has appeared to me that a short extraordinary dispatch might not be unacceptable on this occasion. It is indeed true, that about ten days ago the French army of the South, under the command of M. de Montesquieu, (if any French army can be said to be under any command,) has entered Savoy, and possessed themselves of Chamberry, Montmelian, and several other places. It has always been the practice of the king of Sardinia to abandon his transalpine [Page 248] dominions; but on this occasion the court of Turin appears to have been surprised by the strange excentric motions of a democracy, which always acts from the passion of the moment; and their inferior troops have retreated, with some loss and disgrace, into the passes of the Alps. Mount Cenis is now impervious, and our English travellers who are bound for Italy, the Duchess of Devonshire, Ancaster, &c. will be forced to explore a long circuitous road through the Tirol. But the Chablais is yet intact, nor can our telescopes discover the tricolor banners on the other side of the lake. Our accounts of the French numbers seem to vary from fifteen to thirty thousand men; the regulars are few, but they are followed by a rabble rout, which must soon, however, melt away, as they will find no plunder, and scanty subsistence, in the poverty and barrenness of Savoy. N. B. I have just seen a letter from Mr. de Montesquieu, who boasts that at his first entrance into Savoy he had only twelve battalions. Our intelligence is far from correct.

The magistrates of Geneva were alarmed by this dangerous neighbourhood, and more especially by the well-known animosity of an exiled citizen, Claviere, who is one of the six ministers of the French republic. It was carried by a small majority in the General Council, to call in the succour of three thousand Swiss, which is stipulated by antient treaty. The strongest reason or pretence of the minority, was founded on the danger of provoking the French, and they seem to have been justified by the event; since the complaint of the French resident amounts to a declaration of war. The fortifications of Geneva are not contemptible, especially on the side of Savoy; and it is much doubted whether Mr. de Montesquieu is prepared for a regular siege; but the malecontents are numerous within the walls, and I question whether the spirit of the citizens will hold out against a bombardment. In the mean while the diet has declared that the first cannon fired against Geneva will be considered as an act of hostility against the whole Helvetic body. Berne, as the nearest and most powerful canton, has taken the lead with great vigour and [Page 249] vigilance; the road is filled with the perpetual succession of troops and artillery; and, if some disaffection lurks in the towns, the peasants, especially the Germans, are inflamed with a strong desire of encountering the murderers of their countrymen. Mr. de Watteville, with whom you dined at my house last year, refused to accept the command of the Swiss succour of Geneva, till it was made his first instruction that he should never, in any case, surrender himself prisoner of war.

In this situation, you may suppose that we have some fears. I have great dependence, however, on the many chances in our favour, the valour of the Swiss, the return of the Piedmontese with their Austrian allies, eight or ten thousand men from the Milanese, a diversion from Spain, the great events (how slowly they proceed) on the side of Paris, the inconstancy and want of discipline of the French, and the near approach of the winter season. I am not nervous, but I will not be rash. It will be painful to abandon my house and library; but, if the danger should approach, I will retreat before it, first to Berne, and gradually to the North. Should I even be forced to take refuge in England (a violent measure so late in the year), you would perhaps receive me as kindly as you do the French priests—a noble act of hospitality! Could I have foreseen this storm, I would have been there six weeks ago; but who can foresee the wild measures of the savages of Gaul? We thought ourselves perfectly out of the hurricane latitudes. Adieu. I am going to bed, and must rise early to visit the Neckers at Rolle, whither they have retired, from the frontier situation of Copet. Severy is on horseback, with his dragoons: his poor father is dangerously ill. It will be shocking if it should be found necessary to remove him. While we are in this very awkward crisis, I will write at least every week. Ever yours. Write instantly, and remember all my commissions.

[Page 250]

I WILL keep my promise of sending you a weekly journal of our troubles, that, when the piping times of peace are restored, I may sleep in long and irreproachable silence: but I shall use a smaller paper, as our military exploits will seldom be sufficient to fill the ample size of our English quarto.

Since my last of the 6th, our attack is not more eminent, and our defence is most assuredly stronger, two very important circumstances, at a time when every day is leading us, though not so fast as our impatience could wish, towards the unwarlike month of November; and we observe with pleasure that the troops of Mr. de Montesquieu, which are chiefly from the Southern Provinces, will not cheerfully entertain the rigor of an Alpine winter. The 7th instant, Mr. de Chateauneuf, the French resident, took his leave with an haughty mandate, commanding the Genevois, as they valued their safety and the friendship of the republic, to dismiss their Swiss allies, and to punish the magistrates who had traiterously proposed the calling in these foreign troops. It is precisely the fable of the wolves, who offered to make peace with the sheep, provided they would send away their dogs. You know what became of the sheep. This demand appears to have kindled a just and general indignation, since it announced an edict of proscription; and must lead to a democratical revolution, which would probably renew the horrid scenes of Paris and Avignon. A general assembly of the citizens was convened, the message was read, speeches were made, oaths were taken, and it was resolved (with only three dissentient voices) to live and die in the defence of their country. The Genevois muster above three thousand well-armed citizens; and the Swiss, who may easily be increased (in a few hours) to an equal number, add spirit to the timorous, [Page 251] and confidence to the well-affected: their arsenals are filled with arms, their magazines with ammunition, and their granaries with corn. But their fortifications are extensive and imperfect, they are commanded from two adjacent hills; a French faction lurks in the city, the character of the Genevois is rather commercial than military, and their behaviour, lofty promise, and base surrender, in the year 1782, is fresh in our memories. In the mean while, 4000 French at the most are arrived in the neighbouring camp, nor is there yet any appearance of mortars or heavy artillery. Perhaps an haughty menace may be repelled by a firm countenance. If it were worth while talking of justice, what a shameful attack of a feeble, unoffending state! On the news of their danger, all Switzerland, from Schassouse to the Pays de Vaud, has risen in arms; and a French resident, who has passed through the country, in his way from Ratisbon, declares his intention of informing and admonishing the National Convention. About eleven thousand Bernois are already posted in the neighbourhood of Copet and Nyon; and new reinforcements of men, artillery, &c. arrive every day. Another army is drawn together to oppose Mr. de Ferrieres, on the side of Bienne and the bishopric of Basle; and the Austrians in Swabia would be easily persuaded to cross the Rhine in our defence. But we are yet ignorant whether our sovereigns mean to wage an offensive or defensive war. If the latter, which is more likely, will the French begin the attack? Should Genoa yield to fear or force, this country is open to an invasion; and though our men are brave, we want generals; and I despise the French much less than I did two months ago. It should seem that our hopes from the King of Sardinia and the Austrians of Milan are faint and distant; Spain sleeps; and the Duke of Brunswick (amazement!) seems to have failed in his great project. For my part, till Geneva falls, I do not think of a retreat; but, at all events, I am provided with two strong horses, and an hundred Louis in gold. Zurich would be probably my winter quarters, [Page 252] and the society of the Neckers would make any place agreeable. Their situation is worse than mine: I have no daughter ready to lie in; nor do I fear the French aristocrats on the road. Adieu. Keep my letters; excuse contradictions and repetitions. The Duchess of Devonshire leaves us next week. Lady Elizabeth abhors you. Ever yours.

SINCE my last, our affairs take a more pacific turn; but I will not venture to affirm that our peace will be either safe or honourable. Mr. de Montesquieu and three commissioners of the Convention, who are at Carrouge, have had frequent conferences with the magistrates of Geneva; several expresses have been dispatched to and from Paris, and every step of the negotiation is communicated to the deputies of Berne and Zurich. The French troops observe a very tolerable degree of order and discipline; and no act of hostility has yet been committed on the territory of Geneva.

My usual temper very readily admitted the excuse, that it would be better to wait another week, till the final settlement of our affairs. The treaty is signed between France and Geneva; and the ratification of the Convention is looked upon as assured, if any thing can be assured in that wild democracy. On condition that the Swiss garrison, with the approbation of Berne and Zurich, be recalled before the first of December, it is stipulated that the independence of Geneva shall be preserved inviolate; that Mr. de Montesquieu shall immediately send away his heavy artillery; and that no French troops shall approach within ten leagues of the city. As the Swiss have acted only as auxiliaries, they have no occasion for a direct treaty; but they cannot prudently disarm, till they are satisfied of the pacific [Page 253] intentions of France; and no such satisfaction can be given till they have acknowledged the new republic, which they will probably do in a few days, with a deep groan of indignation and sorrow; it has been cemented with the blood of their countrymen! But when the Emperour, the King of Prussia, the first general, and the first army in Europe have failed, less powerful states may acquiesce, without dishonour, in the determination of fortune. Do you understand this most unexpected failure? I will allow an ample share to the badness of the roads and the weather, to famine and disease, to the skill of Dumourier, a heaven-born general! and to the enthusiastic ardour of the new Romans; but still, still there must be some secret and shameful cause at the bottom of this strange retreat. We are now delivered from the impending terrors of siege and invasion. The Geneva emigrés, particularly the Neckers, are hastening to their homes; and I shall not be reduced to the hard necessity of seeking a winter asylum at Zurich or Constance: but I am not pleased with our future prospects. It is much to be feared that the present government of Geneva will be soon modelled after the French fashion; the new republic of Savoy is forming on the opposite bank of the Lake; the Jacobin missionaries are powerful and zealous; and the malecontents of this country, who begin again to rear their heads, will be surrounded with temptations, and examples, and allies. I know not whether the Pays de Vaud will long adhere to the dominion of Berne; or whether I shall be permitted to end my days in this little paradise, which I have so happily suited to my taste and circumstances.

Last Monday only I received your letter, which had strangely loitered on the road since its date of the 29th of September. There must surely be some disorder in the posts, since the Eliza departed indignant at never having heard from you.

The case of my wine I think peculiarly hard: to lose my Madeira, and to be scolded for losing it. I am much indebted to Mr. Nichols for [Page 254] his genealogical communications, which I am impatient to receive; but I do not understand why so civil a gentleman could not favour me, in six months, with an answer by the post: since he entrusts me with these valuable papers, you have not, I presume, informed him of my negligence and awkwardness in regard to manuscripts. Your reproach rather surprises me, as I suppose I am much the same as I have been for these last twenty years. Should you hold your resolution of writing only such things as may be published at Charing-Cross, our future correspondence would not be very interesting. But I expect and require, at this important crisis, a full and confidential account of your views concerning England, Ireland, and France. You have a strong and clear eye; and your pen is, perhaps, the most useful quill that ever has been plucked from a goose. Your protection of the French resugees is highly applauded. Rosset and La Motte have escaped from Arbourg, perhaps with connivance to avoid disagreeable demands from the republic. Adieu. Ever yours.

RECEIVED this day, November 9th, a most amiable dispatch from the too humble secretary* of the family of Espee, dated October 24th, which I answer the same day. It will be acknowledged, that I have fulfilled my engagements with as much accuracy as our uncertain state and the fragility of human nature would allow. I resume my narrative. At the time when we imagined that all was settled, by an equal treaty between two such unequal powers, as the Geneva Flea and the Leviathan France, we were thunderstruck with the intelligence that the ministers of the republic refused to ratify the conditions; and they were indignant, with some colour of reason, at [Page 255] the hard obligation of withdrawing their troops to the distance of ten leagues, and of consequently leaving the Pays de Gez naked, and exposed to the Swiss, who had assembled 15,000 men on the frontier, and with whom they had not made any agreement. The messenger who was sent last Sunday from Geneva is not yet returned; and many persons are afraid of some design and danger in this delay. Montesquieu has acted with politeness, moderation, and apparent sincerity; but he may resign, he may be superseded, his place may be occupied by an enragé, by Servan, or Prince Charles of Hesse, who would aspire to imitate the predatory fame of Custine in Germany. In the mean while, the General holds a wolf by the ears; an officer who has seen his troops, about 18,000 men (with a tremendous train of artillery), represents them as a black, daring, desperate crew of buccaneers, rather shocking than contemptible; the officers (scarcely a gentleman among them), without servants, or horses, or baggage, lying higgledy piggledy on the ground with the common men, yet maintaining a rough kind of discipline over them. They already begin to accuse and even to suspect their general, and call aloud for blood and plunder: could they have an opportunity of squeezing some of the rich citizens, Geneva would cut up as sat as most towns in Europe. During this suspension of hostilities they are permitted to visit the city without arms, sometimes three or four hundred at a time; and the magistrates, as well as the Swiss commander, are by no means pleased with this dangerous intercourse, which they dare not prohibit. Such are our fears: yet it should seem on the other side, that the French affect a kind of magnanimous justice towards their little neighbour, and that they are not ambitious of an unprofitable contest with the poor and hardy Swiss. The Swiss are not equal to a long and expensive war; and as most of our militia have families and trades, the country already sighs for their return. Whatever can be yielded, without absolute danger or disgrace, will [Page 256] doubtless be granted; and the business will probably end in our owning the sovereignty, and trusting to the good faith of the republic of France: how that word would have sounded four years ago! The measure is humiliating; but after the retreat of the Duke of Brunswick, and the failure of the Austrians, the smaller powers may acquiesce without dishonour. Every dog has his day; and these Gallic dogs have their day, at least, of most insolent prosperity. After forcing or tempting the Prussians to evacuate their country, they conquer Savoy, pillage Germany, threaten Spain: the Low Countries are ere now invaded; Rome and Italy tremble; they scour the Mediterranean, and talk of sending a squadron into the South Sea. The whole horizon is so black, that I begin to feel some anxiety for England, the last refuge of liberty and law; and the more so, as I perceive from Lord Sheffield's last epistle that his firm nerves are a little shaken: but of this more in my next, for I want to unburthen my conscience. If England, with the experience of our happiness and French calamities, should now be seduced to eat the apple of false freedom, we should indeed deserve to be driven from the paradise which we enjoy. I turn aside from the horrid and improbable (yet not impossible) supposition, that, in three or four years' time, myself and my best friends may be reduced to the deplorable state of the French emigrants: they thought it as impossible three or four years ago. Never did a revolution affect, to such a degree, the private existence of such numbers of the first people of a great country: your examples of misery I could easily match with similar examples in this country and the neighbourhood; and our sympathy is the deeper, as we do not possess, like you, the means of alleviating, in some degree, the misfortunes of the fugitives. But I must have, from the very excellent pen of the Maria, the tragedy of the Archbishop of Arles; and the longer the better. Madame de Biron has probably been tempted by some faint and (I fear) fallacious promises of clemency [Page 257] to the women, and which have likewise engaged Madame d'Aguesseau and her two daughters to revisit France. Madame de Bouillon stands her ground, and her situation as a foreign princess is less exposed. As Lord S. has assumed the glorious character of protector of the distressed, his name is pronounced with gratitude and respect. The D. of Richmond is praised, on Madame de Biron's account. To the Princess d'Henin, and Lally, I wish to be remembered. The Neckers cannot venture into Geneva, and Madame de Stael will probably lie in at Rolle. He is printing a defence of the King, &c. against their republican Judges; but the name of Necker is unpopular to all parties, and I much fear that the guillotine will be more speedy than the press. It will, however, be an eloquent performance; and, if I find an opportunity, I am to send you one, to you Lord S. by his particular desire: he wishes likewise to convey some copies with speed to our principal people, Pitt, Fox, Lord Stormont, &c. But such is the rapid succession of events, that it will appear like the Pouvoir Executif, his best work, after the whole scene has been totally changed. Ever yours.

P. S.

The revolution of France, and my triple dispatch by the same post to Sheffield-Place, are, in my opinion, the two most singular events in the eighteenth century. I found the task so easy and pleasant, that I had some thoughts of adding a letter to the gentle Louisa. I am this moment informed, that our troops on the frontier are beginning to move, on their return home; yet we hear nothing of the treaty's being concluded.

[Page 258]

IN dispatching the weekly political journal to Lord S. my conscience (for I have some remains of conscience) most powerfully urges me to salute, with some lines of friendship and gratitude, the amiable secretary, who might save herself the trouble of a modest apology. I have not yet forgotten our different behaviour after the much lamented separation of October the 4th, 1791, your meritorious punctuality, and my unworthy silence. I have still before me that entertaining narrative, which would have interested me, not only in the progress of the carissima familia, but in the motions of a Tartar camp, or the march of a caravan of Arabs; the mixture of just observation and lively imagery, the strong sense of a man, expressed with the easy elegance of a female. I still recollect with pleasure the happy comparison of the Rhine, who had heard so much of liberty on both his banks, that he wandered with mischievous licentiousness over all the adjacent meadows*. The inundation, alas! has now spread much wider; and it is sadly to be feared that the Elbe, the Po, and the Danube, may imitate the vile example of the Rhine: I shall be content, however, if our own Thames still preserves his fair character, of

‘Strong without rage, without o'erflowing full.’

These agreeable epistles of Maria produced only some dumb intentions, and some barren remorse; nor have I designed, except by a brief missive from my chancellor, to express how much I loved the author, and how much I was pleased with the composition. That amiable author I have known and loved from the first dawning of her life and coquetry, to the present maturity of her talents; and as [Page 259] long as I remain on this planet, I shall pursue, with the same tender and even anxious concern, the future steps of her establishment and life. That establishment must be splendid; that life must be happy. She is endowed with every gift of nature and fortune; but the advantage which she will derive from them, depends almost entirely on herself. You must not, you shall not, think yourself unworthy to write to any man: there is none whom your correspondence would not amuse and satisfy. I will not undertake a task, which my taste would adopt, and my indolence would too soon relinquish; but I am really curious, from the best motives, to have a particular account of your own studies and daily occupation. What books do you read? and how do you employ your time and your pen? Except some professed scholars, I have often observed that women in general read much more than men; but, for want of a plan, a method, a fixed object, their reading is of little benefit to themselves, or others. If you will inform me of the species of reading to which you have the most propensity, I shall be happy to contribute my share of advice or assistance. I lament that you have not left me some monument of your pencil. Lady Elizabeth Foster has executed a very pretty drawing, taken from the door of the green-house where we dined last summer, and including the poor Acacia (now recovered from the cruel sheers of the gardener), the end of the terrace, the front of the Pavilion, and a distant view of the country, lake, and mountains. I am almost reconciled to d'Apples' house, which is nearly finished. Instead of the monsters which Lord Hercules Sheffield extirpated, the terrace is already shaded with the new acacias and plantanes; and although the uncertainty of possession restrains me from building, I myself have planted a bosquet at the bottom of the garden, with such admirable skill that it affords shade without intercepting prospect. The society of the aforesaid Eliza, commonly called Bess, of the Duchess of D. &c. has been very interesting; but they are now flown beyond the Alps, and pass the winter at Pisa. The Legards, who [Page 260] have long since left this place, should be at present in Italy; but I believe Mrs. Grimstone and her daughter returned to England. The Le [...]ades are highly flattered by your remembrance. Since you still retain some attachment to this delightful country, and it is indeed delightful, why should you despair of seeing it once more? The happy peer or commoner, whose name you may assume, is still concealed in the book of fate; but, whosoever he may be, he will cheerfully obey your commands, of leading you from—Castle to Lausanne, and from Lausanne to Rome and Naples. Before that this event takes place, I may possibly see you in Sussex; and, whether as a visitor or a fugitive, I hope to be welcomed with a friendly embrace. The delay of this year was truly painful, but it was inevitable; and individuals must submit to those storms which have overturned the thrones of the earth. The tragic story of the Archbishop of Arles I have now somewhat a better right to require at your hands. I wish to have it in all its horrid details*; and as you [Page 261] are now so much mingled with the French exiles, I am of opinion, that were you to keep a journal of all the authentic facts which they [Page 262] relate, it would be an agreeable exercise at present, and a future source of entertainment and instruction.

I should be obliged to you, if you would make, or find, some excuse for my not answering a letter from your aunt, which was presented to me by Mr. Fowler. I shewed him some civilities, but he is now a poor invalid, confined to his room. By her channel and yours I should be glad to have some information of the health, spirits, and situation of Mrs. Gibbon of Bath, whose alarms (if she has any) you may dispel. She is in my debt. Adieu; most truly yours.

[Page 263]

I COULD never forgive myself, were I capable of writing by the same post, a political epistle to the father, and a friendly letter to the daughter, without sending any token of remembrance to the respectable matron, my dearest my Lady, whom I have now loved as a sister for something better or worse than twenty years. No, indeed, the historian may be careless, he may be indolent, he may always intend and never execute, but he is neither a monster nor a statue; he has a memory, a conscience, a heart, and that heart is sincerely devoted to Lady S—. He must even acknowledge the fallacy of a sophism which he has sometimes used, and she has always and most truly denied; that, where the persons of a family are strictly united, the writing to one is in fact writing to all; and that consequently all his numerous letters to the husband, may be considered as equally addressed to his wife. He feels, on the contrary, that separate minds have their distinct ideas and sentiments, and that each character, either in speaking or writing, has its peculiar tone of conversation. He agrees with the maxim of Rousseau, that three friends who wish to disclose a common secret, will impart it only deux à deux; and he is satisfied that, on the present memorable occasion, each of the persons of the Sheffield family will claim a peculiar share in this triple missive, which will communicate, however, a triple satisfaction. The experience of what may be effected by vigorous resolution, encourages the historian to hope that he shall cast the skin of the old serpent, and hereafter shew himself as a new creature.

[Page 264] I lament, on all our accounts, that the last year's expedition to Lausanne did not take place in a golden period, of health and spirits. But we must reflect, that human felicity is seldom without alloy; and if we cannot indulge the hope of your making a second visit to Lausanne, we must look forwards to my residence next summer at Sheffield-Place, where I must find you in the full bloom of health, spirits, and beauty. I can perceive, by all public and private intelligence, that your house has been the open hospitable asylum of French fugitives; and it is a sufficient proof of the firmness of your nerves, that you have not been overwhelmed or agitated by such a concourse of strangers. Curiosity and compassion may, in some degree, have supported you. Every day has presented to your view some new scene of that strange tragical romance, which occupies all Europe so infinitely beyond any event that has happened in our time, and you have the satisfaction of not being a mere spectator of the distress of so many victims of false liberty. The benevolent fame of Lord S. is widely diffused.

From Angletine's last letter to Maria, you have already some idea of the melancholy state of her poor father. As long as Mr. de Severy allowed our hopes and fears to fluctuate with the changes of his disorder, I was unwilling to say any thing on so painful a subject; and it is with the deepest concern that I now confess our absolute despair of his recovery. All his particular complaints are now lost in a general dissolution of the whole frame; every principle of life is exhausted, and as often as I am admitted to his bed-side, though he still looks and smiles with the patience of an angel, I have the heart-felt grief of seeing him each day drawing nearer to the term of his existence. A few weeks, possibly a few days, will deprive me of a most excellent friend, and break for ever the most perfect system of domestic happiness, in which I had so large and intimate a share. Wilhelm (who has obtained leave of absence [Page 265] from his military duty) and his sister behave and feel like tender and dutiful children; but they have a long gay prospect of life, and new connections, new families will make them forget, in due time, the common lot of mortality. But it is Madame de Severy whom I truly pity; I dread the effects of the first shock, and I dread still more the deep perpetual consuming affliction for a loss which can never be retrieved. You will not wonder that such reflections sadden my own mind, nor can I forget how much my situation is altered since I retired, nine years ago, to the banks of the Leman Lake. The death of poor Deyverdun first deprived me of a domestic companion, who can never be supplied; and your visit has only served to remind me that man, however amused and occupied in his closet, was not made to live alone. Severy will soon be no more; his widow for a long time, perhaps for ever, will be lost to herself and her friends, the son will travel, and I shall be left a stranger in the insipid circle of mere common acquaintance. The revolution of France, which first embittered and divided the society of Lausanne, has opposed a barrier to my Sussex visit, and may finally expel me from the paradise which I inhabit. Even that paradise, the expensive and delightful establishment of my house, library, and garden, almost becomes an incumbrance, by rendering it more difficult for me to relinquish my hold, or to form a new system of life in my native country, for which my income, though improved and improving, would be probably insufficient. But every complaint should be silenced by the contemplation of the French; compared with whose cruel fate, all misery is relative happiness. I perfectly concur in your partiality for Lally; though Nature might forget some meaner ingredients, of prudence, oeconomy, &c. she never formed a purer heart, or a brighter imagination. If he be with you, I beg my kindest salutations to him. I am every day more closely united with the Neckers. Should France break, and this country [Page 266] be over-run, they would be reduced, in very humble circumstances, to seek a refuge; and where but in England? Adieu, dear Madam, there is, indeed, much pleasure in discharging one's heart to a real friend. Ever yours.

[Send me a List of these Letters, with their respective dates.]

AFTER the triple labour of my last dispatch, your experience of the creature might tempt you to suspect that it would again relapse into a long slumber. But, partly from the spirit of contradiction, (though I am not a lady,) and partly from the ease and pleasure which I now find in the task, you see me again alive, awake, and almost faithful to my hebdomadal promise. The last week has not, however, afforded any events deserving the notice of an historian. Our affairs are still floating on the waves of the convention, and the ratification of a corrected treaty, which had been fixed for the twentieth, is not yet arrived; but the report of the diplomatic committee has been favourable, and it is generally understood that the leaders of the French republic do not wish to quarrel with the Swiss. We are gradually withdrawing and disbanding our militia. Geneva will be left to sink or swim, according to the humour of the people; and our last hope appears to be, that by submission and good behaviour we shall avert for some time the impending storm. A few days ago an odd accident happened in the French army; the defertion of the general. As the Neckers were sitting, about eight o'clock in the evening, in their drawing-room at Rolle*, the door flew open, and they [Page 267] were astounded by their servant's announcing Monsieur le General de Montesquieu? On the receipt of some secret intelligence of a decret d'accusation, and an order to arrest him, he had only time to get on horseback, to gallop through Geneva, to take boat for Copet, and to escape from his pursuers, who were ordered to seize him alive or dead. He left the Neckers after supper, passed through Lausanne in the night, and proceeded to Berne and Basle, whence he intended to wind his way through Germany, amidst enemies of every description, and to seek a refuge in England, America, or the moon. He told Necker, that the sole remnant of his fortune consisted in a wretched sum of twenty thousand livres; but the public report, or suspicion, bespeaks him in much better circumstances. Besides the reproach of acting with too much tameness and delay, he is accused of making very foul and exorbitant contracts; and it is certain that new Sparta is infected with this vice, beyond the example of the most corrupt monarchy. Kellerman is arrived, to take the command; and it is apprehended that on the first of December, after the departure of the Swiss, the French may request the permission of using Geneva, a friendly city, for their winter quarters. In that case, the democratical revolution, which we all foresee, will be very speedily effected.

I would ask you, whether you apprehend there was any treason in the Duke of Brunswick's retreat, and whether you have totally withdrawn your confidence and esteem from that once-famed general? Will it be possible for England to preserve her neutrality with any honour or safety? We are bound, as I understand, by treaty, to guarantee the dominions of the King of Sardinia and the Austrian provinces of the Netherlands. These countries are now invaded and over-run by the French. Can we refuse to fulfil our engagements, without exposing ourselves to all Europe as a perfidious or pusillanimous nation? Yet, on the other hand, can we assist those allies, without plunging headlong into an abyss, whose [Page 268] bottom no man can discover? But my chief anxiety is for our domestic tranquillity; for I must find a retreat in England, should I be driven from Lausanne. The idea of firm and honourable union of parties pleases me much; but you must frankly unfold what are the great difficulties that may impede so salutary a measure: you write to a man discreet in speech, and now careful of papers. Yet what can such a coalition avail? Where is the champion of the constitution? Alas, Lord Guildford! I am much pleased with the Manchester Ass. The asses or wolves who sacrificed him have cast off the mask too soon; and such a nonsensical act must open the eyes of many simple patriots, who might have been led astray by the specious name of reform. It should be made as notorious as possible. Next winter may be the crisis of our fate, and if you begin to improve the constitution, you may be driven step by step from the disfranchisement of old Sarum to the King in Newgate, the Lords voted useless, the Bishops abolished, and a House of Commons without articles (sans culottes). Necker has ordered you a copy of his royal defence, which has met with, and deserved, universal success. The pathetic and argumentative parts are, in my opinion, equally good, and his mild eloquence may persuade without irritating. I have applied to this gentler tone some verses of Ovid, (Metamorph. l. iii. 302, &c.*) which you may read. Madame de Stael has produced a second son. She talks wildly enough of visiting England this winter. She is a pleasant little woman. Poor Severy's condition is hopeless. Should he drag through the winter, Madame de S. would scarcely survive [Page 269] him. She kills herself with grief and fatigue. What a difference in Lausanne! I hope triple answers are on the road. I must write soon; the times will not allow me to read or think. Ever yours.

OUR little storm has now completely subsided, and we are again spectators, though anxious spectators, of the general tempest that invades or threatens almost every country of Europe. Our troops are every day disbanding and returning home, and the greatest part of the French have evacuated the neighbourhood of Geneva. Monsieur Barthelemy, whom you have seen secretary in London, is most courteously entertained, as ambassador, by the Helvetic body. He is now at Berne, where a diet will speedily be convened; the language on both sides is now pacific, and even friendly, and some hopes are given of a provision for the officers of the Swiss guards who have survived the massacres of Paris.

WITH the return of peace I have relapsed into my former indolence; but now awakening, after a fortnight's slumber, I have little or nothing to add, with regard to the internal state of this country, only the revolution of Geneva has already taken place, as I announced, but sooner than I expected. The Swiss troops had no sooner evacuated the place, than the Egaliseurs, as they are called, assembled in arms; and as no resistance was made, no blood was shed on the occasion. They seized the gates, disarmed the garrison, imprisoned the magistrates, imparted the rights of citizens to all the rabble of the town and country, and proclaimed a National Convention, [Page 270] which has not yet met. They are all for a pure and absolute democracy; but some wish to remain a small independent state, whilst others aspire to become a part of the republic of France; and as the latter, though less numerous, are more violent and absurd than their adversaries, it is highly probable that they will succeed. The citizens of the best families and fortunes have retired from Geneva into the Pays de Vaud; but the French methods of recalling or proscribing emigrants, will soon be adopted. You must have observed, that Savoy is now become le department du Mont Blanc. I cannot satisfy myself, whether the mass of the people is pleased or displeased with the change; but my noble scenery is clouded by the democratical aspect of twelve leagues of the opposite coast, which every morning obtrude themselves on my view. I here conclude the first part of the history of our Alpine troubles, and now consider myself as disengaged from all promises of periodical writing. Upon the whole, I kept it beyond our expectation; nor do I think that you have been sufficiently astonished by the wonderful effort of the triple dispatch.

You must now succeed to my task, and I shall expect, during the winter, a regular political journal of the events of your greater world. You are on the theatre, and may often be behind the scenes. You can always see, and may sometimes foresee. My own choice has indeed transported me into a foreign land; but I am truly attached, from interest and inclination, to my native country; and even as a citizen of the world, I wish the stability of England, the sole great refuge of mankind, against the opposite mischiefs of despotism and democracy. I was indeed alarmed, and the more so, as I saw that you were not without apprehension; but I now glory in the triumph of reason and genuine patriotism, which seems to pervade the country; nor do I dislike some mixture of popular enthusiasm, which may be requisite to encounter our mad or wicked enemies with equal [Page 271] arms. The behaviour of Fox does not surprise me. You may remember what I told you last year at Lausanne, when you attempted his defence, that * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * You have now crushed the daring subverters of the constitution; but I now fear the moderate well-meaners, reformers. Do not, I beseech you, tamper with parliamentary representation. The present house of commons forms, in practice, a body of gentlemen, who must always sympathize with the interests and opinions of the people; and the slightest innovation launches you, without rudder or compass, on a dark and dangerous ocean of theoretical experiment. On this subject I am indeed serious.

Upon the whole, I like the beginning of ninety-three better than the end of ninety-two. The illusion seems to break away throughout Europe. I think England and Switzerland are safe. Brabant adheres to its old constitution. The Germans are disgusted with the rapine and insolence of their deliverers. The Pope is resolved to head his armies, and the Lazzaroni of Naples have presented St. Januarius with a gold fuzee, to fire on the Brigands François. So much for politics, which till now never had such possession of my mind. Next post I will write about myself and my own designs. Alas, your poor eyes! make the Maria write; I will speedily answer her. My Lady is still dumb. The German posts are now slow and irregular. You had better write by the way of France, under cover. Direct to Le Citoien Rebours à Pontalier, France: Adieu; ever yours.

[Page 272]

THERE was formerly a time when our correspondence was a painful discussion of my private affairs; a vexatious repetition of losses, of disappointments, of sales, &c. These affairs are decently arranged: but public cares have now succeeded to private anxiety, and our whole attention is lately turned from Lenborough and Beriton, to the political state of France and of Europe. From these politics, however, one letter shall be free, while I talk of myself and of my own plans; a subject most interesting to a friend, and only to a friend.

I know not whether I am sorry or glad that my expedition has been postponed to the present year. It is true, that I now wish myself in England, and almost repent that I did not grasp the opportunity when the obstacles were comparatively smaller than they are now likely to prove. Yet had I reached you last summer before the month of August, a considerable portion of my time would be now elapsed, and I should already begin to think of my departure. If the gout should spare me this winter, (and as yet I have not felt any symptom,) and if the spring should make a soft and early appearance, it is my intention to be with you in Downing-street before the end of April, and thus to enjoy six weeks or two months of the most agreeable season of London and the neighbourhood, after the hurry of parliament is subsided, and before the great rural dispersion. As the banks of the Rhine and the Belgic provinces are completely overspread with anarchy and war, I have made up my mind to pass through the territories of the French republic. From the best and most recent information, I am satisfied that there is little or no real danger in the journey; and I must arm myself with patience to support [Page 273] the vexatious insolence of democratical tyranny. I have even a sort of curiosity to spend some days at Paris, to assist at the debates of the Pandaemonium, to seek an introduction to the principal devils, and to contemplate a new form of public and private life, which never existed before, and which I devoutly hope will not long continue to exist. Should the obstacles of health or weather confine me at Lausanne till the month of May, I shall scarcely be able to resist the temptation of passing some part at least of the summer in my own little paradise. But all these schemes must ultimately depend on the great question of peace and war, which will indeed be speedily determined. Should France become impervious to an English traveller, what must I do? I shall not easily resolve to explore my way through the unknown language and abominable roads of the interior parts of Germany, to embark in Holland, or perhaps at Hamburgh, and to be finally intercepted by a French privateer. My stay in England appears not less doubtful than the means of transporting myself. Should I arrive in the spring, it is possible, and barely possible, that I should return here in the autumn: it is much more probable that I shall pass the winter, and there may be even a chance of my giving my own country a longer trial. In my letter to my Lady I fairly exposed the decline of Lausanne; but such an establishment as mine must not be lightly abandoned; nor can I discover what adequate mode of life my private circumstances, easy as they now are, could afford me in England. London and Bath have doubtless their respective merits, and I could wish to reside within a day's journey of Sheffield-Place. But a state of perfect happiness is not to be found here below; and in the possession of my library, house, and garden, with the relicks of our society, and a frequent intercourse with the Neckers, I may still be tolerably content. Among the disastrous changes of Lausanne, I must principally reckon the approaching dissolution of poor Severy and his family. He is still alive, but in such a hopeless and painful decay, that we [Page 274] no longer conceal our wishes for his speedy release. I never loved nor esteemed him so much as in this last mortal disease, which he supports with a degree of energy, patience, and even cheerfulness, beyond all belief. His wife, whose whole time and soul are devoted to him, is almost sinking under her long anxiety. The children are most amiably assiduous to both their parents, and, at all events, his filial duties and worldly cares must detain the son some time at home.

And now approach, and let me drop into your most private ear a literary secret. Of the Memoirs little has been done, and with that little I am not satisfied. They must be postponed till a mature season; and I much doubt whether the book and the Author can ever see the light at the same time. But I have long revolved in my mind another scheme of biographical writing: the Lives, or rather the Characters, of the most eminent Persons in Arts and Arms, in Church and State, who have flourished in Britain from the reign of Henry the Eighth to the present age. This work, extensive as it may be, would be an amusement, rather than a toil: the materials are accessible in our own language, and, for the most part, ready to my hands: but the subject, which would afford a rich display of human nature and domestic history, would powerfully address itself to the feelings of every Englishman. The taste or fashion of the times seems to delight in picturesque decorations; and this series of British portraits might aptly be accompanied by the respective heads, taken from originals, and engraved by the best masters. Alderman Boydell, and his son-in-law, Mr. George Nicol, bookseller in Pallmall, are the great undertakers in this line. On my arrival in England I shall be free to consider, whether it may suit me to proceed in a mere literary work without any other decorations than those which it may derive from the pen of the Author. It is a serious truth, that I am no longer ambitious of fame or money; that my [Page 275] habits of industry are much impaired, and that I have reduced my studies, to be the loose amusement of my morning hours, the repetition of which will insensibly lead me to the last term of existence. And for this very reason I shall not be sorry to bind myself by a liberal engagement, from which I may not with honour recede.

Before I conclude, we must say a word or two of parliamentary and pecuniary concerns. 1. We all admire the generous spirit with which you damned the assassins * *. I hope that * * * * * The opinion of parliament in favour of Louis was declared in a manner worthy of the representatives of a great and a wise nation. It will certainly have a powerful effect; and if the poor King be not already murdered, I am satisfied that his life is in safety: but in such a life worth his care? Our debates will now become every day more interesting; and as I expect from you only opinions and anecdotes, I most earnestly conjure you to send me Woodfall's Register as often (and that must be very often) as the occasion deserves it. I now spare no expence for news.

I want some account of Mrs. G.'s health. Will my Lady never write? How can people be so indolent! I suppose this will find you at Sheffield-Place during the recess, and that the heavy baggage will not move till after the birth-day. Shall I be with you by the first of May? The Gods only know. I almost wish that I had accompanied Madame de Stael. Ever yours.

[Page 276]

THE struggle is at length over, and poor de Severy is no more! He expired about ten days ago, after every vital principle had been exhausted by a complication of disorders, which had lasted above five months: and a mortification in one of his legs, that gradually rose to the more noble parts, was the immediate cause of his death. His patience and even cheerfulness supported him to the fatal moment; and he enjoyed every comfort that could alleviate his situation, the skill of his physicians, the assiduous tenderness of his family, and the kind sympathy not only of his particular friends, but even of common acquaintance, and generally of the whole town. The stroke has been severely felt: yet I have the satisfaction to perceive that Madame de Severy's health is not affected; and we may hope that in time she will recover a tolerable share of composure and happiness. Her firmness has checked the violent sallies of grief; her gentleness has preserved her from the worst of symptoms, a dry, silent despair. She loves to talk of her irreparable loss, she descants with pleasure on his virtues; her words are interrupted with tears, but those tears are her best relief; and her tender feelings will insensibly subside into an affectionate remembrance. Wilhelm is much more deeply wounded than I could imagine, or than he expected himself: nor have I ever seen the affliction of a son more lively and sincere. Severy was indeed a very valuable man: without any shining qualifications, he was endowed in a high degree with good sense, honour, and benevolence; and few men have filled with more propriety their circle in private life. For myself, I have had the misfortune of knowing him too late, and of losing him too soon.— But enough of this melancholy subject.

[Page 277] The affairs of this theatre, which must always be minute, are now grown so tame and tranquil, that they no longer deserve the historian's pen. The new constitution of Geneva is slowly forming, without much noise or any bloodshed; and the patriots, who have staid in hopes of guiding and restraining the multitude, flatter themselves that they shall be able at least to prevent their mad countrymen from giving themselves to the French, the only mischief that would be absolutely irretrievable. The revolution of Geneva is of less consequence to us, however, than that of Savoy; but our fate will depend on the general event, rather than on these particular causes. In the mean while we hope to be quiet spectators of the struggle of this year; and we seem to have assurances that both the Emperor and the French will compound for the neutrality of the Swiss. The Helvetic body does not acknowledge the republic of France; but Barthelemy, their ambassador, resides at Baden, and steals, like Chauvelin, into a kind of extra-official negotiation. All spirit of opposition is quelled in the Canton of Berne, and the perpetual banishment of the ****** family has scarcely excited a murmur. It will probably be followed by that of ****** *****: the crime alleged in their sentence is the having assisted at the federation-dinner at Rolle two years ago; and as they are absent, I could almost wish that they had been summoned to appear, and heard in their own defence. To the general supineness of the inhabitants of Lausanne I must ascribe, that the death of Louis the Sixteenth has been received with less horror and indignation than I could have wished. I was much tempted to go into mourning, and probably should, had the Duchess been still here; but, as the only Englishman of any mark, I was afraid of being singular; more especially as our French emigrants, either from prudence or poverty, do not wear black, nor do even the Neckers. Have you read his discourse for the King? It might indeed supersede the necessity of mourning. I should judge from your last letter, and from the Diary, that the French declaration of [Page 278] war must have rather surprised you. I wish, although I know not how it could have been avoided, that we might still have continued to enjoy our safe and prosperous neutrality. You will not doubt my best wishes for the destruction of the miscreants; but I love England still more than I hate France. All reasonable chances are in favour of a confederacy, such as was never opposed to the ambition of Louis the Fourteenth; but, after the experience of last year, I distrust reason, and confess myself fearful for the event. The French are strong in numbers, activity, enthusiasm; they are rich in rapine; and, although their strength may be only that of a phrenzy fever, they may do infinite mischief to their neighbours before they can be reduced to a strait waistcoat. I dread the effects that may be produced on the minds of the people by the increase of debt and taxes, probable losses, and possible mismanagement. Our trade must suffer; and though projects of invasion have been always abortive, I cannot forget that the fleets and armies of Europe have failed before the towns in America, which have been taken and plundered by a handful of Buccaneers. I know nothing of Pitt as a war minister; but it affords me much satisfaction that the intrepid wisdom of the new chancellor* is introduced into the cabinet. I wish, not merely on your own account, that you were placed in an active, useful station in government. I should not dislike you secretary at war.

I have little more to say of myself, or of my journey to England: you know my intentions, and the great events of Europe must determine whether they can be carried into execution this summer. If ***** has warmly adopted your idea, I shall speedily hear from him; but, in truth, I know not what will be my answer: I see difficulties which at first did not occur: I doubt my own perseverance, and my fancy begins to wander into new paths. The amusement of reading and thinking may perhaps satisfy a man who has paid his debt to the public; and there is more pleasure in building castles in the air than [Page 279] on the ground. I shall contrive some small assistance for your eorrespondent, though I cannot learn any thing that distinguishes him from many of his countrymen; we have had our full share of poor emigrants: but if you wish that any thing extraordinary should be done for this man, you must send me a measure. Adieu. I embrace my Lady and Maria, as also Louisa, if with you. Perhaps I may soon write, without expecting an answer. Ever yours.

MY dearest Friend, for such you most truly are, nor does there exist a person who obtains, or shall ever obtain, a superior place in my esteem and affection.

After too long a silence I was sitting down to write, when, only yesterday morning (such is now the irregular slowness of the English post), I was suddenly struck, indeed struck to the heart, by the fatal intelligence* from Sir Henry Clinton and Mr. de Lally. Alas! what is life, and what are our hopes and projects! When I embraced her at your deparure from Lausanne, could I imagine that it was for the last time? when I postponed to another summer my journey to England, could I apprehend that I never, never should see her again? I always hoped that she would spin her feeble thread to a long duration, and that her delicate frame would survive (as is often the case) many constitutions of a stouter appearance. In four days! in your absence, in that of her children! But she is now at rest; and if there be a future life, her mild virtues have surely entitled her to the reward of pure and perfect felicity. It is for you that I feel, and I can judge of your sentiments by comparing them with my own. I have lost, it is true, an amiable and affectionate friend, whom I had known and loved above [Page 280] three-and-twenty years, and whom I often styled by the endearing name of sister. But you are deprived of the companion of your life, the wife of your choice, and the mother of your children; poor children! the liveliness of Maria, and the softness of Louisa, render them almost equally the objects of my tenderest compassion. I do not wish to aggravate your grief; but, in the sincerity of friendship, I cannot hold a different language. I know the impotence of reason, and I much fear that the strength of your character will serve to make a sharper and more lasting impression.

The only consolation in these melancholy trials to which human life is exposed, the only one at least in which I have any confidence, is the presence of a real friend; and of that, as far as it depends on myself, you shall not be destitute. I regret the few days that must be lost in some necessary preparations; but I trust that to-morrow se'nnight (May the fifth) I shall be able to set forwards on my journey to England; and when this letter reaches you, I shall be considerably advanced on my way. As it is yet prudent to keep at a respectful distance from the banks of the French Rhine, I shall incline a little to the right, and proceed by Schaffouse and Stutgard to Frankfort and Cologne: the Austrian Netherlands are now open and safe, and I am sure of being able at least to pass from Ostend to Dover; whence, without passing through London, I shall pursue the direct road to Sheffield-Place. Unless I should meet with some unforeseen accidents and delays, I hope, before the end of the month to share your solitude, and sympathize with your grief. All the difficulties of the journey, which my indolence had probably magnified, have now disappeared before a stronger passion; and you will not be sorry to hear, that, as far as Frankfort to Cologne, I shall enjoy the advantage of the society, the conversation, the German language, and the active assistance of Severy. His attachment to me is the sole motive which prompts him to undertake this troublesome journey; and as soon as he has seen me over the roughest ground, [Page 281] he will immediately return to Lausanne. The poor young man loved Lady S. as a mother, and the whole family is deeply affected by an event which reminds them too painfully of their own misfortune. Adieu. I could write volumes, and shall therefore break off abruptly. I shall write on the road, and hope to find a few lines à poste restante at Frankfort and Brussels. Adieu; ever yours.

MY DEAR FRIEND,

I MUST write a few lines before my departure, though indeed I scarcely know what to say. Nearly a fortnight has now elapsed since the first melancholy tidings, without my having received the slightest subsequent accounts of your health and situation. Your own silence announces too forcibly how much you are involved in your feelings; and I can but too easily conceive that a letter to me would be more painful than to an indifferent person. But that amiable man Count Lally might surely have written a second time; but your sister, who is probably with you; but Maria,—alas! poor Maria! I am left in a state of darkness to the workings of my own fancy, which imagines every thing that is sad and shocking. What can I think of for your relief and comfort? I will not expatiate on those common-place topics, which have never dried a single tear; but let me advise, let me urge you to force yourself into business, as I would try to force myself into study. The mind must not be idle; if it be not exercised on external objects, it will prey on its own vitals. A thousand little arrangements, which must precede a long journey, have postponed my departure three or four days beyond the term which I had first appointed; but all is now in order, and I set off to-morrow, the ninth instant, with my valet de chambre, a courier on horseback, and Severy, with his servant, as far as Frankfort. I [Page 282] calculate my arrival at Sheffield-Place (how I dread and desire to see that mansion!) for the first week in June, soon after this letter; but I will try to send you some later intelligence. I never found myself stronger, or in better health. The German road is now cleared, both of enemies and allies, and though I must expect fatigue, I have not any apprehensions of danger. It is scarcely possible that you should meet me at Frankfort, but I shall be much disappointed at not finding a line at Brussels or Ostend. Adieu. If there be any invisible guardians, may they watch over you and yours! Adieu.

AND here I am in good health and spirits, after one of the easiest, safest, and pleasantest journies which I ever performed in my whole life; not the appearance of an enemy, and hardly the appearance of a war. Yet I hear, as I am writing, the cannon of the siege of Mayence, at the distance of twenty miles; and long, very long, will it be heard. It is confessed on all sides, that the French fight with a courage worthy of a better cause. The town of Mayence is strong, their artillery admirable; they are already reduced to horse-flesh, but they have still the resource of eating the inhabitants, and at last of eating one another; and, if that repast could to extended to Paris and the whole country, it might essentially contribute to the relief of mankind. Our operations are carried on with more than German slowness, and when the besieged are quiet, the besiegers are perfectly satisfied with their progress. A spirit of division undoubtedly prevails; and the character of the Prussians for courage and discipline is sunk lower than you can possibly imagine. Their glory has expired with Frederick. I am sorry to have missed Lord Elgin, who is beyond the Rhine with the King [Page 283] of Prussia. As I am impatient, I propose setting forwards to-morrow afternoon, and shall reach Ostend in less than eight days. The passage must depend on winds and packets; and I hope to find at Brussels or Dover a letter which will direct me to Sheffield-Place or Downing-Street. Severy goes back from hence. Adieu: I embrace the dear girls. Ever yours.

THIS day, between two and three o'clock in the afternoon, I am arrived at this place in excellent preservation. My expedition, which is now drawing to a close, has been a journey of perseverance rather than speed, of some labour since Frankfort, but without the smallest degree of difficulty or danger. As I have every morning been seated in the chaise soon after sun-rise, I propose indulging tomorrow till eleven o'clock, and going that day no farther than Ghent. On Wednesday the 29th instant I shall reach Ostend in good time, just eight days, according to my former reckoning, from Frankfort. Beyond that I can say nothing positive; but should the winds be propitious, it is possible that I may appear next Saturday, June first, in Downing-Street. After that earliest date, you will expect me day by day till I arrive. Adieu. I embrace the dear girls, and salute Mrs. Holroyd. I rejoice that you have anticipated my advice by plunging into business; but I should now be sorry if that business, however important, detained us long in town. I do not wish to make a public exhibition, and only sigh to enjoy you and the precious remnant in the solitude of Sheffield-Place. Ever yours.

If I am successful I may outstrip or accompany this letter. Your's and Maria's waited for me here, and over-paid the journey.

5.

[Page 284]

THE preceding Letters intimate that, in return for my visit to Lausanne in 1791, Mr. Gibbon engaged to pass a year with me in England; that the war having rendered travelling exceedingly inconvenient, especially to a person who, from his bodily infirmities, required every accommodation, prevented his undertaking so formidable a journey at the time he proposed.

The call of friendship, however, was sufficient to make him overlook every personal consideration, when he thought his presence might prove a consolation. I must ever regard it as the most endearing proof of his sensibility, and of his possessing the true spirit of friendship, that after having relinquished the thought of his intended visit, he hastened to England, in spite of encreasing impediments, to soothe me by the most generous sympathy, and to alleviate my domestic affliction; neither his great corpulency, nor his extraordinary bodily infirmities, nor any other consideration, could prevent him a moment from resolving on an undertaking that might have deterred the most active young man. He, almost immediately, with alertness by no means natural to him, undertook a great circuitous journey, along the frontiers of an enemy, worse than savage, within the found of their cannon, within the range of the light troops of the different armies, and through roads ruined by the enormous machinery of war.

The readiness with which he engaged in this kind office of friendship, at a time when a selfish spirit might have pleaded a thousand reasons for declining so hazardous a journey, conspired, with the peculiar [Page 285] charms of his society to render his arrival a cordial to my mind. I had the satisfaction of finding that his own delicate and precarious health had not suffered in the service of his friend, a service in which he disregarded his own personal infirmities. He arrived in the beginning of June at my house in Downing-Street, safe and in good health; and after we had passed about a month together in London, we settled at Sheffield-Place for the summer; where his wit, learning, and cheerful politeness delighted a great variety of characters.

Although he was inclined to represent his health as better than it really was, his habitual dislike to motion appeared to increase; his inaptness to exercise confined him to the library and dining-room, and there he joined my friend Mr. Frederick North, in pleasant arguments against exercise in general. He ridiculed the unsettled and restless disposition that summer, the most uncomfortable, as he said, of all seasons, generally gives to those who have the free use of their limbs. Such arguments were little required to keep society within doors, when his company was only there to be enjoyed; for neither the fineness of the season, nor the most promising parties of pleasure, could tempt the company of either sex to desert him.

Those who have enjoyed the society of Mr. Gibbon will agree with me, that his conversation was still more captivating than his writings. Perhaps no man ever divided time more fairly between literary labour and social enjoyment; and hence, probably, he derived his peculiar excellence of making his very extensive knowledge contribute, in the highest degree, to the use or pleasure of those with whom he conversed. He united, in the happiest manner imaginable, two characters which are not often found in the same person, the profound scholar and the fascinating companion.

It would be superstuous to attempt a very minute delineation of a character which is so distinctly marked in the Memoirs and Letters. [Page 286] He has described himself without reserve, and with perfect sincerity. The Letters, and especially the extracts from the Journal, which could not have been written with any purpose of being seen, will make the reader perfectly acquainted with the man.

Excepting a visit to Lord Egremont and Mr. Hayley, whom he very particularly esteemed, Mr. Gibbon was not absent from Sheffield-Place till the beginning of October, when we were reluctantly obliged to part with him, that he might perform his engagement to Mrs. Gibbon at Bath, the widow of his father, who had early deserved, and invariably retained, his affection. From Bath he proceeded to Lord Spenser's at Althorp, a family which he always met with uncommon satisfaction. He continued in good health during the whole summer, and in excellent spirits (I never knew him enjoy better); and when he went from Sheffield-Place, little did I imagine it would be the last time I should have the inexpressible pleasure of seeing him there in full possession of health.

The few following short letters, though not important in themselves, will fill up this part of the narrative better, and more agreeably, than any thing I can substitute in their place.

[Page 287]

THE Cork-Street hotel has answered its recommendation; it is clean, convenient, and quiet. My first evening was passed at home in a very agreeable tête-à-tête with my friend Elmsley. Yesterday I dined at Craufurd's with an excellent set, in which were Pelham and Lord Egremont. I dine to-day with my Portuguese friend, Madame de Sylva, at Grenier's; most probably with Lady Webster, whom I met last night at Devonshire-House; a constant, though late, resort of society. The Duchess is as good, and Lady Elizabeth as seducing, as ever. No news whatsoever. You will see in the papers Lord Harvey's memorial. I love vigour, but it is surely a strong measure to tell a gentleman you have resolved to pass the winter in his house. London is not disagreeable; yet I shall probably leave it Saturday. If any thing should occur, I will write. Adieu; ever yours.

SUNDAY afternoon I left London and lay at Reading, and Monday in very good time I reached this place, after a very pleasant airing; and am always so much delighted and improved, with this union of case and motion, that, were not the expence enormous, I would travel every year some hundred miles, more especially in England. I passed the day with Mrs. G. yesterday. I mind and [Page 288] conversation she is just the same as twenty years ago. She has spirits, appetite, legs, and eyes, and talks of living till ninety*. I can say from my heart, Amen. We dine at two, and remain together till nine; but, although we have much to say, I am not sorry that she talks of introducing a third or fourth actor. Lord Spenser expects me about the 20th; but if I can do it without offence, I shall steal away two or three days sooner, and you shall have advice of my motions. The troubles of Bristol have been serious and bloody. I know not who was in fault; but I do not like appeasing the mob by the extinction of the toll, and the removal of the Hereford militia, who had done their duty. Adieu. The girls must dance at Tunbridge. What would dear little aunt say if I was to answer her letter? Ever yours, &c.

I still follow the old stile, though the Convention has abolished the Christian aera, with months, weeks, days, &c.

I AM as ignorant of Bath in general as if I were still at Sheffield. My impatience to get away makes me think it better to devote my whole time to Mrs. G.; and dear little aunt, whom I tenderly salute, will excuse me to her two friends, Mrs. Hartley and Preston, if I make little or no use of her kind introduction. A tête-à-têete of eight or nine hours every day is rather difficult to support; yet I do assure you, that our conversation flows with more ease and spirit when we are alone, than when any auxiliaries are summoned to our aid. She is indeed a wonderful woman, and I think all her faculties [Page 289] of the mind stronger, and more active, than I have ever known them. I have settled, that ten full days may be sufficient for all the purposes of our interview. I should therefore depart next Friday, the eighteenth instant, and am indeed expected at Althorpe on the twentieth; but I may possibly reckon without my host, as I have not yet apprised Mrs. G. of the term of my visit; and will certainly not quarrel with her for a short delay. Adieu. I must have some political speculations. The campaign, at least on our side, seems to be at an end. Ever yours.

WE have so completely exhausted this morning among the first editions of Cicero, that I can mention only my departure hence to-morrow, the sixth instant. I shall lie quietly at Woburn, and reach London in good time Thursday. By the following post I will write somewhat more largely. My stay in London will depend, partly on my amusement, and your being fixed at Sheffield-Place; unless you think I can be comfortably arranged for a week or two with you at Brighton. The military remarks seem good; but now to what purpose? Adieu. I embrace and much rejoice in Louisa's improvement. Lord Ossory was from home at Farning-Woods.

WALPOLE has just delivered yours, and I hasten the direction, that you may not be at a loss. I will write to-morrow, but I am now fatigued, and rather unwell. Adieu. I have not seen a soul except Elmsley.

[Page 290]

AS I dropt yesterday the word unwell, I flatter myself that the family would have been a little alarmed by my silence to-day. I am still aukward, though without any suspicions of gout, and have some idea of having recourse to medical advice. Yet I creep out to-day in a chair, to dine with Lord Lucan. But as it will be literally my first going down stairs, and as scarcely any one is apprized of my arrival, I know nothing, I have heard nothing, I have nothing to say. My present lodging, a house of Elmsley's, is cheerful, convenient, somewhat dear, but not so much as a hotel, a species of habitation for which I have not conceived any great affection. Had you been stationary at Sheffield, you would have seen me before the twentieth; for I am tired of rambling, and pant for my home; that is to say, for your house. But whether I shall have courage to brave **** and a bleak down, time only can discover. Adieu. I wish you back to Sheffield-Place. The health of dear Louisa is doubtless the first object; but I did not expect Brighton after Tunbridge. Whenever dear little aunt is separate from you, I shall certainly write to her; but at present how is it possible? Ever yours.

I MUST at length withdraw the veil before my state of health, though the naked truth may alarm you more than a fit of the gout. Have you never observed, through my inexpressibles, a large prominency circa genitalia, which, as it was not at all painful, and very little troublesome, I had strangely neglected for many years? But since my departure from Sheffield-Place it has [Page 291] increased, (most stupendously,) is increasing, and ought to be diminished. Yesterday I sent for Farquhar, who is allowed to be a very skilful surgeon. After viewing and palping, he very seriously desired to call in assistance, and has examined it again to-day with Mr. Cline, a surgeon, as he says, of the first eminence. They both pronounce it a hydrocele, (a collection of water,) which must be let out by the operation of tapping; but, from its magnitude and long neglect, they think it a most extraordinary case, and wish to have another surgeon, Dr. Bayley, present. If the business should go off smoothly, I shall be delivered from my burthen, (it is almost as big as a small child,) and walk about in four or five days with a truss. But the medical gentlemen, who never speak quite plain, insinuate to me the possibility of an inflammation, of fever, &c. I am not appalled at the thoughts of the operations, which is fixed for Wednesday next, twelve o'clock; but it has occurred to me, that you might wish to be present, before and afterwards, till the crisis was past; and to give you that opportunity, I shall solicit a delay till Thursday, or even Friday. In the mean while, I crawl about with some labour, and much indecency, to Devonshire-House (where I left all the fine Ladies making flannel waistcoats); Lady Lucan's, &c. Adieu. Varnish the business for the Ladies; yet I am afraid it will be public; —the advantage of being notorious. Ever yours.

6.9.

[Page 292] IMMEDIATELY on receiving the last letter, I went the same day from Brighthelmstone to London, and was agreeably surprised to find that Mr. Gibbon had dined at Lord Lucan's, and did not return to his lodgings, where I waited for him, till eleven o'clock at night. Those who have seen him within the last eight or ten years, must be surprised to hear, that he could doubt, whether his disorder was apparent. When he returned to England in 1787, I was greatly alarmed by a prodigious increase, which I always conceived to proceed from a rupture. I did not understand why he, who had talked with me on every other subject relative to himself and his affairs without reserve, should never in any shape hint at a malady so troublesome; but on speaking to his valet de chambre, he told me, Mr. Gibbon could not bear the least allusion to that subject, and never would suffer him to notice it. I consulted some medical persons, who with me supposing it to be a rupture, were of opinion that nothing could be done, and said that he surely must have had advice, and of course had taken all necessary precautions. He now talked freely with me about his disorder; which, he said, began in the year 1761; that he then consulted Mr. Hawkins the surgeon, who did not decide whether it was the beginning of a rupture, or an hydrocele; but he desired to see Mr. Gibbon again when he came to town. Mr. Gibbon not feeling any pain, nor suffering any inconvenience, as he said, never returned to Mr. Hawkins; and although the disorder continued to increase gradually, and of late years very much indeed, he never mentioned it to any person, however incredible it may appear, from 1761 to November 1793. I told him, that I had always supposed there was no doubt of its being a rupture; his answer was, that he never thought so, and that he, and the surgeons who attended him, [Page 293] were of opinion that it was an hydrocele. It is now certain that it was originally a rupture, and that an hydrocele had lately taken place in the same part; and it is remarkable, that his legs, which had been swelled about the ankle, particularly one of them, since he had the erisipelas in 1790, recovered their former shape as soon as the water appeared in another part, which did not happen till between the time he left Sheffield-Place, in the beginning of October, and his arrival at Althorpe, towards the latter end of that month. On the Thursday following the date of his last letter, Mr. Gibbon was tapped for the first time; four quarts of a transparent watery fluid were discharged by that operation. Neither inflammation nor fever ensued; the tumour was diminished to nearly half its size; the remaining part was a soft irregular mass. I had been with him two days before, and I continued with him above a week after the first tapping, during which time he enjoyed his usual spirits; and the three medical gentlemen who attended him will recollect his pleasantry, even during the operation. He was abroad again in a few days, but the water evidently collecting very fast, it was agreed that a second puncture should be made a fortnight after the first. Knowing that I should be wanted at a meeting in the country, he pressed me to attend it, and promised that soon after the second operation was performed he would follow me to Sheffield-Place; but before he arrived I received the two following Letters:

THOUGH Farquhar has promised to write you a line, I conceive you may not be sorry to hear directly from me. The operation of yesterday was much longer, more searching, and more painful than the former; but it has eased and lightened me to a much [Page 294] greater degree*. No inflammation, no fever, a dilicious night, leave to go abroad to-morrow, and to go out of town when I please, en attendant the future measures of a radical cure. If you hold your intention of returning next Saturday to Sheffield-Place, I shall probably join you about the Tuesday following, after having passed two nights at Beckenham. The Devons are going to Bath, and the hospitable Craufurd follows them. I passed a delightful day with Burke; an odd one with Monsignore Erskine, the Pope's Nuncio. Of public news, you and the papers know more than I do. We seem to have strong sea and land hopes; nor do I dislike the Royalists having beaten the Sans Culottes, and taken Dol. How many minutes will it take to guillotine the seventy-three new members of the convention, who are now arrested? Adieu; ever yours.

IT will not be in my power to reach Sheffield-Place quite so soon as I wished and expected. Lord Auckland informs me, that he shall be at Lambeth next week, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. I have therefore agreed to dine at Beckenham on Friday. Saturday will be spent there, and unless some extraordinary temptation should detain me another day, you will see me by four o'clock Sunday the ninth of December. I dine to-morrow with the Chancellor at Hampstead, and, what I do not like at this time of the year, without a proposal to stay all night. Yet I would not refuse, more especially as I had denied him on a former day. My health is good; but I shall have a final interview with Farquhar before I leave town. We are still in darkness about Lord Howe and the French ships, but hope seems to preponderate. Adieu. Nothing that relates to Louisa can be forgotten. Ever yours.

6.12.

[Page 295] Mr. Gibbon generally took the opportunity of passing a night or two with his friend Lord Auckland, at Eden-Farm, (ten miles from London,) on his passage to Sheffield-Place; and notwithstanding his indisposition, he had lately made an excursion thither from London; when he was much pleased by meeting the Archbishop of Canterbury, of whom he expressed an high opinion. He returned to London, to dine with Lord Loughborough, to meet Mr. Burke, Mr. Windham, and particularly Mr. Pitt, with whom he was not acquainted; and in his last journey to Sussex, he revisited Eden-Farm, and was much gratified by the opportunity of again seeing, during a whole day, Mr. Pitt, who passed the night there. From Lord Auckland's, Mr. Gibbon proceeded to Sheffield-Place; and his discourse was never more brilliant, nor more entertaining, than on his arrival. The parallels he drew, and the comparisons he made, between the leading men of this country, were sketched in his best manner, and were infinitely interesting. However, this last visit to Sheffield-Place became far different from any he had ever made before. That ready, cheerful, various, and illuminating conversation, which we had before admired in him, was not now always to be found in the library or the dining-room. He moved with difficulty, and retired from company sooner than he had been used to do. On the twenty-third of December, his appetite began to fail him. He observed to me, that it was a very bad sign with him when he could not eat his breakfast, which he had done at all times very heartily; and this seems to have been the strongest expression of apprehension that the was ever observed to utter. A considerable degree of fever now made its appearance. Inflammation arose, from the weight and the bulk of the tumour. Water again collected very fast, and when the sever went off, he never entirely recovered his appetite [Page 296] even for breakfast. I became very uneasy indeed at his situation towards the end of the month, and thought it necessary to advise him to set out for London. He had before settled his plan to arrive there about the middle of January. I had company in the house, and we expected one of his particular friends; but he was obliged to sacrifice all social pleasure to the immediate attention which his health required. He went to London on the seventh of January, and the next day I received the following billet; the last he ever wrote:

THIS date says every thing. I was almost killed between Sheffield-Place and East-Grinsted, by hard, frozen, long, and cross ruts, that would disgrace the approach of an Indian wig-wam. The rest was something less painful; and I reached this place halfdead, but not seriously feverish, or ill. I found a dinner invitation from Lord Lucan; but what are dinners to me? I wish they did not know of my departure. I catch the flying post. What an effort! Adieu, till Thursday or Friday.

6.14.

By his own desire, I did not follow him till Thursday the ninth. I then found him far from well. The tumour more distended than before, inflamed, and ulcerated in several places. Remedies were applied to abate the inflammation; but it was not thought proper to puncture the tumour for the third time, till Monday the 13th of January, when no less than six quarts of fluid were discharged. He seemed much relieved by the evacuation. His spirits continued good. He talked, as usual, of passing his time at houses which he [Page 297] had often frequented with great pleasure, the Duke of Devonshire's, Mr. Craufurd's, Lord Spenser's, Lord Lucan's, Sir Ralph Payne's, and Mr. Batt's; and when I told him that I should not return to the country, as I had intended, he pressed me to go; knowing I had an engagement there on public business, he said, ‘you may be back on Saturday, and I intend to go on Thursday to Devonshire-House.’ I had not any apprehension that his life was in danger, although I began to fear that he might not be restored to a comfortable state, and that motion would be very troublesome to him; but he talked of a radical cure. He said, that it was fortunate the disorder had shewn itself while he was in England, where he might procure the best assistance; and if a radical cure could not be obtained before his return to Lausanne, there was an able surgeon at Geneva, who could come to tap him when it should be necessary.

On Tuesday the fourteenth, when the risk of inflammation and fever from the last operation was supposed to be over, as the medical gentlemen who attended him expressed no fears for his life, I went that afternoon part of the way to Sussex, and the following day reached Sheffield-Place. The next morning, the sixteenth, I received by the post a good account of Mr. Gibbon, which mentioned also that he hourly gained strength. In the evening came a letter by express, dated noon that day, which acquainted me that Mr. Gibbon had had a violent attack the preceding night, and that it was not probable he should live till I could come to him. I reached his lodgings in St. James's-street about midnight, and learned that my friend had expired a quarter before one o'clock that day, the sixteenth of January 1794.

After I left him on Tuesday afternoon the fourteenth, he saw some company, Lady Lucan and Lady Spenser, and thought himself well enough at night to omit the opium draught, which he had been used to take for some time. He slept very indifferently; before nine the [Page 298] next morning he rose, but could not eat his breakfast. However, he appeared tolerably well, yet complained at times of a pain in his stomach. At one o'clock he received a visit of an hour from Madame de Sylva, and at three, his friend, Mr. Craufurd, of Auchinames, (whom he always mentioned with particular regard,) called, and stayed with him till past five o'clock. They talked, as usual, on various subjects; and twenty hours before his death, Mr. Gibbon happened to fall into a conversation, not uncommon with him, on the probable duration of his life. He said, that he thought himself a good life for ten, twelve, or perhaps twenty years. About six, he ate the wing of a chicken, and drank three glasses of Madeira. After dinner he became very uneasy and impatient; complained a good deal, and appeared so weak, that his servant was alarmed. Mr. Gibbon had sent to his friend and relation, Mr. Robert Darell, whose house was not far distant, desiring to see him, and adding, that he had something particular to say. But, unfortunately, this desired interview never took place.

During the evening he complained much of his stomach, and of a disposition to vomit. Soon after nine, he took his opium draught, and went to bed. About ten, he complained of much pain, and desired that warm napkins might be applied to his stomach. He almost incessantly expressed a sense of pain till about four o'clock in the morning, when he said he found his stomach much easier. About seven, the servant asked, whether he should send for Mr. Farquhar? he answered, no; that he was as well as he had been the day before. At about half past eight, he got out of bed, and said he was "plus adroit" than he had been for three months past, and got into bed again, without assistance, better than usual. About nine, he said that he would rise. The servant, however, persuaded him to remain in bed till Mr. Farquhar, who was expected at eleven, should come. Till about that hour he spoke with great facility. Mr. Farquhar [Page 299] came at the time appointed, and he was then visibly dying. When the valet de chambre returned, after attending Mr. Farquhar out of the room, Mr. Gibbon said, "Pourquoi est ce que vous me quittez?" This was about half past eleven. At twelve, he drank some brandy and water from a tea-pot, and desired his favourite servant to stay with him. These were the last words he pronounced articulately. To the last he preserved his senses; and when he could no longer speak, his servant having asked a question, he made a sign, to shew that he understood him. He was quite tranquil, and did not stir; his eyes half-shut. About a quarter before one, he ceased to breathe*.

[Page 300] The valet de chambre observed, that Mr. Gibbon did not, at any time, shew the least sign of alarm, or apprehension of death; and it does not appear that he ever thought himself in danger, unless his desire to speak to Mr. Darell may be considered in that light.

Perhaps I dwell too long on these minute and melancholy circumstances. Yet the close of such a life can hardly fail to interest every reader; and I know that the public has received a different and erroneous account of my friend's last hours.

I can never cease to feel regret that I was not by his side at this awful period: a regret so strong, that I can express it only by borrowing (as the eloquent Mr. Mason has done on a similar occasion) the forcible language of Tacitus: Mihi praeter acerbitatem amici erepti, auget moestitiam quod assidere valetudini, fovere deficientem, satiari vultu, complexu non contigit. It is some consolation to me, that I have not, like Tacitus, by a long absence, anticipated the loss of my friend several years before his decease. Although I had not the mournful gratification of being near him on the day he expired, yet during his illness I had not failed to attend him with that assiduity which his genius, his virtues, and, above all, our long, uninterrupted, and happy friendship demanded.

7. POSTSCRIPT.

[Page 301]

MR. Gibbon's Will is dated the 1st of October 1791, just before I left Lausanne; he distinguishes me, as usual, in the most flattering manner:

‘I constitute and appoint the Right Honourable John Lord Sheffield, Edward Darell Esquire, and John Thomas Batt Esquire, to be the Executors of this my last Will and Testament; and as the execution of this trust will not be attended with much difficulty or trouble, I shall indulge these gentlemen, in the pleasure of this last disinterested service, without wronging my feelings, or oppressing my heir, by too light or too weighty a testimony of my gratitude. My obligations to the long and active friendship of Lord Sheffield, I could never sufficiently repay.’

He then observes, that the Right Hon. Lady Eliot, of Port-Eliot, is his nearest relation on the father's side; but that her three sons are in such prosperous circumstances, that he may well be excused for making the two children of his late uncle, Sir Stanier Porten, his heirs; they being in a very different situation. He bequeaths annuities to two old servants, three thousand pounds, and his furniture, plate, &c. at Lausanne, to Mr. Wilhelme de Severy; one hundred guineas to the poor of Lausanne, and fifty guineas each to the following persons: Lady Sheffield and daughters, Maria and Louisa, Madame and Madamoiselle de Severy, the Count de Schomberg, Mademoiselle la Chanoinesse de Polier, and M. le Ministre Le Vade, for the purchase of some token which may remind them of a sincere friend. The remains of Mr. Gibbon were deposited in Lord Sheffield's family burial-place in Sussex.

8. APPENDIX.

[Page]

[Page 305] THE Letters of Mr. Gibbon, from the time of his return to Switzerland in 1788, are annexed to his Memoirs, as the best continuation of them. Among his Letters of an earlier date, I find several which he has alluded to, and other which will illustrate the account he has given of himself. These, I flatter myself, will please the generality of readers; since, when he touches on matters of private business, even subjects of the driest nature become interesting, from his mode of treating them. Many Letters from distinguished persons to him will be introduced, and some that he received at a very early period of life. Although we have not all his own Letters to which these were answers, yet we have enough to testify his ambition, even in youth, to be distinguished as a scholar.

It has been sometimes thought necessary to offer to the Public an apology for the publication of private Letters. I have no scruple to say, that I publish these, because I think they place my friend in an advantageous point of view. He might not, perhaps, have expected that all his Letters should be printed; but I have no reason to believe that he would have been averse to the publication of any. If I had, they never would have been made public, however highly I might have conceived of their excellence.

[Page]

9.1.1. M. CREVIER à M. GIBBON.

MONSIEUR,

JE ne puis qu'être très sensible aux témoignages d'estime dont vous voulez bien me combler, quoique je sois fort éloigné de les prendre à la lettre, et de me regarder comme un oracle. Mais je suis homme vrai, et par la même qui aime à profiter des lumières que l'on a la bonté de me communiquer. Ainsi, Monsieur, je reçois avec toute la satisfaction possible l'ingénieuse conjecture que vous proposez, pour [Page 308] l'éclaircissement d'un passage de Tite Live sur lequel je m'avois su qu'être embarassé. J'adopte toutes vos observations, tous vos raisonnemens. Par le changement d'une seule lettre, vous substituez à un sens louche et obscur, une pensée claire, convenable au caractère de celui qui parle, et bien liée avec tout le reste du discours. Je ne manquerai pas d'en faire une note, et de me servir de cette judicieuse correction, si l'occasion s'en présente, en prenant soin d'en faire honneur à celui à qui je la dois.

J'ajouterai sculement une remarque de peu de conséquence, mais qui me paroît nécessaire pour donner toute sa perfection à la phrase, sur laquelle vous avez travaillé si heureusement. Voici la phrase avec le changement que vous proposez. Nec esse in vos otio vestro consultum ab Romanis credatis. Or in vos ne me paroît point s'accorder avec otio vestro. L'expression in vos semble marquer quelque chose qui doit être contraire au bien des Carthaginois, et qui par conséquence s'allie mal avec l'idée de leur repos. Ainsi au lieu de ces mots in vos j'aimerois mieux lire in his. Alors la phrase sera [Page 309] completement bonne. Nec esse in his otio vestro consultum ab Romanis credatis. ‘Ne pensez pas que dans ces mesures que prennent les Romains, pour vous ôter toutes vos forces, et en vous interdisant la guerre avec l'étranger, ils aient eu pour objet votre tranquillité et votre repos.’

Il ne me reste plus, Monsieur, qu'à vous remercier de la bonté que vous avez eu de me faire part d'une idée aussi heureuse. Ce seroit une grande joie pour moi si je reçevois souvent de pareils secours sur tout ce que j'ai donné au public.

J'ai l'honneur d'être, avec bien de la reconnoissance et de respect, &c.

CREVIER.

9.1.2. [TRANSLATION.]
Mr. CREVIER to Mr. GIBBON.

[Page]

SIR,

I AM extremely obliged by your expressions of esteem, without taking them in the literal sense, and believing myself an oracle. But I am a lover of truth and sincerity, and always ready to avail myself of the communications of my learned friends. With the greatest pleasure, therefore, I received [Page 308] your ingenious conjecture illustrating a passage of Livy, by which I had been puzzled. I adopt all your observations and reasonings. By changing a single letter, you substitute, instead of an aukward and obscure meaning, a thought perspicuous in itself, suitable to the character of the speaker, and connected with the purport of his discourse. I shall not fail noticing this judicious correction, when an opportunity occurs, and mentioning the name of the person to whom I am indebted for it.

I will add only one remark, of small importance indeed, but necessary for giving complete correctness to the passage with which your attention has been so successfully occupied. With your emendation it runs thus: Nec esse in vos otio vestro consultum ab Romanis credatis. The in vos does not appear to me to correspond well with otio vestro; since it seems to indicate something adverse to the interest of the Carthaginians, and therefore does not accord well with the idea of their tranquillity. Instead of the words in vos I would read in his; which would render the passage perfectly correct. Nec esse [Page 309] in his otio vestro consultum ab Romanis credatis. ‘Do not believe that the Romans, when they deprive you of your forces, and forbid you to make war on foreign nations, mean thereby to promote your tranquillity.’

It remains only, Sir, that I should thank you for your goodness in communicating to me so happy a thought. It would give me the greatest pleasure to be frequently favoured with such assistance in my literary labours.

I have the honour to remain, with much gratitude and respect,

Yours, &c. CREVIER.

[Page 310]

9.2.1. M. ALLAMAND à Mr. GIBBON.

MONSIEUR,

À PRESENT queme voilà échappé de l'orage des fonctions publiques donc cette église est chargée en tems de fête, je saisis avec joie quelques momens de repos pour m'entretenir, Monsieur, avec vous: ce sera, s'il vous plait, sans faire de trop grands efforts sur l'article des idées innées que vous me proposez. Outre que je risquerois de dire comme je ne sais quelle des interlocutrices de Terence, Magno conatu magnas nugas; il y a fort long tems que je n'ai relu M. Locke, l'oracle moderne sur cette matière, et il faudroit trop de tems et de papier pour tout éplucher. Ayez donc la bonté de vous contenter des premières réflexions qui se présenteront sur quelques endroits de son premier livre.

[Page 311] Je commence par le chap. i. § 5. où cet habile homme entreprend de prouver que ces deux principes, Ce qui est, est; il est impossible qu'une même chose soit, et en même temps ne soit pas, ne sont point innées, puisqu'ils n'étoient point dans l'esprit pendant l'enfance; et la preuve qu'ils n'y étoient pas, c'est que l'enfant n'y pensoit point, et que bien des gens meurent, sans les avoir jamais apperçus; ‘or, dit M. Locke, une idée ne sauroit être dans l'esprit, sans que l'esprit ne s'en apperçoive,’ &c.

Il est clair, Monsieur, que toute la force de ce raisonnement, est dans cette dernière assertion; mais cette assertion n'est elle pas evidemment détruite par l'expérience? Apperçevez vous actuellement toutes les idées que vous avez dans l'esprit? N'y en a t'il point auquelles vous ne prendrez peutêtre garde de plusieurs années? Et dans les efforts que l'on fait souvent pour rappeller ce qu'on a confié à sa mémoire; ne sent on pas qu'il peut y avoir des connoissances si cachées dans ses replis, que loin de les apperçevoir sans cesse, il faut bien de la peine pour les rattrapper? Je sais que M. Locke, qui a [Page 312] senti la difficulté, tache de la résoudre. Ch. iii. § 20. Mais en vérité, la longueur et l'embarras de cet article montre assez que M. L. n'étoit par à son aise en l'écrivant; et comment y auroit il été? Voici, autant que j'en puis juger, à quoi il se réduit. Il avoue, ‘Que nous avons dans l'esprit des idées que nous n'apperçevons point actuellement; mais, dit-il, c'est dans la mémoire qu'elles sont: et cela est si vrai, qu'on ne se les rappelle point sans se souvenir, en même temps, qu'on les a déjà apperçues. Or, tel n'est point le cas des idées qu'on pretend innées. Quand on les apperçoit pour la première fois, ce n'est point avec réminiscence, comme on devroit, si ces idées là avoient été dans l'esprit avant cette première apperception, &c.’

De grâce, Monsieur, croyez vous que M. Locke s'entendit bien lui même, quand il distinguoit etre dans l'esprit et etre dans la mémoire? Et qu'importe à la question, qu'on se souvienne d'avoir déjà su ce que l'on se rappelle, s'il n'en est pas moins vrai qu'on l'a eu long temps dans l'esprit sans s'en apperçevoir; ce qui est le point [Page 313] dont il s'agit? Au reste, M. Locke auroit pu sentir que si l'on ne se rappelle point les idées innées par réminiscence, e'est qu'elles ne sont point entrées dans l'esprit d'une manière qui ait exigé, ou attiré son attention. Et c'est aussi le cas de plusieurs idées acquises; car, quoiqu'en dire M. Locke, chacun se trouve au besoin, nombre d'idées qui ne peuvent s'être insinuées dans son esprit, qu'à la présence de certains objets, auquels il n'a point pris garde, ou, en général, par des moyens inconnus, qui l'ont enrichi sans qu'il sache comment, et sans qu'il crût les avoir jusques au moment qu'elles se sont présentées.

Sur le fond même de la question, il me semble que M. Locke confond perpétuellement deux choses très différentes. L'idée elle même, qui est une connoissance dans l'esprit et un principe de raisonnement; et l'énoncé de cette idée en forme de proposition, ou de définition. Il se peut, et il est même très probable, que bien des gens n'ont jamais formé ou envisagé en eux mêmes cet énoncé, [Page 314] il est impossible qu'une chose soit, et ne soit pas en même tems. Voyez Liv. 1. ch. i. § 12. Mais suit-il delà, qu'ils ne connoissent pas la vérité qu'il exprime, et qu'ils n'en ont pas l'idée?—Nullement. Tout homme qui assure, qui nie, tout homme qui parle, un enfant quand il demande, quand il refuse, quand il se plaint, &c. ne suppose t'il pas, que dès qu'une chose est, il est impossible qu'en même tems. elle ne soit pas? Ne trouvez vous pas, Monsieur, qu'on pourroit soutenir la réalité des idées innées, précisément sur ce que M. Locke allégue contre elles, que beaucoup de gens n'ont jamais pensé aux propositions évidentes dont il parle; car, puisque sans y avoir pensé, ils s'en servent, ils bâtissent là dessus, ils jugent de la vérité, ou de l'absurdité d'un discours par ses rapports avec ces principes là, &c. D'où leur vient cette familiarité avec des principes qu'ils n'ont jamais appercçus distinctement, si ce n'est de ce qu'ils en ont une connoissance, ou si l'on veut, un sentiment naturel?

Aux § 17 et 18, M. Locke nei que le consentement que l'on donne à certaines propositions, dès qu'on les entend prononcer, soit [Page 315] une preuve que l'idée qu'elles expriment soit innée; et il se fonde, sur ce qu'il y a bien des propositions que l'on reçoit ainsi d'abord, qui certainement ne sont point innées; et il en donne divers exemples, viz. deux & deux sont quotre, &c. Mais ne vous paroîtra t'il pas qu'il confond içi de simples définitions de mots avec des vérités évidentes par elles mêmes? Au moins, est il certain que tous ses exemples sont de simples définitions des mots, deux et deux sont quatre. L'idée qu'on exprime par deux et deux, est la même que celle qu'on exprime par quatre, &c. Or personne ne dit que la connoissance d'une définition de mots soit innée, puisqu'elle suppose celle du langage. Mais cette proposition, le tout est plus grand que chacune de ses parties, n'est point dans ce cas; et il est certain que le plus petit enfant suppose la vérité de cette proposition toutes les fois que non content d'une moitié de pomme, il veut la pomme toute entière.

Prenez la peine, Monsieur, d'examiner le § 23; où M. Locke veut convaincre de fausseté cette supposition, qu'il y a des principes tellement innés, que ceux qui en entendent pour la première fois, et [Page 316] qui en comprennent l'énoncé, n'apprennent rien de nouveau. ‘Premièrement, dit-il, il est clair qu'ils ont appris les termes de l'énoncé et la signification de ces termes.’ Mais qui ne voit que M. Locke sort de la question? Personne n'a jamais dit que des termes, qui ne sont que des signes arbitraires de nos idées, fussent innés. Il ajoute, ‘Que les idées renfermées dans de pareils énoncés ne naissent pas plus avec nous, que leurs expressions, et qu'on acquiert ces idées dans la suite après en avoir appris les noms.’ Mais, 1. N'est ce pas donner pour preuve de ce qu'on affirme, cette affirmation même? Il n'y a point d'idées innées, car il n'y en a que d'acquises! M. Locke riroit bien d'un pareil raisonnement, s'il le trouvoit dans ses adversaires. 2. S'il est vrai qu'on apprend les mots avant que d'avoir les idées qu'ils expriment, au moins s'il est vrai que cela soit toujours ainsi, comme M. Locke l'entend, je voudrois bien savoir comment la première langue a pu être formée? Et même comment il est possible qu'on fasse comprendre à quelqu'un le sens d'un mot nouveau pour lui? Tout homme qui n'a nulle idée de l'ordre, par [Page 317] exemple, doit aussi peu être capable d'entendre ce mot ordre, qu'un aveugle né celui de couleur.

Au § 27, M. Locke nie les idées innées, parcequ'elles ne paroîssent ni dans les enfans, ni dans les imbécilles, où elles devroient paroître le plus. Mais, 1. Ceux qui admettent les idées innées, ne les croyent pas plus naturelles à l'ame, que ses facultes; puis donc que l'état et la constitution du corps nuit à celles-ci dans les imbécilles, elle sera aussi cause qu'on ne leur remarque point les autres. 2. Le fait même n'est pas entièrement vrai; les enfans et les imbécilles ont l'idée de leur existence, de leur individualité, de leur identité, &c.

Dans le reste de ce §, M. Locke se divertit au depens de ceux qui croyent que les énoncés des maximes abstraites sont innées: mais les plus déterminés scholastiques n'ont jamais rien dit de semblable, et il rit d'une chimère qu'il s'est faite lui même.

Je ne sais, Monsieur, comment il est arrivé qu'au lieu de trois ou quatre courtes réflexions que j'aurois du vous donner sur tout ceci, [Page 318] je me suis engagé dans une critique longue et ennuyeuse, de quelques endroits d'un seul chapitre: c'est apparemment un reste de lassitude: j'ai trouvé plus de facilité à suivre et à chicaner M. Locke qu'à penser tout seul. Prenez patience et pardonnez. J'entrevois bien des choses à dire sur le second chapitre, où il s'agit des principes innés de pratique; mais je ne vous en fatiguerai qu'après en avoir reçu l'aveu de vous même.

On écrit içi, que le Roi de Prusse vient de battre les Autrichiens et de leur tuer 20 mille hommes, en ayant perdu 15 mille des siens. Voilà donc où il alloit en passant par Leipsic. Si cette nouvelle est vraie, la guerre ne fauroit manquer de devenir générale, et de l'air qu'elle commence, elle sera terrible: mais je crains bien que sa M. P. n'ait le sort de Charles XII. Qui le soutiendra contre la France, l'Autriche, et peutêtre, la Russie reunies?

J'ai l'honneur d'être, avec une parfaite considération, Monsieur, &c.

ALLAMAND.

9.2.2. Mr. ALLAMAND to Mr. GIBBON.

[Page 310]

SIR,

AFTER escaping from the tumult of public functions, in which the ministers of this church are employed during the holydays, I sit down with much pleasure to converse with you a few minutes on paper; without intending to make any very violent exertion in answering the questions concerning innate ideas, which you propose for my consideration. I am not willing to risk the being obliged to say, with one of Terence's characters, Magno conatu magnas nugas; besides, it is long since I looked into Locke, the modern oracle on that subject; and too much time and paper would be requisite completely to canvass so intricate a subject. You will have the goodness, therefore, to be contented with the first reflections that occur to me on some passages of his first book.

[Page 311] In chapter. i. § 5. that able writer undertakes to prove that the axioms, ‘Whatever is, is;’ and ‘It is impossible for the same thing to be and not to be at the same time;’ are not innate; because children are totally ignorant of them, as appears from their never taking notice of them; and many persons die without ever perceiving the truth of these axioms; ‘but it is impossible,’ Mr. Locke observes, ‘for an idea to be in the mind, which the mind never takes notice of.’ It is plain that the whole weight of his reasoning rests on this last assertion; which assertion itself seems to be manifestly contradicted by experience. Do you perceive, Sir, at this moment all the ideas that are in your mind? Are there not some of them which you may not, perhaps, take notice of for many years? In the efforts which we make to recall things to the memory, are we not sensible that some ideas may be so deeply hidden in its recesses, that instead of continually perceiving them, we have no small trouble in bringing them back to our remembrance? I know that Mr. Locke, [Page 312] c. iii. § 20, endeavours to obviate these objections; but the length and perplexity of that article shews that he was not at ease in writing it. How indeed could he be so? since, as far as I am able to judge, the following is the result of his argument: ‘I confess that we have ideas in the mind, of which we are not conscious; but then these ideas are in the memory; as appears from this, that we never recall them without remembering that they formerly were objects of our perception. But this is not supposed to hold with regard to what are called innate ideas. When these are perceived for the first time, it is not with reminiscence, which would certainly be the case if they had been in the mind before this first perception of them, &c.’

Be pleased to tell me, Sir, whether you think that Mr. Locke himself will understood the distinction which he makes between being in the mind, and being in the memory? And of what importance is it, that we remember to have formerly had the recalled ideas, provided it be allowed that we had [Page 313] them long, without taking any notice of them, which is the point in question? Besides, Mr. Locke ought to have known that innate ideas are not recalled with reminiscence, because those ideas come originally into the mind in a way that neither excites nor requires our attention; for whatever Mr. Locke may say, every one may be sensible from his own experience, that many even of his acquired ideas could not have come into his mind independently of the presence of certain objects of which he had never taken any notice; or, in general, independently of certain unknown causes, which enriched him, without his being sensible of it, with ideas that he did not believe himself possessed of, till they actually presented themselves to his understanding.

As to the main question, Mr. Locke seems to me perpetually to confound two things extremely different; the idea itself, which is a perception of the mind, and a principle of reasoning; and the expression of that idea in the form of a proposition or definition. It is possible, nay, very probable, that many persons have never formed, or thought of the proposition, ‘It [Page 314] is impossible for the same thing to be and not to be at the same time.’ See Locke, b. i. c. 1. § 12. But does it follow from this, that they are ignorant of the truth expressed by these words? By no means. Every man who affirms, denies, or speaks; a child who asks, refuses, or complains, must know the truth of this proposition. Does it not appear to you, Sir, that the doctrine of innate ideas may be defended on the same principle by which Mr. Locke attacks it; namely, that many persons have never thought of the propositions or descriptions by which they are expressed? For if without ever having thought of those propositions, they make use of them in their reasonings, and employ them in judging of the justness or absurdity of every discourse which they hear, how could they be so familiar with principles which they never distinctly took notice of, unless they had a natural knowledge or innate perception of them?

In paragraphs 17 and 18, Mr. Locke denies that our consenting to certain propositions at first hearing them, is a proof that the ideas expressed by them [Page 315] are innate; since many propositions, thus assented to, evidently express ideas that had been acquired, for example, two and two make four, &c. But does it not appear to you, that he here confounds the definition of words with self-evident truths? at least, all the examples which he gives are mere definitions. The idea expressed by two and two is precisely the same with the idea of four. Nobody says that our knowledge of the definitions of words is innate, because that would imply language to be so. But the knowledge of this truth, that the whole is greater than its part, does not imply that supposition, since an infant shews itself acquainted with this principle, when, dissatisfied with the half of an apple, it indicates its desire to possess the whole.

Take the trouble, Sir, to examine § 23; in which Mr. Locke endeavours to disprove the assertion, that there are some principles so truly innate, that those who hear them expressed in words for the first time, immediately comprehend [Page 316] them without learning any thing new. ‘First of all,’ he observes, ‘it is clear they must have learned the terms of the expression, and the meaning of those terms.’ But here Mr. Locke manifestly departs from the question. Nobody says that words, which are merely arbitrary signs of our ideas, are innate. He adds, ‘that the ideas denoted by these expressions are no more born with us than the expressions themselves, and that we acquire the ideas after first learning the terms by which they are expressed.’ But, 1. Is not this to take for granted the thing to be proved? There are no innate ideas, for all ideas are acquired. Mr. Locke would laugh at his adversaries, were they to make use of such an argument. 2. If words are learned before ideas, at least if that is always the case, as Mr. Locke understands it to be, I would be glad to know how the first language could have been formed, or how it could be possible to communicate to any one the meaning of a word altogether new to him? A person who had no idea [Page 317] of order, for example, would be no more capable of understanding the word order, than a man born blind could understand the word colour.

In paragraph 27, Mr. Locke denies innate ideas, because they are not found in children and idiots, in whom we ought most to expect meeting with them. I answer, 1. Those who admit innate ideas, do not believe them more natural to the mind than its faculties; and as the state and constitution of the body disturbs the faculties of idiots, the same cause may hinder them from showing any signs of innate ideas. 2. The fact is not strictly true. Even idiots and infants have the idea of their existence, individuality, identity, &c.

In the remainder of that paragraph, Mr. Locke diverts himself with the absurdity of those who believe the expressions of abstract maxims to be innate; but the most determined scholastic never maintained any such opinion; and he combats a chimera which is the work of his own fancy.

I know not how it has happened that, instead of a few general reflections which I intended, I have sent you a long and tiresome criticism on some [Page 318] passages of a single chapter. The remains of lassitude, probably, made it easier for me to follow and dispute with Mr. Locke, than to think and reason alone. Have patience, and pardon me. There are many remarks to make on the second chapter where he treats of innate practical principles. But I will not tire you with that subject, unless you desire it.

Our newspapers say, that the King of Prussia has beat the Austrians, and killed twenty thousand of their men; with the loss of fifteen thousand of his own. This was the object he had in view when he passed through Leipsick. If the news be true, the war must become general; and, according to appearances, it will be terrible. But I much fear lest his Prussian Majesty meet with the fate of Charles XII. What are his resources for defence against the united strength of France and Austria, and perhaps of Russia?

I have the honour to be, with the most perfect consideration, yours, &c.

ALLAMAND.

[Page 319]

9.3.1. M. ALLAMAND à M. GIBBON.

MONSIEUR,

JE suis charmé de l'exactitude et de la pénétration qui se disputent le terrein dans la dernière lettre que vous avez pris la peine de m'écrire: et comme vous, Monsieur, je crois que la question touche à sa décision.

Vous avez sans doute raison de dire que les propositions évidentes dont il s'agit, ne sont pas de simples idées, mais des jugemens. Mais ayez aussi la complaisance de reconnoître que M. Locke les alleguant en exemple d'idées qui passent pour innées et qui ne le sont pas selon lui, s'il y a içi de la méprise, c'est lui qu'il faut relever là-dessus, et non pas moi, qui n'avois autre chose à faire qu'à refuter sa manière de raisonner contre l'innéïté de ces idées, ou jugmens là. D'ailleurs, Monsieur, vous remarquerez, s'il vous plait, que dans cette dispute il s'agit en esset, de savoir si certaines vérités évidentes et communes, et non pas seulement certaines idées simples, sont innées ou [Page 320] non. Ceux qui affirment, ne donnent guère pour exemple d'idées simples qui le soyent, que celles de Dieu, de l'unité, et de l'existence: les autres exemples sont pris de propositions completes, que vous appellez jugemens.

Mais, dites vous, y aura t'il donc des jugemens innés? Le jugement est il autre chose qu'un acte de nos facultés intellectuelles dans la comparaison des idées? Le jugement sur les vérités évidentes, n'est il pas une simple vue de ces vérités là, un simple coup d'oeil que l'esprit jette sur elles? J'accorde tout cela. Et de grace, qu'est ce qu'idée? N'est ce pas vue, ou coup d'oeil, si vous voulez? Ceux qui définissent l'idée autrement, ne s'éloignent ils pas visiblement du sens et de l'intention du mot? Dire que les idées sont les especes des choses imprimées dans l'esprit, comme l'image de l'objet sensible tracée dans l'oeil, n'est ce pas jargonner plutôt que définir? Or c'est la faute, qu'ont fait tous les metaphysiciens, et quoique M. Locke l'ait bien sentie, il a mieux aimé se fâcher contre eux, et tirer contre les girouettes de la place, que s'appliquer à démêler ce galimatias. [Page 321] Que n'a-t'il dit: non seulement il n'y a point d'idées innées dans le sens de ces Messieurs; mais il n'y a point d'idées du tout dans ce sens là: toute idée est un acte, une vue, un coup d'oeil de l'esprit. Dès lors demander s'il y a des idées innées, c'est demander s'il y a certaines vérités si évidentes et si communes que tout esprit non stupide puisse naturellement, sans culture et sans maître, sans discussion, sans raisonnement, les reconnoître d'un coup d'oeil, et souvent même sans s'apperçevoir qu'on jette ce coup d'oeil. L'affirmative me paroît incontestable, et selon moi, le question est vuidée par là.

Maintenant prenez garde, Monsieur, que cette manière d'entendre l'affaire, va au but des partisans des idées innées, tout comme la leur; et par la même, contredit M. Locke dans le sien. Car pourquoi voudroit on qu'il y eu des idées innées? C'est pour en opposer la certitude et l'évidence au doute universel des sceptiques, qui est ruiné d'un seul coup, s'il y a des vérités dont la vue soit nécessaire et naturelle à l'homme. Or vous sentez, Monsieur, que je puis [Page 322] leur dire cela dans ma façon d'expliquer la chose, tout aussi bien que les partisans ordinaires des idées innées dans la leur. Et voilà ce qui semble incommoder un peu M. Locke, qui, sans se declarer pyrrhonien, laisse apperçevoir un peu trop de foible pour le pyrrhonisme, et a beaucoup contribué à le nourrir dans ce siècle. A force de vouloir marquer les bornes de nos connoissances, ce qui étoit fort nécessaire, il a quelquefois tout mis en bornes.

Après ces remarques générales sur le fond de la question, il est peu nécessaire de s'arrêter à quelques particulières, où vous ne me croyez pas fondé. Cependant vous me permettrez de vous faire observer sur celles que vous relevez: 1. Que dans ce § 5. du ch. 1. il est bien vrai que M. Locke mêle ces deux choses, être actuellement dans l'esprit, sans que l'esprit s'en apperçoive—et, y être, sans qu'il s'en soit jamais apperçu.—Mais il est certain aussi, qu'à la conclusion de ce §, il s'en tient au premier incognito, et donne lieu à ma critique en s'exprimant en ces termes. Je suis la traduction Françoise n'ayant pas l'original. ‘De sorte, dit-il, que soutenir qu'une chose soit dans l'entendement, et qu'elle n'est pas conçue par l'entendement, [Page 323] qu'elle est dans l'esprit, sans que l'esprit l'apperçoive, c'est autant que si l'on disoit, qu'une chose est, et n'est pas dans l'esprit ou dans l'entendement.’ N'est il pas clair, Monsieur, que ce grand philosophe, écrivant cela, étoit dans l'erreur, ou la méprise de fait que je prends la liberté de lui reprocher; c'est que l'esprit ne peut avoir aucune connoissance qu'il ne l'apperçoive actuellement? Je crois bien que si on l'avoit d'abord relevé là-dessus il auroit senti sa méprise, mais il n'en est pas moins vrai, et qu'il y est tombé, et qu'il s'en fait un principe contre ses adversaires.

2. Vous voulez qu'on lui passe sa distinction entre les idées qui sont dans l'esprit et celles qui sont dans la mémoire: à moi ne tienne, pourvu que vous preniez le mot d'idée comme moi; car, en ce sens, une idée est dans l'esprit, lorsque l'esprit envisage actuellement la proposition qui est l'objet de son idée, ou de son coup d'oeil; et elle n'est que dans la mémoire, lorsque l'esprit ayant auparavant jetté ce coup d'oeil sur elle, en a plus de facilité à la réitérer, et en le réitérant, sent que ce n'est pas la première fois qu'il envisage cette [Page 324] proposition là.—Mais si par idées, vous entendez ces especes chimériques, supposées par les métaphysiciens, et autant qu'il m'en souvient, pas assez nettement congédiées par M. Locke, j'en reviens, s'il vous plait, à ma prétension, qu'on ne s'entend pas soi même quand on distingue la mémoire de l'esprit.

Un violent mal de tête que j'ai apporté de notre vénérable classe, ne me permet pas d'étendre davantage cette lettre, et m'empêche de la faire moins courte et plus nette. Je vous prie, Monsieur, de l'excuser telle qu'elle est. Peut être, pénétrant comme vous l'êtes, ne laisserez vous pas d'y entrevoir dequoi prévenir toute difficulté sur les principes innés de pratique: M. Locke me paroît plus fort içi que sur les autres, mais il n'a pas laissé de s'y embarasser un peu par-ci par-là.

Je me faisois une fête de vous voir un moment à Vevay, et j'ai été capot d'être disappointed; si j'entends ce mot de votre langue, le notre n'en a point qui peut dire si bien la même chose. Je n'ai même vu M. Pavillard que dans l'assemblée.

[Page 325] Si la marche de 120 mille Russes n'est pas une fable, que va devenir S. M. Prussienne? Ne croyez vous pas, Monsieur, que nous touchons à de grandes revolutions? Il y a long tems que je soupçonne un plan formé, de réduire le systême général à trois grands empires; celui des François, à l'occident du Rhin, celui d'Autriche à l'orient, et celui des Russes au nord. Il n'y en a pourtant rien dans l'Apocalypse. Qu'on partage la terre comme on voudra, pourvu qu'il y soit toujours permis de croire, que ce qui est, est; et que les contradictoires ne peuvent pas être vraies en même temps. Au reste ces trois empires auroient beau être grands, mésurés à nos toises, ils paroîtroient toujours bien petits, vus seulement depuis la lune, et à quelle hauteur ne s'élevent pas par delà des yeux philosophes.

J'ai l'honneur d'être, avec bien de la considération, Monsieur, &c.

ALLAMAND.

M. de N * * * m'écrit que tout va mieux que jamais, à présent que Madame D. sa nièce est bien malade, et que voilà 200 mille hommes prets à s'égorger pour 5 sols par jour. Il est de mauvaise humeur contre ce tout est bien.

9.3.2. Mr. ALLAMAND to Mr. GIBBON.

[Page 319]

SIR,

I am delighted with your last letter, equally distinguished by accuracy and penetration; and with you, Sir, I believe that the question approaches to its decision.

You are right in saying, that the self-evident propositions, which I mentioned, are not merely ideas, but judgments: yet you will have the goodness to observe, that Mr. Locke having given them as examples of ideas which pass for being innate, but which he does not regard as such, the mistake is chargeable on him, and not on me, who had nothing farther to do than to refute his manner of reasoning. Besides, you will be pleased to remark, that the real question is, whether not only certain ideas, but also [Page 320] certain common and self-evident propositions be innate. The only examples produced of innate ideas are those of God, unity, and existence; the other examples are of innate propositions, which you call judgments.

You ask, whether it be possible that our judgments should be innate, judgment being nothing else but the act of our intellectual faculties in comparing our ideas, and our judgment concerning self-evident truths being merely the perception of those truths by a simple glance of the mind? I grant all that, but would ask, what else is an idea but a glance of the mind? Those who define it otherwise, widely depart from the original sense of the word; and talk unintelligibly, when they say that ideas are species; that is, appearances of things impressed on the mind, as the images of corporeal objects are impressed on the eye. All metaphysicians have committed this mistake; and Mr. Locke, though sensible of it, has chosen in his anger to direct his batteries against the weathercocks, rather than against the building itself. According to the meaning of these metaphysicians, [Page 321] there are surely no innate ideas, because in their sense of the word there are no ideas whatever. An idea is merely an act or perception of the mind: and the question concerning innate ideas is merely to determine, whether certain truths be not so common and so evident, that every mind, not absolutely stupid, must recognize them at a single glance, without the assistance of any teacher, and without the intervention of any discussion or reasoning; and often without being sensible that this glance is cast on them? The affirmative appears to me incontrovertible; and the question thereby is solved.

You will please to remark, that this way of explaining the matter is as favourable to innate ideas, and therefore as opposite to Mr. Locke's doctrine, as the unintelligible hypothesis above mentioned. For what reason do we contend in favour of innate ideas? To oppose evidence and certainty to universal scepticism; whose cause is ruined by proving certain truths to be so necessary and so natural to man, that they are universally recognized by a single glance. This may be proved according to my meaning of the word [Page 322] idea, as well as according to the sense in which this word is vulgarly taken, and the proof would not have been very pleasing to Mr. Locke, who, without professing himself a sceptic, yet shews a leaning to the sceptical side; and whose works have contributed much to the diffusion of scepticism in the present age. His too eager desire of fixing the limits of human knowledge, a thing highly necessary, has made him leave nothing but limits.

After these general observations on the main question, it is not very necessary to descend to the particulars in which you think me mistaken. Yet you will permit me to answer your objections. 1. It is true, that Mr. Locke, § 5. c. 1. joins the two expressions, ‘being in the mind, without being actually perceived by the mind,’ and ‘being in the mind, without having ever been perceived by the mind;’ but at the conclusion of the paragraph he lays himself open to my criticism, by expressing himself as follows: ‘So that to be in the understanding and not to be understood, to be in the mind and [Page 323] never to be perceived, is all one as to say, any thing is and is not in the mind or understanding.’ It is clear, Sir, that this great philosopher erred in writing this passage; maintaining, what I took the liberty to contradict, that nothing could be in the understanding without being perceived to be there. I doubt not that he would have corrected this mistake had it been pointed out to him; but the certainly falls into it, and employs it as a principle of reasoning against his adversaries.

2. You think that we ought to admit his distinction between ‘ideas in the mind,’ and ‘ideas in the memory.’ I admit the distinction with all my heart, provided you take the word idea in the same acceptation as I do. In that sense an idea is in the mind, when the mind actually considers the proposition which is the object of its idea, that is, of its glance or perception; and an idea is in the memory when the mind, having formerly cast that glance on it, finds thereby a greater facility in recalling it, remembering at the same time that it formerly was the object of its perception. But if you understand [Page 324] by ideas these chimerical species, the mere fictions of metaphysicians, and, as it seems to me, not sufficiently disproved by Mr. Locke, I return to my assertion, and maintain that the distinction is unintelligible between ‘being in the mind,’ and ‘being in the memory.’

A violent headach, which I brought with me from our venerable class, hinders me from continuing this letter, or rendering what I have already written shorter and more perspicuous. I intreat you to excuse its imperfections. Your penetration will perhaps discern how all difficulties may be solved concerning innate practical principles. Mr. Locke treats this subject better than he does the others; but in several parts he is somewhat puzzled.

I rejoiced at the hopes of seeing you for a moment at Vevay, and was surprised at being disappointed. If I rightly understand this word of your language, it cannot be well translated into ours. I met with Mr. Pavillard only in the assembly.

[Page 325] If the march of an hundred and twenty thousand Russians is not a fable, what must become of the King of Prussia? Does it not appear to you, that we are threatened with great revolutions? I have long suspected a design of reducing the general system of Europe to three great empires; that of the French on the west of the Rhine, of Austria on the east, and of Russia in the north. Yet we read of nothing of this kind in the Revelation. But let the world be divided as it may, provided it be lawful for us to believe that ‘whatever is, is;’ and ‘that two contradictory propositions cannot both at the same time be true.’ Those three empires will be great only when measured on this earth; viewed but from the moon, they will be small enough; and how far do philosophical eyes soar beyond that luminary!

I have the honour to be, with much consideration, yours, &c. ALLAMAND.

Mr. de N * * * writes to me that things go better and better, now that his niece Madame D. is extremely ill; and that 200,000 men are ready to cut one another's throats at the rate of five sous a day. He is provoked at the maxim, ‘all for the best.’

9.4.1. No IV. M. le Professeur BREITINGER à M. GIBBON à Lausanne.

[Page 326]

EQUIDEM Davus sum, non Oedipus; dicam tamen quid de dubiis e Justino propositis locis mihi videatur.

1. JUSTINUS, libr. ii. c. 3. His igitur Asia per mille quingentos annos vectigalis fuit. Pendendi tributi finem Ninus rex Assyriorum imposuit. Adeo manifestus est calculi error, ut mirum videri possit, hanc lectionem unquam fuisse a quoquam in textum receptam; ita enim Ninus Sesostre mille quingentis annis inferior esset aetate. Orosius, qui Justinum per compendium summa cum fide expressit, haec in hunc modum commemorat. Lib. i. c. 14. Universam quoque Aegyptum (Scythoe) populassent; nisi paludibus impediti, repulsi fuissent. Inde continuo reversi, perdomitam infinitis coedibus Asiam vectigalem fecere: ubi per 15 annos sine pace immorati, tandem uxorum flagitatione [Page 327] revocantur, denunciantium, ni redeant, sobolem se a finitimis quaesituras. Dubium ergo nullum est, quin pro MD. substituendum sit XV. Tu inquiris in causam erroris satis argutè. Sed non potest habere locum illa tua emendatio, per mille in permissa, si quidem notis arithmeticis, quod admodum probabile est, in antiquis libris numeri fuerunt expressi.

2. JUSTIN. libr. xii. c. 8. Itaque coesis hostibus, cum gratulatione in eadem (castra) reverterunt. Frustra mihi sollicitare videris lectionem receptam: gratis enim a te assumitur quod Cuphites ne quidem aggredi fuerint ausi. Alia te docebit fidus Justini interpres Orosius, lib. iii. cap. 19. Cumque ad Chosides ventum esset, ibi contra CC millia equitum hostium pugnam CONSERUERUNT; et cum tam aetate detriti, animo aegri, viribus lassi, difficile VICISSENT, castra ob memoriam plus solito magnifica condiderunt. Itaque non priusquam manus conseruissent, [Page 328] nonnisi post hostes devictos ac caesos, in castra reverterunt. Quid quod ipse Justinus idem haud obscurè innuit, quum ait: Motus his tam justis precibus, velut in finem VICTORIAE, castra fieri jussit quorum molitionibus et hostis TERRERETUR. Quod si vero statuas, Macedonum exercitum infinitis Cuphitarum copiis territum a proelio abstinuisse, atque hoc timore perculsum reditum maturandum esse censuisse, nae ego non intelligo, quo sensu Justinus dixerit: Castra posuisse velut in finem VICTORIAE: posuisse eadem solito magnificentiora ut hostis TERRERETUR: et cum GRATULATIONE in eo revertisse. Ubi et hoc contra Sebisii emendationem notari velim, formulam illam loquendi CUM GRATULATIONE alterum illud, [...], caesis hostiis, jam comprehendere. Adeoque illa tua emendatio omissis hostibus et ab historiae fide et à Justini sententia multum abludit.

3. JUSTIN. lib. xxiii. c. 8. Terrae motu portio montis abrupta Gallorum stravit exercitum, et confertissimi cunei, non sine vulneribus hostium, dissipati ruebant. Ne te offendat durior, quae tibi videtur [Page 329] trajectio vocis hostium qua cum confertissimi cunei, conjungendam censes, atque intelligis de cuneis hostium, sive Gallorum, militaribus. Atque tu, re rite expensa, cognosces, nullam hic trajectionem locum habere, sed omnia naturali ordine fluere: tantum cuneos exponas, non per cohortes hostium militares, sed per moles conglobatas a monte ac rupe avulsas, quae non confertim, sed postquam praecipiti cursu in cuneos dissiluissent, dissipatae ruebant non sine vulneribus hostium, h. e. Gallorum. Ita perspecta erit ac manifesta ratio, cur illud hostium cum consertissimi cunei nec possit, nec debeat conjungi: ne scilicet perperam ad cuneos militares traheretur, adeoque ad vitandam omnem sermonis ambiguitatem.

4. JUSTIN. lib. xxviii. c. 2. Adversus Gallos urbem eos suam tueri non potuisse: captamque non ferro defendisse, sed auro redemisse. Si quidem iste locus medicam manum postularet aut admitteret, non est altera qua uterer libentius quam tua, qua pro captamque restituis capitoliumque. Et frustra Schefferus hic scrupulos movet quasi ineptum fuerit dicere, captam urbem ferro defendi potuisse: id enim, [Page 330] quamvis ignave, factum fuisse memorant historici Romani uno quasi convitio: in illis Orosius, lib. ii. c. 19. Patentem Galli urbem penetrant: en captam urbem Romam! Universam reliquam juventutem in arce Capitolini Montis latitantem OBSIDIONE concludunt: ubique infelices reliquias, fame, peste, desperatione, formidine tenent, subigunt, &c. Vides urbe jam capta, defensioni tamen locum superfuisse; neque profecto redimi urbem opus fuisset, nisi jam in hostium potestate, h. e. capta fuisset. Non videris de eo emendationis tuae incommodo cogitasse, quod capitolium solum auro fuisse redemptum affirmaret, contra historiae fidem.

5. JUSTIN. lib. xxxi. c. 1. Legati primum a senatu Romano missi, ut Antiocho Syriae regi persuaderent, ne bello invadat eas Caele-Syriae civitates, quas Aegyptii priore bello occuparant, quae proinde Aegyptii juris fuerunt, hoc usi sunt argumento, quod hae civitates ad regem pupillum pertinerent, fidei suae traditum. Atque etiam supra Justinus, lib. xxx. c. 3. memorat: Mittitur et M. Lepidus in Aegyptum, [Page 331] qui tutorio nomine regnum pupilli administret. Altera deinde legatio, quae supervenit, postquam Antiochus has civitates in potestatem suam jam redegerat, postulans, ut illae in integrum restituantur, omissa pupilli persona, nunc alio praetextu utitur, nimirum quod istae civitates jure belli factae sint populi Romani. Quid jus belli sit, quatenus ab ipso bello, sive eo quod bello partum est, distinguitur, declarabo duobus locis Livii; altero ex Quinti Flaminini ad Nabidem oratione, lib. xxxiv. c. 32. Quibus igitur amicitia violatur? nempe his duabus rebus maxime: si socios meos pro hostibus habeas: si cum hostibus te conjungas. Utrum non a te factum est? nam et Messenen uno atque eodem jure faederis, quo et Lacedaemonem in amicitiam nostram acceptam, socius ipse sociam nobis urbem vi atque armis cepisti: et cum Philippo hoste nostro societatem... pepigisti. Altero Flori, lib. iii. c. v. Quippe rex non jam quasi alienam, sed quia amiserat, quasi raptam, [Page 332] jure belli repetebat. Ut taceam illud jure belli ad utrumque, potiore tamen sensu ad jubebat restitui in integrum referri posse; statim enim subjicit: abnuenti bellum denunciatum.

6. JUSTIN. libr. xxxi. c. 1. Igitur Senatus scripsit Flaminino, si ei videatur, sicuti Macedoniam a Philippo, ita Graeciam a Nabide liberet. Quid de gloria Flaminini ducis belli Macedonici statuendum sit, docet formula S. C. apud Livium, lib. xxxiii. c. 32. S. P. Q. R. et L. Quintius Imp. Philippo rege, Macedonibusque DEVICTIS, liberos, immunes suis legibus esse jubet Corinthios, &c. Et Florus, lib. ii. c. xii. Successerat Philippo filius Perses, qui SEMEL IN PERPETUUM VICTAM esse Macedoniam non putabat ex gentis dignitate. Quaeritur jam an Quintius, qui Macedoniam vicit, ullo sensu dici possit Macedoniam a Philippo liberasse, quamvis deinde ipsa Macedonia [Page 333] Philippo non fuerit adempta: et si Nabidem pari modo vinceret, an non hoc ipso Graeciam liberasse censendus sit? At vero omnem rem explicasse videtur ipse Justinus, qui, libr. xxx. cap. ult. haec habet: Sed Macedonas Romana fortuna vicit: fractus itaque bello Philippus, pace a Flaminino Cos. petita, nomen quidem regium retinuit; sed omnibus Graeciae urbibus, velut REGNI (MACEDONICI) MEMBRIS, extra terminos antiquae possessionis, amissis, SOLAM Macedoniam retinuit. In literis, ergo, Senatus Rom. ad Cos. Flamininum per Macedoniam significatur, non tantum Macedonia stricte sic dicta, et antiquis terminis comprehensa, quae sola Philippo non fuit adempta; sed in primis ea Graeciae pars (istae urbes), quae extra terminos antiquae possessionis, veluti regni Macedonici membra accesserant, quaeque sub Philippo ad Macedonicum regnum pertinebant; quibus, in senatus literis, opponitur Graecia reliqua, a Nabide tentata, quae hactenus imperio Macedonico nunquam fuerat subjecta. Hinc Senatus Rom. sententia isthaec fuerit: sicuti Macedoniam a Philippo, ita reliquam Graeciam a Nabide liberet. Vel, sicuti partem Graeciae, quae ad [Page 334] Macedoniam pertinebat a Philippo, ita nunc universam pene Graeciam a Nabide liberet.

Quis dixerit?
—Non est sententia; verum est:
Credite me vobis folium recitare Sibyllae!
9.4.1.1.

SINT criticae disciplinae studiosi in solicitandis veterum auctorum locis cautiores, et in legendis ipsis auctoribus diligentiores, atque ita intelligant, quantae diligentiae sit haec critica ars, et quam temere faciant, qui, ut aliquid concoquere non possunt, aut non satis vel analogiae respondens vel dialecticis praeceptiunculis suis conveniens putant, ita mutare sustinent; quae temeritas est, cum a multis, tum a Cel. Burmanno imprimis in praefatione aurea Phaedro praemissa, reprehensa; cujus ego praefationis uti tanquam normam mihi semper propositam habui, ad quam quicquid est hujus facultatis dirigerem, ita lectionem omnibus his vehementer commendatam esse cupio, qui in hoc genere elaborare volunt. His, quae praefiscine dicta velim, [Page 335] praemissis, accedo nunc ad eam disputationem, quae circa dubia quaedam Justini loca docte versatur.

1. Emendatio loci libr. ii. cap. 3. § 18. manifeste corrupti (cujusmodi corruptio in numeris admodum proclivis, et propterea etiam frequens est) quae sciscit vulnus sanari, mutando MD. vel MD. in XV. non potest non omnibus cordatis se probare; quanquam ipsa tam pudendi erroris ratio in obscuro lateat: et ut verum fatear, curiosa mihi, ne quid gravius dicam, semper visa est ea cura ac diligentia, quae in investigando ac desiniendo eo ponitur, quod mille diversis modis accidere ac oriri potuit. Corrupta lectio ita se habet: his igitur Asia per mille quingentos annos vectigalis fuit. Convenit inter nos de sincera lectione ita restituenda: his igitur Asia per quindecim annos vectigalis fuit. Tu vero, pro tuo acumine, in ipsa corrupta lectione videris tibi cernere haud obscura quaedam pristinae lectionis vestigia; atque illud per mille ex permissa natum esse tibi persuades; ut vera hujus loci lectio hujusmodi sit: his igitur Asia permissa quindecim annos vectigalis fuit. Contra hoc lectionis supplementum, cujus ego necessitatem nullam video, monui, [Page 336] codices antiquos, qui numeros literarum notis descriptos praeferunt, huic tuae conjecturae nullo modo favere. Et quamvis non negaverim dari codices antiquos qui numeros integris vocibus expositos efferant; mihi tamen persuasum est, plurimos dari antiquos libros, in primis historicos, in quibus frequentiores calculi occurrunt, qui numeros literarum notis descriptos repraesentent: huic vero persuasioni fidem faciunt et exempla et testimonia luculentissima: unicum e multis afferam Galeni de Antidot. I.— [...]. Atque oppido miror, quin etiam doleo, hoc criticae disciplinae caput, de notis numeralibus, in antiquis codicibus varie descriptis, nondum certis observationibus et regulis ita esse adstrictum, et in artis formam redactum, ut frivola quorundam in numeris et calculis pro libidine fingendis ac refingendis intemperies coerceri, certae contra notae characteristicae de aetate et fide codicum constitui, possint. Fac vero huic tuae conjecturae qua per mille in permissa mutandum censes, a parte scripturae codicum MSS. nihil obstare; eam tamen prorsus respuit, quem ipse notas Justini error, qui Sesostrem ab Scythis in fugam actum exercitu cum omni apparatu belli [Page 337] relicto, perhibet: quumque Justinus supra, § 15. diserte commemorat Scythas a persequendo rege reversos, Asiam PERDOMITAM vectigalem fecisse; quî mox § 18. idem Asiam non perdomitam, sed a Sesostre PERMISSAM narraret. Non agitur de fide narrationis, sed de Justini sententia, sive vera sive falsa. Neque singendum est Justinum aperte sibi contrariari.

2. Arrianum si hic consulamus, ille simpliciter memorat, Alexandrum ad Hyphasin amnem processisse, Indos qui trans flumen habitarent, subacturum: tum vero Macedonas, quum belli finem nullum cernerent, ulterius progredi noluisse, tandemque Caeno deprecante impetrasse ab Alexandro, ut se ad reditum pararet, quoniam omnia illam ad ulteriore profectione revocarent. Ibi tum Alexandrum XII aras ingentes, [...], constituisse. Nihil ille de Cuphitis; nihil de CC millibus equitum qui terrorem incuterent Macedonibus; nihil de castris, &c. Curtius, lib. ix. c. 2. pari modo memorat, Alexandrum, [Page 338] quum ad Fluvium Hyphasin pervenisset, cognovisse, ulteriorem ripam colere gentes Gangaridas et Pharrasios, eorumque regem, XX millibus equitum, CC peditum, obsidentem vias: ad haec quadrigarum MM. trahere, et praecipuum terrorem elephantos quos MMM. numerus expleret. Tum vero Macedonas regem sequi ulterius detrectasse; Caenoque deprecante, impetrasse ut reditum in patriam pararent: subjungit vero: Tertio die processit, erigique XII aras ex quadrato Saxo, monumentum expeditionis suae; munimenta quoque castrorum jussit extendi, cubiliaque amplioris formae quam pro corporum habitu relinqui, ut speciem omnium augeret, posteritati fallax miraculum preparans. Gemina fere habet Plutarchus in Alex. Quisquis haec cum Justino comparat, facile intelliget, Justinum quamvis eandem historiam commemoret, nihilominus in praecipuis quibusdam facti circumstantiis, et Alexandri confiliis, ab his scriptoribus discrepare: maxime autem in eo, quod duplex castrorum tam insolita magnificentia construendorum consilium fuisse dicit, alterum quod hostes, alterum quod posteros, spectaret. [Page 339] § 16. Motus his tam justis precibus, velut in finem victoriae, castra solito magnificentiora fieri jussit, quorum molitionibus et HOSTIS terreretur, ET POSTERIS admiratio sui relinqueretur. De priore consilio, nim. ut hostis terreretur, altum apud reliquos silentium. Ex quo clarum esse arbitror, ipsum Justinum receptam lectionem et omnibus codicibus probatam tueri, tuam vero emendationem respuere: quandoquidem enim castra solito magnificentiora, velut in finem victoriae fieri jussit, hoc nonnisi de ultima ac recente aliqua victoria accipi potest. Quod si enim ad superiores victorias respexisset Justinus, dicendum fuisset (uti ipse agnoscis) in finem victoriarum, perinde atque supra § 10. habet: Non minus victoriarum numero quam laboribus fessus. Jam vero altera illa consilii ratio, quam reliqui omnes silentio premunt, nimirum ut hostis terreretur non potuit locum habere, si, intactis hostibus, castra movere ac discedere fuerat constitutum. Unde enim terror Cuphitis esset injectus, si castra tantum [...] fuissent constructa et relicta? [Page 340] Etenim omissis hostibus, quae victoria? quis terror? quae deinde gratulatio? Gratulationis vocem autem de solemnibus victimis ob laetum eventum, seu de [...] qualia Arrianus memorat, passim usurpari, nemini qui in lectione veterum tritas aures habet, potest esse obscurum. Ut taceam illud omissis, tanquam quod inceptum aliquod, immo etiam neglectum, involvit, mihi non recte arridere, atque etiam a stilo Justini alienum videri. Caeterum quae de Orosii aetate, scopo, fide prolixe disputas, parum ad rem facere videntur. Constat inter omnes Orosium in plerisque Justinum ita presse, ne dicam superstitiofe, esse secutum, ut ejus fere verbis ac sententiis passim loqui videatur: et infinitis prope in locis Justini lectionem et sententiam, quam quidem ii libri, quibus Orosius usus est praeferebant, ex Orosio probabili ratione intelligi, confirmari, ac restitui poste, dudum ostenderunt viri docti. Immo et h. l. qui non videat, Orosium Justini narrationem ante oculos habuisse, eum ego nihil omnino cernere prope dixerim: unde enim Orosius Chosidum seu Cuphitum nomen omnibus aliis indictum, nisi ex Justino hauserit? Quod vero si ita [Page 341] est, quis non intelligit, Orosium apud Justinum non omissis aut intactis hostibus, sed caesis hostibus, in suis legisse libris, atque ita Justinum interpretari?

4. Verum equidem est urbem captam obsidione cingi non posse: sed an ea non possit DEFENDI a praesidiis arci impositis? hoc quaeritur: arce enim ab obsidione liberata, et urbs, quamvis jam capta, ab omni periculo defensa liberatur. Et quoties non, qui ingeniose dicere volunt, ac ludunt in antithesis, rem supra fidem augent, ut tanto major esse videatur?

5. Quae de Syriae oppidis jure belli factis P. R. novissime commentus es, nodum omnino solverent, nisi parachronismo essent superstructa: foedus enim illud cum Antiocho per legatos pacem petente initum, cujus priora verba ex Livio, lib. xxxviii. c. 37. excitas, hanc Antiochi in Aegyptum expeditionem, quam Justinus, lib. xxxi. c. 1. memorat, non praecessit, sed demum aliquo temporis intervallo subsecutum est. Vide an non huc pertineat, quae memoriae prodita habet Livius, lib. xxxiii. c. 34. Secundum ista [Page 342] jam Quintius, et decem legati, legationes regum, gentium, civitatumque audivere. Primi omnium regis Antiochi vocati legati sunt: his eadem, quae fere Romae erant, verba sine fide rerum jactata: nihil jam perplexe, ut ante, quum dubiae res incolumi Philippo erant, sed ap erte pronunciatum, ut excederet Asiae urbibus, quae aut PHILIPPI aut PTOLOMAEI regum fuissent, &c. Conf. et ejusd. libri, cap. 39 et 40. Hoc esto nunc Catone contentus. Vale, et rem tuam ex voto gere.

9.4.2. Professor BREITINGER to Mr. GIBBON at Lausanne.

[Page 326]

THOUGH I am Davus, not Oedipus, I will give you my opinion concerning the difficulties in Justin, which you propose for my consideration.

1. In the third chapter of his second book he says, ‘That Asia was tributary fifteen centuries to the Scythians, and that Ninus put an end to those contributions.’ The number of years is so manifestly erroneous, that it is astonishing such a reading should ever have been admitted into the text; for it makes Ninus later than Sesostris by a period of fifteen hundred years. Orosius, who abridged Justin with the greatest fidelity, speaks to the following purpose: ‘The Scythians would have ravished the whole of Egypt, had they not been prevented by the marshes. When they returned from that country, they made a bloody conquest of Asia, and rendered it tributary. Having remained there fifteen restless years, they at [Page 327] length returned home, at the earnest intreaty of their wives; who said, that unless their husbands came home to them, they would, for the sake of having children, cohabit with their neighbours. Orosius, lib. i. c. 14. ’ There cannot be any doubt, therefore, that "fifteen hundred" has been substituted for "fifteen." You investigate very ingeniously the cause of the error; but the emendation which you propose, by changing per mille into permissa, cannot be well founded, if the number was expressed, as is most probable, by arithmetical marks in the ancient copies.

2. In Justin, lib. xii. c. 8. we read, ‘They (the Macedonians) returned, after beating the enemy, with congratulations, or thanksgivings, into the same camp.’ In this passage you seem to me needlessly to disturb the ancient reading. You assume, without proof, that they did not venture to attack the Cuphites. Orosius, Justin's faithful interpreter, declares the direct contrary. ‘When they came to the country of the Chosides, they fought with two hundred thousand of the enemy's cavalry; and, having conquered them with much difficulty, because they themselves were now worn out with years and fatigue, and sunk in spirit, they formed a camp more magnificent than usual, to commemorate their exploit. Orosius, lib. iii. c. 19. ’ They did not, therefore, return into their camp until they had [Page 328] combated and conquered the enemy. Justin himself gives us to understand as much, when he says, ‘That Alexander, moved by such just prayers, caused, at the end of his victory, a camp to be formed, whose walls might inspire terror into the enemy.’ If the Macedonians, therefore, as you imagine, had been frightened at the innumerable forces of the Cuphites, and therefore returned hastily into their camp, I do not see why Justin should say, at the end of his victory, inspire terror into the enemy, or that they returned to their camp with thanksgivings. It may here be remarked, in opposition to Sebisius' emendation, that the expression, cum gratulatione, if translated "with thanksgivings," will include the caesis hostiis, [...]; that is, the sacrifice of thanks; so that your alteration of caesis hostiis into omissis hostibus, is equally inconsistent with historical truth and the words of Justin.

3. In Justin, lib. xxiv. c. viii. we read, ‘Part of the mountain carried away by the earthquake overwhelmed the army of the Gauls; and its thick masses breaking in scattered pieces, fell down with great force, not without wounding the enemy.’ You need not be offended with the harsh [Page 329] transposition of the word hostium, which you think ought to be joined with confertissimi cunei; as if that last word meant, the military cunei, or wedges, of the Gauls; whereas it really means the thick masses detached from the rock or mountain, which, breaking into smaller fragments, fell down and wounded the enemy, that is, the Gauls. There is no transposition therefore in the case; the sentence flows in the most natural order; and the confertissimi cunei ought not to be joined with hostium, lest the ambiguity of the word cunei should make it be applied to the military cunei, or wedges of men.

4. In Justin, lib. xxviii. c. 2. we read ‘That the Romans could not save their city from the Gauls; and when it was taken, instead of defending it by the sword, had ransomed it with money.’ If this passage required, or admitted emendation, there is no correction I would adopt more willingly than yours, which, instead of captamque, substitutes capitoliumque. Shefferus objects, without reason, that a city captam, taken, cannot properly be said defendi serro, to be defended with the sword; for the Roman historians [Page 330] agree that their city, when taken, was defended, though in a cowardly manner. Orosius, among others, says, lib. xi. c. 19. ‘The Gauls penetrated into the open city; Rome was now taken; the rest of the youth were shut up and besieged in the citadel of the Capitoline Mount; where they were a prey to hunger, pestilence, terror, and despair.’ You may perceive, therefore, that though the city was taken, its defence was not entirely abandoned; and if it had not been taken, it needed not to have been ransomed. It seems not to have occurred to you, that your correction implies the Capitol only to have been ransomed, which is not historically true.

5. In Justin, lib. xxxi. c. 1. we read, ‘Ambassadors were first sent by the Roman senate to persuade Antiochus, King of Syria, that he should not make war on the cities of Caele-Syria, which the Egyptians had occupied in the former war, and which were therefore subject to Egypt; using with him this argument, that these cities belonged to a young prince, their pupil, who had been committed by his father to the protection of the Romans.’ This same Author, lib. xxx. c. iii. says, ‘M. Lepidus was [Page 331] sent into Egypt to govern that kingdom, with the title of tutor to the young king. A second embassy was sent, after Antiochus had taken possession of these cities, demanding that they should be restored; and without making any mention of the pupil king, merely on this ground, that these cities belonged to the Romans by the right of war. Justin, lib. xxxi. c. 1. ’ What this right of war is, in contradistinction both to war itself, and to conquests made by war, appears from the two following passages, the first of which is part of Quintus Flamininus's speech to the tyrant Nabis, in Livy, lib. xxxiv. c. 32: ‘By what measures is the friendship between states violated? Principally by these two; when you treat with hostility our allies, and when you make alliance with our enemies. Are not you guilty of both, since you, through our ally, have seized, by arms and violence, Messené, a city as much our ally as Lacedemon itself; and since you have entered into an alliance with Philip our enemy?’ The other passage is in Florus, lib. iii. c. 5. ‘The King (Mithridates) did not consider Asia as a country not belonging to him; but as it had been formerly taken from him by violence, he sought to recover it by the law [Page 332] of war.’ I need not mention that "the law of war," in Justin, may have a reference to both the circumstances by which friendship between states is violated; but principally to the attack made on the dominions of Ptolemy, an ally of the Romans, who desire him to be reinstated by Antiochus in his possessions; for the author immediately adds, that when Antiochus refused to comply, war was denounced against him.

6. In Justin, lib. xxxi. c. 1. we read, ‘The senate, therefore, wrote to Flamininus, that if it seemed expedient to him, as he had delivered Macedon from Philip, so he should deliver Greece from Nabis.’ The glory of Flamininus, the general in the Macedonian war, is sufficiently attested by the words of the senate's decree, in Livy, lib. xxxiii. c. 32. ‘The senate and Roman people, and L. Quintius the general, having conquered king Philip and the Macedonians, declare free and independent republics, the Corinthians,’ &c. Florus, lib. ii. c. 12. says, ‘Perseus succeeded his father Philip, and did not think it becoming the dignity of Macedon, that it should remain in subjection, in consequence of being defeated in one war.’ You ask, whether Quintius, who conquered Macedon, can be said, in any sense, to have delivered it from Philip, although it appears that Philip was [Page 333] really not deprived of that kingdom? and whether, if the Roman general conquered Nabis, as he had already conquered Philip, he did not thereby free Greece? These difficulties are solved by Justin, lib. xxx. c. 4. ‘The fortune of the Romans conquered the Macedonians; so that Philip, after his defeat, having obtained peace from the consul Flamininus, preserved indeed the name of king, but kept possession only of Macedon, having lost all those cities of Greece, which, like scattered members of the Macedonian kingdom, lay beyond its ancient boundaries.’ In the letters, therefore, of the Roman senate to the consul Flamininus, Marcedon signifies not the country strictly so called, which alone was not taken from Philip, but that part of Greece which lay beyond the original limits of Macedon; to which is opposed the rest of Greece, which was then harassed by Nabis, but which had never been subject to Macedon. Hence the meaning of the senate appears to have been, that Quintius, as he had delivered Macedonia, that is, the part of Greece belonging to Macedon, from Philip, so he should [Page 334] deliver the rest of Greece from Nabis, who had actually made himself master nearly of the whole of that country.

This is not merely a conjecture sage,
But truth as certain as the Sibyl's page.
9.4.2.1.

THOSE who apply themselves to criticism ought to be cautious in conjectural emendation, and diligent in classical study, that they may perceive what vast application this critical art requires, and how rashly those behave, who immediately alter a passage which they do not at first sight understand, or which seems to them inconsistent with their rules of grammar or logic. This rashness is justly reprehended by many, and particularly by the illustrious Burman, in his valuable preface to Phaedrus; which, as I have always made it the rule by which my own critical labours have been directed, so I would warmly recommend it to all those who pursue the same walk of literature. [Page 335] Having made this preparatory observation, I proceed to the difficulties in Justin, about which so much learning has been employed.

1. The emendation of the manifestly corrupt passage in lib. ii. c. 3. § 18. (a corruption depending on numbers, and therefore as natural as frequent,) which corrects the error by changing fifteen hundred into fifteen, must be approved by all judicious critics. The cause which introduced the faulty reading into the text is uncertain; and the question that has been so industriously agitated concerning it, appears to me more curious than useful, since the error might have originated in a thousand different fources. The corrupt reading runs thus: "Asia was tributary to the Scythians fifteen hundred years." We agree that it should be corrected thus: "Asia was tributary to the Scythians fifteen years." But in the corrupt text you think that obscure traces of the genuine reading may be discerned, and imagine that per mille had crept into the text, instead of permissa; explaining the passage as if "Asia had been permitted to be tributary to the Scythians for fifteen years." I observed that this emendation, for which I see not any necessity, is rendered highly improbable, because in ancient manuscripts the [Page 336] names of numbers are expressed, not by words, but by letters used as numeral marks; and though they are sometimes expressed by words, yet this is not frequent, especially in works of history. This assertion is confirmed by innumerable testimonies; I shall be contented with referring to that of Galen de Antidot. I.—It is a subject indeed both of surprise and grief, that this part of criticism, which consists in ascertaining exactly the rules of numeral notation, should not have met with due attention; although thereby the rashness of wild conjecture would be greatly restrained, and more certainty might be attained in determining the age and authenticity of manuscripts. But let it be supposed that your correction were safe on this side, yet it would be destroyed by the passage which you yourself quote from Justin; ‘That Sesostris being put to flight by the Scythians, left behind him his [Page 337] army and baggage.’ The historian having observed, in § 15, that the Scythians, after returning from the pursuit of the king, rendered Asia, which they had subdued, tributary; how is it possible that, in § 18, he should say that this happened not in consequence of their own military success, but in consequence of the permission of Sesostris? We are not now inquiring what is historically true, but what is Justin's report; which must not be supposed inconsistent with itself.

2. If we here consult Arrian, he tells us merely that ‘Alexander proceeded to the river Hyphasis, with a view to conquer the Indians who lived beyond it; but that the Macedonians, then perceiving there was no end to their labours, refused to advance; and finally prevailed on Alexander, through the earnest intreaty of Coenus, to prepare for his return; since every thing seemed adverse to his farther progress. Then Alexander erected twelve great altars, as monuments of his conquests.’ Arrian says nothing about the Cuphites, the camp, or the two hundred thousand horsemen, who so much terrified the Macedonians. Curtius lib. ix. c. 2 and 3, relates, ‘that Alexander, when he came to the Hyphasis, [Page 338] discovered that the farther bank was inhabited by the Gangaridae and Pharrasii; that their king, with twenty thousand horse and two hundred thousand foot, meant to obstruct his passage; being furnished besides with two thousand chariots and three thousand elephants; which last formed the most alarming part of his strength. The Macedonians then refused to follow the king farther; and obtained, through Coenus' entreaty, that preparations should be made for their return home.’ He subjoins; ‘Alexander came forth on the third day, and ordered twelve altars of square stone to be erected as a monument of his expedition, and the fortifications of his camp to be enlarged, and beds of a gigantic size to be constructed, that by diffusing an air of vastness on every object around him, he might excite the credulous wonder of posterity.’ Plutarch, in his treatise concerning the fortune of Alexander, speaks to the same purpose. By comparing these authors with Justin, the reader will perceive that he differs from them all in several essential circumstances; and particularly in saying that Alexander had two motives for enlarging the fortifications of his camp; one of which regarded the enemy, and the other had [Page 339] a relation to posterity. ‘Moved by such just prayers, he ordered a camp to be built more magnificent than usual, as at the end of his victory; that its fortifications might be an object of terror to the enemy, and of admiration to posterity. Justin, ibid. § 16. ’ The other historians are totally silent as to what regards the enemy; which is favourable to that reading of Justin which on the faith of manuscripts stands in his text, and extremely adverse to your emendation. For "the end of his victory" must refer to some recent victory, and not to his victories in general; otherwise Justin, as you acknowledge, would have said, "the end of his victories," as in § 10. above, "wearied, not less by the number of his victories, than by his toils." As to Alexander's second motive, concerning which all other historians are silent, "that his fortifications might be an object of terror to the enemy;" there would not surely be any room for it, on the supposition that he had determined to move his camp, and leave the country, without fighting a battle. The Cuphites could not be seized with alarm at seeing the monuments of the exploits of a man who had not ventured to engage with their army; nor, on that supposition, would there be any mention of [Page 340] victory, terror, or sacrifices of thanks; for that the word gratulatio refers to the solemn victims sacrificed in gratitude for success, and frequently mentioned by Arrian, cannot be doubtful to those conversant with ancient writers. Besides, the word omissis including the idea of something begun or neglected, does not please me, nor seem conformable with Justin's style. Your prolix discussion concerning the age, design, and character of Orosius has but little connection with the present subject. It is universally acknowledged, that he so closely, or rather superstitiously, follows Justin's footsteps, that he frequently expresses himself in the same words and phrases; and it has long ago been proved by good critics, that Justin's text, such as it stood in the copy used by Orosius, may in innumerable places be restored by an attention to the latter writer. He must be blind indeed, who does not perceive that in the passage before us Orosius must have copied Justin. Whence could he otherwise have derived the name Chosidum, or Cuphitum, which is not mentioned by any other historian? and if that be the case, Orosius must have [Page 341] found in his original, not that "the enemy were omitted," but that "they were beat;" in which sense Justin ought to be interpreted.

4. I grant that a town taken by a siege cannot be said to be defended by its own walls. But may it not be defended by troops in the citadel? When the enemy are obliged to raise the siege of the citadel, the town may thereby be delivered from all danger. The expression, at least, might be used by an author fond of antithesis and amplification.

5. Your new conjecture concerning the towns of Syria which the Romans acquired by the law of war, would solve the difficulty, were not that conjecture built on an anachronism. For the league entered into with the ambassadors of Antiochus, who came to crave peace, which you find in Livy, lib. xxxviii. c. 37. was not prior, but subsequent, to Antiochus's expedition into Egypt, mentioned in Justin, lib. xxxi. c. 1. You may consider whether the following words of Livy do not refer to this subject: ‘After this, Quintius and his ten lieutenants received the ambassadors of kings, [Page 342] nations, and cities. Those of king Antiochus were first introduced. They said the same things as formerly, when at Rome, without gaining belief; and they were now told, not in the ambiguous language which the Romans had used before the defeat of Philip, and while their own fortune was still doubtful, but in express terms, that Antiochus must evacuate all the cities of Asia, which had belonged either to Philip or to Ptolemy.’ Livy, lib. xxxiii. c. 34; with which compare c. 39 and 40. Be satisfied with this authority. Farewell and prosper.

9.5.1. No V. M. BREITINGER à M. GIBBON.

[Page 343]

PRAECLARISSIME AC NOBILISSIME VIR,

QUANQUAM ex longo jam tempore severioribus musis me totum dare, hisque sacris operari institui, immo etiam in iis acquiescere per reliquum vitae spatium constitutum habeo; non injucundum tamen fuit subinde invitantibus amicis in amoeniora haec literarum vireta oblectandi animi gratia exspatiari; et quotiescunque intellexi esse aliquem qui ad haec literarum studia excolenda animum adjiciat, non destiti admovere stimulos, ac fungi vice cotis, acutum reddere quae ferrum valeat, exsors ipsa secandi. Quapropter nihil mihi obtingere potuisset aut jucundius aut magis exoptandum, quam a te [...] primum, nunc etiam aperto marte ac fronte, ad haec literarum studia, pristinas meas delicias, deduci: et laudo hoc tuum ingenium, tuamque sagacitatem, quae non stimulo, sed fraeno potius opus habere videtur; atque magnopere velim alium pro me tibi obtigisse, cui majus subactum ingenium, majorque doctrinae copia esset, quicum hunc callem terere posses.

[Page 344] Multus es in defendenda emendatione loci Justin. lib. xii. c. 8. § 17. ubi tu pro caesis hostibus, contra omnium codicum fidem ex ingenio, substituendum censes omissis hostibus; quam ego emendationem, in superioribus meis, variis inductis rationibus, oppugnaveram. Equidem non est animus denuo in hanc disputationem descendere, aut singulatim ea quae ad diluendas meas rationes in medium abs te adlata sunt, sub incudem revocare. Strictim tantum exponam, cur ego nec receptam lectionem sollicitandam, nec propositam abs te emendationem admittendam esse censeam. Nemo est qui non fateri cogatur receptam ac codicum side et consensu probatam lectionem, in se spectatam, bonum et apertum sensum fundere, nec a stilo Justini, nec a Latini sermonis ratione abludere. Quod vero recepta isthaec lectio, commissum cum Cuphitis praelium memorat, de quo apud reliquos scriptores qui res Alexandri memoriae prodiderunt, altum quidem silentium est; (quamquam nemo sit illorum qui hoc praelium commissum esse negaverit;) an hoc, inquam, nos ad sollicitandam constantem codicum lectionem inducere debeat, ut pro commisso praelio illud omissum esse, Justinum diserte cogamus pronuntiare? Ego quidem necessitatem nullam video. Quod si haec licentia daretur arti criticae, ut si quae in aliquo scriptore facta legimus [Page 345] commemorata, quae ab aliis silentio involvantur, illa statim expungenda, aut per contortam emendationem in contrarium plane sensum forent convertenda, nihil fere certum aut constans in historicorum scriptorum commentariis reperiretur. Quo minus autem tuam, vir nobilissime, emendationem admittere possim, duae potissimum obstant rationes: altera est, quod admissa tua emendatione, reliquae Justini orationi sua non amplius ratio constet: sed integrum illud comma foret expungendum: quid enim sibi vellet omissis hostibus in castra REVERTERUNT, quae cur unquam relinquerent, admissa tua emendatione, nulla ratio aut necessitas fuit? Altera vero ratio, quae istam tum emendationem respuere videtur, haec est, quod phrasis omittere hostes, omissis hostibus, Justino admodum trita, nusquam eodem sensu, quo tu adhibes, quantum quidem memini, apud Justinum occurrit: nusquam enim MILITES dicuntur omittere hostes, sed belli duces penes quos summum imperium est, non illi quorum est imperata facere, et qui hoc ipso loco deprecati sunt, ne juberentur amplius cum hoste congredi: accedit quod phrasis illa omissis hostibus aliis in locis non FINEM belli sed MUTATIONEM involvit: inspice [Page 346] locum a temet excitatum, lib. xxvii. c. 3. § 6. Sed omisso externo hoste in mutuum exitium BELLUM reparant. Addo ego locum alterum, lib. xxix. c. 2. § 7. Hujuscemodi oratione impulit Philippum ut omissis Aetolis BELLUM Romanis inferret, &c. Caeterum sufficit Orosium suo tempore apud Justinum legisse caesis hostibus, quo recepta lectio mirifice confirmatur, perinde ut illa magnopere vacillaret, si in ejus aetatis Justini codicibus omissis hostibus fuisse lectum constat.

De Syriae civitatibus jure belli factis P. R. quod, iis quae hactenus in hanc rem disputata sunt, addam, non habeo.

Moves denique, vir nobilissime, ne eadem semper chorda oberremus, neve amicae disputationi materia desit, novam quaestionem circa I. Jul. Caesaris consulatum, quem adiit Kal. Jan. A. V. C. DCXCV. anno aetatis XLI., quum per annales leges nemini licuerit, hunc magistratum petere ante annum aetatis XLIII. At vero hanc Villii, ut caeteras annales leges, non fuisse perpetuae observationis, et fasti et [Page 347] historiarum monumenta docent: apud Liv. lib. viii. c. 4. relatum legimus, C. Mario Rutilo et Q. Servilio Ahala coss. plebiscito cautum, ne quis eundem magistratum intra X annos capesseret: non tamen videtur aut lex ista perlata aut postea quicquam valuisse. Occurrit enim II. post istos coss. anno apud Fastorum conditores ipsumque T. Livium, T. Manlius Torquatus, qui IV. ante annos; postea M. Valerius Corvus, qui VIII.; L. Papirius Crassus, qui VI. coss. fuerant. Immo unus L. Papirius Cursor intra VIII annos quaternos consulatus gessit: quod fieri, lata hac lege, vel certe salva, non poterat. Huc etiam pertinent, quae Dio Cass. lib. xl. § 56. de alia lege annali memorat: Pompeius, inquit, restituit legem de Comitiis, quae jubet, ut magistratum aliquem ambientes ad ipsa omnino Comitia praesto sint, ( [...]) neglectam omnino renovavit; et S. C. paulo prius factam, ut qui in urbe magistratus gessissent, externas provincias, ante V anni exitum, ne sortirentur, confirmavit. Nec vero puduit Pompeium, qui tum eas promulgaverat, ipsum Hispaniae imperium [Page 348] in aliud quinquennium paulo post accipere: et Caesari (cujus amici indignissime has leges ferebant) absenti quoque consulatus petendi potestatem eodem decreto concedere, &c. Quod vero jam ad Villianam illam annalem legem attinet, nec eam constanter ita fuisse observatam, ut nunquam migraretur, vel ex ipso Ciceronis loco, Orat. contra Rullum, colligi potest, ubi gloriatur quod ex novis hominibus primus, et quidem prima petitione, anno suo, hoc honore fuerit auctus; cum qui ante ipsum ex hoc hominum genere, anno suo petierint, sine repulsa, non sint facti consules. Ex hoc enim loco quae Villianae legis vis fuerit, quum patricius aut consularis ex antiquo genere consulatum peteret, intelligi non potest. Certe Dolabella, caeso Caesare, anno non suo, quippe XXV annos natus, teste Appiano consulatum invasit, qua de re Dio Cass. lib. xliv. § 22. [...]. Et Suetonius, c. 18. tantum non diserte memorat Julio contra leges aliquid fuisse concessum: sed cum edictis jam Comitiis, ratio ejus haberi non posset, nisi privatus introisset urbem, et ambienti ut legibus [Page 349] solveretur, multi contradicerent, coactus est triumphum, ne consulatu excluderetur, dimittere. Quam in rem etiam apud Dionem Cass. libr. xliv. Antonius in oratione funebri diserte haec memorat: [...] (scil. ob expeditionem Hispanicam) [...].— Triumpho omisso, cum res urgeret, actisque vobis pro eo honore, quem sibi ad gloriam satis esse ducebat, gratiis, consulatum accepit. Ita quum vix annus deesset, quo minus consulatum petere liceret Julio, aliquid fuisse ei concessum, ut triumphum dimitteret, manifestum est: quod si etiam ex lege annali consulatu [...] excludere eum voluissent, non intelligo, qua ratione ipsi, quod ad triumphi honorem attinet, repulsam dare potuissent.

Oblatas animadversiones in Salchlini libellum Museo Helv. inferendas, quanquam Gallico idiomate conscriptas, cupide exciperem; nisi Musei illius cursus ad tempus foret inhibitus; nec dum constat [Page 350] utrum, et quando, typographo licuerit aut placuerit, isthoc opus novo aliquo tomo augere.

Vale, Vir Nobilissime, rem tuam ex animi sententia age, meque ama hominem ad omnia humanitatis officia paratissimum

BREITINGERUM.

9.5.2. Mr. BREITINGER to Mr. GIBBON.

[Page 343]

ALTHOUGH I had long dedicated myself, and had purposed to spend my life, in more severe and sacred studies, yet it is not without pleasure that, at the invitation of my friends, I occasionally descend into the pleasing fields of literature; never losing an opportunity to stimulate the diligence of those who delight in such pursuits, and to serve as a whetstone to others, though myself unfit for carving. Nothing, therefore, could have been more agreeable to my wish, than to be called back to those studies, formerly my delight, by you; anonymously at first, but now in open war. I cannot but commend your sagacity and genius, which require rather the rein than the spur; and I earnestly wish that you were accompanied in this literary walk by a scholar of more cultivated taste, and more copious erudition, than myself.

[Page 344] You employ many arguments in defending your emendation of Justin, lib. xii. c. 8. § 17; where, instead of "the enemy being bear," you substitute "the enemy being omitted." I formerly gave you my reasons for rejecting this emendation, and shall not repeat them here, nor enter into a particular discussion of the answers which you make to my objections. Thus much only in general I will observe, that the reading in the text, which is approved by the consenting authority of the manuscripts, must be acknowledged to contain a very natural meaning, conveyed in good Latin, and in Justin's style. This reading, indeed, makes mention of a battle with the Cuphites, concerning which the other historians of Alexander are silent. But ought this silence to make us alter Justin's text, especially as none of those historians deny such a battle to have happened? If such licence be [Page 345] indulged to critics, that they may expunge or alter the words of an historiam, because he is the sole relater of a particular event, we shall leave few materials for authentic history. Two reasons strongly militate against your correction: the first, that if it be admitted, there will no longer be any consistency in Justin's narrative; and the whole clause must be expunged which mentions the return of the Macedonians into their camp; which, if they did not mean to fight, it was not necessary for them to leave. The second reason is, that the phrase omittere hostes, though frequently used by Justin, is never, that I know, applied by him in the sense which you give to it. The generals entitled to direct military measures are said omittere hostes; but never the soldiers, whose duty it is to obey orders; and who, in the passage under consideration, request that they may not be ordered to renew the engagement with the enemy. To this may be added, that whereever this phrase, omissis hostibus, occurs in Justin, it denotes not an end, but only a change, of the war. Turn to the passage which you formerly referred [Page 346] to, lib. xxvii. c. 3. § 6. ‘They left off fighting against their foreign enemy, and made war on each other:’ to which you will find a parallel in lib. xxix. c. 2. § 7. ‘By this oration he prevailed with Philip to leave off fighting against the Etolians, and to make war on the Romans.’ But it is sufficient that Orosius read caesis hostibus in the copies of Justin which he made use of. If, by saying omissis hostibus, Orosius confirmed your conjecture, the reading in the text would be doubtful indeed.

I have nothing farther to add to my observations concerning the cities of Syria which the Romans acquired by the right of war.

That we may not harp on the old string, but have new matter for our friendly contest, you raise a difficulty concerning the first consulship of Julius Caesar; which happened on the first of January, in the six hundred and ninety-fifth year of Rome, and in the forty-first of his age; although by the laws ascertaining the age of candidates, no person was entitled to crave that honour before his forty-third year. But this law, which was proposed by Villius, appears not, any more than other laws appertaining to the same object, to have been of perpetual authority; as we learn, both from the [Page 347] Roman historians and from the consular Fasti. Livy, lib. viii. c. 4, says, that in the consulship of C. Marius Rutilus and Q. Servilius Ahala, it was provided by a law of the people, that no person should bear the same magistracy twice in the space of ten years. But this law seems either not to have been confirmed, or not to have remained in force: for we afterwards find both in the Falti and in Livy, that T. Manlius Torquatus was a second time consul in the space of four years; M. Valerius Corvus, in eight; and L. Papirius Crassus, in six: L. Papirius Cursor was four times consul in eight years: which things are inconsistent with this law. To this subject may be referred what Dio Cassius says concerning another law of the same kind, in his fortieth book, sect. 56. ‘Pompey restored the law of the Comitia, which prohibited any person from being elected into any office of magistracy in his absence; a law which had fallen into total disuse; and confirmed another, which had been a short time before enacted by the senate, forbidding any man who had been a magistrate in the city to command in any foreign province before the expiration of five years. Yet Pompey, who had just past these laws, was not ashamed to accept his command in Spain for five [Page 348] years longer; and to grant, by the same decree, to Caesar (whose friends impatiently brooked such regulations) the permission of being candidate for the consulship in his absence, &c.’ That the law proposed by Villius was not uniformly observed, appears from Cicero's oration against Rullus; where the orator boasts that he was the first man, not graced by ancient nobilty, who had obtained the consulship in the year that he was entitled to solicit it: but this passage does not inform us what was the force of Villius's law, when the candidates were patricians of ancient family, or men of consular dignity. Dolabella certainly, after Caesar's murder, seized the consulship, when only twenty-five years old, as we are informed by Appian: on which subject Dio Cassius, lib. xliv. § 22, says, that Dolabella intruded himself into the consulship, though in nowise belonging to him; and Suetone insinuates, that Julius obtained something to which he was not by law entitled. ‘As the Comitia were already proclaimed, his demand could not be attended to, unless he entered the city as a private person; and many opposing [Page 349] his being indulged with any favour to which he was not legally entitled, he chose to postpone his claim to a triumph, lest he should be excluded from the consulship. Sueton. lib. i. c. 18. ’ Nearly to the same purpose Anthony, in Caesar's funeral oration, in the forty-fourth book of Dio Cassius, says, ‘For this reason, (his success in Spain,) you granted to him a triumph, and immediately appointed him consul. In the urgency of his affairs he postponed his triumph; and accepting the consulship, thanked you for that honour, which he thought sufficient for his own glory.’ It is therefore plain, that by deferring his claim to a triumph, he obtained the consulship, though a year younger than the age required for holding that office. Had the Romans intended to enforce against him the Villian law, there would not have been any reason to withhold from him the honour of a triumph.

I should willingly admit your remarks, though written in French, on Salchlini's little work, into the Museum Helveticum, were not that publication [Page 350] interrupted at present; and it is uncertain when the printer will be allowed, or will have inclination, to publish a new volume.

Farewell, my noble Sir, and prosper; and love me as a man devoted to ever kind duty.

BREITINGER.

9.6.1. No VI. M. GIBBON à M. GESNER.

[Page 351]

MONSIEUR,

CHEZ les Romains, ce peuple généreux, qui nous a laissé tant de choses à admirer et à imiter, les vieux jurisconsultes, que leurs longs travaux avoient rendus les oracles du barreau, ne se croyoient pas inutiles à la république, lorsqu'ils cherchoient à développer, à former des talens naissans, et à se donner de dignes successeurs. Je voudrois la rétablir cette coutume excellente, et la transporter même dans les autres sciences. Quiconque cannoît tant soit peu vos ouvrages et votre réputation, ne vous refusera pas, je pense, le titre d'un des premières littérateurs du siecle, et je ne crois pas qu'une folle présomption m'égare, lorsque je m'attribue quelques dispositions à réussir dans les Belles Lettres. Votre commerce pourroit m'être d'une grande utilité. Voilà mon seul titre pour vous le demander. Dans l'espérance qu'il pourra vous engager à me l'accorder, je vais [Page 352] vous demander des éclaircissemens sur quelques difficultes, et des décisions sur quelques conjectures qui se sont offertes à mon esprit.

1. Qui étoit ce Pison le Pere, à qui Horace addresse son art poétique? M. Dacier croit que c'étoit ce L. Pison le pontife qui triompha pour ses exploits en Thrace, et qui mourut préfet de la Ville A. U. C. 785*. Mais il est évident que ce ne fut point lui. Horace écrivit son art poétique avant l'an 734, puisqu'il y parle de Virgile, qui mourut dans cette année, d'une façon à faire bien comprendre qu'il étoit encore vivant. Or dans un autre endroit du même art poétique, il s'addresse à l'ainé des fils de ce Pison comme à un jeune homme qui avoit l'esprit dejà formé.

"O major juvenum, quamvis et voce paternâ
"Fingeris ad rectum et per te sapis."

Ce qui ne peut guères convenir qu'à un jeune homme de dix huit, à vingt ans. Mais ce L. Pison ne pouvoit point avoir dans ce tems la un fils aussi agé. Il mourut en 785, agé de quatre vingt ans§. Il [Page 353] naquit donc en 705, et il n'avoit que trente ans tout au plus, quand cette épitre fut écrite. Je vois assez clairement, que ce ne pouvoit pas être là le Pison que nous cherchons; mais, parmi un assez grand nombre de personnages du siecle d'Auguste qui portoient ce nom, je voudrois qu'on m'aidat à trouver celui sur qui les soupçons peuvent tomber avec quelque vraisemblance.

2. Vous savez combein les critiques se sont donnés de peine, pour rechercher le vrai but qu'avoit Horace dans la troisième ode du troisième livre. La grandeur des idées, et la noblesse des expressions y font sentir partout la main de maître: mais on est à la fois faché et surpris d'y voir que le commencement ne se lie point avec la suite, que la harangue de Junon paroît ne tenir à rien, et n'aboutir à rien; et après avoir admiré cette ode par parties, on ne peut guères s'empêcher d'en condamner l'ensemble. Taneguy le Fevre l'avoit expliquée par un systême que M. Dacier trouve mériter autant d'éloges que l'ode elle même, et qui en effet me paroît des plus jolis. Vous savez qu'il le fonde sur la crainte qu'il prête au peuple Romain de [Page 354] voir transférer à Ilium le siege de l'empire; et qu'il suppose qu'Horace composa cette ode dans la vue de détourner Auguste de ce dessein, en lui rappellant tout la part que les Dieux avoient eu à la destruction de cette ville, et combien le mortel qui oseroit la rebâtir s'exposeroit à tout le courroux de ces mêmes Dieux. Le peuple pouvoit d'autant plus facilement supposer ce dessein à ce prince, que son pere adoptif en avoit été soupcçonné*. Mais je doute que ce fystême puisse se soutenir. Et on ne sauroit jamais prouver ces craintes prétendues du peuple Romain, qui son mêmes sans vraisemblance; Auguste se distingua toujours par les soins particuliers qu'il donna à la ville de Rome, qui devoient rassurer le peuple contre toutes les craintes d'une pareille espece. On peut en voir le dêtail dans la vie d'Auguste par Suetone, c. 28, 29, 30. Je n'en marquerai que deux: il engagea la plus part des grands à orner la ville, par des bâtimens superbes, et il bâtit un Temple à Mars le Vengeur, où il ordonna que le sénat s'assembleroit toutes les fois qu'il seroit question de guerres ou de triomphes. Sont ce la les actions d'un homme qui songe à se faire [Page 355] une nouvelle capitale? L'exemple de son oncle ne pouvoit conclure; ce fut vers la fin de sa vie qu'il dut concevoir ce projet, dans un tems où la prosperité l'avoit aveuglé et engagé dans mille démarches folles et mal entendues, qu'Auguste se piqua toujours d'éviter avec soin. La sage opiniâtreté avec laquelle il refusa toujours la dictature, peut servir de preuve à ce que je dis*. Voila les raisons qui m'empêchent d'acquiescer au systême de Taneguy le Fevre. J'en suis faché, et je ne serai tout à fait content que lorsque vous m'aurez fourni une autre explication de cette ode, plus solide sans doute, et qui en applanira également les difficultés.

3. Antiochus, roi de Syrie, avoit pris plusieurs villes de la CoeleSyrie et de la Palestine au jeune Ptolémée, alors sous la tutelle des Romains. Ceux ci prennent la défense de leur éleve, et ordonnent au roi de Syrie de les rendre. Il méprise ces ordres, et les retient. Sur quoi on lui envoye une seconde ambassade, laquelle laissant de côté les prétensions du jeune prince, lui ordonna de rendre des villes, [Page 356] que le peuple Romain avoit acquises par le droit de la guerre, civitates jure belli factas populi Romani. Ce sont la les termes de Justin*, qui nous jettent dans une difficulté embarassante. On ne conçoit pas comment les Romains pouvoient avoir acquis des villes dans la Syrie, et dans l'Egypte, puisque, bien loin d'y avoir fait des conquêtes, ils ne porterent leurs armes en Asie que plusieurs années après cette époque. On connoît bien un traité qu'ils avoient fait avec les Rois d'Egypte avant ce tems mais c'étoit un pur traité d'alliance et d'amitié qui ne fut précédé ni suivi d'aucune guerre. J'ai cru que l'examen des autres historiens, qui ont raconté ces mêmes évenemens, pouvoit jetter quelques lumières sur un passage de Justin aussi obscur que celui la. Mais Tite Live, qui parle plusieurs fois des négociations par lesquelles les Romains tacherent de faire rendre à Ptolémée les villes d'Asie, qu'on lui avoit prises, ne parle nulle part de ce droit de la guerre en vertu duquel les Romains les demandoient. Le savant M. Breitinger, professeur en langue Grec à Zurich, à qui j'ai communiqué [Page 357] cette, difficulte, après avoir tenté en vain de la résoudre, a été obligé ensin de la laisser sans explication.—Mais,

"Nil desperandum, Teucro duce; et auspice Teucro."

4. Un different que Scaliger et Isaac Vossius ont eu ensemble, sur la veritable époque de la mort du poëte Catulle, a fait beaucoup de bruit dans la republique des lettres. Je n'ai point eu en main les pieces du procès, savoir les éditions de Catulle de ces deux hommes célebres; mais Bayle * nous a donné un extrait fort détaillé de leur dispute, y ajoutant sés propres réflexiens. Je suis faché de ne pouvoir pas remonter aux sources; mais dans la nécessité de me servir de rapporteur, je n'en connoîs point de meilleur que Bayle.

Quoique deux habiles littérateurs se soient exercés sur cette question, je suis bien loin de la regarder commé parfaitement éclaircie. Vossius me paroît avoir trop avancé le mort du poëte, Scaliger l'a certainement trop reculée. Catulle ne mourut pas bien surement A. U. C. 696; mais il ne veçut pas non plus jusqu'aux jeux séculaires [Page 358] d'Auguste A. U. C. 736. Prouvons ce que nous avons avancé, et cherchons l'époque en question, qui doit se trouver entre ces deux années.

Catulle parle de la Grande Bretagne et de ses habitans*, or César fut le premier qui fit connoître cette isle aux Romains, et César y fit sa première expédition en 698 Aussi bien Catulle parle t'il du second consulat de Pompée, qui tombe sur la même année§ Il vivoit même encore en 706, puisqu'il parle aussi du consulat de Vatinius. Je ne veux pas me servir des argumens de Scaliger pour prouver qu'il fut spectateur des triomphes de César, parceque je ne les crois pas de bon alloi. Je me dispenserai d'examiner en détail si les paroles paterna prima lancinata sunt bona, &c. conviennent mieux aux premières victoires de César qu'aux dernières, parceque je crois qu'il n'y est question ni des unes ni des autres. Il n'y a qu'à lire cette épigramme avec quelque attention [Page 359] pour voir que Catulle s'addresse toujours à César dans la seconde personne:

‘’

Pendantque Mamurra y paroît toujours dans la troisième personne, ce qui est le cas dans les lignes:

‘’

Il n'y est donc nullement question des dissipations de César, mais de celle de Mamurra; et toutes les conséquences qu'on en peut tirer par rapport aux triomphes de celui la, sont illégitimes*.

[Page 360] D'un autre côté, Catulle ne veçut pas jusqu'aux jeux séculaires d'Auguste, puisqu'il mourut avant Tibulle. Ovide, dans l'élégie qu'il sit exprès sur la mort de ce dernier, met Catulle parmi les poëtes, que son ami devoit recontrer à sa descente dans les Champs Elysées:

"Si tamen a nobis aliquid nisi nomen et umbra
"Restat: in Elysia Valle Tibullus erit.
"Obvius huic venias hederâ juvenilia cinctus
"Tempora, cum Calvo, docte Catulle tuo*."

Mais dans quel tems Tibulle mourut il? Une petite épigramme de Domitius Marius nous l'apprend: le même jour, ou du moins la même année, que Virgile:

"Te quoque Virgilio comitem non aequa, Tibulle,
"Mors juvenem Campos misit ad Elysios."

Or personne n'ignore que Virgile mourut le 22 Septembre 734. Il est donc clair que Catulle, déja mort dans ce tems la, ne vit point les jeux séculaires qui ne se célébrerent qu'en 736.

Avançons plus loin, et disons, que Catulle étoit déja mort avant 721. Je me fonde sur le témoignage d'un historien contemporain, [Page 361] ami de Cicéron* et de Catulle lui même; en un mot de Cornelius Nepos. Il faut le développer ce témoignage. Dans la vie d'Atticus, que cet écrivain nous a laissée, parlant d'un certain L. Julius Calidius, à qui Atticus rendit de grands services, il ajoute pour le faire mieux connoître, quem post Lucretii Catullique mortem, multo clegantissimum poetam, nostram tulisse aetatem vere videor posse contendere . Catulle étoit donc mort lorsque Nepos écrivit ce passage. Mais ne pourroit on pas fixer le tems de sa composition? très facilement: de vingt deux chapitres qui composent cette vie d'Atticus dix huit furent publiés de son vivant. Hactenus Attico vivo haec a nobis edita sunt § 'Le passage, où il est parlé de la mort de Catulle, se trouve dans le douzième chapitre; d'où il s'ensuit que Catulle mourut avant Atticus. Mais celui ci finit sa vie sous le consulat de Cn. Domitius et de C. Sosius. Si l'on vouloit pousser l'exactitude encore plus loin, et qu'on eût envie de déterminer l'année précise de la mort de notre poëte, on ne se tromperoit pas de beaucoup en prenant [Page 362] l'année moyenne entre A. U. C. 706 et 721; ce qui nous donnera 714, époque qui quadre fort bien avec tout ce que nous en savons d'ailleurs.

Le seul argument de Scaliger, qui pourroit embarrasser, est celui qu'il tire du poëme séculaire que Catulle doit avoir composé. La conjecture de Vossius qu'on célébra des jeux au commencement du VII siecle de Rome n'est pas soutenable. Je doute que celle de Bayle vaille mieux. Le commencement de ce siecle étoit marqué par tant de désordres, on negligeoit tellement les anciennes cérémoines*, qu'il n'y pas d'apparence qu'on ait conçu le dessein de célébrer de pareils jeux, ni que le peuple s'y attendît. Mais quel besoin de supposer que ce poëme avoit été composé pour les séculaires. N'est il pas bien plus naturel de le croire destiné pour la fête de Diane qui se célébroit tous les ans au mois d'Août; Bentley avoit déja fait cette conjecture. On peut la cofirmer par la comparaison du poëme séculaire d'Horace avec ce morceau de Catulle. Dans celui ci les [Page 363] garçons et les filles ne font qu'un choeur pour s'addresser en commun à Diane:

"Dianae sumus in fide
"Puellae et pueri integri*."

Au lieu que dans Horace les garçons s'addressent à Apollon, les silles à Diane:

"Supplices audi pueros Apollo,
"Siderum Regina bicornis audi,
"Luna puellas."

Cette distinction leur avoit été même ordonnée par l'oracle qui leur enjoignit la célébration de ces jeux.

Je m'arrete: en voilà bien assez pour une fois. Je dois sentir que vos momens sont précieux, et il faut au moins vous disposer à ne pas trouver mauvaise la liberté que j'ai prise, en n'en abusant pas.

J'ai l'honneur d'être, avec beaucoup de considération,

Monsieur, &c. EDWARD GIBBON.

9.6.2. Mr. GIBBON to Mr. GESNER.

[Page 351]

SIR,

AMONG the Romans, that generous people, who had so many institutions worthy of being admired and imitated, the most respectable old lawyers, whose long labours had rendered them the oracles of the bar, did not think their time useless to the community, when it was employed in forming the talents of youth, and in providing for themselves worthy successors. This excellent custom ought to be adopted, and extended to other sciences. Whoever is acquainted with your reputation and your works, will not deny you the title of one of the most learned men of the age; and I hope that my foolish presumption does not deceive me, when I ascribe to myself some natural aptitude for succeeding in the pursuits of literature. Your correspondence would be highly useful to me. On this ground only I request it. In the hope that it will not be refused, I proceed to beg your explanation of [Page 352] some difficulties that I have met with, and your opinion of some conjectures that have occurred to my mind.

1. Who was that Piso, the father, to whom Horace addresses his Art of Poetry? Mr. Dacier supposes him to have been the high-priest who obtained a triumph for his exploits in Thrace, and who died praefect of the city in the seven hundred and eighty-fifth year of Rome*. But that could not be the man; for Horace's Art of Poetry was written before the year seven hundred and thirty-four, since it makes mention of Virgil (who died that year) in terms which shew that he was still alive: and in another part of the poem, Horace addresses the eldest of Piso's sons, as a young man of cultivated talents; which implies that he was not less than eighteen or twenty years of age. But L. Piso, the high-priest, could not surely have a son so old. He himself died at the age of fourscore§, in the seven hundred and eighty-fifth [Page 353] year of Rome. He was born, then, in seven hundred and five; and was not above thirty when the Art of Poetry was written. It is clear therefore, that he is not the person to whom Horace writes; but, among the number of other men who bore that name, I wish that you would help me to discover the Piso to whom that poem was most probably addressed.

2. You know how much trouble it has cost the critics to find out Horace's true design in the third ode of his third book. This masterly performance is distinguished by greatness of thought and dignity of expression; but we are surprised and grieved to find, that the end does not correspond with the beginning; and that Juno's speech is totally unconnected with what precedes or follows it; so that after admiring the detached parts of this ode, we are forced to condemn it as a whole. Taneguy le Fevre explained it by a conjecture, which Dacier thinks deserving of as high encomiums as the ode itself; and which is, doubtless, very ingenious. You know that his explanation turns on the supposed dread of the Romans, lest the seat of their empire [Page 354] should be removed to Troy; and that he fancies the ode to have been written with a view to divert Augustus from such a design, by shewing him how earnestly the Gods had co-operated towards the destruction of Troy, and how much their refentment would be provoked by an attempt to rebuild that ill-fated city. The people might the more naturally suspect Augustus of such an intention, because it was thought to have been entertained by his adoptive father*. But this conjecture, I fear, will not bear examination. It is impossible to prove those pretended fears of the Romans; which are rendered highly improbable, when we consider that Augustus was remarkable for his affectionate partiality towards Rome; as may be seen in his Life, by Suetonius, c. 28, 29, 30. I shall mention but two examples of it. He encouraged almost all the great men of Rome to adorn the city by superb edifices; and himself erected a temple to Mars the Avenger, where the senate was ordered to assemble during its deliberations concerning wars and triumphs. [Page 355] These are not the actions of a man who wished to found a new capital. The example of his uncle is not applicable; that project was formed by him towards the end of his life, when he was intoxicated by prosperity, and engaged in a thousand wild enterprises, which the prudence of Augustus carefully avoided. The cautious firmness with which the latter prince always refused the office of dictator, confirms my remark*. Such are the reasons which hinder me from acquiescing in Le Fevre's explanation. I am sorry for it, and will not be easy till you supply me with another more solidly founded, and equally well fitted to remove all difficulties.

3. Antiochus, king of Syria, had taken possession of several cities in Coele-Syria and Judaea, belonging to young Ptolemy, then under the protection of the Romans. That people undertake the defence of their pupil, and order Antiochus to restore his towns. He despises their orders, and keeps those towns in his possession; in consequence of which, the Romans send to him a second embassy, which, without making any mention of young Ptolemy's pretensions, ‘claim those towns as belonging to the Romans by [Page 356] the right of war.’ These are Justin's words*, which present us with a very perplexing difficulty; because we do not perceive how the Romans could have acquired those places by the right of war, since they were so far from having made conquests in Asia then, that they did not carry their arms into that country till a later aera. A treaty indeed subsisted between them and the kings of Egypt, but it was a treaty merely of friendship and alliance, neither preceded nor followed by any war. I thought that an examination of the other historians, who relate the same transactions, might throw light on this obscure passage of Justin. But Livy, who mentions several times the negociations by which the Romans endeavoured to recover for Ptolemy the places taken from him by Antiochus, is altogether silent with regard to this "right of war," in virtue of which they were demanded. I acquainted the learned Mr. Breitinger, professor of Greek at Zurich, with my difficulty on [Page 357] this subject; which, after attempting in vain to resolve, he was obliged to leave unexplained. But,

"Nil desperandum, Teucro duce; et auspice Teucro."

4. A difference of opinion between Scaliger and Isaac Vossius, concerning the time of Catullus' death, made great noise in the republic of letters. I have not at hand the original arguments of those learned men, which are contained in their respective editions of Catullus; but Bayle* has given us a particular account of their dispute, with his own reflections on the subject. I am sorry that I cannot draw from the fountain head; but Bayle's accuracy as a compiler will not be disputed.

Notwithstanding the labours of these great scholars, I am far from thinking the question decided. Vossius seems to me to place Catullus' death too early, and Scaliger certainly fixes it at too late an aera. That poet surely did not die in the year of the city six hundred and ninety-six; but neither did [Page 358] he live to see the secular games of Augustus celebrated in seven hundred and thirty-six. Let us prove these assertions, and endeavour to find out the true aera in question, which must have been at an intermediate time between the years just mentioned.

Catullus speaks of Great Britain and its inhabitants*, with which Caesar first made the Romans acquainted, by his expedition thither, in the year of Rome six hundred and ninety-eight. Catullus also mentions the second consulship of Pompey, which happened on that same year§. He lived so late as the year seven hundred and six, since he speaks of the consulship of Vatinius. I will not make use of Scaliger's arguments to prove that the poet witnessed Caesar's triumphs, because I do not believe them well-founded. I will not particularly examine whether the words paterna prima lancinata sunt bona , best apply to the first or last victories of Caesar, because I do not believe them to have any reference to the one or the other. We need only to read [Page 359] the epigram attentively, to perceive that Catullus always addresses Caesar in the second person, and Mamurra in the third.

The poet alludes, therefore, not to Caesar's dissipation, but to that of Mamurra; and all the consequences deduced from his applying his words to the former, are built on a false hypothesis.

[Page 360] Catullus, on the other hand, did not live to see the secular games celebrated by Augustus, since he died before Tibullus. Ovid, in an elegy written on the death of the latter, places Catullus among the poets whom his friend will meet with in the Elysian fields*.

But when did Tibullus die? A little epigram of Domitius Marius informs us, that he died the same day, or at least in the same year, with Virgil. Now it is well known that Virgil died the twenty-second of September seven hundred and thirty-four. Catullus then could not see the secular games, which were not celebrated till seven hundred and thirty-six.

We may go farther, and affirm, that Catullus was dead before the year seven hundred and twenty-one. This is proved by a contemporary historian, [Page 361] the friend of Cicero* and of Catullus; I mean Cornelius Nepos. In his Life of Atticus, speaking of a certain Julius Calidius, to whom Atticus had rendered very important services, he distinguishes him, ‘as the most elegant poet of that age, since the death of Lucretius and Catullus .’ The latter, therefore, was dead before Nepos wrote this passage; of which it is not difficult to fix the date. Nepos' Life of Atticus consists of twenty-two chapters; the first eighteen of which were, as he tells us, written while the subject of them still lived§. The passage mentioning the death of Catullus is in the twelfth chapter; from whence it follows, that Atticus survived Catullus. But Atticus died during the consulship of Cn. Domitius and C. Sosius. Did we wish to ascertain still more accurately the precise year of Catullus' death, we should not be much mistaken in fixing it at the middle term between the years of Rome seven hundred and six, and seven [Page 362] hundred and twenty-one; which will give us the year seven hundred and fourteen; which very well agrees with all other particulars known concerning him.

The only argument adduced by Scaliger, that can occasion any difficulty, is, that Catullus composed a secular poem. Vossius' conjecture, that the secular games were celebrated at the commencement of the seventh century of Rome, is altogether unwarranted: that of Bayle, I fear, rests not on much better authority. The beginning of that century was deformed by so many disorders, and by such a marked neglect of ancient ceremonies*, that there is not any probability that such games should then have been either exhibited or expected. But it is not necessary to suppose that Catullus' poem was written for the secular games. It might have been intended merely for Diana's festival, which was celebrated yearly in the month of August; as Bentley conjectured. This is confirmed by comparing this poem with Horace's Carmen Seculare. In the former, both the boys and girls [Page 363] form but one chorus, which addresses itself to Diana*. In Horace, the boys address themselves to Apollo, and the girls to Diana. This distinction had been established by the oracle who commanded the celebration of the games.

But I have done. This is enough for one letter. Your time is precious, and I would not offend you by carrying too far the liberty I have taken in writing to you. I have the honour to be, with much consideration,

Yours, &c. EDWARD GIBBON.

9.7.1. No VII. M. GESNER à M. GIBBON.

[Page 364]

1. QUAERITUR de Pisonibus quibus honorem in Arte Poetica habuit Horatius. Dacerius et Sanadonus sorte fidem apud te, Gibbone, Vir Doctissime, inventuri erant facilius, si auctorem sententiae suae laudassent, sine quo ea levis, et hariolationi similis, videri potest, et quae argumento etiam non nimis valido everti queat. Jam vero est illa Porphyrionis antiqui hominis, qui eam forte debet antiquiori, qui de nominibus Horatianis scripsit. Hic ergo Porphyrio, ut est ex optimis libris editus, Hunc librum, inquit, qui inscribitur de Arte Poetica ad L. Pisonem, qui postea urbis custos fuit, misit. Nam et ipse Piso poeta fuit, et studiorum liberalium antistes. At aetas non convenit! Immo pulchre. Mortuus est ille Piso, Tacito teste, (An. l. vi. c. 10.) octogenarius A. U. 785. Gessit praefecturam [Page 365] urbis annis XX.; suscepit ergo A. U. 765. Antequam illud munus susciperet, debet scripta esse epistola de Arte Poetica (quam ego suspicor fuisse aliquando secundi libri tertiam): quia Porphyrio dicit, qui postea urbis custos fuit. Ponamus natum esse Pisoni majorem filiorum anno aetatis XXX. eumque filium annos XVI. habuisse, cum ad illum ista scriberet Horatius (366): O major juvenum, &c. Scripta erit Ars Poetica anno aetatis Horatii LII. quod pulchre convenit cum Bentleianis rationibus, quas ego, cum ante hos fere annos Horatium ederem, comperi hactenus certe justas esse, ut diligenter licet attendenti, nihil occurrerit, quod illis repugnet. Si putemus in adolescentem XVI annorum, non convenire laudem, quam illi tribuit Horatius (quod mihi quidem contra videtur) prius natum possumus V vel X adeo annis dicere. At Virgilius vivebat adhuc cum Artem Poeticam scriberet Horatius, qui mortuus est A. U. 735, cum vir XXX annorum esset Piso, nec filium habere posset X vel XII ad summum annis majorem. Primo nec ipsum hoc forte absurdum putarint quidam, juvenem hic vocari praecocis ingenii et doctrinae [Page 366] puerum decennem. Hac quidem aetate poetas fuisse Hugonem Grotium aliosque novimus: et liberalius, credo, utebantur aulici homines juvenis appellatione, postquam nequiter adeo Ciceroni expetiverat puerum quod vocasset Octavium.

Sed quod pace tua dixerim, Vir Humanissime, nihil causae video cur in vivis adhuc fuisse, statuendum sit Virgilium, scribente Artem Horatio. Neque enim simpliciter eo loco vivi poetae mortuis opponuntur, sed antiqui novis: non sola Libitina sacrare poetam potest; sed annos jam plures mortuus sit, secundum istos judices, oportet:

"Est vetus atque probus, centum qui perficit annos."
Vide, quaeso, epistolam libri secundi primam.

2. De Horatii ode libri tertii tertia, sententiam dixi in meis ad illum observationibus, quas tibi visas non puto, quare hic repetam et explicabo. Lusit Augustus coenas Deorum nonnunquam. Notum est ex Suetonio (l. ii. c. 70.), male audisse aliquando coenam illius [...], h. e. duodecim illorum Deorum, quibus pulvinaria, seu lecti sternebantur [Page 367] in Capitolio (e. g. Liv. xxii. 10.) Quid si Horatius jussus vel injussus scripsit versus tali dramati aptos? Quid si, cum male audirent id genus ludi, voluit, hoc velut specimine proposito, persuadere hominibus, esse illos innocentes, civiles, Romani populi studiis conformes? Voluit eadem ode blandiri genti Juliae, quae origines Trojanos ab Aenea, et Iulo udum adoptaverat. Aditum sibi parat ad eam rem pulcherrimum poeta. Fortitudo cum justitia homines ad Deos perducit. Inter hos jam est nostra admiratione et praedicatione, Augustus, et (ut eodem circiter tempore cecinit, Od. iii. c. 5. § 2.) presens divus habebitur. Nempe non minus meritorum ac juris habet Augustus quam habuit olim cum Baccho Romulus: qui tamen non sine difficultate receptus est, donec gratum elocuta est Juno Diis consiliantibus. Hujus oratio ejusdem plane argumenti est, cujus illa Virgiliana, (Aen. l. xii. v. 791. et seq.) Et potuit Horatius illud argumentum eligere, si vel nunquam serio cogitavit de transferenda [Page 368] imperii sede Augustus. Potuit ea re gratum facere principi, si crederet ipse populus damnari in aula consilium illud antiquum Julii Caesaris, calamitosum Romae ac detestabile. Quod hic longior est, et [...], quam ab illo exordio aliquis exspectaret; nae ignarus fuerit naturae carminis lyrici, quatenus illa exemplis veterum cognoscitur, qui longum adeo excursum, si vel excursus sit, reprehendat.

3. Durus satis nodus esse debet, qui non modo eruditum atque ingeniosum juvenem, sed veteranum etiam in his literis virum, Breitingerum, cujus nomen semper cum honore usurpo, potuit tenere. Quî enim postulare potuit legatiopopuli Romani, ‘civitates jure belli suas factas restitui in integrum ab Antiocho,’ quas paulo ante Senatus Ptolemaei pupilli sui esse dixerat? Quî potuere Romani jure belli asserere sibi urbes Asiae, in quam aliquot demum annis post ‘primus omnium Romanorum ducum Scipio cum exercitu trajecit?’ (Epit. Liv. l. xxxvii.) Verum solvi tamen potest hic nodus, etiam non [Page 369] adhibito Alexandri gladio, modo seriem illarum rorum apud ipsum Justinum atque Livium inspiciamus. Hic (l. xxxi. c. 14.), Philippo, inquit, animos faciebat—foedus ictum cum Antiocho Syriae rege, divisaeque jam cum co Aegypti opes, cui morte audita Ptolemaei regis, ambo imminebant. Justinus (lib. xxx. c. 2.), Legatos Alexandrini ad Romanos misere, orantes ut tutelam pupilli sui susciperent, tuerenturque regnum Aegypti, quod jam Philippum et Antiochum, facta inter se pactione, divisisse dicebant. Nec vero inter pacta res substitit. Antiochus enim, dum occupatus in Romano bello est Philippus, (teste Livio, lib. 33. c. 19.) omnibus que in Coele-Syria sunt civitatibus Ptolomaei in suam potestatem redactis; simul per omnem oram Ciliciaeque et Cariae tentaturus erat urbes quae in ditione Ptolemaei essent; simulque Philippum exercitu navibusque adjuturus. Interea debellatur; vinciturque a Quintio Philippus. Ab eodem Quintio jam (Liv. lib. xxxiii. c. 34.), aperte pronunciatur legatis Antiochi, jure belli et victoriae nimirum, ut excederet Asiae urbibus, quae aut Philippi aut Ptolemaei [Page 370] regum fuissent. Obscurius igitur brevitate, sed verum tamen scripsit Justinus.

Ecquid te poenitet, GIBBONE Vir Doctissime, literis ita humanis lacessitum ivisse senem frigidum et inertem, qui per duos menses possit differre responsionem ad epistolam ita blandam, ita sibi honorificam? Non conjiciam causam longi silentii in senectutem, quamquam haec quoque incipit sufflaminare non nunquam conatus meos, ut sentiam circa septuagesimum, demptis tribus, aetatis annum, non ita me jam imperare posse ingenio, ut annis superioribus. Sed cum alias in otium concedere paullatim detur senibus, mihi adhuc pene contra evenit, ut subinde novae mihi curae imponantur. Adscriptus sum societatibus aliquot, ut Berolinensi, et nostrae scientiarum; hanc etiam per vices semestres jussus dirigere: praesidere soleo singulis hebdomadis societati apud nos Germanicae; submittere autem scriptiunculas quasdam meas Latinae Jenensi. Bibliothecam Academiae, quinquaginta ad minimum librorum millibus constantem, curare [Page 371] meum est; tum scholas majores per Germanicas Regis provincias inspicere, et regere consilio; tum alimentarios circiter viginti juvenes observare; et scribere quidquid Prorectoris et Senatus Academici nomine in tabulis publicis proponitur; et inter haec ternas, quaternas, plures etiam interdum, singulis diebus praelectiones habere. Et dixi tantum quae publicis aliquo modo officiis debentur. Quot salutares juvenes sunt accipiendi? quot ex condiscipulis vel discipulis amici absentes colendi literis? nunquam vacare possum a scribendo, commentando talia quae luci destinata publicae plus aliquanto curae postulant: ut nunc in manibus est Claudianus, hac aestate, si Deus faverit, proferendus. Haec cum ita sint, fateor, me, cum primum percurrenti tuas, vir praestantissime, literas, negotium etiam operosius videretur, quam tractando deinde expertus sum, illas in otium pinguiusculum continuarum aliquot horarum seposuisse. Hoc otiolum heri demum casu mihi oblatum, collocavi ut vides.

Superest, uti hanc lucubratiunculam boni consulas, et, si illa minus forte, quam mihi optabile est, expectationi tuae respondeat, alia mihi [Page 372] omnia quam gratificandi tibi voluntatem defuisse existimes. Brevitati studui, quod non opus esse putarem ea repetere, quae ad causam constituendam a te bene dicta sunt. Latina lingua, ut aliquanto mihi familiariore, usus sum, ne mihi forte accideret, quod tibi Gallice scribenti, Gallice licet bene docto, usu venisse video, uti scriberes, Un different que Scaliger et Is. Vossius ont eu ensemble; unde aliquis colligerit te putasse liticulam habuisse inter se homines, quorum alter novem annis post alterius mortem natus est. Habes, Gibbone, Vir Humanissime, nudum pectus et deditam tibi voluntatem et parata studia

MATTHIAE GESNERI.

4. In quaestione de annis Catulli plane tuus sum, Gibbone Doctissime, ne putes pigritia quadam me assentiri malle tibi, quam tecum disputare, primo hic reponam ipsa verba quae juvenis posui in disputatione de annis ludisque secularibus veterum Romanorum Vinariae [Page 373] A. 1717; atque adeo ante hos ipsos quadraginta annos a me habita, (p. 43.) Cum in ipso carmine nihil sit quod non alio quoque festo in Dianae honorem cani potuerit, &c. Deinde confirmo tibi me expendisse eadem hora, qua ista scribebam, eruditam disputationem tuam, contulisse ipsas Is. Vossii ad Catullum observationes (edit. 1684, 4to. p. 81 et seq.), et ea quae Jos. Scaliger a Vossio hic refutatus disputaverat; inspexisse Ciceronis de Mamurra locum, adhibuisse Middletoni observationem; et post rem bene perceptam et perpensam, plane secundum te, praestantissime Gibbone, pronuncio.

P. S. Recte mihi reddentur literae tuae si in posterum quoque scribere ad me velis, vel solo meo nomine et urbis nostrae literis inscripto; vel sic, ‘A. M. le Professeur Gesner, Conseiller de la Cour de sa Majesté Britannique, à Gottingen.’ Sed si vis videre titulos meos more Germanico deductos, en tibi excerptos ex libro quintum edito Nordhusae 1752, 8vo. Teutsch und Fransosisch Titularbuch, p. 164:—‘A Monsieur Monsieur [Page 374] Gesner, Conseiller de la Cour de sa Majesté Britannique, Professeur ordinaire de l'Université de Gottingue, Inspecteur Général des Ecoles de l'Electorat de Hanovre, Bibliothecaire de l'Université, Directeur du Séminaire Philologique, Président de la Société Royale de l'Eloquence Allemande, et Membre de la Société Royale de Sciences de Gottingue, &c.’ Nullus horum titulorum est, quin aliquid certe temporis mihi auferat: quae sola etiam causa est cur huc descripsi: quod mihi te credere sic putabo, si quam brevissima inscriptione literarum ad me utaris.

9.7.2. Mr. GESNER to Mr. GIBBON.

[Page 364]

1. YOU inquire who were the Pisos, of whom Horace speaks in such honourable terms in his Art of Poetry. Dacier and Sanadon would probably, most learned Sir, have obtained more credit with you, had they cited the authority on which their opinion rests; and independently of which, it seems no better than a guess, which a slight argument is sufficient to overturn. This authority is that of Porphyrio, an ancient writer, who treats of the names mentioned in Horace, and who here perhaps copies from some author more ancient than himself. In his corrected edition Porphyrio says, ‘Horace's work, intitled the Art of Poetry, is addressed to L. Piso, who was afterwards governor of Rome; for Piso was himself a poet, and a patron of literary pursuits.’ But chronology, you say, does not warrant this explanation. It does; for Tacitus tells us, in his Annals, (lib. vi. c. 10.) that Piso died U. C. 785, at the age of eighty. He held his office twenty [Page 365] years; and therefore entered on it U. C. 765; before which period Horace must have sent to him the Art of Poetry, (which I suspect once stood at the third epistle of the second book,) because Porphyrio says, ‘who was afterwards governor of Rome.’ Let us suppose that Piso's son was born when the father was thirty years old; and that the son was sixteen when Horace addressed him, O major juvenum; the Art of Poetry will then have been written in the fifty-second year of Horace's age; which well agrees with Bentley's computation; a subject which I remember to have examined and approved when about the same time of life I published my edition of Horace. If we think sixteen years too young for the praises bestowed by the poet, we may add to them five, or even ten years more. But to this mode of reckoning it is objected, that Virgil was alive when Horace wrote his Art of Poetry; and as the latter died in the year of Rome seven hundred and thirty-five, Piso, who was then but thirty years old himself, could not have a son above ten or twelve at the utmost. But some critics do not disapprove of the application of juvenis to a boy of ten [Page 366] years, and of a forward genius: Grotius and others were poets at that age; and the Roman courtiers would naturally, I think, be prodigal in using the term juvenis, after Cicero gave so much offence by applying the term puer to Augustus.

But I see not any convincing argument to prove that Virgil was alive when the Art of Poetry was written. For, in the passage alluded to, Horace does not contrast living poets with those that were dead, but ancient poets with the modern; and, according to the critics whom he mentions, not death alone, but the being dead a certain number of years, was necessary for the attainment of poetical same.

"Est vetus atque probus, centum qui perficit annos."
See the first epistle of the second book.

2. Concerning the third ode of the third book, I formerly gave my opinion in the observations accompanying my edition, which, as you have not seen them, I shall here repeat and explain. Augustus sometimes represented in sport the suppers of the gods. We know from Suetone, lib. ii. c. 70. that he was blamed for his imitation of the supper of the twelve gods, which [Page 367] used to take place in the capitol, where pallets were spread for them; of which we see an example in Livy, lib. xxii. c. 10. Is it not possible that Horace, either with or without the orders of Augustus, might think proper to write verses adapted to such a representation? Might he not endeavour to remove the blame attached to it, by exhibiting an example in which it was not only innocent, but conformable with the institutions and inclinations of the Romans? At the same time his ode would be a compliment to the Julian family? which had long boasted its descent from Aeneas and Iülus. For entering on this subject, the poet ingeniously prepares the way, by showing that men had attained divinity through justice and fortitude. Augustus is entitled to our admiration and praise; and, as he sung in another ode, written nearly about the same time, presens divus habebitur, being not less worthy of divinity than Bacchus and Romulus; the latter of whom was not without difficulty admitted to that honour, ‘till Juno made her most pleasing and acceptable speech in the council of the gods.’ This speech is of the same purport with that in the Aeneid, lib. xii. v. 791. & seq.; and might have been pronounced with propriety, without supposing that Augustus ever seriously thought of changing the seat of his empire. That prince also must [Page 368] have been pleased with an attempt to persuade the people that he condemned a design, said to have been entertained by Julius Caesar, but which was so much detested by the Romans, and would, if carried into execution, have been so calamitous to Rome. The speech indeed is longer, and more pathetic than might be expected from the beginning of the ode; but he must be ignorant of the nature of lyric poetry, as illustrated in the writings of the ancients, who finds fault with the length of this real or apparent digression.

3. The knot must be hard indeed, which not only baffles the exertions of a learned and ingenious youth, but resists the strength of Breitinger, a veteran in the literary field, whose name I never pronounce but with the highest respect. How could Roman ambassadors require that the cities taken by Antiochus in Asia should be restored, according to the law of war, to Rome, when the senate shortly before had declared those cities to belong to its pupil Ptolemy? Or how could the Romans claim those cities by the law of war, when Scipio, a few years afterwards, was the first Roman general that passed into Asia with an army? Livy, lib. xxxvii. The knot, however, may be untied, without having recourse to Alexander's sword, provided we [Page 369] follow the series of those transactions, as related by Justin and Livy. The latter historian, lib. xxxi. c. 14, relates, ‘that Philip's courage was increased by his league with Antiochus, king of Syria, with whom, as soon as he learned Ptolemy's death, he purposed, according to the tenor of that agreement, dividing the spoils of Egypt.’ Justin, again, lib. xxx. c. 2, tells us, ‘that the Alexandrians sent ambassadors to Rome, requesting the senate to defend the cause of their pupil, threatened with the partition of his dominions, in consequence of a treaty for that purpose between Philip and Antiochus.’ This treaty indeed soon began to be carried into effect; for, according to Livy, lib. xxxii. c. 19. ‘Antiochus, while his ally was occupied in the war with Rome, conquered all the cities belonging to Ptolemy in Coele-Syria; purposing next to invade the coast of Caria and Cilicia, and at the same time to assist Philip with a fleet and army.’ Meanwhile Philip is conquered by the Roman consul Quintius; who then openly declared to Antiochus' ambassadors, ‘that their [Page 370] master must evacuate (supply, "according to the law of war,") all those cities to which either Philip or Ptolemy had any claims. Livy, lib. xxxiii. c. 34. ’ Justin's narrative, therefore, though obscured by brevity, is yet consistent with truth.

Do you not repent, learned Sir, the having written to an indolent old man, who could delay two months sending an answer to a letter so obliging, and so honourable to himself? I will not throw the blame on my advanced age, though I begin to feel my former powers of exertion somewhat slacken and abate under the weight of sixty-seven years. At this time of life most old men are indulged with a diminution of labour; whereas I, on the contrary, am continually burdened with an increase of occupations and cares. I belong to several academies, particularly that of Berlin, and this here of Gottingen; which last I am appointed to direct six months in the year; I also preside weekly in the German society of this place, and frequently correspond with the Latin society of Jena. I am entrusted with the care of the public library, consisting at least of fifty thousand volumes; with the inspection [Page 371] of the colleges in his majesty's German dominions; and with the superintendance of about twenty youths, who are educated at the public expence. The task also falls on me of writing whatever is inserted in the archives of the university, in the name of the rector and senate: and it is my duty to give daily three, four, and sometimes more prelections. To these public offices must be added the avocations of private company, and of a very extensive correspondence. Besides, I have always some work in hand, which requires nicer attention to render it worthy of the public eye. At present I am employed about an edition of Claudian; which, God willing! shall be published in the course of this summer. Thus circumstanced, I confess that I laid aside your letter, which seemed as if it would require more pains to answer than were afterwards found necessary, until I should enjoy a few hours of uninterrupted leisure. This opportunity occurred only yesterday, of which, you see, I made use.

It remains that I request you to receive favourably this attempt; and if it does not fully answer your expectation, to ascribe the failure to any other [Page 372] cause rather than my want of inclination to oblige you. Brevity was my aim, because it seemed unnecessary to repeat what you had so well said on the subject. I write in Latin, a language familiar to me, lest I should commit a mistake similar to that of which you, though well-skilled in French, are guilty, when you say, Un different que Scaliger & Is. Vossius ont eu ensemble. From which words it might be concluded, that a difference had subsisted between these learned men, of whom the one died nine years before the other was born. I remain sincerely, with much consideration, &c.

MATTHEW GESNER.

4. As to the question concerning the age of Catullus, I am entirely of your opinion; and lest you should think that I agree with you, merely because, through laziness, I am unwilling to enter into an argument, I shall transcribe the words of a thesis, which I defended in my youth forty years [Page 373] ago, (p. 43. Weimar, 1717,) concerning the secular years and games of the Romans. ‘There is nothing in the poem which might not have been said, had it been written for any other festival in honour of Diana,’ &c. I assure you, that within this hour I have compared what is said in your learned dissertation, with Is. Vossius' remarks on Catullus, (edit. 1684, 4to. p. 81, & seq.) and those of Jos. Scaliger, whom he refutes. I also examined the passage of Cicero concerning Mamurra, with Middleton's observations on it; and having examined and well weighed the whole matter, I pronounce sentence, most excellent Gibbon, clearly in your favour.

P. S. Your letters will find me without any farther direction than that of my name and place of abode, or addressed to Mr. Professor Gesner, counsellor of the Court of his Britannic Majesty, Gottingen. But if you wish to see my titles expanded at full length after the German fashion, here they are, copied from the French and German Title-book, [Page 374] printed at Nordhausen, 1752, 8vo. fifth edition, p. 164. ‘To Mr. Gesner, Counsellor of the Court of his Britannic Majesty, Professor in the University of Gottingen, Inspector General of the Schools of the Electorate of Hanover, Librarian of the University, Director of the Philological Seminary, President of the Royal Society of German Eloquence, Member of the Royal Society of Sciences at Gottingen,’ &c. There is not one of these titles but deprives me of some part of my time; the only reason for which I here subjoin them; which I shall think you believe, if your letter to me has as short a direction as possible.

9.8.1. No VIII. Mr. GIBBON à M. GESNER.

[Page 375]

MONSIEUR,

LA multitude de vos occupations montrent à la fois votre mérite, la justice qu'on lui rend, ma présomption, et votre bonté. Que j'envie le sort de ce petit nombre d'esprits supérieurs dont les talens toujours les mêmes, et toujours diversifiés, revêtissent avec une égale facilité tous les caractères que l'utilité ou l'agrément des hommes exige d'eux. J'applaudis encore au discernement de ces princes qui osent écarter les nuages dont la frivolité, l'envie, et la calomnie environnent leurs trones, qui rendent aux grands hommes de leurs états, une justice que le public impartial leur rendoit depuis long tems et qui savent récompenser leurs talens, en leur fournissant de nouvelles occasions de les développer. Voila une petite partie des réflexions qu'a fait naitre votre lettre; si j'en croyois mon inclination, elles n'auroient point de bornes; mais la raison me dit que je dois me contenter [Page 376] de vous assurer de toute la reconnoissance dont vous avez pénétré un homme qui se fera toujours gloire du titre de votre disciple. Je vais dans peu de tems en Angleterre; je pourrois peut etre y trouver l'occasion de vous prouver mes sentimens, ou du moins mon commerce vous deviendra moins ennuyeux. Mon séjour dans une capitale éclairée me donnera une sorte de mérite local. Incapable de les imiter, je vous apprendrai de bonne-heure les travaux, et les découvertes de nos savans. Gottingue mérite bien qu'à mon tour je vous demande quelles sont les occupations de vos collegues et de vos disciples. Un nouveau plaisir que j'envisage dans mon retour en Angleterre, c'est la connoissance de tous vos ouvrages. Mon premier soin sera de me les procurer, et de les étudier comme mes meilleurs modèles: pour m'aider dans cette recherche, je prendrai la liberté de vous demander une liste de tous ces morceaux curieux dont vous avez enrichi la république des lettres. Mon ignorance de plusieurs d'entre eux excite à la fois ma joye et ma honte. Ma jeunesse, et le lieu d'où je datte mes lettres, sont mon unique excuse.

[Page 377] Si j'ose proposer quelques nouveaux doures, vous savez mieux que personne qu'il n'y a que la raison, ou du moins son apparence que soit absolue. Soyez persuadé que mon unique but en discutant vos leçons, c'est de m'en rendre digne:

"Non ita certandi cupidus, quam propter amorem,
"Quod te imitari aveo. Quid enim contendat hirundo
"Cycnis; aut quidnam tremulis facere artubus haedi
"Consimile in cursu possint, ac fortis equi vis?
"Tu pater et rerum inventor*."

Après cette explication, je vous avouerai qu'il me reste encore quelques nuages sur le Pison de l'Art Poétique. Vous ne croyez pas que les paroles d'Horace touchant Virgile, prouvent que ce poëte fût encore vivant, et que l'opposition est plutôt des anciens aux modernes, que des mots aux vivans. J'ai relu l'endroit, mais cette nouvelle lecture, et les réflexions aux quelles elle a donné lieu, n'ont fait que me confirmer dans ma première opinion. Horace trouvoit la langue [Page 378] Latine pauvre et trop stérile, pour exprimer les idées abstraites que les compagnons de Romulus, les pâtres, et les brigands ne connoissoient point: plusieurs de ses compatriotes lui avoient trouvé le même défaut. Horace souhaite de l'enrichir. Il propose pour cet effet aux Virgile, aux Varius, de travailler dans ce dessein, et d'emprunter du Grec quantité de termes énergiques dont ils avoient besoin. Il leur offre son secours. C'est un projet qu'il forme et non une chose déja faite qu'il justifie. Par conséquent l'avenir qu'il envisage ne peut regarder que ceux d'entre les écrivains qui vivoient encore. Par conséquent l'Art Poétique fut composé avant l'an 735. Le point de vue sous lequel je considere ce passage, est si bien celui du poëte lui même, que celui ci finit cette opposition par cette image (une des plus vives et des plus justes, que je connoisse):

"—licuit semperque licebit
Signatum praesenti notâ producere nomen*."

Le licuit, le passé, regarde les Terence, les Caecilius, morts depuis long [Page 379] tems; le licebit, le futur, les Varius, les Virgile, ceux qui étoient encore en état d'en profiter*.

Mais, dites vous, dans ce tems même le jeune Pison pouvoit avoir dix ans; Grotius faisoit bien des vers à cet age. Je le sais: mais les Grotius sont ils bien communs; combien d'enfans trouverez vous de dix ans, qui ayent non-seulement assez de feu pour faire des vers, mais encore assez de réflexion pour en juger sensément? Il n'est pas même vraisemblable qu'à l'age de vingt ans Pison le pere eût déja des enfans. Vous savez combien rares étoient les mariages sous Auguste; combien l'exemple de Germanicus paroissoit admirable; combien la pauvreté§, la debauche, et l'orgueil, [Page 380] arretoient la noblesse dans le célibat, surtout pendant les guerres civiles qui désolerent la terre, pendant la première jeunesse de Pison. Les loix d'Auguste ne font qu'indiquer la grandeur du mal*, et les premières de ces loix furent promulguées plus de trente ans aprés la naissance de Pison. Si l'on compte une génération ordinaire [...] à trente trois ans, il paroît que sous le commencement de l'empire, on devroit les pousser plutôt jusqu'à quarante ans, que de les réduire à vingt. Je conviens que ce ne sont la que des probabilités, mais dans la science de la critique, il paroît que les probabilités doivent faire disparoître les possibilités, et céder à leur tour aux preuves. Je ne crains rien de ce principe. L'autorité d'un Prophyrion n'a pas assez de force parmi les savans, pour pouvoir jamais former un raisonnement. Tout ce qu'elle pourroit faire, ceseroit d'en appuyer un déja prouvé. Les anciens ne donnoient point à Porphyrion la première place parmi les commentateurs d'Horace§, et les modernes, Monsieur [Page 381] Dacier surtout, lui ont trouvé beaucoup d' erreurs. Je ne sens pas d'ailleurs la force de la première de vos hypothèses. Si Pison avoit eu son fils à l'age de trente ans, celui ci pouvoit en avoir seize, lorsque Horace lui écrivit, age, suivant vous, qui repond aux conditions requises. Auriez vous oublié dans ce moment qu' Horace mourut en 745; quand Pison lui même n'avoit que 40 ans?

2. Je ne doute pas un instant qu'Horace n'ait eu en vue, dans la troisième Ode du troisième Livre, de faire voir aux Romains que si leur prince aspiroit aux honneurs divins, Viamque affectat Olympo, il les méritoit par ses exploits, dont la grandeur égaloit celle des plus fameux héros, d'un Bacchus, d'un Hercule, d'un Romulus, héros, qui méprisant les efforts des humains, et appaisant la haine des Dieux, s'étoient frayé un chemin jusq'aux palais des immortels. Mais a t'il voulu faire cesser les clameurs du peuple sur l'infame [...]? j'en doute. 1. Les dates y répugnent. Suetone ne marque pas celle du [...]; mais [Page 382] nous savons toujours que puisque Marc Antoine la rapella dans les lettres à son rival*. Elle arriva avant la dernière brouillerie des triumvirs, ou avant l'an 721. Suivant Bentley dont vous adoptez les idées, Horace composa le troisième livre des Odes dans la quarante deuxième, et la quarante troisième année de son age, c'est à dire, en 728 et 729. Une justification venue sept ou huit ans après coup, bien loin de faire plaisir à Auguste n'auroit servi qu'à faire revivre la mémoire de ces excès, que la politique du prince, et la reconnoissance du peuple avoient plongé dans l'oubli. 2. Auguste soupa avec onze hommes, ou femmes, pareillement equippés en divinités. Horace élevoit bien Auguste à la table des dieux, purpureo bibit ore nectar; mais y placoit il aussi tous ses compagnon? L'honneur seroit devenu bien banal, et un tel panégyrique n'eut pas été fort éloigné de la satyre. Je conviens bien du reste avec vous, que trouver le plan d'un morçeau de poësie Lyrique, est un but plus desirable [Page 383] que nécessaire. Les Lyriques ont toujours eu le privilege de prendre un vol que l'imagination admire, et que la timide raison n'ose critiquer. Dans l'ode dont nous parlons, que ce défaut, si c'en est un, est racheté par de grandes beautés! Les deux premières strophes font sentir quel effet, l'union de la philosophie avec la poësie, peut produire: le justum et tenacem propositi virum est le sage des stoiciens, leur roi*, leur seul heureux. La justice formoit toutes ses résolutions; une constance inébranlable le rendoit ardent à les suivre. Un tel homme au dessus des passions et des préjugés, n'y jettoit quelquefois les yeux que pour s'écrier,

"O! curas hominum! O! quantum in rebus inane!"
S'il est honteux pour l'espece humaine de n'avoir jamais produit cet homme; il lui est bien honorable d'avoir su en former un tableau. Quelle gradation dans les images! son sage résisteroit aux clameurs [Page 384] d'une multitude forcenée. Mais la colère du peuple s'appaise avec la même facilité qu'elle s'est allumée. Il mépriseroit les menaces d'un tyran furieux; mais les coeurs des tyrans se sont quelquefois laissé fléchir. Il entendroit sans fremir le bruit des tempêtes sourdes aux cris des malheureux. Mais la fortune a souvent sauvé les victimes à la fureur des flots. Egal à Jupiter, il n'en craindroit par la foudre. Içi l'imagination s'arrete en tremblant. Elle craint pour le poëte une chute foible ou outrée; elle ne sent point d'image supérieure au courroux du maître des Dieux et des hommes. Avec quel étonnement admire t'elle le génie du poëte, quand elle lit, ‘Il recevra sans sourciller le choc de l'univers écroulé, où une même destruction devoit envélopper, les hommes, les élémens, et les Dieux eux mêmes*.’ Je m'arrete. Peut etre ces réflexions vous ennuyent: en ce cas, c'est ma faute. J'aurai cependant rempli mon but qui étoit de faire voir le point de vue sous lequel je considere l'érudition la plus grande. [Page 385] Comme moyen, elle mérite toute notre admiration; comme sin dernière, tout notre mépris.

3. Vous connoissez, Monsieur, ce sameux passage de Velleius Paterculus*, qui a donné tant de peine aux savans. Le voici: Ita Drusus qui a patre ad id ipsum plurimo pridem igne emicans incendium militaris tumultus missus erat, priscâ antiquáque severitate usus, ancipitia sibi tam rem quam exemplo perniciosa, et his ipsis militum gladiis, quibus obsessus erat, obsidentes coercuit. Il ne paroît pas qu'on en puisse tirer quelques sens raisonnable. Il faut absolument le supposer, ou inutile, ou corrompu. Aussi tous les critiques, qui ont travaillé sur cet auteur, ont ils essayé de le rétablir. Burerius, Acidalius, Grutar, Boeclerus, Heinsius, Burman, ont tous fourni des conjectures plus ou moins vraisemblables, mais que je ne me propose pas de discuter. Il vaudra mieux, je crois, vous en offrir une de ma façon, et vous laisser juge de son plus, ou moins de probabilité. Au lieu de la leçon reçue, je lirai, Priscâ antiquâque severitate, FUSUS ancipitia sibi tam re quam exemplo perniciosa. Il saute aux yeux combien ce léger changement présente un sens net. Il est aisé de faire [Page 386] voir qu'elle est des plus conformes à l'analogie de la langue, et à la vérité de l'histoire. Les meilleurs grammairiens reconnoissent aujourdhui, que les Latins, faute d'une forme moyenne à leurs verbes, se sont souvent servi des participes d'une terminaison passive dans un sens actif*. Qu'ainsi ils ont dit juratus, punitus, pour dire qui juravit, qui punivit. On trouve mème peragratus dans ce sens, dans Velleius lui même. Ainsi fusus, pour exprimer l'action de Drusus, ne doit pas étonner. L'histoire est également favorable à notre correction. Drusus (suivant Tacite) arrive au camp des rebelles. Ses ordres sont méprisés, ses offres deviennent suspectes. Les soldats le tiennent prisonnier dans le camp, ils outragent ses amis, ils ne cherchent qu'un prétexte pour commencer le carnage; quel danger pour sa personne! Sibi ancipitia tam re. On connoit la sévérité de la discipline Romaine. Les chefs étoient pour les soldats, des dieux; leurs ordres, des oracles. Quel renversement de toutes ces maximes! Quel funeste exemple pour l'avenir, que [Page 387] la sédition des légions Pannoniennes! Le fanatisme, qui a fait tant de maux, fit cette fois du bien: une éclipse de lune étonna les soldats, et sauva le prince.

J'ai lu avec plaisir, Monsieur, votre explication de la difficulté de Justin. J'admire avec combien d'art vous formez un tissu de la narration des auteurs différens, pour rassembler des rayons épars de lumière dans un même foyer. Si vous n'y avez pas pu porter toute la netteté desirable, je crois qu'on doit s'en prendre uniquement aux ténebres de l'antiquité et à la briéveté de Justin lui même.

Rassuré par votre suffrage, je n'ai plus de crainte sur mon idée touchant la mort de Catulle. Auparavant je la trouvois vraisemblable; à présent je commence à la regarder comme certaine.

J'ai l'honneur d'etre, avec la plus haute considération et la plus parfaite estime, Monsieur, &c.

EDWARD GIBBON.

9.8.2. Mr. GIBBON to Mr. GESNER.

[Page 375]

SIR,

THE multitude of your employments affords at once the proof of your own merit, of the justice done to it by the public, of my presumption, and of your goodness. How enviable is the lot of that small number of superior minds whose talents are equally adapted to promote the purposes either of pleasure or utility? The discernment surely of those princes is worthy of much applause, who, having ventured to dissipate the clouds of envy, calumny, and frivolity, that usually surround thrones, render to the truly great men among their subjects a justice which had been long done to them by the impartial public, and reward their talents, by affording them new opportunities to display them. These are but a small part of the reflections occasioned by your letter, and which, were I to consult my inclination only, would extend to a great length; but my reason tells me, that I must be [Page 376] contented with assuring you, that you have filled with gratitude a man who will always be proud of being called your scholar. I go shortly to England; where, perhaps, I may find an opportunity of proving to you the sincerity of my sentiments, at least of rendering my correspondence less tiresome. My residence in London will give me a sort of local merit. I will send you early intelligence of the labours and discoveries of our learned men, whose example I am unable to imitate; and will expect to learn, in return, what is so proper an object of curiosity, the occupations and studies of your colleagues and disciples at Gottingen. At my return to London I propose to myself a new pleasure in collecting all your works, which I will make it my first business to procure; and for assisting me in this matter, must request that you would give me the titles of all the curious pieces with which you have enriched the republic of letters. My ignorance of many of them causes both joy and shame. It can only be excused in consideration of my youth, and the place from which this letter is dated.

[Page 377] If I venture to propose some new doubts, it is because you know better than any one, that absolute submission is due only to reason, either real or apparent. You will believe that my only motive for discussing your lessons is to render myself worthy of them:

"Non ita certandi cupidus, quam propter amorem*."

After this apology, I must confess that I have still some remaining doubts concerning the Piso to whom Horace addresses his Art of Poetry. You think that the manner in which that poet speaks of Virgil does not prove the latter to be still alive; because Horace does not oppose the dead to the living, but the ancients to the moderns. I examined the passage again, and that new perusal excited reflections which confirmed me more strongly in my former opinion. Horace thought the Latin tongue too poor and barren, and [Page 378] deficient in words expressive of abstract ideas, which were unknown to Romulus' companions, consisting of shepherds and robbers. This imperfection had been remarked by others. Horace, wishing to remedy it, proposes to the Virgils and Variuses, to co-operate with him in this design, by borrowing from the Greek many energetic terms and phrases which were wanting in Latin. He does not justify a thing already done, but proposes a new enterprise. The futurity which he looks to can only have a reference to authors still alive. The Art of Poetry was therefore written before the year of Rome seven hundred and thirty-five. This explanation agrees so well with the poet's thought, that his opposition between the dead and living poets, concludes with one of the justest and liveliest images that I ever remember to have met with:

‘’

The licuit has a reference to the Terences and the Ceciliuses, who were long [Page 379] dead; the licebit, in the future, to the Variuses and Virgils, who were still alive, and might avail themselves of the maxim.

You say that Piso's eldest son might be ten years old when the Art of Poetry was published; an age at which Grotius wrote verses. Grotius did so; but how few boys of that age have not only the fire to write, but the judgment to criticise poetry? It is not likely that Piso the father should have children at the age of twenty. You well know the paucity of marriages under Augustus, which rendered the conjugal felicity of Germanicus an example so much admired; pride, poverty§, and debauchery, deterred [Page 380] the Roman nobles from marriage, especially amidst the civil wars, which, during Piso's youth, desolated the earth. Augustus' laws on that subject only prove the greatness of the evil*; and Piso was thirty years old, before the first of those laws was enacted. If an ordinary generation is computed at thirty-three years, the generations under the first emperors ought rather to be extended to forty, than reduced to twenty years. These, I acknowledge, are but probabilities; but in the science of criticism probabilities destroy possibilities, and are themselves destroyed by proofs. This principle is not to be controverted. The authority of Porphyrio is of too little weight among the learned to be the foundation of an argument; it might at best help to prop an argument, otherwise well supported. The ancients do not assign to him the first rank among Horace's commentators§; and the moderns, [Page 381] particularly Mr. Dacier, find in him many errors. I do not see any ground for your first hypothesis. If Piso had a son when he was thirty years old, this son might be sixteen when Horace wrote his Art of Poetry; an age which you think agrees with every quality required in him. Did you not forget, in writing this sentence, that Horace died in seven hundred and forty-five, when Piso himself was only forty years old?

2. I think it certain that Horace, in the third ode of his third book, meant to show the Romans, that if their prince aspired to divine honours, Viamque affectat Olympo, he well merited them by his exploits, which rivalled those of the greatest heroes, Bacchus, Hercules, and Romulus, who, after trampling on their human enemies, and appeasing the jealousy of the gods, had opened for themselves a road to the palace of the immortals. But did the poet also intend, by this ode, to resist and destroy the clamours of the people concerning the infamous supper of the twelve gods? I think he did not. 1. This design does not agree with chronology. Suetonius does not tell us the date of this supper; but since Mark Antony mentioned it, in his [Page 382] letters to Augustus*, it must have happened before the last quarrel of the triumvirs. According to Bentley, whose opinion you adopt, Horace wrote the third book of his odes in the forty-second and forty-third years of his age; that is, in the seven hundred and twenty-eighth and seven hundred and twenty-ninth years of Rome. An apology for Augustus' debaucheries, written seven years after they happened, could have only served to revive the memory of enormities, which the policy of that prince and the gratitude of the Romans had long consigned to oblivion. 2. Augustus supped with eleven men and women, who, as well as himself, were adorned with the emblems of divinities. The poet seated Augustus at the table of the gods, purpureo bibit ore nectar; but can we reasonably suppose that he meant to place there the companions of his feast? This would have been no render the honour too common; and his panegyric would have degenerated into a satire. I agree with you, that it is rather desirable than necessary to discover the [Page 383] plan of an ode; the writers of Lyric poetry having always enjoyed the privilege of soaring to heights, which, if admired by fancy, must not be criticised by reason. This fault, if it be one, is compensated by great beauties. The two first stanzas prove the wonderful efficacy of poetry when combined with philosophy. The justum & tenacem propositi virum is the sage of the Stoics, their king*, and only happy man; all whose designs are just, and inflexibly pursued. Such a being, exempt from passions and prejudices, never casts his eyes on the tumults of human life, without exclaiming,

"O! curas hominum! O! quantum in rebus inane!"
To the disgrace of mankind, such a character never existed; but it is not a small honour for the species, that such perfect virtue has been described and relished. The climax is beautiful. The sage would resist the clamorous [Page 384] fury of a mad multitude; but this popular rage is often appeased as easily as it is kindled. He would despise the threats of a furious tyrant: but the hearts of tyrant sometimes relent with compassion. He would hear without terror the raging tempest, which overpowers the cries of the wretched; but fortune has often rescued victims from the boisterous waves. He would not dread the thunder of Jupiter: here the trembling imagination pauses, fearing left the poet should either sink into meanness, or swell into bombast; because it seems impossible to conceive a bolder image than the enraged master of gods and men. But our fear is converted into admiration, when we read ‘he would sustain unterrified the crashing shock of the universe, by which the elements, men, and gods are involved in one common ruin*.’ I stop here, lest my reflections should tire you; which, if they do, it must be my fault. I shall have attained, however, my purpose, which was to show the point of view under which I consider the most profound erudition. Regarded as a mean or instrument, it merits our highest [Page 385] admiration; but considered as an ultimate end, it is entitled to nothing but contempt.

3. You remember, Sir, that famous passage of Velleius Paterculus* which has given so much trouble to the learned. It is as follows: * * * * It seems unsusceptible of any meaning, and must be supposed either defective or corrupt. All the critics, therefore, who have examined it, endeavour to restore the text. Burerius, Acidalius, Gruter, Boeclerus, Heinsius, Burman, have, all of them, given conjectures more or less probable, which I shall not here discuss. I shall rather submit an emendation of my own to your judgment. Instead of the common reading, I would substitute Prisâ antiquâque severitate, FUSUS ancipitia sibi tam re quam exemplo perniciosa. We see at once that this small alteration produces a clear and distinct sense; and [Page 386] the correction may be proved to be equally conformable to the analogy of the Latin tongue, and agreeable to the truth of history. The best grammarians acknowledge that the Latin, not having a middle voice, admits of a passive participle in an active signification*. Thus, juratus, punitus, sometimes denote qui juravit, qui punivit. We find peragratus used in this meaning by Velleius himself. Fusus may therefore, without impropriety, denote the action of Drusus. History also favours this correction. According to Tacitus, when Drusus arrived in the camp of the rebels, his orders were disobeyed, his offers suspected, the soldiers made him prisoner, they insulted his friends, and waited only for a pretence to begin the slaughter. Such were the dangers that threatened his person! Sibi ancipitia tam re. The severity of the Roman discipline is well known. The generals were the gods of the soldiers, and their orders received as oracles. But ancient maxims were now overturned; and the sedition of the Pannonian legions created an [Page 387] example most pernicious to posterity. Superstition, which does so much evil, here did good: an eclipse of the moon frightened the soldiers, and saved the life of the general.

I read with much pleasure your solution of the difficulty in Justin; and admire your skill in extracting a regular narrative, by bringing the scattered lights in authors to one focus. If any uncertainty still remains, it must be ascribed to the darkness of antiquity and Justin's brevity.

Your suffrage removes all fear about the solidity of my conjecture concerning the death of Catullus. I formerly thought it probable, but begin now to regard it as certain. I have the honour to remain, with the highest consideration and most perfect esteem, yours, &c.

EDWARD GIBBON.

9.9.1. No IX.

[Page 388]

This Letter, in the early hand-writing of Mr. GIBBON, (probably about the time of his first leaving Lausanne,) seems to be under the assumed character of a Swedish traveller, writing to a Swiss friend, delineating the defects he discovered in the government of Berne. In pointing out those defects he seems to have had the intention of suggesting remedies; but, as he is entering on this topic, the manuscript ends abruptly. The excellence of this curious paper will apologize for its great length.

NON, mon cher ami, je ne veux point etre cosmopolite. Loin de moi ce titre fastueux, sous lequel nos philosophes cachent une égale indifférence pour tout le genre humain. Je veux aimer ma patrie, et pour aimer, il me faut des preférences: mais ou je me trompe, ou mon coeur est susceptible de plus d'une. Quand j'aurois tout sacrifié pour la Suede, mon pays natal, je ne me serois point encore acquitté envers elle; je lui dois la vie et la fortune: mais que cette vie seroit triste, que cette fortune me seroit à charge, si, expatrié des ma tendre jeunesse, votre pays n'eut pas formé mon [Page 389] gout et ma raison à des moeurs moins grossières que les notres! Je me montrerois indigne de ces bienfaits, s'il ne m'avoient pas inspiré la plus vive reconnoissance. Aujourd'hui que la Suede, tranquille à l'abri des loix, n'exige de ses enfans que de sentir leur bonheur, je puis, sans l'offenser, jetter un regard sur le pays de Vaud, mon autre patrie, me rejouir avec vous de ses avantages, et compatir à ses maux.

Votre climat est beau, votre terroir fertile; vous avez pour le commerce intérieur des facilités, dont il ne tient qu'à vous de prositer. Mais je considere plutôt les habitans, que l'habitation. On va chercher les philosophes à Londres. Paris attire dans son sein tous ceux qui n'aiment que la douceur de la société. Votre pays le cede à ces deux capitales, la ou elles brillent; mais cependant il réunit tous leurs avantages respectifs; il est le seul où tout à la fois on ose penser, et on sache vivre. Que vous manque t'il? la liberté: et privés d'elle, tout vous manque.

[Page 390] Cette vérité vous surprend, elle vous blesse. Pouvoir dire que nous ne sommes pas libres, me repondez vous, prouve que nous le sommes. Il le prouveroit peut être, si j'écrivois à Lausanne, ou plutôt là même il ne prouveroit rien. Vos maîtres connoissent la maxime du Cardinal Mazarin, de vous laisser parler, pourvu que vous les laissiez agir. Ainsi le procès n'est point encore jugé.

Si j'écrivois pour le peuple je m'addresserois à ses passions; je le ferois souvenir de cette maxime de tous les tems, que dans les republiques, ceux qui sont libres, sont plus libres, et ceux qui sont esclaves, plus esclaves que partout ailleurs. Mais avec un ami tel que vous, je ne dois chercher que la vérité, et n'employer que la raison. Quand je compare votre état avec celui de vos voisins, c'est avec plaisir que je le prononce heureux. Traversez votre lac et vos montagnes, vous trouverez partout un peuple digne d'un meilleur sort; sa raison abrutie par la superstition, le patrimoine de ses peres, et le fruit de son industrie, en proye au partisan, ou au [Page 391] hussard. Sa vie sacrifiée à tout moment au caprice d'un seul homme, qui, lorsqu'il entend parler de vingt milles de ses semblables, morts dans le service de son ambition, dira froidement, qu'ils ont fait leur devoir.

Vous au contraire professez un Christianisme, ramené à la divine pureté de son institution, enseigné par de dignes pasteurs, à qui on permet de se faire aimer, de se faire respecter, mais non de se faire craindre. Votre union avec le Corps Helvetique vous a assuré depuis deux siecles une paix unique dans l'histoire. Vos impots sont petits, l'administration douce. On n'entend point parler parmi vous de ces sentences sans procès, sans crime, sans accusateur, qui arrachent un citoyen du milieu de sa famille. L'on ne voit jamais le souverain, on le sent rarement. Cependant si la liberté consiste à n'être soumis qu'à de loix, dont l'objet est le bien commun de la société, vous n'etes point libre.

[Page 392] Quand la violence des uns, et la foiblesse des autres, ont rendu nécessaires les sociétés civiles, il a fallu renoncer à cette indépendance si chere, et si pernicieuse. Il a fallu que toutes les volontés particulières se fondissent dans une volonté générale; à laquelle des punitions réglées obligeassent chaque citoyen de conformer ses actions. Qu'il est délicat, ce pouvoir de fixer la volonté générale! En quelles mains doit on le remettre? Sera-ce à un monarque dès-lors absolu. Je sais que l'intérêt bien entendu du prince ne se peut séparer d'avec celui de son peuple, et qu'en travaillant pour lui, il travaille pour soi même. Tel est le langage de la philosophie. Mais ce langage n'est pas un de ceux que les précepteurs font étudier aux rois; et si un heureux naturel leur en donne quelque idée, leurs passions, ou celles d'un ministre, d'un confesseur, d'une maîtresse, l' effacent bientot. Le peuple gémit, mais il faut qu'il ait gémi long tems, avant que son maître s'apperçoive qu'il est de l'intérêt d'un berger de conserver son troupeau. Il faut donc que le pouvoir législatif soit partagé. [Page 393] Un conseil dont les membres s'éclairent et se contiennent les uns les autres, paroît en être un dépositaire bien choisi. Mais la liberté attache à ce conseil une condition fondamentale. Elle veut que chaque ordre des citoyens, chaque partie de l'état, y ait ses représentans intéressés à s'opposer à toute loi qui seroit nuisible à ses droits, ou contraire à son bonheur, puisqu'eux mêmes en sentiroient les premiers, les mauvais effets. Une telle assemblée fera rarement des fautes grossières, et si elle paye quelquefois le tribut à l'humanité, elle peut rougir de ses erreurs, et les réparer aussi tot. Ce portrait est il le votre? J'entre dans votre pays, je vois deux nations distinguées par leurs droits, leurs occupations, et leurs moeurs. L'une, composée de trois cens familles, est née pour commander; l'autre, de cent mille, n'est formée que pour obéir. Toutes les prétensions humiliantes des monarques héréditaires se renouvellent à votre égard, et deviennent encore plus humiliantes de la part de vos égaux. La comparaison de vos deux états, vous est trop facile. Rien ne vous aide à l'éloigner.

[Page 394] Un conseil de trois cens personnes décide de tous vos intérêts en dernier ressort, et si ses intérêts et les votres ne sont pas d'accord, quì doit l'emporter? Non seulement ce sénat est législateur, mais il exécute ses propres loix. Cette union de deux puissances qu'on ne devoit jamais réunir, les rend chacune plus formidables. Quand elles sont séparées, la puissance législative redoute les résolutions violentes; elles seroient inutiles, si l'on n'armoit pas les mains de la puissance qui les doit exécuter, et cette puissance est toujours sa rivale, et son contrepoids. Mais ce n'est pas assez que cette union aiguise le glaive de de l'autorité publique, elle le remet encore dans un plus petit nombre de mains: dans le dernier siecle le grand conseil de Berne se renouvelloit lui même; c'étoit déja un pas vers l'oligarchie: pourquoi exclure des élections le corps de la Bourgeoisie? Alors même le gouvernement s'appuyoit sur un fondement assez étroit. Bientot des inconveniens se firent sentir; la brigue, la vénalité, la débauche, signaloient l'entrée des citoyens dans le conseil souverain, et les riches [Page 395] ambitieux donnoient tout, pour pouvoir tout invahir. Une députation révocable de vingt six conseillers, établie dès l'enfance de la république, pour veiller à l'exécution des loix, devint chargée du soin de remplir les places de ce grand conseil dont elle-même tiroit son origine. On y ajoutoit seize sénateurs choisis de la manière la plus favorable aux factieux. Ils possedoient d'abord leur pouvoir collectivement, mais peu à peu l'intérêt particulier leur sit entendre qu'il valoit mieux permettre à chacun de nommer son fils, son gendre, et son parent. Les familles puissantes qui dominoient alors dans le sénat, y dominent encore. Les de Wattevilles, et les Steiguers, y remplissent une trentaine de places. Le commerce intéressé de bienfaits, où l'on passe dans le petit conseil par les suffrages de ses parens, pour faire entrer de nouveaux parens dans le grand conseil, à déja reduit le nombre dans familles qui siegent dans celui-ci, à environ quatre vingt. Ces maisons souveraines ont un égal mépris pour ceux que le droit naturel auroit du rendre leurs concitoyens, et [Page 396] pour ceux qui le sont par la constitution de l'état. Il manque même aux premiers une ressource que les monarques les plus absolus, n'ont pas osé ôter à leurs sujets; je veux parler de ces tribunaux reconnus du souverain, et révérés du peuple, pour etre l'organe de la patrie, et les dépositaires des loix. Toutes les volontés du prince, qui doivent être obéies, le sont plus facilement, quand les sujets voyent combien elles sont raisonnables, puisqu'elles ont passé par l'examen de ces magistrats, qu'on ne peut ni tromper, ni séduire, ni intimider. Aussi répondent ils à cette considération, par une résistance respectueuse, mais déterminée contre l'oppression, où ils étalent tout ce que la raison, la liberté, et l'éloquence peuvent inspirer à des citoyens zelés. C'est principalement dans ces tribunaux paisibles que je trouve ces qualités. Privés d'armes, ils ne doivent leur pouvoir qu'à leur probité, et à leur éloquence. Est il étonnant que ceux, qui n'ont que cette instrument, s'appliquent le plus à le cultiver? Quelles leçons pour les rois, que les remontrances du Parlement de Paris? Quels modeles pour le peuple que la conduite des Mandarins de la Chine? Frappé par un tribunal de cette espece, le monarque ne peut méconnoître [Page 397] les gémissemens de la patrie. Les citoyens y apprennent qu'ils ont une patrie; ils attachent à l'aimer, à étudier ses loix, à se former à toutes les vertus publiques. Elles mûrissent dans le silence, l'occasion les développe, ou elles se font l'occasion. Les états du Pays de Vaud, respectables sous les Rois de Bourgogne, et sous les Ducs de Savoye, étoient ce tribunal. Composés de la noblesse, du clergé, et des députés des villes principales, ils s'assembloient tous les ans à Moudon. C'étoit le conseil perpétuel du prince. Sans leur consentement, il ne pouvoit, ni faire de nouvelles loix, ni établir de nouveaux impots. Si j'étois sur les lieux j'établirais ces droits, par vos monumens les plus authentiques. Tout éloigné que j'en suis, je ne erains pas d'appeller à leur témoignage. Il me reste toujours une preuve moins sensible pour le peuple, mais aussi décisive pour les gens de lettres: c'est l'analogie. Les Barbares du cinquième siecle jetterent par toute l'Europe, les racines de ce gouvernement que Charlemagne établit dans les Pays Bas, la France, l'Italie, la Suisse, et [Page 398] l'Allemagne. Quelques évenemens, les degrés, et les tems ou les arrière-fiefs se formerent des fiefs, ou le' clergé acquit des terres seigneuriales, ou les villes acheterent leurs affranchissemens, y apporterent de légères différences. Mais le fond de cette constitution est demeuré dans toutes les révolutions, et rien de plus libre que ce fonds. Ces états, leurs membres, et leurs droits se conserverent toujours, et partout ils étoient les mêmes.

Je vous entends, mon ami, qui m'interrompez. Je vous ai écouté, me dites vous, avec patience: mais que voulez vous conclure de ce tableau de notre gouvernement? Bien ou mal construit, nous n'en ressentons que des effets salutaires, et vos conseils, vos états, auroient de la peine à nous dégouter de nos magistrats anciens, pour nous faire essayer des nouveautés.

Arretez, Monsieur; je vous ai parlé en homme libre, et vous me répondez dans le langage de la servitude. Arretez. En convenant pour un moment de votre bonheur, de qui le tenez vous? de la constitution? [Page 399] Vous n'osez pas le dire. C'est done du prince? Les Romains en devoient un plus grand à Titus. Ils étoient cependant de vils esclaves. Brutus vous auroit appris que, dans un état despotique, le prince peut quelquefois vouloir de bien: mais que dans les états libres, il ne peut que le vouloir. La félicité actuelle du citoyen et de l'esclave, est souvent égale, mais celle du dernier est précaire, puisqu'elle est fondée sur les passions des hommes, pendant que celle du premier est assurée. Elle est liée avec les loix qui contiennent également ces mêmes passions dans le souverain et dans le paysan.

Mais malheureusement on ne trouve que trop de choses à reprendre dans votre administration politique. Je vais détailler des sautes, des negligences, des oppressions. Vous vous récrierez sur ma malignité, mais en secret votre esprit grossira le catalogue de cent articles que j'aurai ou ignorés ou oubliés. Il est du devoir du souverain de faire jouir son peuple de tous les avantages de la société civile. Des guerres entreprises pour sa défense, l'en détourneront [Page 400] quelquefois; mais dèsque le calme renait dans ses états, des établissemens utiles, et de sages loix, la religion, les moeurs, les sciences, le commerce, les manufactures, l'agriculture, et la police, méritent toute son attention, et l'en récompenseront avec usure. Sur ces principes jugeons le sénat de Berne. Il a été maître du Pays de Vaud depuis l'an 1536. Quand je considere ce qu'étoient alors la France, l'Angleterre, la Hollande, ou l'Allemagne, j'ai de la peine à me persuader qu'elles étoient les mêmes pays que ceux qui portent aujourd'hui ces noms. De barbares, ils sont devenus civilisés; d'ignorans, éclairés; et de pauvres, riches. Je vois des villes où il y avoit des déserts, et les forêts défrichées se sont converties en champs fertiles. Leurs princes, et leurs ministres, un Henri quatre, un Sully, un Colbert, une Elizabeth, un de Wit, un Frederic-Guillaume, ont opéré ces merveilles. La perspective du Pays de Vaud n'est point aussi riante. Les arts languissent, faute de ces récompenses que le prince seul peut donner; nul commerce, nulles manufactures, nuls [Page 401] projets utiles pour le pays; un engourdissement général qui regne partout. Cependant les princes dont je viens de parler n'avoient que des momens pour ces objets, où les Bernois ont eu des siecles. Que n'auroient ils pas fait, ces grands hommes, rarement tranquilles sur le trône, si pendant deux cens douze ans, ils n'eussent eu que des voisins pacifiques, et des peuples soumis? Je m'en rapporte à vous même. Indiquez moi quelque établissement vraiment utile que vous deviez au souverain. Mais ne m'indiquez pas l'académie de Lausanne, fondée par des vues de dévotion, dans la chaleur d'une réformation, negligée depuis, et toujours académie, quoique un digne magistrat de cette ville, proposàt de l'ériger en université.

Non ce n'est point une politique peu eclairée qui fait agir vos maîtres. Je connois trop leur habileté. Mais un monarque aime également tous ses sujets. Les citoyens d'une ville capitale voyent au contraire d'un oeil jaloux l'agrandissement des provinces. Si elles s'élevent, disent ils, nous tombons. Nos égales pour les lumières et [Page 402] les richesses, elles voudroient bientôt l'être en pouvoir. Rappellez vous l'an 1685. La mauvaise politique de Louis XIV. expatria la partie la plus industrieuse de ses sujets; une multitude se réfugia dans le Pays de Vaud. Il etoit prochain, il etoit François. Ils nedemandoient qu'un azile, et l'auroient payé au poids de l'or par les richesses, et les arts plus précieux que les richesses, qu'ils vous apportoient. Mais ici la politique partiale des Bernois s'épouvanta. ‘Si nous faisons participer ces fugitifs à notre droit de Bourgeoisie, la fortune nous sera commune; mais comment élever des mortels au rang des dieux? Si nous les laissons confondus parmi nos sujets, nos sujets recueilleront le fruit de leur industrie.’ Ils conclurent enfin avec l'ambassadeur de Porsenna—

‘’

[Page 403] Ces exilés las d'essuyer des refus, où ils devoient s'attendre à des prières, passerent en Hollande, en Prusse, et en Angleterre, où les souverains savoient mieux profiter de cette occasion unique. Il en resta une partie dans le Pays de Vaud, mais c'étoit la partie la plus pauvre, et la plus fainéante, qui n'avoit ni le moyen, ni la volonté d'aller plus loin.

`A peine ces malheureux commençoient ils à oublier leurs souffrances passées, que l'expérience leur sit sentir, que pour fuir les persécutions, il faut fuir les hommes. La partie souveraine de l'état avoit succé avec le lait, toute la dureté du systême de Calvin, théologien atrabilaire qui aimoit trop la liberté, pour souffrir que les Chrétiens portassent d'autres fers que les siens. D'ailleurs sa conformité avec les idées d'un célebre philosophe, intéressoit l'honneur du nom Allemand à le soutenir. Comme les sentimens s'étoient adoucis dans le Pays de Vaud, en proportion avec les moeurs, il falloit y envoyer des formulaires, et des inquisiteurs, destinés à faire autant d'hypocrites [Page 404] qu'ils pourroient, non à la vérité par le fer et le feu, mais par les menaces et les privations d'emploi.

En soutenant les droits de l'humanité, je n'outre point les maximes de la tolérance. Je veux bien que le magistrat ne distribue les récompenses du public, qu'à ceux qui enseignent la religion du public. Je ne lui défens pas même de contenir dans le silence ces novateurs trop hardis qui voudroient éclairer le peuple sur certains objets où l'erreur fait son bonheur. Mais que le souverain se prêtant avec chaleur aux minuties théologiques, décide des questions qu'on ne peut décider, assurement il est absurde. Qu'imposant des confessions de foi, il ne laisse à des pasteurs vieillis, dans le ministere, et qui ne demandoient qu'à se taire, que le choix du mensonge ou de la mendicité, assurement il est injuste. Mais la persécution cessa.— Qui la fit cesser? Un sentiment de honte? les larmes des sujets? ou bien la crainte qu'inspira l'entreprise d'un Davel, enthousiaste il est vrai, mais enthousiaste pour le bien public? Encore même il regne à Lausanne une inquisition sourde. Les noms d'Arminien, et de Socinien [Page 405] remplissent encore ces lettres ou de tres honnêtes gens rendent compte à leurs protecteurs des sentimens de leurs concitoyens; et c'est suivant ces indices que les places se distribuent.

Je viens, non pas d'épuiser, mais d'indiquer quelques défauts qui se trouvent dans votre puissance législative. Passons à l'exécutrice. Celle-ci est la force publique, comme l'autre est la volonté publique. Mais un seul corps, un seul homme, peut délibérer et décider pour toute une nation. Il ne peut tout seul agir pour elle. L'administration politique, composée d'un nombre infini de branches, veut qu'un grand nombre d'officiers, soumis les uns aux autres, s'employent à faire jouer la machine à laquelle le maître ne peut que donner le mouvement général. Les honneurs, et les avantages, que les loix attachent à ces emplois, doivent être ouverts à tous les citoyens, que leurs talens et leur éducation ont mis en état de les remplir. Les fardeaux leur sont communs à tous, les recompenses doivent l'etre aussi. Un gouvernement monarchique satisfait aisement à ces justes [Page 406] prétensions. `Al'exception de quelques courtisans, qui approchent la personne du prince d'assez près, pour substituer la flatterie aux services, tous ses sujets lui sont égaux. Dèsqu'un homme a du mérite, ou, si l'on veut de la faveur, on ne lui demande point s'il est Normand ou Provençal. D'Epernon étoit Gascon; Richelieu, Champenois; Mazarin, Romain. Mais dans les républiques aristocratiques, les souverains composés de toute une ville veulent être législateurs en corps, et partager entre eux en détail tous les emplois considérables. Les talens, les lumières, dans votre Pays, sont inutiles pour quiconque n'est pas né Bernois, et dans un autre sens ils sont également inutiles pour qui l'est. Le sujet se voit condamné par sa naissance à ramper dans un honteuse obscurité. Le désespoir le saisit; il neglige ce qui ne le peut mener à rien, et le grand homme ne devient qu'un homme agréable. Si je parlais de faire participer les sujets aux Bailliages, les Bernois crieroient au sacrilege; les Bailliages sont le [Page 407] patrimoine de l'état, et nous sommes l'état. Il est vrai qu'on vous laisse les Lieutenances Baillivales; mais vous savez assez qu'on y mêle certaines stipulations, de façon que, si le nouveau magistrat ne vit pas quelque tems, sa famille perd au marché.

Privés de ressources, que reste il aux gentilhommes du Pays de Vaud? le service étranger. Mais on n'a pas manqué de leur rendre cette carrière des plus épineuses, et de leur y fermer l'accès des grades un peu élevés. Je ne dirai rien du brilliant service de France. Les dépenses sont inévitables, et la paye si modique que l'enseigne seruine, le capitaine vit à peine, et même le colonel ne peut amasser. Ainsi vous devez bénir le soin paternel du souverain qui a dressé toutes les capitulations, de manière à ne vous point introduire en tentation. Ne parlons que du service des Etats Généraux, service plus utile que riant, ou l'on s'ennuye et s'enrichit. Par le traité de 1712, le Canton de Berne accorda vingt quatre compagnies à leurs Hautes [Page 408] Puissances, et promit de permettre qu'on en sit toujours des recrues dans leurs états. Seize compagnies étoient destinées aux Bernois, et les souverains partageoient avec leurs sujets les huit autres compagnies, dont on daignoit laisser l'entrée ouverte à ceux ci: ainsi à ne supposer le crédit des Bernois qu'égal à celui des sujets, pour parvenir à ces huit dernières compagnies, ce peuple roi en possederoit toujours vingt, sur vingt quatre. La proportion est honnête, si l'on fait attention qu'il y a dans le Canton près de cent mille hommes en état de porter les armes, dont il n'y en a pas huit cens, bourgeois de Berne. D'ailleurs les petits bourgeois, à qui ce nom seul inspire de la fierté, aiment mieux croupir dans la misère à Berne, que de se faire par leur travail un état vraiment respectable. Ainsi dans toutes ces troupes, je doute qu'on puisse trouver cinquante Bernois qui ne soient par officiers.

Ces malheurs, me dites vous, ne sont que pour les gentilhommes; c'est à dire, pour la partie la plus respectable, mais la moins nombreuse, [Page 409] des citoyens. Ils s'évanouissent dans ces maximes générales et égales que vous venez d'établir. La tyrannie de vos Baillis s'y évanouit elle aussi? Le peuple, nom si cher à l'humanité, en sent tout le joug. Je ne vous conterai point des histoires de leurs oppressions. Vous me chicaneriez sur la vérité des faits, et puis vous me diriez, qu'il ne faut jamais conclure du particulier au général, et vous auriez raison. Il vaut mieux faire sentir l'étendue de leur pouvoir, et laisser à votre connoissance du coeur humain, à juger de l'usage qu'ils en font. Chaque Bailli est à la fois chef de la justice, de la milice, des finances, et de la réligion. Comme juge, il décide sans appel jusqu'à la somme de cent francs, somme tres modique pour vous, mais qui fait la fortune d'un paysan; et il décide seul, car ses assesseurs, n'ont pas voix pondérative. Il donne, ou plutôt il vend, presque tous les emplois dans son bailliage. Si l'on veut appeller de ses sentences, il n'y a plus de tribunal à Moudon; il faut aller à Berne, et quel paysan veut se ruiner à la poursuite de la [Page 410] justice? S'il cherche encore à faire punir son tyran, il demande l'entrée en conseil. L'Avoyer l'accorde, peut être avec beaucoup de difficulté, et à force de fatigues et de dépenses il parvient à pouvoir plaider devant un tribunal lié avec son baillif par le sang, et plus encore par une conformité de forfaits, ou d'intérêts.

Votre pays est épuisé par les impots, tout modiques qu'ils sont. Dévelopons cette idée. Pendant que les pays le plus riches de l'Europe s'abyment de dépenses et de dettes, et mettent en oeuvre des moyens qui feroient trembler le plus hardi dissipateur, le Canton de Berne est le seul qui amasse des trésors. Le secret de l'état est si bien gardé, qu'il est difficile de le deviner. Stanian, ambassadeur d'Angleterre à Berne, qui avoit un esprit d'observation et de grandes facilités pour se bien informer, estimoit, il y a quarante ans, les sommes qu'il avoit dans les fonds publics de Londres à trois cens milles livres sterling, ou sept millions, et tout ce qui étoit resté dans le trésor de Berne, ou dispersé dans les autres banques de l' Europe, à dix huit [Page 411] cens mille livres sterling, ou quarante trois millions. On peut croire que ces trésors n'ont pas diminués depuis l'an 1722. Le moyen que le Canton employe pour s'enrichir est très simple. Il dépense beaucoup moins qu'il ne reçoit. Mais que reçoit il? Je l'ignore; mais je vais tacher de le deviner. Les douze bailliages du Pays de Vaud rendent dans leurs six ans, à peu pres cinq cens mille livres de Suisse, les uns portant les autres. Le revenu de douze, peut donc monter à un million de livres de rente. J'ai toujours entendu dire que les Baillis prennent le dix pour cent sur les revenus du souverain. Le voilà donc ce revenu d'un million par année. En rabattant les cent mille livres des Baillis, je compterais encore cent mille écûs pour les charges de l'état, ce qui n'est point une supposition batie en l'air. Les autres deux cens mille ecûs, qui dans un autre pays, fourniroient à l'entretien d'une cour et d'une armée, dont les dépenses feroient retomber sur la terre la rosée qui en étoit tirée, vont ici s'enfouir dans les coffres du souverain, ou se disperser [Page 412] dans les banques publiques, et précaires de l'Europe, pour etre un jour une proye à l'infidélité d'un commis, ou à l'ambition d'un conquerant. Cette peste continuelle des especes éteint l'industrie, empêche tout effort, qui ne se peut faire sans argent, et appauvrit insensiblement le pays.

Tels sont vos maux, Monsieur. Eh bien! me repondez vous, n'avez vous sondé, nos playes que pour en aigrir la douleur? Quel conseil nous donnez vous? Aucun, si vous ne m'avez pas déja prévenu. Il y a une voye que je puis vous conseiller, c'est celle de la remontrance. Mais il y a des maux tellement enracinés dans la constitution d'un état, que Platon lui même n'eut pas espéré du succès pour une pareille députation. Ne tiendront ils pas contre les remontrances, eux qui ont pu tenir contre deux cens and de fidélité et de services? Il y a un autre remede plus prompt, plus entier, plus glorieux: Guillaume Tell vous l'eût conseillé; mais je ne vous le conseille point. Je sais que l'esprit du citoyen, comme celui de la charité, souffre beaucoup, et espere longtems. Il a raison. Il connoit [Page 413] les malheurs attachés à la soumission. Il ignore ceux que la résistance pourroit entrainer. Vous, qui me connoissez, Monsieur, vous savez combien je respecte ces principes amis de la paix et des hommes. Tribun séditieux, je ne chercherai jamais à faire secouer au peuple le joug de l'autorité, pour le conduire du murmure, à la sedition; de la sedition, à l'anarchie; et de l'anarchie, peut être, au despotisme.

Cependant avec la franchise, qui a partout conduit ma plume, je vais détruire quelques monstres de Romans, qui vous peuvent effrayer. Que vous préfériez le parti de l'entreprise ou celui du répos, je voudrois que ce fut la raison, et non le préjuge, qui vous dictât ce parti.

Les Bernois ont les droits sur votre obéissance; vous craignez de leur faire une injustice en la retirant.

9.9.2.

[Page 388]

No; my dear friend, I will not be a citizen of the world; I reject with scorn that proud title, under which our philosophers conceal an equal indifference for the whole human race. I will love my country; and to love it above all others, there must be reasons for my preference: but, if I am not mistaken, my heart is susceptible of affection for more countries than one. Did I sacrifice all to Sweden, I should only pay my debt of gratitude to the land in which I was born, and to which I owe my life and fortune. Yet life and fortune would have been but melancholy burthens, if, after my banishment from home in early youth, your country had not formed my taste [Page 389] and reason, and taught me more refined morals than our own. I should prove myself unworthy of this goodness, did it not inspire me with the liveliest gratitude: and now that Sweden, enjoying tranquillity under the protection of laws, requires nothing from its subjects but a just sense of their happiness, I may direct my attention, without offence, to the Pais de Vaud, my second country; rejoicing with you in its advantages, or commiserating its misfortunes.

You enjoy a fine climate, a fertile soil, and have conveniencies for internal commerce, from which great benefit might be derived. But I consider the people rather than their territory. Philosophy flourishes in London; Paris is the centre of those attracted by the allurements of polished society. Your country, though inferior to those capitals, yet unites in some measure their respective advantages: since it is the only country whose inhabitants, while they think freely and boldly, live politely and elegantly. What then is wanting? Liberty; and deprived of it, you have lost your all.

[Page 390] This truth surprises and offends you. The right of complaining, you answer, that we are not free, is a proof of our liberty. If I wrote at Lausanne, the argument would have weight; yet even there, it would not be convincing; for your masters are not ignorant of Cardinal Mazarine's maxim, and are willing to allow you to talk, provided you allow them to act; so that the process is not yet determined.

If I wrote for the people I would speak to their passions, and hold a language repeated in all ages, that under republics, those who are free are more free, and those who are enslaved, more enslaved, than under any other form of government. But with a friend like you I would seek only the maxims of truth, and employ only the arguments of reason. When I compare your condition with that of surrounding nations, I can sincerely congratulate you on your happiness. Whenever we quit the neighbourhood of your lake and mountains, we find men who, though worthy of a better fate, are plunged in the most abject superstition; whose property and industry are the [Page 391] spoils of a licentious soldiery; and whose lives are ready every moment to be sacrificed to the caprice of one man, who, when he hears that twenty thousand of his fellow-creatures have fallen sacrifices to his ambition, is contented with saying coldly, "they have done their duty."

You, on the contrary, enjoy a Christianity brought back to the purity of its original principles, taught publicly by worthy ministers, who are loved and respected, but who have it not in their power to become the objects of fear. Your connection with the Swiss cantons has preserved to you the blessings of peace two centuries; a thing unexampled in history. Your taxes are moderate; and the public administration is gentle. You have not to complain of those arbitrary sentences, which, without any form of legal procedure, without an accuser, and without a crime, have been known to tear citizens from the bosoms of their families. The sovereign is never seen; the weight of his authority is rarely felt: yet if liberty consists in being subject to laws, which impartially consult the interests of all the members of the community, you do not enjoy that blessing.

[Page 392] When the injustice of some, and the weakness of others, showed the necessity for civil society, individuals were obliged to renounce their beloved, but pernicious, independence. All particular wills were melted down into the general will of the public; by which, under the sanction of definite punishments, men became bound to regulate their conduct. But it is a matter of the utmost delicacy to determine with whom that general will ought to be deposited. Shall it reside in the breast of a prince, who thereby becomes absolute? I know that the true interests of a prince can never be separated from those of his people, and that in exerting himself for their benefit, he labours for his own. This is the language of philosophy, but it is seldom spoken by the preceptors of princes; and if the latter sometimes read it in their own hearts, the impression is speedily effaced by contrary passions, in themselves, their confessors, their ministers, or mistresses. The groans of the people are not soon heard; and their master learns only by a fatal experience, that it is the interest of a shepherd to preserve his flock. The legislative power, therefore, cannot safely be entrusted to a single person. [Page 393] A council, whose members mutually instruct, and mutually check each other, appears to be its proper depository. But in this council one condition is essentially requisite. It must consist of deputies from every order in the state, interested by their own safety in opposing every regulation inconsistent with the happiness of that order to which they belong. Such a council will rarely be guilty of gross errors; and should this sometimes happen, it will soon blush for, and repair them. Is this the picture of your legislature? When I survey your country, I behold two nations, distinctly characterised by their rights, employments, and manners: the one, consisting of three hundred families, born to command; the other, consisting of an hundred thousand, doomed to submission. The former are invested, as a body, with all the prerogatives of hereditary monarchs, which are the more humiliating to you their subjects, because they belong to men apparently your equals. The comparison between yourselves and them is made every moment; no circumstance tends to conceal it from your fancy.

[Page 394] A council of three hundred persons is the sovereign umpire of your dearest interests, which will always be sacrificed when they clash with their own. This council is invested with the executive, as well as the legislative, power; two branches of authority which can never be united, without rendering each of them too formidable to the subject. When they belong to different persons, or assemblies, the legislature will not venture to form violent resolutions, because these would be of no avail, unless they were carried into execution by another power, always its rival, and often its antagonist. The sword of authority is not only sharpened by this union, but is thereby confined to a smaller number of hands. In the last century the great council of Bern began to elect its own members; which was a great step towards oligarchy, since it excluded from elections the citizens at large, and thereby narrowed the basis of the government. But this arrangement was liable to other inconveniencies. Intrigue, venality, and debauchery signalised the admission of citizens into the sovereign council; and ambitious men squandered their wealth, [Page 395] that they might purchase a right to indulge their rapacity. A committee of six counsellors, established in the infancy of the republic, to watch the execution of the laws, and whose offices were held at pleasure, became entrusted with the power of naming the members of the grand council, by which this committee itself was appointed. Its number was augmented by sixteen senators, chosen in the manner most favourable to the designs of faction. They exercised their power at first collectively, but by degrees they came to understand that their particular interests would be better promoted by each naming his son, son-in-law, or kinsman. The powerful families which then commanded the senate, still rule in it at present. Thirty places are filled by the Wattevilles and Steiguers. This selfish traffic, by which the members of the little council are elected by the great council, consisting of their own relations, that they may name other relations to seats in the great council, has reduced the number of families, which have a right to sit in the latter, to nearly fourscore. These princely families look down with equal contempt on those who are their fellow-citizens by the law of nature, and those who were rendered [Page 396] such by the constitution of their country. The former class is deprived of a resources which the most absolute princes have seldom ventured to wrest from their subjects; I mean those courts of justice acknowledged by the prince, and revered by the people, as the organs of public opinion, and the depositories of the laws. The commands of the sovereign are obeyed with cheerfulness only when their propriety is confirmed by the approbation of those tribunals, whose members it has been found difficult either to deceive, to seduce, or to intimidate. Their resistance to oppression is respectful, but firm; and in exerting it, they display that warmth of eloquence with which reason and liberty inspire good citizens. In the members of those peaceful tribunals, such qualities appear in their greatest lustre. Destitute of arms, their whole strength lies in their talents and their probity. What noble lessons to kings have been given by the parliament of Paris? What excellent examples to subjects are set by the Mandarines of China? Monarchs must hear the groans of their people, when such respectable bodies of men [Page 397] are their organs. The people too learn that they have a country, which they will begin to love, to study its laws, and to form themselves to public virtues. These virtues ripen silently; they are exerted when an opportunity offers; and sometimes they will make an opportunity for their own exhibition. In the Païs de Vaud, which was equally respectable under the kings of Burgundy and the dukes of Savoy, the states formed such a tribunal. They were composed of the nobility, clergy, and deputies from the principal cities, which annually assembled at Moudon, and formed the perpetual council of the prince, without whose consent he could neither enact new laws, nor impose new taxes. Were I on the spot, I could prove the existence of those rights by your most authentic records. At a distance I can only appeal to their testimony, and employ an analogical proof, which will be sufficiently convincing to men of letters. The Barbarians, who overflowed Europe in the fifth century, every where laid the foundation of that form of government which Charlemagne established in the Low Countries, France, Italy, Switzerland, and Germany. The different modes of tenure [Page 398] which were at different times introduced, the various degrees of dependance which one fief came to have on another, the acquisition of lordships by the clergy, and the purchase of franchises by cities; all these circumstances occasioned but slight differences in the ground-work of the constitution, which remained unalterably founded on a firm basis of liberty. The states, their members, and their rights, were invariably maintained; remaining uniformly the same at all times, and in all places.

I think that I hear you, my friend, interrupting me. Hitherto, you say, I have listened to you with patience; but what is your conclusion from this picture of our government? Whatever defects there may be in its principles, we have experienced its salutary consequences; and the states and assemblies which you so much commend, will not easily make us abolish our ancient magistracies, in order to try innovations.

It is time, Sir, to pause; I spoke to you as became a freeman, and you answer me in the language of slavery. Let us admit for a moment your prosperity; to whom do you owe it? You will not answer, to the constitution. [Page 399] It is due then to your rulers. The Romans owed a prosperity yet greater to Titus; but still remained the basest of slaves. Brutus would have taught you that a despot may sometimes choose to promote the public happiness; but that the magistrates of a free people can have no other wish. The advantages actually enjoyed by a citizen and a slave may be the same; but those of the latter are precarious, having no other foundation than the changeable passions of men; whereas those of the former are secure, being solidly supported on those laws which curb guilty passions in the prince as well as in the peasant.

But unfortunately too many faults may be sound in your public administration. I shall give you the black list of omissions and oppressions, which, notwithstanding that you will exclaim against my malignity, your own memory will augment by an hundred articles, which I may be either ignorant of, or forget to mention. It is the duty of a sovereign to procure for his people all the happiness of which their condition is susceptible. His public spirited exertions may be suspended by the exigencies of defensive [Page 400] war; but as soon as peace is restored, he will be continually and usefully occupied with the interests of religion, laws, morals, sciences, police, commerce, and agriculture. Let us try the merits of the senate of Bern by these maxims. The members of this senate have been masters of the Païs de Vaud since the year one thousand five hundred and thirty-six. When we consider the deplorable condition in those days of France, England, Holland, and Germany, we can scarcely imagine that they were the same countries with those respectively known at present by the same names. Their barbarism has been civilized, their ignorance enlightened, their poverty enriched; their deserts have become cities, and their forests now wave with yellow harvests. These wonders have been effected by their princes and ministers: a Henry the Fourth, a Sully, a Colbert, an Elizabeth, a de Witt, and a Frederick William. The comparative condition of the Païs de Vaud at those two remote aeras, does not present so pleasing a picture. There the arts still languish, for want of those encouragements which princes only can bestow: the country is still destitute of commerce and manufactures: we hear not of any projects for promoting the public prosperity: we [Page 401] see nothing but the marks of an universal lethargy. Yet the princes above mentioned had but moments for executing their great designs; the senators of Bern have had ages. What benefits might not those patriotic kings have conferred on their subjects, if, instead of having their thrones continually shaken by war and sedition, they had enjoyed during two centuries the advantage of having loyal subjects and pacific neighbours? I appeal to yourself; point out a single useful establishment which the Païs de Vaud owes to the sovereignty of Bern: but do not tell me of the academy of Lausanne, founded on motives of religion during the zeal of reformation, but since totally neglected, though a worthy magistrate of that city proposed the laudable design of erecting it into an university.

Your masters err not through ignorance. They are not deficient, I know, in political abilities. But while a prince treats with impartial bounty all his subjects, the citizens of an aristocratical capital are apt to behold with jealousy the improvement of the provinces. Their elevation, they think, must pave the way for their own downfal; and if they become their equals in point of knowledge and riches, they will soon be tempted, they imagine, [Page 402] to aspire at an equality with themselves in power. Recal to memory the year one thousand six hundred and eighty-five; when the wretched policy of Louis the Fourteenth drove from their country the most industrious portion of his subjects, many of whom sought refuge in the Païs de Vaud; a neighbouring district, and speaking their own language. They requested only an asylum, the benefits of which they would richly have repaid by the wealth which they carried with them, and their skill in manufactures, still more valuable. But the narrow policy of Bern took the alarm. ‘If we make these men citizens of Bern, their interests will coincide with our own. But is it fit that mortals should be raised to the rank of gods? If they are mixed with the mass of our subjects, our subjects will be enriched by their industry.’ They concluded therefore, with the ambassadors of Porsenna— ‘that it was more desirable for a prince to govern a poor but submissive people, than to contend with the unruly passions of men pampered by prosperity.’

[Page 403] The emigrants, disgusted at being repeatedly refused what they ought to have been requested to accept, travelled to Holland, Prussia, and England, whose rulers had the good sense to avail themselves of an emergency as favourable as it was singular. A part of them indeed remained in the Païs de Vaud, but the poorest and the idlest, who had neither money nor spirit to travel farther.

These unhappy fugitives had no sooner begun to forget their past sufferings, than they learned by fatal experience that, in order to avoid persecution, it was necessary to fly from the society of men. The sovereigns of the country in which they had settled had imbibed the severe system of Calvin, a stern theologian, who loved liberty too well, to endure that Christians should wear any other chains than those imposed by himself. His near conformity in opinion with a celebrated German philosopher, interested the honour of the German name in supporting his doctrines. But in the Païs de Vaud the asperity of religious opinions had softened with the improvement of society. It became necessary, therefore, to send thither formulas [Page 404] and inquisitors, designed to make as many hypocrites as possible, not indeed by fire and sword, but by threats and deposition from office.

In supporting the rights of man, I would not carry too far the maxims of toleration. It is just that public rewards should be bestowed only on those who teach the religion of the public; and those bold innovators, who would impart a dangerous light to the people, may very properly be restrained by the arm of the magistrate. But it surely is absurd, that the sovereign should interfere in theological minutiae, and take part warmly in questions which are incapable of being decided. It is particularly unjust, that he should impose confessions of saith on old ministers, who wish to avoid disputation; leaving them the miserable alternative of falsehood or beggary. But this persecution has now ceased. What put an end to it? It was not shame, nor the tears of the people, but the boldness of Davel, that meritorious enthusiast. Even to the present day, a secret inquisition still reigns at Lausanne; where the names of Arminian and Socinian are often mentioned in [Page 405] the letters written by very honest people to their patrons of Bern; and offices are often given or withheld according to the reports made of the religious tenets of the candidates.

Having made these strictures on your legislature, which by no means exhaust the subject, I proceed to consider the defects of your executive power; which is the public force, as the legislature ought to be the public will. But a single council, or a single man, may deliberate and resolve for a whole nation; the executive power, on the contrary, requires the exertions of many: as it is composed of a great variety of branches, many officers, subordinate one to the other, must actuate the different parts of the machine, to which the chief magistrate can only communicate the first general movement. The honours and emoluments legally attached to such offices, ought to be open to all those citizens who are properly qualified for discharging them. Each individual, as he bears a share of the public burdens, is entitled also to a share of the public rewards. This just arrangement is easily maintained in monarchies; where, with the exception of a few courtiers, who, by being [Page 406] continually about the prince's person, have an opportunity of substituting flattery instead of real services, all the inhabitants of the kingdom are treated with comparative equity. In France, provided a man has court-favour or merit, the question is never asked whether he comes from Provence or Normandy. D'Epernon was born in Gascony; Richelieu, in Champagne; Mazarine, in Rome. But in aristocratical republics, the citizens of one town are not contented with being sovereigns collectively, unless they individually appropriate all offices of honour or emolument. In the canton of Bern talents and information are not of the smallest use to any one who is not born in the capital; and in another sense they are useless to those born there; because they must make their way without them. Their subjects in the Païs de Vaud are condemned, by the circumstances of their birth, to a condition of shameful obscurity. They naturally become, therefore, a prey to despair; and neglecting to cultivate talents which they can never enjoy an opportunity to display, those who had capacities for becoming great men are contented with making themselves agreeable companions. Should I propose that the subjects obtained a right to hold the lucrative employments of [Page 407] Baillis, or governors of districts, the aristocratical families of Bern would think me guilty of a crime little less than sacrilege. ‘The emoluments of these offices form the patrimony of the state; and we are the state.’ It is true, that you in the Païs de Vaud may be deputies to the Baillis; but the advantages belonging to that subordinate magistracy are obtained on certain conditions, which, unless the holder of the office lives a certain number of years, renders his bargain a very bad one for his family.

What encouragement is then left for the gentlemen of the Païs de Vaud? That of foreign service. But to them, even this road to preferment is extremely difficult, and to attain the higher ranks is impossible. I speak not of the brilliant service of France: in that country, expence is unavoidable; the ensign is ruined, the captain can scarcely live, and the colonel cannot save money. You are therefore obliged to the paternal care of the magistrates of Bern, whose treaties for supplying troops to France do not lead you into temptation. Let us only consider the service of Holland, a service more profitable than showy, where officers have nothing to do but to grow rich. By the treaty of 1712, the Canton of Bern granted the use of twenty-four [Page 408] companies to their High Mightinesses, and promised that they should always be allowed to recruit them in their territories. But the command of sixteen of those companies was appropriated by the citizens of Bern, and the remaining eight were left common between them and their subjects in the Païs de Vaud. On the supposition, then, that the interest of both classes of candidates for those companies is equal, the sovereign people will obtain four out of the eight, and twenty out of the whole twenty-four. This proportion appears the more unreasonable, when it is considered that in the canton there are above an hundred thousand men sit to bear arms, of whom scarcely eight hundred are citizens of Bern. Besides, the poorer classes of citizens, proud merely of this title, prefer living in idleness at Bern to honourable exertions abroad, by which they might better their condition. I doubt, therefore, whether fifty citizens of Bern, who are not officers, will be found in the whole of the Swiss Dutch troops.

These inconveniencies, you will tell me, are only felt by men of family; that is to say, by the most respectable, but least numerous, portion of the [Page 409] community; and they disappear amidst the general equity and impartiality of the public administration. But does the tyranny of the bailiffs disappear also? The people, a name so dear to humanity, feel the full weight of their oppression. I will not have recourse to particular examples; because you might call in question the authenticity of facts, or object with reason, that general conclusions are not to be drawn from particular principles. I shall be contented with pointing out the extent of their power, and leave to your own knowledge of human nature to infer the abuses with which it must be accompanied. In his own district every bailiff is at the head of religion, of the law, the army, and the finances. As judge, he decides, without appeal, all causes to the amount of an hundred franks; a sum of little importance to a gentleman, but which often makes the whole fortune of a peasant; and he decides alone, for the voice of his assessors has not any weight in the scale. He confers, or rather he sells, all the employments in his district. When the injured party wishes to appeal from his sentence, as there is no court of justice at Moudon, he is obliged to remove the cause to Bern; and [Page 410] how few peasants can bear this expence? But if his eagerness to punish his tyrant carries him thither, it is not without many difficulties on his part that the Avoyer, or chief magistrate, grants him admission into the council; where, after all his trouble and expence, he is finally allowed to plead his cause before a tribunal, the members of which are connected with his oppressor by the ties of blood, and still more by a conformity of interests and crimes.

Your taxes, moderate as they are, exhaust the country. This observation requires to be explained. While the great kingdoms of Europe, loaded with expences and debts, are driven to expedients which would alarm the wildest prodigal, Bern is the only state which has amassed a large treasure. The secret has been so well kept, that it is not easy to ascertain its amount. Stanyan, the British envoy at Bern, a man inquisitive and possessed of good means of information, estimated forty years ago the money belonging to that republic, in the English funds, at three hundred thousand pounds, or seven millions of Swiss livres; and the sums remaining in the treasury of Bern, or dispersed through the other funds or banks of Europe, at eighteen [Page 411] hundred thousand pounds sterling, or forty-three millions Swiss. These treasures have not probably diminished since the year 1722. The Canton enriches itself by the simple means of receiving much and expending little. But what is the amount of its receipts? I know not, but I will try to discover it. The twelve bailiwics, or districts, of the Païs de Vaud pay, one with another, during the six years that they are governed by the same magistrate, five hundred thousand Swiss livres. The contributions, therefore of all the twelve amount to a million of livres annually, I have always been told that the bailiffs, or governors, retain ten per cent. on the revenues raised within their respective jurisdictions. The million of revenue, diminished by an hundred thousand livres consumed in the appointments of the bailiffs, is reduced to three hundred thousand crowns; of which one hundred thousand may be allowed for the expences of the state, a sum not chosen at random; and the other two hundred thousand crowns, which in other countries would be employed in the maintenance of a court and army, whose incomes would circulate through the general mass of the people on whom they had been raised, are here buried in the coffers of the sovereignty, [Page 412] or dispersed through the precarious banks of Europe, to become one day a prey to the knavery of a clerk, or the ambition of a conqueror. This continual absorption of specie extinguishes industry, deadens every enterprise that requires the aid of money, and gradually impoverishes the country.

These, Sir, are your hardships. But I think you will say to me, ‘Have you thus probed our wounds merely to make us feel their smart? What advice do you give us?’ None, unless you have already anticipated it. I would indeed advise you to remonstrate. But there are evils so deeply rooted in governments, that Plato himself would despair of curing them. What could you expect to obtain from those masters by remonstrances, who have remained during two centuries insensible to the merit of your faithful service? There is another remedy, more prompt, more perfect, and more glorious. William Tell would have prescribed it; I do not. I know that the spirit of a good citizen is, like that of charity, long-suffering, and hoping all things. The citizen is in the right; since he knows the evils resulting from his submission, [Page 413] but knows not the greater evils which might be produced by his resistance. You know me too well to be ignorant how much I respect those principles, so friendly to the interests of peace and of human kind. I will never, in the language of a seditious tribune, persuade the people to shake off the yoke of authority, that they may proceed from murmur to sedition, from sedition to anarchy, and from anarchy perhaps to despotism.

Yet, with the freedom which has hitherto guided my pen, I will endeavour to destroy some giants of romance, which might otherwise inspire you with vain terror. Whether you prefer the road of bold enterprise or cautious repose, I wish that reason, not prejudice, should dictate your choice.

The magistrates of Bern have a right to expect your obedience: you fear to do them wrong in withholding it.

[Page 414]

DEAR MADAM,

FEAR no reproaches for your negligence, however great; for your silence, however long. I love you too well to make you any. Nothing, in my opinion, is so ridiculous as some kind of friends, wives, and lovers, who look on no crime as so heinous as the letting slip a post without writing. The charm of friendship is liberty; and he that would destroy the one, destroys, without designing it, the better half of the other. I compare friendship to charity, and letters to alms; the last signifies nothing without the first, and very often the first is very strong, although it does not shew itself by the other. It is not good-will which is wanting, it is only opportunities or means. However, one month—two months—three months—four months—I began not to be angry, but to be uneasy, for fear some accident had happened to you. I was often on the point of writing, but was always stopped by the hopes of hearing from you the next post. Besides, not to flatter you, your excuse is a very bad one. You cannot entertain me by your letters. I think I ought to know that better than you; and I assure you that one of your plain sincere letters entertains me more than the most polished one of Pliny or Cicero. 'Tis your heart speaks, and I look on your heart as much better in its way than either of their heads.

Out of pure politeness I ought to talk of **** ******** before myself. I was some hours with him in this place, that is to say, almost all the time he was here. I find him always *** ****, always good-natured, always amusing, and always trifling. I asked him some questions about Italy; he told me, he hurried out [Page 415] of it as soon as he could, because there was no French comedy, and he did not love the Italian opera. I let slip some words of the pleasure he should have of seeing his native country again, on account of the services he could render her in parliament. ‘Yes (says he), I want vastly to be at London; there are three years since I have seen Garrick.’ He spoke to me of you, and indeed not only with consideration, but with affection. Were there nothing else valuable in his character, I should love him, because he loves you. He told me he intended to see you as soon as he should be in England; I am glad he has kept his word. I was so taken up with my old friend, that I could not speak a word to * * *. He appeared, however, a good, sensible, modest young man. Poor Minorca indeed thus lost! but poor Englishmen who have lost it! I think the second exclamation still stronger than the first. Poor Lord Torrington! I can't help pitying him. What a shameful uncle he has! I shall lose all my opinion of my countrymen, if the whole nation, Whigs, Tories, Courtiers, Jacobites, &c. &c. &c. &c. are not unanimous in detesting that man. Pray, is there any truth in a story we had here, of a brother of Admiral Byng's having killed himself out of rage and shame? I did not think he had any brothers alive. It is thought here that Byng will be acquitted. I hope not. Though I do not love rash judgments, I cannot help thinking him guilty.

You ask me, when I shall come into England? How should I know it? The 14th of June I wrote to my father, and saying nothing of my return, which I knew would have been to no purpose, I desired him to give me a fixed allowance of 200l. a-year, or, at least, to allow me a servant. No answer. About a fortnight ago I renewed my request; and I cannot yet know what will be my success. I design to make a virtue of necessity, to keep quiet during this winter, and to put in use all my machines next spring, in order to come [Page 416] over*. I shall write the strongest, and at the same time the most dutiful letter I can imagine to my father. If all that produces no effect, I don't know what I can do.

You talk to me of my cousin Ellison's wedding; but you don't say a word of who she is married to. Is it Elliot? Though you have not seen my father yet, I suppose you have heard of him. How was he in town? His wife, was she with him? Has marriage produced any changement in his way of living? Is he to be always at Beriton, or will he come up to London in winter? Pray have you ever seen my mother-in-law, or heard any thing more of her character? Compliments to every body that makes me compliments: to the Gilberts, to the Comarques, to Lord Newnham, &c. When you see the Comarques again, ask them if they did not know, at Putney, Monsieur la Vabre, and his daughters; perhaps you know them yourself. I saw them lately in this country; one of them very well married.

The Englishman who lodges in our house, is little sociable at least for a reasonable person. My health always good, my studies pretty good. I understand Greek pretty well. I have even some kind of correspondence with several learned men, with Mr. Crevier of Paris, with Mr. Breitinger of Zurick, and with Mr. Allamand, a clergyman of this country, the most reasonable divine I ever knew. Do you never read now? I am a little piqued that you say nothing of Sir Charles Grandison; if you have not read it yet, read it for my sake. Perhaps Clarissa does not encourage you; but, in my opinion, it is much superior to Clarissa. When you have read it, read the letters of Madame de Sevigné to her daughter; I don't doubt of their being translated into English. They are properly what I called [Page 417] in the beginning of my letter, letters of the heart; the natural expressions of a mother's fondness; regret at their being at a great distance from one another, and continual schemes to get together again. All that, won't it please you? There is scarce any thing else in six whole volumes: and notwithstanding that, few people read them without finding them too short. Adieu: my paper is at an end. I don't dare to tell you to write soon. Do it, however, if you can. Yours affectionately,

E. GIBBON.

DEAR SIR,

I HAVE read nothing for some time (and I keep reading on still) that has given me so much pleasure as your letter, which I received by the last post. I rejoice at your return to your country, to your father, and to the good principles of truth and reason. Had I in the least suspected your design of leaving us, I should immediately have put you upon reading Mr. Chillingworth's Religion of Protestants; any one page of which is worth a library of Swiss divinity. It will give me great pleasure to see you at Washington; where I am, I thank God, very well and very happy. I desire my respects to Mr. Gibbon; and am, with very great regard, dear Sir,

Your most affectionate humble servant, THO. WALDGRAVE.

[Page 418]

DEAR SIR,

AN address in writing, from a person who has the pleasure of being with you every day, may appear singular. However, I have preferred this method, as upon paper I can speak without a blush, and be heard without interruption. If my letter displeases you, impute it, dear Sir, only to yourself. You have treated me, not like a son, but like a friend. Can you be surprised that I should communicate to a friend, all my thoughts, and all my desires? Unless the friend approve them, let the father never know them; or at least, let him know at the same time, that however reasonable, however eligible, my scheme may appear to me, I would rather forget it for ever, than cause him the slightest uneasiness.

When I first returned to England, attentive to my future interest, you were so good as to give me hopes of a seat in parliament. This seat, it was supposed would be an expence of fifteen hundred pounds. This design flattered my vanity, as it might enable me to shine in so august an assembly. It flattered a nobler passion; I promised myself that by the means of this seat I might be one day the instrument of some good to my country. But I soon perceived how little a mere virtuous inclination, unassisted by talents, could contribute towards that great end; and a very short examination discovered to me, that those talents had not fallen to my lot. Do not, dear Sir, impute this declaration to a false modesty, the meanest species of pride. Whatever else I may be ignorant of, I think I know myself, and shall always endeavour to mention my good qualities without vanity, and my defects without repugnance. I shall say nothing of the most intimate acquaintance with his country and language, so absolutely [Page 419] necessary to every senator. Since they may be acquired, to alledge my deficiency in them, would seem only the plea of laziness. But I shall say with great truth, that I never possessed that gift of speech, the first requisite of an orator, which use and labour may improve, but which nature alone can bestow. That my temper, quiet, retired, somewhat reserved, could neither acquire popularity, bear up against opposition, nor mix with ease in the crowds of public life. That even my genius (if you will allow me any) is better qualified for the deliberate compositions of the closet, than for the extemporary discourses of the parliament. An unexpected objection would disconcert me; and as I am incapable of explaining to others, what I do not thoroughly understand myself, I should be meditating, while I ought to be answering. I even want necessary prejudices of party, and of nation. In popular assemblies, it is often necessary to inspire them; and never orator inspired well a passion, which he did not feel himself. Suppose me even mistaken in my own character; to set out with the repugnance such an opinion must produce, offers but an indifferent prospect. But I hear you say, it is not necessary that every man should enter into parliament with such exalted hopes. It is to acquire a title the most glorious of any in a free country, and to employ the weight and consideration it gives, in the service of one's friends. Such motives, though not glorious, yet are not dishonourable; and if we had a borough in our command, if you could bring me in without any great expence, or if our fortune enabled us to despise that expence, then indeed I should think them of the greatest strength. But with our private fortune, is it worth while to purchase at so high a rate, a title, honourable in itself, but which I must share with every fellow that can lay out fifteen hundred pounds? Besides, dear Sir, a merchandise is of little value to the owner, when he is resolved not to sell it.

I should affront your penetration, did I not suppose you now see the drift of this letter. It is to appropriate to another use the sum [Page 420] with which you destined to bring me into parliament; to employ it, not in making me great, but in rendering me happy. I have often heard you say yourself, that the allowance you had been so indulgent as to grant me, though very liberal in regard to your estate, was yet but small, when compared with the almost necessary extravagancies of the age. I have indeed found it so, notwithstanding a good deal of oeconomy, and an exemption from many of the common expences of youth. This, dear Sir, would be a way of supplying these deficiencies, without any additional expence to you.—But I forbear.—If you think my proposals reasonable, you want no entreaties to engage you to comply with them; if otherwise, all will be without effect.

All that I am afraid of, dear Sir, is, that I should seem not so much asking a favour, as this really is, as exacting a debt. After all I can say, you will still remain the best judge of my good, and your own circumstances. Perhaps, like most landed gentlemen, an addition to my annuity would suit you better, than a sum of money given at once; perhaps the sum itself may be too considerable. Whatever you shall think proper to bestow upon me, or in whatever manner, will be received with equal gratitude.

I intended to stop here; but as I abhor the least appearance of art, I think it will be better to lay open my whole scheme at once. The unhappy war which now desolates Europe, will oblige me to defer seeing France till a peace. But that reason can have no influence upon Italy, a country which every scholar must long to see; should you grant my request, and not disapprove of my manner of employing your bounty, I would leave England this Autumn, and pass the Winter at Lausanne, with M. de Voltaire and my old friends. The armies no longer obstruct my passage, and it must be indifferent to you, whether I am at Lausanne or at London during the Winter, since I shall not be at Beriton. In the Spring I would cross the Alps, and after some stay in Italy, as the war must then [Page 421] be terminated, return home through France; to live happily with you and my dear mother. I am now two-and-twenty; a tour must take up a considerable time, and though I believe you have no thoughts of settling me soon, (and I am sure I have not,) yet so many things may intervene, that the man who does not travel early, runs a great risk of not travelling at all. But this part of my scheme, as well as the whole, I submit entirely to you.

Permit me, dear Sir, to add, that I do not know whether the complete compliance with my wishes could increase my love and gratitude; but that I am very sure, no refusal could diminish those sentiments with which I shall always remain, dear Sir,

Your most dutiful and obedient son and servant, E. GIBBON junior.

[Page 422]

DEAR SIR,

I COULD not procure you a ticket for the coronation, without putting you to the expence of ten guineas. But I now send you something much more valuable, which will cost you only a groat. When will your father or you be in town? Desire Becket to send me one of your books, well bound, for myself: all the other copies I gave away, as Duke Desenany drunk out ten dozen of Lord Bolingbroke's Champagne in his absence—to your honour and glory. I need not tell you that I am,

most affectionately, the Major's and your very humble servant, D. MALLET.

Turn over, read, and be delighted. Let your father too read.

J'ai lu avec autant d'avidité que de satisfaction le bon et agréable ouvrage, dont l'auteur m'a fait présent. Je parle comme si M. Gibbon ne m'avoit pas loué, et même un peu trop fort. J'ai lu le liver d'un citoyen du monde, d'un véritable homme de lettres, qui les aime pour elles mêmes, sans exception ni prévention, et qui joint à beaucoup [Page 423] d'esprit, le bon sens plus rare que l'esprit, ainsi qu'une impartialité qui le rend juste et modeste, malgré l'impression qu'il a du reçvoir des auteurs sans nombre qu'il a lus, et tres bien lus. J'ai donc dévoré ce petit ouvrage, auquel je desirerois de bon coeur une plus grande étendue, et que je voudrois faire lire à tout le monde.

Je témoigne aussi à My Lady Hervey, l'obligation que je lui ai, de m'avoir fait connoître un auteur qui prouve à chaque mot, que la littérature n'est ennemie que de l'ignorance et des travers, qui mérite d'avoir des Maty pour amis, et qui d'ailleurs honore et fortifie notre langue par l'usage que son esprit en sait faire. Si j'étois plus savant, j'appuyerois sur le mérite des discussions, et sur la justesse des observations.

CAYLUS.

[Page 422]

I read with as much eagerness as pleasure the excellent and agreeable work with which the author presented me. I speak as if Mr. Gibbon had not praised me, and that too warmly. His work is that of a real man of letters, who loves them for their own sake, without exception or prejudice; and who unites with much talent the more precious gift of good sense, and an [Page 423] impartiality that displays his candour and justice, in spite of the bias that he must have received from the innumerable authors whom he has read and studied. I have therefore perused, with the greatest avidity, this little work; and wish that it was more extensive, and read universally.

I would also express my thanks to Lady Hervey, for making me acquainted with an author who proves in every page that learning is hostile only to ignorance and prejudice; who deserves to have a Maty for his friend, and who adds honour and strength to our language by the use which he so ably makes of it. Were I more learned I should dwell on the merit of the discussions, and the justness of the observations.

CAYLUS.

[Page 424]

SUPPOSING you settled in quarters, dear Sir, I obey your commands, and send you my thoughts, relating to the pursuit of your mathematical studies. You told me, you had read Clairaut's Algebra, and the three first books of l'Hopital's Conic Sections. You did not mention the Elements of Geometry you had perused. Whatever they were, whether Euclid's, or by some other, you will do well, if you have not applied yourself that way for some time past, to go over them again, and render the conclusions familiar to your memory. You may defer, however, a very critical inquiry into the principles and reasoning of geometers, till Dr. Simpson's new edition of Euclid (now in the press) appears. I would have you study that book well; in the mean time recapitulate Clairaut and l'Hopital, so far as you have gone, and then go through the remainder of the marquis's books with care. The fifth book will be an Introduction to the Analyse des Infiniment petits; to which I would advise you to proceed, after finishing the Conic Sections. The Infiniment petits may want a comment; Crousaz has written one, but it is a wretched performance: he did not understand the first principles of the science he undertook to illustrate; and his geometry shews, that he did not understand the first principles of geometry. There is a posthumous work of M. Varignon's, called Eclaircissemens sur l' Analyse des Infiniment petits. Paris, 1725, 4to. This will be often of use to you. However, it must be owned, that the notion of the Infiniment petits, or Infinitesimals, as we call them, is too bold an assumption, and too remote from the principles of the ancients, our masters in geometry; and has given a handle to an ingenious author [Page 425] (Berkeley, late bishop of Cloyne) to attack the logic of modern mathematicians. He has been answered by many, but by none so clearly as by Mr. Maclaurin, in his Fluxions, (2 vols. in 4to,) where you will meet with a collection of the most valuable discoveries in the mathematical and physico-mathematical sciences. I recommend this author to you; but whether you ought to read him immediately after M. de l'Hopital, may be a question. I think you may be satisfied at first with reading his introduction, and chap. 1. book I. of the grounds of the Method of Fluxions, and then proceed to chap. 12. of the same book, § 495 to § 505 inclusive, where he treats of the Method of Infinitesimals, and of the Limits of Ratios. You may then read chap. 1. book II. § 697 to § 714 inclusive; and this you may do immediately after reading the first section of the Analyse des Infiniment petits: or if you please, you may postpone a critical inquiry into the principles of Infinitesimals and Fluxions, till you have seen the use and application of this doctrine in the drawing of Tangents, and in finding the Maxima and Minima of Geometrical Magnitudes. Annal. des Infin. pet. § 2 and 3.

When you have read the beginning of l'Hopital's 4th sect. to sect. 65 inclusive, you may read Maclaurin's chap. 2, 3, and 4; where he fully explains the nature of these higher orders of Fluxions, and applies the notion to geometrical figures. Your principles being then firmly established, you may finish M. de l'Hopital.

Your next step must be to the inverse method of Fluxions, called by the French calcul integral. Monsieur de Bougainville has given us a treatise upon this subject, Paris, 1754, 4to. under the title Traité du calcul integral pour servir de suite a l' Analyse des Infiniment petits. You should have it; but though he explains the methods hitherto found out for the determination of Fluents from given Fluxions, or in the French style, pour trouver les integrales des differences donneés; yet as he has not shewn the use and application of this doctrine, as de l'Hopital did, with respect to that part which he [Page 426] treats of, M. de Bougainville's book is, for that reason, not so well suited to beginners as could be wished. You may therefore take Carré's book in 4to, printed at Paris, 1700, and entitled, Methode pour la Mesure des Surfaces, &c. par l' Application du Calcul integral. Only I must caution you against depending upon him in his fourth section, where he treats of the centre of oscillation and percussion; he having made several mistakes there, as M. de Mairan has shewn, p. 196. Mem. de l' Acad. Royale des Sciences, edit. Paris, 1735. After Carré, you may read Bougainville.

I have recommended French authors to you, because you are a thorough master of that language, and because, by their studying style and clearness of expression, they seem to me best adapted to beginners. Our authors are often profound and acute, but their laconisms, and neglect of expression, often perplex beginners. I except Mr. Maclaurin, who is very clear; but then he has such a vast variety of matter, that a great part of his book is, on that account, too difficult for a beginner. I might recommend other authors to you, as a course of elements; for instance, you might read Mr. Thomas Simpson's Geometry, Algebra, Trigonometry, and Fluxions; all which contain a great variety of good things. In his Geometry he departs from Euclid without a sufficient reason. However, you may read him after Dr. Robert Simson's Euclid, or together with it, and take notice of what is new in Thomas Simpson. His Algebra you may join with Clairaut; and the rather that Clairaut has been sparing of particular problems, and has, besides, omitted several useful applications of Algebra. Simpson's Fluxions may go hand in hand with l'Hopital, Maclaurin, Carré, and Bougainville. If you come to have a competent knowledge of these authors, you will be far advanced, and you may proceed to the works of Newton, Cotes, the Bernoulli's, Dr. Moivre, &c. as your inclination and time will permit. Sir Isaac Newton's treatise of the Quadrature of Curves has been well commented by Mr. Stewart, and is of itself a good institution [Page 427] of Fluxions. Sir Isaac's Algebra is commented in several places by Clairaut, and in more in Maclaurin's Algebra; and Newton's famous Principia are explained by the Minims Jacquirs et le Seur, Geneva, 4 vols. 4to. Cotes is explained by Don Walmesley, in his Analyse des Mesures, &c. Paris, 4to. You see you may find work enough. But my paper bids me subscribe myself, dear Sir,

Your most obedient servant, GEO. LEWIS SCOTT.

P. S. But I recollect, a little late, that the books I have mentioned, excepting Newton's Principia, and the occasional problems in the rest, treat only of the abstract parts of the Mathematics; and you are, no doubt, willing to look into the concrete parts, or what is called Mixed Mathematics, and the Physico-mathematical Sciences. Of these the principal are, mechanics, optics, and astronomy. As to the principles of mechanics, M. d'Alembert has recommended M. Trabaud's Principes du Mouvement et de l'Equilibre, to beginners; and you cannot do better than to study this book. In optics we have Dr. Smith's Complete System, 2 vols. 4to. I wish though, we had a good institution, short and clear; the Doctor's book entering into too great details for beginners. However, you may consider his first book, or popular Treatise, as an Institution, and you will from thence acquire a good deal of knowledge. In astronomy I recommend M. le Monnier's Institutions Astronomiques, in 4to. Paris, 1746. It is a translation from Keil's Astronomical Lectures, but with considerable additions. You should also have Cassini's Elemens d' Astronomie, 2 vols. 4to. As to the physical causes of the celestial motions, after having read Maclaurin's account of Sir Isaac Newton's philosophical Discoveries, and Dr. Pemberton's View of Sir Isaac's Philosophy, you may read the great author himself, with the comment. But if you read Maclaurin's Fluxions throughout, you will find many points of Sir Isaac's philosophy well explained there. [Page 428] They theory of light and colours should be studied in Sir Isaac himself, in the English edition of his Optics, 8vo. there is a branch of the optical sciences which I have not mentioned, that is, Perspective. Dr. Brook Taylor's is the best system, but his style and expression is embarrassed and obscure. L'Abbé de la Caille has also given a good treatise of Perspective, at the end of his Optique: these are of use to painters; but the theory of mathematical projection in general is more extensive, and has been well treated of by old writers, Clavius, Aguillonius, Tacquet, and De Chules: and lately M. de la Caille has given a memoir among those of the Acad. Roy. des Sciences of Paris, anno 1741, sur le calcul des projections en general. This subject is necessary for the understanding of the theory of maps and planispheres. Mathematicians have also applied their art to the theory of sounds and music. Dr. Smith's Harmonics is the principal book of the kind.

Thus have I given you some account of the principal elementary authors in the different branches of mathematical knowledge, and it were much to be wished that we had a complete institution, or course, of all these things of a moderate size, which might serve as an introduction to all the good original authors. Wolfius attempted this; his intention was laudable, but his book is so full of errors of the press, besides some of his own, that I cannot recommend him to a beginner. He might be used occasionally for the signification of terms, and for many historical facts relating to mathematics; and, besides, may be considered as a collector of problems, which is useful.

Besides the books I have mentioned, it might be of use to you to have M. Montucla's Histoire des Mathematiques, in 4to. 2. vols. You will there find a history of the progress of the mathematical sciences, and some account of the principal authors relating to this subject.

I mentioned to you in conversation, the superior elegance of the antient method of demonstration. If you incline to examine this [Page 429] point, after being well versed in Euclid, you may proceed to Dr. Simson's Conic Sections; and to form an idea of the antient analysis or method of investigating the solution of geometrical problems, read Euclid's Data, which Dr. Simson will publish, together with his new edition of Euclid; and then read his Loci Plani, in 4to. The elegance of the method of the ancients is confessed; but it seems to require the remembrance of a great multitude of propositions, and in complicated problems it does not seem probable that it can be extended so far as the algebraic method.

DEAR MADAM,

YOU remember our agreement,—short and frequent letters. The first part of the treaty you have no doubt of my observing. I think I ought not to leave you any of the second. A propos of treaty: our definitive one was signed here yesterday, and this morning the Duke of Bridgewater and Mr. Neville went for London with the news of it. The plenipotentiaries sat up till ten o'clock in the morning at the ambassador of Spain's ball, and then went to sign this treaty, which regulates the fate of Europe.

Paris, in most respects, has fully answered my expectations. I have a number of very good acquaintance, which increase every day; for nothing is so easy as the making them here. Instead of complaining of the want of them, I begin already to think of making a choice. Next Sunday, for instance, I have only three invitations to dinner. Either in the houses you are already acquainted, [Page 430] you meet with people who ask you to come and see them, or some of your friends offer themselves to introduce you. When I speak of these connections, I mean chiefly for dinner and the evening. Suppers, as yet, I am pretty much a stranger to, and I fancy shall continue so; for Paris is divided into two species, who have but little communication with each other. The one, who is chiefly connected with the men of letters, dine very much at home, are glad to see their friends, and pass the evenings till about nine, in agreeable and rational conversation. The others are the most fashionable, sup in numerous parties, and always play, or rather game, both before and after supper. You may easily guess which sort suits me best. Indeed, Madam, we may say what we please of the frivolity of the French, but I do assure you, that in a fortnight passed at Paris, I have heard more conversation worth remembering, and seen more men of letters among the people of fashion, than I had done in two or three winters in London.

Amongst my acquaintance I cannot help mentioning M. Helvetius, the author of the famous book de l' Esprit. I met him at dinner at Madame Geoffrin's, where he took great notice of me, made me a visit next day, has ever since treated me, not in a polite but a friendly manner. Besides being a sensible man, an agreeable companion, and the worthiest creature in the world, he has a very pretty wife, an hundred thousand livres a year, and one of the best tables in Paris. The only thing I dislike in him is his great attachment to, and admiration for, * * * *, whose character is indeed at Paris beyond any thing you can conceive. To the great civility of this foreigner, who was not obliged to take the least notice of me, I must just contrast the behaviour of * * * * * *.

[Page 431]

DEAR SIR,

I RECEIVED your letter about twelve days after its date, owing, as I apprehend, to Mr. Foley's negligence. My direction is, à Monsieur Monsieur Gibbon, Gentilhomme Anglois à l' Hotel de Londres, rue de Columbier, Fauxbourg St. Germains, à Paris. You see I am still in that part of the town; and indeed from all the intelligence I could collect, I saw no reason to change, either on account of cheapness or pleasantness. Madame Bontems, Mrs. Mallet's friend, and a Marquis de Mirabeau, (I got acquainted with at her house,) have acted a very friendly part; though all their endeavours have only served to convince me that Paris is unavoidably a very dear place. I am sorry to find my English cloaths look very foreign. The French are now excessively long-waisted. At present we are in mourning for the Bishop of Liege, the king's uncle; and expect soon another of a singular nature, for the old Pretender, who is very ill. They mourn for him, not as a crowned head, but as a relation of the king's. I am doubtful how the English here will behave; indeed we can have no difficulties, since we need only follow the example of the Duke of Bedford.

I have now passed nearly a month in this place, and I can say with truth, that it has answered my most sanguine expectations. The buildings of every kind, the libraries, the public diversions, take up a great part of my time; and I have already found several houses, where it is both very easy and very agreeable to be acquainted. Lady Harvey's recommendation to Madame Geoffrin was a most excellent one. Her house is a very good one; regular dinners there every Wednesday, and the best company of Paris, in men of letters and people of fashion. It was at her house I connected myself with [Page 432] M. Helvetius, who, from his heart, his head, and his fortune, is a most valuable man.

At his house I was introduced to the Baron d'Olbach, who is a man of parts and fortune, and has two dinners every week. The other houses I am known in, are the Duchess d' Aiguillon's, Madame la Comtesse de Froulay's, Madame du Bocage, Madame Boyer, M. le Marquis de Mirabeau, and M. de Foucemagn. All these people have their different merit; in some I meet with good dinners; in others, societies for the evening; and in all, good sense, entertainment, and civility; which, as I have no favours to ask, or business to transact with them, is sufficient for me. Their men of letters are as affable and communicative as I expected. My letters to them did me no harm, but were very little necessary. My book had been of great service to me, and the compliments I have received upon it would make me insufferably vain, if I laid any stress on them. When I take notice of the civilities I have received, I must take notice too of what I have seen of a contrary behaviour. You know how much I always built upon the Count de Caylus: he has not been of the least use to me. With great difficulty I have seen him, and that is all. I do not, however, attribute his behaviour to pride, or dislike to me, but solely to the man's general character, which seems to be a very odd one. De la Motte, Mrs. Mallet's friend, has behaved very drily to me, though I have dined with him twice. But I can forgive him a great deal, in consideration of his having introduced me to M. d'Augny (Mrs. Mallet's son). Her men are generally angels or devils; but here I really think, without being very prone to admiration, that she has said very little too much of him. As far as I can judge, he has certainly an uncommon degree of understanding and knowledge, and, I believe, a great fund of honour and probity. We are very much together, and I think our intimacy seems to be growing into a friendship. Next Sunday we go to Versailles; the king's guard is done by a detachment from [Page 433] Paris, which is relieved every four days; and as he goes upon this command, it is a very good occasion for me to see the palace. I shall not neglect, at the same time, the opportunity of informing myself of the French discipline.

The great news at present is the arrival of a very extraordinary person from the Isle of France in the East Indies. An obscure Frenchman, who was lately come into the island, being very ill, and given over, said, that before he died he must discharge his conscience of a great burden he had upon it, and declared to several people, he was the accomplice of Damien, and the very person who held the horses. Unluckily for him, the man recovered after this declaration, was immediately sent prisoner to Paris, and is just landed at Port l'Orient, from whence he is daily expected here, to unravel the whole mystery of that dark affair. This story (which at first was laughed at) has now gained entire credit, and I apprehend must be founded on real fact.

A lady of Miss Caryll's acquaintance has desired me to convey the inclosed letter to her. You will be so good as to send it over to Ladyholt. I hope I need say nothing of my sentiments towards our friends at Beriton, nor of my readiness to execute any of their commands here.

I am, dear Sir, most affectionately yours, E. GIBBON.

[Page 434]

DEAR HOLROYD,

HURRY of running about, time taken up with seeing places, &c. &c. &c. are excellent excuses; but I fancy you will guess that my laziness and aversion to writing to my best friend are the real motives, and I am afraid you will have guessed right.

We are at this minute in a most magnificent palace, in the middle of a vast lake; ranging about suites of rooms without a soul to interrupt us, and secluded from the rest of the universe. We shall sit down in a moment to supper, attended by all the Count's household. This is the fine side of the medal: turn to the reverse. We are got here wet to the skin; we have crawled about fine gardens which rain and fogs prevented our seeing; and if to-morrow does not hold up a little better, we shall be in some doubt whether we can say we have seen these famous islands. Guise says yes, and I say no. The Count is not here; we have our supper from a paultry hedge alehouse, (excuse the bull,) and the servants have offered us beds in the palace, pursuant to their master's directions.

I hardly think you will like Turin; the court is old and dull; and in that country every one follows the example of the court. The principal amusement seems to be, driving about in your coach in the evening, and bowing to the people you meet. If you go while the Royal Family is there, you have the additional pleasure of stopping to salute them every time they pass. I had that advantage fifteen times one afternoon. We were presented to a lady who keeps a public assembly, and a very mournful one it is; the few women that go to it are each taken up by their cicisbeo; and a poor Englishman, who can neither talk Piedmontois nor play at Faro, [Page 435] stands by himself without one of their haughty nobility doing him the honour of speaking to him. You must not attribute this account to our not having staid long enough to form connections. It is a general complaint of our countrymen, except of Lord ***, who has been engaged for about two years in the service of a lady, whose long nose is her most distinguishing fine feature. The most sociable women I have met with are the king's daughters. I chatted for about a quarter of an hour with them, talked about Lausanne, and grew so very free and easy, that I drew my snuff-box, rapped it, took snuff twice (a crime never known before in the presence chamber), and continued my discourse in my usual attitude of my body bent forwards, and my fore singer stretched out*. As it might however have been difficult to keep up this acquaintance, I chiefly employ my time in seeing places, which fully repaid me in pleasure the trouble of my journey. What entertained me the most, was the museum and the citadel. The first is under the care of a M. Bartoli, who received us, without any introduction, in the politest manner in the world, and was of the greatest service to us, as I dare say he will be to you. The citadel is a stupendous work; and when you have seen the subterraneous part of it, you will scarcely think it possible such a place can ever be taken. As it is however a regular one, it does not pique my curiosity so much as those irregular fortifications hewn out of the Alps, as Exiles, Fenestrelles, and the Brunette would have done, could we have spared the time necessary. Our next stage from Turin has been Milan, where we were mere spectators, as it was not worth while to endeavour at forming connections for so very few days. I think you will be surprised at the great church, but infinitely more so at the regiment of Baden, which is in the citadel. Such steadiness, such alertness in the men, and such [Page 436] exactness in the officers, as exceeded all my expectations. Next Friday I shall see the regiment reviewed by General Serbelloni. Perhaps I may write a particular letter about it. From Milan we proceed to Genoa, and thence to Florence. you stare—But really we find it so inconvenient to travel like mutes, and to lose a number of curious things for want of being able to assist our eyes with our tongues, that we have resumed our original plan, and leave Venice for next year. I think I should advise you to do the same.

9.17.1.

THE next morning was not fair, but however we were able to take a view of the islands, which, by the help of some imagination, we conclude to be a very delightful, though not an enchanted place. I would certainly advise you to go there from Milan, which you may very well perform in a day and half. Upon our return, we found Lord Tilney and some other English in their way to Venice. We heard a melancholy piece of news from them: Byng died at Bologna a few days ago of a fever. I am sure you will be all very sorry to hear it.

We expect a volume of news from you in relation to Lausanne, and in particular to the alliance of the Duchess with the Frog. Is it already concluded? How does the bride look after her great revolution? Pray embrace her and the adorable, if you can, in both our names; and assure them, as well as all the Spring *, that we talk of them very often, but particularly of a Sunday; and that we are so disconsolate, that we have neither of us commenced cicisbeos as yet, whatever we may do at Florence. We have drank the Duchess's health, not forgetting the little woman on the top of Mount Cenis, in the middle of the Lago Maggiore, &c. &c. I expect some account of the said little woman. Who is my successor? I think **** had began to supplant me before I went. I expect your answer at Florence, and your person at Rome; which the Lord grant. Amen.

[Page 437]

DEAR HOLROYD,

WHY did I not leave a letter for you at Marseilles? For a very plain reason: because I did not go to Marseilles. But, as you have most judiciously added, why did not I send one? Humph. I own that nonplusses me a little. However, hearken to my history. After revolving a variety of plans, and suiting them as well as possible to time and finances, Guise and I at last agreed to pass from Venice to Lyons, swim down the Rhone, wheel round the south of France, and embark at Bourdeaux. Alas! At Lyons I received letters which convinced me that I ought no longer to deprive my country of one of her greatest ornaments. Unwillingly I obeyed, left Guise to execute alone the remainder of our plan, passed about ten delicious days at Paris, and arrived in England about the end of June. Guise followed me about two months afterwards, as I was informed by an epistle from him, which, to his great astonishment, I immediately answered. You perceive there is still some virtue amongst men. Exempli gratiâ, your letter is dated Vienna, October 12th, 1765; it made its appearance at Beriton, Wednesday evening, October the 29th. I am at this present writing, sitting in my library, on Thursday morning, between the hours of twelve and one. I have ventured to suppose you still at Berlin; if not, I presume you take care that your letters should follow you. This ideal march to Berlin is the only one I can make at present. I am under command; and were I to talk of a third fally as yet, I know some certain people who would think it just as ridiculous as the third sally of the renowned Don Quixote. All I ever hoped for was, to be able to take [Page 438] the field once more, after lying quiet a couple of years. I must own that your executing your tour in so complete a manner gives me a little selfish. If I make a summer's escape to Berlin, I cannot hope for the companion I flattered myself with. I am sorry however I have said so much; but as it is difficult to encrease your Honour's proper notions of your own perfections, I will e'en let it stand. Indeed I owed you something for your account of the favourable reception my book has met with. I see there are people of taste at Vienna, and no longer wonder at your liking it. Since the court is so agreeable, a thorough reformation must have taken place. The stiffness of the Austrian etiquette, and the haughty magnificence of the Hungarian princes, must have given way to more civilized notions. You have (no doubt) informed yourself of the forces and revenues of the empress. I think (however unfashionably) we always esteemed her. Have you lost or improved that opinion. Princes, like pictures to be admired, must be seen in their proper point of view, which is often a pretty distant one. I am afraid you will find it peculiarly so at Berlin.

I need not desire you to pay a most minute attention to the Austrian and Prussian discipline. You have been bit by a mad serjeant as well as myself; and when we meet, we shall run over every particular which we can approve, blame, or imitate. Since my arrival, I have assumed the august character of Major, received returns, issued orders, &c. &c. &c. I do not intend you shall have the honour of reviewing my troops next summer. Three fourths of the men will be recruits; and during my pilgrimage, discipline seems to have been relaxed. But I summon you to fulfil another engagement. Make me a visit next summer. You will find here a bad house, a pleasant country in summer, some books, and very little strange company. Such a plan of life for two or three months must, I should imagine, suit a man who has been for as many years struck from one end of Europe to the other like a tennis-ball. At least I judge of you by [Page 439] myself. I always loved a quiet, studious, indolent life; but never enjoyed the charms of it so truly, as since my return from an agreeable but fatiguing course of motion and hurry. However I shall hear of your arrival, which can scarcely be so soon as January 1766, and shall probably have the misfortune of meeting you in town soon after. We may then settle any plans for the ensuing campaign.

En attendant, (admire me, this is the only scrap of foreign lingo I have imported into this epistle—if you had seen that of Guise to me!) let me tell you a piece of Lausanne news. Nanette Grand is married to Lieutenant-colonel Prevot. Grand wrote to me; and by the next post I congratulated both father and daughter. There is exactness for you. The Curchod (Madame Necker) I saw at Paris. She was very fond of me, and the husband particularly civil. Could they insult me more cruelly? Ask me every evening to supper; go to bed, and leave me alone with his wife—what an impertinent security! it is making an old lover of mighty little consequence. She is as handsome as ever, and much genteeler; seems pleased with her fortune rather than proud of it. I was (perhaps indiscreetly enough) exalting Nanette d'Illens's good luck and the fortune. What fortune? (said she, with an air of contempt)—not above twenty thousand livres a-year. I smiled, and she caught herself immediately.— ‘What airs I give myself in despising twenty thousand livres a-year, who a year ago looked upon eight hundred as the summit of my wishes.’

I must end this tedious scrawl. Let me hear from you: I think I deserve it. Believe me, Dear Holroyd, I share in all your pleasures, and feel all your misfortunes. Poor Bolton! I saw it in the newspaper. Is Ridley with you? I suspect not: but if he is, assure him I do not forget him though he does me. Adieu; and believe me, most affectionately yours,

E. GIBBON Junior.

[Page 440]

DEAR HOLROYD,

I HAPPENED to-night to stumble upon a very odd piece of intelligence in the St. James's Chronicle; it related to the marriage of a certain Monsieur Olroy*, formerly Captain of Hussars. I do not know how it came into my head that this Captain of Hussars was not unknown to me, and that he might possibly be an acquaintance of yours. If I am not mistaken in my conjecture, pray give my compliments to him, and tell him from me, that I am at least as well pleased that he is married as if I were so myself. Assure him, however, that though as a philosopher I may prefer celibacy, yet as a politician I think it highly proper that the species should be propagated by the usual method; assure him even that I am convinced, that if celibacy is exposed to fewer miseries, marriage can alone promise real happiness, since domestic enjoyments are the source of every other good. May such happiness, which is bestowed on few, be given to him; the transient blessings of beauty, and the more durable ones of fortune, good sense, and an amiable disposition.

I can easily conceive, and as easily excuse you, if you have thought mighty little this winter of your poor rusticated friend. I have been confined ever since Christmas, and confined by a succession of very melancholy occupations. I had scarcely arrived at Beriton, where I proposed staying only about a fortnight, when a brother of Mrs. Gibbon's died unexpectedly, though after a very long and painful illness. We were scarcely recovered from the confusion which such an event must produce in a family, when my father was taken dangerously [Page 441] ill, and with some intervals has continued so ever since. I can assure you, my dear Holroyd, that the same event appears in a very different light when the danger is serious and immediate; or when, in the gaiety of a tavern dinner, we affect an insensibility that would do us no great honour were it real. My father is now much better; but I have since been assailed by a severe stroke—the loss of a friend. You remember, perhaps, an officer of our militia, whom I sometimes used to compare to yourself. Indeed, the comparison would have done honour to any one. His feelings were tender and noble, and he was always guided by them: his principles were just and generous, and he acted up to them. I shall say no more, and you will excuse my having said so much, of a man with whom you were unacquainted; but my mind is just now so very full of him, that I cannot easily talk, or even think, of any thing else. If I know you right, you will not be offended at my weakness.

What rather adds to my uneasiness, is the necessity I am under of joining our militia the day after to-morrow. Though the lively hurry of such a scene might contribute to divert my ideas, yet every circumstance of it, and the place itself, (which was that of his residence,) will give me many a painful moment. I know nothing would better raise my spirits than a visit from you; the request may appear unseasonable, but I think I have heard you speak of an uncle you had near Southampton. At all events, I hope you will snatch a moment to write to me, and give me some account of your present situation and future designs. As you are now fettered, I should expect you will not be such a hic et ubique *, as you have been since your arrival in England. I stay at Southampton from the first to the twenty-eighth of May, and then propose making a short visit to town: if you are any where in the neighbourhood of it, you may depend upon seeing me. I shall then concert measures for seeing a [Page 442] little more of you next winter, than I have lately done, as I hope to take a pretty long spell in town. I suppose Guise has often fallen in your way: he has never once written to me, nor I to him: in the country we want materials, and in London we want time. I ought to recollect, that you even want time to read my unmeaning scrawl. Believe, however, my dear Holroyd, that it is the sincere expression of a heart entirely yours.

DEAR HOLROYD,

I RECEIVED your agreeable missive about two days ago; and am glad to find that, after all your errors, you are at last a settled man. I do most sincerely regret that it is not in my power to obey your immediate summons. Some very particular business will not at present permit me to be long absent from Beriton. The same business will carry me to town, about the sixth of next month, for some days. On my return, I do really hope and intend to storm your castle before Christmas, as I presume you will hardly remove sooner. I should be glad to meet Cambridge; but the plain dish of friendship will satisfy me, without the seasoning of Attic wit. Do you know any thing of Guise? Have you no inclination to look at the Russians? We have a bed at your service. Vale.

Present my sincere respects to those who are dear to you; believe me, they are so to me.

[Page 443]

DEAR HOLROYD,

SOME daemon, the enemy of friendship, seems to have determined that we shall not meet at Sheffield-Place. I was fully resolved to make amends for my lazy scruples, and to dine with you tomorrow; when I received a letter this day from my father, which irresistibly draws me to Beriton for about ten days. The above-mentioned daemon, though he may defer my projects, shall not however disappoint them. Since you intend to pass the winter in retirement, it will be a far greater compliment to quit active, gay, political London, than the drowsy desart London of the holidays. But I retract. What is both pleasing and sincere, is above that prostituted word compliment. Believe me

Most sincerely yours. A propos, I forgot the compliments of the season, &c. &c.

DEAR HOLROYD,

I SIT down to answer your epistle, after taking a very pleasant ride.—A ride! and upon what?—Upon a horse.—You lie!—I don't.—I have got a droll little poney, and intend to renew the long forgotten practice of equitation, as it was known in the world before [Page 444] the second of June of the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and sixty-three. As I used to reason against riding, so I can now argue for it; and indeed the principal use I know in human reason is, when called upon, to furnish arguments for what we have an inclination to do.

What do you mean by presuming to affirm, that I am of no use here? Farmer Gibbon of no use? Last week I sold all my hops, and I believe well, at nine guineas a hundred, to a very responsible man. Some people think I might have got more at Weyhill Fair, but that would have been an additional expence, and a great uncertainty. Our quantity has disappointed us very much; but I think, that besides hops for the family, there will not be less than 500 l.;— no contemptible sum off thirteen small acres, and two of them planted last year only. This week I let a little farm in Petersfield by auction, and propose raising it from 25l. to 35l. per annum: and Farmer Gibbon of no use?

To be serious; I have but one reason for resisting your invitation, and my own wishes; that is, Mrs. Gibbon I left nearly alone all last winter, and shall do the same this. She submits very cheerfully to that state of solitude; but, on sounding her, I am convinced that she would think it unkind were I to leave her at present. I know you so well, that I am sure you will acquiesce in this reason; and let me make my next visit to Sheffield-Place from town, which I think may be a little before Christmas. I should like to hear something of the precise time, duration, and extent of your intended tour into Bucks. Adieu.

[Page 445]

MOST RESPECTABLE SOUTH SAXON,

IT would ill become me to reproach a dilatory correspondent; ‘Quis tulerit Gracchos de seditione querentes?’ especially when that correspondent had given me hopes of undertaking a very troublesome expedition for my sole advantage. Yet thus much I may say, that I am obliged very soon to go to town upon other business, which, in that hope, I have hitherto deferred. If by next Sunday I have no answer, or if I hear that your journey to Denham is put off sine die, or to a long day, I shall on Monday set off for London, and wait your future will with faith, hope, and charity. Adieu.

DEAR HOLROYD,

THE sudden change from the sobriety of Sheffield-Place to the irregularities of this town, and to the wicked company of Wilbraham, Clarke, Damer, &c. having deranged me a good deal, I am forced to employ one of my secretaries to acquaint you with a piece of news I know nothing about myself. It is certain, some extraordinary intelligence is arrived this morning from Denmark, and as certain that the levee was suddenly prevented by it. The particulars [Page 446] of that intelligence are variously and obscurely told. It is said, that the king had raised a little physician to the rank of minister and Ganymede; such a mad administration had so disgusted all the nobility, that the fleet and army had rose, and shut up the king in his palace. La Reine se trouve mélée la dedans; and it is reported that she is confined, but whether in consequence of the insurrection, or some other cause, is not agreed. Such is the rough draft of an affair that nobody yet understands. Embrassez de ma part Madame, et le reste de la chere famille.

GIBBON.

Et plus bas

—WILBRAHAM, Sec.

I LOVE, honour, and respect, every member of Sheffield-Place; even my great enemy* Datch, to whom you will please to convey my sincere wishes, that no simpleton may wait on him at dinner, that his wise papa may not shew him any pictures, and that his much wiser mamma may chain him hand and foot, in direct contradiction to Magna Charta and the bill of rights.

It is difficult to write news, because there is none. Parliament is perfectly quiet; and I think that Barré, who is just now playing at whist in the room, will not have exercise of the lungs, except, perhaps, on a message much talked of, and soon expected, to recommend it to the wisdom of the House of Commons to provide a proper future remedy against the improper marriages of the younger branches of the Royal Family. The noise of **** is subsided, but there was some foundation for it. ***** 's expences in his bold enterprize were yet unpaid by government. The hero threatened, [Page 447] assumed the patriot, received a sop, and again sunk into the courtier. As to Denmark, it seems now that the king, who was totally unfit for government, has only passed from the hands of his queen wife, to those of his queen mother-in-law. **** is said to have indulged a very vague taste in her amours. She would not be admitted into the Pantheon, whence the gentlemen proprietors exclude all beauty, unless unspotted and immaculate (tautology by the bye). The gentlemen proprietors, on the other hand, are friends and patrons of the leopard beauties. Advertising challenges have passed between the two great factions, and a bloody battle is expected Wednesday night. 'A propos, the Pantheon, in point of ennui and magnificence, is the wonder of the eighteenth century and of the British empire. Adieu.

THOUGH it is very late, and the bell tells me that I have not above ten minutes left, I employ them with pleasure in congratulating you on the late victory of our dear mamma the Church of England. She had last Thursday seventy-one rebellious sons, who pretended to set aside her will on account of insanity: but two hundred and seventeen worthy champions, headed by Lord North, Burke, Hans Stanley, Charles Fox, Godfrey Clarke, &c. though they allowed the thirty-nine clauses of her testament were absurd and unreasonable, supported the validity of it with infinite humour. By the bye, ****** prepared himself for that holy war, by passing twenty-two hours in the pious exercise of hazard; his devotions cost him only about 500 l. per hour—in all 11,000 l. **** [Page 448] lost 5000 l. This is from the best authority. I hear too, but will not warrant it, that ****, by way of paying his court to ****, has lost this winter 12,000 l. How I long to be ruined!

There are two county contests, Sir Thomas Egerton and Colonel Townley in Lancashire, after the county had for some time gone a-begging. In Salop, Sir Watkin, supported by Lord Gower, happened by a punctilio to disoblige Lord Craven, who told us last night, that he had not quite 9000 l. a-year in that county, and who has set up Pigot against him. You may suppose we all wish for Got Amighty against that black devil.

I am sorry your journey is deferred. Compliments to Datch. As he is now in durance, great minds forgive their enemies, and I hope he may be released by this time.—Coming, Sir. Adieu.

You see the Princess of W. is gone. Hans Stanley says, it is believed the Empress Queen has taken the same journey.

DEAR HOLROYD,

THE papers and plans arrived safe in town last night, and will be in your hands in their intact virgin state in a day or two. Consider them at leisure, if that word is known in the rural life. Unite, divide, but (above all) raise. Bring them to London with you: I wait your orders; nor shall I, for fear of tumbling, take a single step till your arrival, which, on many accounts, I hope will not be long deferred.

Clouds still hover over the horizon of Denmark. The public circumstances of the revolution are related, and, I understand, very [Page 449] exactly, in the foreign papers. The secret springs of it still remain unknown. The town indeed seems at present quite tired of the subject. The Princess's death, her character, and what she left, engross the conversation. She died without a will; and as her savings were generally disposed of in charity, the small remains of her personal fortune will make a trifling object when divided among her children. Her favourite the Princess of B. very properly insisted on the king's immediately sealing up all the papers, to secure her from the idle reports which would be so readily swallowed by the great English monster. The business of Lord and Lady ****** is finally compromised, by the arbitration of the Chancellor and Lord ******. He gives her 1200 l. a-year separate maintenance, and 1500 l. to set out with: but as her Ladyship is now a new face, her husband, who has already bestowed on the public seventy young beauties, has conceived a violent but hopeless passion for his chaste moiety.

Lord Chesterfield is dying. County oppositions subside. Adieu.

Entirely yours.

DEAR HOLROYD,

HOWEVER, notwithstanding my indignation, I will employ five minutes in telling you two or three recent pieces of news.

1. Charles Fox is commenced patriot, and is already attempting to pronounce the words country, liberty, corruption, &c.; with what success, [Page 450] time will discover. Yesterday he resigned the Admiralty. The story is, that he could not prevail on ministry to join with him in his intended repeal of the marriage act, (a favourite measure of his father, who opposed it from its origin,) and that Charles very judiciously thought Lord Holland's friendship imported him more than Lord North's.

2. Yesterday the marriage message came to both Houses of Parliament. You will see the words of it in the papers: and, thanks to the submissive piety of this session, it is hoped that *.

3. To-day the House of Commons was employed in a very odd way. Tommy Townshend moved, that the sermon of Dr. Knowell, who preached before the House on the 30th of January, (id est, before the Speaker and four members,) should be burnt by the common hangman, as containing arbitrary, tory, high-flown doctrines. The House was nearly agreeing to the motion, till they recollected that they had already thanked the Preacher for his excellent discourse, and ordered it to be printed. Knowell's bookseller is much obliged to the Right Honourable Tommy Townshend.

When do you come to town? I want money, and am tired of sticking to the earth by so many roots. Embrassez de ma part, &c. Adieu.

Ever yours.

[Page 451]

DEAR MADAM,

I HAVE advanced with some care and some success in gaining an idea of the Lenborough estate. The tenants are at will, and, from a comparison of my rents with the neigbouring ones, particularly Lord ****, there is great probability that my estate is very much under-let. My friend Holroyd, who is a most invaluable counsellor, is strongly of that opinion. Sir *** *** is just come home. I am sorry to see many alterations, and little improvement. From an honest wild English buck, he is grown a philosopher. Lord **** displeases every body by the affectation of consequence: the young baronet disgusts no less by the affectation of wisdom. He speaks in short sentences, quotes Montagne, seldom smiles, never laughs, drinks only water, professes to command his passions, and intends to marry in five months. The two lords, his uncle, as well. as ****, attempt to shew him, that such behaviour, even were it reasonable, does not suit this country. He remains incorrigible, and is every day losing ground in the good opinion of the public, which at his first arrival ran strongly in his favour. Deyverdun is probably on his journey towards England, but is not yet come.

I am, dear Madam, &c. &c. &c.

[Page 452]

DEAR HOLROYD,

I WISH you lived nearer, or even that you could pass a week at Beriton. When shall you be at Richmond, or would there be any use in my going down to Sheffield for a day or two? In you alone I put my trust, and without you I should be perplexed, discouraged, and frightened; for not a single fish has yet bit at the Lenborough bait.

I dined the other day with Mr. Way at Boodle's. He told me, that he was just going down to Sheffield Place. As he has probably unladen all the politics, and Mrs. Way all the scandal of the town, I shall for the present only satisfy myself with the needful; among which I shall always reckon my sincere compliments to Madame, and my profound respects for Mr. Datch.

I am, dear H. Truly yours.

It is confidently asserted that the Emperor and King of Prussia are to run for very deep stakes over the Polish course. If the news be true, I back Austria against the aged horse, provided little Laudohn rides the match. N. B. Crossing and jostling allowed.

[Page 453]

MADAM,

THERE is not any event which could have affected me with greater surprise and deeper concern, than the news in last night's paper, of the death of our poor little amiable friend Master Holroyd, whom I loved, not only for his parents' sake, but for his own. Should the news be true, (for even yet I indulge some faint hopes,) what must be the distress of our friends at Sheffield! I so truly sympathise with them, that I know not how to write to Holroyd; but must beg to be informed of the state of the family by a line from you. I have some company and business here, but would gladly quit them, if I had the least reason to think that my presence at Sheffield would afford comfort or satisfaction to the man in the world whom I love and esteem most. I am, Madam, your most obedient humble Servant, &c.

MY DEAR HOLROYD,

IT was my intention to set out for Sheffield as soon as I received your affecting letter, and I hoped to have been with you as to-day; but walking very carelessly yesterday morning, I fell down, and put out a small bone in my ancle. I am now under the surgeon's hands, but think, and most earnestly hope, that this little accident will not delay my journey longer than the middle of next week. I share, and wish I could alleviate, your feelings. I beg to be remembered to Mrs. Holroyd. I am, my dear Holroyd, most truly yours.

[Page 454]

DEAR MADAM,

I SET out at six yesterday morning from Uppark, and got to Brighthelmstone about two; a very thin season, every body gone to Spa. In the evening I reached this place. My friend appears, as he ever will, in a light truly respectable; concealing the most exquisite sufferings under the show of composure, and even cheerfulness, and attempting, though with little success, to confirm the weaker mind of his partner. I find, my friend expresses so much uneasiness at the idea of my leaving him again soon, that I cannot refuse to pass the month here. If Mr. Scott, as I suppose, is at Beriton, he has himself too high a sense of friendship not to excuse my neglecting him. I had some hopes of engaging Mr. and Mrs. Holroyd to make an excursion to Portsmouth, Isle of Wight, Southampton, &c. in which case they would spend a few days at Beriton. A sudden resolution was taken last night in favour of the tour. We set out, Mr. and Mrs. Holroyd, Mr. Fauquier, and myself, next Thursday, and shall dine at Beriton the following day, and stay there, most probably, three or four days. A farm-house, without either cook or housekeeper, will afford but indifferent entertainment; but we must exert, and they must excuse. Our tour will last about a fortnight; after which my friend presses me to return with him, and in his present situation I shall be at a loss how to refuse him.

I am, dear Madam, &c. &c. &c.

[Page 455]

YOUR very elegant letter on the antiquity and authenticity of the book of Daniel, (just now received,) finds me here, if not without leisure, yet without books, and therefore in no condition to enter far into the depths of this controversy; which indeed is the less necessary, as every thing that relates to the subject will come of course to be considered by my learned successors in the new lecture. For as the prophecies of Daniel make an important link in that chain, which, as you say, has been let down from heaven to earth, (but not by the author of the late sermons, who brought into view only what he had not invented,) the grounds on which their authority rests will, without doubt, be carefully examined, and, as I suppose, firmly established.

But in the mean time, and to make at least some small return for the civility of your address to me, I beg leave to trouble you with two or three short remarks, such as occur to me on reading your letter.

Your main difficulties are these two: 1. That the author of the book of Daniel is too clear for a prophet; as appears from his prediction of the Persian and Macedonian affairs: and, 2. too fabulous for a contemporary historian; as is evident, you suppose, from his mistakes, particularly in the sixth chapter.

1. The first of these difficulties is an extraordinary one. For why may not prophecy, if the inspirer think fit, be as clear as history? Scriptural prophecy, whence your idea of its obscurity is [Page 456] taken, is occasionally thus clear, I mean after the event; and Daniel's prophecy of the revolutions in the Grecian empire, would have been obscure enough to Porphyry himself before it.

But your opinion, after all, when you come to explain yourself, really is, as one should expect, that, as a prophet, Daniel is not clear enough; for you enforce the old objection of Porphyry, by observing, that where a pretended prophecy is clear to a certain point of time, and afterwards obscure and shadowy, there common sense leads one to conclude that the author of it was an impostor.

This reasoning is plausible, but not conclusive, unless it be taken for granted, that a prophecy must, in all its parts, be equally clear and precise: whereas, on the supposition of real inspiration, it may be fit, I mean it may suit with the views of the inspirer, to predict some things with more perspicuity, and in terms more obviously and directly applicable to the events in which they were fulfilled, than others. But further, this reasoning, whatever force it may have, has no place here; at least you evidently beg the question when you urge it; because the persons you dispute against maintain, that the subsequent prophecies of Daniel are equally distinct with those preceding ones concerning the Persian and Macedonian empires, at least so much of them as they take to have been fulfilled; and that to judge of the rest, we must wait for the conclusion of them.

However, you admit that the suspicion arising from the clearest prophecy may be removed by direct positive evidence that it was composed before the event. But then you carry your notions of that evidence very far, when you require, ‘that the existence of such a prophecy, prior to its accomplishment, should be proved by the knowledge of its being generally diffused amongst an enlightened nation previous to that period, and its public existence attested by an unbroken chain of authentic writers.’

What you here claim as a matter of right, is, without question, very desirable, but should, I think, be accepted, if it be given at all, as a [Page 457] matter of favour. For what you describe is the utmost evidence that the case admits: but what right have we in this, or any other subject whatever of natural or revealed religion, to the utmost evidence? Is it not enough that the evidence be sufficient to induce a reasonable assent? and is not that assent reasonable, which is given to real evidence, though of an inferior kind, when uncontrolled by any greater? And such evidence we clearly have for the authenticity of the book of Daniel, in the reception of it by the Jewish nation down to the time of Jesus, whose appeal to it supposes and implies that reception to have been constant and general: not to observe, that the testimony of Jesus is further supported by all the considerations that are alleged for his own divine character. To this evidence, which is positive so far as it goes, you have nothing to oppose but surmise and conjectures; that is, nothing that deserves to be called evidence. But I doubt, Sir, you take for granted that the claim of inspiration is never to be allowed, so long as there is a possibility of supposing that it was not given.

II. In the second division of your letter, which is longer, and more elaborate, than the first, you endeavour to shew that the historical part of the book of Daniel, chiefly that of the sixth chapter, is false and fabulous, and as such, confutes and overthrows the prophetical. What you advance on this head, is contained under five articles:

1. You think it strange that Daniel, or any other man, should be promoted to a secret office of state, for his skill in divination.

But here, first, you forget that Joseph was thus promoted for the same reason. Or, if you object to this instance, what should hinder the promotion either of Joseph or Daniel, (when their skill in divination had once brought them to the notice and favour of their sovereign,) for what you call mere human accomplishments? For such [Page 458] assuredly both these great men possessed, if we may believe the plain part of their story, which asserts of Joseph, and indeed proves, that he was in no common degree discreet and wise; and of Daniel, that an excellent spirit was found in him; nay, that he had knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom, over and above his understanding in all visions and dreams. In short, Sir, though princes of old might not make it a rule to chuse their ministers out of their soothsayers, yet neither would their being soothsayers, if they were otherwise well accomplished, prevent them from being ministers. Just as in modern times, though churchmen have not often, I will suppose, been made officers of state, even by bigotten princes, because they were churchmen; yet neither have they been always excluded from serving in those stations when they have been found eminently qualified for them.

2. Your next exception is, that a combination could scarce have been formed in the court of Babylon against the favourite minister, (though such factions are common in other courts,) because the courtiers of Darius must have apprehended that the piety of Daniel would be asserted by a miraculous interposition; of which they had seen a recent instance. And here, Sir, you expatiate with a little too much complacency on the strange indifference which the ancient world shewed to the gift of miracles. You do not, I dare say, expect a serious answer to this charge; or if you do, it may be enough to observe, what I am sure your own reading and experience must have rendered very familiar to you, that the strongest belief, or conviction of the mind, perpetually gives way to the inflamed selfish passions; and that, when men have any scheme of interest or revenge much at heart, they are not restrained from pursuing it, though the scaffold and the axe stand before them in full view, and have perhaps been streaming but the day before with the blood of other state-criminals. I ask not, whether miracles have ever actually [Page 459] existed, but whether you do not think that multitudes have been firmly persuaded of their existence; and yet their indifference about them, is a fact which I readily concede to you.

3. Your third criticism is directed against what is said of the law of the Medes and Persians, that it altereth not; where I find nothing to admire, but the extreme rigour of Asiatic despotism. For I consider this irrevocability of the law, when once promulgated by the sovereign, not as contrived to be a check on his will, but rather to shew the irresistible and fatal course of it. And this idea was so much cherished by the despots of Persia, that, rather than revoke the iniquitous law, obtained by surprize, for exterminating the Jews, Ahasuerus took the part, as we read in the book of Esther, (and as Baron Montesquieu, I remember, observes,) to permit the Jews to defend themselves against the execution of it; whence we see how consistent this law is with the determination of the judges, quoted by you from Herodotus, ‘that it was lawful for the king to do whatever he pleased: ’ for we understand that he did not please that this law, when once declared by him, should be altered.

You add under this head, ‘May I not assert that the Greek writers, who have so copiously treated of the affairs of Persia, have not left us the smallest vestige of a restraint, equally injurious to the monarch and prejudicial to the people.’ I have not the Greek writers by me to consult, but a common book I chance to have at hand refers me to one such vestige, in a very eminent Greek historian, Diodorus Siculus. Lowth's Comment. in loc.

4. A fourth objection to the historic truth of the book of Daniel is taken, with more plausibility, from the matter of this law, which, as you truly observe, was very strange for the king's counsellor to advise, and for any despot whatever to enact.

But, 1. I a little question whether prayer was so constant and considerable a part of Pagan worship as is supposed; and if it was not, the prejudices of the people would not be so much shocked by [Page 460] this interdict as we are ready to think. Daniel indeed prayed three times a day; but the idolaters might content themselves with praying now and then at a stated solemnity. It is clear, that when you speak of depriving men of the comforts, and priests of the profits, of religion, you have Christian, and even modern principles and manners in your eye: perhaps in the comforts, you represented to yourself a company of poor inflamed Huguenots under persecution; and in the profits, the lucrative trade of popish masses. But be this as it may, it should be considered, 2. That this law could not, in the nature of the thing, suppress all prayer, if the people had any great propensity to it. It could not suppress mental prayer; it could not even suppress bodily worship, if performed, as it easily might be, in the night, or in secret. Daniel, it was well known, was used to pray in open day-light, and in a place exposed to inspection, from his usual manner of praying; which manner, it was easily concluded, so zealous a votary as he was, would not change or discontinue, on account of the edict. Lastly, though the edict passed for thirty days, to make sure work, yet there was no doubt but the end proposed would be soon accomplished, and then it was not likely that much care would be taken about the observance of it.

All this put together, I can very well conceive that extreme envy and malice in the courtiers might suggest the idea of such a law, and that an impotent despot might be flattered by it. Certainly, if what we read in the third chapter be admitted, that one of these despots required all people, nations, and languages, to worship his image on pain of death, there is no great wonder that another of them should demand the exclusive worship of himself for a month; nay, perhaps, he might think himself civil, and even bounteous to his gods, when he left them a share of the other eleven. For as to the presumption,

"Nihil est quod credere de se
Non possit, cum laudatur diis aequa potestas.—

[Page 461] 5. A fifth, and what you seem to think the strongest, objection to the credit of the book of Daniel is, that ‘no such person as Darius the Mede is to be found in the succession of the Babylonish princes,’ (you mean as given in Ptolemy's canon and the Greek writers,) ‘between the time of Nebuchadnezzar and that of Cyrus.’ In saying this, you do not forget or disown what our ablest chronologers have said on the subject; but then you object that Xenophon's Cyaxares (to serve a turn) has been made to personate Darius the Mede; and yet that Xenophon's book, whether it be a romance or a true history, overturns the use which they have made of this hypothesis.

I permit myself perhaps to be too much flattered by your civility in referring me to my own taste, rather than to the authority of Cicero: but the truth is, I am much disposed to agree with you, that, ‘if we unravel with any care the sine texture of the Cyropoedia, we shall discover in every thread the Spartan discipline and the philosophy of Socrates.’ But then, as the judicious author chose to make so recent a story as that of Cyrus, and one so well known, the vehicle of his political and moral instructions, he would be sure to keep up to the truth of the story as far as might be; especially in the leading facts, and in the principal persons, as we may say, of the drama. This obvious rule of decorum such a writer as Xenophon could not fail to observe; and therefore, on the supposition that his Cyropoedia is a romance, I should conclude certainly that the outline of it was genuine history. But,

2. If it be so, you conclude that there is no ground for thinking that Darius the Mede ever reigned at Babylon, because Cyaxares himself never reigned there.

Now, on the idea of Xenophon's book being a romance, there might be good reason for the author's taking no notice of the short reign of Cyaxares, which would break the unity of his work, and divert the reader's attention too much from the hero of it: while yet [Page 462] the omission could hardly seem to violate historic truth, since the lustre of his hero's fame, and the real power, which, out of question, he reserved to himself, would make us forget or overlook Cyaxares. But, as to the fact, it seems no way incredible that Cyrus should concede to his royal ally, his uncle, and his father-in-law, (for he was all these,) the nominal possession of the sovereignty; or that he should share the sovereignty with him; or, at least, that he should leave the administration, as we say, in his hands at Babylon, while he himself was prosecuting his other conquests at a distance. Any of these things is supposable enough; and I would rather admit any of them than reject the express, the repeated, the circumstantial testimony of a not confessedly fabulous historian.

After all, Sir, I should forfeit, I know, your good opinion, if I did not acknowledge that some, at least, of these circumstances are such as one should not, perhaps, expect at first sight. But then such is the condition of things here; and what is true in human life, is not always, I had almost said, not often, that which was previously to be expected; whence an ordinary romance is, they say, more probable than the best history.

But should any or all of these circumstances convince you perfectly, that some degree of error or fiction is to be found in the book of Daniel, it would be too precipitate to conclude that therefore the whole book was of no authority: for, at most, you could but infer, that the historical part, in which those circumstances are observed, namely, the 6th chapter, is not genuine; just as you know has been judged of some other historical tracts which had formerly been inserted in the book of Daniel. For it is not with these collections, which go under the names of the Prophets, as with some regularly connected system, where a charge of falsehood, if made good against one part, shakes the credit of the whole. Fictitious histories may have been joined to true prophecies, when all that bore the name of the same person, or any way related to him, came to be put together [Page 463] in the same volume: but the detection of such misalliance could not affect the prophecies; certainly not those of Daniel, which respect the latter times; for these have an intrinsic evidence in themselves, and assert their own authenticity, in proportion as we see, or have reason to admit the accomplishment of them.

And now, Sir, I have only to commit these hasty reflections to your candour; a virtue which cannot be separated from the love of truth, and of which I observe many traces in your agreeable letter; and if you should indulge this quality still further, so as to conceive the possibility of that being true and reasonable, in matters of religion, which may seem strange, or, to so lively a fancy as yours, even ridiculous, you would not hurt the credit of your excellent understanding, and would thus remove one, perhaps a principal, occasion of those mists which, as you complain, hang over these nice and difficult subjects.

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