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]


See Appendix. Vol. I. Letter XVII.









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.



  • 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


  • 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


  • 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.



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.

[...] *
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, 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.


(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*.


(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.


(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.


(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

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
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.


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.


[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.


[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.


[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.


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.


[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.


[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.


[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.


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.


[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.



[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.


9.1.1. M. CREVIER à M. GIBBON.


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.





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.


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.


9.2.2. Mr. ALLAMAND to Mr. GIBBON.

[Page 310]


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.


[Page 319]



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.


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]


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!

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.

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.


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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


9.5.2. Mr. BREITINGER to Mr. GIBBON.

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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.


9.6.1. No VI. M. GIBBON à M. GESNER.

[Page 351]


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:

"Cinoede Romule, haec videbis et feres?
"Es impudicus, et vorax, et helluo."

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

"Parum expatravit? an parvum helluatus eſt?
"Paterna prima lancinata ſunt bona.

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]


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,


9.7.1. No VII. M. GESNER à M. GIBBON.

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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


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.


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]


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.


9.8.2. Mr. GIBBON to Mr. GESNER.

[Page 375]


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:

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

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.


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—

"—Qu'il vaut mieux, qu'un roi ſur le trône affermi
"Commande à des ſujets, malheureux, mais ſoumis,
"Que d'avoir à dompter, au ſein de l'abondance
"D'un peuple trop heureux l'indocile arrogance."

[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.


[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]


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,



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]


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]


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.



[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.


[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.


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]


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]


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.


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]


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]


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.


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]


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.


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]


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.


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.


Et plus bas


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.


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.


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]


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