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GIBBON'S MISCELLANEOUS WORKS. 23 minated, Jan. 16, 1794, in his unexpected dissolution. The remains of Mr. Gibbon were deposited in Lord Sheffield's family burial-place, Sussex. He has given his own Character in a few words :-“ I am endowed with a cheerful temper, a moderate sensibility, and a natural disposition to repome rather than to activity-some mischievous appetites and habits have, perhaps, been corrected by philosophy, or time. The love of study supplies each day, each hour, with a perpetual source of independence and rational pleasure.” As to his person, he was very singular; indeed, both mind and body were marked by no ordinary traits of eccentricity.
In 1796, Lord Sheffield published, in Two Quarto Volumes, MISCELLANEOUS WORKS of Edward Gibbon, Esq.; with Memoirs composed by himself. After the attentive perusal of these Memoirs, I drew up a pamphlet, which had a considerable circulation, and was favourably spoken of by the literary Journals, entitled, An Attempt to account for the Infidelity of E. Gibbon, Esq. from certain Circumstances, stated in his own Memoirs ; with this motto:
Too firm from Duty's sacred path to turn,
Mr. Hayley, who had inscribed his Epistles on History to Mr. Gibbon, wrote the following pleasing Stanzas on the completion of the great Work, May 8, 1788, being the Historian's Birth-day, and the day of
publication; when a dinner was given at Mr. Cadell's, the bookseller, and the stanzas read on the occasion:
Gexii of ENGLAND and of Rome!
The honours each may claim-
To Friendship and to Fame!
Lo ! sacred to the Roman name,
By Genius and by Toil,
Nor Envy make her spoil!
ENGLAND, exult! and view not now,
Where History's palm has spread!
And no superior dread!
Science for thee a Newton rais'd,
Lord of the Drama's sphere!
To shine without a peer!
Eager to honour living worth,
That proudest day may claim-
To Friendship and to Fame
The Rev. Henry Kett, in his Elements of General Knowledge, has thus justly designated the Work: “ It is a great misfortune for the public, and particularly for the younger part of his readers, that Mr. Gibbon has concealed the poison of Infidelity under a hopied sweetness of style. Skilled in all the arts of composition, and studious to please and amuse us, at the expense of correctness of taste, he has blended the diction of a poet with that of an historian. His Work is not so much a Narrative of Facts, as a Dissertatiou upon History; and, unless the reader is acquainted with the subjects, he finds many allusions obscure, and some unintelligible. The arrangement of his sentences is frequently so much alike, and formed in so mechanical a manner, that they seem to have been constructed according to some particular rule. Although many of his characters are finely drawn, and many of his descriptions are lively and beautiful, yet his verboseness frequently fatigues and perplexes the attention. He endeavours, and often with unsuccessful pains, to give dignity to trides; and to adorn every subject, whether trivial or important, with the flowery ornaments of description. In various instances he must offend the judgment of those who wish to see the different kinds of writing confined within their due limits, and more particularly expect that an historian should not depart, either in point of dignity of character, or propriety of expression, from the rules of correct composition."
GIBBON'S ATTACK ON CHRISTIANITY.
A recent edition of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, in Nine (originally Twelve) Oetavo Volumes, has a brief Account of his Life and Writings prefixed. It is a fair abstract of Mr. Gibbon's biography; and the author, with impartiality, has given the following general character of the Work :-“ To trace back, through an endless variety of literature in the dead and living languages, the transactions of more than two thousand years ago-to extract the gold from the dross, the fact from the fable, and present a welldigested chain of events, from the foundation of the Roman Empire to its final dismemberment-could only be conceived and undertaken by a mind fully impressed with the magnitude of the subject, and the utility which the investigation of the characters and events of those times might be to existing legislatures, and the refecting part of mankind. Those whom he may have failed to convince, yet continue to admire; and, if he have aimed a direct blow at Christianity, the real Christian will feel unalarmed at his attack, since that which is agreeable to the Divine will must eventually prevail, and at the same time afford an opportunity of displaying more eminently those amiable virtues of forbearance and piety which were so conspicuous in the SAVIOUR of mankind !”
Mr. Gibbon sat in Parliament for several years; first for Liskeard in Cornwall, and afterwards for Lymington in Hampshire. When he entered the walls of St. Stephen's, he meant to have applied himself to
DUCHESS OF DEVONSHIRE.
the art of speaking; but he soon gave up his intertion, declaring that "the bad speakers terrified him, and the good speakers threw him into despair!" How different are the talents of Writers and of Speakers! Something of the same kind characterized Addison. So various and opposite are the powers which distinguish even the most cultivated classes of mankind.
My account of Mr. Gibbon shall close with the following anecdote :- In the year 1777, the Duchess of Devonshire, in all the bloom of youth and beauty, spent some months at Lausanne, whither Gibbon had retired to complete his immortal Work. Among the sons of fashion and literature who were in the habit of paying their devoirs to her Ladyship, none were more assiduous than Mr. Gibbon, and the celebrated physician, Dr. Tissot. As both were ambitious of a high place in the opinion of the lady, some keen encounters of their wit frequently took place. At the close of one of these conflicts, which had been somewhat sharper than usual, the Physician, addressing Gibbon, said to him, “Mr. Historian, when my Lady is sick of your insipidity, I will cure her" And, rejoined Gibbon, “ Mr. Doctor, when my Lady is dead of your prescriptions, I will immortalize her!”
In furnishing you, my young Friend; with so many particulars of this extraordinary Character, I offer no apology. His greut Work is to be found in every library. It is of importance that something of THE