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L I F E
EDWARD GIBBON, ESQ. .
SELECTIONS FROM HIS CORRESPONDENCE,
THE REV. H. H. MILMAN,
JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET.
The admirable manner in which Gibbon executed the sketch of his own Life, as well as the total deficiency of materials for a new Biography, altogether preclude the attempt to recompose the Life of the Author of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. The writer of a very able criticism on Gibbon's Miscellaneous Works, in the Quarterly Review, vol. xii. p. 375. (the late Dr. Whitaker, the Historian of Craven, and the Editor of Piers Ploughman's Vision and Creed), thus felicitously and justly characterises the Life of Gibbon: — “ It is perhaps the best specimen of Autobiography in the English language. Descending from the lofty level of his History, and relaxing the stately march which he maintains throughout that work, into a more natural and easy pace, this enchanting writer, with an ease, spirit, and vigour peculiar to himself, conducts his readers through a sickly childhood, a neglected and desultory education, and a youth wasted in the unpromising and unscholar-like occupation of a militia officer, to the period when he resolutely applied the energies of his genius to a severe course of voluntary study, which in the space of a few years rendered him a
consummate master of Roman antiquity, and lastly produced the history of the decline and fall of that mighty empire.”
In republishing the Life of Gibbon, the Editor has taken the liberty of dividing it into chapters, in order that the longer notes, the extracts, and the journals, which distract the reader of the text, and break its agreeable flow, may be interposed at those intervals at which we may suppose the reader inclined to pause ; yet each extract may present itself at the proper period of the Life.
The Editor has inserted in their place, in these additions, such parts of Gibbon's correspondence as appeared most likely to interest the reader, and to throw light on the character of Gibbon ; with the few anecdotes which he has been able to glean from other quarters, and such observations as seemed calculated to illustrate the work.-M.