I shall say

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. nothing of the most intimate acquaintance with his country and language, so absolutely necessary to every senator. Since they may be acquired, to allege 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 expense, or if our fortune enabled us to despise that expense, 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 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 economy, and an exemption from many of the common expenses of youth. This, dear Sir, would be a way of supplying these defi


ciencies, without any additional expense 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


be too considerable. Whatever you shall think

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


part of

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 carly, runs a great risk of not travelling at all. But this

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.




1761. I could not procure you a ticket for the coronation, without putting you to the expense of ten guineas. But I now send you something much more valuable, which will cost you only a groat. When will your

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


father or you

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 livre 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 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 dû recevoir des auteurs sans nombre qu'il a lus, et très bien lus. J'ai donc dévoré ce petit ouvrage, auquel je desirerois de bon


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 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


« 前へ次へ »