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The first volume of a 12 volume set of Gibbon’s magisterial history of the end of the Roman Empire, one of the greatest works of history written during the Enlightenment. This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. history of Gibbon has been described by John Stuart Mill as the only eighteenth-century history that has withstood nineteenth-century criticism; and whatever objections modern critics may bring against some of its parts, the substantial justice of this verdict will scarcely be contested.
In one respect this foreign type was of great advantage to his work.
Nor was he in the least drawn towards Catholicism on its æsthetic side.
With Voltaire himself he had some slight acquaintance, and he at one time looked on him with profound admiration; though fuller knowledge made him sensible of the flaws in that splendid intellect.
I am here concerned with the life of Gibbon only in as far as it discloses the influences that contributed to his master work, and among these influences the foreign element holds a prominent place.
There was little in Gibbon that was distinctively English; his mind was essentially cosmopolitan.
His tastes, ideals, and modes of thought and feeling turned instinctively to the Continent.