GIBB, JOHN: English Presbyterian; b. at Aberdeen, Scotland, Dec. 14, 1835. He studied in Aberdeen, Edinburgh, and Heidelberg, and after being assistant minister at the Presbyterian church at Malta 1863-67, was theological tutor in the College of the Presbyterian Church in England, London, 1868-77. Since 1877 he has been professor of New Testament theology and ecclesiastical history in Westminster College, Cambridge. He has written Biblical Studies and their Influence upon. the Church (London, 1877) and Gudrun, Beolvolf, and the Song of Roland (1884), and has translated selections from Luther's "Table Talk" (London, 1883) and St. Augustine's " Homilies on the Gospel of John " (Edinburgh, 1873), in addition to editing the "Confessions" of St. Augustine in collaboration with W. Montgomery (Cambridge, 1906).
GIBBON, EDWARD: The historian of the Roman Empire; b. at Putney (7 m. w.s.w. of St. Paul's, London), Surrey, Apr. 27, 1737; d. in London Jan. 16, 1794. For his early training he was indebted chiefly to his aunt, Catherine Porten, from whom he received that taste for books which, he says, was the pleasure and glory of his life. In Jan., 1749, he entered Westminster School, but had to leave it in Dec., 1750, on account of ill health. A glance into Eachard's Roman History in 1751 started him on a wide course of historical reading. In Apr., 1752, he entered Magdalen College, Oxford, where he spent what he considered the fourteen most unprofitable months of his life. His brief career at Oxford was terminated by his temporary conversion to Roman Catholicism, which was accomplished by Middleton's Free Enquiry (London, 1749) and works of Bossuet and the Jesuit Robert Parsons (q.v.). On June 8, 1753, he was received into the Roman fold by a Jesuit priest in London. He at once acquainted his father with this fact, who placed him first in the home of David Mallet, at Putney, but sent him to Lausanne, Switzerland, almost immediately to the care of M. Pavillard, a Calvinistic minister, under whose tutelage Gibbon quickly renounced Roman Catholicism. He returned to England in August, 1758, and took up his abode at Buriton, near Petersfield, Hampshire, whither his father had removed in 1747. An attachment which he had formed at Lausanne for Susanne Curchod, afterward Madame Necker and mother of Madame de Staal, was now broken off, owing to his father's objection to the match. Gibbon's subsequent behavior toward Rifle. Curchod was condemned by Rousseau. On June 12, 1759, he became captain in the Hampshire militia. From May, 1760, to Dec., 1762, he was quartered in various towns in the southern counties. He retained his commission till 1770, becoming major and colonel commandant. This experience gave him robust health and a knowledge of military affairs that stood him in good stead when he came to write of the phalanx and legion. He had now published his Essai sur l'Etude de la lWA. uture (London, 1761;Eng. transl.,1764). From Jan., 1763, to June, 1765, he traveled and studied on the Continent. " It was at Rome," he says, " on Oct. 15, 1764, as I sat musing amidst the ruins of the Capitol, while the barefooted friars were singing vespers in the temple of Jupiter that the idea of writing the decline and fall of the city first started into my mind." Hav ing come into the possession of ample means on the death of his father in 1770, he settled in London in 1772 and began to write The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. In 1774 he became a member of Dr. Johnson's famous literary club, and on Oct. 11 of that year he was returned to Parliament for Liskeard, Cornwall. In Feb., 1776, he published the first volume of the Decline and Fall. Its success was as rapid as it has been lasting. To a number of attacks provoked by the theological chapters Gib bon replied in a Vindication (1779). Early in 1779 he was employed by the ministry to write a M& moire Justificatif (1779) in answer to a French manifesto; and in the summer of 1779 he was given the lucrative sinecure of commissioner of trades and plantations, which he held till the office was abolished in 1782. In Apr., 1781, he published the second and third volumes of his history. On June 25, 1781, he was returned to Parliament for Lym ington, that body having been dissolved Sept. 1, 1780. In Sept., 1783, he settled at Lausanne. Near midnight of the 27th of June, 1787, sitting in the summer-house in his garden, he wrote the last sentence of his monumental work. The last three volumes were published on his fifty-first birthday, thus completing The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (6 vols., London, 1776-,88- best ed. by J. B. Bury, 7 vols.,1896-1900). Gibbon came to London to see the work through the press, but returned to Lausanne in July, 1788. He resided there till Apr., 1793, when he returned to England to visit his friend, Lord Sheffield, whose wife had just died. His own death came unexpectedly, following upon a series of operations for hydrocele. $e was laid in the burial-place of the Sheffield family, Fletching, Sussex. Lord Sheffield published his Miscellaneous Works (2 vols., London, 1796; 5 vols., 1814), which include his excellent autobiog raphy, Memoirs of my Life and Writings (ed. O. F. Emerson, Boston, 1898; ed. G. B. Hill, London, 1900; ed., with introduction, J. B. Bury, London, 1907). Sheffield's grandson, Earl of Sheffield, has published the six different manuscripts from which the Memoirs were compiled (London, 1896), and also prefixed an introduction to Gibbon's Private Letters (ed. R. E. Prothero, 2 vols., 1896).
The Decline and Fall, which covers the period extending from about the middle of the second century to the year 1453, has, by unanimous consent, been placed in the very front rank of historical works. For accuracy, thoroughness, lucidity, and comprehensive grasp of a vast subject, it bas never been surpassed. While later researches have corrected Gibbon in a few details, they have not materially changed the picture drawn by him. His work is perhaps the one history in English that may be regarded as definitive. The only'charge that has ever been successfully brought against it is that it betrays an unfriendly animus to Christianity; but Gibbon had so little sympathy with the aims of
Bibliography: Bids the Manwire and Private Leam*, at sup.. consult the biography by J. C. Morison, in Enpliah Men of Letters, London, 1878; that by S. Walpole, Studies in Biography, New York, 1907; and DNB, xxi. 250-256.
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