EDWARD GIBBON'S OWN COPY OF HIS VINDICATION, 1779
GIBBON, Edward. A Vindication of Some Passages in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Chapters of the History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. By the Author. Dublin: W. and H. Whitestone, 1779. Octavo, contemporary three-quarter calf, marbled boards. $8500.
First Dublin edition, issued the same year as the London first, of Gibbon's spirited defense of his landmark history, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire—the author's own copy, with his engraved bookplate.
Chapters Fifteen and Sixteen of Gibbon's Decline and Fall, which relate the decay of Rome to the rise of Christianity, elicited in their day a storm of angry protest. To most of his adversaries Gibbon declined to reply; but "it was one of the least worthy of them, a young man of 21 years, barely more than an undergraduate, who stung him to a formal reply" (Norton, 86). Gibbon felt, and justifiably, that young Mr. Davis of Balliol College, Oxford, had attacked both his personal integrity and his historiographical rigor; Davis had accused him, for example, of not having read the authors he quotes from. Gibbon's reply is lacerating: "I cannot profess myself very desirous of Mr. Davis's acquaintance; but if he will take the trouble of calling at my house any afternoon when I am not at home, my servant shall shew him my library, which he will find tolerably well furnished with the useful authors… who have directly supplied me with the materials of my History" (91). The Vindication showed that Gibbon could write stealthy pamphlets as well as massive volumes; Horace Walpole likened it to "the feathered arrow of Cupid, that is more formidable than the club of Hercules" (Norton, 86-87). Norton 32. Engraved bookplate of Edward Gibbon. Leaf from a 1934 Chaundrey catalogue laid in, describing the provenance of this volume and several others from Gibbon's library: "A selection of books from the library of Edward Gibbon, the historian. He died at Lausanne in 1794… the majority [of his books] were purchased by William ('Vathek') Beckford, 'to have something to read' as he passed through Lausanne. These he left to his friend Dr. Scholl, whence a number passed to Mr. Halliday, and from his to Mr. Charles Bedot, on the death of whose son in 1927 the books passed to the late owner."
Text clean, contemporary biding with expert restoration to hinges, spine ends and board edges. A rare and desirable author's copy with impeccable provenance.