“A FRENZY OF ILLITERATE FANATICISM”: WHITAKER’S CRITICISM OF GIBBON’S DECLINE AND FALL, HANDSOMELY BOUND IN FULL DICED AND MOTTLED CALF
WHITAKER, John. Gibbon's History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire… Reviewed. London: J. Murray, 1791. Octavo, 19th-century full diced mottled brown calf gilt. $600.
First edition of this contemporary attack on Gibbon’s historical masterpiece, handsomely bound in full diced and mottled calf-gilt.
The Reverend Whitaker was acquainted with Gibbon, who gave him the first volume of his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire to read in manuscript—though Gibbon omitted the chapters on religion which were to offend Whitaker when he read the printed work. Gibbon's thesis that Christianity was largely responsible for the fall of the Roman Empire was extremely controversial: in the present work, Whitaker describes Gibbon's history as "a monument more of vanity and ostentation in the constructor than of service and benefit to the world," refers to the author's "frenzy of illiterate fanaticism" and compares Gibbon to Milton's Belial. Whitaker's attack, which initially appeared in the English Review in 1788 and 1789, was dismissed by Macaulay as "pointless spite, with here and there a just remark." Errata slip affixed to verso of Advertisement. Norton, 242.
A beautiful copy in fine condition.