"The winds and the waves are always on the side of the ablest navigators": Edward Gibbon's masterpiece The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.
Item Number: 98435
London: Printed for W. Strahan; and T. Cadell, in the Strand, 1781-1788.
First editions of volumes 4-6 (second edition of volumes 1-3) of the historian’s masterpiece. Quarto, six volumes, bound in full contemporary calf, engraved portrait, 3 folding engraved maps, gilt titles to the spine, elaborate gilt tooling to the spine, red and green lettering labels within raised bands. In excellent condition with some toning and light wear, contemporary bookplates.
"This masterpiece of historical penetration and literary style has remained one of the ageless historical works Gibbon brought a width of vision and a critical mastery of the available sources which have not been equalled to this day; and the result was clothed in inimitable prose" (PMM 222). "For 22 years Gibbon was a prodigy of steady and arduous application. His investigations extended over almost the whole range of intellectual activity for nearly 1500 years. And so thorough were his methods that the laborious investigations of German scholarship, the keen criticisms of theological zeal, and the steady researches of (two) centuries have brought to light very few important errors in the results of his labors. But it is not merely the learning of his work, learned as it is, that gives it character as a history. It is also that ingenious skill by which the vast erudition, the boundless range, the infinite variety, and the gorgeous magnificence of the details are all wrought together in a symmetrical whole. It is still entitled to be esteemed as the greatest historical work ever written" (Adams, Manual of Historical Literature, 146-7).