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demonstration, so destructive of the finer feelings of moral evidence, which must however determine the
Extract of a Letter from Mr PavilLIARD to
EDWARD GIBBON, Esq.
Jan. 14, 1758. J'ai eu l'honneur de vous écrire le 27 Juillet et le 26 gbre passés, et je vous ai rendu compte de la santé, des études,, et de la conduite de Monsieur votre fils. Je n'ai rien à adjouter à tout ce que je vous en ai dit : il se porte parfaitement bien par la grace de Dieu: il continue à étudier avec application, et je puis vous assurer qu'il fait des progrès considérables dans les études, et il se fait extrèmement estimer par tous ceux qui le connoissent, et j'espère que quand il vous montrera en détail ce qu'il sait, vous en serez très content. Les belles lettres qui sont son étude favorite ne l'occupent pas entièrement; il continue les mathématiques, et son professeur m'assure qu'il n'a jamais vu personne avancer autant que lui, ni avoir plus d'ardeur et d'application qu'il n'en a.
Son génie heureux et pénétrant est seconde par une mémoire des plus heureuses, tellement qu'il n'oublie presque rien de ce quil apprend. Je n'ai pas moins lieu d être content de sa conduite ; quoiqu'il étudie beaucoup, il voit cependant compagnie, mais il ne voit que des personnes dont le commerce peut lui être utile.
January 14, 1758. I had the honour to write to you on the 27th July and 26th October; when I rendered you an account of the health, the studies, and the conduct, of your son. I have nothing to add to what I then communicated : he remains, by God's grace, in good health; he continues his studies with assiduity, and I can assure you makes a considerable progress therein; and he is much esteemed by all who know him: I hope that when he can shew you in detail the extent of his acquirements, you will be perfectly satisfied. The belles lettres, which form his favourite pursuit, do not engross him entirely; he continues the study of the mathematics, and his tutor assures me that he never witnessed any one advance more quickly, or exhibit more ardour and applica
actions and opinions of our lives. I listened with more pleasure to the proposal of studying the law of nature and nations, which was taught in the academy of Lausanne by Mr Vicat, a professor of some learning and reputation. But instead of attending his public or private course, I preferred in my closet the lessons of his masters, and my own reason. Without being disgusted by Grotius or Puffendorf, I studied in their writings the duties of a man, the rights of a citizen, the theory of justice, (it is, alas ! a theory,) and the laws of peace and war, which have had some influence on the practice of modern Europe. My fatigues were alleviated by the good sense of their commentator Barbeyrac. Locke's Treatise of Government instructed me in the knowledge of Whig principles, which are rather founded in reason than experience ; but my delight was in the frequent perusal of Montesquieu, whose energy of style, and boldness of hypothesis, were powerful to awaken and stimulate the genius of the age. The logic of De Crousaz had prepared me to ngage with his master Locke, and his antagonist Bayle; of whom the former may be used as a bridle, and the latter as a spur, to the curiosity of a young philosopher. According to the nature of their respective works, the schools of argument and objection, I carefully went through the Essay on Human Understanding, and occasionally consulted the most interesting articles of the Philosophic Dictionary. In the infancy of my reason I turned over, as an idle amusement, the most serious and important treatise; in its maturity, the most trifling performance could exercise my taste or judgment; and more than once I have been led by a novel into a tion. His happy and penetrating genius is seconded by one of the strongest of memories, so that he never forgets any. thing which he has once learned. I have no less reason to be satisfied with his present conduct : though he studies much, he nevertheless sees company, but only those persons with whom an intercourse will be useful to him.
deep and instructive train of thinking. But I cannot forbear to mention three particular books, since they may have remotely contributed to form the his. torian of the Roman empire. 1. From the Provincial Letters of Pascal, which almost every year I have perused with new pleasure, I learned to manage the weapon of grave and temperate irony, even on subjects of ecclesiastical solemnity. 2. The Life of Julian, by the abbé de la Bleterie, first introduced me to the man and the times; and I should be glad to recover my first essay on the truth of the miracle which stopped the rebuilding of the temple of Jerusalem. 3. In Giannone's Civil History of Naples, I observed with a critical eye the progress and abuse of sacerdotal power, and the revolutions of Italy in the darker ages. This various reading, which I now conducted with discretion, was digested, according to the precept and model of Mr Locke, into a large commonplace book; a practice, however, which I do not strenuously recommend. The action of the pen will doubtless imprint an idea on the mind as well as on the paper : but I much question whether the benefits of this laborious method are adequate to the waste of time; and I must agree with Dr Johnson, (Idler, No 74,) “ that what is twice read, is commonly better remembered than what is transcribed.”
During two years, if I forget some boyish excursions of a day or a week, I was fixed at Lausanne ; but at the end of the third summer my father con. sented that I should make the tour of Switzerland with Pavilliard : and our short absence of one month (September 21st–October 20th, 1755) was a reward and relaxation of my assiduous studies.* The fashion
* From EDWARU GIBBON to Mrs Porten.
• Now for myself. As my father has given me leave to make a journey round Switzerland, we set out to-morrow. Buy a map of Switz.
of climbing the mountains and reviewing the glaciers, had not yet been introduced by foreign travellers who seek the sublime beauties of nature. But the political
erland-it will cost you but a shilling; and follow me. I go by Iverdun, Neufchâtel, Bienne or Biel, Soleure or Solothurn, Bale or Basil, Bade, Zurich, Lucerne, and Bern. The voyage will be of about four weeks; so that I hope to find a letter from you waiting for me. As my father had given me leave to learn what I had a mind, I have learned to ride, and learn actually to dance and draw. Besides that, I often give ten or twelve hours a day to my studies. I find a great many agreeable people here; see them sometimes, and can say upon the whole, without vanity, that though I am the Englishman here who spends the least money, Lam he who is the most generally liked. I told you that my father had promised to send me into France and Italy. I have thanked him for it; but if he would follow my plan, he won't do it yet awhile. I never liked young travellers; they go too raw to make any great remarks, and they lose a time which is (in my opinion) the most precious part of a man's life. My scheme would be, to spend this winter at Lausanne: for though it is a very good place to acquire the air of good company and the French tongue, we have no good professors. To spend (I say) the winter at Lausanne; go into England to see my friends for a couple of months; and after that, finish my studies either at Cambridge, (for after what has passed one cannot think of Oxford,) or at an university in Holland. If you liked the scheme, could you not propose it to my father by Metcalf, or somebody who has a certain credit over him? I forgot to ask you whether, in ease my father writes to tell me of his marriage, would you advise me to compliment my motherin-law? I think so. My health is so very regular, that I have nothing to say about it.
have been the whole day writing you this letter; the preparations for our voyage gave me a thousand interruptions. Besides that, I was obliged to write in English. This last reason will seem a paradox, but I assure you the French is much more familiar to me. I am, &c.
E. GIBRON. Lausanne, Sept. 20, 1755.
of the many
face of the country is not less diversified by the forcas and spirit of so many various republics, from the jealous government of the few to the licentious freedom
I contemplated with pleasure the new prospects of men and manners; though my conversa. tion with the natives would have been more free and instructive, had I possessed the German as well as the French language. We passed through most of the principal towns in Switzerland; Neufchâtel, Bievne, Soleure, Arau, Baden, Zurich, Basil, and Bern. In every place we visited the churches, arsenals, libraries, and all the most eminent persons; and after my return, I digested my notes in fourteen or fifteen sheets of a French journal, which I dispatched to my father, as a proof that my time and his money had not been misspent. Had I found this journal among his
I might be tempted to select some passages; but I will not transcribe the printed accounts, and it may be sufficient to notice a remarkable spot which left a deep and lasting impression on my memory. From Zurich we proceeded to the Benedictine abbey of Einfidlen, more commonly styled Our Lady of the Hermits. I was astonished by the profuse ostentation of riches in the poorest corner of Europe ; amidst a savage scene of woods and mountains a palace appears to have been erected by magic; and it was erected by the potent magic of religion. A crowd of palmers and votaries was prostrate before the altar. The title and worship of the Mother of God provoked my indignation; and the lively naked image of superstition suggested to me, as in the same place it had done to Zuinglius, the most pressing arguinient for the reformation of the church. About two years after this tour, I passed at Geneva a useful and agreeable month; but this excursion, and some short visits in the Pays de Vaud, did not materially interrupt my studious and sedentary life at Lausanne.
My thirst of improvement, and the languid state of science at Lausanne, soon prompted me to solicit a