Sunday, June 26, 2011

This day in hysteria

Edward Gibbon completed The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire on this day in 1787. The six-volume work was the labor of almost 15 years. On the occasion he wrote:

"It was on the ...night of the 27th of June, 1787, between the hours of eleven and twelve, that I wrote the last lines of the last page in a summer-house in my garden. ... I will not dissemble the first emotions of joy on the recovery of my freedom; and perhaps the establishment of my fame. But my pride was soon humbled, and a sober melancholy was spread over my mind by the idea that I had taken my everlasting leave of an old and agreeable friend."

In Decline and Fall Gibbon wrote:

"History is little more than the register of the crimes, follies and misfortunes of mankind."

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