Sheffield's First Edition
Volume One, 1796
…Let us do justice to that intrepid spirit, whose leaps have sometimes led to truth and whose very excesses, like popular rebellions, have struck salutary fears in the heart of the despot. Let our thoughts be filled with all that we owe to the geometric spirit; but let us search for the spirit of philosophy, which is at once wiser than the one and more universal than the other.
Edward Gibbon is and forever will be identified primarily as the
author of the magisterial The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.
Both the imposing length and awesome erudition of that work,
however, have understandably overshadowed his other literary achievements, several of which deserve to be
evaluated on their own merits.
Following Gibbon's death, the main body of his non-HDFRE work was collected, edited and published in 1796 and 1815 by the historian's close friend and literary executor, John Lord Sheffield (1741-1821) in order to meet if not fully satisfy, in his words, "the eagerness occasioned by a very general curiosity to see in print every literary relick [sic], however imperfect, by so distinguished a writer." (MW 1796, vol. 1, p. iii.)
This page groups Gibbon's miscellanies into three chronologically consecutive categories: 1) works first published in Gibbon's lifetime, later appearing in Sheffield's editions; 2) the contents of Sheffield's vast project, i.e., the three editions (minus his notes and letters) of the Miscellaneous Works of Edward Gibbon, Esquire. Listings are exactly those from each volume's table as they appear in the Google Books digitized copies; and 3) Gibbon writings published after Sheffield's volumes. All works are listed with pertinent bibliographical detail and descriptive text where available.
Norton no. 1.
Norton no. 6.
Norton no. 5.
Norton no. 7.
EG's first published work defends érudits (antiquarian scholars) against French philosophes (especially Jean Le Rond d'Alembert in his Discours préliminaire à l'Encyclopédie ) who had "contemptuously" assailed the érudits' work as inferior, parochial, and effete. EG recoiled at the charges, and strove to reconcile the two groups by "proving…that all the faculties of the mind may be exercised and displayed by [the] study of ancient litterature [sic]." The Essai was reviewed with "cold indifference" in England, but on the continent, it was hailed enthusiastically. In Paris, EG was recognized as a man of letters.
Norton no. 12.
Norton no. 14.
Norton no. 15.
Norton no. 30.
Norton no. 31.
Norton no. 32.
Norton no. 17.
Norton no. 18.
Norton no. 19.
The first edition 1st issue, despite its lack of publication
details, in all likelihood was also printed by Harrison and
Brooke for "official purposes and not for general circulation."
EG composed the Mémoire between 10 July–9 Aug 1779; first
published on or about 7 Oct. An English translation
labelled by Norton as "more or less correct," appears in Blake's one-volume MW
1837 (below), pp. 696-712.
The first edition 2nd issue also contained and was preceded in this publication by the French tract which provoked EG's Mémoire, the Exposé des Motifs de la Conduite du Roi de France, relativement à l'Angleterre, wherein the French government set out its rationale for having negotiated a defensive alliance with the American rebels (6 Feb 1778). Robert Rea revised Norton by identifying the "true second edition" as that published by William Hallhead, printed from the Rothschild variant of the first ed., 2nd issue. Norton's no. 19 is therefore correctly identified as the third edition. (BWEG, pp. 22-35.)
Norton no. 131.
Norton no. 132.
Norton no. 133.
Norton no. 134.
Norton no. 136.
Norton no. 138.
Norton no. 137.