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Memoirs of My Life and Writings by Edward Gibbon
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Edward Gibbon

In the fifty-second year of my age, after the completion of an
arduous and successful work, I now propose to employ some moments of
my leisure in reviewing the simple transactions of a private and
literary life. Truth, naked unblushing truth, the first virtue of
more serious history, must be the sole recommendation of this
personal narrative. The style shall be simple and familiar; but
style is the image of character; and the habits of correct writing
may produce, without labour or design, the appearance of art and
study. My own amusement is my motive, and will be my reward: and if
these sheets are communicated to some discreet and indulgent
friends, they will be secreted from the public eye till the author
shall be removed beyond the reach of criticism or ridicule.

A lively desire of knowing and of recording our ancestors so
generally prevails, that it must depend on the influence of some
common principle in the minds of men. We seem to have lived in the
persons of our forefathers; it is the labour and reward of vanity to
extend the term of this ideal longevity. Our imagination is always
active to enlarge the narrow circle in which Nature has confined us.
Fifty or an hundred years may be allotted to an individual, but we
step forward beyond death with such hopes as religion and philosophy
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