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    Robert Burns Autograph Manuscript. Two pages, 6.5" x 7 7/8", n.p.; [circa 1788-1789] An unsigned manuscript, in Burns' hand, of a series of excerpts from volumes 3 and 4 of Edward Gibbon's The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, which published in London in six volumes between 1776 and 1788:

    "'But as Athanasius was continually engaged with the prejudices and passions of every order of men from the monk to the emperor, the knowledge of human nature was his first and most important science. He preserved a distinct and unbroken view of a science [scene] which was incessantly shifting; and never failed to improve those decisive moments which are irrevocably lost before they are perceived by a common eye. The archbishop of Alexandria was capable of distinguishing how far he might boldly command, and where he must dextrously insinuate; how long he might contend with power, and when he must withdraw from persecution; and while he directed the thunder of the church against heresy and rebellion, he could assume, in the bosom of his own party, the flexible and indulgent temper of a prudent leader.'
    Gibbon's history etc. Vol 3d. page 358

    'The sacred horn or trumpet of Tabenne was the well known signal which assembled several thousand robust and determined Monks, who, for the most had been peasants of the adjacent country.'
    Ibid, page 384

    The generality of princes, if they were stripped of their purple, and cast naked on the world, would immediately sink to the lowest rank of society without a hope of emerging from their obscurity.
    Gibbon's History Vol. 4th p. 59

    'Yet these wanton ravages (the ruin of Persian palaces) need not excite in our breasts any vehement emotions of pity, or resentment. A simple, naked stature, finished by the hand of a Grecian artist, is of more genuine value than all these rude and costly monuments of Barbaric labor: and, if we are more deeply affected by the ruin of a palace than by the conflagration of a cottage, our humanity must have formed a very erroneous estimate of human life.'
    Ibid. Vol 4th p. 173
    "

    Robert Burns (1759-1796), Scottish poet and lyricist, is widely considered the national poet of Scotland and is regarded as a pioneer of the Romantic Movement. It is not known why Burns copied these passages from Gibbon's History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Perhaps these passages were part of a commonplace book kept by Burns.

    Condition: A thin strip of paper has been affixed along the left margin, which has been irregularly trimmed. Light soiling and a few ink stains affecting a few words. Two small tears along the left margin not affecting any words.


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    Auction Dates
    May, 2017
    11th Thursday
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