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company. His wife was a daughter of the Edgars, who flourished about four hundred years in the county of Suffolk, and produced an eminent and wealthy serjeant-at-law, sir Gregory Edgar, in the reign of Henry the seventh. Of the sons of Robert Gibbon, (who died in 1643,) Matthew did not aspire above the station of a linen-draper in Leadenhall street; but John has given to the public some curious memorials of his existence, his character, and his family. He was born on the 3rd of November in the year 1629; his education was liberal, at a grammar school, and afterwards in Jesus College at Cambridge; and he celebrates the retired content which he enjoyed at Allesborough in Worcestershire, in the house of Thomas lord Coventry, where he was employed as a domestic tutor. But the spirit of my kinsman soon immerged into more active life; he visited foreign countries as a soldier and a traveller, acquired the knowledge of the French and Spanish languages; passed some time in the isle of Jersey, crossed the Atlantic, and resided upwards of a twelvemonth (1659) in the rising colony of Virginia. In this remote province, his taste, or rather passion, for heraldry found a single gratification at a war-dance of the native Indians. As they moved in measured steps, brandishing their tomahawks, his curious eye contemplated their little shields of bark, and their naked bodies, which were painted with the colours and symbols of his favourite science. "At which (says he) I exceedingly wondered, and concluded that heraldry was ingrafted naturally into the sense of human race. so, it deserves a eater esteem than now-a-days is put upon it." His return to England after the restoration was soon followed by his marriage-his settlement in a house in St Catherine's Cloister near the Tower, which devolved to my grandfather-and his introduction into the herald's college (in 1671) by the style and title of Blue-mantle Pursuivant at Arms. In this office he enjoyed, near fifty years, the rare


felicity of uniting, in the same pursuit, his duty and inclination: his name is remembered in the college, and many of his letters are still preserved. Several of the most respectable characters of the age, sir William Dugdale, Mr Ashmole, Dr John Betts, and Dr Nehemiah Grew, were his friends; and in the society of such men John Gibbon may be recorded without disgrace as the member of an astrological club. The study of hereditary honours is favourable to the royal prerogative; and my kinsman, like most of his family, was a high Tory, both in church and state. In the latter end of the reign of Charles the second, his pen was exercised in the cause of the duke of York; the republican faction he most cordially detested; and as each animal is conscious of its proper arms, the herald's revenge was emblazened on a most diabolical escutcheon. But the triumph of the Whig government checked the preferment of Bluemantle; and he was even suspended from his office till his tongue could learn to pronounce the oath of abjuration. His life was prolonged to the age of ninety; and, in the expectation of the inevitable though uncertain hour, he wishes to preserve the blessings of health, competence, and virtue. In the year 1682 he published at London his 'Introductio ad Latinam Blasonium;' an original attempt, which Camden had desiderated, to define, in a Roman idiom, the terms and attributes of a Gothic institution. It is not two years since I acquired, in a foreign land, some domestic intelligence of my own family; and this intelligence was conveyed to Switzerland from the heart of Germany. I had formed an acquaintance with Mr Langer, a lively and ingenious scholar, while he resided at Lausanne as preceptor to the hereditary prince of Brunswick. On his return to his proper station of librarian to the ducal library of Wolfenbuttel, he accidentally found among some literary rubbish a small old English volume of heraldry, inscribed with the name of John Gibbon. From the title only

Mr Langer judged that it might be an acceptable present to his friend; and he judged rightly. His manner is quaint and affected; his order is confused: but he displays some wit, more reading, and still more enthusiasm ; and if an enthusiast be often absurd, he is never languid. An English text is perpetually interspersed with Latin sentences in prose and verse; but in his own poetry he claims an exemption from the laws of prosody. Amidst a profusion of genealogical knowledge, my kinsman could not be forgetful of his own name; and to him I am indebted for almost the whole information concerning the Gibbon family.* From this small work (a duodecimo of one hundred and sixty-five pages) the author expected immortal fame: and at the conclusion of his labour he sings, in a strain of self-exultation—


Usque huc corrigitur Romana Blasonia per me;
Verborumque dehinc barbara forma cadat.
Hic liber, in meritum si forsitan incidet usum,
Testis ritè meæ sedulitatis erit.

Quicquid agat Zoilus, ventura fatibitur ætas
Artis quod fueram non Clypearis inops."

Such are the hopes of authors! In the failure of those hopes John Gibbon has not been the first of his profession, and very possibly may not be the last of his name. His brother Mathew Gibbon, the draper, had one daughter and two sons-my grandfather Edward, who was born in the year 1666, and Thomas, afterwards dean of Carlisle. According to the mercantile creed, that the best book is a profitable ledger, the writings of John the herald would be much less precious than those of his nephew Edward: but an author professes at least to write for the public benefit; and the slow balance of trade can be pleasing to those persons only to whom it is advantageous. The

Mr Gibbon seems, after this was written, to have collected much additional information respecting his family; as appears from a number of manuscripts in my possession. S.

successful industry of my grandfather raised him above the level of his immediate ancestors; he appears to have launched into various and extensive dealings even his opinions were subordinate to his interest; and I find him in Flanders, clothing king William's troops, while he would have contracted with more pleasure, though not perhaps at a cheaper rate, for the service of king James. During his residence abroad, his concerns at home were managed by his mother Hester, an active and notable woman. Her second husband was a widower of the name of Acton : they united the children of their first nuptials. After his marriage with the daughter of Richard Acton, goldsmith in Leadenhall street, he gave his own sister to sir Whitmore Acton, of Aldenham; and I am thus connected, by a triple alliance, with that ancient and loyal family of Shropshire baronets. It consisted about that time of seven brothers, all of gigantic stature; one of whom, a pigmy of six feet two inches, confessed himself the last and the least of the seven; adding, in the true spirit of party, that such men were not born since the revolution. Under the Tory administration of the four last years of queen Anne (1710-1714) Mr Edward Gibbon was appointed one of the commissioners of the customs; he sat at that board with Prior: but the merchant was better qualified for his station than the poet, since lord Bolingbroke has been heard to declare, that he had never conversed with a man who more clearly understood the commerce and finances of England. In the year 1716 he was elected one of the directors of the South Sea company; and his books exhibited the proof that, before his acceptance of this fatal office, he had acquired an independent fortune of sixty thousand pounds.

But his fortune was overwhelmed in the shipwreck of the year -20, and the labours of thirty years were blasted in a single day. Of the use or abuse of the South Sea scheme, of the guilt or innocence of my grandfather and his brother directors, I am nei


ther a competent nor a disinterested judge. Yet the equity of modern times must condemn the violent and arbitrary proceedings which would have disgraced the cause of justice, and would render injustice still more odious. No sooner had the nation awakened from its golden dream, than a popular and even a parliamentary clamour demanded their victims: but it was acknowledged on all sides, that the South Sea directors, however guilty, could not be touched by any known laws of the land. The speech of lord Molesworth, the author of 'The State of Denmark,' may shew the temper, or rather the intemperance, of the house of commons. Extraordinary crimes (exclaimed that ardent Whig) call aloud for extraordinary remedies. The Roman lawgivers had not foreseen the possible existence of a parricide; but as soon as the first monster appeared, he was sown in a sack, and cast headlong into the river; and I shall be content to inflict the same treatment on the authors of our present ruin." His motion was not literally adopted; but a bill of pains and penalties was introduced, a retro-active statute, to punish the offences which did not exist at the time they were committed. Such a pernicious violation of liberty and law can be excused only by the most imperious necessity; nor could it be defended on this occasion by the plea of impending danger or useful example. The legislature restrained the persons of the directors, imposed an exorbitant security for their appearance, and marked their characters with a previous note of ignominy: they were compelled to deliver, upon oath, the strict value of their estates; and were disabled from making any transfer or alienation of any part of their property. Against a bill of pains and penalties it is the common right of every subject to be heard by his counsel at the bar: they prayed to be heard; their prayer was refused; and their oppressors, who required no evidence, would listen to no defence. It had been at first proposed that one-eighth of their respective estates


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