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Gibbon and the 'Watchmen of the Holy City'The Historian and his Reputation, 1776-1815$
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David Womersley

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780198187332

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198187332.001.0001

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Revision and Religion

Revision and Religion

(p.13) 1 Revision and Religion
Gibbon and the 'Watchmen of the Holy City'


Oxford University Press

Gibbon revised the text of the two final chapters of the first volume of The Decline and Fall, which had chiefly aroused the indignation of the clerical establishment on two occasions: for the second edition of 1776, and for the third edition of 1777. A meticulous collation of these revisions reveals an interesting drama of response on Gibbon's part. He was initially concerned by rumours that he was to be attacked for supposed irreligion, and, before any attacks had appeared, made concessive revisions for the second edition. However, once the first attacks had been published, Gibbon saw that they were mild and ineffective. His revisions for the third edition therefore reversed the concessions of the second edition, and indeed if anything intensified the deistical flavour of the book.

Keywords:   Decline and Fall, irreligion, revision

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