Books: Lessons in Decay

THE HISTORY OF THE DECLINE AND FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE

by EDWARD GIBBON

674 pages. Strahan and Cadell. 1 guinea.

In a time when the British Empire is being rent asunder, Edward Gibbon has produced an eloquent and authoritative account of the ruin of Imperial Rome. This is somewhat surprising, since Gibbon, 39, an inconspicuous Member of Parliament, has previously written only some brief essays and two minor volumes of literary criticism. Yet his new work is not mere history but high tragedy, as the course of Rome's decay is hurried forward by fools...