Saturday, February 27, 2010

Ephemera - Newspaper cutting

Gibbon, the Historian
On January 16, 1794, died Edward Gibbon,
remembered by the world at large for his
monumental historical achievement, of
interest to women as perhaps the most un-
romantic lover who ever became famous.
There have been many fickle swains, whose
allegiance to a friend or to a cause was
more permanent than a romance of which
they had wearied; but Gibbon's placid as-
ceptance of parental veto and complacent
readiness to substitute friendship for pas-
sion is interesting from the psychological
standpoint. If few woman can help fell-
in a quiet scorn, few would fail to consider
that the lady got a better bargain in Necker,
who proposed in her days of poverty when
she was working to support her widowed

First Meeting
Fairness must recall that Gibbon was only
a youth of 20 when he encountered the
charms of Susanne Curchod, whose merits
he afterwards summed up with level-headed
logic :-"I Found her learned without
pedantry, lively in conversation, pure in
sentiment, and elegant in manners." She
came from Crassy, where her father was a
minister, to visit relations at Lausanne, and
she and young Edward were mutually at-
tracted. He visited her at her mountain
home in Burgundy, and was welcomed by
her parents. Then he returned to England,
and his father absolutely refused to coun-
tenance an engagement.

Tame Submission
We may fancy that his love was not so
very ardent, for he seems to have submitted
quite tamely to his father's decision. True,
he was financially dependent upon him. The
lady's ideas were different; she refused other
good offers of marriage and awaited his
return, hoping and trusting. He went to
Lauzanne again a few years later, and met
her coldly. At last she asked for an ex-
planation, and he was glib with his sugges-
tion that romance should be translated into
quiet friendship. Evidently the idea did not
appeal to her, and she proposed his visiting
Rousseau, having first arranged through a
pastor friend that he should be given a little
good advice on the duties f lovers.

Love Grown Cold
He did not go Rousseau, and when he
met her again at Ferney, treated her so
coolly that a rupture which seemed final re-
sulted. As his biographers have admitted,
it was not his fault that her feelings were
deeper than his own, but he might have
behaved with less brutality. However, that
was not the end of the story. A year after
her marriage to Necker she met her former
lover on terms of easy friendship. They
was each other almost daily, and each ap-
peared to take a pride in showing the other
that old would had ceased to need dress-
ing. For the rest of their lives they even
maintained quite an affectionate correspon-
dence. We may wonder if it was entirely
free from affectation, and it is curious to
conjecture concerning Suzanne's inmost
feelings towards her cold-blooded lover.
A well-known story. The Necker-Gibbon connection is one that has intrigued me since I learnt about it earlier this year. What is the source of this article however? Who is Fedden Tindall?