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Cabinet 15: A World Beyond

Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. London: Printed for W. Strahan and T. Cadell, 1776. DeB Ec 1776 G

Gibbon, page 24 Gibbon, title page Edward Gibbon's Decline and Fall grew out of the now famous apocryphal musing: 'It was at Rome... as I sat musing amidst the ruins of the Capitol, while barefoot friars were singing vespers in the Temple of Jupiter, that the idea of writing the decline and fall of the city first started to my mind.' This monumental literary work, akin to T.E. Lawrence's Seven Pillars of Wisdom, was finished at Lausanne, Switzerland, on 27 June 1787: 'I wrote the last lines of the last page in a summer-house in my garden.' William Strahan, Gibbon's publisher, was right: 'I will venture to say, it will ere long make a distinguished figure among the many valuable works that do honour to the present age; will be translated into most of the modern languages, and will remain a lasting monument of the genius and ability of the writer.' This is the first volume of the first edition.

James Cook, A Voyage towards the South Pole and Round the World. London: Printed for W. Strahan and T. Cadell, 1777. DeB Ec 1777 C

Captain James Cook Cook, Otago The men of Captain James Cook's second voyage became the first Europeans to cross the Antarctic circle. They also discovered and re-discovered Easter Island, the Marquesas, Tahiti and the Society Islands, Niue, the Tonga Islands, the New Hebrides, New Caledonia and Norfolk Islands. While at the Isle of Amsterdam (Tonga Tabu or Tongatapu) William Hodges sketched the chief Ataongo ('Otago'). Horace Walpole's reaction to Cook's South Sea faces was atypical: 'a parcel of ugly faces with blubber lips and flat noses, dressed as unbecomingly as if both sexes were ladies of the first fashion; and rows of savages with backgrounds of palm-trees.' To most the voyages offered excitement; the world beyond was opened for further exploration.