Edward Gibbon finished writing the last page of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire and added his colophon, 'Lausanne, 27 June 1787'. After laying down his pen, he walked among his acacias, and 'a sober melancholy' was spread over his mind by the idea that, after fourteen years, he had taken 'everlasting leave of an old and agreeable companion'. A month later, he was on his way to England to arrange for the publication of his writings. During his stay, he was the guest of John, Lord Sheffield, who had been his friend and confidant for over twenty years and who was to become one of his executors, the editor of his autobiographical writings, and a beneficiary of the proceeds of their sale. On 8 May 1788, the fifty-first anniversary of Gibbon's birth, Strahan and Cadell published the last three volumes of the Decline and Fall. The double festival was celebrated by a literary dinner at the house of Thomas Cadell. There, Gibbon 'seemed to blush' as, in a poem by his friend William Hayley, he heard his prowess in his own field likened to that of Shakespeare and Newton.
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