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EVERY scholar has been for some time | prehensive judgment which come rather hailing as an event the publication of a from nature. new work by Mr. Forsyth. The author of Hortensius can not write more than the learned world will be glad to thank him for; and the life of Cicero, of all the subjects open to his pen, is the one, if we may speak as their organ, on which they will most readily welcome his assistance. Unlike many other erudite authors, the weight of his lore is never in disproportion to the power of his wing; and there is about all he offers us such grace of style, and accuracy of thought, that the worth of the industry he owes chiefly to himself is only enhanced by those higher gifts of good taste and com
*The Life of Marcus Tullius Cicero. By WM. FORSYTH, M.A., Q.C. London. 1864. VOL. LXIII-NO. 2
Among the well-known historical divisions into which the Life of Cicero naturally falls, incomparably the most interesting is that supplied by his exile. The penalty of banishment, more common in ancient times than even in the epochs which have made these islands a landingstage for the entrances and exits of disdinguished proscripts, was a more interesting element in the lives of their great men than any cursory attention would lead us to suppose. The Greeks, whose acumen no truth in the large volume of political philosophy was to escape, proverbialized their experience in a solemn warning against the returned exile; and that the school opened by Marius, and continued by Tiberius, taught the Romans
the same tragic lesson, may be inferred from the sentiment which Suetonius gives as an aphorism of the time:
"Regnabit sanguine multo Ad regnum quisquis venit ab exilio."
characteristic vitality, than attaches to the estimates of partisan writers.
Cicero was born, like his friend Julius Cæsar, with the happiest qualities of mind and body. He had early mastered the written knowledge of his time, and had then the rare advantage of accomplishing himself, as a politician and a man of letters, in the society of every person of note in the Greek and Roman commonwealths. He had written and discoursed on every subject of human thought with a grace and power scarcely if ever rivaled; had added to the triumphs of literature and oratory every important trust, from quæstor to dictator, which the republic placed at the disposal of its public men; and, as the natural consequence of these multiplied distinctions, was enjoying so preeminent an authority with every order in the state as to have been caressed and feared by the three powerful aspirants to a joint despotism, of which he was the most formidable opponent. Such was the extraordinary man-his every opinion an oracle of taste, his lightest word a monument of history, his every act an element in the government of almost a universewhom we propose to study in the downfall which surprised him in the full career of his greatness, and engulphed him in calamities so overwhelming that they almost forced on him question of his own identity, and in fact so changed his person as to have placed it beyond a brother's recognition.
Made the severest of punishments, less, perhaps, by that exaggerated patriotism and love of the city to which Mr. Forsyth attributes it, than by the acrimonious feeling existing among the few states where alone a civilized asylum could be found, it brought into play few of those sweetening influences which our great poet, schooled under milder influences of religious thought, connects with the teachings of adversity; and not unfrequently the hoarded wrong, fermenting to a poison in the calm of years, reacted in calamities which have given history some of her darkest pages.
The special interest lent to most of these banishments by the union of singu lar influences that brought them about, is heightened, in the case of Cicero, by the circumstance that his greatness as a statesman and a scholar was set off by an almost unexampled elevation as a philosopher. The test of so great an adversity seemed all that was wanting to complete the glory of a man who, having eminently served his fellow-citizens as a magistrate, and been hailed by them as the father of his country, claimed the further distinction of being the first to illustrate to them the lofty teachings to which Plato had consecrated his honeyed pages, and Socrates given his life. As in the severer trial of the Greek sage, it might well have been asked that no suppliant voice should have been heard from such lips," that no such honor of our common human nature should "have struck sail in the mid course of its glory."* We know unfortunately how much it was otherwise. His failure attracted the reproaches of even the obsequious Atticus, and has been immortalized by the disdainful sneers of Bolingbroke. Made the subject of very varying commentary by Morabin, Middleton, Drumann, and Mommsen, it is one of the advantages we owe their learned differences, that, with the aid which they receive from the judicious arbitration of Mr. Forsyth, it is possible to reach a view of the episode in which the incidents and actors secure more of their full worth and
The Duke de Choiseul used to explain his fall from power by the statement that on three exceptional occasions he had been rude to a courtesan, to a military inspector, and to an obscure civil employé ; and that while the lady became virtually queen of France, the others had risen to be ministers of state. By some such fatality Cicero, who was painstaking in avoiding personal acerbity, and in conciliating friendships "Promtissimus erat ad unumquemvis, etiam vilissimum hominem, demerendum, adulandumque,' says authority-had provoked against himself a single enmity which sufficed to bring him down from the most brilliant position which the honest efforts of genius and sterling industry had ever succeeded in attaining.
Publius Clodius was one of those men, so often turning up in the critical epochs of large societies, who, without the qualities to occupy a transcendent position,
yet, by the exercise of a rude ability and ruder recklessness, often succeed in displacing the higher prudence of genius, and in giving new and unexpected turns to the course of events. The tragical death which overtook him in early manhood, in the mid course of his mischievous activity, has bequeathed his character to us under circumstances which leave nearly every thing in it undeveloped save its infamy; but it seems probable, even from the testimony of his enemies, from whom alone we know any thing of him, that he possessed qualities, which, if allowed to mature themselves, would have marred the greatness of Cæsar far more effectively than the impracticable virtue of Cato, or the mock grandeur of Pompey, or even the wary probity of Cicero. The representative of an illustrious family, tracing back its pedigree to the foundation of Rome, and claiming among its ancestral honors five dictatorships, seven triumphs, and four times as many consulates, he early proved that, however much a patrician by descent, he had by character a democratic intensity of animal energy; and established in his earliest manhood that conflict between his position and conduct which made him detested by his own order in more than the proportion that it attached to him the class which profited by his degradation.
Even in those the worst days of Roman debauchery and irreligion, it was impossible for any citizen to have reached his thirty-fifth year with a worse repute in all that appertains to private or public morality. He had been so deeply initiated in the mysterious conspiracy by which Catiline sought to crush his enemy Cicero, and subvert the power of the senate, that the successes of his later life against the same foe won him, as the most characteristic of compliments, the title of "Catiline the Lucky." The seduction of his three sisters, the forgery of wills, confederacy in every plot against the state, with a uniform addiction to the wildest and most depraving forms of libertinism, are imputations which history has accepted against him with more than her customary easy faith; but, in Roman opinion, crimes of this character, though well attested and long past the counting, were trifling, compared with the ambitious sacrilege he committed in presenting himself in female attire to Pompeia, the wife of Cæsar, as she and the most respectable matrons of
Rome were engaged in solemnizing the inscrutable mysteries of the Bona Dea. Curiously enough, and, as illuminated by subsequent events, wonderfully distinctive of the characters of the two statesmen, though Caesar, the injured husband, while repudiating his wife for the suspicion of the intrigue, testified to the judges by whom the sacrilege was investigated that he-the Pontifex Maximus, and, as such, the official defender of the public faithknew of no circumstance that established the guilt of Clodius, Cicero, who had received the rake's friendly visit on the very day of the profanation, volunteered his evidence in disproof of the alibi set up in his favor. In the elaborate description of the trial which he himself writes-meant, too, for a particular friend of Clodius-it is amusing to see, by the side of claims to a friendly moderation, the clearest proof of the partisan spirit which must have animated his testimony. Dissatisfied, like most of his patrician friends, at the acquittal which followed, Cicero took every opportunity of exclaiming against the venal, and it may be added worse than venal,* influences under which it had been obtained. The superiority of the orator's wit seems to have given him a special pleasure in those exercitations of sarcastic repartee which in our days of stricter punctilio have ceased to be an amusement, save to the lowest of the people. The two politicians rarely met, even on senatorial cares intent, without an exchange of railleries which to modern ears are recommended little by their wit, and less by their decency. On some of these occasions Cicero was guilty of the indiscretion of repelling some scoff at the meanness of his birth by retorts which implied that the aristocratic tribune's sister had placed at his disposal, humble as he was, favors already deigned to her brother, as to most others of her male acquaintance; and thus, perhaps, were thrown the last and most enduring elements of a lethal bitterness into a chalice of animosities already sufficiently full. While Cicero on his side was upheld by an angry spouse, menaced in her conjugal rights, the slighted and outraged Clodia made, of course, common cause with her brother; and we would fain hope that the vows of vengeance which the incestuous
*"Stupra insuper matronarum et adolescentulorum nobilium exacta sunt.”—SENECA, Ep. 97.