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pair formed were of an earnestness un- | The only means that remained of reaching common in human quarrel; for in the his object, if such means there were, lay campaign now opened to us we find a se- in the extraordinary power of the great quence and a systematic astuteness of statesman, who was virtually monopolizattack which could have been evidenced ing* the consulate of the year, while anxonly under the demoniacal influence of a iously engaged in maturing his projected master-passion. mastery over the republic. With all Cæsar's love of letters, and natural admiration for the genius of Cicero, he could not but see that the antecedents, no less than the character, of that gifted statesman invested him with a high and dangerous importance in the complicated knot of Roman politics which then invited the sword of another Alexander. As an exconsul solemnly honored with the legal titles of "Father of his Country," and "Second Founder of Rome," for the ability with which he had saved the senate from the most dangerous crisis to which it had perhaps ever been exposed, Cicero was the natural leader and oracle of that body; † and this all the more that, unlike Pompey, he was known to have no interest save in the maintenance of its freedom and dignity. Cæsar felt, too, that inferior to himself only in strength of character, to Pompey only in military influence and wealth, and to Cato only in the firmness that resists alike influence and intimidation-if wanting, in short, the high characteristics that fit men to cope on easy terms with the tragic emergencies which mark great eras of state transformation, he was yet unquestionably superior to them all in those qualities of learning, eloquence, virtue, and social amenity, which, in the intervals of civic broils, would enable him to secure a preponderant influence for whatever leader he might choose to enroll under. Nor could the natural chief of the Marian faction-the democratic faction of Rome-while poising the question how such a man was to be dealt with, forget, or perhaps even forgive, that the new intruder on the Roman aristocracy had recently spared him the exposure his share in the plot of Catiline merited, or that, in the angry discussions which that tragedy provoked, the orator's influence had saved his life, when menaced by the indignant
While looking forward to the means of satisfying this cherished vengeance, Clodius found that he was excluded by hierarchic rules, no less than by his repute, from any early prospect of that consulate which formed the principal depository of Roman power. He saw, however, that the tribuneship, which in critical moments had often coped with the higher magistracy in importance, and which, in the hands of bold politicians, had not unfrequently held in suspense the fortunes of the republic, might serve his purposes as well, at the same time that he felt that it was an office to which his ill repute and the democratic tendencies forced on him by his social position naturally invited him. Though open by law only to the plebeian order, by which alone it was conferred, Clodius knew that, though disqualified as a patrician, the desertion of his own caste, under the formalities of plebeian adoption, was not absolutely prohibited. But the policy was novel and unseemly, and the first step not without its difficulties. There was no precedent of a patrician passing so singular a slur on his order. The rite of adoption, one of the most solemn in Roman jurisprudence, required as a preliminary a favorable attestation from the College of Pontiffs, and could only take place when no circumstances existed to imply its bad faith. The plebeian father, according to the law, ought to be childless; he was required to be old enough for the honor of the paternity which he was, in some sense, claiming; and finally he was to occupy a position in the world that promised both pecuniary advantage and civic distinction to the person over whom he was to receive, in their fullest extent, the important rights of Roman paternity. All these conditions, however, were, curiously enough, wanting when Clodius came forward to abandon his order. His social condition (if we may believe his enemies) gave him but a scanty measure of even plebeian aid to choose from; and the consul, the unhappy husband of his sister, Clodia, pub-reference to the Triumvirate. licly proclaimed that he would sooner strangle him with his own hand than allow such a dishonor to be cast on the family tree.
*Julio et Cæsare consulibus-" Julius and Cæsar
being consuls"-a jest considered so excellent that it has reached us in nearly every narrative bearing
+ Lucan lets us know that Pompey was never recognized as the full leader of the senatorial party "Non Magni partes, sed Magnus in partibus esse."— Lib. v.
zeal of the knights and senators assembled | requests for his advice and aid, with the flattering assurance that for the future he wished to be guided by his wisdom and experience; and we have the testimony of the orator, that it was his own virtue alone that enabled him to withstand the efforts that were at this time made to include him as a fourth member of the great confederacy which menaced the liberty of his country.
The first payment Cicero was formally
to vindicate constitutional order at the cost, if necessary, of its own violation. We are not surprised, however, that the noble nature, which by all admission placed Cæsar above the smaller instincts of humanity, urged him to try at first to secure at any price, short of the great but as yet undeveloped project of his life, the friendship and aid of so powerful and accomplished an auxiliary. The time, indeed, had now arrived when it was all-import-expected to make for a sure protection against the further designs of Clodius, was the exercise of his influence with the senate to sanction the popular distribution of some extensive domains belonging to the state. The projected law was humiliating to the patrician order, and interfered with the public finances; it was held to be full of danger to the existing constitution; for it conflicted with the well-known policy of the senate, and might give the triumvirs, and especially Cæsar, a popularity that in bad times could be turned to the worst of uses. The duty, then, of Cicero, as a leader of the senate, was either to share the popularity of the act by handsomely supporting it, or to resist it to the death. He did neither. A single lesson had sufficed to inculcate on this elegant expositor of public morality the contemptible wisdom of a personal interest. Entering into a compromise, through which his neutrality was secured by a temporary retirement from public affairs, he betook himself to his beautiful villa near Antium; and we may gather the feelings with which the chagrined statesman entered on his retreat from the avowal he makes to Atticus, that he was much more disposed to spend his time in watching the ceaseless play of the sea-that glorious contrast to the littleness and impurity he had left behind him— than in sitting down to any literary undertaking worthy his genius. Amid the
ant for him to ascertain clearly what was to be the nature of their future relations. He had just freed himself from the crippling embarrassment of a debt said to be equivalent to several millions of our money; he was in the enjoyment of the high but temporary dignity of the consulate; his alliance and compact with Crassus and Pompey was soon to be sealed by the marriage of his daughter with the latter; and he was on the eve of betaking himself to those ten years of Gallic campaigns which were to give him the invincible army by whose aid he already calculated on placing the commonwealth at his discretion.
But the honest patriotism of Cicero, which had as yet learnt nothing from an influence, fear, that was subsequently to chill so much of its ardor, seemed anxious to show the world that it repelled with dignity every such alliance; and, in one of his forensic speeches, he took the trouble to digress into a severe rebuke of the magisterial illegalities with which Cæsar was haughtily distinguishing his consulate.
Cæsar brooked no more. He espoused the forlorn suit of Clodius, and, three hours later, every informality was glossed over, every violation of law disregarded, and the arch-enemy of the orator forced into a position which opened to him the highest honors of the state. Marvelous as was this new proof of Cæsar's great char-luxuries of the rustic repose which should acteristic celerity, in this instance it was have been so dear to him as a scholar and less a quality of the man than a calculation philosopher, nay, at the very moment that of the politician. If the provocation ex- he is eloquently praising the happiness of plained, the haste palliated, the unkind- the literary leisure it affords him, he takes ness; and the blow once struck which little pains to conceal the difficulty with placed the proud senator at his mercy, he which he bears the loss of that political at once reverted to the friendly relations excitement to which he had so long been that had been customary between them. accustomed. Yearning, with childish imAs consul presiding over the sittings of patience, for the old aliment of his ever actthe senate, he took pains in collecting the ive vanity, he confesses that his chief hope votes to fix Cicero's precedency immedi- and consolation is that the ungrateful Roately after that of Pompey and Crassus: mans will be taught by his absence to value he conveyed to him by common friends a citizen to whose worth satiety had made
quent friend, he palliated a refusal he would not forego, by the offer at intervals of posts which, if more dependent, were scarcely less noteworthy. One of these was a religious embassy to some remote temple, furnishing a senator, of consular authority, with an honorable motive for his absence from Rome. Another, more important, was a place in the "Commission of Twenty," who, by the arbitrary arrangements of Cæsar, were charged with the distribution of the Campanian lands among twenty thousand Roman families, three or four thousand of whom were emancipated slaves-an office which would have won him, with some personal security which he professed to disdain, an amount of ridicule and political odium he had no heart to incur. A third offer, less equivocal but more singular, and which curiously illustrates the watchful solicitude of Cæsar's policy in the important crisis we are investigating, was a lieutenancy in the Gallic campaign which Cæsar was about to undertake, and which, unsuited as it was to Cicero's character and pursuits, seems to have caused his virtue some effort to refuse.
them indifferent. Pledging himself with more than dramatic caricature to think no more of the republic, he shows, the next moment, that he is ignorant of little, and uninterested in nothing that passes. In one of his letters he vents his bitterness on the assumed appointment of Clodius, as ambassador to the King of Armenia, admitting the position to be one that fell within his own views. In another he makes known his eager willingness to visit Egypt, with the mission of restoring its deposed king, Ptolemy Auletes; and in a third, with an imprudent zeal which forgets even the semblance of honor, he solicits his election to the augural chair, in which a vacancy had just been created by Clodia, or at least by the death of her husband, whom she was charged with killing. The position of augur was one of the highest dignity, gave still greater influence in the state, and had the additional recommendation of operating as a bill of indemnity for him who might attain to it. But though this was no trifling advantage to a sinking statesman, who felt that he might any day be brought to account for the illegal severities that formed the glory and danger of his consulate, it might pal-"It gives more security," he writes, liate, but could not justify, the willingness he showed to purchase it at a price which to all men, but most of all to him, ought to have been more costly than life or the highest dignities that can attend it. "I am theirs," he says, "at the price of the augurship-wonder at my levity!" We may indeed wonder, and bewail as we wonder, at a levity so unpardonable in the master-genius of his time! It is just to own that the intrinsic honesty of so fine a nature felt all the degradation of the politician's cowardice; for he adds, with touching sadness," But why occupy myself about things I wish to renounce? Would to heaven that I had always the same thought! But now, that experience has taught me that all I looked on as most enviable in life is mere vanity, I am determined to think of nothing but literature." The very independence that made this important dignity so desirable to Cicero, But among the many obstacles that set against him the interest of Cæsar, who opposed Cæsar's artful scheme for overhad determined on protecting him as a mastering Cicero, the strongest probably creature, or ruining him as a political in- was the friendship and party affinities fluence, and was not likely to exchange which made the orator's safety the highthe assurance he held from his fears for est of interests to a man who, though the uncertain expectation he might found now subsiding into a colleague, had long on his gratitude. Sparing the pride, been the first, and was still a prevailing while neglecting the safety, of his elo-influence in Roman politics, "Pompey
"than the commission, and leaves me more free in my movements. I do not refuse it, but can hardly feel that I should accept it." But though he adds that he has no notion of running away, and is even eager for the affray with which Clodius threatens him, the next letter of his we have in the series proves that his boastful confidence was but one of the rhetorical indulgences with which his weakness was accustomed to favor itself. Avowing a sad uncertainty as to what he desires or intends, yet feeling himself under the necessity of ultimately declining the safe dependence offered him by Cæsar, he confesses that he has no stomach for the contentions opened to him through his refusal, and in the utter misery of his position throws himself for sympathy and support on the obliging friend, Atticus, whom he is addressing.
the Great." The exuberant genius of Cicero, won perhaps by the very defects of a character which promised less a master than an instrument or friend, had long delighted itself in doing honor to the pleasing mediocrity of the conqueror of the East; and his oratory, in several interesting conjunctures, had surrendered to him its splendid services with a prodigality almost worthy of Oriental serfage. But after the overthrow of Mithridates, followed by a long career of Asiatic glory and Roman influence, there came a time when Pompey was so heedless about what his plebeian friend had done for him, that Cicero exclaimed, in the vexation of soul which arises from the reäction of friendships which are no longer remembered but to repay service with wrongs, "The man secretly but visibly hates me; and there is nothing handsome, or natural, or noble, or frank, or generous, in any of his relations with me, personal or political." Circumstances, however, which even then suggested caution to the man, who was not "better but more secret than Cæsar," had since changed, that every day there was some sinister presage or other to awaken suspicion that the great conqueror might yet want in weakness the magnificent resources he had been spurning in strength. Through the skill of Cæsar-bent, in every hypothesis of alliance or hostility, on rising by the ruin or degradation of
recognizing the brilliant contrast between the magnanimity of the new aspirant, and the petty arts that marked his felicitous rival; and the arrogant conqueror of the East-so long exercising an influence in the counsels of Rome, unparalleled in that republic and unsafe in any-was descending into insignificance, under the very shadow of a surname which, implying the contrary, was becoming the most stinging of sarcasms. While the people took a malignant pleasure in seizing every occasion of checking the influence and mocking the waning glory of the old favorite, his own personal friends, and the
more respectable members of the senate, saw with disgust, that he sanctioned Cæsar's violent invasions of the constitution, lent himself, as one of his instruments, in distributing the state domains, authorized as one of the augurs the adoption of Clodius, and at last, formally joining in the audacious plan of his colleagues to concentrate every power of the state in their own hands, had ratified the treasonable league by accepting Cæsar as his fatherin-law.
worthless not his friends. And then what
Our celebrated friend," says Cicero, "so insolent under censure, so eager for public admiration, and so long living but in an atmosphere of glory, now bent in body and broken in spirit, knows not whither to betake himself. He sees the onward course precipitous, with return dubious; the good his enemies, the softness of character! I could not withhold my tears when I saw him the other day defending himself against the edicts of Bibulus. He who hitherto, in that place, used to carry off every thing with so high a hand, amid the enthusiasm of the people, every body in his favor, how spiritless was he, even to servility, so that not only all who saw him, but he himself, It could only have given pleasure to Crassus, must have felt the ignominy! What a sight! even among his enemies; for it seemed as though he had fallen headlong, rather than descended, from his elevation; and just as I can fancy the grief of an Apelles or Protogenes," if witnessing their Venus or Ialysus contumeliously treated at some great festival, so I can not survey without emotion the sudden dishonor which has befallen a picture on which I expended the utmost power of my art and
colors of my imagination.”
he was reluctantly compelled to sacrifice character of the history that has reached the position of his friend-as Augustus, us, we are yet enabled to see enough to later, his life-to the fiendish exigencies prove at once the consciousness of his difof a compact which alone could perpetu- ficulties, and the firm, because clear-sightate the power he childishly idolized. It ed, ability with which he vanquished them. is possible, however, that this item in For a time Clodius was to be sent to Artheir bargain was not as definitively pre- menia, as ambassador. When that honordetermined as the parallel matter in the able exile was declined with affected insecond triumvirate. The importance of dignation, a succession of other imposCicero was for the moment and relatively tures were set a-foot with semblances less prominent, the urgency of the crisis equally specious and illusive. Now Cæsar less pressing; and it suited the character was understood to have quarreled with as well as the policy of Cæsar to disarm him past hopes of reconciliation; now he a powerful enemy less by vulgar violence was disposed to dispute even the legality than by those seductive artifices of which of the adoption; now he was decided on he was so accomplished a master. obstructing his election as tribune; now he was pressing on Cicero offices that guaranteed him against the results of such an election; and now, through his influ ence aiding Pompey's, Clodius is made in words to forswear a vengeance for which he was unceasingly preparing the mind of the populace.
We may hence explain why it is we find Pompey repeating to Cicero, from time to time, the most positive assurances of security, which, given it may fairly be assumed in good faith, were just as surely falsified in fact.
Nor do the arts of Cæsar appear to have confined themselves to evasive explanations or gracious overtures. The messenger of Atticus, reaching the presence of Cicero, finds that his letters have been lost on the way. A letter of Cicero, in response to a confidential communication from Atticus, appears to have been equally unfortunate; and there can be little doubt that, through the services of
At one time Cicero learns that Clodius had passed his word to Pompey to desist from his "persecutions;" at another, Pompey solemnly affirms to him, "There is no possible danger," and adds that, "he would rather be killed himself, than suffer the violence meditated to be done to him." In a later letter, Cicero writes: "Pompey has had some talk with Clodius, and, as he himself informs me, some very warm talk. Pompey told him that it would be a perfidy and baseness that mutual friends, and the other forms of eswould cover him with every possible infa-pionage which modern times would apmy, should he permit any injury to happear rather to have improved than inventpen to me through one in whose hands ed, this great man was thoroughly advishe had, in some sort, placed arms, by per-ed as to all he had to hope or fear from mitting his adoption; that he had received the character, counsels, or action of his elhis word of honor, and that of his brother oquent adversary. Appius, to the contrary; and that if any thing happened to violate it, he would take steps to show the world the price he placed upon my friendship. Clodius held out for a time, but at length, offering his hand, promised to do nothing against his wishes."
Having thus to deal with the rude and impatient vindictiveness of Clodius, the well-defined interests, if not sympathies, of Pompey, and the instinct of self-preservation of Cicero-so much at stake for each, and each a personage of the first order in influence the difficulty for Cæsar was not small in carrying through a policy which, though conflicting so essentially with theirs, yet asked all their aid, several if not joint, for its success. Denied a full insight into his views by the fragmentary
The thoughts, the feelings, the behavior of Cicero during the twelve months that preluded the triumphant election of his vengeful foe, partook of the vagueness and uncertainty of the position which all these complications naturally made for him. All ear for every whisper of intelligence, and every whisper of intelligence mastering his faculties without deciding his understanding; stopping every wayfarer from Rome with eager question to possess himself of the vaguest incident or the most random surmise that favored the most doubtful of his hopes or the least reasonable of his expectations; receiving with extended arms every patrician spy who, like Curio, chose to purchase the honest confidence of his complaisant vanity by the pleasing falsehoods of a subtle