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part of all that he has met. We are the resultant of two forces
the innate tendency and the outward shaping. The wax is moulded, the loaf is leavened, the foundation is built on, the vine grows towards the light; and there comes something different. At the bottom there is temperament; and above, and through this, is circumstance. Which is the greater ? Proverbs, which embody the essence of vulgar wisdom arising out of the average experience of life, are Janus-faced, looking both ways. The voice of philosophy varies according to the mouthpiece of the hour. History is the record of circumstance and men, as biography is the story of circumstance and a man. But history is made by varying interpretation, to lean now this way under the weight of law, now that way under some human impulse. To-day it admits only law, science, circumstance, abstractions; to-morrow it is the sum of biographies, and tells us of the eternal might of temperament, will, and character.
While talent, learning, and action are, in a measure, external to the man, character is wholly a part of himself. In the one case there is accretion, in the other a natural growth, showing personality and spontaneous life. Lacordaire used to maintain that the great want of our time is character. There is too much of culture and ornament, but not enough of the flavor of the individual. Instead of building up from without, we should unfold from within, aiming first of all to vivify, strengthen, and enrich character. History testifies to an aggregate character of men in the mass as well as to individual character. Each race has a way of its own, which we can all see and feel, though it is impossible always to define it. This is what Voltaire termed the genius of a nation, meaning whatever distinguishes one people from another. We fuse all that is peculiar into an average, which thenceforward stands for the spirit of the nation. It is a true though ideal conception of national character. Probably we never find our conception fully embodied in any individual ; nor do we ever see in nature any object conformed throughout to its standard. Take, for example, the old Roman character. We look upon it as forming a certain national type. We have a conception, more or less vivid and complete, of a certain composite standard, which is real if taken piecemeal, but fictitious as a whole. Each of us has in his mind's eye an inventory of the chief elements in the make-up of the ideal Roman. It was pre-eminently the masculine character of the world. Built of a tough granite, it did not admit the orna
ment and finish which we meet elsewhere. Its traits were all positive and strongly marked. It revealed no negatives and half-shading. Stoical in suffering, unscrupulous in means, selfishly aggressive in all its aims, cruel in execution, sceptical in regard to the unseen, resolute, self-centred, and unfeeling, it was a character admirably shaped for action, for pushing its way through the world, and doing the real business of life. The nation naturally took its place as the proper pioneer and road-breaker for our modern civilization. Never was there a race so thoroughly practical, so devoted to material interests, and with such a common-sense, hard-headed way of looking at things. They wrote themselves down in deeds, not words; they never originated an idea. They contributed nothing to the development of apy, if we except the two ideas of law and duty. And their idea of law was rather legality and formalism than pure justice and right. Their idea of duty, it is true, rose to a majesty never before equalled; but it was the duty of the citizen, not of the individual. The man was altogether sunk in the state. So that there was very little of our modern casuistry as to questions lying between the mạn and his conscience : the first duty and the last was self-abnegation towards government.
Such, in the main, were the outlines of the Roman charac-. ter; yet where can we see them perfectly defined ? Whom can we take for the typical Roman ? Not Cæsar ; for he was a universal man, who would overfill any standard made up of averages. Not Pompey surely; for his constant study of effect, his tricks of acting, and his vainglorious self-consciousness were wholly alien to the simplicity and directness of the national character. Set off with the pomp and circumstance of the Orient, he was in spirit and habit far more Asiatic than European. The great Scipio-one of the most peculiar names in history-has come down to us invested with a kind of personal fascination and rare kingliness of character, and an air of large serenity and repose, quite unRoman. He was
more and other than pure Roman. Most persons would be inclined to single out the elder or the younger Brutus, or one of the Catos, as completely embodying all the national traits and ideas. But the claims of either Brutus lose much of their force by reason of an unpleasant flavor of charlatanism and of the ad captandum which continues to linger about them, and which in the case of the younger Brutus amounts almost to positive taint,
when taken in connection with his well-known usurious and peculating propensities. The Catos best represent the great central ideas of justice and duty, but they hardly conform to the standard on all sides. The tussiness and old-womanishness of the Censor detract much from the symmetry of his character. And we do not quite like to see an ideal man loaning his wife, or prescribing the suitable diet for a wide circle of friends, or in the guise of an amateur quack, dosing all his kith and kin through their ill turns. The Uticensian, in the midst of a nation remarkable for practical tact and knowledge of men, was noted as a perfectly impracticable and unelastic member of the community. Cicero wrote to Atticus that Cato did much mischief by laying down his dicta as if he were living in the republic of Plato, not in the dregs of Romulus. And Merivale has well described him as “a pedantic politician and a scholastic formalist,” one whose character “was a system of elaborate though perhaps unconscious affectations." He was, in fact, a dilution of his great-grandfather, seasoned with some very unpaiatable hobbies. Sulla was more a Sybaritic Greek than a Roman. Perhaps Marius represented most completely the entire cycle of the national character regarded in its lowest grade. There was in the man an innate scurviness and dog-in-the-manger spirit anything but heroic, or true to the temper of the people in its higher forms. A knot of such fellows might have fused into a party of roughs, but could never have grown into a nation.
What, then, shall we say of Cicero? Can we take him for the true representative Roman? By no means, for, properly speaking, he was hardly Roman at all. He had less of the havor of the soil than any of the national chiefs. Cicero was the Frenchman of antiquity. His whole nature seems to us thoroughly French. He looms before us as the primeval cultured Celt. No other historical Roman, and no Greek, with the possible exception of Alcibiades, had so many purely Celtic traits : at whatever point we meet him, we are constantly and irresistibly reminded of the characteristics of that ancient tribe as described in the old classic writers. In reading his orations, his philosophy, and above all his letters ; in dissecting the make-up and temper of the man, his logic saturated with rhetoric, his ready wit, his quick perception, his fick leness, his gusts of passion, his sudden laughter and tears, his verbosity, his lack of endurance, dignity, and consistency, his frivolity and vanity-almost every
where, in short, we meet with a peculiar flavor, a certain seasoning, which we of Saxon lineage regard as characteristic of all our Celtic cousins..
This quasi-Celtic ingredient is the leaven which leavens the whole loaf. It is an element to which we owe much, for it has contributed largely to give us our thorough knowledge of Cicero. It led him to come out of himself
, to deploy all his strength and weakness in the face of the world, and place himself in some sort of personal relation to every
He had no reticence, no mauvaise honte, no delicacy about making revelations of self. His personality crops out everywhere, for it was his delight to thrust himself before mankind in all sorts of postures and guises. It was a supreme gratification to him to tear down every barrier of reserve between him and his intimates, and then gush forth in the most confiding abandonment of conversational or epistolary intercourse, deluging with the secrets of his soul the friend whom he had happened to buttonhole. He had the French passion for living out of doors, for washing his linen in public, and for making himself the hero and his friends the victims of a memoir, which, however, was never in his case moulded into a systematic treatise, but made up of fragments scattered hap-hazard on all sides. Yet these piecemeal revelations were nowise inferior to any former dissertation on self made by the best of them : they outlined and filled up the man completely. And so much of all this still remains that we know Cicero to-day almost as his nearest friends didintus et in cute. We know him quite as well as we do the Cardinal de Retz, the Duke de St. Simon, and the many other worthies who flourished in the memoir-making days of the old regime. He was, indeed, his own Boswell -a most communicative autobiographer, sending forth always, without let or hindrance, whatever chanced to lie uppermost at the moment.
It has been remarked that no one of the ancients could so well stand the severe test which Cicero has afforded of himself, in his Letters, though they convict him of vanity, inconstancy, sordidness, jealousy, malice, selfishness, and timidity. This is undoubtedly true ; for, in the matter of practical morality, in freedom from gross vice, and pureness of living, Cicero was far in advance of his contemporaries. His character was more than ordinarily good, yet he was a man of no character. This seeming paradox arises from the sophism always lurking in the word character. In so far as VOL. XI.NO. XXII.
the moral element enters into the use of the term-in so far as it denotes a collection of qualities based on certain principles of action proceeding from some higher or lower standard of abstract morality-Cicero was a man of better character than the average of his time. He professed higher motives of action, though his profession did not invariably bear fruit in practice. Perhaps he conformed less to his higher standard than others did to their lower. He practised less vice if he did not uniformly display more virtue than his fellows. He kept more within the letter of the law, if not within its spirit: he committed fewer great breaches of the technical rules of morality, religion, and law, than any prominent man of his time. But he did much towards making up in quantity what was lacking in quality. His deviations in a petty way were very numerous, exhibiting wonderful resources in the art of concocting new varieties of the lighter shades of culpability. Of indiscretions, errors, peccadilloes, faults, and the like, the harvest was large; and intertwined with these there came to light no slender growth of sins against the truth. These were of all hues, from whitest to blackest, including white lies, romancing, mental reservation, prevarication, perversion, downright fibbing, duplicity, and hypocrisy. So that his lapses were plenty enough, taking all together. He was very little of a saint, indeed : the times were bad, and he was a trifle better, to say the least. In the morality of private life he was esteemed particularly pure.
Still, as we have said before, Cicero was a man of no character. The term character may imply will as well as morals, and mark degrees of force no less than of goodness. It may be taken to mean the aggregation of distinctive, strongly pronounced qualities of any kind manifesting strength and self-sufferingness in an unusual degree. And in this view its only criterion is the innate vigor, the creative energy, which comes of a happy combination of robust spiritual traits. But just here Cicero's nature was deficient and altogether weak. It was wanting in self-derived, positive traits. There was no firmness nor homogeneousness of texture about the man. He had no tone, no strong original bias, no inflexible determination to this side or that. As he was wholly wanting in self-centred reliance, he neither ruled himself, nor knew the secret to command others. He had nothing of the instinct of leadership, and could not have had under any circumstances. In populous city or desert island, it inust have been all one with him ; for he was of wax, not iron-the