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necessity of consistency with himself and his aims, his humanity and many of the finer traits natural to him were deflected from their course. To show Cæsar's natural kindness, Cicero recounts, in a letter to Atticus, the favors received by himself and his brother Quintus, and then exclaims : “ Ye gods! should you not love this man ?” But nowhere can we find so symmetrical an edifice erected on the corner-stone of power. Nowhere can we find faculties so grand co-operating uniformly towards what might be called at once their chosen aim and their final cause. The strong will, the selfreliant, searching, far-reaching intellect, the unbending devotion to a purpose,—these permeated a strongly pronounced individuality, and, disciplined to harmony, and inspired to strange energy by a lofty ambition, combined to give to Cæsar an original personality—a character of his own, which, either in volume or in degree, we could not confound with any other. His, too, was pre-eminently a seminal mind, whereas Pompey, from the utter barrenness of his nature, never did, and never could in any circumstances, have originated anything. Cicero's mind was of the transmissive order -a conduit from large reservoirs down to the channels of daily use. It was a grafted stock, bearing fruit not quite its own, but nourished with its own juices.
Cicero, unlike Pompey and Cæsar, can hardly be said to have had, as we remarked above, any character at all. There was nothing about him that was original, distinctive, peculiar to himself, stamped with the impress of his own soul. He had neither the vigor nor the steadiness which comes only from the influence of some one supreme central faculty. The centre of the man, so far as he can be said to have had a centre, lay in his vanity. That was his pivotal point. It was the nucleus round which his very existence gathered, the fountain of his actions, the key-note of his views of life, and the root of his philosophy. Nothing pleased him so much, and nothing did he yearn for so eagerly, as to make a good appearance beforeothers. As his desire to please was a maximum, and his fear to offend a minimum quantity, he was spurred on to unremitting labors, in order to secure the coveted applause, while he was for the most part left free from any torturing doubt of a triumphant success. Having in himself no real self-reliance, and distrusting the sufficiency to itself of
any verdict of his own soul, he was necessarily led to surrender himself to the judgment of the world, or of the limited circle which was the world to him. For similar reasons, he was always disinclined to commit himself to opinions which were original or distasteful, or even not quite certain of acceptance by his coterie ; for there would be risks about novelties, and his chance of approbation would be far greater to take up opinions which were in vogue, and hammer them out in graceful style for popular use. So in all his philosophy he never thought, or even aimed to think, a real thought of his own. In speculation and in action, his constant enquiry was : What will they say? Which course will secure to me the loudest plaudits ? How can I make the best appearance before my friends, and keep myself most acceptable in the long run to the people ? In every given case, the first thought of all was of himself, how he would look, and what would be said of him; and then, and not till then, came other considerations. While Pompey looked upon the world as a little spot far beneath his own greatness, and Cæsar regarded it as a kingdom worth ruling, Cicero saw in it a theatre admirably adapted for display. To Pompey, mankind were inferiors ; to Cæsar, citizen-subjects ; and to Cicero, audience and spectators. He drew his breath, and had his very existence in the voice of those about him. His hunger for fame gives to us the impression of a constant desire on his part to produce a certain lasting stage-effect on others, rather than to do deeds, which should of necessity bring glory. To satisfy any moral or intellectual needs of his own was to him of far less moment than to present an appearance. "What will they say about us six hundred years hence?" was a question often raised, quite as much in earnest as in sport, when any new course must be taken. On returning to Rome after his exile, his first thought was regarding his wings, which, he said, had been clipped by his opponents ; and which, he trembled to think, might possibly never grow again. He boasted with great unction of the attention shown to him, and of the fact which his nomenclator assured him, that not one prominent citizen was absent when he made his entrance into the city. The welcome he met with would, of course, justify some elation ; his mistake, however, was in looking at it merely as a personal matter, and in making it the ground for undue displays of egregious vanity. This was a mistake of which he was often guilty ; looking, as he did, from the wrong stand-point, and through a false medium, he inevitably saw things distorted, and in unnatural relations.
As Cicero was steady in nothing, and was not wholly one thing or another, so he was not uniform in his vanity, or in
his thoughts about his vanity. The climax was reached in his celebrated line, “O fortunatam, natam me consule Roman;" while its lowest dip appears in his weary, halfserious, half-jocose saying, as he counted the waves on the beach at Antium, disgusted at the very thought of writing : “I would rather have been a duumvir here than have been consul at Rome." The key-note to his more common sentiment is found in a letter from his province of Cilicia to Atticus: “In the meantime, it is something splendid that Ariobarzanes should live and reign by my assistance.” What usually pleased him most, was to have some show of power, accompanied by a liberal outlay of admiration on the part of the bystanders. He even persuaded himself that he had never spoken of himself in any of his speeches, unless attacked, which simply proves that his memory on that point was not good. In a letter to Atticus, which nobody else was to read, he had no need, he said, to fear the reproach of vaingloriousness in speaking of himself; and accordingly he availed himself of the opportunity to speak of himself as actually inspired in a certain oration recently delivered to the senate on the state of the nation. He writes that once, on entering the theatre, he was received with great applause, and adds, having apparently at the time some unusual scruples of modesty, that it was silly in him to mention it. What chiefly embittered his exile was the fear lest, after all, he should fail to receive the meed of applause and admiration which he felt to be his due, and for which he hungered. This horrible fear of being cheated with both contemporaries and posterity gave rise to an almost unparalleled series of selftorturings, unmanly whimperings and howlings, and degrading revelations of self. He wrote truly of himself to Atticus: “I want not merely my goods and my friends, but myself; for what am I?" His whole nature was almost unhinged, and reason tottered on her throne. The thought of suicide constantly presented itself as the only resource left to mortified vanity, and was again and again broached in his familiar correspondence. His friends thought him insane.
And not till his welcome back to Rome had given to him full proof that his name was on the lips of the people, and that his services were properly recognized by others, and loudly praised by all the world, not till then was Cicero really himself. Such an utter overthrow, such bounds and rebounds, could have been experienced only by the most negative nature. A character positive on any side, one built up solidly from any
foundation-principle, and resting on any corner-stone whatever, one having any real centre of its own, inspired by any high master-passion, and buttressed by sentiments or opinions which not only sustained but had become a part of itself, could never, from any cause, so long as it existed and retained its identity, have been guilty of such abnegation, of so humiliating a surrender of itself. But Cicero had nothing in himself to which he could appeal; he saw only the image of himself as reflected in the mirror of the world. Pompey, on the other hand, saw only himself in himself; and Cæsar saw the world in and through his own soul. To Cicero the calm assurance of having done his duty was of little worth ; nor could be derive much satisfaction from a belief in the favorable verdict of future times, and a triumphant vindication of himself and his measures, so long as the salvos of his contemporaries were withheld. “Be a senate to yourself," he once wrote to his friend Plancus ; advice which no man ever needed more, or followed less, than himself. The oracle at Delphi read the character of the youth correctly when it urged him not to be led by the opinions of others, but to trust to himself. And Livy, referring to the want of manliness and, so to speak, the flabbiness of character which marked him, said that he bore none of his calamities as a man should, except his death. Even at that time he kept hesitating and paltering between conflicting emotions, uncertain what he had best to do, until circumstances forced a decision, and left him no escape, and then he confronted his assassins courageously. In fact, he never took a position, or started a movement until inaction and neutrality were out of the question. It was not in his nature to take time by the forelock and meet coming events half-way. He looked to see which way the wind lay, trimmed his sails, and waited for some mighty blast to drive him out on the great deep. It was thus even in his conduct towards the Catilinarian conspiracy, and in the fulmination of the Philippics against Antony, events which have always been regarded as the two pivotal points of action in his career, and in which his decision and courage have been deemed worthy of special praise. But with Catiline and Antony alike he kept off and on, blowing hot and cold, until the last moment. And what finally roused him to action in each case was the necessities of the party of the senate, in whose eyes he, with the feeling natural to a novus homo, always aimed to appear well, together with his own innate love for precedent and order, and his desire to keep
affairs on their old footing, a desire which, though always strong, never rose to effort until some impulse from without had overcome its inertia.
The Letters of Cicero are the best which antiquity has left us, and among the best of any time. And their excellence as letters arises quite as much from his moral or voluntary weakness as from his intellectual strength. His character was so little pronounced, with so few rough points, and so feeble a bias towards any one direction, that it was easy for him to make himself one for the time being with the person addressed. His rare versatility and tact enabled him to project himself into, to appreciate nicely, and to adapt his thoughts, tone, and diction to the sentiments of all. And while doing this he completely revealed himself. It is much to be regretted that so large a part of his correspondence has been lost, as it would have added so much to our pleasure and profit, and to our knowledge of him as a
So humiliating are the revelations made of himself in his letters to his brother Quintus, to that “afflicted woman Terentia,” his wife, and to his friend Atticus during exile, that Wieland declared that it would have been well for his reputation if his freedman Tiro, who probably first collected them, had burned them all. His reputation might indeed have been better, but not so true. We should, then, have known him with more or less correctness, as the orator, statesman, and philosopher, but we should have totally misconceived him as Cicero. These letters are invaluable, as they show better than all the others how he lived, moved, and had his being in private life, when he was not mounted on stilts, nor acting a part, nor under restraint from position or office; and all the more so, as they were penned at a time of trial singularly adapted to test and to make known in naked truth the stuff he was made of. We could not at all dispense with these letters if we would know the living, household Cicero. Merivale remarks of them that they exhibit the writings of a mind which wreaks upon friends the torments of self-dissatisfaction, and that, from his tendency to exaggerate his feelings, they contain an overcharged picture of his imbecility. They have, it seems to us, that truth which chiefly concerns us-truth to character. It is at least the flitting truth of the moment, if it is not the truth of every moment and every month. These letters fix the Cicero of the minute. He did not think and feel thus all the time, for he was the creature of moods, and given to many VOL. XI, NO. XXII.