very nearly resemble yourself?"—"If that is the case," answered I, "pray think of him as favourably as you can." "I do," said he; "for he pleases me very highly; and not without reason. He is absolutely master of his trade, and, neglecting every other profession, has applied himself solely to this; and, for that purpose, has persevered in the rigorous task of composing a daily Essay in writing. His words are well chosen; his language is full and copious; and every thing he says receives an additional ornament from the graceful tone of his voice, and the dignity of his action. In short, he is so compleat an Orator, that there is no quality I know of, in which I can think him deficient. But he is still more to be admired, for being able, in these unhappy times, (which are marked with a distress that, by some cruel fatality, has overwhelmed us all) to console himself, as opportunity offers, with the consciousness of his own integrity, and by the frequent renewal of his literary pursuits. I saw him lately at Mitylene; and then (as I have already hinted) I saw him a thorough man. For though I had before discovered in him a strong resemblance of yourself, the likeness was much improved, after he was enriched by the instructions of your learned, and very intimate friend Cratippus."— "Though I acknowledge," said I, "that I have listened with pleasure to your Elogies on a very worthy man, for whom I have the warmest esteem, they have led me insensibly to the recollection of our common miseries, which our present conversation was intended to suspend. But I would willingly hear what is Atticus's opinion of Caesar."—"Upon my word," replied Atticus, "you are wonderfully consistent with your plan, to say nothing yourself of the living: and indeed, if you was to deal with them, as you already have with the dead, and say something of every paltry fellow that occurs to your memory, you would plague us with Autronii and Steiani without end. But though you might possibly have it in view not to incumber yourself with such a numerous crowd of insignificant wretches; or perhaps, to avoid giving any one room to complain that he was either unnoticed, or not extolled according to his imaginary merit; yet, certainly, you might have said something of Caesar; especially, as your opinion of his abilities is well known to every body, and his concerning your's is very far from being a secret. But, however," said he, (addressing himself to Brutus) "I really think of Caesar, and every body else says the same of this accurate connoisseur in the Art of Speaking, that he has the purest and the most elegant command of the Roman language of all the Orators that have yet appeared: and that not merely by domestic habit, as we have lately heard it observed of the families of the Laelii and the Mucii, (though even here, I believe, this might partly have been the case) but he chiefly acquired and brought it to its present perfection, by a studious application to the most intricate and refined branches of literature, and by a careful and constant attention to the purity of his style. But that he, who, involved as he was in a perpetual hurry of business, could dedicate to you, my Cicero, a laboured Treatise on the Art of Speaking correctly; that he, who, in the first book of it, laid it down as an axiom, that an accurate choice of words is the foundation of Eloquence; and who has bestowed," said he, (addressing himself again to Brutus) "the highest encomiums on this friend of ours, who yet chooses to leave Caesar's character to me;—that he should be a perfect master of the language of polite conservation, is a circumstance which is almost too obvious to be mentioned." "I said, the highest encomiums," pursued Atticus, "because he says in so many words, when he addresses himself to Cicero—if others have bestowed all their time and attention to acquire a habit of expressing themselves with ease and correctness, how much is the name and dignity of the Roman people indebted to you, who are the highest pattern, and indeed the first inventor of that rich fertility of language which distinguishes your performances?"—Indeed," said Brutus, "I think he has extolled your merit in a very friendly, and a very magnificent style: for you are not only the highest pattern, and even the first inventor of all our fertility of language, which alone is praise enough to content any reasonable man, but you have added fresh honours to the name and dignity of the Roman people; for the very excellence in which we had hitherto been conquered by the vanquished Greeks, has now been either wrested from their hands, or equally shared, at least, between us and them. So that I prefer this honourable testimony of Caesar, I will not say to the public thanksgiving, which was decreed for your own military services, but to the triumphs of many heroes."—"Very true," replied I, "provided this honourable testimony was really the voice of Caesar's judgment, and not of his friendship: for he certainly has added more to the dignity of the Roman people, whoever he may be (if indeed any such man has yet existed) who has not only exemplified and enlarged, but first produced this rich fertility of expression, than the doughty warrior who has stormed a few paltry castles of the Ligurians, which have furnished us, you know, with many repeated triumphs. In reality, if we can submit to hear the truth, it may be asserted (to say nothing of those god-like plans, which, supported by the wisdom of our Generals, has frequently saved the sinking State both abroad and at home) that an Orator is justly entitled to the preference to any Commander in a petty war. But the General, you will say, is the more serviceable man to the public. Nobody denies it: and yet (for I am not afraid of provoking your censure, in a conversation which leaves each of us at liberty to say what he thinks) I had rather be the author of the single Oration of Crassus, in defence of Curius, than be honoured with two Ligurian triumphs. You will, perhaps, reply, that the storming a castle of the Ligurians was a thing of more consequence to the State, than that the claim of Curius should be ably supported. This I own to be true. But it was also of more consequence to the Athenians, that their houses should be securely roofed, than to have their city graced with a most beautiful statue of Minerva: and yet, notwithstanding this, I would much rather have been a Phidias, than the most skilful joiner in Athens. In the present case, therefore, we are not to consider a man's usefulness, but the strength of his abilities; especially as the number of painters and statuaries, who have excelled in their profession, is very small; whereas, there can never be any want of joiners and mechanic labourers. But proceed, my Atticus, with Caesar; and oblige us with the remainder of his character."—"We see then," said he, "from what has just been mentioned, that a pure and correct style is the groundwork, and the very basis and foundation, upon which an Orator must build his other accomplishments: though, it is true, that those who had hitherto possessed it, derived it more from early habit, than from any principles of art. It is needless to refer you to the instances of Laelius and Scipio; for a purity of language, as well as of manners, was the characteristic of the age they lived in. It could not, indeed, be applied to every one; for their two cotemporaries, Caecilius and Pacuvius, spoke very incorrectly: but yet people in general, who had not resided out of the city, nor been corrupted by any domestic barbarisms, spoke the Roman language with purity. Time, however, as well at Rome as in Greece, soon altered matters for the worse: for this city, (as had formerly been the case at Athens) was resorted to by a crowd of adventurers from different parts, who spoke very corruptly; which shews the necessity of reforming our language, and reducing it to a certain standard, which shall not be liable to vary like the capricious laws of custom. Though we were then very young, we can easily remember T. Flaminius, who was joint-consul with Q. Metellus: he was supposed to speak his native language with correctness, but was a man of no Literature. As to Catulus, he was far indeed from being destitute of learning, as you have already observed: but his reputed purity of diction was chiefly owing to the sweetness of his voice, and the delicacy of his accent. Cotta, who, by his broad pronunciation, threw off all resemblance of the elegant tone of the Greeks, and affected a harsh and rustic utterance, quite opposite to that of Catulus, acquired the same reputation of correctness by pursuing a wild and unfrequented path. But Sisenna, who had the ambition to think of reforming our phraseology, could not be lashed out of his whimsical and new-fangled turns of expression, by all the raillery of C. Rufius."—"What do you refer to?" said Brutus; "and who was the Caius Rufius you are speaking of?"—"He was a noted prosecutor," replied he, "some years ago. When this man had supported an indictment against one Christilius, Sisenna, who was counsel for the defendant, told him, that several parts of his accusation were absolutely spitatical. [Footnote: In the original sputatilica, worthy to be spit upon. It appears, from the connection, to have been a very unclassical word, whimsically derived by the author of it from sputa, spittle.] My Lords, cried Rufius to the judges, I shall be cruelly over-reached, unless you give me your assistance. His charge overpowers my comprehension; and I am afraid he has some unfair design upon me. What, in the name of Heaven, can be intend by SPITATICAL? I know the meaning of SPIT, or SPITTLE; but this horrid ATICAL, at the end of it, absolutely puzzles me. The whole Bench laughed very heartily at the singular oddity of the expression: my old friend, however, was still of opinion, that to speak correctly, was to speak differently from other people. But Caesar, who was guided by the principles of art, has corrected the imperfections of a vicious custom, by adopting the rules and improvements of a good one, as he found them occasionally displayed in the course of polite conversation. Accordingly, to the purest elegance of expression, (which is equally necessary to every well-bred Citizen, as to an Orator) he has added all the various ornaments of Elocution; so that he seems to exhibit the finest painting in the most advantageous point of view. As he has such extraordinary merit even in the common run of his language, I must confess that there is no person I know of, to whom he should yield the preference. Besides, his manner of speaking, both as to his voice and gesture, is splendid and noble, without the least appearance of artifice or affectation: and there is a dignity in his very presence, which bespeaks a great and elevated mind."—"Indeed," said Brutus, "his Orations please me highly; for I have had the satisfaction to read several of them. He has likewise wrote some commentaries, or short memoirs, of his own transactions;"—"and such," said I, "as merit the highest approbation: for they are plain, correct, and graceful, and divested of all the ornaments of language, so as to appear (if I may be allowed the expression) in a kind of undress. But while he pretended only to furnish the loose materials, for such as might be inclined to compose a regular history, he may, perhaps, have gratified the vanity of a few literary Frisseurs: but he has certainly prevented all sensible men from attempting any improvement on his plan. For in history, nothing is more pleasing than a correct and elegant brevity of expression. With your leave, however, it is high time to return to those Orators who have quitted the stage of life. C. Sicinius then, who was a grandson of the Censor Q. Pompey, by one of his daughters, died after his advancement to the Quaestorship. He was a Speaker of some merit and reputation, which he derived from the system of Hermagoras; who, though he furnished but little assistance for acquiring an ornamental style, gave many useful precepts to expedite and improve the invention of an Orator. For in this System we have a collection of fixed and determinate rules for public speaking; which are delivered indeed without any shew or parade, (and, I might have added, in a trivial and homely form) but yet are so plain and methodical, that it is almost impossible to mistake the road. By keeping close to these, and always digesting his subject before he ventured to speak upon it, (to which we may add, that he had a tolerable fluency of expression) he so far succeeded, without any other assistance, as to be ranked among the pleaders of the day.—As to C. Visellius Varro, who was my cousin, and a cotemporary of Sicinius, he was a man of great learning. He died while he was a member of the Court of Inquests, into which he had been admitted after the expiration of his Aedileship. The public, I confess, had not the same opinion of his abilities that I have; for he never passed as a man of Sterling Eloquence among the people. His style was excessively quick and rapid, and consequently obscure; for, in fact, it was embarrassed and blinded by the celerity of its course: and yet, after all, you will scarcely find a man who had a better choice of words, or a richer vein of sentiment. He had besides a complete fund of polite literature, and a thorough knowledge of the principles of jurisprudence, which he learned from his father Aculeo. To proceed in our account of the dead, the next that presents himself is L. Torquatus, whom you will not so readily pronounce a connoisseur in the Art of Speaking (though he was by no means destitute of elocution) as, what is called by the Greeks, a political Adept. He had a plentiful stock of learning, not indeed of the common sort, but of a more abstruse and curious nature: he had likewise an admirable memory, and a very sensible and elegant turn of expression; all which qualities derived an additional grace from the dignity of his deportment, and the integrity of his manners. I was also highly pleased with the style of his cotemporary Triarius, which expressed to perfection, the character of a worthy old gentleman, who had been thoroughly polished by the refinements of Literature.—What a venerable severity was there in his look! What forcible solemnity in his language! and how thoughtful and deliberate every word he spoke!"—At the mention of Torquatus and Triarius, for each of whom he had the most affectionate veneration,—"It fills my heart with anguish," said Brutus, "(to omit a thousand other circumstances) when I reflect, as I cannot help doing, on your mentioning the names of these worthy men, that your long-respected authority was insufficient to procure an accommodation of our differences. The Republic would not otherwise have been deprived of these, and many other excellent Citizens."—"Not a word more," said I, on this melancholy subject, which can only aggravate our sorrow: for as the remembrance of what is already past is painful enough, the prospect of what is yet to come is still more cutting. Let us, therefore, drop our unavailing complaints, and (agreeably to our plan) confine our attention to the forensic merits of our deceased friends. Among those, then, who lost their lives in this unhappy war, was M. Bibulus, who, though not a professed orator, was a very accurate writer, and a solid and experienced advocate: and Appius Claudius, your father-in-law, and my colleague and intimate acquaintance, who was not only a hard student, and a man of learning, but a practised Orator, a skilful Augurist and Civilian, and a thorough Adept in the Roman History.—As to L. Domitius, he was totally unacquainted with any rules of art; but he spoke his native language with purity, and had a great freedom of address. We had likewise the two Lentuli, men of consular dignity; one of whom, (I mean Publius) the avenger of my wrongs, and the author of my restoration, derived all his powers and accomplishments from the assistance of Art, and not from the bounty of Nature: but he had such a great and noble disposition, that he claimed all the honours of the most illustrious Citizens, and supported them with the utmost dignity of character.—The other (L. Lentulus) was an animated Speaker, for it would be saying too much, perhaps, to call him an Orator— but, unhappily, he had an utter aversion to the trouble of thinking. His voice was sonorous; and his language, though not absolutely harsh and forbidding, was warm and rigorous, and carried in it a kind of terror. In a judicial trial, you would probably have wished for a more agreeable and a keener advocate: but in a debate on matters of government, you would have thought his abilities sufficient.—Even Titus Postumius had such powers of utterance, as were not to be despised: but in political matters, he spoke with the same unbridled ardour he fought with: in short, he was much too warm; though it must be owned he possessed an extensive knowledge of the laws and constitution of his country."—"Upon my word," cried Atticus, "if the persons you have mentioned were still living, I should be apt to imagine, that you was endeavouring to solicit their favour. For you introduce every body who had the courage to stand up and speak his mind: so that I almost begin to wonder how M. Servilius has escaped your notice."—"I am, indeed, very sensible," replied I, "that there have been many who never spoke in public, that were much better qualified for the talk, than those Orators I have taken the pains to enumerate: [Footnote: This was probably intended as an indirect Compliment to Atticus.] but I have, at least, answered one purpose by it, which is to shew you, that in this populous City, we have not had very many who had the resolution to speak at all; and that even among these, there have been few who were entitled to our applause. I cannot, therefore, neglect to take some notice of those worthy knights, and my intimate friends, very lately deceased, P. Comminius Spoletinus, against whom I pleaded in defence of C. Cornelius, and who was a methodical, a spirited, and a ready Speaker; and T. Accius, of Pisaurum, to whom I replied in behalf of A. Cluentius, and who was an accurate, and a tolerably copious Advocate: he was also well instructed in the precepts of Hermagoras, which, though of little service to embellish and enrich our Elocution, furnish a variety of arguments, which, like the weapons of the light infantry, may be readily managed, and are adapted to every subject of debate. I must add, that I never knew a man of greater industry and application. As to C. Piso, my son-in-law, it is scarcely possible to mention any one who was blessed with a finer capacity. He was constantly employed either in public speaking, and private declamatory exercises, or, at least, in writing and thinking: and, consequently, he made such a rapid progress, that he rather seemed to fly than to run. He had an elegant choice of expression, and the structure of his periods was perfectly neat and harmonious; he had an astonishing variety and strength of argument, and a lively and agreeable turn of sentiment: and his gesture was naturally so graceful, that it appeared to have been formed (which it really was not) by the nicest rules of art. I am rather fearful, indeed, that I should be thought to have been prompted by my affection for him to have given him a greater character than he deserved: but this is so far from being the case, that I might justly have ascribed to him many qualities of a different and more valuable nature: for in continence, social piety, and every other kind of virtue, there was scarcely any of his cotemporaries who was worthy to be compared with him.—M. Caelius too must not pass unnoticed, notwithstanding the unhappy change, either of his fortune or disposition, which marked the latter part of his life. As long as he was directed by my influence, he behaved himself so well as a Tribune of the people, that no man supported the interests of the Senate, and of all the good and virtuous, in opposition to the factious and unruly madness of a set of abandoned citizens, with more firmness than he did: a part in which he was enabled to exert himself to great advantage, by the force and dignity of his language, and his lively humour, and genteel address. He spoke several harangues in a very sensible style, and three spirited invectives, which originated from our political disputes: and his defensive speeches, though not equal to the former, were yet tolerably good, and had a degree of merit which was far from being contemptible. After he had been advanced to the Aedileship, by the hearty approbation of all the better sort of citizens, as he had lost my company (for I was then abroad in Cilicia) he likewise lost himself; and entirely sunk his credit, by imitating the conduct of those very men, whom he had before so successfully opposed.—But M. Calidius has a more particular claim to our notice for the singularity of his character; which cannot so properly be said to have entitled him to a place among our other Orators, as to distinguish him from the whole fraternity; for in him we beheld the most uncommon, and the most delicate sentiments, arrayed in the softest and finest language imaginable. Nothing could be so easy as the turn and compass of his periods; nothing so ductile; nothing more pliable and obsequious to his will, so that he had a greater command of it than any Orator whatever. In short, the flow of his language was so pure and limpid, that nothing could be clearer; and so free, that it was never clogged or obstructed. Every word was exactly in the place where it should be, and disposed (as Lucilius expresses it) with as much nicety as in a curious piece of Mosaic-work. We may add, that he had not a single expression which was either harsh, unnatural, abject, or far-fetched; and yet he was so far from confining himself to the plain and ordinary mode of speaking, that he abounded greatly in the metaphor,—but such metaphors as did not appear to usurp a post that belonged to another, but only to occupy their own. These delicacies were displayed not in a loose and disfluent style; but in such a one as was strictly numerous, without either appearing to be so, or running on with a dull uniformity of sound. He was likewise master of the various ornaments of language and sentiment which the Greeks call figures, whereby he enlivened and embellished his style as with so many forensic decorations. We may add that he readily discovered, upon all occasions, what was the real point of debate, and where the stress of the argument lay; and that his method of ranging his ideas was extremely artful, his action genteel, and his whole manner very engaging and very sensible. In short, if to speak agreeably is the chief merit of an Orator, you will find no one who was better qualified than Calidius. But as we have observed a little before, that it is the business of an Orator to instruct, to please, and to move the passions; he was, indeed, perfectly master of the two first; for no one could better elucidate his subject, or charm the attention of his audience. But as to the third qualification,—the moving and alarming the passions,—which is of much greater efficacy than the two former, he was wholly destitute of it. He had no force,—no exertion;—either by his own choice, and from an opinion that those who had a loftier turn of expression, and a more warm and spirited action, were little betther than madmen; or because it was contrary to his natural temper, and habitual practice; or, lastly, because it was beyond the strength of his abilities. If, indeed, it is a useless quality, his want of it was a real excellence: but if otherwise, it was certainly a defect. I particularly remember, that when he prosecuted Q. Gallius for an attempt to poison him, and pretended that he had the plainest proofs of it, and could produce many letters, witnesses, informations, and other evidences to put the truth of his charge beyond a doubt, interspersing many sensible and ingenious remarks on the nature of the crime;—I remember, I say, that when it came to my turn to reply to him, after urging every argument which the case itself suggested, I insisted upon it as a material circumstance in favour of my client, that the prosecutor, while he charged him with a design against his life, and assured us that he had the most indubitable proofs of it then in his hands, related his story with as much ease, and as much calmness, and indifference, as if nothing had happened."—"Would it have been possible," said I, (addressing myself to Calidius) "that you should speak with this air of unconcern, unless the charge was purely an invention of your own? and, above all, that you, whose Eloquence has often vindicated the wrongs of other people with so much spirit, should speak so coolly of a crime which threatened your life? Where was that expression of resentment which is so natural to the injured? Where that ardour, that eagerness, which extorts the most pathetic language even from men of the dullest capacities? There was no visible disorder in your mind, no emotion in your looks and gesture, no smiting of the thigh or the forehead, nor even a single stamp of the foot. You was, therefore, so far from interesting our passions in your favour, that we could scarcely keep our eyes open, while you was relating the dangers you had so narrowly escaped. Thus we employed the natural defect, or if you please, the sensible calmness of an excellent Orator, as an argument to invalidate his charge."—"But is it possible to doubt," cried Brutus, "whether this was a sensible quality, or a defect? For as the greatest merit of an Orator is to be able to inflame the passions, and give them such a biass as shall best answer his purpose; he who is destitute of this must certainly be deficient in the most capital part of his profession."—"I am of the same opinion," said I; "but let us now proceed to him (Hortensius) who is the only remaining Orator worth noticing; after which, as you may seem to insist upon it, I shall say something of myself. I must first, however, do justice to the memory of two promising youths, who, if they had lived to a riper age, would have acquired the highest reputation for their Eloquence."—"You mean, I suppose," said Brutus, "C. Curio, and C. Licinius Calvus."—"The very same," replied I. "One of them, besides his plausible manner, had such an easy and voluble flow of expression, and such an inexhaustible variety, and sometimes accuracy of sentiment, that he was one of the most ready and ornamental speakers of his time. Though he had received but little instruction from the professed masters of the art, Nature had furnished him with an admirable capacity of the practice of it. I never, indeed, discovered in him any great degree of application; but he was certainly very ambitious to distinguish himself; and if he had continued to listen to my advice, as he had begun to do, he would have preferred the acquisition of real honour to that of untimely grandeur."— "What do you mean," said Brutus? "Or in what manner are these two objects to be distinguished?"—"I distinguish them thus," replied I: "As honour is the reward of virtue, conferred upon a man by the choice and affection of his fellow-citizens, he who obtains it by their free votes and suffrages is to be considered, in my opinion, as an honourable member of the community. But he who acquires his power and authority by taking advantage of every unhappy incident, and without the consent of his fellow-citizens, as Curio aimed to do, acquires only the name of honour, without the substance. Whereas, if he had hearkened to me, he would have risen to the highest dignity, in an honourable manner, and with the hearty approbation of all men, by a gradual advancement to public offices, as his father and many other eminent citizens had done before. I often gave the same advice to P. Crassus, the son of Marcus, who courted my friendship in the early part of his life; and recommended it to him very warmly, to consider that as the truest path to honour which had been already marked out to him by the example of his ancestors. For he had been extremely well educated, and was perfectly versed in every branch of polite literature: he had likewise a penetrating genius, and an elegant variety of expression; and appeared grave and sententious without arrogance, and modest and diffident without dejection. But like many other young men he was carried away by the tide of ambition; and after serving a short time with reputation as a volunteer, nothing could satisfy him but to try his fortune as a General,—an employment which was confined by the wisdom of our ancestors to men who had arrived at a certain age, and who, even then, were obliged to submit their pretensions to the uncertain issue of a public decision. Thus, by exposing himself to a fatal catastrophe, while he was endeavouring to rival the fame of Cyrus and Alexander, who lived to finish their desperate career, he lost all resemblance of L. Crassus, and his other worthy Progenitors.
"But let us return to Calvus whom we have just mentioned,—an Orator who had received more literary improvements than Curio, and had a more accurate and delicate manner of speaking, which he conducted with great taste and elegance; but, (by being too minute and nice a critic upon himself,) while he was labouring to correct and refine his language, he suffered all the force and spirit of it to evaporate. In short, it was so exquisitely polished, as to charm the eye of every skilful observer; but it was little noticed by the common people in a crowded Forum, which is the proper theatre of Eloquence."—"His aim," said Brutus, "was to be admired as an Attic Orator: and to this we must attribute that accurate exility of style, which he constantly affected."—"This, indeed, was his professed character," replied I: "but he was deceived himself, and led others into the same mistake. It is true, whoever supposes that to speak in the Attic taste, is to avoid every awkward, every harsh, every vicious expression, has, in this sense, an undoubted right to refuse his approbation to every thing which is not strictly Attic. For he must naturally detest whatever is insipid, disgusting, or invernacular; while he considers a correctness and propriety of language as the religion, and good-manners of an Orator:—and every one who pretends to speak in public should adopt the same opinion. But if he bestows the name of Atticism on a half-starved, a dry, and a niggardly turn of expression, provided it is neat, correct, and genteel, I cannot say, indeed, that he bestows it improperly; as the Attic Orators, however, had many qualities of a more important nature, I would advise him to be careful that he does not overlook their different kinds and degrees of merit, and their great extent and variety of character. The Attic Speakers, he will tell me, are the models upon which he wishes to form his Eloquence. But which of them does he mean to fix upon? for they are not all of the same cast. Who, for instance, could be more unlike each other than Demosthenes and Lysias? or than Demosthenes and Hyperides? Or who more different from either of them, than Aeschines? Which of them, then, do you propose to imitate? If only one, this will be a tacit implication, that none of the rest were true masters of Atticism: if all, how can you possibly succeed, when their characters are so opposite? Let me further ask you, whether Demetrius Phalereus spoke in the Attic style? In my opinion, his Orations have the very smell of Athens. But he is certainly more florid than either Hyperides or Lysias; partly from the natural turn of his genius, and partly by choice. There were likewise two others, at the time we are speaking of, whose characters were equally dissimilar; and yet both of them were truly Attic. The first (Charisius) was the author of a number of speeches, which he composed for his friends, professedly in imitation of Lysias:—and the other (Demochares, the nephew of Demosthenes) wrote several Orations, and a regular History of what was transacted in Athens under his own observation; not so much, indeed, in the style of an Historian, as of an Orator. Hegesias took the former for his model, and had so vain a conceit of his own taste for Atticism, that he considered his predecessors, who were really masters of it, as mere rustics in comparison of himself. But what can be more insipid, more frivolous, or more puerile, than that very concinnity of expression which he actually acquired?"—"But still we wish to resemble the Attic Speakers."—"Do so, by all means. But were not those, then, true Attic Speakers, we have just been mentioning?"—"Nobody denies it; and these are the men we imitate."—"But how? when they are so very different, not only from each other, but from all the rest of their contemporaries?"—"True; but Thucydides is our leading pattern."—"This too I can allow, if you design to compose histories, instead of pleading causes. For Thucydides was both an exact, and a stately historian: but he never intended to write models for conducting a judicial process. I will even go so far as to add, that I have often commended the speeches which he has inserted into his history in great numbers; though I must frankly own, that I neither could imitate them, if I would, nor indeed would, if I could; like a man who would neither choose his wine so new as to have been turned off in the preceding vintage, nor so excessively old as to date its age from the consulship of Opimius or Anicius."—"The latter, you'll say, bears the highest price." "Very probable; but when it has too much age, it has lost that delicious flavour which pleases the palate, and, in my opinion, is scarcely tolerable."—"Would you choose, then, when you have a mind to regale yourself, to apply to a fresh, unripened cask?" "By no means; but still there is a certain age, when good wine arrives at its utmost perfection. In the same manner, I would recommend neither a raw, unmellowed style, which, (if I may so express myself) has been newly drawn off from the vat; nor the rough, and antiquated language of the grave and manly Thucydides. For even he, if he had lived a few years later, would have acquired a much softer and mellower turn of expression."—"Let us, then, imitate Demosthenes."—"Good Gods! to what else do I direct all my endeavours, and my wishes! But it is, perhaps, my misfortune not to succeed. These Atticisers, however, acquire with ease the paltry character they aim at; not once recollecting that it is not only recorded in history, but must have been the natural consequence of his superior fame, that when Demosthenes was to speak in public, all Greece flocked in crowds to hear him. But when our Attic gentry venture to speak, they are presently deserted not only by the little throng around them who have no interest in the dispute, (which alone is a mortifying proof of their insignificance) but even by their associates and fellow-advocates. If to speak, therefore, in a dry and lifeless manner, is the true criterion of Atticism, they are heartily welcome to enjoy the credit of it: but if they wish to put their abilities to the trial, let them attend the Comitia, or a judicial process of real importance. The open Forum demands a fuller, and more elevated tone: and he is the Orator for me, who is so universally admired that when he is to plead an interesting cause, all the benches are filled beforehand, the tribunal crowded, the clerks and notaries busy in adjusting their seats, the populace thronging about the rostra, and the judge brisk, and vigilant;—he, who has such a commanding air, that when he rises up to speak, the whole audience is hushed into a profound silence, which is soon interrupted by their repeated plaudits, and acclamations, or by those successive bursts of laughter, or violent transports of passion, which he knows how to excite at his pleasure; so that even a distant observer, though unacquainted with the subject he is speaking upon, can easily discover that his hearers are pleased with him, and that a Roscius is performing his part on the stage. Whoever has the happiness to be thus followed and applauded is, beyond dispute, an Attic speaker: for such was Pericles,—such was Hyperides, and Aeschines,—and such, in the most eminent degree, was the great Demosthenes! If indeed, these connoisseurs, who have so much dislike to every thing bold and ornamental, only mean to say that an accurate, a judicious, and a neat, and compact, but unembellished style, is really an Attic one, they are not mistaken. For in an art of such wonderful extent and variety as that of speaking, even this subtile and confined character may claim a place: so that the conclusion will be, that it is very possible to speak in the Attic taste, without deserving the name of an Orator; but that all in general who are truly eloquent, are likewise Attic Speakers.—It is time, however, to return to Hortensius."—" Indeed, I think so," cried Brutus: "though I must acknowledge that this long digression of yours has entertained me very agreeably."
"But I made some remarks," said Atticus, "which I had several times a mind to mention; only I was loath to interrupt you. As your discourse, however, seems to be drawing towards an end, I think I may venture to out with them."—"By all means," replied I.—"I readily grant, then," said he, "that there is something very humourous and elegant in that continued Irony, which Socrates employs to so much advantage in the dialogues of Plato, Xenophon, and Aeschines. For when a dispute commences on the nature of wisdom, he professes, with a great deal of humour and ingenuity, to have no pretensions to it himself; while, with a kind of concealed raillery, he ascribes the highest degree of it to those who had the arrogance to lay an open claim to it. Thus, in Plato, he extols Protagoras, Hippias, Prodicus, Gorgias, and several others, to the skies: but represents himself as a mere ignorant. This in him was peculiarly becoming; nor can I agree with Epicurus, who thinks it censurable. But in a professed History, (for such, in fact, is the account you have been giving us of the Roman Orators) I shall leave you to judge, whether an application of the Irony is not equally reprehensible, as it would be in giving a judicial evidence."—"Pray, what are you driving at," said I,— "for I cannot comprehend you."—"I mean," replied he, "in the first place, that the commendations which you have bestowed upon some of our Orators, have a tendency to mislead the opinion of those who are unacquainted with their true characters. There were likewise several parts of your account, at which I could scarcely forbear laughing: as, for instance, when you compared old Cato to Lysias. He was, indeed, a great, and a very extraordinary man. Nobody, I believe, will say to the contrary. But shall we call him an Orator? Shall we pronounce him the rival of Lysias, who was the most finished character of the kind? If we mean to jest, this comparison of your's would form a pretty Irony: but if we are talking in real earnest, we should pay the same scrupulous regard to truth, as if we were giving evidence upon oath. As a Citizen, a Senator, a General, and, in short, a man who was distinguished by his prudence, his activity, and every other virtue, your favourite Cato has my highest approbation. I can likewise applaud his speeches, considering the time he lived in. They exhibit the out-lines of a great genius; but such, however, as are evidently rude and imperfect. In the same manner, when you represented his Antiquities as replete with all the graces of Oratory, and compared Cato with Philistus and Thucydides, did you really imagine, that you could persuade me and Brutus to believe you? or would you seriously degrade those, whom none of the Greeks themselves have been able to equal, into a comparison with a stiff country, gentleman, who scarcely suspected that there was any such thing in being, as a copious and ornamental style? You have likewise said much in commendation of Galba;—if as the best Speaker of his age, I can so far agree with you, for such was the character he bore:—but if you meant to recommend him as an Orator, produce his Orations (for they are still extant) and then tell me honestly, whether you would wish your friend Brutus here to speak as he? Lepidus too was the author of several Speeches, which have received your approbation; in which I can partly join with you, if you consider them only as specimens of our ancient Eloquence. The same might be said of Africanus and Laelius, than whose language (you tell us) nothing in the world can be sweeter: nay, you have mentioned it with a kind of veneration, and endeavoured to dazzle our judgment by the great character they bore, and the uncommon elegance of their manners. Divest it of these adventitious Graces, and this sweet language of theirs will appear so homely, as to be scarcely worth noticing. Carbo too was mentioned as one of our capital Orators; and for this only reason,—that in speaking, as in all other professions, whatever is the best of its kind, for the time being, how deficient soever in reality, is always admired and applauded. What I have said of Carbo, is equally true of the Gracchi: though, in some particulars, the character you have given them was no more than they deserved. But to say nothing of the rest of your Orators, let us proceed to Antonius and Crassus, your two paragons of Eloquence, whom I have heard myself, and who were certainly very able Speakers. To the extraordinary commendation you have bestowed upon them, I can readily give my assent; but not, however, in such an unlimited manner as to persuade myself that you have received as much improvement from the Speech in support of the Servilian Law, as Lysippus said he had done by studying the famous [Footnote: Doryphorus. A Spear- man.] statue of Polycletus. What you have said on this occasion I consider as an absolute Irony: but I shall not inform you why I think so, lest you should imagine I design to flatter you. I shall therefore pass over the many fine encomiums you have bestowed upon these; and what you have said of Cotta and Sulpicius, and but very lately of your pupil Caelius. I acknowledge, however, that we may call them Orators: but as to the nature and extent of their merit, let your own judgment decide. It is scarcely worth observing, that you have had the additional good-nature to crowd so many daubers into your list, that there are some, I believe, who will be ready to wish they had died long ago, that you might have had an opportunity to insert their names among the rest."—"You have opened a wide field of enquiry," said I, "and started a subject which deserves a separate discussion; but we must defer it to a more convenient time. For, to settle it, a great variety of authors must be examined, and especially Cato: which could not fail to convince you, that nothing was wanting to complete his pieces, but those rich and glowing colours which had not then been invented. As to the above Oration of Crassus, he himself, perhaps, could have written better, if he had been willing to take the trouble; but nobody else, I believe, could have mended it. You have no reason, therefore, to think I spoke ironically, when I mentioned it as the guide and tutoress of my Eloquence: for though you seem to have a higher opinion of my capacity, in its present state, you must remember that, in our youth, we could find nothing better to imitate among the Romans. And as to my admitting so many into my list of Orators, I only did it (as I have already observed) to shew how few have succeeded in a profession, in which all were desirous to excel. I therefore insist upon it that you do not consider me in the present case, as an Ironist; though we are informed by C. Fannius, in his History, that Africanus was a very excellent one."—"As you please about that," cried Atticus: "though, by the bye, I did not imagine it would have been any disgrace to you, to be what Africanus and Socrates have been before you."—"We may settle this another time," interrupted Brutus: "but will you be so obliging," said he, (addressing himself to me) "as to give us a critical analysis of some of the old speeches you have mentioned?"—"Very willingly," replied I; "but it must be at Cuma, or Tusculum, when opportunity offers: for we are near neighbours, you know, in both places. At present, let us return to Hortensius, from whom we have digressed a second time."
"Hortensius, then, who began to speak in public when he was very young, was soon employed even in causes of the greatest moment: and though he first appeared in the time of Cotta and Sulpicius, (who were only ten years older) and when Crassus and Antonius, and afterwards Philip and Julius, were in the height of their reputation, he was thought worthy to be compared with either of them in point of Eloquence. He had such an excellent memory as I never knew in any person; so that what he had composed in private, he was able to repeat, without notes, in the very same words he had made use of at first. He employed this natural advantage with so much readiness, that he not only recollected whatever he had written or premeditated himself, but remembered every thing that had been said by his opponents, without the help of a prompter. He was likewise inflamed with such a passionate fondness for the profession, that I never saw any one, who took more pains to improve himself; for he would not suffer a day to elapse, without either speaking in the Forum, or composing something at home; and very often he did both in the same day. He had, besides, a turn of expression which was very far from being low and unelevated; and possessed two other accomplishments, in which no one could equal him,—an uncommon clearness and accuracy in stating the points he was to speak to; and a neat and easy manner of collecting the substance of what had been said by his antagonist, and by himself. He had likewise an elegant choice of words, an agreeable flow in his periods, and a copious Elocution, which he was partly indebted for to a fine natural capacity, and partly acquired by the most laborious rhetorical exercises. In short, he had a most retentive view of his subject, and always divided and parcelled it out with the greatest exactness; and he very seldom overlooked any thing which the case could suggest, that was proper either to support his own allegations, or to refute those of his opponent. Lastly, he had a sweet and sonorous voice; and his gesture had rather more art in it, and was more exactly managed, than is requisite to an Orator.
"While he was in the height of his glory, Crassus died, Cotta was banished, our public trials were intermitted by the Marsic war, and I myself made my first appearance in the Forum. Hortensius joined the army, and served the first campaign as a volunteer, and the second as a military Tribune: Sulpicius was made a lieutenant general; and Antonius was absent on a similar account. The only trial we had, was that upon the Varian Law; the rest, as I have just observed, having been intermitted by the war. We had scarcely any body left at the bar but L. Memmius, and Q. Pompeius, who spoke mostly on their own affairs; and, though far from being Orators of the first distinction, were yet tolerable ones, (if we may credit Philippus, who was himself a man of some Eloquence) and in supporting an evidence, displayed all the poignancy of a prosecutor, with a moderate freedom of Elocution. The rest, who were esteemed our capital Speakers, were then in the magistracy, and I had the benefit of hearing their harangues almost every day. C. Curio was chosen a Tribune of the people; though he left off speaking after being once deserted by his whole audience. To him I may add Q. Metellus Celer, who, though certainly no Orator, was far from being destitute of utterance: but Q. Varius, C. Carbo, and Cn. Pomponius, were men of real Elocution, and might almost be said to have lived upon the Rostra. C. Julius too, who was then a Curule Aedile, was daily employed in making Speeches to the people, which were composed with great neatness and accuracy. But while I attended the Forum with this eager curiosity, my first disappointment was the banishment of Cotta: after which I continued to hear the rest with the same assiduity as before; and though I daily spent the remainder of my time in reading, writing, and private declamation, I cannot say that I much relished my confinement to these preparatory exercises. The next year Q. Varius was condemned, and banished, by his own law: and I, that I might acquire a competent knowledge of the principles of jurisprudence, then attached myself to Q. Scaevola, the son of Publius, who, though he did not choose to undertake the charge of a pupil, yet by freely giving his advice to those who consulted him, he answered every purpose of instruction to such as took the trouble to apply to him. In the succeeding year, in which Sylla and Pompey were Consuls, as Sulpicius, who was elected a Tribune of the people, had occasion to speak in public almost every day, I had an opportunity to acquaint myself thoroughly with his manner of speaking. At this time Philo, a philosopher of the first name in the Academy, with many of the principal Athenians, having deserted their native home, and fled to Rome, from the fury of Mithridates, I immediately became his scholar, and was exceedingly taken with his philosophy; and, besides the, pleasure I received from the great variety and sublimity of his matter, I was still more inclined to confine, my attention to that study; because there was reason to apprehend that our laws and judicial proceedings would be wholly overturned by the continuance of the public disorders. In the same year Sulpicius lost his life; and Q. Catulus, M. Antonius, and C. Julius, three Orators, who were partly cotemporary with each other, were most inhumanly put to death. Then also I attended the lectures of Molo the Rhodian, who was newly come to Rome, and was both an excellent Pleader, and an able Teacher of the Art. I have mentioned these particulars, which, perhaps, may appear foreign to our purpose, that you, my Brutus, (for Atticus is already acquainted with them) may be able to mark my progress, and observe how closely I trod upon the heels of Hortensius.
"The three following years the city was free from the tumult of arms; but either by the death, the voluntary retirement, or the flight of our ablest Orators (for even M. Crassus, and the two Lentuli, who were then in the bloom of youth, had all left us) Hortensius, of course, was the first Speaker in the Forum. Antistius too was daily rising into reputation,— Piso pleaded pretty often,—Pomponius not so frequently,—Carbo very seldom,—and Philippus only once or twice. In the mean while I pursued my studies of every kind, day and night, with unremitting application. I lodged and boarded at my own house [where he lately died] Diodotus the Stoic; whom I employed as my preceptor in various other parts of learning, but particularly in Logic, which may be considered as a close and contracted species of Eloquence; and without which, you yourself have declared it impossible to acquire that full and perfect Eloquence, which they suppose to be an open and dilated kind of Logic. Yet with all my attention to Diodotus, and the various arts he was master of, I never suffered even a single day to escape me, without some exercise of the oratorial kind. I constantly declaimed in private with M. Piso, Q. Pompeius, or some other of my acquaintance; pretty often in Latin, but much oftener in Greek; because the Greek furnishes a greater variety of ornaments, and an opportunity of imitating and introducing them into the Latin; and because the Greek masters, who were far the best, could not correct and improve us, unless we declaimed in that language. This time was distinguished by a violent struggle to restore the liberty of the Republic:—the barbarous slaughter of the three Orators, Scaevola, Carbo, and Antistius;—the return of Cotta, Curio, Crassus, Pompey, and the Lentuli;—the re-establishment of the laws and courts of judicature;—and the intire restoration of the Commonwealth: but we lost Pomponius, Censorinus, and Murena, from the roll of Orators.
"I now began, for the first time, to undertake the management of causes, both private and public; not, as most did, with a view to learn my profession, but to make a trial of the abilities which I had taken so much pains to acquire. I had then a second opportunity of attending the instructions of Molo; who came to Rome, while Sylla was Dictator, to sollicit the payment of what was due to his countrymen, for their services in the Mithridatic war. My defence of Sext. Roscius, which was the first cause I pleaded, met with such a favourable reception, that, from that moment, I was looked upon as an advocate of the first class, and equal to the greatest and most important causes: and after this I pleaded many others, which I pre-composed with all the care and accuracy I was master of.
"But as you seem desirous not so much to be acquainted with any incidental marks of my character, or the first sallies of my youth, as to know me thoroughly, I shall mention some particulars, which otherwise might have seemed unnecessary. At this time my body was exceedingly weak and emaciated; my neck long, and slender; a shape and habit, which I thought to be liable to great risk of life, if engaged in any violent fatigue, or labour of the lungs. And it gave the greater alarm to those who had a regard for me, that I used to speak without any remission or variation, with the utmost stretch of my voice, and a total agitation of my body. When my friends, therefore, and physicians, advised me to meddle no more with forensic causes, I resolved to run any hazard, rather than quit the hopes of glory, which I had proposed to myself from pleading: but when I considered, that by managing my voice, and changing my way of speaking, I might both avoid all future danger of that kind, and speak with greater ease, I took a resolution of travelling into Asia, merely for an opportunity to correct my manner of speaking. So that after I had been two years at the Bar, and acquired some reputation in the Forum, I left Rome. When I came to Athens, I spent six months with Antiochus, the principal and most judicious Philosopher of the old Academy; and under this able master, I renewed those philosophical studies which I had laboriously cultivated and improved from my earliest youth. At the same time, however, I continued my rhetorical Exercises under Demetrius the Syrian, an experienced and reputable master of the Art of Speaking.
"After leaving Athens, I traversed every part of Asia, where I was voluntarily attended by the principal Orators of the country with whom I renewed my rhetorical Exercises. The chief of them was Menippus of Stratonica, the most eloquent of all the Asiatics: and if to be neither tedious nor impertinent is the characteristic of an Attic Orator, he may be justly ranked in that class. Dionysius also of Magnesia, Aeschilus of Cnidos, and Xenocles of Adramyttus, who were esteemed the first Rhetoricians of Asia, were continually with me. Not contented with these, I went to Rhodes, and applied myself again to Molo, whom I had heard before at Rome; and who was both an experienced pleader, and a fine writer, and particularly judicious in remarking the faults of his scholars, as well as in his method of teaching and improving them. His principal trouble with me, was to restrain the luxuriancy of a juvenile imagination, always ready to overflow its banks, within its due and proper channel. Thus, after an excursion of two years, I returned to Italy, not only much improved, but almost changed into a new man. The vehemence of my voice and action was considerably abated; the excessive ardour of my language was corrected; my lungs were strengthened; and my whole constitution confirmed and settled.
"Two Orators then reigned in the Forum; (I mean Cotta and Hortensius) whose glory fired my emulation. Cotta's way of speaking was calm and easy, and distinguished by the flowing elegance and propriety of his language. The other was splendid, warm, and animated; not such as you, my Brutus, have seen him when he had shed the blossom of his eloquence, but far more lively and pathetic both in his style and action. As Hortensius, therefore, was nearer to me in age, and his manner more agreeable to the natural ardour of my temper, I considered him as the proper object of my competition. For I observed that when they were both engaged in the same cause, (as for instance, when they defended M. Canuleius, and Cn. Dolabella, a man of consular dignity) though Cotta was generally employed to open the defence, the most important parts of it were left to the management of Hortensius. For a crowded audience, and a clamorous Forum, require an Orator who is lively, animated, full of action, and able to exert his voice to the highest pitch. The first year, therefore, after my return from Asia, I undertook several capital causes; and in the interim I put up as a candidate for the Quaestorship, Cotta for the Consulate, and Hortensius for the Aedileship. After I was chosen Quaestor, I passed a year in Sicily, the province assigned to me by lot: Cotta went as Consul into Gaul: and Hortensius, whose new office required his presence at Rome, was left of course the undisputed sovereign of the Forum. In the succeeding year, when I returned from Sicily, my oratorial talents, such as they were, displayed themselves in their full perfection and maturity.
"I have been saying too much, perhaps, concerning myself: but my design in it was not to make a parade of my eloquence and ability, which I have no temptation to do, but only to specify the pains and labour which I have taken to improve it. After spending the five succeeding years in pleading a variety of causes, and with the ablest Advocates of the time, I was declared an Aedile, and undertook the patronage of the Sicilians against Hortensius, who was then one of the Consuls elect. But as the subject of our conversation not only requires an historical detail of Orators, but such preceptive remarks as may be necessary to elucidate their characters; it will not be improper to make some observations of this kind upon that of Hortensius. After his appointment to the consulship (very probably, because he saw none of consular dignity who were able to rival him, and despised the competition of others of inferior rank) he began to remit that intense application which he had hitherto persevered in from his childhood; and having settled himself in very affluent circumstances, he chose to live for the future what he thought an easy life, but which, in truth, was rather an indolent one. In the three succeeding years, the beauty of his colouring was so much impaired, as to be very perceptible to a skilful connoisseur, though not to a common observer. After that, he grew every day more unlike himself than before, not only in other parts of Eloquence, but by a gradual decay of the former celerity and elegant texture of his language. I, at the same time, spared no pains to improve and enlarge my talents, such as they were, by every exercise that was proper for the purpose, but particularly by that of writing. Not to mention several other advantages I derived from it, I shall only observe, that about this time, and but a very few years after my Aedileship, I was declared the first Praetor, by the unanimous suffrages of my fellow- citizens. For, by my diligence and assiduity as a Pleader, and my accurate way of speaking, which was rather superior to the ordinary style of the Bar, the novelty of my Eloquence had engaged the attention, and secured the good wishes of the public. But I will say nothing of myself: I will confine my discourse to our other Speakers, among whom there is not one who has gained more than a common acquaintance with those parts of literature, which feed the springs of Eloquence:—not one who has been thoroughly nurtured at the breast of Philosophy, which is the mother of every excellence either in deed or speech:—not one who has acquired an accurate knowledge of the Civil Law, which is so necessary for the management even of private causes, and to direct the judgment of an Orator:—not one who is a complete master of the Roman History, which would enable us, on many occasions, to appeal to the venerable evidence of the dead:—not one who can entangle his opponent in such a neat and humourous manner, as to relax the severity of the Judges into a smile or an open laugh:—not one who knows how to dilate and expand his subject, by reducing it from the limited considerations of time, and person, to some general and indefinite topic;—not one who knows how to enliven it by an agreeable digression: not one who can rouse the indignation of the Judge, or extort from him the tear of compassion;—or who can influence and bend his soul (which is confessedly the capital perfection of an Orator) in such a manner as shall best suit his purpose.
"When Hortensius, therefore, the once eloquent and admired Hortensius, had almost vanished from the Forum, my appointment to the Consulship, which happened about six years after his own promotion to that office, revived his dying emulation; for he was unwilling that after I had equalled him in rank and dignity, I should become his superior in any other respect. But in the twelve succeeding years, by a mutual deference to each other's abilities, we united our efforts at the Bar in the most amicable manner: and my Consulship, which at first had given a short alarm to his jealousy, afterward cemented our friendship, by the generous candor with which he applauded my conduct. But our emulous efforts were exerted in the most conspicuous manner, just before the commencement of that unhappy period, when Eloquence herself was confounded and terrified by the din of arms into a sudden and a total silence: for after Pompey had proposed and carried a law, which allowed even the party accused but three hours to make his defence, I appeared, (though comparatively as a mere noviciate by this new regulation) in a number of causes which, in fact, were become perfectly the same, or very nearly so; most of which, my Brutus, you was present to hear, as having been my partner and fellow-advocate in many of them, though you pleaded several by yourself; and Hortensius, though he died a short time afterwards, bore his share in these limited efforts. He began to plead about ten years before the time of your birth; and in his sixty-fourth year, but a very few days before his death, he was engaged with you in the defence of Appius, your father-in-law. As to our respective talents, the Orations we have published will enable posterity to form a proper judgment of them. But if we mean to inquire, why Hortensius was more admired for his Eloquence in the younger part of his life, than in his latter years, we shall find it owing to the following causes. The first was, that an Asiatic style is more allowable in a young man than in an old one. Of this there are two different kinds.
"The former is sententious and sprightly, and abounds in those turns of sentiment which are not so much distinguished by their weight and solidity as by their neatness and elegance; of this cast was Timaeus the Historian, and the two Orators so much talked of in our younger days, Hierocles the Alabandean, and his brother Menecles, but particularly the latter; both whose Orations may be reckoned master-pieces of the kind. The other sort is not so remarkable for the plenty and richness of its sentiments, as for its rapid volubility of expression, which at present is the ruling taste in Asia; but, besides it's uncommon fluency, it is recommended by a choice of words which are peculiarly delicate and ornamental:—of this kind were Aeschylus the Cnidian, and my cotemporary Aeschines the Milesian; for they had an admirable command of language, with very little elegance of sentiment. These showy kinds of eloquence are agreeable enough in young people; but they are entirely destitute of that gravity and composure which befits a riper age. As Hortensius therefore excelled in both, he was heard with applause in the earlier part of his life. For he had all that fertility and graceful variety of sentiment which distinguished the character of Menecles: but, as in Menecles, so in him, there were many turns of sentiment which were more delicate and entertaining than really useful, or indeed sometimes convenient. His language also was brilliant and rapid, and yet perfectly neat and accurate; but by no means agreeable to men of riper years. I have often seen it received by Philippus with the utmost derision, and, upon some occasions, with a contemptuous indignation: but the younger part of the audience admired it, and the populace were highly pleased with it. In his youth, therefore, he met the warmest approbation of the public, and maintained his post with ease as the first Orator in the Forum. For the style he chose to speak in, though it has little weight, or authority, appeared very suitable to his age: and as it discovered in him the most visible marks of genius and application, and was recommended by the numerous cadence of his periods, he was heard with universal applause. But when the honours he afterwards rose to, and the dignity of his years required something more serious and composed, he still continued to appear in the same character, though it no longer became him: and as he had, for some considerable time, intermitted those exercises, and relaxed that laborious attention which had once distinguished him, though his former neatness of expression, and luxuriancy of sentiment still remained, they were stripped of those brilliant ornaments they had been used to wear. For this reason, perhaps, my Brutus, he appeared less pleasing to you than he would have done, if you had been old enough to hear him, when he was fired with emulation and flourished in the full bloom of his Eloquence.
"I am perfectly sensible," said Brutus, "of the justice of your remarks; and yet I have always looked upon Hortensius as a great Orator, but especially when he pleaded for Messala, in the time of your absence."—"I have often heard of it," replied I, "and his Oration, which was afterwards published, they say, in the very same words in which he delivered it, is no way inferior to the character you give it. Upon the whole, then, his reputation flourished from the time of Crassus and Scaevola (reckoning from the Consulship of the former) to the Consulship of Paullus and Marcellus: and I held out in the same career of glory from the Dictatorship of Sylla, to the period I have last, mentioned. Thus the Eloquence of Hortensius was extinguished by his own death, and mine by that of the Commonwealth."—"Ominate more favourably, I beg of you," cried Brutus.—"As favourably as you please," said I, "and that not so much upon my own account, as your's. But his death was truly fortunate, who did not live to behold the miseries, which he had long foreseen. For we often lamented, between ourselves, the misfortunes which hung over the State, when we discovered the seeds of a civil war in the insatiable ambition of a few private Citizens, and saw every hope of an accommodation excluded by the rashness and precipitancy of our public counsels. But the felicity which always marked his life, seems to have exempted him, by a seasonable death, from the calamities that followed. But, as after the decease of Hortensius, we seem to have been left, my Brutus, as the sole guardians of an orphan Eloquence, let us cherish her, within our own walls at least, with a generous fidelity: let us discourage the addresses of her worthless, and impertinent suitors; let us preserve her pure and unblemished in all her virgin charms, and secure her, to the utmost of our ability, from the lawless violence of every armed ruffian. I must own, however, though I am heartily grieved that I entered so late upon the road of life, as to be overtaken by a gloomy night of public distress, before I had finished my journey; that I am not a little relieved by the tender consolation which you administered to me in your very agreeable letters;— in which you tell me I ought to recollect my courage, since my past transactions are such as will speak for me when I am silent, and survive my death,—and such as, if the Gods permit, will bear an ample testimony to the prudence and integrity of my public counsels, by the final restoration of the Republic:—or, if otherwise, by burying me in the ruins of my country. But when I look upon you, my Brutus, it fills me with anguish to reflect that, in the vigour of your youth, and when you was making the most rapid progress in the road to fame, your career was suddenly stopped by the fatal overthrow of the Commonwealth. This unhappy circumstance has stung me to the heart; and not me only; but my worthy friend here, who has the same affection for you, and the same esteem for your merit which I have. We have the warmest wishes for your happiness, and heartily pray that you may reap the rewards of your excellent virtues, and live to find a Republic in which you will be able, not only to revive, but even to add to the fame of your illustrious ancestors. For the Forum was your birth-right, your native theatre of action; and you was the only person that entered it, who had not only formed his Elocution by a rigorous course of private practice, but enriched his Oratory with the furniture of philosophical Science, and thus united the highest virtue to the most consummate Eloquence. Your situation, therefore, wounds us with the double anxiety, that you are deprived of the Republic, and the Republic of you. But still continue, my Brutus, (notwithstanding the career of your genius has been checked by the rude shock of our public distresses) continue to pursue your favourite studies, and endeavour (what you have almost, or rather intirely effected already) to distinguish yourself from the promiscuous crowd of Pleaders with which I have loaded the little history I have been giving you. For it would ill befit you, (richly furnished as you are with those liberal Arts, which, unable to acquire at home, you imported from that celebrated city which has always been revered as the seat of learning) to pass after all as an ordinary Pleader. For to what purposes have you studied under Pammenes, the most eloquent man in Greece; or what advantage have you derived from the discipline of the old Academy, and it's hereditary master Aristus (my guest, and very intimate acquaintance) if you still rank yourself in the common class of Orators? Have we not seen that a whole age could scarcely furnish two Speakers who really excelled in their profession? Among a crowd of cotemporaries, Galba, for instance, was the only Orator of distinction: for old Cato (we are informed) was obliged to yield to his superior merit, as were likewise his two juniors Lepidus, and Carbo. But, in a public Harangue, the style of his successors the Gracchi was far more easy and lively: and yet, even in their time, the Roman Eloquence had not reached its perfection. Afterwards came Antonius, and Crassus; and then Cotta, Sulpicius, Hortensius, and—but I say no more: I can only add, that if I had been so fortunate, &c, &c,"—[Caetera defunt.]
THE ORATOR, BY MARCUS TULLIUS CICERO; ADDRESSED TO MARCUS BRUTUS; And now first translated from the Original Latin.
"Song charms the Sense, but Eloquence the Soul." MILTON.
Which, my Brutus, would be the most difficult talk,—to decline answering a request which you have so often repeated, or to gratify it to your satisfaction,—I have long been at a loss to determine. I should be extremely sorry to deny any thing to a friend for whom I have the warmest esteem, and who, I am sensible, has an equal affection for me;— especially, as he has only desired me to undertake a subject which may justly claim my attention. But to delineate a character, which it would be very difficult, I will not say to acquire, but even to comprehend in its full extent, I thought was too bold an undertaking for him who reveres the censure of the wife and learned. For considering the great diversity of manner among the ablest Speakers, how exceedingly difficult must it be to determine which is best, and give a finished model of Eloquence? This, however, in compliance with your repeated solicitations, I shall now attempt;—not so much from any hopes of succeeding, as from a strong inclination to make the trial. For I had rather, by yielding to your wishes, give you room to complain of my insufficiency; than, by a peremptory denial, tempt you to question my friendship.
You desire to know, then, (and you have often repeated your request) what kind of Eloquence I most approve, and can look upon to be so highly finished, as to require no farther improvement. But should I be able to answer your expectations, and display, in his full perfection, the Orator you enquire after; I am afraid I shall retard the industry of many, who, enfeebled by despair, will no longer attempt what they think themselves incapable of attaining. It is but reasonable, however, that all those who covet what is excellent, and which cannot be acquired without the greatest application, should exert their utmost. But if any one is deficient in capacity, and destitute of that admirable force of genius which Nature bestows upon her favourites, or has been denied the advantages of a liberal education, let him make the progress he is able. For while we are driving to overtake the foremost, it is no disgrace to be found among the second class, or even the third. Thus, for instance, among the poets, we respect the merit not only of a Homer (that I may confine myself to the Greeks) or of Archilochus, Sophocles, or Pindar, but of many others who occupied the second, or even a lower place. In Philosophy also the diffusive majesty of Plato has not deterred Aristotle from entering the list; nor has Aristotle himself, with all his wonderful knowledge and fertility of thought, disheartened the endeavours of others. Nay, men of an elevated genius have not only disdained to be intimidated from the pursuit of literary fame;—but the very artists and mechanics have never relinquished their profession, because they were unable to equal the beauty of that Iasylus which we have seen at Rhodes, or of the celebrated Venus in the island of Coos:—nor has the noble image of Olympian Jove, or the famous statue of the Man at Arms, deterred others from making trial of their abilities, and exerting their skill to the utmost. Accordingly, such a large number of them has appeared, and each has performed so well in his own way, that we cannot help being pleased with their productions, notwithstanding our admiration at the nobler efforts of the great masters of the chissel.
But among the Orators, I mean those of Greece, it is astonishing how much one of them has surpassed the rest:—and yet, though there was a Demosthenes, there were even then many other Orators of considerable merit;—and such there were before he made his appearance, nor have they been wanting since. There is, therefore, no reason why those who have devoted themselves to the study of Eloquence, should suffer their hopes to languish, or their industry to flag. For, in the first place, even that which is most excellent is not to be despaired of;—and, in all worthy attempts, that which is next to what is best is great and noble.
But in sketching out the character of a compleat Orator, it is possible I may exhibit such a one as hath never yet existed. For I am not to point out the Speaker, but to delineate the Eloquence than which nothing can be more perfect of the kind:—an Eloquence which hath blazed forth through a whole Harangue but seldom, and, it may be, never; but only here and there like a transient gleam, though in some Orators more frequently, and in others, perhaps, more sparingly.
My opinion, then, is,—that there is no human production of any kind, so compleatly beautiful, than which there is not a something still more beautiful, from which the other is copied like a portrait from real life, and which can be discerned neither by our eyes nor ears, nor any of our bodily senses, but is visible only to thought and imagination. Though the statues, therefore, of Phidias, and the other images above-mentioned, are all so wonderfully charming, that nothing can be found which is more excellent of the kind; we may still, however, suppose a something which is more exquisite, and more compleat. For it must not be thought that the ingenious artist, when he was sketching out the form of a Jupiter, or a Minerva, borrowed the likeness from any particular object;—but a certain admirable semblance of beauty was present to his mind, which he viewed and dwelt upon, and by which his skill and his hand were guided. As, therefore, in mere bodily shape and figure there is a kind of perfection, to whose ideal appearance every production which falls under the notice of the eye is referred by imitation; so the semblance of what is perfect in Oratory may become visible to the mind, and the ear may labour to catch a likeness. These primary forms of thing are by Plato (the father of science and good language) called Ideas; and he tells us they have neither beginning nor end, but are co-eval with reason and intelligence; while every thing besides has a derived, and a transitory existence, and passes away and decays, so as to cease in a short time to be the thing it was. Whatever, therefore, may be discussed by reason and method, should be constantly reduced to the primary form or semblance of it's respective genus.
I am sensible that this introduction, as being derived not from the principles of Eloquence, but from the deepest recesses of Philosophy, will excite the censure, or at least the wonder of many, who will think it both unfashionable and intricate. For they will either be at a loss to discover it's connection with my subject, (though they will soon be convinced by what follows, that, if it appears to be far-fetched, it is not so without reason;)—or they will blame me, perhaps, for deserting the beaten track, and striking out into a new one. But I am satisfied that I often appear to advance novelties, when I offer sentiments which are, indeed, of a much earlier date, but happen to be generally unknown: and I frankly acknowledge that I came forth an Orator, (if indeed I am one, or whatever else I may be deemed) not from the school of the Rhetoricians, but from the spacious walks of the Academy. For these are the theatres of diversified and extensive arguments which were first impressed with the foot-steps of Plato; and his Dissertations, with those of other Philosophers, will be found of the greatest utility to an Orator, both for his exercise and improvement; because all the fertility, and, as it were, the materials of Eloquence, are to be derived from thence;—but not, however, sufficiently prepared for the business of the Forum, which, as themselves have frequently boasted, they abandoned to the rustic Muses of the vulgar! Thus the Eloquence of the Forum, despised and rejected by the Philosophers, was bereaved of her greatest advantages:—but, nevertheless, being arrayed in all the brilliance of language and sentiment, she made a figure among the populace, nor feared the censure of the judicious few. By this means, the learned became destitute of a popular Eloquence, and the Orators of polite learning.
We may, therefore, consider it as a capital maxim, (the truth of which will be more easily understood in the sequel) that the eloquent Speaker we are enquiring after, cannot be formed without the assistance of Philosophy. I do not mean that this alone is sufficient; but only (for it is sometimes necessary to compare great things to small) that it will contribute to improve him in the same manner as the Palaestra [Footnote: The Palaestra was a place set apart for public exercises, such as wrestling, running, fencing, &c. the frequent performance of which contributed much to a graceful carriage of the body, which is a necessary accomplishment in a good Actor.] does an Actor; because without Philosophy, no man can speak fully and copiously upon a variety of important subjects which come under the notice of an Orator. Accordingly, in the Phaedrus of Plato, it is observed by Socrates that the great Pericles excelled all the Speakers of his time, because he had been a hearer of Anaxagoras the Naturalist, from whom he supposes that he not only borrowed many excellent and sublime ideas, but a certain richness and fertility of language, and (what in Eloquence is of the utmost consequence) the various arts either of soothing or alarming each particular passion. The same might be said of Demosthenes, whose letters will satisfy us, how assiduously he attended the Lectures of Plato. For without the instruction of Philosophy, we can neither discover what is the Genus or the Species to which any thing belongs, nor explain the nature of it by a just definition, or an accurate analysis of its parts;— nor can we distinguish between what is true and false, or foresee the consequences, point out the inconsistencies, and dissolve the ambiguities which may lie in the case before us. But as to Natural Philosophy (the knowledge of which will supply us with the richest treasures of Elocution;)—and as to life, and it's various duties, and the great principles of morality,—what is it possible either to express or understand aright, without a large acquaintance with these? To such various and important accomplishments we must add the innumerable ornaments of language, which, at the time above mentioned, were the only weapons which the Masters of Rhetoric could furnish. This is the reason why that genuine, and perfect Eloquence we are speaking of, has been yet attained by no one; because the Art of Reasoning has been supposed to be one thing, and that of Speaking another; and we have had recourse to different Instructors for the knowledge of things and words.
Antonius, [Footnote: A celebrated Orator, and grandfather to M. Antonius The Triumvir.] therefore, to whom our ancestors adjudged the palm of Eloquence, and who had much natural penetration and sagacity, has observed in the only book he published, "that he had seen many good Speakers, but not a single Orator." The full and perfect semblance of Eloquence had so thoroughly possessed his mind, and was so completely visible there, though no where exemplified in practice, that this consummate Genius, (for such, indeed, he was) observing many defects in both himself and others, could discover no one who merited the name of eloquent. But if he considered neither himself, nor Lucius Crassus, as a genuine Orator, he must have formed in his mind a sublime idea of Eloquence, under which, because there was nothing wanting to compleat it, he could not comprehend those Speakers who were any ways deficient. Let us then, my Brutus, (if we are able) trace out the Orator whom Antonius never saw, and who, it may be, has never yet existed; for though we have not the skill to copy his likeness in real practice, (a talk which, in the opinion of the person above- mentioned, would be almost too arduous for one of the Gods,) we may be able, perhaps, to give some account of what he ought to be.
Good Speaking, then, may be divided into three characters, in each of which there are some who have made an eminent figure: but to be equally excellent in all (which is what we require) has been the happiness of few.
The lofty and majestic Speaker, who distinguishes himself by the energy of his sentiments, and the dignity of his expression, is impetuous,—diversified,—copious,—and weighty,—and abundantly qualified to alarm and sway the passions;—which some effect by a harsh, and a rough, gloomy way of speaking, without any harmony or measure; and others, by a smooth, a regular, and a well-proportioned style.
On the other hand, the simple and easy Speaker is remarkably dexterous and keen, and aiming at nothing but our information, makes every thing he discourses upon, rather clear and open than great and striking, and polishes it with the utmost neatness and accuracy. But some of this kind of Speakers, who are distinguished by their peculiar artificie, are designedly unpolished, and appear rude and unskilful, that they may have the better opportunity of deceiving us:—while others, with the same poverty of style, are far more elegant and agreeable,—that is, they are pleasant and facetious, and sometimes even florid, with here and there an easy ornament.
But there is likewise a middle kind of Oratory, between the two above- mentioned, which neither has the keenness of the latter, nor hurls the thunder of the former; but is a mixture of both, without excelling in either, though at the same time it has something of each, or (perhaps, more properly) is equally destitute of the true merit of both. This species of Eloquence flows along in a uniform course, having nothing to recommend it, but it's peculiar smoothness and equability; though at the same time, it intermingles a number of decorations, like the tufts of flowers in a garland, and embellishes a discourse from beginning to end with the moderate and less striking ornaments of language and sentiment.
Those who have attained to any degree of perfection in either of the above characters, have been distinguished as eminent Orators: but the question is whether any of them have compassed what we are seeking after, and succeeded equally in all. For there have been several who could speak nervously and pompously, and yet, upon occasion, could express themselves with the greates address, and simplicity. I wish I could refer to such an Orator, or at least to one who nearly resembles him, among the Romans; for it would certainly have been more to our credit to be able to refer to proper examples of our own, and not be necessitated to have recourse to the Greeks. But though in another treatis of mine, which bears the name of Brutus, [Footnote: A very excellent Treatise in the form of a Dialogue. It contains a critical and very instructive account of all the noted Orators of Greece and Rome and might be called, with great propriety, the History of Eloquence. Though it is perhaps the most entertaining of all Cicero's performances, the Public have never been obliged before with a translation of it into English; which, I hope, will sufficiently plead my excuse for preforming to undertake it.] I have said much in favour of the Romans, partly to excite their emulation, and, in some measure, from a partial fondness for my country; yet I must always remember to give the preference to Demosthenes, who alone has adapted his genius to that perfect species of Eloquence of which I can readily form an idea, but which I have never yet seen exemplified in practice. Than him, there has never hitherto existed a more nervous, and at the same time, a more subtle Speaker, or one more cool and temperate. I must, therefore, caution those whose ignorant discourse is become so common, and who wish to pass for Attic Speakers, or at least to express themselves in the Attic taste, —I must caution them to take him for their pattern, than whom it is impossible that Athens herself should be more completely Attic: and, as to genuine Atticism, that them learn what it means, and measure the force of Eloquence, not by their own weakness and incapacity, but by his wonderful energy and strength. For, at present, a person bestows his commendation upon just so much as he thinks himself capable of imitating. I therefore flatter myself that it will not be foreign to my purpose, to instruct those who have a laudable emulation, but are not thoroughly settled in their judgment, wherein the merit of an Attic Orator consists.
The taste of the Audience, then, has always governed and directed the Eloquence of the Speaker: for all who wish to be applauded, consult the character, and the inclinations of those who hear them, and carefully form and accommodate themselves to their particular humours and dispositions. Thus in Caria, Phrygia, and Mysia, because the inhabitants have no relish for true elegance and politeness, the Orators have adopted (as most agreeable to the ears of their audience) a luxuriant, and, if I may so express myself, a corpulent style; which their neighbours the Rhodians, who are only parted from them by a narrow straight, have never approved, and much less the Greeks; but the Athenians have entirely banished it; for their taste has always been so just and accurate that they could not listen to any thing but what was perfectly correct and elegant. An Orator, therefore, to compliment their delicacy, was forced to be always upon his guard against a faulty or a distasteful expression.
Accordingly, he, whom we have just mentioned as surpassing the rest, has been careful in his Oration for Ctesiphon, (which is the best he ever composed) to set out very cooly and modestly: when he proceeds to argue the point of law, he grows more poignant and pressing; and as he advances in his defence, he takes still greater liberties; till, at last, having warmed the passions of his Judges, he exults at his pleasure through the reamining part of his discourse. But even in him, thus carefully weighing and poising his every word Aeschines [Footnote: Aeschines was a cotemporary, and a professed rival of Demosthenes. He carried his animosity so far as to commence a litigious suit against him, at a time when the reputation of the latter was at the lowest ebb. But being overpowered by the Eloquence of Demosthenes, he was condemned to perpetual banishment.] could find several expressions to turn into ridicule:—for giving a loose to his raillery, he calls them harsh, and detestable, and too shocking to be endured; and styling the author of them a very monster, he tauntingly asks him whether such expressions could be considered as words or not rather as absolute frights and prodigies. So that to AEschines not even Demosthenes himself was perfectly Attic; for it is an easy matter to catch a glowing expression, (if I may be allowed to call it so) and expose it to ridicule when the fire of attention is extinguished. Demosthenes, therefore, when he endeavours to excuse himself, condescends to jest, and denies that the fortune of Greece was in the least affected by the singularity of a particular expression, or by his moving his hand either this way or that.
With what patience, then, would a Mysian or a Phrygian have been heard at Athens, when even Demosthenes himself was reproached as a nuisance? But should the former have begun his whining sing-song, after the manner of the Asiatics, who would have endured it? or rather, who would not have ordered him to be instantly torn from the Rostrum? Those, therefore, who can accommodate themselves to the nice and critical ears of an Athenian audience, are the only persons who should pretend to Atticism.
But though Atticism may be divided into several kinds, these mimic Athenians suspect but one. They imagine that to discourse plainly, and without any ornament, provided it be done correctly, and clearly, is the only genuine Atticism. In confining it to this alone, they are certainly mistaken; though when they tell us that this is really Attic, they are so far in the right. For if the only true Atticism is what they suppose to be, not even Pericles was an Attic Speaker, though he was universally allowed to bear away the palm of Eloquence; nor, if he had wholly attached himself to this plain and simple kind of language, would he ever have been said by the Poet Aristophanes to thunder and lighten, and throw all Greece into a ferment.
Be it allowed, then, that Lysias, that graceful and most polite of Speakers, was truly Attic: for who can deny it? But let it also be remembered that Lysias claims the merit of Atticism, not so much for his simplicity and want of ornament, as because he has nothing which is either faulty or impertinent. But to speak floridly, nervously, and copiously, this also is true Atticism:—otherwise, neither Aeschines nor even Demosthenes himself were Attic Speakers.
There are others who affect to be called Thucydideans,—a strange and novel race of Triflers! For those who attach themselves to Lysias, have a real Pleader for their pattern;—not indeed a stately, and striking Pleader, but yet a dextrous and very elegant one, who might appear in the Forum with reputation.
Thucydides, on the contrary, is a mere Historian, who ('tis true) describes wars, and battles with great dignity and precision; but he can supply us with nothing which is proper for the Forum. For his very speeches have so many obscure and intricate periods, that they are scarcely intelligible; which in a public discourse is the greatest fault of which an Orator can be guilty. But who, when the use of corn has been discovered, would be so mad as to feed upon acorns? Or could the Athenians improve their diet, and bodily food, and be incapable of cultivating their language? Or, lastly, which of the Greek Orators has copied the style of Thucydides? [Footnote: Demosthenes indeed took the pains to transcribe the History of Thucydides several times. But he did this, no so much to copy the form as the energy of his language.] "True," they reply, "but Thucydides was universally admired." And so, indeed, he was; but only as a sensible, an exact, and a grave Historian;—not for his address in public debates, but for his excellence in describing wars and battles. Accordingly, he was never mentioned as an Orator; nor would his name have been known to posterity, if he had not composed his History, notwithstanding the dignity of his birth, and the honourable share he held in the Government. But none of these Pretenders have copied his energy; and yet when they have uttered a few mutilated and broken periods (which they might easily have done without a master to imitate) we must rever them, truly, as so many genuine Thucydideses. I have likewise met with a few who were professed imitators of Xenophon; whose language, indeed, is sweeter than honey, but totally unqualified to withstand the clamours of the Forum.
Let us return then to the Orator we are seeking after, and furnish him with those powers of Elocution, which Antonius could not discover in any one: an arduous task, my Brutus, and full of difficulty:—yet nothing, I believe, is impossible to him whose breast is fired with the generous flame of friendship! But I affectionately admire (and have always admired) your genius, your inclinations, and your manners. Nay, I am daily more inflamed and ravished, not only with a desire (which, I assure you, is a violent one) to renew our friendly intercourses, our social repasts, and your improving conversation, but by the wonderful fame of your incredible virtues, which, though different in kind, are readily united by your superior wisdom and good-sense. For what is so remote from severity of manners as gentleness and affability? and yet who more venerable than yourself, or who more agreeable? What can be more difficult than to decide a number of suits, so as to be equally esteemed and beloved by the parties on both sides? You, however, possess the admirable talent of sending away perfectly easy and contented even those against whom your are forced to give judgment: thus bringing it to bear that, while you do nothing from a partial favour to any man, whatever you do is favourably received. Hence it happens, that the only country upon earth, which is not involved in the present confusion, is the province of Gaul; where you are now enjoying yourself in a happy tranquillity, while you are universally respected at home, and live in the hearts of the flower and strength of your fellow- citizens. It is equally amazing, though you are always engaged in the most important offices of Government, that your studies are never intermitted; and that you are constantly either composing something of your own, or finding employment for me! Accordingly I began this Essay, at your request, as soon as I had finished my Cato; which last also I should never have attempted (especially at a time when the enemies of virtue were so numerous) if I had not considered it as a crime to disobey my friend, when he only urged me to revive the memory of a man whom I always loved and honoured in his life-time. But I have now ventured upon a task which you have frequently pressed upon me, and I as often refused: for, if possible, I would share the fault between us, that if I should prove unequal to the subject, you may have the blame of loading me with a burden which is beyond my strength, and I the censure of presuming to undertake it:—though after all, the single merit of gratifying such a friend as Brutus, will sufficiently atone for any defects I may fall into.