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find you disposed to honour bravery, you shall obtain from me by kindness what threats could not extort. Know then, that three hundred of us, the principal youths in Rome, have bound ourselves to each other by an oath, to attack you in this manner. My lot happened to be first. The others will be with you, each in his turn, as the lot may place him foremost, until fortune shall furnish an opportunity of succeeding against you.'
Mucius was then dismissed, and was followed to Rome by ambassadors from Porsena. The king had been deeply affected, not only by the action, but by the asseveration, that Rome possessed many such resolute devotees. He had before experienced the existence of a similar spirit. Horatius Cocles, Horace with the Single-eye, had alone stopped the same Porsena from passing the Sublician bridge, till it was broken down behind him. Though wounded, he swam across the river to his friends. He was lame ever after : but he used to say, that every step he took gave him joy of his triumph. The occasion of the peace also converted Porsena's anger into admiration. He spoke of Clæelia's exploit as superior even to those of Cocles and Mucius. He therefore proposed the following alternative. Should the hostage not be given up, he would consider the treaty as broken off ; should she be surrendered, he would send her back to her friends in safety.
There is something very noble in the character of Porsena. His engagement with the Tarquins, and natural predilection in favour of royalty, placed him in the wrong : but he was open to conviction; and the extraordinary accidents which had happened to himself gave him an opportunity
and recommended to the protection of some tutelar deity, before the altars of the gods.
Cicero never misses an opportunity of magnifying his own profession. In his first book De Oratore he observes :—“Est enim sine dubio domus jurisconsulti totius oraculum civitatis." He pays this compliment to Quintus Mucius, whose hall, though he himself was infirm and advanced in years, was the daily resort of the citizens. The description applies indeed to the other Scævola as well as to the Augur. He elsewhere described the latter as opening his doors for admission at day-break, and never having been seen in bed, notwithstanding his age and infirmities, during the whole of the Marsic war.
The practice at the bar must be of great importance in every nation; and the more free that nation, the more important is it. It was highly so in Rome, and withal very peculiar. Cicero was the most illustrious example on record, of a patronising lawyer. His views extended far beyond the litigation of property. The law was not merely the road to political distinction for a very few of the leading men as with us, while the practice of the great body is confined to private causes, and their ambition to gentlemanly maintenance or the accumulation of wealth. Cicero held himself out as the guardian of the lives and liberty, as well as the fortunes and estates of his countrymen. Those who have not looked with historical precision at the predominant influence and dignity of a Roman barrister in the state, will be apt to consider Cicero's notions of the perfection and universal accomplishment necessary to an Orator or Pleader of causes, as overcharged and extravagant; as the rant of professional arrogance.
But when we
consider the importance and endless variety of the subjects they had to treat, the opposite character of the audiences before whom they were to treat them; that their friends among the gentry were to be extricated from factious scrapes, whether as aggressors or as sinned against; that the plebeians were to be supported under oppression; that the Sicilians were to be avenged against a Verres; that the kings of the earth were their clients, and the universe was suspended on their words; that these debates were sometimes to be held before the majestic senate, sometimes before the acute and practised judges, and that at other times the people were to be courted or cajoled, encouraged or alarmed: when we thus take the character of the Roman advocate in all its bearings, we must acknowledge that his art included in it all learning and all science of a liberal kind; that it required the sublime genius of a poet though not his mechanical skill; the gravity and depth of a historian; the research of an antiquary; the natural knowledge in one branch, the metaphysical refinement in another branch of philosophy; the wit and humour of the comic dramatist or the satirist; in short, the cyclopædia of human inventions, and the concentrated results of civilised society in all ages.
Ac, veluti magno in populo cum sæpe coorta est
Prospiciens genitor, cæloque invectus aperto,
Virg. Æn. i. 148.
There is nothing perhaps in the history of the bar more honourable to it, than Cicero's advancement, and the character of the career which invested him with the robe of office, a robe which did more for his country than the sword against it.
Cedant arma togæ, concedat laurea linguæ.
His prudence and wise counsels delivered the laws and liberty, suspended by the public troubles, from the threatened danger. The honourable title of Pater Patriæ, the founder and father of his country, was given to him after the defeat of Catiline's conspiracy. He was the first who bore it, and the only person on whom it was conferred by Rome in its state of independence.
Tantum igitur muros intra toga contulit illi
Juvenal. sat. viii.
The gown of Cicero and the sword of Augustus are here strongly contrasted: the promontory of Epirus called Leucate, where Octavius Cæsar defeated Antony and Cleopatra in a bloody sea-fight; Philippi, the field of Brutus and Cassius's discomfiture, are made to yield in splendour, though the scenes of victory, to the consular triumphs. The title here recorded was afterwards given to Augustus, and to others of the emperors; not for their deserts, but in the spirit of flattery.* Juvenal was a stern republican, and an uncompromising satirist. He hated Augustus, and meant to stigmatise Rome by the epithet libera, for allowing herself to be enslaved by him and his successors, not to compliment her on her temporary relief from the machinations of the conspirators. The uncontrollable indignation of the poet against his country, for giving up again that freedom which Cicero's glorious consul. ship had retrieved, is not softened by the clemency displayed on the emperor's part after he had attained the high object of his ambition. Modern eyes,
looking with the impartiality of distance, see much in his subsequent conduct to atone for the waste of human blood in his earlier life: but we feel no consequences. Juvenals free spirit smarted under the oppressions of his country; and he wrote at a period to know by experience, that though the first tyrant of a dynasty often bears his faculties mildly and paternally, as we express it now-a-days, his successors, safe in their seats, nursed in the lap of luxury, too elevated and independent to stand upon personal character, strip from autocracy every rag of its fallacious plea, that it acts according to the simplicity and benevolence of the patriarchal system, and hovers with half-celestial influence over the peace and prosperity of its children. Juvenal writes under the lash, and he returns it. The following passage is so caustic, that though not immediately referring to Cicero, no apology will be necessary for inserting it :
Antony erected a statue to Cæsar in the rostra, and inscribed it to the most worthy parent of his country.