We have now to deal with the moral essays of this almost inexhaustible contributor to the world’s literature, and we shall then have named perhaps a quarter of all that he wrote. I have seen somewhere a calculation that only a tenth of his works remain to us, dug out, as it were, from the buried ruins of literature by the care of sedulous and eager scholars. I make a more modest estimate of his powers. Judging from what we know to have been lost, and from the absence of any effort to keep the greater portion of his letters, I think that I do not exaggerate his writing. Who can say but that as time goes on some future Petrarch or some future Mai may discover writings hitherto unknown, concealed in convent boxes, or more mysteriously hidden beneath the labors of Middle–Age monks? It was but in 1822 that the De Republica was brought to light — so much of it at least as we still possess; and for more than thirty years afterward Cardinal Mai continued to reproduce, from time to time, collections of Greek and Latin writings hitherto unheard of by classical readers. Let us hope, however, that the zeal of the learned may stop short of that displayed by Simon Du Bos, or we may have whole treatises of Cicero of which he himself was guiltless.1
I can hardly content myself with classifying the De Republica and the De Legibus under the same name with these essays of Cicero, which are undoubtedly moral in their nature. But it may pass, perhaps, without that distinct contradiction which had to be made as to the enveloping the De Officiis in the garb of philosophy. It has been the combining of the true and false in one set, and handing them down to the world as Cicero’s philosophy, which has done the mischief. The works reviewed in the last chapter contained disputations on the Greek philosophy which Cicero thought might be well handled in the Latin language for the benefit of his countrymen. It would be well for them to know what Epicurus taught, or Zeno, and how they differed from Socrates and Plato, and this he told them. Now in these moral essays he gives them his own philosophy — if that may be called philosophy which is intended to teach men how to live well. There are six books on government, called the De Republica, and three on law; and there are the three treatises on old age and friendship, each in one book, and that on the duty of man to man, in three.
There is a common error in the world as to the meaning of the word republic. It has come to have a sweet savor in the nostrils of men, or a most evil scent, according to their politics. But there is, in truth, the Republic of Russia, as there is that of the United States, and that of England. Cicero, in using it as the name of his work, simply means “the government;” and the treatise under that head contains an account of the Roman Empire, and is historical rather than argumentative and scientific. He himself was an oligarch, and had been brought up amid a condition of things in which that most deleterious form of government recommended itself to him as containing all that had been good and magnificent in the Roman Empire. The great men of Rome, whom the empire had demanded for its construction, had come up each for the work of a year; and, when succeeding, had perhaps been elected for a second. By the expulsion of their kings, the class from whom these men had been chosen showed their personal desire for honor, and the marvel is that through so many centuries those oligarchs should have flourished. The reader, unless he be strongly impregnated with democratic feelings, when he begins to read Roman history finds himself wedded to the cause of these oligarchs. They have done the big deeds, and the opposition comes to them from vulgar hands. Let me ask any man who remembers the reading of his Livy whether it was not so with him. But it was in truth the democratic element opposed to these leaders, and the battles they won from time to time within the walls of the city, which produced the safety of Rome and enabled the government to go on. Then by degrees the people became enervated and the leaders became corrupt, and by masterhood over foreign people and external subjects slaves were multiplied, and the work appertaining to every man could be done by another man’s hand. Then the evils of oligarchy began. Plunder, rapine, and luxury took the place of duty performed. A Verres ruled where a Marcellus had conquered. Cicero, who saw the difference plainly enough in regard to the individuals, did not perceive that this evil had grown according to its nature. That state of affairs was produced which Mommsen has described to us as having been without remedy. But Cicero did not see it. He had his eyes on the greatness of the past — and on himself — and would not awake to the fact that the glory was gone from Rome. He was in this state of mind when he wrote his De Republica, nine years before the time in which he commenced his philosophical discussions. Then he still hoped. Cæsar was away in Gaul, and Pompey maintained at Rome the ghost of the old Republic. He could still open his mouth and talk boldly of freedom. He had not been as yet driven to find consolation amid that play of words which constitutes the Greek philosophy.
I must remind the readers again that the De Republica is a fragment: the first part is wanting. We find him telling us the story of the elder Cato, in order that we may understand how good it is that we should not relax in our public work as long as our health will sustain us. Then he gives instances to show that the truly good citizen will not be deterred by the example of men who have suffered for their country, and among the number he names himself. But he soon introduces the form of dialogue which he afterward continues, and brings especially the younger Scipio and Lælius upon the scene. The lessons which are given to us are supposed to come from the virtue of the titular grandson of the greater Scipio who out-manoeuvred Hannibal. He continues to tell story after story out of the Roman chronicles, and at last assures us that that form of government is the best in which the monarchical element is tempered by the authority of the leading citizens, and kept alive by the voices of the people. Is it only because I am an Englishman that he seems to me to describe that form of government which was to come in England?
The second book also begins with the praises of Cato. Scipio then commences with Romulus, and tells the history of Rome’s kings. Tarquin is banished, and the Consulate established. He tells us, by no means with approbation, how the Tribunate was established, and then, alas! there comes a break in the MS.
In the third we have, as a beginning, a fragment handed down to us by Augustine, in which Cicero complains of the injustice of Nature in having sent man into the world, as might a step-mother, naked, weak, infirm, with soul anxious, timid, and without force, but still having within it something of divine fire not wholly destroyed. Then, after a while, through many “lacunæ,” Scipio, Lælius, and one Philus fall into a discourse as to justice. There is a remarkable passage, from which we learn that the Romans practised protection with a rigor exceeding that of modern nations. They would not even permit their transalpine allies to plant their olives and vineyards, lest their produce should make their way across Italy — whereby they raised the prices against themselves terribly of oil and wine.2 “There is a kind of slavery which is unjust,” says one, “when those men have to serve others who might ‘properly belong to themselves.’ But when they only are made to be slaves who —” We may perceive that the speaker went on to say that they who were born slaves might properly be kept in that position. But it is evidently intended to be understood that there exists a class who are slaves by right. Carneades, the later master of the new Academy, has now joined them, and teaches a doctrine which would not make him popular in this country. “If you should know,” he says, “that an adder lay hid just where one were about to sit down whose death would be a benefit to you, you would do wrong unless you were to tell him of it. But you would do it with impunity, as no one could prove that you knew it.” From this may be seen the nature of the discourses on justice.
The next two books are but broken fragments, treating of morals and manners. In the sixth we come to that dream of Scipio which has become so famous in the world of literature that I do not know whether I can do better than translate it, and add it on as an appendix to the end of my volume. It is in itself so beautiful in parts that I think that all readers will thank me. (See appendix to this chapter). At the same time it has to be admitted that it is in parts fantastic, and might almost be called childish, were it not that we remember, when reading it, at what distance of time it was written, and with what difficulty Cicero strove to master subjects which science has made familiar to us. The music of the spheres must have been heard in his imagination before he could have told us of it, as he has done in language which seems to be poetic now as it was then — and because poetic, therefore not absurd. The length of the year’s period is an extravagance. You may call your space of time by what name you will; it is long or short in proportion to man’s life. He tells us that we may not hope that our fame shall be heard of on the other side of the Ganges, or that our voices shall come down through many years. I myself read this dream of Scipio in a volume found in Australia, and read it two thousand years after it was written. He could judge of this world’s future only by the past. But when he tells us of the soul’s immortality, and of the heaven to be won by a life of virtue, of the duty upon us to remain here where God has placed us, and of the insufficiency of fame to fill the cravings of the human heart, then we have to own that we have come very near to that divine teaching which he was not permitted to hear.
Two years afterward, about the time that Milo was killing Clodius, he wrote his treatise in three books, De Legibus. It is, we are told, a copy from Plato. As is the Topica a copy from Aristotle, written on board ship from memory, so may this be called a copy. The idea was given to him, and many of the thoughts which he has worked up in his own manner. It is a dialogue between him and Atticus and his brother Quintus, and treats rather of the nature and origin of law, and how law should be made to prevail, than of laws as they had been as yet constructed for the governance of man. All that is said in the first book may be found scattered through his philosophic treatises. There are some pretty morsels, as when Atticus tells us that he will for the nonce allow Cicero’s arguments to pass, because the music of the birds and the waters will prevent his fellow-Epicureans from hearing and being led away by mistaken doctrine.3 Now and again he enunciates a great doctrine, as when he declares that “there is nothing better than that men should understand that they are born to be just, and that justice is not a matter of opinion, but is inherent in nature.”4 He constantly opposes the idea of pleasure, recurring to the doctrine of his Greek philosophy. It was not by them, however, that he had learned to feel that a man’s final duty here on earth is his duty to other men.
In the second book he inculcates the observance of religious ceremonies in direct opposition to that which he afterward tells us in his treatise De Divinatione. But in this, De Legibus, we may presume that he intends to give instructions for the guidance of the public, whereas in the other he is communicating to a few chosen friends those esoteric doctrines which it would be dangerous to give to the world at large. There is a charming passage, in which we are told not to devote the rich things of the earth to the gods. Gold and silver will create impure desire. Ivory, taken from the body of an animal, is a gift not simple enough for a god. Metals, such as iron, are for war rather than for worship. An image, if it is to be used, let it be made of one bit of wood, or one block of stone. If cloth is given, let it not be more than a woman can make in a month. Let there be no bright colors. White is best for the gods; and so on.5 Here we have the wisdom of Plato, or of those from whom Plato had borrowed it, teaching us a lesson against which subsequent ages have rebelled. It is not only that a god cannot want our gold and silver, but that a man does want them. That rule as to the woman’s morsel of cloth was given in some old assembly, lest her husband or her brother should lose the advantage of her labor. It was seen what superstition would do in collecting the wealth of the world round the shrines of the gods. How many a man has since learned to regret the lost labor of his household; and yet what god has been the better? There may be a question of æsthetics, indeed, with which Cicero does not meddle.
In the third book he descends to practical and at the same time political questions. There had been no matter contested so vehemently among Romans as that of the establishment and maintenance of the Tribunate. Cicero defends its utility, giving, with considerable wit, the task of attacking it to his brother Quintus. Quintus, indeed, is very violent in his onslaught. What can be more “pestiferous,” or more prone to sedition? Then Cicero puts him down. “O Quintus,” he says, “you see clearly the vices of the Tribunate! but can there be anything more unjust than, in discussing a matter, to remember all its evils and to forget all its merits? You might say the same of the Consuls; for the very possession of power is an evil in itself. But without that evil you cannot have the good which the institution contains. The power of the Tribunes is too great, you say. Who denies it? But the violence of the people, always cruel and immodest, is less so under their own leader than if no leader had been given them. The leader will measure his danger; but the people itself know no such measurement.”6 He afterward takes up the question of the ballot, and is against it on principle. “Let the people vote as they will,” he says, “but let their votes be known to their betters.”7 It is, alas, useless now to discuss the matter here in England! We have been so impetuous in our wish to avoid the evil of bribery — which was quickly going — that we have rushed into that of dissimulation, which can only be made to go by revolutionary changes. When men vote by tens of thousands the ballot will be safe, but no man will then care for the ballot. It is, however, strange to see how familiar men were under the Roman Empire with matters which are perplexing us today.
We now come to the three purely moral essays, the last written of his works, except the Philippics and certain of his letters, and the Topica. Indeed, when you reach the last year or two of his life, it becomes difficult to assign their exact places to each. He mentions one as written, and then another; but at last this latter appears before the former. They were all composed in the same year, the year before his death — the most active year of his life, as far as his written works are concerned — and I shall here treat De Senectute first, then De Amicitia, and the De Officiis last, believing them to have been published in that order.
The De Senectute is an essay written in defence of old age, generally called Cato Major. It is supposed to have been spoken by the old Censor, 149 B.C., and to have been listened to by Scipio and Lælius. This was the same Scipio who had the dream — who, in truth, was not a Scipio at all, but a son of Paulus Æmilius, whom we remember in history as the younger Africanus. Cato rushes at once into his subject, and proves to us his point by insisting on all those commonplace arguments which were probably as well known before his time as they have been since. All men wish for old age, but none rejoice when it has come. The answer is that no man really wishes for old age, but simply wishes for a long life, of which old age is the necessary ending. It creeps on us so quickly! But in truth it does not creep quicker on youth than does youth on infancy; but the years seem to fly fast because not marked by distinct changes. It is the part of a wise man to see that each portion of his five-act poem shall be well performed. Cato goes on with his lesson, and tells us perhaps all that could be said on behalf of old age at that period of the world’s history. It was written by an old man to an old man; for it is addressed to Atticus, who was now sixty-seven, and of course deals much in commonplaces. But it is full of noble thoughts, and is pleasant, and told in the easiest language; and it leaves upon the reader a sweet savor of the dignity of age. Let the old man feel that it is not for him to attempt the pranks of youth, and he will already have saved himself from much of the evil which Time can do to him. I am ready for you, and you cannot hurt me. “Let not the old man assume the strength of the young, as a young man does not that of the bull or the elephant. * * * But still there is something to be regretted by an orator, for to talk well requires not only intellect but all the powers of the body. The melodious voice, however, remains, which — and you see my years — I have not yet lost. The voice of an old man should always be tranquil and contained.”8 He tells a story of Massinissa, who was then supposed to be ninety. He was stiff in his joints, and therefore when he went a journey had himself put upon a horse, and never left it, or started on foot and never mounted.9 “We must resist old age, my Lælius. We must compensate our shortness by our diligence, my Scipio. As we fight against disease, so let us contend with old age.10 * * * Why age should be avaricious I could never tell. Can there be anything more absurd than to demand so great a preparation for so small a journey?”11 He tells them that he knew their fathers, and that “he believes they are still alive — that, though they have gone from this earth, they are still leading that life which can only be considered worthy of the name.”12
The De Amicitia is called Lælius. It is put into the mouth of Lælius, and is supposed to be a discourse on friendship held by him in the presence of his two sons-in-law, Caius Fannius and Mucius Scævola, a few days after the death of Scipio his friend. Not Damon and Pythias were more renowned for their friendship than Scipio and Lælius. He discusses what is friendship, and why it is contracted; among whom friendship should exist; what should be its laws and duties; and, lastly, by what means it should be preserved.
Cicero begins by telling the story of his own youth; how he had been placed under the charge of Scævola the augur, and how, having changed his toga, he never left the old man’s side till he died; and he recalls how once, sitting with him in a circle with friends, Scævola fell into that mode of conversation which was usual with him, and told him how once Lælius had discoursed to them on friendship. It is from first to last fresh and green and cooling, as is the freshness of the early summer grass to men who live in cities. The reader feels, as he goes on with it, that he who had such thoughts and aspirations could never have been altogether unhappy. Coming at the end of his life, in the telling the stories of which we have had to depend so much on his letters to Atticus, it reminds me of the love that existed between them. He has sometimes been querulous with his Atticus. He has complained of bad advice, of deficient care, of halting friendship — in reading which accusations we have, all of us, declared him to be wrong. But Atticus understood him. He knew that the privileges and the burden must go together, and told himself how much more than sufficient were the privileges to compensate the burden. When we make our histories on the bases of such loving letters, we should surely open them with careful hands, and deal with them in sympathy with their spirit. In writing this treatise De Amicitia especially for the eyes of Atticus, how constantly the heart must have gone back to all that had passed between them — how confident he must have been of the truth of his friend! He who, after nearly half a century of friendship, could thus write to his friend on friendship cannot have been an unhappy man.
“Should a new friendship spring up,” he tells us, “let it not be repressed. You shall still gather fruit from young trees; but do not let it take the place of the old. Age and custom will have given the old fruit a flavor of its own. Who is there that would ride a new horse in preference to one tried — one who knows your hand?”13
I regard the De Officiis as one of the most perfect treatises on morals which the world possesses, whether for the truth of the lessons given, for their universality, or for the beauty and lightness of the language. It is on a subject generally heavy, but is treated with so much art and grace as to make it a delight to have read it, and an important part of education to know it. It is addressed to his son, and is as good now as when it was written. There is not a precept taught in it which is not modern as well as ancient, and which is not fit alike for Christians and Pagans. A system of morality, we might have said, should be one which would suit all men alike. We are bound to acknowledge that this will suit only gentlemen, because he who shall live in accordance with it must be worthy of that name. The “honestum” means much more in Latin than it does in English. Neither “honor” nor “honesty” will give the rendering — not that honor or that honesty which we know. Modern honor flies so high that it leaves honesty sometimes too nearly out of sight; while honesty, though a sterling virtue, ignores those sentiments on which honor is based. “Honestum” includes it all; and Cicero has raised his lessons to such a standard as to comprise it all. But he so teaches that listeners delight to hear. He never preaches. He does not fulminate his doctrine at you, bidding you beware of backslidings and of punishments; but he leads you with him along the grassy path, till you seem to have found out for yourself what is good — you and he together, and together to have learned that which is manly, graceful, honest, and decorous.
In Cicero’s essays is to be found always a perfect withdrawal of himself from the circumstances of the world around him; so that the reader shall be made to suppose that, in the evening of his life, having reached at last, by means of work done for the State, a time of blessed rest, he gives forth the wisdom of his age, surrounded by all that a tranquil world can bestow upon him. Look back through the treatises written during the last two years, and each shall appear to have been prepared in some quiet and undisturbed period of his life; but we know that the last polish given by his own hands to these three books De Officiis was added amid the heat and turmoils of the Philippics. It is so singular, this power of adapting his mind to whatever pursuit he will, that we are taught almost to think that there must have been two Ciceros, and that the one was eager in personal conflict with Antony, while the other was seated in the garden of some Italian villa meditating words by obeying which all men might be ennobled.
In the dialectical disputations of the Greek philosophers he had picked up a mode of dividing his subject into numbers which is hardly fitted for a discourse so free and open as is this. We are therefore somewhat offended when we are told that virtue is generally divided “into three headings.”14 If it be so, and if it be necessary that we should know it, it should, I think, be conveyed to us without this attempt at logical completeness. It is impossible to call this a fault. Accuracy must, indeed, be in all writers a virtue. But feeling myself to be occasionally wounded by this numbering, I mention it. In the De Officiis he divides the entire matter into three parts, and to each part he devotes a book. In the first he considers whether a thing is fit to be done or left undone — that is, whether it be “honestum” or “turpe;” in the second, whether it be expedient, that is “utile,” or the reverse; and in the third he compares the “honestum” and the “utile,” and tells us what to choose and what to avoid.
The duty due by a citizen to his country takes with him a place somewhat higher than we accord to it. “Parents are dear, children are dear to us, so are relations and friends; but our country embraces it all, for what good man would not die so that he might serve it? How detestable, then, is the barbarity of those who wound their country at every turn, and have been and are occupied in its destruction.”15 He gives us some excellent advice as to our games, which might be read with advantage, perhaps, by those who row in our university races. But at the end of it he tells us that the hunting-field affords an honest and fitting recreation.16 I have said that he was modern in his views — but not altogether modern. He defends the suicide of Cato. “To them,” he says, speaking of Cato’s companions in Africa, “it might not have been forgiven. Their life was softer and their manners easier. But to Cato nature had given an invincible gravity of manners which he had strengthened with all the severity of his will. He had always remained steadfast in the purpose that he would never stand face to face with the tyrant of his country.”17 There was something terribly grand in Cato’s character, which loses nothing in coming to us from the lips of Cicero. So much Cicero allows to the stern nature of the man’s character. Let us look back and we shall find that we make the same allowance. This is not, in truth, a lesson which he gives us, but an apology which he makes.
Read his advice given in the following line for the outward demeanor of a gentleman: “There are two kinds of beauty. The one is loveliness, which is a woman’s gift. But dignity belongs to the man. Let all ornament be removed from the person not worthy of a man to wear — and all fault in gesture and in motion which is like to it. The manners of the wrestling-ground and of the stage are sometimes odious; but let us see the actor or the wrestler walking simple and upright, and we praise him. Let him use a befitting neatness, not verging toward the effeminate, but just avoiding a rustic harshness. The same measure is to be taken with your clothes as with other matters in which a middle course is best.”18
Then he tells his son what pursuits are to be regarded as sordid. “Those sources of gain are to be regarded as mean in the pursuit of which men are apt to be offended, as are the business of tax-gathers and usurers. All those are to be regarded as illiberal to which men bring their work but not their art.” As for instance, the painter of a picture shall be held to follow a liberal occupation — but not so the picture dealer. “They are sordid who buy from merchants that they may sell again: they have to lie like the mischief or they cannot make their living. All mere workmen are engaged in ignoble employment: what of grandeur can the mere workshop produce? Least of all can those trades be said to be good which administer only to our pleasures — such as fish-mongers, butchers, cooks, and poulterers.”19 He adds at the end of his list that of all employment none is better than agriculture, or more worthy of the care of a freeman. In all of this it is necessary that we should receive what he says with some little allowance for the difference in time; but there is nothing, if we look closely into it, in which we cannot see the source of noble ideas, and the reason for many notions which are now departing from us — whether for good or evil who shall say?
In the beginning of the second book he apologizes for his love of philosophy, as he calls it, saying that he knew how it had been misliked among those round him. “But when the Republic,” he says, “had ceased to be-that Republic which had been all my care — my employment ceased both in the Forum and the Senate. But when my mind absolutely refused to be inactive, I thought that I might best live down the misery of the time if I devoted myself to philosophy.”20 From this we may see how his mind had worked when the old occupation of his life was gone. “Nihil agere autem quum animus non posset!” How piteous was his position, and yet how proud! There was nothing for him to do — but there was nothing because hitherto there had been so much that he had always done.
He tells his son plainly how an honest man must live. To be ashamed of nothing, he must do nothing of which he will be ashamed. But for him there is this difficulty: “If any one on his entrance into the world has had laid upon him the greatness of a name won by his father, let us say — as, my Cicero, has perhaps happened to you — the eyes of all men will be cast upon him, and inquiry will be made as to his mode of life. He will be so placed under the meridian sun that no word spoken or deed done by him shall be hidden.21 * * * He must live up to the glory to which he has been born.” He gives to his son much advice about the bar. “But the greatest praise,” he says, “comes from defending a man accused; and especially so when you shall assist one who is surrounded and ill-treated by the power of some great man. This happened to me more than once in my youth, when, for instance, I defended Roscius Amerinus against Sulla’s power.” The speech is with us extant still.22 He tells us much as to the possession of money, and the means of insuring it in a well-governed state. “Take care that you allow no debts to the injury of the Republic. You must guard against this at all hazards — but never by taking from the rich and giving it to the poor. Nothing is so requisite to the State as public credit — which cannot exist unless debtors be made to pay what they owe. There was nothing to which I looked more carefully than this when I was Consul. Horse and foot, they tried their best; but I opposed them, and freed the Republic from the threatened evil. Never were debts more easily or more quickly collected. When men knew that they could not ignore their creditors, then they paid. But he who was then the conquered is the conqueror now. He has effected what he contemplated — even though it be not now necessary for him.”23 From this passage it seems that these books must have been first written before Cæsar’s death. Cæsar, at the time of Catiline’s conspiracy, had endeavored to annul all debts — that is, to establish “new tables” according to the Roman idiom — but had failed by Cicero’s efforts. He had since affected it, although he might have held his power without seeking for the assistance of such debtors. Who could that be but Cæsar? In the beginning of the third book there is another passage declaring the same thing: “I have not strength enough for silent solitude, and therefore give myself up to my pen. In the short time since the Republic has been overturned I have written more than in all my former years.”24 That, again, he could not have written after Cæsar had fallen. We are left, indeed, to judge, from the whole nature of the discourse, that it was written at the period in which the wrongs done by Cæsar to Rome — wrongs at any rate as they appeared to Cicero — were just culminating in that regal pride of action which led to his slaughter. It was written then, but was published a few months afterward.
1 The story of Simon Du Bos and his MS. has been first told to me by Mr. Tyrell in his first volume of the Correspondence of Cicero, p. 88. That a man should have been such a scholar, and yet such a liar, and should have gone to his long account content with the feeling that he had cheated the world by a fictitious MS., when his erudition, if declared, would have given him a scholar’s fame, is marvellous. Perhaps he intended to be discovered. I, for one, should not have heard of Bosius but for his lie.
2 De Republica, lib. iii. It is useless to give the references here. It is all fragmentary, and has been divided differently as new information has been obtained.
3 De Legibus, lib. i., ca. vii.
4 De Legibus, lib. i., ca. x.
5 Ibid., lib. ii., ca. xviii.
6 De Legibus, lib. iii., ca. ix., x.
7 Ibid., lib. iii., xvii.
8 De Senectute, ca. ix.
9 Ibid., ca. x.
10 Ibid., ca. xi.
11 Ibid., ca. xviii.
12 Ibid., ca. xxi.
13 De Amicitia, ca. xix.
14 De Officiis, lib. ii., ca. v.
15 Ibid., lib. i., ca. xvii.
16 De Officiis, lib. i., ca. xxix: “Suppeditant autem et campus noster et studia venandi, honesta exempla ludendi.” The passage is quoted here as an antidote to that extracted some time since from one of his letters, which has been used to show that hunting was no occupation for a “polite man”— as he, Cicero, had disapproved of Pompey’s slaughter of animals on his new stage.
17 Ibid., lib. i., ca. xxxi.
18 De Officiis, lib. i., ca. xxxvi. It is impossible not to be reminded by this passage of Lord Chesterfield’s letters to his son, written with the same object; but we can see at once that the Roman desired in his son a much higher type of bearing than the Englishman. The following is the advice given by the Englishman: “A thousand little things, not separately to be defined, conspire to form these graces — this ‘je ne sais quoi’ that always pleases. A pretty person; genteel motions; a proper degree of dress; an harmonious voice, something open and cheerful in the countenance, but without laughing; a distinct and properly raised manner of speaking — all these things and many others are necessary ingredients in the composition of the pleasing ‘je ne sais quoi’ which everybody feels, though nobody can describe. Observe carefully, then, what displeases or pleases you in others, and be persuaded that, in general, the same thing will please or displease them in you. Having mentioned laughing, I must particularly warn you against it; and I could wish that you may often be seen to smile, but never heard to laugh, while you live.” I feel sure that Cicero would laugh, and was heard to laugh, and yet that he was always true to the manners of a gentleman.
19 De Officiis, lib. i., ca. xlii.
20 De Officiis, lib. ii., l.
21 Ibid., lib. ii., ca. xiii.
22 Ibid., lib. ii., ca. xiv.
23 De Officiis, lib. ii., ca. xxiv.
24 Ibid., lib. iii., ca. i.
Last updated Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 14:14