Front Page Titles (by Subject) The Conspiracy of Cataline - The Works of Sallust (Gordon's Discourses, Cicero's Orations against Catiline)
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The Conspiracy of Cataline - Gaius Sallustius Crispus (Sallust), The Works of Sallust (Gordon’s Discourses, Cicero’s Orations against Catiline) 
The Works of Sallust, translated into English with Political Discourses upon that Author. To which is added, a translation of Cicero’s Four Orations against Catiline (London: R. Ware, 1744).
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The Conspiracy of Cataline
To His Grace EVELYN, Duke of KINGSTON.
AS I take the Story of Catiline to be full of Instruction to all Subjects, especially to all great Subjects, in a free State, I freely inscribe it to Your Grace. It is what I have long intended, what I think very pertinent, and what I therefore do with great Chearfulness, as well for the Honour accruing to myself, as for the Pleasure it must give to a Mind like Yours, not only free from all the Guilt and Perturbations rending the Heart of that great Parricide, but replete with all opposite Impressions, good Wishes for public Security and Repose, and for whatever tends to procure them, the Love of Justice, Truth, and Peace, with an Antipathy to all Violence and Fraud; a Character as amiable to human Society, and pleasing to him who has it, as the contrary Character is odious to all Men, and a Curse upon him to whom it belongs.
Bright Talents, depraved by Ambition, are more dangerous to the World than none: Such were Catiline’s Talents, strong, but terrible, because terribly perverted. He had great Abilities, great Accomplishments, I think as great as any Man, but wanted Virtue: An admirable Head was corrupted by a bad Heart. Such is the Difference between great Sense and sound Sense, and consequently between Parts and Wisdom; which implies, not only Parts, but the Direction of good Parts to good Purposes. As able good Men are the best Men; a Character too uncommon, even where it most abounds; able bad Men are the worst Men; a Character too common, even where it is most rare: A lively Spirit, innocently employed, is an unblameable Character: When it is benevolently employed, it is an amiable one. Men of Parts, who will rather display them mischievously, than not display them at all, only teach People to fear their Parts, and to hate their Persons: For, whatever Disguises they wear; however they may deceive for awhile; they will be discovered sooner or later, and then not only miss their Aim of public Admiration and Worship, but meet, what is opposite to both, Infamy, and public Indignation.
A Man of Parts, void of Vanity, without knowing, or seeming to know, that he has them, cannot long conceal himself from Men of Discernment, though he may, for some time, from such as have none. His Modesty, at worst, can only hurt himself, by hiding or suspending his Character for a Time, but can never create him Enemies; and is, on the contrary, an amiable and sure Introduction to general Affection and Esteem. The highest Abilities, accompanied with Ostentation, are offensive; at best, envied: But when such as have them, will needs shine to the Hurt of others, they will be abhorred by others; indeed, by all who are not like themselves, frequently by such as are. He who doth most Good in the World, ought certainly to be most esteemed in it: He who hurts the World most, ought to be most detested by it.
It is, or ought to be, the great Purpose of History, to illustrate and recommend this Lesson; and those Historians who do it best, are the best Historians and Instructors. It is drawing the Characters of Men from their Actions, and instructing the World by the good or evil Fate of Men, what the World is to expect from their following good or evil Courses. I think it is plain, upon the Whole, that guilty Actions have, first or last, an unhappy Issue, sometimes indeed to the Guiltless, but generally to the Guilty. How miserable is the illustrious Lucius Sergius Catiline? What an unhappy Wretch is the Royal, the renowned Jugurtha? Both Jugurtha and Catiline the Authors of their own Misery! It were to be wished that They, and such as They, could make none but Themselves miserable.
If any Examples, any Instructions, were capable of mending the World, of prevailing with Men to resist their bad Passions, and of convincing them, that all wicked Pursuits, however pleasing at first, threaten painful Consequences at last, and naturally tend to produce such; no History is fraught with stronger or more instructive Examples, than those of Catiline and Jugurtha; Catiline continually engaged in flagitious Courses, continually disappointed, never mended, still pursuing Evil, still rewarded with Crosses and Rebukes; and, after a long Series of Wickedness, Distress, and Danger, and general Abhorrence, cut off as a public Traitor; and his Name, which he thought himself sure of exalting with his Fortune, become a Name of Infamy to all Generations since and to come.
The Fortune of Jugurtha was more varied; so was his Character: A very great Man, an able Prince, a mighty Hero, wonderfully qualified both for a Warrior and a Monarch; a good Governor, kind to his Subjects in general, and friendly to their Liberties and Fortunes; his Name greatly celebrated in the World, his Lot in it singular and fortunate, chiefly the Effect of his high Abilities and Reputation; a King well established, nothing threatening to hurt him, nothing able to disturb him; such was the Awe of his Name, such the Inferiority of the Princes about him: The Romans, who alone could have troubled him, in Friendship with him, and partial to him.
Such was the Situation and Glory of Jugurtha, such his Ease and Security! Could Guilt, the most flattering Guilt, heighten his Renown and good Fortune? Could black Perfidy, or unnatural Barbarity, extend his Fame? Yet, from a Rage for fansied Grandeur, he sacrificed all his real Greatness: From a Passion for Glory, he made himself detestable; and, to secure himself from all Danger and Attacks, exposed himself to an incessant Train of Woes, with the constant Peril of his Diadem and Life, and, in the End, with the utter Loss of Both. One wicked Step required another, and that other required more: He murdered in order to usurp: To maintain one Usurpation, he added another: And then, to make both safe, more Murders must be committed, all naturally following the first and most shocking, those of his nearest Relations, the Sons of his adopting Father, left, by the dying King, to his fraternal Protection, and That Protection purchased by the Gift and Reward of a Kingdom.
In destroying those Princes, his Ambition, which inspired him with Cruelty, blinded him too from reflecting, that he was but making a Precedent, and giving Encouragement to another Usurper to destroy himself, and even arming the Hand, as well as hardening the Heart, of that Usurper to strike boldly; since that Stroke, however cruel and unprovoked it might be, could hardly be so impious and aggravated as his own had been. There followed many subordinate Murders and Acts of Treachery, with all the fearful Calamities attending a War wantonly undertaken by him, cruelly felt by his People.
The Consequences to himself, after all his rapid Success, and all the deceitful Smiles of Fortune, for some time, were restless Nights and Days, Plots against his Life, endless Fears and Distrusts. This great Conqueror and Statesman, this Man of Head and Stratagem, was at last over-reached as well as vanquished, surprised and seized by Craft, like his own, carried to Rome in Irons, there committed naked to a Dungeon, where he is said to have been perishing many Days, before he was released by Famine from the Load of Life and Misery. How secure, how happy, might he have lived, how quietly died, and in what Renown! No Man had a clearer Head, no Man had stronger Reason: But what a Dwarf is Reason in the Hands of headstrong Passion?
The Abilities of great wicked Men are fatal to themselves, as well as to the World. But what Amends do their Sufferings make to the World, which suffers with them, and for them? The Hero sacrifices Millions of Lives, and has but one Life to lose. Sometimes Millions perish to humour a vain Coward aping Heroism: A tragical Farce, which Europe saw, and rued for half a Century.
Memorable too, and instructive, was the Conduct of the Romans in that War. Every Step taken by the Roman Leaders in it were, for a long Time, not only scandalous to themselves, and injurious to Rome, but ended naturally in their own Disgrace and Ruin. They trusted to Support from the Senate, where all the Insults, and glaring Guilt, of Jugurtha were of no Force against Jugurtha’s Money. The Senate not only sheltered and protected this Son of Blood, this public Enemy, one of the most formidable that the Commonwealth had ever encountered, but openly defended and extolled him: This they did so confidently, and so long, that they themselves became as odious as the Cause they espoused; and thence raised a Storm that crushed them. They saw themselves exposed to the Vengeance of the People, whom they had long treated with Contempt, void of Tenderness or Mercy, and were treated by the People, in their turn, with as little. By a Course of Defiance and Insults upon the Plebeians, they had provoked the Plebeians to return Oppression with Oppression: Popular Rage broke out the fiercer for having been long smothered, and now proceeded to very barbarous Excesses.
Such is the wild Spirit of Party! The Party which prevail, as if they could fix Fate, and their own Fortune, turn it into Arrogance and Riot; and, instead of conciliating their Opponents by just and engaging Usage, oppress and exasperate them; and consequently invite a Retribution of the same merciless Treatment, whenever Fortune changes. Bad Example is generally more eagerly followed than good: When the Change happens, the Party which complained loudly and justly of Oppression, whilst they were under it, exercise it over their late Oppressors, with the same Asperity and Blindness, till they themselves come to be again oppressed: They then feel, very sensibly, what they had unfeelingly earned, the like bitter Usage, and now utter the like bitter Complaints.
Men rarely feel the Hurt they do to others, but only what others do to them. Whoever uses us ill, deserves ill Usage from us, and ought not to complain; but we may complain of ill Usage, because we never deserve any.
Self-love will always reason selfishly, often ridiculously. Sound Reason, and good Temper, which is comprised in it, will prove, in the End, to be always the truest Self-love, and lead Men to their true Interest, with most Ease, and Certainty, and Fame. If we would avoid Evil and Injustice, we must not commit them; but rather bear some Injury, than provoke more by returning it: If we set no ill Example, our own cannot be alleged against us. This is Reason, this is Prudence and Interest. But Parties do not reason, but rage: They consist of Numbers in a Passion with Numbers, hating and striving to mortify each other: A sad domestic War, at best, a sad Presage of it! In it, if the Enemy be but hurt, no matter how they are hurt.
As to the Patricians, it is surprising how Men of high Quality, of great Fortunes, and equal Pride, should act a Part so ruinous to their own Dignity, so destructive to the State, and consequently to themselves, so glaringly repugnant to all the Laws of Justice and Humanity, for a Sum, for any Sum of Money, and be meanly bribed by a foreign Enemy to espouse his infamous Cause against that of their Country, and their own.
Such shocking Venality could be no Secret; since nothing but that could have procured him one Voice in a Roman Senate, nor indeed in the Roman State. The Reason of their Partiality and Injustice was as manifest as the Guilt of Jugurtha, which was just as notorious as were the Motives of their Efforts to save him. What Wonder that the popular Leaders snatched the Advantage? What Wonder that the great Men, who had so debased themselves, were so vehemently decried, so successfully attacked, so unmercifully lashed, by the popular Orators, especially in the celebrated Harangues of Memmius and Marius, and so exposed to the Hate and Insults of the Populace?
The Populace too, equally liable to be corrupted, ever to be easily and violently misled, abused their Victory over the Patricians upon this Occasion, by a Torrent of scandalous Outrages. They gave themselves up to precipitate Acts of Vengeance, and, in order to procure it, followed blindfold the Guidance of those who put them upon seeking it; followed their Favourites and Demagogues, more dangerous Masters than the Grandees of the Senate, because implicitly trusted, and consequently more powerful. Whoever proposed to them what pleased them, however it hurt them, gained their Confidence, which was always as unbounded as their Hate and Distrust: So that they were ever in more Danger from their Friends than their Enemies; and generally more violent and headlong in mistaken Measures, than in such as were just. They were justly provoked with most of the Directors of the Jugurthine War, but extended their Resentment indiscriminately to all, to the brave and successful Metellus, as well as to his venal and baffled Predecessors. They were in Wrath with the whole Senate, because many of the Senators deserved their Wrath. They were of course the Dupes and Votaries of every Incendiary, if he were but recommended by the only Merit of inveighing loudly against the Patricians. They encouraged every designing Man to mislead them, every hot Orator to inflame them. Thus, in Opposition to the Grandees, they enabled the brutal Marius to hurt themselves more, and to bring more Disorder and Desolation upon the State, than all the Grandees, the worst and most criminal Grandees, had done before him.
The People were apt to think Men better or worse than they really were: Their Affection, as well as their Aversion, was without Measure: Both their Aversion and Affection were often ill-founded and misplaced. They sometimes hated, where they ought to have loved; and loved, where they ought to have hated. They rage against Metellus, though he had done all that a brave General, all that an able Magistrate, could do: They applaud and exalt Marius, merely because he promised to do better; and they believed him upon his bare Word. They take all his rough Railings, all his Scurrilities, as Marks of Zeal for public Justice, and public Liberty; and his Plebeian Extraction and Manners pass with them for Proofs of his Attachment to the Plebeians. They think that Metellus cannot be a Man of Honour, because he is a Man of Quality; nor Marius a Knave, because he is a Rustic. They swallowed Things and Characters by the Lump: They did not consider, that, in general, little more can be expected from Men, than that Men so far seek the public Good, as in it they find their own; that if Men judged truly of their own Happiness, even this Spirit, however selfish, would be public Spirit; since every Man will, first or last, find the Interest of the Public to be his own Interest, find his own Glory inseparable from the Glory of his Country.
I thought that such Reflections as these, which occur naturally from Sallust, would stand naturally before his Works, in an Address to Your Grace. No Man can have stronger Motives to love his Country, and to study its Peace and Security, its equal Laws, its free Constitution; for the Liberty, Ease, and Security of the Subject, not to be matched by any Constitution, in any Country, antient or modern. No Subject can have a juster Call to prevent all dangerous, or to promote all just Measures; to oppose all Violence from Men in Power, as well as all Violence against them; to weigh Reasons of Ambition against Reasons of State; to compare popular Grievances with popular Disaffection, Patriotism with Party, and private Heat with public Zeal. No Man was ever less formed for Party, no Man more unqualified, both from Temper and Interest, to engage in narrow, hot, and dangerous Pursuits, such as Party blindly delights in.
Your Grace cannot but, upon all Accounts, love Your Country, particularly upon Your Own, as You have so great a Stake in it: Your Dignity cannot be higher for a Subject: Few Subjects of equal Dignity have equal Fortune to support it: Fewer perhaps have a Temper so even and happy, with such a manly Contempt of all Pride and false State; none a more just and ready Understanding, or a Heart better disposed; the highest Endowment of all! In a Word, Your Grace has many Qualifications to make You many Friends; and whoever are worthy to be Your Friends, will never be Your Enemies.
I therefore own to the World, that I esteem You very highly, and if You will pardon a familiar, but honest, Expression, very affectionately; that I take a zealous Part in whatever concerns You; that I consider You as a great Ornament to Your Rank and Country, uncommonly interested in its Welfare, well disposed to serve it, and furnished with Firmness and Spirit to support it.
I am, therefore, with the highest Regard, and the warmest Wishes,
Your most Obedient, and
Most Humble Servant,
September 9. 1743.
IT is incumbent upon all Men, who aim at surpassing the brute Creation, so to exert their Spirit, as not to pass their Life without Notice or Name, like the Herd in the Fields, by Nature framed with Bodies prone to the Earth, and under blind Subjection to their Appetites.
The Faculties of Man are indeed twofold; those of the Mind and those of the Body: The Prerogative of the Soul is, to command, the Duty of the Body, to obey: The former we share with the Gods; we possess the latter in common with the Beasts. Hence, in the Pursuit of Glory, I prefer the Abilities of the Mind to those of the Body; and since the Term of our Life is but short, it ought to be our Study to perpetuate our Memory. For the Splendor of Beauty, and of Wealth, is transient and frail; Virtue alone is intitled to Eternity and Renown.
It hath, however, been a great and long Debate amongst Men, whether Vigour of Body, or the Talents of the Mind, contribute most to Success in War; for, as Counsel must precede and direct Execution, prompt Execution must follow Counsel: Whence it comes, that, neither of these sufficing alone, each prevails by the Aid of the other. Thus it was, that, of old, Kings (for this was the Title of Government first known in the World) pursued different Improvements; some those of the Mind, others those of the Body. Nor as yet was the Conduct of Men influenced by Ambition; but all remained abundantly satisfied with their own Lot and Possessions.
Afterwards, indeed, when Cyrus began in Asia, the Lacedæmonians and Athenians in Greece, to seize Cities, and subdue Nations; when the Lust of unbounded Sway became the Cause of War; when the highest Glory was thought to arise from the largest Dominions; it was then at last discovered, by a Course of Experience, that it is Genius which chiefly supports War. Indeed, would Princes and Leaders but exercise the same Capacity and Address in Peace, as they do in War, the Condition of human Affairs would be found more reasonable and just, as well as more steady; nor should we see Property and Power tossed hither and thither, nor such violent Reverses of States, and universal Combustion. For Government is easily preserved by the same Measures upon which it was founded: But when, in place of Industry and Vigilance, of Justice and Moderation, Insolence, and Sloth, and Licentiousness prevail, the Fortune of the State changes with the Manners of the State. So that in all Revolutions, Power passes from him who hath least Abilities, to him who has most.
The Productions of Men, whatever they be, in Agriculture, in Navigation, in Building, indeed in all things, are owing to the manly Efforts of the Soul. Yet many of the human Species there are so abandoned to Gluttony, to Sleep and Sloth, so void of all Improvement and Politeness, as to pass their Lives like Men on a Journey; and, contrary to the Purpose of Nature, knowing no Delights but such as arise from the Body, find their Minds only an Incumbrance. Now I hold the Life and the Death of such Individuals to be of equal Moment, since they live and die in equal Silence and Obscurity.
The Man, therefore, who seems to me truly to live, and to enjoy his rational Faculties, is he, who, by exerting himself in certain Pursuits, seeks the Glory arising from some illustrious Adventure, or some honourable Function. Now in a vast Variety of Occupations, the different Nature of Men presents them with different Pursuits.
It is laudable to act worthily for the Commonwealth; and to write well for it, hath its Measure of Merit. There is room to gain Renown in Peace as well as in War: Many have acquired Applause by performing great Actions; many by describing them. And though I perceive, that so large a Portion of Glory attends not him who describes Exploits, as him who atchieves them; yet, still, to me, it appears a Task of the first Magnitude, to discharge the Duty of an Historian; especially since the Dignity of Deeds must be equalled by the Dignity of Style. Moreover, whenever you reprove Faults, many will conclude you animated by Malice and Envy. When you recount Deeds of Magnanimity and Renown, exhibited by the Worthy and the Brave; if they be such as every Reader thinks himself capable of producing, he will be complaisant enough to believe them; but hold them for Fables framed by yourself, where they surpass that Measure.
For myself; I, like many others, was carried away, in my early Youth, by a Passion for a Part in the Administration; but found many things to cross my Pursuit: For, in the Place of Modesty, of Restraint, and of Works of Merit, all Licence flourished, with all the Efforts of Corruption and Rapaciousness; Vices which my Soul, not yet enured to evil Habits, did indeed utterly disrelish: Yet, during such prevailing Depravations, my tender Years were intangled by Ambition; and altho’ I avoided, in general, the corrupt Morals of my Contemporaries, I was still instigated, like others, with the same Ardour for publick Preferment; and thence exposed to popular Rancour and Reproach.
As soon, therefore, as my Soul became disengaged from the many Vexations and Perils attending this Pursuit, and I had determined to retreat, during Life, from the Administration, I conceived a Design, not to waste such valuable Leisure in Inattention and Indolence, nor to apply my Thoughts and Care to Agriculture or the Chace, and thus pass my Days in laborious Occupations, which exceed not the Ability of Slaves; but, resuming my former Aim and Undertaking, from whence the depraved Spirit of Ambition had diverted me, I resolved to compose a History of the Roman People, by collecting the principal Events, such as appeared to deserve the Attention of Posterity: A Task which I the rather chose, for that my Soul was unbyassed by any Hope or Fear, and attached to no Faction in the State.
I shall here therefore briefly recount the Conspiracy of Catiline, with all possible Veracity; as it was an Attempt, which, for the wonderful Singularity of the Treason, and for the Danger that it threatened, appears to me extremely memorable. Of this Man’s Character it is proper to open some Parts, before I enter upon the Story.
Lucius Catiline sprang from an illustrious Race: He was a Man of great Vigour both of Body and Mind; but of a Spirit altogether vicious and depraved. From his Youth he delighted in intestine Wars, in Slaughter and Depredation, in civil Discord and Tumults: These were indeed the great Occupations of his younger Years. He was capable of enduring Hunger and Cold, and Want of Repose, beyond what is conceivable: His Spirit was daring, insidious, and shifting; expert in feigning what he meant not, and in dissembling what he meant; rapacious of what belonged to others, profuse of his own: violent and flaming in all his Passions: He had a sufficient Share of Eloquence; of Wisdom a small Share. A Spirit so boundless was ever pursuing extravagant Views, too romantic to be feasible, too high to be attempted.
This was the Character of Catiline; who, having observed the successful Usurpation of Sylla, became transported with a Passion to seize the Commonwealth; nor, in his Pursuit of Tyranny, was he at all concerned by what Methods he carried it. His Spirit, naturally impetuous, was still more and more inflamed by domestic Wants, and by the Horror of his manifold Guilt; Misfortunes which he had greatly heightened by the Courses that I have mentioned. He was also encouraged by the corrupt Character of the Romans, now quite debauched by two Vices, opposite in their Natures, but equally pernicious; Luxury and Avarice.
Since I had here Occasion to mention the Manners of the Romans, the Subject seems to invite me to trace the Ages past; and briefly to review the Institutions of our Ancestors, both in Peace and in War; how they conducted the State; in what Grandeur they left it to their Descendants; and how, by a gradual Degeneracy, from the most glorious and most virtuous, it is become the most vicious and most depraved.
By what I have learned, The fugitive Trojans, who, following Æneas, wandered about in Italy, without any constant Settlement, were the Founders of Rome, in Conjunction with the Natives; a savage Race of Men, subject to no Laws, owning no Authority, but absolutely free and unaccountable. It is incredible to recount how easily these two Nations, different in their Original, in their Language and Manners, blended together into one People, as soon as they came to inhabit one City. Afterwards, when, by the Augmentation of Citizens and Territory, and by domestic Improvements, their State increased, and appeared sufficiently flourishing and powerful, they experienced the hard Condition annexed to almost all human Things, that their particular Opulence begat general Envy: Insomuch that the neighbouring Princes and Nations took Arms against them; whilst but very few of their Friends afforded them Succour: For all the rest were struck with Terror, and kept far from the Danger.
Nevertheless, the undaunted Romans, alike vigilant in the City and the Field, acted with Vigour, concerted all Measures, animated one another, advanced against the Enemy, and thus protected their Liberty, their Country, and their Families, by their Bravery in Arms. Then, when by it they had repelled their own Danger, they carried Aid to their Friends and Confederates: And it was more by conferring Benefits, than by receiving them, that they procured Alliances.
Their Government had the Name of Monarchy; but Monarchy limited by Laws: A select Number of ancient Men, who, however weakened by Years, were vigorous in Spirit and Prudence, forming a Council, directed the Administration; and either from their Age, or a Similitude of Tenderness and Care, were called Fathers. Afterwards, when the Monarchy, established at first for securing public Liberty, and for aggrandizing the State, lapsed into Insolence and Tyranny, they changed the Form of their Government, and created two Rulers with Authority only annual. By this Expedient they concluded, that they had best restrained the Spirit of Men from being tempted, by long Power, into Acts of Violence.
Upon this Revolution, all Men began with greater Zeal to exert themselves in their Stations; all Men more readily to display their several Abilities. For, to the Jealousy of lawless Kings, the Virtuous are much more obnoxious than the Vicious; and in their Eyes virtuous Merit appears always dreadful. But how much the City, now she had acquired Liberty, increased in a small time, is incredible to be told; so powerfully had a Passion for Glory possessed the Hearts of her Citizens!
The Roman Youth, the Moment they could bear Arms, repaired to the Camp, where, under hard Fatigues, they acquired by Practice the Art of War: And greater was their Delight in their military Dress and War-horses, than in lewd Women and Banquetting. To such Men therefore no Fatigues were strange, no Situation grievous, no armed Host formidable; for their Magnanimity overcame all things: But their highest Contest for Glory was amongst themselves; whilst every Particular strove to be first in wounding the Foe, in scaling the Rampart, and in signalizing himself to all in performing these Exploits. This they accounted to be Riches; this to be Reputation and high Rank. They were covetous of Applause, but liberal of Money. They sought only a moderate Degree of Wealth; but Glory without Bounds.
I could here recount upon what Occasions the Roman People have routed mighty Armies with a Handful of Men; as also what Cities, strongly fortified even by Nature, they have taken by Assault; but that the Detail would lead me too far from my Undertaking.
Yet surely it is Fortune which bears supreme Sway in all things: It is she that, following Caprice rather than Justice, brightens or darkens all the Affairs and Actions of Men. The Atchievements of the Athenians, I allow, were abundantly grand and noble; yet still inferior to the Representations of Fame: But as they were furnished with Writers of fine Genius, the Exploits of the Athenians are thence renowned throughout the World, as the most noble and exemplary; and the Bravery of such as performed them, is accounted just as high as the Address of these illustrious Wits in describing and extolling them.
But the Roman People were never thus supplied; since all their ablest Men were likewise the most active, and therefore most employed. None applied their Talents but jointly with bodily Application. Every Man excelling in Worth, preferred Doing to Saying; and chose rather, that others should applaud his deserving Actions, than he recount those of others.
Sound Manners, therefore, were promoted both in the City, and the Camp. The most cordial Union every-where prevailed, and no selfish Pursuits. They were determined to Equity and Right, not more by the Force of Laws; than by a natural Propensity. The only Strife, the only Dissentions and Disputes which they exercised, they exercised against the public Enemy. All the Contests between Citizen and Citizen were in Deeds of Bravery. They were magnificent in their Oblations to the Deitics; in their Families very frugal; in their Friendships very faithful. By two principal means, Valour in War, and righteous Conduct during Peace, they supported their own Reputation, and that of the Common Weal: and, as the fullest Proofs of these Virtues, I find that, during War, more frequent were the Punishments of such as attacked the Enemy contrary to Orders, or continued in Battle after the Signal for a Retreat, than of those who dared to abandon their Standards, or to relinquish their Post; whilst, in time of Peace, they sustained their Power more by the Influence of Favours than of Fear: And, when they were injured, they chose rather to forgive, than to seek Revenge.
But when, by a Course of Industry and Justice, the Commonwealth was grown powerful; when mighty Kings were vanquished in War; when several Nations, very fierce and wild, were tamed, and many potent People had yielded to her superior Might; when Carthage, that Rival to the Empire of Rome, was utterly demolished, and now Sea and Land lay every-where open to her Sway; then began Fortune to exercise her Tyranny, and to introduce universal Confusion. The same People who had, without Regret, undergone Fatigues and Dangers, Distresses and Hardships, were baned by a Life of Ease: The Romans became depressed by Riches, which are the great Idol and Pursuit of other Nations.
Thus the Lust of Money first prevailed; next a Passion for Place and Sway. These were the Sources of all the Evils which followed. For, Avarice abolished all good Faith, and all Probity, with every other worthy Principle. Instead of these, it inspired Pride and Inhumanity, Contempt of the Gods, and a Spirit of unbounded Venality. Reigning Ambition generally forced Men to be deceitful, to conceal their real Meaning; to profess, what they meant not; to estimate Friendship and Enmity, not according to their own Weight, but by that of Lucre, and rather to bear a fair Countenance than an upright Heart.
These Depravations at first gained ground by Degrees, and were sometimes damped by Correction. At last, Corruption spreading like a Pestilence, the City became utterly changed, and the Administration, from the most righteous and fatherly, grew violent and insupportable.
I own, that at first Ambition had a greater Share than Avarice in influencing the Spirits of Men, and is indeed a Vice which bears some Resemblance of Virtue; since all Men alike, the Worthy as well as the Worthless, covet Glory, Preferments and Power. The Difference is, that the former employ direct means; the others, wanting just Abilities, betake themselves to Craft and Frauds. The Object of Avarice is Money; for which no wise Man ever entertained a Passion. This Vice, as if impregnated with every deadly Poyson, unmans Body and Soul: It is ever boundless, ever insatiable; nor is its Rage more abated by Affluence than by Want.
But when Sylla had by Strength of Arms recovered the Administration from the Plebeians, and his fair Beginnings had produced such guilty Events, all his Followers grew eager for Spoil and Rapine: One coveted a House, another was greedy of Land: Each seized what he liked: The conquering Soldiery observed neither Moderation nor Measure, and treated the Citizens with brutal Abuse and Barbarity. What heightened these Evils, Sylla, to engage the Affections of his Army, which he had commanded in Asia, had, against all the Rules of our Ancestors, indulged them in great Delicacy, and excessive Latitude: The warlike Tempers of the Soldiers, now unemployed, became easily softened, by their delicious Quarters, by Pleasure, and Luxury. There the Roman Soldiery became first habituated to Drunkenness and Amours; to admire Statues, Pictures, and Sculpture; to make Spoil of all things, as well by open Violence as by Stealth; to ravage the Shrines and Sanctuaries of the Deities; and, without Distinction, to devour and contaminate all things sacred and profane. A Soldiery therefore thus disposed, and withal Conquerors, were sure to leave nothing to the vanquished. Even the Hearts of wise Men are unmanned by Success: How should Forces so debauched temper Victory with Moderation?
When Riches began to pass for Worth and Honour; when Glory, Command, and great Sway waited upon Riches; then Virtue began to languish; Poverty to be held contumelious; Innocence of Life to pass for Ill-nature. Thus Luxury, Voraciousness, and Pride, all arising from the common Root of Riches, captivated the Minds of the Roman Youth: They rioted in Rapine and Prodigality; despised what was their own, coveted what belonged to others; banished Shame, Friendship, and Continence; confounded things divine and human, and were regardless of all Circumspection and Restraint.
As a Mark of primitive Parsimony, and of succeeding Prodigality, we need only survey the Houses of particular Citizens in Rome, and in the Country; all appearing, in Dimensions and Grandeur, like so many Cities; and then behold the moderate Structures erected even to the Gods by our Ancestors, the devoutest of all Men! Yet they thought of no Ornament but Piety, for the Mansions of the Gods; nor for their own Houses, but that of glorious Deeds: Neither did they ever deprive such as they conquered of any thing, except the Power of doing Hurt. Contrary is the present Conduct! Whatever our Forefathers, the bravest of all Men, left to their vanquished Enemies, these, who are the most effeminate, plunder from their Confederates, by the most crying Violence; as if they believed the Practice of Oppression to be the only Use of Power.
I pass over, as needless to be recounted, other things too incredible to be believed, except by those who saw them. Mountains frequently levelled by the Power of private Citizens; and even the raging Sea covered with mighty Edifices. These Men seem indeed to me to have turned their Riches into Sport and Frolick; since, instead of enjoying them with Honour, they lavished them upon Monuments of Shame.
Nor less prevalent was the Pursuit of impure Pleasures, voluptuous Feasting, and other extravagant Gratifications: Men prostituted themselves like Women: Women suffered Prostitution without Fear or Restraint. To gratify Gluttony, Sea and Land were ransacked for Rarities. Sleep was indulged ere Nature craved Repose: Luxury anticipated the Returns of Hunger and Thirst: Cold and Fatigue were so carefully prevented, as never to be felt.
By such Depravations, the Roman Youth, when they had exhausted their Fortunes, were instigated to all Enormities. For, their Minds, poisoned with evil Habits, wanted Force to resist their Appetites; and were therefore the more furiously abandoned to all Extravagances, and to all the means of supplying them.
In a City so immense and debauched, Catiline kept about him, what Rome plentifully furnished, Bands of Profligates, and Sons of Violence, like Guards of his Person. Since whoever were Slaves to Voluptuousness, Gluttony, and Lewdness, and had dissipated their paternal Fortune, by a Course of Gaming, Feasting, and Lubricity; whoever were pressed by Debts, contracted to purchase Impunity for their Misdeeds and Enormities; whoever were charged with the Crimes of Parricide and Sacrilege, and convicted for them, or feared Conviction; add, such as had sold themselves to Perjury, and to shed the Blood of Citizens, and lived by it; lastly, all who were worried by their own guilty Minds, or by their Indigence and Crimes; became jointly linked to Catiline, and his closest Intimates. Or, if any one, as yet free from Blame, grew familiar with him, he too, from daily Commerce, and by Snares laid to debauch him, was brought to resemble, and even to equal, the rest.
But he especially sought the Intimacy of young Men; for their Minds, then pliant and tender, were, with less Difficulty, moulded and engaged. So that for some of these he provided Harlots; for others, he procured Dogs and Horses, according to the Rage and Bent of their several Pleasures, at that Time of Life. Nor indeed did he spare any Expence, nor even his own Honour, so he could but make them intirely trusty, and attached to himself. Some, I know, there are, who thought, that all the Youth who haunted the House of Catiline, debased themselves unnaturally: But this Rumour arose more from other Causes, than that any such Fact was ever proved.
For Catiline himself: He had, whilst yet very young, committed many heinous Acts of Lewdness; deflowered a Virgin of noble Rank; debauched a consecrated Vestal; with other Crimes equally black, in Defiance of all Law, and the most awful Restraints. Then, as he was smitten with a Passion for Aurelia Orestilla, (one in whom no virtuous Man ever found aught to admire, but her Beauty) and as she scrupled to marry him, because he had a Son already grown to Maturity, it is undoubtedly believed, that he butchered his own Child; and made his House desolate, to facilitate the unballowed Nuptials. And this very Thing, in my Opinion, proved the principal Cause of hurrying him on to the Execution of the Conspiracy. For, his guilty Soul, exasperated against Gods and Men, was equally incapable of Repose from Rest and Sleep, as from Watching and Motion; so strongly did the Guilt of his Conscience tear and affright his Spirit: Hence his Face was pale, his Eyes baleful, his Pace unequal, now slow, then quick: Indeed in his whole Visage, and in all his Looks, there appeared Distraction and Wildness.
Now having seduced over to his Interest these young Men, as above I have related, he disciplined them, by various Methods, in all the Arts of Wickedness; prompted them to Forgeries, to bear false Witness, to falsify their Faith, to lavish their Fortunes, and to despise all Dangers and Restraints. When he had thus divested them of all Reputation, and of all Shame, he incited them to Crimes still higher; and, even where no Provocation was given, it was their Practice to insnare, and to assassinate, with equal Wantonness, such who had never offended him, and such who had. For, rather than the Hands and Spirit of his Accomplices should lose Vigour thro’ Inaction, he was causlesly mischievous, and inhuman unprovoked.
Catiline, in Confidence of Support from this his Band of Associates and Followers, formed a Design to seize the Commonwealth: He was further encouraged, by the grievous Debts which pressed all Men throughout the State; together with the Temper of Sylla’s Soldiers; who, having wasted in Riot their late Acquisitions, and looking back wishfully upon their former Conquests and Depredations, longed earnestly for a Civil War. He observed Italy destitute of an Army; Pompey engaged in War in the remote Parts of the Earth; and had himself high Hopes of obtaining the Consulship. The Senate, apprehending no public Danger, was void of all public Care; and all things seemed secure, because all things were calm: A Conjuncture of Circumstances highly seasonable to the Views of Catiline.
Hence, about the Beginning of June, during the Consulship of Lucius Cæsar and Caius Figulus, he began to apply to his Followers, at first one by one: Some he persuaded, others he sounded. He explained to them, how powerfully he was supported, how destitute the State was of Forces, and what mighty Recompences would attend the Conspiracy. When he had sufficiently sisted their several Tempers, he called together all of them who were most pinched by their Necessities, or known to be most desperately bold.
In this Assembly were found Publius Lentulus Sura, Publius Autronius, Lucius Cassius Longinus, Caius Cethegus, Publius Sylla, and Servius Sylla, (Sons of Servius Sylla) Lucius Vargunteius, Quintus Annius, Marcus Porcius Læcca, Lucius Bestia, and Quintus Curius; all of the illustrious Rank of Senators; besides those of the Equestrian Order, Marcus Fulvius Nobilior, Lucius Statilius, Publius Gabinius Capito, and Caius Cornelius. To these were joined many from the Colonies, and great free Cities, all of principal Rank in their several Communities.
There were moreover Patricians of the highest Name and Figure engaged in the Combination, but with greater Caution and Disguise; Men instigated rather by Hopes of lawless Sway, than by Indigence, or any other urgent Motive. Finally, most of the Youth, above all, the Youth of Quality, favoured the Designs of Catiline: Even They, who were furnished with ample Means of living in Repose, and even with Magnificence, nay, in extreme Luxury, preferred future Contingencies to certain Enjoyments, and War to Peace.
There were also then some, who believed Marcus Licinius Crassus, to have been not clear of the Conspiracy; since, in Hatred to Pompey, whom he saw with Regret at the Head of a mighty Army, he would gladly have promoted any Interest whatsoever, in Opposition to the Authority of that General; from a Confidence too, that if the Conspiracy prevailed, he should find it easy to make himself Head of the Conspirators.
A while before, some few had, in Conjunction with Catiline, formed the like terrible Conspiracy; of which I shall deduce the Detail with all possible Veracity.
In the Consulship of Lucius Tullus and Marcus Lepidus, Publius Autronius and Publius Sylla (chosen to succeed them) were set aside, nay arraigned and punished, for violating, by corrupt Arts, the Freedom of Elections. Soon after, Catiline was likewise convicted of Bribery, and disqualified from suing for the Consulship, as the Time for declaring himself was elapsed before his Trial was ended. Another public Incendiary at this time, was Cneius Piso, a young Man, nobly born, extremely bold, necessitous, turbulent, and urged both by his great Wants, and his licentious Morals, to embroil the State. He, Catiline, and Autronius, in pursuance of a Design formed amongst them about the fifth of December, determined to fall upon the then Consuls, Lucius Cotta, and Lucius Torquatus, and to murder them in the Capitol, on the first of January: Then Catiline and Autronius were to seize to themselves the Consular Ensigns and Authority, and to send away Piso with an Army to secure the Possession of both the Spains.
This their Design coming to be known, they shifted the intended Slaughter to the fifth of February. Then they formed a Scheme, besides the Blood of the Consuls, to shed that of a great Part of the Senate: So that, had not Catiline been too precipitate in giving the Signal to his Accomplices, at the assembling of the Senate, there had that Day been seen the most direful Tragedy since the Foundation of Rome. But as any considerable Number of them had not yet come together armed, the Attempt was frustrated.
Yet Piso, though invested only with the Office of Quæstor, was afterwards sent Proprætor into the Nether-Spain, a Command procured for him by the Weight and Influence of Crassus; for Crassus knew him to be an implacable Enemy to Pompey.
Nor, in truth, was the Senate averse to give him the Province; since they liked to have so pestilent a Citizen far removed from Rome. Add, that very many Romans, well affected to the Commonwealth, considered him as a Resource and Defence to the State, at a Time when the great Power of Pompey was become very terrible.
But Piso was slain, upon his March to his Province, by the Spanish Cavalry in his Army. His Death is by some ascribed to the Severity of his Government; as if it were accompanied with such Haughtiness, such Injustice, and such Cruelty, as the Barbarians could not bear. Others alledge, these Spanish Horse, old Followers of Pompey, and intirely attached to his Interest, to have, by Orders from him, fallen upon Piso. For the Spaniards had never, upon any Occasion, made such an Attempt upon the Persons of their Commanders and Governors, but had long and patiently endured numberless Excesses of Power without Mercy. For myself, I shall leave this disputed Account undecided. I have now abundantly opened the preceding Conspiracy.
Catiline, when he saw those whose Names I have above recounted, assembled together, though he had often treated largely with them one by one; yet, believing it conducible to his Purpose, to address and exhort them in a Body, withdrew with them into the most retired Part of the House; and there, far from the Hearing of any but the Conspirators, spoke to them in the following Strain:
‘Had I not already well proved your Faith and Bravery, the present Opportunity would have offered to no purpose; vain would have been all our mighty Hopes; in vain would the Power of seizing the Commonwealth have dropped into our Hands: Neither should I, trusting to impotent Assistants, or to Men unworthy of Trust, have risqued Certainties for Uncertainties. But since, upon very many, and very extraordinary Emergencies, I have known you undaunted in your Persons, and inseparably attached to mine, my Soul is daring enough to engage in an Adventure, at once of the highest Consequence, and of the highest Glory.
‘I have a farther Incitement, when I consider, that the same Lot which attends me, good or bad, attends you: And, to have the same Wishes, and the same Dislikes, is the solid Band of Amity.
‘What a Scheme I have projected, you have already been all, severally, informed. I now add, that my Ardour to pursue it increases daily, whilst I recollect what a sad Lot of Life abides us, if we do not rouse, and redeem our common Liberty. For, ever since the Commonwealth has fallen under the Rule and Controul of a few Grandees, to these few are Kings and Princes subject and tributary; to these few do Nations and People pay Taxes: Whilst all the rest of us Romans, however brave, however deserving, Noble, or Plebeian, have remained a forlorn Croud, destitute of Credit, secluded from Employments, and Slaves to these Men; Men, who, would the Commonwealth resume her own Frame and Vigour, would find us a Terror to them!
‘So that all Credit, all Sway, all Preferments and Riches are confined to Them, or to those whom they favour. To us, for our Portion, they have left Perils and Fears, the Infamy of Repulses from public Dignities, the rigorous Judgments of the Tribunals, and the Pangs of Indigence.
‘Such are our Grievances! How long will you bear them? You, who are valiant Men, extremely valiant? Is it not more eligible, to meet Death in a brave Attempt, than, holding our Life in Wretchedness and Dishonour, to bear the Scorn of insulting Men, and, even then, to lose it ignominiously?
‘Besides all this, I appeal to Gods and to Men, that Success and Victory are in our own Hands: We are in the Vigour of Life, and suitably brave. It is not so on the other Side: They are oppressed with Years and Opulence, and every way bereft of Force. Nothing further is wanting, than to make the Attempt. The rest, the natural Course of proceeding will execute.
‘In truth, what Mortal, who has the Spirit of a Man, can bear the unequal Lot, that, whilst they have Riches in Excess, even to lavish upon Structures in the Deep, nay, in levelling Mountains, our domestic Means are too narrow to procure us the Necessaries of Life? That, when they are adding Seat to Seat, and multiplying their Mansions, to us there remains not any certain Abode? Though they are purchasing Pictures, Statues, and curious Works of Sculpture; though they go on in building, then again pull down, and then rebuild; in short, though in every wasteful Way they dissipate, and restlesly confound their Treasure; yet, with all their wild Profusion, they are unable to master and exhaust their Wealth.
‘For us, we have pinching Poverty at home; abroad, Debts, and the Dread of Creditors: Our present Situation therefore is abundantly grievous; yet accompanied with Apprehensions of Evils still more alarming. To conclude, what remains to us but Life and Misery?
‘How then? Will you not rouse to Action? Behold the Objects, after which you have long yearned! Behold Liberty! And with it Riches, public Dignities, and Applause, all placed full in your View! All these Recompences Fortune has prepared for the Conquerors. You have indeed Motives to urge you, stronger than any Speech of mine; even the present Conjuncture and Opportunity, the Danger hanging over us, the Wants that press us, with the glorious Spoils of War.
‘For myself, use me how you list; as your Leader, or as a private Soldier: Neither in Council, nor in Execution, will I ever fail you. But I hope first to be Consul, and then concert with you how to conduct this our common Enterprize: Provided, after all, I be not mistaken about you, and you be not determined to prefer Bondage to Empire.’
After these his Followers had heard this Reasoning and Harangue, though they were Men pressed with manifold Miseries, destitute of all things, even bereft of every honest Hope, and being thus desperate, esteemed the Pleasure of overturning the State to be a mighty Recompence; yet very many of them insisted, that he would explain ‘the Grounds and Condition of their taking Arms; what were to be the Advantages and Rewards of their Warfare; upon what Resources they were to depend, and what Prospect of Success they had?’
Catiline, in Answer, promised them an authentic Abolition of all their Debts; the Proscription and Plunder of all that were wealthy; all public Dignities, civil and sacred; unbounded Spoil; with whatever else is produced by War, and the lawless Passions of Conquerors. He added, that Piso, and Publius Sitius Nucerinus, were both engaged in his Measures; the former at the Head of an Army in Spain, the other commanding one in Mauritania: That, as Caius Antonius sued for the Consulship, he hoped to have him for his Collegue, one intirely intimate with him, and desperately distressed in his Affairs; and that in Conjunction with him, as soon as they entered upon their Consulship, he would fall upon the Execution of the Design.
He then poured Invectives upon all Men of Merit, extolled these his own Confederates, and, calling to every Individual by his Name, talked, to one, of his Wants; to another, of his Amours; to several, of their present Perils, and Marks of Disgrace; and to many, of their former Rapine, in consequence of the Victory and Settlement of Sylla. At last, seeing them all elate and resolute, he pressed them to forward zealously his Suit for the Consulship, and dismissed the Assembly.
There were at that time some, who reported, that Catiline, when he had concluded his Speech, and proceeded to tender his Accomplices an Oath, presented them all round with a Bowl of Wine mixed with human Blood; that then, when according to the Usages in Sacrifices, they had all sworn and tasted, he opened his whole Scheme; and that this Course he took, to bind them more firmly to mutual Faith and Secrecy, as each was privy to the Guilt of another in an Abomination so horrible. Some believe, that this, and much more, was forged by Cicero’s Friends; who, perceiving what public Hate followed the Execution of some of the Conspirators, thought to allay it by thus aggravating their Crimes. For myself, I can find but small Evidence for a Fact so hideous and extraordinary.
Now, one in this Conspiracy was Quintus Curius, a Man of no mean Birth, but immersed in Debauchery and Crimes, and (as a public Mark of Infamy upon him) degraded by the Censors from the Dignity of a Senator: As the Levity of this Man’s Temper was equal to his Audaciousness, whatever he heard, he was sure to disclose; nor could he even hide his own Enormities and Shame. In truth, in whatever he said, in whatever he did, he had neither Consideration nor Restraint.
Between him and Fulvia, a Woman of Quality, there had been a long Amour; and, as he perceived himself become less agreeable to her, since his Poverty had rendered him less liberal, at first he tempted her with magnificent Promises, boasting of Seas and Mountains of Wealth; then again he raged, threatening to kill her, unless she submitted to his Will. In a Word, he behaved more imperiously than ever he was wont.
As soon as Fulvia had learned the Ground of such haughty Strains, she kept not concealed such threatening Danger to the State, but discovered to many whatever she had heard of Catiline’s Conspiracy; suppressing nothing but the Name of her Author.
’Twas this Consideration, especially, that awakened the Minds of Men, and made them zealous to confer the Consulship upon Cicero. For, before, most of the Nobility stormed, through Envy, against that Choice; and thought the Consulship would suffer a sort of Profanation, were it once borne by one so newly risen, though one of celebrated Merit. But now, when general Peril was impending, personal Envy and Scorn subsided.
Upon holding therefore the Assembly for Elections, Cicero and Caius Antonius were declared Consuls: An Event which first shocked and disconcerted the Associates in the Conspiracy.
Yet such was the furious Spirit of Catiline, as to pursue his Treason with unabated Ardour: Nay, every Day he made fresh Efforts, provided Stores of Arms in all the most commodious Places of Italy; borrowed Money upon his own Credit, or that of his Friends; and transmitted it to one Manlius at the City of Fæsulæ, the same who afterwards first began the War.
He is moreover said, at this Juncture, to have gained to his Party Numbers of Men of all Conditions, as also several Women, those particularly, who had once made such great Gain of their Lewdness, as to support an immense Expence; but were afterwards involved in mighty Debts: For when Age had shortened the Measure of their Gain, they had neglected to shorten that of their Luxury. Through their Means Catiline hoped to draw over the City Bondmen; and by them to set Rome on Fire. These Women were likewise to engage their Husbands in the Conspiracy, or to kill them, if they refused.
Sempronia was one of the Ladies just mentioned; one who had performed various Adventures, that manifested a Spirit extremely daring and masculine. In her Person, and her Race, she was abundantly distinguished and happy; as also in her Husband and Children; was well instructed in the Greek and Roman Languages; and, in Music and Dancing, had more Charms and Address than suited a virtuous Woman; with many other Accomplishments, such as incite to Vice and Voluptuousness. Indeed, of all things upon Earth, she least regarded Modesty and Honour; and it is hard to determine, whether she was least sparing of, her Character, or her Money. In her lewd Pursuits she was so ardent, that she oftener made Advances to Men, than Men to her. She had been long since branded, for having forfeited her plighted Faith, and, by Perjury, evaded Debts and Demands of Trust; to have been privy to Assassinations; and, by a Course of Voluptuousness followed with Indigence, had plunged herself headlong into all the Excesses of Iniquity. With all these Blots, she had a Wit very pertinent and pleasing; could compose Verses; enliven Conversation; talk in any Strain, modest, or tender, or satirical. To conclude, she excelled in Humour and Gaiety, and had an engaging Manner.
Catiline, having taken these Measures, still persevered in his Suit for the Consulship, and declared himself a Candidate for the ensuing Year: For he hoped, if he were chosen, to govern Antonius as he pleased. Neither, during this Interval, did he remain unactive; but was contriving endless Plots for the Destruction of Cicero. Nor was Cicero wanting in Subtilty and Intrigues for his own Security: For, from the very Beginning of his Consulship, he had effectually employed Fulvia, with Offers of such vast Rewards to Quintus Curius, whom I lately mentioned, that he revealed to Cicero all the treasonable Devices of Catiline. Then, by the Promise of a Province to his Brother Consul, he had secured him against all Intention of disturbing the Republic. Besides, he had always about him a Number of his Friends and Followers, who were a real Guard, without the Name and Formality.
When the Day of Election came, Catiline, finding that neither his Suit for the chief Magistracy, nor his Plots to take away the Life of Cicero in the Field of Election, had at all succeeded, resolved upon open War, and to try the most daring and desperate Courses, since his secret Machinations had all ended in Anguish and Infamy.
With this View, he dispatched Caius Manlius to the City of Fæsulæ, and the adjacent Parts of Etruria; one Septimius (a Native of Camertes) to the Territory of Picenum; Caius Julius to Apulia; and others elsewhere, just as it conduced to his Purpose.
All this while he was making at Rome many Efforts together; laying new Snares against the Life of the Consul; contriving how to set Fire to the City; posting armed Men to secure the most commodious Places; he himself was always ready armed, always giving Orders to his Followers; urging them to be ever vigilant, ever prepared: Night and Day he hurried; lived without Sleep; and was utterly indefatigable under all Labour and Want of Repose.
At last, when he found, that, with all his many Attempts, he made no sort of Progress in any, he employed Porcius Læcca to call together once more the principal Conspirators, during the Dead of Night; and after many Complaints of their Want of Vigour, he informed them, ‘That he had sent forward Manlius to command a Number of Men, whom he had before provided, to take Arms; that to other proper Places he had sent other Officers, to begin the War; and that he himself longed exceedingly to proceed to the Army, provided he could first destroy Cicero; for that Cicero infinitely obstructed all their Schemes.’
Now, whilst all the rest of the Assembly continued mute, through Dread and Irresolution, Caius Cornelius, a Roman Knight, offered his Service; and Lucius Vargunteius, a Senator, joining with him, they agreed, immediately upon the approaching Morning, to furnish themselves with armed Assistants; and, repairing to Cicero, under Shew of paying their Respects, to fall upon him by Surprize, and assassinate him. Curius, finding what deadly Peril threatened the Consul, incontinently acquainted him, by Fulvia, with their black Contrivance. When therefore they came, they were denied Entrance, and saw themselves defeated in so desperate an Attempt.
During these Transactions, Manlius was inflaming the Populace in Etruria, of themselves passionate for Innovations, both from their present Poverty, and their Resentment of cruel Usage past: For, under the Usurpation of Sylla, they had been stripped of their Lands, and all that they had. He likewise engaged in his Party all the Thieves and Freebooters of every Kind, such as swarm in that Quarter; with some too of the Colonies settled by Sylla; Men who, having formerly gained infinite Spoil, had now, through Riot and Debauchery, seen an End of the Whole.
Cicero, when he had an Account of these Transactions, was sorely struck with an Evil so dangerous and distressing; since he could neither by his own single Management, longer secure the City against intestine Incendiaries, nor was as yet thoroughly apprised, either of the Strength, or of the Purposes of Manlius’s Army. He therefore assembled the Senate, and to them opened the Conspiracy, which had been already, for some time, much bandied in the Conversation of the Commonalty.
Thus the Senate, agreeably to common Usage in Conjunctures of great Peril and Alarm, ordained, ‘That the Consuls should take effectual Measures, that no Damage accrued to the State.’ Such is the supreme Authority, thus transferred by the Senate to the Magistrate, according to the Policy of the Roman Government. By it he is impowered to levy Forces, to make War, to exercise Jurisdiction without Bounds over the Confederates, and even over the Citizens, with the sovereign Administration and Command, both in the City and the Camp: Acts of Power, which are not, otherwise, included in the Consular Authority, unless by an Ordinance of the People in their Assemblies.
A few Days after this, there was read in the Senate, by Lucius Senius, one of that Order, a Letter brought to him, he said, from the Town of Fæsulæ; recounting, that, towards the latter End of October, Caius Manlius had taken up Arms, at the Head of a great Host of People. To this News some added (what is usual under such public Alarms) a Recital of portentous Spectacles, with marvellous and prophetic Prodigies: Others too related, what numerous Cabals were holden; what Quantities of Arms were carried, and whither; and that, at Capua, and likewise in Apulia, there were Bands of Slaves arming apace.
The Senate therefore ordered Quintus Marcius Rex to the Town of Fæsulæ; as also Quintus Metellus Creticus to Apulia, and the adjacent Country. These two Officers, lately Commanders of Armies, were then waiting without the City for the Honour of Triumph, which was refused them by the Management and malicious Representations of certain Citizens, whose Rule it was, to make Sale of all things, honourable or infamous. The Prætors too, Quintus Pompeius, and Quintus Metellus Celer, were sent, one to Capua, the other to the Territory of Picenum, with discretionary. Authority to raise Forces in proportion to the public Exigency and Peril.
It was likewise decreed, ‘That whoever of the Conspirators would make Discovery of the Conspiracy, should, if a Slave, have a Reward of one hundred thousand Sesterces* , and his Liberty; if a Freeman, double that Sum, and his Pardon.’ The Senate moreover ordained, ‘That the Bands of Gladiators should be distributed amongst the municipal Cities, Capua, and the rest, in proportion to the Strength and Power of each; and that, for the Security of Rome, Guards should be posted in every Quarter, under the Command of the subordinate Magistrates.’
The City was thoroughly affected by all these Symptoms of Peril, and assumed a new Face. From the highest general Festivity, and even Riot, such as resulted from a long Course of Tranquillity, in an Instant Sadness seized every Heart. Full of Restlessness, full of Affright, they were all equally insecure, and all distrustful of Places, and of Persons: They neither enjoyed Peace, nor yet were engaged in War; and each judged the Measure of Danger to correspond with that of his own Fears. The Women also were terribly alarmed with the unusual Apprehensions of a War, such as the mighty Power of the Commonwealth had hitherto secured them against: They gave themselves up to Lamentation and Anguish; supplicated the Gods with uplifted Hands; bewailed their tender Infants; were importunate for News; frightened at all things; and, quitting their Vanity and fond Delights, became anxious for themselves and their Country.
Yet still the sanguinary Spirit of Catiline persevered in the same inhuman Pursuit, although he saw Armies and Guards raised to defeat it; nay, though he himself stood arraigned by Lucius Paulus, upon the Law of Marcus Plautius against Treason and Assassination. He even appeared in the Senate, the better to dissemble his Purposes; as if, provoked by injurious Invectives, he only came there to vindicate his injured Character. Upon his Entrance, the Consul Cicero, either apprehending his Presence there to be of ill Effect, or prompted by Indignation, made that awakening Speech; (which he afterwards published) then so seasonable to the Commonwealth. Yet, as soon as he sat down, Catiline, who was determined to disavow every Article, accosted the Senate; and, with modest downcast Looks, and an humble supplicating Voice, besought the Fathers, ‘That they would not lightly receive any Charge against him: Such was the Race from whence he sprang, such too had been the Rule and Course of his Life from his Youth, that, from the Public, he hoped for every honourable, for every favourable Impression. They could not surely conceive, that he, a Patrician born, he, who had himself done, he, whose Progenitors had done, such numberless Services to the People of Rome, could find his Interest in the Destruction of the Commonwealth; whilst such an Upstart as Cicero, a Roman only by Admission, assumed the Defence of it.’
To these Invectives he was proceeding to add others; when the whole Senate, with Indignation, and a general Outcry, treated him as a Traitor and Parricide! Then abandoning himself to utter Rage, ‘Seeing (says he) I am oh every side beset by deadly Designs, and driven by my Enemies to Extremities, I will, by general Desolation, suppress the Flames kindled to devour me.’
Having so said, he rushed out, and went home. There, after having balanced by himself a thousand Schemes and Reflections; that not only his Devices against the Life of the Consul were still unsuccessful, but the Firing of the City was also defeated by Guards every-where placed; he judged it his wisest Course to reinforce his Army, and to anticipate the Legions, by catching all Advantages, and providing whatever was necessary to an Army, before these Legions were ready for the Field. He therefore retired in the Dead of Night, and, with a few in his Company, proceeded to the Camp of Manlius. He lest however a Charge with Cethegus and Lentulus, and with such others as he knew to be most forward and desperate, That, by all possible Methods, they should strengthen the Party; dispatch the Assassination of the Consul; then proceed to the intended Massaere; to fire Rome, and perform all the other gallant Feats of Warriors. For himself, he would, in a short time, advance to their Succour with a powerful Army.
During these Transactions at Rome, Caius Manlius dispatched Deputies to Quintus Marcius Rex, with Orders to accost him in the following Strain:
‘We appeal to the Testimony of Gods and Men, O General, that we have taken up Arms with no View either to hurt our Country, or to distress particular Men; but only to secure our own Persons from Outrages, wretched and indigent as we are, through the inhuman Violence of Usurers; most of us bereft of our Abodes; all of our Reputation and Fortune; not one of us allowed the Protection of the Laws, our Birthright by Inheritance; not one of us permitted to enjoy the Liberty of his Person, even when we have nothing else left us to enjoy. Such hath been the Cruelty of our Creditors, such that of the Prætorian Tribunals. Often have our Forefathers exercised their Commiseration towards the Roman People, and succoured them in Distress, by Ordinances of State. Nay, we have seen, in our own Times, a recent Instance, where, in Consideration of the universal Pressure of Debts, public Authority intervened; and, with the unanimous Voice of every good Citizen, the Creditors were obliged to take a Composition. Often too have the Roman People withdrawn, and separated themselves from the Senate, when either incited by a Passion for popular Rule, or urged to it for Self-defence against the Insolence of their Magistrates.
‘For us; our Pursuit is neither Wealth nor Power, though these be the two great Sources of all the Wars and Combustions amongst Men. What we seek is Liberty; that Liberty which no virtuous Man will lose, but together with his Life. We therefore conjure thee, O General, thee and the Senate, to espouse the Interest of forlorn Citizens; to restore us the Protection of the Laws, rent from us by the Violence of the Prætorian Tribunal; and not to reduce us to the desperate Necessity of only studying so to perish, as amply to avenge our own Blood upon such as shed it.’
To all this Marcius replied, ‘That, if they had any Request to the Senate, they should forthwith abandon their Arms, and repair as Supplicants to Rome: Since such had ever been the Clemency and Compassion of the Roman Senate and People, that to them no Man had ever sued in vain for Relief.’
Now Catiline, whilst yet upon the Road, sent Letters to many Senators of Consular Distinction, and indeed to every Citizen of principal Estimation, ‘That as his Life was sought by forged Crimes, and he could not resist the Combination of his Enemies, he yielded to his Fortune, and was retiring as an Exile to Marseilles; stung by no Guilt of the terrible imputed Treason, but only for the Tranquillity of the Commonwealth; lest, had he staid, and maintained his Innocence, public Tumults might have ensued.’
But the Letter which Quintus Catulus recited in the Senate, and declared to have received from Catiline, was conceived in a Style quite opposite. Here follows a Copy of it:
Lucius Catiline,toQuintus Catulus,Health.
‘SUCH hath been thy distinguished Faith and Friendship to me, and so abundantly proved upon Trial, whilst I was pressed by the highest Perils, that I am thence emboldened to make thee this Application. For this Reason, I wave offering thee any Defence of my present Proceedings: As I am conscious of no Guilt, I propose only to make thee a Declaration of my Innocence. How true this Declaration is, thou wilt be abundantly convinced: For this I appeal to the Gods.
‘Finding myself pursued by a Course of Injustice and false Accusations, and thence bereft of the Reward of my public Services and Zeal, and disappointed of the Dignity for which I sued, I am thus roused to undertake (as has ever been my Character and Practice) the common Cause of the Miserable; not because I am excited to it by any Distress or Debts of my own; since what I owe on my own Account, my own Fortune suffices to discharge; and Orestilla would, out of hers, and that of her Daughter, freely clear all my Engagements on Account of others; But perceiving Men of no Worth distinguished with the high Honours of the State, and seeing myself, by causless Jealousies, excluded from them, I have, under this Provocation, and for securing the Remains of my Rank and Dignity, had recourse to such Counsels, as in my present Situation will abundantly justify themselves.
‘I have much more to say; but at this Instant I am informed, that deadly Measures are taken against me. I therefore just recommend Orestilla to thee, and to thy faithful Protection: Defend her from Injustice, by thy dear Children I adjure thee. Farewel.’
Now, when he had staid a few Days with Caius Flaminius in the Territory belonging to Reate, just to furnish Arms to that Quarter already gained to his Party, he proceeded, with Rods and Axes, and all the other Badges of Consular Power, to the Camp of Manlius.
As soon as the News of this were verified at Rome, the Senate declared Catiline and Manlius public Enemies, with Pardon to all those of their Followers, who by a Day certain should quit their Arms, except only such who were under Sentence for capital Crimes. It was moreover decreed, That the Consuls should forthwith levy Forces; that Antonius should march in Pursuit of Catiline; and Cicero remain for the Defence of the City.
At this Juncture, the Condition of the Roman Commonwealth seems to me to have been infinitely deplorable; since, whilst every Region, from the rising to the setting Sun, (all subdued by her Arms) submitted to her Government; whilst, within her Walls, extreme Wealth, and all Tranquillity, reigned; things which pass with Men for sovereign Enjoyment and Bliss; there were yet some of her own Citizens, with desperate Spirits, bent upon the Destruction of the State, and even upon their own with it. For, notwithstanding two Decrees published by the Senate, not a Man was found, amongst all that Host of Traitors, to accept the promised Recompence, and discover the Conspiracy; not a Man of Catiline’s Army, to desert from him: Such an invincible Spirit of Disaffection had, like a Pestilence, generally seized the Minds of Men.
Neither was this angry Humour confined only to the Conspirators, and their Accomplices: The Commonalty too, in a Body, from a Passion for public Changes, approved the Pursuits of Catiline; and in this seemed but to follow their usual Bent.
For, in this our City, they who are destitute of Place and Substance, ever repine at the Enjoyments and Distinction of virtuous Men; ever extol the vicious; hate the old Ways; long for Novelties and Change; and, from Disgust to their own Condition, labour to introduce universal Confusion. In popular Commotions and Discord they find their Subsistence without Pains and Care; since Poverty has ever this Advantage, that it has nothing to lose.
From other Causes too, the Roman Populace were prompted to desperate Courses; chiefly, because from all Quarters there flocked into Rome, as into a common Sink, whoever surpassed in Villainy and Impudence at home, together with those who had wasted their Fortunes in Prodigality and Riot; in a Word, all they who were Fugitives for their Infamy or Crimes. Many were continually revolving upon the Usurpation of Sylla, whence they saw some raised from common Soldiers to the Dignity of Senators, and others to such excessive Wealth, that in Pomp and Magnificence they lived like Kings; and every Individual hoped, if he were but engaged in a civil War, to obtain Victory, and thence the same Advantages to himself.
Moreover the young Men from the Country, formerly accustomed to earn, by Agriculture, just enough to support Life, having been drawn to Rome by the Allurements of Largesses, some distributed by the State, some by particular Citizens, came to prefer Ease and Idleness in the City, to their penurious Toil in the Fields.
These, and all who resembled them, found their Support in the Calamities and Disorders of the State. Hence the less Wonder, that such Men as these, pressed with Wants, dissolute in their Manners, extravagant in their Views, should consult the Welfare of the Commonwealth, just as far as it conduced to their own.
They also whose Parents were proscribed, whose Estates were confiscated, and who had lost the Rights of Citizens, under the Usurpation of Sylla, had no other nor better Views in the Expectancy and Event of the present civil War.
Besides, whoever were of any Party whatsoever different from that of the Senate, wished rather to see the Commonwealth in Confusion, than themselves deprived of popular Sway: An old Evil! which, after an Interval of many Years, had again revived in the City.
For, after the Power of the Tribunes of the People was restored to its former Vigour, under the Consulship of Pompey and Crassus, certain young Men, acquiring that supreme popular Magistracy, in the Bloom of their Life, and flaming with turbulent Passions, began to rouse the People to Disaffection, first by criminal Imputations against the Senate; then by Liberalities, and flattering Promises, to heighten their Disaffection into a Flame; and thus gained to themselves signal Renown, and mighty Credit. To thwart them, and their Measures, the Generality of the Nobles made their utmost Efforts, in Shew, for Support of the Senate, in Reality, for that of their own Grandeur. In truth, to comprise all in a few Words, during all those Times, whoever raised civil Dissensions in the Commonwealth, used plausible Pretences; some to vindicate the Rights of the People, others to exalt the Authority of the Senate, both Sorts to pursue the public Good; yet all only striving severally to procure Weight and Power to themselves. Neither in these their civil Contests did any of them observe Moderation or Bounds: Whatever Party conquered, still used their Victory with Violence and Inhumanity.
Now, after Pompey was sent from home, as General in the War against the Pirates, then in that against Mithridates, the Power of the People sunk very low, and the whole Sway was engrossed by a few. These grasped the civil Administration, the Government of the Provinces, and all things. Thus, unaccountable and prosperous, they lived confident of their own Security, and fearless themselves; whilst, by the Terror of their Power and Decrees, they restrained the popular Magistrates from rousing the People. But, upon the first View of a Change in the State, the old Competition was instantly renewed, with infinite Animosity, in the Minds of the Commonalty.
Now, suppose Catiline had conquered in the first Engagement, or had even retired with equal Loss, surely very tragical Calamities must have overwhelmed the Commonwealth. Nor would the Conquerors have been suffered to enjoy their Victory long; since, when they were weakened and exhausted, whoever had superior Power, would have seized the Government, and oppressed public Liberty.
There were, however, several, who, though unengaged with the Conspirators, yet immediately followed Catiline. One of these was Aulus Fulvius, (the Son of a Senator) taken upon the Road, brought back, and slain by the Order of his Father.
Lentulus, at the same time, was pursuing the Directions of Catiline; and, by himself, or his Agents, gaining over all such as, either from their Characters or Fortune, he judged proper Instruments for a Revolution; not only Roman Citizens, but all Men of what sort soever, so they were fit for Arms.
Lentulus, therefore, employed one Publius Umbrenus to apply to the Deputies of the Allobrogians, and oblige them, if he could, to join in the War: For he fansied, that, as their State, as also the Members of the State, were universally oppressed with Debts, and as the whole People of Gaul were naturally fierce and warlike, they might be easily persuaded into such a Design. Umbrenus, having, as a Trader, been conversant in Gaul, was generally known to the leading Men in their several Communities, and acquainted with their Characters. So that, without Delay, the Moment he beheld the Deputies in the Forum, he began with certain Questions concerning the Condition of their Nation: Then, affecting great Grief for their Oppressions, proceeded to ask, ‘What Issue they hoped to their crying Calamities?’ Next, when he perceived, that they complained of the Rapaciousness of our Magistrates, that they reproached the Senate for yielding them no Succour or Protection, and expected from Death alone a Remedy to their many Miseries; he replied, ‘Provided you resolve to act like Men, I will present you with an Expedient to release yourselves from all these crying Calamities.’ Immediately the Allobrogians, raised to the highest Hopes by what he had said, conjured him, ‘to pity them: There was nothing so dangerous, (they said) nothing so difficult, but they would most heartily perform, if by it, whatever it were, their Nation might be redeemed from the Oppression of Debts.’
Umbrenus then carried them to the House of Decius Brutus; for it joined to the Forum, and was no improper Scene for such a Consultation, since Sempronia was an Accomplice, and Brutus was then from Rome. Moreover, to gain the greater Weight and Credit to what he had to say, he had Gabinius called to the Interview, and, before him, opened the whole Conspiracy, named all the Accomplices, and many others of all Stations, who were utterly guiltless; but mentioned by him to inspire the Deputies with the higher Hopes and Boldness. Having thus gained from them an Engagement for their Assistance; he let them retire.
The Deputies, however, wavered long what Counsel to chuse. Here, to induce them, were consuming Debts, a Passion for War, and mighty Spoil attending Victory: There, superior Puissance, Proceedings legal and sure, and, for uncertain Hope, Rewards solid and certain.
As they were thus in Suspense, the Fortune of the Roman Republic prevailed; so that they unfolded the whole Detail (just as they had learned it) to Quintus Fabius Sanga, upon whose Patronage their Nation chiefly relied. Cicero, who was apprised of the Design by Sanga, injoined the Deputies to feign a flaming Zeal for the Conspiracy; to apply assiduously to the rest of the Conspirators; to promise abundantly; and to study to bring them all under the clearest Conviction.
Near about the same Conjuncture there were Commotions in both the Gauls; as also in the Territory of Picenum, in Bruttium, and Apulia. For the Creatures of Catiline, sent by him into these several Quarters, behaved absurdly; and, as if Madness had possessed them, pushed, precipitately, all their Measures at once: So that, by all their nocturnal Consultations, by their conveying Armour and Weapons hither and thither, by their furious Haste and tumultuous Doings, they only caused more Affright than Danger: A great Number of these Quintus Metellus Celer, the Prætor, adjudged to Bonds, in Conformity to the Decree of Senate; as Caius Muræna did many others in Cisalpine Gaul; where he governed under the Character of Lieutenant-General.
At Rome, the while, Lentulus, in Concert with the other Heads of the Conspiracy, reckoning themselves now sure of abundant Force, determined, that, whenever Catiline arrived with his Army in the Territory of Fæsulæ, Lucius Bestia, one of the Tribunes, should assemble the People, purposely to incense them against Cicero, by popular Imputations upon his Conduct, and to fasten upon the excellent Consul the odious Blame of a War so afflicting and calamitous. This was to be the Signal to the whole Crowd of Conspirators, for resorting on the Night ensuing to the Discharge of their several Parts.
Now these Parts were said to be thus distributed: Statilius and Gabinius, assisted with a powerful Band, were to set Fire, at once, to Twelve select Quarters of the City; for that, in a Confusion so general, it were easier to reach the Person of the Consul, and those of all the rest, who were marked for Destruction. Cethegus was to force his Doors, and put him to Death. Others had, for their Share, the like bloody Work: Nay, there were Youths, yet under the Roof of their Parents, (most of them from amongst the Nobility) who were to butcher their own Fathers; and, when, by devouring Flames and Massacre, they had spread universal Fear and Anguish, they were to sally out in a Body to meet Catiline.
During the Debate of these Measures, now formed, and of these Resolutions, now fixed, Cethegus was always complaining ‘of Want of Spirit in his Associates; that, by eternal Ballancing and Procrastination, they abused many glorious Opportunities. In an Enterprize thus dating and perillous, Execution was more requisite than Deliberation. For himself; would but a few of them support him, he would, notwithstanding the Remissness of the rest, fall openly upon the Senate.’ As he was, by Nature, daring and determined, his Spirit impetuous, in his Person prompt and enterprising, he esteemed their best Measure to be Dispatch.
Now the Allobrogians, according to their Instructions from Cicero, had a Meeting, by the means of Gabinius, with the rest of the Conspirators. There they demanded the Security of an Oath, from Lentulus, Cethegus, Statilius, as also from Cassius, signed severally by them; such as they might carry to their Countrymen, who, without it, would not be easily engaged in Transactions of such high Moment. All, except Cassius, complied, without the least Apprehension. He, who, indeed, had promised to be with them presently, went out of Rome, a little sooner than the Deputies. In Company with these, Lentulus sent Titus Volturcius, one of Crotona, with Orders, that, before they proceeded home, they should repeat and confirm the League with Catiline, by reciprocal Ties. He also gave Volturcius a Letter for Catiline, of which I here subjoin a Copy:
‘Who it is that sends thee this, thou wilt learn from him who brings it. Besure to consider thy own desperate Situation, and remember, that thou art a Man. Recollect what thy Circumstances demand. Seek Assistance from all, even from the Lowest and Basest.’
He likewise sent by him verbal Instructions; namely, to expostulate, ‘With what View Catiline could reject the Succours of Slaves, when the Senate had already declared him a public Enemy:’ And to assure him, ‘That, in Rome, all Dispositions were now made conformable to his own Orders; and, on his part, he must not delay to advance.’
These things having thus passed, Cicero, on the Night appointed for the Departure of the Deputies, from whom he had learnt all, ordered the Prætors, Valerius Flaccus, and Caius Pomptinus, privately to secure the Milvian Bridge; and apprehend, as they passed, the Allobrogians, and their Train. He explained to them, at large, the Cause of thus employing them, and, allowing them a Band of Soldiers, left them to proceed as Exigencies required. They, therefore, posting their Guards without Noise or Shew, silently beset the Bridge. When the Deputies and Volturcius arrived, and Shouts arose on both Sides, the Allobrogians, who were soon apprised of the Design, surrendered themselves, without a Pause, to the Prætors. Volturcius, at first, boldly encouraged his Companions; and, with his Sword, defended himself, though Numbers encompassed him. Then, seeing himself abandoned by the Deputies, he began to adjure Pomptinus, as his Acquaintance, with many Arguments, to save his Life: At last, full of Dread, and void of Hope, he yielded to the Prætors, as to a foreign Enemy.
When all this was effected, Messengers were instantly dispatched, with an Account of the Whole, to Cicero. He, in truth, now found himself possessed, at once, with much Joy, and much Anxiety. He rejoiced to see the Republic snatched from Destruction by a full Discovery of the Conspiracy; but felt great Solicitude, from the Difficulty of proceeding against Citizens of such signal Power and Eminence, convicted of such enormous Treason. To punish them, he judged, would draw much heavy Enmity upon himself; to let them go unpunished, would bring Perdition upon the State.
Hence, rousing his Spirit to Resolution, he ordered Lentulus, Cethegus, Statilius, and Gabinius, to be brought before him, with Cæparius too of Terracina, who was upon the Point of repairing to Apulia, there to engage the Slaves to revolt. The others came without Hesitation; but Cæparius, who had but just gone from his House, having learnt that all was discovered, was fled out of Rome.
The Consul brought Lentulus into the Senate, which he had assembled in the Temple of Concord, himself leading him by the Hand; for Lentulus was then Prætor. The rest he ordered to be carried thither under Guard. Vast was the Appearance of Senators: Before them he ordered Volturcius and the Deputies to be produced; and directed Flaccus the Prætor to bring the Packet of Letters, which he had found upon them.
Volturcius, when he was examined about his Journey, and the Packet of Letters, and, lastly, what was his Purpose in it, upon what Advice and Motives he undertook it; returned, at first, Answers quite foreign and framed; and affected utter Ignorance of the Conspiracy. But, as soon as the Senate had secured his Pardon by tendering him the Public Faith, he divulged every Transaction, and shewed, that, ‘but a few Days before, Gabinius and Cæparius had adopted him for an Associate: That, besides this, he knew no more than the Deputies; only he used to hear Gabinius declare, that Publius Autronius, Servius Sylla, Lucius Vargunteius, were, with many others, Accomplices in the Conspiracy.’
The Deputies, in their Confession, agreed with him in his. They likewise clearly convicted Lentulus, (who was asserting his Innocence) not only by Writing under his Hand, but by his common Discourse, ‘That, by the Sibylline Prophecies, the Sovereignty of Rome was foredoomed to Three of the Cornelian Race; first to Cinna, then to Sylla; and he himself was now the third destined by Fate to sway the Empire: That, besides, the present Year was the twentieth since the Burning of the Capitol; a Period productive of mighty civil Slaughter, according to the Explanations frequently made of Prodigies by the Augurs.’
The Senate therefore, when the Letters were read, and after the Criminals had acknowledged their several Signets, past a Decree, that Lentulus should be divested of his Office, and, with the rest, holden in Custody, but not in Prison. Thus Lentulus was delivered to Publius Lentulus Spinther, then Ædile; Cethegus to Quintus Cornificius; Statilius to Caius Cæsar; Gabinius to MarcusCrassus; and Cæparius (just before seized in his Flight, and brought back) to Cneius Terentius the Senator.
In the mean while, the Commonalty, they who just before, from a Passion for public Changes, were but too fond of intestine War, suddenly altered their Sentiments, when the Conspiracy was thus publicly discovered. They all now cursed the Devices of Catiline; all extolled Cicero to the Skies; and, like People just snatched from Bondage, gave full Scope to their Festivity and Joy. For, though from the War, in its ordinary Course and Events, they thought to have found more Spoil than Loss; yet they esteemed the Burning of Rome an inhuman Attempt, horrible beyond measure, and utterly destructive to themselves; since their whole Substance consisted in what nourished them from Day to Day, and in what they daily wore.
On the next Day, when the Senate sat, there was brought before them one Lucius Tarquinius, charged with going to join Catiline, and seized by the Way. This Man, who offered to disclose the Particulars of the Conspiracy, under the Security of public Faith and Indemnity, was indulged in this by the Consul, and bid to testify what he knew. He then informed the Senate, very nearly as Volturcius had done, of the Design concerted to set Fire to the City, to murder all the best Citizens, and to march the Rebel Army to Rome. He added, ‘That he was dispatched by Crassus to Catiline, to warn him, in his Name, not to be dejected by the apprehending of Lentulus, and Cethegus, and some other Conspirators, but the rather to hasten his March to Rome; whence, besides reviving the Spirit of the Conspirators in general, they who were in Custody might be snatched from Vengeance.’
Now the Moment Tarquinius named Crassus, a Man of grand Quality, immense Wealth, mighty Influence and Credit; they all cried out, that he was a false Witness, and demanded to have it debated. Many indeed believed the Charge utterly incredible: Some, tho’ they accounted it true, yet thought in a Conjuncture so terrible, a Man of such prodigious Sway was rather to be courted than provoked. Besides that, the Generality of the Senators were engaged to Crassus by private Ties and Obligations. It was therefore decreed, in a full Senate, even Cicero proposing it, ‘that the Testimony of Tarquinius appeared to be forged, and that he should be confined in Irons, never to be delivered till he had disclosed by whose Advice he had framed so daring an Imposture.’ There were then those who supposed this Evidence to have been an Artifice of Publius Autronius, whence Crassus, finding himself involved in the same Danger with the Conspirators, might serve them for a common Sanctuary, and protect them all by his mighty Power.
Others alledged, that Tarquinius was tutored and prompted by Cicero, thus to disable Crassus from distressing the Commonwealth by espousing, as he was wont, the Defence of public Incendiaries. I have indeed heard Crassus himself aver, that this glaring Indignity was fastened upon him by Cicero.
Yet, at this very time, Quintus Catulus and Caius Piso could not prevail with Cicero, either by their great Interest, or by their Intreaties, or by any Offers, to procure Cæsar to be falsly accused by the Allobrogians, or any other Witness whatsoever. For both these great Men bore mortal Enmity to Cæsar; Piso, because Cæsar had procured Judgment against him for Bribery in passing Sentence of Death, unjustly, upon a Man beyond the Po; Catulus continued to hate him, ever since their Suit for the Office of supreme Pontiff, as he was enraged that Cæsar in his early Youth should gain it from him in his old Age, after he had sustained all the highest Dignities in the State. Now this Charge against him they concluded was probable and well-timed: For he had, both by his signal Munificence to Particulars, and by his boundless Largesses to the People, contracted prodigious Debts.
When therefore they failed to persuade the Consul to so black an Undertaking, they went themselves sedulously about from Man to Man, and by averring what they only feigned, how many Instances of his Guilt they themselves had heard from Volturcius, as well as from the Allobrogians, exposed him to extraordinary Jealousy and Hate; so that certain Roman Knights, attending in Arms at the Temple of Concord, as a Guard to the Senate, threatened him with their drawn Swords, as he went out of the Assembly; whether they were struck with the prodigious Horrour of the Conspiracy, or did it in a Fit of Bravery, thence the more to signalize their Zeal for the Commonweal.
Whilst these were the Transactions of the Senate, and whilst Recompences were decreeing there to the Deputies of the Allobrogians, and to Volturcius, whose several Discoveries were now verified and approved; the Freedmen of Lentulus, with some few of his Dependents, had divided themselves into several Quarters of the City; and whilst some of them were suborning the Slaves and common Artizans about the Streets, to deliver him by Force, the rest were searching after the Ringleaders of the Croud, such as are wont, for Hire, to raise popular Uproar and Sedition.
Cethegus, at the same time, had dispatched Messages to the Slaves of his Houshold, and to some of his Freedmen, such, especially, as were select Instruments, hardened and audacious in Feats of Violence, conjuring them to form an armed Band, and, by strong Hand, to deliver him.
The Consul, as soon as he learnt what Measures were pursuing, posted Guards in such Quarters, and in such Numbers, as the Time and Exigency required: Then, assembling the Senate, proposed to their Consideration, ‘What they would please finally to determine concerning the Conspirators, now in Custody by their own Order.’ Indeed a very full Senate had very lately adjudged them to be public Traitors.
Decius Junius Silanus, therefore, whose Opinion was first asked, as he was then Consul elect, declared for capital Punishment, to be inflicted, not upon the Prisoners only, but also upon Lucius Cassius, Publius Furius, Publius Umbrenus, and Quintus Annius, whenever they were apprehended: Tho’, afterwards, yielding to the Force of Cæsar’s Reasoning, he professed to acquiesce in the Opinion of Tiberius Nero, who had proposed to have the Guards increased, and the Result postponed to another Debate.
Cæsar himself, when asked by the Consul in his Turn, spoke in the following Strain:
‘It is incumbent upon all Men, Conscript Fathers, in their Deliberations upon every Subject of Tenderness and Difficulty, to be exempt from all Hate and Affection, from all Revenge and Compassion. The Soul, when such Passions ruffle it, can but ill exercise any just Discernment: Not hath any Man, whosoever, at once pursued his own headstrong Will, and yet served any laudable Purpose. Your Judgment, when you exert that only, hath all due Force and Success; but if Passion seize you, ’tis that which masters you; and then your rational Faculties avail you nothing.
‘Many are the Instances, which I could recount, of Kings, as well as of People, falling into unhappy Measures, by hastily yielding to the Impulses of Wrath, or to those of Commiseration. But I had rather relate, from the Examples of our Forefathers, what sort of Determinations they made, all in Opposition to any Heat and Commotion of Spirit, but all agreeable to good Policy and the Times.
‘During the War which we maintained against Perses King of Macedon, Rhodes, a mighty and opulent City, deriving too all her Grandeur from the Power and Aid of the Romans, yet forfeited her Faith to us, and took Part against us. But, upon the Issue of the War, when it came to be debated how to deal with the Rhodians, our Ancestors discharged them from all Punishment and Retribution; that no Man might alledge the Quarrel to have begun rather from Thirst after their Wealth, than from that of avenging Injuries. Thro’ the whole Series of our Wars with Carthage, though the Carthaginians, even during Intervals of Peace, even in the midst of a Truce, committed many and shocking Insults; still our Ancestors never sought or improved any Opportunity of returning Evil for Evil; since they inquired rather what was worthy of themselves to do, than what might, in Justice, be done against the Carthaginians.
‘This is what it behoves you also, Conscript Fathers, now to consider, and provide that the Iniquity of Lentulus, and of the rest, weigh not more with you, than your own Dignity ought to weigh; and that you gratify not your Resentment, at the Expence of your Fame. Indeed, if any Chastisement can be found worthy of their Deserts, I approve the Proposal, however new and extraordinary it be: But if their Crime be such, that it transcends the Wit of Man to find out an adequate Punishment for it, my Advice is for such as the Laws have already ordained.
‘Most of the Senators, who gave their Opinion before me, have, in high and affecting Strains, bewailed the Situation of the Commonwealth: They have displayed all the Cruelty of War, with the many Woes attending the Vanquished; Virgins ravished, Youths constuprated, Children torn from the Bosoms of their Parents, Matrons exposed to all the libidinous Insults of a victorious Soldiery; public Temples, and private Dwellings, equally abandoned to Plunder and Outrage, all devoured by one common Flame, and converted into Scenes of Slaughter; finally, all Places filled with Arms, Carcases, Blood, and Wailings.
‘But, for the sake of the immortal Deities, whither tends such tragical Representation? Is it to rouse you to a Detestation of the Conspiracy? As if he, whom a Design so alarming cannot move, could be animated by a Flow of Words.
‘This is not the way; nor do any Injuries whatsoever appear light to him on whom they fall; and many are apt to magnify and resent such Injuries beyond Measure. But, according to the different Stations of Men, different Allowances are made, Conscript Fathers. When such, who, in an humble Station pass their Days in Obscurity, offend, thro’ Heat and Transport, few there are who know it; for their Name and Character are as low as their Fortune: But they who are invested with supreme Power, stand in an elevated Station, and every Step they take is, by every Eye, observed; so that to the highest Dignity the smallest Allowance is made. In such a Station there is no room allowed for Partiality; none for Aversion; least of all for Wrath and Animosity. That which in private Life bears only the Name of Passion, whenever it is observed in Men of Authority, is called Haughtiness and Cruelty.
‘For myself, Conscript Fathers, I esteem all Torments whatsoever to be short of the Guilt of these Offenders: But it is the Temper of human Kind, generally to remember best what happened last; and, forgetting the Crimes of suffering Parricides, to entertain themselves only about their Punishment, if it prove but unusually severe.
‘What Decius Silanus, a Man of great Honour and Spirit, has spoken, I am perfectly convinced he spoke from Zeal to the Commonwealth; and that, in an Affair of such mighty Consequence, he acts neither from Favour nor Enmity: Such is the Uprightness, such the Moderation which I have experienced in him. But what he proposes, tho’, to me, it appear no wise cruel, (for, to such Men, what Cruelty can be shewn?) yet, still, appears repugnant to the Genius of our State.
‘Doubtless, thou wast urged, either by Fear, or by an Iniquity so heinous, O Silanus, our Consul elect, to propose a Punishment altogether new. How vain such Fear is, it would be superfluous to argue; when, by the Vigilance of a Consul so signally able and distinguished as ours, so many and such powerful Forces are armed for our Security: And concerning their Punishment, we may, in truth, alledge, what, in reality, the Fact is; That, to such as live in Sorrow and Wretchedness, Death proves a Repose, not a Torment; that it is Death which closes all the Calamities incident to human Race; and that, beyond Death no Place remains, either for Anguish or Delight.
‘But, in the Name of the immortal Gods, why didst not thou add to this thy Proposal for capital Punishment, that they should be first lashed by the Executioner? Was it because the same is forbidden by the Porcian Law? And are there not other Laws too, which direct, that Roman Citizens, condemned, shall not be bereft of their Lives, but be indulged the Privilege of Banishment? Or was it, that Stripes seem a severer Punishment than Death? Now what can be deemed rigorous, or over-severe, to Men convicted of such terrible Treason? But if Stripes be a lighter Chastisement, where is the Consistence of being tender of the Law in a smaller Instance, and of violating it in one much greater?
‘Do you ask, Who will censure any Punishment whatever, pronounced upon Traitors to the Commonwealth? I answer, that Time may produce such Censure; so may sudden Conjunctures; so may Fortune, a fickle Deity, that blindly sways the Race of Men. Upon these Parricides whatever Doom falls, will fall justly. But be cautious, Conscript Fathers, how your Decrees to-day may affect others hereafter.
‘All pernicious Precedents are derived from laudable Beginnings; but when the Administration devolves upon unworthy and unskilful Men, those Precedents, at first just, are changed in the Application, from Objects that were proper and guilty, to such as are guiltless and improper.
‘The Lacædemonians, when they had subdued the Athenians, subjected that State to Thirty Governors. These began their Power, by executing, without Conviction, whomsoever they found notoriously wicked and obnoxious to all Men. For such Executions the People expressed great Joy, and declared them just and well deserved. Thenceforward, when, by degrees, they had strengthened their lawless Authority, they doomed to Death both Good and Bad, without Distinction; and thus held under Dread the whole Community. Such was the terrible Penalty, which these People, oppressed by Tyranny, paid for their ridiculous Joy.
‘We ourselves remember, when Sylla, after he found himself Master, ordered Damasippus, and other Incendiaries, who had raised themselves upon the Calamities of the Commonwealth, to be slaughtered, how all Men applauded the Fact: It was by all agreed, that such Instruments of Iniquity and Faction, the Authors of continual Disorders and Tumults in the State, were worthily cut off from it: Yet this very thing proved an Introduction to a mighty Series of Slaughter; since whoever coveted the Town-house, or Country-seat, or even any curious Vase, or precious Rayment of a Fellow-citizen, contrived to have the Possessor inserted in the List of the Proscribed.
‘Thus they, to whom the Death of Damasippus had administered such Joy, were themselves soon after dragged to the like Execution: Neither was there any End put to this raging Carnage, till Sylla had satiated his Followers with Riches.
‘It is true, that, from Marcus Tullius Cicero, I fear no such Precedents, nor from these our Times. But in a City so mighty and so populous as ours, various and different are the Spirits and Propensities of Men: In future Conjunctures, and under a future Consul, one who may likewise have an Army at his Devotion, any Forgeries may pass for Facts. When, hereafter, by a Decree of the Senate, in consequence of this very Example, the Consul shall draw the Sword, who is then to controul it? who to set Bounds to its Rage?
‘Our Ancestors, Conscript Fathers, were at no time wanting to themselves, either in Counsel or in Bravery; neither did they deem it below them, to adopt the Usages of other Nations, provided such Usages were wholsome and laudable. The Exercise of Arms, and their Weapons of War, they borrowed from the Samnites; their Ensigns of Magistracy, in a great measure, from the Tuscans: In truth, whatever appeared to them pertinent and valuable, either amongst their Confederates, or their Enemies, they assumed and practised at home, with notable Application; as they judged it more eligible to imitate, than to envy, any Excellence any-where.
‘In those Days, therefore, following the Custom of Greece, they subjected the offending Citizens to Stripes; and, upon such as were condemned, inflicted capital Punishment. Afterwards, when the Commonwealth was found greatly augmented, and, through the vast Multitude of Citizens, Factions grew prevailing, whence the Innocent were often circumvented and punished, and such Oppressions and Excesses began to grow common; then the Porcian and other Laws were made; Laws which, to the highest Offence, allowed no higher Punishment than Exile.
‘These Considerations, Conscript Fathers, and such Authority, seem to me of the utmost Force against our pursuing any Resolution new and extraordinary. Surely, much greater Virtue, much greater Wisdom, was found in such, who, from small Means and Beginnings, raised an Empire so mighty, than in us, who with Difficulty retain what they so worthily acquired.
‘For what, therefore, do I plead? Is it, that the Conspirators be discharged, and the Army of Catiline reinforced by them? By no means. But this is my Proposition; That their Effects be confiscated; their Persons be kept in Bonds, apart in several of the most powerful Cities of Italy; that no Application shall ever be made to the Senate on their Behalf, nor to the People; and that whoever disobeys this Decree, the Senate now declare him an Enemy to the Commonwealth, and to all its Members.’
When Cæsar had done speaking, and the rest of the Senate were, either in Words, or by Signs, approving or opposing what had been differently proposed, Cato was demanded his Opinion, and he delivered it in the following Speech:
‘My Spirit feels very different Impressions upon this Occasion, Conscript Fathers: First, when I attend to our present Situation, with the Perils which surround us; and then consider within myself the Counsel offered by certain Senators, they seem only to reason about settling the Punishment of such, who are combined to make War upon their Country, upon their Parents and Kindred, upon Religion and private Property; whereas our present Situation warns us to have another Point in View, and rather to concert Means for securing ourselves from them, than what Punishment ought to be inflicted upon them. For other Enormities you may take Vengeance after they are committed; but if you provide not against the Perpetration of this, in vain, when once it is accomplished, will be your Appeal to the Tribunals. When the City is once taken, nothing further remains to the poor Citizens.
‘Now, by the immortal Deities, I conjure and exhort you, You, who have ever had more at Heart your Houses, your Retirements, your Statues, and your Pictures, than the Interest of the Commonwealth; if you would but preserve these your Enjoyments, which, whatever be their Value, you thus cherish; if you would but enjoy your Pleasures in Ease, and without Interruption, rouse yourselves for once, and assume the Protection of the Commonwealth. This is no Debate about Tribute and Revenue; none about Injuries done to our Confederates. No: Our common Liberty, our very Lives, are, at this Instant, precarious.
‘I have often, Conscript Fathers discoursed in this Assembly; I have often bewailed the prevailing Luxury and Rapaciousness of our Fellow-citizens; and, for this Cause, I bear the Despight of many: But, as I never gratified myself in Vice, nor suffered my Soul to harbour it, neither could I humour the Debauchery of others, by countenancing their Excesses. Yet, however you slighted these my Complaints, still the Commonwealth stood firm and secure: Such was her native Potency, as to bear with the Defects of her Rulers. But the present Conjuncture admits no Debate about the Pravity or Amendment of our Morals; none about the Might or Splendor of the Roman Empire. The Debate is, whether this our State, whatever it be, continue our own, or, together with our Persons, become the Prey of Parricides.
‘Will any one now interpose, and mention Gentleness and Commiseration? Surely we have long lost the genuine Names of Things. It is called Liberality, to be free of the Property of others; Fortitude, to be daring in Iniquity: Such is our Degeneracy, and thence the desperate Situation of our Commonwealth! Let them, if they will, since such is the present Mode, let them be liberal of the Wealth taken from our Confederates, merciful to the Plunderers of the public Treasure: But let them not make a Present of our Blood; nor, out of their Tenderness to a few Parricides, consign to Destruction every worthy, every guiltless Roman.
‘Cæsar has just now, in his Place, reasoned, with great Elegance and Accuracy, concerning Life and Death: Nor, do I doubt but he holds for Fables, all the received Traditions about an infernal World; where the Wicked, far apart from the Virtuous, are confined to dreary and dismal Mansions, full of Darkness and Horror. From this Principle his Counsel is, That their Estates be confiscated, and their Persons kept in Bonds, apart, in the several great Cities of Italy; from an Apprehension, I presume, that, were they to be kept in Rome, they might be released, either by the Efforts of their Fellow-traitors, or by the Violence of the mercenary Multitude: As if evil and profligate Men were only to be found in this City, and not all over Italy; or, as if such a desperate Attempt were not most likely to succeed, where there is least Force to oppose it.
‘If, therefore, he really apprehend any Peril from these Criminals, his Counsel is airy and unsolid: But if, under so much general Terror possessing the Hearts of all Men, he alone dreads nothing, so much the greater Cause do I find of Dread, both for myself, and for you.
‘Be therefore assured, that your Decree concerning the Fate of Lentulus, and the other Prisoners, will comprize in it that of Catiline, and the whole Body of Conspirators. The more Vigour you shew, just so much the less Spirit will animate them: But if they perceive you ever so little relenting, they are, to a Man, ready to fall upon you with terrible Confidence.
‘Deceive not yourselves with an Opinion, that it was by Arms our Ancestors raised this our State, originally very small, to such Might and Grandeur. Were this the Cause, we should now possess it in its highest Degree of Lustre and Perfection; since we far surpass them, both in the Number of Confederates and Citizens, as well as in Horses and Arms. But it was from other Sources that their Greatness arose; such Sources as utterly fail us. They exercised Industry and Vigilance at Home, with righteous Government Abroad: They had Minds sound and free in Council, and in Judgment biassed by no Guilt or Crime, swayed by no evil Passion.
‘Instead of such Virtues as these, amongst us, Rapaciousness and Debauchery take Place; great Poverty in the State, profuse Wealth in private Families: We admire Riches, we are resigned to Sloth, make no Distinction between the Virtuous and the Wicked; and all the Rewards of Merit and Worth are ingrossed by Ambition. Nor, whilst, in all your public Councils, each of you intends only himself separately from the Whole; whilst, at home, you are inslaved to your Pleasures, and, here in the Senate, to sordid Interest, or Partiality and Favour, is the Result at all strange, that such alarming Attacks are made upon the Commonwealth, when thus deserted and forlorn. But I drop these Considerations.
‘Certain Romans, the most illustrious amongst us, have conspired to lay waste their native Country with Fire and Sword, and engaged the Gauls, ever inveterate Foes to the Roman Name, to join in the Conspiracy. He who has the Command of the Enemy, is with his Army, as it were, hovering over our Heads; and, even at this dreadful Conjuncture, you linger and hesitate how to deal with such of these unnatural Rebels. as you have seized within your Walls.
‘Would you shew them Pity? Let it be so: They are young Men, and have transgressed thro’ Ambition: Nay, dismiss them too, and even dismiss them with their Arms. What would follow? Even that this Mildness of yours, this Mercy towards them, whenever they were free and armed, would end in your Perdition.
‘Our Situation, in truth, is threatening and direful: But you fear it not. Yes, you do fear it; fear it exceedingly; and it is only from Impotence of Spirit, and Effeminacy, that you are thus in Suspense, every one looking and depending upon another.
‘Perhaps you trust for Deliverance to the immortal Gods, who have often preserved this Commonwealth from the highest Dangers: But it is not by Vows, nor by Supplications, and devout Wailings, like those of Women, that Succour is procured from the Gods: It is by Vigilance, by active Measures, and provident Counsel, that all Difficulties, are vanquished, and all Pursuits succeed: When once you have abandoned yourself to Sloth and Indolence, in vain afterwards you will implore the Gods; the Gods will be provoked, and make you feel their Wrath.
‘In the Days of our Forefathers, Aulus Manlius Torquatus, in a War with the Gauls, doomed his own Son to die, because he had engaged with the Enemy without Orders; so that a young Man of signal Hopes, died to atone for an Excess of Bravery. And do you now doubt and linger about the Doom of the most bloody of all Parricides?
‘Perhaps their present Treason is unsuitable to the Course of their Lives past: Well then; be tender of the great Dignity of Lentulus, if you find that ever he was tender of the Purity of his own Person, or of his Character and Fame, or of what concerned the Gods, or of what concerned Men, in any one Instance. Pardon also Cethegus, in Pity to his Youth, if this prove not the second time of his making War against his native Country. For why should I at all mention Gabinius, Statilius, and Cæparius? Men who, had they possessed the least Grain of Reflection or Virtue, would never have harboured such pestilent Purposes against the Commonwealth.
‘To conclude, Conscript Fathers, were it not, that an erroneous Step must, at this time, prove fatal, I should readily leave you to be corrected by the Consequences, seeing you slight my Reasoning. But we are beset and exposed on every Side. Catiline, at the Head of an Army, advances thro’ the Passes to assail us: We have Enemies within our Walls, Enemies in the very Heart of Rome: No Preparation which we make can be kept secret, nor any Counsel which we take: Hence the greater Cause of Vigour and Dispatch.
‘This, therefore, is my Counsel, That since, by a horrible Combination of blood-thirsty Citizens, the Commonwealth has been reduced to the most imminent Danger; and since they stand convicted, by the Evidence of Titus Volturcius, and that of the Allobrogian Deputies, as also by their own Confession, to have formed a Conspiracy, by Slaughter and Conflagration, and other direful Cruelties, to destroy their Fellow-citizens, and native State; they be treated like guilty Criminals, condemned by their own Mouth, and doomed to die, according to the primitive Usage.’
When Cato had ended his Speech, all those of Consular Rank, indeed, the greatest Part of the Senate, assented to his Opinion, with loud Applause; exalting to the Skies the Virtue and Firmness of his Soul, and reproaching one another with Timidity. Cato passed for a great and glorious Patriot, and just as he proposed, the Senate decreed.
Now as I had learned much by Reading, much by Report, concerning the glorious Actions of the Romans, in War and in Peace, by Sea and Land, I was exceedingly curious to discover, by what principal Cause such stupendous Events were accomplished. I knew, that with a Handful of Men, they have combated mighty Hosts: I was apprised, that, with small Forces, they have maintained War against mighty Monarchs; that they have often borne, and even braved, the Storms and Traverses of Fortune; that, in Eloquence, they were surpassed by the Greeks, in military Renown by the Gauls.
So that, having canvased every Cause, it appeared manifest to me, that only to the signal Virtue of some particular Romans, all our Superiority was owing. It was thus that great Wealth was vanquished by Poverty, great Multitudes by a small Number. Even when Rome became depraved by Voluptuousness and Effeminacy, still such was the surpassing Power of the Commonwealth, that she was thence able to support herself under all the Faults and Excesses of her Magistrates and Generals: Even when, like a Mother superannuated, she forbore, for long Intervals, to produce any Citizen of transcendent Virtue. Two I myself remember, Cato and Cæsar; different indeed in their Pursuits, but both of surprising Abilities: And since it here fell naturally in my Way, I would not omit displaying, according to my best Ability, the Temper and Accomplishments of each.
In their Race, Years, and Eloquence, they were nigh equal. Both possessed the same Greatness of Spirit; both enjoyed the same Degree of Glory, but in different Ways: Cæsar was celebrated for his Generosity and Munificence; Cato, for his unvaried Integrity of Life. The former gained Renown by his Complacency and Acts of Compassion; the latter heightened his Dignity by an inflexible Severity. Cæsar derived Fame from his Readiness to give, to relieve, and to pardon; as did Cato from his Austerity in bestowing nothing. In one was found a sure Refuge to the Wretched, in the other, certain Vengeance to the Guilty. Cæsar was extolled for his Flexibility; Cato for his Firmness. Cæsar, in short, had intirely turned himself to active Life, to a Habit of Pains and Care, Night and Day; was zealous to advance the Interest of his Friends, regardless of his own; and refused to grant nothing worthy to be granted. His own ardent Aim was to command in Chief, to lead Armies, and to be engaged in new Wars, thence to signalize his military Virtue: Whilst the whole Bent of Cato was to Simplicity of Life, to regular Conduct, and, above all, to invincible Strictness. He contended not in Wealth with the Wealthy, nor with the Factious in Practices of Faction; but yielded not in Bravery to the most undaunted; nor in Temperance, to the most reserved; nor in Purity of Morals, to the most upright; and aimed not so much to appear, as to be, a virtuous Man: So that the less he courted Renown, the faster it followed him.
After the Senate had, as I have related, concurred with the Proposition of Cato, the Consul judged it the securest Way, to snatch the instant Opportunity, without staying for Night, though it approached; lest any Time should be given for new Attempts. He, therefore, ordered the Triumvirate of Justice to accelerate all Measures necessary for the Execution; and, having posted proper Guards, conducted, in Person, Lentulus to the Prison, as the Prætors, by his Orders, did the rest.
In the Prison, after a small Descent towards the Left, there is a Place called the Dungeon of Tullus, sunk about Twelve Feet under-ground, fortified round with strong Walls, above with an Arch of Stone; a sad Solitude, full of Stench and Darkness, loathsome and hideous to behold! As soon as Lentulus was thrust down into this Place, the Executioners strangled him, as they were ordered.
Thus this noble Patrician, he who sprang from the Cornelian Race, a Race of the first Eminence and Lustre, he who, as Consul, had borne the supreme Magistracy of Rome, suffered a Death worthy of his Life and Crimes. Upon Cethegus, Statilius, Gabinius and Cæparius, the same Execution was done.
Whilst these things passed at Rome, Catiline formed two Legions out of the whole Forces, either brought by himself, or commanded before by Manlius: He filled the several Cohorts in proportion to the Number of his Men; and, by distributing equally amongst them all the Volunteers, with all who were sent him by the other Conspirators, he soon saw the Complement of his Legions full; though at first he had but Two thousand Men. But of all these Troops, about a fourth Part only was completely armed. All the rest were furnished as Chance directed; some with Sticks, some with Darts, others with sharp Stakes,
Now when Antonius advanced with his Army, Catiline repaired to the Mountains; and, whilst he marched only amongst them, moving sometimes towards Rome, sometimes towards Gaul, deprived his Enemies of the Means to attack him. He was, indeed, daily expecting powerful Reinforcements, as soon as ever his Associates had perpetrated their Designs at Rome. In the mean time he refused to enlist the Slaves, who, from the Moment he had declared himself, crouded to him in great Numbers; for he trusted to the great Strength of the Conspiracy, and conceived it, moreover, unsuitable to his Drift and Politics, should he appear to have blended the Cause of free Romans with that of their fugitive Slaves.
But, when Tidings came to the Camp, that the Conspiracy was discovered at Rome, and that Lentulus, Cethegus, and the rest, whom I have lately mentioned, were executed there, he became presently deserted by the Generality of those, whom Hopes of Rapine, or Passion for Changes in the State, had tempted to take Arms. With the Remainder he retired by mighty Marches, over steep Mountains, into the Territory of Pistorium, with a View to escape, by obscure Roads, into Cisalpine Gaul.
Now Quintus Metellus Celer, then commanding Three Legions in the Territory of Picenum, judged, that Catiline, in his present Streights, would pursue these very Measures. Hence, having learned from Deserters what Course he took, he instantly decamped, and, advancing to the Foot of the Mountains, there pitched his Camp; just where it behoved Catiline to pass in his Flight into Gaul. Neither was Antonius far behind the flying Rebels, at the Head of a great Army, advancing after them through Ways more open and level.
As to Catiline; when he perceived himself quite beset, here with Mountains, there with hostile Armies; all his Resources at Rome destroyed; no Hopes of escaping, none of Refuge or Succour; he thought it his best Course, in his present Distress, to risque the Fortune of a Battle, and determined forthwith to prepare for an Encounter with Antonius. So that, assembling his Forces, he spoke to them in the following Strain.
‘I have found by Experience, Fellow-Soldiers, that Words increase not Bravery; that a spiritless Army is neither rendered hardy, nor a dastardly Army valiant, by a Speech from the Commander. Whatever Portion of Courage any Man possesses from Nature or Habit, just so much will he display in Battle. Vain it is to exhort that Man, whom neither Glory nor Danger can animate. The Force of Fear deprives him of his Hearing. My Motive for calling you together, Fellow-Soldiers, was to furnish you with a few Points of Instruction; as also to communicate to you my last Result, and the Ground of it.
‘You already know, what a terrible Calamity Lentulus has brought at once upon himself and us, by his Slowness and lifeless Conduct: You know how, by waiting for Succours from Rome, I was prevented from marching into Gaul. At present all of you see, as well as I, our sad Situation. Two Armies of the Enemy press us, and obstruct our Motions; one from Rome, another from Gaul. To abide any longer in our present Station, were it ever so much our Choice, is utterly denied us, by our Scarcity of Provision, and of other Necessaries; and whithersoever you chuse to remove, you must open yourselves a Passage with your Swords.
‘Hence I warn and conjure you to exert your Courage, like Men determined and undaunted; and to remember, when you engage, that in your Hands you carry Wealth, Dignity, and Glory, nay, your Liberty, and your Country. If we overcome, we shall ascertain our own Safety on every Side; we shall have Store of Provisions; the municipal Cities and Colonies will be all open to receive us. But if we shrink, through Fear, we shall in all these Particulars see ourselves utterly crossed and distressed: Nor will they, whom their Arms could not defend, find Defence from any Station, or any Friends.
‘You are, besides, to remember, that you, my Fellow-Soldiers, and the opposite Army, are by no means urged to engage by the same or equal Motives. Our native Country, our common Liberty, nay, our Lives, are the Prizes for which we combat. Their Task is idle and uninteresting, whilst they fight to support the lordly Dominion of a few. Let this rouse you to attack them the more undauntedly, still remembering your former Valour and Atchievements.
‘We might, indeed, have passed our Days, with infinite Infamy, in Banishment. Some of you might have staid at Rome, reduced to Beggary, and to be Dependents upon the Affluence of others. As such wretched Conditions of Life appeared intolerable to brave Men, you determined to follow the present Course. If you desire to forsake this Course, still you must exert your Courage undauntedly: In War, he only who conquers can change it for Peace. In truth, to hope for Safety from Flight, is downright Madness; for then you turn from the Enemy those very Arms, which serve for your Defence against him. During Battle, he who is in most Fear, is ever in most Danger: Courage serves for a Wall of Defence.
‘When I consider your Characters, my Fellow Soldiers, and recollect your past Exploits, high are the Hopes which I entertain of Victory; encouraged as I am by your Resolution, your Age, your heroic Virtue, and even by our common Necessity; that Necessity which makes Cowards brave. The Streightness of our Situation secures us from being encompassed by our Enemies, however numerous. Should Fortune desert you, in Envy to your Bravery; be sure not to lose your Lives, without ample Vengeance upon your Foes; nor suffer yourselves to be taken and slaughtered like Cattle: Rather die fighting like Men, and thus leave to the Enemy a bloody and mournful Victory.’
When he had thus spoken, he paused a little; then gave Orders to sound to Battle, and led down his Forces, in their proper Ranks, into the level Ground. Next, sending away the Horses, thence the more to animate the Whole by making the Danger equal to All, he himself, on Foot, formed his Army suitably to the Number of Men, and the Nature of the Place: For, as on his Left there stretched a Plain, bounded by the Mountains, and close on his Right stood a Precipice of Rocks, he ranged Eight Cohorts in his Front. To support them, he posted the rest of his Troops in closer Order. From these, in order to strengthen his Front, he detached all the select Centurions, and resumed Veterans, and even all the common Soldiers, who were bravest and best armed. He ordered Caius Manlius to command the Right, and a Native of Fæsulæ the Left. He himself, at the Head of his Freedmen, and Supplies from the Colonies, kept close to the Eagle; one reported to have been that of Caius Marius, when he commanded against the Cimbrians.
Caius Antonius, who commanded the opposite Forces, and was disabled, by the Gout, from attending the Combat, transferred the Command to his Lieutenant General, Marcus Petreius. He, who had, upon this alarming Conspiracy, raised a Number of veteran Cohorts, ranged them in the Front. The rest of his Troops he placed, as Bodies of Reserve, behind them. He himself, riding round from Rank to Rank, and applying familiarly to the Men by their particular Names, pressed, and prayed, and conjured them, ‘to remember well against whom they were to engage; even against Robbers ill armed; and in Defence of their Country, of their Children, of their Religion, and their Property.’ As he was himself an experienced Officer, who, for more than Thirty Years, had served in Armies, whether as Tribune, or occasional Commander, or Lieutenant General, or Prætor, and in every Station, with exceeding high Renown; and as he personally knew the Generality of his Men, and all their brave Actions; whilst he laid before them the Remembrance of these, he set the Spirit of the Soldiers on Fire.
Now Petreius, after all possible Precautions taken, sounded to Battle, and ordered the Cohorts to advance with a slow Pace. So did the opposite Army. But when they approached so near, that the Soldiers, lightly armed, might have begun the Onset by Flight of Darts; at once, with a mighty Shout, they furiously rushed into a close Encounter, threw aside their Javelins, and, with their Swords only, disputed the Victory. The Veterans, ever piqued with their old Bravery, pressed the Foe with great Vigour: The latter failed not resolutely to withstand them; and mighty and violent was the Struggle. Catiline, at the Head of a Band lightly armed, was all the while busy in the foremost Rank; he succoured such as were sorely pressed, supplied fresh Men in the Room of the Wounded, provided for every Exigence; every where met Danger, every where assailed the Foe, and at once performed the Duty of a stout Soldier, and an able General.
Petreius, when he perceived that Catiline pressed on with terrible Efforts, beyond what he imagined, advanced at the Head of the Prætorian Cohort against the main Body, forced their Ranks, and put them to the Sword; as he did, next, others, who yet maintained their Ground elsewhere. Such as remained he assailed at once on both Flanks. Manlius, and the other Commander from Fæsulæ, fell Sword in hand in the foremost Rank. Catiline, beholding his Forces routed, and himself left with a few about him, still mindful of his illustrious Birth, and pristine Dignity, rushing into the thickest of the Enemy, there fell fighting, and covered with Wounds.
It now chiefly appeared, upon surveying the Field, when the Battle was over, with what desperate Resolution, with what invincible Spirit, the whole Army of Catiline was animated. For the Body of every Man was found to cover, when breathless, the same Post, which, during the Combat, he had occupied, and fought to defend; except the few who were driven from their Station by the Prætorian Cohort: And even these, though they fell a little out of their Ranks, fell with their Faces to the Foe. Catiline was indeed found, far from his own Forces, amidst the Carcases of the Enemy, even still breathing a little; nay, still retaining in his Face an Air of the same stern and haughty Spirit, which possessed him when alive.
Upon the whole, in all his Army not one free Roman was taken Prisoner, either during the Combat, or in the Rout. So equal a Hand had they all shewn, in sparing their own Lives just as little as those of their Enemies. The Victory, indeed, fell to the Army of the Commonwealth, but was accompanied with Loss and Bloodshed enough to check their Joy; since the Bravest amongst them were either killed in the Fight, or left it, grievously wounded. Nay, as there were many who visited the Field, whether for Curiosity or Spoil, and turned over the Carcases of the Rebels, some discovered a Friend, some a Kinsman, others a Guest: There were, too, such as there found their particular Enemies: So that thro’ the whole Army was seen a various Display of contrary Passions, Gladness and Sorrow, Mourning and Rejoicing.
THE ORATIONS OF CICERO AGAINST CATILINE.
TO Mr. DODDINGTON.
YOUR perfect Taste and Knowledge of Cicero, in his own Language, does by no means discourage me from presenting you with the following Orations in English. The most discerning Reader is always the least rigorous; and such as are least apt to err, make the most Allowances for Error. No well-bred Man will censure harshly, no cool Man hastily, no candid Man injuriously. Conceit and Ignorance pronounce the loudest, as well as the rudest, Censures: Shallow Men are often the most forward Critics; and Ill-nature, dressed up in spiteful and undelicate Language, is called Criticism.
Such Criticism is, indeed, the least formidable, but the most unanswerable. Rancour and Ill-Manners ought to have equal Enemies, or none. The same Disregard is due to Misrepresentation, to forced and malicious Construction. So that few Answerers deserve any Answer; few Critics any Notice; foolish and malevolent Critics and Answerers never do. To me it seems as great Weakness, to take notice of Faults foolishly found, and maliciously imputed, as it would be Rudeness, and Ill Morals, not to own Blemishes and Mistakes, fairly discovered, and decently displayed.
These have always been my Sentiments concerning Criticism, and Critics. I hope they are not ill-grounded: But as I would willingly be able to give a very good Reason even for being in the right, I am ambitious to have You for my Voucher; and then I need give no other Reason, nor produce any more Vouchers.
You perceive how ready I am to bespeak your Partiality to me, and my Writings; if I can be said to bespeak what I have so long experienced. You see, too, how willing I am to let all the World know, that I have experienced it. You have been, many Years, acquainted with this Undertaking: You have, many Years ago, perused some of the Discourses prefixed; you have had long Warning of my Ambition, to join Your Name, upon this Occasion, to mine; a very natural Ambition in an Author, solicitous thus to gain Notice and Credit to his Works. Could I, by it, derive any additional Lustre upon Your Character, it would be a Demonstration, how judiciously I consulted my own. If the Plea and Merit of long Acquaintance were not sufficient to recommend me, I should presume, that the Name and Eloquence of Cicero would; unless I marred such Recommendation by my awkward Manner of offering it, not in His Words, but my own. This I however leave to the Judgment of the World; or, to what I equally esteem, Yours.
These Orations have been translated many Years, (you know that they have) as a Supplement to the History of Catiline’s Conspiracy. In them the Whole is almost as clearly, and, except the Issue of it, almost as minutely recounted, as in Sallust; with some curious Incidents not found in Sallust. The Orator and the Historian illustrate each other: I have, therefore, joined them together, and I do it the rather, because Sallust has not done Cicero Justice; at least, not full Justice. He speaks of him more out of Necessity than Choice, and with very restrained Praise; and, even in that, his Heart seems to have little Share. Yet the Praise of no Man fell so naturally in his Way, neither of Cæsar, nor even of Cato; tho’ he be so copious and elaborate upon that of both. He might have particularly spared that of Cæsar, as Cæsar was, notoriously, an Associate in that very Conspiracy, the most sanguinary and threatening that ever was framed by the Heart of Man. He tells us how much Cato was applauded for his Speech; which is, indeed, a very honest, a very manly one, in Answer to Cæsar’s; which must be owned to be a very artful one; but studiously avoids, what more required his Notice and Testimony, the Detail of public Honours, all very illustrious, some of them very singular, witnessing and crowning the glorious Conduct, and matchless Merit, of Cicero, for having saved his Country; namely “The public Festival decreed to the Gods, and solemnized in his Name; the Thanks of the Senate presented to him, in Strains full of Warmth and Dignity; the Compliment of the Civic Crown; the Golden Statue at Capua; with the Divine Title of Father of his Country.”
To all this, which I do not pretend to tell you as News, any more than what follows, give me Leave to add the Declaration of Pompey, upon his Return from the Mithridatic War, when he was complimented upon his great Victories in it: “To small Purpose, said that great Conqueror, should I have acquired Glory by Arms, to small Purpose merited a Third Triumph, had not Cicero, by his Vigilance and Address, preserved from Destruction this our Republic, from which I receive both my Triumph and my Glory.”
I have not only ever loved, ever admired Cicero, but always considered him as one of the first Characters amongst Men; in some Instances superior to all Characters; the great Luminary of the human Mind, the great Ornament of human Nature. He had some Faults, and many Fault-finders; and they who are inclined to find Faults, will sometimes make Faults; at best never lessen them. His Ambition was not one: He sought his own Glory in the general Good; in every public Station advanced the public Interest, and, in his Consulship saved the Public itself, with such high Capacity as was hardly ever equalled, surely, never exceeded, by that of any Statesman; and with such high Courage, as was never surpassed by that of any Hero.
I think no Roman but himself could have defeated the Conspiracy of Catiline. The wisest and best Men in Rome thought so; and, for that Reason, joined in raising him to the supreme Magistracy, and afterwards in investing him with the sovereign Power of the State: A noble Proof of their high Opinion, not only of his Ability, but of his Veracity! For, no sooner had he acquainted the Senate with the public Peril, but the Senate, without Scruple or Reserve, and upon his bare Word, committed the Care and whole Power of the State into his Hands. Even the People, as partial as they were to the Conspiracy, and as passionate for civil Discord and Innovations, took his Word, upon his explaining to them the desperate Designs of the Conspirators; and then readily acquiesced in all his Measures to defeat them. So universally was his Probity known, as well as his Sufficiency! And his Reputation had an equal Share with his Conduct in saving the State.
I question whether Pompey could, in Cicero’s Place, have done what Cicero did: I even question whether he would have ventured upon doing it. He was shy and slow in Deliberations of State, and timid in Council, however brave in the Field. Neither were his Talents, any more than his Probity, equal to those of Cicero. He wanted the same Frankness as well as the same Force of Spirit, the same Ardour for public Liberty, with those generous public Views, which filled and warmed the Heart of Cicero. Pompey was a wary and distrustful Man; a Quality commonly joined to limited Parts: He was likewise a selfish Man, making all his public Proceedings subservient to personal Ends, often pursuing these Ends at the Expence, and even at the Peril, of the Public.
Besides, had Pompey been at home, and trusted by the State to deal with the Conspirators, Catiline, who had really superior Parts and Resolution, might, probably, have had superior Success. He, surely, was a bold Man; had infinite Spirit, and infinite Art. Pompey too had Art, but it was of a tamer Sort; and tho’ he had Spirit, it was perplexed and irresolute. Whilst Pompey would have been pausing and deliberating, weighing all Difficulties and Dangers, and how the Issue of every Step might affect himself; Catiline, who never stopped nor hesitated, never entertained Scruples, nor feared Consequences, would have bid fair for destroying Pompey and Rome. Cæsar too, who was in the Conspiracy, and always Master of the Spirit of Pompey, would, probably, have cajoled and duped him upon that Occasion, as he did upon every Occasion: He had, indeed, long vanquished him in Council, by Address; else he never could have been in a Condition to have vanquished him afterwards, by Force, in the Field.
To say the Truth, it was almost a desperate Undertaking, to grapple with that desperate Conspiracy; such was the great Quality, as well as the great Power and Number of the Conspirators, many of them of the first Families, and first Stations in the Commonwealth: What could be greater Merit, what shew more undaunted Courage, than to encounter them all, and to save the Commonwealth from impending Perdition? Cicero loved Rome, he loved Roman Citizens; not from Fanaticism, as the Mahometans value the Lives of Mahometans, because they think them dear to their Prophet; but as the Life of every Roman was valuable to his Country, because every Roman was supposed to love his Country. He therefore submitted to the Risque of perishing himself, that Rome might not perish; a Risque which not a Man amongst so many great Men, in that great State, was equally willing, at least equally able, to run. If, in that perilous Conjuncture, he escaped all the dark, all the bloody Snares against his Life, he still perceived himself exposed to inveterate Vengeance, equally threatening to his Person, and Family, and Fortune, from many Enemies, all too ready, as well as too powerful, to execute it.
The Consequence is well known: He saw himself banished from the State, for having saved it. His Dejection upon so trying an Occasion, might have been excused by, what caused it, his Tenderness for the Public, his Tenderness for his Family, and the Impressions of such singular and unnatural Ingratitude. Few Men are equal to all Trials: Cicero shewed himself brave in the Field, both when young and old; singularly so in his Administration; wonderfully so in Opposition to bold and potent Usurpers, Sylla, Cæsar, Antony, and to all public Disturbers; nor did any, the most celebrated Hero, ever meet Death, violent or natural, with more Firmness and Unconcern.
As an Orator, and a Writer, he had no Equal: Nor is the Strength and Elegance of his Works more to be admired, than their Morality: They contain nothing but what is noble and benevolent, as well as beautiful and charming; Vice and Baseness exposed; Virtue and virtuous Men recommended and adorned; public Spirit, the Love of Mankind, and a friendly Heart; fine Illustrations, curious Pieces of History, remarkable Characters and Events; and are, indeed, the great Repertory of the Roman Policy and Laws. His Writings, like his Administration, are full of Morality, full of Dignity, of sublime Sense, and delightful Instruction.
You will please to observe, that I am not acquainting You with the Merit of Cicero, and his Writeings; but, through You, my less-knowing Readers; and this Address to You, serves for a Preface to Them. No Man is abler than You to compare the Original and the English together: Yet, for this very Reason, I am far from inviting, or even encouraging you to take that Trouble. Perhaps, in Friendship to me, you might think the Translation tolerable; but the Original is inimitable. Men of lively Parts and Taste, let them be ever so candid, have piercing Eyes: Men of great Observation and Experience in the World, know best what the World likes; at least what the World ought to like best. Men of great Capacity will always have great Regard paid to their Judgment.
To You, however, and to the World, I commit the following Sheets; to You with Hope; to the World, though with no great Confidence, yet without Fear. I have been accustomed to Censure: I can bear it; I can even reverence it, when it is just and decent: Where it is absurd, rancorous, gross, petulant, and childish, I take even Contempt to be too great a Distinction for it: For Contempt implies Notice.
If you think this to be a very long, a very patched and rambling Address, so do I: But I claim the Privilege, as I do the Title, of a Friend, to write to you, as I talk to you, without fearing to tire you. A Letter is not confined to Exactness and Method: And what is a Dedication but a Letter, confessing, like most other Letters, that it gives a great deal of Trouble (though it hopes not to be believed); and offering many tedious Excuses, which give at least as much? You may thank Dr. Middleton, that you have not had ten times more. I once intended to have considered Cicero at large, in Three Lights; as a Statesman, an Orator, and a Writer. But the Doctor has prevented me; perhaps happily for me. Do you not find yourself inclined to thank him upon a double Account? I do, very heartily, for the Justice, which he has done to the Character of that Divine Roman, as well as to his own. He hath, in this, as in his other Performances, shewn himself an able, an honest, and a well-bred Man: A Character particularly proper for Controversy and Criticism; and from that Character he hath reaped just Reputation and Success.
Here I intend to break off abruptly; afraid of touching any other Topic: If I did, I know not when I should have done. I always loved to converse with you; now I think I have shewn it to every body: It is too much to my Credit to be kept a Secret from any. You see, Sir, that I conclude with a very interesting Reason for thus troubling you; and publish your Name for my own private Advantage. Can an Author offer a better Reason for a Dedication? Or will the World find a better for him, though he did not own it, as I do? By this Time, perhaps, you are glad to find, that I conclude at all: For your Ease, therefore, and, indeed, for my own, I only add these very few, but very true Words, That I am, with perfect Respect,
Your most Obedient
August 7th, 1743.
and most Humble Servant,
THE FIRST ORATION OF CICERO AGAINST CATILINE. Spoken in the SENATE.
HOW far, Catiline, wilt thou persist in abusing our Patience? How much longer, too, is that headlong Rage of thine to brave and deride us? What Period wilt thou set to thy boasted and desperate Guilt? Art thou in no degree struck with the Guards, posted by Night to secure the Palace? In no degree by the Watch placed all over the City? In none by the terrible Apprehensions possessing the People? Not struck by the Concurrence and Unanimity of all worthy Romans? Nor by the Assembling of the Senate in this Place of Strength? Nor by the Countenances and Looks of the Assembly itself? Perceivest thou not, that all thy guilty Counsels are disclosed? Dost thou not see the Senators apprised of thy Conspiracy, and, thence, its Efforts marred and restrained? To which of us all dost thou suppose it remains a Secret, what were thy Doings this last Night, what those of the Night before; or whom of the Associates thou didst call together, or the Place where, or what Measures thou didst then concert?
Alas, what Times! Alas, the Degeneracy of Men! All this the Senate knows; all this the Consul beholds. Yet this Parricide still lives! Lives? He even assumes his Seat in the Senate, takes Part in the public Debates, nay, marks us our severally to Vengeance with his Looks, and destines us all to the Slaughter: Whilst we, magnanimous Persons! judge, that we acquit ourselves to the Commonwealth, if, in our own Persons, we can escape his Fury and murdering Sword. In Justice, Catiline, the Consul should, long ere now, have doomed thee to Execution, and inflicted upon thy own Head that bloody Destruction, which thou hast been long framing against us all.
Is it indeed true, that Publius Scipio, Chief Pontiff, a celebrated Roman, but invested with no Magistracy, caused Tiberius Gracchus to be slain, for discomposing the then Government, tho’ by ways void of Force? And shall we, who bear the supreme Consular Office, tamely suffer Catiline to live; a Traitor bent to lay waste the World, by Carnage and Conflagration? I pass over, as too remote, the Example of Quintus Servilius Ahala, who, with his own Hand, slew Spurius Melius, for attempting a Revolution in the State. There once was, I say, there once was, in this our Commonwealth, a Spirit so virtuous, as to animate brave Patriots to pursue a pestilent Citizen to capital Punishment, with more Rigour than the most implacable public Enemy. Against thee, Catiline, we are furnished with an awful and solemn Decree of the Senate: The Commonwealth wants not sound Counsel, nor this Body due Authority. We only, I speak it aloud, we Consuls fail in not executing that Decree.
Formerly, when the Senate had ordered the Consul Lucius Opimius, to provide, ‘that no Detriment accrued to the State;’ not a Day intervened between that Order, and the Death of Caius Gracchus, who was fallen only under the Suspicion of seditious Proceedings; Gracchus, who was sprung from a Father, Grandfather, and Ancestors, all very glorious in our State. In like manner Marcus Fulvius, a Man of Consular Dignity, was cut off, he, and both his Sons.
When, by such another Ordinance, the immediate Care of the Commonwealth was committed to the then Consuls, Caius Marius, and Lucius Valerius; did the high Station of Lucius Saturninus, Tribune of the People, and of Caius Servilius Prætor, avail to retard their Execution, and the Vengeance of the Public, for a single Day? But we have now suffered the Spirit of the Senatorian Authority to droop and deaden for the Space of Twenty Days. For we too are armed with an Ordinance like the former; but leave it to rest amongst the Archives, like a Weapon in the Sheath; tho’, by that Ordinance, thou, Catiline, art justly doomed forthwith to perish. Thou still dost live; and livest not to banish thy outrageous Cruelty, but to harden thyself in it.
I am, Conscript Fathers, sincerely disposed to Mercy: I am disposed too, whilst Perils so mighty threaten the State, not to appear to act remisly for it. Yet I already condemn myself for my Inactivity and Neglect. An Army is already in Italy, encamped upon the Borders of Etruria, breathing open War against the State: The Number of the Enemy increases daily: The Leader of the Enemy is within our Walls; nay, you see him amongst you in the Senate, still continually occupied in pestilent Devices to destroy the Commonwealth. If, therefore, I should order thee, Catiline, to be forthwith seized, nay, order thee to be instantly executed; I guess I have rather the Censure of all worthy Men to fear, for having been too slow, than Blame from any Man, for being cruel.
Yet this very Deed, which ought long since to have been done, I have certain Reasons, moving me, for some Time, not to do. I will then doom thee to die, when not a Soul shall be possibly found so wicked, so abandoned, so resembling thyself, as not to acknowledge such Death to be thy Due: So long as one Man is left, who will venture to defend thee, thou shalt live: But live, as thou now livest, beset with Restraints, powerful and manifold, all of my providing; such as utterly disable thee from annoying the Commonwealth. Many will have their Eyes, many their Ears, employed about thee, all watching and guarding thee; as hitherto they have done, though thou perceivest it not.
In truth, what further Success, O Catiline, hast thou yet in View, when neither the Shades of Night can conceal thy traiterous Cabals, nor thy domestic Walls confine the Accents of thy Treason? If all thy Proceedings are thus glaring, all thus exposed; trust to my Advice, forsake thy desperate Purposes, forego thy Schemes of Conflagrations and Massacre. Thou art, on every side, firmly beset: Thy Devices are all clearer than the Day; and since I know them, thou hadst best avow them.
Thou rememberest well, what I declared to the whole Senate (on the Kalends of November) that on the fourth Day following precisely Caius Manlius, the Implement and Champion of thy desperate Designs would be in open Arms. Have I been deceived, Catiline, in my Presage, not only of an Attempt so enormous, so shocking, and so incredible, but, what is yet more marvellous, of the very Day which was to produce it? I declared too, at the same time, that thou hadst assigned a particular Day, even the Twenty-sixth of the same Month, for the Massacre of the chief Men of Rome; a Day, when many Romans of principal Rank were already fled out of Rome, not so much for securing their own Lives, as to defeat thy pernicious Designs. Canst thou disown, that, on that very Day thou wast so narrowly surrounded by Stratagems of my contriving, and by Guards of my placing, as to be utterly disabled from making any Effort against the Commonwealth, even when thou hadst avowed, that, tho’ the rest had, by retiring, escaped thee, thou wouldst still go on, and content thyself with the Slaughter of us, who chose to remain? Nay, when, even during the Kalends of November, thou hadst conceived an Assurance of having Præneste seized by Surprize in the Night, didst thou not learn, that, by my Orders, by my Reinforcements, by my Vigilance and Precautions, that Colony was secured?
Thou actest nothing, thou attemptest nothing, nay thou meditatest nothing, but what I not only am apprised of, but what I even perceive, and evidently know. Look, moreover, back with me upon what passed during this last Night; thou wilt thence discover, that I watch with more Vigour for the Preservation of the Commonwealth, than thou dost for her Destruction. I say then, thou camest this last Night to the House of Marcus Lecca, in the Street called the Reapers (I speak explicitly); whither, likewise, resorted many of the Associates in the same Phrensy and Treason. Darest thou deny this? Why art thou silent? I will convince thee, if thou disavowest it; for I see here amongst us some Senators, who then accompanied thee.
Immortal Deities! In what Region of the Earth are we placed? Under what Government do we live? In what City have we our Abode? Here, even here, there are now sitting amongst us some of our own Rank, Conscript Fathers, and common Members of this Great Council, the most venerable and awful in the whole Earth, yet studying to bring Perdition upon you, upon me, nay, upon this our State, and, consequently, upon the World itself. These Men I now behold; behold them, whilst I bear the Character of Consul; nay, I, as Consul, call upon them to propose their Sentiments, as Senators, concerning the Public: And I, who ought to have subjected these Men to a bloody Doom, as yet forbear personally to wound them, even with Words.
It is then true, Catiline, that thou heldest a Meeting last Night at the House of Lecca; there didst canton out, and assign, the several Districts of Italy to thy Lieutenants; didst declare thy Pleasure to what Quarter each was to repair; didst chuse such as were to remain in Rome, reserve others to accompany thee in thy Progress; mark out what Parts of the City were destined to the Flames; assure them of thy Purpose presently to leave it; and add, that thou must still defer going a little while, for that I was yet alive. Instantly two Roman Knights undertook to relieve thee from that Source of Anguish, and offered to assassinate me in my Bed that very Night, at least before Dawn.
All these Passages I learnt, almost before thou and thy Cabal had parted. I immediately strengthened my House, and guarded it with an additional Force: I caused Entrance to be denied to such as then came from thee, with a Compliment to me; and they proved to be the very Men, who, I had just foretold to many eminent Persons about me, would come at that same Instant.
In this Situation of Things, Catiline, proceed forward, according to thy Purpose. Depart out of Rome. The Time is come. The Gates stand open for thee: March forth. Thy Forces, encamped under Manlius, have too long expected thee to command them in chief: Lead along with thee, at once, thy whole Party; or, if not the Whole, at least as many as possible. Thus purge the City: Thou wilt then have delivered me from very terrible Apprehensions, when I find myself secured from thee by the Interposition of our Walls. With us, here, thou canst not any longer mix; it is what I will never allow, never bear, never acquiesce in.
Mighty, surely, and solemn Thanksgiving is due from us to the immortal Deities; particularly to Jupiter, there represented by his Statue in this his Temple; Jupiter, the antient Guardian of this our City; for having now so often delivered us from a Calamity so dismal, so horrible, so pestilent to the Commonwealth. Doubtless the Destruction of the whole State is not to be again and again risqued for the sake of one of its Subjects.
All the Time thou wast framing Devices against my Life, whilst I was Consul elect, I guarded myself against thee, Catiline, by no Defence borrowed from the Public, but by my own private Circumspection. When, in the last Assembly held by me in the Field of Mars, for chusing my Successors, thou didst strive to assassinate both me, and thy Competitors, I defeated thy bloody Efforts, by the Aid and Force of my Friends, without alarming the Public in my Behalf. In a Word, to all thy private Assaults I have opposed private Defence; though I foresaw the utter Perdition of the Public inseparably linked to mine. Thou dost now openly assail the whole State; the Temples of the immortal Gods; all the Dwellings in our City, together with the Lives of thy Fellow-citizens; nay, thou dost destine all Italy to Carnage and Desolation.
Seeing, therefore, I dare not have Recourse to the most decisive Expedients, and what most corresponds with primitive Rigour, and the Genius of our State, I will exercise Justice less severe, but more conducing to public Safety. For, should I now sentence thee to be executed, thy Band of Conspirators will still continue in the Bosom of the State; but, if thou dost withdraw, as I now exhort, and have long exhorted thee, since many too of thy Associates will follow thee; that Sink of Profligates, so noisome and destructive to the Commonwealth, will be drained from it.
What thinkest thou, Catiline? Dost thou hesitate to pursue at my Command, what thou wast ready of thyself to pursue? It is the Consul who orders an Enemy to go out of the City. Dost thou ask me, whether into Banishment? I do not order it; but, if thou desirest my Opinion, I advise it.
In truth, Catiline, what is there, that can contribute to thy Pleasure in Rome, where, excepting only thy own abandoned Train of Traitors and Outlaws, not a Man is found, who does not dread, not a Man, who does not abhor thee? What new Note of Infamy can be added, further to blacken thy private and domestic Life? What personal Abomination is not already stamped and glaring upon thy Character? In what one Instance hast thou ever guarded thy Eyes from lewd Objects, or thy Hands from base Actions, or thy Person in general from foul Reproach? Of all the numerous Youth, such as thou hadst once entangled in the Snares of Pollution and Debauchery, whom hast thou forborne to animate and arm for bloody Deeds, when they were found desperate; or with Incentives to Sensuality, when they appeared voluptuous?
What can be said for thee? thee, who, lately, upon the Death of thy former Wife, having, by procuring it, made room in thy House for the Reception of a second, didst aggravate and complete that Crime by another, most incredible and shocking? What it was, I omit to explain, and willingly leave it to be buried under Silence; that, of an Iniquity so monstrous, no Traces may remain in Rome, or, at least, of its having escaped due Vengeance there. I also omit to represent the utter Ruin of thy Fortune, which, thou art aware, is to be intirely assigned over by the Law to thy Creditors the very next Month. I proceed to other Particulars, not such as concern thy infamous Vices, or thy domestic Reproach and Distresses; but such as affect the very Being of the Commonwealth, together with the Lives and Safety of us all.
Is it possible, Catiline, that the Light of the Day, or the Air thou dost breathe, can yield thee Delight? since thou art aware, that not a Man here is ignorant, how, on the last Day of December, during the Consulship of Lepidus and Tullus, thou didst come into the Assembly, (then held) armed with a murdering Dagger? That thou hadst engaged with thee a Band of Assassins, to have then dispatched both the Consuls, with other distinguished Romans; an Effort of thy Rage and Treason, disappointed by no Awe, no Tenderness, in thee, but by the good Destiny of the Roman State.
But I leave these Passages, some of late Date, others that are older, all well known. I ask, How often hast thou attempted to murder me, whilst I was yet only Consul elect? how often, since I became Consul? How many Blows from thee have I escaped, by slightly shifting myself out of their Reach, even when they seemed so well aimed as to threaten inevitable Execution? Of all thy Doings, of all thy Pursuits, of all thy Machinations, not a Tittle can escape my immediate Intelligence. Yet thou droppest nothing of thy bloody Purposes, and terrible Efforts. How often has that bloody Dagger been wrung out of thy Hands? How often too has it fallen thence by Accident, and therefore missed Execution? Thou canst not, however, be a Moment without resuming it. I am at a Loss, in what holy Place thou hast consecrated that fatal Weapon, which thou holdest thus devoted to pierce the Heart of the Consul.
What, now, is thy present Situation of Life? For I will here reason with thee, without any Emotion of Hate, for which I have such just Causes; nay, I will do it with Compassion, to which thou hast no Title. Upon thy coming into the Senate just now, who was the Man, that, in all this Assembly, so numerous and full, once offered thee, nay, who, of all thy Friends and Relations here, offered thee the Civility of a Salute? If there be no Trace, in Memory or Records, of such an Indignity ever happening to any Man before, what Treatment dost thou next expect here? Not, surely, to be assaulted with explicit Scorn, when thou hast already incurred thy Doom from such awful Silence? Dost thou not see, how, upon thy Entrance, all the Benches round thee were instantly deserted? Didst thou not perceive, how, the Moment thou hadst taken thy Seat, all the Senators of Consular Quality, such as thou hadst marked for Assassination, to avoid being so near thee, forsook theirs; nor have yet resumed them?
With what Temper of Mind canst thou bear such Marks of Abhorrence! For myself, I avow, that did my Slaves dread me as much, as all thy Fellow-citizens dread thee; I should judge it my best Course to relinquish my Habitation: Believest thou not that thou shouldest thus consider, and thus relinquish Rome? Or, if I perceived myself, however unjustly, exposed to such flaming Distrust and Aversion of my Fellow-citizens, I would rather chuse to retire from seeing them, than thus be seen by all of them with Eyes full of Acrimony and Vengeance. As against thee thy own Heart bears Testimony of thy Guilt and Enormities, and obliges thee to own thyself to have been long subject to the just Antipathy of all Men, dost thou hesitate to fly from the Looks and Presence of the Roman People; thou who dost thus wound their Senses, thus shock their Spirit?
Suppose thy natural Parents so feared and hated thee, as upon no Terms to be reconciled to thee; I imagine thou wouldst withdraw somewhere far from their Sight. At present, thy Country hates and fears thee; that Country which is the common Parent of us all, and which has long considered thee as a Parricide, studying her final Overthrow. Wilt thou neither reverence the Authority, nor submit to the Judgment, nor be awed by the Power, of thy Country? Thy Country, therefore, seems to reason thus with thee:
‘Not an Enormity has happened for so many Years, but what began from thee; not one crying Crime been committed without thee. By thee alone so many of our Citizens have been butchered; by thee alone our Confederates have been oppressed, with Impunity, and plundered, without Restraint. Thou not only hast succeeded in defying the Laws and Tribunals, but even in utterly crushing and overturning them. All these Excesses past, so flagrant, and beyond all Bearing, I have yet borne, with what Patience I was able; but it is now utterly insupportable to me, to live in continual Dread of thee only; to see, upon every Alarm, whencesoever it comes, Catiline to be the constant Object of public Terror; and that no treasonable Machination seems possible to be formed against me, but some such as resembles thine. Depart, therefore, and release me from all this Dread; that, if it be well grounded, I may escape Destruction; if groundless, I may, however, for once, cease to live in Fear.’
If thy Country were thus to accost thee, ought she not to prevail with thee, even tho’ she wanted Power to force thee? How do I say, prevail with thee? Thee, who didst offer thyself to be kept in Restraint? Thee, who didst declare, that, in order to remove the common Suspicions, thou wast content to live confined in the House of Marcus Lepidus? Thee, who, being refused by him, hadst the Assurance to come even to me, and besought me to secure thee in my House? When, from me too, thou hadst received thy Answer, that I could by no means be safe under the same Roof with thee, whilst I was in such eminent Peril from living with thee in the same City; thou didst then repair with the like Request to Quintus Metellus the Prætor. As He rejected it, thou didst retire to the House of Marcus Marcellus, thy close Companion; doubtless, a trusty Person, one who, thou didst guess, would prove exceeding vigilant in guarding thee, equally sagacious in discovering thy Designs, and most resolute, withal, in bringing thee to Vengeance! Now, how far removed from a Dungeon and Chains should that Man be, who hath already adjudged himself worthy to be in Custody?
In this Situation, Catiline, since thou canst not bring thyself to suffer Death here with Courage and Acquiescence, dost thou still hesitate to withdraw to another Country; and to commit the Remainder of thy Life to Banishment and Solitude; a Life thus frequently snatched from its just Fate, even capital Vengeance, and a bloody End? But, sayst thou, propose it to be debated by the Senate. This thou claimest, and declarest thyself disposed to obey, if they decree thee to be banished. This is what I shall not propose; it is repugnant to my Temper and Conduct: Yet I will so manage, as fully to apprise thee, what Sentiments this awful Assembly entertains of thee. Mind me then, when I say, ‘Depart out of Rome, Catiline; relieve the Commonwealth from so much Dread. Go into Exile; if thou wilt needs have that Word pronounced.’
How dost thou now conceive Things, Catiline? Dost thou, in any Degree, observe the Temper of the Senate? What Inference dost thou make from the profound Silence of the Senators? They hear me patiently, whilst I thus urge thee to depart: They hear me, and are silent. By their Silence thou dost plainly perceive their Inclinations: Why then dost thou expect Judgment from their Mouths?
Had I applied in the same Strain to this excellent young Senator, Publius Sextius, or to the brave Marcus Marcellus, tho’ I bear the Dignity of Consul, I should, doubtless, have already felt the Indignation and Vengeance of the Senate, agreeably to all the Rules of Justice, even in this very Temple, however sacred. But, when I thus attack thee, Catiline, by their Silence they shew their Approbation; their Acquiescence is equivalent to a verbal Decree; and, whilst they are mute, they cry aloud.
Nor is this the Spirit of the Senators only, those Senators whose Authority thou dost affect to reverence, whilst thou makest no Account of their Blood and Lives: It is also the Spirit of the brave and worthy Roman Knights, and of other magnanimous Citizens, who now guard and surround the Senate; Men whose Concourse thou mightest just now have beheld, observed their warm Attachment to the Commonwealth, heard their honest Acclamations; Men, who would, long since, have inflicted upon thee mortal Vengeance, had I not, with much Difficulty, restrained them. With all these I will, however, prevail to attend thee quite to the Gates, when they see thee quitting this their City, and these their Habitations, which thou hast so long destined to Plunder and Desolation.
But why do I waste Words? Art thou to be softened by any Consideration? Is it possible, that thou shouldst ever reform? Art thou to be persuaded to meditate any Retreat, or once to think of Exile? May the immortal Gods inspire thee with such a Purpose! Though shouldst thou indeed prove so terrified with my Discourse, as to reconcile thy Spirit to Banishment, I clearly foresee with what a Tempest of Party Rage I am threatened, if not during the present Conjuncture, whilst the Impressions of thy Crimes are still fresh, yet, surely, in Times to come. Yet even the Rage of Party is worth incurring on such Terms, if upon myself only I draw all the Woe and Smart, without involving the Public in them. But to bring thee to Compunction for thy Wickedness, to be awed by the Frowns and Coercion of the Laws, to comply with the Exigencies of the Commonwealth, are Conditions not to be required of thee: For thou art not so formed, Catiline, as to be reclaimed by Shame from infamous Courses, or by Fear from desperate ones, or by right Reason from Madness and Fury.
To repeat, therefore, what I have already so often said, Depart. If I be thy Enemy, as thou dost loudly aver, and if thou wouldst load me with public Indignation, go directly into Exile: If thou dost, I shall scarce be able to bear all the popular Censures attending it. The Weight of public Indignation upon me, if thou retirest into Banishment, by my Order, as Consul, will be such, as I shall hardly support. But, if thou studiest rather to advance my Glory and Fame, march forth at the Head of thy fell Band of Profligates; proceed to join Manlius; rouse all the abandoned Subjects of the State to take Arms against it; separate thyself from all worthy Citizens; make War upon thy Country in Person; glory in thy unhallowed Depredations and Havock. It will then fully appear, that, instead of being doomed by me an Exile to Nations unknown, thou art only invited out to join thy Fellow Conspirators.
Indeed, what Occasion have I to incite thee to this Choice? when I know, that thou hast already sent forward a Number of Accomplices, as far as the Aurelian Village, there, under Arms, to await thy coming? When I know the Day of Conjunction fixed, by Consent, between thee and Manlius? When I know, that thou hast conveyed before thee, to Manlius, that boasted silver Eagle, so much revered by thee, as to be kept consecrated at home in a peculiar Sanctuary, where thou wast wont devoutly to recommend and hallow all thy crying Enormities; whence I trust, that that Standard will prove pernicious and fatal to thee, and all thy Followers? How canst thou be so long bereft of such a precious Pledge? Thou, who art always wont first to pay thy Devotions to it, just when thou art going about any bloody Undertaking? Nay, thou hast often laid thy impious Hands solemnly upon that thy domestic Altar; then instantly employed them to butcher Roman Citizens.
Thus thou wilt, at last, repair to a Scene, whither thy desperate and raging Spirit hath been long hurrying thee: There, far from feeling any Anguish, thou wilt find Delight inexpressible. For such wild Adventures as these, Nature hath formed thee, thy Inclinations hardened thee, thy Fate reserved thee. Quiet and Recess thou hast never sought; nay, thou hast never longed even after any War, but such as was murdering and baneful. The Forces thou hast amassed are guilty and profligate Men, Sons of Perdition, abandoned by Fortune, nay, even by Hope. Amongst these, with what Joys must thou be filled! What Pleasure must ravish thee! How voluptuously must thou revel! For in so huge a Multitude, all thy own Creatures, thou wilt be safe from seeing, safe from hearing, any one worthy Man. To qualify thyself for this kind of Life, thou hast performed the surprising Exploits, called, proverbially, Catiline’s Labours; such as, lying in wait upon the Ground, not only to seize impure Pleasures, but to compass Acts of Rapine; such too as watching Opportunities to dishonour the sleeping Husband, and to spoil the wealthy and secure Citizen.
There, likewise, an Occasion presents for displaying at large thy distinguished Talent, of bearing Hunger and Cold, with the Want of all the Necessaries of Life; Distresses with which thou wilt quickly perceive thyself overwhelmed. It was a great Point that I gained, when I defeated thy Endeavours to obtain the Consulship: Instead of afflicting the Commonwealth, as Consul, thou canst now only assail it as an Exile: So that what thou hast impiously undertaken, is not, so properly, to be named a War, as the Effort of a Robber.
Here, Conscript Fathers, that I may avert and extinguish a Complaint, which my Country might exhibit against me, upon probable Grounds, attend closely, I beseech you, to what I am going to advance, and rivet it deeply in your Hearts and Thoughts. For were my Country, I say my Country, ever much dearer to me than my Life, were all Italy, and the whole Commonwealth, to accost me in the following Strain; ‘Cicero, what art thou doing? Wilt thou then suffer Catiline to escape out of Rome? him whom thou hast discovered to be a public Enemy? him whom thou seest just about to conduct the War against the State? him whom thou knowest to be expected as Commander in chief in the Camp of our Foes? the Author of all this Treason and Revolt? the Head and Manager of the Conspiracy? the Traitor who debauches, and enlists, every abandoned Citizen and Slave? Wilt thou indeed suffer him to escape, when, by doing it, thou seemest not so much to drive him out of Rome, as to furnish him with Forces to enter it? Wilt thou not order such a one to be thrown into Irons, not adjudge him to present Death, not doom him to the most rigorous Execution? What is it that hath thus long restrained thee? Was it the Institutions of our Ancestors, when it is known, that, in this our City, private Persons have frequently inflicted capital Vengeance upon pestilent Citizens? Was it the Law which limits the corporal Chastisement of Roman Citizens, when, in this our City, they who proved Traitors to the Commonwealth, were never intituled to the Rights of Citizens? Art thou afraid of incensing Posterity against thee? Surely thou makest glorious Retribution to the Roman People, who, having carried thee thro’ all the Stages of public Dignities, raised thee so suddenly to the highest of all, tho’ known to them only by thy personal Qualities, recommended by no Lustre or Merit of thy Ancestors; if, yet, from Fear of public Censure, or from any Fear or Danger whatsoever, thou foregoest the Care and Protection of thy Fellow-citizens. Now, if there be any Danger of such Censure, is it more terribly to be apprehended from a Conduct full of Justice and Magnanimity, than from Timidity and Desertion of Duty? When Italy shall be laid waste by the Ravages of War, her municipal Cities oppressed, her Dwellings all on a Blaze, thinkest thou to escape the consuming Flames of public Indignation?’
To all this Reasoning, so hallowed and venerable, from the Commonwealth, as, likewise, to all such particular Persons who are under the same Impressions, I shall return a short Answer: Had I once judged it the wholsomest Course to have subjected Catiline to the Pains of Death, I should not have spared, no, not for an Hour, the Life of this Son of Blood. Indeed, if Roman Citizens, of the highest Rank and Dignity, derived not only no Stain, but even notable Lustre, upon their Characters, from shedding the Blood of Saturninus, Flaccus, and the two Gracchi, with many others, in former Times; I too, doubtless, ought to have reckoned myself secure from any Share of Reproach from Ages to come, for having adjudged to Execution this Traitor, the common Assassin of Roman Citizens. But, suppose I were ever so severely exposed to such Reproach, it has been always my Principle, To esteem popular Censure procured by righteous Actions, to be rather Glory than Censure.
But we have amongst us, in this Assembly, some, who either perceive not our impending Destruction, or disown that they do; some, who have fed the Hopes of Catiline by too tender Notions and Overtures about him; nay, have added Strength to the Conspiracy, from the very Beginning, by giving no Credit to it. Their Authority is blindly followed by many others, not only the Vicious and Corrupt, but the Weak and Credulous, who would readily join in a heavy Charge upon me, of terrible Cruelty and Tyranny, should I pass Sentence even upon this Criminal. Hence I am convinced, that, when once he has conveyed himself, whither he is bent, into the Camp of Manlius, none will be so stupid, as not to see, that the Conspiracy is formed and existing, none so abandoned as not to confess it. I am likewise convinced, that, by the Execution of Catiline alone, this pestilent Malady in the State might, indeed, be somewhat checked, but never finally crushed and eradicated. But if he relinquish Rome, if he carry with him his Followers here, and with them draw together, into one Body, all his other forlorn Castaways from every Quarter; this direful Distemper in the State, however inveterate, will not only be quelled and extirpated, but with it the Seeds and Materials of all our public Disorders and Misfortunes.
For, surely, Conscript Fathers, we have been long surrounded with all the Terrors, and dark Devices, of this deadly Conspiracy; though I know not by what means it hath happened, that all these Treasons, with other furious and desperate Designs, long before concerted, have been reserved to appear in their full Light and Maturity during my Consulship. Now if, out of so formidable a Host of Robbers, this single one only were snatched away, we should, perhaps, for some small Interval, seem released from our present Anxiety and Dread: But the dangerous Disease would still pursue us, as it is intimately attached to the very Blood and Vitals of the Commonwealth; like the Condition of Men in the Rage of a Fever, who, under the Pangs of Heat and Thirst, if they drink cold Water, appear at first refreshed, but are thenceforward more keenly and more cruelly tormented. It is thus with the Commonwealth, under her present Disorder: For, should it abate upon the Execution of Catiline, it would rage with fresh Ardour, as his Accomplices would be still left alive.
For these Reasons, Conscript Fathers, let the Guilty retire; let them separate themselves from the Innocent and Worthy; let them assemble in one Place. In short, to repeat what I have already often said, let the Walls of Rome stand between us and them; let them drop their bloody Snares against the Consul in his own House; let them no longer beset and insult the Tribunal of Justice, no longer invest the Senate with their armed Emissaries, and employ themselves no longer in amassing Firebrands and Combustibles to destroy the City by Flames. In a Word, let it be read in the Face of every Citizen, what are his Thoughts, what his Wishes, concerning the Commonwealth. Thus much I undertake, Conscript Fathers; that such shall be the Vigilance found in us the Consuls, such the Authority of your Proceedings in the Senate, so much Resolution in the Equestrian Order, with such hearty Unanimity in all good Citizens, that, immediately upon the Departure of Catiline, the whole detestable Scheme will appear under Evidence as glaring as the Day; nay, will prove fully defeated, and even fully punished.
From all these Considerations, Catiline, Be-gone: Go; and conduct that impious, that inhuman War: Go, for the certain Preservation of the Commonwealth; for thy own Curse and Perdition, and for the final Destruction of those, who have combined with thee in all thy black Treasons, and unnatural Attempts to destroy their Common Country.
It is then, O Jupiter, that Thou, who wast chosen Guardian of this City by Romulus, as early as its Foundation; and, under the same Auspices, Thou, whom We truly call the Preserver of our City and Empire; it is then that Thou wilt defend our public Walls, our private Dwellings, with the Lives and Fortunes of all our Citizens, against the Cruelty of this Parricide, and those associated with him: Thou wilt then also inflict dreadful Chastisement upon all who afflict the Just, upon all the Enemies of their Country, upon all barbarous Free-booters throughout Italy, such as are combined together by the Ties of brutal Crimes, and still subsist by that guilty Union: All these, O Jupiter, thou wilt doom, both Living and Dead, as proper Victims, to present and eternal Vengeance.
THE SECOND ORATION OF CICERO AGAINST CATILINE. Addressed to the PEOPLE.
AT length, Citizens, we have freed ourselves from Catiline. However raging he be with desperate Designs, however breathing Cruelty and Vengeance, labouring to bring Perdition upon his native State, threatening you with Massacre, your City with Flames; yet we have driven him out of Rome; at least constrained him to go, or hastened his going, though by no other Power than that of Speech. He is departed; he is withdrawn; he has fled; he has rushed away.
We shall no longer have this mighty Monster, this prodigious Parricide, employed within our Walls in Schemes for public Destruction. We have, without Dispute, already conquered this Leader, this great Leader of our Tumults and Insurrections in Rome; since we shall not, now, see our Breasts daily exposed to his murdering Dagger: We shall not have him henceforth to alarm us in the Field of Elections, nor in the Place of public Business, nor in the Senate, nor, finally, in our private Dwellings. He was then deprived of his most formidable Situation, when he was forced out of the City. We shall thus be able to make regular War against the Enemy, openly in the Field, since he remains not now to obstruct us in the City.
Doubtless we confounded the Man, and gloriously defeated him; when, from his treasonable Devices in secret, we drove him hence into the avowed Practice of a public Robber. He has missed his Aim, of leaving Rome behind him in Ashes, the Citizens berest of their Lives, and the Consul murdered: He could not first brandish, as he intended, his Sword besmeared with my Blood; nay, he saw his Sword wrested out of his Hands: Judge, therefore, what infinite Mortification and Anguish must have astonished and overwhelmed him: He now lies prostrate and groveling, O Citizens; he perceives himself crushed and forlorn: Surely he looks back, often, and wishfully, to this City, and bewails to see it snatched from his ravening Jaws: Whilst the City, in her turn, seems to exult, that she has disgorged, and, finally, cast out, so pestilent a Citizen.
Now, if any one, possessed with a Spirit becoming every Roman, brings a Charge against me, in the Warmth of his Zeal, that I thus triumph and rejoice in the Style of Victory, for having rather forced away such a pestilent Enemy, than secured him in Bonds; know, Citizens, that such Blame is not imputable to me, but to the Temper of the Times. It has long since become a Duty to the Public to have doomed Catiline to the most exemplary Pains and Death; nay, this Duty was incumbent upon me, as what the primitive Institutions of our State, what the Severity of the Consular Power, what the injured Commonwealth, all at once require of me. But can you conjecture how many, how very many there were, all ready to disbelieve whatever Charges I had to produce against him? how many so silly, as not to conceive it probable? how many bent even to vindicate and defend him? how many mischievously disposed to espouse his Cause?
If, indeed, I had conceived, that, by sentencing him to die, I could have perfectly delivered you from the impending Peril, I should have long since so sentenced him, at the Peril not only of popular Censure, but even of my own Life. Now when I perceived, that tho’ I had even first convinced you all of his Guilt, yet, were I to order him to Execution, as he deserved, the Consequence would be such a Weight of Hate and Despite falling upon me, as to disable me from bringing his Associates to Judgment; I therefore directed all my Measures to this Point, that, when you once saw him an Enemy declared, you would then openly attack him. How formidable an Enemy I esteem him abroad, you may infer, my Countrymen, from hence, that I am sincerely concerned to see so small a Train of Followers accompanying him out of Rome: I wish from my Soul, that he had drawn forth with him his whole Force. I must own, he hath deprived us of Tongillus, (the Darling of his unnatural Passion, when yet a Boy) together with Publicius and Munatius; Men, whose long Reckonings, due at Brothels, could have involved the Commonwealth in no dangerous Insurrections. Behind him he hath left, what Men indeed! how oppressed with Debts! how puissant! how illustrious!
Whilst, therefore, we are furnished with such an Army, consisting of the Legions from Gaul, of Detachments from the Troops under Quintus Metellus in the Territory of Picenum, and of the Recruits daily raised for our Defence, I utterly despise all his Forces whatsoever; some of them antient Men, desperate and undone; some of them Debauchees from the Country; some vagabond Rustics; some Spendthrifts, and Runaways from their Creditors and Sureties: such who would rather follow this medley Host, than return and be just; such too, who, the Instant I present them with the Sight not only of our Army, but even of an Order from the Prætorian Tribunal, will shrink and fly.
I wish he had rather taken along with him for Soldiers many whom I still behold here at Rome, behold hurrying about the Forum, haunting the Court before the Senate, nay, some of them taking their Place in the Senate itself: I behold them besmeared with sweet Ointments, and glaring in all the Pride of the Senatorian Purple. If these continue here, remember my Warning! they, who thus live as Deserters from their Army, are more to be dreaded, than their Army itself. Another Consideration too renders them the more dreadful; for that they know me to be perfectly acquainted with all their secret Purposes, yet are not in the least dismayed. I behold their several Leaders, and Men of Trust; I perceive to whom it is that Apulia is assigned, to whom Etruria, to whom the Territory of Picenum, to whom the neighbouring District of Gaul; I behold the Men, who, for their Share, have besought the Direction of the Design to commit Rome to Massacre and Flames.
They are aware, that all their Deliberations, on the Night before last, were minutely recounted to me: I communicated them Yesterday to the Senate: Dread seized even Catiline, such Dread as drove him to fly. To what do these Associates trust? They are grievously deceived, if they presume, that I shall still persevere in the same Strain of Tenderness. My Views in it are now fully answered; namely, to have made it as clear to you as the Light of the Sun, that a Conspiracy is notoriously carried on against the Commonwealth; unless there be any, who imagine, that such as in all things imitate and resemble Catiline, concur not with the Designs of Catiline.
There now remains no room for gentle Dealings. Our Situation, as it is full of Danger, exacts Methods full of Severity. One Concession there is, which I will still make them; namely, To leave us, to go hence, and not suffer Catiline to pine in Wretchedness for their Company. I will direct them the Way: He went along the Aurelian Road: If they travel speedily, they will overtake him in the Evening.
Oh happy Roman State, if she had once finally purified herself from such a beneful Sink of Nuisances! Verily to me the Commonwealth seems to have derived Vigour and Refreshment from the Expulsion only of Catiline: For, indeed, what Instance of Wickedness and Enormity can be feigned or devised, that he hath not pursued? Where, where through all Italy, is there to be found one Poisoner, one infamous Fencer, one Robber, one Murderer, one Parricide, one Forger of Wills, one common Cheat, one Voluptuary, one extravagant Heir, one Adulterer, one Harlot, what one given to debauch Youth, what one Youth debauched, or what one abandoned Criminal whatsoever, who will not acknowledge, that he has lived in a Course of the highest Familiarity with Catiline? What one Assassination hath been committed for some Years past without him? What heinous Act of Lewdness, but by him?
I ask further, did ever mortal Man employ so many and such powerful Incentives as he, to gain and debauch young Men? He, who, with some of them, committed beastly Defilements, and bore withal such beastly Defilements from others? To many of them he promised Recompences for their Prostitution; to many the sudden Death of their Fathers, not only prompting, but even aiding them, in Person, to procure it. At present how incredibly soon hath he amassed together an immense Band of desperate and abandoned Men, not out of the City only, but also from the Country! For was it possible to find, not only in Rome, but in any one Corner of Italy, one Individual oppressed with Debts, whom Catiline hath not linked fast with him in this marvellous Bond of Treason? As a Proof of his various Talents in different Pursuits, there is not a Fencer in any of the public Schools, who, if he be but resolute in Mischief, avows not himself a close Intimate of Catiline; not a Retainer to the Stage, remarkably impudent and profligate, but proclaims himself Catiline’s Bosom Friend: Yet this very Catiline, however immersed in Habits of Lewdness and Cruelty, has been by these his Companions always extolled as a Man very hardy and brave, able to bear Hunger, Thirst, and Cold, with Want of Sleep and Rest; though they saw him wasting in Debauchery, and Acts of Violence, whatever Abilities he had for Affairs, whatever Genius for brave Actions.
Such is the Man! and were all his Partizans to follow him, would but this guilty and implacable Herd relinquish the City; O how happy should we all be! how fortunate the Commonwealth! what deathless Glory crowning my Consulship!
For, surely, the vicious Sallies and Passions of Men are no longer confined to any Bounds or Restraint, but are grown too monstrous for human Nature to produce, or, indeed, to bear. They breathe nothing but domestic Slaughter, public Conflagration, universal Havock and Spoil. Some have lavished their Estates, others their Money, all sacrificed to Sensuality and Riot. First their Means failed them; anon their Credit: Yet still the same Spirit of Debauchery and Waste, which possessed them during Affluence, prompts them in Poverty.
In truth, though, during the Course of their Intoxication with Wine and Gaming, they had only pursued Objects of Lewdness, and voluptuous Repasts, they would even then have been lost to all Hope, yet still to have been borne withal: But it is beyond all bearing, that the Sons of Sloth and Voluptuousness should be thus devising deadly Snares against the Warlike and Brave; the Rash and Foolish against the Sagacious and Wary; Drunkards against the Sober; Sluggards against the most Vigilant: that such as they, whilst resigned to Banquets, lolling in the Arms of Harlots, enervated by Wine, surfeited by Gluttony, effeminately decked with Flowers, recking with sweet Ointments, and utterly enfeebled with impure Pleasures, dare yet loudly bellow their Threats, to butcher all worthy Citizens, and to commit the City itself to Flames.
Over them, I firmly trust, there hangs some terrible Fate: I trust, that the direful Vengeance so long due to their flagitious Dealings, to their Perfidiousness, their Barbarities, their sensual Pursuits, is actually falling upon them; at least, just about to fall. Now, if, by my Consular Power, I can exterminate these Men, whom by it I cannot cure, I shall not only save the Commonwealth for a short Period, but prolong it for many Ages. No Nation now subsists, that we need to dread, no Monarch able to attack the Roman People. Abroad universal Tranquillity is established by Sea and Land, all through the Valour and Conduct of one Man: Only intestine Commotions remain to be quelled: A Conspiracy against the State subsists in the Bowels of the State; within our own Walls Ruin threatens us; within our Walls the Enemy assails us. It is against domestic Riot, against lawless Phrensy, against civil Violence, and Outrages, that we must arm.
In this War I present myself to you, Citizens, for your Leader: I frankly undertake to incur all the Enmity and Rage of desperate Traitors. Whatever is possible to be cured, I will employ any Means to cure; whatever must be cut off, shall be cut off, rather than suffered to spread, to the utter Extinction of the State.
Upon the Whole, therefore, let them either leave us, or cease to annoy us: Or, if they will needs remain in this City, and breathe the same hostile Spirit, let them prepare to suffer the Doom which they deserve.
I know, Citizens, there are those who allege, that Catiline hath been, by me alone, driven into Banishment. My Answer is; Were I able, by Words only, to procure such an Event, I would banish these very Persons, who make such Declarations. Probable, indeed! that Catiline, in his Nature so very shy and over-modest, could not resist the Language of the Consul; but, as soon as, by it, he heard himself ordered to depart into Exile, instantly obeyed and departed! How suits this, O Citizens, with what happened but Yesterday; when, having, with great Difficulty, escaped being murdered in my own House, I assembled the Senate in the Temple of Jupiter the Guardian, and there laid open the whole Conspiracy? Upon Catiline’s Entrance, what one Senator deigned to speak to him? What one Senator to salute him? Which of them all did not behold him, not only as a Member of the State altogether desperate and forlorn, but rather as a raging and implacable Enemy and Parricide? Nay, the several Senators of principal Dignity, quitting their Seats where he advanced, lest all the Benches round him empty.
It was then that I, that very impetuous Consul, who, by just uttering a Word, force Roman Citizens into Banishment, examined Catiline, whether or not he had held a Meeting, the preceding Night, at the House of Marcus Lecca? As he, who, of all Men, is the most hardened in Boldness and Front, hitherto answered nothing, (for his guilty Conscience smote him) I proceeded to disclose the Particulars of my Discovery; to disclose where-ever else he had been that Night, whatever else he had transacted, with what was reserved for the Night following: To all this I added, how minute a Plan had been drawn, and then exhibited, for conducting the War in all its Parts. When he still paused, struck dumb, indeed, with Conviction, I asked him, what retarded him from proceeding to the Place, where he had so long purposed to go, when he had, already, to my Knowlege, conveyed thither before him Quantities of Arms, nay, Rods and Axes, nay, Trumpets and Ensigns of War, and even that silver Eagle, to which he had assigned a Sanctuary in his House, a Sanctuary, where he constantly consecrated all his barbarous Exploits?
Was it I, who forced this Man into Banishment? a Man whom I saw already invading us at the Head of an Army? But if he be truly an Exile, then I must own, that it is only Manlius, a small Centurion, who has encamped the Forces in the Territory of Fesulæ; it is this Centurion, who, acting for himself, hath, in his own Name, declared War against the Roman People; that these Forces by no means await the Arrival of Catiline to assume the supreme Command; for that he, they say, thus thrust out as an Exile, will retire to Marseilles, without entering that Camp.
O the miserable Terms, not only of administring the State, but even of saving it from Perdition! If Catiline, by seeing himself quite entangled and disabled by my Counsels, by my unwearied Efforts, by my constantly exposing my Life, had been seized by sudden Dread, changed his Purpose, forsaken his Followers, dropped all his Schemes of War, and even now, at last, deserting his usual Pursuits of Arms and Outrages, had chosen to retire into Banishment; what would be the Cry, and common Construction, then? Not that he was bereft by me of all Means of advancing his desperate Enterprize, nor overcome with Astonishment and Dismay, by my Vigour and Vigilance, nor driven by Force from all his Machinations, and even from all his Hopes: On the contrary, it would be asserted, That, only by the Threats and Violence of the Consul, he was cast into Banishment, altogether innocent, because not formally convicted, and condemned: Yes, there will be these, who, if he should yet take this Course, will consider him as a Man not justly punished, but unjustly persecuted; and me, not as a vigilant Consul, but as a barbarous Tyrant.
It is an abundant Recompence to me, Citizens, for exposing myself to a Torrent of Reproach so groundless and injurious, if, by it, I can rescue You from the Calamity of so tragical and detestable a War. Let it be reported, that I drove him hence: I agree to it, on condition, that he withdraw into Banishment. But, thither, believe me, he intends not to go. I shall never petition the Gods to case me of popular Reproach, at the Price of any Surprize to you, Citizens, from the Tidings of Catiline’s furiously advancing to assail you at the Head of a hostile Army. Yet, within Three Days, this is what you will see: So that what I dread at present most, is, that, in a short time, I shall be rather upbraided for suffering, than for forcing, him to depart.
Now, since there are such Men, who, because he withdrew, alledge, that I obliged him to withdraw; what would the same Men say, if he had been doomed to die? The Truth is, they who are loudest in averring, that Catiline is proceeding to Marseilles, do not so much lament his going, as fear that he will go: And, of all these Men professing this great Compassion for him, there is not one, who has so much real Compassion, as not to wish, that his Progress may be rather to Manlius, than to Marseilles. Such, too, is the Spirit of the Man, that, tho’ he had never before entertained a Thought of what he now pursues, yet, rather than live an Exile, he would prefer the Fate of being slain as a Traitor and Robber. As Things are, since nothing hath hitherto befallen him, inconsistent with his own Schemes and Pursuits, except that we survive his Departure from Rome, let us rather wish, that he may go into Banishment, than complain, that he is gone.
But why do I bestow so much Discourse upon one Enemy? such an Enemy too, as owns himself to be one? nay, an Enemy whom I fear not; since our City-Walls now stand, as I ever wished they might, between us and him? Concerning the rest, who dissemble their Enmity, who still continue in Rome, and are interspersed amongst us, do we attempt to say nothing? These are such, upon whom, truly, I aim not so much to take Vengeance, as to recover them from their Disaffection, if, by any Remedy whatsoever, it could be accomplished; and, finally, to reconcile them to the Commonwealth: Neither can I conceive, why it should not be accomplished, if they will listen to what I say. I therefore proceed, first, To represent to you, Citizens, of what different Sorts of Men these Forces consist: Next, I shall offer to each Sort some Cure; such as my Reasoning, my Counsel, and Persuasion, is able to recommend.
The first Class is of those, who, under great Debts, are yet Masters of greater Possessions; but Possessions, of which they are so inordinately fond, as on no Account to diminish them. This Class, as they are abundantly wealthy, bear the Face of more honourable Debtors than the rest; but, in their Principles and Conduct, are, doubtless, the most shameless of all. Art thou, indeed, furnished with large Demesnes? Thou with many Villas? Thou abounding in Money? Thou in numerous Slaves and Attendants? Art Thou covered with Splendor? Dost Thou riot in the Affluence of all Things? Yet, dost Thou hesitate to pare off any Portion of thy Affluence, thence to retrieve thy plighted Faith, and to purchase Esteem? What, indeed, hast thou in View? Is it War? How! Dost Thou conclude, that, during universal Uproar and Desolation, Thy Possessions will escape, as if they were sacred and inviolable? Dost Thou hope for new Regulations about Debts and Usury? They deceive themselves, who expect such from Catiline. It is by my Interest and Procurement, that new Regulations will be proposed: But mine will be limited Regulations, and attended with public Auctions; since they, who have Possessions, can never be secured by any other means whatsoever. If they would have consented to it sooner, and not, through extreme Blindness, struggled, absurdly, with the Usurers, about the Rents of their mortgaged Lands, the State would have been happy in many richer, as well as in many better Members. However, from all this Class of Men, in my Opinion, very little Danger is to be apprehended: For they may be either weaned from their present Bent and Impressions; or, if they persist, they seem, to me, rather qualified to assault their Country with Imprecations, than with Arms.
A second Sort is composed of such, who, however oppressed with Debts, aspire to supreme Rule, and will needs sway the State: They conjecture, that, during the Convulsions of the Commonwealth, they shall be able to obtain such public Dignities, as they despair of in its Calm. Upon these, and, indeed, upon all the rest, this Principle is, chiefly and singly, to be over and over inculcated, that they must for ever despair of thus gaining what they labour after; first, Because I am always in their Way; I, who incessantly watch over the Commonwealth; I, who am ever present to assist her; I, who am ever ready to provide for her in every Exigency. Next, All worthy Men are combined to oppose them; a mighty Multitude, all of undaunted Resolution, all firmly united! We abound too in military Forces. Finally, The immortal Deities will not fail powerfully to aid this invincible People, this Empire, so glorious and renowned, this City, so fair and flourishing beyond all others, against an Attempt so destructive and bloody.
But what would it avail them, if they gained what they pursue with such headlong Fury? Do these Men hope, that, in the Ruins of Rome, and in the Massacre of the Citizens, they shall find their black and inhuman Wishes accomplished? such Wishes, as they had ever fostered? Find themselves raised to Consular, or Dictatorial, and even to Royal Sway? They perceive not, that they are earnest for a Thing, which, if obtained, they would be forced to surrender to some upstart Fugitive or Fencer.
The third Class is that of Men, indeed, stricken in Years, but trained in War, and still robust: Manlius himself is one of them; he, whose Place Catiline has now assumed. These are Men derived from the Colonies founded by Sylla at Fesulæ; Colonies, which I really think to have been filled with the best Citizens, and bravest Men: These are, however, such Members of those Colonies, as, being transported with sudden and unexpected Riches, fell into all Courses of Vanity and Extravagance: Whilst, from a Persuasion, that their Wealth and Happiness would never end, they raised fine Mansions, rioted in their Villas, in the Luxury of Litters, in mighty Trains of Slaves, in magnificent Banquets, in gay Equipages, and Splendor, they became involved in Debts, so mighty, and so many, that no possible Method is left to discharge them; unless they can recal Sylia from the Mansions of the Dead. These, too, have tempted over to their Party some starving and beggarly Rustics, by the Hopes of a common Share, when the late Course of public Rapine shall be revived. I, indeed, Citizens, range both Sorts under the same Class of Thieves and Plunderers. This Admonition, however, I will give them, To drop their outrageous Views, with all Dreams of future Proscriptions and Dictatorships: Since, such is the Horror of those terrible Times, still cleaving to the Hearts of Citizens, that, in my Opinion, even the Beasts of the Field would not endure, much less would Men, the same Outrages repeated.
The fourth is a Class strangely various and dissimilar; Sons of Sedition and Despair; all long undone; all doomed never to recover; Men, who, partly through Idleness, partly through ill Management, partly, too, by Profusion, are crushed with old and immoderate Debts; Men worried with judicial Process and Decrees, their Persons threatened with Durance, their Effects condemned to Sale, and all said to be repairing, in great Numbers, both from Rome, and the Country, to the same Camp. These I consider not as brave Soldiers, but rather as impotent Fugitives from Debts and Justice. Such Men, since they cannot support Life, let them agree to fall; but so, as their Fall disturb not the State, nor even their next Neighbours. For I cannot conceive, when they cannot subsist with Honesty, why they will lose their Lives with Infamy; or fansy it less painful to perish with many, than to perish by themselves.
The fifth is a Band filled with Parricides, with Murderers; in truth, with Criminals of every Kind and Degree. These are such as I urge not to return from Catiline: For, besides that nothing can wrest them from him, it is fit, that they perish in the Exercise of their public Felony; since they are so many, that the Prisons cannot hold them.
The last Sort, not only in Course, but even in Character and Demeanour, are Catiline’s peculiar Train; a Troop of his own raising; nay, nurtured in his Bosom, and even enured to his fond Embraces; such as you see with their Locks curiously sprinkled, and combed; some soft and beardless; some with Beards nicely trimmed; all arrayed in long flowing Vests; not in Robes, but in Veils; Soldiers these, who bestow the Labour of their Lives, all their Fatigue and Watchings, upon nightly Banquets, always prolonged till Day!
With this Herd are mixed all Gamesters, all Adulterers, all Pathics, all the Prostitute and Lewd. These Boys, so blithe and engaging, of a Frame so lovely and tender, have not been confined to the common Instructions, how to love, and be beloved; how to dance, and how to sing: They are formed to higher Strains; to wield the Assassins Knife, and to administer Poison with Address. Now, be assured, that these evil Instruments, unless they all retire from us, nay, unless they all perish, will prove a Seminary of Catilines in the State, though Catiline himself should perish.
In the mean time, what Course do these Wretches mean to take? To carry their Harlots along with them to the Camp? Indeed, how can they suffer themselves to be bereft of them? especially during these cold Winter Nights? Yet how will they themselves bear the Rigours of the Apennine Mountains, the keen Frosts, and mighty Snows there? Unless they imagine themselves qualified more easily to support the Fierceness of Winter, because they have learned to dance naked at their nocturnal Banquetings.
O what a formidable War we have to apprehend, when Catiline is to have for his Guard such a Prætorian Band, all chosen out of Brothels, and taken from the Arms of Harlots!
Strait apply yourselves, therefore, Citizens, to array your powerful Forces, your several Armies, against this hopeful and renowned Host of Catiline. First, direct your Two Consuls, direct the Leaders of your Troops, to encounter that traiterous Fencer, already sunk and maimed: Then lead forth the Flower and Strength of all Italy against the cast-away and impotent Crew, his Followers; for, to defeat all his Crouds of Rustics, our Colonies and municipal Cities will furnish abundant Force. Your other Resources of Strength, your other Marks of Superiority and Grandeur, your many Guards, and Means of Defence, it becomes me not to set in Opposition to the Wants and Weakness of that detestable Robber.
But, were we to omit to mention all the Advantages, which he wants, and in which we, by enjoying them, surpass him, namely, the Senate, the Roman Knights, the City of Rome, and the Roman People, the Treasury, the public Revenue, all Italy, all the Provinces, and all foreign Nations; I say, were we to drop this whole Detail, and try both Parties by the particular Merits of each, by this alone we may perceive, how low and forlorn they lie. On one Side Modesty struggles against Insolence on the other: Here is chaste Behaviour; there all Pollution: Here strict Faith; there Treachery: Here Mercy; there Cruelty: Here Fortitude; there Fury: Here Honour; there Infamy: Here Restraint; there unbridled Passion: In short, Justice, Moderation, Magnanimity, Prudence, all in a Contest with Iniquity, with Debauchery, with Effeminacy, with Rashness; that is, every Virtue with every Vice. To conclude, it is a Quarrel between Wealth and Penury, right Reason and Phrensy; sound Sense and Extravagance; lastly, between sure Hope, and Fortunes utterly desperate. This is a Conflict, this a Battle, of such a Kind, where, though the Ardour of Men should cool, would not the immortal Deities impower all these divine Virtues to triumph over such a detestable Train of Vices?
Under these Circumstances, Citizens, be it your Care, as I have before said to you, to watch and defend your several Dwellings. For the City in general, I have taken all due Precautions, all proper Measures, by guarding her effectually, without leaving you subject to any Commotion or Alarm. As I have sent to acquaint all the Colonies, and municipal Cities, with Catiline’s sudden Departure from hence in the Night, their Inhabitants will easily defend them. I shall, by my Authority, secure the Gladiators from moving; a Force upon which he has reckoned as the most powerful, and most surely attached to him; though they be, in reality, better affected than some of the Patricians. Quintus Metellus, whom, in View of Catiline’s withdrawing, I dispatched before him into the Territory of Picenum, and Limits of Gaul, will either at once crush the Traitor, or, at least, frustrate all his Motions and Attempts. In order to concert, and hasten, and execute further Measures, I am now going to take the Advice of the Senate, whom you perceive to be called together.
Concerning his Accomplices, who remain in the City, and were by him left in it, on purpose to bring Perdition upon it, and upon you all, though they be Enemies, yet, as they are born Citizens, my Intention is, kindly to advise and warn them, again and again. The Purpose of my Lenity past, though, to some, it may seem rather Remissness, was, whilst the Plot was yet dark, to await a full Disclosure. It is now time to consider, what I never can forget, that is, my Country; that I am chief Magistrate of these Citizens; and that I must either live with them, or die with them. If there be any, who want to retire from amongst us, they are free to take their own Course: There is not a single Guard at the Gates to obstruct them; not a Man lying in wait upon the Road to surprise them: But if any, staying here, try to raise any Commotion whatsoever in the City, the Moment I detect them, not only in actual Practices against their Country, but even in any Design to disturb it, they shall effectually feel, that Rome is supplied with Consuls full of Vigilance; with admirable Magistrates in general, with a magnanimous Senate, with Store, too, of Arms, nay, with Irons and Dungeons, such as are derived to us from our Ancestors, who instituted them for taking Vengeance on notorious Criminals and Traitors.
Moreover, Citizens, the Whole shall be so conducted, that, in executing the highest Counsels of State, not the least popular Consternation shall happen; in quelling the most terrible Conspiracy, no Sort of Uproar ensue; nay, a Civil War, the most powerful, and most cruel, that has been known within the Memory of Men, shall be extinguished, by me alone, without once putting off my Civil Robe: I will quell it, Citizens, in such a manner, that not even a single guilty Man in Rome shall incur the Penalty of his Treason, if there be any Possibility of preventing it. If, by their own daring and open Insolence, if, by the Dangers threatening my Country, I am driven to forego this Gentleness of Temper, thus much, surely, I shall bring to pass, that not an innocent Man shall perish; an Exemption scarce to be hoped in a domestic War so widely extended, and so closely conducted! So that, by the Execution of a few guilty Men, you may still be all secure.
These are Things, O Citizens, which I engage not to you to accomplish from a Confidence in my own Wisdom, or, indeed, in any human Counsel whatever, but only in the propitious Purposes of the immortal Deities, manifested to me by many and sure Presages: It is by them that I am inspired with such high Assurance, by them with this my Determination. They are not now at a Distance, as formerly they were wont, aiding us against Enemies foreign and remote; they are, at this very time, in Rome, by their own divine Presence and Aid, defending their own Temples; as also the Dwellings of the City: It is to them, Citizens, that you ought to pay your Veneration, and your Vows; to them address your Complaints and Petitions; that, since, by their own Decree, this City should be thus of all others the fairest, the most flourishing, and the most puissant, they will defend her against certain of her abandoned Citizens, execrably combined to destroy her, even when she had, every-where, routed and subdued all the Armies of her Enemies both by Land and by Sea.
THE THIRD ORATION OF CICERO AGAINST CATILINE. Addressed to the PEOPLE.
TO-DAY, Citizens, you behold the Commonwealth, with all your Lives, your Estates and Fortunes, your Wives and Children, nay, Rome itself, the Seat of this resplendent Empire, a City the most flourishing and fair, rescued from the Fury of Fire and Sword, snatched from the Jaws of Perdition, and intirely secured and restored, through the superlative Love of the immortal Deities towards you, and by the Success of my Counsels, and Perils, and Efforts. If the Days from whence we date our Preservation, be distinguished with no less Joy than the Days which give us Birth, because Life saved yields certain Joy; but when we are born, our Lot of Life is uncertain; add, that, though we receive our first Breath without Reflection, we feel Delight in our Deliverance from Death; surely, therefore, when our Zeal for Romulus was such, as to rank and adore him amongst the Deities, for founding this City, signal Respect from you, and your Descendants, is due to the Man who hath preserved the City so founded, and, since, so gloriously inlarged. When the Flames had surrounded you, when they were seizing, and ready to devour, the whole City, with all her Temples and Sanctuaries, all her Bulwarks and Dwellings, I quenched those Flames: I foiled the Arms wielded against the Commonwealth: I repelled the Weapons ready to pierce your Hearts.
As I have disclosed the Whole to the Senate, and there amply proved and explained it, I will now present you, Citizens, with a short Account of it, that you may learn what you yet know not, but claim to know, what dreadful, what manifest Destruction threatened you; as also by what Methods it was discovered and laid open.
When Catiline was fled from Rome, as I found some Days after, that there yet remained behind him the Accomplices of his Treason, and the City still harboured the keenest Champions of this impious War; I constantly watched, and studied, by what means we could possibly secure ourselves against a Train of Machinations so desperate, yet so dark. For, that I drove Catiline out of the City, is an Imputation which I fear not so much, as that he was suffered to leave it alive: I, indeed, presumed, that, upon his Expulsion, either the rest of his Brethren in the Conspiracy would depart with him; or, at least, the Efforts of such as remained, if they made any, would, without Him, be faint and fruitless: But, when I perceived the most Outrageous, the most Ardent for Blood and Mischief, still remaining in the City, still intermixed with us; I then bent my intire Care, Night and Day, to trace and discover all their Transactions and Devices: For, as no Speech of mine might be powerful enough to convince you of a Treason so shocking and incredible, I meant so fully to sift and illustrate the whole Proceeding, that, when your own Eyes beheld the Doom which threatened your very Lives, you would then, at last, employ your Thoughts how to preserve them.
When, therefore, I had discovered, that the Deputies of the Allobrogians had been suborned by Publius Lentulus, to excite a War beyond the Alps, and Insurrections in those Parts of Gaul; that they were withal charged with Letters to those of their own Community, with other Letters and Instructions to Catiline, to be delivered to him in their Way home; that Volturcius, too, was appointed to accompany them, and intrusted with more Letters for Catiline; I inferred, that an Opportunity offered to do what hitherto seemed of insuperable Difficulty, (such as I had ever besought the immortal Gods to remove) namely, to unravel and display the whole Combination to the ample Satisfaction not of myself only, but of the Senate, and of You the Roman People.
For this Purpose, I, Yesterday, had called to me the Two Prætors, Lucius Flaccus, and Caius Pomptinus, gallant Men, and zealous for the Commonwealth: To them I recounted the Whole, and explained what Course I judged best to be taken: The Prætors, whose Notions concerning the Public are all noble and disinterested, complied without Scruple; nay, undertook the Execution without Delay. When the Evening began to close, they reached, unobserved, to the Milvian Bridge: There they parted, and posted themselves in the Villages on each Side the Tiber, so that the Bridge stood between them; for they had led along with them, too, and lodged in the same Stations, several brave Men, without the least Alarm or Suspicion. Besides, in order to strengthen them, I had dispatched, from the Precinct of Reate, a Number of chosen young Men well armed; such as I myself never fail to employ upon all public Exigencies.
Towards the End of the third Watch, as the Allobrogian Deputies, with a great Train, and accompanied by Volturcius, began to pass the Bridge, suddenly an Onset was made upon them, and, on both Sides, Swords were drawn. The Prætors only were trusted with the Design; to all their Followers it was a Secret. Presently, as Pomptinus and Flaccus advanced and appeared, the Conflict, thus begun, was at once appeased: Whatever Letters were found amongst the Retinue of the Deputies, were consigned, unopened, into the Hands of the Prætors; the Deputies themselves were brought before me, at the Dawn of Day. I forthwith sent for Gabinius Cimber, a pestilent Manager in their Treason, but now under no Apprehensions. Then I sent for Lucius Statilius; next, for Cethegus: Lentulus came too, but much slower than the rest; for, I presume, he passed the Night, contrary to Custom, without Sleep, in dispatching Letters to his Correspondents.
Now, though Numbers of the first and most illustrious Persons in the Commonwealth, having heard what passed, came early to me, and offered their Opinion, ‘That the several Letters should be first opened, before I presented them to the Senate; lest, if nothing of Moment were found in them, I should appear to have too precipitately raised such a terrible Alarm in the State;’ yet I refused to take any other Course, than, in a Matter of public Danger, to refer the Whole to the Senate, which was the public Council. The Truth is, Citizens, though the Informations brought to me should have failed, I still supposed, that I needed not fear being over-sedulous, when such Perils threatened the Commonwealth.
Immediately I assembled, as you saw, a full Senate. In the mean time, from a Hint given me by the Allobrogian Deputies, I strait dispatched Caius Sulpicius the Prætor, a brave Man, to bring away what Arms he could find in the House of Cethegus. From thence Sulpicius brought great Store of Swords and Daggers. I introduced Volturcius, without the Gauls, into the Senate; and, for his Security, by their Order, gave him the public Faith: I encouraged him, without all Fear, to reveal whatever he knew: He, hardly yet able to recover himself from his great Affright, declared, that he had received, from Publius Lentulus, Letters for Catiline; as also verbal Instructions, ‘To strengthen himself, by arming the Slaves; as also to advance as fast as possible with his Army towards Rome; that, when they had set the City on Fire in all its Quarters, agreeably to the Plan, and the several Assignments already settled, and when they had made withal an infinite Slaughter of Citizens, he might be at hand, not only to intercept all who strove to escape, but to join the Leaders there.’
The Gauls, when they were introduced, declared, that Publius Lentulus, Cethegus, and Statilius, had delivered Letters to them, for their Nation; together with an Oath of Fidelity, with Orders added by the same Three, in Conjunction with Lucius Cassius, to dispatch a Body of Horse, as soon as possible, into Italy; for of Infantry they should find no Scarcity: That Lentulus had given them Assurances, from the prophetic Records of the Sibyls, and from the Reports and Interpretation of the Augurs, that he was the Third of the Cornelian Race destined by Fate to sway the Sovereignty of this City and Empire; for Cornelius Cinna had already done it; so had Cornelius Sylla: For Confirmation, he had alledged, that this Year of Rome was to prove fatal to her Government, as it was the Tenth Year since the Acquittal of the polluted Vestals, the Twentieth since the Burning of the Capitol. They added, that there was a Contest between Cethegus and his Accomplices; for Lentulus, and the others, chose to have the general Massacre, and Firing of Rome, executed during the Festival of Saturn; and this seemed, to Cethegus, to be too great Delay.
Not to be tedious, O Citizens, I ordered the Letters to be produced severally, according to the Hands from whence they were said to have come. First, I shewed Cethegus his Signet: He owned it. I then cut the Bandage, and read the Letter. It was written with his own Hand, directed to the Allobrogian Senate and People: In it he confirmed his Assurances to their Deputies, to fulfil whatever he had promised them; and besought them to perform, in their turn, whatever the Deputies had undertaken in their Name. Cethegus, who, a little before, had accounted for the Swords and Daggers seized in his Possession, and alledged, that he had always been fond of fine Arms, was now, upon hearing his Letter read, quite dispirited and cast down; he was smitten by his guilty Conscience, and instantly silent. Statilius, who was next introduced, owned both his Signet and his Hand. When his Letter, written almost in the same Strain with the former, was read, he readily acknowledged all.
I then applied to Lentulus, and shewed him his: I asked him, If he avowed the Signet? He assented. It is, in truth, said I to him, a very noted Signet; the Head of thy Grandfather, a celebrated Roman, who cordially loved his Country, and his Fellow-citizens; a Picture which, however mute it be, ought to have restrained thee from such horrible Iniquity. Then his Letter to the Senate and Community of the Allobrogians was recited, in the same Style. I gave him leave to make his Defence, if he had any to make: He, at first, refused: Presently, when the whole Evidence was opened, and appeared undeniable, he rose up, and asked the Gauls, What Commerce he had ever had with them? and for what Cause they had come to his House? He proposed the same Questions to Volturcius. As soon as they had given him a short and resolute Answer, how often they had been there, and by whom introduced, and then desired him to answer, whether he had never entertained them with the Sibylline Oracles in his Behalf? And as he was now, on a sudden, confounded with Remorse, he shewed an Example of the mighty Power of Conscience over the Soul of Man! For, when he might have confidently denied any such Conversation, in a Moment, he disappointed the Opinion of all Men, and confessed it: So intirely was he forsaken, not only by his great Talents, and that Habit of Eloquence in which he always excelled, but even by his bad Heart, and that inimitable Impudence, in which he surpassed all Men: Such was the Effect of conscious Guilt exposed!
Now Volturcius strait caused to be presented and opened the Letter, which, he said, had been given him by Lentulus for Catiline. This proved a dreadful Shock to Lentulus! yet he owned the Signet, and his Hand-writing. It was subscribed by no Name, in the following Style: ‘Who it is that sends thee this, thou wilt learn from him who brings it. Consider thy own desperate Situation, and be sure to acquit thyself like a Man. Recollect what thy Circumstances demand, and seek Assistance from All, even from the Lowest and Basest.’
Gabinius was next introduced. At first he began to answer with notable Assurance: At length he denied not a Tittle of whatever the Gauls accused him.
The Truth is, Citizens, though, to me, their Letters, their Signets, their Hand-writing, nay, the voluntary Confession of each, appeared glaring Proofs of their Treason; yet I found Demonstrations of their Guilt still more sure, in their Eyes, in their changing Colour, in their Looks, and Silence: Indeed, such was their Stupefaction, such their downcast Looks, such the guilty Glances, which, from time to time, they stole at one another, that they appeared not so much to be detected by others, as to detect and arraign themselves.
When all this Evidence was thus exhibited, and appeared thus clear, I applied to the Senate, O Citizens, to know what Resolutions they would please to take, for the Preservation of the State. The leading Senators strait offered several Propositions full of Vigour and Magnanimity; such as the Senate received without any Variation.
Now, seeing that Ordinance of theirs is not yet inrolled, I will, upon Memory, recount to you, O Citizens, all that they then ordained. First of all, they decree their public Thanks to be presented to me in the strongest and most solemn Terms; for that, by my undaunted Conduct, by my Foresight and Counsels, the Commonwealth was rescued from the highest Perils. Next, they heap just and well-merited Commendations upon the Prætors Lucius Flaccus and Caius Pomptinus, for the brave and faithful Assistance which they had given to me. Moreover, they extol the Merit of Caius Antonius, my valiant Collegue, for having kept the Associates in the Conspiracy from all Part in the public Measures, and in his own Measures for the Public. Then they proceed and ordain, that Lentulus (having first divested himself of the Dignity of Prætor) should be committed to Custody; as also Caius Cethegus, Lucius Statilius, and Publius Gabinius, all Three then present.
The like Sentence was passed upon Lucius Cassius, the Man who had required to himself the Task of setting Rome on Fire; upon Marcus Cæparius, who, as it was proved, had Apulia assigned to him, in order to engage the Boors there to revolt; upon Publius Furius, a Member of the disaffected Colonies transplanted to Fesulæ by Sylla; upon Quintus Manlius Chilo, who had a constant Share with this Furius in suborning the Allobrogian Deputies; lastly, upon Publius Umbrenus, the Son of a Freedman, who plainly appeared to have first introduced these Deputies to Gabinius.
Such, O Citizens, was the extreme Lenity now exercised by the Senate, who, under a Conspiracy so mighty, threatening such Outrage and Desolation, judged, that out of such a Multitude of intestine Enemies, by punishing Nine only, and these the most desperate and abandoned of all, they should be able to secure the Commonwealth, and reclaim the Hearts of all the rest. The same Decree likewise injoined the Celebration of public Thanksgiving, in my Name, to the immortal Deities, for their singular Benignity towards the Republic; a Distinction, Citizens, which, as I still-wore the Civil Robe, fell to me to reap, the first of all Romans since the Founding of Rome: It was expressed in these Words: Because I had saved the City from Flames, the Citizens from Slaughter, and Italy from War. The present public Thanksgiving, Citizens, compared with others past, claims this Difference, that these were appointed for such Romans as had well administered the Commonwealth; this for me, for having preserved the Commonwealth itself.
The Senate also, adhering to strict Rules, saw the Step which required Precedence, first taken. For, though Publius Lentulus, thus convicted by full Evidence, as well as by his own Confession, had, by the Determination of the Senate, not only lost his Right to the Prætorship, but even that of a Roman Citizen; yet he in form divested himself of his Magistracy: So that, in punishing Lentulus as a private Person, we of the Senate scrupulously acquitted ourselves of a Ceremony quite slighted by Caius Marius, a Roman of very high Lustre, who caused Caius Glaucia to be slain whilst yet Prætor, although against his Person in particular no judicial Sentence had passed.
At present, Citizens, since you have thus seized and secured in Bonds the execrable Leaders of a most sanguinary and most dreadful Civil War, you ought to conclude, that all the Forces of Catiline, all his Hopes, all his Resources, are vanished, now that the Dangers threatening the City are repressed. Indeed, whilst I was labouring to drive him from Rome, the Advantage which I foresaw from it, Citizens, was, that when he was gone, there remained to me no Cause of Dread from the vain Dreams of Publius Lentulus, nor from the unwieldy Bulk of Lucius Cassius, nor from the frantic Rage of Cethegus. Catiline alone, of all of them, deserved to be dreaded, but only so long as he resided within our Walls. He was acquainted with all Things, and all Men; he had secured himself Access every-where; he knew how to apply to Men, how to try them, how to tempt and rouse them: All this he knew, all this he dared. He had ready Schemes to facilitate every Enterprize; with Eloquence and Activity to execute every Scheme. Besides, he had several Classes of Men, all properly chosen and qualified for performing several Tasks. Nor did he, therefore, reckon a Thing done, because he had ordered it to be done; there was nothing which he did not attend to in Person, pushing this, obviating that, still vigilant, still making new Efforts. He too had Vigour to undergo Cold, and Thirst, and Hunger.
Such was the Man! and had I not driven this Man from his treasonable Machinations at Rome, into his Camp of Free-booters, a Man so keen, so quick, so determined, one so artful, so vigilant to do mighty Mischief, so indefatigable in his desperate Pursuits, I will tell you what I sincerely think, Citizens, that I should not easily have averted a Calamity so tragical from falling upon your Heads. He, had he been here, would not have fixed the Execution of his Design on the Festival of Saturn, nor assigned a Day for the final Perdition of the State, so long before it was to take place; neither would he have so managed, that his very Signet, that a Letter written with his own Hand, nay, that living Evidence against him, should be all seized and secured, thus undeniably to manifest his Guilt: But such hath been the Management of his Party without him, that no Theft in any private Family was ever so notoriously detected, as this mighty Conspiracy against the Commonwealth has been detected and exposed.
Now, suppose Catiline had continued in the City to this time; though, as long as he continued in it, I still obviated, still marred all his Devices; yet, to say the least that can be said, we must have been engaged in a constant Conflict with him; nor, so long as he remained in Rome, could we have relieved the Commonwealth from such mighty Perils, in a Manner so peaceable, or with so much Leisure, or in so much Silence.
Assuredly, Citizens, upon all my Proceedings on this Occasion, there appear such Traces of divine Direction, as if the Whole had been concerted and executed by the Premonition and Counsel of the Deities; since we cannot conceive how any human Wisdom could be able to controul Transactions of such infinite Darkness and Difficulty. Indeed, during all this Conjuncture, the Gods have been so manifestly with us, that we might almost behold them in Person encompassing us with their Aid and Protection. For, to omit what has been lately perceived, blazing Meteors by Night from the West, the Firmament all on Fire, roaring Thunder, Earthquakes, and all the other Prodigies which happened under my Consulship, in such Numbers, that thence the immortal Deities seemed prophetically to reveal to us all that is now in Agitation amongst us; surely, what I am now about to recount to you, Citizens, is neither to be suppressed nor slighted.
In truth, you cannot but remember, how, during the Consulship of Cotta and Torquatus, divers Towers upon the Capitol were shattered with Lightning, the Figures of the Gods overthrown, the Statues of antient Heroes cast down, the brazen Tables of the Laws dissolved; nay, the Image of him who founded this our City, was struck, even the Image of Romulus, whose gilt Figure you remember, placed in the Capitol, representing him as a Child sucking a Wolf. When, upon this Occasion, a Consultation was held of Soothsayers assembled from all Parts of Etruria, they foretold public Slaughter and Conflagration, the Extinction of the Laws, Civil Discord, intestine Wars, with the intire Overthrow of this our State and Empire; Calamities all ripe and approaching, unless the immortal Deities could be, by all Sorts of Means and Applications, so appeased, as to interpose their Almighty Power, and divert even the Course of Fate itself.
In Compliance with these their Reports, public Games were solemnized during Ten Days, nor was aught omitted which tended to pacify the Gods. These Soothsayers likewise ordered the Statue of Jupiter to be made larger than before, to be placed on high, and, contrary to his former Position, with his Face to the East. They declared withal their Hopes, if his Statue, which you yonder perceive, O Citizens, stood so as to behold the rising Sun, the Place of public Resort, and Court of the Senate, the Effect would be, that all Machinations secretly framed against the Well-being of this City and Empire, would be so effectually brought to Light, as to be clearly perceived by the Senate and People of Rome: The then Consuls, therefore, undertook so to place it; but such has been the Slowness of the Work, that it was neither executed under the late Consulship, nor under mine, till this very Day.
Now, Citizens, can there be a Man here so prejudiced against Truth, so abandoned, so berest of Reason, as to deny this whole visible World, particularly this State, to be controuled by the Pleasure and Power of the immortal Deities? For, as the Report of the Soothsayers was express, that public Slaughter, Conflagration, and the utter Overthrow of the Republic, were at hand, all concerted by Members of the Republic, (Events, which, from the amazing Size of such Iniquities, seemed to some incredible) you have yet beheld these Iniquities to be not only devised by detestable Citizens, but even pushed towards Execution.
Is it not, therefore, apparent to you, that the sovereign Will of Jupiter, all-great, all-good, interposes in your Behalf; when, as the Conspirators, and the Discoverers of the Conspiracy, were this very Morning led, by my Order, through the Forum to the Temple of Concord, during that very Juncture, his Statue was erected and fixed? By its being thus placed with his Face turned towards you and the Senate, both the Senate and you have seen all the secret Mischiefs, devised for the Perdition of you all, discovered and exposed to open Day. Hence the Guilty merit the greater Abhorrence, and severer Doom, they who endeavoured to subject, not only your Houses and Dwellings, but even the Temples and Seats of the Deities, to diabolical and devouring Flames. Were I to tell you, that I alone quenched those Flames, I should assume too much, and my Vanity would be insupportable. It was He, it was Jupiter himself, who quenched them: It was He, who interposed to save the Capitol; He, to save all these Temples; He, to save this City; He, to save you all. By the Inspiration of the immortal Gods only, I gained so much Spirit, and such Resolution: By their Guidance only, Citizens, I procured such surprising Discoveries. Lentulus and his Accomplices could not have thus ventured to tempt and corrupt the Allobrogian Deputies; nor could Designs of such infinite Moment have been by them wildly imparted to Strangers and Barbarians; nor surely would Letters, under their Hands, have ever been trusted to such Conveyance, unless the immortal Gods had purposely bereft these daring Traitors of all Understanding and Precaution. Who indeed can gainsay it? When warlike Gauls, Men of a Nation scarce yet reduced to Terms of Peace; and the only People left, who seem at once able, and not averse, to wage War with the Romans, yet rejected the Temptation of independent Rule, with all the Baits of Affluence and Grandeur offered them, without asking, by powerful Patricians; when these Gauls thus preferred your Safety to their own Ease and Abundance; can you judge all this to proceed from aught but a Power altogether divine; especially as they might have vanquished us, without Arms, only by keeping Silence?
Now, therefore, Citizens, as public Thanksgiving is appointed at the Shrines of all the Gods, zealously solemnize the Festival; you, and your Wives, and your Children. For, though many Solemnities have been frequently performed to the Deities, all justly due, therefore all very reasonable; surely none were ever more reasonable than now: Since by them you are snatched from the most merciless and most tragical Doom; snatched from it without Slaughter, even without Bloodshed; without an Army, nay, without one Conflict. Whilst you were yet cloathed in the peaceable Habit of Citizens, you proved Conquerors, with me only for your Leader, a Conqueror too, still wearing the City Robe!
Here, O Citizens, take a Review of all our civil Ruptures and Dissensions past, not only those of which you have heard, but such too as you yourselves remember, and have seen. Lucius Sylla subdued Publius Sulpicius, drove Marius out of Rome, (Marius, who had been the Preserver of this our State) forced many other brave Romans into Exile, and slaughtered many. Cneius Octavius, when Consul, by Force of Arms, expulsed Cinna his Collegue out of the City; and all this great Space, where we now stand, was filled with Piles of Carcases, and flowed with the Blood of Citizens. Next, Cinna proved Conqueror, aided by Marius; a Revolution accompanied with the Butchery of so many Romans of principal Lustre and Fame, that the great Luminaries of the State were thence extinguished. For this cruel Victory of theirs, Sylla took Vengeance; with what infinite Havock of Citizens, and what crying Calamity to the State, I need not recount. Marcus Lepidus quarrelled with Quintus Catulus, that very illustrious, very magnanimous Roman; and met his Fate, a Fate not so deplorable to the Commonwealth, as that of others, who perished with him.
Yet all these civil Broils, O Citizens, were such as tended, not so much to abolish the State, as to change the Government of the State. The Authors meant not, that there should be no Commonwealth, but that, the Commonwealth continuing, they should controul it; not to burn Rome to Ashes, but to bear Sway in Rome. The Result, however, of all such Dissensions was, that, though none of them aimed at the Overthrow of the Republic, yet they never terminated in the Reconcilement and Union of Parties, but ever in the Massacre of Citizens.
It is far otherwise in this present War against the Public; a War the most tremendous and merciless ever remembered; such a War as the greatest Barbarians never once waged with those of their own Nation; a War, where it was an essential Rule, settled by Lentulus, Catiline, Cassius, and Cethegus, that all, who for their own Safety were interested in saving the City, were deemed to be Enemies. In this War, Citizens, I have so acquitted myself, as to have preserved you all: At a Conjuncture when these your Enemies had concluded, that no more of you should survive, than could escape their unlimited Massacre; and that just so much of Rome should remain as universal Flames could not devour; I have preserved both City and Citizens safe and intire.
For all these signal Services, I ask of you, Citizens, no Compensation, as due to the Merit of them; no other Distinction of Honour, no other Monument of Applause, than the perpetual Remembrance of this Day. It is in your Affections I study to found and establish all my Triumphs, all the Trappings of my Glory, all my Fame and Splendor. No Monument void of Life, nothing passive and mute, indeed nothing of this sort attainable by Men of mean Merit, can bring me Delight. My Story and Deserts shall be for ever cherished in your Memories, O Citizens; be for ever flourishing in popular Fame, and confirmed and eternized in your Annals. I consider, therefore, this Anniversary, which I hope will prove eternal, as the joint Commemoration of the Deliverance of the State, and of my Consulship; together with the Merit of two Citizens contemporary in the Commonwealth; one who carried the Limits of your Empire as far as those of the Earth, and left it bounded only by the Skies; another who preserved the Seat and Capital of that very Empire.
But, since the same Lot and Advantages, attending those who have conducted foreign Wars, attend not my Conduct and Proceedings at home; because I am obliged to live amongst Men whom I have overcome and reduced; whilst the former leave the Enemy either utterly cut off, or utterly crushed; it is your Part, Citizens, to provide, that, as the worthy Services of others turn to their Benefit, mine may at no time tend to my Detriment. It has been my Care, that the bloody and execrable Purposes of the most determined Criminals should not possibly annoy you: It rests upon you to take care, that they hurt not me. In truth, to me in particular, Citizens, no Hurt can accrue from these Men. For, surely, powerful is the Protection of worthy Men, a Protection which is for ever assured to me; powerful is my Authority in the Commonwealth, such as, without uttering a Word, will always defend me; powerful is the Controul of Conscience; so powerful, that they, who despise it, when they would assault me, will betray themselves. Such, too, Citizens, is the Vigour of my own Spirit, that I not only never shrink in my Pursuit of the most desperate Criminal, but even voluntarily pursue all the Guilty to Justice.
Now, suppose the whole Rage of our domestic Enemies, after I have diverted it from you, should recoil upon me alone; it will belong to you, Citizens, to consider, in what Situation you will, for the future, leave those, who, for your Preservation, expose themselves to personal Hate, and all kinds of Danger.
To myself, what further remains to be now attained, to heighten the Enjoyment of Life? For, when you have thus honoured me with this high Dignity, when such Glory too crowns the Merit of my Administration, can I possibly behold any thing yet nobler to tempt me to aspire still higher?
One thing, Citizens, I shall certainly do; I shall in a private Station maintain and dignify all my Proceedings in the Consulship; that if I have incurred any Rancour by preserving the Commonwealth, it may only serve to gall the Rancorous, and to heighten my Praise. To sum up all; in all my future Conduct in the State, I shall ever have before my Eyes my past Services to it, and so behave, that they may appear to have been the Effects of public Spirit, and not produced at random.
As it is now Night, Citizens, be it your Part to pay your Adorations to Jupiter, (yonder represented) the Guardian of this City, and your Guardian; then depart to your several Abodes; and, though all Danger be already averted, yet secure them with the same Watch and Guard as on the Night past. That you be not longer obliged to that Task, nay, that, for the future, you continue in uninterrupted Repose, I, Citizens, undertake to provide.
THE FOURTH ORATION OF CICERO AGAINST CATILINE. Spoken in the SENATE.
I PERCEIVE all your Faces turned towards me, Conscript Fathers, all your Eyes fixed upon me. I perceive you all anxious, not only for your own and the public Peril, but, though that were already dissipated, still anxious for mine also. Such Affection to me exhilarates me even in Distress, and yields me Pleasure under Anguish. But, by the immortal Gods I beseech you, divest yourselves of such partial Concern; think not of my Security; study your own, and that of your Children. Since, by the Terms and Circumstances of my Consulship, I am exposed to bear all Adversities, all Afflictions, and the keenest Sufferings, I will bear them all, not only undauntedly, but frankly, if by all my Labours I can but ascertain the Dignity of the Roman State, and your particular Saferies. Such, Conscript Fathers, hath been my Lot as Consul, as to have been no-where exempt from deadly Snares, and the Pursuits of Assassins; not amidst the Tribunals, where all Right and Justice is dispensed; not in the Field of Mars, a Place hallowed by solemn Auspices for the Election of Consuls; not in the Senate, the highest and common Refuge of all Nations; not at Home, the common Retreat of all Men; not in my Bed, ever sacred to Repose; not, finally, in this Vehicle of Dignity, the Chair of State.
In many Instances I have dissembled what I knew; in many I have exercised Patience; in many, Compliance; and in many, to case you of your Fears, I have undergone real Pain myself. If, indeed, the immortal Deities have determined, that I shall conclude my Consulship by rescuing you, Conscript Fathers, and the whole Roman People, from tragical Carnage; your Wives and Children, and the venerable Vestals, from Barbarity and Woe; the Temples and Tabernacles of the Gods, nay, this our glorious Country, alike interesting to us all, from horrible Conflagration, with all Italy from War and Desolation; I am ready to yield to any Lot, which Fortune shall assign me. For, if Publius Lentulus, convinced by the Augurs, believed that his Name was destined to bring Perdition upon the Commonwealth; have not I cause to rejoice to find my Consulship reserved, as it were, by Fate, for the Preservation of the Commonwealth?
Take care, therefore, of yourselves, Conscript Fathers; study the Welfare of your Country; secure your own Lives, your Wives, your Children, and your Fortunes; defend the Persons and Dignity of the Roman People; and relinquish your Tenderness, drop your Anxiety, for me. For, first, I have Cause to hope, that the Gods, who preside over this City, will all concur to reward me according to the Measure of my Services to it. Next, if any Fate unforeseen should befal me, I shall die with a Spirit altogether firm and resigned. Indeed, no brave Man can ever die ignominiously; no Man, who has borne the Consulship, prematurely; no wise Man, meanly. Not that I am hardened against Nature; far otherwise: I am sensibly touched with the Sorrow of a very dear, a very affectionate Brother here present; and with that of those, whom you now behold, all in Tears, surrounding me. My Soul, too, is often dragged back to my Family, by a Wife expiring under Pangs, by a Daughter crushed with Dread and Woe, by a little Son, whom, methinks, I see the Commonwealth clasping in her Arms, as a Pledge for my faithful Ministry; as also by my Daughter’s Husband, now standing in my View, and awaiting here the Issue of this Day. All these Thoughts affect me: Yet I yield to the better Choice, that all these Objects of my Tenderness escape safe with you, though I should fall a Victim to Violence; rather than that they, and all of us, be swallowed up in the final Overthrow of the Republic.
Exert, therefore, Conscript Fathers, your Endeavours for the Safety of the Commonwealth: Cast your Eyes around you; watch on every Side against approaching Storms, such as, without your special Precaution, will overwhelm you. For the Objects of your present Deliberations you have not a Tiberius Gracchus aiming to be a second time chosen Tribune of the People; not a Caius Gracchus, striving to excite Commotions, in order to carry the Agrarian Law; not a Lucius Saturninus, under Prosecution for killing Caius Memmius, and subjected to the Severity of your Judgment. Higher Criminals await your Sentence, Criminals already in Bonds, Accomplices of Catiline, such, who remained here behind him, on purpose to restore him, by reduceing Rome to Ashes, and by butchering you all. The Proofs against them are in your Possession, their Signets, their Letters under their own Hands, and indeed their several Confessions, that they had urged the Allobrogians to revolt, animated the Slaves to rebel, pressed Catiline, with his Army, to advance; and formed a Scheme so effectually to murder all without Exception, that not a Soul should be left to mourn over the Ashes and late Grandeur of the Commonwealth; none to bewail the dreadful Catastrophe of so glorious an Empire.
All these Facts the Witnesses have verified, all these Facts the Parties have owned; and upon them you have already founded many Determinations. First, you have unanimously presented me your Thanks in solemn Strains; nay, you have testified, that, by my Courage, and unwearied Pains, a Conspiracy formed by abandoned Men was disclosed. Next, you have compelled Publius Lentulus to relinquish the Office of Prætor. Then you have given Orders to have him and the rest, whom you tried, committed to Custody: What likewise is chiefly remarkable, as it is an Honour which never was bestowed upon any Roman in Civil Office before me, you have ordained Days of public Thanksgiving to be solemnized in my Name. Lastly, you Yesterday awarded grand Recompences to the Allobrogian Deputies, and to Titus Volturcius. All which Proceedings tend directly to shew, that those, whom you have by Name ordered into Durance, are already judged by you, without any Scruple, worthy of Condemnation. I determined, however, to represent it to you anew, Conscript Fathers; that you may both comprehend the Fact, and ascertain the Measure of Punishment. What Information is due from me as Consul, I will freely give you.
I long since perceived many Instances of raging Licentiousness in the Commonwealth; these, too, daily increased, and inflamed by an Accession and Mixture of fresh Corruptions and Violence: But that a Conspiracy so dreadful, so deadly, was framed against Rome by Roman Citizens, I never once conjectured. Time and Danger press you: Which Way soever your Inclinations and Propositions tend, you must finally determine and declare them before Night. By the Evidence produced before you, you perceive the prodigious Strength and Size of the Treason. If you suppose, that in it there are but few Co-operators, you are grievously deceived. The Source of this Evil is spread beyond all Conception: It hath not only flowed over all Italy, but even passed over the Alps, and, by silently gliding into many Provinces, still prevails in them. It is an Evil not to be crushed by a Course of Sufferance and Procrastinations. Whatever Method of Punishment you determine, the Punishment itself must be forthwith inflicted.
Hitherto I see but two Propositions offered, one by Decius Silanus, for dooming to Death those who endeavoured to destroy the Commonwealth; the other by Caius Cæsar, exempting them from Death, but subjecting them to all the Rigour and Anguish of every other terrible Punishment. Both of them, acting suitably to their great public Dignity, and to the Importance of the Question, contend for a Sentence extremely severe. Silanus judges, that it behoves us not to allow the Conspirators a Moment to live, and breathe common Air; Conspirators, who laboured to bereave us all of Life, us and the Roman People; Conspirators, who strove to extinguish the Empire and Sovereignty of Rome, nay, the Name and Memory of Romans. He recounts, too, how frequent a Practice it was in this Commonwealth to inflict such Doom upon guilty Citizens.
Cæsar conceives, that the immortal Deities have not instituted Death as a Punishment, but either as the necessary Condition of Nature, or as an everlasting Deliverance from all Fatigues and Woe: Hence wise Men never encounter it with Regret; brave Men frequently with Pleasure. He, therefore, consigns the Criminals over to Chains, nay, to endless Chains; and, under such, to be committed apart to the municipal Cities: A new Chastisement, yet, in truth, suitably grievous for their diabolical Crimes.
This Scheme, however, infers Violence offered to these Cities, if you oblige them to be answerable for the Prisoners; at least, infers a Difficulty upon them how to secure the Prisoners, if you make it but a Request to the Cities. You may determine this Point how you please: For I will undertake to convince Cæsar, by such Arguments as, I hope, will weigh with him, that it suits not with his great Figure in the State, to oppose what you think proper to ordain for the common Preservation of all Men.
To his Proposition he adds a heavy Penalty upon the Citizens of these municipal Towns, if any of the Prisoners escape. He adjudges them to be dreadfully guarded, and offers rigorous Sanctions, (all worthy of such blood-thirsty Profligates) that no Man may be able, by Application either to the Senate, or to the People, to alleviate their Sufferings. He even divests them of Hope, the sole, the common Consolation of Men under the forest Misery. He likewise advises their Estates and Fortunes to be confiscated, and publicly sold, and leaves these guilty Men their Life only; since, were he to bereave them of that, he should, by one short Pang, deliver them from a Train of Afflictions, both in Body and Spirit, and from all the lasting Sufferings due to their Cruelties. Thus it was, that, to awe and restrain wicked Men in the Course of their Lives, the Antients contended, that future Torments were ordained for the Impious; as they conceived, that, if the Dread of such were taken away, Death itself would not be dreaded.
Here, Conscript Fathers, I perceive which Way my own particular Advantage lies. If you take the Proposition of Cæsar, who in it has taken what is reckoned the popular Part in the Commonwealth; I perhaps have less to apprehend from any popular Outrage, after he shall be known to have offered and defended such a Proposition: Whereas, if you take that of Silanus, I doubt I shall incur great Difficulty. But let all Considerations of Dangers to myself yield to the Interest of the Commonwealth. For, from Cæsar too we have had, what well became his own Dignity, and the great Lustre of his Ancestors, such a Proposition, as abundantly assures us of his unalterable Zeal for the Commonwealth. It is, in truth, well known, what Difference there is between the Lenity affected in popular Harangues, and a Spirit truly anxious for the People, and employed for their Preservation. Some, I observe, are now absent; such, who, aiming at a popular Character, would avoid joining in Judgment against the Life of a Roman Citizen.
He, Cæsar, the other Day, declared for committing Roman Citizens to Prison, declared for solemnizing Days of Thanksgiving, in Honour of me; nay, Yesterday declared for distinguishing the Witnesses with grand Recompences. It, therefore, can be a Mystery to none, what Sentiments he has all along entertained concerning this Prosecution, and the whole Affair; He, who hath already adjudged Imprisonment to the Criminals, public Thanks to the Impleader, and Rewards to the Witnesses. Yet still Cæsar is aware, that the Sempronian Law secures the Lives of Roman Citizens: But he is likewise aware, that whoever is an Enemy to the Roman Commonwealth, can by no means be a Roman Citizen; nay, that the Author of the Sempronian Law paid his Life as an Atonement to the Commonwealth, even by an Ordinance of the People.
Neither can such a Man even as Lentulus, however signal for Largesses, and profuse Expence, pass with Cæsar for a popular Man, especially when, with a Spirit so pestilent and blood-thirsty, he had devised to butcher the Roman People, and reduce Rome itself to Ashes. Thus Cæsar, the mildest and most moderate of all Men, never once pauses about consigning Publius Lentulus to Bonds and Darkness, without Redemption or End; nay, he annexes a penal Restriction, without Limitation of Time, that no Man shall venture to mitigate such Punishment, lest such a Man may thence boast his popular Merit, or hereafter grow popular by a Step so ruinous to the Roman People. Besides, he subjoins the Confiscation of their Possessions, whence, as their Souls may be gnawed with Torments and Anguish, so may their Bodies with Want and Beggary.
Thus, therefore, it is; if you adopt this Proposition of Cæsar’s, I shall, in recounting it to an Assembly of the People, be furnished by you with a Companion, who is very amiable and dear to them: If you prefer that of Silanus, you will still find it easy to defend yourselves and me from the Imputation of Cruelty; nay, I will procure it to be approved, as implying the lighter Punishment. Though, to say Truth, Conscript Fathers, how is it possible to commit Cruelty in punishing such black and stupendous Treason? For, my declared Judgment about it, is what my Spirit really dictates. Neither doth my Ardour on this Occasion arise from any Barbarity of Heart, (for who is more humane than I?) but even from uncommon Mildness and Mercy, from pure Zeal to secure our Commonwealth, that I may continue to enjoy, with you, all its Blessings and Privileges.
For, methinks, I behold this Imperial City, the Light and Glory of the Earth, the Refuge of all Nations, finally swallowed up in one sudden Blaze. My Soul presents me with a View of my Country buried under her own Ruins; with the deplorable Piles of Citizens butchered and unburied! Full in my Eye appears Cethegus, flaming with frantic Vengeance, and quenching it in your Blood. When my Imagination, next, represents Lentulus exercising lawless Sway, a Lot for which he avows to have trusted to the Fates; under him, the Traitor Gabinius, adorned with Purple; then Catiline, arrived with his Army; I shrink with the Horror of what follows; Matrons wailing, Virgins and tender Youths frighted and flying, and even the holy Vestals violated.
These are affecting Calamities, and full of Woe; and, because they appear very sensibly such to me, I therefore act with Acrimony and Fervour towards the Men, who laboured to introduce these affecting Calamities. Suppose the Father of a Family found his Children butchered, his Wife murdered, and his House burnt by a Slave; whether would he, in adjudging that Slave to the most rigid and painful Doom, be accounted merciful and tender, or very inhuman, and very barbarous? To me he would appear altogether savage and absurd, if he forbore to mitigate his own Pangs and Sufferings, by the Sufferings and Pangs of his guilty Slave.
Thus, in our Proceedings with these Criminals of State, Criminals, who purposed to slaughter us all, us, our Wives, and our Children; Criminals, who strove utterly to raze our several Dwellings, without Exception, and this our City, the great Head and Centre of our Commonwealth; Criminals, who intended to have settled the Nation of the Allobrogians upon the Ruins of Rome; to have brought Barbarians into their native Country, first laid desolate by Fire; if we treat them with the utmost Rigour, we shall be esteemed compassionate; if we be sparing of Rigour, we can never escape the everlasting Reproach of the most comprehensive Cruelty, in exposing to Perdition our native State, and all our Fellow-Citizens.
Will any one impute Cruelty to Lucius Cæsar, that very brave Man, and very affectionate to the Commonwealth, for publicly declaring the other Day, in the Senate, that Publius Lentulus, though Husband to his Sister, a Lady of shining Character, ought unquestionably to suffer Death; nay, for declaring it in the Presence and Hearing of Lentulus? He alledged the Example and Fate of his own Grandfather, slain by Order of the Consul, who caused even his Son, yet a Youth, to be executed in Prison, though purposely sent to him on Commission from his Father. What Offence had they committed, resembling the present? In what Scheme had they engaged for the utter Destruction of the Commonwealth? There then prevailed in the Commonwealth a Spirit of Popularity for courting the People by public Grants: Thence followed a Struggle of Parties; and, upon that Occasion, the Grandfather of this very Lentulus, an illustrious Roman, took Arms, and fell upon Gracchus; nay, was even grievously wounded; all to prevent the least Concussion to the State. The present Lentulus applies himself to extirpate the very Foundations of the State, invites an Invasion from the Gauls, rouses the Slaves to rebel, calls home Catiline, consigns us Senators to be butchered by Cethegus, all the other Citizens to be massacred by Gabinius, the City to be set on Fire by Cassius, all Italy to be ravaged and plundered by Catiline.
Here is Barbarity indeed, tremendous in its Nature, prodigious in its Size! Nor can I conceive, how, in your Proceedings against it, you should possibly fear to have passed any Resolution too rigorous. Surely, you have much more Cause to fear having appeared cruel towards our common Country, by too tender a Punishment, than thought unrelenting by the Asperity of whatever Doom we pass upon such determined and implacable Enemies. I cannot, however, smother what I hear: A Rumour which flies abroad, hath reached my Ear, raised by such as seem to apprehend, that I am not furnished with sufficient Power and Assistance to execute what you are this Day about to ordain.
All Precautions, Conscript Fathers, are taken, all necessary Strength provided, all Measures of Safety concerted, not only with my utmost Circumspection and Vigilance, but rather by the superior Ardour of the Roman People, all zealous to preserve the Roman Empire in its intire Splendour, and their own Persons and Fortunes in full Security. All Men attend to assist us, those of every Rank, and every Age: They throng all the great Forum; throng all the Temples round the Forum; nay, all the Avenues to this very Quarter, and this Temple. Indeed, ever since the Founding of Rome, this Cause is the only one yet known, where the Opinions and Wishes of all intirely agree: I except those Men, who, finding themselves destined to perish, were resolved rather to involve the whole Community in their Doom, than perish by themselves. Such Men I freely except, and distinguish from the rest; since I am persuaded, that they are not to be numbered even amongst bad Citizens, but only amongst the most cruel and pestilent Enemies. As to all the others, immortal Deities! in what Multitudes, with what Zeal, with how much Vigour, do they all concur to maintain the public Dignity and Welfare!
What need is there to mention the Roman Knights, Men, who, whilst they consent, that you preside in the public Councils, and excel in Rank, yet vie with you in Affection to the Commonwealth? They are now, after many Years, recovered, from their antient Rupture, to Union and Reconcilement with this our Body; and, on this Day, by this interesting Cause, unanimously attached to us. This is a Conjunction of such Moment, that, if we can but always maintain it, as it is now confirmed under my Consulship, I here undertake to you, that no intestine or domestic Harm shall henceforth, in any Instance, embroil the State.
I perceive, that the same Zeal hath animated these very brave Men, the Tribunes of the Exchequer, to assemble for the Defence of the Commonwealth; with the whole Body, too, of Scribes, who, happening to meet in great Numbers there, forsook their Pursuit of Debts, and Attendance for Gain, all watchful for the common Safety. We have here, with all the rest, to aid us, the whole Body of such as are free-born Romans, even the most young and tender. In truth, who is the Man, to whom these. Temples of the Gods, the Aspect of the City, the Enjoyment of Liberty, nay, the common Light and Air, and even the very Soil, of our common Country, do not prove, not only very dear, but even lovely and delightful?
What, next, deserves our Consideration, Conscript Fathers, is the public Spirit of such as were not born, but made free; Men, who, having, by their Merit, obtained the Right of Citizens, sincerely hold this to be their native Country; a Country, which some, who were born in it, nay, born to all the Lustre and superior Privileges in it, hold, not for their Country, but for a State full of Enemies.
But why need I recount the several Ranks of Men, who, either from their private Fortunes, or from their common Engagements to the Public, or for their Love of Liberty, (a Blessing so charming!) are all roused to exert themselves, in Defence of their Common Welfare? There is not a Slave, who, if his Lot of Servitude be but supportable, does not see the bold Disloyalty of natural Citizens with Abhorrence; does not wish the Continuance of our Establishment; does not manifest as much Zeal as he dares, and is allowed, towards the public Security.
If, therefore, any of you chance to be alarmed with the Report, that a prostitute Instrument of Lentulus is running from Shop to Shop, in hopes, by Bribes, to corrupt the Minds of the Indigent and Unwary; this Expedient is, indeed, devised and tried: But none are found, either so wretched in their Condition, or so utterly depraved in their Inclinations, as to comply: They are, on the contrary, desirous to preserve their humble Habitations, their slender Fare, the Product of their daily Earnings and Labour, with their mean Lodging, and little Bed; and, finally, their present Course of Life, endeared to them by Freedom and Indolence. Indeed, by far the greatest Part of such who live in Shops, or, rather, as we must needs own, all of them in general, are zealous for public Tranquility: Since their whole Stock, their whole Industry and Gain, is supported by the Resort of Citizens; the Whole thrives by public Quiet. Now, if such their Gain be subject to be reduced and impaired by keeping their Shops shut, what must be the Consequence, if they were burnt?
From the Roman People, therefore, Conscript Fathers, no Aid or Defence will be wanting. To You it belongs, so to act, that you may not seem wanting to the Roman People. You have a Consul, who, surviving numberless Dangers, and bloody Snares, nay, delivered out of the very Jaws of Death, is still reserved for your Preservation, rather than that of his own Life. All Orders of Men agree to secure and protect the Commonwealth: To this great End they all contrive; all exert their best Zeal and Wishes; all express their Vigour and Testimony. Your Common Country, beset by diabolical Conspirators, armed with Fire and Sword, applies to You in a supplicant Posture: To You, as her Protectors, she recommends herself; to You the Lives of all the Citizens; to You the Castle and Capitol; to You the Altars of the Houshold Gods; to You the Fire of the Vestals; that holy Fire, never to be extinguished; to You all the Temples and Tabernacles of the Deities; to You the Walls of Rome, and all her Dwellings.
You are, moreover, this important Day, to pass Judgment upon your own Lives, upon those of your Children and Wives, upon the Fortunes of all, upon your Mansions, and domestic Hearths. You have a Leader, intirely vigilant for you, intirely thoughtless about himself; a Qualification which does not always occurr. You have all Ranks, all Men, indeed, the Roman People, universally concurring in the same Sentiment; a Union, such as, in any public Proceeding, was never seen, till this very Juncture.
Recollect what a Tragedy one single Night had well-nigh produced, even the final Overthrow of this Empire, founded by such a painful Succession of Struggles and Fatigues; the Extinction of public Liberty, established by a long Course of heroic Actions; with the utter Dissipation of all Wealth and Treasure, all procured and accumulated by the signal Bounty of the Gods! That no room be henceforth left, not only for accomplishing such dreadful Treason, but even for devising it, is the Business of your present Deliberations. Observe, that I have not offered these Considerations to fire your Zeal, (for, in Zeal, you almost surpass me) but to let my Voice, which ought to be the foremost in the State; testify, that I had spoken what became the Duty of a Consul.
Here, Conscript Fathers, before I come to my concluding Inference, I shall offer a few Particulars concerning myself. You perceive the Band of Conspirators to be extremely numerous; as I do, that, let their Number be ever so great, I have incurred the mortal Enmity of just so many Men, as there are Conspirators; a Band, however, which I hold for base, impotent, contemptible, and forlorn. But, suppose, that, in time to come, these Conspirators, animated by the Fury and Villainy of some successful Parricide, should prevail against your Authority, and that of the State; still, Conscript Fathers, I shall never be sorry for the Course of my Conduct and Counsels. Perhaps they threaten me with Death; a Lot appointed to all Men: And, in this Life, no Man ever attained to so much Applause, as, by your Decrees, you have honoured me withal. To others you have decreed public Festivals, for having well served the Commonwealth: To me, for having saved it.
Let Scipio be still renowned; He by whose Conduct and Bravery Hannibal was driven out of Italy into Africa again. Let the other Scipio, called the Second Africanus, be complimented with high Fame; He who overthrew Carthage and Numantia, Two Cities bearing implacable Enmity to this our Empire. Let the Praise of a signal Commander ever follow Lucius Paulus Æmilius; who, to honour his Triumph, made King Perses, in Chains, accompany his Chariot; a Prince, formerly, so very powerful, and so very splendid. Let Marius be covered with eternal Glory; he, who twice delivered Italy from Invasion, and the Dread of Thraldom. Be Pompey yet preferred to all others whomsoever; a Roman whose Virtues and Atchievements are bounded only by the utmost Regions visited by the Sun.
Surely, amidst the Praises of all these, some room will be left for mine! Unless it be judged a nobler Task to conquer distant Provinces, whither we may afterwards have recourse, than so to guard the State, whilst they are absent, that, the City being safe, they may have a Place whither to bring back their Laurels. One Advantage, indeed, attends conquering Abroad, more than at Home; for foreign Enemies, when quite subdued, either become Slaves, or, when received into Grace, judge themselves under the Tie of Gratitude: But when those of the same Community are so smitten with any Phrensy, as once to entertain Enmity against their Country, though you may defeat their Purposes to destroy the Commonwealth, you can never after restrain them by Force, nor pacify them by Favours.
Hence I perceive myself involved in an everlasting War with reprobate Citizens. Their utmost Violence, however, I trust easily to repulse from me and from mine: Such is my Confidence in your Support, and that of all worthy Men, and in your and their remembering what dreadful Perils surrounded us; Remembrance which will for ever cleave to the Minds and Conversation, not only of this People, who have felt the Deliverance, but even to those of all Nations. Neither will any Violence, wheresoever, be able to break the Union between You and the Roman Knights, or dissolve the Conjunction of all good Citizens.
In this Situation, Conscript Fathers, all that I request of you, in place of the Command of the Army, in place of the Province, both which I slighted and resigned; in place of the Triumph, which, with the other Displays of Honour, I rejected, purposely here to guard the City, and your Lives; in place of all Dependencies, and Claims of Hospitality in the Provinces; Advantages, which, as Consul, I employ the public Aid to maintain, with as much Labour as I do to acquire: For all these Considerations; for all the Instances of my singular Attachment to you; for all the Proofs which you see of my indesatigable Assiduity to save the State; I request nothing else of you, but only to retain the Impression of this Period of Time, and of the Transactions throughout my Consulship. As long as such Impressions continue rivetted in your Minds, I shall think myself surrounded with a Bulwark. Should the Violence of wicked Men frustrate my Hopes, and prevail against me, to You I recommend my little Son: It will prove abundant Security to him; not only to his Person, but even to his Reputation, that you remember him to be the Son of that Citizen, who, at his own single Peril, preserved this our whole City and Empire.
As you, therefore, tender your very Lives, Conscript Fathers, with those of the Roman People, your Wives and Children; as you tender your Sanctuaries, your Temples, and holy Places, your Habitations, and all the Dwellings in Rome; as you tender your Empire, the public Liberty, and the Preservation of Italy, and, indeed, the whole Commonwealth; attend to what you do, and decree, as you have determined to decree, with Circumspection, and with Vigour. You have a Consul, who, without pausing, will not only fulfil your Decrees, but, whilst his Life lasts, will set himself, with all his Might, to maintain and execute whatever you shall decree.
[* ]About Five hundred Pounds, English Money.