Page images
PDF
EPUB

SECTION IV-ORATORY.

1.-CICERO FOR MILO.

(MARCUS TULLIUS CICERO.) Marcus Tullius Cicero, the greatest of Roman orators, was born near Arpinum,

in 106 B.C. He was assassinated by the orders of Antony, in 43 B.C. P. Clodius, and T. Annius Milo, were, in the year 53 B.C., candidates for public

offices, the former for the Prætorship, and the latter for the Consulship. Each kept in his service a band of gladiators, who, entering into the jealousies which actuated their masters, had frequent scuffles in the streets of Rome. Finally, Milo and Clodius, with their followers, met on the Appian Road, some distance from Rome, when a fight ensued, and Clodius was slain. Milo was accordingly accused, but went into banishment to Marseilles, to escape the trial. Thus Cicero's "speech " in his defence was never delivered; but after the exile of Milo, the author recast it in the form in which it has been handed down to us.

a

MY LORDS,—That you may be able the more easily to determine upon that point before you, I shall beg the favour of an attentive hearing, while, in a few words, I lay open the whole affair. Clodius being determined, when created prætor, to harass his country with every species of oppression, and finding the comitia had been delayed so long the year before, that he could not hold this office many months, all on a sudden threw up his own year, and reserved himself to the next; not from any religious scruple, but that he might have, as he said himself, a full, entire year for exercising his prætorship--that is, for overturning the commonwealth. Being sensible he must be controlled and cramped in the exercise of his prætorian authority under Milo, who, he plainly saw, would be chosen consul by the unanimous consent of the Roman people, he joined the candidates that opposed Milo-but in such a manner, that he overruled them in everything, had the sole management of the election, and, as he used often to boast, bore all the comitia upon his own shoulders. He assembled the tribes, he thrust himself into their councils, and formed a new tribe of the most abandoned of the citizens. The more confusion and disturbance he made, the more Milo prevailed. When this wretch, who was bent upon all manner of wickedness, saw that so brave a man, and his most inveterate enemy, would certainly be consul—when he perceived this, not only by the discourses, but by the votes of the Roman people, he began to throw off all disguise, and to declare openly that Milo must be killed. He often intimated this in the Senate, and declared it expressly before the people; insomuch, that when Favonius, that brave man, asked him what prospect he could have of carrying out his furious designs while Milo was alive, he replied, that, in three or four days at most, he should be taken out of the way-which reply Favonius immediately communicated to Cato.

In the meantime, as soon as Clodius knew-nor indeed was there any difficulty to come at the intelligence—that Milo was obliged by the 18th of January to be at Lanuvium, where was dictator, in order to nominate a priest-a duty which the laws rendered necessary to be performed every year; he went suddenly from Rome the day before, in order, as it appears by the event, to waylay Milo in his own grounds; and this at a time when he was obliged to leave a tumultuous assembly, which he had summoned that very day, where his presence was necessary to carry on his mad designs-a thing he never would have done, if he had not been desirous to take the advantage of that particular time and place for perpetrating his villany. But Milo, after having stayed in the Senate that day till the house had broken up, went home, changed his clothes, waited a while, as usual, till his wife had got ready to attend him, and then set forward, about the time that Clodius, if he had proposed to come back to Rome that day, might have returned. He meets Clodius near his own estate, a little before sunset, and is immediately attacked by a body of men, who throw their darts at him from an eminence, and kill his coachman. Upon which he threw off his cloak, leaped from his chariot, and defended himself with great bravery. In the meantime, Clodius's attendants drawing their swords, some of them ran back to the chariot in order to attack Milo in the rear; whilst others, thinking that he was already killed, fell 11pon his servants who were behind. These being resolute

a

and faithful to their master, were some of them slain, whilst the rest, seeing a warm engagement near the chariot, being prevented from going to their master's assistance, hearing besides from Clodius himself that Milo was killed, and believing it to be a fact, acted upon this occasion-I mention it, not with a view to elude the accusation, but because it was the true state of the case-without the orders, without the knowledge, without the presence of their master, as every man would wish his own servants should act in the like circumstances. ...

The proper question then, is, not whether Clodius was killed-for that we grant: but whether justly or unjustly? If it appear that Milo was the aggressor, we ask no favour; but if Clodius, you will then acquit him of the crime that has been laid to his charge.

Every circumstance, my lords, concurs to prove that it was for Milo's interest Clodius should live; that, on the contrary, Milo's death was a most desirable event for answering the purposes of Clodius: that, on the one side, there was a most implacable hatred; on the other, not the least : that the one had been continually employing himself in acts of violence; the other, only in opposing them : that the life of Milo was threatened, and his death publicly foretold by Clodius, whereas nothing of that kind was ever heard from Milo: that the day fixed for Milo's journey was well known to his adversary, while Milo knew not when Clodius was to return: that Milo's journey was necessary, but that of Clodius rather the contrary: that the one openly declared his intention of leaving Rome that day, while the other concealed his intention of returning: that Milo made no alteration in his measures, but that Clodius feigned an excuse for altering his: that, if Milo had designed to waylay Clodius, he would have waited for him near the city till it was dark; but that Clodius, even if he had been under no apprehensions from Milo, ought to have been afraid of coming to town so late at night.

Let us now consider whether the place where the encounter happened was most favourable to Milo or to Clodius. But can there, my lords, be any room for doubt or deliberation upon that? It was near the estate of

[ocr errors]

Clodius, where at least a thousand able-bodied men were employed in his mad schemes of building. Did Milo think he should have an advantage by attacking him from an eminence ? and did he, for this reason, pitch upon that spot for the engagement ? or was he not rather expected in that place by his adversary, who hoped the situation would favour his assault? The thing, my lords, speaks for itself, which must be allowed to be of the greatest importance in determining a question. Were the affair to be represented only by painting, instead of being expressed by words, it would even then clearly appear which was the traitor, and which was free from all mischievous designs. When the one was sitting in his chariot, muffled up in his cloak, and his wife along with him; which of these circumstances was not a very great incumbrance £—the dress, the chariot, or the companion? How could he be worse equipped for an engagement, when he was wrapped up in a cloak, embarrassed with a chariot, and almost fettered by his wife ? Observe the other now-in the first place, sallying out on a sudden from his seat; for what reason? In the evening ; what urged him? Late; to what purpose, especially at that season? He calls at Pompey's seat; with what view ? To see Pompey?—He knew he was at Allium. To see his house —He had been in it a thousand times. What, then, could be the reason of this loitering and shifting about – He wanted to be upon the spot when Milo came up....

What now remains, but to beseech and adjure you, my lords, to extend that compassion to a brave man which he disdains to implore; but which I, even against his consent, implore and earnestly entreat. Though you have not seen him shed a single tear, while all are weeping around himthough he has preserved the same steady countenance, the same firmness of voice and language; do not, on this account, withhold it from him. On you—on you I call, ye heroes who have lost so much

Ι blood in the service of your country! To you, ye centurions, ye soldiers, I appeal in this hour of danger,—to the best of men, and bravest of citizens! While you are looking on, while you stand here with arms in your hands, and guard this tribunal, shall virtue like this be expelled, exterminated, cast out with dishonour? By the immortal gods, I wishpardon me, O my country! for I fear what I shall say, out of a pious regard for Milo, may be deemed impiety against thee—that Clodius not only lived, but were prætor, consul, dictator, rather than be witness to such scene as this. Shall this man, then, who was born to save his country, die anywhere but in his country? Shall he not, at least, die in the service of his country? Will you retain the memorials of his gallant soul, and deny his body a grave in Italy? Will any person give his voice for banishing a man from this city, whom every city on earth would be proud to receive within its walls? Happy the country that shall receive him! ungrateful this if it shall banish him! wretched, if it should lose him! But I must conclude : my tears will not allow me to proceed, and Milo forbids tears to be employed in his defence. You, my lords, I beseech and adjure, that, in your decision, you would dare to act as you think. Trust me, your fortitude, your justice, your fidelity, will more especially be approved of by him, who, in his choice of judges, has raised to the bench the bravest, the wisest, and the best of men.

II.-PITT'S REPLY TO WALPOLE.

(WILLIAM PITT.) Sir Robert Walpole, afterwards Earl of Orford, was born in 1676, and died in

1745. William Pitt, Earl of Chatham, was born in 1708, and died in 1778. This quarrel occurred in 1740

Sir,—The atrocious crime of being a young man, which the honourable gentleman has, with such spirit and decency, charged upon me, I shall neither attempt to palliate nor deny; but content myself with wishing, that I may be one of those whose follies may cease with their youth, and not of that number who are ignorant in spite of experience. Whether youth can be imputed to any man as a reproach, I will not, sir, assume the province of determining; but surely age may become justly contemptible, if the opportunities which it brings have passed away without improvement, and vice appears to prevail, when the passions have sub

« PreviousContinue »