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Several of his acts are therefore censurable from a military point of view; but what the general loses the statesman gains. The task of the statesman is universal in its nature, like Cæsar's genius: if he undertook things the most varied and most remote one from another, they had all, without exception, a bearing on the one great object to which with infinite fidelity and consistency he devoted himself; and he never preferred one to another of the manifold aspects and directions of his great activity. Although a master of the art of war, he yet from statesmanly considerations did his utmost to avert the civil strife, and when it nevertheless began, to keep his laurels from the stain of blood. Although the founder of a military monarchy, he, yet with an energy unexampled in history, allowed no hierarchy of marshals or government of prætorians to come into existence. If he had a preference for any one form of services rendered to the State, it was for the sciences and arts of peace rather than for those of war.
The most remarkable peculiarity of his action as a statesman was its perfect harmony. In reality all the conditions for this most difficult of all human functions were united in Cæsar. A thorough realist, he never allowed the images of the past or venerable tradition to disturb him; with him nothing was of value in politics but the living present, and the law of reason: just as in grammar he set aside historical and antiquarian research, and recognized nothing but on the one hand the living usus loquendi and on the other hand the rule of symmetry. A born ruler, he governed the minds of men as the wind drives the clouds, and compelled the most heterogeneous natures to place themselves at his service; - the smooth citizen and the rough subaltern, the noble matrons of Rome and the fair princesses of Egypt and Mauritania, the brilliant cavalry officer and the calculating banker. His talent for organization was marvelous. No statesman has ever compelled alliances, no general has ever collected an army out of unyielding and refractory elements, with such decision, and kept them together with such firmness, as Cæsar displayed in constraining and upholding his coalitions and his legions. Never did regent judge his instruments and assign each to the place appropriate for him with so acute an eye.
He was monarch; but he never played the king. Even when absolute lord of Rome, he retained the deportment of the party leader: perfectly pliant and smooth, easy and charming in
conversation, complaisant towards every one, it seemed as if he wished to be nothing but the first among his peers.
Cæsar entirely avoided the blunder of so many men otherwise on an equality with him, who have carried into politics the tone of military command; however much occasion his disagreeable relations with the Senate gave for it, he never resorted to outrages such as that of the eighteenth Brumaire.
Cæsar was monarch; but he was never seized with the giddiness of the tyrant. He is perhaps the only one among the mighty men of the earth who in great matters and little never acted according to inclination or caprice, but always without exception according to his duty as ruler; and who, when he looked back on his life, found doubtless erroneous calculations to deplore, but no false step of passion to regret. There is nothing in the history of Cæsar's life which even on a small scale can be compared with those poetico-sensual ebullitions - such as the murder of Kleitos or the burning of Persepolis — which the history of his great predecessor in the East records. He is, in fine, perhaps the only one of those mighty men who has preserved to the end of his career the statesman's tact of discriminating between the possible and the impossible, and has not broken down in the task which for nobly gifted natures is the most difficult of all, — the task of recognizing, when on the pinnacle of success, its natural limits. What was possible he performed; and never left the possible good undone for the sake of the impossible better, never disdained at least to mitigate by palliatives evils that were incurable. But where he recognized that fate had spoken, he always obeyed. Alexander on the Hyphasis, Napoleon at Moscow, turned back because they were compelled to do so, and were indignant at destiny for bestowing even on its favorites merely limited successes; Cæsar turned back voluntarily on the Thames and on the Rhine; and at the Danube and the Euphrates thought not of unbounded plans of world-conquest, but merely of carrying into effect a well-considered regulation of the frontiers.
Such was this unique man, whom it seems so easy and yet is so infinitely difficult to describe. His whole nature is transparent clearness; and tradition preserves more copious and more vivid information regarding him than regarding any of his peers in the ancient world. Of such a person our conceptions may well vary in point of shallowness or depth, but strictly speaking, they
cannot be different: to every inquirer not utterly perverted, the grand figure has exhibited the same essential features, and yet no one has succeeded in reproducing it to the life. The secret lies in its perfection. In his character as a man as well as in his place in history, Cæsar occupies a position where the great contrasts of existence meet and balance each other. Of the mightiest creative power and yet at the same time of the most penetrating judgment; no longer a youth and not yet an old man; of the highest energy of will and the highest capacity of execution; filled with republican ideals and at the same time born to be a king; a Roman in the deepest essence of his nature, and yet called to reconcile and combine in himself as well as in the outer world the Roman and the Hellenic types of culture, – Cæsar was the entire and perfect man. Accordingly we miss in him more than in any other historical personage what are called characteristic features, which are in reality nothing else than deviations from the natural course of human development. What in Cæsar passes for such at the first superficial glance is, when more closely observed, seen to be the peculiarity not of the individual but of the epoch of culture or of the nation: his youthful adventures, for instance, were common to him as to all his more gifted contemporaries of like position; his unpoetical but strongly logical temperament was the temperament of Romans in general.
It formed part also of Cæsar's full humanity that he was in the highest degree influenced by the conditions of time and place; for there is no abstract humanity,- the living man cannot but occupy a place in a given nationality and in a definite line of culture. Cæsar was a perfect man just because more than any other he placed himself amidst the currents of his time, and because more than any other he possessed the essential peculiarity of the Roman nation — practical aptitude as a citizen — in perfection; for his Hellenism in fact was only the Hellenism which had been long intimately blended with the Italian nationality. But in this very circumstance lies the difficulty, we may perhaps say the impossibility, of depicting Cæsar to the life. As the artist can paint everything save only consummate beauty, so the historian, when once in a thousand years he falls in with the perfect, can only be silent regarding it. For normality admits doubtless of being expressed, but it gives us only the negative notion of the absence of defect; the secret of nature, whereby in her most finished manifestations normality and individuality are combined,
is beyond expression. Nothing is left for us but to deem those fortunate who beheld this perfection, and to gain some faint conception of it from the reflected lustre which rests imperishably on the works that were the creation of this great nature.
These also, it is true, bear the stamp of the time. The Roman hero himself stood by the side of his youthful Greek predecessor, not merely as an equal but as a superior; but the world had meanwhile become old and its youthful lustre had faded. The action of Cæsar was no longer, like that of Alexander, a joyous marching onward towards a goal indefinitely remote: he built on and out of ruins, and was content to establish himself as tolerably and as securely as possible within the ample but yet definite bounds once assigned to him. With reason, therefore, the delicate poetic tact of the nations has not troubled itself about the unpoetical Roman, and has invested the son of Philip alone with all the golden lustre of poetry, with all the rainbow hues of legend. But with equal reason the political life of nations has during thousands of years again and again reverted to the lines which Cæsar drew; and the fact that the peoples to whom the world belongs still at the present day designate the highest of their monarchs by his name, conveys a warning deeply significant, and unhappily fraught with shame.