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In drawing attention to a great question of whatsoever nature connected with Cicero, there is no danger of missing our purpose through any want of reputed
interest in the subject. Nominally, it is not easy to assign a period more eventful, a revolution more important, or a personal career more dramatic, than that period — that revolution — that career, which, with almost equal right, we may describe as all essentially Ciceronian, by the quality of the interest which they excite. For the age, it was fruitful in great -men; but amongst them all, if we except the sublime ' Julian leader, none as regards splendor of endow. **ments stood upon the same level as Cicero. For the revolution, it was that unique event which brought ancient civilization into contact and commerce with modern : since if we figure the two worlds of Pagan. ism and Christianity under the idea of two great continents, it is through the isthmus of Rome imperialized that the one was virtually communicated with the other. Civil law and Christianity, the two central forces of modern civilization, were upon that isthmus of time ripened into potent establishments.
And VOL. II.
through those two establishments, combined with the
It is not, therefore, any want of splendid attraction
repose, when relieving the agitations of history; as, for example, that which arises in our domestic annals from interposing between two bloody reigns, like those of Henry VIII. and his daughter Mary, the serene morning of a childlike king, destined to an early grave, yet in the mean time occupied with benign counsels for propagating religion or for protecting the poor. Such a repose, the same luxury of rest for the mind, is felt by all who traverse the great circumstantial records of those tumultuous Roman times, viz. the Ciceronian epistolary correspondence. Upon coming suddenly into deep lulls of angry passions — here, upon some scheme for the extension of literature by a domestic history, or by a comparison of Greek with Roman jurisprudence; there, again, upon same ancient problem from the quiet fields of philosophy — literary men are already prejudiced in favor of one who, in the midst of belligerent partisans, was the patron of intellectual interest. Christian nations this prejudice has struck deeper : Cicero was not merely a philosopher; he was one who cultivated ethics; he was himself the author of an ethical system, composed with the pious purpose of training to what he thought just moral views his only son. This system survives, is studied to this day, is honored perhaps extravagantly, and has repeatedly been pronounced the best practical theory to which pagan principles were equal. Were it only upon this impulse, it was natural that men should receive a clinamen, or silent bias, towards Cicero, as a moral authority amongst disputants whose arguments were legions. The author of a moral code