HIS EXILE AND RETURN. We must return to Rome. Cicero had never left it but for his short occasional holiday. Though no longer in office, the ex-consul was still one of the foremost public men, and his late dignity gave him important precedence in the Senate. He was soon to be brought into contact, and more or less into opposition, with the two great chiefs of parties in whose feuds he became at length so fatally involved. Pompey and Caesar were both gradually becoming formidable, and both had ambitious plans of their own, totally inconsistent with any remnant of republican liberty--plans which Cicero more or less suspected, and of that suspicion they were probably both aware. Both, by their successful campaigns, had not only acquired fame and honours, but a far more dangerous influence--an influence which was to overwhelm all others hereafter--in the affection of their legions. Pompey was still absent in Spain, but soon to return from his long war against Mithridates, to enjoy the most splendid triumph ever seen at Rome, and to take the lead of the oligarchical party just so long and so far as they would help him to the power he coveted. The enemies whom Cicero had made by his strong measures in the matter of the Catilinarian conspiracy now took advantage of Pompey's name and popularity to make an attack upon him. The tribune Metellus, constant to his old party watchword, moved in the Senate that the successful general, upon whom all expectations were centred, should be recalled to Rome with his army "to restore the violated constitution". All knew against whom the motion was aimed, and what the violation of the constitution meant; it was the putting citizens to death without a trial. The measure was not passed, though Caesar, jealous of Cicero even more than of Pompey, lent himself to the attempt. But the blow fell on Cicero at last from a very different quarter, and from the mere private grudge of a determined and unprincipled man. Publius Clodius, a young man of noble family, once a friend and supporter of Cicero against Catiline, but who had already made himself notorious for the most abandoned profligacy, was detected, in a woman's dress, at the celebration of the rites of the Bona Dea--a kind of religious freemasonry amongst the Roman ladies, the mysteries of which are very little known, and probably would in any case be best left without explanation. But for a man to have been present at them was a sacrilege hitherto unheard of, and which was held to lay the whole city under the just wrath of the offended goddess. The celebration had been held in the house of Caesar, as praetor, under the presidency of his wife Pompeia; and it was said that the object of the young profligate was an intrigue with that lady. The circumstances are not favourable to the suspicion; but Caesar divorced her forthwith, with the often-quoted remark that "Caesar's wife must not be even suspected". For this crime--unpardonable even in that corrupt society, when crimes of far deeper dye passed almost unreproved--Clodius was, after some delay, brought to public trial. The defence set up was an _alibi_, and Cicero came forward as a witness to disprove it: he had met and spoken with Clodius in Rome that very evening. The evidence was clear enough, but the jury had been tampered with by Clodius and his friends; liberal bribery, and other corrupting influences of even a more disgraceful kind, had been successfully brought to bear upon the majority of them, and he escaped conviction by a few votes. But he never forgave the part which Cicero had taken against him; and from that time forth the latter found a new, unscrupulous, indefatigable enemy, of whose services his old opponents gladly availed themselves. Cicero himself for some time underrated this new danger. He lost no opportunity of taunting the unconvicted criminal in the bitterest terms in the Senate, and of exchanging with him--very much to the detriment of his own character and dignity, in our modern eyes--the coarsest jests when they met in the street. But the temptation to a jest, of whatever kind, was always irresistible to Cicero: it was a weakness for which he more than once paid dearly, for they were remembered against him when be had forgotten them. Meanwhile Clodius--a sort of milder Catiline, not without many popular qualities--had got himself elected tribune; degrading himself formally from his own order of nobles for that purpose, since the tribune must be a man of the commons. The powers of the office were formidable for all purposes of obstruction and attack; Clodius had taken pains to ingratiate himself with all classes; and the consuls of the year were men of infamous character, for whom he had, found a successful means of bribery by the promise of getting a special law passed to secure them the choice of the richest provincial governments--those coveted fields of plunder--of which they would otherwise have had to take their chance by lot. When all was ripe for his revenge, he brought before the people in full assembly the following bill of pains and penalties:--"Be it enacted, that whoever has put to death a Roman citizen uncondemned in due form of trial, shall be interdicted from fire and water". Such was the legal form of words which implied banishment from Rome, outlawry, and social excommunication. Every man knew against whom the motion was levelled. It was carried--carried in spite of the indignation of all honest men in Rome, in spite of all Cicero's humiliating efforts to obtain its rejection. It was in vain that he put on mourning, as was the custom with those who were impeached of public crimes, and went about the streets thus silently imploring the pity of his fellow-citizens. In vain the whole of his own equestrian order, and in fact, as he declares, "all honest men" (it was his favourite term for men of his own party); adopted the same dress to show their sympathy, and twenty thousand youths of good family--all in mourning--accompanied him through the city. The Senate even met and passed a resolution that their whole house should put on mourning too. But Gabinius, one of the consuls, at once called a public meeting, and warned the people not to make the mistake of thinking that the Senate was Rome. In vain, also, was any personal appeal which Cicero could make to the only two men who might have had influence enough to sway the popular vote. He was ostensibly on good terms both with Pompey and Caesar; in fact, he made it his policy so to be. He foresaw that on their future course would probably depend the fate of Rome, and he persuaded himself, perhaps honestly, that he could make them "better citizens". But he trusted neither; and both saw in him an obstacle to their own ambition. Caesar now looked on coldly, not altogether sorry at the turn which affairs had taken, and faintly suggested that perhaps some "milder measure" might serve to meet the case. From Pompey Cicero had a right to look for some active support; indeed, such had been promised in case of need. He threw himself at his feet with prayers and tears, but even this last humiliation was in vain; and he anticipated the execution of that disgraceful edict by a voluntary withdrawal into exile. Piso, one of the consuls, had satirically suggested that thus he might "save Rome" a second time. His property was at once confiscated; his villas at Tusculum and at Formiae were plundered and laid waste, the consuls claiming the lion's share of the spoil; and Clodius, with his armed mob, set fire to the noble house on the Palatine, razed it to the ground, and erected on the site a temple to--_Liberty_! Cicero had friends who strongly urged him to defy the edict; to remain at Rome, and call on all good citizens to arm in his defence. Modern historians very generally have assumed that, if he could have made up his mind to such a course, it would probably have been successful. He was to rely, we suppose, upon those "twenty thousand Roman youths "--rather a broken reed to trust to (remembering what those young gallants were), with Caesar against him, now at the head of his legions just outside the gates of Rome. He himself seriously contemplated suicide, and consulted his friends as to the propriety of such a step in the gravest and most business-like manner; though, with our modern notions on the subject, such a consultation has more of the ludicrous than the sublime. The sensible and practical Atticus convinced him that such a solution of his difficulties would be the greatest possible mistake--a mistake, moreover, which could never be rectified. But almost any course would have become him better than that which he chose. Had he remained and faced Clodius and his bravos manfully--or had he turned his back upon Rome for ever, and shaken the dust off his feet against the ungrateful city, and become a noble pensioner upon Atticus at Buthrotum--he would have died a greater man. He wandered from place to place sheltered by friends whose unselfish loyalty marks their names with honour in that false and evil generation--Sica, and Flaccus, and Plancius--bemoaning himself like a woman,--"too blinded with tears to write", "loathing the light of day". Atticus thought he was going mad. It is not pleasant to dwell upon this miserable weakness of a great mind, which Cicero's most eager eulogists admit, and which his detractors have not failed to make the most of. Nor is it easy to find excuse for him, but we will give him all the benefit of Mr. Forsyth's defence: "Seldom has misfortune so crushed a noble spirit, and never, perhaps, has the 'bitter bread of banishment' seemed more bitter to any one than to him. We must remember that the love of country was a passion with the ancients to a degree which it is now difficult to realise, and exile from it even for a time was felt to be an intolerable evil. The nearest approach to such a feeling was perhaps that of some favourite under an European monarchy, when, frowned upon by his sovereign, he was hurled from place and power, and banished from the court. The change to Cicero was indeed tremendous. Not only was he an exile from Rome, the scene of all his hopes, his glories, his triumphs, but he was under the ban of an outlaw. If found within a certain distance from the capital, he must die, and it was death to any one to give him food or shelter. His property was destroyed, his family was penniless, and the people whom he had so faithfully served were the authors of his ruin. All this may be urged in his behalf, but still it would have been only consistent with Roman fortitude to have shown that he possessed something of the spirit of the fallen archangel". [Footnote 1: Forsyth's Life of Cicero, p. 190.] His exile lasted nearly a year and a half. Long before that time there had come a reaction in his favour. The new consuls were well disposed towards him; Clodius's insolence had already disgusted Pompey; Caesar was absent with his legions in Gaul; his own friends, who had all along been active in his favour (though in his querulous mood he accused them of apathy) took advantage of the change, his generous rival Hortensius being amongst the most active; and all the frantic violence of Clodius and his party served only to delay for a while the return which they could not prevent. A motion for his recall was carried at last by an immense majority. Cicero had one remarkable ally on that occasion. On one of the days when the Senate was known to be discussing his recall, the 'Andromache' of Ennius was being played in the theatre. The popular actor Esop, whose name has come down to us in conjunction with that of Roscius, was playing the principal character. The great orator had been his pupil, and was evidently regarded by him as a personal friend. With all the force of his consummate art, he threw into Andromache's lament for her absent father his own feelings for Cicero. The words in the part were strikingly appropriate, and he did not hesitate to insert a phrase or two of his own when he came to speak of the man "Who with a constant mind upheld the state, Stood on the people's side in perilous times, Ne'er reeked of his own life, nor spared himself". So significant and empathetic were his tone and gesture as he addressed himself pointedly to his Roman audience, that they recalled him, and, amid a storm of plaudits, made him repeat the passage. He added to it the words--which were not set down for him-- "Best of all friends in direst strait of war!" and the applause was redoubled. The actor drew courage from his success. When, as the play went on, he came to speak the words-- "And you--you let him live a banished man-- See him driven forth and hunted from your gates!" he pointed to the nobles, knights, and commons, as they sat in their respective seats in the crowded rows before him, his own voice broke with grief, and the tears even more than the applause of the whole audience bore witness alike to their feelings towards the exile, and the dramatic power of the actor. "He pleaded my cause before the Roman people", says Cicero (for it is he that tells the story), "with far more weight of eloquence than I could have pleaded for myself". [Footnote 1: Defence of Sestius, c. 56, &c.] He had been visited with a remarkable dream, while staying with one of his friends in Italy, during the earlier days of his exile, which he now recalled with some interest. He tells us this story also himself, though he puts it into the mouth of another speaker, in his dialogue on "Divination". If few were so fond of introducing personal anecdotes into every place where he could find room for them, fewer still could tell them so well. "I had lain awake a great part of the night, and at last towards dawn had begun to sleep soundly and heavily. I had given orders to my attendant that, in this case, though we had to start that very morning, strict silence should be kept, and that I was on no account to be disturbed; when about seven o'clock I awoke, and told him my dream. I thought I was wandering alone in some solitary place, when Caius Marius appeared to me, with his fasces bound with laurel, and asked why I was so sad? And when I answered that I had been driven from my country, he caught my hand, bade me be of good cheer, and put me under the guidance of his own lictor to lead me to his monument; there, he said, I should find my deliverance". So indeed it had turned out. The temple dedicated to Honour and Virtue, in which the Senate sat when they passed the first resolution for Cicero's recall, was known as the "Monument of Marius". There is no need to doubt the perfect good faith of the story which he tells, and it may be set down as one of the earliest authenticated instances of a dream coming true. But if dreams are fashioned out of our waking imaginations, it is easy to believe that the fortunes of his great townsman Marius, and the scenes in the Senate at Rome, were continually present to the exile's thoughts. His return was a triumphal progress. He landed at Brundusium on his daughter's birthday. She had only just lost her husband Piso, who had gallantly maintained her father's cause throughout, but she was the first to welcome him with tears of joy which overmastered her sorrow. He was careful to lose no chance of making his return impressive. He took his way to Rome with the slow march of a conqueror. The journey which Horace made easily in twelve days, occupied Cicero twenty-four. But he chose not the shortest but the most public route, through Naples, Capua, Minturnae, Terracina, and Aricia. Let him tell the story of his own reception. If he tells it (as he does more than once) with an undisguised pride, it is a pride with which it is impossible not to sympathise. He boasted afterwards that he had been "carried back to Rome on the shoulders of Italy;" and Plutarch says it was a boast he had good right to make. "Who does not know what my return home was like? How the people of Brundusium held out to me, as I might say, the right hand of welcome on behalf of all my native land? From thence to Rome my progress was like a march of all Italy. There was no district, no town, corporation, or colony, from which a public deputation was not sent to congratulate me. Why need I speak of my arrival at each place? how the people crowded the streets in the towns; how they flocked in from the country--fathers of families with wives and children? How can I describe those days, when all kept holiday, as though it were some high festival of the immortal gods, in joy for my safe return? That single day was to me like immortality; when I returned to my own city, when I saw the Senate and the population of all ranks come forth to greet me, when Rome herself looked as though she had wrenched herself from her foundations to rush to embrace her preserver. For she received me in such sort, that not only all sexes, ages, and callings, men and women, of every rank and degree, but even the very walls, the houses, the temples, seemed to share the universal joy". The Senate in a body came out to receive him on the Appian road; a gilded chariot waited for him at the city gates; the lower class of citizens crowded the steps of the temples to see him as he passed; and so he rode, escorted by troops of friends, more than a conqueror, to the Capitol. His exultation was naturally as intense as his despair had been. He made two of his most florid speeches (if indeed they be his, which is doubtful), one in the Senate and another to the people assembled in the Forum, in which he congratulated himself on his return, and Rome on having regained her most illustrious citizen. It is a curious note of the temper and logical capacities of the mob, in all ages of the world alike, that within a few hours of their applauding to the echo this speech of Cicero's, Clodius succeeded in exciting them to a serious riot by appealing to the ruinous price of corn as one of the results of the exile's return. For nearly four years more, though unable to shake Cicero's recovered position in the state--for he was now supported by Pompey--Clodius and his partisans, backed by a strong force of trained gladiators in their pay, kept Rome in a state of anarchy which is almost inexplicable. It was more than suspected that Crassus, now utterly estranged from Pompey, supplied out of his enormous wealth the means of keeping on foot this lawless agitation. Elections were overawed, meetings of the Senate interrupted, assassinations threatened and attempted. Already men began to look to military rule, and to think a good cause none the worse for being backed by "strong battalions". Things were fast tending to the point where Pompey and Caesar, trusty allies as yet in profession and appearance, deadly rivals at heart, hoped to step in with their veteran legions. Even Cicero, the man of peace and constitutional statesman, felt comfort in the thought that this final argument could be resorted to by his own party. But Clodius's mob-government, at any rate, was to be put an end to somewhat suddenly. Milo, now one of the candidates for the consulship, a man of determined and unscrupulous character, had turned his own weapons against him, and maintained an opposition patrol of hired gladiators and wild-beast fighters. The Senate quite approved, if they did not openly sanction, this irregular championship of their order. The two parties walked the streets of Rome like the Capulets and Montagues at Verona; and it was said that Milo had been heard to swear that he would rid the city of Clodius if he ever got the chance. It came at last, in a casual meeting on the Appian road, near Bovillae. A scuffle began between their retainers, and Clodius was killed--his friends said, murdered. The excitement at Rome was intense: the dead body was carried and laid publicly on the Rostra. Riots ensued; Milo was obliged to fly, and renounce his hopes of power; and the Senate, intimidated, named Pompey--not indeed "Dictator", for the name had become almost as hateful as that of King--but sole consul, for the safety of the state. Cicero had resumed his practice as an advocate, and was now called upon to defend Milo. But Pompey, either from some private grudge, or in order to win favour with the populace, determined that Milo should be convicted. The jury were overawed by his presence in person at the trial, and by the occupation by armed soldiers of all the avenues of the court under colour of keeping order. It was really as great an outrage upon the free administration of justice as the presence of a regiment of soldiers at the entrance to Westminster Hall would be at a modern trial for high treason or sedition. Cicero affected to see in Pompey's legionaries nothing more than the maintainers of the peace of the city. But he knew better; and the fine passage in the opening of his speech for the defence, as it has come down to us, is at once a magnificent piece of irony, and a vindication of the rights of counsel. "Although I am conscious, gentlemen, that it is a disgrace to me to show fear when I stand here to plead in behalf of one of the bravest of men;--and especially does such weakness ill become me, that when Milo himself is far more anxious about the safety of the state than about his own, I should be unable to bring to his defence the like magnanimous spirit;--yet this strange scene and strangely constituted court does terrify my eyes, for, turn them where I will, I look in vain for the ancient customs of the Forum, and the old style of public trials. For your tribunal to-day is girt with no such audience as was wont; this is no ordinary crowd that hems us in. Yon guards whom you see on duty in front of all the temples, though set to prevent violence, yet still do a sort of violence to the pleader; since in the Forum and the count of justice, though the military force which surrounds us be wholesome and needful, yet we cannot even be thus freed from apprehension without looking with some apprehension on the means. And if I thought they were set there in hostile array against Milo, I would yield to circumstances, gentlemen, and feel there was no room for the pleader amidst such a display of weapons. But I am encouraged by the advice of a man of great wisdom and justice--of Pompey, who surely would not think it compatible with that justice, after committing a prisoner to the verdict of a jury, then to hand him over to the swords of his soldiers; nor consonant with his wisdom to arm the violent passions of a mob with the authority of the state. Therefore those weapons, those officers and men, proclaim to us not peril but protection; they encourage us to be not only undisturbed but confident; they promise me not only support in pleading for the defence, but silence for it to be listened to. As to the rest of the audience, so far as it is composed of peaceful citizens, all, I know, are on our side; nor is there any single man among all those crowds whom you see occupying every point from which a glimpse of this court can be gained, looking on in anxious expectation of the result of this trial, who, while he approves the boldness of the defendant, does not also feel that the fate of himself, his children, and his country, hangs upon the issue of to-day". After an elaborate argument to prove that the slaying of Clodius by Milo was in self-defence, or, at the worst, that it was a fate which he well deserved as a public enemy, he closes his speech with a peroration, the pathos of which has always been admired: "I would it had been the will of heaven--if I may say so with all reverence for my country, for I fear lest my duty to my client may make me say what is disloyal towards her--I would that Publius Clodius were not only alive, but that he were praetor, consul, dictator even, before my eyes had seen this sight! But what says Milo? He speaks like a brave man, and a man whom it is your duty to protect--'Not so--by no means', says he. 'Clodius has met the doom he well deserved: I am ready, if it must be so, to meet that which I do not deserve'. ... But I must stop; I can no longer speak for tears; and tears are an argument which he would scorn for his defence. I entreat you, I adjure you, ye who sit here in judgment, that in your verdict you dare to give utterance to what I know you feel". But the appeal was in vain, or rather, as far as we can ascertain, was never made,--at least in such powerful terms as those in which we read it. The great advocate was wholly unmanned by the scene before him, grew nervous, and broke down utterly in his speech for the defence. This presence of a military force under the orders of Pompey--the man in whom he saw, as he hoped, the good genius of Rome--overawed and disturbed him. The speech which we read is almost certainly not that which he delivered, but, as in the previous case of Verres, the finished and elaborate composition of his calmer hours. Milo was convicted by a large majority; in fact, there can be little doubt but that he was legally guilty, however political expediency might, in the eyes of Cicero and his party, have justified his deed. Cato sat on the jury, and did all he could to insure an acquittal, showing openly his voting-paper to his fellow jurors, with that scorn of the "liberty of silence" which he shared with Cicero. Milo escaped any worse penalty by at once going into voluntary banishment at Marseilles. But he showed more practical philosophy than his advocate; for when he read the speech in his exile, he is said to have declared that "it was fortunate for him it was not spoken, or he should never have known the flavour of the red mullet of Marseilles". The removal of Clodius was a deliverance upon which Cicero never ceased to congratulate himself. That "battle of Bovillae", as he terms it, became an era in his mental records of only less significance than his consulship. His own public life continued to be honourable and successful. He was elected into the College of Augurs, an honour which he had long coveted; and he was appointed to the government of Cilicia. This latter was a greatness literally "thrust upon him", and which he would gladly have declined, for it took him away in these eventful days from his beloved Rome; and to these grand opportunities for enriching himself he was, as has been said, honourably indifferent. The appointment to a distant province was, in fact, to a man like Cicero, little better than an honourable form of exile: it was like conferring on a man who had been, and might hope one day to be again, Prime Minister of England, the governor-generalship of Bombay. One consolation he found on reaching his new government--that even in the farthest wilds of Cilicia there were people who had heard of "the consul who saved Rome". And again the astonished provincials marvelled at a governor who looked upon them as having rights of their own, and neither robbed nor ill-used them. He made a little war, too, upon some troublesome hill-tribes (intrusting the command chiefly to his brother Quintus, who had served with distinction under Caesar in Gaul), and gained a victory which his legions thought of sufficient importance to salute him with the honoured title of "imperator". Such military honours are especially flattering to men who, like Cicero, are naturally and essentially civilians; and to Cicero's vanity they were doubly delightful. Unluckily they led him to entertain hopes of the further glory of a triumph; and this, but for the revolution which followed, he might possibly have obtained. As it was, the only result was his parading about with him everywhere, from town to town, for months after his return, the lictors with laurelled fasces, which betokened that a triumph was claimed--a pompous incumbrance, which became, as he confessed, a grand subject for evil-disposed jesters, and a considerable inconvenience to himself.