CICERO AND CAESAR. The future master of Rome was now coming home, after nearly ten years' absence, at the head of the victorious legions with which he had struck terror into the Germans, overrun all Spain, left his mark upon Britain, and "pacified" Gaul. But Cicero, in common with most of the senatorial party, failed to see in Julius Caesar the great man that he was. He hesitated a little--Caesar would gladly have had his support, and made him fair offers; but when the Rubicon was crossed, he threw in his lot with Pompey. He was certainly influenced in part by personal attachment: Pompey seems to have exercised a degree of fascination over his weakness. He knew Pompey's indecision of character, and confessed that Caesar was "a prodigy of energy;" but though the former showed little liking for him, he clung to him nevertheless. He foreboded that, let the contest end which way it would, "the result would certainly be a despotism". He foresaw that Pompey's real designs were as dangerous to the liberties of Rome as any of which Caesar could be suspected. "_Sullaturit animus_", he says of him in one of his letters, coining a verb to put his idea strongly--"he wants to be like Sulla". And it was no more than the truth. He found out afterwards, as he tells Atticus, that proscription-lists of all Caesar's adherents had been prepared by Pompey and his partisans, and that his old friend's name figured as one of the victims. Only this makes it possible to forgive him for the little feeling that he showed when he heard of Pompey's own miserable end. Cicero's conduct and motives at this eventful crisis have been discussed over and over again. It may be questioned whether at this date we are in any position to pass more than a very cautious and general judgment upon them. We want all the "state papers" and political correspondence of the day--not Cicero's letters only, but those of Caesar and Pompey and Lentulus, and much information besides that was never trusted to pen or paper--in order to lay down with any accuracy the course which a really unselfish patriot could have taken. But there seems little reason to accuse Cicero of double-dealing or trimming in the worst sense. His policy was unquestionably, from first to last, a policy of expedients. But expediency is, and must be more or less, the watchword of a statesman. If he would practically serve his country, he must do to some extent what Cicero professed to do--make friends with those in power. "_Sic vivitur_"--"So goes the world;" "_Tempori serviendum est_"--"We must bend to circumstances"--these are not the noblest mottoes, but they are acted upon continually by the most respectable men in public and private life, who do not open their hearts to their friends so unreservedly as Cicero does to his friend Atticus. It seemed to him a choice between Pompey and Caesar; and he probably hoped to be able so far to influence the former, as to preserve some shadow of a constitution for Rome. What he saw in those "dregs of a Republic", as he himself calls it, that was worth preserving;--how any honest despotism could seem to him more to be dreaded than that prostituted liberty,--this is harder to comprehend. The remark of Abeken seems to go very near the truth--"His devotion to the commonwealth was grounded not so much upon his conviction of its actual merits, as of its fitness for the display of his own abilities". [Footnote 1: "Faex Romuli".] But that commonwealth was past saving even in name. Within two months of his having been declared a public enemy, all Italy was at Caesar's feet. Before another year was past, the battle of Pharsalia had been fought, and the great Pompey lay a headless corpse on the sea-shore in Egypt. It was suggested to Cicero, who had hitherto remained constant to the fortunes of his party, and was then in their camp at Dyrrachium, that he should take the chief command, but he had the sense to decline; and though men called him "traitor", and drew their swords upon him, he withdrew from a cause which he saw was lost, and returned to Italy, though not to Rome. The meeting between him and Caesar, which came at last, set at rest any personal apprehensions from that quarter. Cicero does not appear to have made any dishonourable submission, and the conqueror's behaviour was nobly forgetful of the past. They gradually became on almost friendly terms. The orator paid the Dictator compliments in the Senate, and found that, in private society, his favourite jokes were repeated to the great man, and were highly appreciated. With such little successes he was obliged now to be content. He had again taken up his residence in Rome; but his political occupation was gone, and his active mind had leisure to employ itself in some of his literary works. It was at this time that the blow fell upon him which prostrated him for the time, as his exile had done, and under which he claims our far more natural sympathy. His dear daughter Tullia--again married, but unhappily, and just divorced--died at his Tusculan villa. Their loving intercourse had undergone no change from her childhood, and his grief was for a while inconsolable. He shut himself up for thirty days. The letters of condolence from well-meaning friends were to him--as they so often are--as the speeches of the three comforters to Job. He turned in vain, as he pathetically says, to philosophy for consolation. It was at this time that he wrote two of his philosophical treatises, known to us as 'The True Ends of Life', and the 'Tusculan Disputations', of which more will be said hereafter. In this latter, which he named from his favourite country-house, he addressed himself to the subjects which suited best with his own sorrowful mood under his recent bereavement. How men might learn to shake off the terrors of death--nay, to look upon it rather as a release from pain and evil; how pain, mental and bodily, may best be borne; how we may moderate our passions; and, lastly, whether the practice of virtue be not all-sufficient for our happiness. [Footnote 1: 'De Finibus Bonorum et Malorum'--a title hard to translate.] A philosopher does not always find in himself a ready pupil. It was hardly so in Cicero's case. His arguments were incontrovertible; but he found them fail him sadly in their practical application to life. He never could shake off from himself that dread of death which he felt in a degree unusually vivid for a Roman. He sought his own happiness afterwards, as he had done before, rather in the exciting struggle of public life than in the special cultivation of any form of virtue; and he did not even find the remedy for his present domestic sorrow in any of those general moral reflections which philosophy, Christian as well as pagan, is so ready to produce upon such occasions; which are all so undeniable, and all so utterly unendurable to the mourner. Cicero found his consolation, or that diversion of thought which so mercifully serves the purpose of consolation, where most men of active minds like his seek for it and find it--in hard work. The literary effort of writing and completing the works which have been just mentioned probably did more to soothe his mind than all the arguments which they contained. He resumed his practice as an advocate so far as to plead a cause before Caesar, now ruling as Dictator at Rome--the last cause, as events happened, that he was ever to plead. It was a cause of no great importance--a defence of Deiotarus, titulary king of Armenia, who was accused of having entertained designs against the life of Caesar while entertaining him as a guest in his palace. The Dictator reserved his judgment until he should have made his campaign against the Parthians. That more convenient season never came: for before the spring campaign could open, the fatal "Ides of March" cut short Caesar's triumphs and his life.