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For, in truth, if you please to recollect, you will find that those new men who have at any time been made consuls without a repulse, have been elected after long toil, and on some critical emergency, having stood for it many years after they had been praetors, and a good deal later than they might have done according to the laws regulating the age of candidates for the office; but that those who stood for it in their regular year were not elected without a repulse; that I am the only one of all the new men whom we can remember who have stood for the consulship the first moment that by law I could,—who have been elected consul the first time that I have stood; so that this honour which you have conferred on me, having been sought by me at the proper time, appears not to have been filched by me on the occasion of some unpopular candidate offering himself,—not to have been gained by long perseverance in asking for it, but to have been fairly earned by my worth and dignity. [4] This, also, is a most honorable thing for me, O Romans, which I mentioned a few minutes ago,—that I am the first new man for many years on whom you have conferred this honour,—that you have conferred it on my first application, in my proper year. But yet nothing can be more splendid or more honourable for me than this circumstance,—that at the comitia at which I was elected you delivered not your ballot, 1 the vindication of your silent liberty, but your eager voices as the witnesses of your good-will towards, and zeal for me. And so it was not the last tribe of the votes, but the very first moment of your meeting,—it was not the single voices of the criers, but the whole Roman people with one voice that declared me consul. [5]

I think this eminent and unprecedented kindness of yours, O Romans, of great weight as a reward for my courage, and as a source of joy to me, but still more calculated to impress me with care and anxiety. For, O Romans, many and grave thoughts occupy my mind, which allow me but little rest day or night. First, there is anxiety about discharging the duties of the consulship which is a difficult and important business to all men, and especially to me above all other men; for if I err, I shall obtain no pardon—if I do well, I shall get but little praise, and that, too, extorted from unwilling people—if I am in doubt, I have no faithful counselors to whom I can apply—if I am in difficulty, I have no sure assistance from the nobles on which I can depend.

1 Middleton says (with express reference to this passage,) “the method of choosing consuls was not by an open vote, but by a kind of ballot or little tickets of wood distributed to the citizens with the names of the candidates severally inscribed on each; but in Cicero's case, the people were not content with this secret and silent way of testifying their inclinations but before they came to any scrutiny, loudly and universally proclaimed Cicero the first consul; so that, as he himself declared in his speech to them after his election he was not chosen by the votes of particular citizens, but by the common suffrage of the city; nor declared by the voice of the crier, but of the whole Roman people.”

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