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For I will speak the truth, O Romans; I cannot find fault with the general principle of an agrarian law, for it occurs to my mind that two most illustrious men, two most able men, two men most thoroughly attached to the Roman people, Tiberius and Caius Gracchus, established the people on public domains which had previously been occupied by private individuals. Nor am I a consul of such opinions as to think it wrong, as most men do, to praise the Gracchi; by whose counsels, and wisdom, and laws, I see that many parts of the republic have been greatly strengthened. [11] Therefore, when at the very beginning, I, being the consul elect, was informed that the tribunes elect of the people were drawing up an agrarian law, I wished to ascertain what their plans were. In truth, I thought that, since we were both to act as magistrates in the same year, it was right that there should be some union between us, for the purpose of governing the republic wisely and successfully. [12] When I wished to join them familiarly in conversation, I was shut out; their projects were concealed from me: and when I assured them that, if the law appeared to me to be advantageous to the Roman people, I would assist them in it and promote it, still they rejected this liberality of mine with scorn, and said that I could not possibly be induced to approve of any liberal measures. I ceased to offer myself to them, lest perchance my importunity should seem to them treacherous or impudent. In the meantime they did not cease to have secret meetings among themselves, to invite some private individuals to them, and to choose night and darkness for their clandestine deliberations. And what great alarm this conduct of theirs caused us, you may easily divine by your own conjectures founded on the anxiety which you yourselves experienced at that time. [13]

At last the tribunes of the people enter on their office. The assembly to be convened by Publius Rullus was anxiously looked for, both because he was the chief mover of the agrarian law, and because he behaved with more violence than his colleagues. From the moment that he was elected tribune, he put on another expression of countenance, another tone of voice, a different gait; he went about in an old-fashioned dress, without any regard to neatness in his person, with longer hair and a more abundant beard than before; so that he seemed by his eyes and by his whole aspect to be threatening every one with the power of the tribunes, and to be meditating evil to the republic. I was waiting in expectation of his law and of the assembly. At first no law at all is proposed. He orders an assembly to be summoned as his first measure. Men flock to it with the most eager expectation. He makes a long enough speech, expressed in very good language. There was one thing which seemed to me bad, and that was, that out of all the crowd there present, not one man could be found who was able to understand what he meant. Whether he did this with any insidious design, or whether that is the sort of eloquence in which he takes pleasure, I do not know. Still, if there was any one in the assembly cleverer than another, he suspected that he was intending to say something or other about an agrarian law. At last, after I had been elected consul, the law is proposed publicly. By my order several clerks meet at one time, and bring me an accurate copy of the law.

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