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6. [14]

This is what the people says to you. But what I say to you, O Laterensis, is this: that the judge has nothing to do with inquiring why you were defeated, as long as you were not defeated through bribery. For it as often as any man is passed over who ought not to have been passed over, the man who has been elected is to be condemned, there will no longer be any reason for canvassing the people at all. There will be no reason in waiting for the polling or for addressing entreaties to the magistrates or for the final declaration of the state of the poll; the moment that I see who are standing I shall say—“This man is of a consular family that man is of a praetorian one; [15] I see that all the rest are of equestrian rank; they are all without stain all equally virtuous and upright men but it is necessary that the distinctions of rank should be observed that the praetorian family should yield to the consular, and that the equestrian body should not contend with a praetorian house.” There is an end to all eagerness for any candidate, an end to all voting; there are no longer any contests; the people has no longer any liberty of choice in electing magistrates; there is no anxiety to see how the votes will be given; nothing will ever happen, (as is so often the case,) contrary to the general expectation; there will be for the future no variety in the comitia. But if it is constantly happening that we marvel why some men have been elected, and why some men have not; if the Campus Martius and those waves of the comitia, like a deep and wide sea, swell in such a manner, as if through some tide or other, that they approach one party and recede from another; why, when the impulse of party spirit is so great and when so much is done with precipitation, are we to seek for any rational explanation, any deliberate intention or any system in such a case?

[16] Do not then, O Laterensis, insist on my drawing any comparison between you. In truth, if the voting tablet is dear to the people, which shows the countenances of men, while it conceals their intentions, and which gives them the liberty of doing whatever they please, while they can promise whatever they are asked, why do you require that to be done in a court of justice which is not done in the Campus Martius?—This man is more worthy than that man. It is a very grave assertion to make. What then is it more reasonable to say? Say this, (and this is the question, this is sufficient for the judge)—This is the man who has been elected. Why should he have been elected rather than I? Either I do not know, or I do not choose to say, or lastly, (which, however, would be a very vexatious thing to me to say, and yet I ought to be able to say with impunity), he ought not to have been. For what would you gain if I were to have recourse to this last defence, that the people had done what it chose, and not what it ought to have done?

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