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49. [104]

There have been also many cases within our own recollection, which I pass over on purpose, in which the desire of the people has been at variance with the wisdom of the nobles. At present there is no subject on which the people need disagree with its chosen magistrates and with the nobles; it is not demanding anything, nor is it eager for a revolution, and it is fond of its own tranquillity, and pleased with the dignity and worth of every eminent man, and with the glory of the whole republic. Therefore seditious and turbulent men, because they cannot at present stir up the Roman people by any bribery, since the common people, having gone through some most violent seditious and discords, appear for the most for ease and tranquillity, now hold packed assemblies, and do not concern themselves about saying or proposing what those men who are present in the assembly may like to hear, but they contrive by bribery and corruption that whatever they say may appear to be what those men wish to hear.

[105] Do you think that the Gracchi, or that Saturninus, or that any one of those ancient men who were considered devoted to the interests of the people, had ever any hired fellows in their assemblies? No one of those men ever stooped to such a course. For the mere liberality of their proposed laws, and the hope of the advantage which was held out to them, excited the multitude sufficiently without any bribery. Therefore, in those times, those men who set up for friends of the people, were hindered in their plans by wise and honourable men, but they were great men in the opinion of the populace, and received every sort of honour from them. They were applauded in the theatre; they gained whatever they sought for by their suffrages; men loved their names, their language, their countenances, their very gait. But those who opposed this class of men were accounted wise and great men; they had great influence in the senate, great influence among all good men; but they were unpopular with the multitude; their inclinations were frequently thwarted by the suffrages of the populace; and if any one of them at any time received any applause in the theatre, he began to be afraid that he had done something wrong; but at the same time, if there was anything of more than ordinary importance under discussion, then that same populace was chiefly influenced by the authority of those men.

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