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DCCCXXXIII (BRUT. II, 1)

TO MARCUS IUNIUS BRUTUS (IN MACEDONIA)
ROME (MARCH-APRIL)
AT the time of my writing this it is thought that the decisive hour has arrived. For melancholy despatches and messages are arriving about our friend Decimus Brutus. For my part I am not excessively alarmed by them, for I cannot possibly distrust such armies and leaders as we now have. Nor do I agree with the majority of people: for I do not think ill of the loyalty of the consuls, which has been the subject of great suspicion. In certain particulars I do find them wanting in prudence and promptitude. If they had displayed those qualities we should long ago have recovered the constitution. For you are not ignorant of the importance of times and seasons in public affairs, and what a difference it makes whether the same thing is settled, undertaken, carried out before or after a particular period. If all the decrees expressed in severe language during this civil disturbance had been passed on the day on which I spoke in their favour, and had not been postponed from day to day, or not been delayed and put off from the moment that their execution was undertaken, we should not now be at war. I have made good, Brutus, every duty to the state, to which a man was bound, who occupied the station in which I have been placed by the judgment of the senate and people. And I am not speaking now of those duties which alone, of course, can be positively demanded of every human being—good faith, vigilance, patriotism. Such duties there is no one who is not bound to make good. But I think that a man who speaks among the leading members of the senate is bound to display wisdom also. And since I have involved myself in the heavy responsibility of taking the helm of state, I should think myself no less deserving of reproach, if it was against its true interests that I advised the senate, than if I did so with insincerity. All things actually transacted, or which are in the Course of being transacted, I know are carefully written out for your benefit. But there is one thing I should like you to learn from me—that my heart is at the seat of war, and seeks no means of retreat, unless it chance that the interest of the state compels me to do so. The feelings of the majority, however, look to you and Cassius. wherefore, my dear Brutus, prepare yourself to believe that, if at this time a success is achieved, you will have to reform the constitution; if a reverse is sustained, your task will be its restoration.


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