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The various nature of the Correspondence.

It is through this period of political change and excitement that the correspondence will take us, with some important gaps indeed, but on the whole fullest when it is most wanted to show the feelings and motives guiding the active politicians of the day, or at any rate the effect which events had upon one eager and acute intellect and sensitive heart. One charm of the correspondence is variety. There is almost every sort of letter. Those to Atticus are unstudied, spontaneous, and reflect the varying moods of the writer. At times of special excitement they follow each other day by day, and sometimes more than once in the same day; and the writer seems to conceal nothing, however much it might expose him to ridicule, and to the charge of fickleness, weakness, or even cowardice. Those addressed to other friends are sometimes familiar and playful, some times angry and indignant. Some of them are careful and elaborate state papers, others mere formal introductions and recommendations. Business, literature, and philosophy all have their share in them; and, what is so rare in ancient literature, the family relations of the writer, his dealings with wife, son, and daughter, brother and nephew, and sons-in-law, are all depicted for us, often with the utmost frankness. After reading them we seem to know Cicero the man, as well as Cicero the statesman and orator. The eleven letters which precede the consulship are happily, from this point of view, addressed to Atticus. For it was to Atticus that he wrote with the least concealment, and with the confidence that any detail, however small, which concerned himself would be interesting to his correspondent. It is well, therefore, that, though we thus come into his life when it was more than half over, we should at once hear his genuine sentiments on whatever subjects he may be speaking. Besides his own, we have about ninety letters to Cicero from some of the chief men of the day—Pompey, Caesar, Cato, Brutus, Antony, and many others. They are of very various excellence. The best of them are by much less known men. Neither Pompey nor Caesar were good letter-writers, or, if the latter was so, he was too busy to use his powers.

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