Some mistakes of Caesar'sCaesar too no doubt made certain mistakes. He has been often called a consummate judge of men. If it was so, it is only another proof of the truth of Cicero's words that a conqueror in a civil war is much at the mercy of those who helped to win his victory: for his choice of agents was not happy. Neither Cassius nor Trebonius, whom he sent to Spain, was successful there. Of those he selected as his second in command or masters of the horse—Antony no doubt was a man of energy and courage, but shewed neither wisdom nor ability as a statesman, while Lepidus lived to prove the contemptible weakness of his character. Perhaps his own commanding personality choked off men of ability. But the fact remains that a large number of men of energy who had served him turned against him, while those who remained faithful to him were men of second-rate abilities. He was probably unwise to undertake the Getic and Parthian wars. His presence was needed to maintain order in Italy. He had been engaged for fifteen years in almost incessant military labours. No man could hope to be at his best at the end of such fatigues; and we gather from expressions in Cicero's speech pro Marcello1 that he was weary in body and mind; and, like Napoleon at Waterloo, he might have found that he no longer had the vigour that had won him so many victories. An absolute ruler may have almost any vice except that of weakness. If weakness had begun to shew itself in Caesar, it would not only encourage open enemies, it would make everyone prone to regard as a hardship what they tolerated before as inevitable. The very multitude and greatness of his beneficent schemes, while they prove his wisdom and statesmanship, must have brought him into collision with a hundred vested interests and as many deep-seated prejudices. He was ruling men who had known what it was, not only to be free, but to belong to a body small enough to allow every member to feel himself an integral part of the government in a world-wide empire. His great-nephew—more adroit, though without a tithe of his great-uncle's military ability and largeness of view—was more successful, partly because he had to deal with a generation that had largely forgotten what it was to be free. Cicero at any rate was never for a moment reconciled in heart to Caesar's régime; never for a moment forgot and perhaps exaggerated the dignity of the position from which he had fallen. His final view of Caesar is perhaps best expressed in the second Philippic (§ 116): “He had genius, a power of reasoning, memory, knowledge of literature, accuracy, depth of thought, energy. His achievements in war, however disastrous to the Republic, were at any rate great. After planning for many years his way to royal power, with great labour, with many dangers he had effected his design. By public exhibitions, by monumental buildings, by largesses, by fiats he had conciliated the unreflecting multitude. He had bound to himself his own friends by favours, his opponents by a show of clemency. In short, he at last brought upon a free state—partly by the fear which he inspired, partly by the toleration extended to him—the habit of servitude.” In these circumstances Cicero found his consolation in literature. He had the power which distinguished Mr. Gladstone—nor is this the only point of resemblance—of throwing himself with extraordinary vehemence and apparently exclusive interest into whatever he took in hand. His first impulse was to return to his old field of distinction—eloquence;
Cicero takes refuge in literature.