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Again, what stimulus to genius and what fire to the orator was furnished by incessant popular assemblies, by the privilege of attacking the most influential men, and by the very glory of such feuds when most of the good speakers did not spare even a Publius Scipio, or a Sulla, or a Cneius Pompeius, and following the common impulse of envy availed themselves of the popular ear for invective against eminent citizens. I am not speaking of a quiet and peaceful accomplishment, which delights in what is virtuous and well regulated. No; the great and famous eloquence of old is the nursling of the licence which fools called freedom; it is the companion of sedition, the stimulant of an unruly people, a stranger to obedience and subjection, a defiant, reckless, presumptuous thing which does not show itself in a well-governed state. What orator have we ever heard of at Sparta or at Crete? A very strict discipline and very strict laws prevailed, tradition says, in both those states. Nor do we know of the existence of eloquence among the Macedonians or Persians, or in any people content with a settled government. There were some orators at Rhodes and a host of them at Athens, but there the people, there any ignorant fellow, anybody, in short, could do anything. So too our own state, while it went astray and wore out its strength in factious strife and discord, with neither peace in the forum, unity in the senate, order in the courts, respect for merit, or seemly behaviour in the magistrates, produced beyond all question a more vigorous eloquence, just as an untilled field yields certain herbage in special plenty. Still the eloquence of the Gracchi was not an equivalent to Rome for having to endure their legislation, and Cicero's fame as an orator was a poor compensation for the death he died.

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