I have now told you with what motives I have supported each measure and cause, and what my position is in politics as far as I take any part in them: and I would wish you to make sure of this--that I should have entertamed the same sentiments, if I had been still perfectly uncommitted and free to choose. For I should not have thought it right to fight against such overwhelming power, nor to destroy the supremacy of the most distinguished citizens, even if it had been possible; nor, again, should I have thought myself bound to abide by the same view, when circumstances were changed and the feelings of the loyalists altered, but rather to bow to circumstances. For the persistence in the same view has never been regarded as a merit in men eminent for their guidance of the helm of state; but as in steering a ship one secret of the art is to run before the storm, even if you cannot make the harbour; yet, when you can do so by tacking about, it is folly to keep to the course you have begun rather than by changing it to arrive all the same at the destination you desire: so while we all ought in the administration of the state to keep always in view the object I have very frequently mentioned, peace combined with dignity, we are not bound always to use the same language, but to fix our eyes on the same object. Wherefore, as I laid down a little while ago, if I had had as free a hand as possible in everything, I should yet have been no other than I now am in politics. When, moreover, I am at once induced to adopt these sentiments by the kindness of certain persons, and driven to do so by the injuries of others, I am quite content to think and speak about public affairs as I conceive best conduces to the interests both of myself and of the Republic. Moreover, I make this declaration the more openly and frequently, both because my brother Quintus is Caesar's legate, and because no word of mine, however trivial, to say nothing of any act, in support of Caesar has ever transpired, which lie has not received with such marked gratitude, as to make me look upon myself as closely bound to him. Accordingly, I have the advantage of his popularity, which you know to be very great, and his material resources, which you know to be immense, as though they were my own. Nor do I think that I could in any other way have frustrated the plots of unprincipled persons against me, unless I had now combined with those protections, which I have always possessed, the goodwill also of the men in power. I should, to the best of my belief, have followed this same line of policy even if I had had you here. For I well know the reasonableness and soberness of your judgment: I know your mind, while warmly attached to me, to be without a tinge of malevolence to others, but on the contrary as open and candid as it is great and lofty. I have seen certain persons conduct themselves towards you as you might have seen the same persons conduct themselves towards me. The same things that have annoyed me would certainly have annoyed you. But whenever I shall have the enjoyment of your presence, you will be the wise critic of all my plans: you who took thought for my safety will also do so for my dignity. Me, indeed, you will have as the partner and associate in all your actions, sentiments, wishes--in fact, in everything; nor shall I ever in all my life have any purpose so steadfastly before me, as that you should rejoice more and more warmly every day that you did me such eminent service.
As to your request that I would send you any books I have written since your departure, there are sonic speeches, which I will give Menocritus, not so very many, so don't be afraid! I have also written- for I am now rather withdrawing from oratory and returning to the gentler Muses, which now give me greater delight than any others, as they have done since my earliest youth--well, then, I have written in the Aristotelian style, at least that was my aim, three books in the form of a discussion in dialogue "On the Orator," which, I think, well be of some service to your Lentulus. For they differ a good deal from the current maxims, and embrace a discussion on the whole oratorical theory of the ancients, both that of Aristotle and Isocrates. I have also written in verse three books "On my own Times," which I should have sent you some time ago, if I had thought they ought to be published--for they are witnesses, and will he eternal witnesses, of your services to me arid of my affection--hut I refrained because I was afraid, not of those who might think themselves attacked, for I have been very sparing and gentle in that respect, but of my benefactors, of whom it were an endless task to mention the whole list. Nevertheless, the books, such as they are, if I find anyone to whom I can safely commit them, I will take care to have conveyed to you: and as far as that part of my life and conduct is concerned, I submit it entirely to your judgment. All that I shall succeed in accomplishing in literature or in learning--my old favourite relaxations--I shall with the utmost cheerfulness place before the bar of your criticism, for you have always had a fondness for such things. As to what you say in your letter about your domestic affairs, and all you charge me to do, I am so attentive to them that I don't like being reminded, can scarcely bear, indeed, to be asked without a very painful feeling. As to your saying, in regard to Quintus's business, that you could not do anything last summer, because you were prevented by illness from crossing to Cilicia, but that you will now do everything in your power to settle it, I may tell you that the fact of the matter is that, if he can annex this property, my brother thinks that he will owe to you the consolidation of this ancestral estate. I should like you to write about all your affairs, and about the studies and training of your son Lentulus (whom I regard as mine also) as confidentially and as frequently as possible, and to believe that there never has been anyone either dearer or more congenial to another than you are to me, and that I will not only make you feel that to be the case, but will make all the world and posterity itself to the latest generation aware of it.
Appius used some time back to repeat in conversation, and afterwards said openly, even in the senate, that if he were allowed to carry a law in the cornitia curiata, he vould draw lots with his colleague for their provinces; but if no curiatian law were passed, he would make an arralgement with his colleague and succeed you: that a curiatian law was a proper thing for a consul, but was not a necessity: that since he was in possession of a province by a decree of the senate, he should have imperiuns in virtue of the Cornelian law until such time as he entered the city. I don't know what your several connexions write to you on the subject: I understand that opinion varies. There are some who think that you can legally refuse to quit your province, because your successor is named without a curiatian law: some also hold that, even if you do quit it, you may leave some one behind you to conduct its government. For myself, I do not feel so certain about the point of law--although there is not much doubt even about that--as I do of this, that it is for your greatest honour, dignity, and independence, which I know you always value above everything, to hand over your province to a successor without any delay, especially as you cannot thwart his greediness without rousing suspicion of your own. I regard my duty as twofold--to let you know what I think, and to defend what you have done.
PS.--I had written the above when I received your letter about the publicani, to whom I could not but admire the justice of your conduct. I could have wished that you had been able by sonic lucky chance to avoid running counter to the interests and wishes of that order, whose honour you have always promoted. For my part, I shall not cease to defend your decrees: but you know the ways of that class of men; you are aware how bitterly hostile they were to the famous Q. Scaevola himself. However, I advise you to reconcile that order to yourself, or at least soften its feelings, if you can by any means do so. Though difficult, I think it is, nevertheless, not beyond the reach of your sagacity.
To C. TREBATIUS TESTA (IN GAUL)
IN the "Trojan Horse," just at the end, you remember the words, "Too late they learn wisdom." You, however, old man, were wise in time. Those first snappy letters of yours were foolish enough, and then--! I don't at all blame you for not being over-curious in regard to Britain. For the present, however, you seem to be in winter quarters somewhat short of warm clothing, and therefore not caring to stir out:
"Not here and there, but everywhere, Be wise and ware: No sharper steel can warrior bear."
If I had been by way of dining out, I would not have failed your friend Cn. Octavius; to whom, however, I did remark upon his repeated invitations, "Pray, who are you?" But, by Hercules, joking apart, be is a pretty fellow: I could have wished you had taken him with you! Let me know for certain what you are doing and whether you intend coming to Italy at all this winter. Balbus has assured me that you will be rich. Whether he speaks after the simple Roman fashion, meaning that you will be well supplied with money, or according to the Stoic dictum, that "all are rich who can enjoy the sky and the earth," I shall know hereafter. Those who come from your part accuse you of pride, because they say you won't answer men who put questions to you. However, there is one thing that will please you: they all agree in saying that there is no better lawyer than you at Samarobriva!