TO SEMPRONIUS RUFUS
I WENT into the Julian Basilica to attend a cause in which at the next sitting I was to reply. The jurors had taken their seats, the presiding magistrates were arrived, the opposing counsel had taken their places; after a long pause, came at last a messenger from the Praetor. The Court broke up at once, and the case was adjourned‹much to my delight, who am never so well prepared, but that I am glad of delay. The occasion of this postponement was an edict of Nepos, the Praetor for criminal causes, wherein he bade all plaintiffs and defendants in any cause before him take notice, that he should strictly enforce the decree of the Senate annexed to his edict. Which decree ran as follows‹"AII persons who have any lawsuit depending are hereby ordered to take an oath before proceeding with their suit that they have not given, promised, or become caution for, any fee to any advocate in consideration of his undertaking their cause." In these terms, with a deal more to the same eflect, the decree prohibits the buying and selling of legal advocacy. However a gratuity of ten thousand sesterces is permitted to be given, after a case is concluded.
The Praetor of the Centumviral Court, being alarmed at this action of Nepos, gave us this unexpected holiday in order to deliberate whether he should follow the example. In the meanwhile the whole town is divided into critics and applauders of this edict. "We have got someone at last (say a large party) to put things straight. But pray was there never a Praetor before? Who is this man, after all, that sets up for a reformer?" Others, on the contrary, say, "He has taken a very proper step; upon entering into his office, he examined the statutes and read the decrees of the Senate; he has repressed a most indecent traffic, and will not suffer a noble profession to be defiled by venality." These are the reflections which are universally thrown out upon this occasion; but which view is to become general, the event alone will determine. It is the usual though incquitable method of the world, to pronounce an action to be either right or wrong, as it is attended with good or ill success; in consequence of which you shall hear the very same conduct attributed at different times to zeal or folly, to independence or insanity. Farewell.