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Book II chapters 12-14

XII. But suspicions may be derived from the fact itself, if the administration of the whole matter is examined into in all its parts; and these suspicions will arise partly from the affair itself when viewed separately, and partly from the persons and the affairs taken together. They will be able to be derived from the affair, if we diligently consider those circumstances which have been attributed to such affairs. And from them all the different genera, and most subordinate species, will appear to be collected together in this statement of the case.

It will therefore be desirable to consider in the first place what circumstances there are which are united to the affair itself,--that is to say, which cannot be separated from it; and with reference to this topic it will be sufficient to consider what was done before the affair in question took place, from which a hope arose of accomplishing it, and an opportunity was sought of doing it; what happened with respect to the affair itself, and what ensued afterwards. In the next place, the execution of the whole affair must be dealt with, for this class of circumstances which have been attributed to the affair has been discussed in the second topic.

So with reference to this class of circumstances we must have a regard to time, place, occasion, and opportunity, the force of each particular of which has been already carefully explained when we were laying down precepts for the confirmation of an argument. Wherefore, that we may not appear to have given no rules respecting these things, and that we may not, on the other hand, appear to have repeated the same things twice over, we will briefly point out what it is proper should be considered in each part. In reference to place, then, opportunity is to be considered; and in reference to time, remoteness; and in reference to occasion, the convenience suitable for doing anything; and with reference to facility, the store and abundance of those things by means of which anything is done more easily, or without which it cannot be done at all.

In the next place we must consider what is added to the affair, that is to say, what is greater, what is less, what is equally great, what is similar. And from these topics some conjecture is derived, if proper consideration is given to the question how affairs of greater importance, or of less, or of equal magnitude, or of similar character, are usually transacted. And in this class of subjects the result also ought to be examined into; that is to say, what usually ensues as the consequence of every action must be carefully considered; as, for instance, fear, joy, trepidation.

But the fourth part was a necessary consequence from those circumstances which we said were attendant on affairs. In it those things are examined which follow the accomplishment of an affair, either immediately or after an interval. And in this examination we shall see whether there is any custom, any action, any system, or practice, or habit, any general approval or disapproval on the part of mankind in general, from which circumstance some suspicion at times arises.

XIII. But there are some suspicions which are derived from the circumstances which are attributed to persons and things taken together. For many circumstances arising from fortune, and from nature, and from the way of a man's life, and from his pursuits and actions, and from chance, or from speeches, or from a person's designs, or from his usual habit of mind or body, have reference to the same things which render a statement credible or incredible, and which are combined with a suspicion of the fact.

For it is above all things desirable that inquiry should be made in this way, of stating the case first of all, whether anything could be done; in the next place, whether it could have been done by any one else; then we consider the opportunity on which we have spoken before; then whether what has been done is a crime which one is bound to repent of: we must inquire too whether he had any hope of concealing it; then whether there was any necessity for his doing so; and as to this we must inquire both whether it was necessary that the thing should be done at all, or that it should be done in that manner. And some portion of these considerations refer to the design, which has been already spoken of as what is attributed to persons; as in the instance of that cause which we have mentioned. These circumstances will be spoken of as before the affair,--the facts, I mean, of his having joined himself to him so intimately on the march, of his having sought occasion to speak with him, of his having lodged with him, and supped with him. These circumstances were a part of the affair,--night, and sleep. These came after the affair,--the fact of his having departed by himself; of his having left his intimate companion with such indifference; of his having a bloody sword.

Part of these things refer to the design. For the question is asked, whether the plan of executing this deed appears to have been one carefully devised and considered, or whether it was adopted so hastily that it is not likely that any one should have gone on to crime so rashly. And in this inquiry we ask also whether the deed could have been done with equal ease in any other manner; or whether it could have happened by chance. For very often if there has been a want of money, or means, or assistants, there would not appear to have been any opportunity of doing such a deed. If we take careful notice in this way, we shall see that all these circumstances which are attributed to things, and those too which are attributed to persons, fit one another. In this case it is neither easy nor necessary, as it is in the former divisions, to draw distinctions as to how the accuser and how the advocate for the defence ought to handle each topic. It is not necessary, because, when the case is once stated, the circumstances themselves will teach those men, who do not expect to find everything imaginable in this treatise, what is suitable for each case; and they will apply a reasonable degree of understanding to the rules which are here laid down, in the way of comparing them with the systems of others. And it is not easy, because it would be an endless business to enter into a separate explanation with respect to every portion of every case; and besides, these circumstances are adapted to each part of the case in different manners on different occasions.

XIV. Wherefore it will be desirable to consider what we have now set forth. And our mind will approach invention with more ease, if it often and carefully goes over both its own relation and that of the opposite party, of what has been done; and if, eliciting what suspicions each part gives rise to, it considers why, and with what intention, and with what hopes and plans, each thing was done. Why it was done in this manner rather than in that; why by this man rather than by that; why it was done without any assistant, or why with this one; why no one was privy to it, or why somebody was, or why this particular person was; why this was done before; why this was not done before; why it was done in this particular instance; why it was done afterwards; what was done designedly, or what came as a consequence of the original action; whether the speech is consistent with the facts or with itself; whether this is a token of this thing, or of that thing, or of both this and that, and which it is a token of most; what has been done which ought not to have been done, or what has not been done which ought to have been done.

When the mind considers every portion of the whole business with this intention, then the topics which have been reserved, will come into use, which we have already spoken of; and certain arguments will be derived from them both separately and unitedly. Part of which arguments will depend on what is probable, part on what is necessary; there will be added also to conjecture questions, testimony, reports. All of which things each party ought to endeavour by a similar use of these rules to turn to the advantage of his own cause. For it will be desirable to suggest suspicions from questions, from evidence, and from some report or other, in the same manner as they have been derived from the cause, or the person, or the action.

Wherefore those men appear to us to be mistaken who think that this kind of suspicion does not need any regular system, and so do those who think that it is better to give rules in a different manner about the whole method of conjectural argument. For all conjecture must be derived from the same topics; for both the cause of every rumour and the truth of it will be found to arise from the things attributed to him who in his inquiry has made any particular statement and to him who has done so in his evidence. But in every cause a part of the arguments is joined to that cause alone which is expressed, and it is derived from it in such a manner that it cannot be very conveniently transferred from it to all other causes of the same kind; but part of it is more rambling, and adapted either to all causes of the same kind, or at all events to most of them.


Cicero, tr. C.D. Yonge

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