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Pliny the Younger (A.D. 62?–c.A.D. 113).  Letters.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
 
X. To Junius Mauricus
 
 
YOU desire me to look out a proper husband for your niece: it is with justice you enjoin me that office. You know the high esteem and affection I bore that great man, her father, and with what noble instructions he nurtured my youth, and taught me to deserve those praises he was pleased to bestow upon me. You could not give me, then, a more important, or more agreeable, commission; nor could I be employed in an office of higher honour, than that of choosing a young man worthy of being father of the grandchildren of Rusticus Arulenus; a choice I should be long in determining, were I not acquainted with Minutius Aemilianus, who seems formed for our purpose. He loves me with all that warmth of affection which is usual between young men of equal years (as indeed I have the advance of him but by a very few), and reveres me at the same time, with all the deference due to age; and, in a word, he is no less desirous to model himself by my instructions than I was by those of yourself and your brother.  1
  He is a native of Brixia, one of those provinces in Italy which still retain much of the old modesty, frugal simplicity, and even rusticity, of manner. He is the son of Minutius Macrinus, whose humble desires were satisfied with standing at the head of the equestrian order: for though he was nominated by Vespasian in the number of those whom that prince dignified with the prætorian office, yet, with an inflexible greatness of mind, he resolutely preferred an honourable repose to the ambitious, shall I call them, or exalted, pursuits, in which we public men are engaged. His grandmother, on the mother’s side, is Serrana Procula, of Patavium: 1 you are no stranger to the character of its citizens; yet Serrana is looked upon, even among these correct people, as an exemplary instance of strict virtue. Acilius, his uncle, is a man of almost exceptional gravity, wisdom, and integrity. In short, you will find nothing throughout his family unworthy of yours. Minutius himself has plenty of vivacity, as well as application, together with a most amiable and becoming modesty. He has already, with considerable credit, passed through the offices of quæstor, tribune, and prætor; so that you will be spared the trouble of soliciting for him those honourable employments. He has a fine, well-bred countenance, with a ruddy, healthy complexion, while his whole person is elegant and comely and his mien graceful and senatorian: advantages, I think, by no means to be slighted, and which I consider as the proper tribute to virgin innocence. I think I may add that his father is very rich. When I contemplate the character of those who require a husband of my choosing, I know it is unnecessary to mention wealth; but when I reflect upon the prevailing manners of the age, and even the laws of Rome, which rank a man according to his possessions, it certainly claims some regard; and, indeed, in establishments of this nature, where children and many other circumstances are to be duly weighed, it is an article that well deserves to be taken into the account. You will be inclined, perhaps, to suspect that affection has had too great a share in the character I have been drawing, and that I have heightened it beyond the truth; but I will stake all my credit, you will find everything far beyond what I have represented. I love the young fellow indeed (as he justly deserves) with all the warmth of a most ardent affection; but for that very reason I would not ascribe more to his merit than I know it will bear. Farewell.  2
 
Note 1. Padua. [back]
 

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