Basil Letters And Select Works by Basil
Letter XCVI. To Sophronius, the master.
Who ever loved his city, honouring with filial love the place which gave him birth and nurture, as you do; praying for the whole city together, and for every one in it individually, and not merely praying but confirming your prayers by your own means? For this you are able to effect by God's help, and long, good man that you are, may you be able so to do. Nevertheless in your time our city has enjoyed but a brief dream of prosperity, in being committed to the charge of one the like of whom, according to the students of our oldest annals, never sat in the præfectorial chair. But now the city has suddenly lost his services, through the wickedness of men who have found a ground of attack in his very liberality and impartiality, and, without the knowledge of your excellency, have made up calumnies against him. There is therefore universal depression among us at the loss of a governor with unique capacity for raising our dejected community, a true guardian of justice, accessible to the wronged, a terror to law breakers, of like behaviour to rich and poor, and, what is most important, one who has restored the interests of Christians to their old place of honour. That he was, of all men that I know, the most incapable of being bribed, and never did any one an unfair favour, I have passed by as a small point in comparison with his other virtues. I am indeed testifying to all this too late, like men who sing dirges to console themselves when they can get no practical relief. Yet, it is not useless that his memory should remain in your generous heart, and that you should be grateful to him as a benefactor of your native place. Should any of those who feel a grudge against him, for not sacrificing justice to their interests, attack him, it will be well for you to defend and protect him. Thus you will make it clear to all that you count his interests yours, and think it quite a sufficient reason for this your close association with him that his record should be so unimpeachable, and his administration so remarkable in view of the time. For what any other man would not be able to affect in many years has been quickly accomplished by him. It will be a great favour to me, and a comfort under the circumstances, if you will recommend him to the Emperor, and dispel the calumnious charges brought against him. Believe me that I am speaking here not for myself alone, but for the whole community, and that it is our unanimous prayer that he may reap some benefit from your excellency's aid.