and the address to this or that individual apparently being a matter of form. In the precision and crispness of their style they differ greatly from the florid expansiveness of the Panegyric, the divergence indeed being so great as to point to a conscious and deliberate adaptation of manner to conventional standards of oratory on the one hand, and of epistolography on the other. In the tenth book, however, we find real letters, for in these Pliny writes to Trajan for advice on various problems of provincial administration, and the emperor replies in notes, the eminently practical spirit of which forms one of the most noticeable features of the correspondence.
From his works we are able to form a fairly adequate idea of our author's character: a man of little more than mediocre ability, upon whose imagination his own activities invariably loomed large; pedantic in matters of literature, irresolute and vacillating in matters of administration, vain to the extreme of vanity, of impenetrable complacency, yet withal amiable, kindly, conscientious, standing for what was good, and genuinely interested in literature.
The following letters are from Firth's translation.
YOU will laugh, and I give you leave to. You know what sort of sportsman I am, but I, even I, have bagged three boars, each one of them a perfect beauty. "What!" you will say, "you!" Yes, I, and that too without any violent departure from my usual lazy ways. I was sitting by the nets; I had by my side not a hunting spear and a dart, but my pen and writing tablets. I was engaged in some composi____________________