Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

(Prompted by blind revenge and wild despair)
Were to refuse th' awards of Providence,
And not to rest in Heaven's determination.
Already have we shown our love to Rome,
Now let us show submission to the gods.
We took up arms, not to revenge ourselves,
But free the commonwealth; when this end
fails,

Arms have no farther use. Our country's cause, That drew our swords, now wrests them from our hands,

And bids us not delight in Roman blood
Unprofitably shed. What men could do,
Is done already: heaven and earth will wit-

ness,

If Rome must fall, that we are innocent.

Sem. This smooth discourse, and mild beha-
viour, oft

Conceal a traitor. Something whispers me
All is not right-Cato, beware of Lucius.
[Aside to Cato.
Cato. Let us appear nor rash nor diffident;
Immod'rate valor swells into a fault;
And fear admitted into public councils,
Betrays like treason. Let us shun them both.
Fathers, I cannot see that our affairs

Are grown thus desp'rate; we have bulwarks round us;

Within our walls are troops inur'd to toil
In Afric's heat, and season'd to the sun;
Numidia's spacious kingdom lies behind us,
Ready to rise at its young prince's call.
While there is hope, do not distrust the gods;
But wait at least till Cæsar's near approach
Force us to yield. "Twill never be too late
To sue for chains, and own a conqueror.
Why should Rome fall a moment ere her time?
No: let us draw her term of freedom out
In its full length, and spin it to the last,
So shall we gain still one day's liberty:
And let me perish, but in Cato's judgement,
A day, an hour, of virtuous liberty

Is worth a whole eternity in bondage.

Enter Marcus.

[blocks in formation]

Cato's high worth, is anxious for your life.

Cato. My life is grafted on the fate of Rome. Would he save Cato, bid him spare his country.

Tell your dictator this; and tell him, Cato Disdains a life which he has power to offer. Dec. Rome and her senators submit to Cæsar;

Her gen'rals and her consuls are no more, Who check'd his conquests, and denied his tri umphs:

Why will not Cato be this Cæsar's friend? Cato. Those very reasons thou hast urg'd forbid it.

Dec. Cato, I've orders to expostulate, And reason with you, as from friend to friend Think on the storm that gathers o'er your head And threatens ev'ry hour to burst upon it. Still may you stand high in your country's he

[blocks in formation]

And therefore sets this value on your life. Let him but know the price of Cato's frien ship,

And name your terms.

Cato. Bid him disband his legions, Restore the commonwealth to liberty, Submit his actions to the public censure, And stand the judgement of a Roman senate Bid him do this, and Cato is his friend.

Dec. Cato, the world talks loudly of yc
wisdom-

Cato. Nay more-tho' Cato's voice was
employ'd

To clear the guilty, and to varnish crimes,

Mar. Fathers, this moment, as I watch'd the Myself will mount the rostrum in his favo

gate,

Lodg'd in my post, a herald is arriv'd

From Cæsar's camp, and with him comes old Decius,

The Roman knight; he carries in his looks Impatience, and demands to speak with Cato. Cato. By your permission, fathers-bid him [Exit Marcus.

enter.

And strive to gain his pardon from the pec Dec. A style like this becomes a conque Cato. Decius, a style like this becomes a

man.

Dec. What is a Roman that is Cæsar's foe? Cato. Greater than Cæsar; he's a friend to virtue.

Dec. Consider, Cato, you're in Utica, Decius was once my friend; but other pro-You don't now thunder in the capitol, And at the head of your own little senate;

spects

Have loos'd those ties, and bound him fast to

Cæsar.

His message may determine our resolves.

Enter Decius.

Dec. Cæsar sends health to Cato

Cato. Could he send it

To Cato's slaughter'd friends, it would be wel

come.

Are not your orders to address the senate?

[blocks in formation]

1

A

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

With murder, treason, sacrilege, and crimes That strike my soul with horror but to name them.

I know thou look'st on me, as on a wretch Beset with ills, and cover'd with misfortunes; But, by the gods I swear, millions of worlds Should never buy me to be like that Cæsar. Dec. Does Cato send this answer back to Cæsar

For all his gen'rous cares and proffer'd friendship?

His cares for me are insolent and vain: ptuous man! the gods take care of Cato. Cæsar show the greatness of his soul, employ his care for these my friends, ke good use of his ill-gotten pow'r, ring men much better than himself. Your high unconquer'd heart makes You forget

a man; you rush on your destruction. ave done. When I relate hereafter

of this unhappy embassy, ne will be in tears.

[Exit Decius.

Cato, we thank thee.
ghty genius of immortal Rome

n thy voice; thy soul breathes liberty. ill shrink to hear the words thou uter'st,

adder in the midst of all his conquests. The senate owns its gratitude to Cato, ith so great a soul consults its safety, iards our lives while he neglects his

)wn.

Sempronius gives no thanks on this ac

Count.

seems fond of life; but what is life? to stalk about, and draw fresh air me to time, or gaze upon the sun : se free. When liberty is gone, ws insipid, and has lost its relish. d my dying hand but lodge a sword ar's bosom, and revenge my country! vens, I could enjoy the pangs of death, aile in agony;

. Others, perhaps,

erve their country with as warm a zeal,
h'tis not kindled into such a rage.
1. This sober conduct is a mighty virtue
ewarm patriots.

Cato. Come; no more, Sempronius:
All here are friends to Rome, and to each other.
Let us not weaken still the weaker side
By our divisions.

Sem. Cato, my resentments Are sacrific'd to Rome-I stand reprov'd. Cato. Fathers, 'tis time you come to a resolve. Luc. Cato, we all go into your opinion: Cæsar's behaviour has convinc'd the senate We ought to hold it out till terms arrive. Sem. We ought to hold it out till death; but, Cato, Myprivate voice is drown'd amidst the senate's. Calo. Then let us rise, my friends, and strive

to fill

This little interval, this pause of life, (While yet our liberty and fates are doubtful) With resolution, friendship, Roman bravery,

[blocks in formation]

Jub. The resolution fits a Roman senate. But, Cato, lend me for a while thy patience, And condescend to hear a young man speak. My father, when some days before his death He order'd me to march for Utica, (Alas, I thought not then his death so near!) Wept o'er me, press'd me in his aged arms; And, as his griefs gave way, My son, said he, Whatever fortune shall befall thy father, Be Cato's friend; he'll train thee up to great And virtuous deeds; do but observe him well, Thou'lt shun misfortunes, or thou 'lt learn to bear them.

Cato. Juba, thy father was a worthy prince, And merited, alas! a better fate; But Heaven thought otherwise.

Jub. My father's fate,

In spite of all the fortitude that shines
Before my face in Cato's great example,
Subdues my soul, and fills my eyes with tears.
Cato. It is an honest sorrow, and becomes
thee.

Jub. My father drew respect from foreign

climes :

The kings of Afric sought him for their friend
Kings far remote, that rule, as fame reports,
Behind the hidden sources of the Nile,
In distant worlds, on t' other side the sun;
Oft have their black ambassadors appear'd,
Loaden with gifts, and fill'd the courts of
Zama.

Cato. I am no stranger to thy father's great

ness.

Jub. I would not boast the greatness of my father,

But point out new alliances to Cato.
Have we not better leave this Utica,
To arm Numidia in our cause, and court
Th' assistance of my father's powerful friends?
Did they know Cato, our remotest kings
Would pour embattled multitudes about him :
Their swarthy hosts would darken all our
plains,

Doubling the native horror of the war,
And making death more grim.

Cato. And canst thou think
Cato will fly before the sword of Cæsar?
Reduc'd, like Hannibal, to seek relief
From court to court, and wander up and down
A vagabond in Afric?

Jub. Cato, perhaps

I'm too officious; but my forward cares Would fain preserve a life of so much value: My heart is wounded, when I see such virtue Afflicted by the weight of such misfortunes.

Cato. Thy nobleness of soul obliges nie. But know, young prince, that valor soars above

[blocks in formation]

Jub. The best good fortune that can fall on
Juba,

The whole success at which my heart aspires,
Depends on Cato.

Cato. What does Juba say? Thy words confound me.

Jub. I would fain retract them.

Give 'em me back again: they aim'd at nothing. Cato. Tell me thy wish, young prince; make not my ear

A stranger to thy thoughts.

Jub. O, they're extravagant; Still let me hide them.

Cato. What can Juba ask

That Cato will refuse?

Jub. I fear to name it:

Marcia-inherits all her father's virtues.
Cato. What wouldst thou say?
Jub. Cato, thou hast a daughter.
Cato. Adieu, young prince. I would not
hear a word

Should lessen thee in my esteem. Remember
The hand of fate is over us, and Heaven
Exacts severity from all our thoughts.
It is not now a time to talk of aught
But chains, or conquest; liberty, or death.
[Exit.

Enter Syphax.

Sy. How's this, my prince? What, cover'd with confusion?

You look as if yon stern philosopher

Had just now chid you.

Jub. Syphax, I'm undone.

Sy. I know it well.

Jub. Cato thinks meanly of me.

Sy. And so will all mankind.

Jub. I've open'd to him

The weakness of my soul, my love for Marcia.
Sy. Cato's a proper person to intrust
A love-tale with!

Jub. O, I could pierce my heart,
My foolish heart. Was ever wretch like Juba?
Sy. Alas, my prince, how are you chang'd of

late!

I've known young Juba rise before the sun,
To beat the thicket where the tiger slept,
Or seek the lion in his dreadful haunts:
How did the color mount into your cheeks,
When first you rous'd him to the chase! I've
seen you,

E'en in the Libyan dog-days, hunt him down, Then charge him close, provoke him to the

rage

Of fangs and claws, and, stooping from your horse,

Rivet the panting savage to the ground.
Jub. Pr'ythee, no inore.

Sy. How would the old king smile To see you weigh the paws when tipp'd with gold,

And throw the shaggy spoils about your shoulders!

Jub. Syphax, this old man's talk, though

honey flow'd

In ev'ry word, would now lose all its sweetness.
Cato 's displeas'd, and Marcia lost for ever.
Sy. Young prince, I yet could give you
good advice,

Marcia might still be yours.

Jub. What say'st thou, Syphax? By heavens, thou turn'st me all into attention. Sy. Marcia might still be yours. Jub. As how, dear Syphax?

Sy. Juba commands Numidia's hardy troops, Mounted on steeds unus'd to the restraint Of curbs or bits, and fleeter than the winds. Give but the word, we'll snatch this damsel up, And bear her off.

Jub. Can such dishonest thoughts Rise up in man? Wouldst thou seduce my youth

To do an act that would destroy my honor?

Sy. Gods, I could tear my hair to hear you talk!

Honor's a fine imaginary notion

That draws in raw and unexperienc'd men
To real mischiefs, while they hunt a shadow.
Jub. Wouldst thou degrade thy prince into a

ruffian?

Sy. The boasted ancestors of these great men, Whose virtues you admire, were all such ruffians.

This dread of nations, this almighty Rome, That comprehends in her wide empire's bounds All under heaven, was founded on a rape; Your Scipios, Cæsars, Pompeys, and your Catos (The gods on earth), are all the spurious brood Of violated maids, of ravish'd Sabines.

Jub. Syphax, I fear that hoary head of thine Abounds too much in our Numidian wiles. Sy. Indeed, my prince, you want to know the world.

You have not read mankind; your youth ad

mires

[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]

Sy. Not hear me talk! what, when my faith to Juba,

My royal master's son, is call'd in question?
My prince may strike me dead, and I'll be
dumb;

But whilst I live I must not hold my tongue,
And languish out old age in his displeasure.

Jub. Thou know'st the way too well into my
heart.

I do believe thee loyal to thy prince.

Sy. What greater instance can I give? I've
offer'd

To do an action which my soul abhors,
And gain you whom you love at any price.
Jub. Was this thy motive? I've been too
hasty.

Sy. And 'tis for this my prince has call'd me

traitor.

Jub. Sure thou mistak'st: I did not call thee

50.

Sy. You did indeed, my prince, you call'd
me traitor;

Nay, further, threaten'd you'd complain to Cato.
Of what, my prince, would you complain to
Cato?

That Syphax loves you, and would sacrifice
His life, nay more, his honor, in your service?
Jub. Syphax, I know thou lov'st me bu in-
deed

Thy zeal for Juba carried thee too far.
Honor's a sacred tie, the law of kings,
The noble mind's distinguishing perfection,
That aids and strengthens virtue where it meets
her,

And imitates her actions where she is not :
It ought not to be sported with.

Sy. By heavens,

Alas! I've hitherto been us'd to think
A blind officious zcal to serve my king
The ruling principle, that ought to burn
And quench all others in a subject's heart.
Happy the people who preserve their honor
By the same duties that oblige their prince!
Jub. Syphax, thou now beginn'st to speak
thyself.

Numidia's grown a scorn among the nations,
For breach of public vows. Our Punic faith
Is infamous, and branded to a proverb.
Syphax, we'll join our cares, to purge away
Our country's crimes, and clear her reputation.
Sy. Believe me, prince, you make old Syphax

weep

To hear you talk-but 'tis with tears of joy.
If e'er your father's crown adorn your brows,
Numidia will be blest by Cato's lectures.

Jub. Syphax, thy hand; we'll mutually
forget

The warmth of youth, and frowardness of
age:
Thy prince esteems thy worth, and loves thy
person.

If e'er the sceptre comes into my hand,
Syphax shall stand the second in my kingdom.
Sy. Why will you overwhelm my age with
kindness?

My joy grows burthensome, I shan't support it.
Jub. Syphax, farewell. I'll hence, and try

to find

Some blest occasion that may set me right
In Cato's thoughts. I'd rather have that man
Approve my deeds, than worlds for my admi-
[Exit.
Sy. Young men soon give, and soon forget
affronts:

age

rers.

Old is slow in both-A false old traitor!These words, rash boy, may chance to cost thee dear.

My heart had still some foolish fondness for

thee:

But hence! 'tis gone: I give it to the winds:
Cæsar, I am wholly thine.
Enter Sempronius.

All hail, Sempronius!

Well, Cato's senate is resolv'd to wait
The fury of a siege before it yields.

Sem. Syphax, we both were on the verge of
fate!

Lucius declar'd for peace, and terms were offer'd
To Cato, by a messenger from Cæsar.
Should they submit ere our designs are ripe,
We both must perish in the common wreck,
Lost in the gen'ral undistinguish'd ruin.
Sy. But how stands Cato?

Sem. Thou hast seen mount Atlas:
While storms and tempests thunder on its
brows,

And oceans break their billows at its feet,
It stands unmov'd, and glories in its height:
Such is that haughty man; his tow'ring souf,
'Midst all the shocks and injuries of fortune,
Rises superior, and looks down on Cæsar.
Sy. But what's this messenger?
Sem. I've practis'd with him,

I'm ravish'd when you talk thus, though you And found a means to let the victor know

chide me!

That Syphax and Sempronius are his friends:

But let me now examine in my turn:
Is Juba fix'd?

Sy. Yes-but it is to Cato:
I've tried the force of every reason on him,
Sooth'd and caress'd; been angry, sooth'd again;
Laid safety, life, and int'rest in his sight.
But all are vain, he scorns them all for Cato.
Sem. Come, 'tis no matter; we shall do
without him.

He'll make a pretty figure in a triumph,
And serve to trip before the victor's chariot.
Syphax, I now may hope thou hast forsook
Thy Juba's cause, and wishest Marcia mine.
Sy. May she be thine as fast as thou wouldst

have her!

Sem. Syphax, I love that woman; though I

curse

Her and myself, yet, spite of me, I love her. Sy. Make Cato sure, and give up Utica, Cæsar will ne'er refuse thee such a trifle. But are thy troops prepar'd for a revolt? Does the sedition catch from man to man, And run among their ranks?

Sem. All, all is ready.

The factious leaders are our friends, that spread
Murmurs and discontents among the soldiers;
They count their toilsome marches, long fa-
tigues,

Unusual fastings, and will bear no more
This medley of philosophy and war.
Within an hour they'll storm the senate-house.
Sy. Meanwhile I'll draw up my Numidian
troops

Within the square, to exercise their arms,
And, as I see occasion, favor thee.

I laugh to think how your unshaken Cato
Will look aghast, while unforeseen destruction
Pours in upon him thus from every side.

So where our wide Numidian wastes extend, Sudden, th' impetuous hurricanes descend, Wheel through the air, in circling eddies play, Tear up the sands, and sweep whole plains

[blocks in formation]

Enter Marcus and Portius.

Marc. THANKS to my stars, I have not
rang'd about

-The wilds of life, ere I could find a friend :
Nature first pointed out my Portius to me,
And early taught me, by her sacred force,
To love thy person ere I knew thy merit,
Till what was instinct grew up into friendship.
Por. Marcus, the friendships of the world
are oft

Confed'racies in vice, or leagues of pleasure;
Ours has severest virtue for its basis,
And such a friendship ends not but with life.
Marc. Portius, thou know'st my soul in all
its weakness,

Then pr'ythee spare me on its tender side.

Indulge me but in love, my other passions
Shall rise and fall by virtue's nicest rules.
Por. When love's well-tim'd, 'tis not a fault
to love.

The strong, the brave, the virtuous, and the wise,

Sink in the soft captivity together.

I would not urge thee to dismiss thy passion, (I know 'twere vain), but to suppress its force, Till better times may make it look more graceful.

Marc. Alas! thou talk'st like one who never felt

Th' impatient throbs and longings of a soul
That pants and reaches after distant good.
A lover does not live by vulgar time:
Believe me, Portius, in my Lucia's absence
Life hangs upon me, and becomes a burden;
And yet, when I behold the charming maid,
I'm ten times more undone; while hope and
fear,

And grief, and rage, and love, rise up at once,
And with variety of pain distract me.

Por. What can thy Portius do to give thee help?

Marc. Portius, thou oft enjoy'st the fair one's

[blocks in formation]

temper. Marc. Wilt thou behold me sinking in my

[blocks in formation]
« ПредишнаНапред »