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Por. THE dawn is overcast, the morning lowers, And heavily in clouds brings on the day; The great, the important day, big with the fate Of Cato and of Rome. Our father's death Would fill up all the guilt of civil war, And close the scene of blood. Already Cæsar Has ravaged more than half the globe, and sees Mankind grown thin by his destructive sword: Should he go farther, numbers would be wanting To form new battles, and support his crimes. Ye gods, what havock does ambition make Among your works!
Marc. Thy steady temper, Portius, Can look on guilt, rebellion, fraud, and Cæsar, In the calm lights of mild philosophy; I'm tortured, even to madness, when I think On the proud victor: every time he's named, Pharsalia rises to my view!-I see
The insulting tyrant prancing o'er the field,
His horse's hoofs wet with patrician blood! Oh, Portius! is there not some chosen curse, Some hidden thunder in the stores of Heaven, Red with uncommon wrath, to blast the man, Who owes his greatness to his country's ruin?
Por. Believe me, Marcus, 'tis an impious great
And mixed with too much horror to be envied; How does the lustre of our father's actions, Through the dark cloud of ills that cover him, Break out, and burn with more triumphant brightness !
His sufferings shine, and spread a glory round
him; Greatly unfortunate, he fights the cause Of honour, virtue, liberty, and Rome. His sword ne'er fell, but on the guilty head; Oppression, tyranny, and power usurped, Draw all the vengeance of his arm upon them. Marc. Who knows not this! But what can Cato do
Against a world, a base, degenerate world, Strewed with Rome's citizens, and drenched in That courts the yoke, and bows the neck to Ca
Pent up in Utica, he vainly forms
Distracts my very soul! our father's fortune Would almost tempt us to renounce his precepts. Por. Remember what our father oft has told
The ways of Heaven are dark and intricate,
Marc. These are suggestions of a mind at ease: Oh, Portius, didst thou taste but half the griefs That wring my soul, thou couldst not talk thus coldly.
Passion unpitied, and successless love,
But I must hide it, for I know thy temper.
Now, Marcus, now thy virtue's on the proof:
Marc. Portius, the counsel which I cannot take,
Instead of healing, but upbraids my weakness.
Por. Behold young Juba, the Numidian prince,
When most it swells, and labours for a vent,
Marc. Portius, no more! your words leave
Whene'er did Juba, or did Portius, shew
Fling but the appearance of dishonour on it,
Por. Heaven knows I pity thee! Behold my
Even whilst I speak-do they not swim in tears? Were but my heart as naked to thy view, Marcus would see it bleed in his behalf.
Marc. Why then dost treat me with rebukes, instead
Of kind condoling cares, and friendly sorrow? Por. Oh, Marcus! did I know the way to ease Thy troubled heart, and mitigate thy pains, Marcus, believe me, I could die to do it.
Marc. Thou best of brothers, and thou best of friends!
Pardon a weak distempered soul, that swells
Sem. Conspiracies no sooner should be formed Than executed. What means Portius here? I like not that cold youth. I must dissemble, And speak a language foreign to my heart. [Aside. Good-morrow, Portius; let us once embrace, Once more embrace, while yet we both are free. To-morrow, should we thus express a friendship, Each might receive a slave into his arms. This sun, perhaps, this morning's sun's the last, That e'er shall rise on Roman liberty.
Por. My father has this morning called toge
To this poor hall, his little Roman senate,
Sem. Not all the pomp and majesty of Rome Can raise her senate more than Cato's presence. His virtues render our assembly awful;
They strike with something like religious fear,
Could I but call that wondrous man my father,
To Marcia, whilst her father's life's in danger? Thou mightst as well court the pale, trembling
When she beholds the holy flame expiring,
Sem. The more I see the wonders of thy race, | The more I'm charmed. Thou must take heed, my Portius;
The world has all its eyes on Cato's son;
Of Cato's virtues-But I'll try once more
Sem. Be sure to press upon him every motive.
On this important hour-I'll straight away,
Ambitiously sententious-But I wonder
To Rome's first honours. If'I give up Cato,
Syph. Sempronius, all is ready;
And wait but the command to change their mas
Sem. Believe me, Syphax, there's no time to waste;
Even while we speak our conqueror comes on,
Syph. Alas, he's lost!
He's lost, Sempronius; all his thoughts are full
Meanwhile I'll hasten to my Roman soldiers,
Blow up their discontent, till they break out
Syph. I'll try if yet I can reduce to reason This headstrong youth, and make him spurn at Cato.
The time is short; Cæsar comes rushing on usBut hold! young Juba sees me, and approaches.
Juba. Syphax, I joy to meet thee thus alone. I have observed of late thy looks are fallen, O'ercast with gloomy cares and discontent : Then tell me, Syphax, I conjure thee, tell me, What are the thoughts that knit thy brow in frowns,
And turn thine eye thus coldly on thy prince?
Syph. 'Tis not my talent to conceal my thoughts, Or carry smiles and sunshine in my face, When discontent sits heavy at my heart; I have not yet so much the Roman in me. Juba. Why dost thou cast out such ungenerous
Against the lords and sovereigns of the world?
Dost thou not see mankind fall down before | And if the following day he chance to find
And own the force of their superior virtue?
Above our own Numidia's tawny sons?
In which your Zama does not stoop to Rome.
Juba. These all are virtues of a meaner rank; Perfections that are placed in bones and nerves. A Roman soul is bent on higher views: To civilize the rude, unpolished world, And lay it under the restraint of laws; To make man mild, and sociable to man; To cultivate the wild, licentious savage, With wisdom, discipline, and liberal arts; The embellishments of life: virtues like these Make human nature shine, reform the soul, And break our fierce barbarians into men.
Syph. Patience, kind Heaven!-excuse an old man's warmth:
What are those wondrous civilizing arts,
There may'st thou see to what a god-like height
That traverses our vast Numidian desarts
A new repast, or an untasted spring, Blesses his stars, and thinks it luxury.
Juba. Thy prejudices, Syphax, wont discern What virtues grow from ignorance and choice, Nor how the hero differs from the brute. But grant that others could, with equal glory, Look down on pleasures, and the baits of sense, Where shall we find the man that bears affliction,
Great and majestic in his griefs, like Cato? Heavens! with what strength, what steadiness of mind,
He triumphs in the midst of all his sufferings!
Syph. 'Tis pride, rank pride, and haughtiness of soul;
I think the Romans call it stoicism.
Had not your royal father thought so highly
He had not fallen by a slave's hand inglorious :
Juba. Why dost thou call my sorrows up afresh? My father's name brings tears into my eyes. Syph. Oh, that you would profit by your fa ther's ills!
Juba. What wouldst thou have me do?
Juba. Syphax, I should be more than twice an orphan
Alas, he is dead! but can you e'er forget
Juba. Alas! thy story me'ts away my soul; That best of fathers! how shall I discharge The gratitude and duty which I owe him!
Syph. By laying up his counsels in your heart. Juba. His counsels bade ne yield to thy di
Then, Syphax, chide me in severest terms;
Juba. I do believe thou wouldst; but tell me
Syph. Fly from the fate that follows Cæsar's foes!
Juba. My father scorned to do it.
Syph. And therefore died.
The face of war, and make even horror smile!
Unbent your thoughts, and slackened them to
While, warm with slaughter, our victorious foe
Juba. Better to die ten thousand thousand And gentle wishes follow me to battle!
Than wound my honour.
Syph. Rather say your love.
The thought will give new vigour to my arm, Add strength and weight to my descending sword,
Juba. Syphax, I have promised to preserve my And drive it in a tempest on the foe.
Why wilt thou urge me to confess a flame,
'Tis easy to divert and break its force.
The pale, unripened beauties of the north.
Juba. 'Tis not a set of features, or complexion, The tincture of a skin, that I admire : Beauty soon grows familiar to the lover, Fades in his eye, and palls upon the sense. The virtuous Marcia towers above her sex: True, she is fair, (Oh, how divinely fair!) But still the lovely maid improves her charms With inward greatness, unaffected wisdom, And sanctity of manners; Cato's soul Shines out in every thing she acts or speaks, While winning mildness and attractive smiles, Dwell in her looks, and, with becoming grace, Soften the rigour of her father's virtue.
Syph. How does your tongue grow wanton in her praise!
But on my knees I beg you would considerJuba. Ha! Syphax, is it not she? She moves
And with her Lucia, Lucius's fair daughter.
Syph. Ten thousand curses fasten on them both!
Now will the woman, with a single glance, Undo what I have been labouring all this while. [Exit Syphax.
Enter MARCIA and LUCIA.
Mar. My prayers and wishes always shall attend
The friends of Rome, the glorious cause of vir
In pleasing dreams, and lose myself in love,
Juba. Hail, charming maid! How does thy Should not the sad occasion swallow up
My other cares, and draw them all into it?