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Cato. *Tis just to give applause, where’tis deserved: Thy virtue, prince, has stood the test of fortune, Like purest gold, that, tortured in the furnace, Comes out more bright, and brings forth all its weight. - Jub. What shall i'answer thee 2 I’d rather gain Thy praise, O Cato than Numidia’s empire.
Por. Misfortune on misfortune! grief on grief! My brother Marcus Cato. Ha! what has he done 2 Has he forsook his post Has he given way? Did he look tamely on, and let them pass 2 Por. Scarce had I left my father, but I met him Borne on the shields of his surviving soldiers, Breathless and pale, and cover'd o'er with wounds. Long, at the head of his few faithful friends, He stood the shock of a whole host of foes, Till, obstinately brave, and bent on death, Oppress'd with multitudes, he greatly fell. Cato. I’m satisfy’d. Por. Nor did he fall, before His sword had pierced thro’ the false heart of Syphax. Yonder he lies. I saw the hoary traitor Grin in the pangs of death, and bite the ground. Cato. Thanks to the gods, my boy has done his duty. —Portius, when I am dead, be sure you place His urn near mine. Por. Long may they keep asunder! Luc. Oh, Cato, arm thy soul with all its patience; See where the corpse of thy dead son approachcs! The citizens and senators, alarm’d, Have gather'd round it, and attend it weeping.
CATo meeting the Corpse.—SENATORs attending.
Cato. Welcome, my son Here lay him down, my friends,
Full in my sight, that I may view at leisure
The bloody corse, and count those glorious wounds,
—How beautiful is death, when earn’d by virtue!
Who would not be that youth 2 What pity is it,
That we can die but once, to serve our country
—Why sits this sadness on your brows, my friends?
I should have blush'd, if Cato's house had stood . .
Secure, and flourish’d in a civil war.
Portius, behold thy brother, and remember,
Thy life is not thy own, when Rome demands it.
Jub. Was ever man like this
Cato. Alas, my friends,
Why mourn you thus let not a private loss
Afflict your hearts. 'Tis Rome requires our tears,
The mistress of the world, the seat of empire,
j The nurse of heroes, the delight of gods, | That humbled the proud tyrants of the earth, |
} And set the nations free; Rome is no more.
; Oh, liberty!. Oh, virtue! Oh, my country
Cato. Whate'er the Roman virtue has subdued,
The sun’s whole course, the day and year, are Caesar's:
For him the self-devoted Decii died, .
The Fabii fell, and the great Scipios conquer'd :
Ev’n Pompey fought for Caesar. Oh, my friends,
How is the toil of fate, the work of ages,
The Roman empire, fall’n Oh, cursed ambition 1
Fall’n into Caesar’s hands ! Our great forefathers
Had left him nought to conquer but his country.
Jub. While Cato lives, Caesar will blush to see
| Mankind enslaved, and be ashamed of empire.
Cato. Caesar ashamed ! Has he not seen Pharsalia?
Luc. 'Tis time thou save thyself and us. -
Cato. Lose not a thoughton me; I’m out of danger:
Heaven will not leave me in the victor's hand.
Caesar shall never say, he conquer’d Cato.
But oh, my friends ! your safety fills my heart.
With anxious thoughts; a thousand secret terrors
Rise in my soul. How shall I save my friends :
*Tis now, O Caesar, I begin to fear thee! -
Luc. Caesar has mercy, if we ask it of him.
Cato. Then ask it, I conjure you; let him know,
Whate'er was done against him, Cato did it.
Add, if you please, that I request it of him,
That I myself, with tears, request it of him,-
The virtue of my friends may pass unpunish’d.
Juba, my heart is troubled for thy sake.
Should I advise thee to regain Numidia,
Or seek the conqueror —
Jub. If I forsake thee
Whilst I have life, may Heaven abandon Juba?
Cato. Thy virtues, prince, if I foresee aright,
Will one day make thee great; at Rome, hereafter,
*Twill be no crime to have been Cato’s friend.
Portius, draw near : my son, thou oft hast seen
Thy sire engaged in a corrupted state,
Wrestling with vice and faction: now thou see'st me
Spent, overpower'd, despairing of success;
Let me advise thee to retreat betimes
To thy paternal seat, the Sabine field;
Where the great Censor toil'd with his own hands,
And all our frugal ancestors were bless'd
In humble virtues, and a rural life;
There live retired, pray for the peace of Rome;
Content thyself to be obscurely good.
When vice prevails, and impious men bear sway,
The post of honour is a private station. -
Por. I hope my father does not recommend
A life to Portius that he scorns himself.
Cato. Farewell, my friends ! If there be any of you,
Who dare not trust the victor’s clemency,
Know there are ships prepared, by my command,
That shall convey you to the wish'd-for port.
Is there aught else, my friends, I can do for you?
The conqueror draws near. Once more, farewell! ife'er we meet hereafter, we shall meet in happier climes, and on a safer shore, Where Caesar never shall approach us more: ['Pointing to his dead Sox. There, the brave youth, with love of virtue fired, who greatly in his country’s cause expired, shall know he conquer’d. The firm patriot theres who made the welfare of mankind his care, Though still by faction, vice, and fortune crost, Shall find the gen’rous labour was not lost. [Exetent.
Caro solus, sitting in a thoughtful Postures in ho Hand, Élato's Book on the Immortality of the Soul. A drawn Sword on the Table, by him.
Cato. It must be so–Plato, thou reason'st wellElse whence this pleasing hope, this fond desire, This longing after immortality ? Or whence this secret dread, and inward horror, O; falling into nought : Why shrinks the soul Back on herself, and startles at destruction? 'Tis the divinity that stirs within us; *Tis Heav'n itself that points out an hereafter,
And intimates eternity to man.
Eternity! thou pleasing, dreadful thought!
Through what variety of untried being,
Through what new scenes and changes must we pass?
The wide, the unbounded prospect lies before me;
But shadows, clouds, and darkness, rest upon it.
1Here will I hold. If there’s a Power above us,
(And that there is, all Nature cries aloud
Through all her works) he must delight in virtue;
And that which he delights in must be happy.
But when, or where?—this world was made for Caesar:
I'm weary of conjectures—this must end them.
- [Laying his Hand on his Sword.
Thus am I doubly arm'd : my death and life,
My bane and antidote, are both before me.
This in a moment brings me to an end;
But this informs me I shall never die.
The soul, secured in her existence, smiles
At the drawn dagger, and defies its point.
The stars shall fade away, the sun himself
Grow dim with age, and nature sink in years,
But thou shalt flourish in immortal youth,
Unhurt amidst the war of elements, .
The wreck of matter, and the crush of worlds.
What means this heaviness, that hangs upon me?
This lethargy, that creeps through all my senses?
Nature, oppress'd and harass'd out with care,
Sinks down to rest. This once I’ll favour her,
That my awaken'd soul may take her flight,
Renew’d in all her strength, and fresh with life,
An offering fit for Heav'n. Let guilt or fear
T)isturb man’s rest, Cato knows neither of them,
Indiff'rent in his choice to sleep or die.
But, hah! who's this? my son! Why this intrusion?