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Mutineers, Guards, &c.
MARCIA, Daughter to Cato,
MRS. OLDFIELD. LUCIA, Daughter to Lucius,
MRS. PORTER. SCENE, A large Hall in the Governor's Palace of Utica.
ACT 1.1-SCENE I.
And heavily in clouds brings on the day,
grown thin by his destructive sword;
1 While the present humour of idolizing Shakspeare continues, no quarter will be given to this poem; though it be the master-piece of the author, and was the pride of the age in which it was written.—But a time will come, when, not as a tragedy, indeed, (for which the subject was unfit,) but as a work of art and taste, it will be supremely admired by all candid and judicious critics.
? This opening of the drama is too solemn and declamatory. The author speaks, --not his “ Persona dramatis.” Horace has given a caution against this misconduct, in his ridicule of "Fortunam Priami cantabo, et nobile bellum,” which was addressed to the tragic, as well as epic poet.
Should he go further, numbers would be wanting
Among your works!
Thy steady temper, Portius,
Who owes his greatness to his country's ruin?
And mixt with too much horror to be envied.
Draw all the vengeance of his arm upon 'em.
Against a world, a base, degenerate world,
soul : : our father's fortune Would almost tempt us to renounce his precepts. | This a little palliates the indecorum, just now observed ; and may let us see that the poet himself was aware of it (so exact was his taste); but it does not wholly excuse it.
Por. Remember what our father oft has told us :
The ways of heaven are dark and intricate,
Nor where the regular confusion ends.
Oh, Portius ! didst thou taste but half the griefs
Lucia kind!Por. Thou seest not that thy brother is thy rival:
But I must hide it, for I know thy temper. [Aside.
Now, Marcus, now, thy virtue 's on the proof:
Would be a conquest worthy Cato's son.
Instead of healing, but upbraids my weakness.
I feel it here : my resolution melts-
With how much care he forms himself to glory,
But still the smothered fondness burns within him. · A strange, unnatural phrase ; which yet hath made its fortune in modern tragedy. Besides, if these words have any meaning, it was ridiculous to add " and aggravate my other griefs.”.
When most it swells, and labours for a vent,
A virtue wanting in a Roman soul ?
Whene'er did Juba, or did Portius, show
And thrown me out in the pursuits of honour ?
Fling but the appearance of dishonour on it,
It straight takes fire, and mounts into a blaze.
Ev’n whilst I speak-Do they not swim in tears ?
Marcus would see it bleed in his behalf.
Of kind, condoling cares, and friendly sorrow ?
Thy troubled heart, and mitigate thy pains,
Marcus, believe I could die to do it.
Pardon a weak, distempered soul, that swells
Than executed. What means Portius here?
Good-morrow, Portius ! let us once embrace,
! Cold youth.] Finely observed. Men of cold passions have quick eyes, and are no fit company for such men as Sempronius, whether they speak from the heart, or dissemble : hence the indignant reproof of his passion, and the abrupt departure from his flatteries.
To-morrow should we thus express our friendship,
That e'er shall rise on Roman liberty.
hall his little Roman senate,
Or must at length give up the world to Cæsar.
Can raise her senate more than Cato's presence.
To thy friend's vows, I might be blessed indeed!
To Marcia, whilst her father's life's in danger?
When she beholds the holy flame expiring.
The more I’m charmed. Thou must take heed, my
To make thy virtues, or thy faults, conspicuous.
On this important hour!-I'll straight away,
But we ’ll do more, Sempronius ; we ’ll deserve it. [Exit. 1 Wonderfully exact, both in the sentiment and expression.--The imagery, too, is in character; the speaker being a person of the purest virtue, and a Roman.