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SYPH. Sir, your great father never used me thus.
Alas! he's dead! but can you e'er forget
The tender sorrows, and the pangs of nature,
The fond embraces, and repeated blessings,
Which you drew from him in your last farewell?
Still must I cherish the dear, sad remembrance,
At once to torture and to please my soul.
The good old king at parting wrung my hand,
(His eyes brimful of tears,) then sighing cried,
Prithee, be careful of my son!--his grief
Swelled up so high, he could not utter more. JUBA. Alas! thy story melts 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 me yield to thy directions: Then, Syphax, chide me in severest terms, Vent all thy passion, and I'll stand its shock, Calm and unruffled as a summer sea,
When not a breath of wind flies o'er its surface. SYPH. Alas! my prince, I'd guide you to your safety. JUBA. I do believe thou wouldst: but tell me how? SYPH. Fly from the fate that follows Cæsar's foes. JUBA. My father scorned to do it.
And therefore died. JUBA. Better to die ten thousand thousand deaths, Than wound my honour.
Rather say, your love.
JUBA. Syphax, I've promised to preserve my temper.
Why wilt thou urge me to confess a flame
I long have stifled, and would fain conceal?
SYPH. Believe me, prince, though hard to conquer love,
'Tis easy to divert and break its force:
Absence might cure it, or a second mistress
Light up another flame, and put out this.
The glowing dames of Zama's royal court
Have faces flusht with more exalted charms;
The sun, that rolls his chariot o'er their heads,
Works up more fire and colour in their cheeks:
Were you with these, my prince, you'd soon forget
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 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.
Shines out in everything 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 virtues.
SYPH. How does your tongue grow wanton in her praise!
But on my knees I beg you would consider—
JUBA. Hah! Syphax, is 't not she ?-she moves this way:
And with her Lucia, Lucius's fair daughter.
My heart beats thick-I prithee, Syphax, leave me. SYPH. Ten thousand curses fasten on 'em both!
Now will this woman, with a single glance,
Undo what I've been labouring all this while.
JUBA, MARCIA, LUCIA.
JUBA. Hail, charming maid! how does thy beauty smooth The face of war, and make ev'n horror smile!
At sight of thee my heart shakes off its sorrows;
I feel a dawn of joy break in upon me,
And for a while forget the approach of Cæsar.
MAR. I should be grieved, young prince, to think my presence
Unbent your thoughts, and slackened 'em to arms,
While, warm with slaughter, our victorious foe
Threatens aloud, and calls you to the field.
JUBA. O Marcia, let me hope thy kind concerns
And gentle wishes follow me to battle!
The thought will give new vigour to my arm,
'The love-scenes in Cato are beautiful in themselves, and the play could not have made its fortune without them. But "Non erat hic locus," yet they are not so much out of place here, as they might have been elsewhere; for they serve, in some degree, to cover the defect of the fable, which is very undramatic; and could, I think, by no management, be worked up to a due degree of tragic distress.
Add strength and weight to my descending sword,
And drive it in a tempest on the foe.
MAR. My prayers and wishes always shall attend
The friends of Rome, the glorious cause of virtue,
And men approved of by the gods and Cato.
JUBA. That Juba may deserve thy pious cares,
I'll gaze for ever on thy godlike father,
Transplanting, one by one, into my life,
His bright perfections, till I shine like him.
MAR. My father never, at a time like this,
Would lay out his great soul in words, and waste
Such precious moments.
Thy reproofs are just,
Thou virtuous maid; I'll hasten to my troops,
And fire their languid souls with Cato's virtue.
If e'er I lead them to the field, when all
The war shall stand ranged in its just array,
And dreadful pomp; then will I think on thee!
O lovely maid, then will I think on thee!
And, in the shock of charging hosts, remember
What glorious deeds should grace the man who hopes
For Marcia's love.
Marcia, you're too severe :
How could you chide the young good-natured prince,
And drive him from you with so stern an air;
A prince that loves and dotes on you to death?
MAR. 'Tis therefore, Lucia, that I chide him from me.
His air, his voice, his looks, and honest soul
Speak all so movingly in his behalf,
I dare not trust myself to hear him talk.
Luc. Why will you fight against so sweet a passion,
And steel your heart to such a world of charms ?
MAR. How, Lucia! wouldst thou have me sink away
In pleasing dreams, and lose myself in love,
When every moment Cato's life's at stake?
Cæsar comes armed with terror and revenge,
And aims his thunder at my father's head:
Should not the sad occasion swallow up
My other cares, and draw them all into it?
Luc. Why have not I this constancy of mind,
Who have so many griefs to try its force?
Sure, nature formed me of her softest mould,
Enfeebled all my soul with tender passions,
And sunk me ev'n below my own weak sex:
Pity and love, by turns, oppress my heart.
MAR. Lucia, disburthen all thy cares on me,
And let me share thy most retired distress
Tell me who raises up this conflict in thee?
Luc. I need not blush to name them, when I tell thee
They're Marcia's brothers, and the sons of Cato.
MAR. They both behold thee with their sister's eyes;
And often have revealed their passion to me.
But tell me whose address thou favourest most;
I long to know, and yet I dread to hear it.
Luc. Which is it Marcia wishes for?
And yet for both ;-the youths have equal share
In Marcia's wishes, and divide their sister:
But tell me, which of them is Lucia's choice?
Luc. Marcia, they both are high in my esteem,
But in my love-why wilt thou make me name him?
Thou know'st it is a blind and foolish passion,
Pleased and disgusted with it knows not what-
MAR. O Lucia, I'm perplexed, oh tell me which
I must hereafter call my happy brother?
Luc. Suppose 'twere Portius, could you blame my choice?
-O Portius, thou hast stolen away my soul!
With what a graceful tenderness he loves!
And breathes the softest, the sincerest vows!
Complacency, and truth, and manly sweetness
Dwell ever on his tongue, and smooth his thoughts.
Marcus is over-warm, his fond complaints
Have so much earnestness and passion in them,
I hear him with a secret kind of horror,
And tremble at his vehemence of temper.
MAR. Alas, poor youth! how canst thou throw him from thee?
Lucia, thou know'st not half the love he bears thee;
Whene'er he speaks of thee, his heart's in flames,
He sends out all his soul in every word,
And thinks, and talks, and looks like one transported.
Unhappy youth! how will thy coldness raise
Tempests and storms in his afflicted bosom !
I dread the consequence.
Had Portius been the unsuccessful lover,
The same compassion would have fallen on him.
Luc. Was ever virgin love distressed like mine!
Portius himself oft falls in tears before me,1
As if he mourned his rival's ill success,
Then bids me hide the motions of my heart,
Nor show which way it turns. So much he fears
The sad effects that it would have on Marcus.
MAR. He knows too well how easily he's fired,
And would not plunge his brother in despair,
But waits for happier times, and kinder moments.
Luc. Alas! too late I find myself involved
In endless griefs, and labyrinths of woe,
Born to afflict my Marcia's family,
And sow dissension in the hearts of brothers.
Tormenting thought! it cuts into my soul.
MAR. Let us not, Lucia, aggravate our sorrows,
But to the gods permit the event of things.
Our lives, discoloured with our present woes,
May still grow white, and smile with happier hours.
So the pure limpid stream,2 when foul with stains
Of rushing torrents and descending rains,
Works itself clear, and as it runs, refines;
Till, by degrees, the floating mirror shines,
Reflects each flower that on the border grows,
And a new heaven in its fair bosom shows.
Against your brother Portius.
1 Falls in tears.] It should be, "falls into tears;" he might have said, Oft Portius' self falls into tears before me.”
2 So the pure limpid stream.] A beautiful simile in the mouth of a lady, and the most natural that could be in the mouth of a Roman lady, who had frequent opportunities of seeing the yellow Tiber, as it was called, contract, and discharge its colour.
That no grace might be wanting, we have it introduced by a metaphor taken from this circumstance,
"Our lives discoloured."
I question if there be another instance of so consummate art, and taste, in any writer.