Billeder på siden

Full of the guilt of his perfidious subjects.
Luc. Alas! poor prince! his fate deserves compassion.

Enter JUBA.

JUBA. I blush and am confounded to appear

Before thy presence, Cato.


JUBA. I'm a Numidian.

What's thy crime?

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

Of my false countrymen ?


Alas! young prince, Falsehood and fraud shoot up in every soil, The product of all climes-Rome has its Cæsars. JUBA. 'Tis generous thus to comfort the distrest. 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. JUBA. What shall I answer thee? my ravished heart O'erflows with secret joy: I'd rather gain

Thy praise, O Cato! than Numidia's empire.

Re-enter PORTIUS.

POR. Misfortune on misfortune! grief on grief!
My brother Marcus-


Hah! what has he done?
Has he forsook his post? has he given way?
Did he look tamely on, and let 'em pass?

POR. Scarce had I left my father, but I met him
Borne on the shields of his surviving soldiers,
Breathless and pale, and covered 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,
Opprest with multitudes, he greatly fell.
CATO. I'm satisfied.


Nor did he fall before

His sword had pierced through 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 thou place
His urn near mine.


Long may they keep asunder.
Luc. O Cato! arm thy soul with all its patience;
See where the corpse of thy dead son approaches!
The citizens and senators, alarmed,

Have gathered round it, and attend it weeping.
[CATO, meeting the corpse.

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 earned by virtue!
Who would not be that youth? 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 blushed if Cato's house had stood.
Secure, and flourished in a civil war.


-Portius, behold thy brother, and remember
Thy life is not thy own, when Rome demands it.
JUBA. Was ever man like this! [Aside.
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,
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!

JUBA. Behold that upright man! Rome fills his eyes
With tears, that flowed not o'er his own dead son.

CATO. Whate'er the Roman virtue has subdued,
The sun's whole course, the day and year, are Cæsar's.
For him the self-devoted Decii died,

The Fabii fell, and the great Scipios conquered;
Ev'n Pompey fought for Cæsar. Oh! my friends!
How is the toil of fate, the work of ages,
The Roman empire fall'n! Oh curst ambition!
Fall'n into Cæsar's hands! Our great forefathers
Had left him nought to conquer but his country.

JUBA. While Cato lives, Cæsar will blush to see
Mankind enslaved, and be ashamed of empire.
CATO. Cæsar ashamed! has not he seen Pharsalia ?
Luc. Cato, 'tis time thou save thyself and us.
CATO. Lose not a thought on me, I'm out of danger.
Heaven will not leave me in the victor's hand.
Cæsar shall never say, I conquered 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 Cæsar, I begin to fear thee.
Luc. Cæsar 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,
The virtue of my friends may pass unpunished.
-Juba, my heart is troubled for thy sake.
Should I advise thee to regain Numidia,
Or seek the conqueror ?-


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 seest me
Spent, overpowered, despairing of success:
Let me advise thee to retreat betimes

To thy paternal seat, the Sabine field,

Where the great Censor toiled with his own hands,
And all our frugal ancestors were blest

In humble virtues, and a rural life.

of Rome


There live retired, pray for the peace
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 clemeney,

Know, there are ships prepared by my command,

(Their sails already opening to the winds,)
That shall convey you to the wished-for port.
Is there aught else, my friends, I can do for you?
The conqueror draws near. Once more farewell!
If e'er we meet hereafter, we shall meet

In happier climes, and on a safer shore,
Where Cæsar never shall approach us more.

[Pointing to his dead son.
There the brave youth, with love of virtue fired,
Who greatly in his country's cause expired,
Shall know he conquered. The firm patriot there,
(Who made the welfare of mankind his care,)
Though still, by faction, vice, and fortune crost,
Shall find the generous labour was not lost.



SCENE I.-CATO solus, sitting in a thoughtful posture: in his hand Plato's Book on the Immortality of the Soul. drawn sword on the table by him.

IT must be so- -Plato, thou reason'st well!-
Else whence this pleasing hope, this fond desire,
This longing after immortality?

Or whence this secret dread, and inward horror,
Of falling into nought? why shrinks the soul
Back on herself, and startles at destruction?
"Tis the divinity that stirs within us;

"Tis heaven 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.
Here 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 Cæsar.
I'm weary of conjectures-This must end 'em.

[Laying his hand on his sword.

Thus am I doubly armed: 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 wars of elements,
The wrecks of matter, and the crush of worlds.
What means this heaviness that hangs upon me?
This lethargy that creeps through all my senses?
Nature, oppressed and harassed out with care,
Sinks down to rest. This once I'll favour her,
That my awakened soul may take her flight,
Renewed in all her strength, and fresh with life,
An offering fit for heaven. Let guilt or fear
Disturb man's rest: Cato knows neither of 'em,
Indifferent in his choice to sleep or die.



CATO. But, hah! how's this, my son? why this intrusion ? Were not my orders that I would be private?

[blocks in formation]


Alas! my father!

What means this sword? this instrument of death?
Let me convey it hence!

Rash youth, forbear!
the entreaties of your friends,

POR. Oh let the prayers, the entreaties of

Their tears, their common danger, wrest it from you. CATO. Wouldst thou betray me? wouldst thou give me up A slave, a captive, into Cæsar's hands?


Retire, and learn obedience to a father,

Or know, young man !—

Look not thus sternly on me; You know I'd rather die than disobey you. CATO. 'Tis well! again I'm master of myself. Now, Cæsar, let thy troops beset our gates, And bar each avenue, thy gathering fleets

« ForrigeFortsæt »