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O'erspread the sea, and stop up every port;
Cato shall open to himself a passage,
And mock thy hopes-
Oh, sir! forgive your son,
Whose grief hangs heavy on him! Oh my father!
How am I sure it is not the last time
I e'er shall call you so! be not displeased,
Oh be not angry with me whilst I weep,
And, in the anguish of my heart beseech you
To quit the dreadful purpose of your soul!
CATO. Thou hast been ever good and dutiful. [Embracing him.
Weep not, my son. All will be well again.
The righteous gods, whom I have sought to please,
Will succour Cato, and preserve his children.
POR. Your words give comfort to my drooping heart.
CATO. Portius, thou may'st rely upon my conduct.
Thy father will not act what misbecomes him.
But go, my son, and see if aught be wanting
Among thy father's friends; see them embarked;
And tell me if the winds and seas befriend them.
My soul is quite weighed down with care, and asks
The soft refreshment of a moment's sleep.
POR. My thoughts are more at ease, my heart revives.
POR. O Marcia, O my sister, still there's hope!
Our father will not cast away a life
So needful to us all, and to his country.
He is retired to rest, and seems to cherish
Thoughts full of peace. He has despatched me hence
With orders, that bespeak a mind composed,
And studious for the safety of his friends.
Marcia, take care that none disturb his slumbers.
MAR. O ye immortal powers, that guard the just,
Watch round his couch, and soften his repose,
Banish his sorrows, and becalm his soul
With easy dreams; remember all his virtues!
And show mankind that goodness is your care.
Luc. Where is your father, Marcia, where is Cato ?
MAR. Lucia, speak low, he is retired to rest.
Lucia, I feel a gently-dawning hope
Rise in my soul. We shall be happy still.
Luc. Alas! I tremble when I think on Cato,
In every view, in every thought I tremble!
Cato is stern, and awful as a god,
He knows not how to wink at human frailty,
Or pardon weakness that he never felt.
MAR. Though stern and awful to the foes of Rome,
He is all goodness, Lucia, always mild,
Compassionate, and gentle to his friends.
Fill'd with domestic tenderness, the best,
The kindest father! I have ever found him
Easy, and good, and bounteous to my wishes.
Luc. 'Tis his consent alone can make us blest.
Marcia, we both are equally involved
In the same intricate, perplext distress.
The cruel hand of fate, that has destroyed
Thy brother Marcus, whom we both lament-
MAR. And ever shall lament, unhappy youth!
Luc. Has set my soul at large, and now I stand
Loose of my vow. But who knows Cato's thoughts?
Who knows how yet he may dispose of Portius,
Or how he has determined of thyself?
MAR. Let him but live! commit the rest to heaven.
Luc. Sweet are the slumbers of the virtuous man!
O Marcia, I have seen thy godlike father:
Some power invisible supports his soul,
And bears it up in all its wonted greatness.
A kind refreshing sleep is fall'n upon him:
I saw him stretched at ease, his fancy lost
In pleasing dreams; as I drew near his couch,
He smiled, and cried, Cæsar, thou canst not hurt me. MAR. His mind still labours with some dreadful thought Luc. Lucia, why all this grief, these floods of sorrow?
Dry up thy tears, my child, we all are safe
While Cato lives-his presence will protect us.
JUBA. Lucius, the horsemen are returned from viewing
The number, strength, and posture of our foes,
Who now encamp within a short hour's march.
On the high point of yon bright western tower
We ken them from afar, the setting sun
Plays on their shining arms and burnished helmets,
And covers all the field with gleams of fire.
Luc. Marcia, 'tis time we should awake thy father.
Cæsar is still disposed to give us terms,
And waits at distance till he hears from Cato.
Portius, thy looks speak somewhat of importance,
What tidings dost thou bring? methinks I see
Unusual gladness sparkling in thy eyes.
POR. As I was hasting to the port, where now
My father's friends, impatient for a passage,
Accuse the lingering winds, a sail arrived
From Pompey's son, who through the realms of Spain
Calls out for vengeance on his father's death,
And rouses the whole nation up to arms.
Were Cato at their head, once more might Rome
Assert her rights, and claim her liberty.
But, hark! what means that groan! Oh give me way, And let me fly into my father's presence. [Exit Portius. Luc. Cato, amidst his slumbers, thinks on Rome,
And in the wild disorder of his soul
Mourns o'er his country.-Hah! a second groan !—
Heaven guard us all-
Alas! 'tis not the voice
Of one who sleeps! 'tis agonizing pain,
'Tis death is in that sound-
Oh sight of woe!
O Marcia, what we feared is come to pass!
Cato is fall'n upon his sword-
Hide all the horrors of thy mournful tale,
And let us guess the rest.
I've raised him up,
And placed him in his chair, where, pale and faint,
He gasps for breath, and, as his life flows from him,
Demands to see his friends. His servants weeping,
Obsequious to his orders, bear him hither.
[The back scene opens, and discovers Cato. MAR. O heaven, assist me in this dreadful hour To pay the last sad duties to my father. JUBA. These are thy triumphs, thy exploits, O Cæsar! Luc. Now is Rome fall'n indeed!
[Cato brought forward in his chair.
Here set me down-
Portius, come near me are my friends embarked?
Can anything be thought of for their service?
Whilst I yet live, let me not live in vain.
-O Lucius, art thou here ?—thou art too good!
Let this our friendship live between our children;
Make Portius happy in thy daughter Lucia.
Alas! poor man, he weeps !-Marcia, my daughter-
Oh bend me forward Juba loves thee, Marcia.
A senator of Rome, while Rome survived,
Would not have match'd his daughter with a king,
But Cæsar's arms have thrown down all distinction;
Whoe'er is brave and virtuous, is a Roman.-
-I'm sick to death-Oh when shall I get loose
From this vain world, the abode of guilt and sorrow!
-And yet methinks a beam of light breaks in
On my departing soul. Alas! I fear
I've been too hasty. O ye powers that search
The heart of man, and weigh his inmost thoughts,
If I have done amiss, impute it not !—
The best may err, but you are good, and-oh!
Luc. There fled the greatest soul that ever warmed
A Roman breast. O Cato! O my friend!
Thy will shall be religiously observed.
But let us bear this awful corpse to Cæsar,
And lay it in his sight, that it may stand
1 Alas! I fear I've been too hasty.] This sentiment is not in character, but the amiable author, ever attentive to the interests of religion and virtue, chose, for the sake of these, to violate decorum.
A fence betwixt us and the victor's wrath;
Cato, though dead, shall still protect his friends.
From hence, let fierce contending nations know
What dire effects from civil discord flow.
'Tis this that shakes our country with alarms,
And gives up Rome a prey to Roman arms,
Produces fraud, and cruelty, and strife,
And robs the guilty world of Cato's life.
SPOKEN BY MRS. PORTER.
WHAT odd fantastic things we women do!
Who would not listen when young lovers woo?
But die a maid, yet have the choice of two!
Ladies are often cruel to their cost;
To give you pain, themselves they punish most.
Vows of virginity should well be weighed;
Too oft they're cancelled, though in convents made.
Would you revenge such rash resolves-you may :
Be spiteful-and believe the thing we say;
We hate you when you're easily said nay.
How needless, if you knew us, were your fears!
Let love have eyes, and beauty will have ears.
Our hearts are formed as you yourselves would choose,
Too proud to ask, too humble to refuse:
We give to merit, and to wealth we sell;
He sighs with most success that settles well.
The woes of wedlock with the joys we mix;
'Tis best repenting in a coach and six.
Blame not our conduct, since we but. pursue
Those lively lessons we have learn'd from
Your breasts no more the fire of beauty warms,
But wicked wealth usurps the power of charms;
What pains to get the gaudy thing you hate,
To swell in show, and be a wretch in state!
At plays you ogle, at the ring you bow;
Ey'n churches are no sanctuaries now:
There, golden idols all your vows receive,
She is no goddess that has nought to give.