Page images
PDF
EPUB

Are they not only to disguise our passions,
To sit our looks at variance with our thoughts,
To check the starts and sallies of the soul,
And break off all its commerce with the tongue ?
In short, to change us into other creatures,
Than what our nature and the gods design'd us?

JUB. To strike thee dumb, turn up'thy eyes to Cato!
There may'st thou see to what a godiikë height
The Roman virtues list

up

mortal man.
While good, and just, and anxious for his friends;
He's still severely bent against himself ;
Renouncing sleep, and rest, and food, and ease,
He strives with thurst and hunger, toil and heat:
And when his fortune sets before him all
The pomps and pleasures that his soul can wish,
His rigid virtue will accept of none.

SYPH. Believe me, prince, there's not an African
That traverses our vast Numidian deserts
In quest of prey, and lives upon his bow,
But better practises these boasted virtues.
Coarse are his meals, the fortune of the chase ;
Amidst the running stream he slakes his thirst
Toils all the day, and at th? approach of night
On the first friendly bank he throws him down,
Or rests his head upon a rock till morn ;
Then rises fresh, pursues his wonted game,
And if the following day he chance to find
A new repast, or an untasted spring,
Blesses his stars, and thinks it luxury.

JUB. Thy prejudices, Syphax, won't discern
What virtues grow from ignorance and choice,
Nor how the hero differs from the brute.
But grant that others could with equal glory
Look down on pleasures, and the baits of sense ;
Where shall we find the man that bears affliction,
Great and majestie in his griefs, like Cato?
Hcav'ns !with what strength, what steadiness of mind,
He triumphs in the midst of all his suffyrings!
How does he rise against a load of woes,
And thank the gods that threw the weight upon him!

SYPH. 'Tis pride, rank pride, and haughtiness of soul :
I think the Romans call it stoicism.
Had not your royal father thought so highly
Of Roman virtue, and of Cato's cause,
He had not fall'n by a slav's hand, inglorious;
Nor would his slaughter'd army now have lain
On Afric sands, disfigur'd with their wounds,
To gorge the wolves and vultures of Numidia.

JUB. Why dost thou call my sorrows up afresh?
My father's name brings tears into mine eyes.

SYPH. Oh, that you'd profit by your father's ills !
JUB. What would'st thou have me do?
SYPH, Abandon Cato.

JUB. Syphax, I should be more than twice an orphan
By such a loss.

SYPH. Ay, there's the tie that binds you !
You long to call him father. Marcia's charms
Work in your heart unseen, and plead for Cato.
No wonder you are deaf to all I say,

JUB. Syphax, your zeal becomes importunate;
I've hitherto permitted it to rave,
And talk at large ; but learn to keep it in,
Least it should take more freedom than I'll give it.

Syph. Sir, your great father never us'd me thus,
Alas, he's dead! but can you c'er forget
The tender sorrows, and the pangs of nature,
The fond embraces, and repeated blessings,
Which you drew from him in your last farewel ?
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 brim full of tears) then sighing cry'd,
Prythee be careful of my son !His grief
Swell'd up so high, he could not utter more.

1

1

JÜB. Alas, the 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.

JUB. 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 uurused 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!
JUB. I do believe thou wouldst; but tell me how ?
SYPH.- Fly from the fate that follows Caesar's foes.
JUB: My father scorn'd to do it.
SYPH. And therefore dy'd.

JUB. Better to die ten thousand thousand deaths,
Than wound

my

honour. SYPH. Rather say your love.

JUB. Syphax, I've promis'd 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, tho’ hard to conquer love,
Tis easy to divert and break its force :
Abscence 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 flush'd with more exalted charms S;
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, unripen'd beauties of the North.

JUB. I'is not a set of feafures, or complexion,
The tincture of a skin, that I admire,
Beauty soon grows fa niliar to the lover,
Fades in his eye, and palls upon the sense.
The virtuous Marcia toiv'rs above her. sex.:
True, she is fair (Oh; hoiv divinely fair!)
But still the lovely maid improves her charms

With inward greatness, unaffected wisdom,
And sanctity of manners. Cato's soul
Shines out in ev'ry thing 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.
SYPx. How does your tongue grow wanton in her
praise !

CATO.

10000

CHAP. VIII.

CATO'S SOLILOQUY.

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 shripks 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 !
Thro' what variety of untry'd being,
Thro’ what new scenes and changes must we pass!
The wide, th' unbounded prospect liés before me ;
But shadows, clouds, and darkness, rest upon it.
Here will I bold. If there's a pow'r above us
(And that there is, all Nature cries aloud
Thro? all her works) he must delight in virtue;
And that wbich 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.

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 endi
But this informs me I shall never die.
The soul securd 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 shall flourish in immortal youth,
Unhurt amidst the war of elements,
The wreck of matter, and the crush of worlds,

CATO.

0000000

CHAP. IX.

SOUTHAMPTON AND ESSEX,

Officer. MY Lord,
We bring an order for your execution,
And hope you are prepard ; for you must die
This very hour.

South. Indeed! the time is sudden !

Ess. Is death th' event of all my flatter'd hope ? False Sex! and Queen more perjur'd than them all! But die I will without the least complaint, My soul shall vanish silent as the dew, Attracted by the sun from verdant fields, And leaves of weeping flowers. Come, my dear friend, Partner in fate, give me thy body in These faithful arms, and now let me tell thee, And you, my Lords, and Heaven my witness too, I have no weight, no heaviness on my soul, But that I've lost my dearest friend his life.

South. And I protest, by the same powers divine, And to the world, 'tis all my happiness,

« PreviousContinue »