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There, the brave youth, with love of virtue fir'd,
[Pointing to the body of his dead Son. who greatly in his country's cause expird, shall know he conquer'd. The firm patriot there, (who made the welfare of mankind his care) tho still by faction, vice, and fortune crost, shall find the gen'rous labour was not lost. Exeunt.
ACT V. SCENE I.
A Chamber. CATO solus, sitting in a thoughtful posture; in his
hand, Plato's book on the immortality of the soul. A drawn sword on the table, by him.
Cato. It must be so, Plato thou reason'st well! else whence this pleasing hope, this fond desire, this langing 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? 't is the divinity that stirs within us; It is Heav'n itself that points out an hereafter, and intimates eternity to man. Eternity! thou pleasing, dreadful thought! Through what variety of untry'd 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 them.
[Laying his hand upon 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 inforins me I shall never die. The soul, secur'd in her existence, smiles at the drawn dagger, and defies it's 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 war of elements, the wreck of matter, and the crush of worlds. What means this heaviness, that hangs upon me? this lethargy, that creeps through all my senses ? nature, oppress’d and harass'd out with care, sinks down to rest. This once I'll favour her, that my awaken'd soul may take her flight, renew'd in all her strength, and fresh with life, an off’riog fit for Heav'n. Let guilt or fear disturb man's rest, Cato knows neither of them, indiff'rent in his choice to sleep or die.
Enter Portius. But ha! who's this? my son! Why this intrusion? were not my orders that I would be private? why am I disobey'd? Por.
Alas, my father! what means this sword, this instrument of death? let ine convey it hence. Cato.
Rash youth, forbear! Por. Oh, let th’pray’rs, th'entreaties of your friends, their tears, their common danger, wrest it from you.
Cato. Would'st thou betray me? Would'st thou give a slave, a captive, into Cæsar's hands? [me up retire, and learn obedience to a father,
or know, young man!Por.
Look not thus sternly on me; you know, I'd rather die than disobey you.
Cato. 'T is well! again I'm master of myself. Now, Cæsar, let thy troops beset our gates, and bar each avenue; thy gath’ring fleets o'erspread the sea, and stop up ev'ry port; Cato shall open to bimself a passage, and mock thy hopes. Por.
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 displeas'd, 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. [heart.
Por. Your words give comfort to my drooping
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 embark'd: and tell me, if the winds and seas befriend them. My soul is quite weigh'd down with care, and asks the soft refreshment of a moment's sleep. Por. My thoughts are more at ease, my heart revives.
[Erit. CATO. Enter MARCIA. Oh, Marcia! Oh, 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 retir'd to rest, and seems to cherish thoughts full of peace. He has dispatch'd me hence with orders, that bespeak a mind compos'd, and studious for the safety of his friends. Marcia, take care, that none disturb his slumbers.
[Exit. Marcia. Oh, ye immortal powers, that guard the watch round his couch, and soften his repose, [just, banish his sorrows, and becalm his soul with easy dreams; remember all his virtues, and shew mankind, that goodness is your care !
Enter Lucia. Luc. Where is your father, Marcia, where is Cato?
Marcia. Lucia, speak low, he is retir'd to rest. Lucia, I feel a gentle dawning hope, rise in iny soul. We shall be happy still.
Lucia. Alas, I tremble when I think on Cato! in every view, in every thought, I trenible! Cato is stern and awful as a god; he knows not how to wink at human frailty, or pardon weakness, that he never felt.
Marcia. Tho'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.
Lucia. 'Tis his consent alone can make us blest. Marcia, we both are equally involv'd in the same intricate, perplex'd, distress. The cruel hand of fate, that has destroy'd thy brother Marcus, whom we both lament
Marcia. And ever shall lament; unhappy youth!) Lucia. 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 determin’d of thyself?
Marcia, Let him but live, commit the rest to Heav'n.
Enter Lucius. Luc. Sweet are the slumbers of the virtuous man! oh, Marcia, I have seen thy godlike father: some power invisible supports his soul, and bears it up, in all it's wonted greatness. A kind, refreshing sleep, is fall’n upon him: I saw him stretch'd at ease! his fancy lost in pleasing dreams; as I drew near his couch, [me!” he smild, and cry'd, “ Cæsar, thou canst not hurt Marcia. His mind still labours with some dreadful
thought. Lucius. Lucia, why all this grief, these floods of dry up thy tears, my child; we all are safe (sorrow? while Cato lives—his presence will protect us.
Enter JUBA. Jub. Lucius, the horsemen are return'd from viewthe number, strength, and posture of our foes, [ing 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 burnish'd helmets, and cover all the field with gleams of fire.
Luc. Marcia, 't is time we should awake thy father. Cæsar is still dispos’d to give us terms, and waits at distance, till he hears from Cato.