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What shall I answer thee ? my ravish'd heart
O’erflows with secret joy : I'd rather gain
Thy praise, O Cato, than Numidia's empire.
PORTIUS. Misfortune on misfortune ! grief on grief! My brother Marcus
Ha! what has he done?
Has he forsook his post ? has he given way?
Did he look tamely on, and let them pass ?
Scarce had I left my father, but I met him
Borne on the fields of his surviving soldiers,
Breathless and pale, and cover'd 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.
Nor did he fall before His sword had pierc'd 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 tliey keep afunder!
o Cato, arm thy soul with all its patience ;
See where the corpse of thy dead son approaches !
The citizens and senators, alarm’d,
Have gather'd round it, and attend it weeping.
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 earn’d by virtue!
Who would not be that youth? what pity is it
That we can die but once to serve our country!
Why fits this sadness on your brows, my friends?
I should have blush'd if Cato's house had stood
Secure, and flourish'd in a civil war:-
Portius, behold thy brother, and remember
Thy life is not thy own when Rome demands it.
Was ever man like this!
[ -4.de. CATO.
friends! Why mour 2 ycu thus ? let not a private loss
Amict 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.
O liberty ! O virtue ! O my country!
Behold that upright man! Rome fills his eyes
that flow'd not o'er his own dead son. [ Afide.
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 dy'd,
The Fabii fell, and the great Scipio's conquer'd :
Ev'n Pompey fought for Czesar. Oh, my friends!
How is the toil of fate, the work of ages,
The Roman empire fall’n! O curft ambition !
Fall'n into Cæsar's hands ! Our great fore-fathers
Had left him nought to conquer but his country.
While Cato lives, Cæsar will blush to see
Mankind enilay'd, and be asham’d of empire.
Cæsar alham'd! has not he feen Pharsalia !
Cato, 'tis time thou save thyself and us.
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've conquer'd Cato.
But oh! my friends, your safety fills iny heart
With anxious thoughts : a thousand secret terrors
Rise in my soul : how shall I save my friends ?
O Cæsar, I begin to fear thee.
Cæfar has mercy, if we aik it of him.
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,
That I myself, with tears, request it of him,
The virtue of my friends may pass unpunish'd.
Juba, my heart is troubled for thy fake.
Should I advise thee to regain Numidia,
Or feek the conqueror ?
J U BA.
If I forsake thee
Whilft I have life, may heaven abandon Juba !
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 haft seen
Thy fire engag'd in a corrupted state,
Wrestling with vice and faction : now thou seeft me
Spent, overpower'd, despairing of success;
Let me advise thee to retreat betimes
To thy paternal seat, the Sabine field,
Where the great Cenfor toild with his own hands,
And all our frugal ancestors were bless'd
In humble virtues, and a rural life.
There live retir'd; pray
Content thyself to be obscurely good.
When vice prevails, and impious men bear sway;
The post of honour is a private station.
I hope, my father does not recommend
A life to Portius, that he scorns himself.
Farewell, my friends! if there be any of you
That dares not trust the victor's clemency,
Know. there are ships prepar’d by my command,
(Their fails already opening to the winds)
That shall convey you to the wish'd-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 happlier climes and on a safer fhore,
Where Cæsar never shall approach us more.
There the brave youth, with love of virtue fir'd,
[Pointing to the body of his dead for. Who greatly in his country's caufe expird, Shall know he conquer'd. The firm patriot there (Who made the welfare of mankind his care) Though still, by faction, vice, and fortune, croft, Shall find the generous labour was not loft.