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What means this heaviness that hangs upon me *
This lethargy that creeps through all my senses
Nature oppress'd, and harrass'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'ring fit for Heav'n. Let guilt or fear
Disturb man's rest, Cato knows neither of 'em,
Indiff'rent in his choice to sleep or die.
But, hah I 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 me convey it hence.
Cato. Rash youth, forbear!
Por. Oh, let the pray'rs, th’ intreaties of your
Their tears, their common danger, wrest it from you!
Cato. Wouldst thou betray me? Wouldst thou give
A slave, a captive into Caesar's hands r
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. 'Tis well I again I'm master of myself.
Now, Caesar, 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 himself a passage,
And mock thy hopes—
Por. Oh, sir! forgive your son,
Whose grief hangs heavy on him. Oh, my fatherl
How am I sure it is not the last time
I e'er shall call you so I 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.
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 condućt:
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 re-
vives. [Exit Cato.
Oh, Marcial Oh, my sister, still there’s hopel
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. [Ex.
Mar. Oh, ye immortal powers I 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 shew mankind that goodness is your care.
Luc. Where is your father, Marcia, where is Cator Mar. Lucia, speak low, he is retir'd to rest. Lucia, I feel a gentle dawning hope Rise in my soul. We shall be happy still. Duc. Alas! I tremble when I think on Catol In every view, in every thought, I tremble I 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 bless'd, 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—
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 determin'd of thyself?
Mar. Let him but live, commit the rest to Heav'n.
Enter Lucius. Lucius. 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 its 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, He smil'd, and cry'd, Caesar, thou can'st not hurt me. Mar. His mind still labours with some dreadful thought. “Lucius. 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.”
Enter Jub A. Jub. Lucius, the horsemen are return'd 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 burnish'd helmets,
And covers all the field with gleams of fire.
Lucius. Marcia, ’tis time we should awake thy father.
Caesar is still dispos'd 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 ling'ring winds, a sail arriv'd
From Pompey's son, who through the realms of Spain
Calls out for vengeance on his father's death,
And rouses the whole natich 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.
Lucius. Cato, amidst his slumbers, thinks on Rome,
And in the wild disorder of his soul
Mourns o'er his country. Hah! a second groan–
Heav'n guard us all I
Mar. Alas! 'tis not the voice
Of one who sleeps; 'tis agonizing pain,
'Tis death is in that sound.—