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offspring or others? Our offspring most certainly; as Nature, or, in other words, Providence, has wisely contrived for the preservation of mankind. Now, does it not follow, from what has been said, that for a man to receive the news of his son's death with dry eyes, and to weep at the same time for the calamities of his country, is a wretched affectation, and a miserable inconsistency? Is not that, in plain English, to receive with dry eyes the news of the deaths of those for whose sake our country is a name so dear to us, and at the same time to shed tears for those for whose sakes our country is not a name so dear to us?"
But this formidable assailant is less resistible when he attacks the probability of the action, and the reasonableness of the plan. Every critical reader must remark, that Addison has, with scrupulosity almost unexampled on the English stage, confined himself in time to a single day, and in place to rigorous unity. The scene never changes, and the whole action of the play passes in the great hall of Cato's house at Utica. Much therefore is done in the hall, for which any other place had been more fit; and this impropriety affords Dennis many hints of merriment, and opportunities of triumph. The passage is long; but as such disquisitions are not common, and the objections are skilfully formed and vigorously urged, those who delight in critical controversy will not think it tedious.
“ Upon the departure of Portius, Sempronius makes but one soliloquy, and immediately in comes Syphax, and then the two politicians are at it immediately. They lay their heads together, with their snuff-boxes in their hands, as Mr. Bayes has it, and feague it away. But, in the midst of that wise scene, Syphax seems to give a seasonable caution to Sempronius :
Syph. But is it true, Sempronius, that your senate
Cato has piercing eyes.' “There is a great deal of caution shown indeed, in meeting in a governor's own hall to carry on their plot against him. Whatever opinion they have of his eyes, I suppose they have none of his ears, or they would never have talked at this foolish rate so
Gods! thou must be cautious.' “Oh! yes, very cautious: for if Cato should overhear you, and turn you off for politicians, Cæsar would never take you; no, Cæsar would never take you.
“When Cato, Act II. turns the senators out of the hall, upon pretence of acquainting Juba with the result of their debates, he appears to me to do a thing which is neither reasonable nor civil. Juba might certainly have better been made acquainted with the result of that debate in some private apartment of the palace. But the poet was driven upon this absurdity to make way for another; and that is, to give Juba an opportunity to demand Marcia of her father. But the quarrel and rage of Juba and Syphax, in the same act; the invectives of Syphax against the Romans and Cato; the advice that he gives Juba, in her father's hall, to bear away Marcia by force; and his brutal and clamorous rage upon his refusal, and at a time when Cato was scarcely out of sight, and perhaps not out of hearing, at least some of his guards or domestics must necessarily be supposed to be within hearing; is a thing that is so far from being probable, that it is hardly possible.
Sempronius, in the second Act, comes back once more in the same morning to the governor's hall, to carry on the conspiracy with Syphax against the governor, his country, and his family; which is so stupid, that it is below the wisdom of the 0-s, the
Mac's, and the Teague's; even Eustace Cummins himself would never have gone to Justice-hall, to have conspired against the government. If officers at Portsmouth should lay their heads together, in order to the carrying off 24 J— G—'s niece or daughter, would they meet in J— G—'s hall, to carry on that conspiracy? There would be no necessity for their meeting there, at least till they came to the execution of their plot, because there would be other places to meet in. There would be no probability that they should meet there, because there would be places more private and more commodious. Now there ought to be nothing in a tragical action but what is necessary or probable.
“But treason is not the only thing that is carried on in this hall; that, and love, and philosophy, take their turns in it, without any manner of necessity or probability occasioned by the action, as duly and as regularly, without interrupting one another, as if there were a triple league between them, and a mutual agreement that each should give place to, and make way for, the other, in a due and orderly succession.
“ We now come to the third Act. Sempronius, in this Act, comes into the governor's hall, with the leaders of the mutiny: but, as soon as Cato is gone, Sempronius, who but just before had acted like an unparalleled knave, discovers himself, like an egregious fool, to be an accomplice in the conspiracy.
• Semp. Know, villains, when sach paltry slaves presume To mix in treason, if the plot succeeds, They're thrown neglected by; but, if it fails, They ’re sure to die like dogs, as you shall do. Here, take these factious monsters, drag them forth To sudden death“ 'Tis true, indeed, the second leader says, there
24 Sir John Gibson, Lieutenant Governor of Portsmouth in the year 1710. He was much beloved in the army.
are none there but friends; but is that possible at such a juncture? Can a parcel of rogues attempt to assassinate the governor of a town of war, in his own house, in mid-day? and, after they are discovered, and defeated, can there be none near them but friends ? Is it not plain, from these words of Sempronius,
• Here, take these factious monsters, drag them forth
and from the entrance of the guards upon the word of command, that those guards were within ear-shot? Behold Sempronius then palpably discovered. How comes it to pass, then, that instead of being hanged up with the rest, he remains secure in the governor's hall, and there carries on his conspiracy against the government, the third time in the same day, with his old comrade Syphax, who enters at the same time that the guards are carrying away the leaders, big with the news of the defeat of Sempronius; though where he had his intelligence so soon is difficult to imagine? And now the reader may expect a very extraordinary scene; there is not abundance of spirit indeed, nor a great deal of passion, but there is wisdom more than enough to supply all defects.
Syph. Our first design, my friend, has proved abortive; Still there remains an after-game to play : My troops are mounted, their Numidian steeds Spuff up the winds, and long to scour the desert. Let but Sempronius lead us in our flight, We'll force the gate, where Marcus keeps his guard, And hew down all that would oppose our passage ; A day will bring us into Cæsar's camp.
Semp. Confusion! I have fail'd of half my purpose ; Marcia, the charming Marcia's left behind.' “ Well! but though he tells us the half purpose he
has failed of, he does not tell us the half that he has carried. But what does he mean by
• Marcia, the charming Marcia's left bebind ?' “ He is now in her own house! and we have neither seen her, nor heard of her, any where else since the play began. But now let us hear Syphax:
• What hinders then, but that you find her out,
And hurry her away by manly force ?' “ But what does old Syphax mean by finding her out? They talk as if she were as hard to be found as a hare in a frosty morning.
Semp. But how to gain admission !' “ Oh! she is found out then, it seems.
• But how to gain admission ! for access
Is given to none, but Juba and her brothers.' “ But,' raillery apart, why access to Juba ? For he was owned and received as a lover neither by the father nor by the daughter. Well; but let that pass. Syphax puts Sempronius out of pain immediately; and, being a Numidian, abounding in wiles, supplies him with a stratagem for admission, that, I believe, is a non-pareille.
Syph. Thou shalt have Juba's dress, and Juba's guards; The doors will open when Numidia's prince Şeems to appear before them.'
“Sempronius is, it seems, to pass for Juba in full day at Cato's house, where they were both so very well known, by having Juba's dress and his guards; as if one of the Marshals of France could pass for the duke of Bavaria at noon-day, at Versailles, by having his dress and liveries. But how does Syphax pretend to help Sempronius to young Juba's dress? Does he serve him in a double capacity, as general and master of his wardrobe? But why Juba's guards? For the devil of any guards has Juba appeared with