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When vice prevails, and impious men bear sway,
The post of honour is a private station.
Por. I hope my father does not recommend
A life to Portius that he scorns himself.
Cato. Farewell, my friends ! If there be any of you
Who dare not trust the victor's clemency,
Know there are ships prepar’d by my command
(Their sails already op'ning 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 I
If e'er we meet hereafter, we shall meet
In happier climes, and on a safer shore,
Where Caesar never shall approach us more.
[Pointing to his dead son.
There, the brave youth, with love of virtue fir’d,
Who greatly in his country's cause expir'd,
Shall know he conquer’d. The firm partiot there,
Who made the welfare of mankind his care,
Though still by fačtion, vice, and fortune crost,
Shall find the gen’rous labour was not lost. [Exeunt.
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.
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 shrinks 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 I thou pleasing, dreadful thought 1
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
(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 l or where—this world was made for Caesar.
I'm weary of conjectures—this must end 'em.
[Laying his hand on his sword.
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 end;
But this informs me I shall never die.
The soul, secur'd 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 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 t
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! 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
Retire, and learn obedience to a father,
Or know, young man l—
Por. Look not thus sternly on me;
You know I'd rather die than disobey you.
Cato. 'Tis well 1 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 father
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 l 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.
Iuc. Alas! I tremble when I think on Catol
In every view, in every thought, I tremble
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