Page images

How thy account may stand, and what to answer?

Cal. I have turned my eyes inward upon myself,

Where foul offence and shame have laid all waste;

Therefore my soul abhors the wretched dwelling,
And longs to find some happy place of rest.
Sci. 'Tis justly thought, and worthy of that

That dwelt in antient Latian breasts, when Rome
Was mistress of the world. I would go on
And tell thee all my purpose; but it sticks
Here at my heart, aad cannot find a way.

Cal. Then spare the telling, if it be a pain, And write the meaning with your poignard here. Sci. Oh! truly guessed-sce'st thou, this trembling hand- [Holding up a dagger. Thrice justice urged-and thrice the slackening sinews

Forgot their office, and confessed the father.
At length the stubborn virtue has prevailed,
It must, it must be so-Oh! take it then,
[Giving the dagger.

And know the rest untaught!
Cal. I understand you.
It is but thus, and both are satisfied.

[She offers to kill herself: Sciolto catches

hold of her arm.

Sci. A moment, give me yet a moment's space. The stern, the rigid judge has been obeyed; Now nature, and the father, claim their turns. I've held the balance with an iron hand, And put off every tender human thought, To doom my child to death; but spare my eyes The most unnatural sight, lest their strings crack,

My old brain split, and I grow mad with horror! Cal. Ha! Is it possible! and is there yet Some little dear remain of love and tenderness For poor, undone Calista, in your heart!

Sei. Oh! when I think what pleasure I took in thee,

What joys thou gavest me in thy prattling in


[blocks in formation]

Sci. Would it were otherwise--but thou must die.

Cal. That I must die, it is my only comfort; Death is the privilege of human nature, And life without it were not worth our taking: Thither the poor, the prisoner, and the mourner, Fly for relief, and lay their burthens down. Come then, and take me into thy cold arms, Thou meagre shade; here let me breathe my last,

Charmed with my father's pity and forgiveness, More than if angels tuned their golden viols, And sung a requiem to my parting soul.

Sci. I am summoned hence; ere this my friends expect me.

There is I know not what of sad presage, That tells me, I shall never see thee more; If it be so, this is our last farewell, And these the parting pangs, which nature feels, When anguish rends the heart-strings-Oh, my daughter! [Erit Sciolto.

Cal. Now think, thou cursed Calista! now behold

The desolation, horror, blood, and ruin,
Thy crimes and fatal folly spread around,
That loudly cry for vengeance on thy head.
Yet Heaven, who knows our weak, imperfect na-

How blind with passions, and how prone to evil,
Makes not too strict inquiry for our offences,
But is atoned by penitence and prayer:
Cheap recompence! here 'twould not be recei-

Nothing but blood can make the expiation,
And cleanse the soul from inbred, deep pollu-


And see, another injured wretch is come, To call for justice from my tardy hand.


Alt. Hail to you, horrors! hail, thou house of death!

And thou, the lovely mistress of the shades, Whose beauty gilds the more than midnight dark


[blocks in formation]

I bore my load of infamy with patience,
As holy men do punishment from Heaven;
Nor thought it hard, because it came from thee.
Oh, then, forbid me not to mourn thy loss,
To wish some better fate had ruled our loves,
And that Calista had been mine, and true.

Cal. Oh, Altamont! 'tis hard for souls like

Haughty and fierce, to yield they've done amiss.
But, oh, behold! my proud disdainful heart
Bends to thy gentler virtue. Yes, I own,
Such is thy truth, thy tenderness, and love,
Such are the graces that adorn thy youth,
That, were I not abandoned to destruction,
With thee I might have lived for ages blessed,
And died in peace within thy faithful arms.

Alt. Then happiness is still within our reach.
Here let remembrance lose our past misfortunes,
Tear all records that hold the fatal story;
Here let our joys begin, from hence go on,
In long successive order.

Cal. What! in death?

Alt. Then, art thou fixed to die?-But be it so; We'll go together; my adventurous love Shall follow thee to those uncertain beings. Whether our lifeless shades are doomed to wander

In gloomy groves, with discontented ghosts; Or whether through the upper air we flit, And tread the fields of light; still I'll pursue thee, "Till fate ordains that we shall part no more. Cal. Oh, no! Heaven has some other better lot in store

To crown thee with. Live, and be happy long; Live, for some maid that shall deserve thy good


Some kind, unpractised heart, that never yet
Has listened to the false ones of thy sex,

Nor known the arts of ours; she shall reward thee,

Meet thee with virtues equal to thy own, Charm thee with sweetness, beauty, and with truth;

Be blest in thee alone, and thou in her.


Hor. Now, mourn indeed, ye miserable pair;
For now the measure of your woes is full.
Alt. What dost thou mean, Horatio?
Hor. Oh, 'tis dreadful!

The great, the good Sciolto dies this moment.
Cal. My father!

Alt. That's a deadly stroke, indeed.

Hor. Not long ago he privately went forth, Attended but by few, and those unbidden. I heard which way he took, and straight pursued him;

But found him compassed by Lothario's faction, Almost alone, amidst a croud of foes.

Too late we brought him aid, and drove them


Fre that, his frantic valour had provoked

[blocks in formation]

But at that beauty must of force relented,
Melted to pity, love, and to forgiveness?
Sci. Oh, turn thee from that fatal object, Al-
tamont !

Come near, and let me bless thee, ere I die,
To thee, and brave Horatio, I bequeath
My fortunes-Lay me by thy noble father,
And love my memory, as thou hast his;

For thou hast been my son-Oh, gracious Heaven!
Thou that hast endless blessings still in store
For virtue, and for filial piety,

Let grief, disgrace, and want be far away;
But multiply thy mercies on his head.

Let honour, greatness, goodness, still be with him,
And peace
in all his ways-
[He dies.

[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]

Por. THE dawn is overcast, the morning lowers, And heavily in clouds brings on the day; The great, the important day, big with the fate Of Cato and of Rome. Our father's death Would fill up all the guilt of civil war, And close the scene of blood. Already Cæsar Has ravaged more than half the globe, and sees Mankind grown thin by his destructive sword : Should he go farther, numbers would be wanting To form new battles, and support his crimes. Ye gods, what havock does ambition make Among your works!

Marc. Thy steady temper, Portius, Can look on guilt, rebellion, fraud, and Cæsar, In the calm lights of mild philosophy; I'm tortured, even to madness, when I think On the proud victor: every time he's named, Pharsalia rises to my view!-I see

His horse's hoofs wet with patrician blood!
Oh, Portius! is there not some chosen curse,
Some hidden thunder in the stores of Heaven,
Red with uncommon wrath, to blast the man,
Who owes his greatness to his country's ruin?

Por. Believe me, Marcus, 'tis an impious great


And mixed with too much horror to be envied; How does the lustre of our father's actions, Through the dark cloud of ills that cover him, Break out, and burn with more triumphant brightness!

His sufferings shine, and spread a glory round him;

Greatly unfortunate, he fights the cause
Of honour, virtue, liberty, and Rome.
His sword ne'er fell, but on the guilty head;
Oppression, tyranny, and power usurped,
Draw all the vengeance of his arm upon them.
Marc. Who knows not this! But what can
Cato do

The insulting tyrant prancing o'er the field, Against a world, a base, degenerate world, Strewed with Rome's citizens, and drenched in That courts the yoke, and bows the neck to Ca



[blocks in formation]

The ways of Heaven are dark and intricate,
Puzzled in mazes, and perplexed with errors;
Our understanding traces them in vain,
Lost and bewildered in the fruitless search;
Nor sees with how much art the windings run,
Nor where the regular confusion ends.

Marc. These are suggestions of a mind at ease: Oh, Portius, didst thou taste but half the griefs That wring my soul, thou couldst not talk thus coldly.

Passion unpitied, and successless love,
Plant daggers in my heart, and aggravate
My other griefs. Were but my Lucia kind-
Por. Thou seest not that thy brother is thy ri-

But I must hide it, for I know thy temper.


Now, Marcus, now thy virtue's on the proof:
Put forth thy utmost strength, work every nerve,
And call up all thy father in thy soul:
To quell the tyrant, Love, and guard thy heart
On this weak side, where most our nature fails,
Would be a conquest worthy Cato's son.

Marc. Portius, the counsel which I cannot take,

Instead of healing, but upbraids my weakness.
Bid me for honour plunge into a war
Of thickest foes, and rush on certain death,
Then shalt thou see that Marcus is not slow
To follow glory, and confess his father.
Love is not to be reasoned down, or lost
In high ambition or a thirst of greatness;
'Tis second life, it grows into the soul,
Warms every vein, and beats in every pulse;
I feel it here: my resolution melts-

Por. Behold young Juba, the Numidian prince,
With how much care he forms himself to glory,
And breaks the fierceness of his native temper,
To copy out our father's bright example.
He loves our sister Marcia, greatly loves her;
His eyes, his looks, his actions, all betray it;
But still the smothered fondness burns within

When most it swells, and labours for a vent,
The sense of honour, and desire of fame,
Drive the big passion back into his heart.
What! shall an African, shall Juba's heir
Reproach great Cato's son, and shew the world
A virtue, wanting in a Roman soul!

Marc. Portius, no more! your words leave
stings behind them,

Whene'er did Juba, or did Portius, shew
A virtue that has cast me at a distance,
And thrown me out in the pursuits of honour?
Por. Marcus, I know thy generous temper

Fling but the appearance of dishonour on it,
It straight takes fire, and mounts into a blaze.
Marc. A brother's sufferings claim a brother's

Por. Heaven knows I pity thee! Behold my


Even whilst I speak-do they not swim in tears? Were but my heart as naked to thy view, Marcus would see it bleed in his behalf.

Marc. Why then dost treat me with rebukes, instead

Of kind condoling cares, and friendly sorrow? Por. Oh, Marcus! did I know the way to ease Thy troubled heart, and mitigate thy pains, Marcus, believe me, I could die to do it.

Marc. Thou best of brothers, and thou best of friends!

Pardon a weak distempered soul, that swells
With sudden gusts, and sinks as soon in calms,
The sport of passions. But Sempronius comes:
He must not find this softness hanging on me.
[Exit Marc.


Sem. Conspiracies no sooner should be formed Than executed. What means Portius here? I like not that cold youth. I must dissemble, And speak a language foreign to my heart. [Aside. Good-morrow, Portius; let us once embrace, Once more embrace, while yet we both are free. To-morrow, should we thus express a friendship, Each might receive a slave into his arms. This sun, perhaps, this morning's sun's the last, That e'er shall rise on Roman liberty.

Por. My father has this morning called toge ther

To this poor hall, his little Roman senate,
(The leavings of Pharsalia) to consult
If he can yet oppose the mighty torrent
That bears down Rome, and all her gods before it,
Or must at length give up the world to Cæsar.

Sem. Not all the pomp and majesty of Rome
Can raise her senate more than Cato's
His virtues render our assembly awful;
They strike with something like religious fear,
And make even Cæsar tremble at the head
Of armies flushed with conquest. Oh, my Por-

Could I but call that wondrous man my father,
Would but thy sister Marcia be propitious
To thy friend's vows, I might be blessed indeed!
Por. Alas, Sempronius! wouldst thou talk of

To Marcia, whilst her father's life's in danger?
Thou mightst as well court the pale, trembling


When she beholds the holy flame expiring.

« EelmineJätka »