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Marcia, Daughter of Cato,

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Mrs. Porter.

Lucia, Daughter of Lucius,

Scene, a large Hall in the Governor's Palace of Utica.



Por. The dawn is over-cast, the morning lowers, and heavily in clouds brings on the day, the great, the important day; big with the fate of Cato and Rome.-Our father's death would fill up all the guilt of civil war,

and close the scene of blood. Already Cæsar has ravag'd more than half the globe, and sees mankind grown thin by his destructive sword: should he go further, numbers would be wanting to form new battles, and support his crimes. Ye gods, what havock does ambition make among your works!

Mar. Thy steady temper, Portius,

can look on guilt, rebellion, fraud, and Cæsar, in the calm lights of mild philosophy;

I'm tortur'd, ev'n to madness, when I think on the proud victor: every time he's nam'd Pharsalia rises to my view-I see

th' insulting tyrant prancing o'er the field


strow'd with Rome's citizens, and drench'd in slaughhis 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, 't is an impious greatness and mixt with too much horror to be envy'd: how does the lustre of our father's actions, through the dark cloud of ills that cover him, break out, and burn with mure 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 usurp'd, draw all the vengeance of his arm upon


Mar. Who knows not this? But what can Cato do against a world, a base degenerate world,

that courts the yoke, and bows the neck to Cæsar? Pent up in Utica, he vainly forms

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a poor epitome of Roman greatness,
and, cover'd with Numidian guards, directs
a feeble army, and an empty senate,
remnants of mighty battles sought in vain.
By heavens, such virtues, join'd with such success,
my very soul: our father's fortune

would almost tempt us to renounce his precepts,
Por. Remember what our father oft has told us:
ways of heaven are dark and intricate,

puzzled in mazes, and perplex'd with errors, our understanding traces them in vain,

Jost and bewilder'd in the fruitless search;
nor sees with how much art the windings run,
nor where the regular confusion ends.

Mar. These are suggestions of a mind at case: oh Portius! didst thou taste but half the griefs that wring my soul, thou could'st not talk thus coldly. Passion unpity'd and successless love

plant daggers in my heart, and aggravate my other griefs. Were but my Lucia kind! Por. Thou see'st not that thy brother is thy rival: but I must hide it, for I know thy temper.

[Aside. 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 sons.

Mar. Portius, the counsels 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 reason'd down, or lost in high ambition, and a thirst of greatness; 't is 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 be 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 smother'd fondness burns within him; 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 sons, and shew the world a virtue wanting in a Roman soul?

[behind them. Mar. Portius, no more! your words leave stings Whene'er did Juba, or did Portius, shew

a virtue that has cast me at a distance, and throw me out in the pursuits of honour? Por. Marcus, I know thy generous temper well; fling but th' appearance of dishonour on it, it strait takes fire, and mounts, into a blaze.

Mar. A brother's sufferings claim a brother's pity. Por, Heaven knows I pity thee: behold my eyes ev'n 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.

Man, Why then dost treat me with rebukes, instead of kind condoling cares and friendly sorrows? Por. O Marcus! did I know the way to ease thy troubled heart, and mitigate thy pains, Marcus, believe me, I could die to do it.

Mar. Thou best of brothers, and thou best of friends! pardon a weak distemper'd 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.


Sem. Conspiracies no sooner should be form'd than executed. What means Portius here?

I like not that cold youth. I must dessemble, and speak a language foreign to my heart.

Sem. Good morrow, Portius! let us once embrace, once more embrace; whilst yet we both are free. To-morrow should we thus express our friendship, each might receive a slave into his arms.

This sun perhaps, this morning sun's the last that e'er shall rise on Roman liberty.

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Por. My father has this morning call'd together to this poor hall his little Roman senate

(the leavings of Pharsalia), to consult

if yet he can 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 presence. His virtues render our assembly awful,

they strike with something like religious fear, and make ev❜n Cæsar tremble at the head of armies flush'd with conquest; O my Portius, could I but call that wondrous man my father, would but thy sister Marcia be propitious to thy friend's vows; I might be bless'd indeed! Por. Alas! Sempronius, would'st thou talk of love to Marcia, whilst her fatber's life's in danger? Thou might'st as well court the pale trembling vestal, when she beholds the holy flame expiring.


Sem. The more I see the wonders of thy race, the more I'm charm'd. Thou must take heed my the world has all it's eyes on Cato's sons. Thy father's merit sets thee up to view, and shews thee in the fairest point of light, to make thy virtues or thy faults conspicuous. Por. Well dost thou seem to check my lingering

on this important hour.-I'll strait away;


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