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But to the gods submit th' event of things.

Our lives, discolour'd with our present woes,

May still grow bright, and smile with happier hours.
So the pure limpid stream, when foul with stains
Of rushing torrents, and descending rains,
Works itself clear, and as it runs, refines,
'Till, by degrees, the floating mirror shines,
Reflects each flow'r that on the border grows,
And a new heav'n in its fair bosom shows. [Exeunt.


The Senate. LUCIUS, SEMPRONIUS, and Senators.


ROME still survives in this assembled senate!

Let us remember we are Cato's friends,

And act like men who claim that glorious title.
Luc. Cato will soon be here, and open to us
Th' occasion of our meeting. Hark! he comes !

[d sound of trumpets.

May all the guardian gods of Rome direct him!

Enter CATO.

Cato. Fathers, we once again are met in council : Cæsar's approach has summon'd us together, And Rome attends her fate from our resolves.

How shall we treat this bold aspiring man?

Success still follows him, and backs his crimes;
Pharsalia gave him Rome, Egypt has since
Receiv'd his yoke, and the whole Nile is Cæsar's.
Why should I mention Juba's overthrow,

And Scipio's death? Numidia's burning sands

Still smoke with blood. 'Tis time we should decree What course to take.

Our foe advances on us,

And envies us even Lybia's sultry desarts.

Fathers, pronounce your thoughts: are they still fix'd To hold it out and fight it to the last?

Or are your hearts subdu'd at length, and wrought By time, and ill success, to a submission ? Sempronius, speak.

Sem. My voice is still for war.

Gods! can a Roman senate long debate
Which of the two to choose, slav'ry or death!
No, let us rise at once, gird on our swords,
And at the head of our remaining troops,
Attack the foe, break through the thick array
Of his throng'd legions, and charge home upon him.
Perhaps some arm, more lucky than the rest,

May reach his heart, and free the world from bondage.
Rise, fathers, rise! 'Tis Rome demands your help:
Rise, and revenge her slaughter'd citizens,

Or share their fate! The corpse of half her senate
Manure the fields of Thessaly, while we
Sit here delib'rating in cold debates,

If we should sacrifice our lives to honour,
Or wear them out in servitude and chains.
Rouse up, for shame! our brothers of Pharsalia

Point at their wounds, and cry aloud-To battle!
Great Pompey's shade complains that we are slow;
And Scipio's ghost walks unreveng'd amongst us.
Cato. Let not a torrent of impetuous zeal
Transport thee thus beyond the bounds of reason:
True fortitude is seen in great exploits

That justice warrants, and that wisdom guides,
All else is tow'ring frenzy and distraction.
Are not the lives of those who draw the sword
In Rome's defence intrusted to our care?
Should we thus lead them to a field of slaughter,
Might not th' impartial world with reason say,
We lavish'd at our deaths the blood of thousands,
To grace our fall, and make our ruin glorious?
Lucius, we next would know what's your opinion?
Luc. My thoughts, I must confess, are turn'd on

Already have our quarrels fill'd the world

With widows, and with orphans: Scythia mourns
Our guilty wars, and earth's remotest regions
Lie half unpeopled by the feuds of Rome :
'Tis time to sheath the sword, and spare mankind.
It is not Cæsar, but the gods, my fathers,

The gods declare against us, and repel

Our vain attempts. "To urge the foe to battle,
"(Prompted by blind revenge and wild despair)
"Were to refuse th' awards of Providence,
"And not to rest in Heaven's determination."
Already have we shewn our love to Rome,
Now let us shew submission to the gods.

We took up arms, not to revenge ourselves,

But free the commonwealth: when this end fails,
Arms have no further use. Our country's cause,

That drew our swords, now wrests 'em from our hands,

And bids us not delight in Roman blood
Unprofitably shed. What men could do,
Is done already: heav'n and earth will witness,
If Rome must fall, that we are innocent.

"Sem. This smooth discourse, and mild behaviour,


"Conceal a traitor-something whispers me "All is not right-Cato, beware of Lucius."

[Aside to Cato.

Cato. Let us appear nor rash nor diffident;
Immod'rate valour swells into a fault;
And fear admitted into public councils
Betrays like treason. Let us shun 'em both.
Fathers, I cannot see that our affairs

Are grown thus desp'rate: we have bulwarks roundus;
Within our walls are troops inur'd to toil
In Afric's heat, and season'd to the sun;
Numidia's spacious kingdom lies behind us,
Ready to rise at its young prince's call.
While there is hopes, do not distrust the gods;
But wait at least till Cæsar's near approach
Force us to yield. 'Twill never be too late
To sue for chains, and own a conqueror.
Why should Rome fall a moment ere her time;
No, let us draw her term of freedom out

In its full length, and spin it to the last,
So shall we gain still one day's liberty:
And let me perish, but in Cato's judgment,
A day, an hour, of virtuous liberty,
Is worth a whole eternity in bondage.


Marc. Fathers, this moment, as I watch'd the gate, Lodg'd on my post, a herald is arriv'd

From Cæsar's camp, and with him comes old Decius, The Roman knight; he carries in his looks Impatience, and demands to speak with Cato.

Cato. By your permission, fathers-bid him enter. [Exit Marcus. Decius was once my friend, but other prospects. Have loos'd those ties, and bound him fast to Cæsar. His message may determine our resolves.


Dec. Cæsar sends health to Cato

Cato. Cou'd he send it,

To Cato's slaughter'd friends, it would be welcome. Are not your orders to address the senate?

Dec. My business is with Cato; Cæsar sees

The straits to which you're driven; and, as he knows Cato's high worth, is anxious for your life.

Cato. My life is grafted on the fate of Rome. Wou'd he save Cato, bid him spare his country. Tell your dictator this; and tell him, Cato Disdains a life which he has power to offer.

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