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Cæsar shall never say he conquer'd Cato.
But, oh, my friendsyour safety fills my
heart With anxious thoughts: a thousand secret terrors Rise in my soul. How shall I save my
friends? 'Tis now, O Cæsar, I begin to fear theel
Luc. Cæsar has mercy if we ask it of him.
Cato. Then ask it, I conjure you! let him know
Whate'er was done against him, Cato did it.
Add, if you please, that I request it of him,
“ That I myself, with tears, request it of him,"
The virtue of my friends may pass unpunish’d.
Juba, my heart is troubled for thy sake.
Shou'd I advise thee to regain Numidia,
Or seek the conqueror :-
Jub. If I forsake thee
Whilst I have life, may Heav'n abandon Juba !
Cato. Thy virtues, prince, if I foresee aright,
Will one day make thee great; at Rome hereafter,
'Twill be no crime to have been Cato's friend.
Portius, draw near : my son, thou oft hast seen
Thy sire engag'd in a corrupted state,
Wrestling with vice and faction : now thou see'st me
Spent, overpower'd, despairing of success;
Let me advise thee to retreat betimes
To thy paternal seat, the Sabine field.
Where the great Censor toil'd with his own hands,
And all our frugal ancestors were bless'd
In humble virtues, and a rural life ;
There live retird, pray for the peace of Rome ;
Content thyself to be obscurely good.
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! If e'er we meet hereafter, we shall meet In happier climes, and on a safer shore, Where Cæsar 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 faction, vice, and fortune crost, Shall find the gen'rous labour was not lost. [Exeunt.
CAT0 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 fo.id 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! thou pleasing, dreadful thought!
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! or where-this world was made for Cæsar.
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?
This lethargy that creeps through all my senses ?
Nature oppress'd, and harrass'd oụt 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
friends, Their tears, their common danger, wrest it from you! Cato. Wouldst thou betray me? Wouldst thou give
A slave, a captive into Cæsar's hands?
Retire, and learn obedience to a father,
Or know, young man!-
Por. Look not thus sternly on me ;
You know I'd rather die than disobey you.
Cato. 'Tis well! again I'm master of myself.
Now, Cæsar, 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! 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!
Calo. Thou hast been ever good and dutiful.
[Embracing him. 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 conduct: 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.
Oh, Marca! Oh, my sister, still there's hope !
Our father will not cast away a life