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A Virtue wanting in a Roman Soul ?
Marc. Portius, no more! your Words leave Stings behind 'em.
Whene're did Juba, or did Portius, show
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 well;
Fling but the Appearance of Dishonour on it,
It streight takes Fire, and mounts into a Blaze. V.
Marc. A Brother's Suff'rings claim a Brother's Pity.
Por. Heav'n knows I pity thee: Behold my Eyes
Ev'n whilft 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 doft treat me with Rebukes, instead
Of kind condoling Cares and friendly Sorrow?
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.
Marc, Thou best of Brothers, and thou best of Friends!
Pardon a weak distemper'd Soul, that swells
With sudden Gusts, and finks as foon in Calms,
The Sport of Passions But Sempronius comes :
He must not find this Softness hanging on me.
Conspiracies no sooner shou'd be form'd
Than executed. What means Portius here?
I like not that cold Youth. I must dissemble,
And speak a Language foreign to my Heart.
Semp. Good Morrow Portius ! let us once embrace,
Once more embrace; whilft yet we both are free.
To-Morrow shou'd we thus express qur 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.
Por. My Father has this Morning calld together
To this poor Hall his little Roman Senate,
(The Leavings of Pharsalia) to confult
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 Cæfar.
Semp. 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 fomething like religious Fear,
And make ev'n Cæfar tremble at the Head
Of Armies fluth'd with Conquest: O my Portius,
Could I but call that wondrous Man my Father,
Wou'd but thy Sister Marcia be propitious
: To thy Friend's Vows: I might be blefs'd indeed !
Por. Alas ! Sempronius, wou'dst thou talk of Love
To Marcia, whilst hér Father's Life's in Danger ?
Thou might'st as well court the pale trembling Vestal,
When she beholds the holy Flaine expiring.
Semp. The more I see the Wonders
of thy Race
The more I'm charm'd. Thou must take heed, my Portius !
The World has all its Eyes on Cato's Son.
Thy Father's Merit sets thee up to View,
And shows thee in the fairest point of Light,
To make thy Virtues or thy Faults conspicuous.
Por. Well doft thou seem to check my Lingring here On this important Hour-I'll straight away, And while the Fathers of the Senate meet In close Debate, 'to weigh th' Events of War, I'll animate the Soldier's drooping Courage, With Love of Freedom, and Contempt of Life. I'll thunder in their Ears their country's Cause, And try to rouse up all that's Roman in 'em. 'Tis not in Mortals to command Success, But we'll do more, Sempronius; we'll deserve it. [Exit.
Curse on the Stripling ! how he Ape's his Sire ?
Ambitiously Tententious! -But I wonder
Old Syphax comes not; his Numidian Genius
Is well disposed to Mischief, were he prompt
And eager on it ; but he must be spurr’d,
And ev'ry Moment quickned to the Course.
Cato has used me Ill: He has refused
His Daughter Marcia to my ardent Vows.
Beldes, his baffled Arms and ruined Cause
Are Barrs to my Ambition. Cæfar's Favour,
That show’rs down Greatness on his Friends, will raise me
To Rome's first Honours. If I give up Calo,
I claim in my Reward his Captive Daughter. But Syphax comes !
Syph. -Sempronius, all is ready,
I've founded my Numidians, Man by Man,
And find 'em ripe for a Revolt: They all
Complain aloud of Cato's Discipline,
And wait but the Command to change their Master.
Semp. Believe me, Syphax, there's no Time to waste;
Ev’n whilft we speak, our Conqueror comes on,
And gathers Ground upon us ev'ry Moment.
Alas! thou know'st not Cæsar's adive Soul,
With what a dreadful Course he rushes on
From War to War: In vain has Nature form'd
Mountains and Oceans to oppose his Passage;
He bound's o'er all, vi&orious in his March,
The Apes and Pyreneans sink before him ;
Through Winds, and Waves, and Storms, he works his way,
Impatient for the Battel: One Day more
Will set the Vi&tor thundring at our Gates.
But tell me, haft thou yet drawn o'er young Juba
That still wou'd recommend thee more to Cæfar,
And challenge better Terms
Syph. Alas! he's lost,
He's loft, Sempronius; all his Thoughts are full
Of Cato's Virtues But I'll try once more
(For ev'ry Instant I expect him here)
If yet I can subdue those stubborn Principles
Of Faith, of Honour, and I know not what, .,
That have corrupted his Numidian Temper,
And struck th' Infection into all his Soul.
Semp. Be sure to press upon him ev'ry Motive.
Juba's Surrender, since his Father's Death,
Would give up Africk into Cæfar's Hands,
And make him Lord of half the burning Zone.
Syph. But is it true, Sempronius, that your Senate;
Is calld together? Gods! Thou must be cautious !
Cato has piercing Eyes, and will discern
Our Frauds, unless they're cover'd thick with Art.
Semp. Let me alone, good Syphax, I'll conceal
My Thoughts in Passion ('tis the surest way :)
l'II bellow out for Rome and for my Country,
And mouth at Cæsar till I shake the Senate.
Your cold Hypocrisie's a ftale Device,
A worn-out Trick: Wouldft thou be thought in Earnest?
Cloath thy feign'd Zeal in Rage, in Fire, in Fury!
Syph. In truth, thou’rt able to instruct Grey-hairs,
And teach the wily African Deceit!
Semp. Once more, be sure to try thy Skill on Juba.
Mean while I'll haften to my Romin Soldiers,
Inflame the Mutiny, and underhand
Blow up their Discontents, till they break out
Unlook'd for, and discharge themselves. on Cato.
Remember, Syphax, we must work in Hafte:
O think what anxious Moments pass between
The Birth of Plots, and their last fatal Periods.
Oh! 'tis a dreadful Interval of Time,
Fill:d up with Horror all, and big with Death!
Destruction hangs on ev'ry Word we speak,
On ev'ry Thought, 'till the concluding Stroke
Determines all, and closes our Design.
I'll try if yet I can reduce to Reason
This head-strong Youth, and make him (purn at Cato.
The Time is short, Cæfar comes rulhing on us
But hold! young Juba sees me, and approaches.
Jub. Syphax, I joy to meet thee thus alone.
I have observed of late thy Looks are fallin,
O'ercast with gloomy. Cares, and Discontent;
Then tell me, Syphax, I conjure thee, tell me,
What are the Thoughts that knit thy Brow in Frowns,
And turn thine Eye thus coldly on thy Prince ?
Syph. 'Tis not my Talent to conceal my Thoughts,
Nor carry Smiles and Sun-fhine in my Face,
When Discontent fits heavy at my Heart.
I have not yet so much the Roman in me.
Jub. Why do'st thou cast out such ungen'rous Terms
Against the Lords and Sov'reigns of the World?
Dost thou not lee Mankind fall down before 'em,
And own the Force of their Superior Virtue?
Is there a Nation in the Wilds of Affrick,
Amidst our barren Rocks and burning Sands,
That does not tremble at the Roman Name?
Syph. Gods! where's the Worth that sets this People up
Above your own Numidia's tawny Sons !