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Of armies flush'd with conqueft. Omy Portius,
Could I but call that wond'rous man my father,
Wou'd but thy fifter Marcia be propitious
To thy friend's vows, I might be bless'd indeed!
Alas! Sempronius, wou'dft thou talk of love To Marcia, whilft her father's life's in danger? Thou might'ft as well court the pale trembling vestal, When the beholds the holy flame expiring. SEMPRONIUS.
The more I fee the wonders of thy race, The more I'm charm'd. Thou must take heed, my Portius,
The world has all its eyes on Cao's fan,
Thy father's merit fets thee up to view,
And fhews thee in the fairest point of light,
To make thy virtues, or thy faults, confpicuous.
Well doft thou feem to check my ling'ring here
On this important hour!'ll Arait away,
And while the fathers of the fenate meet
In close debate to weigh th' events of war,
I'll animate the foldiers drooping courage,
With love of freedom, and contempt of life:
I'll thunder in their ears their country's caufe,
And try to rouse up all that's Roman in 'em.
'Tis not in mortals to command fuccefs,
But we'll do more, Sempronius; we'll deferve it. [Exit
Curfe on the ftrippling! how he apes his fire?
Ambitiously fententious!but I wonder
Old Syphax comes not; his Numidian genius
Is well difpofed to mischief, were he prompt
And eager on it; but he must be fpurr'd,
And ev'ry moment quicken'd to the course.
-Cato has us'd me ill: He has refused
His daughter Marcia to my ardent vows.
Befides, his baffled arms and ruin'd caufe
Are bars to my ambition. Cæfar's favour,
That show'rs down greatness on his friends, will raife
To Rome's first honours.
If I give up Cato,
I claim in my reward his captive daughter.
But Syphax comes !
- 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.
Believe me, Syphax, there's no time to waste;
Even whilft we speak our conqueror comes on,
And gathers ground upon us ev'ry moment.
Alas! thou know'ft not Cæfar's active foul,
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 bounds o'er all, victorious in his march;
The Alps and Pyreneans fink before him,
Through winds and waves, and storms he works his way
Impatient for the battle: One day more
Will fet the victor thund'ring at our gates.
But tell me, haft thou yet drawn o'er young Juba?
That still would recommend thee more to Cæfar,
And challenge better terms.
Alas he's loft,
He's loft, Sempronius; all his thoughts are full
Of Cato's virtues- -but I'll try once more
(For ev'ry inftant I expect him here)
If yet I can fubdue those stubborn principles
Of faith, of honour, and I know not what,
That have corrupted his Numidian temper,
And ftruck th' infection into all his foul.
Be fure to prefs upon him ev'ry motive.
Juba's furrender, fince his father's death,
Would give up Africk into Cafar's hands,
And make him lord of half the burning zone.
But is it true, Sempronius, that your fenate
Is call'd together! gods! thou must be cautious!
Cato has piercing eyes, and will difcern
Our frauds, unless they're cover'd thick with art.
Let me alone, good Syphax, I'll conceal
My thoughts in paffion, ('tis the fureft way ;)
I'll bellow out for Rome and for my country,
And mouth at Cæfar 'till I fhake the fenate.
Your cold hypocrify's a ftale device,
A worn-out trick: would'ft thou be thought in earneft? Clothe thy feign'd zeal in rage, in fire, in fury!
In troth, thou'rt able to inftruct grey hairs,
And teach the wily African deceit !
Once more, be fure to try thy skill on Juba.
Mean while I'll haften to my Roman foldiers,
Inflame the mutiny, and underhand
Blow up their difcontents, 'till they break out
Unlook'd for, and discharge themselves on Cato.
Remember, Sypbax, we must work in haste:
O think what anxious moments pass between
The birth of plots, and their laft fatal periods.
Oh! 'tis a dreadful interval of time,
up with horror all, and big with death!
Deftruction hangs on ev'ry word we speak,
On ev'ry thought, till the concluding stroke
Determines all, and clofes our defign.
I'll try if yet I can reduce to reafon
This head-ftrong youth, and make him spurn at Cato.
The time is fhort, Cæfar comes rushing on us
But hold! young Juba fees me, and approaches,
Syphax, I joy to meet thee thus alone.
I have obferved of late thy looks are fall'n,
O'ercaft 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 eyes thus coldly on thy prince?
SY PHA X.
"Tis not my talent to conceal my thoughts,
Or carry fmiles and fun-fhine in my face,
When discontent fits heavy at my heart.
I have not yet fo much the Roman in me.
Why doft thou caft out fuch ungen'rous terms
Against the lords and fov'reigns of the world?
Doft thou not fee mankind fall down before them,
And own the force of their fuperior virtue ?
Is there a nation in the wilds of Afric,