Page images

That best of men? Oh, had I fall'n like him, That still broke foremost through the crowd And could have been thus mourn'd, I had

been happy.

of patriots,

[Aside. As with a hurricane of zeal transported, Marcia. Tis not in fate to ease my tortur'd And virtuous ev'n to madness


Oh, he was all made up of love and charms!
Whatever maid could wish, or man admire:
Delight of ev'ry eye; when he appear'd,
A secret pleasure gladden'd all that saw him.
Ob, Juba, Juba!

Juba. What means that voice? Did she not call on Juba?

Cato. Trust me, Lucius,

Our civil discords have produc'd such crimes,
Such monstrous crimes, I am surpris'd at nothing.
—Oh, Lucius, I am sick of this bad world!
The daylight and the sun grow painful to me.

[Aside. But see Marcia. He's dead, and never knew how much I lov'd him;


where Portius comes: what means
this haste?
Why are thy looks thus chang'd?
Por. My heart is griev'd:

I bring such news as will afflict my father.
Cato. Has Caesar shed more Roman blood?
Por. Not so.

Lucia, who knows but his poor, bleeding heart,
Amidst its agonies, remember'd Marcia,
And the last words he utter'd call'd me cruel!
Alas! he knew not, hapless youth, he knew not
Marcia's whole soul was full of love and Juba! The traitor Syphax, as within the square
Juba. Where am I? Do I live? or am indeed He exercis'd his troops, the signal giv'n,
What Marcia thinks? All is Elysium round me! Flew off at once with his Numidian horse
[Aside. To the south gate, where Marcus holds the

Marcia. Ye dear remains of the most lov'd

of men,

Nor modesty nor virtue here forbid
A last embrace, while thus-
Juba. See, Marcia, see,

[Throwing himself before her. The happy Juba lives! he lives to catch That dear embrace, and to return it too With mutual warmth and eagerness of love. Marcia. With pleasure and amaze I stand transported!

If thou art Juba, who lies there?
Juba. A wretch,

Disquis'd like Juba on a curs'd design.
I could not bear

To leave thee in the neighbourhood of death,
But flew, in all the haste of love, to find thee;
I found thee weeping, and confess this once,
Am rapt with joy, to see my Marcia's tears.
Marcia. I've been surpris'd in an unguarded

But must not now go back; the love, that lay Hali-smother'd in my breast, has broke through all is weak restraints, and burns in its full lustre. I cannot, if I would, conceal it from thee. Juba. My joy, my best belov'd, my only wish! How shall I speak the transport of my soul? Varcia. Lucia, thy arm. Lead to my apart


O, prince! I blush to think what I have said,
But fate has wrested the confession from me;
Go on, and prosper in the paths of honour.
Tay virtue will excuse my passion for thee,
And make the gods propitious to our love.

[Exeunt Marcia and Lucia.
Juba. I am so blest, I fear 'tis all a dream.
Fortune, thou now hast made amends for all
I past unkindness: I absolve my stars.
What though Numidia add her conquer'd towns
And provinces to swell the victor's triumph,
Jasa will never at his fate repine:

Let Caesar have the world, if Marcia's mine. [Exit.

SCENE II-Before the Palace. A March at a Distance.

Enter CATO and Lucius.



I saw, and call'd to stop him, but in vain:
He toss'd his arm aloft, and proudly told me,
He would not stay and perish like Sempronius.
Cato. Peradious man! But haste, my son,
and see

Thy brother Marcus acts a Roman's part.
[Exit Portius.
Lucius, the torrent bears too hard upon me:
Justice gives way to force: the conquer'd world
Is Caesar's! Cato has no business in it.

Luc. While pride, oppression, and injustice reign,

The world will still demand her Cato's presence,
In pity to mankind submit to Caesar,
And reconcile thy mighty soul to life.

Cato. Would Lucius have me live to swell the number

Of Caesar's slaves, or by a base submission Give up the cause of Rome, and own a tyrant?

Luc. The victor never will impose on Cato Ungen'rous terms. His enemies confess The virtues of humanity are Caesar's.

Cato. Curse on his virtues! they've undone
his country.

Such popular humanity is treason—
But see young Juba; the good youth appears,
Full of the guilt of his perfidious subjects!
Luc. Alas, poor prince! his fate deserves

[blocks in formation]

Cato. 'Tis just to give applause where 'tis deserv'd:

Luc. I stand astonish'd! What, the bold Thy virtue, prince, has stood the test of fortune, Like purest gold, that, tortur'd in the furnace,

Comes out more bright, and brings forth all Cato. Caesar asham'd! Has he not seen

its weight.

[blocks in formation]

Borne on the shields of his surviving soldiers,
Breathless and pale, and cover'd o'er with

Long, at the head of his few faithful friends,
He stood the shock of a whole host of foes,
Till, obstinately brave, and bent on death,
Oppress'd with multitudes, he greatly fell.
Cato. I'm satisfy'd.

Por. Nor did he fall, before
His sword had pierc'd through the false heart
of Syphax.

Yonder he lies. I saw the hoary traitor
Grin in the pangs of death, and bite the ground.
Cato. Thanks to the gods, my boy has done
his duty.

-Portius, when I am dead, be sure you place
His urn near mine.

Por. Long may they keep asunder!
Luc. Oh, Cato, arm thy soul with all its

See where the corpse ofthy dead son approaches!
The citizens and senators, alarm'd,
Have gather'd round it, and attend it weeping.
Dead March. CATO meets the Corpse. Lu-
CIUS, Senators, Guards, etc. attending.
Cato. Welcome, my son! Here lay him
down, my friends,
Full in my sight, that I may view at leisure
The bloody corse, and count those glorious

-How beautiful is death, when earn'd by virtue!
Who would not be that youth? What pity is it
That we can die but once to serve our country!
-Why sits this sadness on your brows, my

I should have blush'd if Cato's house had stood
Secure, and flourish'd in a civil war.
Portius, behold thy brother, and remember
Thy life is not thy own when Rome demands it.
When Rome demands; but Rome is now no



[blocks in formation]

Rise in my soul. How shall I save my friends?
Tis now, O Caesar, I begin to fear thee!
Luc. Caesar has mercy, if we ask it of him.
Cato. Then ask it, I conjure you; let him


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 bim-
The virtue of my friends may pass unpunish'd.
Juba, my heart is troubled for thy sake.
Should I advise thee to regain Numidia,
Or seek the conqueror?-

Juba. 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,

Twill be no crime to have been Calo'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

seest 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

And all our frugal ancestors were bless'd
In humble virtues, and a rural life;
There live retir'd, pray for the peace of Rome;
Content thyself to be obscurely good.
When vice prevails, and impious men bear

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,
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
Oh, liberty! oh, virtue! oh, my country!
Juba. Behold that upright man! Rome fills Where Caesar never shall approach us more.
In happier climes, and on a safer shore,
[Pointing to his dead Son
With tears, that flow'd not o'er his own dear There the brave youth, with love of virtue fir'd
[Aside. Who greatly in his country's cause expir'd,
Cato. Whate'er the Roman virtue has subdu'd, Shall know he conquer'd. The firm patrio
The sun's whole course, the day and year, are

his eyes


For him the self-devoted Decii died,
The Fabii fell, and the great Scipios conquer'd:
Ev'n Pompey fought for Caesar. "Oh, my friends,
How is the toil of fate, the work of ages,
The Roman empire, fall'n! Oh, curs'd ambition!
Fall'n into Caesar's hands! Our great forefathers
Had left him nought to conquer but his country.
Juba. While Cato lives, Caesar will blush

to see


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.
[Dead March. Exeunt in fu
neral Procession.


SCENE I-4 Chamber.

CATO solus, sitting in a thoughtful Posture Mankind enslav'd, and be asham'd of empire. | in his Hand, Plato's Book on the Immor

tality of the Soul. A drawn Sword on And bar each avenue; thy gath'ring fleets the Table, by him.

Cato. It must be so-Plato thou reason'st

Else whence this pleasing hope, this fond 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 untried being,
Through what new scenes and changes must
we pass?

The wide, the unbounded prospect lies be

fore me:

But shadows, clouds, and darkness, rest upon it. Here will I hold. If there's a power above us (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 Caesar:

O'erspread the sea, and stop up ev'ry port;
Cato shall open to himself a passage,
And mock thy hopes.-

Por. [Kneeling] Oh, sir! forgive your son, Whose grief hangs heavy on him. Oh, my father!

How am I sure it is not the last time

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! Cato. Thou hast been ever good and duti[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

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


Oh, Marcia! Oh, my sister, still there's hope
Our father will not cast away a life
He is retir'd to rest, and seems to cherish
So needful to us all, and to his country.
Thoughts full of peace.-He has dispatch'd
me hence

I'm weary of conjectures-this must end them.
[Laying his Hand on his Sword.
Thus am I doubly arm'd: my death and life, The soft refreshment of a moment's sleep.
My bane and antidote, are both before me.
Por. My thoughts are more at ease, my
This in a moment brings me to an end;
heart revives [Exit Cato.
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
This lethargy that creeps through all my senses?
Nature, oppress'd and harrass'd out 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 them,
Indiff rent in his choice to sleep or die.

Bat, ha! who's this? my son! Why this in-

Were not my orders that I would be private?
Why am I disobey'd?

Por. Alas, my father!


With orders that bespeak a mind compos'd,
And studious for the safety of his friends.
Marcia, take care that none disturb his slum-
Marcia. Oh, ye immortal powers, that guard
Watch round his couch and soften his repose,
the just,

With easy dreams; remember all his virtues,
Banish his sorrows, and becalm his soul
And show mankind that goodness is
your care!

Enter LUCIA.
Lucia. Where is your father, Marcia, where
is Cato?

Marcia. Lucia, speak low, he is retir'd

to rest.

What means this sword, this instrument of Lucia, I feel gentle dawning hope


Let me convey it hence.

Cato. Rash youth, forbear!

Por. Ob, let the pray'rs, th' entreaties your friends,

Rise in my soul-We shall be happy still.
Lucia. Alas, I tremble when I think on Cato!
In every view, in every thought I tremble!
of Cato is stern and awful as a god;
He knows not how to wink at human frailty,
Or pardon weakness, that he never felt.
Marcia. Though stern and awful to the foes
of Rome,

Their tears, their common danger, wrest it
from you!

Cato. Wouldst thou betray me? Wouldst
thou give me up
A slave, a captive, into Caesar's hands?
Sere, and learn obedience to a father,

know, young man

Por Look not thus sternly on me;

Ya know, I'd rather die than disobey you.
Cato. Tis well! again I'm master of myself.

He is all goodness, Lucia, always mild;
Compassionate and gentle to his friends;
Fill'd with domestic tenderness, the best,
The kindest father; I have ever found him
Easy and good, and bounteous to my wishes.
Lucia. Tis his consent alone can make us

Now, Caesar, let thy troops beset our gates, But who knows Cato's thoughts?

Who knows how yet he may dispose

1 Portius,

Or how he has determin'd of thyself?

of Oh, Marcia, what we fear'd is come to pass!
Cato has fall'n upon his sword —
Luc. Oh, Portius,

Marcia. Let him but live, commit the rest Hide all the horrors of the mournful tale,

to heav'n. Enter LUCIUS.

Luc. Sweet are the slumbers of the virtuous man!

And let us guess the rest.
Por. I've rais'd him up,

And plac'd him in his chair; where, pale and

He gasps for breath, and as his life flows
from him,
Demands to see his friends.
His servants,
Obsequious to his order, bear him hither!—
Mar. Oh, heav'n! assist me in this dreadful

Oh, Marcia, I have seen thy godlike father;
Some power invisible supports his soul,
And bears it up in all its wonted greatness.
A kind, refreshing sleep is fall'n upon him:
I saw him stretch'd at ease; his fancy lost
In pleasing dreams; as I drew near his couch,
He smil'd, and cried, Caesar, thou canst not To

hurt me.

Marcia. His mind still labours with some dreadful thought.

Enter JUBA.

Juba. Lucius, the horsemen are return'd

from viewing

pay the last sad duties to my father!

CATO brought on in a Chair.
Juba. These are thy triumphs, thy exploits,
O Caesar!

Luc. Now is Rome fall'n indeed!
Cato. Here set me down-

Portius, come near me-Are my friends em-

The number, strength, and posture of our foes,
Who now encamp within a short hour's march; Can any thing be thought of for their service?
On the high point of yon bright western tower Whilst I yet live, let me not live in vain-
We ken them from afar; the setting sun Oh, Lucius, art thou here?-Thou art too
Plays on their shining arms and burnish'd

helmets, And covers all the field with gleams of fire. Luc. Marcia, 'tis time we should awake thy


Caesar is still dispos'd to give us terms,
And waits at distance till he hears from Cato.


Portius, thy looks speak somewhat of impor


What tidings dost thou bring? Methinks I see
Unusual gladness sparkle in thy eyes.

Por. As I was hasting to the port, where now
My father's friends, impatient for a passage,
Accuse the ling'ring winds, a sail arriv'd
From Pompey's son, who, through the realms
of Spain,


Let this our friendship live between our chil

Make Portius happy in thy daughter Lucia.
Marcia, my daughter-

Oh, bend me forward!-Juba loves thee, Marcia.
A senator of Rome, while Rome surviv'd,
Would not have match'd his daughter with
a king-

But Caesar's arms have thrown down all dis-

I'm sick to death-Oh, when shall I get loose
From this vain world, th' abode of guilt and

And yet, methinks, a beam of light breaks in
On my departing soul. Alas, I fear
I've been too hasty! Oh, ye powers, that

Calls out for vengeance on his father's death, The heart of man, and weigh his inmost
And rouses the whole nation up to arms.



Were Cato at their head, once more might If I have done amiss, impute it no!—— The best may err, but you are good, and Oh![Dies Por. There fled the greatest soul that ever warm'd

[blocks in formation]


WILLIAM CONGREVE, descended from the Congreves in Staffordshire, who trace their ancestry as far back as before the conquest, first saw the light at Bardsa, near Leeds, Yorkshire, 1672. He was educated first at Kilkenny; and afterwards sent to the university in Dublin, under the direction of Dr. Ashe. His father, who was only a younger brother, and provided for in the army by a commission on the Irish establishment, had been compelled to undertako a journey thither in consequence of his command, being desirous his study should be directed to profit as well as improvement, sent him over to England, and placed him at the age of 16 as student in the Temple. Here he lived for several years, but with very little attention to statutes or reports. His disposition to become an author appeared very early; Johnson says, “Among all the efforts of early genius, which literary history records, I doubt whether any ene can be produced that more surpasses the common limits of nature than the plays of Congreve." His first dramatic labour was The Old Batchelor, acted in 1693. This piece introduced him to Lord Halifax, the Maecenas of the age, who, desirem of raising so promising a genius above the necessity of too hasty productions, made him one of the commissioners for licencing hackney-coaches. He soon after bestowed upon him a place in the Pipe-office, with one in the Customs of 600 pounds a year. 1694 Congreve produced The Double Dealer. The next year, when Betterton opened the new Theatre in Lincoln's-Inn Fields, he gave him his comedy of Love for Love. The Biographia Dramatica says, *This met with so much success, that they immediately offered the author a share in the profits of the house, on condition of his furnishing them with one play yearly. This offer he accepted; but whether through indolence or that enrrectness which he looked on as necessary to his works, his Mourning Bride did not come out till 1697, nor his Way of the World till two years after that." He had been involved in a long contest with Jeremy Collier, a furious and implacable non-juror, who published A Short View of the Immorality and Profaneness of the English Stage, in which he had very severely attacked some of Congreve's pieces: this, added to the ill success his Way of the World though an exceeding good comedy, met with, completed his disgust; and he made a resolution of never more writing for the stage, Johnson says, "At last comedy grew more modest, and Collier lived to see the reward of his labour in the reformation of the theatre." In 1714, Congreve was appointed Commissioner of Wine Licences, and 17. Dec. same year was nominated Secretary of Jamaica, making altogether a yearly income of 1200 pounds. Johnson says, "His honours were yet far greater than his profits. Every writer mentioned him with respect; and, among other testimonies to his merit, Steele made him the patron of his Miscellany, and Pope inscribed to him his Translation of the Iliad. But he treated the Muse with ingratitude; for, having long conversed familiarly with the great, he wished to be considered rather as a man of fashion than of wit; and, when he received a visit from Voltaire, disgusted him by the despicable foppery of desiring to be considered not as an author but a gentleman; to which the Frenchman replied, If he had been only a gentleman, he should not have come to visit him.'" He died at his house in Surrey Street, in the Strand, January 29, Our limits will not allow us to give Johnson's account of this author; but every one agrees in considering kim surprisingly eminent in his Theatrical pieces; at the same time, when he quitted this tract, he evidently failed; and, although his Miscellaneous Poems will ever maintain a respectable place in British literature, his crown was too closely wreathed for these to add one leaf to his poetical fame.

[ocr errors]


ACTED at Lincoln's-Inn Fields. 1697. This is the only Tragedy our author ever wrote, and it met with more success than any of his other pieces. Although Dr. Johnson accuses it of bombast and want of real nature; notwithstanding Dibdin says, that it is overcharged with imagery, as his comedies are with point, and if we try to concave it it is with an aching imagination, that may raise astonishment, but must destroy pleasure; it is to be considered that, the poet's eye in a fine phrenzy rolling," in embodying "airy nothing," raises his mind so high above the things of this world in his look "from earth to heaven," that his conceptions appear too hold for a cool, criticis ing genius. It is certain, that the language of passion, in real life, is boisterous and elevated; and, in persons of a certain cast, may go a step farther than what in cooler moments would appear simple nature; and Dr. Johnson's criticam is evidently unprepared, for he says himself, he had not read Congreve's plays for many years. Could the great critic have been raised by the same feelings that actuated Congreve in composing his tragedy, it is very sure, be would not have pronounced so severe a sentence. We have not the smallest pretension to call in question the opinions of so great a man as Johnson on this play; knowing his attention was entirely directed to chasten the taste of the ages but we do think (if we can judge by our own feelings), that he must have feit a secret delight himself in reading this piece; and hope we do not overstep the bounds of modesty in declaring the story to be extremely pleasing, affecting, and well told, the language, although extremely elevated, may be allowed to be this side of bombast, expressing the ideas perhaps in an impassioned manner; but we believe not beyond the limits of poetical nature; and will content ourselves with sometimes being astonished for pleasure. Dr. Johnson declares, that, "If he were to select from the while mass of English poetry the most poetical paragraph, he knows not what he could prefer to an exclamation in this tragedy ("No, all is hush'd, and still as death-'tis dreadful!" to: "Thy voice-my own affrights me with its echoes! Johnson continues, "He who reads these lines enjoys for a moment the powers of a poet; he feel. what he remembers to have felt before; but he feels it with great increase of sensibility; he recognises a familiar image, but meets it again amplified and expanded, embellished with beauty, and enlarged with majesty".

[blocks in formation]

Than trees or flint? O, force of constant woe! 'Tis not in harmony to calm my griefs.

SCENE L-A Room of State. The Curtain rising slowly to soft Music, Anselmo sleeps, and is at peace; last night discovers ALMERIA in Mourning, LEONO-The silent tomb receiv'd the good old king; RA waiting. ALMERIA rises and comes He and his sorrows now are safely lodg'd forward. Within its cold, but hospitable bosom.

Alm. Music has charms to sooth a savage Why am not I at peace?


To soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.
I've read that things inanimate have mov'd,
And, as with living souls, have been inform'd,
By magic numbers and persuasive sound.
What then am I? Am I more senseless grown

Leon. Dear madam, cease,

Or moderate your grief; there is no cause--
Alm. No cause! Peace, peace! there is eter
nal cause,

And misery eternal will succeed.
Thou canst not tell-thou hast indeed no cause.

« EelmineJätka »