« EelmineJätka »
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
[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!
Juba. What means that voice? Did she not call on Juba?
Cato. Trust me, Lucius,
Our civil discords have produc'd such crimes,
[Aside. But see Marcia. He's dead, and never knew how much I lov'd him;
where Portius comes: what means
I bring such news as will afflict my father.
Lucia, who knows but his poor, bleeding heart,
Marcia. Ye dear remains of the most lov'd
Nor modesty nor virtue here forbid
[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?
Disquis'd like Juba on a curs'd design.
To leave thee in the neighbourhood of death,
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,
[Exeunt Marcia and Lucia.
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:
Thy brother Marcus acts a Roman's part.
Luc. While pride, oppression, and injustice reign,
The world will still demand her Cato's presence,
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
Such popular humanity is treason—
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
Borne on the shields of his surviving soldiers,
Long, at the head of his few faithful friends,
Por. Nor did he fall, before
Yonder he lies. I saw the hoary traitor
-Portius, when I am dead, be sure you place
Por. Long may they keep asunder!
See where the corpse ofthy dead son approaches!
-How beautiful is death, when earn'd by virtue!
I should have blush'd if Cato's house had stood
Rise in my soul. How shall I save my friends?
Whate'er was done against him, Cato did it.
Juba. If I forsake thee
Whilst I have life, may heav'n abandon Juba!
Twill be no crime to have been Calo's friend.
Spent, overpower'd, despairing of success;
And all our frugal ancestors were bless'd
The post of honour is a private station.
Cato. Farewell, my friends! If there be any
For him the self-devoted Decii died,
Who made the welfare of mankind his care
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
Or whence this secret dread, and inward horror,
The wide, the unbounded prospect lies be
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;
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.
Oh, Marcia! Oh, my sister, still there's hope
I'm weary of conjectures-this must end them.
Bat, ha! who's this? my son! Why this in-
Were not my orders that I would be private?
Por. Alas, my father!
With orders that bespeak a mind compos'd,
With easy dreams; remember all his virtues,
Marcia. Lucia, speak low, he is retir'd
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.
Their tears, their common danger, wrest it
Cato. Wouldst thou betray me? Wouldst
know, young man
Por Look not thus sternly on me;
Ya know, I'd rather die than disobey you.
He is all goodness, Lucia, always mild;
Now, Caesar, let thy troops beset our gates, But who knows Cato's thoughts?
Who knows how yet he may dispose
Or how he has determin'd of thyself?
of Oh, Marcia, what we fear'd is come to pass!
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.
And plac'd him in his chair; where, pale and
He gasps for breath, and as his life flows
Oh, Marcia, I have seen thy godlike father;
Marcia. His mind still labours with some dreadful thought.
Juba. Lucius, the horsemen are return'd
pay the last sad duties to my father!
CATO brought on in a Chair.
Luc. Now is Rome fall'n indeed!
Portius, come near me-Are my friends em-
The number, strength, and posture of our foes,
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,
Portius, thy looks speak somewhat of impor
What tidings dost thou bring? Methinks I see
Por. As I was hasting to the port, where now
Let this our friendship live between our chil
Make Portius happy in thy daughter Lucia.
Oh, bend me forward!-Juba loves thee, Marcia.
But Caesar's arms have thrown down all dis-
I'm sick to death-Oh, when shall I get loose
And yet, methinks, a beam of light breaks in
Calls out for vengeance on his father's death, The heart of man, and weigh his inmost
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
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.
THE MOURNING BRIDE,
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".
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.
Leon. Dear madam, cease,
Or moderate your grief; there is no cause--
And misery eternal will succeed.