Page images
PDF
EPUB

Dec. Rome and her senators submit to Cæsar; Her gen'rals and her consuls are no more,

Who check'd his conquests, and deny'd his triumphs. Why will not Cato be this Cæsar's friend ?

Cato. These very reasons thou has urg'd forbid it.
Dec. Cato, I have orders to expostulate,

And reason with you, as from friend to friend :
Think on the storm that gathers o'er your head,
And threatens ev'ry hour to burst upon it;

Still may you stand high in your country's honours,
Do but comply, and make your peace with Cæsar,
Rome will rejoice, and cast its eyes on Cato,
As on the second of mankind.

Cato. No more :

I must not think of life on such conditions.

Dec. Cæsar is well acquainted with your virtues,
And therefore sets this value on your life.
Let him but know the price of Cato's friendship,
And name your terms.

Cato. Bid him disband his legions,

Restore the commonwealth to liberty,
Submit his actions to the public censure,

And stand the judgment of a Roman senate.
Bid him do this, and Cato is his friend.

Dec. Cato, the world talks loudly of your wisdom-
Cato. Nay, more, tho' Cato's voice was ne'er em-

ploy'd

To clear the guilty, and to varnish crimes,

Myself will mount the rostrum in his favour,

And strive to gain his pardon from the people.

Dec. A style like this becomes a conqueror.
Cato. Decius, a style like this becomes a Roman.
Dec. What is a Roman, that is Cæsar's foe?

Cato. Greater than Cæsar: he's a friend to virtue.
Dec. Consider, Cato, you're in Utica,
And at the head of your own little senate;
You don't now thunder in the capitol,

With all the mouths of Rome to second you.

Cato. Let him consider that who drives us hither. 'Tis Cæsar's sword has made Rome's senate little, And thinn'd its ranks. Alas! thy dazzled eye Beholds this man in a false glaring light;

Which conquest and success have thrown upon him;
Did'st thou but view him right, thou'dst see him black
With murder, treason, sacrilege, and crimes,
That strike my soul with horror but to name 'em.
I know thou look'st on me, as on a wretch
Beset with ills, and cover'd with misfortunes;
But, by the gods I swear, millions of worlds
Shou'd never buy me to be like that Cæsar.

Dec. Does Cato send this answer back to Cæsar,
For all his gen'rous cares and proffer'd friendship?
Cato. His cares for me are insolent and vain :
Presumptuous man! the gods take care of Cato.
Wou'd Cæsar shew the greatness of his soul,
Bid him employ his care for these my friends,
And make good use of his ill-gotten pow'r,
By shelt'ring men much better than himself.

Dec. Your high unconquer'd heart makes you forget You are a man. You rush on your destruction.

But I have done.

When I relate hereafter

The tale of this unhappy embassy

All Rome will be in tears.

Sem. Cato, we thank thee.

The mighty genius of immortal Rome,

[Exit Decius.

Speaks in thy voice; thy soul breathes liberty.
Cæsar will shrink to hear the words thou utter'st,
And shudder in the midst of all his conquests.
Luc. The senate owns its gratitude to Cato,
Who with so great a soul consults its safety,
And guards our lives while he neglects his own.

Sem. Sempronius gives no thanks on this account.
Lucius seems fond of life; but what is life?
'Tis not to stalk about, and draw fresh air
From time to time, or gaze upon the sun;
'Tis to be free. When liberty is gone,
Life grows insipid, and has lost its relish.
Oh, could my dying hand but lodge a sword
In Cæsar's bosom, and revenge my country!
By heav'ns I could enjoy the pangs of death,
And smile in agony.

Luc. Others, perhaps,

May serve their country with as warm a zeal,
Though 'tis not kindled into so much rage.

Sem. This sober conduct is a mighty virtue

In lukewarm patriots.

Cato. Come; no more, Sempronius,

All here are friends to Rome, and to each other.
Let us not weaken still the weaker side

By our divisions.

Sem. Cato, my resentments

Are sacrific'd to Rome-I stand reprov'd.

Cato. Father's, 'tis time you come to a resolve.
Luc. Cato, we all go into your opinion,
Cæsar's behaviour has convinc'd the senate
We ought to hold it out till terms arrive.

Sem. We ought to hold it out till death; but, Cato, My private voice is drown'd amidst the senate's.

Cato. Then let us rise, my friends, and strive to fill This little interval, this pause of life

(While yet our liberty and fates are doubtful)
With resolution, friendship, Roman bravery,
And all the virtues we can crowd into it;
That Heav'n may say it ought to be prolong'd.
Fathers, farewell-The young Numidian prince
Comes forward, and expects to know our counsels.

Enter JUBA.

[Exeunt Senators.

Juba, the Roman senate has resolv'd,

Till time give better prospects, still to keep
The sword unsheath'd, and turn its edge on Cæsar.
Jub. The resolution fits a Roman senate.

But, Cato, lend me for a while thy patience,
And condescend to hear a young man speak.
My father, when, some days before his death,
He order'd me to march for Utica,

(Alas! I thought not then his death so near!)
Wept o'er me, press'd me in his aged arms,
And, as his griefs gave way, My son, said he,

Whatever fortune shall befall thy father,
Be Cato's friend; he'll train thee up to great

And virtuous deeds; do but observe him well,
Thou'lt shun misfortunes, or thou'lt learn to bear 'em.
Cato. Juba, thy father was a worthy prince,
And merited, alas! a better fate;
But Heav'n thought otherwise.
Jub. My father's fate,

In spite of all the fortitude that shines
Before my face in Cato's great example,
Subdues my soul, and fills my eyes with tears.

Cato. It is an honest sorrow, and becomes thee. Jub. My father drew respect from foreign climes: The kings of Afric sought him for their friend; "Kings far remote, that rule, as fame reports, "Behind the hidden sources of the Nile, "In distant worlds, on t'other side the sun;" Oft have their black ambassadors appear'd, Loaden with gifts, and fill'd the courts of Zama. Cato. I am no stranger to thy father's greatness. Jub. I would not boast the greatness of my father, But point out new alliances to Cato.

Had we not better leave this Utica,

To arm Numidia in our cause, and court
The assistance of my father's powerful friends;
Did they know Cato, our remotest kings,
Would pour embattled multitudes about him;
Their swarthy hosts would darken all our plains,
Doubling the native horror of the war,

And making death more grim.

E

« EelmineJätka »