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Ev'n whilst I speak-do they not swim in tears?
Marc. Why then dost treat me with rebukes, instead Of kind condoling cares, and friendly sorrow?,
Por. Oh, Marcus! did I know the way to ease
Enter SEMPRONIUS. Sem. Conspiracies no sooner should be formd Than executed. What means Portius here? I like not that cold youth. I must dissemble, And speak a language foreign to my heart. (Aside. Good-morrow, Portius; let us once embrace, Once more embrace, while yet we both are free. To-morrow, should we thus express our 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 call'd together To this poor hall, his little Roman senate, (The leavings of Pharsalia) to consult
If he can yet oppose the mighty torrent
Sem. Not all the pomp and majesty of Rome
Por. Alas, Sempronius! wouldst thou talk of love
Sem. The more I see the wonders of thy race,
Por. Well dost thou seem to check my ling’ring here
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. [Ex.
Sem. Curse on the stripling! how he apes his sire ! Ambitiously sententious—But I wonder Old Syphax comes not; his Numidian genius Is well dispos’d to mischief, were he prompt And eager on it; but he must be spurr’d, And every moment quicken’d to the course. -Cato has us'd me ill: he has refus'd His daughter Marcia to my ardent vows. Besides, his baffled arms, and ruin’d cause, Are bars to my ambition. Cæsar's favour, That show'rs down greatness on his friends, will raise.
To Rome's first honours. If I give up Cato,
Enter SYPHAX. Syph. Sempronius, all is ready; I've sounded my Numidians, man by man, And find them ripe for a revolt: they all Complain aloud of Cato's discipline, And wait but the command to change their master.
Sem. Believe me, Syphax, there's no time to waste; Ev’n while we speak our conqueror comes on, And gathers ground upon us every moment. Alas! thou know'st not Cæsar's active soul, With what a dreadful course he rushes on
From war to war. In vain has nature formid
Syph. Alas, he's lost!
Sem. Be sure to press upon him every motive.
Syph. But is it true, Sempronius, that your senate
Sem. Let me alone, good Syphax, l'll conceal My thoughts in passion, ('tis the surest way ;) l'll bellow out for Rome, and for my country,
And mouthe at Caesar 'till I shake the senate.
Syph. In troth, thou’rt able to instruct grey hairs, And teach the wily African deceit.
Sem. Once more be sure to try thy skill on Juba. Meanwhile I'll hasten to my Roman 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 haste: Oh, 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 every word we speak, On every thought, 'till the concluding stroke Determines all, and closes our design. [Exit.
Syph. I'll try if yet I can reduce to reason This headstrong youth, and make him spurn at Cato. The time is short; Cæsar comes rushing on usBut hold! young Juba sees me, and approaches.