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On the proud victor: ev'ry time he's nam'd
Pharsalia rises to my view l-I see
Th' insulting tyrant prancing o'er the field,
Strew'd with Rome's citizens, and drenched in slaugh-
His horse's hoofs wet with patrician blood !
Oh, Portius! is there not some chosen curse,
Some hidden thunder in the stores of Heav'n,
Red with uncommon wrath, to blast the man
Who owes his greatness to his country's ruin?
Por. Believe me, Marcus, 'tis an impious greatness,
And mix'd with too much horror to be envy'd;
How does the lustre of our father's actions,
Through the dark cloud of ills that cover him,
Break out, and burn with more triumphant brightness!
His suff'rings shine, and spread a glory round him;
Greatly unfortunate, he fights the cause
Of honour, virtue, liberty, and Rome.
His sword ne'er fell, but on the guilty head;
Oppression, tyranny, and pow'r usurp’d,
Draw all the vengeance of his arm upon 'em,
Marc. Who knows not this! But what can Cato do Against a world, a base, degen'rate world, That courts the yoke, and bows the neck to Cæsar? Pent up in Utica, he vainly forms A poor epitome of Roman greatness, And, cover'd with Numidian guards, directs A feeble army, and an empty senate, Remnants of mighty battles fought in vain. By Heav’n, such virtues, join'd with such success,
Distracts my very soul! our father's fortune
Would almost teinpt us to renounce his precepts.
Por. Remember what our father oft has told us:
The ways of Heav'n are dark and intricate;
Puzzled in mazes, and perplex'd with errors,
Our understanding traces them in vain,
Lost and bewilder'd in the fruitless search;
Nor sees with how much art the windings run,
Nor where the regular confusion ends.'
Marc. These are suggestions of a mind at ease : Oh, Portius, didst thou taste but half the griefs That wring my soul, thou couldst not talk thus coldly. Passion unpitied, and successless love, Plant daggers in my heart, and aggravate My other griefs. Were but my Lucia kind
Por. Thou seest not that thy brother is thy rival; But I must hide it, for I know thy temper. [ Aside. Now, Marcus, now thy virtue's on the proof: Put forth thy utmost strength, work ev'ry nerve, And call up all thy father in thy soul : To quell the tyrant, love, and guard thy heart On this weak side, where most our nature fails, Would be a conquest worthy Cato's son.
Marc. Portius, the counsel which I cannot take, Instead of healing, but upbraids my weakness. Bid me for honour plunge into a war Of thickest foes, and rush on certain death, Then shalt thou see that Marcus is not slow To follow glory, and confess his father.
Love is not to be reason'd down, or lost
In high ambition or a thirst of greatness;
'Tis second life, it grows into the soul,
Warms every vein, and beats in every pulse,
I feel it here: my resolution melts-
Por. Behold young Juba, the Numidian prince,
With how niuch care he forms himself to glory,
And breaks the fierceness of his native temper,
To copy out our father's bright example.
He loves our sister Marcia, greatly loves her;
“ His eyes, his looks, his actions, all betray it;"
But still the smoother'd fondness burns within him;
“ When most it swells, and labours for a vent,"
The sense of honour, and desire of fame
Drive the big passion back into his heart.
What! shall an African, shall Juba's heir
Reproach great Cato's son, and shew the world
A virtue wanting in a Roman soul !
Marc. Portius, no more! your words leave stings
Whene'er did Juba, or did Portius, shew
A virtue that has cast me at a distance.
And thrown me out in the pursuits of honour?
Por. Marcus, I know thy gen'rous temper well;
Fling but th' appearance of dishonour on it,
It straight takes fire, and mounts into a blaze.
Marc. A brother's suff'ri claim a brother's,
pity. Por. Heav'n knows I pity thee. Behold my eyes
Ev’n whilst I speak-do they not swim in tears?
Were but my heart as naked to thy view,
Marcus would see it bleed in his behalf.
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
Thy troubled heart, and mitigate thy pains,
Marcus, believe me, I could die to do it.
Marc. Thou best of brothers, and thou best of
Pardon a weak distemper'd soul, that swells
With sudden gusts, and sinks as soon in calms,
The sport of passions. But Sempronius comes:
He must not find this softness hanging on me.
Enter SEMPRONIUS. Sem. Conspiracies no sooner should be formid 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 callid together To this poor hall, his little Roman senate, (The leavings of Pharsalia) to consult
If he can yet oppose the mighty torrent
That bears down Rome, and all her gods before it,
Or must at length give up the world to Cæsar.
Sem. Not all the pomp and majesty of Rome
Can raise her senate more than Cato's presence.
His virtues render our assembly awful,
They strike with something like religious fear,
And make even Cæsar tremble at the head
Of armies Alush'd with conquest. Oh, my Portius!
Could I but call that wond'rous man my father,
Would but thy sister Marcia be propitious
To thy friend's vows, I might be bless'd indeed!
Por. Alas, Sempronius! wouldst thou talk of love To Marcia whilst her father's life's in danger; Thou might'st as well court the pale, trembling vestal, When she beholds the holy Aame expiring.
Sem. The more I see the wonders of thy race,
The more I'm charm'd. Thou must take heed, my
The world has all its eyes on Cato's son ;
Thy father's merit sets thee up to view,
And shews thee in the fairest point of light,
To make thy virtues or thy faults conspicuous.
Por. Well dost thou seem to check my ling'ring here
On this important hour~I'll straight away,
And while the fathers of the senate meet
In close debate, to weigh th' events of war,
I'll animate the soldiers' drooping courage
With love of freedom, and contempt of life;
l’ll thunder in their ears their country's cause,