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Success still follows him, and backs his crimes;
Pharsalia gave him Rome, Egypt has since
Received his yoke, and the whole Nile is Cæsar's.
Why should I mention Juba's overthrow,
And Scipio's death? Numidia's burning sands
Still smoke with blood. 'Tis time we should decree
What course to take. Our foe advances on us,
And envies us even Lybia's sultry deserts.
Fathers, pronounce your thoughts: are they still fix'd
To hold it out, and fight it to the last ?
Or are your hearts subdued at length, and wrought,
By time and ill success, to a submission?
Sem. Gods! can a Roman senate long debate
Which of the two to chuse, slav'ry or death!
No; let us rise at once, gird on our swords,
And, at the head of our remaining troops,
Attack the foe, break through the thick array
Of his throng'd legions, and charge home upon him.
Perhaps some' arm, more lucky than the rest,
May reach his heart, and free the world from bondage.
Rise, fathers, rise ! 'tis Rome demands your help;
Rise, and revenge her slaughter'd citizens,
Or share their fate !
Great Pompey's shade complains that we are slow;
And Scipio's ghost walks unrevenged amongst us.
Cato. Let not a torrent of impetuous zeal Transport thee thus beyond the bounds of reason; True fortitude is seen in great exploits, That justice warrants, and that wisdom guides; All else is tow'ring phrensy and distraction. Lucius, we next would know what's your opinion. Luc. My thoughts, I must confess, are turn'd on
peace. Already have our quarrels fill'd the world With widows, and with orphans: Scythia mourns Our guilty wars, and earth’s remotest regions
Lie half unpeopled by the feuds of Rome':
'Tis time to sheathe the sword, and spare mankind.
Already have we shown our love to Rome,
Now let us show submission to the gods.
We took up arms, not to revenge ourselves,
But free the commonwealth ; when this end fails,
Arms have no further use. Our country's cause,
That drew our swords, now wrests them from our
And bids us not delight in Roman blood,
Unprofitably shed. What men could do,
Is done already : Heav'n and earth will witness,
If Rome must fall, that we are innocent.
Cato. Let us appear nor rash nor diffident ;
Immod’rate valour swells into a fault;
And fear, admitted into public councils,
Betrays like treason. Let us shun them both.
Fathers, I cannot see that our affairs
Are grown thus desp’rate: we have bulwarks round us;
Within our walls are troops inured to toil
In Afric's heat, and season'd to the sun;
Numidia's spacious kingdom lies behind us,
Ready to rise at its young prince's call.
While there is hope, do not distrust the gods;
But wait, at least, till Cæsar's near approach
Force us to yield. "Twill never be too late
To sue for chains, and own a conqueror.
Why should Rome fall a moment ere her time?
No, let us draw her term of freedom out
In its full length, and spin it to the last,
So shall we gain still one day's liberty;
And let me perish, but, în Cato's judgment,
A day, an hour, of virtuous liberty,
Is worth a whole eternity in bondage.
Enter MARCUS. Marc. Fathers, this moment, as I watch’d the gate, Lodged on my post, a herald is arrived
From Cæsar's camp, and with him comes old Decius,
The Roman knight; he carries in his looks
Impatience, and demands to speak with Cato.
Cato. By your permission, fathers--bid him enter.
[Exit MARCUS. Decius was once my friend, but other prospects Have loosed those ties, and bound him fast to Cæsar. His message may determine our resolves.
Enter DECIUS. Dec. Cæsar sends health to Cato
Cato. Could he send it To Cato's slaughter'd friends, it would be welcome. Are not your orders to address the senate?
Dec. My business is with Cato; Cæsar sees The straits to which you're driven; and, as he knows Cato's high worth, is anxious for your life.
Cato. My life is grafted on the fate of Rome. Would he save Cato, bid him
his country. Tell your
dictator this; and tell him, Cato Disdains a life which he has power to offer.
Dec. Rome and her senators submit to Cæsar; Her gen’rals and her consuls are no more, Who check'd his conquests, and denied his triumphs. Why will not Cato be this Cæsar's friend?
Cato. These very reasons, thou hast urged, forbid it.
Dec. Cato, I've 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 wis-
dom Cato. Nay, more, though Cato's voice was 'ne'er
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 do not 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 them.
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
Should 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.
Would Cæsar show 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 sheltering men much better than himself.
Dec. Your high, unconquer'd heartmakes 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
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.
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 sacrificed to Rome I stand reproved
Cato. Fathers, 'tis time you come to a resolve.
Luc. Cato, we all go in to your opinion; Casar's behaviour has convinced the senate, We ought to hold it out till terms arrive.
Sen. We ought to hold it out till death; but, Cato, My private voice is drown'd amidst the senato'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)