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Fathers, I pronounce your thoughts are they still fixt|
To hold it out, I and fight it to the lasť? ]
Or are your hearts subdu'd at length, I and wrought
By time, and ill success, I to a submission ? |
Sempronius, speak. |
My voice is still for war'. I
Can a Roman senate long debate
Which of the two to choose | slav'ry, or death'? |
No, | let us rise at once', I gird on our swords', /
And, at the head of our remaining troops,
Attack the foe, I break through the thick array |
Of his throng'd legions, I 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 cit'izens,
Or share their fate. ! | The corpse of half her sen'ate,
Manure the fields of Thes'saly, while we
Sit here deliberating in cold debates,
Whether to sacrifice our lives to honour,
Or wear them out in servitude, and chains. I
Rouse up', for shame'! our brothers of Pharsalia
Point at their wounds', / and cry
aloud I to battle!! Great Pompey's shade, complains that we are slow'; / And Scipio's ghost | walks unreveng'd' 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, I and that wisdom guides, . All else is tow'ring frenzy and distrac'tion. Are not the lives of those who draw the sword In Rome's defence, I entrusted to our care? | Should we thus lead them to a field of slaughter, Might not the impartial world, I with reason, say, We lavish'd at our deaths | the blood of thousands, | To grace our fall, I and make our ruin glorious ? | Lucius, / we next would know what's your' opinion. I
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, I and earth’s remotest regions |
Lie half unpeopled by the feuds of Rome - I
'T is time to sheathe the sword, and spare mankind.
It is not Cæsar, but the gods', my fathers, |
The gods declare against us, I and repel
Our vain attempts. To urge the foe to battle,
Prompted by blind revenge, and wild despair, |
Were to refuse the awards of prov'idence,a |
And not to rest in heav'n's determination. |
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 : 1 when this end fails, |
Arms have no further use. / Our country's cause, |
That drew our swords, now wrests them from our hands,
And bids us not delight in Roman blood, |
Unprofitably shed. | What men could do,
Is done already: heaven, and earth will witness, |
If Rome mūst fäll, that we are innocent. |
Semp. This smooth discourse, and mild behaviour, I oft
Conceal a traitor - something whispers me
All is not right — | Cato, beware of Lucius. I
[Aside to Cato.
Cato. Let us be neither rash nor diffident -1
Immod'rate valour swells into a fault'; 1
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 bul warks
round us: 1
Within our walls, I are troops, inured to toil
In Afric's heat, I and season'd to the sun i
Numidia's spacious kingdom lies behind us,
Ready to rise at its young prince's call. |
Prởv'è-déns; not prov'ur-dunce.
While there is hope, I do not distrust the gods'; |
But wait, at least, till Cæsar's near approach
Force' us to yield. | ’T will never be too late
To sue for chains, and own a conqueror.
Why should Rome fall a moment ere her time' ? |
No', I let us draw her term of freedom out!
In its full length', and spin it to the last 1
So shall we gain still one day's liberty : 1
And let me perish, I but in Cato's judgment, |
A day', / an hour', / of virtuous liberty, I
Is worth a whole eternity in bondage. I
Marc. Fathers, this moment, as I watch'd the gate, |
Lodg'd on my post, I a herald is arriv'd
From Cæsar's camp'; 1 and with him, comes old De'cius,
The Roman knight' - | he carries in his looks
Impatience, I and demands to speak with Cato.
Cato. By your permission, fathers — | bid him enter. I
[Exit Marcus. Decius was once my friend"; | but other prospects Have loos'd those ties, I and bound him fast to Cæsar. His message may determine our resolves. |
[Enter Decius.] Dec. Cæsar sends health to Ca'to. I Cato.
Could he send it To Cato's slaughter'd friěnds, I it would be welcome. I Are not your orders to address the sen'ate? |
Dec. My business is with Ca'to. 1 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. I Would he save Cato, l bid him spare his country. Tell your dictator this — and tell him too, Čato Disdains' a life which he has power to offer.
Dec. Rome, and her senators, submit to Cæsar; | Her generals, and her consuls, are no more,
Who check'd his conquests, I and denied his triumphs. / Why will not Ca'to be this Cæsar's friend ? |
Cato. Those very reasons thou hast urg'd', forbid it. |
Dec. Cato, I have orders to expos'tulate,
And rea'son with you, I as from friend to friend: ; |
Think on the storm that gathers o'er your
And threatens ev'ry hour to burst upon
Still may you stand high in your country's honours, - 1
Do but comply, I and make your peace with Cæsar, I
Rome will rejoice', I and cast its eyes on Cato,
As on the second of mankind. |
1 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. I Cato.
Bid him disband his legions, Restore the commonwealth to lib'erty, Submit his actions to the public cen'sure, And stand the judgment of a Roman sen ate. ! Let him do this', I and Cato is his friend.
Dec. Cato, the world talks loudly of your wisdom- -1
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 fa'vour, 1
And strive to gain his pardon from the people. I
Dec. A style like this becomes a con'queror.
Cato. Decius, a style like this, becomes a Ro'man. |
Dec. What is a Roman, that is Cæsar's foe?
Cato.' Great'er than Cæsar:/ he's a friend to virtue.
Dec. Consider, Cato, you ’re in U'tica, |
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. I
Cato. Let him consider that, I 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:
Didst thou but view him right, thou 'dst see him black
With murder, trea'son, sacrilege, and crimes',
That strike my soul with horror but to name them. I
I know thou look’st on me, I as on a wretch |
Beset with ills, and cover'd with misfortunes;
But, millions of worlds'ı
Should never buy me to be like that Cæsar. |
Dec. Does Cato send this answer back to Cæsar, 1 For all his generous 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, I
Let him employ his care for these my friends'; /
And make good use of his ill-gotten power,
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. I
Cato, we thank thee.
The mighty genius of immortal Rome', /
Speaks in thy voice: 1 thy soul breathes lib'erty. /
Cæsar will shrink to hear the words thou utter'st, I
And shudder in the midst of all his conquests.
Luc. The senate owes its gratitude to Cato |
Who, with so great a soul, I consults its safety,
And guards our lives, / while he neglects his own. |
Semp. Sempronius gives no thanks on this account. | Lucius seems fond of life'; / but what is life? | 'Tis not to stalk about, I and draw fresh air From time to time, I or gaze upon the sun':
: 1 'T is to be free'. | When liberty is gone, | Life grows insip'id, I and has lost its relish. ! O could my dying hand | but lodge a sword