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still smoke with blood. 'T is time we should decree what course to take. Our foe advances on us, and envies us ev'n Lybia's sultry deserts. Fathers, pronounce your thoughts; are they still fixt 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 ? . . Sempronius, speak.
Semi. My voice is still for war. Gods, can a Roman senate long debate : which of the two to choose, slavery 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 froin bondage. Rise, fathers, rise! 't is Rome demands your help; rise, and revenge her slaughter'd citizens, or share their fate: the corps of half her senate manure the fields of Thessaly, while we sit here, deliberating in cold debates if we should sacrifice our lives to honour, or wear them out in servitude and chains. Rouse up, for shame! our brothers of Pharsalia point at their wounds, and cry aloud to battle! great Pompey's shade complains that we are slow, and Scipio's ghost walks unreveng'd amongst us.
Cató. Let not a torrent of impetuous zealtransport thee thus beyond the bounds of reason: true fortitude is seen in great exploits, that justice warrants, and that wisdoın guides; all else is towering phrensy and distraction. Are not the lives of those, who draw the sword
in Rome's defence, entrusted to our care? should we thus lead them to a field of slaughter, might not th' impartial world with reason say, we lavish'd at our deaths the blood of thousands, to grace our fall, and make our ruin glorious? Lucius, we next would know what's your opinion.
Luc. My thoughts, I must confess, are turn'd on Already have our quarrels fill'd the world (peace. with widows and with orphans: Scythia mourns our guilty wars, and earth's remotest regions lie half unpeopled by the feuds of Rome: 't is time to sheath the sword, and spare mankind. It is not Cæsar, but the gods, my fathers, the gods declare against us, and repel our vain attempts. To urge the foe to battle, (prompted by blind revenge and wild despair) were to refuse th' awards of providence, and to rest in heaven's determination. Already have we shewn our love to Rome; now let us shew 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 wrest 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 must fall, that we are innocent.
Sem. This smooth discourse and mild behaviour oft conceal a traitor-Something whispers me all is not right-Cato, beware of Lucius.
[Aside to Cato. Cato. Let us appear not rash nor diffident: immoderate 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 desperate. We have bulwarks round within our walls are troops inur'd to toil [us; in Afric's heats, and season'd to the sun; Numidia's spacious kingdom lies behind us, ready to rise at it's young prince's call. Whilst there is hope, do not distrust the gods; but wait at least till Cæsar's near approach force us to vield. T will 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 it's full length, and spin it to the last. So shall we gain still one day's liberty; and let me perish, but in 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 gates, lodgʻd on my post, a herald is arriv’d. 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 loos'd those ties, and bound him fast to Cæsar. His message may determine our resolves.
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 streights to which you 're driven ; and as he knows Cato's high worth, is anxious for his life.
Cato. My life is grafted on the fate of Rome: would he save Cato? bid him spare his country. Tell your dictator this; and tell him Cato disdains a lise, 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, and deliy'd his triumphs. Why will not Cato be this Cæsar's friend?
Cato. Those very reasons, thou hast urg'd, forbid
Dec. Calo, 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 every 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 it's eyes on Cato, as on the second of mankind. Cato.
Dec. Cæsar is well acquainted with your virtues, and therefore sets this value on your life: Je him but know the price of Cato's friendship, and name your terms. Cato.
Bid him disband his legions, restore the commonwealth to liberty, subinit bis actions to the public censure, and stand the judgment of a Roman senate. Bid bim 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 emto clear the guilty, and to varnish crimes, [employ'd
myself will mount the rostrum in his favour,
Dec. A style like this becomes a conqueror...,
Dec. Consider, Cato you 're in Utica:
Cato, Let him consider that who drives us bither: 't is Cæsar's sword has made Rome's senate little, and thinn'd it's 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 bim 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 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 shew the greatness of his soul, bid him employ his care for these my friends. And make good use of his ill-gotten power by sheltering men much better than himself. get
Dec. Your high unconquer'd heart makes you forthat you 're a man. You rush on your destruction, But I have done. When I relate hereafter the tale of this unhappy embassy,