British Dramatists from Dryden to Sheridan

By George Henry Nettleton; Arthur Eillicot Case | Go to book overview
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SCENE III

SYPHAX, SEMPRONIUS.

SYPH. Sempronius, all is ready;
I've sounded my Numidians, man by man,
And find 'em ripe for a revolt: they all
Complain aloud of Cato's discipline,
And wait but the command to change their

master. 5

SEM. Believe me, Syphax, there's no time to waste;
Ev'n whilst we speak, our conqueror comes on,
And gathers ground upon us ev'ry moment.
Alas! thou know'st not Cæsar's active soul,

With what a dreadful course he rushes on 10
From war to war: in vain has nature formed Mountains and oceans to oppose his passage;
He bounds o'er all, victorious in his march,
The Alps and Pyreneans sink before him;
Through winds and waves and storms he works
his way, 1 5
Impatient for the battle: one day more Will set the victor thund'ring at our gates.
But tell me, hast thou yet drawn o'er young Juba?
That still would recommend thee more to Cæsar,
And challenge better terms.

SYPH. Alas, he's lost, 20
He's lost, Sempronius; all his thoughts are full Of Cato's virtues:--but I'll try once more
(For every instant I expect him here)
If yet I can subdue those stubborn principles
Of faith, of honor, and I know not what, 25
That have corrupted his Numidian temper, And struck th' infection into all his soul.

SEM. Be sure to press upon him ev'ry motive.
Juba's surrender, since his father's death,

Would give up Afric into Cæsar's hands, 30
And make him lord of half the burning zone.

SYPH. But is it true, Sempronius, that your senate
Is called together? Gods! thou must be cautious!
Cato has piercing eyes, and will discern

Our frauds, unless they're covered thick with art. 35

SEM. Let me alone, good Syphax: I'll conceal
My thoughts in passion ('tis the surest way);
I'll bellow out for Rome and for my country,
And mouth at Cæsar till I shake the senate.

Your cold hypocrisy's a stale device, 40
A worn-out trick: wouldst thou be thought in earnest? Clothe thy feigned zeal in rage, in fire, in fury!

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.
45
Meanwhile I'll hasten to my Roman soldiers,
Inflame the mutiny, and underhand
Blow up their discontents, till they break out
Unlooked for, and discharge themselves on Cato.
Remember, Syphax, we must work in haste: 50
Oh, think what anxious moments pass between
The birth of plots and their last fatal periods.
Oh! 'tis a dreadful interval of time,
Filled up with horror all, and big with death!
Destruction hangs on ev'ry word we speak, 55
On ev'ry thought, till the concluding stroke Determines all, and closes our design. Exit.

SYPH. (solus). 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 us -- 60
But hold! young Juba sees me, and approaches.


SCENE IV

JUBA, SYPHAX.

JUBA. Syphax, I joy to meet thee thus alone.
I have observed of late thy looks are fall'n,
O'ercast with gloomy cares and discontent;
Then tell me, Syphax, I conjure thee, tell me,
What are the thoughts that knit thy brow in

frowns, 5
And turn thine eye thus coldly on thy prince?

SYPH. 'Tis not my talent to conceal my thoughts, Nor carry smiles and sunshine in my face,
When discontent sits heavy at my heart.

I have not yet so much the Roman in me. 10

JUBA. Why dost thou cast out such ungen'rous
terms
Against the lords and sov'reigns of the world?
Dost thou not see mankind fall down before 'em,
And own the force of their superior virtue?

Is there a nation in the wilds of Afric, 15
Amidst our barren rocks and burning sands, That does not tremble at the Roman name?

SYPH. Gods! where's the worth that sets this
people up
Above your own Numidia's tawny sons!

Do they with tougher sinews bend the bow? 20
Or flies the javelin swifter to its mark, Launched from the vigor of a Roman arm?
Who like our active African instructs
The fiery steed, and trains him to his hand?
Or guides in troops th' embattled elephant, 25
Loaden with war? these, these are arts, my prince, In which your Zama 1 does not stoop to Rome.

JUBA. These all are virtues of a meaner rank.
Perfections that are placed in bones and nerves.

A Roman soul is bent on higher views: 30
To civilize the rude, unpolished world, And lay it under the restraint of laws;
To make man mild and sociable to man;
To cultivate the wild, licentious savage

____________________
SCENE IV. 8] D7D8W Or.
13] D7D8W them.
1
A town in northern Africa, famous as the scene of the de-
cisive defeat of Hannibal by Scipio. Addison seems to have
thought it the capital city of Numidia.

-483-

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British Dramatists from Dryden to Sheridan
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