British Dramatists from Dryden to Sheridan

By George Henry Nettleton; Arthur Eillicot Case | Go to book overview
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LUC. I need not blush to name them, when I tell
thee
They're Marcia's brothers, and the sons of Cato.

MAR. They both behold thee with their sister's
eyes,

And often have revealed their passion to me. 30
But tell me whose address thou favor'st most; I long to know, and yet I dread to hear it.

Luc. Which is it Marcia wishes for?

MAR. For neither--
And yet for both;-- the youths have equal share

In Marcia's wishes, and divide their sister: 35
But tell me, which of them is Lucia's choice? Lye. Marcia, they both are high in my esteem,
But in my love -- why wilt thou make me name him?
Thou know'st it is a blind and foolish passion,
Pleased and disgusted with it knows not what -- 40

MAR. O Lucia, I'm perplexed; oh, tell me which I must hereafter call my happy brother.

Lye. Suppose 'twere Portius, could you blame my
choice?
O Portius, thou hast stol'n away my soul!

With what a graceful tenderness he loves! 45
And breathes the softest, the sincerest vows! Complacency,1 and truth, and manly sweetness
Dwell ever on his tongue, and smooth his thoughts.
Marcus is over-warm - his fond complaints
Have so much earnestness and passion in them, 50
I hear him with a secret kind of dread, And tremble at his vehemence of temper.

MAR. Alas, poor youth! how canst thou throw
him from thee?
Lucia, thou know'st not half the love he bears thee;

Whene'er he speaks of thee, his heart's in flames. 55
He sends out all his soul in ev'ry word, And thinks, and talks, and looks like one transported.
Unhappy youth! how will thy coldness raise
Tempests and storms in his afflicted bosom!
I dread the consequence.

Luc. You seem to plead 60
Against your brother Portius.

MAR. Heaven forbid! Had Portius been the unsuccessful lover,
The same compassion would have fall'n on him.

Luc. Was ever virgin love distressed like mine!

Portius himself oft falls in tears before me, 65
As if he mourned his rival's ill success, Then bids me hide the motions of my heart,
Nor show which way it turns. So much he fears
The sad effects that it would have on Marcus.

MAR. He knows too well how easily he's fired, 70
And would not plunge his brother in despair, But waits for happier times, and kinder moments.

Luc. Alas! too late I find myself involved
In endless griefs, and labyrinths of woe,

Born to afflict my Marcia's family, 75
And sow dissension in the hearts of brothers. Tormenting thought! it cuts into my soul.

MAR. Let us not, Lucia, aggravate our sorrows,
But to the gods permit th' event2 of things.

Our lives, discolored with our present woes, 80
May still grow bright, and smile with happier hours. So the pure limpid stream, when foul with stains
Of rushing torrents and descending rains,
Works itself clear, and as it runs, refines;
Till, by degrees, the floating mirror shines, 85
Reflects each flow'r that on the border grows, And a new heav'n in its fair bosom shows. Exeunt.


ACT II

SCENE I
THE SENATE.

SEM. Rome still survives in this assembled senate!
Let us remember we are Cato's friends,
And act like men who claim that glorious title.

Luc. Cato will soon be here, and open to us

Th' occasion of our meeting. Hark! he comes! 5
(A sound of trumpets.)
May all the guardian gods of Rome direct him!

Enter CATO.

CATO. Fathers, we once again are met in council.
Cæsar's approach has summoned us together,
And Rome attends her fate from our resolves:

How shall we treat this bold, aspiring man? 10
Success still follows him and backs his crimes; Pharsalia gave him Rome; Egypt has since
Received his yoke, and the whole Nile is Caesar's.
Why should I mention Juba's overthrow,
And Scipio's death? Numidia's burning sands 15
Still smoke with blood. 'Tis time we should decree
What course to take. Our foe advances on us,
And envies us ev'n Libya's sultry deserts.
Fathers, pronounce your thoughts: are they still fixt
To hold it out, and fight it to the last? 20
Or are your hearts subdued at length, and wrought By time and ill success to a submission?
Sempronius, speak.

SEM. My voice is still for war.
Gods, can a Roman senate long debate

Which of the two to choose, slav'ry or death! 25
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 thronged legions, and charge home upon him.

____________________
51] D7D8W kind of horror.
81] W grow white.
1
Complaisance, courtesy.
2
Outcome.
3

This means the members of the senate, not the senate
chamber. There is no change of scene throughout the play.

-486-

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British Dramatists from Dryden to Sheridan
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