British Dramatists from Dryden to Sheridan

By George Henry Nettleton; Arthur Eillicot Case | Go to book overview
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JUBA. Was this thy motive? I have been too hasty.

SYPH. And 'tis for this my prince has called me traitor.

JUBA. Sure thou mistakest; I did not call thee so.

SYPH. You did indeed, my prince, you called me

traitor: 95
Nay, further, threatened you'd complain to Cato. Of what, my prince, would you complain to Cato?
That Syphax loves you, and would sacrifice
His life, nay, more, his honor in your service.

JUBA. Syphax, I know thou lov'st me, but

indeed 100
Thy zeal for Juba carried thee too far. Honor's a sacred tie, the law of kings,
The noble mind's distinguishing perfection,
That aids and strengthens virtue where it meets her,
And imitates her actions, where she is not: 105
It ought not to be sported with.

SYPH. By heav'ns, I'm ravished when you talk thus, though you chide me!
Alas! I've hitherto been used to think
A blind, officious zeal to serve my king

The ruling principle that ought to burn 110
And quench all others in a subject's heart. Happy the people, who preserve their honor
By the same duties that oblige their prince!

JUBA. Syphax, thou now begin'st to speak thyself.

Numidia's grown a scorn among the nations 115
For breach of public vows. Our Punic faith Is infamous, and branded to a proverb.
Syphax, we'll join our cares, to purge away
Our country's crimes, and clear her reputation.

SYPH. Believe me, prince, you make old Syphax

weep 120
To hear you talk-- but 'tis with tears of joy. If e'er your father's crown adorn your brows, Numidia will be blest by Cato's lectures.1

JUBA. Syphax, thy hand! we'll mutually forget

The warmth of youth, and frowardness of age: 125
Thy prince esteems thy worth, and loves thy person. If e'er the scepter comes into my hand,
Syphax shall stand the second in my kingdom.

SYPH. Why will you overwhelm my age with kindness?

My joy grows burdensome, I shan't support it. 130

JUBA. Syphax, farewell, I'll hence, and try to find Some blest occasion that may set me right
In Cato's thoughts. I'd rather have that man
Approve my deeds, than worlds for my admirers.

Exit.

SYPH. (solus). Young men soon give, and soon

forget affronts; 135
Old age is slow in both -- 'A false old traitor!' Those words, rash boy, may chance to cost thee dear.

My heart had still some foolish fondness for thee:
But hence! 'tis gone: I give it to the winds:

Cæsar, I'm wholly thine- 140


[SCENE VI]

Enter SEMPRONIUS.

SYPH. All hail, Sempronius!
Well, Cato's senate is resolved to wait
The fury of a siege before it yields.

SEM. Syphax, we both were on the verge of fate:

Lucius declared for peace, and terms were offered 5
To Cato by a messenger from Cæsar. Should they submit, ere our designs are ripe,
We both must perish in the common wreck,
Lost in a gen'ral, undistinguished ruin.

SYPH. But how stands Cato?

SEM. Thou hast seen Mount Atlas: 10
While storms and tempests thunder on its brows, And oceans break their billows at its feet,
It stands unmoved, and glories in its height.
Such is that haughty man; his towering soul,
'Midst all the shocks and injuries of fortune, 15
Rises superior, and looks down on Cæsar. SYPH. But what's this messenger?

SEM. I've practised with him,
And found a means to let the victor know
That Syphax and Sempronius are his friends.

But let me now examine in my turn: 20
Is Juba fixt?

SYPH Yes-- but it is to Cato. I've tried the force of every reason on him,
Soothed and caressed, been angry, soothed again,
Laid safety, life, and int'rest in his sight,

But all are vain, he scorns them all for Cato. 25

SEM. Come, 'tis no matter, we shall do without him.
He'll make a pretty figure in a triumph,
And serve to trip before the victor's chariot.
Syphax, I now may hope thou hast forsook

Thy Juba's cause, and wishest Marcia mine. 30

SYPH. May she be thine as fast as thou wouldst have her!

SEM. Syphax, I love that woman; though I curse
Her and myself, yet, spite of me, I love her.

SYPH. Make Cato sure, and give up Utica,

Cæsar will ne'er refuse thee such a trifle. 35
But are thy troops prepared for a revolt? Does the sedition catch from man to man
And run among their ranks?

SEM. All, all is ready.
The factious leaders are our friends, that spread

Murmurs and discontents among the soldiers. 40
They count their toilsome marches, long fatigues, Unusual fastings, and will bear no more
This medley of philosophy and war.
Within an hour they'll storm the senate-house.

____________________
1
Counsels, examples.

-491-

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