SYPH. Meanwhile I'll draw up my Numidian
I laugh to think how your unshaken Cato
Will look aghast, while unforeseen destruction
|Pours in upon him thus from every side.||50|
Wheel through the air, in circling eddies play,
Tear up the sands, and sweep whole plains away.
The helpless traveller, with wild surprise,|
Sees the dry desert all around him rise,
And smothered in the dusty whirlwind dies.
MARCUS and PORTIUS.
MAR. Thanks to my stars, I have not ranged about
The wilds of life, ere I could find a friend;
Nature first pointed out my Portius to me,
And early taught me, by her secret force,
|To love thy person, ere I knew thy merit;||5|
POR. Marcus, the friendships of the world are oft
Confed'racies in vice, or leagues of pleasure;
Ours has severest virtue for its basis,
|And such a friendship ends not but with life.||10|
MAR. Portius, thou know'st my soul in all its
Then prithee spare me on its tender side,
Indulge me but in love, my other passions
Shall rise and fall by virtue's nicest rules.
POR. When love's well-timed, 'tis not a fault to
I would not urge thee to dismiss thy passion,
(I know 'twere vain) but to suppress its force,
|Till better times may make it look more graceful.||20|
MAR. Alas! thou talk'st like one who never felt
Th' impatient throbs and longings of a soul
That pants and reaches after distant good.
A lover does not live by vulgar time:
|Believe me, Portius, in my Lucia's absence||25|
I'm ten times more undone; while hope, and fear,
And grief, and rage, and love, rise up at once,
|And with variety of pain distract me.||30|
POR. What can thy Portius do to give thee help?
MAR. Portius, thou oft enjoy'st the fair one's
Then undertake my cause, and plead it to her
With all the strength and heats of eloquence
|Fraternal love and friendship can inspire.||35|
That he forgets his sleep, and loathes his food,
That youth, and health, and war, are joyless to him.
|Describe his anxious days and restless nights,||40|
POR. Marcus, I beg thee give me not an office That suits with me so ill. Thou know'st my temper.
MAR. Wilt thou behold me sinking in my woes?
|And wilt thou not reach out a friendly arm,||45|
POR. Marcus, thou canst not ask what I'd refuse. But here, believe me, I've a thousand reasons--
MAR. I know thou'lt say my passion's out of
|That Cato's great example and misfortunes||50|
Oh, Portius, Portius, from my soul I wish
Thou didst but know thyself what 'tis to love!
|Then wouldst thou pity and assist thy brother.||55|
POR. (aside). What should I do? If I disclose my
Our friendship's at an end: if I conceal it,
The world will call me false to a friend and brother.
MAR. But see where Lucia, at her wonted hour,
|Amid the cool of yon high marble arch,||60|
Observe her well, and blame me, if thou canst.
Port. She sees us, and advances--
MAR. I'll withdraw,
|And leave you for a while. Remember, Portius,||65|
LUC. Did not I see your brother Marcus here?
Why did he fly the place, and shun my presence?
POR. Oh, Lucia, language is too faint to show
His rage of love; it preys upon his life;
|He pines, he sickens, he despairs, he dies:||5|
That the whole man is quite disfigured in him.
Heav'ns! would one think 'twere possible for love
|To make such ravage in a noble soul!||10|
A secret damp of grief comes o'er my thoughts,
And I'm unhappy, though thou smilest upon me.
LUC. How wilt thou guard thy honor in the shock