BY JOSEPH ADDISON
POR. The dawn is overcast, the morning, low'rs,
And heavily clouds bring on the day,
The great, th' important day, big with the fate
Of Cato and of Rome. Our father's death
Would fill up all the guilt of civil war 5 And close the scene of blood. Already Cæsar
Has ravaged more than half the globe, and sees
Mankind grown thin by his destructive sword:
Should he go further, numbers would be wanting
To form new battles and support his crimes. 10 Ye gods, what havoc does ambition make Among your works!
MAR. Thy steady temper, Portius,
Can look on guilt, rebellion, fraud, and Cæesar,
In the calm lights of mild philosophy;
I'm tortured, ev'n to madness, when I think 15 On the proud victor: ev'ry time he's named Pharsalia rises to my view -- I see
Th' insulting tyrant prancing o'er the field
Strowed with Rome's citizens, and drenched in
His horse's hoofs wet with patrician blood. 20 O Portius! is there not some chosen curse, Some hidden thunder in the stores of heav'n,
Red with uncommon wrath, to blast the man
Who owes his greatness to his country's ruin?
POR. Believe me, Marcus, 'tis an impious great-
ness, 25 And mixed with too much horror to be envied. How does the lustre of our father's actions,
Through the dark cloud of ills that cover him,
Break out, and burn with more triumphant bright-
His suff'rings shine, and spread a glory round
him; 30 Greatly unfortunate, he fights the cause Of honor, virtue, liberty, and Rome.
His sword ne'er fell but on the guilty head;
Oppression, tyranny, and power usurped,
Draw all the vengeance of his arm upon 'em. 35
MAR. Who knows not this? But what can Cato
Against a world, a base, degenerate world
That courts the yoke, and bows the neck to Cæsar?
Pent up in Utica he vainly forms
A poor epitome of Roman greatness, 40 And, covered with Numidian guards, directs A feeble army and an empty senate,
Remnants of mighty battles fought in vain.
By heav'ns, such virtues, joined with such success,
Distract my very soul: our father's fortune 45 Would almost tempt us to renounce his precepts.
POR. Remember what our father oft has told us:
The ways of heav'n are dark and intricate,
Puzzled in mazes and perplext with errors;
Our understanding traces 'em in vain, 50 Lost and bewildered in the fruitless search, Nor sees with how much art the windings run,
Nor where the regular confusion ends.
MAR. These are suggestions of a mind at ease;
O Portius! didst thou taste but half the griefs 55 That wring my soul, thou couldst not talk thus calmly.
Passion unpitied and successless love
Plant daggers in my heart, and aggravate
My other griefs. Were but my Lucia kind!--
POR. (aside). Thou seest not that thy brother is
thy rival; 60 But I must hide it, for I know thy temper. --Now, Marcus, now, thy virtue's on the proof:
Put forth thy utmost strength, work ev'ry nerve,
And call up all thy father in thy soul:
To quell the tyrant love, and guard thy heart 65 On this weak side, where most our nature fails, Would be a conquest worthy Cato's son.
MAR. Portius, the counsel which I cannot take,
Instead of healing, but upbraids my weakness.
Bid me for honor plunge into a war 70 Of thickest foes, and rush on certain death, Then shalt thou see that Marcus is not slow
To follow glory and confess his father.
Love is not to be reasoned down, or lost
In high ambition and a thirst of greatness; 75 'Tis second life, it grows into the soul, Warms ev'ry vein, and beats in ev'ry pulse,
I feel it here: my resolution melts --
POR. Behold young Juba, the Numidian prince!
With how much care he forms himself to glory, 80 And breaks the fierceness of his native temper To copy out our father's bright example.
He loves our sister Marcia, greatly loves her,