His eyes, his looks, his actions all betray it:
But still the smothered fondness burns within
him. 85 When most it swells and labors for a vent, Then sense of honor and desire of fame
Drive the big passion back into his heart.
What! shall an African, shall Juba's heir
Reproach great Cato's son, and show the world 90 A virtue wanting in a Roman soul?
MAR. Portius, no more! your words leave stings
Whene'er did Juba, or did Portius, show Ú
A virtue that has cast me at a distance,
And thrown me out in the pursuits of honor? 95
POR. Marcus, I know thy generous temper well;
Fling but th' appearance of dishonor on it,
It straight takes fire, and mounts into a blaze.
MAR. A brother's suff'rings claim a brother's pity.
POR. Heav'n knows I pity thee: behold my
eyes 100 Ev'n whilst I speak.-- Do they not swim in tears? Were but my heart as naked to thy view,
Marcus would see it bleed in his behalf.
MAR. Why then dost treat me with rebukes,
Of kind, condoling cares and friendly sorrow? 105
POR. O Marcus! did I know the way to ease
Thy troubled heart, and mitigate thy pains,
Marcus, believe me, I could die to do it.
MAR. Thou best of brothers, and thou best of
Pardon a weak, distempered soul, that swells 110 With sudden gusts, and sinks as soon in calms, The sport of passions -- but Sempronius comes:
He must not find this softness hanging on me.
SEM. (solus). Conspiracies no sooner should be
Than executed. What means Portius here?
I like not that cold youth. I must dissemble,
And speak a language foreign to my heart.
Good-morrow, Portius! let us once embrace, 5 Once more embrace, whilst yet we both are free.
Tomorrow should we thus express our friendship,
Each might receive a slave into his arms:
This sun, perhaps, this morning sun's the last
That e'er shall rise on Roman liberty, 10
POR. My father has this morning called together
To this poor hall his little Roman senate
(The leavings of Pharsalia) to consult
If yet he can oppose the mighty torrent
That bears down Rome, and all her gods, before
it, 15 Or must at length give up the world to Cæsar.
SEM. Not all the pomp and majesty of Rome
Can raise her senate more than Cato's presence.
His virtues render our assembly awful,
They strike with something like religious fear, 20 And make ev'n Cæsar tremble at the head
Of armies flushed with conquest: O my Portius,
Could I but call that wondrous man my father,
Would but thy sister Marcia be propitious
To thy friend's vows, I might be blessed indeed! 25
POR. Alas! Sempronius, wouldst thou talk of love
To Marcia, whilst her father's life's in danger?
Thou might'st as well court the pale trembling vestal,
When she beholds the holy flame expiring.
SEM. The more I see the wonders of thy race, 30 The more I'm charmed. Thou must take heed, my
The world has all its eyes on Cato's son.
Thy father's merit sets thee up to view,
And shows thee in the fairest point of light,
To make thy virtues or thy faults conspicuous. 35
POR. Well dost thou seem to check my ling'ring
On this important hour! -- I'll straight away,
And while the fathers of the senate meet
In-close debate to weigh th' events of war,
I'll animate the [soldiers'] drooping courage, 40 With love of freedom, and contempt of life.
I'll thunder in their ears their country's cause,
And try to rouse up all that's Roman in 'em.
'Tis not in mortals to command success,
But we'll do more, Sempronius; we'll deserve it. 45
SEM. (solus). Curse on the stripling! how he apes
Ambitiously sententious! -- but I wonder
Old Syphax comes not; his Numidian genius
Is well disposed to mischief, were he prompt
And eager on it; but he must be spurred, 50 And every moment quickened to the course. Cato has used me ill: he has refused
[_His daughter Marcia to my ardent vows.
Besides, his baffled arms and ruined cause
Are bars to my ambition. Cæesar's favor, 55 That show'rs down greatness on his friends, will raise me
To Rome's first honors. If I give up Cato,
I claim in my reward his captive daughter.
But Syphax comes!--