Who checked his conquests, and denied his triumphs.
Why will not Cato be this Caesar's friend?
CATO. Those very masons thou hast urged forbid
DEC. Cato, I've orders to expostulate
And reason with you, as from friend to friend:
Think on the storm that gathers o'er your head,
And threatens ev'ry hour to burst upon it;
Still may you stand high in your country's
honors, 20 Do but comply, and make your peace with Caesar.
Rome will rejoice, and cast its eyes on Cato,
As on the second of mankind.
CATO. No more!
I must not think of life on such conditions.
DEC. Cæsar is well acquainted with your vir-
tues, 25 And therefore sets this value on your life: Let him but know the price of Cato's friendship,
And name your terms.
CATO. Bid him disband his legions;
Restore the commonwealth to liberty,
Submit his actions to the public censure, 30 And stand the judgment of a Roman senate: Bid him do this, and Cato is his friend.
DEC. Cato, the world talks loudly of your wis-
CATO. Nay more, though Cato's voice was ne'er
To clear the guilty, and to varnish crimes, 35 Myself will mount the rostrum in his favor, And strive to gain his pardon from the people.
DEC. A style like this becomes a conqueror.
CATO. Decius, a style like this becomes a Roman.
DEC. What is a Roman, that is Cæsar's foe? 40
CATO. Greater than Caesar, he's a friend to virtue.
DEC. Consider, Cato, you're in Utica,
And at the head of your own little senate;
You don't now thunder in the Capitol,
With all the mouths of Rome to second you. 45
CATO. Let him consider that who drives us hither:
'Tis Cæsar's sword has made Rome's senate little,
And thinn'd its ranks. Alas! thy dazzled eye
Beholds this man in a false glaring light,
Which conquest and success have thrown upon
him; 50 Didst thou but view him right, thou'dst see him black With murder, treason, sacrilege, and crimes
That strike my soul with horror but to name 'era.
I know thou look'st on me, as on a wretch
Beset with ills, and covered with misfortunes; 55 But, by the gods I swear, millions of worlds Should never buy me to be like that Caesar.
DEC. Does Cato send this answer back to Caesar,
For all his gen'rous cares, and proffered friendship?
CATO. His cares for me are insolent and vain: 60 Presumptuous man! the gods take care of Cato--
Would Cæsar show-the greatness of his soul,
Bid him employ his care for these my friends,
And make good use of his ill-gotten power,
By shelt'ring men much better than himself. 65
DEC. Your high unconquered heart makes you
That you're a man. You rush on your destruction.
But I have done. When I relate hereafter
The tale of this unhappy embassy,
All Rome will be in team. Exit DECTUS.
SEM. Cato, we thank thee.
The mighty genius of immortal Rome
Speaks in thy voice, thy soul breathes liberty:
Caesar will shrink to hear the words thou utter'st,
And shudder in the midst of all his conquests. 5
Luc. The senate owns its gratitude to Cato,
Who with so great a soul consults its safety,
And guards our lives, while he neglects his own.
SEM. Sempronius gives no thanks on this account.
Lucius seems fond of life; but what is life? 10 'Tis not to stalk about, and draw fresh air From time to time, or gaze upon the sun;
'Tis to be free. When liberty is gone,
Life grows insipid, and has lost its relish.
Oh, could my dying hand but lodge a sword 15 In Cæsar's bosom, and revenge my country,
By heav'ns, I could enjoy the pangs of death,
And smile in agony.
Luc. Others perhaps
May serve their country with as warm a zeal,
Though 'tis not kindled into so much rage. 20
SEM. This sober conduct is a mighty virtue
In lukewarm patriots.
CATO. Come! no more, Sempronius!
All here are friends to Rome, and to each other.
Let us not weaken still the weaker side
By our divisions.
Cato, my resentments 25 Are sacrificed to Rome-- I stand reproved.
CATO. Fathers, 'tis time you come to a resolve.
LUC. Cato, we all go into your opinion,
Caesar's behavior has convinced the senate
We ought to hold it out till terms arrive. 30
SEM. We ought to hold it out till death; but, Cato,
My private voice is drowned amid the senate's.
CATO. Then let us rise, my friends, and strive
This little interval, this pause of life,
(While yet our liberty and fates are doubtful) 35 With resolution, friendship, Roman bravery, And all the virtues we can crowd into it;
That heav'n may say, it ought to be prolonged.