SEM. (aside). By heav'ns, they droop!
Confusion to the villains! all is lost.
CATO. Have you forgotten Libya's burning waste, 25 Its barren rocks, parched earth, and hills of sand,
Its tainted air, and all its broods of poison?
Who was the first to explore th' untrodden path,
When life was hazarded in every step?
Or, fainting in the long, laborious march, 30 When on the banks of an unlooked-for stream You sunk the river with repeated draughts,
Who was the last in all your host that thirsted?
SEM. If some penurious source by chance ap-peared,
Scanty of waters, when you scooped it dry, 35 And offered the full helmet up to Cato, Did he not dash th' untasted moisture from him?
Did he not lead you through the mid-day sun,
And clouds of dust? did not his temples glow
In the same sultry winds and scorching heats? 40
CATO. Hence, worthless men! hence! and com-plain to Cæsar
You could not undergo the toils of war,
Nor bear the hardships that your leader bore.
LUC. See, Cato, see th' unhappy men! they weep!
Fear, and remorse, and sorrow for their crime, 45 Appear in ev'ry look, and plead for mercy.
CATO. Learn to be honest men, give up your
And pardon shall descend on all the rest.
SEM. Cato, commit these wretches to my care.
First, let 'em each be broken on the rack, 50 Then, with what life remains, impaled and left To writhe at leisure round the bloody stake.
There let 'em hang, and taint the southern wind.
The partners of their crime will learn obedience,
When they look up and see their fellow-traitors 55 Stuck on a fork, and black'ning in the sun.
LUC. Sempronius, why, why wilt thou urge the
Of wretched men?
SEM. How! wouldst thou clear rebellion?
Lucius (good man) pities the poor offenders,
That would inbrue their hands in Cato's blood. 60
CATO. Forbear, Sempronius! -- see they suffer
But in their deaths remember they are men.
Strain not the laws to make their tortures grievous.
Lucius, the base, degenerate age requires
Severity, and justice in its rigor; 65 This awes an impious, bold, offending world, Commands obedience, and gives force to laws.
When by just vengeance guilty mortals perish,
The gods behold their punishment with pleasure,
And lay th' uplifted thunderbolt aside. 70
SEM. Cato, I execute thy will with pleasure,
CATO. Meanwhile we'll sacrifice to liberty.
Remember, O my friends, the laws, the rights,
The generous plan of power delivered down,
From age to age, by your renowned forefathers, 75 (So dearly bought, the price of so much blood) Oh, let it never perish in your hands!
But piously transmit it to your children.
Do thou, great Liberty, inspire our souls,
And make our lives in thy possession happy, 80 Or our deaths glorious in thy just defense.
Exeunt CATO, etc.
SEMPRONIUS and the Leaders of the mutiny.
1ST LEAD. Sempronius, you have acted like your-self,
One would have thought you had been half in earnest.
SEM. Villain, stand off! base, grov'lling, worthless
Mongrels in faction, poor faint-bearted traitors!
2D LEAD. Nay, now you carry it too far, Sempronius: 5 Throw off the mask, there are none here but friends.
SEM. Know, villains, when such paltry slaves
To mix in treason, if the plot succeeds,
They're thrown neglected by: but if it fails,
They're sure to die like dogs, as you shall do. 10
[Calls to Guards without.]
Here, take these factious monsters, drag 'em forth
To sudden death.
1ST LEAD. Nay, since it comes to this --
SEM. Dispatch 'em quick, but first pluck out their
Lest with their dying breath they sow sedition.
Exeunt Guards with the Leaders.
SYPH. Our first design, my friend, has proved
Still there remains an after-game to play:
My troops are mounted; their Numidian steeds
Snuff up the wind, and long to scour the desert:
Let but Sempronius head us in our flight, 5 We'll force the gate where Marcus keeps his guard, And hew down all that would oppose our passage.
A day will bring us into Cæsar's camp.
SEM. Confusion! I have failed of half my purpose:
Marcia, the charming Marcia's left behind! 10
SYPH. How! will Sempronius turn a woman's slave?
SEM. Think not thy friend can ever feel the soft
Unmanly warmth and tenderness of love.