Shall know he conquered. The firm patriot there
(Who made the welfare of mankind his care,
Though still by faction, vice, and fortune crossed) 160 Shall find the gen'rous labor was not lost. [Exeunt.)
CATO solus, sitting in a thoughtful posture: in his hand Plato's book on the immortality of the soul. A drawn sword on the table by him.
[CATO.] It must be so -- Plato, thou reason'st
Else whence this pleasing hope, this fond desire,
This longing after immortality?
Or whence this secret dread, and inward horror,
Of falling into nought? why shrinks the soul 5 Back on herself, and startles at destruction? 'Tis the divinity that stirs within us;
'Tis heav'n itself, that points out an hereafter,
And intimates eternity to man.
Eternity! thou pleasing, dreadful thought! 10 Through what variety of untried being, Through what new scenes and changes must we pass!
The wide, th' unbounded prospect, lies before me;
But shadows, clouds, and darkness, rest upon it.
Here will I hold. If there's a pow'r above us, 15 (And that there is all Nature cries aloud Through all her works) he must delight in virtue:
And that which he delights in must be happy.
But when! or where! -- This world was made for Cæsar.
I'm weary of conjectures -- this must end 'em. 20
(Laying his hand an his sword.)
Thus am I doubly armed: my death and life,
My bane and antidote, are both before me:
This in a moment brings me to an end;
But this informs me I shall never die.
The soul, secured in her existence, smiles 25 At the drawn dagger, and defies its point. The stars shall fade away, the sun himself
Grow dim with age, and nature sink in years;
But thou shalt flourish in immortal youth,
Unhurt amidst the wars of elements, 30 The wrecks of matter, and the crush of worlds. What means this heaviness that hangs upon me?
This lethargy that creeps through all my senses?
Nature, oppressed and harassed out with care,
Sinks down to rest. This once I'll favor her, 35 That my awakened soul may take her flight, Renewed in all her strength, and fresh with life,
An off'ring fit for heav'n. Let guilt or fear
Disturb man's rest: Cato knows neither of 'em,
Indiff'rent in his choice to sleep or die. 40
CATO. But, hah! how's this, my son? why this
Were not my orders that I would be private?
Why am I disobeyed?
POR. Alas! my father!
What means this sword, this instrument of death?
Let me convey it hence!
CATO. Rash youth, forbear! 5
POR. Oh, let the pray'rs, th' entreaties of your
Their tears, their common danger, wrest it from you.
CATO. Wouldst thou betray me? wouldst thou
give me up
A slave, a captive, into Cæsar's hands?
Retire, and learn obedience to a father, 10 Or know, young man! --
[POR. Look not thus sternly on me;
You know I'd rather die than disobey you.
CATO. 'Tis well! again I'm master of myself.
Now, Cæsar, let thy troops beset our gates,
And bar each avenue, thy gathering fleets 15 O'erspread the sea, and stop up every port; Cato shall open to himself a passage,
And mock thy hopes --]
POR. O sir! forgive your son,
Whose grief hangs heavy on him! O my father!
How am I sure it is not the last time 20 I e'er shall call you so? be not displeased, Oh, be not angry with me whilst I weep,
And, in the anguish of my heart beseech you
To quit the dreadful purpose of your soul!
CATO. Thou hast been ever good and dutiful. 25
Weep not, my son. All will be well again.
the righteous gods, whom I have sought to please,
Will succor Cato, and preserve his children.
POR. Your words give comfort to my drooping heart.
CATO. Portius, thou may'st rely upon my conduct. 30 thy father will not act what misbecomes him.
But go, my son, and see if aught be wanting
Among thy father's friends; see them embarked;
And tell me if the winds and seas befriend them.
My soul is quite weighed down with care, and asks 35 The soft refreshment of a moment's sleep. Exit.
POR. My thoughts are more at ease, my heart revives____________________