POR. O Marcia, O my sister, still there's hope!
Our father will not cast away a life
So needful to us all, and to his country,
He is retired to rest, and seems to cherish
Thoughts full of peace. He has dispatched me
hence 5 With orders that bespeak a mind composed, And studious for the safety of his friends
Marcia, take care that none disturb his slumbers.
Mar. O ye immortal powers, that guard the good,
Watch round his couch, and soften his repose, 10 Banish his sorrows, and becalm his soul With easy dreams; remember all his virtues!
And show mankind that goodness is your care.
LUC. Where is your father, Marcia, where is Cato?
MAR. Lucia, speak low, he is retired to rest.
Lucia, I feel a gently-dawning hope
Rise in my soul. We shall be happy still.
LUC. Alas! I tremble when I think on Cato, 5 In every view, in every thought I tremble!
Cato is stern, and awful as a god;
He knows not how to wink at human frailty,
Or pardon weakness that he never felt.
MAR. Though stem and awful to the foes of Rome, 10
He is all goodness, Lucia, always mild,
Compassionate, and gentle to his friends.
Filled with domestic tenderness, the best,
The kindest father! I have ever found him
Easy, and good, and bounteous to my wishes, 15
LUC. 'Tis his consent alone can make us blest.
Marcia, we both are equally involved
In the same intricate, perplexed distress.
The cruel hand of fate, that has destroyed
Thy brother Marcus, whom we both lament -- 20
MAR. And ever shall lament, unhappy youth!
LUC. Has set my soul at large, and now I stand
Loose of my vow. But who knows Cato's thoughts?
Who knows how yet he may dispose of Portius,
Or how he has determined of thyself? 25
MAR. Let him but live! commit the rest to heav'n.
LUCIUS. Sweet are the slumbers of the virtuous man!
O Marcia, I have seen thy godlike father:
Some pow'r invisible supports his soul,
And bears it up in all its wonted greatness. 30 A kind refreshing sleep is fall'n upon him: I saw him stretched at ease, his fancy lost
In pleasing dreams: as I drew near his couch,
He smiled, and cried, 'Caesar, thou canst not hurt me.'
MAR. His mind still labors with some dreadful thought. 35
LUCIUS. Lucia, why all this grief, these floods of
Dry up thy tears, my child, we all are safe
While Cato lives -- his presence will protect us.
JUBA. Lucius, the horsemen are returned from
The number, strength, and posture of our foes, 40 Who now encamp within a short hour's march. On the high point of yon bright western tower
We ken them from afar; the setting sun
Plays on their shining arms and burnished helmets,
And covers all the field with gleams of fire. 45
LUCIUS. Marcia, 'tis time we should awake thy
Cæsar is still disposed to give us terms,
And waits at distance till he hears from Cato.
Portius, thy looks speak somewhat of importance,
What tidings dost thou bring? methinks I see 50 Unusual gladness sparkling in thy eyes.
POR. As I was hasting to the port, where now
My father's friends, impatient for a passage,
Accuse the ling'ring winds, a sail arrived
From Pompey's son, who through the realms of Spain55 Calls out for vengeance on his father's death, And rouses the whole nation up to arms.
Were Cato at their head, once more might Rome
Assert her rights and claim her liberty.
But, hark! what means that groan! Oh, give me
way, 60 And let me fly into my father's presence. [Exit.]
LUCIUS. Cato, amidst his slumbers, thinks on
And in the wild disorder of his soul
Mourns o'er his country, -- Hah! a second groan! --
Heav'n guard us all --
MAR. Alas! 'tis not the voice 65 Of one who sleeps! 'tis agonizing pain, 'Tis death is in that sound --
POR. Oh sight of woe!
O Marcia, what we feared is come to pass!