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Jub. Syphax, farewell. I'll hence, and try to find Some blest occasion that may set me right In Cato's thoughts. I'd rather have that man Approve my deeds, than worlds for my admirers. [Ex. Syph. Young men soon give, and soon forget af
fronts ; Old age is slow in both—A false old traitor! These words, rash boy, may chance to cost thee dear. My heart had still some foolish fondness for thee : But hence, 'tis gone! I give it to the winds ; Cæsar, I'm wholly thine.
All hail, Sempronius!
Well, Cato's senate is resolv'd to wait
The fury of a siege before it yields.
Sem. Syphax, we both were on the verge of fate :
Lucius declar'd for peace, and terms were offer'd
To Cato, by a messenger from Cæsar.
Shou'd they submit ere our designs are ripe,
We both must perish in the common wreck,
Lost in the gen'ral undistinguish'd ruin.
Syph. But how stands Cato?
Sem. Thou hast seen mount Atlas : Whilst storms and tempests thunder on its brows, And oceans break their billows at its feet, It stands unmov'd, and glories in its height: Such is that haughty man; his tow'ring soul, 'Midst all the shocks and injuries of fortune, Rises superior, and looks down on Cæsar.
Syph. But what's this messenger ?
Sem. I've practis'd with him,
And found a means to let the victor know
That Syphax and Sempronius are his friends.
But let me now examine in my turn:
Is Juba fix'd ?
Syph. Yes—but it is to Cato.
I've try'd the force of ev'ry reason on him,
Sooth'd and caress'd; been angry, sooth'd again ;
Laid safety, life, and int'rest in his sight.
But all are vain, he scorns them all for Cato.
Sem. Come, 'tis no matter; we shall do without
him. He'll make a pretty figure in a triumph, And serve to trip before the victor's chariot. Syphax, I now may hope thou hast forsook Thy Juba's cause, and wishest Marcia mine. Syph. May she be thine as fast as thou wouldst have
her. Sem. Syphax, I love that woman; though I cu se Her and myself, yet, spite of me, I love her.
Syph. Make Cato sure, and give up Utica,
Cæsar will ne'er refuse thee such a trifle.
But are thy troops prepar'd for a revolt?
Does the sedition catch from man to man,
And run among the ranks?
Sem. All, all is ready,
The faćtious leaders are our friends, that spread
Murmurs and discontents among the soldiers ;
They count their toilsome marches, long fatigues,
Unusual fastings, and will bear no more
This medley of philosophy and war.
Within an hour they'll storm the senate-house.
Syph. Mean while I'll draw up my Numidian troops
Within the square to exercise their arms,
And as I see occasion, favour thee.
I laugh to see how your unshaken Cato
Will look aghast, while unforeseen destruction
Pours in upon him thus from ev'ry side.
So, where our wide Numidian wastes extend,
Sudden, th’impétuous hurricanes descend,
Wheel through the air, in circling eddies play,
Tear up the sands, and sweep whole plains away.
The helpless traveller, with wild surprise
Sees the dry desart all around him rise,
And, smother'd in the dusty whirlwind, dies. [Exeunt.
Enter MARCUS and PORTIUS.
THANKS to my stars I have not rang'd about
The wilds of life, ere I could find a friend;
Nature first pointed out my Portius to me,
And early taught me, by her secret force,
To love thy person, ere I knew thy merit,
Till what was instinct, grew up into friendship.?
Por. Marcus, the friendships of the world are oft
Confed'racies in vice, or leagues of pleasure;
Durs has severest virtue for its basis,
And such a friendship ends not but with life.
Marc. Portius, thou know'st my soul in all its weak-
Then pr'ythee spare me on its tender side.
Indulge ine but in love, my other passions
Shall rise and fall by virtue's nicest rules.
Por. When love's well-tim'd, 'tis not a fault to love.
The strong, the brave, the virtuous, and the wise,
Sink in the soft captivity together.
I would not urge thee to dismiss thy passion,
(I know 'twere vain) but to suppress its force,
Till better times may make it look more graceful.
Marc. Alas! thou talk'st like one who never felt
Th’ impatient throbs and longings of a soul
That pants and reaches after distant good.
A lover does not live by vulgar time:
Believe me, Portius, in my Lucia's absence
Life hangs upon me, and becomes a burden ;
And yet, when I behold the charming maid,
I'm ten times more undone ; while hope and fear,
And grief, and rage, and love, rise up once,
And with variety of pain distract me.
Por. What can thy Portius do to give thee help?
Marc. Portius, thou oft enjoy'st the fair-one's pre.
Then undertake my cause, and plead it to her
With all the strength and heat of eloquence
Fraternal love and friendship can inspire.
Tell her thy brother languishes to death,
And fades away, and withers in his bloom;
That he forgets his sleep, and loaths his food,
That youth, and health, and war are joyless to him:
Describe his anxious days, and restless nights,
And all the torments that thou see'st me suffer.
Por. Marcus, I beg thee give me not an office That suits with me so ill. Thou know'st my temper.
Marc. Wilt thou behold me sinking in my woes, And wilt thou not reach out a friendly arm, To raise me from amidst this plunge of sorrows ?
Por. Marcus, thou can'st not ask what I'd refuse. But here, believe me, I've a thousand reasons
Marc. I know thou'lt say my passion's out of season, That Cato's great example and misfortunes Should both conspire to drive it from my thoughts. But what's all this to one that loves like me? O Portius, Portius, from my soul I wish Thou did'st but know thyself what 'tis to love! Then wouldst thou pity and assist thy brother.
Por. What should I do! If I disclose my passion Our friendship's at an end; if I conceal it, The world will call me false to a friend and brother.
[ Aside: Marc. But see where Lucia, at her wonted hour, : Amid the cool of yon high marble arch, Enjoys the noon-day breeze! Observe her, Portius; That face, that shape, those eyes, that heav'n of
beauty! Observe her well, and blame me if thou canst.