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But to the gods submit th' event of things.
So the pure limpid stream, when foul with stains
ACT II. SCENE I.
The Senate. Lucius, Sempronius, and Senators.
Luc. Cato will soon be here, and open to us
. [ A sound of trumpets. May all the guardian gods of Rome direct him!
Enter Cato. Cato. Fathers, we once again are met in council : Cæsar's approach has summon'd us together, And Rome attends her fate from our resolves. How shall we treat this bold aspiring mani
Success still follows him, and backs his crimes;
Sem. My voice is still for war.
Point at their wounds, and cry aloud-To battle ! Great Pompey's shade complains that we are slow : And Scipio's ghost walks unreveng'd amongst us.
Cato. Let not a torrent of impetuous zeal Transport thee thus beyond the bounds of reason : True fortitude is seen in great exploits That justice warrants, and that wisdom guides, All else is tow'ring frenzy and distraction. Are not the lives of those who draw the sword In Rome's defence intrusted to our care ? Should we thus lead them to a field of slaughter, Might not th' impartial world with reason say, We lavish'd at our deaths the blood of thousands, To grace our fall, and make our ruin glorious ? Lucius, we next would know what's your opinion : Luc. My thoughts, I must confess, are turn'd on
peace. Already have our quarrels fill'd the world With widows, and with orphans: Scythia mourns Our guilty wars, and earth's remotest regions Lie half unpeopled by the feuds of Rome : 'Tis time to sheath the sword, and spare mankind. It is not Cæsar, but the gods, my fathers, The gods declare against us, and repel Our vain attempts. “ To urge the foe to battle, “ (Prompted by blind revenge and wild despair) “ Were to refuse th' awards of Providence,
And not to rest in Heaven's determination." Already have we shewn our love to Rome, Now let us shew submission to the gods.
We took up arms, not to revenge ourselves,
hands, And bids us not delight in Roman blood Unprofitably shed. What men could do, Is done already : heav'n and earth will witness, If Rome must fall, that we are innocent. “ Sem. This smooth discourse, and mild behaviour,
oft “ Conceal a traitor- something whispers me “ All is not right-Cato, beware of Lucius.”
Aside to Cato. Cato. Let us appear nor rash nor diffident; Immod'rate valour swells into a fault; And fear admitted into public councils Betrays like treason. Let us shun 'em both. Fathers, I cannot see that our affairs Are grown thus desp'rate: we have bulwarks roundus; Within our walls are troops inur'd to toil In Afric's heat, and season'd to the sun; Numidia's spacious kingdom lies behind us, Ready to rise at its young prince's call. While there is hopes, do not distrust the gods; But wait at least till Cæsar's near approach Force us to yield. 'Twill never be too late To sue for chains, and own a conqueror. Why should Rome fall a moment ere her time; No, let us draw her term of freedom out
In its full length, and spin it to the last,
Enter MARCUS. Marc. Fathers, this moment, as I watch'd the gate, Lodgid on my post, a herald is arriv'd From Cæsar's camp, and with him comes old Decius, The Roman knight; he carries in his looks Impatience, and demands to speak with Cato. Cato. By your permission, fathers- bid him enter.
[Exit Marcus. Decius was once my friend, but other prospects Have loos'd those ties, and bound him fast to Cæsar. His message may determine our resolves.
Enter Decius. Dec. Cæsar sends health to Cato
Cato. Cou'd he send it, To Cato's slaughter'd friends, it would be welcome. Are not your orders to address the senate ?
Dec. My business is with Cato; Cæsar sees The straits to which you're driven; and, as he knows Cato's high worth, is anxious for your life.
Cato. My life is grafted on the fate of Rome. Wou'd he save Cato, bid hini spare his country. Tell your dictator this; and tell him, Cato Disdains a life which he has power to offer.