Front Page Titles (by Subject) ACT I — - Cato: A Tragedy and Selected Essays
ACT I — - Joseph Addison, Cato: A Tragedy and Selected Essays 
Cato: A Tragedy and Selected Essays, ed. by Christine Dunn Henderson and Mark E. Yellin, with a Foreword by Forrest McDonald (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2004).
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- The Life of Joseph Addison
- Addison the Essayist
- Cato, a Tragedy
- Editors’ Note
- Cato: a Tragedy
- Prologue By Mr. Pope 2
- Dramatis Personae
- Act I —
- Scene I
- Scene Ii
- Scene Iii
- Scene Iv
- Scene V
- Scene Vi
- Act Ii —
- Scene I
- Scene Ii
- Scene Iii
- Scene Iv
- Scene V
- Scene Vi
- Act Iii —
- Scene I
- Scene Ii
- Scene Iii
- Scene Iv
- Scene V
- Scene Vi
- Scene Vii
- Act Iv —
- Scene I
- Scene Ii
- Scene Iii
- Scene Iv —
- Act V —
- Scene I
- Scene Ii
- Scene Iii
- Scene Iv
- Epilogue By Dr. Garth. 1
- Selected Essays
- Tatler, No. 161
- Tatler, No. 162
- Whig Examiner, No. 5
- Spectator, No. 55
- Spectator, No. 125
- Spectator, No. 169
- Spectator, No. 215
- Spectator, No. 219
- Spectator, No. 231
- Spectator, No. 237
- Spectator, No. 243
- Spectator, No. 255
- Spectator, No. 256
- Spectator, No. 257
- Spectator, No. 287
- Spectator, No. 293
- Spectator, No. 349
- Spectator, No. 446
- Spectator, No. 557
- Guardian, No. 99
- Guardian, No. 161
- Freeholder, No. 1
- Freeholder, No. 2
- Freeholder, No. 5
- Freeholder, No. 10
- Freeholder, No. 12
- Freeholder, No. 13 1
- Freeholder, No. 16
- Freeholder, No. 29
- Freeholder, No. 34
- Freeholder, No. 39
- Freeholder, No. 51
- The Life and Character of M. Cato of Utica [ ]
ACT I —
- The dawn is overcast, the morning lowers,
- And heavily in clouds brings on the day,
- The great, the important day, big with the fate
- Of Cato and of Rome.—Our father’s death
- Would fill up all the guilt of civil war,
- And close the scene of blood. Already Caesar
- Has ravaged more than half the globe, and sees
- Mankind grown thin by his destructive sword:
- Should he go further, numbers would be wanting
- To form new battles, and support his crimes.
- Ye gods, what havoc does ambition make
- Among your works!
- Thy steady temper, Portius,
- Can look on guilt, rebellion, fraud, and Caesar,
- In the calm lights of mild philosophy;
- I’m tortured ev’n to madness, when I think
- On the proud victor: every time he’s named
- Pharsalia rises to my view!—I see
- The insulting tyrant, prancing o’er the field
- Strowed with Rome’s citizens, and drenched in slaughter,
- His horse’s hoofs wet with Patrician blood!
- Oh, Portius! is there not some chosen curse,
- Some hidden thunder in the stores of heaven,
- Red with uncommon wrath, to blast the man
- Who owes his greatness to his country’s ruin?
- Believe me, Marcus, ’tis an impious greatness,
- And mixt with too much horror to be envied.
- How does the lustre of our father’s actions,
- Through the dark cloud of ills that cover him,
- Break out, and burn with more triumphant brightness!
- His sufferings shine, and spread a glory round him;
- Greatly unfortunate, he fights the cause
- Of honour, virtue, liberty, and Rome.
- His sword ne’er fell but on the guilty head;
- Oppression, tyranny, and power usurped,
- Draw all the vengeance of his arm upon ’em.
- Who knows not this? but what can Cato do
- Against a world, a base, degenerate world,
- That courts the yoke, and bows the neck to Caesar?
- Pent up in Utica he vainly forms
- A poor epitome of Roman greatness,
- And, covered with Numidian guards, directs
- A feeble army, and an empty senate,
- Remnants of mighty battles fought in vain.
- By heavens, such virtues, joined with such success,
- Distract my very soul: our father’s fortune
- Would almost tempt us to renounce his precepts.
- Remember what our father oft has told us:
- The ways of heaven are dark and intricate,
- Puzzled in mazes, and perplexed with errors:
- Our understanding traces ’em in vain,
- Lost and bewildered in the fruitless search;
- Nor sees with how much art the windings run,
- Nor where the regular confusion ends.
- These are suggestions of a mind at ease:
- Oh, Portius! didst thou taste but half the griefs
- That wring my soul, thou couldst not talk thus coldly.
- Passion unpitied, and successless love,
- Plant daggers in my heart, and aggravate
- My other griefs. Were but my Lucia kind!—
- Thou seest not that thy brother is thy rival:
- But I must hide it, for I know thy temper. [Aside.]
- Now, Marcus, now, thy virtue’s on the proof:
- Put forth thy utmost strength, work every nerve,
- And call up all thy father in thy soul:
- To quell the tyrant Love, and guard thy heart
- On this weak side, where most our nature fails,
- Would be a conquest worthy Cato’s son.
- Portius, the counsel which I cannot take,
- Instead of healing, but upbraids my weakness.
- Bid me for honour plunge into a war
- Of thickest foes, and rush on certain death,
- Then shalt thou see that Marcus is not slow
- To follow glory, and confess his father.
- Love is not to be reasoned down, or lost
- In high ambition, and a thirst of greatness;
- ’Tis second life, it grows into the soul,
- Warms every vein, and beats in every pulse,
- I feel it here: my resolution melts—
- Behold young Juba, the Numidian prince!
- With how much care he forms himself to glory,
- And breaks the fierceness of his native temper
- To copy out our father’s bright example.
- He loves our sister Marcia, greatly loves her,
- His eyes, his looks, his actions all betray it:
- But still the smothered fondness burns within him.
- When most it swells, and labours for a vent,
- The sense of honour and desire of fame
- Drive the big passion back into his heart.
- What! shall an African, shall Juba’s heir,
- Reproach great Cato’s son, and show the world
- A virtue wanting in a Roman soul?
- Portius, no more! your words leave stings behind ’em.
- Whene’er did Juba, or did Portius, show
- A virtue that has cast me at a distance,
- And thrown me out in the pursuits of honour?
- Marcus, I know thy generous temper well;
- Fling but the appearance of dishonour on it,
- It straight takes fire, and mounts into a blaze.
- A brother’s sufferings claim a brother’s pity.
- Heaven knows I pity thee: behold my eyes
- Ev’n whilst I speak—Do they not swim in tears?
- Were but my heart as naked to thy view,
- Marcus would see it bleed in his behalf.
- Why then dost treat me with rebukes, instead
- Of kind, condoling cares, and friendly sorrow?
- O Marcus! did I know the way to ease
- Thy troubled heart, and mitigate thy pains,
- Marcus, believe me, I could die to do it.
- Thou best of brothers, and thou best of friends!
- Pardon a weak, distempered soul, that swells
- With csudden gusts, and sinks as soon in calms,
- The sport of passions:—but Sempronius comes:
- He must not find this softness hanging on me. [Exit.]
- Conspiracies no sooner should be formed
- Than executed. What means Portius here?
- I like not that cold youth. I must dissemble,
- And speak a language foreign to my heart.
- Good-morrow, Portius! let us once embrace,
- Once more embrace; whilst yet we both are free.
- To-morrow should we thus express our friendship,
- Each might receive a slave into his arms:
- This sun, perhaps, this morning sun’s the last,
- That e’er shall rise on Roman liberty.
- My father has this morning called together
- To this poor hall his little Roman senate,
- (The leavings of Pharsalia,) to consult
- If yet he can oppose the mighty torrent
- Thou bears down Rome, and all her gods, before it,
- Or must at length give up the world to Caesar.
- Not all the pomp and majesty of Rome
- Can raise her senate more than Cato’s presence.
- His virtues render our assembly awful,
- They strike with something like religious fear,
- And make ev’n Caesar tremble at the head
- Of armies flushed with conquest: O my Portius!
- Could I but call that wondrous man my father,
- Would but thy sister Marcia be propitious
- To thy friend’s vows, I might be blessed indeed!
- Alas! Sempronius, wouldst thou talk of love
- To Marcia, whilst her father’s life’s in danger?
- Thou might’st as well court the pale trembling vestal,
- When she beholds the holy flame expiring.
- The more I see the wonders of thy race,
- The more I’m charmed. Thou must take heed, my Portius!
- The world has all its eyes on Cato’s son.
- Thy father’s merit sets thee up to view,
- And shows thee in the fairest point of light,
- To make thy virtues, or thy faults, conspicuous.
- Well dost thou seem to check my lingering here
- On this important hour!—I’ll straight away,
- And while the fathers of the senate meet
- In close debate to weigh the events of war,
- I’ll animate the soldiers’ drooping courage,
- With love of freedom, and contempt of life:
- I’ll thunder in their ears their country’s cause,
- And try to rouse up all that’s Roman in ’em.
- ’Tis not in mortals to command success,
- But we’ll do more, Sempronius; we’ll deserve it. [Exit.]
- Curse on the stripling! how he apes his sire!
- Ambitiously sententious! —but I wonder
- Old Syphax comes not; his Numidian genius
- Is well disposed to mischief, were he prompt
- And eager on it; but he must be spurred,
- And every moment quickened to the course.
- —Cato has used me ill: he has refused
- His daughter Marcia to my ardent vows.
- Besides, his baffled arms, and ruined cause,
- Are bars to my ambition. Caesar’s favour,
- That showers down greatness on his friends, will raise me
- To Rome’s first honours. If I give up Cato,
- I claim in my reward his captive daughter.
- But Syphax comes!—
- Sempronius, all is ready,
- I’ve sounded my Numidians, man by man,
- And find ’em ripe for a revolt: they all
- Complain aloud of Cato’s discipline,
- And wait but the command to change their master.
- Believe me, Syphax, there’s no time to waste;
- Ev’n whilst we speak, our conqueror comes on,
- And gathers ground upon us every moment.
- Alas! thou know’st not Caesar’s active soul,
- With what a dreadful course he rushes on
- From war to war: in vain has nature formed
- Mountains and oceans to oppose his passage;
- He bounds o’er all, victorious in his march;
- The Alps and Pyreneans sink before him,
- Through winds and waves and storms he works his way,
- Impatient for the battle: one day more
- Will set the victor thundering at our gates.
- But tell me, hast thou yet drawn o’er young Juba?
- That still would recommend thee more to Caesar,
- And challenge better terms.
- He’s lost, Sempronius; all his thoughts are full
- Of Cato’s virtues:—but I’ll try once more
- (For every instant I expect him here)
- If yet I can subdue those stubborn principles
- Of faith, of honour, and I know not what,
- That have corrupted his Numidian temper,
- And struck the infection into all his soul.
- Be sure to press upon him every motive.
- Juba’s surrender, since his father’s death,
- Would give up Afric into Caesar’s hands,
- And make him lord of half the burning zone.
- But is it true, Sempronius, that your senate
- Is called together? Gods! thou must be cautious!
- Cato has piercing eyes, and will discern
- Our frauds, unless they’re covered thick with art.
- Let me alone, good Syphax, I’ll conceal
- My thoughts in passion (’tis the surest way);
- I’ll bellow out for Rome and for my country,
- And mouth at Caesar till I shake the senate.
- Your cold hypocrisy’s a stale device,
- A worn-out trick: wouldst thou be thought in earnest?
- Clothe thy feigned zeal in rage, in fire, in fury!
- In troth, thou ’rt able to instruct grey-hairs,
- And teach the wily African deceit!
- Once more, be sure to try thy skill on Juba.
- Meanwhile I’ll hasten to my Roman soldiers,
- Inflame the mutiny, and underhand
- Blow up their discontents, till they break out
- Unlooked for, and discharge themselves on Cato.
- Remember, Syphax, we must work in haste:
- Oh think what anxious moments pass between
- The birth of plots and their last fatal periods.
- Oh! ’tis a dreadful interval of time,
- Filled up with horror all, and big with death!
- Destruction hangs on every word we speak,
- On every thought, till the concluding stroke
- Determines all, and closes our design. [Exit.]
- I’ll try if yet I can reduce to reason
- This head-strong youth, and make him spurn at Cato.
- The time is short, Caesar comes rushing on us—
- But hold! young Juba sees me, and approaches.
- Syphax, I joy to meet thee thus alone.
- I have observed of late thy looks are fallen,
- O’ercast with gloomy cares and discontent;
- Then tell me, Syphax, I conjure thee, tell me,
- What are the thoughts that knit thy brow in frowns,
- And turn thine eye thus coldly on thy prince?
- ’Tis not my talent to conceal my thoughts,
- Or carry smiles and sunshine in my face,
- When discontent sits heavy at my heart.
- I have not yet so much the Roman in me.
- Why dost thou cast out such ungenerous terms
- Against the lords and sovereigns of the world?
- Dost thou not see mankind fall down before them,
- And own the force of their superior virtue?
- Is there a nation in the wilds of Afric,
- Amidst our barren rocks and burning sands,
- That does not tremble at the Roman name?
- Gods! where’s the worth that sets this people up
- Above your own Numidia’s tawny sons!
- Do they with tougher sinews bend the bow?
- Or flies the javelin swifter to its mark,
- Launched from the vigour of a Roman arm?
- Who like our active African instructs
- The fiery steed, and trains him to his hand?
- Or guides in troops the embattled elephant,
- Loaden with war? these, these are arts, my prince,
- In which your Zama does not stoop to Rome.
- These all are virtues of a meaner rank,
- Perfections that are placed in bones and nerves.
- A Roman soul is bent on higher views:
- To civilize the rude, unpolished world,
- And lay it under the restraint of laws;
- To make man mild, and sociable to man;
- To cultivate the wild, licentious savage
- With wisdom, discipline, and liberal arts—
- The embellishments of life; virtues like these
- Make human nature shine, reform the soul,
- And break our fierce barbarians into men.
- Patience, kind heavens!—excuse an old man’s warmth!
- What are these wondrous civilizing arts,
- This Roman polish, and this smooth behaviour,
- That render man thus tractable and tame?
- Are they not only to disguise our passions,
- To set our looks at variance with our thoughts,
- To check the starts and sallies of the soul,
- And break off all its commerce with the tongue;
- In short, to change us into other creatures,
- Than what our nature and the gods designed us?
- To strike thee dumb, turn up thy eyes to Cato!
- There may’st thou see to what a godlike height
- The Roman virtues lift up mortal man.
- While good, and just, and anxious for his friends,
- He’s still severely bent against himself;
- Renouncing sleep, and rest, and food, and ease,
- He strives with thirst and hunger, toil and heat;
- And when his fortune sets before him all
- The pomps and pleasures that his soul can wish,
- His rigid virtue will accept of none.
- Believe me, prince, there’s not an African
- That traverses our vast Numidian deserts
- In quest of prey, and lives upon his bow,
- But better practises these boasted virtues.
- Coarse are his meals, the fortune of the chase,
- Amidst the running stream he slakes his thirst,
- Toils all the day, and at the approach of night
- On the first friendly bank he throws him down,
- Or rests his head upon a rock till morn:
- Then rises fresh, pursues his wonted game,
- And if the following day he chance to find
- A new repast, or an untasted spring,
- Blesses his stars, and thinks it luxury.
- Thy prejudices, Syphax, won’t discern
- What virtues grow from ignorance and choice,
- Nor how the hero differs from the brute.
- But grant that others could with equal glory
- Look down on pleasures, and the baits of sense;
- Where shall we find the man that bears affliction,
- Great and majestic in his griefs, like Cato?
- Heavens! with what strength, what steadiness of mind,
- He triumphs in the midst of all his sufferings!
- How does he rise against a load of woes,
- And thank the gods that throw the weight upon him!
- ’Tis pride, rank pride, and haughtiness of soul:
- I think the Romans call it stoicism.
- Had not your royal father thought so highly
- Of Roman virtue, and of Cato’s cause,
- He had not fallen by a slave’s hand, inglorious:
- Nor would his slaughtered army now have lain
- On Afric’s sands, disfigured with their wounds,
- To gorge the wolves and vultures of Numidia.
- Why dost thou call my sorrows up afresh?
- My father’s name brings tears into my eyes.
- Oh! that you’d profit by your father’s ills!
- What wouldst thou have me do?
- Syphax, I should be more than twice an orphan
- Ay, there’s the tie that binds you!
- You long to call him father. Marcia’s charms
- Work in your heart unseen, and plead for Cato.
- No wonder you are deaf to all I say.
- Syphax, your zeal becomes importunate;
- I’ve hitherto permitted it to rave,
- And talk at large; but learn to keep it in,
- Lest it should take more freedom than I’ll give it.
- Sir, your great father never used me thus.
- Alas! he’s dead! but can you e’er forget
- The tender sorrows, and the pangs of nature,
- The fond embraces, and repeated blessings,
- Which you drew from him in your last farewell?
- Still must I cherish the dear, sad remembrance,
- At once to torture and to please my soul.
- The good old king at parting wrung my hand,
- (His eyes brimful of tears,) then sighing cried,
- Prithee, be careful of my son!—his grief
- Swelled up so high, he could not utter more.
- Alas! thy story melts away my soul.
- That best of fathers! how shall I discharge
- The gratitude and duty which I owe him!
- By laying up his counsels in your heart.
- His counsels bade me yield to thy directions:
- Then, Syphax, chide me in severest terms,
- Vent all thy passion, and I’ll stand its shock,
- Calm and unruffled as a summer sea,
- When not a breath of wind flies o’er its surface.
- Alas! my prince, I’d guide you to your safety.
- I do believe thou wouldst: but tell me how?
- Fly from the fate that follows Caesar’s foes.
- My father scorned to do it.
- Better to die ten thousand thousand deaths,
- Than wound my honour.
- Syphax, I’ve promised to preserve my temper.
- Why wilt thou urge me to confess a flame
- I long have stifled, and would fain conceal?
- Believe me, prince, though hard to conquer love,
- ’Tis easy to divert and break its force:
- Absence might cure it, or a second mistress
- Light up another flame, and put out this.
- The glowing dames of Zama’s royal court
- Have faces flusht with more exalted charms;
- The sun, that rolls his chariot o’er their heads,
- Works up more fire and colour in their cheeks:
- Were you with these, my prince, you’d soon forget
- The pale, unripened beauties of the north.
- ’Tis not a set of features, or complexion,
- The tincture of a skin, that I admire.
- Beauty soon grows familiar to the lover,
- Fades in his eye, and palls upon the sense.
- The virtuous Marcia towers above her sex:
- True, she is fair, (oh how divinely fair!)
- But still the lovely maid improves her charms
- With inward greatness, unaffected wisdom,
- And sanctity of manners. Cato’s soul
- Shines out in everything she acts or speaks,
- While winning mildness and attractive smiles
- Dwell in her looks, and with becoming grace
- Soften the rigour of her father’s virtues.
- How does your tongue grow wanton in her praise!
- But on my knees I beg you would consider—
- [Enter Marcia and Lucia.]
- Hah! Syphax, is’t not she?—she moves this way:
- And with her Lucia, Lucius’s fair daughter.
- My heart beats thick—I prithee, Syphax, leave me.
- Ten thousand curses fasten on ’em both!
- Now will this woman, with a single glance,
- Undo what I’ve been labouring all this while. [Exit.]
Juba, Marcia, Lucia.
- Hail, charming maid! how does thy beauty smooth
- The face of war, and make ev’n horror smile!
- At sight of thee my heart shakes off its sorrows;
- I feel a dawn of joy break in upon me,
- And for a while forget the approach of Caesar.
- I should be grieved, young prince, to think my presence
- Unbent your thoughts, and slackened ’em to arms,
- While, warm with slaughter, our victorious foe
- Threatens aloud, and calls you to the field.
- O Marcia, let me hope thy kind concerns
- And gentle wishes follow me to battle!
- The thought will give new vigour to my arm,
- Add strength and weight to my descending sword,
- And drive it in a tempest on the foe.
- My prayers and wishes always shall attend
- The friends of Rome, the glorious cause of virtue,
- And men approved of by the gods and Cato.
- That Juba may deserve thy pious cares,
- I’ll gaze for ever on thy godlike father,
- Transplanting, one by one, into my life,
- His bright perfections, till I shine like him.
- My father never, at a time like this,
- Would lay out his great soul in words, and waste
- Such precious moments.
- Thy reproofs are just,
- Thou virtuous maid; I’ll hasten to my troops,
- And fire their languid souls with Cato’s virtue.
- If e’er I lead them to the field, when all
- The war shall stand ranged in its just array,
- And dreadful pomp; then will I think on thee!
- O lovely maid, then will I think on thee!
- And, in the shock of charging hosts, remember
- What glorious deeds should grace the man who hopes
- For Marcia’s love. [Exit.]
- Marcia, you’re too severe:
- How could you chide the young good-natured prince,
- And drive him from you with so stern an air;
- A prince that loves and dotes on you to death?
- ’Tis therefore, Lucia, that I chide him from me.
- His air, his voice, his looks, and honest soul
- Speak all so movingly in his behalf,
- I dare not trust myself to hear him talk.
- Why will you fight against so sweet a passion,
- And steel your heart to such a world of charms?
- How, Lucia! wouldst thou have me sink away
- In pleasing dreams, and lose myself in love,
- When every moment Cato’s life’s at stake?
- Caesar comes armed with terror and revenge,
- And aims his thunder at my father’s head:
- Should not the sad occasion swallow up
- My other cares, and draw them all into it?
- Why have not I this constancy of mind,
- Who have so many griefs to try its force?
- Sure, nature formed me of her softest mould,
- Enfeebled all my soul with tender passions,
- And sunk me ev’n below my own weak sex:
- Pity and love, by turns, oppress my heart.
- Lucia, disburthen all thy cares on me,
- And let me share thy most retired distress;
- Tell me who raises up this conflict in thee?
- I need not blush to name them, when I tell thee
- They’re Marcia’s brothers, and the sons of Cato.
- They both behold thee with their sister’s eyes;
- And often have revealed their passion to me.
- But tell me whose address thou favourest most;
- I long to know, and yet I dread to hear it.
- Which is it Marcia wishes for?
- For neither—
- And yet for both;—the youths have equal share
- In Marcia’s wishes, and divide their sister:
- But tell me, which of them is Lucia’s choice?
- Marcia, they both are high in my esteem,
- But in my love—why wilt thou make me name him?
- Thou know’st it is a blind and foolish passion,
- Pleased and disgusted with it knows not what—
- O Lucia, I’m perplexed, oh tell me which
- I must hereafter call my happy brother?
- Suppose ’twere Portius, could you blame my choice?
- —O Portius, thou hast stolen away my soul!
- With what a graceful tenderness he loves!
- And breathes the softest, the sincerest vows!
- Complacency, and truth, and manly sweetness
- Dwell ever on his tongue, and smooth his thoughts.
- Marcus is over-warm, his fond complaints
- Have so much earnestness and passion in them,
- I hear him with a secret kind of horror,
- And tremble at his vehemence of temper.
- Alas, poor youth! how canst thou throw him from thee?
- Lucia, thou know’st not half the love he bears thee;
- Whene’er he speaks of thee, his heart’s in flames,
- He sends out all his soul in every word,
- And thinks, and talks, and looks like one transported.
- Unhappy youth! how will thy coldness raise
- Tempests and storms in his afflicted bosom!
- I dread the consequence.
- Against your brother Portius.
- Heaven forbid!
- Had Portius been the unsuccessful lover,
- The same compassion would have fallen on him.
- Was ever virgin love distressed like mine!
- Portius himself oft falls in tears before me,
- As if he mourned his rival’s ill success,
- Then bids me hide the motions of my heart,
- Nor show which way it turns. So much he fears
- The sad effects that it would have on Marcus.
- He knows too well how easily he’s fired,
- And would not plunge his brother in despair,
- But waits for happier times, and kinder moments.
- Alas! too late I find myself involved
- In endless griefs, and labyrinths of woe,
- Born to afflict my Marcia’s family,
- And sow dissension in the hearts of brothers.
- Tormenting thought! it cuts into my soul.
- Let us not, Lucia, aggravate our sorrows,
- But to the gods permit the event of things.
- Our lives, discoloured with our present woes,
- May still grow white, and smile with happier hours.
- So the pure limpid stream, when foul with stains
- Of rushing torrents and descending rains,
- Works itself clear, and as it runs, refines;
- Till, by degrees, the floating mirror shines,
- Reflects each flower that on the border grows,
- And a new heaven in its fair bosom shows. [Exeunt.]