Front Page Titles (by Subject) ACT II — - Cato: A Tragedy and Selected Essays
ACT II — - 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 II —
- Rome still survives in this assembled senate!
- Let us remember we are Cato’s friends,
- And act like men who claim that glorious title.
- Cato will soon be here, and open to us
- The occasion of our meeting. Hark! he comes!
- [A sound of trumpets.]
- May all the guardian gods of Rome direct him!
- My voice is still for war.
- Gods! can a Roman senate long debate
- Which of the two to choose, slavery or death!
- No, let us rise at once, gird on our swords,
- And, at the head of our remaining troops,
- Attack the foe, break through the thick array
- Of his thronged legions, and charge home upon him.
- Perhaps some arm, more lucky than the rest,
- May reach his heart, and free the world from bondage.
- Rise, fathers, rise! ’tis Rome demands your help;
- Rise, and revenge her slaughtered citizens,
- Or share their fate! the corps of half her senate
- Manure the fields of Thessaly, while we
- Sit here, deliberating in cold debates,
- If we should sacrifice our lives to honour,
- Or wear them out in servitude and chains.
- Rouse up, for shame! our brothers of Pharsalia
- Point at their wounds, and cry aloud—To battle!
- Great Pompey’s shade complains that we are slow,
- And Scipio’s ghost walks unrevenged amongst us!
- 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 towering phrensy 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 the impartial world with reason say
- We lavished 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.
- My thoughts, I must confess, are turned on peace.
- Already have our quarrels filled 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 Caesar, 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 the awards of Providence,
- And not to rest in Heaven’s determination.
- Already have we shown our love to Rome,
- Now let us show submission to the gods.
- We took up arms, not to revenge ourselves,
- But free the commonwealth; when this end fails,
- Arms have no further use: our country’s cause,
- That drew our swords, now wrests ’em from our hands,
- And bids us not delight in Roman blood,
- Unprofitably shed; what men could do
- Is done already: heaven and earth will witness,
- If Rome must fall, that we are innocent.
- This smooth discourse and wild behaviour oft
- Conceal a traitor—something whispers me
- All is not right—Cato, beware of Lucius. [Aside to Cato.]
- Let us appear nor rash nor diffident:
- Immoderate 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 desperate. We have bulwarks round us;
- Within our walls are troops inured to toil
- In Afric’s heats, and seasoned to the sun;
- Numidia’s spacious kingdom lies behind us,
- Ready to rise at its young prince’s call.
- While there is hope, do not distrust the gods;
- But wait at least till Caesar’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,
- So shall we gain still one day’s liberty;
- And let me perish, but in Cato’s judgment,
- A day, an hour, of virtuous liberty
- Is worth a whole eternity in bondage.
- By your permission, fathers, bid him enter. [Exit Marcus.]
- Decius was once my friend, but other prospects
- Have loosed those ties, and bound him fast to Caesar.
- His message may determine our resolves.
- Caesar sends health to Cato.—
- Could he send it
- To Cato’s slaughtered friends, it would be welcome.
- Are not your orders to address the senate?
- My business is with Cato: Caesar sees
- The straits to which you’re driven; and, as he knows
- Cato’s high worth, is anxious for your life.
- My life is grafted on the fate of Rome:
- Would he save Cato? Bid him spare his country.
- Tell your dictator this: and tell him Cato
- Disdains a life which he has power to offer.
- Rome and her senators submit to Caesar;
- Her generals and her consuls are no more,
- Who checked his conquests, and denied his triumphs.
- Why will not Cato be this Caesar’s friend?
- Those very reasons thou hast urged forbid it.
- Cato, I’ve orders to expostulate
- And reason with you, as from friend to friend:
- Think on the storm that gathers o’er your head,
- And threatens every hour to burst upon it;
- Still may you stand high in your country’s honours,
- Do but comply, and make your peace with Caesar.
- Rome will rejoice, and cast its eyes on Cato,
- As on the second of mankind.
- No more!
- I must not think of life on such conditions.
- Caesar is well acquainted with your virtues,
- And therefore sets this value on your life:
- Let him but know the price of Cato’s friendship,
- And name your terms.
- Bid him disband his legions,
- Restore the commonwealth to liberty,
- Submit his actions to the public censure,
- And stand the judgment of a Roman senate:
- Bid him do this, and Cato is his friend.
- Cato, the world talks loudly of your wisdom—
- Nay more, though Cato’s voice was ne’er employed
- To clear the guilty, and to varnish crimes,
- Myself will mount the rostrum in his favour,
- And strive to gain his pardon from the people.
- A style like this becomes a conqueror.
- Decius, a style like this becomes a Roman.
- What is a Roman, that is Caesar’s foe?
- Greater than Caesar: he’s a friend to virtue.
- Consider, Cato, you’re in Utica,
- And at the head of your own little senate;
- You don’t now thunder in the Capitol,
- With all the mouths of Rome to second you.
- Let him consider that, who drives us hither:
- ’Tis Caesar’s sword has made Rome’s senate little,
- And thinned its ranks. Alas! thy dazzled eye
- Beholds this man in a false glaring light,
- Which conquest and success have thrown upon him;
- Didst thou but view him right, thou’dst see him black
- With murder, treason, sacrilege, and crimes
- That strike my soul with horror but to name ’em.
- I know thou look’st on me, as on a wretch
- Beset with ills, and covered with misfortunes;
- But, by the gods I swear, millions of worlds
- Should never buy me to be like that Caesar.
- Does Cato send this answer back to Caesar,
- For all his generous cares, and proffered friendship?
- His cares for me are insolent and vain:
- Presumptuous man! the gods take care of Cato.
- Would Caesar show the greatness of his soul,
- Bid him employ his care for these my friends,
- And make good use of his ill-gotten power,
- By sheltering men much better than himself.
- Your high unconquered heart makes you forget
- You are a man. You rush on your destruction—
- But I have done. When I relate hereafter
- The tale of this unhappy embassy,
- All Rome will be in tears. [Exit Decius.]
Sempronius, Lucius, Cato.
- Cato, we thank thee.
- The mighty genius of immortal Rome
- Speaks in thy voice, thy soul breathes liberty:
- Caesar will shrink to hear the words thou utterest,
- And shudder in the midst of all his conquests.
- The senate owns its gratitude to Cato,
- Who with so great a soul consults its safety,
- And guards our lives, while he neglects his own.
- Sempronius gives no thanks on this account.
- Lucius seems fond of life; but what is life?
- ’Tis not to stalk about, and draw fresh air
- From time to time, or gaze upon the sun;
- ’Tis to be free. When liberty is gone,
- Life grows insipid, and has lost its relish.
- Oh, could my dying hand but lodge a sword
- In Caesar’s bosom, and revenge my country,
- By heavens, I could enjoy the pangs of death,
- And smile in agony.
- Others perhaps
- May serve their country with as warm a zeal,
- Though ’tis not kindled into so much rage.
- This sober conduct is a mighty virtue
- In lukewarm patriots.
- Come! no more, Sempronius,
- All here are friends to Rome, and to each other.
- Let us not weaken still the weaker side
- By our divisions.
- Are sacrificed to Rome—I stand reproved.
- Fathers, ’tis time you come to a resolve.
- Cato, we all go into your opinion.
- Caesar’s behaviour has convinced the senate
- We ought to hold it out till terms arrive.
- We ought to hold it out till death; but, Cato,
- My private voice is drowned amid the senate’s.
- Then let us rise, my friends, and strive to fill
- This little interval, this pause of life,
- (While yet our liberty and fates are doubtful,)
- With resolution, friendship, Roman bravery,
- And all the virtues we can crowd into it;
- That heaven may say, it ought to be prolonged.
- Fathers, farewell—The young Numidian prince
- Comes forward, and expects to know our counsels.
- Juba, the Roman senate has resolved,
- Till time give better prospects, still to keep
- The sword unsheathed, and turn its edge on Caesar.
- The resolution fits a Roman senate.
- But, Cato, lend me for a while thy patience,
- And condescend to hear a young man speak.
- My father, when some days before his death
- He ordered me to march for Utica,
- (Alas! I thought not then his death so near!)
- Wept o’er me, prest me in his aged arms,
- And, as his griefs gave way, “My son,” said he,
- “Whatever fortune shall befall thy father,
- Be Cato’s friend, he’ll train thee up to great
- And virtuous deeds: do but observe him well,
- Thou ’lt shun misfortunes, or thou ’lt learn to bear ’em.”
- Juba, thy father was a worthy prince,
- And merited, alas! a better fate;
- But heaven thought otherwise.
- My father’s fate,
- In spite of all the fortitude that shines
- Before my face, in Cato’s great example,
- Subdues my soul, and fills my eyes with tears.
- It is an honest sorrow, and becomes thee.
- My father drew respect from foreign climes:
- The kings of Afric sought him for their friend;
- Kings far remote, that rule, as fame reports,
- Behind the hidden sources of the Nile,
- In distant worlds, on t’ other side the sun:
- Oft have their black ambassadors appeared,
- Loaden with gifts, and filled the courts of Zama.
- I am no stranger to thy father’s greatness!
- I would not boast the greatness of my father,
- But point out new alliances to Cato.
- Had we not better leave this Utica,
- To arm Numidia in our cause, and court
- The assistance of my father’s powerful friends?
- Did they know Cato, our remotest kings
- Would pour embattled multitudes about him;
- Their swarthy hosts would darken all our plains,
- Doubling the native horror of the war,
- And making death more grim.
- Cato will fly before the sword of Caesar?
- Reduced, like Hannibal, to seek relief
- From court to court, and wander up and down,
- A vagabond in Afric!
- Cato, perhaps
- I’m too officious, but my forward cares
- Would fain preserve a life of so much value.
- My heart is wounded, when I see such virtue
- Afflicted by the weight of such misfortunes.
- Thy nobleness of soul obliges me.
- But know, young prince, that valour soars above
- What the world calls misfortune and affliction.
- These are not ills; else would they never fall
- On heaven’s first favourites, and the best of men:
- The gods, in bounty, work up storms about us,
- That give mankind occasion to exert
- Their hidden strength, and throw out into practice
- Virtues which shun the day, and lie concealed
- In the smooth seasons and the calms of life.
- I’m charmed whene’er thou talk’st! I pant for virtue!
- And all my soul endeavours at perfection.
- Dost thou love watchings, abstinence, and toil,
- Laborious virtues all? learn them from Cato:
- Success and fortune must thou learn from Caesar.
- The best good fortune that can fall on Juba,
- The whole success at which my heart aspires,
- What does Juba say?
- Thy words confound me.
- I would fain retract them,
- Give ’em me back again. They aimed at nothing.
- Tell me thy wish, young prince; make not my ear
- A stranger to thy thoughts.
- What can Juba ask
- That Cato will refuse!
- I fear to name it.
- Marcia—inherits all her father’s virtues.
- Cato, thou hast a daughter.
- Adieu, young prince: I would not hear a word
- Should lessen thee in my esteem: remember
- The hand of fate is over us, and heaven
- Exacts severity from all our thoughts:
- It is not now a time to talk of aught
- But chains or conquest, liberty or death.
- How’s this, my prince; what! covered with confusion?
- You look as if yon stern philosopher
- Had just now chid you.
- Cato thinks meanly of me.
- The weakness of my soul, my love for Marcia.
- Cato’s a proper person to intrust
- A love-tale with!
- Oh! I could pierce my heart,
- My foolish heart! was ever wretch like Juba?
- Alas! my prince, how are you changed of late!
- I’ve known young Juba rise before the sun,
- To beat the thicket where the tiger slept,
- Or seek the lion in his dreadful haunts:
- How did the colour mount into your cheeks,
- When first you roused him to the chase! I’ve seen you,
- Even in the Libyan dog-days, hunt him down,
- Then charge him close, provoke him to the rage
- Of fangs and claws, and stooping from your horse
- Rivet the panting savage to the ground.
- How would the old king smile
- To see you weigh the paws, when tipped with gold,
- And throw the shaggy spoils about your shoulders!
- Syphax, this old man’s talk (though honey flowed
- In every word) would now lose all its sweetness.
- Cato’s displeased, and Marcia lost for ever!
- Young prince, I yet could give you good advice.
- Marcia might still be yours.
- What say’st thou, Syphax?
- By heavens, thou turn’st me all into attention.
- Marcia might still be yours.
- Juba commands Numidia’s hardy troops,
- Mounted on steeds, unused to the restraint
- Of curbs or bits, and fleeter than the winds:
- Give but the word, we’ll snatch this damsel up
- And bear her off.
- Can such dishonest thoughts
- Rise up in man! wouldst thou seduce my youth
- To do an act that would destroy my honour?
- Gods! I could tear my beard to hear you talk!
- Honour’s a fine imaginary notion,
- That draws in raw and unexperienced men
- To real mischiefs, while they hunt a shadow.
- Wouldst thou degrade thy prince into a ruffian?
- The boasted ancestors of these great men,
- Whose virtues you admire, were all such ruffians.
- This dread of nations, this almighty Rome,
- That comprehends in her wide empire’s bounds
- All under heaven, was founded on a rape.
- Your Scipios, Caesars, Pompeys, and your Catos,
- (These gods on earth,) are all the spurious brood
- Of violated maids, of ravished Sabines.
- Syphax, I fear that hoary head of thine
- Abounds too much in our Numidian wiles.
- Indeed, my prince, you want to know the world;
- You have not read mankind; your youth admires
- The throws and swellings of a Roman soul,
- Cato’s bold flights, the extravagance of virtue.
- If knowledge of the world makes man perfidious,
- May Juba ever live in ignorance?
- Gods! must I tamely bear
- This arrogance unanswered! thou’rt a traitor,
- I have gone too far. [Aside.]
- Cato shall know the baseness of thy soul.
- I must appease this storm, or perish in it. [Aside.]
- Young prince, behold these locks that are grown white
- Beneath a helmet in your father’s battles.
- Those locks shall ne’er protect thy insolence.
- Must one rash word, the infirmity of age,
- Throw down the merit of my better years?
- This the reward of a whole life of service!
- —Curse on the boy! how steadily he hears me! [Aside.]
- Is it because the throne of my forefathers
- Still stands unfilled, and that Numidia’s crown
- Hangs doubtful yet, whose head it shall enclose,
- Thou thus presum’st to treat thy prince with scorn?
- Why will you rive my heart with such expressions?
- Does not old Syphax follow you to war?
- What are his aims? why does he load with darts
- His trembling hand, and crush beneath a casque
- His wrinkled brows? what is it he aspires to?
- Is it not this, to shed the slow remains,
- His last poor ebb of blood, in your defence?
- Syphax, no more! I would not hear you talk.
- Not hear me talk! what, when my faith to Juba,
- My royal master’s son, is called in question?
- My prince may strike me dead, and I’ll be dumb:
- But whilst I live I must not hold my tongue,
- And languish out old age in his displeasure.
- Thou know’st the way too well into my heart,
- I do believe thee loyal to thy prince.
- What greater instance can I give? I’ve offered
- To do an action, which my soul abhors,
- And gain you whom you love at any price.
- Was this thy motive? I have been too hasty.
- And ’tis for this my prince has called me traitor.
- Sure thou mistak’st; I did not call thee so.
- You did indeed, my prince, you called me traitor:
- Nay, further, threatened you’d complain to Cato.
- Of what, my prince, would you complain to Cato?
- That Syphax loves you, and would sacrifice
- His life, nay, more, his honour in your service.
- Syphax, I know thou lov’st me, but indeed
- Thy zeal for Juba carried thee too far.
- Honour’s a sacred tie, the law of kings,
- The noble mind’s distinguishing perfection,
- That aids and strengthens virtue where it meets her,
- And imitates her actions, where she is not:
- It ought not to be sported with.
- By heavens,
- I’m ravished when you talk thus, though you chide me!
- Alas! I’ve hitherto been used to think
- A blind, officious zeal to serve my king
- The ruling principle that ought to burn
- And quench all others in a subject’s heart.
- Happy the people, who preserve their honour
- By the same duties that oblige their prince!
- Syphax, thou now begin’st to speak thyself.
- Numidia’s grown a scorn among the nations
- For breach of public vows. Our Punic faith
- Is infamous, and branded to a proverb.
- Syphax, we’ll join our cares, to purge away
- Our country’s crimes, and clear her reputation.
- Believe me, prince, you make old Syphax weep
- To hear you talk—but ’tis with tears of joy.
- If e’er your father’s crown adorn your brows,
- Numidia will be blest by Cato’s lectures.
- Syphax, thy hand! we’ll mutually forget
- The warmth of youth, and forwardness of age:
- Thy prince esteems thy worth, and loves thy person.
- If e’er the sceptre comes into my hand,
- Syphax shall stand the second in my kingdom.
- Why will you overwhelm my age with kindness?
- My joy grows burdensome, I sha’n’t support it.
- 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.
- Young men soon give, and soon forget affronts;
- Old age is slow in both—A false old traitor!
- Those 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:—
- Caesar, I’m wholly thine—
- All hail, Sempronius!
- Well, Cato’s senate is resolved to wait
- The fury of a siege before it yields.
- Syphax, we both were on the verge of fate:
- Lucius declared for peace, and terms were offered
- To Cato by a messenger from Caesar.
- Should they submit, ere our designs are ripe,
- We both must perish in the common wreck,
- Lost in a general, undistinguished ruin.
- Thou hast seen Mount Atlas:
- While storms and tempests thunder on its brows,
- And oceans break their billows at its feet,
- It stands unmoved, and glories in its height.
- Such is that haughty man; his towering soul,
- ’Midst all the shocks and injuries of fortune,
- Rises superior, and looks down on Caesar."
- But what’s this messenger?
- I’ve practised 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:
- Yes—but it is to Cato.
- I’ve tried the force of every reason on him,
- Soothed and caressed, been angry, soothed again,
- Laid safety, life, and interest in his sight,
- But all are vain, he scorns them all for Cato.
- 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.
- May she be thine as fast as thou wouldst have her!
- Syphax, I love that woman; though I curse
- Her and myself, yet, spite of me, I love her.
- Make Cato sure, and give up Utica,
- Caesar will ne’er refuse thee such a trifle.
- But are thy troops prepared for a revolt?
- Does the sedition catch from man to man,
- And run among their ranks?
- All, all is ready.
- The factious 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.
- Meanwhile I’ll draw up my Numidian troops
- Within the square, to exercise their arms,
- And, as I see occasion, favour thee.
- I laugh to think how your unshaken Cato
- Will look aghast, while unforeseen destruction
- Pours in upon him thus from every side.
- So, where our wide Numidian wastes extend,
- Sudden, the impetuous 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 desert all around him rise,
- And smothered in the dusty whirlwind dies.