Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

Did you but know the city's usuries,
And felt them knowingly; the art o'th' court,
As hard to leave, as keep; whose top to climb,
Is certain falling; or so slipp'ry, that
The fear's as bad as falling; the toil of war;
A pain that only seems to seek out danger
I th' name of fame and honour ; which dies i' th' search,
And hath as oft a sland'rous epitaph,
As record of fair act; nay, many times,
Doth ill deserve by doing well ; what's worse,
Must curtsy at the censure.- -Oh, boys, this story
The world might read in me: my body's mark'd
With Roman swords; and my report was once
First with the best of note. Cymbeline lov'd me;
And when a soldier was the theme, my name
Was not far off: then was. I as a tree,
Whose boughs did bend with fruit. But in one night,
A storm, or robb’ry, call it what you will,
Shook down my mellow hangings, nay my leaves ;
And left me bare to weather.

Guid. Uncertain favour !

Bel. My fault being nothing, as I have told you oft,
But that two villains (whose false oaths prevail'd
Before my perfect honour) swore to Cymbeline,
I was confed’rate with the Romans : so
Follow'd my banishment: and, these twenty years,
This rock and these demesnes have been my world;
Where I have liv'd at honest freedom, paid
More pious debts to Heav'n, than in all
The fore-end of my time-But, up to th' mountains !
This is not hunter's language ; he that strikes
The ven’son first shall be the lord o' th' feast;
To him the other two shall minister,
And we will-fear no poison, which attends
In place of greater state.
1!1 meet you in the vallies..

SHAKSPEARE. CHAP. XVI.

JUBA AND SYPHAX.

Jub. Syphax, I joy to meet thee thus alone.
I have observ'd of late thy looks are fallin,
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 eyes thus coldly on thy prince?

Syph. '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.

Jub. Why dost thou cast out such ungen’rous terms Against the lords and soy'reigns 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?

Syph. 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 jav'lin swifter to it's mark,
Launch'd from the vigour of a Roman arm?
Who like our active African instructs
The fi'ry steed, and trains him to his hand?
Or guides in troops th' embattled elephant
Laden with war? These, these are arts, my prince,
In which your Zama does not stoop to Rome.

Jub. These are all virtues of a meaner rank,
Perfections that are plac'd in bones and nerves.
A Roman soul is bent on higher views :
To civilize the rude unpolishi'd world;
To 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 lib'ral arts,
Th' embellishments of life : virtues like these

Make human nature shine, reform the soul,
And break our fierce barbarians into men.
Syph. Patience, just Heav'ns !- Excuse an old man's

warmth,
What are these wond'rous 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 design'd us?

Jub. 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 mani.
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.

Syph. 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 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 bis wonted game,
And if the foll’wing day he chance to find
A new repast, or an untasted spring,
Blesses his stars, and thinks it luxury.

Jub. Thy prejudices, Syphax, wont discern
What virtues grow from ignorance and choice,
Or 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?.
Heav'ns ! with w.hat strength, what steadiness of mind,
He triumphs in the midst of all his suff’rings !
How does he rise against a load of woes,
And thank the gods that threw the weight upon

him !
Syph. Tis pride, rank pride, and haughtiness of soul :
I think the Romans call it stoicism.
Had not your royal father thought so luighly
Of Roman virtue, and of Cato's cause,
He had not fall’n by a slave's hand, inglorious ;
Nor would his slaughter'd army now have lain :
On Afric's sands, disfigur'd with their wounds,
То

gorge the wolves and vultures of Numidia.
Jub. Why dost thou call my sorrows up afresh ?
My father's name brings tears into mine eyes.

Syph. O, that you'd profit by your father's ills.!
Jub. What would'st thou have me do?
Syph. Abandon Cato..

Jub. Syphax, I should be more than twice an orphan. By such a loss.

Syph. Ay, there's the tie that binds you !
You long to call him father. Marcia's charms.
Work in your beart unseen, and plead for Cato.
No wonder you are deaf to all I say.

Jub. 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.

Syph. Sir, your great father never us'd 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
Swellid up so high, he could not utter more.

Jub. Alas! the story melts away. my soul !
That best of fathers ! bow shall I discharge.
The gratitude and duty which I owe him?

Syph. By laying up his counsels in your heart.

Jub. His counsels bade me yield to thy directions :
Then, Syphax, chide me in severest terms,
Vent all thy passion, and I'll stand it's shock,
Calm and unruffled as a summer sea,
When not a breath of wind flies o'er it's surface.

Syph. Alas! my prince, I'd guide you to your safety!
Jub. I do believe thou wouldst; but tell me how.
Syph. Fly from the fate that follows Cæsar's foes.
Jub. My father scoru'd to do it.
Syph. And therefore died.

Jub. Better to die ten thousand thousand deaths,
Than wound my honour.

Syph. Rather say your love.

Jub.- Syphax, I've promis'd to preserve my temper :
Why wilt thou urge me to confess a flame
I long have stifled, and would fain conceal ?

Syph. Believe me, prince, though hard to conquer love,
Tis easy to divert and break it's 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 flush'd 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, unripen'd beauties of the north.

Jub. '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 tow'rs above her sex :
True, she is fair (0, 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 ev'ry thing 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..

CATO:

1

« AnteriorContinuar »