Or share their fate! The corpse of half her senate
Manure the fields of Thessaly, while we
Sit here, delib’rating’ hi told 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 flow;
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, entrusted 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.
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 sheathe 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 a blind revenge and wild despair)
Were, to refuse th’ awards of providence,
And not to rest in heav’n’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,
But free the commonwealth. When this end fails,
Arms have no further use. Our country’s cause,
That drew our swords, now wrests them from our 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.
CATO—Let us appear,
not rash, nor diffident,
Immoderate valour swells into a fault;
And fear, admitted into public councils,
Betray like treason. Let us shun ’em both.—
Father’s, I cannot see that our affairs
Are grown thus desp’rate. We have bulwarks round us;
Within our walls, are troops inur’d to toil
In Afric heats, 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 hope, do not distrust the gods:
But wait, at least, till Caesar’s near approach
Force us to yield. ’Twill