« ForrigeFortsett »
Would hold his lofty nature, undebased,
and his name pure, were but a loiterer here.
Dearer than vengeance --- ay, than freedom, dearer
Is honor to me. And so, fare
MRS. HEMANS (altered).
Decius. Cæsar sends health to Cato.
Cato. Could he send it
To Cato's slaughtered 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.
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.
Dec. Rome and her senators submit to Cæsar;
Her generals and her consuls are no more,
Who checked his conquests, and denied his triumphs.
Why will not Cato be this Cæsar's friend?
Cato. Those very reasons thou hast urged forbid it.
Dec. 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 honors :
Do but comply and make your peace with Cæsar,
Rome will rejoice, and cast its eyes on Cato,
As on the second of mankind.
Cato. No more;
I must not think of life on such conditions.
Dec. Cæsar 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.
Cato. 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.
Dec. Cato, the world talks loudly of your wisdom
Cato. 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 favor,
And strive to gain his pardon from the people.
Dec. A style like this becomes a conqueror.
Cato. Decius, a style like this becomes a Roman.
Dec. What is a Roman, that is Cæsar's foe?
Cato. Greater than Cæsar: he's a friend to virtue.
Dec. 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.
Cato. Let him consider that who drives us hither;
'Tis Cæsar'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 þut view him right, thou ’dst see him black
With murder, treason, sacrilege, and — crimes
That strike my soul with horror but to name them.
I know thou look'st on me as on a wretch
Beset with ills, and covered with misfortunes;
But, as I love my country, millions of worlds
Should never buy me to be like that Cæsar.
Dec. Does Cato send this answer back to Cæsar,
For all his generous cares and proffered friendship?
Cato. His care for me are insolent and vain :
Presumptuous man! the gods take care of Cato.
Would Cæsar 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.
III. — CORIOLANUS AND AUFIDIUS. Tho passages enclosed between brackets in the following scene are by Shaks.
peare; the rest, with a few alterations, are by Thomson. Coriolanus. I plainly, Tullus, by your looks perceive You disapprove my conduct.
Aufidius. I mean not to assail thee with the clamor
Of loud reproaches and the war of words ;
But, pride apart, and all that can pervert
The light of steady reason, here to make
A candid, fair proposal.
Cor. Speak, I hear thee.
Auf. I need not tell thee, that I have performed
My utmost promise. Thou hast been protected;
Hast had thy amplest, most ambitious wish ;
Thy wounded pride is healed, thy dear revenge
Completely sated; and, to crown thy fortune,
At the same time thy peace with Rome restored.
Thou art no more a Volscian, but a Roman,
Return, return; thy duty calls upon thee
Still to protect the city thou hast saved ;
It yet may be in danger from our arms.
Retire: I will take care thou may'st with safety.
Cor. With safety ?- safety? Thinkest thou that I,
Coriolanus, of Co-ri'oli,
Will stoop to thee for safety ? - No: my safeguard
Is in myself, a bosom void of fear.
0, 't is an act of cowardice and baseness
To seize the very time my hands are fettered
By the strong chain of former obligation,
Were I now free, as on that day I was,
When at Corioli I tamed thy pride,
This had not been.
Auf. Thou speakest the truth : it had not.
O, for that time again! Propitious gods,
will bless me, grant it! Know, for that,
For that dear purpose, I have now proposed
Thou shouldst return; I pray thee, Marcius, do it;
And we shall meet again on nobler terms.
Cor. Till I have cleared my honor in your council,
And proved before them all, to thy confusion,
The falsehood of thy charge,- — as soon in battle
I would before thee fly, and howl for mercy,
As quit the station they've assigned me here !
Auf. Thou canst not hope acquittal from the Volscians.
Cor. I do:
nay, more, expect their
approbation, Their thanks. I will obtain them such a peace As thou durst never ask; a perfect union Of their whole nation with imperial Rome, In all her privileges, all her rights; By the just gods, I will! — What wouldst thou more? Auf. What would I more, proud Roman? This I would
Fire the cursed forest, where these Roman wolves
Haunt and infest their nobler neighbors round them;
Extirpate from the bosom of this land
A false, perfidious people, who, beneath
The mask of freedom, are a combination
Against the liberty of human kind
The genuine seed of outlaws and of robbers.
Cor. The seed of gods ! — 'T is not for thee, vain boaster, —
'Tis not for such as thou, so often spared
By her victorious sword, — to speak of Rome
But with respect, and awful veneration.
Whate'er her blots, whate'er her giddy factions,
There is more virtue in one single year
Of Roman story, than your Volscian annals
Can boast through all their creeping, dark duration,
Auf. I thank thy rage : -- This full displays the traitor.
[Cor. Traitor! How now?
Auf. Ay, traitor, Marcius.
Auf. Ay, Marcius, Caius Marcius : dost thou think
I'll grace thee with that robbery, thy stolen name,
Coriolanus, in Corioli?
You lords, and heads of the state, perfidiously
He has betrayed your business, and given up,
For certain drops of salt, your city Rome, --,
I say, your city, - to his wife and mother;
Breaking his oath and resolution like
A twist of rotten silk; never admitting
Counsel of the war: but at his nurse's tears
He whined and roared away your victory;
That pages blushed at him, and men of heart
Looked wondering at each other.
Cor. Hearest thou, Mars?
Auf. Name not the god, thou boy of tears!
Cor. Measureless liar, thou hast made my heart
Too great for what contains it. Boy! O, slave!
Cut me to pieces, Volsces; men and lads,
Stain all your edges on me. Boy! False hound!
you have writ your annals true, 't is there,
That, like an eagle in a dove-cot, I
Volscians in Corioli.
Alone I did it. Boy!]— But let us part,
my rash hand should do a hasty deed My cooler thought forbids.
Auf. I court
The worst thy sword can do; while thou from me
Hast nothing to expect but sore destruction.
Quit, then, this hostile camp: once more I tell thee,
Thou art not here one single hour in safety.
[Cor. O that I had thee in the field,
With six Aufidiuses, or more thy tribe!
To use my lawful sword !
IV. - THE RESOLVE OF REGULUS. Bėg'ulus, a Roman consul, having been defeated in battle and taken prisoner
by the Carthaginians, was detained in captivity five years, and then sent on an embassy to Rome to solicit peace, under a promise that he would return to Cartbage if the proposals were rejected. These, it was thougbt, he would urge in order to obtain bis own liberty ; but he urged contrary and patriotis measures on his countrymen ; and then, having carried his point, resisted the persuasions of his friends to remain in Rome, and returned to Carthage, where a martyr's death awaited him. Some writers say that he was thrust into a cask covered over on the inside with iron spikes, and thus rolled down hill. The following scene presents Regulus just as he has made known to his friends in Rome his resolution to return to Carthage.
Enter REGULUS, followed by SERTORIUS. •
Sertorius. Stay, Roman, in pity!-- if not for thy life,
For the sake of thy country, thy children, thy wife.
Sent, not to urge war, but to lead Rome to peace,
Thy captors of Carthage vouchsafed thee release.
Thou return'st to encounter their anger, their
rage ; No mercy expect for thy fame or thy age!
Regulus. To my captors one pledge, and one only, I gave :
TO RETURN, though it were to walk into my grave !
No hope I extended, no promise I made,
Rome's Senate and people from war to dissuade.
If the vengeance of Carthage be stored for me now,
I have reaped no dishonor, have broken no vow.
Sert. They released thee, but dreamed not that thou wouldst
A part that wouid leave thee a prisoner still ;
They hoped thy own danger would lead thee to sway
The councils of Rome a far different way;
Would induce thee to urge the conditions they crave,
If only thy freedom, thy life-blood, to save.
Thought shudders, the torment and woe to depict
Thy merciless foes have the heart to inflict !
Remain with us, Régʻulus ! do not go back!