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When thy firm hero stands beneath the weight
Of all his sufferings, venerably great;
Rome's poor remains still sheltering by his side,
With conscious virtue and becoming pride.
The aged oak thus rears his head in air,
His sap exhausted, and his branches bare;
'Midst storms and earthquakes he maintains his state,
Fixt deep in earth, and fastened by his weight:
His naked boughs still lend the shepherds aid,
And his old trunk projects an awful shade.
Amidst the joys triumphant peace bestows,
Our patriots sadden at his glorious woes,
Awhile they let the world's great business wait,
Anxious for Rome, and sigh for Cato's fate.
Here taught how ancient heroes rose to fame,
Our Britons crowd, and catch the Roman flame,
Where states and senates well might lend an ear,
And kings and priests without a blush appear.
France boasts no more, but, fearful to engage;
Now first pays homage to her rival's stage,
Hastes to learn thee, and learning shall submit
Alike to British arms and British wit:
No more she'll wonder, (forced to do us right,)
Who think like Romans, could like Romans fight.
Thy Oxford smiles this glorious work to see,
And fondly triumphs in a son like thee.
The senates, consuls, and the gods of Rome,
Like old acquaintance at their native home,
In thee we find: each deed, each word exprest,
And every thought that swelled a Roman breast.
We trace each hint that could thy soul inspire
With Virgil's judgment, and with Lucan's fire;
We know thy worth, and, give us leave to boast,
We most admire, because we know thee most.
Queen's College, Oxon.
WHEN your generous labour first I viewed, And Cato's hands in his own blood imbrued,
That scene of death so terrible appears,
My soul could only thank you with her tears.
Yet with such wondrous art your skilful hand
Does all the passions of the soul command,
That ev'n my grief to praise and wonder turned,
And envied the great death which first I mourned.
What pen but yours could draw the doubtful strife
Of honour struggling with the love of life?
Describe the patriot, obstinately good,
As hovering o'er eternity he stood?
The wide, the unbounded ocean lay before
His piercing sight, and heaven the distant shore.
Secure of endless bliss, with fearless eyes
He grasps the dagger, and its point defies,
And rushes out of life, to snatch the glorious prize.
How would old Rome rejoice to hear you tell
How just her patriot lived, how great he fell!
Recount his wondrous probity and truth,
And form new Jubas in the British youth.
Their generous souls, when he resigns his breath,
Are pleased with ruin, and in love with death;
And when her conquering sword Britannia draws,
Resolve to perish, or defend her cause.
Now first on Albion's theatre we see
A perfect image of what man should be ;
The glorious character is now exprest,
Of virtue dwelling in a human breast.
Drawn at full length by your immortal lines,
In Cato's soul, as in her heaven, she shines.
All-Souls' College, Oxon.
LEFT WITH THE PRINTER BY AN UNKNOWN HAND.1
Now we may speak, since Cato speaks no more;
'Tis praise at length, 'twas rapture all before;
When crowded theatres with Iös rung,
Sent to the skies, from whence thy genius sprung:
Ev'n civil rage awhile in thine was lost;.
And factions strove but to applaud thee most:
George Jefferys, Esq. Gent. Mag. xxiii. 45.
Nor could enjoyment pall our longing taste;
But every night was dearer than the last.
As when old Rome in a malignant hour
Deprived of some returning conqueror,
Her debt of triumph to the dead discharged,
For fame, for treasure, and her bounds enlarged:
And, while his godlike figure moved along,
Alternate passions fired the adoring throng;
Tears flowed from every eye, and shouts from every tongue.
So in thy pompous lines has Cato fared,
Graced with an ample, though a late, reward:
A greater victor we in him revere ;
A nobler triumph crowns his image here.
With wonder, as with pleasure, we survey
A theme so scanty wrought into a play;
So vast a pile on such foundations placed;
Like Ammon's temple reared on Libya's waste:
Behold its glowing paint! its easy weight!
Its nice proportions! and stupendous height!
How chaste the conduct, how divine the rage!
A Roman worthy on a Grecian stage!
But where shall Cato's praise begin or end;
Inclined to melt, and yet untaught to bend,
The firmest patriot, and the gentlest friend?
How great his genius, when the traitor crowd,
Ready to strike the blow their fury vowed,
Quelled by his look, and listening to his lore,
Learn, like his passions, to rebel no more!
When, lavish of his boiling blood, to prove
The cure of slavish life, and slighted love,
Brave Marcus new in early death appears,
While Cato counts his wounds, and not his years;
Who, checking private grief, the public mourns,
Commands the pity he so greatly scorns.
But when he strikes (to crown his generous part)
That honest, staunch, impracticable heart,
No tears, no sobs pursue his parting breath;
The dying Roman shames the pomp of death.
O sacred freedom! which the powers bestow
To season blessings, and to soften woe;
Plant of our growth, and aim of all our cares,
The toil of ages, and the crown of wars;
If, taught by thee, the poet's wit has flowed
In strains as precious as his hero's blood,
Preserve those strains, an everlasting charm
To keep that blood and thy remembrance warm :
Be this thy guardian image still secure ;
In vain shall force invade, or fraud allure;
Our great Palladium shall perform its part,
Fixed and enshrined in every British heart.
THE mind to virtue is by verse subdued;
And the true poet is a public good.
This Britain feels, while, by your lines inspired,
Her free-born sons to glorious thoughts are fired.
In Rome had you espoused the vanquished cause,
Inflamed her senate, and upheld her laws,
Your manly scenes had liberty restored,
And given the just success to Cato's sword:
O'er Cæsar's arms your genius had prevailed;
And the muse triumphed, where the patriot failed.
SPOKEN BY MR. WILKS.
To wake the soul by tender strokes of art,
To raise the genius and to mend the heart,
To make mankind in conscious virtue bold,
Live o'er each scene, and be what they behold;-
For this the tragic muse first trod the stage,
Commanding tears to stream through every age;
Tyrants no more their savage nature kept,
And foes to virtue wondered how they wept.
Our author shuns by vulgar springs to move
The hero's glory, or the virgin's love;
In pitying love we but our weakness show,
And wild ambition well deserves its woe.
Here tears shall flow from a more generous cause,
Such tears as patriots shed for dying laws:
He bids your breasts with ancient ardour rise,
And calls forth Roman drops from British eyes;
Virtue confest in human shape he draws,
What Plato thought, and godlike Cato was :
No common object to your sight displays,
But, what with pleasure heaven itself surveys,
A brave man struggling in the storms of fate,
And greatly falling with a falling state!
While Cato gives his little senate laws,
What bosom beats not in his country's cause?
Who sees him act, but envies every deed?
Who hears him groan, and does not wish to bleed?
Ev'n then proud Cæsar, 'midst triumphal cars,
The spoils of nations, and the pomp of wars,
Ignobly vain, and impotently great,
Showed Rome her Cato's figure drawn in state.
As her dead father's reverend image past,
The pomp was darkened, and the day o'ercast,
The triumph ceased-tears gushed from every eye,
The world's great victor passed unheeded by;
Her last good man dejected Rome adored,
And honoured Cæsar's less than Cato's sword.
Britons, attend:1 be worth like this approved,
And show you have the virtue to be moved.
With honest scorn the first famed Cato viewed
Rome learning arts from Greece, whom she subdued.
Our scene precariously subsists too long
On French translation, and Italian song:
Dare to have sense yourselves; assert the stage,
Be justly warmed with your own native rage.
Such plays alone should please a British ear,
As Cato's self had not disdained to hear.
1 Britons, attend.] Altered thus by the author, from "Britons, arise," to humour, we are told, the timid delicacy of Mr. Addison, who was in rain lest that fierce word "arise," should be misconstrued. (See Mr. Warburton's edition of Pope, Imitations of Horace, Ep. i. b. i.) One is apt, indeed, to think this caution excessive; but there was ground enough for it, as will be seen, if we reflect, that the poet himself had made Sempronius talk in this strain-" Rise, Romans, rise,” (act ii. sc. 1,) a clear comment (it would have been said in that furious time) on the line in question.