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Such terrors found in haughty Brutus' breast
No home. When others sat them down to fear
He did not so, but in the dewy night
When the great wain was turning round the pole
He sought his kinsman Cato's humble home.
Him sleepless did he find, not for himself
Fearing, but pondering the fates of Rome,
And deep in public cares. And thus he spake:
'O thou in whom that virtue, which of yore
Took flight from earth, now finds its only home,
Outcast to all besides, but safe with thee:
Vouchsafe thy counsel to my wavering soul
And make my weakness strength. While Caesar some,
Pompeius others, follow in the fight,
Cato is Brutus' guide. Art thou for peace,
Holding thy footsteps in a tottering world
Unshaken? Or wilt thou with the leaders' crimes
And with the people's fury take thy part,
And by thy presence purge the war of guilt?
In impious battles men unsheath the sword;
But each by cause impelled: the household crime;
Laws feared in peace; want by the sword removed;
And credit, in the ruin of a world
Blending its ruin. Drawn by hope of gain,
And not by thirst for blood, they seek the camp.
Shall Cato for war's sake make war alone?
What profits it through all these wicked years
That thou hast lived untainted? This were all
Thy meed of virtue, that the wars which find
Guilt in all else, shall make thee guilty too.
' Ye gods, permit not that this fatal strife
Should stir those hands to action! When the clouds
Of flying javelins hiss upon the air,
Let not a dart be thine; nor spent in vain
Such virtue! All the fury of the war
' Shall launch itself on thee, for who, when faint
' And wounded, would not rush upon thy sword,
'Take thence his death, and make the murder thine?
'Do thou live on thy peaceful life apart
'As on their paths the stars unshaken roll.
'The lower air that verges on the earth
' Gives flame and fury to the levin bolt;
' The deeps below the world engulph the winds
' And tracts of flaming fire. By Jove's decree
'Olympus rears his summit o'er the clouds:
'In lowlier valleys storms and winds contend,
' But peace eternal reigns upon the heights.
'What joy for Caesar, if the tidings come
'That such a citizen has joined the war?
' Glad would he see thee e'en in Magnus' tents;
'For Cato's conduct shall approve his own.
'Pompeius, with the Consul in his ranks,
' And half the Senate and the other chiefs,
' Vexes my spirit; and should Cato too
' Bend to a master's yoke, in all the world
'The one man free is Caesar. But if thou
' For freedom and thy country's laws alone
'Be pleased to raise the sword, nor Magnus then
' Nor Caesar shall in Brutus find a foe.
' Not till the fight is fought shall Brutus strike,
'Then strike the victor.'
Brutus thus; but spake
Cato from inmost breast these sacred words:
'Chief in all wickedness is civil war,
' Yet virtue in the paths marked out by fate
'Treads on securely. Heaven's will be the crime
'To have made even Cato guilty. Who has strength
' To gaze unawed upon a toppling world?
'When stars and sky fall headlong, and when earth
'Slips from her base, who sits with folded hands?
'Shall unknown nations, touched by western strife,
' And monarchs born beneath another clime
' Brave the dividing seas to join the war?
' Shall Scythian tribes desert their distant north,
' And Getae haste to view the fall of Rome,
'And I look idly on? As some fond sire,
' Reft of his sons, compelled by grief, himself
' Marshals the long procession to the tomb,
' Thrusts his own hand within the funeral flames,
' Soothing his heart, and, as the lofty pyre
'Rises on high, applies the kindled torch:
' Nought, Rome, shall tear thee from me, till I hold
' Thy form in death embraced; and Freedom's name,
' Shade though it be, I'll follow to the grave.
' Yea! let the cruel gods exact in full
' Rome's expiation : of no drop of blood
' The war be robbed. I would that, to the gods
' Of heaven and hell devoted, this my life
' Might satisfy their vengeance. Decius fell,
' Crushed by the hostile ranks. When Cato falls
' Let Rhine's fierce barbarous hordes and both the hosts
'Thrust through my frame their darts! May I alone
' Receive in death the wounds of all the war!
'Thus may the people be redeemed, and thus
' Rome for her guilt pay the atonement due.
' Why should men die who wish to bear the yoke
' And shrink not from the tyranny to come?
'Strike me, and me alone, of laws and rights
'In vain the guardian: this vicarious life
' Shall give Hesperia peace and end her toils.
' Who then will reign shall find no need for war.
' You ask, Why follow Magnus? If he wins 1
' He too will claim the Empire of the world.
' Then let him, conquering with my service, learn
' Not for himself to conquer.' Thus he spoke
And stirred the blood that ran in Brutus' veins
Moving the youth to action in the war.
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