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ableness of the plan. Every critical reader must remark, that Addison has, with a scrupulosity almost unexampled on the English stage, confined himself in time to a single day, and in place to rigorous unity. The scene never changes, and the whole action of the play passes in the great hall of Cato's house at Utica. Much therefore is done in the hall, for which any other place had been more fit; and this impropriety affords Dennis many hints of merriment, and opportunities of triumph. The passage is long; but as such disquisitions are not common, and the objections are skilfully formed and vigorously urged, those who dclight in critical controversy will not think it tedious.
“ Upon the departure of Portius, Sempronius makes “ but one soliloquy, and immediately in comes Sy
phax, and then the two politicians are at it imme
diately. They lay their heads together, with their “ snuff-boxes in their hands, as Mr. Bayes has it, and “ league it away. But, in the midst of that wife “ scene, Syphax seems to give a seasonable caution to “ Sempronius :
Syph. But is it true, Sempronius, that your senats “ Is call'd together? Gods ! thou must be cautious,
- Cato has piercing eyes. “ There is a great deal of caution shewn indeed, in “ meeting in a governor's own hall to carry on their “ plot against him. Whatever opinion they have of “ his eyes, I suppose they had none of his cars, or “ they would never have talked at this foolish rate so
"Gods! thou must be cautious.
“ Ob! yes, very cautious : for if Cato should over
“ hear you, and turn you off for politicians, Cæfar “ would never take you; no, Cæfar would never take
“ When Cato, Act II. turns the senators out of the “ hall, upon pretence of acquainting Juba with the “ result of their debates, he appears to me to do a “ thing which is neither reasonable nor civil. Juba “ might certainly have better been made acquainted “ with the result of that debate in some private apart“ ment of the palace. But the poet was driven upon “ this absurdity to make way for another; and that is, “ to give Juba an opportunity to demand Marcia of “ her father. But the quarrel and
But the quarrel and rage of Juba and “ Syphax, in the same Act, the invectives of Syphax “ aginst the Romans and Cato; the advice that he “ gives Juba, in her father's hall, to bear away
Marcia by force; and his brutal and clamorous rage upon “ his refusal, and at a time when Cato was scarce out “ of fight, and perhaps not out of hearing; at least, " some of his guards or domesticks must necessarily be
supposed to be within hearing ; is a thing that is so “ far from being probable, that it is hardly possible.
Sempronius, in the second Act, comes back once “ more in the same morning to the governor's hall, to “ carry on the conspiracy with Syphax against the governor,
country, and his family; which is so “ stupid, that it is below the wisdom of the O—'s, “ the Mac's, and the Teague's ; even Eustace Com6 mins himself would never have gone to Justice-hall, “ to have conspired against the government. If officers • at Portsmouth should lay their heads together, in “ order to the carrying off J-G—'s niece or daugh“ ter, would they meet in J-G-'s hall, to carry on
" that conspiracy * There would be no necessity for “ their meeting there, at least till they came to the , “ execution of their plot, because there would be “ other places to meet in. There would be no proba“ bility that they mould meet there, because there “ would be places more private and more commodious. “ Now there ought to be nothing in a tragical action “ but what is necessary or probable.
“ But treason is not the only thing that is carried on " in this hall : that and love, and philosophy, take " their turns in it, without any manner of necessity or
probability occafioned by the action, as duly. and as “ regularly, without interrupting one another, as if " there were a triple league between them, and a mu“tual agreement that each should give place to and “ make way for the other, in a due and orderly fucas ceffion.
“ We come now to the third Act. Sempronius, in " this Act, comes into the governor's hall, with the “ leaders of the mutiny': but as soon as Cato is gone, “ Sempronius, who but just before had a&ted like an “ unparalleled knave, discovers himself, like an egre"gious fool, to be an accomplice in the conspiracy.
Sempo Know, villains, when fuclı paltry Naves presumé “ To mix in treason, if the plot succeeds, · They're thrown' nogle&ted by: but if it fails, “ They're sure to die like dogs, as you lhall do. “ Here, take these factious monsters, drag them forth
«. To sudden death “'Tis true, indeed, the fecond leader fays, there are
* The person meant by the initials J. G. is Sir John Gibson, Lieutenant Governor of Portsinouth in the year 1790, and afterwards. He was much beloved in the army, and by the cominon fol. diers called Johnny Gibson Vol. III.
“ none there but friends : but is that possible at such, " a juncture? Can a parcel of rogues attempt to affas. “ sinate the governor of a town of war, in his own , “ house, in mid-day, and, after they are discovered “i and defeated, can there be none near them but “ friends ? Is it not plain from these words of Sem
, “ Here, take these factious monsters, drag them forth
“ To sudden death “ and from the entrance of the guards upon the word “ of command, that those guards were within ear“ thot? Behold Sempronius then palpably discovered. “ How comes it to pass, then, that, instead of being
hanged up with the rest, he remains secure in the “ governor's hall, and there carries on his conspiracy « against the government, the third time in the same
day, with his old comrade Syphax ? who enters ar " the same time that the guards are carrying away the “ leaders, big with the news of the defeat of Sempro“nius; though where he had his intelligence so soon " is difficult to imagine. And now the reader may “ expect a very extraordinary scene : there is not aba “ undance of spirit indeed, nor a great deal of paf“ fion, but there is wisdom more than enough to sup. ply all defects.
Syph. Our first design, my friend, has prov'd abortive; “ Still there remains an after-game to play: “ My troops are mounted, their Numidian steeds “ Snuff up the winds, and long to fcour the defart : « Let but Sempronius lead us in our flight, • We'll force the gate, where Marcus keeps his guard,
And hew down all that would oppose our paffage ; “ A day will bring us into Cæsar's camp.
“ Semp. Confusion! I have fail'd of half my purpose; Marcia, the charming Marcia's left behind.
"Well! but though he tells us the half-purpose that “ he has fail'd of, he does not tell us the half that he** “ has carried. But what does he mean by
“ Marcia, the charming Marcia's left behind ? “ He is now in her own house; and we have neither “ seen her nor heard of her any where else lince the play began. But now let us hear Syphax : “ What hinders then, but that you find her out,
“ And hurry her away by manly force ? " But what does old Syphax mean by finding her out ? “? They talk as if she were as hard to be found as a “hare in a frosty morning.
Semp. But how to gain admission " Oh ! she is found out then, it seems.
“ But how to gain admiffion? for access
“ Is giv'n to none; but Juba and her brothers: " But, raillery apart, why átcess to Juba For he was “ owned and received as a lover neither by the father "nor by the daughter. Well ! but let that pass. Sy
phax puts Sempronius oiit of pain immediately ;, “and, being a Numidian, abounding in wiles, sup.
plies hiin with a strata fem for admission, that, I bes. “ lieve, is a non-pareille :
Syph. Thou thalt have Juba's dress, and Jüba's guards ; “ The doors will open, when Numidia's prince
" Seems to appear before them. ..". Sempronius is, it seemis, to pass for Juba it full " day at Cato's house, where they were both fo very “ well known, by having Juba's dress and his guards :« as if one of the marshals of France could pass. for “ the duke of Bavaria, at noon-day, at Versailles, by “ having his dress and liveries. But how does Syphax