7. Henry Laurens' son John was killed in a late, minor battle of the War for Independence in South Carolina on 27 August. AA's allusion is probably to Joseph Addison's play Cato (1713), in which Marcus, one of the sons of Cato the Younger, dies while resisting his father's traitorous ally, Syphax. In act IV, scene iv of Addison's play, Cato views his son Marcus's body, and says:
Welcome, my Son! Here lay him down my Friends,
Full in my Sight, that I may view at Leisure
The bloody Corse, and count those glorious Wounds.
—How beautiful is Death, when earn'd by Virtue!
Who would not be that Youth? What a Pity is it
That we can die but once to serve our Country!
Young Marcus's death before that of his father is a post-classical invention. Marcus Porcius Cato the Younger, the Stoic defender of the Roman republic who committed suicide at Utica in Africa in 46 b.c., rather than submit to the dictator Julius Caesar, did have two sons, but neither is recorded as dying before his father. Cato's eldest son, Marcus, did die heroically four years later at Philippi, while resisting the forces of Caesar's successor, Mark Antony. By the mid-eighteenth century, however, the dominant image of Cato in the English-speaking world was no longer based on the more authoritative accounts of Plutarch and other classical authors, but on Addison's celebrated play, which occupied a central place in the thinking of both English Whigs and American patriots. Plutarch, Cato the Younger; Bernard Bailyn, The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution, Cambridge, 1967, p. 43–44.