Front Page Titles (by Subject) ACT II. - The Works of Voltaire, Vol. VIII The Dramatic Works Part 1 (Mérope, Olympia, The Orphan of China, Brutus) and Part II (Mahomet, Amelia, Oedipus, Mariamne, Socrates).
ACT II. - Voltaire, The Works of Voltaire, Vol. VIII The Dramatic Works Part 1 (Mérope, Olympia, The Orphan of China, Brutus) and Part II (Mahomet, Amelia, Oedipus, Mariamne, Socrates). 
The Works of Voltaire. A Contemporary Version. A Critique and Biography by John Morley, notes by Tobias Smollett, trans. William F. Fleming (New York: E.R. DuMont, 1901). In 21 vols. Vol. VIII The Dramatic Works Part 1 (Mérope, Olympia, The Orphan of China, Brutus) and Part II (Mahomet, Amelia, Oedipus, Mariamne, Socrates).
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- This tardy Etan, wherefore comes he not
- To tell me—what I dread to hear? perhaps
- Ere this the dreadful sacrifice is past:
- I had not power to offer it myself.
- O my dear child, how shall I ask my friend
- The horrid question, how conceal my grief?
- I see ’tis done; I know it by thy tears;
- They speak too plainly.
- No more of that: speak of our empire’s hope,
- The royal infant; is he safe?
- He is:
- Within the tombs of his great ancestors.
- Concealed from every eye; to you he owes
- A life begun in misery, perhaps
- A fatal gift.
- It is enough, he lives.
- O you, to whom I pay this cruel duty,
- Forgive a father’s tears.
- Alas! my lord,
- You must not give away to sorrow here:
- ’Tis dangerous even to weep.
- And whither, Etan,
- Must I transport my griefs? how bear the cries,
- The bitter anguish, the despair, the rage,
- The execrations of a frantic mother?
- May we not yet deceive her for a time?
- We seized him in her absence, and I flew
- To guard the orphan king.
- A while, my friend,
- We might impose on her credulity.
- Couldst thou not say we had delivered up
- The royal orphan, and concealed her son
- In safety? Truth is often most destructive,
- And still we love it, though it makes us wretched.
- Come, Etan, let us home—O heaven! she’s here!
- Observe her, what despair and terror dwell
- On her pale cheek!
- Barbarian, can it be?
- Could Zamti e’er command it? could he offer
- The dreadful sacrifice? I’ll not believe it:
- Thou couldst not be more cruel than the laws
- Of our proud conquerors, or the Tartar’s sword.
- Alas! thou weepest.
- Thou too must weep with Zamti.
- But thou must join with him to save thy king.
- What! sacrifice my child!
- It must be so:
- Thou wert a subject ere thou wert a mother.
- Has nature then lost all her influence o’er
- A father’s heart?
- She has too much; but ne’er
- Shall thwart my duty.
- ’Tis a barbarous virtue,
- And I abhor it: I have seen, like thee,
- Our empire lost, and wept our sovereign’s fate;
- But why pour forth an infant’s guiltless blood,
- Yet undemanded; why revere as gods
- Your sleeping kings, that moulder in the tomb?
- Hath Zamti sworn to them that he would kill
- His darling child? alas! the rich and poor,
- The monarch and the slave, are equal all
- By nature; all alike to sorrow born,
- Each has his share; and in the general wreck,
- All duty bids us is—to save our own.
- O had I fallen into the snare, and staid
- A moment longer with the royal orphan,
- My child had fallen into the cruel hands
- Of ruffians; but I would have perished with him.
- Nature and love recalled me, and I snatched
- My lovely infant from the ravishers,
- Preserved the son and mother; saved even thee,
- Thou barbarous father.
- He doth; and thou shouldst bend to gracious heaven
- For goodness thus unmerited: repent,
- And be a father.
- O almighty power,
- Forgive the joy that, spite of all my firmness,
- Thus mingles with my tears: alas! my love,
- Vain are our hopes of happiness, and vain
- Thy fond endeavors to prolong the life
- Of our dear infant; these inhuman tyrants
- Will force him from us; he must yield to fate.
- But hear me, dearest Zamti.
- Barbarian, stay, and tremble at the rage
- Of an afflicted desperate mother.
- Shall do my duty, you may give up yours,
- And sacrifice your husband to the foe:
- This is a day of blood; let Zamti join
- His murdered king, and perish with his country.
- What is your country, what your king to me?
- The name of subject is not half so sacred
- As husband or as father. Love and nature
- Are heaven’s first great unalterable laws,
- And cannot be reversed: the rest are all
- From mortal man, and may be changed at pleasure.
- Would I could save the royal heir, but not
- By the much dearer blood of Zamti’s son!
- Pity a wretched mother; on my knees
- I beg thee, cruel Zamti: O remember
- For whom I slighted this proud conqueror,
- This mighty warrior; was it not for thee?
- And wilt thou not protect my son, not hear
- The voice of nature pleading for thy child?
- It is too much: thou dost abuse the power
- Which love has given thee o’er thy Zamti’s heart:
- Couldst thou but see—
- I own, my lord, I feel
- A mother’s weakness, and a mother’s sorrows;
- Yet may I boast a heart as firm as thine;
- Away, and lead me on to death: I’m ready
- To perish for my son.
zamti, idame, octar.
- Where are these traitors? why are my commands
- Thus disobeyed? what have ye done with him,
- The orphan prince? guards, bring him to our presence,
- The emperor approaches; let him see
- The victim at his feet: you, soldiers, watch
- These rebels.
- I obey, my lord, the orphan
- Shall be delivered up.
- ’Tis false; he shall not:
- I’ll sooner lose my life than part with him.
- Guards, take this woman hence: the emperor comes.
genghis, octar, osman.
- At length, my friends, ’tis time to sheathe the sword,
- And let the vanquished breathe; I’ve spread destruction
- And terror through the land, but I will give
- The nation peace: the royal infant’s death
- Shall satisfy my wrath; with him shall rot
- The seeds of foul rebellion; all the plots,
- Feuds and divisions, fears and jealousies,
- That whilst the phantom of a royal heir
- Subsists, must disunite us, he alone
- Of all the hated race remains, and he
- Shall follow them: henceforth we will not raze
- Their boasted works, their monuments of art,
- Their sacred laws; for sacred they esteem
- The musty rolls, which superstition taught
- Their ancestors to worship: be it so,
- The error may be useful, it employs
- The people, and may make them more obedient.
- [To Octar.
- Octar, to thee I shall commit the power,
- To bear my standard to the western world.
- [To another officer.
- Rule thou in conquered India, and interpret
- Thy sovereign’s great decrees; from Samarcand
- To Tanais’ borders, I shall send my sons.
- Away—stay, Octar.
- Couldst thou e’er have thought
- Fortune would raise me to this height of glory?
- That I should reign supreme, and triumph here,
- Even in this palace, where disgraced and wretched
- I sought in vain for refuge, and was treated
- With insolence and scorn: the proud possessors
- Of this unconquered empire then disdained
- A Scythian, and a haughty fair refused
- That hand which now directs the fate of millions.
- Amidst this scene of glory, how, my lord,
- Can thoughts like these disturb you?
- Still the wrongs
- I suffered in adversity oppress me:
- I own the weakness of my foolish heart,
- And hoped to find that happiness in love,
- Which glory, wealth, and empire, cannot give.
- It hurts my pride to think how I was spurned
- By that contemptuous woman; she shall know,
- At least, and see the object of her scorn.
- To have her mourn the honors that she lost
- In losing Genghis will be some revenge.
- The shouts of victory, and the voice of fame,
- Have been so long familiar to my ears,
- That I have little relish for the plaints
- Of whining love.
- Nor has thy friend indulged
- That fatal passion since her proud refusal:
- I own the fair Idame won my heart,
- By charms unknown before: our barren deserts
- Could never produce a face like hers, a mind
- So formed to please; her every motion fired
- My captive soul, but her imprudent scorn
- Restored my freedom; nobler objects claim
- A monarch’s care; I’ll think no more of her,
- Let her repent at leisure of her pride.
- Octar, I charge thee, talk not of Idame.
- You have, indeed, affairs of greater moment
- That call for your attention.
- Then farewell
- To love, and all its follies.
genghis, octar, osman.
- O my lord,
- The victim was prepared, the guard was ranged
- On every side, when (wonderful to tell!)
- A strange event perplexed us all.—A woman
- Of frantic mien, with wild dishevelled hair,
- And bathed in tears, rushed in upon us; “stop,”
- Aloud she cried, “inhuman ruffians, stop,
- It is my son, you’ve been deceived; ’tis not
- The emperor’s child, but mine:” her eyes, her voice,
- Her fury, her despair, her every gesture,
- Was nature’s language all, and spoke the mother:
- When lo! her husband came, with downcast eyes
- And gloomy aspect; sullenly he cried,
- “This is the royal orphan, this the blood,
- Which you demanded, take it:” as he spake,
- Fast flowed his tears. The wretched matron, pale
- And motionless awhile, as struck with death,
- Fell prostrate; then, long as her faltering voice
- Could utter the imperfect sound, cried out,
- “Give me my son:” her sorrows were sincere,
- Never was grief more bitter, doubts arose
- Amongst us, and I came to know your orders.
- If ’tis the work of art, I will explore
- The mystery soon, and woe to the deceivers:
- Think they to cast a veil before my eyes,
- And mock their sovereign? let them if they dare.
- My lord, this woman never can deceive us;
- The emperor’s son was placed beneath her care;
- A master’s child might easily attract
- The faithful servant’s love, and danger make
- The charge more precious still; the ties of nature
- Are not more strong than those of fantasy:
- But we shall soon unravel it.
- Wife of a proud Mandarin:
- One of those lettered sages who defy
- The power of kings; a numerous band! but now,
- Thank heaven, reduced by thy victorious arms
- To slavery: Zamti is the traitor’s name
- Who watches o’er the victim.
- Go, my Octar,
- Interrogate this guilty pair, and learn,
- If possible, the truth: let all our guards
- Be ready at their posts: they talk, it seems,
- Of a surprise that the Koreans mean
- To march against us on the river’s bank:
- An army hath been seen: we soon shall know
- What bold adventurers are so fond of death,
- To court destruction from the sons of war,
- And force them to depopulate the world.
End of the Second Act.