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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The scene represents an apartment in the palace of the consuls.
- No: ’tis unkind; it hurts my tender friendship:
- He who but half unveils his secrets, tells
- Too little or too much: dost thou suspect me?
- Do not reproach me; my whole heart is thine.
- Thou who so lately didst with me detest
- The rigorous senate, and pour forth thy plaints
- In anguish; thou who on this faithful bosom
- Didst shed so many tears, couldst thou conceal
- Griefs far more bitter, the keen pangs of love?
- How could ambition quench the rising flame,
- And blot out every tender sentiment?
- Dost thou detest the hateful senate more
- Than thou lovest Tullia?
- O! I love with transport,
- And hate with fury; ever in extreme;
- It is the native weakness of my soul,
- Which much I strive to conquer, but in vain.
- But why thus rashly tear thy bleeding wounds?
- Why weep thy injuries, yet disguise thy love?
- Spite of those injuries, spite of all my wrongs,
- Have I not shed my blood for this proud senate?
- Thou knowest I have, and didst partake my glory;
- With joy I told thee of my fair success;
- It showed, methought, a nobleness of soul
- To fight for the ungrateful, and I felt
- The pride of conscious virtue: the misfortunes
- We have o’ercome with pleasure we impart,
- But few are anxious to reveal their shame.
- Where is the shame, the folly, or disgrace:
- And what should Titus blush at?
- At myself:
- At my fond foolish passion, that o’erpowers
- My duty.
- Are ambition then, and love,
- Passions unworthy of a noble mind?
- Ambition, love, resentment, all possess
- The soul of Titus, and by turns inflame it:
- These consul kings despise my youth; deny me
- My valor’s due reward, the price of blood
- Shed in their cause: then, midst my sorrows, seize
- All I hold dear, and snatch my Tullia from me.
- Alas! I had no hope, and yet my heart
- Grows jealous now: the fire, long pent within,
- Bursts forth with inextinguishable rage.
- I thought it had been o’er; she parted from me,
- And I had almost gained the victory
- O’er my rebellious passion: but my race
- Of glory now is run, and heaven has fixed
- Its period here: Gods! that the son of Brutus,
- The foe of kings, should ever be the slave
- Of Tarquin’s race! nay, the ungrateful fair
- Scorns to accept my conquered heart: I’m slighted;
- Disdained on every side, and shame o’erwhelms me.
- May I with freedom speak to thee?
- Thou mayest;
- Thou knowest I ever have revered thy prudence;
- Speak therefore, tell me all my faults, Messala.
- No: I approve thy love, and thy resentment:
- Shall Titus authorize this tyrant senate,
- These sons of arrogance? if thou must blush,
- Blush for thy patience, Titus, not thy love.
- Are these the poor rewards of all thy valor,
- Thy constancy, and truth? a hopeless lover.
- A weak and powerless citizen of Rome,
- A poor state-victim, by the senate braved,
- And scorned by Tullia: sure a heart like thine
- Might find the means to be revenged on both.
- Why wilt thou flatter my despairing soul?
- Thinkest thou I ever could subdue her hate,
- Or shake her virtue? ’tis impossible:
- Thou seest the fatal barriers to our love,
- Which duty and our fathers place between us:
- But must she go?
- But I will not complain: for heaven is just
- To her deservings; she was born to reign.
- Heaven had perhaps reserved a fairer empire
- For beauteous Tullia, but for this proud senate,
- But for this cruel war, nay but for Titus:
- Forgive me, sir, you know the inheritance
- She might have claimed; her brother dead, the throne
- Of Rome had been her portion—but I’ve gone
- Too far—and yet, if with my life, O Titus,
- I could have served thee, if my blood—
- No more:
- My duty calls, and that shall be obeyed:
- Man may be free, if he resolves to be so:
- I own, the dangerous passion for a time
- O’erpowered my reason; but a soldier’s heart
- Braves every danger: love owes all his power
- To our own weakness.
- The ambassador
- From Etruria is here: this honor, Sir—
- O fatal honor! what would he with me?
- He comes to snatch my Tullia from my sight;
- Comes to complete the measure of my woes.
- After my long and fruitless toils to serve
- The state of Rome, and her ungrateful senate,
- Permit me here to pay the homage due
- To generous courage, and transcendent virtue;
- Permit me to admire the gallant hero
- Who saved his country on the brink of ruin:
- Alas! thou hast deserved a fairer meed,
- A cause more noble, and another foe;
- Thy valor merited a better fate:
- Kings would rejoice, and such I know there are,
- To trust their empire with an arm like thine,
- Who would not dread the virtues they admire,
- Like jealous Rome and her proud senate: O!
- I cannot bear to see the noble Titus
- Serving these haughty tyrants; who, the more
- You have obliged them, hate you more: to them
- Your merit’s a reproach; mean vulgar souls,
- Born to obey, they lift the oppressive hand
- Against their great deliverer, and usurp
- Their sovereign’s rights; from thee they should receive
- Those orders which they give.
- I thank you, Sir,
- For all your cares, your kind regard for Titus,
- And guess the cause: your subtle policy
- Would wind me to your secret purposes,
- And arm my rage against the commonweal;
- But think not to impose thus on my frankness;
- My heart is open, and abhors design:
- The senate have misused me, and I hate them,
- I ought to hate them; but I’ll serve them still:
- When Rome engages in the common cause,
- No private quarrels taint the patriot breast;
- Superior then to party strife, we rush
- United on against the general foe:
- Such are my thoughts, and such they ever will be;
- Thou knowest me now: or call it virtue in me,
- Or call it partial fondness, what you please,
- But, born a Roman, I will die for Rome,
- And love this hard unjust suspicious senate,
- More than the pomp and splendor of a court
- Beneath a master, for I am the son
- Of Brutus, and have graved upon my heart
- The love of freedom, and the hate of kings.
- But does not Titus soothe his flattered heart
- With fancied bliss, and visionary charms?
- I too, my lord, though born within the sway
- Of regal power, am fond of liberty;
- You languish for her, yet enjoy her not.
- Is there on earth, with all your boasted freedom,
- Aught more despotic than a commonweal?
- Your laws are tyrants; and their barbarous rigor
- Deaf to the voice of merit, to applause,
- To family, and fame, throws down distinction;
- The senate grind you, and the people scorn;
- You must affright them, or they will enslave you:
- A citizen of Rome is ever jealous
- Or insolent; he is your equal still,
- Or still your foe, because inferior to you:
- He cannot bear the lustre of high fortune;
- Looks with an eye severe on every action;
- In all the service you have done him, sees
- Naught but the injury you have power to do;
- And for the blood which you have shed for him,
- You’ll be repaid at last with—banishment.
- A court, I own’s a dangerous element,
- And has its storms, but not so frequent; smooth
- Its current glides, its surface more serene:
- That boasted native of another soil,
- Fair liberty, here sheds her sweetest flowers:
- A king can love, can recompense your service,
- And mingles happiness with glory; there
- Cherished beneath the shade of royal favor,
- Long mayest thou flourish, only serve a master,
- And be thyself the lord of all beside:
- The vulgar, ever to their sovereign’s will
- Obedient, still respect and honor those
- Whom he protects, nay love his very faults:
- We never tremble at a haughty senate,
- Or her harsh laws: O! would that, born as thou art,
- To shine with equal lustre in a court
- Or in a camp, thou wouldst but taste the charms
- Of Tarquin’s goodness! for he loved thee, Titus,
- And would have shared his fortunes with thee; then
- Had the proud senate, prostrate at thy feet—
- I’ve seen the court of Tarquin, and despise it:
- I know I might have cringed for his protection,
- Been his first slave, and tyrannized beneath him;
- But, thanks to heaven, I am not fallen so low:
- I would be great, but not by meanness rise
- To grandeur: no, it never was my fate
- To serve: I’ll conquer kings, do thou obey them.
- I must approve thy constancy; but think,
- My lord, how Tarquin, in thy infant years,
- Guided thy tender youth: he oft remembers
- The pleasing office, and but yesterday,
- Lamenting his lost son, and sad misfortunes,
- “Titus,” said he, “was once my best support,
- He loved us all, and he alone deserved
- My kingdom and my daughter.”
- Ha! his daughter!
- Ye gods! my Tullia! O unhappy vows!
- Even now I carry her to Tarquin; him
- Whom thou hast thus deserted, far from thee,
- And from her country, soon must Tullia go;
- Liguria’s king accepts of her in marriage:
- Meantime thou, Titus, must obey the senate,
- Oppress her father, and destroy his kingdom:
- And may these vaulted roofs, these towers in flame,
- And this proud capitol in ashes laid,
- Like funeral torches, shine before your people,
- To light the Roman senate to its grave.
- Or serve to grace our happy Tullia’s nuptials!
- Messala, in what anguish hath he left me!
- Would Tarquin then have given her to my arms!
- O cruel fate! and might I thus—O no,
- Deceitful minister! thou camest to search
- My foolish heart; alas! he saw too well,
- Read in my eyes the dear destructive passion,
- He knows my weakness, and returns to Tarquin
- To smile at Titus, and insult his love:
- And might I then have wedded her, possessed
- That lovely maid, and spent a life of bliss
- Within her arms, had heaven allotted me
- So fair a fate! O I am doubly wretched.
- Thou mightest be happy; Aruns would assist thee,
- Trust me, he would, and second thy warm wishes.
- No: I must bid adieu to my fond hopes;
- Rome calls me to the capitol; the people
- Who raised triumphal arches to my glory,
- And love me for my labors past, expect me,
- To take with them the inviolable oath,
- The solemn pledge of sacred liberty.
- Go then, and serve your tyrants.
- I will serve them;
- It is my duty, and I must fulfil it.
- Therefore ’tis more glorious.
- Messala, do not leave me in affliction.
- [Exit Titus.
- I’ll follow him, to sharpen his resentment,
- And strike the envenomed dagger to his heart.
- Messala, stop; I’d speak with you.
- With you. A deadly poison late hath spread
- Its secret venom o’er my house: my son,
- Tiberius, is with jealous rage inflamed
- Against his brother; it appears too plain;
- Whilst Titus burns with most unjust resentment
- Against the senate: the ambassador,
- That shrewd Etruscan, has observed their weakness,
- And doubtless profits by it: he has talked
- To both: I dread the tongues of subtle statesmen,
- Grown old in the chicanery of a court:
- To-morrow he returns: a day’s too much
- To give a traitor, and ofttimes is fatal:
- Go thou, Messala, tell him he must hence
- This day: I’ll have it so.
- ’Tis prudent, Sir,
- And I obey you.
- But this is not all:
- My son, the noble Titus, loves thee well;
- I know the power that sacred friendship hath
- O’er minds like his; a stranger to distrust
- Or diffidence, he yields his artless soul
- To thy experience; and the more his heart
- Relies on thee, the more may I expect,
- That, able as thou art to guide his steps,
- Thou wilt not turn them from the paths of virtue,
- Or take advantage of his easy youth
- To taint his guiltless heart with fond ambition.
- That was even now the subject of our converse;
- He strives to imitate his godlike sire;
- Rome’s safety is the object of his care:
- Blindly he loves his country, and his father.
- And so he ought; but above all, the laws;
- To them he should be still a faithful slave;
- Who breaks the laws, can never love his country.
- We know his patriot zeal, and both have seen it.
- Rome had done hers too,
- If she had honored more so good a son.
- Messala, no: it suited not his age
- To take the consulship; he had not even
- The voice of Brutus: trust me, the success
- Of his ambition would have soon corrupted
- His noble mind, and the rewards of virtue
- Had then become hereditary: soon
- Should we have seen the base unworthy son
- Of a brave father claim superior rank,
- Unmerited, in sloth and luxury,
- As our last Tarquin but too plainly proved.
- How very seldom they deserve a crown
- Who’re born to wear it! O! preserve us, heaven,
- From such destructive vile abuse of power,
- The nurse of folly, and the grave of virtue!
- If thou indeed dost love my son, (and much
- I hope thou dost) show him a fairer path
- To glory; root out from his heart the pride
- Of false ambition: he who serves the state
- Is amply recompensed: the son of Brutus
- Should shine a bright example to the world
- Of every virtue: he is Rome’s support,
- As such I look upon him; and the more
- He has already done to serve his country,
- The more I shall require of him hereafter.
- Know then by what I wish the love I bear him,
- Temper the heat of youth; to flatter Titus
- Were death to him, and injury to Rome.
- My lord, I am content to follow Titus,
- To imitate his valor, not instruct him:
- I have but little influence o’er your son;
- But, if he deigns to listen to my counsels,
- Rome soon will see how much he loves her glory.
- Go then, be careful not to soothe his errors;
- For I hate tyrants much, but flatterers more.
- [Exit Brutus.
- There’s not a tyrant more detestable,
- More cruel than thy own relentless soul;
- But I shall tread perhaps beneath my feet
- The pride of all thy false insulting virtue:
- Yes, thou Colossus, raised thus high above us
- By a vile crowd, the thunder is prepared,
- Soon shall it fall, and crush thee into ruin.
End of the Second Act.