Front Page Titles (by Subject) ACT III. - 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 III. - 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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aruns, albinus, messala.
- [A letter in his hand.
- At length, my friend, a dawn of fair success
- Breaks in upon us; thou hast served me nobly,
- And all is well: this letter, my Albinus,
- Decides the fate of Tarquin, and of Rome.
- But, tell me, have you fixed the important hour?
- Have you watched closely the Quirinal gate?
- If our conspirators to-night should fail
- To yield the ramparts up, will your assault
- Be ready? Is the king well satisfied,
- Thinkest thou, Albinus, we shall bring him back
- To Rome subjected, or to Rome in blood?
- My lord, by midnight all will be prepared;
- Tarquin already reaps the promised harvest;
- From you, once more, receives the diadem,
- And owns himself indebted more to Aruns
- Than to Porsenna.
- Or the envious gods,
- Foes to our hapless sovereign, must destroy
- Our fair design, well worthy of their aid;
- Or by to-morrow’s dawn rebellious Rome
- Shall own a master; Rome perhaps in ashes,
- Or bathing in her blood. But better is it
- A king should rule o’er an unhappy people,
- Who are obedient, than in plenty’s lap,
- O’er a proud nation, who are still perverse
- And obstinate, because they are too happy.
- Albinus, I attend the Princess here
- In secret—Stay, Messala.
- Touching Titus,
- What has thou done? couldst thou prevail on him
- To serve the cause of Tarquin? couldst thou bind
- His haughty soul?
- No: I presumed too far;
- He is inflexible: he loves his country,
- And has too much of Brutus in him; murmurs
- Against the senate, but still dotes on Tullia:
- Pride and ambition, love and jealousy,
- Opened, I thought, a passage to his soul,
- And gave my arts some promise of success;
- But, strange infatuation! liberty
- Prevailed o’er all: his love is desperate,
- Yet Rome is stronger even than love: in vain
- I strove, by slow degrees, to efface the horror
- Which Rome had taught his foolish heart to feel
- Even at the name of king; in vain opposed
- His rooted prejudice; the very mention
- Of Tarquin fired his soul; he would not hear me,
- But broke off the discourse: I must have gone
- Too far, had I persisted.
- Then, Messala,
- There are no hopes of him.
- Much less reluctant
- I found his brother; one of Brutus’ sons,
- At least is ours.
- Already hast thou gained
- Tiberius? by what lucky art, Messala—
- His own ambition did it all: long time,
- With jealous eye, hath he beheld the honors
- Heaped on his brother, that eclipse his own;
- The wreath of laurel, and the pomp of triumph,
- The waving ensigns, with the people’s love,
- And Brutus’ fondness, lavished all on Titus,
- Like deepest injuries, sunk into his soul,
- And helped to fill the poisoned cup of envy;
- Whilst Titus, void of malice or revenge,
- Too much superior to be jealous of him,
- Stretched forth his hand from his triumphal car,
- As if he wished to give his brother part
- Of all his glories: I embraced, with joy,
- The lucky minute; pointed out the paths
- Of glory; promised, in the name of Tarquin,
- All the fair honors Rome could give, the throne
- Alone excepted: I perceived him stagger,
- And saw him bend, by slow degrees, before me:
- He’s yours, my lord, and longs to speak with you
- Will he deliver the Quirinal gate,
- Titus is commander there,
- And he alone can give it us: already
- His virtues have been fatal to our purpose;
- He is the guardian deity of Rome:
- The attack is dangerous: without his support
- Success were doubtful, with it all is certain.
- If he solicited the consulship,
- Thinkest thou he would refuse the sovereign power
- The sure reversion of a throne with Tullia?
- ’Twere an affront to his exalted virtue
- To offer him a throne.
- O he adores her; and even loves her more,
- Because he strives to hate; detests the father,
- And rages for the daughter; dreads to speak,
- Yet mourns in silence; seeks her everywhere,
- Yet shuns her presence, and drinks up his tears
- In secret anguish: all the rage of love
- Possesses him; sometimes in storms like these
- A lucky moment turns the wavering mind.
- Titus, I know, is turbulent and bold;
- And, if we gain him, may, perhaps, go further
- Even than we wish: who knows but fierce ambition
- May yet rekindle by the torch of love!
- His heart would glow with pleasure, to behold
- The trembling senate prostrate at his feet.
- Yet, let me not deceive you with the hopes,
- That Titus ever will be ours; once more,
- However, I shall try his stubborn virtue.
- If still he loves, I shall depend on him:
- One look of Tullia’s, one sweet word from her,
- Will soften his reluctant heart much more,
- Than all the arts of Aruns or Messala:
- For, O, believe me, we must hope for naught
- From men, but through their weakness and their follies:
- Titus and Tullia must promote our cause;
- The one’s ambition, and the other’s love:
- These, these, my friend, are the conspirators
- That best will serve the king: from them I hope
- Much more than from myself.
- [Exit Messala.
tullia, aruns, algina.
- This letter, Madam,
- With orders to deliver it to your hands,
- I have received from Tarquin.
- Gracious heaven!
- Preserve my father, and reverse his fate!
- [She reads.
- “The throne of Rome may from its ashes rise,
- And he who was the conqueror of his king
- Be his restorer: Titus is a hero,
- He must defend that sceptre which I wish
- To share with him. Remember, O my Tullia,
- That Tarquin gave thee life; remember too,
- My fate depends on thee; thou mayest refuse
- Liguria’s king: if Titus be thy choice,
- He’s mine; receive him for thy husband.”
- Read I aright! Titus! impossible!
- Could Tarquin, could my father, still unmoved
- In all his sorrows, thus at last relent?
- How could he know, or whence—
- [Turning to Messala.
- Alas, my lord,
- ’Tis but to search the secrets of my heart
- You try me thus: pity a wretched princess,
- Nor spread your snares for helpless youth like mine.
- Madam, I only mean to obey your father,
- And serve his honored daughter; for your secrets,
- In me it were presumption to remove
- The sacred veil which you have drawn before them;
- My duty only bids me say, that heaven
- By you determines to restore our empire.
- And is it possible, that Tullia thus
- Should be the friend of Tarquin, and the wife
- Of Titus?
- Doubt it not: that noble hero
- Already burns to serve the royal race:
- His generous heart abhors the savage fierceness
- Of this new commonweal; his pride was hurt
- By their refusal of his just demand:
- The work’s half done, and thou must finish it.
- I have not looked into his heart; but sure,
- If he knows Tullia well, he must adore her:
- Who could behold, unmoved, a diadem
- By thee presented, and with thee adorned?
- Speak to him then, for thou alone hast power
- To triumph o’er this enemy of kings:
- No longer let the senate boast of Titus,
- Their best support, the guardian god of Rome;
- But be it Tullia’s glory to possess
- The great defender of her father’s cause,
- And crush his foes to ruin.
- Gracious heaven!
- How much I owe to thy propitious goodness!
- My tears have moved thee: all is changed; and now
- Thy justice, smiling on my passion, gives
- New strength and freedom to the glorious flame.
- Fly, my Algina, bring him hither: gods!
- Does he avoid me still, or knows he not
- His happiness? But stay, perhaps my hopes
- Are but delusions all: does Titus hate
- The senate thus? alas! and must I owe
- That to resentment which is due to love?
- I know the senate have offended him;
- That he’s ambitious; that he burns for Tullia.
- Then he’ll do all to serve me: fly, Algina,
- Away, begone.
- [Exit Algina.
- And yet this sudden change
- Alarms me: O! what anguish racks my heart!
- Now, love, do thou assist and guide my virtue!
- My fame, my duty, reason, all command it
- And shall my father owe his crown to me,
- Shall Tullia be the chain to bind their friendship;
- And all Rome’s happiness depend on mine?
- O, when shall I impart to thee, my Titus,
- The wondrous change we little thought to see,
- When shall I hear thy vows, and give thee mine,
- Without a pain, a sorrow, or a fear?
- My woes are past; now, Rome, I can forgive thee;
- If Titus leaves thee, Rome, thou art a slave:
- If he is mine, proud senate, thou art no more:
- He loves me; tremble therefore, and obey.
- May I believe it? wilt thou deign once more
- To look on this abhorred Roman, long
- The object of thy hatred, and thy foe?
- The face of things, my lord, is strangely altered;
- Fate now permits me—but first tell me, Titus,
- Has Tullia still an interest in thy heart?
- Alas! thou canst not doubt thy fatal power;
- Thou knowest my love, my guilt, and my despair;
- And holdest a cruel empire o’er a life
- Which I detest; exhaust your rage upon me;
- My fate is in your hands.
- Know, mine depends
- On thee.
- On Titus? never can this trembling heart
- Believe it: am I then no longer hated?
- Speak on, my Tullia: O, what flattering hope
- Thus in a moment lifts me to the height
- Of mortal bliss?
- [Giving him the letter.
- Read this, and make thyself,
- Thy Tullia, and her father happy—Now
- May I not hope—but wherefore that stern brow
- And frowning aspect? gods!
- Of all mankind
- Titus is sure the most accursed: blind fate,
- Bent on my ruin, showed me happiness,
- Then snatched it from me: to complete my woes,
- It doomed me to adore, and to destroy thee:
- I love thee, and have lost thee now forever.
- Yes; this fatal hour condemns me
- To shame and horror: to betray or Rome
- Or Tullia: all that’s left to my sad choice
- Is guilt, or misery.
- What sayest thou, Titus?
- When with this hand I offer thee a throne;
- Now when thou knowest my heart, for no longer
- Will I conceal my virtuous passion for thee;
- When duty yields a sanction to our love;
- Alas! I thought this happy day would prove
- The fairest of my life, and yet the moment
- When first my fearful heart, without a blush,
- Might own its passion, is the first that calls
- For my repentance. Darest thou talk to me
- Of guilt and misery? Know, thus to serve
- Ungrateful men against their lawful prince,
- To scorn my proffered bounties, and oppress me,
- These are my miseries, Titus, these thy crimes.
- Mistaken youth, weigh in the even balance
- What Rome refused, and what she offers thee:
- Or deal forth laws, or meanly stoop to obey them:
- Be governed by a rabble, or a king;
- By Rome, or me: direct him right, ye gods!
- [Giving her back the letter.
- My choice is made.
- And fearest thou to avow it?
- Be bold, and speak at once; deserve my pardon,
- Or merit my revenge: what’s thy resolve?
- ’Tis to be worthy of thee, of myself,
- And of my country; to be just, and faithful;
- ’Tis to adore and imitate thy virtues;
- It is to lose, O Tullia, yet deserve thee.
- Forgive me, dearest Tullia;
- Pity my weakness, and forget my love:
- Pity a heart foe to itself, a heart
- A thousand times more wretched now than even
- When thou didst hate me: O! I cannot leave,
- I cannot follow thee; I cannot live
- Or with thee or without thee; but will die
- Rather than see thee given to another.
- My heart’s still thine, and I forgive thee, Titus.
- If thou dost love me, Tullia, be a Roman;
- Be more than queen, and love the commonweal:
- Bring with thee patriot zeal, the love of Rome,
- And of her sacred laws, be that thy dowry:
- Henceforth let Brutus be thy father, Rome
- Thy mother, and her loved avenger, Titus,
- Thy husband: thus shall Romans yield the palm
- Of glory to an Etruscan maid, and owe
- Their freedom to the daughter of a king.
- And wouldst thou wish me to betray—
- My soul,
- Urged to despair, hath lost itself: O no!
- Treason is horrible in every shape,
- And most unworthy of thee: well I know
- A father’s rights; his power is absolute,
- And must not be disputed: well I know
- That Titus loves thee, that he is distracted.
- Thou knowest what duty is, hear then the voice
- Of Tullia’s father.
- And forget my own!
- Forget my country!
- Canst thou call it thine
- Without thy Tullia?
- We are foes by nature;
- The laws have laid a cruel duty on us.
- Titus and Tullia foes! how could that word
- E’er pass thy lips!
- Thou knowest my heart belies them.
- Dare then to serve, and if thou lovest, revenge me.
brutus, aruns, titus, tullia, messala, albinus, proculus, lictors.
- [Addressing himself to Tullia.
- Madam, the time is come for your departure;
- Whilst public tumults shook the commonweal,
- And the wild tempest howled around us, Rome
- Could not restore you to your household gods:
- Tarquin himself, in that disastrous hour,
- Too busy in the ruin of his people
- To think on Tullia, ne’er demanded thee.
- Forgive me if I call thus to remembrance
- Thy sorrows past: I robbed thee of a father,
- And meet it is I prove a father to thee:
- Go, princess, and may justice ever guard
- The throne which heaven hath called thee to possess!
- If thou dost hope obedience from thy subjects,
- Obey the laws, and tremble for thyself,
- When thou considerest all a sovereign’s duty:
- And if the fatal powers of flattery e’er
- Should from thy heart unloose the sacred bonds
- Of justice, think on Rome; remember Tarquin:
- Let his example be the instructive lesson
- To future kings, and make the world more happy.
- Aruns, the senate gives her to thy care;
- A father and a husband at your hands
- Expect her. Proculus attends you hence,
- Far as the sacred gate.
- Despair, and horror!
- I will not suffer it—permit me, sir,
- [Advancing towards Aruns.
- [Brutus and Tullia with their Attendants go out, leaving Aruns and Messala.
- Gods! I shall die of grief and shame: but soft,
- Aruns, I’d speak with you.
- My lord, the time
- Is short; I follow Brutus, and the princess;
- Remember, I can put off her departure
- But for an hour, and after that, my lord,
- ’Twill be too late to talk with me; within
- We may confer on Tullia’s fate, perhaps
- On yours.
- O cruel destiny! to join
- And then divide us! Were we made, alas!
- But to be foes! My friend, I beg thee stop
- The tide of grief and rage.
- I weep to see
- So many virtues and so many charms
- Rewarded thus: a heart like hers deserved
- To have been thine, and thine alone.
- O no!
- Titus and Tullia ne’er shall be united.
- Wherefore, my lord? what idle scruples rise
- To thwart your wishes?
- The ungenerous laws
- She has imposed upon me: cruel maid!
- Must I then serve the tyrants I have conquered,
- Must I betray the people I had saved?
- Shall love, whose power I had so long defied,
- At last subdue me thus? Shall I expose
- My father to these proud despotic lords!
- And such a father, such a fair example
- To all mankind, the guardian of his country,
- Whom long I followed in the paths of honor,
- And might perhaps even one day have excelled;
- Shall Titus fall from such exalted virtue
- To infamy and vice? detested thought!
- Thou art a Roman, rise to nobler views,
- And be a king; heaven offers thee a throne:
- Empire and love, and glory, and revenge
- Await thee: this proud consul, this support
- Of falling Rome, this idol of the people,
- If fortune had not crowned him with success,
- If Titus had not conquered for his father,
- Had been a rebel: thou hast gained the name
- Of conqueror, now assume a nobler title;
- Now be thy country’s friend, and give her peace.
- Restore the happy days, when, blessed with freedom,
- Not unrestrained by power, our ancestors
- Weighed in the even scale, and balanced well
- The prince’s honors and the people’s right:
- Rome’s hate of kings is not immortal; soon
- Would it be changed to love if Titus reigned:
- For monarchy, so oft admired, so oft
- Detested by us, is the best or worst
- Of human governments: A tyrant king
- Will make it dreadful, and a good, divine.
- Messala, dost thou know me? Dost thou know
- I hold thee for a traitor, and myself
- Almost as guilty for conversing with thee?
- Know thou, the honor thou contemnest shall soon
- Be wrested from thee, and another hand
- Perform thy office.
- He has given
- His faith to Tarquin.
- Could Tiberius e’er
- Betray his country?
- He will serve his king,
- And be a friend to Rome: in spite of thee,
- Tarquin will give his daughter to the man
- Who shall with warmest zeal defend her father.
- Perfidious wretch! thou hast misled my steps.
- And left me hanging o’er the precipice;
- Left me the dreadful choice or to accuse
- My brother, or partake his guilt; but know,
- Sooner thy blood—
- My life is in thy power,
- Take it this moment; I deserve to die
- For striving to oblige you: shed the blood
- Of friend, of mistress, and of brother; lay
- The breathless victims all before the senate,
- And for thy virtues ask the consulship:
- Or let me hence, and tell them all I know,
- Accuse my fellow-traitors, and myself
- Begin the sacrifice.
- Messala, stop,
- Or dread my desperate rage.
titus, messala, albinus.
- The ambassador
- Would see you now, my lord; he’s with the princess.
- Yes, I will fly to Tullia: O ye gods
- Of Rome, ye guardians of my much-loved country!
- Pierce this corrupted, this ungrateful heart:
- Had Titus never loved, he had been virtuous:
- And must I fall a sacrifice to thee,
- Detested senate! let us hence.
- [Turning to Messala.
- Thou seest,
- Messala, this proud capitol replete
- With monuments of Titus’ faith.
- ’Tis filled
- By a proud senate.
- Ay: I know it well:
- But hark! I hear the voice of angry heaven,
- It speaks to me in thunder, and cries, stop,
- Ungrateful Titus, thou betrayest thy country:
- No, Rome, no, Brutus, I am still thy son:
- O’er Titus’ head the sun of glory still
- Hath shed his brightest rays; he never yet
- Disgraced his noble blood: your victim, gods,
- Is spotless yet; and if this fatal day
- Shall doom me to involuntary crimes,
- If I must yield to fate, let Titus die
- Whilst he is innocent, and save his country.
End of the Third Act.