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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- O Seid, keep me not in dread suspense,
- What is this secret sacrifice? what blood
- Hath heaven demanded?
- The eternal power
- Deigns to accept my service, calls on me
- To execute its purposes divine;
- To him this heart’s devoted, and for him
- This arm shall rise in vengeance; I am bound
- To Omar and to Mahomet, have sworn
- To perish in the glorious cause of heaven:
- My next and dearest care shall be Palmira.
- Why was not I a witness to thy oath?
- Had I been with thee, I had been less wretched;
- But doubts distract me: Omar talks of treason,
- Of blood that soon must flow; the senate’s rage,
- And Zopir’s dark intrigues: the flames of war
- Once more are kindled, and the sword is drawn
- Heaven only knows when to be sheathed again:
- So says our prophet, he who cannot lie,
- Cannot deceive us: O I fear for Seid,
- Fear all from Zopir.
- Can he have a heart
- So base and so perfidious? but this morning,
- When as a hostage I appeared before him,
- I thought him noble, generous, and humane;
- Some power invincible in secret worked,
- And won me to him; whether the respect
- Due to his name, or specious form external
- Concealed the blackness of his heart I know not;
- Whether thy presence filled my raptured soul
- With joy that drove out every painful sense,
- And would not let me think of aught but thee:
- Whate’er the cause, methought I was most happy
- When nearest him: that he should thus seduce
- My easy heart makes me detest him more;
- And yet how hard it is to look on those
- With eyes of hatred whom we wish to love!
- By every bond hath heaven united us,
- And Seid and Palmira are the same:
- Were I not bound to thee, and to that faith
- Which Mahomet inspires, I too had pleaded
- The cause of Zopir; but religion, love,
- And nature, all forbid it.
- Think no more
- Of vain remorse, but listen to the voice
- Of heaven, the God we serve will be propitious:
- Our holy prophet who protects his children
- Will bless our faithful love: for thy dear sake
- I hazard all. Farewell.
- Some dark presage
- Of future misery hangs o’er me still:
- That love which made my happiness, this day,
- So often wished for, is a day of horror:
- What is this dreadful oath, this solemn compact
- Which Seid talks of? I’ve a thousand fears
- Upon me when I think of Zopir: oft
- As I invoke great Mahomet, I feel
- A secret dread, and tremble as I worship:
- O save me, heaven! fearful I obey,
- And blind I follow: O direct my steps
- Aright, and deign to wash my tears away!
- Propitious heaven hath heard my prayers; he comes,
- The prophet comes. O gracious Mahomet,
- My Seid—
- What of him? thou seemest disturbed;
- What should Palmira fear when I am with her!
- Have I not cause when Mahomet himself
- Seems touched with grief?
- Perhaps it is for thee:
- Darest thou, imprudent maid, avow a passion
- Ere I approved it: is the heart I formed
- Turned rebel to its master, to my laws
- Unfaithful? O ingratitude!
- My lord,
- Behold me at your feet, and pity me:
- Didst thou not once propitious smile upon us,
- And give thy sanction to our growing love?
- Thou knowest the virtuous passion that unites us
- Is but a chain that binds us more to thee.
- The bonds that folly and imprudence knit
- Are dangerous; guilt doth sometimes follow close
- The steps of innocence: our hearts deceive us,
- And love, with all his store of dear delights,
- May cost us tears, and dip his shafts in blood.
- Nor would I murmur if it flowed for Seid.
- E’er since the day
- When good Hercides to thy sacred power
- Consigned us both, unconquerable instinct,
- Still growing with our years, united us
- In tender friendship; ’twas the work of heaven
- That guides our every action, and o’errules
- The fate of mortals; so thy doctrines teach:
- God cannot change, nor gracious heaven condemn
- That love itself inspired: what once was right
- Is always so; canst thou then blame Palmira?
- I can, and must; nay, thou wilt tremble more
- When I reveal the horrid secret to thee.
- Attend, rash maid, and let me teach thy soul
- What to avoid, and what to follow: listen
- To me alone.
- To thee alone Palmira
- Will listen ever, the obedient slave
- Of Mahomet; this heart can never lose
- Its veneration for thy sacred name.
- That veneration in excess may lead
- To foul ingratitude.
- When I forget
- Thy goodness, then may Seid punish me!
- O why, my lord, that cruel frown,
- And look severe?
- Be not alarmed; I meant
- But to explore the secrets of thy heart,
- And try if thou wert worthy to be saved:
- Be confident, and rest on my protection;
- On your obedience will depend your fate;
- If ye expect a blessing at my hands,
- Be careful to deserve it, and whate’er
- The will of heaven determines touching Seid,
- Be thou his guide, direct him in the paths
- Of duty, and religion; let him keep
- His promise, and be worthy of Palmira.
- O he will keep it; doubt him not, my lord,
- I’ll answer for his heart as for my own;
- Seid adores thee, worships Mahomet
- More than he loves Palmira; thou art all
- To him, his friend, his father, and his king:
- I’ll fly, and urge him to his duty.
- Spite of myself I must, it seems, be made
- A confidant; the simple girl betrayed
- Her guilty flame, and innocently plunged
- The dagger in my heart: unhappy race!
- Father and children, all my foes, all doomed
- To make me wretched! but ye soon shall prove
- That dreadful is my hatred—and my love.
- At length the hour is come, to seize Palmira,
- To conquer Mecca, and to punish Zopir;
- His death alone can prop our feeble cause,
- And humble these proud citizens: brave Seid
- Can best avenge thee; he has free access
- To Zopir: yonder gloomy passage leads
- To his abode; there the rebellious chief
- His idle vows and flattering incense pours
- Before his fancied deities; there Seid,
- Full of the law divine by thee inspired,
- Shall sacrifice the traitor to the God
- Of Mahomet.
- He shall: that youth was born
- For crimes of deepest dye: he shall be first
- My useful slave, my instrument, and then
- The victim of my rage; it must be so:
- My safety, my resentment, and my love,
- My holy faith, and the decrees of fate
- Irrevocable, all require it of me:
- But thinkest thou, Omar, he hath all the warmth
- Of wild fanaticism?
- I know he has,
- And suits our purpose well; Palmira, too,
- Will urge him on; religion, love, resentment
- Will blind his headstrong youth, and hurry him
- To madness.
- Hast thou bound him by an oath?
- O yes; in all the gloomy pomp of rites
- Nocturnal, oaths, and altars, we have fixed
- His superstitious soul, placed in his hand
- The sacred sword, and fired him with the rage
- Of fierce enthusiasm—but behold him.
mahomet, omar, seid.
- Of heaven, decreed to execute the laws
- Of an offended God, now hear by me
- His sacred will: thou must avenge his cause.
- O thou, to whom my soul devoted bends
- In humblest adoration, king, and prophet,
- Sovereign, acknowledged by the voice of heaven,
- O’er prostrate nations—I am wholly thine:
- But O enlighten my dark mind! O say,
- How can weak man avenge his God?
- Doth he make use of feeble hands like thine
- To punish impious mortals, and assert
- His power divine.
- Will he, whose perfect image
- Is seen in Mahomet, thus condescend
- To honor Seid?
- Do as he ordains;
- That is the highest honor man can boast,
- Blindly to execute his great decree:
- Be thankful for the choice, and strike the blow:
- The angel of destruction shall assist,
- The God of armies shall protect thee.
- What tyrant must be slain? what blood must flow?
- The murderer’s blood whom Mahomet abhors,
- Who persecutes our faith, and spurns our God,
- Who slew my son; the worst of all my foes,
- The cruel Zopir.
- And dost thou pause? presumptuous youth! ’tis impious
- But to deliberate: far from Mahomet
- Be all who for themselves shall dare to judge
- Audacious; those who reason are not oft
- Prone to believe; thy part is to obey.
- Have I not told thee what the will of heaven
- Determines? if it be decreed that Mecca,
- Spite of her crimes and base idolatry,
- Shall be the promised temple, the chosen seat
- Of empire, where I am appointed king,
- And pontiff, knowest thou why our Mecca boasts
- These honors? knowest thou holy Abram here
- Was born, that here his sacred ashes rest?
- He who, obedient to the voice of God,
- Stifled the cries of nature, and gave up
- His darling child: the same all-powerful Being
- Requires of thee a sacrifice; to thee
- He calls for blood; and darest thou hesitate
- When God commands? hence, vile idolater,
- Unworthy Mussulman, away, and seek
- Another master; go, and love Palmira;
- But thou despisest her, and bravest the wrath
- Of angry heaven; away, forsake thy lord,
- And serve his deadliest foes.
- It is the voice
- Of God that speaks in Mahomet:—command,
- And I obey.
- Strike, then, and by the blood
- Of Zopir merit life eternal.—Omar,
- Attend and watch him well.
- To sacrifice
- A poor, defenceless, weak old man!—no matter:
- How many victims at the altar fall
- As helpless! yet their blood in grateful streams
- Rises to heaven: God hath appointed me;
- Seid hath sworn, and Seid shall perform
- His sacred promise:—O assist me now,
- Illustrious spirits, you who have destroyed
- The tyrants of the earth, O join your rage
- To mine, O guide this trembling hand, and thou
- Exterminating angel who defendest
- The cause of Mahomet, inspire this heart
- With all thy fierceness!—ha! what do I see?
- Seid, thou seemest disturbed; unhappy youth!
- Why art thou ranked amongst my foes? my heart
- Feels for thy woes, and trembles at thy danger;
- Horrors on horrors crowd on every side;
- My house may be a shelter from the storm.
- Accept it, thou art welcome, for thy life
- Is dear to Zopir.
- Gracious heaven! wilt thou
- Protect me thus? will Zopir guard his foe?
- What do I hear! O duty, conscience, virtue!
- O Mahomet, this rives my heart.
- Thou art surprised to find that I can pity
- An enemy, and wish for Seid’s welfare;
- I am a man like thee; that tie alone
- Demands at least a sympathetic tear
- For innocence afflicted: gracious gods,
- Drive from this earth those base and savage men,
- Who shed with joy their fellow-creatures’ blood.
- O glorious sentiments! and can there be
- Such virtue in an infidel?
- Thou knowest
- But little of that virtue, thus to stand
- Astonished at it! O mistaken youth,
- In what a maze of errors art thou lost!
- Bound by a tyrant’s savage laws, thou thinkest
- Virtue resides in Mussulmans alone;
- Thy master rules thee with a rod of iron,
- And shackles thy free soul in shameful bonds;
- Zopir thou hatest, alas! thou knowest him not:
- I pardon thee because thou art the slave
- Of Mahomet; but how canst thou believe
- A God who teaches hatred, and delights
- In discord?
- O I never can obey him!
- I know, and feel I cannot hate thee, Zopir.
- Alas! the more I talk to him, the more
- He gains upon me; his ingenuous look,
- His youth, his candor, all conspire to charm me;
- How could a follower of this vile impostor
- Thus win my heart! who gave thee birth? what art thou?
- A wretched orphan; all I have on earth
- Is a kind master, whom I never yet
- Have disobeyed; howe’er my love for thee
- May tempt me to betray him.
- Knowest thou not
- Thy parents then?
- His camp was the first object
- My eyes beheld; his temple is my country;
- I know no other; and amidst the crowd
- Of yearly tributes to our holy prophet,
- None e’er was treated with more tenderness
- Than Seid was.
- I love his gratitude:
- Thy kind return for benefits received
- Merits my praise:—O why did heaven employ
- The hand of Mahomet in such an office?
- He was thy father, and Palmira’s, too;
- Why dost thou sigh? why dost thou tremble thus?
- Why turn thee from me? sure some dreadful thought
- Hangs on thy mind.
- It must be so: the times
- Are full of terror.
- If thou feelest remorse
- Thy heart is guiltless; murder is abroad,
- Let me preserve thy life.
- O gracious heaven!
- And can I have a thought of taking thine?
- Palmira! O my oath! O God of vengeance!
- For the last time remember I entreat thee
- To follow me; away, thy fate depends
- Upon this moment.
zopir, seid, omar.
- [Entering hastily.
- Traitor, Mahomet
- Expects thee.
- O I know not where or what
- I am; destruction, ruin and despair
- On every side await me: whither now
- Shall wretched Seid fly?
- To him whom God
- Hath chosen, thy injured king, and master.
- And there abjure the dreadful oath I made.
- The desperate youth is gone—I know not why,
- But my heart beats for his distress; his looks,
- His pity, his remorse, his every action
- Affect me deeply: I must follow him.
- This letter, sir, was by an Arab given
- In secret to me.
- From Hercides! gods,
- What do I read? will heaven in tenderest pity
- At length repay me for a life of sorrows?
- Hercides begs to see me—he who snatched
- From this fond bosom my two helpless children;
- They yet are living, so this paper tells me,
- Slaves to the tyrant—Seid and Palmira
- Are orphans both, and know not whence they sprang,
- Perhaps my children—O delusive hope,
- Why wilt thou flatter me? it cannot be;
- Fain would I credit thee, thou sweet deceiver:
- I fly to meet and to embrace my children;
- Yes; I will see Hercides: let him come
- At midnight to me, to this holy altar,
- Where I so often have invoked the gods,
- At last, perhaps, propitious to my vows:
- O ye immortal powers, restore my children,
- Give back to virtue’s paths two generous hearts
- Corrupted by an impious, vile usurper!
- If Seid and Palmira are not mine,
- If such is my hard fate, I will adopt
- The noble pair, and be their father still.
End of the Third Act.