Front Page Titles (by Subject) ACT IV. - 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 IV. - 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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- My lord, our secret is discovered; Seid
- Has told Hercides; we are on the verge
- Of ruin, yet I know he will obey.
- Revealed it, sayest thou?
- Yes: Hercides loves him
- With tenderness.
- Indeed! What said he to it?
- He stood aghast and seemed to pity Zopir.
- He’s weak, and therefore not to be entrusted;
- Fools ever will be traitors; but no matter,
- Let him take heed; a method may be found
- To rid us of such dangerous witnesses:
- Say, Omar, have my orders been obeyed?
- ’Tis well: remember, Omar,
- In one important hour or Mahomet
- Or Zopir is no more; if Zopir dies,
- The credulous people will adore that God
- Who thus declared for me, and saved his prophet:
- Be this our first great object; that once done,
- Take care of Seid; art thou sure the poison
- Will do its office?
- O we must work in secret, the dark shades
- Of death must hide our purpose—while we shed
- Old Zopir’s blood, be sure you keep Palmira
- In deepest ignorance; she must not know
- The secret of her birth: her bliss and mine
- Depend upon it; well thou knowest, my triumphs
- From error’s fruitful source incessant flow:
- The ties of blood, and all their boasted power
- Are mere delusions: what are nature’s bonds?
- Nothing but habit, the mere force of custom:
- Palmira knows no duty but obedience
- To me; I am her lord, her king, her father,
- Perhaps may add the name of husband to them:
- Her little heart will beat with proud ambition
- To captivate her master—but the hour
- Approaches that must rid me of my foe,
- The hated Zopir: Seid is prepared—
- And see, he comes: let us retire.
- His wild demeanor; rage and fierce resentment
- Possess his soul.
mahomet, omar,retired to one side of the stage;seidat the farther end.
- This dreadful duty then
- Must be fulfilled.
- Let us begone, in search
- Of other means to make our power secure.
- [Exit with Omar.
- I could not answer: one reproachful word
- From Mahomet sufficed: I stood abashed,
- But not convinced: if heaven requires it of me,
- I must obey; but it will cost me dear.
- Palmira, art thou here? what fatal cause
- Hath led thee to this seat of horror?
- And love directed me to find thee, Seid,
- To ask thee what dread sacrifice thou meanest
- To offer here; do heaven and Mahomet
- Demand it of thee, must it be? O speak.
- Palmira, thou commandest my every thought
- And every action; all depend on thee:
- Direct them as thou wilt, inform my soul,
- And guide my hand: be thou my guardian god,
- Explain the will of heaven which yet I know not;
- Why am I chosen to be its instrument
- Of vengeance? are the prophet’s dread commands
- Seid, we must yield in silence,
- Nor dare to question his decrees; he hears
- Our secret sighs, nor are our sorrows hid
- From Mahomet’s all-seeing eye: to doubt
- Is profanation of the deity.
- His God is God alone; he could not else
- Be thus victorious, thus invincible.
- He must be Seid’s God who is Palmira’s:
- Yet cannot my astonished soul conceive
- A being, tender, merciful, and kind,
- Commanding murder; then again I think
- To doubt is guilt: the priest without remorse
- Destroys the victim: by the voice of heaven
- I know that Zopir was condemned, I know
- That Seid was predestined to support
- The law divine: so Mahomet ordained,
- And I obey him; fired with holy zeal
- I go to slay the enemy of God;
- And yet methinks another deity
- Draws back my arm, and bids me spare the victim:
- Religion lost her power when I beheld
- The wretched Zopir; duty urged in vain
- Her cruel plea, exhorting me to murder;
- With joy I listened to the plaintive voice
- Of soft humanity: but Mahomet—
- How awful! how majestic! who can bear
- His wrath? his frowns reproached my shameful weakness;
- Religion is a dreadful power: alas!
- Palmira, I am lost in doubts and fears,
- Discordant passions tear this feeble heart:
- I must be impious, must desert my faith,
- Or be a murderer: Seid was not formed
- For an assassin; but ’tis heaven’s command,
- And I have promised to avenge its cause:
- The tears of grief and rage united flow,
- Contending duties raise a storm within,
- And thou alone, Palmira, must appease it;
- Fix my uncertain heart, and give it peace:
- Alas! without this dreadful sacrifice,
- The tie that binds us is forever broke;
- This only can secure thee.
- Am I then
- The price of blood, of Zopir’s blood?
- So heaven
- And Mahomet decree.
- Love ne’er was meant
- To make us cruel, barbarous, and inhuman.
- To Zopir’s murderer, and to him alone,
- Palmira must be given.
- But ’tis the will of Mahomet and heaven.
- Thou knowest the dreadful curse that waits
- On disobedience—everlasting pain.
- If thou must be the instrument of vengeance,
- If at thy hands the blood which thou hast promised
- Shall be required—
- I tremble
- To think of it—yet—
- It must be so then: thou
- Hast fixed his doom; Palmira has consented.
- Detested thought!
- What have I said?
- By thee the voice of heaven
- Speaks its last dread command, and I obey:
- Yon fatal altar is the chosen seat
- Of Zopir’s worship, there he bends the knee
- To his false gods; retire, my sweet Palmira.
- Thou must not be witness
- To such a deed of horror: these, Palmira,
- Are dreadful moments: fly to yonder grove,
- Thou wilt be near the prophet there: away.
- Yes: this fatal hand
- Must drag him to the earth, there murder him,
- And bathe yon ruined altar in his blood.
- Die by thy hand! I shudder at the thought:
- But see! he comes; just heaven!
- [The farther part of the stage opens, and discovers an altar.
seid, palmira,on one side;zopir,standing near the altar.
- Ye guardian gods
- Of Mecca, threatened by an impious sect
- Of vile impostors, now assert your power,
- And let your Zopir’s prayers, perhaps the last
- He e’er shall make, be heard! the feeble bonds
- Of our short peace are broken, and fierce war
- Vindictive rages; O if ye support
- The cause of this usurper—
[Aside to Palmira.
- Hear, Palmira,
- How he blasphemes!
- May death be Zopir’s lot!
- I wish for naught on earth but to behold,
- In my last hour, and to embrace my children,
- To die in their loved arms, if yet they live,
- If they are here, for something whispers me
- That I shall see them still.
[Aside to Seid.
- O I should die with pleasure at the sight:
- Watch over and protect them, ye kind gods,
- O let them think like me, but not like me
- Be wretched!
- See! he prays to his false gods:
- This is the time to end him.
- [Draws his sword.
- To serve my God, to please and merit thee,
- This sword, devoted to the cause of heaven,
- Is drawn, and shall destroy its deadliest foe:
- Yon dreary walk invites me to the deed,
- Methinks the path is bloody, wandering ghosts
- Glide through the shade, and beckon me away.
- Ministers of death,
- I follow you; conduct me to the altar,
- And guide my trembling hand!
- It must not be;
- ’Tis horrible: O stop, my Seid.
- The hour is come, and see! the altar shakes.
- ’Tis heaven’s assent, and we must doubt no more.
- Means it to urge me on, or to restrain?
- Our prophet will reproach me for this weakness:
- Address thyself to heaven:
- I go to do the deed.
- [He goes behind the altar where Zopir is retired.
- O dreadful moment!
- What do I feel within! my blood runs cold:
- And yet if heaven demands the sacrifice,
- Am I to judge, to ask, or to complain?
- Where is the heart that knows itself, that knows
- Its innocence or guilt? We must obey:
- But hark! methought I heard the plaintive voice
- Of death; the deed is done—alas! my Seid.
[Returns looking wildly around.
- What voice was that? where am I? where’s Palmira?
- I cannot see Palmira; O she’s gone,
- She’s lost forever.
- Art thou blind to her
- Who only lives for thee?
- My Seid, is the dreadful sacrifice
- Performed, and thy sad promise all fulfilled?
- Good heaven, preserve his senses!—come, my Seid,
- Let us be gone.
- How will these tottering limbs
- Support me!—I recover—is it you,
- Yes: what hast thou done?
- The voice of heaven, seized with this desperate hand
- His silver hairs, and dragged him to the earth:
- ’Twas thy command: O God! thou couldst not bid me
- Commit a crime! trembling and pale a while
- I stood aghast, then drew this sacred sword,
- And plunged it in his bosom: what a look
- Of tenderness and love the poor old man
- Cast on his murderer! a scene so mournful
- Ne’er did these eyes behold: my heart retains
- And will forever keep the sad idea:
- Would I were dead like him!
- Let us repair
- To Mahomet, the prophet will protect us;
- Here you’re in danger; follow me.
- I cannot:
- Palmira, pity me.
- What mournful thought
- Can thus depress thee?
- O if thou hadst seen
- His tender looks, when from his bleeding side
- He drew the fatal weapon forth, and cried:
- “Dear Seid, poor unhappy Seid!” Oh,
- That voice, those looks, and Zopir at my feet
- Weltering in blood, are still before my eyes:
- What have we done?
- I tremble for thy life:
- O in the name of all the sacred ties
- That bind us, fly, and save thyself.
- And leave me: why did thy ill-fated love
- Command this dreadful sacrifice, Palmira?
- Without thy cruel order heaven itself
- Had never been obeyed.
- Unkind reproach!
- Couldst thou but know what thy Palmira suffers
- How wouldst thou pity her!
- What dreadful object
- Is that before us?
- [Zopir rises up slowly from behind the altar, and leans upon it.
- ’Tis the murdered Zopir;
- Bloody and pale he drags his mangled limbs
- Towards us.
- I must;
- For pity and remorse distract my soul,
- And draw me to him.
[Comes forward leaning on Palmira.
- Gentle maid, support me!
- [He sits down.
- Ungrateful Seid, thou hast slain me; now
- Thou weepest; alas! too late.
zopir, seid, palmira, phanor.
- O dreadful sight!
- What’s here?
- I wish I could have seen my friend
- Hercides—Phanor, art thou there?—behold
- My murderer.
- [Points to Seid.
- O guilt! accursed deed!
- Unhappy Seid, look upon—thy father.
- In his last moments took me in his arms,
- And weeping cried: “If there be time, O haste
- Prevent a parricide, and stop the arm
- Of Seid;” in my breast the tyrant lodged
- The dreadful secret; now I suffer for it,
- And die by Mahomet’s detested hand:
- Haste, Phanor, fly, inform the hapless Zopir,
- That Seid and Palmira are—his children.
- O ye gods!
- O nature, thou hast not deceived me then,
- When thou didst plead for them! unhappy Seid,
- What could have urged thee to so foul a deed?
- My gratitude, my duty, my religion,
- All that mankind hold sacred, urged me on
- To do the worst of actions:—give me back
- That fatal weapon.
- [Laying hold of Seid’s arm.
- Plunge it in my breast;
- I was the cause of my dear father’s murder;
- And incest is the price of parricide:
- Strike both: heaven hath not punishment enough
- For crimes like ours.
- [Embracing them.
- Let me embrace my children:
- The gods have poured into my cup of sorrow
- A draught of sweetest happiness: I die,
- Contented, and resign me to my fate:
- But you must live, my children; you, my Seid,
- And you, Palmira, by the sacred name
- Of nature, by thy dying father’s blood,
- Fast flowing from the wound which thou hast made,
- Let me entreat you, live; revenge yourselves,
- Avenge the injured Zopir, but preserve
- Your gracious lives; the great, the important hour
- Approaches, that must change the mournful scene:
- The offended people, ere to-morrow’s dawn,
- Will rise in arms and punish the usurper;
- My blood will add fresh fuel to their rage;
- Let us await the issue.
- O I fly
- To sacrifice the monster, to take vengeance
- For a dear father’s life, or lose my own.
zopir, seid, palmira, omar,Attendants.
- Guards, seize the murderer; Mahomet is come
- To punish guilt, and execute the laws.
- Did Mahomet command thee
- To punish Seid?
- Execrable tyrant!
- Was not the murder done by thy command?
- Well have I deserved
- This just reward of my credulity.
- If Seid’s life is dear to you, submit
- With patience, lest the prophet’s anger fall
- Like thunder on your head; if you obey,
- Great Mahomet is able to protect you:
- Guards, lead her to the king.
- O take me, death,
- From this sad scene of never-ending woe!
- [Seid and Palmira are carried off.
- [To Phanor.
- They’re gone, they’re lost: O most unhappy father,
- The wound which Seid gave is not so deep,
- So painful as this parting.
- See, my lord,
- The day appears, and the armed multitudes
- Press onward to defend the cause of Zopir.
- Support me, Phanor: yet thy friend may live
- To punish this vile hypocrite; at least
- In death may serve my dear—my cruel—children.
End of the Fourth Act.