Front Page Titles (by Subject) ACT I. - 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 I. - 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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- Permit a soldier, in this seat of war,
- To steal a moment from the battle’s rage,
- And greet the fair Amelia; to the king
- Thy noble heart is bound, I know, by ties
- Of dearest friendship; long and faithfully
- Hath Lisois served the valiant duke of Foix
- Who holds thee here a prisoner: well I know
- The violence of his passion for Amelia,
- Foresee the dreadful consequence, and come,
- With all the warmth of friendship, to advise
- And to consult, to lay my heart before thee
- Perhaps ’tis not unworthy of thy notice.
- The seal of truth is ever on thy lips,
- I know thy firm integrity; whate’er
- Thou sayest, I shall believe.
- Know then, though long
- I’ve served the duke with most unwearied zeal,
- Through years of peril, and unnumbered toils,
- Yet could I ne’er approve the fatal league
- That bound him to the Moor, and took from France
- The noblest of her princes; in these days
- Of public discord, I have ranged myself
- Beneath no banners but what honor raised,
- And followed but the dictates of my heart:
- Not that, the slave of prejudice, my soul
- Is blind to all the errors of a friend;
- With grief I see the duke’s impatient warmth,
- The impetuous ardor of his boiling youth,
- I cannot shut my eyes against his follies:
- Ofttimes the torrent which I strive to stop
- Mocks my weak power, and throws down all before it;
- But he has virtues that will recompense
- His worst of faults: if we must follow none
- But perfect princes, whose unbiassed hearts
- Are free from every vice, and every weakness,
- Whom shall we serve? I love the duke; and yet
- ’Tis with regret I draw the hostile sword
- ’Gainst France: I wish he could be reconciled.
- If that could e’er be done, thy influence best
- Might reunite them: if he loves his glory,
- Sure this misguided prince will listen to thee.
- How fatal has his error been!
- In vain
- I’ve tried to bend his haughty spirit; oft
- Have I with harsh unwelcome truths attacked him,
- And sorely pierced his heart: but thou alone
- Canst bring him to his duty, and his king:
- That was my errand here: there was a time
- When on the fair Amelia I had placed
- My hopes of bliss; without abasement then
- I thought you might have listened to my vows;
- But heaven reserved thee for a nobler fate.
- Whilst I was absent, by the cruel Moors
- Thou wert enslaved; the happy conqueror came,
- The gallant Foix, and saved thee from their rage;
- His was the glory, his be the reward:
- His claims are strong, his youth, his rank, and power,
- His fame, and services, all plead for him;
- Amelia’s justice and her gratitude
- Must bind her to him: I have no pretence,
- And therefore I am silent; but if merit
- Could make thee mine, I would dispute the prize
- Even with the sons of kings, nor yield Amelia
- To any but to him: he is my master,
- My leader, and my friend; he loves me well:
- I am not a half proud, half virtuous lover,
- But what I still would litigate with power,
- I give to friendship; nay, I can do more,
- I can subdue the weakness of my heart,
- And plead a rival’s cause; point out the path
- Of glory to thee, show thee what is due
- To that illustrious hero who preserved thee,
- By whom thou livest: I can behold unmoved,
- And with unenvying eye, thy charms bestowed
- On him who best deserves them: take my heart
- Between you, and accept my honest service,
- This arm shall fight for both; I sacrifice
- My passions to your interest: friendship bids me,
- And I obey; my country too commands:
- Remember, if the prince is yours, he soon
- Will be the king’s.
- Thy virtues, noble youth,
- Astonish me; thou givest the admiring world
- A rare example; canst thou be sincere?
- And sure thou art so, thus to conquer love,
- And give up all to friendship! all who know
- Must wonder at thee: thou hast served thy master.
- And canst not be an enemy to mine:
- A heart so generous sure must think with me:
- ’Tis not in souls like thine to hate their king.
- Shall I then ask one favor at thy hands?
- Amelia’s orders shall be ever sacred:
- Command, and I obey.
- Thy generous counsel
- Hath urged me to accept a noble rank
- I looked not for, and offered by a prince:
- The choice, I own, does honor to Amelia,
- When I reflect, that, long before he told
- His love, he saved my liberty and life;
- Foe to his sovereign, though the rebel Moor
- Hath drawn him from his duty and allegiance,
- Yet he has poured so many favors on me,
- I cannot bear to hurt him, though, in spite
- Of all his goodness, and my gratitude,
- I must refuse him: his unhappy passion
- Afflicts me; ’tis distressful to my heart,
- For all his kindness thus to make him wretched.
- Fain would I spare myself the ungrateful task
- Of saying that I must not hear his vows:
- It is not for my feeble voice to tell
- A prince his duty; ’twere a dangerous power,
- And I am far from wishing to enjoy it;
- Who can direct him better than thyself?
- Alas! my lord, ’tis not a time for love;
- The royal army at our gates, and naught
- But war and slaughter all around us: blood
- On every side! himself against my master,
- Against his brother, now in arms; all these
- Are powerful reasons: O my lord, in you
- Is all my hope; forgive me; O complete
- The generous work, restore me to my king;
- Let him do that, ’tis all I ask; but add
- This effort more to what thou’st done already:
- Thou hast the strongest influence o’er his heart,
- A firm and manly soul, a friend like thee,
- Respected and beloved, will make the voice
- Of duty heard, his counsels will be laws.
- Alas! those counsels will have little weight
- Against the passions that possess his soul;
- His fiery temper gives me too much cause
- To fear him: he’s inclined to jealousy,
- And if he hears I had a thought of thee,
- ’Twill drive his soul to madness, and perhaps
- Undo us all: he must be soothed by art;
- Leave him to me, and try to reconcile
- Your jarring interests; weigh his offers well.
- Henceforth I’ll think no more of love and thee,
- But get me to the field, the soldier’s duty
- Shall there engross me: if thou lovest thy country,
- If France be dear to thee, restore her hero,
- And she will bless thee for the deed: farewell.
- Restore him, said he? what! at the dear price
- Of all my happiness! it cannot be;
- ’Twere infamous and base, the worst of crimes.
- But wherefore is the prince thus hateful to you?
- Why in these days of discord, war, and tumult,
- Whilst faction reigns, and of our royal race
- Brother ’gainst brother arms, and every hour
- Brings new afflictions, wherefore should Amelia,
- Whose gentler stars for other purposes
- Had formed her soul, to love and to be loved,
- Why should Amelia, with such sentiments
- Of scorn and hatred, meet a hero’s vows
- Who had avenged her cause? The prince, thou knowest,
- Amongst his ancestors can boast the blood
- Of our first kings, and is himself a lord
- Of rich domains, and wide-extended power.
- He loves you, offers you his hand: can rank
- And title, objects that are envied still
- By all mankind, pursued with eagerness,
- And gained with rapture, can these only fill
- Thy heart with sorrow, and thy eyes with tears?
- Because he saved me once, has he a right
- Now to oppress me? Must Amelia fall
- A victim to his fatal aid? I know
- I’m much indebted to him, would I were not!
- Thou shalt know my heart,
- My miseries, my duty, and my fate:
- I will no longer keep the secret from thee,
- ’Twere cruel to distrust thee; when thou knowest
- My story, thou mayst justify thy friend.
- I must not listen to the prince’s vows,
- For know, my heart is given to his brother.
- Yes, my friend:
- With mutual oaths we sealed our mutual faith,
- And at Leucate I expected him,
- There to confirm it at the holy altar,
- When by the cruel Moors that rushed upon us
- I was surprised, and made a captive; then
- The prince, to these unconquered savages
- In firm alliance bound, appeared, and saved me;
- There’s my distress: the life another saved
- Must be devoted to the faithful Vamir.
- But why then thus conceal thy passion? why
- Nourish a hopeless flame thou shouldst extinguish?
- He would respect this sacred tie, and check
- His fruitless passion.
- O I must not tell him:
- The brothers, to complete my sorrows, armed
- Against each other, have taken different parties
- In this destructive war; the faithful Vamir
- Fights for his king. Thou knowest the violence
- Of his proud rival: all I can oppose
- To his fierce rage is melancholy silence;
- Even yet he knows not that in happier times
- The gallant Vamir had engaged my heart:
- To tell it him would fire his jealous soul,
- And only make Amelia more unhappy.
- ’Tis time to quit this fatal place, the king
- With pleasure will receive me: let us hence.
- The prisoners, Thais, from these walls even now
- Are breaking forth, and meditate their flight:
- They will conduct us: I defy all danger,
- Will hazard all for freedom and repose.
- I cannot speak to him,
- The starting tear would soon betray me: what
- Would I not give forever to avoid him!
duke of foix, lisois, thais.
- [To Thais.
- Avoid me! fly me! Thais, stay: thou knowest
- My sorrows, knowest I love her to distraction;
- My life depends on her: but let her not
- Abuse her power, and drive me to despair:
- I hate her cold respect, her poor return
- Of gratitude to all my warmth of passion:
- Delay is cruel, ’tis the worst refusal;
- ’Tis an affront my heart will ne’er forgive:
- In vain she boasts to me her loyal zeal,
- Her fond attachment to her royal master,
- ’Tis time that all should yield to love and me:
- Here let her find her country and her king;
- To me she owes her honor, and her life;
- And I owe all to her, I owe my love:
- United as we are by every claim,
- We must not part, the altar is prepared,
- She shall be mine; go, tell her all is ready.
the duke, lisois.
- My lord, remember that our kingdom’s safety
- Depends on this decisive day.
- I know it
- And am resolved to conquer or to die
- Amelia’s husband.
- But the foe advances,
- And soon will be upon us.
- Let him come,
- I mean to fight him; thinkest thou I’m a coward?
- Thinkest thou the tyrant love shall e’er extinguish
- My noble thirst of glory? though she hates,
- She shall admire me still: she boasts indeed
- Her sovereign empire o’er my captive heart,
- But shall not blast my virtue and my fame.
- No: thy reproaches are unjust; my friend
- Was too severe; condemn me not unjustly,
- Love ne’er unnerves the gallant sons of France:
- Even from the bosom of success and joy,
- Fearless they fly to arms, and rush on death:
- And I too will die worthy of Amelia.
- Say rather, worthy of thyself: I think
- To-day of nothing but the public welfare;
- I talk of battles, and thou speakest of love.
- My lord, I’ve seen the army of the foe:
- Vamir, so fame reports, is armed against us:
- From us, I know, he hath long since withdrawn
- His valiant troops. I know him not, but hear
- He’s of a noble nature: if his soul,
- Inspired by duty, and by glory warmed,
- Still feels the tender tie that linked your hearts
- In earlier years, he may assist us now,
- And be the means of making wished-for peace.
- My cares—
- Away: I would not be obliged
- Thus to a brother: shall I sue for peace,
- And ask forgiveness? yet it hurts my soul
- To think that Vamir is my foe: I still
- Remember our past friendship, and the love
- I bore him once; but since he will oppose me,
- Since he’s no longer ours, why let him go,
- And serve his king.
- Thy fiery temper braves
- Too far the patience of an easy monarch.
- A monarch! the mere phantom of a king,
- Unworthy of his race, a royal slave,
- In golden chains, and seated on a throne
- Subjected to a petty officer:
- I’m not afraid of Pepin, their arch-tyrant;
- I hate a subject that would frighten me,
- And I despise a king who can’t command:
- If he permits a rebel to usurp
- The sovereign power, I’ll still support my own:
- This heart’s too proud to bend beneath the laws
- Of these new upstarts who oppress their king:
- Clovis, my royal ancestor, ne’er taught
- His sons to cringe beneath a haughty master.
- At least these faithful Arabs will avenge me;
- If I must feel a tyrant, let him be
- A stranger.
- You detest these governors,
- But they have saved our empire, which your friends,
- The Arabs, but for them had overthrown:
- I tremble at this new alliance: Spain
- Before you stands a terrible example:
- These savage plunderers, these new tyrants dig
- Our graves with our own hands. ’Twere better far
- To yield with prudence.
- What, fall down and sue
- For mercy!
- Your true interest long forgotten—
- Revenge is my first interest.
- Love and anger
- Too long have ruled the bosom of my friend.
- I know they have, but cannot conquer nature.
- You may, you ought; nay, I’ll not flatter you,
- But even though I condemn, I’ll follow thee;
- ’Tis a friend’s duty to point out the faults
- Of him he loves; to counsel, to exhort,
- To save him from the dangerous precipice:
- This I have done for thee, but thou wilt fall,
- And I must perish with thee.
- O my friend,
- What hast thou said?
- But what I ought to say:
- And would to heaven that thou hadst listened to me!
- What dost thou purpose?
- When my ardent hopes
- Shall be fulfilled, when the ungrateful maid
- Shall give sweet peace to my distracted mind,
- Then will I hear the counsels of my friend.
- What can I purpose now, or what design,
- Till I have seen the tyrant who must guide
- My future fate? let her determine for me,
- Let her save me, and I will save my country.
End of the First Act.