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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- Thou seest we are ruined; Mariamne triumphs,
- And Salome’s undone: that lingering Zares,
- How tedious was his voyage, as if the sea
- Unwillingly transported him! whilst Herod
- Flies with the winds to empire and to love:
- But sea and land, the elements, the heavens,
- All, all conspire with Varus, to destroy me.
- Ambition, thou hast plunged me deep in woe;
- Why did I listen to thy fatal voice?
- I knew his foolish heart would soon relent;
- Even now I fear he has revoked the mandate,
- And all the harvest of my toil is grief
- And danger, that still wait on high condition
- Stripped of its power: already fawning crowds
- Adore my rival, and insult my fall:
- My feeble glories, all eclipsed by her,
- Shall shine no more, for this new deity
- Must now be worshipped: but this is not all,
- My death, I know, must crown the triumph; she
- Can never reign whilst Salome survives;
- She will not spare a life so fatal to her.
- And yet, O shame, O infamous submission!
- My pride must stoop to vile dissimulation,
- To soothe her vanity with feigned respect,
- And give her joy of—Salome’s destruction.
- Despair not, Madam, arms may yet be found
- To conquer this proud queen: I ever feared
- Her powerful charms, and Herod’s weakness for her;
- But if I may depend on Zares, still
- In the king’s bosom dwells determined hate,
- And he has sworn that she shall die: the blow
- Is but suspended till he comes himself
- To execute his vengeance; but, meantime,
- Whether his heart be sharpened by resentment,
- Or moved by love, it is enough his hand
- Once signed the mandate: Mariamne soon
- Will swell the tempest, and eternal discord
- Shall rankle in their hearts: I know them well:
- Soon will she light again the torch of hatred,
- Revive his doubts, and work her own destruction:
- With new disdain will irritate his soul:
- Rely upon herself, and mark her ruin.
- O! ’tis uncertain; I can never wait
- Such tardy vengeance; I have surer means;
- Danger has taught me wisdom: this loud rage,
- These violent transports of the impassioned Varus,
- If I observe aright, can never flow
- From generosity alone, and pity
- Is seldom known by marks like these: the queen
- Has charms, and Varus may have charms for her.
- I know the power of Mariamne’s beauty,
- Nor envy her the crowd of gazing fools,
- Who throw their flattering incense at her feet;
- The dangerous happiness may cost her dear:
- Whether she listens to the Roman’s vows,
- Or with the conquest only means to soothe
- Her fickle pride, it is enough for me,
- If it preserves that power I must not lose
- O’er Herod’s heart. Take care my faithful spies
- Perform their office; let them be rewarded,
- And sell me precious secrets.—Ha! she comes,
- Must I then see her?
mariamne, eliza, salome, mazael, nabal.
- Joy to Mariamne:
- Herod returns, and Rome this day restores
- To me a brother, and to thee a husband.
- Thy cruel scorn had raised his just resentment,
- Which now subsides, and love has quenched the flame
- Which love alone inspired: his triumphs past,
- His future glories, all the senate’s rights
- Reposed in him, the titles he has gained,
- All brought to lay at Mariamne’s feet,
- Proclaim thy happiness: enjoy his heart;
- Enjoy his empire; I am pleased to see
- Thy virtues thus rewarded; Salome
- Shall lend her aid to join your hands together.
- I neither looked for, nor desired your friendship:
- I know you, madam, and shall do you justice;
- I know by what mean arts, and treacherous falsehood,
- Your powerless malice has pursued my life.
- Perhaps thou thinkest my heart is like thy own,
- And therefore tremblest; but thou knowest me not:
- Fear nothing, for thy crimes and punishment
- Are both beneath my notice: I have seen
- Thy base designs, and have forgiven them:
- I leave thee to thy conscience, if a heart
- Guilty as thine is capable of feeling.
- I’ve not deserved this bitterness and wrath
- From Mariamne: to my honest zeal,
- My conduct, and my brother, I appeal
- From thy suspicions.
- I’ve already told thee,
- All is forgotten, I am satisfied,
- And I can pardon, though I can’t believe thee.
- Now, by the power supreme, my royal mistress,
- Scarce could my pains—
- Stop, Mazael, excuse
- Is added injury; obey the king,
- That is thy duty: sold to my oppressors,
- Thou art their instrument; perform thy office,
- I shall not stoop to make complaints of thee.
- Thou, Salome, mayest hence, and tell the king
- [To Salome.
- The secrets of my soul; inflame his heart
- Once more with rage; I shall not strive to calm it:
- Instruct your creatures to deal forth their slander,
- I’ve left their vile attempts unpunished still;
- Content to use no arms against my foes,
- But blameless virtue, and a just disdain.
- ’Twill meet with its reward:
- It is the pride of art to punish folly.
mariamne, eliza, nabal.
- Why, my loved mistress, would you thus provoke
- A foe who burns with ardor to destroy you?
- Perhaps the rage of Herod is suspended
- But for a time, and yet may burst upon you.
- Death was departing, and thou callest him back,
- When thou shouldst strive to turn his dart aside:
- Thou hast no friend to guard or to defend thee;
- Varus, thy kind protector, must obey
- The senate’s orders, and to distant realms
- Convey its high commands: at his request,
- And by thy kind assistance, Herod gained
- His power, and now the tyrant will return
- With double terror: thou hast furnished him
- With arms against thyself, and must depend
- On this proud master, to be dreaded more
- Because he loves, because his passion soured
- By thy disdain—
- My dear Eliza, fly,
- Bring Varus hither: thou art in the right;
- I see it all; but I have other cares;
- My soul is filled with more important business:
- Let Varus come: Nabal, stay thou with me.
- Thy virtues, thy experience, and thy zeal
- For Mariamne’s welfare, have long since
- Deserved my confidence: thou knowest my heart,
- And all its purposes; the woes I feel,
- And those I fear: thou sawest my wretched mother,
- Driven to despair, with tears imploring me
- To share her flight: her mind, replete with terror,
- Sees every moment the impetuous Herod,
- Yet reeking with the blood of half her race,
- Assassinate her dearest Mariamne.
- Still she entreats me, with my helpless children,
- To fly his wrath, and leave this hated clime;
- The Roman vessels might transport us soon
- From Syria’s borders to the Italian shore;
- From Varus I might hope some kind protection,
- And from Augustus; fortune points the way
- For my escape, the only path of safety:
- And yet, from virtue or from weakness, which
- I know not, but my foolish heart recoils
- At flying from a husband’s arms, and keeps,
- Spite of myself, my lingering footsteps here.
- Thy fears are groundless; yet I must admire them,
- Because they flow from virtue: thy brave heart,
- That fears not death, yet trembles at the thought
- Even of imaginary guilt: but cease
- Your causeless doubts; consider where you are;
- Open your eyes, and mark this fatal palace,
- Wet with a father’s and a brother’s blood.
- In vain the king denies the horrid deed;
- Cæsar in vain absolves him from the crime,
- Whilst the whole East pronounce him guilty of it.
- Think of thy mother’s fears, thy injured sons,
- Thy murdered father, the king’s cruelty,
- Thy sister’s hatred, and what scarce my tongue
- Can mention without horror, though thy virtue
- Regardless smiles, thy death this day determined.
- If, undismayed by such a scene of woe,
- Thou art resolved to meet and brave thy fate,
- O still remember, still defend thy children:
- The king hath taken away their hopes of empire,
- And well thou knowest what dreadful oracles
- Long since alarmed thy fears, when heaven foretold,
- That a strange hand should one day join thy sons
- To their unhappy father. A wild Arab,
- Implacable and pitiless, already
- Hath half fulfilled the terrible prediction:
- After a deed so horrid, may he not
- Accomplish all the rest? From Herod’s rage
- Nothing is sacred; who can tell but now,
- Even now he comes to act his bloody purpose,
- And blot out all our Asmonæan race?
- ’Tis time to guard against him, to prevent
- His guilt, and stop his murderous hand; to save
- Those tender victims from a tyrant’s sword,
- And hide them from the sight of such examples.
- Within thy palace from my earliest years
- Brought up, and by thy ancestors beloved,
- Thou seest me ready to partake thy fortunes
- Where’er thou goest: away then; break thy chains;
- Fly to the justice of a Roman senate;
- Implore them to adopt thy injured sons,
- And shelter their distress: such innocence
- And virtue will astonish great Augustus.
- If just and happy is his reign, as fame
- Reports, and conquered worlds in rapture bend
- The knee before him, if he merits all
- The honors he has gained, he must protect thee.
- My doubts are vanished, and I yield to thee;
- To thy advice, and to a mother’s tears;
- To my son’s danger, to my own hard fate;
- Which dooms me yet perhaps to greater ills
- Than I have suffered. Go thou to my mother;
- When night shall throw her sable mantle o’er
- This seat of guilt, let some one give me notice
- That all is ready; since it must be done,
- I am prepared.
mariamne, varus, eliza.
- I come, great queen, to know
- Your last commands; which, as the law of heaven.
- Shall be revered: say, must this arm avenge thee?
- Speak, and ’tis done: command, and I obey.
- Varus, I’m much indebted to thy goodness,
- And, but my sorrows plead their own excuse,
- Should not be thus importunate; I know
- Thou lovest to help the wretched, therefore ask
- Thy generous aid: whilst Herod’s doubtful fate
- Hung in the balance, and he knew not which
- Awaited him, a prison or a throne,
- I did solicit Varus in his favor;
- Spite of his cruelties, against my peace,
- Against my interest, I performed my duty.
- Now Mariamne for herself implores
- Thy kind protection; begs thee to preserve
- From most inhuman laws, her hapless sons,
- The poor remains of Syria’s royal race.
- Long since I should have left these guilty walls,
- And asked the senate for some safe retreat;
- But whilst the sword of war filled half the world
- With blood and slaughter, ’twas in vain to seek
- For refuge in the scene of wild destruction:
- Augustus now hath given the nations peace,
- And spread his bounties o’er the face of nature:
- After the toils of hateful war, resolved
- To make the world, which he had conquered, happy:
- He sits supreme o’er tributary kings,
- And takes the poor and injured to his care:
- Who has so fair a title to his justice,
- As my unhappy, my defenceless children?
- Brought by their weeping mother from afar
- To ask his succor; he will shelter them,
- His generous hand will wipe off all our tears.
- I shall not ask him to revenge my cause,
- Or punish my proud foes; it is enough
- If my loved children, formed by his example,
- And by his justice taught, true Romans soon,
- Shall learn to rule of those who rule mankind.
- A mother’s comfort, and her children’s safety,
- Depend on thee: my woes will vanish all
- If thou wilt hear me; and thy noble heart
- Hath ever been the friend of injured virtue:
- To thee I owe my life: assist me now,
- Remove me, Varus, from this fatal palace;
- Grant my benighted steps a friendly guide
- To Sidon’s ports, where now thy vessels lie.
- Not answer me! what means that look of sorrow?
- Why art thou silent? O! too well I see
- Thou wilt not hear the voice of wretchedness.
- It is not so: I hear, and will obey thee:
- My guards shall follow thee to Rome: dispose
- Of them, of me; my heart, my life is thine.
- Flee from the tyrant, break the fatal tie;
- ’Tis punishment enough to be forsaken
- By Mariamne: never shall he behold thee;
- Thanks to his own injustice; and I feel
- Too well there cannot be a fate more cruel.
- Forgive me, but the thought of losing thee
- Hath drawn the fatal secret from my breast;
- I own my crime: but, spite of all my weakness,
- Know, my respect is equal to my love:
- Varus but wishes to protect thy virtue,
- But to avenge thy injuries, and die.
- I hoped the great preserver of my life
- Would prove the guardian of my honor too;
- And to his pity only thought I owed
- His kind assistance; ne’er did I expect
- That he, of all men, should increase my sorrows;
- Or that, to crown the woes of Mariamne,
- I should be forced to tremble at thy goodness,
- And blush for every favor I received:
- Yet, think not, Varus, that thy passion, thus
- Declared, shall rob thee of my gratitude:
- My constant friendship shall be ever thine;
- I will forget thy love, but not thy virtues:
- Thou hadst my praise and my esteem till now,
- But longer converse may deprive thee of it;
- For thy sake therefore, Varus, I must leave thee.
- I fear you’re troubled, sir; your color changes.
- Albinus, I must own, my spirits droop;
- Pity, my friend, the weakness of a heart
- That never loved before: alas! I knew not
- How strong my fetters were, but now I feel,
- Nor can I break them: with what sweet demeanor,
- And lovely softness, did she chide my passion;
- Calm and unruffled, how her tranquil prudence
- Taught me my duty, and enforced her own;
- How I adored her even when she repulsed me!
- I’ve lost all hope, yet love her more than ever:
- Gods! for what dreadful trial of my faith
- Am I reserved?
- Wilt thou then aid her flight?
- Art thou pleased so well
- With her disdain, as thus to make thyself
- Unhappy, and promote thy own destruction?
- What dost thou purpose?
- Can I e’er forsake her?
- Can I rebel against her laws? my heart
- Were then unworthy of her. Hence my doubts.
- ’Twas Mariamne spoke, and I obey:
- Quick, let her leave the tyrant; let her seek
- Augustus; she has cause to fly, and Varus
- Has none to murmur or complain; at least
- She leaves me the sweet pleasure to reflect,
- That I have lived and acted but for her;
- Have broke her chains, have saved her precious life:
- Nay more: for I will sacrifice my love,
- Fly from those dangerous charms that would betray me,
- And imitate the virtue I adore.
End of the Second Act.