Front Page Titles (by Subject) ACT II. - The Works of Voltaire, Vol. IX The Dramatic Works Part 1 (Alzire, Orestes, Sémiramis, Catiline, Pandora) and Part II (The Scotch Woman, Nanine, The Prude, The Tatler).
ACT II. - Voltaire, The Works of Voltaire, Vol. IX The Dramatic Works Part 1 (Alzire, Orestes, Sémiramis, Catiline, Pandora) and Part II (The Scotch Woman, Nanine, The Prude, The Tatler). 
From The Works of Voltaire, A Contemporary Version, (New York: E.R. DuMont, 1901), A Critique and Biography by John Morley, notes by Tobias Smollett, trans. William F. Fleming. Vol. IX The Dramatic Works Part 1 (Alzire, Orestes, Sémiramis, Catiline, Pandora) and Part II (The Scotch Woman, Nanine, The Prude, The Tatler).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
- My noble friends, and fellow-sufferers,
- Whom dangers strengthen, and misfortunes make
- But more illustrious, shall we ne’er obtain
- Our sweet revenge, or honorable death?
- Still must we live unable or to serve
- Alzire, or our country; shall we never
- Find out the hated Guzman, and destroy
- That fell destroyer? O my country’s gods,
- Powerless and vain, ye gave up this fair land
- Of liberty to hostile deities;
- And tamely suffered a few wandering Spaniards
- To spoil your altars, lay your temples waste,
- And desolate our empire; I have lost
- A kingdom and Alzire; all is gone
- But shame, and sorrow, and resentment, those
- I carried with me to the burning sands
- And gloomy deserts; there I cherished long
- The secret hopes of vengeance: you, my friends
- Revived your drooping Zamor, and inspired
- His soul with flattering thoughts of better days:
- Deep in the forest’s shade we left a band
- Of chosen spirits, resolute and bold,
- And hither came, impatient to observe
- The walls upraised by our tremendous foe.
- They watched, and seized us: in a dungeon long
- Confined, at length our tyrant masters grant us
- Leave to walk forth, and breathe the wholesome air,
- Yet will not deign to let us know our fate:
- Can none inform me where we are, who dwells
- Within this seat of sorrow? where’s Alzire,
- Where’s Montezuma, lives he, is he free,
- Or a vile slave like Zamor? say, my friends,
- And partners in affliction, know ye not?
- Like you, my lord, in chains, and hither led
- By secret paths, we’re ignorant of all:
- Great Cacique, worthy of a better fate,
- If ’tis decreed that thou must fall, at least
- Thou shalt find friends prepared to perish with thee,
- And own them not unworthy of their master.
- After a glorious victory, my friends,
- A glorious death is most to be desired;
- But O, to die in vile obscurity,
- To perish thus in ignominious bondage,
- To leave our bleeding country thus enslaved
- By European robbers, those assassins
- Whose thirst for blood and gold, these proud usurpers,
- Who would extort by every cruel art
- Of punishment those riches which we hold
- More cheap, more worthless than themselves, to leave
- My loved Alzire, Zamor’s dearer half,
- To their licentious fury, O my friends,
- ’Tis worse than death: I tremble at the thought.
alvarez, zamor, americans.
- Good heavens, what do I hear?
- O unexpected sound! what God art thou
- In human shape? a Spaniard, and forgive!
- It cannot be: art thou the ruler here?
- No, captive; I am only the protector
- Of innocence oppressed.
- Thou good old man,
- What is thy office here?
- What could inspire thee with a thought so noble?
- My gratitude, religion, and my God.
- God and religion! what! these cruel tyrants,
- These ruffians, that still bathed in human blood
- Depopulate earth, and change the smiling face
- Of nature to a dreary desert, they
- Who worship avarice alone! their God
- Cannot be thine!
- It is the same, my son,
- But they offend him, they disgrace his name,
- And are indeed more guilty; they abuse
- Their new-got power: thou knowest their crime, but know
- My duty too: twice hath the travelling sun
- Enlightened in his course our world and yours
- Since a brave Indian, who he was I know not,
- Stepped from amidst his fellow-savages,
- And saved me from their fury; from that moment
- I felt your sorrows, pitied your misfortunes,
- And held you as my brethren and my friends;
- Could I but meet my kind deliverer,
- That gallant stranger, I should die in peace.
- His age, his features, his transcendent virtue,
- All, all conspire to say it is Alvarez:
- Behold, and mark us well, canst thou distinguish
- The hand that saved thee?
- Gracious heaven! come near.
- O Providence! it is, it must be he,
- The wished-for object of my gratitude;
- He whom these eyes, grown dim with age, have sought
- So long in vain; my son, my benefactor,
- What shall I do to serve thee? thou shalt live
- With old Alvarez; he shall be thy father,
- Thy guardian and protector here: kind heaven
- In gracious pity hath prolonged my days,
- That I might pay the debt I owe to thee.
- O if thy barbarous nation had possessed
- But half the virtues that adorn Alvarez,
- Our willing world had bowed submissive down
- Before them; but their souls are not like thine,
- For they delight in blood, whilst nature’s self
- Abhorring shudders at their cruelty;
- Death were more welcome far than life with them:
- Urge me not therefore, good Alvarez, all
- I wish to know is this, have they destroyed
- My noble friend, the wretched Montezuma?
- Where’s my Alzire’s father? O my lord,
- Forgive these tears, the memory of past griefs
- Sits heavy on me.
- Let them flow my son,
- ’Tis the best mark of our humanity:
- The heart that feels not for another’s woe
- Is fit for every crime: thy friend survives,
- And full of years and honors lives with us
- In happiness and peace.
- Yes; thou shalt see him soon: may his persuasion
- Induce thee to think better of us all,
- And follow his example!
- Can he live
- With Christians, Montezuma live with Christians?
- Have patience, son, and he shall tell thee all,
- Touching our union, and the sacred bonds
- That soon shall bind in cords of amity
- Our world to thine—but I must to my son,
- And let him know my happiness; I leave thee
- But for a moment; fare thee well.
- At last
- Heaven seems to smile on Zamor; I have found
- Amongst these vile barbarians one just man,
- Honest and true: Alvarez is a god,
- Sent down from heaven to soften this rude world,
- And bless mankind: he said he had a son,
- That son shall be my brother and my friend,
- If he is worthy of his noble father:
- O glorious hope! shall I again behold
- Great Montezuma after three long years?
- Alzire too, my dear, my loved Alzire,
- Shall I embrace thee, hast thou kept thy faith,
- That first of virtues, to reward thy Zamor?
- The heart oppressed is ever diffident:
- Another old man comes this way: my soul
- It still perplexed.
montezuma, zamor, americans.
- O noble Montezuma,
- Do I once more embrace thee? see thy Zamor
- Snatched from the jaws of death; he lives to save
- And to defend his prince: behold thy friend,
- Thy soldier, and thy son: O where’s Alzire?
- Be quick, and tell me, let me know her fate,
- My life depends on that.
- Unhappy Cacique,
- With grief sincere we have lamented thee;
- Thy fellow-soldiers to thy memory raised
- The decent tomb, and every honor paid
- Due to thy virtues: but thank heaven! thou livest,
- Henceforth may happier days await thee, Zamor!
- But say, why camest thou hither?
- To avenge
- My gods, myself, my father and Alzire.
- Call to mind that dreadful day
- When the fierce Spaniard, terrible in arms,
- Rushed through our powerless hosts, o’erthrew our bulwarks,
- And laid our empire waste; his name was Guzman:
- That name, thou well rememberest, was the signal
- Given for destruction; at that name they snatched
- The sweet Alzire, thy loved daughter, from me,
- And bore her to captivity with thee
- And all thy race; destroyed the holy altar,
- Where I had hoped to make Alzire mine,
- Then dragged me to the tyrant: shall I tell thee
- What cruel torments that insatiate monster
- Inflicted on me, to extort confession
- Of hidden gold, the Christian’s deity,
- Which we despise and trample on? half-dead
- They left me and retired: time, Montezuma,
- Can never bury injuries like mine;
- Thou seest me here, prepared for great revenge:
- Some chosen friends, attached to Zamor’s cause,
- By equal wrongs provoked, with equal hate
- Inspired, await me in the neighboring forest,
- Resolved with me to conquer or to die.
- O Zamor, whither would thy headlong passion
- Transport thee? wherefore wouldst thou thus pursue
- That death which seems so willing to avoid thee?
- What can thy friends do for thee? their weak arms,
- Their fish-bone spears, their sabres made of stone,
- Their soldiers naked, and ill-disciplined,
- Against these giants armed with mortal steel,
- And launching their dread thunder bolts against thee?
- Swift as the winds, their fiery coursers bear them
- To certain victory; the world is theirs,
- And we, my Zamor, must submit.
- Whilst life
- Shall animate these veins, I never will:
- No, Montezuma: their destructive thunder,
- Their coats of steel, their fiery coursers taught
- Like them to fight, and share their master’s glory,
- This might affright, and terrify a while
- Our gaping savages, but I behold
- This pompous scene unruffled: to subdue
- Our haughty foe one thing alone’s required,
- And that is, not to fear them; novelty,
- That conquers cowards, only has enslaved us:
- Gold, that pernicious native of our soil,
- Draws Europe hither, but defends us not
- Against her; niggard nature has denied us
- A nobler metal, her all-conquering steel,
- And given it to barbarians; but kind heaven,
- In lieu of this indulgence, hath bestowed
- Virtues on us which Europe never knew.
- I come to fight and conquer for Alzire.
- Urge it no more, my Zamor, heaven declares
- Against us, calm thy rage; the times are changed.
- Changed, didst thou say, my lord? it cannot be,
- If Montezuma’s heart is still the same,
- If my Alzire’s faithful, if I live
- Still in her memory.—Thou turnest aside
- And weepest.
- Am I not
- Thy son? our tyrants have not altered thee?
- They cannot, sure they cannot have corrupted
- An old man’s heart, and made it false as theirs?
- I am not guilty, Zamor, nor are all
- These conquerors tyrants; some were sent by heaven
- To guide our footsteps in the paths of truth,
- To teach us arts unknown, immortal secrets,
- The knowledge of mankind, the arts, my son,
- To speak, to think, to live, and to be happy.
- O horrid! canst thou praise these ruffians, whilst
- Thy daughter, thy Alzire, is their slave?
- Ha! Montezuma,
- Alzire free? forgive me, but remember,
- She’s mine, my lord, by every solemn tie;
- You promised me, before the gods you promised,
- To give her to me; they received our vows;
- She is not perjured?
- Call not on those gods,
- For they are vain, and fancied idols all;
- I have abjured them, and henceforth must worship
- That power supreme which hath subdued them.
- The law of thy forefathers, thy religion,
- Is that deserted?
- I have found its weakness,
- And left its vain chimeras: may the God
- Of Gods convert thee, and inspire with truth
- Thy unenlightened soul! unhappy Zamor,
- Soon mayest thou know that Europe thou condemnest,
- Her virtues, and her faith!
- What mighty virtues
- Has she to boast? thou art indeed a slave
- If thou hast lost thy gods, thy faith, thy honor,
- And broke thy sacred word: Alzire too,
- Has she betrayed me? O take heed!
- My heart
- Reproaches me for nothing: fare thee well!
- I bless my own good fate, and weep for thine.
- If thou art false, thou hast cause to weep indeed:
- Pity the torments which I feel for thee,
- And for thy guilt; pity a heart distracted
- By love and vengeance; let me find out Guzman
- Let me behold Alzire, let me fall
- Beneath her feet; O do not hide her from me:
- Conduct me, urge me not thus to despair,
- Put on a human heart, let thy lost virtue—
- [To Montezuma.
- The ceremony waits, my lord.
- Thou wilt not leave me? tell me, Montezuma,
- What ceremony’s this.
- No more: away,
- And leave this fatal place.
- Though heaven itself
- Forbade me, I would follow thee.
- My rude denial, Zamor, but you must not,
- I say you must not—guards, prevent him—pagans
- Must not profane our Christian altars; I
- Command not here, but Guzman speaks by me:
- You must obey: farewell.
- What do I hear?
- Guzman? O shameful treason! Montezuma
- The slave of Guzman! where is virtue fled?
- Alzire too, is my Alzire guilty?
- Has she too drank corruption’s poisonous bowl
- From these vile Christians?—that destroyer Guzman
- Rules here, it seems; what’s to be done?
- Permit me
- To counsel you, my lord; the good old man
- Who saved thee with his son will soon return,
- He can deny you nothing; ask of him
- Safe conduct to the city gates; that done,
- We may return and join our noble friends
- Against the foe: I doubt not of success:
- We will not spare a man of them except
- Alvarez, and his son: I’ve marked, my lord,
- With most observant eye, their fosses, ramparts,
- And brazen thunders, European arts
- That fright not me: alas! our countrymen
- Forge their own shameful chains, and tamely bend
- Beneath these sons of pride; but soon, my lord,
- When they shall see their great avenger here,
- Then will they rise indignant, and destroy
- This ignominious work of slavery:
- Yes; on the bleeding bodies of our foes
- We’ll make a path to glory; on the heads
- Of these vile Christians turn the fiery tempest,
- And with their own destructive instruments
- Of murder shake this all-usurping power,
- Founded by pride on ignorance and fear.
- O how I joy, ye great unfortunate,
- To find your kindred breasts thus nobly beat
- With sympathetic fury! let us punish
- The haughty Guzman, let his blood atone
- For our lost country’s: O thou deity
- Of injured mortals, sweet revenge, O come,
- Assist thy servants, let but Guzman perish
- And we are satisfied! but O my friends,
- We talk of vengeance, yet are captives still,
- Still groan beneath the yoke of shameful bondage:
- Deserted by Alvarez, and betrayed
- By Montezuma, all I love perhaps
- Is in the power of him whom most I hate,
- The only comfort left me is—to doubt.
- But hark! what noise is that? the torches flame
- On every side, and yield a double day:
- This barbarous people’s brazen thunder speaks
- Some horrid rites, or pompous sacrifice
- Preparing: look around, and see if Zamor
- Shall save his much-loved friends, or perish with them.
End of the Second Act.