Front Page Titles (by Subject) ACT III. - 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 III. - 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).
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catiline, cethegus, martian, septimus.
- Are all things ready? do our troops advance?
- Even so, my lord; the faithful Mallius comes
- Prepared to circle these devoted walls;
- Our friends impatient brook not dull delay,
- But urge each other to the bloody scene;
- We wait but thy command; appoint the hour
- When Rome must fall.
- Soon as I quit the senate
- Begin the sacrifice: let this great day
- Be sacred to destruction: but meantime
- Take special care the consul’s busy friends
- Do not observe our motions.
- Were it not
- Most prudent to destroy him in the senate?
- He has alarmed the people, and foresees
- Our every action.
- Knows he the revolt
- Of Mallius? knows he Catiline’s deep designs?
- Knows he an army is approaching for me?
- Fear not, my friends, ours is no common cause,
- ’Tis fit the means should be proportioned to it:
- When vulgar mortals, grovelling and obscure,
- Form ill-digested schemes, and idle plans
- Of future greatness, if one slender wheel
- Is broke, it overthrows the whole machine:
- But souls like ours, a firm and chosen band,
- Plans deeply laid, the conquerors of kings,
- The sons of Mars, united to support
- And raise each other, these must be superior
- To Cicero’s art, or Cicero’s vigilance:
- We’ve naught to fear.
- But is Præneste ours
- In Cæsar’s name?
- Ay; that was my first stroke
- Of policy: the unsuspecting senate
- Will be deceived: I’ve whispered it abroad,
- That Nonnius hath conspired against the state,
- And half our credulous fools believe the tale.
- Ere he can clear his innocence, my army
- Will be in Rome, and all secured: away,
- Remove Aurelia: let no little cares
- Intrude to stop or hurt the great design.
aurelia, catiline, cethegus, etc.
- [A letter in her hand.
- There, Catiline, read Aurelia’s fate and thine,
- Thy crime and thy just sentence.
- What rash hand—
- Ha! ’tis thy father’s.
- [Reads the letter.
- “Death too long
- Hath spared me, and the child I loved too well
- Must finish my sad days: at length I suffer
- For my own follies, and that hapless marriage
- Which I consented to; I know the plots
- Of thy vile husband: Cæsar has betrayed us,
- And would have seized Præneste: thou partakest
- The treason: but repent, or perish with them.”
- But how could Nonnius e’er discover that
- Which even the consul knows not?
- [To Cethegus.
- It may turn to our advantage.
- Aurelia, I must tell thee all: this day
- The world is armed in Catiline’s defence:
- Say, in the hour of danger wilt thou serve
- A father or a husband?
- To be silent,
- And trouble thee no more, were the commands
- Which Catiline laid on his neglected wife,
- Spite of her fond entreaties, prayers, and tears:
- What hast thou further to desire?
- This moment, send that letter to the consul;
- I have my reasons; I would have him know,
- That Cæsar is as much to be suspected
- As I am: he’s accused, and Catiline not
- So much as named: it is as I could wish.
- Take with thee our loved infant, and return not
- To bleeding Rome, till I am master there:
- Then thou shalt reign with me: our marriage yet
- Is kept a secret: I’ll not have it known,
- ’Till at the head of our victorious army
- I shall proclaim it loud to Italy,
- And to the world: then shall thy haughty father,
- As our first subject, humbly bend before thee,
- And sue to be forgiven: begone, Aurelia,
- And leave me to my fate. I would not wish
- Thou shouldst partake my dangers or my cares:
- This night prepare to meet a conqueror.
- O Catiline, meanest thou to destroy thy country?
- Is this the day appointed for destruction?
- To-day I purpose to chastise my foes;
- All is prepared.
- Begin then with Aurelia;
- For I had rather perish by thy hand,
- Than live to share thy guilt.
- O let the tie
- That binds us—
- Drive not thus to desperation
- A husband and a friend, who trusts his all
- To thee; thou art entered in the paths of glory,
- And to retreat were fatal.
- And sure destruction were Aurelia’s fate:
- From that unhappy moment, when by thee
- And thy vile counsels led, I gave my hand
- To Catiline; despised, neglected, long
- Have I beheld, with eyes of detestation,
- Your horrid plots: spite of myself you made me
- A vile accomplice; but you know I loved,
- And basely have imposed upon my weakness:
- I blush to think how grossly you abused
- A woman’s fond credulity; but know
- I’ll no longer be guilty of a crime
- Which I abhor: no longer serve a tyrant:
- No, I renounce my vows, my faith to thee;
- These hands shall rise against thee, thou vile traitor:
- Henceforth I am thy foe. Strike, Catiline, strike;
- Destroy me; carry into burning Rome,
- For thy first victim, an expiring wife
- Slain by thy hand; destroy the hapless infant,
- Sad pledge of our detested nuptials: then,
- Barbarian as thou art, complete thy guilt,
- And in the blood of millions glut thy vengeance.
- And is the gentle, kind Aurelia then
- Amongst my foes? thus in the noblest war,
- That e’er was waged for freedom and for empire,
- When Pompey, Cæsar, Cato, are subdued,
- My worst of enemies at last are found
- In my own house; I am deserted there
- For an unworthy father: threatened too.
- I threaten guilt, and tremble for—a husband:
- Even in my rage thou seest my tenderness;
- Abuse it not, it is my only weakness:
- But I would have thee fear—
- That word, Aurelia,
- Was never made for Catiline—but hear me:
- I love thee; yet presume not on thy power,
- Nor think I e’er will sacrifice my friends,
- My noble cause, my interest, and my fame,
- Glory and empire: no, it is enough
- If I forgive and pity thee, but know—
- The crown thy pride looks up to I despise:
- I should behold it as the shameful mark
- Of infamy: thou showest thy love for me
- By pity and forgiveness; and I mine,
- By holding back, if possible, thy hand
- From guilt and error—therefore will I go—
catiline, cethegus, lentulus-sura, aurelia, etc.
- We are discovered, lost, undone; our friends
- Betrayed, our plots unravelled all; Præneste
- Not yielded to us; Nonnius is in Rome;
- One of our spies is seized, and has confessed;
- Nonnius in open senate will accuse
- His son-in-law; he’s gone to Cicero,
- Who knows too much already.
- Now behold
- The fruits of guilt, and all thy great designs,
- Thy boasted fortunes, empire, and the throne,
- Which I despised: are thy eyes opened yet?
- [After a long pause.
- This is a blow I thought not of; but say,
- Wilt thou betray me?
- ’Tis what thou deservest:
- My country claims, and heaven demands it of me;
- But I’ll do more, I’ll save both Rome and thee;
- And though I have not all thy rage, may boast
- Some of thy courage; love will make me brave:
- Long since I saw thy danger, Catiline:
- ’Tis come, and now I will partake it with thee;
- I’ll see my father, and obtain thy life,
- Or lose my own; I know he is forgiving,
- Gentle, and mild: I know he loves Aurelia,
- And will not urge too far a foe like thee,
- Desperate and brave; I’ll talk to Cicero
- Who fears, and to the senate who adores thee;
- They will be glad to think thee innocent;
- Those whom we fear we readily forgive:
- But let sincerest penitence atone
- For thy past crimes: convicted guilt by that,
- And that alone, can hope for pardon; though
- I know it hurts thy pride, it must be done:
- At least I hope I shall procure thee time,
- Or to quit Rome, or to defend thyself:
- I’ll not reproach thee; even when most guilty
- I loved, and in misfortune will not leave thee;
- But rather die to save thy life and glory.
- Farewell; let Catiline learn henceforth to trust me;
- I have deserved it.
- Sad alternative;
- It is most dreadful—but I yield to thee:
- Remember that a husband’s plea is stronger,
- Much stronger than a father’s: if I err,
- The crime is thine.
- I’ll take it all upon me;
- Nay, even thy hatred, if it must be so;
- I act for thee, and I’m satisfied.
- Daughter, and wife, and Roman, every duty
- Shall be performed; remember thine, and keep
- Thy heart as pure and spotless as Aurelia’s.
catiline, cethegus, lentulus-sura, freedmen.
- Is this the bold and fearless Catiline,
- Or Nonnius’ timid son; a woman’s slave;
- Appalled by phantoms? how thy great soul shrunk
- Soon as Aurelia spoke!
- It cannot be;
- Catiline will never change; his noble soul
- By opposition grows but more resolved:
- Præneste lost, the senate our accusers,
- We may be conquerors still, and make them tremble
- Whilst they condemn us; we have noble friends,
- And will deserve them.
- Ere the signal’s given
- We may be seized; thou knowest at dead of night,
- Just as the senate part, we had agreed
- To execute our purpose: what, my friends,
- Must be resolved on?
- [To Catiline.
- Catiline, thou art silent,
- And tremblest too.
- I tremble at the blow
- Which I shall strike; my fate demands it of me.
- I’ve no dependence on Aurelia: all
- That we can hope for is to sell our lives
- As dearly as we can.
- I count the moments,
- And weigh each circumstance; Aurelia’s tears
- And flattery will a while suspend our fate;
- Cicero on other business is detained,
- And all is safe; let me have arms and men,
- No matter who they are, or slaves or free,
- Assassins, robbers, if they will but fight,
- We’ll have them: thou brave Septimus, and thou
- My dearest Martian, whose approved zeal
- I shall depend on, must observe Aurelia;
- And Nonnius; when they’re parted, talk to him
- About his daughter; tell him of her danger,
- Draw him by artful means to the dark path
- That leads to the Tiber, seize the lucky moment,
- And hurl him—ha! who’s this?
cicero, catiline, cethegus, etc.
- Audacious traitor,
- Where art thou going? speak, Cethegus, who
- Assembled you?
- We’ll tell thee in the senate.
- There we shall see if thou art authorized
- Thus to pursue us.
- Or what right
- The son of Tullius has to question us.
- At least I have a right to ask of these,
- Who brought them here: these are not like yourselves,
- Of senatorial rank; away with them.
- To prison.
- Darest thou thus on mere suspicion
- Confine a Roman; where’s our liberty?
- They are of thy council, that’s sufficient cause;
- Tremble, thyself; lictors, obey.
- [The lictors carry off Septimus and Martian.
- ’Tis well:
- Go on, proud consul, and abuse thy power,
- The time will come when thou shalt answer for it.
- Instant I will examine them, hereafter
- Thus may I treat their masters; Nonnius knows
- All thy designs, Præneste’s mine, and Rome
- Prepared for her defence; we soon shall see
- Which most prevails, or Catiline’s artifice
- Or Cicero’s vigilance: I do not preach
- Repentance and forgiveness to thee; no,
- I talk of punishment, thou mayest expect it:
- Come to the senate; follow if thou darest.
catiline, cethegus, lentulus-sura.
- Must we at last then bend to Cicero,
- And own his hated power?
- To the last hour
- I will defy him: still his curious soul
- Pries into all, but can discover nothing:
- Our friends will only lead him more astray,
- By holding out false lights that will misguide
- His wandering footsteps: in that fatal scroll
- Cæsar’s accused; the senate is divided,
- And Manlius with his army’s at the gate:
- You think that all is lost, but follow me.
- And mark the event; we shall be conquerors still.
- Nonnius, I fear, will make it all too plain.
- But he and Cicero shall never meet;
- Depend on that; away, address the senate
- With confidence, and leave the rest to me:
- But whither am I going?
- O gods! what shall I do with that proud heart?
- Remove her from me: if I see my wife,
- Bold as I am, I shall relapse: away.
End of the Third Act.