Front Page Titles (by Subject) ACT I. - The Works of Voltaire, Vol. X The Dramatic Works Part 1 (Zaire, Caesar, The Prodigal, Prefaces) and Part II (The Lisbon Earthquake and Other Poems).
ACT I. - Voltaire, The Works of Voltaire, Vol. X The Dramatic Works Part 1 (Zaire, Caesar, The Prodigal, Prefaces) and Part II (The Lisbon Earthquake and Other Poems). 
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. X The Dramatic Works Part 1 (Zaire, Caesar, The Prodigal, Prefaces) and Part II (The Lisbon Earthquake and Other Poems).
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- The Works of Voltaire
- The Dramatic Works of Voltaire Vol. X— Part I
- Dramatis PersonÆ.
- An Epistle Dedicatory to Mr. Falkener, an English Merchant, Since Ambassador At Constantinople, With the Tragedy of Zaïre.
- A Second Letter to Mr. Falkener, Then Ambassador to Constantinople.
- Act I.
- Act II.
- Act III.
- Act IV.
- Act V.
- Dramatis PersonÆ.
- Act I.
- Act II.
- Act III.
- The Prodigal
- Dramatis PersonÆ.
- Act I.
- Act II.
- Act III.
- Act IV.
- Act V.
- Preface to Mariamne.
- Preface to Orestes.
- Preface to Catiline.
- Preface to MÉrope.
- Preface to the Prodigal.
- Preface to Nanine.
- 1 Preface to Socrates.
- Note On Mahomet.
- Preface to Julius CÆsar.
- Voltaire the Lisbon Earthquake and Other Poems Vol. X— Part Ii
- Author’s Preface to the Lisbon Earthquake.
- The Lisbon Earthquake. *
- Preface to the Poem On the Law of Nature.
- The Law of Nature.
- The Temple of Taste. *
- The Temple of Friendship.
- Thoughts On the Newtonian Philosophy, Addressed to the Marchioness Du ChÂtelet.
- On the Death of Adrienne Lecouvreur, a Celebrated Actress.
- To the King of Prussia On His Accession to the Throne.
- From Love to Friendship.
- The Worldling. *
- On Calumny.
- The King of Prussia to M. Voltaire.
- The Answer.
- On the English Genius.
- What Pleases the Ladies.
- The Education of a Prince.
- The Education of a Daughter.
- The Three Manners.
- Thelema and Macareus.
- The Origin of Trades.
- The Battle of Fontenoy.
- The Man of the World. *
- The Padlock. *
- In Camp Before Philippsburg, July 3, 1734.
- Answer to a Lady, Or a Person Who Wrote to Voltaire As Such. *
- The Nature of Virtue.
- To the King of Prussia.
- To M. De Fontenelle.
- To Count Algarotti At the Court of Saxony.
- To Cardinal Quirini.
- To Her Royal Highness, the Princess of ***.
- To M. De Cideville.
- To ****.
- Epistle XIII. *
- To the Duke of Richelieu, Marshal of France, In Whose Honor the Senate of Genoa Had Just Before Caused a Statue to Be Erected. *
- To Madam De ***, On the Manner of Living At Paris and Versailles.
- To the Prince of Vendôme.
- To Madam De Gondoin, Afterward Countess of Toulouse, On the Danger She Had Been Exposed to In Passing the Loire In 1719.
- To the Duke Delafeuillade.
- To Marshal Villars. *
- To Monsieur Genonville.
- To the Countess of Fontaine-martel. *
- Written From PlombiÉres to M. Pallu, Intendant of Lyons.
- The Nature of Pleasure.
- The Utility of Sciences to Princes. to the Prince Royal of Prussia, Since King of Prussia.
- Epistle In Answer to a Letter, With Which, Upon His Accession to the Throne, the King of Prussia Honored the Author.
- Epistle to the King, Presented to His Majesty At the Camp Before Freiburg.
- On the Death of the Emperor Charles.
- To the Queen of Hungary.
- Inscribed to the Gentlemen of the Academy of Sciences, Who Sailed to the Polar Circle and the Equator, In Order to Ascertain the Figure of the Earth.
- To M. De Gervasi, the Physician. *
- The Requisites to Happiness.
- To a Lady, Very Well Known to the Whole Town.
- Fanaticism. *
- On Peace Concluded In 1736.
- To AbbÉ Chaulieu. *
- Answer to the Foregoing.
- To President HÉnault, Author of an Excellent Work Upon the History of France.
- Canto of an Epic Poem. *
- Epistle On the Newtonian Philosophy. * to the Marchioness of ChÂtelet.
- I little thought to see the lovely Zaïre,
- In all the pride of youth and beauty, thus
- Calm and resigned submitting to her fate:
- What sweet delusive hope hath pierced the cloud
- Of grief that hung upon thee, and revived
- Thy drooping heart? this peace of mind hath given
- New lustre to thy charms: no longer now
- Thy eyes are bathed in tears, no longer seek
- Those blissful climes where brave Nerestan promised
- To guide our steps; thou talkest not, as of late
- We heard thee, of those seats of happiness
- Where women reign, by willing slaves adored,
- The queens, the idols of a polished people,
- Though free yet chaste, and wise though unrestrained,
- For social converse fit, and not to fear
- Indebted for their virtue: sighest thou, Zaïre,
- No more for this gay land of liberty?
- Seest thou within these solitary walls
- Aught that is lovely? is the name of slave
- So grateful now, that to the banks of Seine
- Thou wouldst prefer the gloomy Solyma?
- We cannot wish for joys we never knew:
- ’Twas heaven’s supreme degree to fix us here;
- Custom hath made restraint familiar to me:
- I look not now beyond the narrow bounds
- Of this seraglio; every hour it grows
- More pleasing to me, and the world beside
- Is lost to Zaïre: to the noble Osman
- I yield myself, to live beneath his power;
- To honor and obey my royal master
- Is my soul’s utmost hope, and its ambition,
- All else is but a dream.
- Hast thou forgot
- The kind Nerestan, he whose generous friendship
- Promised so oft to free us from the yoke
- Of bondage? how did we admire his virtues,
- His matchless valor, and intrepid zeal!
- The glory he acquired beneath the walls
- Of Damas, where so many Christians fell
- By Osman’s mighty hand! the conqueror then,
- Thou mayest remember, pitied his brave foe,
- And, on his word, permitted him to leave
- The banks of Jordan; we expect him still
- To pay the ransom of our liberty,
- And set us free: must all our hopes be vain?
- Perhaps his promise might exceed his power;
- Two years are past, and yet he’s not returned:
- Alas! my Fatima, a captive stranger,
- To gain his liberty, might promise more
- Than he could e’er perform: he talked, thou knowest,
- Of bringing ransom for ten Christian slaves,
- Would break their fetters, or resume his own:
- I was too credulous, and much admired
- His forward zeal, but I shall think no more on it.
- If yet he should be faithful, and return
- To keep his plighted faith, then wouldst thou not—
- It is not as it was, my Fatima,
- The time is past.
- I’ll not hide
- The secret from my friend; perhaps the Sultan
- May yet conceal it, but thy Zaïre’s heart
- With safety may repose on Fatima:
- Know then, some three months since, when thou wert absent,
- Removed with other slaves from Jordan’s banks,
- Kind heaven, to put a period to our woes,
- Raised up a powerful friend—the mighty Osman—
- He, the Sultan’s self,
- The Christian’s haughty conqueror, is the slave
- Of Zaïre; yes, he loves me, Fatima;
- Nay, blush not, (for I understand thee well)
- Think not I mean to stain my spotless honor,
- Or stoop to be the mistress of a tyrant;
- That I will ever hazard the quick change
- Of transitory passion; no, my friend,
- I am not so far lost to modesty,
- And native pride, as to forget myself;
- Rather than fall so low I would embrace
- The milder fate of slavery and death;
- But I shall more astonish thee: for know,
- I have subdued his haughty soul to love
- Most pure, and most refined: amidst the crowd
- Of rival beauties that contend for Osman,
- I, I alone have fixed his wandering heart,
- And Hymen soon, in spite of all their deep
- And dark intrigues, shall make the Sultan mine
- It is a conquest worthy of thy charms,
- And of thy virtues: I am much surprised,
- But more delighted; may thy happiness
- Be perfect! I shall rank myself with joy
- Amongst thy subjects.
- Be my equal still,
- And share my fortune; royalty with thee
- Divided will make Zaïre doubly happy.
- Pleased with thy choice, long may indulgent heaven
- Smile on thy nuptial bed; may never grief
- Intrude to poison the sweet cup of grandeur,
- By us called happiness! alas, how little
- Doth it deserve the name! but tell me, Zaïre,
- Art thou at ease, and feelest thou naught within
- To check thy joys? hast thou forgot that once
- Thou wert a Christian?
- Ha! what sayest thou? why
- Wouldst thou recall my sorrows, Fatima?
- Alas! I know not who or what I am,
- Not even who gave me birth.
- Nerestan oft
- Hath said, thou wert the daughter of a Christian;
- The cross, which in thy infant years adorned thee,
- Confirms it; still that sacred pledge remains
- Perhaps but to remind thee of the faith
- Which thou hast quitted.
- I’ve no other proof;
- Shall that alone persuade me to embrace
- A faith detested by the man I love?
- Our thoughts, our manners, our religion, all
- Are formed by custom, and the powerful bent
- Of early years: born on the banks of Ganges
- Zaïre had worshipped Pagan deities;
- At Paris I had been a Christian; here
- I am a happy Mussulman: we know
- But what we learn; the instructing parent’s hand
- Graves in our feeble hearts those characters
- Which time retouches, and examples fix
- So deeply in the mind, that naught but God
- Can e’er efface: but thou wert hither brought
- A captive at an age when reason joined
- To sage experience had informed thy soul,
- And well-confirmed its faith: for me, a slave
- Even from my cradle to the Saracens,
- Too late the Christian light broke in upon me;
- Yet far from wishing ill to laws so pure,
- Spite of myself, I own to thee, that cross,
- Whene’er I looked upon it, filled my soul
- With reverential awe, and oft in secret
- Have I invoked its holy aid, ere Osman
- Possessed my heart: thine is a noble faith;
- I honor much those charitable laws
- Which old Nerestan many a time hath told me
- Would wipe off every tear, and make mankind
- One sweet united family of love:
- A Christian must be happy.
- Wherefore then
- Wouldst thou become their most inveterate foe,
- And wed their proud oppressor?
- Wouldst thou have me
- Refuse so fair a present as the heart
- Of Osman? no: I will confess my weakness;
- But for the Sultan, Zaïre had long since
- Embraced thy faith, and been, like thee, a Christian:
- But Osman loves me, and ’tis all forgotten:
- My every thought, my every hope is fixed
- On him alone, and my enraptured soul
- Can dwell on naught but Osman: O, my friend,
- Think on his lovely form, and graceful mind,
- His noble deeds, his glory, and renown:
- The crown he offers is not worth my care;
- The poor return of gratitude would ill
- Repay his passion; love would spurn the gift:
- ’Tis not to Osman’s throne, but Osman’s self,
- That I aspire: perhaps I am to blame;
- But trust me, Fatima, if heaven had doomed him
- To Zaïre’s fate, if he were now, like me,
- A wretched slave, and I on Syria’s throne,
- Or love deceives me much, or I should stoop
- With joy, and raise him up to me and empire.
- But hark, they come this way; perhaps ’tis Osman.
- It is; it must be he; my fluttering heart
- Speaks his arrival; for these two long days
- He hath been absent, but propitious love
- Restores him to my wishes.
osman, zaïre, fatima.
- Virtuous Zaïre,
- Ere Hymen join our hands, permit me here
- To pour forth all my honest heart before you:
- I follow not our eastern monarchs’ laws,
- Nor act by their example; well I know
- How wide a field is left by Mahomet
- For luxury to range in, that at pleasure
- I might command a crowd of kneeling slaves,
- Receive their incense, and return their love;
- From the Seraglio’s peaceful seats deal forth
- My laws, and in the arms of indolence
- Govern my kingdom; but that well I know
- How sloth deludes us, tempting are her charms,
- But fatal is their end: a hundred kings
- Have I beheld, her tributary slaves,
- Our prophet’s most unworthy successors,
- Caliphs that trembled midst the splendid pomp
- Of visionary power, and only held
- The name of kings, who might have lived the lords
- Of all mankind, the conquerors of the world,
- Had they but been, like their great ancestors,
- The masters of themselves: then Solyma
- And Syria fell beneath the valiant Bouillon,
- But heaven, to chastise the impious foe,
- Upraised the arm of mighty Saladin:
- My father conquered Jordan, and to him,
- Unequal to the weight of empire, next
- Succeeded Osman, the disputed lord
- Of a weak kingdom: whilst the haughty Christians,
- Thirsting for blood, thick from the western coast,
- Pour in upon me; whilst the voice of war,
- And the shrill trumpet heard on every side,
- Call us to arms, shall Osman waste his hours
- In the loose dalliance of a soft seraglio?
- No, Zaïre, love, and glory, bear me witness,
- To thee alone I swear eternal truth,
- To take thee for my mistress, and my wife;
- To live thy friend, thy lover, and thy husband;
- Zaïre alone shall with the toils of war
- Divide my heart: think not I mean to trust
- Thy honor to our savage Asian guards,
- Those shameless pandars to the lawless pleasures
- Of their imperious masters; I esteem
- As well as love thee, and to Zaïre’s self
- Its fittest guard, commit my Zaïre’s virtue.
- Thou knowest my heart, on thee alone thou seest
- Osman has placed his hopes of happiness;
- I need not add how wretched it would make
- My future life, shouldst thou repay my fondness
- With the poor cold return of gratitude;
- I love thee, Zaïre, yes, with rapture love thee,
- And hope to find in thee an equal claim:
- I own, whate’er the heart of Osman seeks,
- It seeks with ardor; I should think you hated,
- Did you not love me, with excess of passion:
- Such is my nature; if it suits with thine,
- I am thy husband, but on this condition,
- And only this, if marriage did not make
- Thee happy, I were most supremely wretched.
- Wretched, my lord? O if thy happiness
- Depends on Zaïre’s truth, and Zaïre’s love,
- Never was mortal half so blest as Osman.
- Yes; the fond lover, and the tender wife,
- All thou canst wish for, shalt thou find in Zaire,
- For thou hast raised her far above her sex,
- Above her hopes; O what excess of bliss
- To hold my life, my happiness from thee,
- Such envied bounties from the man I love,
- To be the work of thy creating hand!
- But if among the crowd of rival hearts
- Thy partial favor has selected Zaïre’s,
- O if thy choice—
osman, zaïre, fatima, orasmin.
- My lord, that Christian slave,
- Who, on his promise given, had thy permission
- To visit France, is thence returned, and begs
- An audience.
- My lord, he waits without;
- I did not think a Christian might approach
- Your royal presence in this sacred place.
- In every place access is free to Osman;
- I hate our eastern policy, that hides
- Its tyrants from the public eye, to screen
- Oppression: give him entrance.
osman, zaïre, fatima, orasmin, nerestan.
- Generous Sultan,
- Whose virtues even thy Christian foes admire,
- I come, as bound in honor, to discharge
- My vows, and bring with me the promised ransom
- Of beauteous Zaïre, the fair Selima,
- And ten more Christian prisoners; I have done
- My duty to the captives, do thou thine,
- And set them free; I have bestowed on them
- My little all, and naught remains for me
- But noble poverty; Nerestan still
- Must be thy slave; I have preserved my honor,
- Unblemished, and fulfilled my sacred word.
- Christian, thy virtue merits my best praise;
- But think not Osman e’er will be surpassed
- In generosity; receive thy freedom,
- Take back thy treasures; take my bounty with them;
- I promised thee ten Christian slaves, I’ll give thee
- A hundred more, demand them when thou wilt;
- Let them depart, and teach their countrymen,
- That even in Syria’s plains some virtues dwell;
- Thence let them judge, if they or Osman best
- Deserve to reign in Solyma; but know,
- Old Lusignan must still remain a captive;
- It were not safe to give him liberty;
- Sprung from the royal blood of France, he claims
- A right to govern here, and that alone
- Condemns him to perpetual slavery,
- To groan in chains, and never more behold
- The light of day: I pity him, and yet
- It must be so; cruel necessity
- Compels me to this rigor: and for Zaïre,
- She must remain with me; not all thy gold
- Can purchase her; not the whole race of Christians,
- With all their kings, shall ever force her from me:
- You may depart.
- My lord,
- She is a Christian born; I have your word,
- Your honor, and her own, that she should go
- When I returned: poor Lusignan! could he
- Offend thee? wherefore wouldst thou—
- Christian, hence:
- It is my will; therefore no more: thy pride
- Offends me; go, and ere to-morrow’s sun
- Shines on this palace, leave my kingdom.
- Go, Zaïre, and assume
- Thy empire o’er my palace; there command
- As my Sultana; I will hence, and give
- My orders for our nuptials.
- Didst thou mark,
- Orasmin, that presumptuous slave; he sighed,
- And fixed his eyes upon her.
- O my lord,
- Beware of jealousy.
- Ha! jealous, sayest thou?
- Thinkest thou the pride of Osman will descend
- So low! to love as if I hated her?
- Suspicion but provokes the crime it fears;
- Zaire is truth itself; and O Orasmin
- I love her to idolatry; if e’er
- I could be jealous—if my foolish heart—
- But I will think no more on it; let my soul
- Dwell on the sweet idea of her charms:
- Haste, my Orasmin, and get all things ready
- For the dear happy moment that unites
- Thy sovereign to the object of his wishes:
- One hour I will devote to public cares,
- The rest shall all be given to love and Zaïre.
End of the First Act.