Front Page Titles (by Subject) ACT III. - 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 III. - 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.
- Orasmin, ’tis not as thy groundless fears
- Suggested to thee; Louis turns no more
- His arms against us; his disgusted people
- Are wearied with the unsuccessful search
- Of climates, which heaven ne’er designed for them:
- They will not leave their seats of ease and plenty
- To languish in Arabia’s sultry deserts,
- And wet our verdant palms in Christian blood:
- Their ships are spread indeed o’er Syria’s sea,
- And Asia trembles at the sight; but know,
- Towards fertile Egypt Louis bends his way,
- In search of Melidor, my secret foe:
- Their quarrels fix but on a firmer base
- The throne of Osman: I have nought to fear
- From Egypt or from France; by their division
- My power is strengthened: prodigal of blood,
- I thank them for it, they destroy each other,
- To save my subjects and avenge my cause.
- Release those Christians; I would please their master,
- And therefore they shall live; let them be sent
- To Louis; it may teach him to respect
- Our holy faith, and know me for his friend:
- Tell him I give him Lusignan, the man
- Who claims by birth alliance to his throne,
- Whom my brave father twice subdued, and kept
- In chains, nor whilst he lived would set him free.
- His name so dear to Christians—
- For his name
- I heed it not.
- O but, my lord, if Louis—
- ’Twere needless to dissemble now, Orasmin,
- ’Tis Zaïre’s will, therefore no more; my heart
- Yields to its conqueror, and Lusignan
- Is given to her; I had not else released
- My pris’ner: Louis is not worth my care;
- But I would make atonement for the wrongs
- Of injured Zaïre and her Christian friends;
- I’ve been too harsh with them: ’tis but an hour
- Before our happy nuptials, and meantime
- I would oblige my Zaïre; she desires
- Some private conference with the brave Nerestan,
- That generous Christian—
- I have, Orasmin: they were slaves together
- Even from their childhood, and perhaps may ne’er
- Behold each other more; she asks, in short,
- Who must not be denied: the rigid laws
- Of our seraglio were not made for Zaïre;
- I hate its cruel, its severe restraint,
- That binds the free-born soul in shameful bonds,
- And makes a virtue of necessity.
- I am not sprung, thank heaven! of Asian blood,
- But, midst the rocks of Tauric Scythia born,
- From my forefathers boast a Scythian heart,
- Fiery and bold, yet generous and humane:
- I would have all partake of Osman’s joy,
- And therefore let Nerestan see her: go,
- Conduct him to her, he attends without;
- Let Zaïre be obeyed.
- Please you to rest
- A moment here, till Zaïre comes.
- Just heaven!
- And must I leave her? cruel fate! to whom,
- To what is she reserved? alas! my father,
- Religion, virtue—but she’s here.
- My sister,
- At length we may converse; but what a time
- Hath heaven appointed for our meeting! ne’er
- Wilt thou behold thy wretched father more.
- His end is nigh:
- His feeble powers, oppressed with sudden joy
- At the unexpected sight of his dear children,
- Are quite exhausted, and the springs of life
- Will soon be motionless; but, O my sister,
- Think how the wretched state of his last moments
- Will be embittered by his cruel doubts
- Concerning thee; uncertain of thy faith
- He dies, and asks with his expiring breath
- If Zaïre is a Christian.
- Am I not
- Thy sister? thinkest thou I will e’er renounce
- Thy faith and mine, forgetful of the tie
- That binds us?
- Yet thou art a stranger to it;
- ’Tis but the morning of that glorious day
- Which must enlighten thee; thou hast not yet
- Received the precious pledge, the sacred stream
- That copious flows to wash our crimes away:
- Swear by our miseries, by our family,
- By all those holy martyrs whence we sprung,
- Thou wilt this day receive the mystic seal,
- The mark distinctive of the living God.
- I swear to thee, by him whom I adore,
- That God whose laws unknowing I revere,
- Henceforth, Nerestan, to embrace thy faith
- And be a Christian: but, O tell me, what
- Doth it require of Zaïre?
- To detest
- Thy tyrant master, and obey the God
- Of our forefathers, that benignant power
- Who died to save us, who conducted me
- To my dear sister, and restored to thee
- Our long-lost father; but, alas! Nerestan
- Cannot instruct thee, mine’s a soldier’s zeal,
- Devoid of knowledge; soon a holy priest
- Shall visit thee, and open the fair book
- Of wisdom, clear thy mind’s obstructed sight,
- And give thee liberty, and life: remember
- Thy oath; take heed that baptism lead thee not
- To curses and to death: but how, my sister,
- Shall I gain leave to bring him to thee? whom
- Must I apply to in this vile seraglio?
- O heaven! that thus the blood of twenty kings,
- The daughter of great Lusignan, that thou,
- Nerestan’s sister, and a Christian, thus
- Should be the slave of Osman! but, no more;
- You understand me, Zaïre: gracious God!
- Were we reserved for this at last?
- Go on,
- My cruel brother, and pursue thy triumph
- O’er Zaïre’s weakness; O thou knowest not yet
- Her secret faults, her sorrows, and her crimes:
- Pity, Nerestan, an unhappy sister,
- Misled, betrayed, and dying with despair:
- I am a Christian, and impatient wait
- The holy water that must purge my heart,
- And wash its stains away: I will not live
- Unworthy of my brother, of myself,
- Of my great ancestors, of thee, my father,
- Afflicted Lusignan! but tell me all,
- What will your Christian laws require of Zaïre?
- How will they punish an unhappy woman,
- Left to repine in sad captivity?
- What, if amidst her sorrows she should find
- A generous patron in a brave barbarian,
- Warmed by his goodness, what if she should feel
- A grateful passion, and give up her heart
- To him that saved her?
- Ha! what sayest thou? rather
- Might instant death—
- Strike, and prevent thy shame;
- For know—
- O heaven! couldst thou, my sister?
- I stand condemned, I am my own accuser:
- Osman adores me, and I meant to wed him.
- To wed him? to wed Osman? can it be?
- Couldst thou, descended from a race of kings,
- Couldst thou, my sister?
- Strike; for know, I love him.
- Shame as thou art to our untainted blood,
- Now, did I listen to the voice of honor,
- Did not the law of that all-saving God
- Whom yet thou knowest not, did not my religion
- Withhold my arm, this moment would I rush
- Into the palace, and there sacrifice
- This vile barbarian, this imperious lover;
- Would plunge the dagger in thy guilty breast,
- Then turn it on my own: O infamy!
- Whilst Louis, the world’s bright example, bears
- His conquering legions to the affrighted Nile,
- But to return on wings of victory
- To free thy captive God, and give him back
- His native walls, meantime Nerestan’s sister
- Renounces all, and weds an infidel:
- And must I tell the good old man, his daughter
- Hath chosen a Tartar for her God? alas!
- Ev’n now thy dying father kneels to heaven
- For Zaïre’s happiness.
- O stay, my brother,
- Perhaps thy Zaïre still deserves thy love;
- Thou dost not know me; spare thy keen reproaches,
- For, O, thy cruel scorn, thy bitter wrath,
- Is worse to me even than the death I asked,
- Which yet thou hast refused me: O Nerestan,
- I know thou art oppressed, I know thou sufferest
- For my misfortunes; but I suffer more:
- Would that kind heaven had taken my wretched life,
- Before this heart glowed with a guilty flame
- For Osman! and yet, who that knew his virtues
- Would not have loved him! he did all for me;
- His generous heart from crowds of fond admirers
- Selected Zaïre; she alone subdued
- His fiery soul, and softened his resentment:
- He hath revived the Christian’s hope; to him
- I owe the dear delight of seeing thee,
- My brother: O Nerestan, thou shouldst pardon,
- Indeed thou shouldst, for I am truly wretched:
- My oath, my duty, my remorse, my father,
- My fatal passion, and thy cruel anger,
- Are punishment enough: repentance fills
- All Zaïre’s soul, and leaves no room for love.
- I blame, yet pity thee: kind heaven, I trust,
- Will never let thee perish in thy sins;
- The arm of God, that makes the weakest strong,
- Will cherish and support a tender flower
- That bends beneath the fury of the storm:
- He will not suffer thy divided heart
- To fluctuate thus ’twixt Him and a barbarian;
- Baptism will quench the guilty flame, and Zaïre
- In the true faith shall live a pious Christian,
- Or die a martyr: promise then thy father,
- Promise thy king, thy country, and that God
- Whose powerful voice thou hast already heard,
- Thou wilt not think of these detested nuptials
- Before the priest hath opened thy dark mind,
- And, in Nerestan’s sight, pronounced thee Christian:
- Say, wilt thou promise, Zaïre?
- Yes; I promise:
- Make me a Christian, make me free; do what
- Thou wilt with Zaïre: but haste, close the eyes
- Of my dear father: would I could go with thee,
- And die before him!
- Sister, fare thee well!
- Since I must leave thee in this hated palace,
- Farewell! remember, I shall soon return
- To save thee from perdition, from thyself,
- And from the powers of hell, by holy baptism.
- I am alone: now hear me, gracious heaven!
- For what am I reserved? O God, command
- This rebel heart not to relinquish thee!
- Am I the daughter of great Lusignan,
- Or Osman’s wife; a lover, or a Christian?
- Ye sacred oaths, my father, and my country,
- All shall be heard, all shall be satisfied!
- But where’s my friend? where is my Fatima?
- In this distressful hour the world forsakes me:
- Deserted, and forlorn, how shall I bear
- The galling weight of these discordant duties!
- O God! I will be thine, and thine alone;
- But, O! preserve me from the sight of Osman,
- The dear, the generous Osman! did I think
- This morn, that ere the day was past, my heart
- Should dread to see him; I whose every hope
- And joy, and happiness, on him alone
- Depended? O! I had no other care,
- No pleasure, but to listen to his love;
- To wish, and wait for, and adore my Osman!
- And now it is a crime to think of him.
- Come forth, my love! for my impatient soul
- Is on the wing, and will not brook delay!
- The torch of Hymen casts its sacred light
- On happy Osman, and the perfumed mosque
- Invites us; Mahomet’s all-powerful God
- Propitious hears and answers to our vows;
- My people on their knees, in fervent prayer,
- United sue for Zaïre’s happiness;
- Whilst thy proud rivals, who disputed long
- My heart with thee, at length confess thy power,
- Pleased to submit, and happy to obey:
- The rites attend thee, and the throne’s prepared;
- Haste then, my love, and make thy Osman happy.
- O grief! O love! O wretched Zaïre!
- Give me thy hand, come, beauteous Zaïre, deign—
- What can I say to him? assist me, heaven!
- O! I must triumph o’er this tender weakness,
- This sweet embarrassment; it makes me love thee
- With double ardor.
- Those sighs, my Zaïre,
- Endear thee more to Osman; ’tis the mark
- Of modest virtue thus to shrink from love;
- But haste, my charmer, and repay my fondness,
- My constancy—
- O Fatima, support me!
- My lord—
- That heaven’s my witness,
- All Zaire’s hopes of happiness were placed
- On thee; my soul desired to call thee mine:
- Not that I sought the splendor of a throne;
- Thoughts distant far and nobler filled my breast:
- I could have wish, to thee and to thy virtues
- United, to have lived in solitude,
- With thee despised the pomp of Asia’s pride,
- And spurned her crowns and sceptres at my feet:
- But O! my lord, these Christians—
- What have they
- To do with Osman, or with Osman’s love?
- Old Lusignan, oppressed with age and sorrow,
- Now touches his last moments.
- Be it so;
- What is that Christian slave to thee, or why
- Feelest thou for him? thou art not of his faith,
- But from thy infant years hast followed mine,
- And worshipped Osman’s God; shall Zaïre weep
- Because an old man pays the debt of nature?
- At such a time as this shall Zaïre mourn?
- Should she not rather centre all her cares
- In Osman now, and think of naught but love?
- If ever I was dear to thee—
- Defer, my lord, a little while
- Our nuptials, let me—
- Ha! what sayest thou? heaven!
- Can Zaïre speak thus?
- O I cannot bear
- His anger.
- O forgive, my lord,
- These sighs! alas, I have forgot myself,
- Forgot my duty, all I owe to thee:
- I cannot bear that look—permit me, sir,
- But for a moment to retire, to hide
- My tears, my grief, my love, and my despair.
- [She goes out.
- Amazement! dumb and motionless I stand
- With horror: did I hear aright, Orasmin,
- Was it to me that Zaïre spoke, to Osman?
- Does she avoid me; fly from me? O heaven!
- What have I seen, and whence this wondrous change?
- She’s gone, she’s lost; I know not who I am,
- Or what, or where.
- You are yourself the cause
- Of your complaint, and but accuse a heart
- Where you and you alone in triumph reign.
- But why those sighs, those tears, that sudden flight!
- Whence that deep sorrow, in her downcast eyes
- So plainly written? O if that wily Frenchman—
- Horrible thought! how dreadfully the light
- Breaks in upon me! ’tis impossible;
- A vile barbarian; O, it cannot be
- Orasmin; thinkest thou that the heart of Osman
- Will e’er descend to fear a Christian slave?
- But tell me, thou perhaps couldst mark her features,
- And understand the language of her eye;
- Am I betrayed? nay, do not hide thy thoughts,
- But let me know my misery: ha! thou tremblest;
- It is enough.
- I would not rive thy heart
- With fond suspicions: I beheld her weep,
- But nothing more; saw naught that could alarm—
- Was I reserved to bear an injury
- Like this? had Zaïre meant to play me false,
- She would have done it with more art; would ne’er
- Have openly avowed her treacherous purpose:
- O no; she must be innocent; but tell me,
- This Frenchman—he, thou sayest too sighed and wept;
- And what of that! he might not sigh for her;
- It was not love perhaps that made him weep;
- Or if it was, why should I fear a slave,
- One who to-morrow parts from her forever?
- Against our laws, my lord, you gave him leave
- To see her twice; he came.
- The traitor! yes,
- I know he did; but if again he dares
- To visit her, I’ll tear the slave to pieces,
- And mix his life-blood with the faithless Zaire’s.
- Pardon, my friend, the transports of a heart
- So deeply pierced; it is by nature warm,
- And has been wounded in the tenderest part:
- I know my rage, Orasmin, and my weakness,
- Know ’tis beneath me to be thus disturbed;
- But Zaïre—O I cannot, will not think it:
- Her heart could ne’er be guilty of such baseness,
- It was not made for falsehood; nor shall Osman
- Stoop to complaint or mean submission; no:
- It were unworthy of a king to wait
- For explanations of this strange conduct:
- I will resume that empire o’er my heart
- Which I had lost, forget the very name
- Of Zaïre: yes; henceforth let my seraglio
- Be shut forever, fear and terror reign
- Within my palace; let despotic power
- Rule unreluctant o’er a race of slaves!
- Osman henceforth shall be an eastern king,
- And reign like them: perhaps we may forget
- Our rank a while, and cast an eye of favor
- Upon our vassals; but to stand in awe
- Of a proud mistress, is most shameful; no:
- To western climes we leave such fond submission
- The dangerous sex, ambitious to enslave
- Our easy hearts, and bend them to their will,
- In Europe rule, but here they must obey.
End of the Third Act.