Front Page Titles (by Subject) ACT IV. - 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 IV. - 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.
- How I admire, and how I pity thee!
- The Christian God inspires thee; let not then
- Thy soul despair, for he shall give thee strength
- To break the powerful chains of mighty love.
- When shall I make the glorious sacrifice?
- Thou suest to heaven for pardon, but mayest claim
- Its justice; God will guard thy innocence,
- And shield thy virtue.
- Zaïre never wanted
- His kind protection more.
- The God thou servest
- Will be a father to thee; he shall guide
- Thy wandering steps, speak to thy doubting heart,
- And take thee to his bosom: though the priest
- Dare not attend thee here—
- Alas! my friend,
- How have I pierced the soul of generous Osman,
- And driven him to despair! a dreadful task!
- But ’tis thy will, O God, and I obey:
- Zaïre had been too happy.
- Wilt thou then
- Hazard the victory after all thy toil?
- Unhappy victory, and inhuman virtue!
- Alas! thou knowest not, Fatima, how dear
- They cost me; all my hopes of happiness
- Were fixed on love, and Osman: take my heart,
- Accept my guilty tears, subdue my passion
- Eternal God, and make me all thy own!
- But O my friend, even now the lovely image
- Of my dear generous Osman steps between
- My God and me; that form is still before me,
- Forever in my sight: ye race of kings
- From whom I sprang, my father, mother, country,
- And thou, my God, since you have taken him from me,
- Finish a life that is not worth my care
- Without him; let me die a blameless victim,
- Let Osman close the eyes of her he loved!
- But he has left me, left the wretched Zaïre,
- Inquires not, thinks not of me; O I faint,
- My Fatima, I never can survive it.
- Remember thou art the daughter of a king,
- The favorite of heaven, the chosen of God;
- And will not he protect thee?
- Will he not
- Protect my Osman too? a God of mercy
- Can never hate, can never persecute
- A heart so just, so brave, so good as Osman’s;
- What could he more, had he been born a Christian?
- O that this holy minister would come,
- This blest interpreter of heaven’s high will,
- To ease my wounded heart, and give me comfort!
- Still I have hope that kind benignant God,
- Whose darling attribute is clemency,
- Will not forbid our union, will forgive
- The struggles of a heart so torn as mine;
- Perhaps by raising Zaïre to the throne
- Of Syria he might serve the Christian cause:
- Great Saladin, thou knowest, whose potent arm
- Robbed us of Jordan’s empire, who, like Osman,
- Was famed for mercy, from a Christian sprung.
- Alas! thou seest not that, to calm thy soul,
- Mistaken as thou art—
- I see it all;
- See that my father, country, friends, condemn me;
- See that I follow Lusignan, yet love.
- Adore my Osman; see that still my life
- Is linked with his: O I could wish to see him,
- To throw me at his feet, and tell him all.
- That would destroy thy brother, and endanger
- The Christians, who have no support but thee;
- Thou wouldst betray that God who calls thee back
- From error’s paths, and bids thee follow him.
- O didst thou know the noble heart of Osman!
- He is protector of the Mussulman,
- Therefore the more he loves thee, doubtless, Zaïre,
- Less willing must he be to have thee worship
- A God his faith has taught him to abhor.
- The priest, thou knowest, will visit thee in secret,
- And thou hast promised—
- I will wait for him;
- I’ve promised to preserve the secret still
- From Osman; cruel silence! but to make
- My woes complete, I am no longer loved.
- There was a time when thy deluding charms
- Inflamed my soul; a willing captive then
- I gloried in my chains: I hoped indeed,
- Vain hope! a sovereign sighing at thy feet
- Might claim some kind return, and thought myself
- Beloved by Zaïre; but I am undeceived:
- Yet think not, madam, I will ever stoop
- To mean complaints, or with the whining race
- Of vulgar lovers vindicate my wrongs
- By loud reproaches; no: I am above
- Dissimulation, and am come to tell you
- I mean to treat it with that just contempt
- Which it deserves; think not by female arts,
- Or subtle arguments, to color o’er
- Thy conduct, I disclaim thee, know thee not;
- And, for I would not make thee blush, desire
- The hated cause may be a secret still;
- I would not wish to know it: all is past:
- Another may be found to fill the throne
- Which you despise; another may have eyes
- Perhaps for Osman’s merit, and a heart
- For Osman’s love: I know ’twill cost me dear
- To part from Zaïre, but I am resolved:
- For I had rather lose thee, rather die
- With anguish and despair, than make thee mine,
- If but a sigh escaped thee for another,
- And not for Osman: fare thee well; these eyes
- Must ne’er behold thee more.
- It is thy will
- O, God, to reign unrivalled in my heart,
- And thou hast robbed me now of all:—my lord,
- Since you no longer love me—
- ’Tis too true;
- Honor commands it; I adored thee once,
- But I must leave thee, must renounce thee, ’twas
- Thy own request—beneath another law—
- Zaïre, thou weepest!
- O think not, I beseech you,
- Think not, my lord, I shall regret the pomp
- And splendor of a throne; it is decreed
- That I must lose thee, such is my hard fate:
- But punish me forever, angry heaven,
- If there be aught on earth I shall regret
- But Osman’s heart!
- Amazement? Zaïre said she loved me:
- Why then thou cruel maid, why tear the heart
- Of faithful Osman thus? in my despair,
- Alas! I thought I could command myself
- To love, or hate; but ’tis impossible:
- Zaïre can never be forgotten; no:
- Osman could never harbor such a thought,
- To place another on his throne; forgive
- My rage, my madness; ’twas affected all,
- All false; I could not leave, I could not hate thee;
- It was the only scorn thy tender heart
- Ever experienced: O I love thee still,
- And ever must: but wherefore thus delay
- My happiness? speak, was it fond caprice,
- Or was it fear, or artifice? but art
- Was never made for thee; thou needest it not:
- Even where it is most innocent, it looks
- Like falsehood, and perfidiousness: O Zaïre,
- Let it not break the holy tie that binds us:
- I ever have abhorred it: Osman’s heart
- Is full of naught but truth.
- Despair, and horror!
- O thou art dear to me, indeed thou art,
- Believe me, Osman; and the tender love
- I feel for thee makes me supremely wretched.
- Explain thyself: O heaven! and can it be?
- But thou wert born to make me wretched.
- What dreadful secret, Zaïre,
- Dost thou keep from me? have the Christian slaves
- Conspired against me? speak, am I betrayed?
- Who would betray so good so kind a master?
- No, generous Osman, thou hast naught to fear;
- Zaïre alone is wretched: but her griefs
- Are to herself.
- Great God! is Zaïre wretched?
- Permit me on my knees, my lord, to ask
- One favor of thee.
- Were it Osman’s life,
- Thou mightest command it: speak, and it is thine.
- O would to heaven we could have been united!
- But O, my lord, permit me this one day
- To be alone; leave me to meditate
- On my misfortunes, and to hide my griefs
- From thee; to-morrow all shall be revealed:
- O heaven! what woes dost thou inflict upon me!
- Canst thou—
- If love still pleads for Zaïre, grant her
- This one request! do not refuse me.
- It must be so; I have no will but thine:
- Remember that I sacrifice to thee
- The dearest, happiest moments of my life.
- O talk not thus, my lord, it wounds my heart
- Too deeply.
- You will leave me, Zaïre?
- So soon to seek retirement!
- It is an insult o’er my easy heart;
- The more I think, Orasmin, on her conduct,
- The more am I perplexed; I cannot find
- The hidden cause of this mysterious sorrow:
- By Osman’s partial fondness raised to empire,
- Even in the bosom of that happiness
- Her soul desired, thus loving and beloved,
- Yet are her eyes forever bathed in tears:
- I hate her fond caprice, her discontent
- And causeless grief—yet was not I to blame?
- Did I not slight her? did I not offend
- My Zaïre? wherefore then should I complain?
- I must atone for my injurious transports
- By double kindness, by indulging her
- In every wish: it is enough that Osman
- Is loved by Zaïre: her untainted soul
- Is void of art; hers is the tender age
- Of innocence and truth, when simple nature
- Guides every thought, and dictates every word:
- I will rely on her sincerity:
- I know she loves me; in her eyes I read
- The tender tale; whilst her impatient soul
- Flew to her lovely lips and told me all:
- Can there on earth be hearts so base as e’er
- To boast a passion which they never feel?
osman, orasmin, melidor.
- My lord, the guards have stopped a letter sent
- To Zaïre.
- Give it me: who sent it to her?
- One of those Christian slaves whom you released,
- Who, as he strove to enter the seraglio,
- Was seized, and put in chains.
- Ha! what do I read!
- Leave me—I tremble—
- This may clear up all,
- And set your heart at ease.
- Ha! let me read
- Again; this letter must determine all,
- And fix my fate—“Dear Zaïre, now’s the time
- To meet us; near the mosque thou wilt perceive
- A secret passage; unsuspected thence
- Thou mayest escape, and easily deceive
- Thy keepers; we must hazard all; thou knowest
- My zeal: I wait impatient for thee; haste,
- I cannot live, if thou shouldst prove unfaithful
- What sayest thou, my Orasmin?
- I, my lord?
- I’m shocked, astonished at her.
- Now thou seest
- How I am treated.
- O detested treason!
- You must resent an injury like this:
- You who so lately but on slight suspicion
- So deeply felt the wound; a deed so black,
- I hope, my lord, will cure you of your love.
- Haste, my Orasmin, fly this instant, show her
- That letter—let her tremble, and then plunge
- The dagger in her faithless breast—no, stay,
- Not yet—that Christian first—let him be brought
- Before her—stay—I can determine nothing,
- My rage o’erpowers me; O I faint, support me,
- ’Tis indeed a cruel stroke!
- ’Tis all unfolded now, this dreadful secret,
- That sat so heavy on her guilty heart:
- Beneath the specious veil of modest fear
- She left me for a while; I let her go;
- She wept at parting; wept but to betray me;
- O Zaïre, Zaïre.
- Everything conspires
- To make her doubly guilty: O my lord,
- Fall not a victim to her arts, recall
- Thy wonted courage, and deep sense of wrong.
- This is the gallant, boasted, brave Nerestan,
- The Christian’s hero, that proud son of honor,
- So famed for his sublimity of virtue;
- Admired, nay envied by the jealous Osman;
- Who could not bear a rival in a slave,
- And now he stoops to this vile treachery,
- This base imposture: O but Zaïre—she
- Is far more guilty, O a thousand times
- More vile, more impious—a poor Christian slave,
- I might have left her in her mean estate,
- And not debased her; well she knows what Osman
- Has done for her; ungrateful wretch!
- My lord,
- If midst the horrors of thy troubled soul
- I might be heard—forgive me—but if—
- I’ll see, and talk to her—go, fetch her hither;
- Fly, bring her, slave.
- In this distracted state
- What can you say to her?
- I know not what;
- But I must see her.
- To complain, to threaten,
- To make her weep, to let your easy heart
- Again be softened by her tears, to seek,
- In spite of all your wrongs, some poor pretence
- To justify her conduct: trust me, sir,
- ’Twere better to conceal this paper from her,
- Or send it to her by some hand unknown;
- Thus, spite of all her arts, thou mayest discover
- Her inmost thoughts, and unsuspected trace
- The secret windings of her treacherous heart.
- Dost thou indeed believe that Zaïre’s false?
- But I will tempt my fate, and try her virtue;
- I’ll try how far a bold and shameless woman
- Can urge her falsehood.
- O my lord, I fear,
- A heart like thine—
- Be not alarmed: alas!
- Osman, like Zaïre, never can dissemble:
- But I am master of myself, and know
- How to restrain my anger: yes, Orasmin;
- Since she descends so low—here—take this letter,
- This fatal scroll, choose out a trusty slave,
- And send it to her—go:—I will avoid her:
- Let her not dare approach—just heaven! ’tis she.
osman, zaïre, orasmin.
- I have obeyed your orders, and attend you,
- But own they much surprised me; whence, my lord,
- This sudden message? what important business—
- Business of moment, madam, of much more
- Than you perhaps imagine; I’ve reflected
- On our condition, Zaïre: we have made
- Each other wretched, and ’tis fit we come
- To explanations for our mutual interest:
- Perhaps my care, my tenderness, my bounty,
- The confidence my soul reposed on Zaïre,
- My pride forgot, my sceptre at thy feet,
- All my officious services demanded
- Some kind return from Zaïre; nay perhaps
- Forever courted, and forever pressed
- By a fond lover, thy reluctant heart
- Might yield, mistaking gratitude for love:
- Let us be free and open to each other,
- Answer with truth to my sincerity:
- If love’s supreme unconquerable power
- Pleads for another, if thy doubtful heart
- Uncertain wavers ’twixt his claim and mine,
- Avow it frankly, and I here forgive thee;
- But pause not, let me know my rival, quick,
- Now whilst I’m here, whilst I am speaking to thee,
- A moment more will be too late for pardon.
- Is this a language fit for me to hear,
- Or you to speak, my lord? I’ve not deserved it;
- But know, this injured heart, which heaven hath tried
- With sore affliction, could defy thy power,
- Did it not feel its foolish weakness still
- For Osman; were it not for my fond love,
- That fatal passion, which I ought no more
- To cherish, never should I thus descend
- To justify my conduct: whether heaven,
- That still hath persecuted wretched Zaïre,
- Decrees that we shall pass our lives together,
- I know not; but, whatever be my lot,
- By honor’s sacred laws, that in my heart
- Are deeply graved, I swear, were Zaïre left
- To her own choice, she would reject the vows
- Of powerful monarchs kneeling at her feet;
- All would be hateful to her after Osman:
- But I will tell thee more, will open all
- My foolish heart, will own it sighed for thee
- Long ere thy passion justified my own:
- Never did Zaïre own another master,
- Nor ever will: here, bear me witness, heaven!
- If I offended, if I have deserved
- Eternal wrath; if Zaïre has been guilty,
- If she has been ungrateful, ’twas for thee.
- Good heaven! she talks of tenderness and love,
- Though I have proof before me of her falsehood;
- O black ingratitude! O perjured Zaïre!
- What says my lord? you seem disordered.
- I am not, for thou lovest me.
- That fierce tone,
- And wild demeanor, suit not with thy words;
- Thou talkest of love, yet fillest my heart with terror.
- Canst thou doubt it? yet thy eyes
- Are red with anger; what indignant looks
- They cast upon me; furies in thy aspect!
- Thou dost not doubt me?
- No: I doubt no longer:
- You may retire: be gone.
- Didst thou observe her
- Orasmin? how she braves it to the last
- She glories in her crime; so artful too,
- So calmly, so deliberately false:
- But say, my friend, hast thou dispatched that slave,
- That I may know the worst of Zaïre’s guilt,
- And Osman’s shame?
- I have obeyed your orders;
- Now I may hope you will no longer sigh
- For Zaïre and her treacherous charms; henceforth
- You must behold her with indifference,
- Unless you should at last repent your justice,
- And love resume his empire o’er your heart.
- Orasmin, I adore her more than ever.
- Indeed, my lord? O heaven!
- Methinks I see
- A dawn of hope before me: this young Christian,
- This hated rival, bold, presumptuous, vain
- Full of his country’s levity, perhaps,
- But thinks that Zaïre listened to his vows,
- One look from her might easily deceive him:
- He thinks himself beloved; and he alone
- May be to blame, they may not both be guilty:
- She never saw that letter, I have been
- Too ready to believe myself undone.
- Orasmin, mark me—at the dead of night,
- When darkness lends her sable veil to hide
- The crimes of mortals, soon as this Nerestan
- Comes to the palace, instant let the guard
- Seize him, and bound in fetters bring him to me:
- Leave Zaïre free: thou knowest my heart; thou knowest
- To what excess I love; thou knowest how fierce
- My anger is, how cruel my resentment;
- I tremble but to think on it myself;
- O I have been most shamefully deceived;
- But woe to those who have offended Osman.
End of the Fourth Act.