Mahomet: Act III
|Mahomet (Le Fanatisme, ou Mahomet)|
ACT III. SCENE I.
O Seid, keep me not in dread suspense,
What is this secret sacrifice? What blood
Hath heaven demanded?
The eternal power
Deigns to accept my service, calls on me
To execute its purposes divine;
To him this heart's devoted, and for him
This arm shall rise in vengeance; I am bound
To Omar and to Mahomet, have sworn
To perish in the glorious cause of heaven:
My next and dearest care shall be Palmira.
Why was not I a witness to thy oath?
Had I been with thee, I had been less wretched;
But doubts distract me: Omar talks of treason,
Of blood that soon must flow; the senate's rage,
And Zopir's dark intrigues: the flames of war
Once more are kindled, and the sword is drawn
Heaven only knows when to be sheathed again:
So says our prophet, he who cannot lie,
Cannot deceive us: O I fear for Seid,
Fear all from Zopir.
So base and so perfidious? But this morning,
When as a hostage, I appeared before him,
I thought him noble, generous and humane;
Some power invincible in secret worked,
And won me to him; whether the respect
Due to his name, or specious form external
Concealed the blackness of his heart I know not;
Whether thy presence filled my raptured soul
With joy that drove out every painful sense,
And would not let me think of aught but thee:
Whate'er the cause, methought I was most happy
When nearest him: that he should thus seduce
My easy heart makes me detest him more;
And yet how hard it is to look on those
With eyes of hatred whom we wish to love!
By every bond hath heaven united us,
And Seid and Palmira are the same:
Were I not bound to thee, and to that faith
Which Mahomet inspires, I too had pleaded
The cause of Zopir; but religion, love,
And nature, all forbid it.
Think no more
Of vain remorse, but listen to the voice
Of heaven, the God we serve will be propitious:
Our holy prophet who protects his children
Will bless our faithful love: for thy dear sake
I hazard all. Farewell.
ACT III, SCENE II.
Some dark presage
Of future misery hangs o'er me still:
That love which made my happiness, this day,
So often wished for, is a day of horror:
What is this dreadful oath, this solemn compact
Which Seid talks of? I've a thousand fears
Upon me when I think of Zopir: oft
As I invoke great Mahomet, I feel
A secret dread, and tremble as I worship:
O save me, heaven! Fearful I obey,
And blind I follow” O direct my steps
Aright, and deign to wash my tears away!
ACT III, SCENE III.
Propitious heaven hath heard my prayers; he comes
The prophet comes. O gracious Mahomet, My Seid—
What of him? Thou seemest disturbed;
What should Palmira fear when I am with her!
Have I not cause when Mahomet himself
Seems touched with grief?
Perhaps it is for thee:
Darest thou, imprudent maid, avow a passion
Ere I approved it: is the heart I formed
Turned rebel to its master, to my laws
Unfaithful? O ingratitude!
Behold me at your feet, and pity me
Didst thou not once propitious smile upon us,
And give thy sanction to our growing love?
Thou knowest the virtuous passion that unites us
Is but a chain that binds us more to thee.
The bonds that folly and imprudence knit
Are dangerous! Guilt doth sometimes follow close
The steps of innocence: our hearts deceive us,
And love, with all his store of dear delights,
May cost us tears, and dip his shafts in blood.
Nor would I murmur if it flowed for Seid.
Are you indeed so fond?
E'er since the day
When good Hercides to thy sacred power
Consigned us both, unconquerable instinct,
Still growing with our years, united us
In tender friendship; 'twas the work of heaven
That guides our every action, and o'errules
The fate of mortals; so thy doctrines teach:
God cannot change, nor gracious heaven condemn
That love itself inspired: what once was right
Is always so; canst thou then blame Palmira?
I can, and must; nay, thou wilt tremble more
When I reveal the horrid secret to thee.
Attend, rash maid, and let me teach thy soul
What to avoid, and what to follow: listen
To me alone.
To thee alone Palmira
Will listen ever the obedient slave
Of Mahomet; this heart can never lose
It's veneration for thy sacred name.
That veneration in excess may lead
To foul ingratitude.
When I forget
Thy goodness, then may Seid punish me!
O why, my lord, that cruel frown,
And look severe?
Be not alarmed; I meant
But to explore the secrets of thy heart
And try if thou were worthy to be saved:
Be confident, and rest on my protection;
On your obedience will depend your fate;
If ye expect a blessing at my hands,
Be careful to deserve it, and whate'er
The will of heaven determines touching Seid,
Be thou his guide, direct him in the paths
Of duty and religion; let him keep
His promise, and be worthy of Palmira.
O he will keep it; doubt him not, my lord,
I'll answer for his heart as for my own;
Seid adores thee, worships Mahomet
More than he loves Palmira; thou are all
To him, his friend, his father, and his king:
I'll fly, and urge him to his duty.
ACT III, SCENE IV.
Spite of myself I must, it seems, be made
A confidant; the simple girl betrayed
Her guilty flame, and innocently plunged
The dagger in my heart: unhappy race!
Father and children, all my foes, all doomed
To make me wretched! But ye soon shall prove
That dreadful is my hatred—and my love.
ACT III, SCENE V.
At length the hour is come, to seize Palmira,
To conquer Mecca, and to punish Zopir;
His death alone can prop our feeble cause, And humble these proud citizens: brave Seid
Can best avenge thee; he has free access
To Zopir: yonder gloomy passage leads
To his abode; there the rebellious chief
His idle vows and flattering incense ours
Before his fancied deities; there Seid,
Full of the law divine by thee inspired,
Shall sacrifice the traitor to the God
He shall: that youth was born
For crimes of deepest dye: he shall be the first
My useful slave, my instrument, and then
The victim of my rage; it must be so:
My safety, my resentment, and my love,
My holy faith, and the decrees of my fate
Irrevocable, all require it of me:
But thinkest thou, Omar, he hath all the warmth
Of wild fanaticism?
I know he has,
And suits our purpose well; Palmira too,
Will urge him on: religion, love, resentment
Will bind his headstrong youth, and hurry him
Hast thou bound him by an oath?
O yes; in all the gloomy pomp of rites
Nocturnal, oaths, and altars, we have fixed
His superstitious soul, placed in his hand
The sacred sword, and fired him with the rage
Of fierce enthusiasm—but behold him.
ACT III, SCENE VI.
Mahomet, Omar, Seid
Of heaven, decreed to execute the laws
Of an offended God, now hear by me
His sacred will: thou must avenge his cause.
O thou, to whom my soul devoted bends
In humblest adoration, king, and prophet,
Sovereign, acknowledged by the voice of heave,
O'er prostrate nations—I am wholly thine:
But O enlighten my dark mind! O say,
How can weak man avenge his God?
Doth he make use of feeble hands like thine
To punish impious mortals, and assert
His power divine.
Will he, whose perfect image
Is seen in Mahomet, thus condescend
To honor Seid?
Do as he ordains;
That is the highest honor man can boast,
Blindly to execute his great decree:
Be thankful for the choice, and strike the blow:
The angel of destruction shall assist,
The God of armies shall protect thee.
What tyrant must be slain? What blood must flow?
The murderer's blood whom Mahomet abhors,
Who persecutes our faith, and spurns our God,
Who slew my son; the worst of all my foes,
The cruel Zopir.
Ha! Must Zopir fall?
And dost thou pause? Presumptuous youth! 'tis impedious
But to deliberate: far from Mahomet
Be all who for themselves shall dare to judge
Audacious: those who reason are not oft
Prone to believe; thy part is to obey.
Have it not told thee what the will of heaven
Determines? If it be decreed that Mecca,
Spite of her crimes and base idolatry,
Shall be the promised temple, the chosen seat
Of empire, where I am appointed king,
And pontiff, knowest thou holy Abram here
Was born, that here his sacred ashes rest?
He who, obedient to the voice of God,
Stifled the cries of nature, and gave up
His darling child: the same all powerful Being
Requires of thee a sacrifice; to thee
He calls for blood; and darest thou hesitate
When God commands? Hence, vile idolater,
Unworthy Mussulman, away, and seek
Another master; go, and love Palmira;
But thou despiset her, and bravest the wrath
Of angry heaven; away, forsake thy lord,
And serve his deadliest foes.
It is the voice
Of God that speaks in Mahomet—command,
And I obey.
Strike, then, and by the blood
Of Zopir merit life eternal.—Omar,
Attend and watch him well.
ACT III, SCENE VII.
Seid ( Alone)
A poor, defenseless, weak old man!— no matter:
How many victims at the altar fall
As helpless! Yet their blood in grateful streams
Rises to heaven: God hath sworn, and Seid shall perform
His sacred promise—O assist me now,
Illustrious spirits, you who have destroyed
The tyrants of the earth, O join your rage
To mine, o guide this trembling hand, and thou
Exterminating angel who defendest
The cause of Mahomet, inspire this heart
With all thy fierceness!—ha! What do I see?
ACT III, SCENE VIII.
Seid, thou seemest disturbed; unhappy youth!
Why art thou ranked amongst my foes? My heart
Feels for thy woes, and trembles at thy danger;
My house may be a shelter from the storm.
Accept it, thou art welcome, for the life
Is dear to Zopir.
Gracious heaven! Wilt thou
Protect me thus? Will Zopir guard his foe?
What do I hear! O duty, conscience, virtue!
O Mahomet, this rives my heart.
Thou art surprised to find that I can pity
An enemy, and wish for Seid's welfare;
I am a man like thee; that tie alone
Demands at least a sympathetic tear
For innocence afflicted: gracious gods,
Drive from this earth those base and savage men,
Who shed with joy their fellow-creatures' blood.
O glorious sentiments! And can there be
Such virtue in an infidel?
But little of that virtue, thus stand
Astonished at it! O mistaken youth,
In what a maze of errors art thou lost!\
Bound by a tyrant's savage laws, thou thinkest
Virtue resides in Mussulmans alone;
Thy master rules thee with a rod of iron,
And shackles thy free soul in shameful bonds;
Zopir thou hatest, alas! Thou knowest him not:
I pardon thee because thou are the slave
Of Mahomet; but how cants thou believe
A God who teaches hatred, and delights
O I never can obey him!
I know, and feel I cannot hate thee, Zopir.
Alas! The more I talk to him, the more
He gains upon me: his ingenuous look,
His youth, his candor, all conspire to charm me;
How could a follower of this vile impostor
This win my heart! Who gave thee birth what art
A wretched orphan; all I have on earth
Is a kind master, whom I never met
Have disobeyed; howe'er my love for thee
May tempt me to betray him.
Knowest thou not
Thy parents then?
His camp was the first object
My eyes beheld; his temple is my country;
I know no other; and amidst the crowd
Of yearly tributes to our holy prophet,
None e'er was treated with more tenderness
Than Seid was.
I love his gratitude:
Thy kind return for benefits received
Merits my praise:--O why did heaven employ
The hand of Mahomet in such an office?
He was thy father, and Palmira's too;
Why dost thou sigh? Why dost thou tremble thus?
Why turn thee from me? Sure some dreadful thought
Hangs on the mind.
It must be so: the times
Are full of terror.
If thou feelest remorse
Thy heart is guiltless; murder is abroad,
Let me preserve thy life.
O gracious heaven!
And can I have a thought of taking thine?
Palmira! O my oath! O God of vengeance!
For the last time remember I entreat thee
To follow me; away thy fate depends
Upon this moment.
ACT III, SCENE IX.
Zopir, Seid. ,Omar
O I know not where or what
I am; destruction, ruin and despair
On every side await me: wither now
Shall wretched Seid fly?
To him whom God
Hath chosen, thy injured king, and master.
And there abjure the dreadful oath I made.
ACT III, SCENE X.
The desperate youth is gone—I know not why,
But my heart beats for his distress; his looks,
His pity, his remorse, his every action
Affect me deeply: I must follow him.
ACT III, SCENE XI.
This letter, sir, was by an Arab given
In secret to me.
From Hercides! Gods,
What do I read? Will heaven in tenderest pity
At length replay me for a life of sorrows?
Hercides begs to see me—he who snatched
From this fond bosom my two helpless children;
They yet are living, so this paper tells me,
Slaves to the tyrant—Seid and Palmira
Are orphans both, and know not whence they sprang,
Perhaps my children—O delusive hope,
Why wilt thou flatter me? It cannot be;
Fain would I credit thee, thou sweet deceiver:
I fly to meet and to embrace my children;
Yes, I will see Hercides: let him come
At midnight to me, to this holy altar
Where I so often have invoked the gods,
At last, perhaps, propitious to my vows:
O ye immortal powers, restore my children,
Give back to virtue's paths two generous hearts
Corrupted by an impious, vile usurper!
If Seid and Palmira are not mine,
If such is my heart fate, I will adopt
The noble pair, and be their fathers still
End of the Third Act.