Page images
PDF
EPUB

But 'twere prophane to think of power in love.
Dear as my passion makes you, I decline
Possession of her charms, whose heart's another's.
You will not find me a weak, jealous lover,
By coarse reproaches, giving pain to you,
And shaming my own greatness.

deeply,

Wounded

Yet shunning and disdaining low complaint,
I come- -to tell you-

Zar. Give my trembling heart

A moment's respite

Osm. That unwilling coldness

Is the just prize of your capricious lightness;
Your ready arts may spare the fruitless pains
Of colouring deceit with fair pretences;
I would not wish to hear your slight excuses;
I cherish ignorance, to save my blushes.
Osman in every trial shall remember
That he is emperor. Whate'er I suffer,
"Tis due to honour that I give up you,
And to my injured bosom take despair,
Rather than shamefully possess you sighing,
Convinced those sighs were never meant for

me

Go, madam-you are free-from Osman's pow

er

Expect no wrongs, but see his face no more.

Zar. At last, 'tis come-the feared, the murdering moment Is come-and I am cursed by earth and heaven! [Throws herself on the ground. If it is true that I am loved nó more

If you

Osm. It is too true, my fame requires it;
It is too true that I unwilling leave you :
That I at once renounce you and adore-
Zara
-you weep!

Zar. If I am doomed to lose you,
If I must wander o'er an empty world,
Unloving and unloved-Oh! yet, do justice
To the afflicted-do not wrong me doubly :
Punish me, if it is needful to your peace,
But say not, I deserved it-This, at least,
Believe for not the greatness of your soul
Is truth more pure and sacred--no regret
Can touch my bleeding heart, for I have lost
The rank of her you raise to share, your throne.
I know I never ought to have been there;
My fate and my defects require I lose you.
But ah! my heart was never known to Osman.
May Heaven, that punishes, for ever hate me,
If I regret the loss of aught but you.

Osm. Rise-rise, this means not love?
Zar. Strike- -Strike me, Heaven!
Osm. What! is it love to force yourself to
wound

The heart you wish to gladden? But I find
Lovers least know themselves; for I believed,
That I had taken back the power I gave you;
Yet see! you did but weep, and have resumed
me!

Proud as I am- -I must confess, one wish

[blocks in formation]

Zara-thy tears were formed to teach disdain,
That softness can disarm it. Tis decreed,

I must for ever love—but from what cause,
If thy consenting heart partakes my fires,
Art thou reluctant to a blessing meant me?
Speak! Is it levity- -or, is it fear?
Fear of a power that, but for blessing thee,
Had, without joy, been painful. Is it artifice?
Oh! spare the needless pains——Art was not
made

For Zara.- -Art, however innocent,
Looks like deceiving- -I abhorred it ever.
Zar. Alas! I have no art; not even enough
To hide this love, and this distress you give me.
Osm. New riddles! Speak with plainness to
my soul;

What canst thou mean?

Zar. I have no power to speak it.

Osm. It it some secret dangerous to my state? Is it some Christian plot grown ripe against me? Zar. Lives there a wretch so vile as to betray

you!

Osman is blessed beyond the reach of fear:
Fears and misfortunes threaten only Zara.

Osm. Why threaten Zara?

Zar. Permit me, at your feet,

Thus trembling, to beseech a favour from you. Osm. A favour! Oh, you guide the will of Osman.

Zar. Ah! would to Heaven our duties were united,

Firm as our thoughts and wishes! But this day,
But this one sad, unhappy day, permit me,
Alone, and far divided from your eye,

To cover my distress, lest you, too tender,
Should see and share it with me-from to-mor-

[blocks in formation]

Takes purpose from your wishes; and consent
Depends not on my choice, but your decree:
Go-but remember how he loves, who thus
Finds a delight in pain, because you give it.
Zar. It gives me more than pain to make you
feel it.

Osm. And- -can you, Zara, leave me?
Zar. Alas, my lord!
[Exit Zara.
Osm. [Alone.] It should be yet, methinks, too
soon to fly me!

Too soon, as yet, to wrong my easy faith.-
The more I think, the less I can conceive,
What hidden cause should raise such strange de-

[blocks in formation]

And joy and empire press her to their bosom;
When not alone beloved, but even a lover:
Professing and accepting; blessed and blessing;
To see her eyes, through tears, shine mystic love!
'Tis madness! and I were unworthy power,
To suffer longer the capricious insult!

Yet, was I blameless? No—I was too rash;
I have felt jealousy, and spoke it to her;
I have distrusted her-and still she loves:
Generous atonement that! and 'tis my duty
To expiate, by a length of soft indulgence,
The transports of a rage, which still was love.
Henceforth, I never will suspect her false;
Nature's plain power of charming dwells about
her,

And innocence gives force to every word.
I owe full confidence to all she looks,

For in her eyes shines truth, and every beam
Shoots confirmation round her. I remarked,
Even while she wept, her soul a thousand times
Sprung to her lips, and longed to leap to mine,
With honest, ardent utterance of her love.
Who can possess a heart so low, so base,
To look such tenderness, and yet have none?

Enter MELIDOR with ORASMIN.

Mel. This letter, great disposer of the world! Addressed to Zara, and in private brought, Your faithful guards this moment intercepted, And humbly offer to your sovereign eye.

Osm. Come nearer, give it me.-To Zara! Rise.

Bring it with speed-Shame on your flattering distance

[Advancing, and snatching the letter. Be honest and approach me like a subject, Who serves the prince, yet not forgets the man. Mel. One of your Christian slaves, whom late your bounty

Released from bondage, sought with heedful guile,

Unnoticed to deliver it.Discovered,
He waits, in chains, his doom from your decree.
Osm. Leave me! I tremble, as if something

fatal

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

Hell! tortures! death! and woman!—What, Orasmin!

Are we awake? Heardst thou? Can this be Zara? Oras. Would I had lost all sense-for what I heard

Has covered my afflicted heart with horror.
Osm. Thou seest how I am treated!
Oras. Monstrous treason!

-must not

To an affront like this you cannot-
Remain insensible-You, who but now,
From the most slight suspicion, felt such pain,
Must, in the horror of so black a guilt,
Find an effectual cure, and banish love.

Osm. Seek her this instant-go, Orasmin, fly
Shew her this letter-bid her read and tremble:
Then, in the rising horrors of her guilt,
Stab her unfaithful breast, and let her die.
Say, while thou strikest- -Stay, stay, return
and pity me;

I will think first a moment-Let that Christian
Be strait confronted with her-Stay-I will,
I will I know not what-
-Would I were
dead!

Would I had died, unconscious of this shame!
Oras. Never did prince receive so bold a

[blocks in formation]

Of that proud Christian, whom Jerusalem
Grew loud in praising! whose half-envied virtue
I wondered at myself; and felt disdain
To be but equal to a Christian's greatness!
And does he thank me thus? base infidel!
Honest, pretending, pious, praying villain?
Yet Zara is a thousand times more base,
More hypocrite, than he. A slave! a wretch!
So low, so lost, that even the vilest labours,
In which he lay condemned, could never sink him
Beneath his native infamy—Did she not know
What I have done, what suffered-for her sake?
Oras. Could you, my gracious lord, forgive my
zeal,

You would

Osm. I know it-thou art right—I'll see her— I'll tax her in thy presence;-l'll upbraid herI'll let her learn-Go-find, and bring her to me. Oras. Alas, my lord! disordered as you are, What can you wish to say?

[blocks in formation]

Oras. Believe me, sir, your threatenings, your
complaints,

What will they all produce, but Zara's tears
To quench this fancied anger! Your lost heart,
Seduced against itself, will search but reasons
To justify the guilt, which gives it pain:
Rather conceal from Zara this discovery;
And let some trusty slave convey the letter,
Reclosed, to her own hand-then shall you learn,
Spite of her frauds, disguise, and artifice,
The firmness, or abasement of her soul.

[blocks in formation]

me,

Has destined my unhappy days for yours;
But, be my fate or blessed or cursed, I swear
| By honour, dearer even than life or love,
Could Zara be but mistress of herself,
She would, with cold regard, look down on kings,

Osm. Thy counsel charms me! We'll about it And, you alone excepted, fly them all.

now.

Twill be some recompence, at least, to see Her blushes when detected.

Oras. Oh, my lord!

I doubt you in the trial! for your heart-
Osm. Distrust me not-my love, indeed, is
weak,

But honour and disdain more strong than Zara.
Here, take this fatal letter-chuse a slave,
Whom yet she never saw, and who retains
His tried fidelity-Dispatch-begone-

[Exit Orasmin.
Now, whither shall I turn my eyes and steps,
The surest way to shun her: and give time
For this discovering trial?—Heaven! she's here!
Enter ZARA.

So, Madam! fortune will befriend my cause,
And free me from your fetters.-You are met
Most aptly, to dispel a new-risen doubt,
That claims the finest of your arts to gloss it.
Unhappy each by other, it is time

To end our mutual pain, that both may rest:
You want not generosity, but love;
My pride forgotten, my obtruded throne,
My favours, cares, respect, and tenderness,
Touching your gratitude, provoked regard;
Till, by a length of benefits besieged,

Your heart submitted, and you thought 'twas

love:

But you deceived yourself and injured me. There is, I'm told, an object more deserving Your love than Osman-I would know his

name:

Be just, nor trifle with my anger: tell me
Now, while expiring pity struggles faint,
While I have yet, perhaps, the power to pardon:
Give up the bold invader of my claim,
And let him die to save thee. Thou art known;
Think and resolve-While I yet speak, renounce
him;

While yet the thunder rolls suspended, stay it;
Let thy voice charm me, and recall my soul,
That turns averse, and dwells no more on Zara.
Zar. Can it be Osman speaks, and speaks to
Zara ?

Would you learn more, and open all my heart?
Know, then, that spite of this renewed injustice,
I do not cannot wish to love you less :
That, long before you looked so low as Zara,
She gave her heart to Osman; yours, before
Your benefits had bought her, or your eye
Had thrown distinction round her; never had,
Nor ever will acknowledge other lover:-
And to this sacred truth, attesting Heaven,
I call thy dreadful notice! If my heart
Deserves reproach, 'tis for, but not from, Osman.
Osm. What! does she yet presume to swear
sincerity!

Oh, boldness of unblushing perjury!
Had I not seen, had I not read such proof,
Of her light falsehood as extinguished doubt,
I could not be a man, and not believe her.

Zar. Alas, my lord! what cruel fears have scized you?

What harsh, mysterious words were those I heard? Osm. What fears should Osman feel, since Za

ra loves him?

Zar. I cannot live and answer to your voice, In that reproachful tone; your angry eye Trembles with fury while you talk of love. Osm. Since Zara loves him! Zar. Is it possible

Osman should disbelieve it?—Again, again Your late-repented violence returns Alas! what killing frowns you dart against me! Can it be kind? Can it be just to doubt me? Osm. No! I can doubt no longer-You may retire. [Exit Zara.

Re-enter ORASMIN.
Orasmin, she's perfidious, even beyond
Her sex's undiscovered power of seeming;
She's at the topmost point of shameless artifice;
An empress at deceiving! Soft and easy,
Destroying like a plague, in calm tranquillity:
She's innocent, she swears-so is the fire;
It shines in harmless distance, bright and plea-
sing,

Consuming nothing till it first embraces.
Say, hast thou chosen a slave?-Is he instructed?
Haste to detect her vileness and my wrongs.

Oras. Punctual I have obeyed your whole command:

But have you armed, my lord, your injured heart, With coldness and indifference? Can you hear, All painless and unmoved, the false one's shame? Osm. Orasmin, I adore her more than ever. Oras. My lord! my emperor! forbid it, Heaven!

Osm. I have discerned a gleam of distant hope; This hateful Christian, the light growth of France, Proud, young, vain, amorous, conceited, rash, Has misconceived some charitable glance, And judged it love in Zara: he alone, Then, has offended me. Is it her fault, If those she charms are indiscreet and daring? Zara, perhaps, expected not this letter ; And I, with rashness groundless as its writer's, Took fire at my own fancy, and have wronged her.

SCENE I.

ZARA and SELIMA.

[blocks in formation]

ACT V.

Zar. SOOTHE me no longer with this vain desire; To a recluse like me, who dares henceforth Presume admission!the seraglio's shutBarred and impassable—as death to time! My brother ne'er must hope to see me more:How now! what unknown slave accosts us here?

Enter MELIDOR.

Mel. This letter, trusted to my hands, receive, In secret witness I am wholly yours.

[Zara reads the letter. Sel. [Aside.] Thou everlasting ruler of the world!

Shed thy wished mercy on our hopeless tears;
Redeem us from the hands of hated infidels,
And save my princess from the breast of Osman.
Zar. I wish, my friend, the comfort of your
counsel.

Sel. Retire-you shall be called-wait near—
Go, leave us.
[Exit Melidor.
Zar. Read this, and tell me what I ought to

[blocks in formation]

[Erit.

You tremble to offend your haughty lover, Whom wrongs and outrage but endear the more; Yes you are blind to Osman's cruel nature, That Tartar's fierceness, that obscures his bounties; This tyger, savage in his tenderness,

Courts with contempt, and threatens amidst soft

ness;

Yet, cannot your neglected heart efface His fated, fixed impression!

Zar. What reproach

Can I with justice make him? I, indeed,
Have given him cause to hate me!
Was not his throne, was not his temple ready?
Did he not court his slave to be a queen,
And have I not declined it?I who ought
To tremble, conscious of affronted power!
Have not I triumphed o'er his pride and love?
Seen him submit his own high will to mine,
And sacrifice his wishes to my weakness?

Sel. Talk we no more of this unhappy passion: What resolution will your virtue take?

Zar. All things combine to sink me to despair: From the scraglio death alone will free me. I long to see the Christians' happy climes; Yet in the moment, while I form that prayer, I sigh a secret wish to languish here. How sad a state is mine! my restless soul All ignorant what to do, or what to wish, My only perfect sense is that of pain. Oh, guardian Heaven! protect my brother's life, For I will meet him, and fulfil his prayer: Then, when from Solyma's unfriendly walls, His absence shall unbind his sister's tongue, Osman shall learn the secret of my birth, My faith unshaken, and my deathless love; He will approve my choice, and pity me. I'll send my brother word he may expect me. Call in the faithful slaveGod of my fathers! [Erit Selius

Let thy hand save me, and thy will direct!

Enter SELIMA and MELIDOR.

Go tell the Christian who intrusted thee,
That Zara's heart is fixed, nor shrinks at danger;
And that my faithful friend will, at the hour,
Expect, and introduce him to his wish.
Away the sultan comes; he must not find us.
[Exeunt Zara and Selima.

Enter OSMAN and ORASMIN.

Osm. Swifter, ye hours, move on; my fury glows

Impatient, and would push the wheels of time. How now! What message dost thou bring? Speak boldly

What answer gave she to the letter sent her?
Mel. She blushed and trembled, and grew pale,
and paused.

Then blushed, and read it; and again grew pale;
And wept, and smiled, and doubted, and resolved:
For after all this race of varied passions,
When she had sent me out, and called me back,
"Tell him,' she cried, who has intrusted thee,
"That Zara's heart is fixed, nor shrinks at dan-
6 ger;

And that my faithful friend will, at the hour,
Expect, and introduce him to his wish.'

more.

Osm. Enough-begone-I have no ear for
[To the slave.
Leave me, thou too, Orasmin.-Leave me, life,
[To Orasmin.
For every mortal aspect moves my hate:
Leave me to my distraction-I grow mad,
And cannot bear the visage of a friend..
Leave me to rage, despair, and shame, and
wrongs!

Leave me to seek myself and shun mankind.
[Exit Orasmin.

Who am I?-Heaven! Who am I? What re-
solve I?

|

Orasmin, prophet, reason, truth, and love!
After such length of benefits, to wrong me!
How have I over-rated, how mistaken,
| The merit of her beauty !—Did I not
Forget I was a monarch? Did I remember
That Zara was a slave?-I gave up all;
Gave up tranquillity, distinction, pride,
And fell the shameful victim of my love!
Oras. Sir, sovereign, sultan, my imperial mas-
ter!

Reflect on your own greatness,
The distant provocation.

Osm. Hark! Heard'st thou nothing?
Oras. My lord!

Osm. A voice, like dying groans!
Oras. I listen, but can hear nothing.
Osm. Again!-look out-he comes-

Oras. Nor tread of mortal foot-nor voice I
hear:

The still seraglio lies, profoundly plunged
In death-like silence. Nothing stirs.-The air
Is soft, as infant sleep; no breathing wing
Steals through the shadows, to awaken night.

Osm. Horrors a thousand times more dark than

[blocks in formation]

Osm. Do-tremble at my sufferings, at my love;

Oras. Hark! I hear

Zara! Nerestan! sound these words like names At my revenge too, tremble-for 'tis due,
Decreed to join?-Why pause I?-Perish Zara-And will not be deluded.
Would I could tear her image from my heart!—
Twere happier not to live at all, than live
Her scorn, the sport of an ungrateful false one!
And sink the sovereign in a woman's property.
Re-enter ORASMIN.

Orasmin!-Friend! return, I cannot bear
This absence from thy reason: 'twas unkind,
'Twas cruel to obey me, thus distressed,
And wanting power to think, when I had lost
thee.

How goes the hour? Has he appeared, this rival?
Perish the shameful sound-This villain Christian!
Has he appeared below?

Oras. Silent and dark,

The steps of men, along the neighbouring wall! Osm. Fly-seize him-'tis Nerestan! Wait no chains,

But drag him down to my impatient eve.

[Exit Orasmin.

Enter ZARA and SELIMA, in the dark.

Zar. Where art thou, Selima? Give me thy

hand.

It is so dark, I tremble as I step,
With fears and startings, never felt till now!
Osm. Damnation! 'tis her voice! the well-
known sound,

The unbreathing world is hushed, as if it heard, That has so often charmed me into baseness!

And listened to your sorrows.

Osm. Oh, treacherous night!

Thou lendst thy ready veil to every treason,

Oh, the perfidious hypocrite!-she goes To meet the inviting infidel!——now, now, [Drawing a dagger. And teeming mischiefs thrive beneath thy shade. Revenge, stand firm, and intercept his wishes;VOL. I.

3 M

« PreviousContinue »