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Nathan the Wise by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing

Part 4 out of 5

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TEMPLAR.

What!
Peace, Christian--and may Jew and Mussulman
Stickle for being Jew and Mussulman,
And must the Christian only drop the Christian?

SALADIN (more solemnly).

Peace, Christian!

TEMPLAR (calmly.)

Yes, I feel what weight of blame
Lies in that word of thine pent up. O that
I knew how Assad in my place would act.

SALADIN.

He--not much better, probably as fiery.
Who has already taught thee thus at once
Like him to bribe me with a single word?
Indeed, if all has past as thou narratest,
I scarcely can discover Nathan in it.
But Nathan is my friend, and of my friends
One must not bicker with the other. Bend -
And be directed. Move with caution. Do not
Loose on him the fanatics of thy sect.
Conceal what all thy clergy would be claiming
My hand to avenge upon him, with more show
Of right than is my wish. Be not from spite
To any Jew or Mussulman a Christian.

TEMPLAR.

Thy counsel is but on the brink of coming
Somewhat too late, thanks to the patriarch's
Bloodthirsty rage, whose instrument I shudder
To have almost become.

SALADIN.

How! how! thou wentest
Still earlier to the patriarch than to me?

TEMPLAR.

Yes, in the storm of passion, in the eddy
Of indecision--pardon--oh! thou wilt
No longer care, I fear, to find in me
One feature of thy Assad.

SALADIN.

Yes, that fear.
Methinks I know by this time from what failings
Our virtue springs--this do thou cultivate,
Those shall but little harm thee in my sight.
But go, seek Nathan, as he sought for thee,
And bring him hither: I must reconcile you.
If thou art serious about the maid -
Be calm, she shall be thine--Nathan shall feel
That without swine's flesh one may educate
A Christian child, Go. [Templar withdraws.

SITTAH (rising from the sofa).

Very strange indeed!

SALADIN.

Well, Sittah, must my Assad not have been
A gallant handsome youth?

SITTAH.

If he was thus,
And 'twasn't the templar who sat to the painter.
But how couldst thou be so forgetful, brother,
As not to ask about his parents?

SALADIN.

And
Particularly too about his mother.
Whether his mother e'er was in this country,
That is your meaning, isn't it?

SITTAH.

You run on -

SALADIN.

Oh, nothing is more possible, for Assad
'Mong handsome Christian ladies was so welcome,
To handsome Christian ladies so attached,
That once a report spread--but 'tis not pleasant
To bring that up. Let us be satisfied
That we have got him once again--have got him
With all the faults and freaks, the starts and wildness
Of his warm gentle heart--Oh, Nathan must
Give him the maid--Dost think so?

SITTAH.

Give--give up!

SALADIN.

Aye, for what right has Nathan with the girl
If he be not her father? He who saved
Her life so lately has a stronger claim
To heir their rights who gave it her at first.

SITTAH.

What therefore, Saladin, if you withdraw
The maid at once from the unrightful owner?

SALADIN,

There is no need of that.

SITTAH.

Need, not precisely;
But female curiosity inspires
Me with that counsel. There are certain men
Of whom one is irresistibly impatient
To know what women they can be in love with.

SALADIN.

Well then you may send for her.

SITTAH.

May I, brother?

SALADIN.

But hurt not Nathan, he must not imagine
That we propose by violence to part them.

SITTAH.

Be without apprehension.

SALADIN.

Fare you well,
I must make out where this Al-Hafi is.

SCENE.--The Hall in Nathan's House, as in the first scene; the
things there mentioned unpacked and displayed.

DAYA and NATHAN.

DAYA.

O how magnificent, how tasty, charming -
All such as only you could give--and where
Was this thin silver stuff with sprigs of gold
Woven? What might it cost? Yes, this is worthy
To be a wedding-garment. Not a queen
Could wish a handsomer.

NATHAN.

Why wedding-garment?

DAYA.

Perhaps of that you thought not when you bought it;
But Nathan, it must be so, must indeed.
It seems made for a bride--the pure white ground,
Emblem of innocence--the branching gold,
Emblem of wealth--Now is not it delightful?

NATHAN.

What's all this ingenuity of speech for?
Over whose wedding-gown are you displaying
Your emblematic learning? Have you found
A bridegroom?

DAYA.

I -

NATHAN.

Who then?

DAYA.

I--Gracious God!

NATHAN.

Who then? Whose wedding-garment do you speak of?
For this is all your own and no one's else.

DAYA.

Mine--is't for me and not for Recha?

NATHAN.

What
I brought for Recha is in another bale.
Come, clear it off: away with all your rubbish.

DAYA.

You tempter--No--Were they the precious things
Of the whole universe, I will not touch them
Until you promise me to seize upon
Such an occasion as heaven gives not twice.

NATHAN.

Seize upon what occasion? For what end?

DAYA.

There, do not act so strange. You must perceive
The templar loves your Recha--Give her to him;
Then will your sin, which I can hide no longer,
Be at an end. The maid will come once more
Among the Christians, will be once again
What she was born to, will be what she was;
And you, by all the benefits, for which
We cannot thank you enough, will not have heaped
More coals of fire upon your head.

NATHAN.

Again
Harping on the old string, new tuned indeed,
But so as neither to accord nor hold.

DAYA.

How so?

NATHAN.

The templar pleases me indeed,
I'd rather he than any one had Recha;
But--do have patience.

DAYA.

Patience--and is that
Not the old string you harp on?

NATHAN.

Patience, patience,
For a few days--no more. Ha! who comes here?
A friar--ask what he wants.

DAYA (going).

What can he want?

NATHAN.

Give, give before he begs. O could I tell
How to come at the templar, not betraying
The motive of my curiosity -
For if I tell it, and if my suspicion
Be groundless, I have staked the father idly.
What is the matter?

DAYA (returning).

He must speak to you.

NATHAN.

Then let him come to me. Go you meanwhile.

[Daya goes.

How gladly would I still remain my Recha's
Father. And can I not remain so, though
I cease to wear the name. To her, to her
I still shall wear it, when she once perceives

[Friar enters.

How willingly I were so. Pious brother,
What can be done to serve you?

NATHAN and FRIAR.

FRIAR.

O not much;
And yet I do rejoice to see you yet
So well.

NATHAN.

You know me then -

FRIAR.

Who knows you not?
You have impressed your name in many a hand,
And it has been in mine these many years.

NATHAN (feeling for his purse).

Here, brother, I'll refresh it.

FRIAR.

Thank you, thank you -
From poorer men I'd steal--but nothing now!
Only allow me to refresh my name
In your remembrance; for I too may boast
To mayo of old put something in your hand
Not to be scorned.

NATHAN.

Excuse me, I'm ashamed,
What was it? Claim it of me sevenfold,
I'm ready to atone for my forgetting.

FRIAR.

But before all, hear how this very day
I was reminded of the pledge I brought you.

NATHAN.

A pledge to me intrusted?

FRIAR.

Some time since,
I dwelt as hermit on the Quarantana,
Not far from Jericho, but Arab robbers
Came and broke up my cell and oratory,
And dragged me with them. Fortunately I
Escaped, and with the patriarch sought a refuge,
To beg of him some other still retreat,
Where I may serve my God in solitude
Until my latter end.

NATHAN.

I stand on coals -
Quick, my good brother, let me know what pledge
You once intrusted to me.

FRIAR.

Presently,
Good Nathan, presently. The patriarch
Has promised me a hermitage on Thabor,
As soon as one is vacant, and meanwhile
Employs me as lay-brother in the convent,
And there I am at present: and I pine
A hundred times a day for Thabor; for
The patriarch will set me about all work,
And some that I can't brook--as for example -

NATHAN

Be speedy, I beseech you.

FRIAR.

Now it happens
That some one whispered in his ear to-day,
There lives hard by a Jew, who educates
A Christian child as his own daughter.

NATHAN (startled).

How

FRIAR.

Hear me quite out. So he commissions me,
If possible to track him out this Jew:
And stormed most bitterly at the misdeed;
Which seems to him to be the very sin
Against the Holy Ghost--That is, the sin
Of all most unforgiven, most enormous;
But luckily we cannot tell exactly
What it consists in--All at once my conscience
Was roused, and it occurred to me that I
Perhaps had given occasion to this sin.
Now do not you remember a knight's squire,
Who eighteen years ago gave to your hands
A female child a few weeks old?

NATHAN.

How that?
In fact such was -

FRIAR.

Now look with heed at me,
And recollect. I was the man on horseback
Who brought the child.

NATHAN.

Was you?

FRIAR.

And he from whom
I brought it was methinks a lord of Filnek -
Leonard of Filnek.

NATHAN.

Right!

FRIAR.

Because the mother.
Died a short time before; and he, the father,
Had on a sudden to make off to Gazza,
Where the poor helpless thing could not go with him;
Therefore he sent it you--that was my message.
Did not I find you out at Darun? there
Consign it to you?

NATHAN.

Yes.

FRIAR.

It were no wonder
My memory deceived me. I have had
Many a worthy master, and this one
I served not long. He fell at Askalon -
But he was a kind lord.

NATHAN.

O yes, indeed;
For much have I to thank him, very much -
He more than once preserved me from the sword.

FRIAR.

O brave--you therefore will with double pleasure
Have taken up this daughter.

NATHAN.

You have said it.

FRIAR.

Where is she then? She is not dead, I hope -
I would not have her dead, dear pretty creature.
If no one else know anything about it
All is yet safe.

NATHAN.

Aye all!

FRIAR.

Yes, trust me, Nathan,
This is my way of thinking--if the good
That I propose to do is somehow twined
With mischief, then I let the good alone;
For we know pretty well what mischief is,
But not what's for the best. 'Twas natural
If you meant to bring up the Christian child
Right well, that you should rear it as your own;
And to have done this lovingly and truly,
For such a recompense--were horrible.
It might have been more prudent to have had it
Brought up at second hand by some good Christian
In her own faith. But your friend's orphan child
You would not then have loved. Children need love,
Were it the mute affection of a brute,
More at that age than Christianity.
There's always time enough for that--and if
The maid have but grown up before your eyes
With a sound frame and pious--she remains
Still in her maker's eye the same. For is not
Christianity all built on Judaism?
Oh, it has often vexed me, cost me tears,
That Christians will forget so often that
Our Saviour was a Jew.

NATHAN.

You, my good brother,
Shall be my advocate, when bigot hate
And hard hypocrisy shall rise upon me -
And for a deed--a deed--thou, thou shalt know it -
But take it with thee to the tomb. As yet
Has vanity ne'er tempted me to tell it
To living soul--only to thee I tell it,
To simple piety alone; for it
Alone can feel what deeds the man who trusts
In God can gain upon himself.

FRIAR.

You seem
Affected, and your eye-balls swim in water.

NATHAN.

'Twas at Darun you met me with the child;
But you will not have known that a few days
Before, the Christians murdered every Jew in Gath,
Woman and child; that among these, my wife
With seven hopeful sons were found, who all
Beneath my brother's roof which they had fled to,
Were burnt alive.

FRIAR.

Just God!

NATHAN.

And when you came,
Three nights had I in dust and ashes lain
Before my God and wept--aye, and at times
Arraigned my maker, raged, and cursed myself
And the whole world, and to Christianity
Swore unrelenting hate.

FRIAR.

Ah, I believe you.

NATHAN.

But by degrees returning reason came,
She spake with gentle voice--And yet God is,
And this was his decree--now exercise
What thou hast long imagined, and what surely
Is not more difficult to exercise
Than to imagine--if thou will it once.
I rose and called out--God, I will--I will,
So thou but aid my purpose--And behold
You was just then dismounted, and presented
To me the child wrapt in your mantle. What
You said, or I, occurs not to me now -
Thus much I recollect--I took the child,
I bore it to my couch, I kissed it, flung
Myself upon my knees and sobbed--my God,
Now have I one out of the seven again!

FRIAR.

Nathan, you are a Christian! Yes, by God
You are a Christian--never was a better.

NATHAN

Heaven bless us! What makes me to you a Christian
Makes you to me a Jew. But let us cease
To melt each other--time is nigh to act,
And though a sevenfold love had bound me soon
To this strange only girl, though the mere thought,
That I shall lose in her my seven sons
A second time distracts me--yet I will,
If providence require her at my hands,
Obey.

FRIAR.

The very thing I should advise you;
But your good genius has forestalled my thought.

NATHAN.

The first best claimant must not seek to tear
Her from me.

FRIAR.

No most surely not.

NATHAN.

And he,
That has not stronger claims than I, at least
Ought to have earlier.

FRIAR.

Certainly.

NATHAN.

By nature
And blood conferred.

FRIAR.

I mean so too.

NATHAN.

Then name
The man allied to her as brother, uncle,
Or otherwise akin, and I from him
Will not withhold her--she who was created
And was brought up to be of any house,
Of any faith, the glory--I, I hope,
That of your master and his race you knew
More than myself.

FRIAR.

I hardly think that, Nathan;
For I already told you that I passed
A short time with him.

NATHAN.

Can you tell at least
The mother's family name? She was, I think,
A Stauffen.

FRIAR.

May be--yes, in fact, you're right.

NATHAN.

Conrade of Stauffen was her brother's name -
He was a templar.

FRIAR.

I am clear it was.
But stay, I recollect I've yet a book,
'Twas my dead lord's--I drew it from his bosom,
While we were burying him at Askalon.

NATHAN.

Well!

FRIAR.

There are prayers in't, 'tis what we call
A breviary. This, thought I, may yet serve
Some Christian man--not me indeed, for I
Can't read.

NATHAN.

No matter, to the thing.

FRIAR.

This book is written at both ends quite full,
And, as I'm told, contains, in his hand-writing
About both him and her what's most material.

NATHAN.

Go, run and fetch the book--'tis fortunate;
I am ready with its weight in gold to pay it,
And thousand thanks beside--Go, run.

FRIAR.

Most gladly;
But 'tis in Arabic what he has written. [Goes.

NATHAN.

No matter--that's all one--do fetch it--Oh!
If by its means I may retain the daughter,
And purchase with it such a son-in-law;
But that's unlikely--well, chance as it may.
Who now can have been with the patriarch
To tell this tale? That I must not forget
To ask about. If 't were of Daya's?

NATHAN and DAYA

DAYA (anxiously breaks in).

Nathan!

NATHAN.

Well!

DAYA.

Only think, she was quite frightened at it,
Poor child, a message -

NATHAN.

From the patriarch?

DAYA.

No -
The sultan's sister, princess Sittah, sends.

NATHAN.

And not the patriarch?

DAYA.

Can't you hear? The princess
Has sent to see your Recha.

NATHAN.

Sent for Recha
Has Sittah sent for Recha? Well, if Sittah,
And not the patriarch, sends.

DAYA.

Why think of him?

NATHAN.

Have you heard nothing from him lately--really
Seen nothing of him--whispered nothing to him?

DAYA.

How, I to him?

NATHAN.

Where are the messengers?

DAYA.

There, just before you.

NATHAN.

I will talk with them
Out of precaution. If there's nothing lurking
Beneath this message of the patriarch's doing--[Goes.

DAYA.

And I--I've other fears. The only daughter,
As they suppose, of such a rich, rich Jew,
Would for a Mussulman be no bad thing;
I bet the templar will be choused, unless
I risk the second step, and to herself
Discover who she is. Let me for this
Employ the first short moments we're alone;
And that will be--oh, as I am going with her.
A serious hint upon the road I think
Can't be amiss--yes, now or never--yes.

ACT V.

SCENE.--A Room in the Palace; the Purses still in a pile.

SALADIN, and, soon after, several MAMALUKES.

SALADIN (as he comes in).

Here lies the money still, and no one finds
The dervis yet--he's probably got somewhere
Over a chess-board. Play would often make
The man forget himself, and why not, me.
Patience--Ha! what's the matter.

SALADIN and IBRAHIM.

IBRAHIM.

Happy news -
Joy, sultan, joy, the caravan from Cairo
Is safe arrived and brings the seven years' tribute
Of the rich Nile.

SALADIN.

Bravo, my Ibrahim,
Thou always wast a welcome messenger,
And now at length--at length--accept my thanks
For the good tidings.

IBRAHIM (waiting).

Hither with them, sultan.

SALADIN.

What art thou waiting for? Go.

IBRAHIM.

Nothing further
For my glad news?

SALADIN.

What further?

IBRAHIM.

Errand boys
Earn hire--and when their message smiles i' the telling,
The sender's hire by the receiver's bounty
Is oft outweighed. Am I to be the first
Whom Saladin at length has learnt to pay
In words? The first about whose recompense
The sultan higgled?

SALADIN.

Go, pick up a purse.

IBRAHIM.

No, not now--you might give them all away

SALADIN.

All--hold, man. Here, come hither, take these two -
And is he really going--shall he conquer
Me then in generosity? for surely
'Tis harder for this fellow to refuse
Than 'tis for me to give. Here, Ibrahim -
Shall I be tempted, just before my exit,
To be a different man--small Saladin
Not die like Saladin, then wherefore live so?

ABDALLAH and SALADIN.

ABDALLAH.

Hail, Sultan!

SALADIN.

If thou comest to inform me
That the whole convoy is arrived from Egypt,
I know it already.

ABDALLAH.

Do I come too late?

SALADIN.

Too late, and why too late? There for thy tidings
Pick up a purse or two.

ABDALLAH.

Does that make three?

SALADIN.

So thou wouldst reckon--well, well, take them, take them.

ABDALLAH.

A third will yet be here if he be able.

SALADIN.

How so?

ABDALLAH.

He may perhaps have broke his neck.
We three, as soon as certain of the coming
Of the rich caravan, each crossed our horses,
And galloped hitherward. The foremost fell,
Then I was foremost, and continued so
Into the city, but sly Ibrahim,
Who knows the streets -

SALADIN.

But he that fell, go, seek him.

ABDALLAH.

That will I quickly--if he lives, the half
Of what I've got is his. [Goes.

SALADIN.

What a fine fellow!
And who can boast such mamalukes as these;
And is it not allowed me to imagine
That my example helped to form them. Hence
With the vile thought at last to turn another.

A third COURIER.

Sultan -

SALADIN.

Was't thou who fell?

COURIER.

No, I've to tell thee
That Emir Mansor, who conducts the convoy,
Alights.

SALADIN.

O bring him to me--Ah, he's there -
Be welcome, Emir. What has happened to thee?
For we have long expected thee.

SALADIN and EMIR.

EMIR (after the wont obeisance).

This letter
Will show, that, in Thebais, discontents
Required thy Abulkassem's sabred hand,
Ere we could march. Since that, our progress, sultan,
My zeal has sped most anxiously.

SALADIN.

I trust thee -
But my good Mansor take without delay -
Thou art not loth to go further--fresh protection,
And with the treasure on to Libanon;
The greater part at least I have to lodge
With my old father.

EMIR.

O, most willingly.

SALADIN.

And take not a slight escort. Libanon
Is far from quiet, as thou wilt have heard;
The templars stir afresh, be therefore cautious.
Come, I must see thy troop, and give the orders.

[To a slave.

Say I shall be with Sittah when I've finished.

SCENE--A Place of Palms.

The TEMPLAR walking to and fro.

TEMPLAR.

Into this house I go not--sure at last
He'll show himself--once, once they used to see me
So instantly, so gladly--time will come
When he'll send out most civilly to beg me
Not to pace up and down before his door.
Psha--and yet I'm a little nettled too;
And what has thus embittered me against him?
He answered yes. He has refused me nothing
As yet. And Saladin has undertaken
To bring him round. And does the Christian nestle
Deeper in me than the Jew lurks in him?
Who, who can justly estimate himself?
How comes it else that I should grudge him so
The little booty that he took such pains
To rob the Christians of? A theft, no less
Than such a creature tho'--but whose, whose creature?
Sure not the slave's who floated the mere block
On to life's barren strand, and then ran off;
But his the artist's, whose fine fancy moulded
Upon the unowned block a godlike form,
Whose chisel graved it there. Recha's true father,
Spite of the Christian who begot her, is,
Must ever be, the Jew. Alas, were I
To fancy her a simple Christian wench,
And without all that which the Jew has given,
Which only such a Jew could have bestowed -
Speak out my heart, what had she that would please thee?
No, nothing! Little! For her very smile
Shrinks to a pretty twisting of the muscles -
Be that, which makes her smile, supposed unworthy
Of all the charms in ambush on her lips?
No, not her very smile--I've seen sweet smiles
Spent on conceit, on foppery, on slander,
On flatterers, on wicked wooers spent,
And did they charm me then? then wake the wish
To flutter out a life beneath their sunshine?
Indeed not--Yet I'm angry with the man
Who alone gave this higher value to her.
How this, and why? Do I deserve the taunt
With which I was dismissed by Saladin?
'Tis bad enough that Saladin should think so;
How little, how contemptible must I
Then have appeared to him--all for a girl.
Conrade, this will not do--back, back--And if
Daya to boot had prated matter to me
Not easy to be proved--At last he's coming,
Engaged in earnest converse--and with whom?
My friar in Nathan's house! then he knows all -
Perhaps has to the patriarch been betrayed.
O Conrade, what vile mischiefs thou hast brooded
Out of thy cross-grained head, that thus one spark
Of that same passion, love, can set so much
O' 'th' brain in flame? Quick, then, determine, wretch,
What shalt thou say or do? Step back a moment
And see if this good friar will please to quit him.

NATHAN and the FRIAR come together out of Nathan's house.

NATHAN.

Once more, good brother, thanks.

FRIAR.

The like to you.

NATHAN.

To me, and why; because I'm obstinate -
Would force upon you what you have no use for?

FRIAR.

The book besides was none of mine. Indeed
It must at any rate belong to th' daughter;
It is her whole, her only patrimony -
Save she has you. God grant you ne'er have reason
To sorrow for the much you've done for her.

NATHAN.

How should I? that can never be; fear nothing.

FRIAR.

Patriarchs and templars -

NATHAN,

Have not in their power
Evil enough to make me e'er repent.
And then--But are you really well assured
It is a templar who eggs on your patriarch?

FRIAR.

It scarcely can be other, for a templar
Talked with him just before, and what I heard
Agreed with this.

NATHAN.

But there is only one
Now in Jerusalem; and him I know;
He is my friend, a noble open youth.

FRIAR.

The same. But what one is at heart, and what
One gets to be in active life, mayn't always
Square well together.

NATHAN.

No, alas, they do not.
Therefore unangered I let others do
Their best or worst. O brother, with your book
I set all at defiance, and am going
Straight with it to the Sultan.

FRIAR.

God be with you!
Here I shall take my leave.

NATHAN.

And have not seen her -
Come soon, come often to us. If to-day
The patriarch make out nothing--but no matter,
Tell him it all to-day, or when you will.

FRIAR.

Not I--farewell!

NATHAN.

Do not forget us, brother
My God, why may I not beneath thy sky
Here drop upon my knees; now the twined knot,
Which has so often made my thinkings anxious,
Untangles of itself--God, how I am eased,
Now that I've nothing in the world remaining
That I need hide--now that I can as freely
Walk before man as before thee, who only
Need'st not to judge a creature by his deeds -
Deeds which so seldom are his own--O God!

NATHAN and TEMPLAR.

TEMPLAR (coming forward).

Hoa, Nathan, take me with you.

NATHAN.

Ha! Who calls?
Is it you, knight? And whither have you been
That you could not be met with at the Sultan's?

TEMPLAR.

We missed each other--take it not amiss.

NATHAN.

I, no, but Saladin.

TEMPLAR.

You was just gone.

NATHAN.

O, then you spoke with him; I'm satisfied.

TEMPLAR.

Yes--but he wants to talk with us together.

NATHAN.

So much the better. Come with me, my step
Was eitherwise bent thither.

TEMPLAR.

May I ask,
Nathan, who 'twas now left you?

NATHAN.

Did you know him?

TEMPLAR.

Was't that good-hearted creature the lay-brother,
Whom the hoar patriarch has a knack of using
To feel his way out?

NATHAN.

That may be. In fact
He's at the patriarch's.

TEMPLAR.

'Tis no awkward hit
To make simplicity the harbinger
Of craft.

NATHAN.

If the simplicity of dunces,
But if of honest piety?

TEMPLAR.

This last
No patriarch can believe in.

NATHAN.

I'll be bound for't
This last belongs to him who quitted me.
He'll not assist his patriarch to accomplish
A vile or cruel purpose.

TEMPLAR.

Such, at least,
He would appear--but has he told you then
Something of me?

NATHAN.

Of you? No--not by name,
He can't well be acquainted with your name.

TEMPLAR.

No, that not.

NATHAN.

He indeed spoke of a templar,
Who -

TEMPLAR.

What?

NATHAN.

But by this templar could not mean
To point out you.

TEMPLAR.

Stay, stay, who knows? Let's hear.

NATHAN.

Who has accused me to his patriarch.

TEMPLAR.

Accused thee, no, that by his leave is false.
Nathan do hear me--I am not the man
Who would deny a single of his actions;
What I have done, I did. Nor am I one
Who would defend all he has done as right -
Why be ashamed of failing? Am I not
Firmly resolved on better future conduct?
And am I not aware how much the man
That's willing can improve? O, hear me, Nathan -
I am the templar your lay-brother talked of -
Who has accused--You know what made me angry,
What set the blood in all my veins on fire,
The mad-cap that I was--I had drawn nigh
To fling myself with soul and body whole
Into your arms--and you received me, Nathan--
How cold, how lukewarm, for that's worse than cold. -
How with words weighed and measured, you took care
To put me off; and with what questioning
About my parentage, and God knows what,
You seemed to answer me--I must not think on't
If I would keep my temper--Hear me, Nathan -
While in this ferment--Daya steps behind me,
Bolts out a secret in my ear, which seemed
At once to lend a clue to your behaviour.

NATHAN.

How so?

TEMPLAR.

Do hear me to the end. I fancied
That what you from the Christians had purloined
You wasn't content to let a Christian have;
And so the project struck me short and good,
To hold the knife to your throat till -

NATHAN.

Short and good;
And good--but where's the good?

TEMPLAR.

Yet hear me, Nathan,
I own I did not right--you are unguilty,
No doubt. The prating Daya does not know
What she reported--has a grudge against you -
Seeks to involve you in an ugly business -
May be, may be, and I'm a crazy looby,
A credulous enthusiast--both ways mad -
Doing ever much too much, or much too little -
That too may be--forgive me, Nathan.

NATHAN.

If
Such be the light in which you view -

TEMPLAR.

In short
I to the patriarch went. I named you not.
That, as I said, was false. I only stated
In general terms, the case, to learn his notion,
That too might have been let alone--assuredly.
For knew I not the patriarch then to be
A knave? And might I not have talked with you?
And ought I to have exposed the poor girl--ha!
To part with such a father? Now what happens?
The patriarch's villainy consistent ever
Restored me to myself--O, hear me out -
Suppose he was to ferret out your name,
What then? What then? He cannot seize the maid,
Unless she still belong to none but you.
'Tis from your house alone that he could drag her
Into a convent; therefore grant her me -
Grant her to me, and let him come. By God -
Sever my wife from me--he'll not be rash
Enough to think about it. Give her to me,
Be she or no thy daughter, Christian, Jewess,
Or neither, 'tis all one, all one--I'll never
In my whole life ask of thee which she is,
Be't as it may.

NATHAN.

You may perhaps imagine
That I've an interest to conceal the truth.

TEMPLAR.

Be't as it may.

NATHAN.

I neither have to you
Nor any one, whom it behooved to know it,
Denied that she's a Christian, and no more
Than my adopted daughter. Why, to her
I have not yet betrayed it--I am bound
To justify only to her.

TEMPLAR.

Of that
Shall be no need. Indulge, indulge her with
Never beholding you with other eyes -
Spare, spare her the discovery. As yet
You have her to yourself, and may bestow her;
Give her to me--oh, I beseech thee, Nathan,
Give her to me, I, only I can save her
A second time, and will.

NATHAN.

Yes, could have saved her.
But 'tis all over now--it is too late.

TEMPLAR.

How so, too late.

NATHAN.

Thanks to the patriarch.

TEMPLAR.

How
Thanks to the patriarch, and for what? Can he
Earn thanks of us. For what?

NATHAN.

That now we know
To whom she is related--to whose hands
She may with confidence be now delivered.

TEMPLAR.

He thank him who has more to thank him for.

NATHAN.

From theirs you now have to obtain her, not
From mine.

TEMPLAR.

Poor Recha--what befalls thee? Oh,
Poor Recha--what had been to other orphans
A blessing, is to thee a curse. But, Nathan,
Where are they, these new kinsmen?

NATHAN.

Where they are?

TEMPLAR.

Who are they?

NATHAN.

Who--a brother is found out
To whom you must address yourself.

TEMPLAR.

A brother!
And what is he, a soldier or a priest?
Let's hear what I've to hope.

NATHAN.

As I believe
He's neither of the two--or both. Just now
I cannot say exactly.

TEMPLAR.

And besides
He's -

NATHAN.

A brave fellow, and with whom my Recha
Will not be badly placed.

TEMPLAR.

But he's a Christian.
At times I know not what to make of you -
Take it not ill of me, good Nathan. Will she
Not have to play the Christian among Christians;
And when she has been long enough the actress
Not turn so? Will the tares in time not stifle
The pure wheat of your setting--and does that
Affect you not a whit--you yet declare
She'll not be badly placed.

NATHAN.

I think, I hope so.
And should she there have need of any thing
Has she not you and me?

TEMPLAR.

Need at her brother's -
What should she need when there? Won't he provide
His dear new sister with all sorts of dresses,
With comfits and with toys and glittering jewels?
And what needs any sister wish for else -
Only a husband? And he comes in time.
A brother will know how to furnish that,
The Christianer the better. Nathan, Nathan,
O what an angel you had formed, and how
Others will mar it now!

NATHAN.

Be not so downcast,
Believe me he will ever keep himself
Worthy our love.

TEMPLAR.

No, say not that of mine.
My love allows of no refusal--none.
Were it the merest trifle--but a name.
Hold there--has she as yet the least suspicion
Of what is going forward?

NATHAN.

That may be,
And yet I know not whence.

TEMPLAR.

It matters not,
She shall, she must in either case from me
First learn what fate is threatening. My fixed purpose
To see her not again, nor speak to her,
Till I might call her mine, is gone. I hasten -

NATHAN.

Stay, whither would you go?

TEMPLAR.

To her, to learn
If this girl's soul be masculine enough
To form the only resolution worthy
Herself.

NATHAN.

What resolution?

TEMPLAR.

This--to ask
No more about her brother and her father,
And -

NATHAN.

And -

TEMPLAR.

To follow me. E'en if she were
So doing to become a Moslem's wife.

NATHAN.

Stay, you'll not find her--she is now with Sittah,
The Sultan's sister.

TEMPLAR.

How long since, and wherefore?

NATHAN.

And would you there behold her brother, come
Thither with me.

TEMPLAR.

Her brother, whose then? Sittah's
Or Recha's do you mean?

NATHAN.

Both, both, perchance.
Come this way--I beseech you, come with me.
[Leads off the Templar with him.

SCENE.--The Sultan's Palace. A Room in Sittah's Apartment.

SITTAH and RECHA.

SITTAH.

How I am pleased with thee, sweet girl! But do
Shake off this perturbation, be not anxious,
Be not alarmed, I want to hear thee talk -
Be cheerful.

RECHA.

Princess!

SITTAH.

No, not princess, child.
Call me thy friend, or Sittah, or thy sister,
Or rather aunt, for I might well be thine;
So young, so good, so prudent, so much knowledge,
You must have read a great deal to be thus.

RECHA.

I read--you're laughing, Sittah, at your sister,
I scarce can read.

SITTAH.

Scarce can, you little fibber.

RECHA.

My father's hand or so--I thought you spoke
Of books.

SITTAH.

Aye, surely so I did, of books.

RECHA.

Well really now it puzzles me to read them.

SITTAH.

In earnest?

RECHA.

Yes, in earnest, for my father
Hates cold book-learning, which makes an impression
With its dead letters only on the brain.

SITTAH.

What say you? Aye, he's not unright in that.
So then the greater part of what you know -

RECHA.

I know but from his mouth--of most of it
I could relate to you, the how, the where,
The why he taught it me.

SITTAH.

So it clings closer,
And the whole soul drinks in th' instruction.

RECHA.

Yes,
And Sittah certainly has not read much.

SITTAH.

How so? Not that I'm vain of having read;
But what can be thy reason? Speak out boldly,
Thy reason for it.

RECHA.

She is so right down,
Unartificial--only like herself
And books do seldom leave us so; my father
Says.

SITTAH.

What a man thy father is, my Recha.

RECHA.

Is not he?

SITTAH.

How he always hits the mark.

RECHA.

Does not he? And this father -

SITTAH.

Love, what ails thee?

RECHA.

This father -

SITTAH.

God, thou'rt weeping

RECHA.

And this father -
It must have vent, my heart wants room, wants room.

SITTAH.

Child, child, what ails you, Recha?

RECHA.

And this father
I am to lose.

SITTAH.

Thou lose him, O no, never:
Arise, be calm, how so? It must not be.

RECHA.

So shall thy offer not have been in vain,
To be my friend, my sister.

SITTAH.

Maid, I am.
Rise then, or I must call for help.

RECHA.

Forgive,
My agony made me awhile forgetful
With whom I am. Tears, sobbing, and despair,
Can not avail with Sittah. Cool calm reason
Alone is over her omnipotent;
Whose cause that pleads before her, he has conquered.

SITTAH.

Well, then!

RECHA.

My friend, my sister, suffer not
Another father to be forced upon me.

SITTAH.

Another father to be forced upon thee -
Who can do that, or wish to do it, Recha?

RECHA.

Who? Why my good, my evil genius, Daya,
She, she can wish it, will it--and can do it.
You do not know this dear good evil Daya.
God, God forgive it her--reward her for it;
So much good she has done me, so much evil.

SITTAH.

Evil to thee--much goodness she can't have.

RECHA.

O yes, she has indeed.

SITTAH.

Who is she?

RECHA.

Who?
A Christian, who took care of all my childhood.
You cannot think how little she allowed me
To miss a mother--God reward her for it -
But then she has so teased, so tortured me.

SITTAH.

And about what? Why, how, when?

RECHA.

The poor woman,
I tell thee, is a Christian--and she must
From love torment--is one of those enthusiasts
Who think they only know the one true road
To God.

SITTAH.

I comprehend thee.

RECHA.

And who feel
Themselves in duty bound to point it out
To every one who is not in this path,
To lead, to drag them into it. And indeed
They can't do otherwise consistently;
For if theirs really be the only road
On which 'tis safe to travel--they cannot
With comfort see their friends upon another
Which leads to ruin, to eternal ruin:
Else were it possible at the same instant
To love and hate the same man. Nor is 't this
Which forces me to be aloud complainant.
Her groans, her prayers, her warnings, and her threats,
I willingly should have abided longer -
Most willingly--they always called up thoughts
Useful and good; and whom does it not flatter
To be by whomsoever held so dear,
So precious, that they cannot bear the thought
Of parting with us at some time for ever?

SITTAH.

Most true.

RECHA.

But--but--at last this goes too far;
I've nothing to oppose to it, neither patience,
Neither reflection--nothing.

SITTAH.

How, to what?

RECHA.

To what she has just now, as she will have it,
Discovered to me.

SITTAH.

How discovered to thee?

RECHA.

Yes, just this instant. Coming hitherward
We past a fallen temple of the Christians -
She all at once stood still, seemed inly struggling,
Turned her moist eyes to heaven, and then on me.
Come, says she finally, let us to the right
Thro' this old fane--she leads the way, I follow.
My eyes with horror overran the dim
And tottering ruin--all at once she stops
By the sunk steps of a low Moorish altar. -
O how I felt, when there, with streaming tears
And wringing hands, prostrate before my feet
She fell

SITTAH.

Good child -

RECHA.

And by the holy Virgin,
Who there had hearkened many a prayer, and wrought
Many a wonder, she conjured, intreated,
With looks of heartfelt sympathy and love,
I would at length take pity of myself -
At least forgive, if she must now unfold
What claims her church had on me.

SITTAH.

Ah! I guessed it.

RECHA.

That I am sprung of Christian blood--baptised -
Not Nathan's daughter--and he not my father.
God, God, he not my father! Sittah, Sittah,
See me once more low at thy feet.

SITTAH.

O Recha,
Not so; arise, my brother's coming, rise.

SALADIN, SITTAH, and RECHA.

SALADIN (entering).

What is the matter, Sittah?

SITTAH.

She is swooned--
God -

SALADIN.

Who?

SITTAH.

You know sure.

SALADIN.

What, our Nathan's daughter?
What ails her?

SITTAH.

Child, come to thyself, the sultan.

RECHA.

No, I'll not rise, not rise, not look upon
The Sultan's countenance--I'll not admire
The bright reflection of eternal justice
And mercy on his brow, and in his eye,
Before -

SALADIN.

Rise, rise.

RECHA.

Before he shall have promised -

SALADIN.

Come, come, I promise whatsoe'er thy prayer.

RECHA.

Nor more nor less than leave my father to me,
And me to him. As yet I cannot tell
What other wants to be my father. Who
Can want it, care I not to inquire. Does blood
Alone then make the father? blood alone?

SALADIN (raising her).

Who was so cruel in thy breast to shed
This wild suspicion? Is it proved, made clear?

RECHA.

It must, for Daya had it from my nurse,
Whose dying lips intrusted it to her.

SALADIN.

Dying, perhaps delirious; if 'twere true,
Blood only does not make by much the father,
Scarcely the father of a brute, scarce gives
The first right to endeavour at deserving
The name of father. If there be two fathers
At strife for thee, quit both, and take a third,
And take me for thy father.

SITTAH.

Do it, do it.

SALADIN.

I will be a kind father--but methinks
A better thought occurs, what hast thou need
Of father upon father? They will die,
So that 'tis better to look out by times
For one that starts fair, and stakes life with life
On equal terms. Knowst thou none such?

SITTAH.

My brother,
Don't make her blush.

SALADIN.

Why that was half my project.
Blushing so well becomes the ugly, that
The fair it must make charming--I have ordered
Thy father Nathan hither, and another,
Dost guess who 'tis? one other.--Sittah, you
Will not object?

SITTAH.

Brother -

SALADIN.

And when he comes,
Sweet girl, then blush to crimson.

RECHA.

Before whom -
Blush?

SALADIN.

Little hypocrite--or else grow pale,
Just as thou willst and canst. Already there?

SITTAH (to a female slave who comes in).

Well, be they ushered in. Brother, 'tis they.

SALADIN, SITTAH, RECHA, NATHAN, and TEMPLAR.

SALADIN.

Welcome, my dear good friends. Nathan, to you
I've first to mention, you may send and fetch
Your monies when you will.

NATHAN.

Sultan -

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