Zadig, The Book of Faith by Voltaire.. - HTML preview

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Entrance into his High Office, he exerted this peculiar Talent. A rich Merchant, and a Native of Babylon, died in the

Indies. He had made his Will, and appointed his two Sons Joint–Heirs of his Estate, as soon as they had settled their

Sister, and married her with their mutual Approbation. Moreover, he left a specific Legacy of 30,000 Pieces of Gold to

that Son, who should, after his Decease, be prov'd to love him best. The Eldest erected to his Memory a very costly

Monument: The Youngest appropriated a considerable Part of his Bequest to the Augmentation of his Sister's Fortune:

Every one, without Hesitation, gave the Preference to the Elder, allowing the Younger to have the greatest Affection for

his Sister. The Legacy therefore was doubtless due to the Eldest.

Their Cause came before Zadig, and he examin'd them apart. To the former, said Zadig, Your Father, Sir, is not dead,

as is reported, but being happily recover'd, is on his Return to Babylon. God be praised, said the young Man! but I hope

the Expence I have been at in raising this superb Monument will be consider'd. After this, Zadig repeated the same Story

to the Younger. God be praised, said he! I will immediately restore all that he has left me; but I hope my Father will not

recal the little Present I have made my Sister. You have nothing to restore, Sir; you shall have the Legacy of the thirty

thousand Pieces; for 'tis you that have the greatest Veneration for your deceased Father.

A young Lady that was very rich, had entred into a Marriage–Contract with two Magis; and having receiv'd Instructions

from both Parties for some Months, she prov'd with Child. They were both ready and willing to marry her. But, said she,

he shall be my Husband, that has put me into a Capacity of serving my Country, by adding one to it. 'Tis I, Madam, that

have answered that valuable End, said one; but the other insisted 'twas his Operation. Well! said she, since this is a

Moot–point, I'll acknowledge him for the Father of the Child, that will give him the most liberal Education. In a short Time

after, my Lady was brought to Bed of a hopeful Boy. Each of them insisted on being Tutor, and the Cause was brought

before Zadig. The two Magi were order'd to appear in Court. Pray Sir, said Zadig to the first, what Method of Instruction

do you propose to pursue for the Improvement of your young Pupil? He shall first be grounded, said this learned

Pedagogue, in the Eight Parts of Speech; then I'll teach him Logic, Astrology, Magick, the wide Difference between the

Terms Substance and Accident, Abstract and Concrete, &c. &c. As for my Part, Sir, I shall take another Course, said the

second; I'll do my utmost to make him an honest Man, and acceptable to his Friends. Upon this, Zadig said, you, Sir,

shall marry the Mother, let who will be the Father.

There came daily Complaints to Court against the Itimadoulet of Media, whose Name was Irax. He was a Person of

Quality, who was possess'd of a very considerable Estate, notwithstanding he had squander'd away a great Part of it, by

indulging himself in all Manner of expensive Pleasures. It was but seldom that an Inferior was suffer'd to speak to him; but

not a Soul durst contradict him: No Peacock was more gay; no Turtle more amorous; and no Tortoise more indolent and

inactive. He made false Glory and false Pleasures his sole Pursuit.

Zadig, undertaking to cure him, sent him forthwith, as by express Order from the King, a Musick–Master with twelve

Voices, and 24 Violins, as his Attendants; a Head Steward, with six Men Cooks, and 4 Chamberlains, who were never to

be out of his Sight. The King issued out his Writ for the punctual Observance of his Royal Will; and thus the Affair


The first Morning, as soon as the voluptuous Irax had open'd his Eyes, his Musick–Master, with the Voices and Violins,

entred his Apartment. They sang a Cantata, that lasted two Hours and three Minutes. Every three Minutes the Chorus, or

Burthen of the Song, was to this Effect.

Tisn't in Words to speak your Praise;

What mighty Honours are your Due!

To worth like yours we Altars raise,

No Monarch's happier, Sir, than you.

After the Cantata was over, the Chamberlain address'd him in a formal Harangue for three Quarters of an Hour without

ceasing; wherein he took Occasion to extol every Virtue to which he was a perfect Stranger; when the Oration was over,

he was conducted to Dinner, where the Musicians were all in waiting, and play'd, as soon as he was seated at his Table.

Dinner lasted three Hours before he condescended to speak a Word. When he did; you say Right, Sir, said the chief

Chamberlain; scarce had he utter'd four Words more, but Right, Sir, said the second. The other two Chamberlain's Time

was taken up in laughing with Admiration at Irax's Smart Repartees, or at least such as he ought to have made. After the

Cloth was taken away, the adulating Chorus was repeated.

This first Day Irax was all in Raptures; he imagin'd, that this Honour done him by the King of Kings, was the sole Result

of his exalted Merit. The second wasn't altogether so agreeable; The third prov'd somewhat troublesome; the fourth

insupportable; the fifth was tormenting; and at last, he was perfectly outrageous at the continual Peal in his Ears of No

Monarch's happier Sir, than you, You say right, &c. and at being daily harangu'd at the same Hour. Whereupon he wrote

to Court, and begg'd of his Majesty to recal his Chamberlain, his Musick–Master, and all his Retinue, his Head Steward

and his Cooks, and promis'd, in the most submissive Manner, to be less vain, and more industrious for the future. Tho' he

didn't require so much Adulations, nor such grand Entertainments, he was much more happy; for, as Sadder has it, One

continued Scene of Pleasure, is no Pleasure at all.

Zadig every Day gave incontestable Proofs of his wondrous Penetration, and the Goodness of his Heart; he was ador'd

by the People, and was the Darling of the King. The little Difficulties that he met with in the first Stage of his Life, serv'd

only to augment his present Felicity. Every Night, however, he had some unlucky Dream or another, that gave him some

Disturbance. One while, he imagin'd himself extended on a Bed of wither'd Plants, amongst which there were some that

were sharp pointed, and made him very restless and uneasy; another Time, he fancied himself repos'd on a Bed of

Roses, out of which rush'd a Serpent, that stung him to the Heart with his envenom'd Tongue. Alas! said he, waking, I

was one while upon a Bed of hard and nauseous Plants, and just this Moment repos'd on a Bed of Roses. But then the



The Force of JEALOUSY.

The Misfortunes that attended Zadig proceeded, in a great Measure, from his Preferment; but more from his intrinsic

Merit. Every Day he had familiar Converse with the King, his Royal Master, and his august Consort, Astarte. And the

Pleasure arising from thence was greatly enhanc'd from an innate Ambition of pleasing, which, in regard to Wit, is the

same, as Dress is to Beauty. His Youth, and graceful Deportment, had a greater Influence on Astarte, than she was at

first aware of. Tho' her Affection for him daily encreas'd; yet she was perfectly innocent. Astarte would say, without the

least Reserve or Apprehension of Fear, that she was extreamly pleas'd with the Company of one, who was, not only a

Favourite of her Husband, but the Darling of the whole Empire. She was continually speaking in his Commendation

before the King: He was the Subject of her whole Discourse amongst her Ladies of Honour, who were as lavish of their

Praises as herself. Such repeated Discourses, however innocent, made a deeper Impression on her Heart, than she at

that Time apprehended. She would every now and then send Zadig some little Present or another; which he construed

as the Result of a greater Value for him than she intended. She said no more of him, as she thought, than a Queen might

innocently do, who was perfectly assur'd of his Attachment to her Husband; sometimes, indeed, she would express her

self with an Air of Tenderness and Affection.

Astarte was much handsomer than either his Mistress Semira, who had such a natural Antipathy to a one–eyed Lord,

or Azora, his late loving Spouse, that would innocently have cut his Nose off. The Freedoms which Astarte took, her

tender Expressions, at which she began to blush, the Glances of her Eye, which she would turn away, if perceiv'd, and

which she fix'd upon his, kindled in the Heart of Zadig a Fire, which struck him with Amazement. He did all he could to

smother it; he call'd up all the Philosophy he was Master of to his Aid; but all in vain, for no Consolation arose from those


Duty, Gratitude, and an injur'd Monarch, presented themselves before his Eyes, as avenging Deities: He bravely

struggled; he triumph'd indeed; but this Conquest over his Passions, which he was oblig'd to check every Moment, cost

him many a deep Sigh and Tear. He durst not talk with the Queen any more, with that Freedom which was too engaging

on both Sides; his Eyes were obnubilated; his Discourse was forc'd and unconnected; he turn'd his Eyes another Way;

and when, against his Inclination, they met with those of the Queen, he found, that tho' drown'd in Tears, they darted

Flames of Fire: They seem'd in Silence to intimate, that they were afraid of being in love with each other; and that both

burn'd with a Fire which both condemn'd.

Zadig flew from her Presence, like one beside himself, and in Despair; his Heart was over–charg'd with a Burthen, too

great for him to bear: In the Heat of his Conflicts, he disclos'd the Secrets of his Heart to his trusty Friend Cador, as one,

who, having long groan'd under the Weight of an inexpressible Anguish of Mind, at once makes known the Cause of his

Torments by the Groans, as it were, extorted from him, and by the Drops of a cold Sweat, that trickled down his Cheeks.

Cador said to him; 'tis now some considerable Time since, I have discover'd that secret Passion which you have

foster'd in your Bosom, and yet endeavour'd to conceal even from your self. The Passions carry along with them such

strong Impressions, that they cannot be conceal'd. Tell me ingenuously Zadig; and be your own Accuser, whether or no,

since I have made this Discovery, the King has not shewn some visible Marks of his Resentment. He has no other

Foible, but that of being the most jealous Mortal breathing. You take more Pains to check the Violence of your Passion,

than the Queen herself does; because you are a Philosopher; because, in short, you are Zadig; Astarte is but a weak

Woman; and tho' her Eyes speak too visibly, and with too much Imprudence; yet she does not think her self blame–

worthy. Being conscious of her Innocence, to her own Misfortune, as well as yours, she is too unguarded. I tremble for

her; because I am sensible her Conscience acquits her. Were you both agreed, you might conceal your Regard for each

other from all the World: A rising Passion, that is smother'd, breaks out into a Flame; Love, when once gratified, knows

how to conceal itself with Art. Zadig shudder'd at the Proposition of ungratefully violating the Bed of his Royal

Benefactor; and never was there a more loyal Subject to a Prince, tho' guilty of an involuntary Crime. The Queen,

however, repeated the Name of Zadig so often, and her Cheeks glow'd with such a red, when ever she utter'd it; she was

one while so transported, and at another, so dejected, when the Discourse turn'd upon him in the King's Presence; she

was in such a Reverie, so confus'd and stupid, when he went out of the Presence, that her Deportment made the King

extremely uneasy. He was convinc'd of every Thing he saw, and form'd in his Mind an Idea of a thousand Things he did

not see. He observ'd, particularly, that Astarte's Sandals were blue; so Zadig's were blue likewise; that as the Queen

wore yellow Ribbands, Zadig's Turbet was of the same Colour: These were shocking Circumstances for a Monarch of

his Cast of Mind to reflect on! To a Mind, in short, so distemper'd as his was, Suspicions were converted into real Facts.

All Court Slaves, and Sycophants, are so many Spies on Kings and Queens: They soon discover'd that Astarte was

fond, and Moabdar jealous. Arimazius, his envious Foe, who was as incorrigible as ever; for Flints will never soften; and

Creatures, that are by Nature venemous, forever retain their Poison. Arimazius, I say, wrote an anonymous Letter to

Moabdar, the infamous Recourse of sordid Spirits, who are the Objects of universal Contempt; but in this Case, an Affair

of the last Importance; because this Letter tallied with the baneful Suggestions that Monarch had conceiv'd. In short, his

Thoughts were now wholly bent upon Revenge. He determin'd to poison Astarte on a certain Night, and to have Zadig

strangled by Break of Day. Orders for that Purpose were expressly given to a merciless, inhuman Eunuch, the ready

Executioner of his Vengeance. At that critical Conjuncture, there happen'd to be a Dwarf, who was dumb, but not deaf, in

the King's Apartment. Nobody regarded him: He was an Eye and Ear–witness of all that pass'd, and yet no more

suspected than any irrational Domestic Animal. This little Dwarf had conceiv'd a peculiar Regard for Astarte and Zadig:

He heard, with equal Horror and Surprize, the King's Orders to destroy them both. But how to prevent those Orders from

being put into Execution, as the Time was so short, was all his Concern. He could not write, 'tis true, but he had luckily

learnt to draw, and take a Likeness. He spent a good Part of the Night in delineating with Crayons, on a Piece of Paper,

the imminent Danger that thus attended the Queen. In one Corner, he represented the King highly incens'd, and giving

his cruel Eunuch the fatal Orders; in another, a Bowl and a Cord upon a Table; in the Center was the Queen, expiring in

the Arms of her Maids of Honour, with Zadig strangled, and laid dead at her Feet. In the Horizon was the rising Sun, to

denote, that this execrable Scene was to be exhibited by Break of Day. No sooner was his Design finish'd, but he ran

with it to one of Astarte's Female Favourites, then in waiting, call'd her up, and gave her to understand, that she must

carry the Draught to Astarte that very Moment.

In the mean Time, the Queen's Attendants, tho' it was Dead of Night, knock'd at the Door of Zadig's Apartment, wak'd

him, and deliver'd into his Hands a Billet from the Queen. At first he could not well tell whether he was only in a Dream or

not, but soon read the Letter, with a trembling Hand, and a heavy Heart: Words can't express his Surprise, and the

Agonies of Despair which he was in upon his perusal of the Contents. Fly, said she, Dear Zadig, this very Moment; for

your Life's in the utmost Danger: Fly, Dear Zadig, I conjure you, in the Name of that fatal Passion, with which I have

long struggled, and which I now venture to discover, as I am to make Atonement for it, in a few Moments, by the Loss of

my Life. Tho' I am conscious to myself of my Innocence, I find I am to feel the Weight of my Husband's Resentment,

and die the Death of a Traitor.

Zadig was scarce able to speak. He order'd his Friend Cador to be instantly call'd, and gave him the Letter the Moment

he came, without opening his Lips. Cador press'd him to regard the Contents, and to make the best of his Way to

Memphis. If you presume, said he, to have an Interview with her Majesty first, you inevitably hasten her Execution; or if

you wait upon the King, the fatal Consequence will be the same: I'll prevent her unhappy Fate, if possible; you follow but

your own: I'll give it out, that you are gone to the Indies: I'll wait on you as soon as the Hurricane is blown over, and I'll let

you know all that occurs material in Babylon.

Cador, that Instant, order'd two of the fleetest Dromedaries that could be got, to be in readiness at a private Back–Door

belonging to the Court; he help'd Zadig to mount his Beast, tho' ready to drop into the Earth. He had but one trusty

Servant to attend him, and Cador, overwhelm'd with Grief, soon lost Sight of his dearly beloved Friend.

This illustrious Fugitive soon reach'd the Summit of a little Hill, that afforded him a fair Prospect of the whole City of

Babylon: But turning his Eyes back towards the Queen's Palace, he fainted away; and when he had recover'd his

Senses, he drown'd his Eyes in a Flood of Tears, and with Impatience wish'd for Death. To conclude, after he had

reflected, with Horror, on the deplorable Fate of the most amiable Creature in the Universe, and of the most meritorious

Queen that ever liv'd; he for a Moment commanded his Passion, and with a Sigh, made the following Exclamations: What

is this mortal Life! O Virtue, Virtue, of what Service hast thou been to me! Two young Ladies, a Mistress, and a Wife,

have prov'd false to me; a third, who is perfectly innocent, and ten thousand Times handsomer than either of them, has

suffer'd Death, 'tis probable, before this, on my Account! All the Acts of Benevolence which I have shewn, have been the

Foundation of my Sorrows, and I have been only rais'd to the highest Spoke of Fortune's Wheel, for no other Purpose

than to be tumbled down with the greater Force. Had I been as abandon'd as some Miscreants are, I had like them been

happy. His Head thus overwhelm'd with these melancholy Reflections, his Eyes thus sunk in his Head, and his meagre

Cheeks all pale and languid; and, in a Word, his very Soul thus plung'd in the Abyss of deep Despair, he pursu'd his

Journey towards Egypt.


The Thrash'd WIFE.

Zadig steer'd his Course by the Stars that shone over his Head. The Constellation of Orion, and the radiant Dog–star

directed him towards the Pole of Canope. He reflected with Admiration on those immense Globes of Light, which

appear'd to the naked Eye no more than little twinkling Lights; whereas the Earth he was then traversing, which, in

Reality, is no more than an imperceptible Point in Nature, seem'd, according to the selfish Idea we generally entertain of

it, something very immense, and very magnificent. He then reflected on the whole Race of Mankind, and look'd upon

them, as they are in Fact, a Parcel of Insects, or Reptiles, devouring one another on a small Atom of Clay. This just Idea

of them greatly alleviated his Misfortunes, recollecting the Nothingness, if we may be allow'd the Expression, of his own

Being, and even of Babylon itself. His capacious Soul now soar'd into Infinity, and he contemplated, with the same

Freedom, as if she was disencumber'd from her earthly Partner, on the immutable Order of the Universe. But as soon as

she cower'd her Wings, and resumed her native Seat, he began to consider that Astarte might possibly have lost her Life

for his Sake; upon which, his Thoughts of the Universe vanish'd all at once, and no other Objects appear'd before his

distemper'd Eyes, but his Astarte giving up the Ghost, and himself overwhelm'd with a Sea of Troubles: As he gave

himself up to this Flux and Reflux of sublime Philosophy and Anxiety of Mind, he was insensibly arriv'd on the Frontiers of

Egypt: And his trusty Attendant had, unknown to him, stept into the first Village, and sought out for a proper Apartment for

his Master and himself. Zadig in the mean Time made the best of his Way to the adjacent Gardens; where he saw, not

far distant from the High–way, a young Lady, all drown'd in Tears, calling upon Heaven and Earth for Succour in her

Distress, and a Man, fir'd with Rage and Resentment, in pursuit after her. He had now just overtaken her, and she fell

prostrate at his Feet imploring his Forgiveness. He loaded her with a thousand Reproaches; nor did he spare to chastise

her in the most outrageous Manner. By the Egyptian's cruel Deportment towards her, he concluded that the Man was a

jealous Husband, and that the Lady was an Inconstant, and had defil'd his Bed: But when he reflected, that the Woman

was a perfect Beauty, and to his thinking something like the unfortunate Astarte, he perceiv'd his Heart yearn with

Compassion towards the Lady, and swell with Indignation against her Tyrant. For Heaven's sake, Sir, assist me, said

she, to Zadig, sobbing as if her Heart would break, Oh! deliver me out of the Hands of this Barbarian: Save, Sir, O save

my Life. Upon these her shocking Outcries, Zadig threw himself between the injur'd Lady and the inexorable Brute. And

as he had some smattering of the Egyptian Tongue, he expostulated with him in his own Dialect, and said: Dear Sir, if

you are endow'd with the least Spark of Humanity, let me conjure you to have some Pity and Remorse for so beautiful a

Creature; have some Regard, Sir, to the Weakness of her Sex. How can you treat a Lady, who is one of Nature's

Master–pieces, in such a rude and outrageous Manner, one who lies weeping at your Feet for Forgiveness, and one

who has no other Recourse than her Tears for her Defence? Oh! Oh! said the jealous–pated Fellow in a Fury to Zadig,

What! You are one of her Gallants, I suppose. I'll be reveng'd of thee, thou Villain, this Moment. No sooner were the

Words out of his Mouth, but he quits hold of the Lady, in whose Hair he had twisted his Fingers before, takes up his

Lance in a Fury, and endeavours to the utmost of his Pow'r to plunge it in the Stranger's Heart: Zadig, however, being

cool, warded the intended Blow with Ease. He laid fast hold of his Lance towards the Point. One strove to recover it, and

the other to snatch it away by Force. They broke it between them. Whereupon the Egyptian drew his Sword. Zadig drew

his: They fought: The former made a hundred rash Passes one after another, which the latter parried with the utmost

Dexterity. The Lady sat herself upon a Grass–plat, adjusting her Head–dress, and looking on the Combatants. The

Egyptian was too strong for Zadig, but Zadig was more nimble and active. The latter fought as a Man whose Hand was

guided by his Head; the former as a Mad–man who dealt about his Blows at random. Zadig took the Advantage, made a

Plunge at him, and disarm'd him. And forasmuch as he found that the Egyptian was hotter than ever, and endeavour'd all

he could to throw him down by Dint of Strength, Zadig laid fast hold of him, flew upon him, and tripp'd up his Heels: After

that, holding the Point of his Sword to his Breast, like a Man of Honour, gave him his Life. The Egyptian, fir'd with Rage,

and having no Command of his Passion, drew his Dagger, and wounded Zadig like a Coward, whilst the Victor

generously forgave him. Upon that unexpected Action, Zadig, being incens'd to the last Degree, plung'd his Sword deep

into his Bosom. The Egyptian fetch'd a hideous Groan, and died upon the Spot. Zadig then approach'd the Lady, and

with a kind of Concern, in the softest Terms told her, that he was oblig'd to kill her Insulter, tho' against his Inclinations. I

have aveng'd your Cause, and deliver'd you out of the merciless Hands of the most outrageous Man I ever saw. Now,

Madam, let me know your farther Will and Pleasure with me. You shall die, you Villain! You have murder'd my Love. Oh! I

could tear your Heart out. Indeed, Madam, said Zadig, you had one of the most hot–headed, oddest Lovers I ever saw.

He beat you most unmercifully, and would have taken away my Life because you call'd me in to your Assistance. Would

to God he was but alive to beat me again, said she, blubbering and roaring; I deserv'd to be beat. I gave him too just

Occasion to be jealous of me. Would to God that he had beat me, and you had died in his Stead! Zadig more astonish'd,

and more exasperated than ever he was in all his Life, said to her: Really, Madam, you put on such extravagant Airs, that

you tempt me, pretty as you are, to thresh you most cordially in my Turn; but I scorn to concern my self any more about

you. Upon this, he remounted his Dromedary, and made the best of his Way towards the Village: But before he had got

near a hundred Yards, he return'd upon an Out–cry that was made by four Couriers from Babylon. They rode full Speed.

One of them, spying the young Widow, cried out. There she is, That's she. She answers in every Respect to the

Description we had of her. They never took the least Notice of her dead Gallant, but secur'd her directly. Oh! Sir, cried

she to Zadig, again and again, dear Sir, most generous Stranger, once more deliver me from a Pack of Villains. I most

humbly beg your Pardon for my late Conduct and unjust Complaint of you. Do but stand my Friend, at this critical

Conjuncture, and I'll be your most obedient Vassal till Death. Zadig had now no Inclination to fight for one so undeserving

any more. Find some other to be your Fool now, Madam; you shan't impose upon me a second Time. I'll assure you,

Madam, I know better Things. Besides he was wounded; and bled so fast that he wanted Assistance himself: And 'tis

very probable, that the Sight of the Babylonian Couriers, who were dispatch'd from King Moabdar, might discompose him

very much. He made all the Haste he could towards the Village, not being able to conceive what should be the real

Cause of the young Lady's being secur'd by those Babylonish Officers, and as much at a Loss, at the same Time, what

to think of such a Termagant and a Coquet.



No sooner was Zadig arriv'd at the Egyptian Village before–mention'd, but he found himself surrounded by a Croud. The

People one and all cried out! See! See! there's the Man that ran away with the beauteous Lady Missouf, and murder'd

Cletofis. Gentlemen, said he, God forbid that I should ever entertain a Thought of running away with the Lady you speak

of: She is too much of a Coquet: And as to Cletofis, I did not murder him, but kill'd him in my own Defence. He

endeavour'd all he could to take my Life away, because I entreated him to take some Pity and Compassion on the

beauteous Missouf, whom he beat most unmercifully. I am