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- Nathan the Wise - 3/43 -


What treasures I had left you--gave him all, Promised him more--much more?

DAYA.

How could we?

NATHAN.

Not?

DAYA.

He came, he went, we know not whence, or whither. Quite unacquainted with the house, unguided But by his ear, he prest through smoke and flame, His mantle spread before him, to the room Whence pierced the shrieks for help; and we began To think him lost--and her; when, all at once, Bursting from flame and smoke, he stood before us, She in his arm upheld. Cold and unmoved By our loud warmth of thanks, he left his booty, Struggled into the crowd, and disappeared.

NATHAN.

But not for ever, Daya, I would hope.

DAYA.

For some days after, underneath you palms, That shade his grave who rose again from death, We saw him wandering up and down. I went, With transport went to thank him. I conjured, Intreated him to visit once again The dear sweet girl he saved, who longed to shed At her preserver's feet the grateful tear -

NATHAN.

Well?

DAYA.

But in vain. Deaf to our warmest prayers, On me he flung such bitter mockery -

NATHAN.

That hence rebuffed -

DAYA.

Oh, no, oh, no, indeed not, Daily I forced myself upon him, daily Afresh encountered his dry taunting speeches. Much I have borne, and would have borne much more: But he of late forbears his lonely walk Under the scattered palms, which stand about Our holy sepulchre: nor have I learnt Where he now is. You seem astonished--thoughtful -

NATHAN.

I was imagining what strange impressions This conduct makes on such a mind as Recha's. Disdained by one whom she must feel compelled To venerate and to esteem so highly. At once attracted and repelled--the combat Between her head and heart must yet endure, Regret, Resentment, in unusual struggle. Neither, perhaps, obtains the upper hand, And busy fancy, meddling in the fray, Weaves wild enthusiasms to her dazzled spirit, Now clothing Passion in the garb of Reason, And Reason now in Passion's--do I err? This last is Recha's fate--Romantic notions -

DAYA.

Aye; but such pious, lovely, sweet, illusions.

NATHAN.

Illusions though.

DAYA.

Yes: and the one, her bosom Clings to most fondly, is, that the brave templar Was but a transient inmate of the earth, A guardian angel, such as from her childhood She loved to fancy kindly hovering round her, Who from his veiling cloud amid the fire Stepped forth in her preserver's form. You smile - Who knows? At least beware of banishing So pleasing an illusion--if deceitful Christian, Jew, Mussulman, agree to own it, And 'tis--at least to her--a dear illusion.

NATHAN.

Also to me. Go, my good Daya, go, See what she's after. Can't I speak with her? Then I'll find out our untamed guardian angel, Bring him to sojourn here awhile among us - We'll pinion his wild wing, when once he's taken.

DAYA.

You undertake too much.

NATHAN.

And when, my Daya, This sweet illusion yields to sweeter truth, (For to a man a man is ever dearer Than any angel) you must not be angry To see our loved enthusiast exercised.

DAYA.

You are so good--and yet so sly. I'll seek her, But listen,--yes! she's coming of herself.

NATHAN, DAYA, and RECHA.

RECHA.

And you are here, your very self, my father, I thought you'd only sent your voice before you. Where are you then? What mountains, deserts, torrents, Divide us now? You see me, face to face, And do not hasten to embrace your Recha. Poor Recha! she was almost burnt alive, But only--only--almost. Do not shudder! O 'tis a horrid end to die in fire!

NATHAN (embracing her).

My child, my darling child!

RECHA.

You had to cross The Jordan, Tigris, and Euphrates, and Who knows what rivers else. I used to tremble And quake for you, till the fire came so nigh me; Since then, methinks 'twere comfort, balm, refreshment, To die by water. But you are not drowned - I am not burnt alive.--We will rejoice - We will praise God--the kind good God, who bore thee, Upon the buoyant wings of UNSEEN angels, Across the treacherous stream--the God who bade My angel VISIBLY on his white wing Athwart the roaring flame -

NATHAN (aside).

White wing?--oh, aye The broad white fluttering mantle of the templar.

RECHA.

Yes, visibly he bore me through the fire, O'ershadowed by his pinions.--Face to face I've seen an angel, father, my own angel.

NATHAN.

Recha deserves it, and would see in him No fairer form than he beheld in her,

RECHA.

Whom are you flattering, father--tell me now - The angel, or yourself?

NATHAN.

Yet had a man, A man of those whom Nature daily fashions, Done you this service, he to you had seemed, Had been an angel.

RECHA.

No, not such a one. Indeed it was a true and real angel. And have not you yourself instructed me How possible it is there may be angels; That God for those who love him can work miracles - And I do love him, father -

NATHAN.

And he thee; And both for thee, and all like thee, my child, Works daily wonders, from eternity Has wrought them for you.


Nathan the Wise - 3/43

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