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The Dramatic Works of G. E. Lessing Part 131

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'Tis a prime hit to make simplicity The workman of deceit.

NATHAN.

Yes, if he use The fool, and not the pious man.

TEMPLAR.

This last The Patriarch ne'er trusts.



NATHAN.

Depend on this, That man will not a.s.sist the Patriarch To a wicked end.

TEMPLAR.

Well, so I think myself.

But has he told you aught of me?

NATHAN.

Of you?

He scarcely knows your name.

TEMPLAR.

That's like enough.

NATHAN.

He spoke to me about a Templar, who----

TEMPLAR.

Who what?

NATHAN.

But then he never mentioned you.

TEMPLAR.

Who knows? Come tell me, Nathan, all he said.

NATHAN.

Who has accused me to the Patriarch?

TEMPLAR.

Accused you! With his leave, that is untrue.

No! Hear me, Nathan! I am not the man E'er to deny my actions. What I've done I've done--and there's an end. Nor am I one Who would maintain that all I've done is right.

But should one fault condemn me? Am I not Resolved on better deeds for time to come?

And who is ignorant how much the man Who wills it may improve? Then hear me, Nathan: I am the Templar talked of by the Friar, Who has accused--you know what maddened me, What set my blood on fire within my veins-- Fool that I was! I had almost resolved To fling myself both soul and body, straight Into your arms. But how was I received?

How did you meet me, Nathan? Cold--or worse.

Lukewarm--far worse than cold. With cautious words, Well weighed and measured, Nathan, you took care To put me off, and with calm questions, asked About my parentage, and G.o.d knows what, You sought to meet my suit. I cannot now Dwell on it and be patient. Hear me further.

While in this ferment, Daja suddenly Drew near to me and whispered in my ear A secret which cleared up the mystery.

NATHAN.

What was it?

TEMPLAR.

Hear me to the end. I thought The treasure you had from the Christians stolen, You would not promptly to a Christian yield; And so the project struck me, with good speed, To bring you to extremities.

NATHAN.

Good speed?

Good, good? pray where's the good!

TEMPLAR.

But hear me out.

I own my error; you are free from guilt; That prating Daja knows not what she says.

She's hostile to you, and she seeks to twine A dangerous snare around you. Be it so.

I'm but a crazed enthusiast, doubly mad, Aiming at far too much, or much too little.

That may be also true. Forgive me, Nathan.

NATHAN.

If you conceive thus of me----

TEMPLAR.

Well, in short.

I saw the Patriarch--but named you not.

'Twas false to say so, for I only told The case in general terms, to sound his mind.

And that I also might have left undone, For knew I not the Patriarch to be An arrant, subtle knave? And might I not As well have told you all the case at first?

Or was it right in me to risk the loss Of such a father to the hapless maid?

But what has happened now? The Patriarch, Ever consistent in his villainy, Has all at once restored me to myself.

For hear me, Nathan, hear me! Were he now To learn your name, what more could then occur?

He cannot seize the maid, if she belong To some one else, and not to you alone.

'Tis from your house alone she can be dragged Into a convent: grant her, then, I pray, Grant her to me! Then come the Patriarch!

He'll hardly dare to take my wife from me.

Oh! give her to me. Be she yours or not-- Your daughter--Christian--Jewess--'tis all one-- Or be she nothing--I will ne'er inquire, Or in my lifetime ask you what she is, 'Tis all alike to me.

NATHAN.

Do you then think That to conceal the truth I am compelled?

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