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But when the dying king to me entrusted,
As to the chancellor of the realm, his will,
His successor he named him.
Tan. Happy youth !
He then will triumph o'er his father’s foes,
O'er haughty Osmond, and the tyrant's daughter.
Sif, Ay, that is what I dread—that heat of youth; There lurks, I fear, perdition to the state. I dread the horrors of rekindled war: Though dead, the tyrant still is to be fear'd ; His daughter's party still is strong and numerous: Her friend, Earl Osmond, Constable of Sicily, Experienced, brave, high born, of mighty interest. Better the prince and princess should by marriage Unite their friends, their interest, and their claims; Then will the peace and welfare of the land On a firm basis rise.
Tan. My Lord Siffredi,
If by myself I of this prince may judge,
That scheme will scarce succeed.—Your prudent age
In vain will counsel, if the heart forbid it—
But wherefore fear? The right is clearly his :
All Sicily will rouse, all faithful hearts
Will range themselves around Prince Manfred's son.
For me, I here devote me to the service
Of this young prince; I every drop of blood
Will lose with joy, with transport in his cause—
Then, find the prince;
Lose not a moment to awaken in him
The royal soul. Perhaps, he now desponding
Pines in a corner, and laments his fortune;
That in the narrower bounds of private life
He must confine his aims, those swelling virtues
Which from his noble father he inherits.
Sis. Perhaps regardless, in the common bane
Of youth he melts, in vanity and love.
But if the seeds of virtue glow within him,
I will awake a higher sense, a love
That grasps the loves and happiness of millions.
Tan. Why that surmise : Or should he love, Sif
I doubt not, it is nobly, which will raise
And animate his virtues—O, permit me
To plead the cause of youth—Their virtue oft,
In pleasure's soft enchantment lull'd a while,
Forgets itself; it sleeps and gaily dreams,
Till great occasion rouse it! then, all flame,
It walks abroad, with heightened soul and vigour,
And by the change astonishes the world.
Sif, Hear him, immortal shades of his great fa
Forgive me, sir, this trial of your heart.
Thou ! thou art hel
Tan. Siffredi !
Sif. Tancred, thou ! Thou art the man, of all the many thousands That toil upon the bosom of this isle, By Heaven elected to command the rest, To rule, protect them, and to make them happy :
Tan. Manfred my father l—I the last support Of the famed Norman line that awes the world ! I, who this morning wander'd forth an orphan, Outcast of all but thee, my second father! Thus called to glory;-to the first great lot Of human kind — O, grant me, Heaven, the virtues to sustain This awful burthen of so many heroes! Let me not be exalted into shame, Set up the worthless pageant of vain grandeur. Mean time, I thank the justice of the king, Who has my right bequeath'd me. Thee, Siffredi, I thank thee!—O, I ne'er enough can thank thee! Yes, thou hast been—thou art—shalt be my father Thou shalt direct my inexperienced years, Shalt be the ruling head, and I the hand.
Sis. It is enough for me—to see my sovereign Assert his virtues, and maintain his honour. Tan. I think, my lord, you said the king committed To you his will. I hope it is not clogg'd With any base conditions, any clause, To tyrannise my heart, and to Constantia Enslave my hand devoted to another. The hint you just now gave of that alliance, You must imagine, wakes my fear. But know, In this alone I will not bear dispute, Not even from thee, Siffredi !—Let the council Be straight assembled, and the will there opened : Thence issue speedy orders to convene, This day, ere noon, the senate; where those barons Who now are in Palermo will attend, To pay their ready homage to the king. Sif. I go, my liege. But once again permit me To tell you—Now, now is the trying crisis, That must determine of your future reign. O, with heroic rigour watch your heart! And, to the sovereign duties of the king, Th’ unequalled pleasures of a god on earth, Submit the common joys, the common passions, Nay, even the virtues of the private man. Tan. Of that no more. They not oppose, but aid, Invigorate, cherish, and reward each other. [Exit SIFFREDI. Now, generous Sigismunda, comes my turn To show my love was not of thine unworthy, When fortune bade me blush to look to thee. But what is fortune to the wish of love 2 A miserable bankrupt . Quick, let me find her taste that highest joy, Th’ exalted heart can know, the mix'd effusion Of gratitude and love. Behold, she comes.
My fluttering soul was all on wing to find thee,
My love, my Sigismunda! -
Sig. O, my Tancred
Tell me, what means this mystery and gloom
That lowers around 2 I fear some dark event,
From the king's death, to trouble our repose,
That tender calm we in the woods of Belmont
So happily enjoy’d Explain this hurry,
What means it? Say.
Tan. It means that we are happy!
Beyond our most romantic wishes, happy!
Sig. You but perplex me more.
Tan. It means, my fairest,
That thou art Queen of Sicily; and I
The happiest of mankind! than monarch more 1
Because with thee I can adorn my throne.
Manfred, who fell by tyrant William's rage,
Was my father. [Pausing.
You droop, my love; dejected on a sudden;
You seem to mourn my fortune—The soft tear
Springs in thy eye—O, let me kiss it off
Why this, my Sigismunda 2
Sig. Royal Tancred,
None at your glorious fortune can like me
Rejoice;—yet, me alone, of all Sicilians,
It makes unhappy.
Tan. I should hate it then -
Should throw, with scorn, the splendid ruin from
No, Sigismunda, ’tis my hope with thee
To share it, whence it draws its richest value.
Sig.You are mysovereign—I at humble distance—
Tan. Thou art my queen! the sovereign of my soul!
Sig. Your heart, Iknow, disdains the littlethought
Of changing with the vain external change
Of circumstance and fortune.
But, ah! the hearts of kings are not their own.
Some high-descended princess, who will bring
New power and interest to your throne, demands
Your royal hand—Perhaps Constantia
O, name her not Were I this moment free,
And disengaged, as he who never sigh'd
For matchless worth like thine, I should abhor
All thoughts of that alliance. Her fell father
Most basely murder'd mine.—
And canst thou deem me then so poorly tame,
So cool a traitor to my father's blood,
As from the prudent cowardice of state
Eer to submit to such a base proposal?
They, whom just Heaven has to a throne exalted, |
To guard the rights and liberties of others, -
What duty binds them to betray their own
For me, my free-born heart shall bear no dictates |
But those of truth and honour; wear no chains, o
But the dear chains of love, and Sigismunda 1 |
Sig. Cease, cease to raise my hopes above my duty.
Charm me no more, my Tancred!—O, that we
In those blest woods, where first you won my soul, |
Had pass'd our gentle days; far from the toil
And pomp of courts :
'Tis all in vain—you cannot hush a voice
That murmurs here—I must not be persuaded—
Tan. [Kneeling.] Hear me, thou soul of all my
hopes and wishes
And witness, Heaven, prime source of love and joy!
Not a whole warring world, combined against me,
Shall ever shake my faith to Sigismunda
But now the public voice of duty calls me,
Which with unwearied zeal I will discharge;
And thou, yes, thou, shalt be my bright reward—
Yet, ere I go—to hush thy lovely fears,