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Thy delicate objections [Writes his name]—take this
ACT THE SECOND.
Sif. So far 'tis well—The late king’s will proceeds Upon the plan I counsell'd ;—That Prince Tancred Shall make Constantia partner of his throne. But how this mighty obstacle surmount, Which love has thrown betwixt —My daughter owns Her passion for the king—she trembling own’d it, With prayers, and tears, and tender supplications, That almost shook my firmness—And this blank, Which his rash fondness gave her, shows how much, To what a wild extravagance he loves. On a few moments hangs the public fate— On a few hasty moments—Ha! there shone A gleam of hope Yes, with this very paper
I yet will save him—Necessary means,
To me, I know 'tis ruin;
Osm. My Lord Siffredi, The princess to thy will submits her claims. She with her presence means to grace the senate, And of your royal charge, young Tancred's hand, Accept.—Methought, besides, o I could discern, that not from prudence merely She to this choice submitted. Sif. Noble Osmond, You have in this done to the public great And signal service. Yes, I must avow it; This frank and ready instance of your zeal, In such a trying crisis of the state, Upbraids the rashness of my former judgment. Osm. Siffredi, no. To you belongs the praise; 'Tis you, my lord, to whom the many thousands, That by the barbarous sword of civil war Had fallen inglorious, owe their lives. I blush to think I have so long opposed the best good man In Sicily.—
To yours I join my hand; with you will own
You have my glad consent. To be allied
Osm. You make him happy.
I from this moment vow myself the friend
Enter an OFFICER.
Off. [To SIFFREDI.] The king, my lord, demands
The senate meets; there, a few moments hence,
Osm. There, my noble lord,
[Ereunt SIFFREDI and OFFICER.
Siffredi gives his daughter to my wishes;–
Resigns his daughter to a husband's power,
Enter Rodolpho from the Senate.
Rod. This will perplexes all. No, Tancred never Can stoop to these conditions, which at once Attack his rights, his honour, and his love. When he heard Th’ unjust, the base conditions of the will, Uncertain, toss'd in cruel agitation, He oft, methought, address'd himself to speak, And interrupt Siffredi; who appear'd With conscious haste to dread that interruption, And hurry'd on But, hark! I hear a noise, As if th’ assembly rose.
Laura. Your high-praised friend, the king, Is false, most vilely false. The meanest slave Had shown a nobler heart. He Manfred's son 1 away! it cannot bel . The son of that brave prince could never sacrifice All faith, all honour, gratitude and love. And, for what? why, truly, For kind permission, gracious leave, to sit On his own throne, with tyrant William's daughter! Rod. I stand amazed—You surely wrong him, Laura. There must be some mistake. Lawra. There can be none ! Siffredi read his full and free consent Before the applauding senate. True, indeed, A small remain of shame made him blush
To act this scene in Sigismunda's eye,
Enter TANCRED and SIFFREDI.
Tan. Avoid me, hoary traitor –Go, Rodolpho, Give orders that all passages this way Be shut—Defend me from a hateful world, The bane of peace and honour—then return— [Exit Rodolpho. What' dost thou haunt me still? O, monstrous insult | Unparallel'd indignity! Just Heaven . Was ever king, was ever man so treated; So trampled into baseness? Sif. Here, my liege, Here strike! I nor deserve, nor ask for, mercy. Tan. All, all but this, I could have borne—but this This daring insolence, beyond example ! This murderous stroke, that stabs my peace for ever! That wounds me there—there! where the human heart * Most exquisitely feels Sif. O, bear it not, My royal lord; appease on me your vengeance! Tan. Did ever tyrant image aught so cruel! The lowest slave that crawls upon the earth, Robb’d of each comfort Heaven bestows on mortals, On the bare ground, has still his virtue left, The sacred treasure of an honest heart,