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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,
But the dear chains of love, and Sigismundal
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,
Thy delicate objections [HWrites his name]—take this
Sign'd with my name, and give it to thy father:
Tell him, 'tis my command, it be filled up
With a most strict and solemn marriage contract.
How dear each tie! how charming to my soul!
That more unites me to my Sigismunda.
For thee, and for my people's good to live,
Is all the bliss which sovereign power can give.
ACT THE SECOND.
A Grand Saloon.
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,
For good and noble ends, can ne'er be wrong.
In that resistless, that peculiar case,
Deceit is truth and virtue—But how hold
This lion in the toil.?—O, I will form it
Of such a fatal thread, twist it so strong
With all the ties of honour and of duty,
That his most desperate fury shall not break
The honest snare.
To me, I know 'tis ruin;
But safety to the public, to the king.
I will not reason more—No—'tis fixed 1
I here devote me for my prince and country;
Let them be safe, and let me nobly perish
Behold, Earl Osmond comes, without whose aid
My schemes are all in vain.
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, 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
To yours I join my hand; with you will own
No interest, and no party, but my country.
Nor is your friendship only my ambition:
There is a dearer name, the name of father,
By which I should rejoice to call Siffredi.
Your daughter's hand would to the public weal
Unite my private happiness.
Sif. My lord,
You have my glad consent. To be allied
To your distinguish’d family and merit,
I shall esteem an honour. From my soul,
I here embrace Earl Osmond as my friend
Osm. You make him happy.
I from this moment vow myself the friend
And zealous servant of Siffredi's house.
Off. [To SIFFREDI.] The king, my lord, demands
your speedy presence.
Sif. I will attend him straight.—Farewell, my
The senate meets; there, a few moments hence,
I will rejoin you. -
Osm. There, my noble lord,
We will complete this salutary work;
Will there begin a new auspicious era.
[Ereunt SIFFREDI and OFFICER.
Siffredi gives his daughter to my wishes;—
But does she give herself? Gay, young, and flattered,
I am not form'd, by flattery and praise,
By sighs and tears, and all the whining trade
Of love, to feed a fair one's vanity;
To charm at once and spoil her. These soft arts
Nor suit my years nor temper: these be left
To boys, and doting age. A prudent father,
By nature charged to guide and rule her choice, .
Resigns his daughter to a husband's power,
Who, with superior dignity, with reason,
And manly tenderness, will ever love her;
Not first a kneeling slave, and then a tyrant. [Exit.
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 be? 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,
There must be some mistake.
Laura. 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