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Is there, kind Heaven, no constancy in man :
Even Tancred is inconstant [Rising.
Hence I let me fly this scene !—Whate'er I see,
These roofs, these walls, each object that surrounds
me,
Are tainted with his vows-
My father comes—How, sunk in this disorder,
Shall I sustain his presence 2
Enter SIFFREDI.

Sif, Sigismunda,
Mydearest child I grieve to find thee thus
A prey to tears, I know the powerful cause
From which they flow, and therefore can excuse them,
But not their wilful obstinate continuance.
Come,
Awake to reason from this dream of love,
And show the world thou art Siffredi's daughter.

Sig. Alas! I am unworthy of that name.

Sis. Thou art indeed to blame; thou hast too rashly Engaged thy heart, without a father's sanction. But this I can forgive; and, if thy heart Will now resume its pride, assert itself, And greatly rise superior to this trial, I to my warmest confidence again Will take thee, and esteem thee more my daughter.

Sig. Oh, you are gentler far than I deserve : It is, it ever was, my darling pride, To bend my soul to your supreme commands, your wisest will; and though by love betrayed— Alas! and punished too—yet I feel A sentiment of tenderness, a source Offilial nature springing in my breast, That, should it kill me, shall control this passion, And make me all submission and obedience To you, my honour'd lord; the best of fathers.

Sis. Come to my arms, thou comfort of my age, Come, let me take thee to a parent's heart;

There, with the dew of these paternal tears,
Revive and nourish this becoming spirit—
Then thou dost promise me, my Sigismunda,
Thou wilt resign thy fond presumptuous hopes,
And henceforth never more indulge one thought
That in the light of love regards the king
Sig. Hopes I have none !—Those by this fatal day
Are blasted all—But from my soul to banish,
While weeping memory there retains her seat,
Thoughts which the purest bosom might have che-
rish'd,
Once my delight, now even in anguish charming, .
Is more, alas! my lord, than I can promise.
Sif. Absence, and time, the softener of our passions,
Will conquer this. Mean time, I hope from thee
A generous great effort.
Rouse thee, for shame!
Nor sink unequal to the glorious lesson,
This day thy lover gave thee from his throne.
Sig. Ah, that was not from virtue!—Had, my fa-
ther,
That been his aim, I yield to what you say.
Why did you drag me to a sight so cruel:
Sif. It was a scene to fire thy emulation.
Sig. It was a scene of perfidy!—but know,
I will do more than imitate the king—
Yor he is false !—I, though sincerely pierced
With the best, truest passion, ever touch'd
A virgin's breast, here vow to Heaven and you,
Though from my heart I cannot, from my hopes
To cast this prince—What would you more, my
father!
Sis. Yes, one thing more—thy father then is
happy—
This world from thee, my honour and thy own,
Demands one step ; a step, by which convinced,
The king may see thy heart disdains to wear
A chain which his has greatly thrown aside.

[graphic]

But above all, thou must root out for ever
From the king's breast the least remain of hope,
And henceforth make his mentioned love dishonour.
These things, my daughter, that must needs be done,
Can but this way be done—by the safe refuge,
The sacred shelter of a husband
And there is one—
Sig. Good Heavens! what means my lord?
Sif. One of illustrious family, high rank,
Yet still of higher dignity and merit,
Who can and will protect thee; one to awe
The king himself—Nay, hear me, Sigismunda–
The noble Osmond courts thee for his bride,
And has my plighted word—This day—
Sig. [Kneeling.] My father!
Let me with trembling arms embrace thy knees.
Oh, if you ever wish to see me happy;
If e'er in infant years I gave you joy,
When as I prattling twined around your neck,
You snatched me to your bosom, kiss'd my eyes,
And melting said you saw my mother there;
Oh, save me from that worst severity
Of fate! Oh, outrage not my breaking heart
To that degree!—l cannot!—'tis impossible!
So soon withdraw it, give it to another—
Sīf. My daughter! you abuse
The softness of my nature—
Sig. Here, my father,
Till you relent, here will I grow for ever!
Sif. Rise, Sigismunda.-Though you touch my
heart,
Nothing can shake th' inexorable dictates
Of honour, duty, and determined reason.
Then by the holy ties of filial love,
Resolve, I charge thee, to receive Earl Osmond,
As suits the man who is thy father’s choice,
And worthy of thy hand—I go to bring him—
Sig. Spare me, my dearest father .

Sif. [Aside.] I must rush
From her soft grasp, or nature will betray me !

Sig. You cannot, oh, my father!
You cannot leave me thus !

Sif. Come hither, Laura, Come to thy friend. Now show thyself a friend. Combat her weakness; dissipate her tears; Cherish, and reconcile her to her duty.

[Exit SIFFREDI.

Enter LAURA.

Laura. Forgive me, madam, if I blame your grief. How can you waste your tears on one so false 2 Unworthy of your tenderness; to whom Nought but contempt is due, and indignation ? Sig. You know not half the horrors of my fate : I might perhaps have learn'd to scorn his falsehood; I might have roused my pride and scorn'd himself— But ’tis too much, this greatest, last misfortune— Oh, whither shall I fly? Where hide me, Laura, From the dire scene my father now prepares 2 Laura. What thus alarms you, madam : Sig. Can it be Can I ah, no My violated heart 2 Oh, dreadful change! for Tancred, haughty Osmond. Laura. Now, on my soul, 'tis what an outraged heart Like yours, should wish l—I should, by Heavens, esteem it Most exquisite revenge! Sig. Revenge on whom * On my own heart, already but too wretched *on him this Tancred who has basely SOld, For the dull form of despicable grandeur, His faith, his love!—At once a slave and tyrant .

at once give to another

Sig. Oh, rail at me, at my believing folly, My vain ill-founded hopes' but spare him, Laura. Laura. Who raised these hopes? who triumphs o'er that weakness Pardon the word—You greatly merit him; Better than him, with all his giddy pomp; You raised him by your smiles, when he was nothing. Where is your woman's pride, that guardian spirit Given us to dash the perfidy of man 2 Ye powers! I cannot bear the thought with patience— Before the public thus, before your father, By an irrevocable solemn deed, With such inhuman scorn, to throw you from him: To give his faithless hand, yet warm from thine, With complicated meanness, to Constantia. And, to complete his crime, when thy weak limbs Could scarce support thee, then, of thee regardless, To lead her off. Sig. That was indeed a sight To poison love, to turn it into rage And keen contempt.—What means this stupid weakneSS That hangs upon me? Hence, unworthy tears, Disgrace my cheek no more | No more, my heart, For one so coolly false or meanly fickle, Dare to suggest The least excuse !—Yes, traitor, I will wring Thy pride, will turn thy triumph to confusion 1 Sicilia's daughters Shall wondering see in me a great example Of one, who punish’d an ill-judging heart, Who made it bow to what it most abhorred 1 Crush'd it to misery ! for having thus So lightly listened to a worthless lover! Laura. At last it mounts, the kindling pride of virtue; Trust me, thy marriage shall embitter his—

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