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My heart at peace; till these dear lips again
Pronounce thee mine !—Without thee, I renounce
Myself, my friends, the world!—Here, on this hand—
Sig. My lord, forget that hand, which never now
Can be to thine united
Tan. Sigismunda |
What dost thou mean 8–Thy words, thy look, thy
mannerS,
Seem to conceal some horrid secret—Heavens!
No—that was wild—Distraction fires the thought!—
Sig. Inquire no more I never can be thine.
Tan. What!—Who shall interpose Who dares
attempt
To brave the fury of an injured king :
Who, ere he sees thee ravish'd from his hopes,
Will wrap all blazing Sicily in flames |
Sig. In vain your power, my lord—This fatal error,
Join'd to my father's unrelenting will,
Has placed an everlasting bar betwixt us—
I am Earl Osmond's—wife
Tan. Earl Osmond's wife 1 —
[After a long pause, during which they look at
one another with the highest agitation, and
most tender distress.
Heavens! did I hear thee right?—What! married ?
married 1–
Lost to thy faithful Tancred 3–lost for ever!
Could'st thou then doom me to such matchless woe,
Without so much as hearing me?—Distraction!
Alas! what hast thou done?—Ah, Sigismunda!
Thy rash credulity has done a deed,
Which, of two happiest lovers that e'er felt
The blissful power, has made two finish'd wretches!
But—madness!—Sure thou know'st it cannot be 2
This hand is mine !—a thousand thousand vows

Enter Osmo Nd.

Osm. [Snatching her hand from the king.] Madam, this hand, by the most solemn rites,

A little hour ago, was given to me;
And did not sovereign honour now command me,
Never but with my life to quit my claim,
I would renounce it thus !

Tan. Ha, who art thou?

Sig. [Aside.] Where is my father ? Heavens !

- [Goes out. Osm. One thou should'st better know.—Yes—view me, one

Who can and will maintain his rights and honour Against a faithless prince, an upstart king ! Whose first base deed is what a harden'd tyrant Would blush to act.

Tan. Insolent Osmond know, This upstart king will hurl confusion on thee, And all who shall invade his sacred rights, Prior to thine!—thine, founded on compulsion, On infamous deceit. I will annul, By the high power with which the laws invest me, Those guilty forms, in which you have entrapp'd My queen betroth'd, who has my heart, my hand, And shall partake my throne.—If, haughty lord, If this thou didst not know, then know it now ; And know, besides, as I have told thee this, Should'st thou but think to urge thy treason further, Thy life shall answer for it.

Osm. Ha! my life!— It moves my scorn to hearthy empty threats. When was it that a Norman baron’s life Became so vile, as on the frown of kings To hang 2—Of that, my lord, the law must judge: Or, if the law be weak, my guardian sword—

Tan. Dare not to touch it, traitor, lest my rage Break loose, and do a deed that misbecomes me.

Enter SIFFREDI.

Sis. My gracious lord, what is it I behold !
My sovereign in contention with his subjects :
Heavens ! can your highness
From your exalted character descend,
Unkindly thus disturb the sweet repose,
The sacred peace of families, for which
Alone the free-born race of man to laws
And government submitted 2

Tan. My Lord Siffredi,
Spare thy rebuke. The duties of my station
Are not to me unknown. But thou, old man,
Dost thou not blush to talk of rights invaded,
And of our best, our dearest, bliss disturb’d 2
Thou, who with more than barbarous perfidy,
Hast trampled all allegiance, justice, truth,
Humanity itself, beneath thy feet?
Thou know'st thou hast.—I could to thy confusion
Return thy hard reproaches; but I spare thee
Before this lord, for whose ill-sorted friendship
Thou hast most basely sacrificed thy daughter.
Farewell, my lord.—For thee, Lord Constable,
Who dost presume to lift thy surly eye
To my soft love, my gentle Sigismunda,
I once again command thee, on thy life
Yes—chew thy rage—but mark me—on thy life,
No further urge thy arrogant pretensions!

[Exit TANCRED.

Osm. Ha! arrogant pretensions! Heaven and earth! What! arrogant pretensions to my wife? My wedded wife!—Where are we? in a land Of civil rule, of liberty, and laws?— Not, on my life, pursue them —Giddy prince My life disdains thy nod. It is the gift

Of parent Heaven, who gave me too an arm,
A spirit to defend it against tyrants.
Mine is a common cause. My arm shall guard,
Mix'd with my own, the rights of each Sicilian.
Ere to thy tyrant rage they fall a prey,
I shall find means to shake thy tottering throne,
And crush thee in the ruins !—
Constantia is my queen

Sif. Lord Constable,
Let us be stedfast in the right; but let us
Act with cool prudence, and with manly temper,
As well as manly firmness.
I know the king; at first, his passions burst
Quick as the lightning's flash, but in his breast
Honour and justice dwell.—Trust me, to reason
He will return.

Osm. He will !—By Heavens, he shall!— You know the king—I wish, my Lord Siffredi, That you had deign'd to tell me all you knew.— And would you have me wait, with duteous patience, Till he return to reason: Ye just powers! When he has planted on our necks his foot, And trod us into slaves; when his vain pride Is cloy'd with our submission. No, no, my lord! there is a nobler way To teach the blind oppressive Fury reason: Oft has the lustre of avenging steel Unseal’d her stupid eyes.—The sword is reason —

Enter Rodolpho, with GUARDs.

Rod. My Lord High Constable of Sicily, In the King's name, and by his special order, I here arrest you prisoner of state. Osm. What king? I know no King of Sicily, Unless he be the husband of Constantia. Rod. Then know him now behold his royal orders, To bear you to the castle of Palermo.

\

Sif. Let the big torrent foam its madness off. Submit, my lord—No castle long can hold Our wrongs.-This, more than friendship or alliance, Confirms me thine; this binds me to thy fortunes, By the strong tie of common injury, Which nothing can dissolve.—I grieve, Rodolpho, To see the reign in such unhappy sort Begin.

Osm. The reign —The usurpation, call it! This meteor king may blaze a while, but soon Must spend his idle terrors.-Sir, lead on Farewell, my lord—more than my life and fortune, Remember well, is in your hands—my honour!

Sif. Our honouris the same. My son, farewell— We shall not long be parted.—On these eyes Sleep shall not shed his balm, till I behold thee Restored to freedom, or partake thy bonds. [Exeunt.

ACT THE FIFTH.
SCENE I,

A Chamber.

SIFFRED1, alone.

Sif. The prospect lowers around. I found the king Inexorably fix’d, whate'er the risk, To claim my daughter, and dissolve the marriage.I have embark'd, upon a perilous sea, A mighty treasure; and I only faster rush

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