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This, I may call him, his adopted son, The noble Tancred, formed to all his virtues. Sig. Ah, form'd to charm his daughter!... This fair morn Has tempted far the chase. Is he not yet Return'd? Laura. No.—When your father to the King, Who now expiring lies, was call'd in haste, He sent each way his messengers to find him; With such a look of ardour and impatience, As if this near event was to Count Tancred Of more importance than I comprehend. Sig. There lies, my Laura, o'er myTancred’s birth A cloud I cannot pierce. In Belmont woods, my father rear'd this youth— Ah, woods! where first my artless bosom learn'd The sighs of love.—He gives him out the son Of an old friend, a baron of Apulia, Who, in the late crusado, bravely fell. But then 'tis strange; is all his family, As well as father, dead? What says Rodolpho? Does he truly credit This story of his birth? Laura. He has sometimes, Like you, his doubts; yet, when maturely weighed, Believes it true. As for Lord Tancred's self, He never entertained the slightest thought That verged to doubt; but oft laments his state, By cruel fortune so ill pair’d to yours. Sig. Merit like his, the fortune of the mind, Beggars all wealth.-Then, to your brother, Laura, He talks of me? Laura. Of nothing else. Howe'er The talk begin, it ends with Sigismunda. Their morning, noontide, and their evening walks, Are full of you, and all the woods of Belmont Enamoured with your name—
Sig. Away, my friend; You flatter—yet the dear delusion charms. Laura. No, Sigismunda, ’tis the strictest truth, Nor half the truth, I tell you. Even with fondness My brother talks for ever of the passion That fires young Tancred's breast. So much it strikes him, He praises love as if he were a lover. Heaven, he says, In lavish bounty form'd the heart for love; In love included all the finer seeds Of honour, virtue, friendship, purest bliss— Sig. Virtuous Rodolpho! Laura. Then his pleasing theme He varies to the praises of your lover— Sig. And what, my Laura, says he on that subject? Laura. He says, that though he were not nobly born, Nature has form'd him noble, generous, brave. Chiefly one charm He in his graceful character observes; That though his passions burn with high impatience, And sometimes, from a noble heat of nature, Are ready to fly off, yet the least check Of ruling reason brings them back to temper, And gentle softness. Sig. True, Oh, true, Rodolpho! Blest be thy kindred worth for loving his He is all warmth, all amiable fire, All quick heroic ardour! Go on, my friend, go on, and ever praise him : The heart of woman tastes no truer joy, Is never flatter'd with such dear enchantment, As when She hears the praises of the man she loves! Laura. Madam, your father comes.
Sif. [To an ATTEND ANT.] Lord Tancred Is found? Attend. My lord, he quickly will be here. Sif, 'Tis well—retire [Erit ATTENDANT.]—You too, my daughter, leave me. Sig. I go, my father—But how fares the King? Sis. He is no more—Gone to that awful state, Where kings the crown wear only of their virtues. Sig. How bright must then be his l—This stroke is sudden; He was this morning well, when to the chase Lord Tancred went. Sif, 'Tis true. But at his years, Death gives short notice—Drooping nature then, Without a gust of pain to shake it, falls. His death, my daughter, was that happy period, Which few attain. The duties of his day Were all discharged :—Calm as the evening skies Was his pure mind, and lighted up with hopes That open Heaven;—when, for his last long sleep Timely prepared, a lassitude of life, A pleasing weariness of mortal joy, Fell on his soul, and down he sunk to rest. O, may my death be such!—He but one wish Left unfulfill'd, which was, to see Count Tancred— Sig. To see Count Tancred! Pardon me, my lord Sif. For what, my daughter?—But, with such emotion, Why did you start at mention of Count Tancred 2 Sig, Nothing I only hoped the dying King Might mean to make some generous, just provision, For this your worthy charge, this noble orphan. Sif. And he has done it largely—Leave me nowI want some private conference with Lord Tancred. [Exeunt Sigismunda and LAURA.
My doubts are but too true—a mutual passion
Tan. My Lord Siffredi, in your looks I read, Confirmed, the mournful news that fly abroad From tongue to tongue—We, then, at last, have lost The good old King?
Sis. Yes, we have lost a father! The greatest blessing Heaven bestows on mortals, A good, a worthy king !
Tan. A general face of grief o'erspreads the city.
Sif. Noble youth!
Tan. How! Is she not, my lord, the late King's
Heir to the crown of Sicily, the last
Sif, Tancred, 'tis true; she is the late King's sister, The sole surviving offspring of that tyrant, William the Bad—so for his vices styled; Born some months After the tyrant's death, but not next heir.
Tan. You much surprise me—May I then presume To ask who is 2
Sãf Come nearer, noble Tancred, Son of my care:–I must on this occasion Consult thy generous heart; which, when conducted By rectitude of mind, and honest virtues, Gives better counsel than the hoary head.— Then know, there lives a prince, here in Palermo, The lineal offspring of our famous hero, And rightful heir of Sicily.
Tan. Great Heaven!—How far removed
Sif. His great grandson:
Tan. Ha! the prince you mean,
Sif, Yes, the same.
Tan. But this prince, Where has he lain conceal’d?
Sif. The late good King, By noble pity moved, contrived to save him From his dire father’s unrelenting rage, And had him rear'd in private, as became His birth and hopes, with high and princely nurture. Till now, too young to rule a troubled state, By civil broils most miserably torn, He in his safe retreat has lain conceal’d, His birth and fortune to himself unknown ;