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TANCRED AND SIGISMUNDA.

ACT THE FIRST.
SCENE I.
The Palace.

SIGISMUNDA and LAURA.

Sig. Ah, fatal day to Sicily! The King Touches his last moments!

Laura. So 'tis fear'd.

Sig. Laura,'tis said the heart is sometimes charged
With a prophetic sadness: such, methinks,
Now hangs on mine. The King's approaching death
Suggests a thousand fears. What troubles thence
May throw the state once more into confusion,
What sudden changes in my father's house
May rise and part me from my dearest Tancred,
Alarms my thoughts.

Laura. The fears of love-sick fancy!
Perversely busy to torment itself.
But be assured your father's steady friendship,
Join'd to a certain genius, that commands,
Not kneels to fortune, will support and cherish,
Here in the public eye of Sicily,

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
In Orn.
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 my Tancred'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

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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 1 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.

Enter SIFFREDI.

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? 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 Sigismund A and LAURA.

My doubts are but too true—a mutual passion
Has seized, I fear, my daughter and this prince,
My sovereign now—Should it be so Ah, there,
There lurks a brooding tempest, that may shake
My long concerted scheme, to settle firm
The public peace and welfare, which the King
Has made the prudent basis of his will.—
Away, unworthy views! you shall not tempt me !
Nor interest, nor ambition shall seduce
My fix'd resolve Perish the selfish thought,
Which our own good prefers to that of millions !
He comes, my King, unconscious of his fortune.

Enter TANCRED.

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?

Sif, 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.
I mark'd the people, as I hither came, -
In crowds assembled, struck with silent sorrow,
And pouring forth the noblest praise of tears.
A mingled murmur ran
Along the streets; and, from the lonely court
Of him who can no more assist their fortunes,
I saw the courtier-fry, with eager haste,
All hurrying to Constantia.

Sif. Noble youth!
Ijoy to hear from thee these just reflections,
Worthy of riper years.-But if they seek
Constantia, trust me, they mistake their course.

Tan. How! Is she not, my lord, the late King's

sister, *

Heir to the crown of Sicily, the last
Of our famed Norman line, and now our queen 2

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