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Palmira's saved for something worse than death;
This to prevent Zaphna, I follow thee.
[Stabs herself Kith ZAPHNA's szcord. Muh. What hast thou done! Pal. A deed of glory, tyrant! Thou hast left no object worth Palmira's eyes,
And, when I shut out light, I shut out thee
[Dies. Mah. Farewell, dear victim of my boundless passion! The price of treachery, the reward of murder, Sink with thee to the earth Oh, justice, justice! In vain are glory, worship, and dominion! All conqueror as I am, I am a slave, And, by the world adored, dwell with the damned! My crimes have planted scorpions in my breast; Here, here, I feel them. 'Tis in vain to brave The host of terrors, that invade my soul: I might deceive the world, myself I cannot. Aii. Be calm a while, my lord think what
you are. Mah. Ha! what am I?
[Turning to the bodies. Ye breathless family, Let your loud crying wounds say what I am.
Oh! snatch me from that sight; quick, quick
transport me To nature's loneliest mansion, where the sun Xe'er entered, where the sound of human tread Was never heard—But wherefore? still I there, There still, shall find myself—Ay, that's the hell! I'll none on't. [Droning hit sword.
Ali. Heavens! help, hold him!
[ALI, 4'C. disarm him. Mah. Paltry dastards! You fled the foe, but can disarm your master! Angel of death, whose power I've long proclaimed, Now aid me, if thou canst; now, if thou canst, Draw the kind curtain of eternal night, And shroud me from the horrors that beset me! [Exeunt Mahomet, $c Pha. Oh! what a curse is life, when self-conviction Flings our offences hourly in our face, And turns existence torturer to itself! Here let the mad enthusiast turn his eyes, And see from bigotry what horrors rise; Here in the blackest colours let him read, That zeal, by craft misled, may act a deed, By which both innocence and virtue bleed.
Long has the shameful licence of the age
Coquette the fan, and leer a double meaninq! Shame on those arts that prostitute the bays! Shame on the bard who this way hopes for
praise! The bold but honest author of to-night Disdains to please you, if he please not ri<rht; If, in his well-meant scene, you chance to find Aught to ennoble or enlarge the mind; If he has found the means, with honest art, To fix the noblest wishes in the heart, In softer accents to inform the fair, How bright they look when virtue drops the tear, Enjoy with friendly welcome the repast, And keep the heart-felt relish to the last.
Bold is the man, who, in this nicer age,
High rant is tumbled from his gallery throne:
What shall we then ? toplease you how devise, Whose judgment sits not in your cars nor eyes? Thrice nappy! could we catch great Shakspeare's
art. To trace the deep recesses of the heart; His simple, plain sublime, to which is given To strike the soul with darted flame from hca-i
ven; Could we awake soft Otway's tender woe, The pomp of verse and golden lines of Rowe!
We to your hearts apply: let them attend; Before their silent, candid bar we bend. If warm'd they listen, 'tis our noblest praise: If cold, they wither all the muse's bays.
Taxched, Count o/Leece.
Matteo Siffredi, Lord High Chancellor of
Sicily. KcW Osmond, Lord High Constable of Sicily. Rodolpho, friend to lancred, and captain of
SlGISMUXDA, daughter if Siffredi. LAURA, sister if Rodolpho, and friend to Sigismunda.
Barons, Officers, Guards, $c. SCENE,—The city of Palermo, in Sicily.
SCENE I.—The Palace.
Enter SlGISMVNDA and LAURA.
Sig. Ah, fatal day to Sicily! the king
Sig. The death of those distinguished by their
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 Tancrcd, Alarms my thoughts.
Laura. The fears of love-sick fancy, Perversely busy to torment itself. But be assured, your father*! steady fricruUliip, Joined 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 Xancred, formed to all his virtues. Sig. Ah, formed to charm his daughter!— This fair morn Has tempted far the chase. Is be not yet Returned?
Laura. No. When your father to the king, Who now expiring lies, was called 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. With princely accost, Nay, with respect, which oft I have observed, Stealing, at times, submissive o'er his features, In Belmont's woods my father reared this youth— Ah, woods! where first my artless bosom learned 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? and all their friends, Except my sire, the generous good Siffrcdi? Had ne a mother, sister, brother, left, The last remain of kindred, with what pride, With rapture, might they fly o'er earth and sea, To claim this rising honour of their blood, This bright unknown, this all-accomplished youth,
Who charms too much the heart of Stgismimda '■ Laura, perhaps your brother knows htm better, The friend and partner of his freest hours. What says Rodolpho? Does be truly credit This story of his birth?
Laura. He has sometimes, Like you, bis 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 paired 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. Si::. Away, my friend;
You natter 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 4
strikes him, He praises love as if he were a lover. He blames the false pursuits of vagrant youth, Calls them gay folly, a mistaken struggle Against best judging nature. Heaven, he says, In lavish bounty formed the heart for love; In love included all the liner seeds
Of honour, virtue, friendship, purest bliss
Sig. Virtuous Rodolpho f
He varies to the praises of your lover
Sig. And, what, my Laura, says he on the sub-
Sig. True! Oh, true, Rodolpho!
If virtue were to wear a human form,
Sif. [To an attendant as he enters.] Lord Tancred Is found?
Atten. My lord, he quickly will be here. I scarce could keep before him, though he bid me Speed on, to say he would attend your orders.
Sif. 'Tis well—retiie—You too, my daughter, leave me.
Sig. I go, my father—But how fares the king?
Sif. 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!—This stroke is sudden; He was this morning well, when to the chase Lord Tancred went.
Si/. '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 dny Were all discharged, and'gratefully enjoyed Its noblest blessings; calm as 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. Oh, may my death be such !—He but one wish Left unfulfilled, which was to see count Tancred.
Sig. To see count Tancred!—Pardon ine, 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 now— I want some private conference with lord Tancred. [Exeunt SlO. and LAURA. My doubts are but too true—If these old eyes Can trace the marks of love, 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 VOL. II.
Has made the prudent basis of his will
Away, unworthy views! you shall not tempt me!
Tan. My lord Siflredi, in your looks I read, Confirmed, the mournful news that fly abroad Fron tongue to tongue—We then, at last, have
lost The good old king?
Sif. Yes, we have lost a father; The greatest blessing he:ven bestows on mortals, And seldom found amidst these wilds of time, A good, a worthy king !—Hear me, my Tancred, And I will tell thee, in a few plain words, How he deserved that best, that glorious title; 'Tis nought complex, 'tis clear as truth and virtue. He loved his people, deemed thein all his children; The good exalted, and depressed the had. He spurned the flattering crew, with scorn rejected Their smooth advice that only means themselves, Their schemes to aggrandize him into baseness: Nor did he less disdain the secret breath, The whispered tale, that blights a virtuous name. He sought alone the good of those for whom He was entrusted with the sovereign power: Well knowing, that a people, in their rights And industry protected; living safe Beneath the sacred shelter of the laws; Encouraged in their genius, arts, and labours, And happy each, as he himself deserves, Arc ne er ungrateful. With unsparing hand, They will for him provide: their filial love And confidence are his unfailing treasure, And every honest man his faithful guard.
Tan. A general face of grief o'erspreads the city. I marked the people, as I hither came, In crowds assembled, struck with silent sorrow, And pouring forth the noblest praise—of tears. Those, whom remembrance of their former woes, And long experience of the vain illusions Of youthful hope, had into wise consent And fear of change corrected, wrung their hands, And, often casting up their eyes to heaven, Gave sign of sad conjecture. Others shewed, Athwart their grief, or real, or affected, A gleam of expectation, from what chance And change might bring. A mingled murmur ran Along the streets; ami 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! I joy 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? . 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; Who spilt much noble blood, and sore oppressed The exhausted land: whence grievous wars arose, And many a dire convulsion shook the state: When he, whose death Sicilia mourns to-day, William, who has, and well deserved the name Of Good, succeeding to his father's throne, Relieved his country's woes—But to return; She is the late king's sister, 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?
Sif. Come nearer, noble Tancred, Son of my care. I must, on this occasion, Consult thy generous heart; winch, 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, Roger the First.
Tan. Great Heaven! How far removed From that our mighty founder? • Sif. His great grandson: Sprung from his eldest son, who died untimely, Before his father.
Tnn. Ha! the prince you mean, Is he not Manfred's son r The generous, brave, Unhappy Manfred? whom the tyrant William, You just now mentioned, not content to spoil Of his paternal crown, threw into fetters, And infamously murdered? Sif. Yes, the same.
Tan. By Heavens, I joy to find our Norman reign, The world's sole light amidst these barbarous
ages, Yet rears its head; and shall not, from the lance, Pass to the feeble distaff.—But this prince. Where has he lain concealed i
Sif. The late good king, By noble pity moved, contrived to save him From his dire father's unrelenting rage, And had him reared 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 concealed, His birth and fortune to himself unknown; But when the dying king to me intrusted, As to the chancellor of the realm, his will, His successor he named him.
Tan. Happy youth! He then wQl triumph o'er lu's father's foes, O'er haughty Osmond, and the tyrant's daughter. Sif. Ay, that is what I dread—the heat of youth; There lurks, I fear, perdition to the state;
I dread the horrors of rekindled war:
Tan. Mv lord Siffredi, If by myself I of this prince may judge, That scheme will scarce succeed—Your prudent
age In vain will counsel, if the heart forbid it— But wherefore fear? The right is clearly his; And, under your direction, with each man Of worth, and stedfast loyalty, to back At once the king's appointment and his birthright, There is no ground for fear. They have great
odds, Against the astonished sons of violence, Who fight with awful justice on their side. All Sicily will rouse, all faithful hearts Will range themselves around prince Manfred's
son. For me, I here devote me to the service Of this young prince; I every drop of blood Will lose with joy, with transport, in his cause— Pardon my warmth—but that, my lord, will
never To this decision come—Then find the prince; Lose not a moment to awaken in him The royal soul. Perhaps lie now, desponding, Pines in a corner, and laments his fortune, That in the narrower bounds of private lite He must confine his aims, those swelling virtues Which from his noble father he inherits.
Sif. Perhaps, regardless, in the common bone Of youth he melts, in vanity and love. But if the seeds of virtue glow within him, I will awake a higher sense, a love, That grasps the loves and happiness of millions. Tan. Why that surmise? Or should he love, Siffredi, 1 doubt not, it is nobly, which will raise And animate his virtues—Oh, permit me To plead the cause of youth—Their virtue oft, In pleasure's soft enchantment lulled awhile, Forgets itself; it sleeps and gayly dreams, Till great occasion rouse it; then, all flame. It walks abroad, with heightened soul and vigour, And, by the change, astonishes the world! Even with a kind of sympathy, I feel The joy that waits this prince; when all the
powers, The expanding heart can wish, of doing good; Whatever swells ambition, or exalts The human soul into divine emotions, All crowd at once upon him.
Sif. Ah, my Tancred, Nothing so easy as in speculation, And at a distance seen, the course of honour;