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2d Off. Friends, indeed
Had shown a nobler heart; nor grossly thos, You cannot pass this way-We have strict By the first bait ambition spread, been gull’d. orders,
He Manfred's son ! away! it cannot be! To keep for him himself, and for the barons, The son of that brave prince could ne'er beAll these apartments clear-Go to the gate
(father. That fronts the sea, you there will find ad. Those rights so long usurp'd from his great mission.
Which he, this day, by such amazing fortune, Omnes. Long live King Tancred! Manfred's Had just regain'd; he ne'er could sacrifice
son-huzza ! [Crowd goes off. All faith, ali honour, gratitude, and love, 1st Of I do not marvel at their rage of joy. Even just resentment of his father's fate, He is a brave and amiable prince.
And pride itself; whate'er exalts a man When in my Lord Siffredi's house 1 liv'd, Above the groveling sons of peasant mud, Ere by his favour I obtain'd this office, All in a moment-And for what? why, truly, I there remember well the young Count Tan- For kind permission, gracious leave, to sit cred.
On his own throne with tyrant William's To see him and to love him were the same;
daughter ! He was so noble in his ways, yet still
Rod. I stand amaz'd-You surely wrong So affable and mild.Wellwell, old Sicily,
him, Laura. Yet happy days await thee!
There must be some mistake. 2d Off: Grant it, Heaven!
Laura. There can be none ! We have seen sad and troublesome times Siffredi read his full and free consent enough,
Before th' applauding senate. True, indeed, He is, they say, to wed the late king's sister, A small remain of shame, a timorous weak. Constantia.
ness, 1st Off. Friend, of that I greatly doubt. Even dastardly in falsehood, made him blush Or I mistake, or Lord Siffredi's daughter, To act this scene in Sigismunda's eye, The gentle Sigismunda, has his heart.
Who sunk beneath his perfidy and baseness. If one may judge by kindly, cordial looks, Hence, till to-morrow he adjourn'd the senate! And fond, assiduous care to please each other, To-morrow, fix'd with infamy to crown him! Most certainly they love-Oh, be they bless'd, Then leading off his gay, triumphant princess, As they deserve! It were great pity aught He left the poor unhappy Sigismunda Should part a matchless pair; the glory he, To bend her trembling steps to that sad home And she the blooming grace of Sicily!
His faithless vows will render hateful to 2d Of My Lord Rodolpho comes.
He comes-Farewell—I cannot bear his preEnter RODOLPHO from the Senate.
(Erit LACRA. Rod. My honest friends,
Enter TANCRED and SIFFREDI, meeting. You may retire. [Officers go out.] A storm is in the wind.
Tan. Avoid me, hoary traitor! Go, Ro. This will perplexes all. No, Tancred never
dolpho, Can stoop to these conditions, which at once Give orders that all passages this way Attack his rights, his honour, and his love. Be shut-Defend me from a hateful world, Those wise old men, those plodding, grave, The bane of peace and honour—then returnstate pedants,
[Erit RODOLPHO. Forget the course of youth; their crooked What! dost thou haunt me still? Oh, monprudence,
strous insult! To baseness verging still, forgets to take Unparallel'd indignity ! Just Heaven! Into their fine-spun schemes the generous Was ever king, was ever man so treated, heart,
(lays So trampled into baseness ? That, through the cobweb system bursting, Sif. Here, my liege, Their labours waste-So will this business Here strike! I'nor deserve, nor ask for mercy, prove,
Tan. Distraction !-Oh, my soul !-Hold, Or I mistake the king-back from the pomp
reason, hold He seem'd at first to shrink, and round his Thy giddy seat-Oh, this inhuman outrage brow
Unhinges thought !, I mark'd a gathering cloud, when, by his side, Sif. Exterminate thy servant. As if design'd to share the public homage, Tan. All, all but this I could have borne He saw the tyrant's daughter. But confess'd
but this! At least to me the doubling tempest frown'd, This daring insolence beyond example! And shook his swelling bosom, when he This murderous stroke, that stabs my peace heard
for ever! Th' unjust, the base conditions of the will. That wounds me there-there! where the Uncertain, toss'd in cruel agitation,
human heart He oft, methought, address'd himself to speak, Most exquisitely feelsAnd interrupt Siffredi ; who appear'd,
Sif. Oh, bear it not, With conscious haste, to dread that interrup- My royal lord ; appease on me your vengeance! tion,
Tan. Did ever tyrant image aught so cruel! And hurried on- -But hark! I hear a noise, The lowest slave that crawls upon the earth, As if th' assembly rose-Ha! Sigismunda, Robb'd of each comfort Heaven bestows on Oppress'd with grief, and wrapp'd in pensive mortals, Passes along.
(sorrow, On the bare ground, has still his virtue left, [SIGISMUNDA and Attendants pass through The sacred treasure of an honest heart, the back Scene.
Which thou hast dar'd, with rash, audacious
hand, Enter LAURA.
And impious fraud, in me to violate Luura. Your high-prais'd friend, the king, Sif. Behold, my lord, that rash audacious Is false, most vilely false. The meanest slave
Which not repents its crime-Oh, glorious, In this will be a king; in this my people
When they behold me vindicate my own. Greatly detest it, and its mean adviser ! Bot have I, say, been treated like a king ?Hast thou not dar'd beneath my name to shel- Heavens! couid I stoop to such outrageous My name, for other purposes desigu’d, [ter
usage! Given from the fondness of a faithful heart, I were a mean, a shameless wretch, unworthy With the best love o'erflowing-Hast thou not, To wield a sceptre in a land of slaves, Beneath thy sov'reign's name, basely presum's A soil abhorr'd of virtue; should belie To shield a lie-a lie in public utter'd, My father's blood, belie those very maxims, To all deluded Sicily? But know,
At other times you taught my youth-SifThis poor contrivance is as weak as base.
fredi ! [la a softened tone of voice. In such a wretched toil none can be beld Sif. Bebold, my prince, thy poor old servant, But fools and cowards-Soon thy flimsy arts, Whose darling care, these twenty years, has Touch'd by my, just, my burning indignation,
been Shall burst like threads in fame — Thy To nurse thee up to virtue; who, for thee, doting prudence
Thy glory and thy weal, renounces all, But more secures the purpose it would shake. All interest or ambition can pour fortb ; Had my resolves been wavering and doubtful, What many a selfish father would pursue This would confirm them, make them fix'd as Through treachery and crimes: behold him fate;
here, This adds the only motive that was wanting
Bent on his feeble knees, to beg, conjure thee, To urge them on through war and desolation. With tears to beg thee to control thy passion, What? marry her! Cogstantia! her! the And save thyself, thy honour, and thy people! daughter
Kneeling with me, behold the many thousands Of the fell tyrant who destroy'd my father! To thy protection trusted; fathers, mothers, The very thought is madness! Ere thou seest The sacred front of venerable age, The torch of Hymen light these hated nuptials, The tender virgin, and the helpless infant; Thou shalt behold Sicilia wrapt in flames,
The ministers of Heaven, those who maintain, Her cities raz’d, her vallies drench'd with | Around thy throne, the majesty of rule; slaughter
And those whose labour, scorch'd by winds Love set aside, my pride assumes the quarrel;
and sun, My honour now is up; in spite of thee,
Feeds the rejoicing public; see them all A world combin'd against me, I will give Here at thy feet conjuring thee to save them This scatter'd will in fragments to the winds, From misery and war, from crimes and rapine! Assert my rights, the freedom of my heart, Can there be aught, kind Heaven, in self-inCrush all who dare oppose me to the dust,
dulgence And heap perdition on thee!
To weigh down these, this aggregate of love, Sif. Sir, 'tis just.
With which compar'd, the dearest private Exhaust on me thy rage; I claim it all.
passion But for these public threats thy passion utters, Is but the wasted dust upon the balance ? "Tis what thou canst not do.
Turn not away-Oh, is there not some part Tan. I cannot! ha!
In thy great heart, so sensible to kindness, Driven to the dreadful brink of such dishonour, And generous warmth, some nobler part, to Enough to make the tamest coward brave,
(voice And into fierceness rouse the mildest nature, The prayers and tears of these, the miogled What shall arrest my vengeance? Who? Of Heaven and earth? Sif. Thyself.
Tan, There is, and thou hast touch'd it. Tan. Away! Dare not to justify thy crime! Rise, rise, Siffredi-Oh, thou hast undone me! That, that alone can aggravate its horror,
Unkind old man !- -Oh, ill-entreated TancAdd 'insolence to insolence-perhaps
Which way soe'er I turn, dishonour rears (red! May make my rage forget
Her hideous front-and misery and ruin. Sif. Oh, let it burst
Was it for this you took such care to form me? On this gray head, devoted to thy service! For this imbued me with the quickest sense But when the storm has vented all its fury, Of shame; these finer feelings, that ne'er vex Thou then must hear-nay more, I know thou The common mass of mortals, dully happy wilt
(son. | In bless'd insensibility ? Oh, rather Wilt hear the calm, yet stronger voice of rea. You should have sear’d my heart, taught me Thou must reflect that a whole people's safety,
that power The weal of trusted millions, should bear down, And splendid interest lord it still o'er virtue ;, Thyself the judge, the fondest partial pleasure. That, gilded by prosperity and pride, Thou must reflect that there are other duties, There is no shame, no meanness; temper'd A nobler pride, a more exalted honour, I had been fit to rule a veual world. [thus, Superior pleasures far, that will oblige, Alas! what meant thy wantonness of pruCompel thee, to abide by this my deed,
dence ? Unwarranted perhaps in common justice, Why have you rais'd this miserable conflict But which necessity, even virtue's tyrant, Betwixt the duties of the king and man? With awful voice commanded.—Yes, 'thou Set virtue against virtue ?-Ah, Siffredi ! must,
'Tis thy superfluous, thy unfeeling wisdom, In calmer hours, divest thee of thy love, That has involv'd me in a maze of error These common passions of the vulgar breast, Almost beyond retreat. -But hold, my soul This boiling heat of youth, and be a king, Thy steady purpose-Toss'a by various pasThe lover of thy people!
To this eternal anchor keep-There is, (sions Tan. Truths, isl employ'd,
Can be no public without private virtue Abus'd to colour guili?
-A king! a king ! Then, mark me well, observe what I comYes, I will be a king, but not a slave;
It is the sole expedient now remaining- All mad with acclamation, what, Rodolpho,
kill'd me! Or here our friendship ends-Howe'er dis- Oh! I am base in Sigismunda's eye! Whatever thy pretence, thou art a traitor. The lowest of mankind, the most perfidious! Sif. I should indeed deserve the name of Rod. Tuis was a strain of insolence indeed, traitor,
A daring outrage of so strange a nature
That dash'd not back, that moment in his face, Tan. Ha!
The bold presumptuous lie!-and curs'd this Sif. My liege,
hand, Expect not this -Though practis'd long in That, from a start of poor dissimulation, courts,
Led off my Sigismunda's hated rival. I have not so far learn'd their subtle trade, Ah, then? what, poison'd by the false apTo veer obedient with each gust of passion.
pearance, I honour thee, I venerate thy orders,
What, Sigismunda, were thy thoughts of me? But honour more my duty. Nought on earth How, in the silent bitterness of soul, (self, Shall ever shake me from that solid rock, How didst thou scorn me, hate mankind, thyNor smiles, nor frowns.
For trusting to the vows of faithless Tancred ! Tan. You will not then?
For such I seem'd-1 was-the thought disSif. I cannot.
tracts me! Tan. Away! begone!-Oh, my Rodolpho, I should have cast a flattering world aside, come,
Rush'd from my throne, before them all arou'd And save me from this traitor! Hence, I say,
her Avoid my presence straight! and know, olå The choice, the glory of my free-born heart, man,
[friendship, And spurn'd the shameful fetters thrown upon Thou, my worst foe beneath the mask of
[Exit SIFFREDI. Blame not the conduct which your situation
Tore from your tortur'd heart-What could Enter RODOLPHO.
you do? Rod. What can incense my prince so highly Had you, so circumstanc'd, in open senate, Against his friend Siffredi !
Before th' astonish'd public, with no friends Tan. Friend! Rodolpho,
[done, Prepar'd, no party form’d, affronted thns When I have told thee what this friend has The haughty princess and her powerful faction, How play'd me like a boy, a base-born wretch, Supported by this will, the sudden stroke,, Who had nor heart nor spirit, thou wilt stand Abrupt and premature, might
have recoild Amaz'd, and wonder at my stupid patience. Upon yourself, even your own friends revolted, · Rod. I heard, with mix'd astonishment and And turn'd at once the public scale against grief,
you. The king's unjust, dishonourable will, Besides, consider, had you then detected Void in itself-I saw you stung with rage, In its fresh guilt this action of Siffredi, (tis'd And writhing in the snare ; just as I went, You must with signal vengeance have chasAt your command to wait you here—but that The treasonable deed--Nothing so mean Was the king's deed, not his.
As weak, insulted power that dares not punish. Tan. Oh, he advis'd it !
And how would that have suited with your These many years he has in secret hatch'd
[conduct, This black contrivance, glories in the scheme, His daughter present too? Trust me, your And proudly plumes him with his traitorous Howe'er abhorrent to a heart like yours, virtue.
[nothing ! Was fortunate and wise-Not that I mean, But that was nought, Rodolpho, nothing; E'er to advise submissionOh, that was gentle,blameless to what follow'd! Tan. Heavens! submissionI had, my friend, to Sigismunda given, Could I descend to bear it, even in thought, To hush her fears, in the full gush of fondness, Despise me, you, the world, and Sigismunda! A blank sign’d with my hand-and he, Oh, Submission !- No!- To-morrow's glorious Heavens!
light Was ever such a wild attempt !- he wrote Shall flash discovery on the scene of baseness. Beneath my name an absolute compliance Whatever be the risk, by Heavens, to-morrow, To this detested will, nay, dar'd to read it I will o'erturn the dirty lie-built schemes Before myself, on my insulted throne
Of these old men, and show my faithful senate His idle pageant plac'd--Oh, words are weak That Manfred's son knows to assert and wear, To paint the pangs, the rage, the indignation, With undiminish'd dígnity, that crown That whirld from thought to thought my soul This unexpected day has plac'd upon bim. in tempest,
But this, my friend, these stormy gusts of pride Now on the point to burst, and now by shame Are foreign to my love-Till Sigismunda Repress'd- -But in the face of Sicily, Be disabus'd, my breast is tumult all,
And can obey no settled course of reason. Thy looks were softness all; then the quick
But now, alas ! those tender days are fled ; Big with soft wo, and gentle indignation, Now thou canst see me wretched, pierc'd with Which seem'd at once to pity and to scorn
With studied anguish of thy own creating, Oh, let me find her! too long have left Nor wet thy harden'd eye-Hold, let me My Sigismunda to converse with tears,
thinkA prey to thoughts that picture me a villain. I wrong thee sure; thou canst not be so base, But ah! how, clogg'd with this accursed state, As meanly in my misery to triumphA tedious world, shall I now find access ? What is it then ?-'Tis tickleness of nature, Her father too— Ten thousand horrors crowd 'Tis sickly love extinguish'd by ambitionInto the wild, fantastic eye of love
Is there, kind Heaven, no constancy in man? Who knows what he may do? Come then, No steadfast truth, no generous fix'd affection, my friend,
That can bear up against a selfish world? And by thy sister's hand, oh, let me steal No, there is none-Even Tancred is inconA letter to her bosom-I no longer
[Rising: Can bear her absence, by the just contempt Hence! let me fly this scene!-Whate'er I She now must brand me with, inflam'd to mad
These roofs, these walls, each object that surFly, my Rodolpho, fly! engage thy sister To aid my letter, and this very evening Are tainted with his vows But whither fly? Secure an interview--I would not bear The groves are worse, the soft retreat of BelThis rack another day, not for my kingdom.
(summits, Till then, deep plung'd in solitude and shades, Its deepening glooms, gay lawns, and airy I will not see the hated face of man.
Will wound my busy memory to torture, Thought drives on thought, on passion pas- And all its shades will whisper-faithless sions roll;
Tancred !Her smiles alone can calm my raging soul. My father comes-How, sunk in this disorder,
[Exeunt. Shall I sustain his presence ? ACT III.
My dearest child ! I grieve to find thee thus
A prey to tears. I know the powerful cause SIGISMUNDA alone, sitting in a disconsolate From which they flow, and therefore can exposture.
But not their wilful, obstinate continuance. Sig. Ah, tyrant prince ! ah more than Come, rouse thee, then, call up thy drooping faithless Tancred!
spirit, Ungenerous and inhuman in thy falsehood! Awake to reason from this dream of love, Hadst thou this morning, when my hopeless And show the world thou are Siffredi's heart,
daughter. Submissive to my fortune and my duty,
Sig. Alas! I am unworthy of that name. Had so much spirit left, as to be willing
Sit. Thou art indeed to blame; thou hast To give thee back thy vows, ah! hadst thou too rashly then
Engag'd thy heart, without a father's sanction. Confess'd the sad necessity thy state [ship, But this I can forgive. The king has virtues, Impos'd upon thee, and with gentle friend - That plead thy full excuse ; nor was I void Since we must part at last, our parting soft. Of blame, to trust thee to those dangerous
[blames, I should indeed-I should have been unhappy, Then dread not my reproaches. Though he But not to this extreme-Amidst my grief, Thy tender father pities more than blames I had, with pensive pleasure, cherish'd still
thee. The sweet remembrance of thy former love, Thou art my daughter still ; and, if thy heart Thy image still had dwelt upon my soul, Will now resume its pride, assert itself, And made our guiltless woes not undelightful. And greatly rise, super or to this trial, But coolly thus-How couldst thou be so I to my warmest confidence again cruel?
Will take thee, and esteem thee more my Thus to revive my hopes, to sooth my love,
daughter. And call forth all its tenderness, then sink'me Sig: Oh, you are gentler far than I deserve! In black despair-What unrelenting pride It is, it ever was, my darling pride, Possess'd thy breast, that thou couldst bear To bend my soul to your supreme commands, unmoy'd
Your wisest will; and though, by love beTo see me bent beneath a weight of shame?
tray'de Pangs thou canst never feel? How couldst Alas! and punish'd too—I have transgress'd thou drag me,
The nicest bounds of duty, yet I feel In barbarous triumph'at a rival's car ?
A sentiment of tenderness, a source How make me witness to a sight of horror ? Of filial nature springing in my breast, That hand, which but a few short hours ago, That, should it kill me, shall control this So wantonly abus'd my simple faith,
passion, Before th' attesting world given to another, And make me all submission and obedience Irrevocably given ! There was a time, To you, my honour'd lord, the best of fathers. When the least cloud that hung upon roy brow, Sif. Come to my arms, thou comfort of iny Perhaps imagin'd only, toucb'd thy pity. Then, brighten'd often by the ready tear, Thou only
joy and hope of these gray hairs !
Come, let me take thee to a parent's heart; Though by the voice of innocence and virtue There, with the kindly aid of my advice, Absolv'd we live not to ourselves alone: Even with the dew of these paternal tears, A rigorous world with peremptory sway, Revive and nourish this becoming spirit- Subjects us all, and even the noblest most. Then thou dost promise me,my Sigismunda
This world from thee, my honour and thy own, Thy father stoops to make it his request- Demands one step; a step, by which, convinc'd, Thou wilt resign thy fond, presumptuous hopes, The king may see thy heart disdains to wear And benceforth never more indulge one A chain which his has greatly thrown aside. thought
'Tis fitting too, thy sex's pride commands thee, That in the light of love regards the king ? To show th’approving world thou canst resign, Sig. Hopes I have none !—Those by this As well as he, nor with inferior spirit, fatal day
A passion fatal to the public weal. Are blasted all—But from my soul to banish, But above all thou must root out for ever While weeping memory there retains her seat, From the king's breast the least remain of hupe, Thoughts which the purest bosom might have And henceforth make his mentioned love discherish’d,
honour. Once my delight, now even in anguish charm. These things my daughter, that must needs Is more, my lord, than I can promise.
be done, Sif. Absence, and time, the softner of our Can but this way be done-by the safe refuge, passions,
[thee The sacred shelter of a husband's arms. Will conquer this. Meantime, I hope from And there is one A generous great effort; that thou wilt now Sig. Good Heavens! what means my lord ? Exert thy utmost force, nor languish thus Sif. One of illustrious family, high rank, Beneath the vain extravagance of love. Yet still of higher dignity and merit, Let not thy father blush to hear it said, Who can and will protect thee ; one to awe His daughter was so weak, e'er to admit The king himself-Nay, hear me, SigisA thought so void of reason, that a king,
munda Should to his rank, his honour, and his glory, The noble Osmond courts thee for his bride, The high important duties of a throne, And has my plighted word—This dayEven to his throne itself, madly prefer
Sig. [Kneeling.) My father! A wild, romantic passion, the fond child Let me with trembling arms embrace thy Of youthful dreaming thought and vacant
knees ? hours ;
[tion, Oh, if you ever wish to see me happy; That he should quit his Heaven-appointed sta- | \ e'er in infant years I gave you joy, Desert his awful charge, the care of all When, as I pratiling twin'd around your neck, The toiling millions which this isle contains ; You snatch'd me io your bosom, kiss'd my Nay more, should plunge them into war and
And melting said you saw my mother there; And all to sooth a sick imagination,
Oh, save me from that worst severity A miserable weakness.-Must for thee, Of fate! Oh, outrage not my breaking heart To make thee bless'd, Sicilia be unhappy ? To that degree ! I cannot !-'uis impossible! The king himself, lost to the nobler sense So soon withdraw it, give it to another Of manly praise, become the piteous hero Hear me, my dearest father; hear the voice Of some soft tale, and rush on sure destruc-Of nature and humanity, that plead, tion !
As well as justice, for me ! Not to choose Canst thou, my daughter, let the monstrous Without your wise direction may be duty; thought
But still my choice is free—that is a right, Possess one moment thy perverted fancy? Which even the lowest slave can never lose. Rouse thee, for shame! and if a spark of And would you thus degrade me ?-make me virtue
base ? Lies slumbering in thy soul, bid it blaze forth; For such it were to give my worthless person Nor sink unequal to the glorious lesson, Without my heart, an injury to Osmond, This day thy sover gave thee from his throne. The highest can be done.-Let me, my lordSig. Ah, that was not from virtue -Had, Or I shall die, shall by the sudden change, my father,
Be to distraction shock'd-Let me wear out That been his aim, I yield to what you say ; My hapless days in solitude and silence, 'Tis powerful truth, upanswerable reason. Far from the malice of a prying world! Then, then, with sad but duteous resignation, At least--you cannot sure refuse me this-I had submitted as became your daughter; Give me a little time--I will do all, But in that moment, when my humbled hopes All I can do, to please you!-Oh, your eye Were to my duty reconcil'd, to raise them Sheds a kind beamTo yet a fonder height than e'er they knew, Sif. My daughter! you abuse Then rudely dash them down—There is the The softness of my naturesting!
Sig. Here, my father, The blasting view is ever present to me- Till you relent, here will I grow for ever! Why did you drag me to a sight so cruel ? Sif. Rise, Sigismunda.- Though you touch Sif. It was a scene to fire thy emulation.
my heart, Sig. It was a scene of perfidy!-But know, Nothing can shake th' inexorable dictates I will do more than imitate the king
Of honour, duty, and determin'd reason. For he is false !-I, though sincerely pierc'd Then, by the holy ties of filial love, With the best, truest passion, ever touch'd Resolve, I charge thee, to receive Earl Osmond, A virgin's breast, here vow to Heaven and you, As suits the man who is thy father's choice, Thongh from my heart I cannot, from my hopes And worthy of thy hánd-I go to bring himTo cast this prince-Wbat would you more, Sig. Spare me, my dearesi father! my father?
Sif. [Aside.] I'must rush Sif. Yes, one thing more-thy father then From her soft grasp, or nature will betray me! is happy
Oh, grant us, Heaven! that fortitude of mind,