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Who charms too much the heart of Sigismunda ! SCENE I.— The Palace.
Laura, perhaps your brother knows bim better,
The friend and partner of his freest hours. Enter SIGISMUNDA and LAURA.
What says Rodolpho? Does he truly credit Sig. Ah, fatal day to Sicily! the king This story of his birth? Touches nis last moments !
Laura. He has sometimes, Laura. So 'tis feared.
Like you, his doubts; yet, when maturely Sig. The death of those distinguished by their weighed, station,
Believes it true. As for lord Tancred's self, But by their virtue more, awakes the mind He never entertained the slightest thought To solemn dread, and strikes a saddening awe; That verged to doubt ; but oft laments his state, Not that we grieve for them, but for ourselves, By cruel fortune so ill paired to yours, Left to the toil of life-And yet the best
Sig. Merit like his, the fortune of the mind, Are, by the playful children of this world, Beggars all wealth—Then, to your brother, Laura, At once forgot, as they had never been.
He talks of me? Laura, 'tis said, the heart is sometimes charged Laura. Of nothing else. Howe'er With a prophetic sadness : such, methinks, The talk begin, it ends with Sigismunda. Now hangs on mine. The king's approaching Their morning, noontide, and their evening walks, death
Are full of you, and all the woods of Belmont Suggests a thousand fears. What troubles thence Enamoured with your name. May throw the state once more into confusion, Sig. Away, my friend; What sudden changes in my father's house You Aatter- -yet the dear delusion charms. May rise, and part me from my dearest Tancred, Laura. No, Sigismunda, 'tis the strictest truth, Alarms my thoughts.
Nor half the truth, I tell you. Even with fondLaura. The fears of love-sick fancy, Perversely busy to torment itself.
My brother talks for ever of the passion But be assured, your father's steady friendship, That fires young Tancred's breast. So much it Joined to a certain genius, that commands,
strikes him, Not kneels to fortune, will support and cherish, He praises love as if he were a lover. Here, in the public eye of Sicily,
He blames the false pursuits of vagrant youth, This, I may call him, his adopted son,
Calls them gay folly, a mistaken struggle
In love included all the tiner seeds
Sig. Virtuous Rodolpho !
ject As if this near event was to count Tancred Laura. He says, that, though he was not nobly Of more importance than I comprehend.
born, Sig. There lies, my Laura, o'er my Tancred's Nature has formed him noble, generous, brave, birth
Truly magnanimous, and warmly scorning A cloud I cannot pierce. With princely accost, Whatever bears the smallest taint of baseness; Nay, with respect, which oft I have observed, That every casy virtue is his own; Stealing, at times, submissive o'er his features, Not learned by painful labour, but inspired, In Belmont's woods my father reared this youth Implanted in his soul, Chiefly one charm Ah, woods! where first my artless bosom learned He in his graceful character observes ; The sighs of love.-He gives him out the son That though his passions burn with high inpaOf an old friend, a baron of Apulia,
tience, Who, in the late crusado, bravely fell.
And sometimes, from a noble heat of nature, But then 'tis strange ; is all his family
Are ready to fly off; yet the least check As well as father dead? and all their friends, Of ruling reason brings them back to temper, Except my sire, the generous good Siffredi ? And gentle softness. Had he a mother, sister, brother, left,
Sig. True! Oh, true, Rodolpho ! The last remain of kindred, with what pride, Blest be thy kindred worth for loving his! With rapture, might they fly o’er earth and sea, He is all warmth, all amiable fire, To claim this rising honour of their blood, All quick heroic ardour ! tempered soft This bright unknown, this all-accomplished youth, I With gentleness of heart, and manly reason!
If virtue were to wear a human form,
Has made the prudent basis of his will — To light it with her dignity and flame,
Away, unworthy views! you shall not tempt me! Then softening, mix her smiles and tender Nor interest, nor ambition shall seduce graces
My fixed resolve-Perish the selfish thought, Oh, she would chuse the person of my Tancred! Which our own good prefers to that of millions ! Go on, my friend, go on, and ever praise him; He comes, my king, unconscious of his fortune. The subject knows no bounds, nor can I tire, While my breast trembles to that sweetest mu
Enter. TANCRED. sic:
Tan. My lord Siffredi, in your looks I read, The heart of woman tastes no truer joy, Confirmed, the mournful news that fly abroad Is never flattered with such dear enchantment-Fron tongue to tongue-We then, at last, have 'Tis more than selfish vanity—as when
lost She hears the praises of the man she loves ! The good old king ? Laura. Madam, your father comes.
Sit. Yes, we have lost a father;
The greatest blessing heaven bestows on mortals, Enter SIFFREDI.
And seldom found amidst these wilds of time, Sif. [To an attendant as he enters.] Lord Tan- A good, a worthy king !-Hear me, my Tancred, cred
And I will tell thee, in a few plain words, Is found?
How he deserved that best, that glorious title ; Atten. My lord, he quickly will be here. 'Tis nought complex, 'tis clear as truth and virtue. I scarce could keep before him, though he bid me He loved his people, deemed them all his chilSpeed on, to say he would attend your orders.
dren; Sif. 'Tis well-retire—You too, my daughter, The good exalted, and depressed the bad. leave me.
He spurned the flattering crew, with scorn reSis. I go, my father-But how fares the king? jected Sif
. He is no more. Gone to that awful state, Their smooth advice that only means themselves, Where kings the crown wear only of their vir- Their schemes to aggrandize him into baseness : tues.
Nor did he less disdain the secret breath, Sig. How bright must then be his !—This The whispered tale, that blights a virtuous name. stroke is sudden;
He sought alone the good of those for whom He was this morning well, when to the chase He was entrusted with the sovereign power: Lord Tancred went.
Well knowing, that a people, in their rights Sif. 'Tis true. But at his years
And industry protected; living safe Death gives short notice-Drooping nature then, Beneath the sacred shelter of the laws ; Without a gust of pain to shake it, falls. Encouraged in their genius, arts, and labours, His death, my daughter, was that happy period And happy each, as he himself deserves, Which few attain. The duties of his day Are ne'er ungrateful. With unsparing hand, Were all discharged, and gratefully enjoyed They will for him provide: their filial love Its noblest blessings; calm as evening skies And confidence are his unfailing treasure, Was his pure mind, and lighted up with hopes And every honest man his faithful guard. That open Heaven; when, for his last long sleep Tan. A general face of grief o'erspreads the Timely prepared, a lassitude of life,
city. A pleasing weariness of mortal joy,
I marked the people, as I hither came, Fell on his soul, and down he sunk to rest. In crowds assembled, struck with silent sorrow, Oh, may my death be such !-He but one wish And pouring forth the noblest praise-of tears. Left unfulfilled, which was to see count Tancred. Those, whom remembrance of their former wocs, Sig. To see count Tancred!—Pardon me, my And long experience of the vain illusions lord
Of youthful hope, had into wise consent Sif. For what, my daughter ?—But, with such and fear of change corrected, wrung their hands, emotion,
And, often casting up their eyes to heaven, Why did you start at mention of count Tancred? Gave sign of sad conjecture. Others shewed,
Sig. Nothing I only hoped the dying king Athwart their grief, or real, or affected,
Of hin, who can no more assist their fortunes, I want some private conference with lord Tan I saw the courtier-fry, with eager haste,
cred. (Exeunt Sig. and LAURA. All hurrying to Constantia. My doubts are but too true-If these old eyes Sif. Noble youth ! Can trace the marks of love, a mutual passion I joy to hear from thee these just reflections, Has seized, I fear, my daughter and this prince, Worthy of riper years—But if they seek My sovereign now—Should it be so ? Ah, there, Constantia, trust me, they mistake their course There lurks a brooding tempest, that may shake
Tan. How ! Is she not, my lord, the late king's My long-concerted scheme, to settle firm
sister, The public peace and welfare, which the king Heir to the crown of Sicily? the last VOL. II.
Of our famed Norman line, and now our queen ? | I dread the horrors of rekindled war : Sif. Tancred, 'tis true; she is the late king's Though dead, the tyrant still is to be feared; sister,
His daughter's party still is strong and numerous : The sole surviving offspring of that tyrant, Her friend, earl Osmond, constable of Sicily, William the Bad—so for his vices styled; Experienced, brave, high-born, of mighty interest. Who spilt much noble blood, and sore oppressed Better the prince and princess should by marriage The exhausted land: whence grievous wars arose, Unite their friends, their interest, and their And many a dire convulsion shook the state : When he, whose death Sicilia mourns to-day, Then will the peace and welfare of the land William, who has, and well deserved the name On a firm basis rise. Of Good, succeeding to his father's throne, Tan. My lord Siffredi, Relieved his country's woes-But to return; If by myself I of this prince may judge, She is the late king's sister, bórn some months That scheme will scarce succeed Your prudent After the tyrant's death, but not next heir.
age Tan. You much surprise me May I then pre- In vain will counsel, if the heart forbid it
But wherefore fear? The right is clearly his; To ask who is ?
And, under your direction, with each man Sif. Come nearer, noble Tancred,
Of worth, and stedfast loyalty, to back Son of my care. I must, on this occasion, At once the king's appointment and his birthConsult thy generous heart; which, when con- right, ducted
There is no ground for fear. They have great By rectitude of mind and honest virtues,
odds, Gives better counsel than the hoary head- Against the astonished sons of violence, Then know, there lives a prince, here in Palermo, Who fight with awful justice on their side. The lineal offspring of our famous hero,
All Sicily will rouse, all faithful hearts Roger the First.
Will range themselves around prince Manfred's Pan. Great Heaven! How far removed From that our mighty founder ?
For me, I here devote me to the service Sif. His great grandson:
Of this young prince; I every drop of blood Sprung from his eldest son, who died untimely, Will lose with joy, with transport, in his causeBefore his father.
Pardon my warmth—but that, my lord, will Tan. Ha! the prince you mean, Is he not Manfred's son? The generous, brave, To this decision come-Then find the prince; Unhappy Manfred ? whom the tyrant William, Lose not a moment to awaken in him You just now mentioned, not content to spoil The royal soul. Perhaps he now, desponding, Of his paternal crown, threw into fetters, Pines in a corner, and laments his fortune, And infamously murdered?
That in the narrower bounds of private life Sif. Yes, the same.
He must confine his aims, those swelling virtues Tan. By Heavens, I joy to find our Norman Which from his noble father he inherits. reign,
Sif. Perhaps, regardless, in the common bane The world's sole light amidst these barbarous of youth he melts, in vanity and love. ages,
But if the seeds of virtue glow within him, Yet rears its head; and shall not, from the lance, I will awake a higher sense, a love, Pass to the feeble distaff.-But this prince, That grasps the loves and happiness of millions. Where has he lain concealed ?
Tan. Why that surmise? Or should he love, Sif. The late good king,
And animate his virtues-Oh, permit me
Forgets itself; it sleeps and gayly dreams, Till now, too young to rule a troubled state, Till great occasion rouse it; then, all flame, By civil broils most miserably torn,
It walks abroad, with heightened soul and vigour, He, in his safe retreat, has lain concealed,
And, by the change, astonishes the world! His birth and fortune to himself unknown; Even with a kind of sympathy, I feel But when the dying king to me intrusted, The joy that waits this prince; when all the As to the chancellor of the realm, his will,
powers, His successor he named him.
The expanding heart can wish, of doing good; Tan. Happy youth !
Whatever swells ambition, or exalts
Nothing so easy as in speculation,
A fair delightful champaign strewed with flowers. The hint you just now gave of that alliance, But when the practice comes; when our fond | You must imagine, wakes my fear. But know, passions,
In this alone I will not bear dispute, Pleasure and pride, and self-indulgence, throw Not even from thee, Siffredi !--Let the council Their magic dust around, the prospect roughens; Be strait assembled, and the will there opened : Then dreadful passes, craggy mountains rise, Thence issue speedy orders to convene, Cliffs to be scaled and torrents to be stemmed ; This day ere noon, the senate; where those Then toil ensues, and perseverance stern ;
barons, And endless combats with our grosser sense, Who now are in Palermo, will attend, Oft lost, and oft renewed ; and generous pain Το
pay their ready homage to their king, For others felt; and, harder lesson still ! Their rightful king, who claims his native crown, Our honest bliss, for others sacrificed ;
And will not be a king by deeds and parchments. And all the rugged task of virtue quells
Sif. I go, my liege. But once again permit me The stoutest heart of common resolution. To tell you—Now, is the trying crisis, Few get above this turbid scene of strife, That must determine of your future reign. Few gain the summit, breathe that purest air, Oh, with heroic rigour watch your heart ! That heavenly ether, which untroubled sees And to the sovereign duties of the king, The storm of vice and passion rage below. The unequalled pleasures of a god on earth, Tan. Most true, my lord. But why thus au- Submit the common joys, the common passions,
Nay, even the virtues, of the private man. You seem to doubt this prince. I know him not; L'an. Of that no more. They not oppose, but Yet, oh, methinks my heart could answer for him! aid, The juncture is so high, so strong the gale Invigorate, cherish, and reward each other. That blows from Heaven, as through the deadest The kind all-ruling wisdom is no tyrant. soul
[Exit Sir. Might breathe the godlike energy of virtue. Now, generous Sigismunda' comes my turn Šif. Hear him, immortal shades of his great | To shew my love was not of thine unworthy, fathers!
When fortune bade me blush to look on thee. Forgive me, sir, this trial of your heart.
But what is fortune to the wish of love? Thou! thou, art he!
A miserable bankrupt! Oh, 'tis poor, Tan. Siffredi !
'Tis scanty all, whate'er we can bestow! Sif. Tancred, thou !
The wealth of kings is wretchedness and want! Thou art the man of all the many thousands Quick, let me find her! taste that highest joy, That toil upon the bosom of this isle,
The exalted heart can know, the mixed effusion By Heaven elected to command the rest, Of gratitude and love! Behold, she comes ! To rule, protect them, and to make them happy! Tan. Manfred my father! I the last support
Enter SIGISMUNDA. Of the famed Norman line, that awes the world ! My fluttering soul was all on wing to find thee, I, who this morning wandered forth an orphan, My love, my Sigismunda ! Outcast of all but thee, my second father! Sig. Oh, my Tancred! Thus called to glory! to the first great lot Tell me, what means this mystery and gloom Of human kind!-Oh, wonder-working hand, That lowers around ? Just now, involved in That, in majestic silence, sways at will
thought, The mighty movements of unbounded nature ! My father shot athwart me-You, my lord, Oh, grant me, Heaven, the virtues to sustain
Seem strangely moved-1 fear some dark event, This awful burden of so many heroes !
From the king's death, to trouble our repose, Let me not be exalted into shame,
That tender calm we in the woods of Belmont
Beyond our most romantic wishes happy!
That thou art queen of Sicily; and I
rage, Assert his virtues, and maintain his honour. Famed Roger's lineal issue, was my
father. Tan. I think, my lord, you said the king com
You droop, my love; dejected on a sudden, To you his will. I hope it is not clogged You seem to mourn my fortune-The soft tear With any base conditions, any clause
Springs in thy eye-Oh, let me kiss it offTo tyrannize my heart, and to Constantia Why this, my Sigismunda? Enslave my hand, devoted to another.
Sig. Royal Tancred,
None at your glorious fortune can like me As from the prudent cowardice of state
E’er to submit to such a base proposal ?
Detested thought! Oh, doubly, doubly hateful! Tan. I should hate it, then !
From the two strongest passions ; from aversion Should throw, with scorn, the splendid ruin from To this Constantia—and from love to thee. me!
Custom, 'tis true, a venerable tyrant, No, Sigismunda, 'tis my hope with thee
O'er servile man extends a blind dominion ; To share it, whence it draws its richest value. The pride of kings enslaves them; their ambition, Sig. You are my sovereign-I at humble dis- Or interest, lords it o'er the better passions.
But vain their talk, masked under specious words Tan. Thou art my queen! the sovereign of my Of station, duty, and of public good. soul!
They, whom just Heaven has to a throne exalted, You never reigned with such triumphant lustre, To guard the rights and liberties of others, Such winning charms, as now; yet, thou art still What duty binds them to betray their own? The dear, the tender, generous Sigismunda! For me, my free-born heart shall bear no dicWho, with a heart exalted far above
tates, Those selfish views that charm the common breast, But those of truth and honour; wear no chains, Stooped from the height of life and courted But the dear chains of love and Sigismunda! beauty,
Or if indeed my choice must be directed Then, then, to love me, when I seemed of fortune By views of public gond, whom shall I choose The hopeless outcast, when I had no friend, So fit to grace, to dignify a crown, None to protect and own me, but thy father. And beam sweet mercy on a happy people, And wouldst thou claim all goodness to thyself? | As thee, my love? whom place upon my throne Canst thou thy Tancred deem so dully formed, But thee, descended from the good Siffredi ? Of such gross clay, just as I reached the point | 'Tis fit that heart be thine, which drew from him A point my wildest hopes could ne'er imagine Whate'er can make it worthy thy acceptance. In that great moment, full of every virtue, Sig. Cease, cease to raise my hopes above my That I should then so mean a traitor prove
duty ! To the best bliss and honour of mankind, Charm me no more, my Tancred! Oh, that we So much disgrace the human heart, as then, In those blest woods, where first you won my soul, For the dead form of Mattery and pomp,
Had passed our gentle days, far from the toil The faithless joys of courts, to quit kind truth, And pomp of courts ! Such is the wish of love; The cordial sweets of friendship and of love, Of love that, with delightful weakness, knows The life of life! my all, my Sigismunda! No bliss, and no ambition, but itself. I could upbraid thy fears, call them unkind, But in the world's full light, those charming Cruel, unjust, an outrage to my heart,
dreams, Did they not spring from love.
Those fond illusions vanish. Awful duties, Sig. Think not, my lord,
The tyranny of men, even your own heart, That to such vulgar doubts I can descend. Where lurks a sense your passion stifles now, Your heart, I know, disdains the little thought And proud imperious honour, call you from me. Of changing with the vain, external change 'Tis all in vain—you cannot hush a voice Of circumstance and fortune. Rather thence That murmurs here, I must not be persuaded! It would, with rising ardour, greatly feel
Tan. (kneeling.) Hear me, thou soul of all my A noble pride, to shew itself the same.
hopes and wishes! But, ah ! 'the hearts of kings are not their own. And witness Heaven, prime source of love and There is a haughty duty, that subjects them
joy! To chains of state, to wed the public welfare, Not a whole warring world combined against me, And not indulge the tender, private virtues. Its pride, its splendour, its imposing forms, Some high-descended princess, who will bring Nor interest, nor ambition, nor the face New power and interest to your throne, demands Of solemn state, nor even thy father's wisdom, Your royal hand-perhaps Constantia
Shall ever shake my faith to Sigismunda! Tan. She!
[Trumpets and acclamations heard. Oh, name ber not! were I this moment free But, hark! the public voice to duties calls me, And disengaged as he, who never felt
Which, with unwearied zeal, I will discharge; The powerful eye of beauty, never sighed And thou, yes, thou, shalt be my bright reward; For matchless worth like thine, I should abhor Yet-ere I go-to hush thy lovely fears, All thoughts of that alliance. Her fell father Thy delicate objections [Writes his name.}Most basely murdered mine; and she, his daugh- Take this blank, ter,
Signed with my name, and give it to thy father : Supported by his barbarous party still,
Tell him, 'tis my command, it be filled up His pride inherits, his imperious spirit,
With a most strict and solemn marriage-contract. And insolent pretensions to my throne.
How dear each tie, how charming to my soul, And canst thou deem me, then, so poorly tame, That more unites me to my Sigismunda ! So cool a traitor to my father's blood,