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ACT II.

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Deceit is truth and virtue

-But how holl, SCENE I.- A grand Saloon.

This lion in the toil? Oh, I will form it

Of such a fatal thread, twist it so strong
Enter SIFFREDI.

With all the ties of honour and of duty, Sif. So far 'tis well-The late king's will That his most desperate fury shall not break proceeds

The honest snare. Here is the royal handUpon the plan I counselled ; that prince Tan-, I will beneath it write a perfect, full

,
cred

And absolute agreement to the will;
Shall make Constantia partner of his throne. Which read before the nobles of the realm
Oh, great, oh, wished event! whence the dire Assembled, in the sacred face of Sicily,
seeds

Constantia present, every heart and eye
Of dark intestine broils, of civil war,

Fixed on their monarch, every tongue applaud. And all its dreadful miseries and crimes,

ing, Shall be for ever rooted from the land.

He must submit, his dream of love must vanish. May these dim eyes, long blasted by the rage

It shall be done- -To me, I know, 'tis ruin; Of cruel faction, and my country's woes, But safety to the public, to the king. Tired with the toils and vanities of life,

I will not reason inore, I will not listen Behold this period, then be closed in peace ! Even to the voice of honour. No--'tis fixed, But how this mighty obstacle surmount,

I here devote me for my prince and country; Which love has thrown betwixt ? Love, that dis- Let them be safe, and let me nobly perish! turbs

Behold, Earl Osmond comes, without whose aid The schemes of wisdom still; that, winged with My scheines are all in vain. passion,

Enter OSMOND.
Blind and impetuous in its fond pursuits,
Leaves the grey-headed reason far behind. Osm. My lord Siffredi,
Alas, how frail the state of human bliss !

I from council hastened to Constantia,
When even our honest passions oft destroy it. And have accomplished what we there proposed.
I was to blame, in solitude and shades,

The princess to the will submits her claims. Infectious scenes! to trust their youthful hearts. She with her presence means to grace the seWould I had marked the rising flame, that now

nate, Burns out with dangerous force! My daughter And of your royal charge, young Tancred's hand, owns

Accept. At first, indeed, it shocked her hopes Her passion for the king; she, trembling, owned Of reigning sole, this new, surprising scene it,

Of Manfred's son, appointed by the king, With prayers, and tears, and tender supplications, with her joint heir- -But I so fully shewed That almost shook my firmness and this blank, The justice of the case, the public good, Which his rash fondness gave her, shews how And sure established peace which thence would much,

rise, To what a wild extravagance he loves.

Joined to the strong necessity that urged her,
I see no means--it foils my deepest thought- If on Sicilia's throne she meant to sit,
How to controul this madness of the king, As to the wise disposal of the will
That wears the face of virtue, and will thence Her high ambition tamed. Methought, besides,
Disdain restraint, will, from his generous heart, I could discern, that not from prudence merely
Borrow new rage, even speciously oppose

She to this choice submitted.
To reason, reason -But it must be done. Sif. Noble Osmond,
My own advice, of which I more and more You have in this done to the public great
Approve, the strict conditions of the will, And signal service. Yes, I must avow it;
Highly demand his marriage with Constantia ; This frank and ready instance of your zeal,
Or else her party has a fair pretence,

In such a trying crisis of the state,
And all at once is horror and confusion. When interest and ambition might have warped
How issue from this maze? - The crowding ba- Your views, I own this truly generous virtue
rons,

Upbraids the rashness of my former judgment. Here summoned to the palace, meet already, Osm. Siffredi, no. To you belongs the praise; To pay their homage, and confirm the will. The glorious work is yours. Had I not seized, On a few moments hangs the public fate, Improved the wished occasion to root out On a few hasty inoments Ha! there shone Division from the land, and save my country, A gleam of hope-Yes, with this very paper

I had been base and infamous for ever. I yet will save him-Necessary means, 'Tis you, my lord, to whom the many thousands, For good and noble ends, can ne'er be wrong.

That by the barbarous sword of civil war In that resistless, that peculiar case,

Had fallen inglorious, owe their lives; to yoų

party!

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The sons of this fair isle, from her first peers But all the children of one happy isle,
Down to the swain who tills her golden plains, The social sons of liberty. No pride,
Owe their safe homes, their soft domestic hours, No passion now, no thwarting views divide us :
And through late time posterity shall bless you, Prince Manfred's line, at last to William's joined,
You who advised this will. I blush to think Combine us in one family of brothers.
I have so long opposed the best good man This to the late good king's well-ordered will,
In SicilyWith what impartial care

Ar wise Siffredi's generous care, we owe.
Ought we to watch o'er prejudice and passion, I truly give you joy. First of you all,
Nor trust too much the jaundiced eye of

I here renounce those errors and divisions, Henceforth its vain delusions I renounce, That have so long disturbed our peace, and Its hot determinations, that confine

seemed, All merit and all virtue to itself.

Fermenting still, to threaten new commotionsTo yours I join my hand; with you will own By time instructed, let us not disdain No interest, and no party but my country. To quit mistakes. We all, my lords, have erred. Nor is your friendship only my ambition: Men may, I find, be honest, though they differ. There is a dearer name, the name of father, 1 Baron. Who follows not, my lord, the fair By which I should rejoice to call Siffredi.

example Your daughter's hand would to the public weal You set us all, whate'er be his pretence, Unite my private happiness.

Loves not, with single and unbiassed heart, Sif. My lord,

His country as he ought. You have my glad consent. To be allied

2 Buron. Oh, beauteous peace ! To your distinguished family and merit,

Sweet union of a state! what else but thou I shall esteem an honour. From my soul Gives safety, strength, and glory to a people? I here embrace earl Osmond as my friend I bow, lord constable, beneath the snow And son.

Of many years; yet in my breast revives Osm. You make him happy! This assent, A youthful flame. Methinks, I see again So frank and warm, to what I long have wished, Those gentle days renewed, that blessed our isle, Engages all my gratitude; at once,

Ere by this wasteful fury of division, In the first blossom, it matures our friendship. Worse than our Ætna's most destructive fires, I from this moment vow myself the friend It desolated sunk. I see our plains And zealous servant of Siffredi's house.

Unbounded waving with the gifts of harvest ;

Ourseas with conımerce thronged; our busy ports Enter an Officer belonging to the Court.

With cheerful toil. Our Enna blooms afresh; Offi. [To Sif.] The king, my lord, demands Afresh the sweets of thymy Hybla flow. your speedy presence.

Our nymphs and shepherds, sporting in each vale, Sif. I will attend him strait.-Farewell, my Inspire new song, and wake the pastoral reedlord;

The tongue of age is fond-Come, come, my The senate meets: there, a few moments hence,

sons; I will rejoin you.

I long to see this prince, of whom the world Osm. There, my noble lord,

Speaks largely well—His father was my friend, We will complete this salutary work;

The brave

unhappy Manfred-Come, my lords ; Will there begin a new auspicious era.

We tarry here too long.

[Exeunt. [Exeunt SIF. and Offi. Siffredi gives his daughter to my wishes

Enter two Officers keeping off the Crowd. But does she give herself? Gay, young, and flat- One of the Crowd, Shew us our king, tered,

The valiant Manfred's son, who loved the peoPerhaps engaged, will she her youthful heart

pleYield to my harsher, uncomplying years ? We must, we will behold him-Give us way. I am not formed, by flattery and praise,

i Offi. Pray, gentlemen, give back—it must By sighs and tears, and all the whining trade

not beOf love, to feed a fair one's vanity;

Give back, I pray

I -on such a glad occasion, To charm at once and spoil her. These soft arts I would not isl entreat the lowest of you. Suit not my years nor temper; these be left 2 Man of the Crowd. Nay, give us but a glimpse To boys and doting age. A prudent father,

of our young king! By nature charged to guide and rule her choice, We, more than any baron of them all, Resigns his daughter to a husband's power, Will

pay

him due allegiance. Who, with superior dignity, with reason,

2 Offi. Friends—indeed And manly tenderness, will ever love her; You cannot pass this way-We have strict orNot first a kneeling slave, and then a tyrant.

ders,

To keep for him himself, and for the barons, Enter Barons.

All these apartments clear

-Go to the gate My lords, I greet you well. This wondrous day That fronts the sea ; you there will find admission. Unites us all in amity and friendship.

Omnes. Long live king Tancred! Manfred's We meet to-day with open hearts and looks,

son-huzza ! Not gloomed by party, scowling on cach other,

(Crowd goes off. Shouts within.

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i Off. I do not marvel at their rage of joy; The son of that brave prince could ne'er betray He is a brave and amiable prince..

Those rights so long usurped from his great fa- . When in my lord Siffredi's house I lived,

ther,
Ere, by his favour, I obtained this office, Which he, this day, by such amazing fortune,
I there remember well the young count Tancred. Had just regained'; he ne'er could sacrifice
To see him and to love him were the same; All faith, all honour, gratitude, and love,
He was so noble in his ways, yet still

Even just resentment of his father's fate,
So affable and mild—Well, well, old Sicily, And pride itself; whate'er exalts a man
Yet happy days await thee!

Above the grovelling sons of peasant mud, 2 Off. Grant it, Heaven !

All in a moment-And for what? why, truly, We have seen sad and troublesome times enough. For kind permission, gracious leave, to sit He is, they say, to wed the late king's sister, On his own throne with tyrant William's daughConstantia.

ter! i Offi. Friend, of that I greatly doubt.

Rod. I stand amazed-You surely wrong him, Or I mistake, or lord Siffredi's daughter,

Laura. The gentle Sigismunda, has his heart.

There must be some mistake. If one may judge by kindly cordial looks,

Laura, There can be none ! And fond assiduous care to please each other, Siffredi read his full and free consent Most certainly they love-Oh, be they blest, Before the applauding senate. True, indeed, As they deserve! It were great pity aught A small remain of shame, a timorous weakness, Should part a matchless pair; the glory he, Even dastardly in falsehood, made him blush And she the blooming grace of Sicily!

To act this scene in Sigismunda's eye, 2 Offi. My lord Rodolpho comes.

Who sunk beneath his perfidy and baseness.

Hence, till to-morrow he adjourned the senate; Enter RODOLPHO from the Senate.

To-morrow, fixed with infamy to crown him! Rod. My honest friends,

Then, leading off his gay, triumphant princess, You may retire. (Officers go out.] A storm is in He left the poor unhappy Sigismunda the wind.

To bend her trembling steps to that sad home This will perplexes all. No! Tancred never His faithless vows will render hateful to her Can stoop to these conditions, which at once He comes-Farewell I cannot bear his preAttack his rights, his honour, and his love.

sence !

(Erit LAURA. Those wise old men, those plodding, grave state pedants,

Enter TANCRED and SIFFREDI, meeting. Forget the course of youth ; their crooked pru- Tan. Avoid me, hoary traitor! Go, Rodolpho, dence,

Give orders that all passages this way To baseness verging still, forgets to take Be shut-Defend me from a hateful world, Into their fine-spun schemes the generous heart, The bane of peace and honour—then returnThat, through the cobweb system bursting, lays

[Erit Rod. Their labours waste-So will this business prove, What! dost thou haunt me still ? Oh, monstrous Or I mistake the king. Back from the pomp

insult ! He seemed at first to shrink, and round his brow Unparalleled indignity! Just Heaven ! I marked a gathering cloud, when, by his side, Was ever king, was ever man, so treated ; As if designed to share the public homage, So trampled into baseness ! He saw the tyrant's daughter. But confessed, Sif. Here, my liege, At least to me, the doubling tempest frowned, Here strike! I'nor deserve, nor ask for mercy. And shook his swelling bosom, when he heard, Tan. Distraction !-Oh, my soul !-Hold, reaThe unjust, the base conditions of the will. Uncertain, tost in cruel agitation,

Thy giddy seat.-Oh, this inhuman outrage He oft, methought, addressed himself to speak, Unhinges thought ! And interrupt Šiffredi; who appeared,

Sif. Exterminate thy servant. With conscious haste, to dread that interruption, Tan, All, all but this I could have borne-but And hurried on—But hark ! I hear a noise,

this! As if the assembly rose-Ha! Sigismunda, This daring insolence beyond example! Oppressed with grief, and wrapped in pensive This murderous stroke, that stabs my peace for

sorrow, Passes along.

That wounds me there-there! where the hun (SIGISMUNDA and attendants pass through

man heart the back scene.

Most exquisitely feels

Sif. Oh, bear it not,
Enter LAURA.

My royal lord; appease on me your vengear.ce !
Laura. Your high-praised friend, the king, Tan. Did ever tyrant image aught so cruel ?
Is false, most vilely false. The meanest slave The lowest slave that crawls upon the earth,
Had shewn a nobler heart; nor grossly thus, Robbed of each comfort Heaven bestows on mor-
By the first bait ambition spread, been gulled.

tals, He Manfred's son! away! it cannot be! On the bare ground has still his virtue left,

son, hold

ever!

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The sacred treasure of an honest heart !

Wilt hear the calm, yet stronger voice of reason. Which thou hast dared, with rash, audacious Thou must reflect, that a whole people's safety, hand,

The weal of trusted millions, should bear down, And impious fraud, in me to violate.

Thyself the judge, the fondest partial pleasure. Sif. Behold, my lord, that rash, audacious hand, Thou must reflect, that there are other duties, Which not repents its crime—Oh, glorious, a nobler pride, a more exalted honour, happy,

Superior pleasures far, that will oblige, If, by my ruin, I can save your honour! Compel thee, to abide by this my deed, Tun. Such honour I renounce, with sovereign Unwarranted, perhaps, in common justice, scorn ;

But which necessity, even virtue's tyrant, Greatly detest it, and its mean adviser !

With awful voice commanded.-Yes, thou must, Hast thou not dared beneath my name to shel- In calmer hours, divest thee of thy love, ter

These common passions of the vulgar breast, My name, for other purposes designed,

This boiling heat of youth, and be a king,
Given, from the fondness of a faithful heart, The lover of thy people!
With the best love o'erflowing-Hast thou not, Tan. Truths, ill employed,
Beneath thy sovereign's name, basely presumed Abused to colour guilt !--A king! a king!
To shield a lie-a lie, in public uttered,

Yes, I will be a king, but not a slave;
To all deluded Sicily? But know,

In this will be a king; in this my people This poor contrivance is as weak as base. Shall learn to judge how I will guard their rights In such a wretched toil none can be held When they behold me vindicate my own. But fools and cowards.--Soon thy flimsy arts, But have I, say, been treated like a king ?Touched by my just, my burning indignation, Heavens! could I stoop to such outrageous usage, Shall burst, like threads in flame.—Thy doating I were a mean, a shameless wretch, unworthy prudence

To wield a sceptre in a land of slaves, But more secures the purpose it would shake. A soil abhorred of virtue; should belie Had my resolves been wavering and doubtful, My father's blood, belie those very maxims, This would confirm them, make them fixed as At other times you taught my youth-Siffredi ! fate;

[In a softened tone of voice. This adds the only motive that was wanting, Sif. Behold, my prince, thy poor old servant, To urge them on through war and desolation. Whose darling care, these twenty years, has been What!

marry her ! Constantia ! her! the daugh. To nurse thee up to virtue ; who, for thee,
ter

Thy glory and thy weal, renounces all,
Of the fell tyrant who destroyed my father! All interest or ambition can pour forth;
The very thought is madness! Ere thou seest What many a selfish father would pursue
The torch of Hymen light these hated nuptials, Through treachery and crimes. Behold him here,
Thou shalt behold Sicilia wrapt in flames, Bent on his feeble knees, to beg, conjure thee,
Her cities razed, her vallies drenched with slaugh- With tears to beg thee, to controul thy passion,
ter.

And save thyself, thy honour, and thy people! Love set aside, my pride assumes the quarrel ; Kneeling with me, behold the many thousands My honour now is up; in spite of thee,

To thy protection trusted ; fathers, mothers, A world combined against me, I will give The sacred front of venerable age, This scattered will in fragments to the winds, The tender virgin, and the helpless infant; Assert my rights, the freedom of my heart, The ministers of Heaven, those who maintain, Crush all who dare oppose me to the dust, Around thy throne, the majesty of rule; And heap perdition on thee !

And those whose labour, scorched by wind and Sif. Sir, 'tis just.

sun, Exhaust on me thy rage; I claim it all.

Feeds the rejoicing public :-see them all But for these public threats thy passion utters, Here, at thy feet, conjuring thee to save them 'Tis what thou canst not do.

From misery and war, from crimes and rapine ! Tan. I cannot ! ha!

Can there be aught, kind Heaven, in self-indulDriven to the dreadful brink of such dishonour,

gence, Enough to make the tamest coward brave, To weigh down these, this aggregate of love, And into fierceness rouse the mildest nature, With which compared, the dearest private pas. What shall arrest my vengeance? Who?

sion Sif. Thyself.

Is but the wafted dust upon the balance? Tan. Away! Dare not to justify thy crime ! Turn not away-Oh! is there not some part That, that alone can aggravate its horror; In thy great heart, so sensible to kindness, Add insolence to insolence-perhaps

And generous warmth, some nobler part, to feel May make my rage forget

The

prayers and tears of these, the mingled voice Sif. Oh, let it burst

Of Heaven and earth? On this grey head, devoted to thy service!

Tan. There is, and thou hast touched it. But when the storm has vented all its fury, Rise, rise, Siffredi-Oh, thou hast undone me! Thou then must hear-nay, more, I know thou Unkind old man !—Oh, ill-entreated Tancred! wilt

Which

way soe'er I turn, dishonour rcars

that power,

vens!

Her hideous frontand misery and ruin !

Tun. Friend ! Rodolpho ? Was it for this you took such care to form me! When I have told thee what this friend has done, For this imbued me with the quickest sense How played me like a boy, a base-born wretch, Of shame; these finer feelings, that ne'er vex Who had not heart nor spirit, thou wilt stand The common mass of mortals, dully happy Amazed, and wonder at my stupid patience. In blessed insensibility ? Oh, rather

Rod. I heard, with mixed astonishment and You should have seared my heart, taught me, grief,

The king's unjust, dishonourable will,
And splendid interest, lord it still o'er virtue ; Void in itself-I saw you stung with rage,
That, gilded by prosperity and pride,

And writhing in the snare; just as I went, There is no shame, no meanness; tempered thus, At your command to wait you here—but that I had been fit to rule a venal world.

Was the king's deed, not his. Alas! what meant thy wantonness of prudence? Tan. Oh, he advised it ! Why have you raised this miserable conflict, These many years he has in secret hatched Betwixt the duties of the king and man? This black contrivance, glories in the scheme, Set virtue against virtue ?--Ah, Siffredi ! And proudly plumes him with his traitorous virtue. 'Tis thy superfluous, thy unfeeling wisdom, But that was nought, Rodolpho, nothing, nothing ! That has involved me in a maze of error Oh, that was gentle, blameless to what followed ! Almost beyond retreat.—But hold, my soul, I had, my friend, to Sigismunda given, Thy steady purpose Tost by various passions, To hush her fears, in the full gush of fondness, To this ecernal anchor keep;

there is, A blank signed with my hand; and he,-oh, HeaCan be, no public without private virtue. Then, mark me well, observe what I command; Was ever such a wild attempt !-he wrote, It is the sole expedient now remaining.

Beneath my name, an absolute compliance To-morrow, when the senate meets again, To this detested will—nay, dared to read it Unfold the whole, unravel the deceit:

Before myself, on my insulted throne Nor that alone ; try to repair its mischief; His idle pageant placed-Oh! words are weak There all thy power, thy eloquence, and interest, To paint the pangs,

the

rage, the indignation, Exert, to reinstate me in my rights,

That whirled, from thought to thought, my soul And from thy own dark snares to disembroil me. in tempest, Start not, my lord—this must, and shall be done! Now on the point to burst, and now by shame Or bere our friendship ends—Howe'er disguised, Repressed—But, in the face of Sicily, Whatever thy pretence, thou art a traitor.

All mad with acclamation, what, Rodolpho, Sif . I should, indeed, deserve the name of what could I do? the sole relief that rose traitor,

To my distracted mind, was to adjourn
And even a traitor's fate, had I so slightly, The assembly till to-morrow-But to-morrow
From principles so weak, done what I did, What can be done?-Oh, it avails not what !
As e'er to disavow it.

I care not what is done-My only care
Is how to clear my faith with Sigismunda.

She thinks me false! She cast a look that killed Expect not this. Though practised long in courts,

me! I have not so far learned their subtle trade, Oh! I am base in Sigismunda's eye! To veer obedient with each gust of passion. The lowest of mankind, the most perfidious ! I honour thee, I venerate thy orders;

Rod. This was a strain of insolence indeed, But honour more my duty. "Nought on earth A daring outrage of so strange a nature Shall ever shake me from that solid rock, As stuns me quite Nor smiles, nor frowns.

Tan. Cursed be my timid prudence, Tan. You will not, then?

That dashed not back, that moment, in his face,

The bold, presumptuous lie !-and cursed this Tan. Away! begone !-Oh, my Rodolpho, hand, come,

That, from a start of poor dissimulation, And save me from this traitor !-Hence, I say ! Led off my Sigismunda's hated rival. Avoid my presence strait ! and know, old man, Ah, then what, 'poisoned by the false appearThou my worst foe, beneath the mask of friend

ance,

What, Sigismunda, were thy thoughts of me? Who, not content to trample in the dust How, in the silent bitterness of soul, My dearest rights, dost, with cool insolence, How didst thou scorn me! hate mankind, thyPersist, and call it duty'; hadst thou not

self, A daughter, that protects thee, thou shouldst feel For trusting to the vows of faithless Tancred? The vengeance thou deserv'st.-No reply! For such I seemed— I was the thought distracts

(Exit SIFFREDI.

I should have cast a flattering world aside,
Enter RODOLPHO.

Rushed from my throne, before them all avowed Rod. What can incense my prince so highly

her, Against his friend Siffredi ?

The choice, the glory of my free-born heart,

Tan. Ha! Sif

. My liege,

Sif. I cannot.

ship,

Away!

me !

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