« ZurückWeiter »
And spurned the shameful fetters thrown upon ( I will o'erturn the dirty lie-built schemes it.
Of these old men, and shew my faithful senate, Instead of that-confusion !-what I did That Manfred's son knows to assert and wear, Has clenched the chain, confirmed Siffredi's With undiminished dignity, that crown crime,
This unexpected day has placed upon him. And fixed me down to infamy!
But this, my friend, these stormy gusts of pride Rod. My lord,
Are foreign to my love-Till Sigismunda Blame not the conduct which
situation Be disabused, my breast is tumult all, Tore from your tortured heart—What could you And can obey no settled course of reason. do?
I see her still
, I feel her powerful image, Had you, so circumstanced, in open senate, That look, where with reproach complaint was Before the astonished public, with no friends
mixed, Prepared, no party formed, affronted thus Big with soft woe, and gentle indignation, The haughty princess and her powerful faction, Which seemed at once to pity and to scorn Supported by this will, the sudden stroke, Abrupt and premature, might have recoiled Oh, let me find her! I too long have left Upon yourself, even your own friends revolted, My Sigismunda to converse with tears, And turned at once the public scale against you. A prey to thoughts that picture me a villain. Besides, consider, had you then detected But ah! how, clogged with this accursed state, In its fresh guilt this action of Siffredi,
A tedious world, shall I now find access ? You must, with signal vengeance, have chastised Her father too-Ten thousand horrors crowd The treasonable deed—Nothing so mean Into the wild, fantastic eye of loveAs weak, insulted power that dares not punish. Who knows what he may do? Come, then, my And how would that have suited with your love? friend, His daughter present too? Trust me, your con- And by thy sister's hand, oh, let me steal duct,
A letter to her bosom---I no longer Howe'er abhorrent to a heart like yours, Can bear her absence, by the just contempt Was fortunate and wise-Not that I mean She now must brand me with, inflamed to madE’er to advise submissionTan. Heavens ! submission
Fly, my Rodolpho, fly! engage thy sister Could I descend to bear it, even in thought, To aid my letter ; and this very evening Despise me, you, the world, and Sigismunda ! Secure an interview-I would not bear Submission !-No Tomorrow's glorious light This rack another day, not for my kingdom. Shall flash discovery on the scene of baseness. Till then, deep plunged in solitude and shades, Whatever be the risk, by heavens ! to-morrow, I will not see the hated face of man. (Ereunt.
SCENE I.- A Chamber.
Thus to revive my hopes, to soothe my love,
And call forth all its tenderness, then sink me SIGISMUNDA alone, sitting in a disconsolate In black despair-What unrelenting pride posture.
Possessed thy breast, that thou couldst bear, unAh, tyrant prince! ah more than faithless Tan- moved, cred!
To see me bent beneath a weight of shame? Ungenerous and inhuman in thy falsehood ! Pangs thou canst never feel! How couldst thou Hadst thou this morning, when my hopeless heart,
In barbarous triumph, at a rival's car ? Submissive to ту. fortune and my duty,
How make me witness to a sight of horror ? Had so much spirit left, as to be willing That hand, which, but a few short hours ago, To give thee back thy vows, ah! hadst thou then So wantonly abused my simple faith, Confessed the sad necessity thy state
Before the attesting world given to another, Imposed upon thee, and with gentle friendship, Irrevocably given !-There was a time, Since we must part at last, our parting softened; When the least cloud that hung upon my brow, I should indeed— I should have been unhappy, Perhaps imagined only, touched thy pity. But not to this extreme-Amidst my grief, Then, brightened often by the ready tear, I had, with pensive pleasure, cherished still Thy looks were softness all; then the quick The sweet remembrance of thy former love ;
heart, Thy image still had dwelt upon my soul, In every nerve alive, forgot itself, And made our guiltless woes not undelightful. And for each other then we felt alone. But coolly thus—How couldst thou be so cruel? | But now, alas! those tender days are fled;
Now thou canst see me wretched, pierced with And make me all submission and obedience anguish,
To you, my honoured lord, the best of fathers. With studied anguish of thy own creating, Sif. Come to my arms, thou comfort of my Nor wet thy hardened eye-Hold, let me thinkI wrong thée sure; thou canst not be so base, Thou only joy and hope of these grey hairs ! As meanly in my misery to triumph
Come, let me take thee to a parent's heart; What is it, then 'Tis fickleness of nature, There, with the kindly aid of my advice, Tis sickly love extinguished by ambition- Even with the dew of these paternal tears, Is there, kind Heaven, no constancy in man? Revive and nourish this becoming spirit ! No stedfast truth, no generous fixed affection, Then thou dost promise me, my SigismundaThat can bear up against a selfish world? Thy father stoops to make it his requestNo, there is none--even Tancred is inconstant! Thou wilt resign thy fond presumptuous hopes,
(Rising. And henceforth never more indulge one thought Hence! let me fly this scene!-Whate'er I see, That in the light of love regards the king? These roofs, these walls, each object that sur- Sig. Hopes I have none; those by this fa
rounds me, Are tainted with his vows-But whither fly? Are blasted all-But from my soul to banish, The groves are worse; the soft retreat of Bel- While weeping memory there retains her seat, mont,
Thoughts which the purest bosom might have Its deepening glooms, gay lawns, and airy sum- cherished, mits,
Once my delight, now even in anguish charmWill wound my busy memory to torture,
ing, And all its shades will whisper-faithless- Tan- Is more, my lord, than I can promise. cred!
Sif. Absence, and time, the softner of our My father comes-How, sunk in this disorder,
passions, Shall I sustain his presence ?
Will conquer this. Meantime, I hope from
thee Enter SIFFREDI.
A generous great effort; that thou wilt now Sif. Sigismunda,
Exert thy utmost force, nor languish thus
A thought so void of reason, that a king
Even to his throne itself, madly prefer Awake to reason from this dream of love, A wild romantic passion, the fond child And shew the world thou art Siffredi's daughter. Of youthful dreaming thought and vacant hours;
Sig. Alas ! I am unworthy of that name. That he should quit his heaven-appointed staSif. Thou art indeed to blame; thou hast too tion, rashly
Desert his awful charge, the care of all Engaged thy heart, without a father's sanction. The toiling millions which this isle contains ; But this I can forgive. The king has virtues, Nay, more, should plunge them into war and That plead thy full excuse; nor was I void
ruin, Of blame, to trust thee to those dangerous vir- And all to soothe a sick imagination,
A miserable weakness. Must for thee, Then dread not my reproaches. Though he To make thee blest, Sicilia be unhappy? blames,
The king himself, lost to the nobler sense Thy tender father pities, more than blames thee. Of manly praise, become the piteous hero Thou art my daughter still ; and, if thy heart Of some soft tale, and rush on sure destruction? Will now resume its pride, assert itself,
Canst thou, my daughter, let the monstrous And greatly rise superior to this trial,
thought I to my warmest confidence again
Possess one moment thy perverted fancy? Will take thee, and esteem thee more my Rouse thee, for shame! and if a spark of virtue
Lies slumbering in thy soul, bid it blaze forth; Sig. Oh, you are gentler far than I deserve ! Nor sink unequal to the glorious lesson, It is , it ever was, my darling pride,
This day thy lover gave thee from his throne. To bend my soul to your supreme commands, Sig. Ah, that was not from virtue !-Had, Your wisest will; and though, by love betrayed
father, Alas ! and punished too-1 have transgressed
That been his aim, I yield to what you say ; The nicest bounds of duty, yet I feel
'Tis powerful truth, unanswerable reason. A sentiment of tenderness, a source
Then, then, with sad but duteous resignation, of filial nature springing in my breast;
I had submitted as became your daughter; That, should it kill me, shall controul this passion, But in that moment,
when my humbled hopes
Were to my duty reconciled, to raise them The highest can be done-Let me, my lord-
Sif. It was a scene to fire thy emulation. At least—you cannot sure refuse me this
Sig. It was a scene of perfidy!—But know, Give me a little time I will do all, I will do more than imitate the king
All I can do, to please you !-Oh, your eye For he is false !-1, though sincerely pierced Sheds a kind beamWith the best, truest passion, ever touched Sif. My daughter! you abuse A virgin's breast, here vow to Heaven and you, The softness of
my natureThough from my heart I cannot, from my hopes Sig. Here, my father, To cast this prince-What would you more, my 'Till you relent, here will I grow for ever! father?
Sif. Rise, Sigismunda.-Though you touch my Sif. Yes, one thing more-thy father then is heart, happy
Nothing can shake the inexorable dictates Though by the voice of innocence and virtue Of honour, duty, and determined reason. Absolved, we live not to ourselves alone: Then by the holy ties of filial love, A rigorous world, with peremptory sway, Resolve, I charge thee, to receive earl Osmond, Subjects us all, and even the noblest most. As suits the man who is thy father's choice, This world from thee, my honour and thy own, And worthy of thy hand—I go to bring him.Demands one step; a step, by which, convinced, Sig. Spare me, my dearest father! The king may see thy heart disdains to wear Sif. [Aside.] I must rush A chain which his has greatly thrown aside, From her soft grasp, or nature will betray me! 'Tis fitting too, thy sex's pride commands thee, Oh, grant us, Heaven ! that fortitude of mind, To shew the approving world thou canst resign, which listens to our duty, not our passions ! As well as he, nor with inferior spirit,
Quit me, my child ! A passion fatal to the public weal.
Sig. You cannot, oh, my father! But above all, thou must root out for ever You cannot leave me thus ! From the king's breast the least remain of hope, Sif. Come hither, Laura, And henceforth make his mentioned love disho- Come to thy friend. Now shew thyself a friend.
Combat her weakness; dissipate her tears : These things, my daughter, that must needs be Cherish, and reconcile her to her duty. done,
(Erit SIFFREDI. Can but this way be done by the safe refuge, The sacred shelter, of a husband's arms;
Enter LAURA. And there is one
Sig. Oh, woe on woe! distressed by love and Sig. Good heavens! what means my lord ?
duty ! Sif. One of illustrious family, high rank, Oh, every way unhappy Sigismunda ! Yet still of higher dignity and merit,
Laura. Forgive me, madam, if I blame your Who can and will protect thee; one to awe
grief. The king himself-Nay, hear me, Sigismunda- How can you waste your tears on one so false ? The noble Osmond courts thee for his bride, Unworthy of your tenderness; to whom And has my plighted word—This day
Nought but contempt is due, and indignation ? Sig. (Kneeling.) My father!
Sig. You know not half the horrors of my Let me with trembling arms embrace thy knees ! fate! Oh, if you ever wish to see me happy;
I might perhaps have learned to scorn his falseIf é'er in infant years I gave you joy,
hood; When, as I prattling twined around your neck,
Nay, when the first sad burst of tears was past, You snatched me to your bosom, kissed my eyes, might have roused my pride and scorned himAnd, melting, said you saw my mother there;
selfOh, save me from that worst severity
But 'tis too much, this greatest last misfortuneOf fate! Oh, outrage not my breaking heart Oh, whither shall I fly? Where hide me, Laura To that degree !- I cannot !-'tis impossible ! From the dire scene my father now prepares ? So soon withdraw it, give it to another
Laura. What thus alarms you, madam?
Can it ! ah, no! at once give to another
mond! And would you thus degrade me ?-make me Laura. Now, on my soul, 'tis what an outraged base?
heart For such it were to give my worthless person Like yours should wish ! I should, by Heavens, Without my heart, an injury to Osmond,
Most exquisite revenge!
The tender joys of hymeneal love, Sig. Revenge ! on whom?
May jealousy awaked, and fell remorse, On my own heart, already but too wretched ! Pour all their fiercest venom through his breast ! Laura. On him! this Tancred! who has basely Where the fates lead, and blind revenge, I folsold,
lowFor the dulí form of despicable grandeur, Let me not think- -By injured love, I vow, His faith, his love! At once a slave and tyrant! Thou shalt, base prince ! perfidious and inhuSig. Oh, rail at me! at my believing folly!
man ! My vain ill-founded hopes ! But spare him, Lau- Thou shalt behold me in another's arms; ra!
In his thou hatest! Osmond's! Laura. Who raised these hopes ? Who tri- Laura. That will grind umphs o'er that weakness?
His heart with secret rage: Ay, that will sting Pardon the word-you greatly merit him,
His soul to madness; set him up a terror, Better than him, with all his giddy pomp; A spectacle of woe to faithless lovers. You raised him by your smiles, when he was no- Your cooler thought, besides, will of the change thing.
Approve, and think it happy. Noble Osmond Where is your woman's pride, that guardian spi- From the same stock with him derives his birth; rit,
First of Sicilian barons, prudent, brave, Given us to dash the perfidy of man?
Of strictest honour, and by all revered Ye powers ! I cannot bear the thought with pa- Sig. Talk not of Osmond, but perfidious Tantience
cred! Yet recent from the most unsparing vows Rail at him, rail ! invent new names of scorn! The tongue of love e'er lavished; from your Assist me, Laura; lend my rage fresh fuel ; hopes
Support my staggering purpose, which already So vainly, idly, cruelly deluded;
Begins to fail meAh, my vaunts how vain ! Before the public thus, before your father, How have I lied to my own heart! Alas ! By an irrevocable solemn deed,
My tears return, the mighty flood o'erwhelms With such inhuman scorn, to throw you from him,
Ten thousand crowding images distract To give his faithless hand, yet warm from thine, My tortured thought- And is it come to this! With complicated meanness, to Constantia ! Our hopes, our vows, our oft repeated wishes, And, to complete his crime, when thy weak limbs Breathed from the fervent soul, and full of heaCould scarce support thee, then, of thee regard- ven,
To make each other happy-come to this ! To lead her off!
Laura. If thy own peace and honour cannot Sig. That was indeed a sight
keep To poison love; to turn it into rage,
Thy resolution fixed, yet, Sigismunda, And keen contempt. What means this stupid
Oh, think, how deeply,
how beyond retreat, weakness
Thy father is engaged ! That hangs upon me! Hence, unworthy tears, Sig. Ah, wretched weakness ! Disgrace my cheek no more! No more, my That thus enthrals my soul, that chases thence heart,
Each nobler thought, the sense of every duty ! For one so coolly false, or meanly fickle- And have I then no tears for thee, my father? Oh, it imports not which—dare to suggest
Can I forget thy cares, from helpless years, The least excuse! —Yes, traitor, I will wring Thy tenderness for me? an eye still beamed Thy pride, will turn thy triumph to confusion ? With love; a brow that never knew a frown; I will not pine away my days for thee,
Nor a harsh word thy tongue; shall I for these Sighing to brooks and groves ; while, with vain Repay thy stooping venerable age pity,
With shame, disquiet, anguish, and dishonour ? You in a rival's arms lament my fate
It must not be! Thou first of angels! come, No, let me perish, ere I tamely be
Sweet filial piety, and firm my breast ! That soft, that patient, gentle Sigismunda, Yes, let one daughter to her fate submit, Who can console her with the wretched boast, Be nobly wretched—but her father happy !She was for thee unhappy! If I am,
Laura !-they come ! Oh, heavens, I cannot I will be nobly so !-Sicilia's daughters
stand Shall, wondering, see in me a great example
The horrid trial !-Open, open, earth,
And hide me from their view !
Enter SIFFREDI and OSMOND.
Behold my noble friend, who courts thy hand, Trust me, thy marriage will embitter his — And whom to call my son I shall be proud;
Sig. Oh, may the furies light his nuptial torch! Nor shall I less be pleased in this alliance,
Osm. Think not, I presume,
In the most solemn manner, to Constantia ? Madam, on this your father's kind consent, Does not his crown depend upon the deed? To make me blest. I love you from a heart, No-If they loved, and this old statesman kne* That seeks your good superior to my own;
Sig. I am a daughter, sir—and have no power His daughter on the throne of Sicily
(Faints. What is it then? I care not what it be. Sif. Help Bear her off-She breathes—my My honour now, my dignity demands, daughter!
That my proposed alliance, by her father, Sig. Oh,
And even herself accepted, be not scorned. Forgive my weakness--soft--my Laura, lead me I love her too-I never knew till now To my apartment.
To what a pitch I loved her. Oh, she shot (Exeunt SIGISMUNDA and LAURA. Ten thousand charms into my inmost soul! Sif. Pardon me, my lord,
She looked so mild, so amiably gentle, If, by this sudden accident alarmed,
She bowed her head, she glowed with such con. I leave you for a moment. [Erit Sii DI.
fusion, Osm. Let me think
Such loveliness of modesty! She is, What can this mean?- Is it to me aversion ? In gracious mind, in manners, and in person, Or is it, as I feared, she loves another ?
The perfect model of all female beauty! Ha !-yes--perhaps the king, the young count She must be mine-She is !—If yet her heart Tancred;
Consents not to my happiness, her duty, They were bred up together Surely that, Joined to my tender cares, will gain so much That cannot be-Has he not given his hand, Upon her generous nature—That will follow.
Laura. He paints him out distressed beyond SCENE I. - The Garden belonging to SIFFREDI'S expression, house.
Even on the point of madness. Wild as winds,
And fighting seas, he raves. His passions mix, Enter SIGISMUNDA and LAURA.
With ceaseless rage, all in each giddy moment. Sig. (With a letter in her hand.) 'Tis done!- He dies to see you, and to clear his faith. I am a slave !—The fatal vow
Sig Save me from that !—That would be Has passed my lips !—Methought in those sad worse than all. moments,
Laura. I but report my brother's words; who The tombs around, the saints, the darke altar,
then And all the trembling shrines, with horror shook. Began to talk of some dark imposition, But here is still new matter of distress.
That had deceived us all : when, interrupted, Oh, Tancred, cease to persecute me more! We heard your father and earl Osmond near, Oh, grudge me not some calmer state of woe, As summoned to Constantia's court they went. Some quiet gloom to shade my hopeless days, Sig. Ha! imposition? Well, if I am doomed Where I may never hear of love and thee ! To be, o'er all my sex, the wretch of love, Has Laura, too, conspired against my peace ? In vain I would resist-Give me the letter Why did you take this letter?-Bear it back- To know the worst is some relief_Alas, I will not court new pain. [Giving her the letter. It was not thus, with such dire palpitations, Laura. Madam, Rodolpho
That, Tancred, once I used to read thy letters. Urged me so much, nay, even with tears conjured (Attempting to read the letter, but gites me,
to LAURA. But this once more to serve the unhappy king- Ah, fond remembrance blinds me! Read it, For such he said he was—that though enraged,
Laura. Equal with thee, at his inhuman falsehood, Laura. [Reads.] 'Doliver me, Sigismunda, from I could not to my brother's fervent prayers that most exquisite misery which a faithful heart Refuse this office-Read it-His excuses can suffer—to be thought base by her, from Will only more expose his falsehood.
whose esteem even virtue borrows new charnis. Sig. No:
When I submitted to my cruel situation, it was It suits not Osmond's wife to read one line not falsehood you beheld, but an excess of love. From that contagious hand-she knows too well! | Rather than endanger that, I, for a while, gave