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To her distress, who never can be thine? SCENE II.—SIGISMUNDA's Apartment.-Thun- Oh, fly me! Aly! you knowder,
Tan. I know too much,
Oh, how I could reproach thee, Sigismunda ! Enter SIGISMUNDA and LAURA.
Pour out my injured soul in just complaints ! Laura. Heavens! 'tis a fearful night! But now the time permits not; these swift moSig. Ah! the black rage
ments Of midnight tempest, or the assuring smiles I told thee how thy father's artifice Of radiant morn, are equal all to me.
Forced me to seem perfidious in thy eyes. Nought now has charms or terrors to my breast, Ah, fatal blindness! not to have observed The seat of stupid woe ! _Leave me, my Laura; The mingled pangs of rage and love that shook Kind rest, perhaps, may hush my woes a little.
me ! Oh, for that quiet sleep that knows no morning! When by the cruel public situation
Laura. Madam, indeed I know not how to go. Compelled, I only feigned consent, to gain Indulge my fondness-Let me watch a while A little time, and more secure thee mine. By your sad bed, 'till these dread hours shall E'er since-a dreadful interval of care ! pass.
My thoughts have been employed, not without Sig. Alas! what is the toil of elements,
(Thunder. How to defeat Siffredi's barbarous purpose. This idle perturbation of the sky,
But thy credulity has ruined all; To what I feel within ?-Oh, that the fires Thy rash, thy wild-I know not what to name Of pitying heaven would point their fury here!
itGood night, my dearest Laura.
Oh, it has proved the giddy hopes of man Laura. Oh, I know not
To be delusion all, and sickening folly! What this oppression means—But 'tis with pain, Sig. Ah, generous Tancred! ah, thy truth deWith tears, I can persuade myself to leave you
stroys me! Well then-Good night, my dearest Sigismunda. Yes, yes, 'tis I, 'tis I alone am false!
(Erit. My hasty rage, joined to my tame submission, Sig. And am I then alone !—The most un- More than the most exalted filial duty done,
Could e'er demand, has dashed our cup of fate Most wretched being now beneath the cope With bitterness unequalled—But, alas! Of this affrighting gloom that wraps the world— What are thy woes to mine ?-to mine! just I said I did not fear-Ah, me! I feel
Heaven ! A shivering horror run through all my powers ! Now is thy turn of vengeance--Hate, renounce Oh, I am nought but tumult, fears, and weakness! me! And yet how idle fear, when hope is gone, Oh, leave me to the fate I well deserve, Gone, gone for ever !-Oh, thou gentle scene To sink in hopeless misery!-at least,
[Looking towards her bed. Try to forget the worthless Sigismunda! Of sweet repose, where, by the oblivious draught Tan. Forget thee! No! Thou art my Of each sad toilsome day, to peace restored,
itself! Unhappy mortals lose their woes awhile, I have no thought, no hope, no wish but thee! Thou hast no peace for me !-What shall I do? Even this repented injury, the fears, How pass this dreadful night, so big with ter- That rouse me all to madness, at the thought ror?
Of losing thee, the whole collected pains Here with the midnight shades, here will I sit,
Of my full heart, serve but to make thee dearer.
[Sitting down. Ah, low forget thee !-Much must be forgot, A prey to dire despair, and ceaseless weep Ere Tancred can forget his Sigismunda! The hours away-Bless me—I heard a noise
Sig. But you, my lord, must make that great (Starting up.
effort. No, I mistook-nothing but silence reigns, Tan. Can Sigismunda make it? And awful midnight round—Again !-Oh, hea- Sig. Ah! I know not vens!
With what success---But all that feeble woman, My lord the king!
And love-entangled reason, can perform,
I, to the utmost, will exert to do it.
Tan. Fear not-'Tis done !--If thou canst Tan. Be not alarmed, my love!
form the thought, Sig. My royal lord, why at this midnight hour, Success is sure--I am forgot already. How came you hither?
Sig. Ah, Tancred !--But, my lord, respect Tan. By that secret way My love contrived, when we, in happier days, Think who I am. What can you now Used to devote these hours, so much in vain, Tun. To claim the plighted vows which HeaTo vows of love, and everlasting friendship.
ven has heard, Sig. Why will you thus persist to add new To vindicate the rights of holy love, stings
By faith and honour bound, to which compared,
These empty forms, which have ensnared thy , I will forget the dignity my station hand,
Commands me to sustain--for the last time Are impious guile, abuse, and profanation- Will tell thee, that I fear, no ties, no duty, Nay, as a king, whose high prerogative
Can ever root thee from my hapless bosom. By this unlicensed marriage is affronted,
Oh, leave me! fly me! were it but in pity! To bid the laws themselves pronounce it void. To see what once we tenderly have loved, Sig. Honour, my lord, is much too proud to Cut off from every hope--cut off for ever, catch
Is pain thy generosity should spare me. At every slender twig of nice distinctions. Then rise, my lord, and if you truly love me, These, for the unfeeling vulgar, may do well : If you respect my honour, nay, my peace, But those, whose souls are by the nicer rule Retire ! for though the emotions of my heart Of virtuous delicacy nobly swayed,
Can ne'er alarm my virtue ; yet, alas ! Stand at another bar than that of laws.
They tear it so, they pierce it with such anguish Then cease to urge me--Since I am not born Oh, 'tis too much I cannot bear the conflict ! To that exalted fate to be your queen
Osm. Turn, tyrant, turn! and answer to my Of your own princely blood; and what I am,
bonour, I will with proper dignity remain.
For this thy base insufferable outrage ! Retire, my royal lord. There is no means
Tan. Insolent traitor! think not to escape To cure the wounds this fatal day has given. Thyself my vengeance ! We meet no more!
[They fight, OSMOND fulls, Tan. Oh, barbarous Sigismunda !
Sig. Help, here! Help!
---Oh, heavens ! And canst thou talk thus steadily? thus treat me
[Throwing herself down by him. With such unpitying, unrelenting rigour? Alas, my lord, what meant your headlong rage? Poor is the love, that, rather than give up That faith, which I this day, upon the altar, A little pride, a little formal pride,
To you devoted, is unblemished, pure The breath of vanity, can bear to see
As vestal truth: was resolutely yours, The man, whose heart was once so dear to Beyond the power of aught on earth to shake it. thine,
Osm. Perfidious woman! die !--[Shortening By many a tender vow so mixed together,
his sword, he plunges it into her breast.] A prey to anguish, fury, and distraction ! And to the grave attend a husband, yet but half Thou canst not surely make me such a wretch; avenged! Thou canst not, Sigismunda !--Yet relent ! Tan. Oh, horror! horror! execrable villain! Oh, save us yet !---Rodolpho, with my guards, Osm. And, tyrant ! thou !-thou shalt not o'er Waits in the garden-Let us seize the moments, We ne'er may have again--With more than Exult—'Í'is well—'Tis great!—I die content! power
(Dies. I will assert thee mine, with fairest honour.
Enter RODOLPHO and LAURA. The world shall even approve; each honest bosom
Tun. (Throwing himself down by Sig.] Quick! Swell with a kindred joy to see us happy.
here! bring aid !--All in Palermo bring, Sig. The world approve ! what is the world to Whose skill can save her :-Ah, that gentle bo
me! The conscious mind is its own awful world. Pours fast the streams of life. And yet, perhaps, if thou wert not a king,
Sig. All aid is vain ; I know not, Tancred, what I might have done. I feel the powerful hand of death upon meThen, then, my conduct, sanctified by love, But, oh! it sheds a sweetness through my fate, Could not be deemed, by the severest judge, That I am thine again ; and, without blame, The mean effect of interest or ambition.
May in my Tancred's arms resign my soul ! But now, not all my partial heart can plead, Tan. Oh, death is in that voice! so gently Shall ever shake the unalterable dictates
mild, That tyrannize my breast.
So sadly sweet, as mixes even with mine Tan. 'Tis well-No more
The tears of hovering angels !—Mine again! I yield me to my fate-Yes, yes, inhuman ! And is it thus the cruel fates have joined us? Since thy barbarian heart is steeled by pride,
Are these the horrid nuptials they prepare Shut up to love and pity, here behold me For love like ours ?-Is virtue thus rewarded? Cast on the ground, a vile and abject wretch ! Let not my impious rage accuse just Heaven ! Lost to all cares, all dignities, all duties ! Thou, Tancred, thou, hast murdered Sigis. Here will I grow, breathe out my faithful soul,
munda! i Here at thy feetDeath, death alone shall part us! That furious man was but the tool of fate, Sig. Have you then vowed to drive me to per- I, I the cause !—But I will do thee justice dition !
On this deaf heart! that to thy tender wisdom What can I more?-Yes, Tancred! once again Refused an ear—Yes, death shall soon unite us.
Sig. Live, live, my Tancred !-Let my death | Off, traitors, off! or my distracted soul suffice
Will burst indignant from this jail of nature, To expiate all that may have been amiss. To where she beckons yonder-No, mild seraph, May it appease the fates, avert their fury Point not to life I cannot linger here, From thy propitious reign! Meantime, of me Cut off from thee, the miserable pity, And of thy glory mindful, live, I charge thee, The scorn of humankind !-A trampled king! To guard our friends, and make thy people hap- Who let his mean poor-hearted love one mo
pyEnter SIFFREDI, fixed in astonishment and grief. The first undoubting action of his reign,
To coward prudence stoop! who made it not My father !--Oh, how shall I lift my eyes To snatch thee to his throne, and there to shield To thee, my sinking father!
thee, Sif. Awful Heaven !
Thy helpless bosom, from a ruffian's fury! I am chastised-My dearest child !
Oh, shame! Oh, agony! Oh, the fell stings, Sig. Where am I?
Of late, of vain repentance ! Ha, my brain A fearful darkness closes all around
Is all on fire! a wild abyss of thought! My friends! We needs must part-I must obey The infernal world discloses! See ! Behold him! The impetuous call-Farewell
, my Laura ! che Lo! with fierce smiles he shakes the bloody steel, rish
And mocks my feeble tears.--Hence, quickly, My poor afflicted father's age-Rodolpho,
hence! Now is the time to watch the unhappy king, Spurn his vile carcase! give it to the dogs! With all the care and tenderness of friendship. Expose it to the winds and screaming ravens ! Oh, my dear father, bowed beneath the weight Or hurl it down that fiery steep to hell, Of age and grief- the victim even of virtue, There, with his soul, to toss in flames for ever!
Receive my last adieu !...Where art thou, Tan- Ah, impotence of rage ! cred?
What am I? Where? Give me thy hand—But, ah,—it cannot save me Sad, silent all? The forms of dumb despair, From the dire king of terrors, whose cold power Around some mournful tomb.-What do I see? Creeps o'er my heart -Oh!
This soft abode of innocence and love Tan. How these pangs distract me!
Turned to the house of death! a place of hor. Oh, lift thy gracious eyes Thou leav'st me, ror!then!
Ah, that poor corse! pale! pale! deformed with Thou leav’st me, Sigismunda!
murder! Sig. Yet a moment
Is that my Sigismunda ? I had, my Tancred, something more to say
(Throws himself down by her. Yes—but thy love and tenderness for me,
Sif. [After a pathetic pause, looking on the Şure make it needless-Harbour no resentment
scene before him. Against my father ; venerate his zeal,
Have I lived That acted from a principle of goodness, To these enfeebled years, by heaven reserved From faithful love to thee-Live, and maintain To be a dreadful monument of justice? My innocence ! embalmed with holiest care, Rodolpho, raise the king, and bear him hence Preserve my spotless memory! Oh–I die- From this distracting scene of blood and death. Eternal mercy take my trembling soul !
Alas, I dare not give him my assistance; Öh, 'tis the only sting of death to part
My care would only more infame his rage. From those we love from thee-farewell, my Behold the fatal work of my dark hand, Tancred!
(Dies. That by rude force the passions would come Tan. Thus then!
mand, [Flying to his sword, is held by RODOLPHO. That ruthless thought to root them from the Rod. Hold, hold, my lord !-Have you forgot breast; Your Sigismunda's last request already? They may be ruled, but will not be opprest. Tan. Off! set me free! Think not to bind me Taught hence, ye parents, who from nature stray, down,
And the great ties of social life betray, With barbarous friendship, to the rack of life ! Ne'er with your children act a tyrant's part; What hand can shut the thousand thousand gates, 'Tis yours to guide, not violate the heart. Which death still opens to the woes of mortals:- Ye vainly wise, who o'er mankind preside, I shall find means-No power in earth or heaven Behold my righteous woes, and drop your pride; Can force me to endure the hateful light, Keep virtue's simple path before your eyes, Thus robbed of all that lent it joy and sweet- Nor think from evil good can ever rise. ness!
CRAMM'D to the throat with wholesome moral Where shades of heroes roam, each mighty name, stuff,
And court my aid to rise again to fame; Alas, poor audience, you have had enough. To you I come, to freedom's noblest seat, Was ever hapless heroine of a play
And in Britannia fix my last retreat. In such a piteous plight as ours to-day? In Greece and Rome, I watch'd the public weal, Was ever woman so by love betray'd ?
The purple tyrant trembled at my steel : Match'd with two husbands, and yet--die a maid. Nor did I less o'er private sorrows reign, But, bless me hold! what sounds are these I And mend the melting heart with softer pain. hear
On France and you then rose my brightning star, I see the Tragic Muse herself appear.
With social ray—The arts are ne'er at war. (The back scene opens, and discovers a romantic Oh, as your fire and genius strongly blaze,
syloan landscape, from which the Tragic As your's are generous Freedom's bolder lays, Muse advances slowly, and speaks the folo Let not the Gallic taste leave yours behind, lowing lines:
In decent manners and in life refin'd. Hence with your flippant epilogue, that tries Banish the motley mode to tag low verse, To wipe the virtuous tear from British eyes ; The laughing ballad to the mournful hearse. That dares my moral, tragic scene profane, When through five acts your hearts have learn'd With strains-at best, unsuiting, light, and vain. to glow, Hence from the pure unsullied beams that play Touch'd with the secret force of honest woe; In yon fair eyes where virtue shines-away! Oh, keep the dear impression on your breast,
Britons, to you, from the Castalian groves, Nor idly lose it for a wretched jest. Where dwell the tender, oft unhappy loves ;
Ye glittering train! whom lace and velvet bless, | Ennobled, yet unchanged, if nature shine; Suspend the soft solicitudes of dress;
If no wild draught depart from reason's rules, From grovelling business and superfluous care, Nor gods his heroes, nor his lovers fools; Ye sons of avarice! a moment spare :
Intriguing wits! his artless plot forgive, Vot'ries of fame and worshippers of power ! And spare him, beauties, though his lovers live. Dismiss the pleasing phantoms for an hour. Be this at least his praise; be this his pride; Our daring bard, with spirit unconfin'd,
To force applause no modern arts are tried. Spreads wide the mighty moral for mankind. Should partial catcalls all his hopes confound, Learn here how Heaven supports the virtuous He bids no trumpet quell the fatal sound. mind,
Should welcome sleep relieve the weary
wit, Daring, though calm; and vigorous, though re- He rolls no thunders o'er the drowsy pit. sign'd.
No snares, to captivate the judgment, spreads; Learn here what anguish racks the guilty breast, Nor bribes your eyes to prejudice your heads. In power dependent, in success deprest; Unmoved the witlings sneer and rivals rail; Learn here that peace from innocence must Studious to please, yet not ashamed to fail. flow;
He scorns the meek address, the suppliant strain, All else is empty sound, and idle show.
With merit needless, and without it vain. If truths like these with pleasing language In reason, nature, truth, he dares to trust; join;
Ye fops, be silent! and, ye wits, be just!