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I yet will save him-Necessary means,
For good and noble ends, can ne'er be wrong.
In that resistless, that peculiar case,
Deceit is truth and virtue-But how hold
This lion in the toil.? -O, I will form it
Of such a fatal thread, twist it so strong
With all the ties of honour and of duty,
That his most desperate fury shall not break
The honest snare.
To me, I know 'tis ruin;
But safety to the public, to the king.
I will not reason more-No-'tis fixed !
I here devote me for my prince and country ;
Let them be safe, and let me nobly perish!
Behold, Earl Osmond comes, without whose aid
My schemes are all in vain.
Osm. My Lord Siffredi,
The princess to thy will submits her claims.
She with her presence means to grace the senate,
And of your royal charge, young Tancred's hand,
I could discern, that not from prudence merely
She to this choice submitted.
Sif. Noble Osmond, You have in this done to the public great And signal service. Yes, I must avow it; This frank and ready instance of your zeal, In such a trying crisis of the state, Upbraids the rashness of my former judgment.
Osm. Siffredi, no. To you belongs the praise; 'Tis you, my lord, to whom the many thousands, That by the barbarous sword of civil war Had fallen inglorious, owe their lives. I blush to think I have so long opposed the best good man In Sicily.
To yours I join my hand; with you will own
No interest, and no party, but my country.
Nor is your friendship only my ambition
There is a dearer name, the name of father,
By which I should rejoice to call Siffredi.
Your daughter's hand would to the public weal
Unite my private happiness.
Sif. My lord,
You have my glad consent. To be allied
To your distinguish'd family and merit,
I shall esteem an honour. From my soul,
I here embrace Earl Osmond as my friend
Osm. You make him happy.
I from this moment vow myself the friend
And zealous servant of Siffredi's house.
Enter an OFFICER. Of: [T. SIFFREDI.] The king, my lord, demands
your speedy presence. Sif. I will attend him straight.-
The senate meets ; there, a few moments hence,
I will rejoin you.
Osm. There, my noble lord,
We will complete this salutary work ;
Will there begin a new auspicious era.
[Exeunt SIFFREDI and OFFICER.
Siffredi gives his daughter to my wishes;
But does she give herself? Gay, young, and flattered,
I am not form’d, by flattery and praise,
By sighs and tears, and all the whining trade
Of love, to feed a fair one's vanity;
To charm at once and spoil her. These soft arts
Nor suit my years nor temper : these be left
To boys, and doting age. A prudent father,
By nature charged to guide and rule her choice,
Resigns his daughter to a husband's power,
Who, with superior dignity, with reason,
And manly tenderness, will ever love her;
Not first a kneeling slave, and then a tyrant. [Exit.
Enter RODOLPHO from the Senate. Rod. This will perplexes all. No, Tancred never Can stoop to these conditions, which at once Attack his rights, his honour, and his love. When he heard Th' unjust, the base conditions of the will, Uncertain, toss'd in cruel agitation, He oft, methought, address'd himself to speak, And interrupt Siffredi ; who appear'd With conscious haste to dread that interruption, And hurry'd on
-But, hark! I hear a noise, As if th' assembly rose.
Laura. Your high-praised friend, the king,
Is false, most vilely false. The meanest slave
Had shown a nobler heart.
He Manfred's son ! away! it cannot be!
The son of that brave prince could never sacrifice
All faith, all honour, gratitude and love.
And, for what? why, truly,
For kind permission, gracious leave, to sit
On his own throne, with tyrant William's daughter !
Rod. I stand amazed —You surely wrong him,
There must be some mistake.
Laura. There can be none!
Siffredi read his full and free consent
Before the applauding senate. True, indeed,
A small remain of shame made him blush
To act this scene in Sigismunda's eye,
Who sunk beneath his perfidy and baseness.
Hence, till to-morrow, he adjourn’d the senate;
To-morrow, fixed with infamy to crown him!
Then, leading off his gay, triumphant privcess,
He left the poor, unhappy Sigismunda,
To bend her trembling steps to that sad home
His faithless vows will render hateful to her-
He comes !-Farewell-I cannot bear his presence !
Enter TANCRED and SIFFREDI.
Tan. Avoid me, hoary traitor !--Go, Rodolpho,
Give orders that all
way Be shut-Defend me from a hateful world, The bane of peace and honour-then return
[Exit RODOLPHO. What! dost thou haunt me still? O, monstrous in
Unparalleld indignity! Just Heaven !
Was ever king, was ever man so treated ;
So trampled into baseness?
Sif. Here, my liege,
Here strike! I nor deserve, nor ask for, mercy.
Tan. All, all but this, I could have borne but
this! This daring insolence, beyond example ! This murderous stroke, that stabs my peace for ever! That wounds me there there! where the human
heart Most exquisitely feels
— Sif. O, bear it not, My royal lord; appease on me your vengeance!
Tan. Did ever tyrant image aught so cruel ! The lowest slave that crawls upon the earth, Robb’d of each comfort Heaven bestows on mortals, On the bare ground, has still his virtue left, The sacred treasure of an honest heart,
Which thou hast dared, with rash, audacious hand, And impious fraud, in me to violate
Sif. Behold, my lord, that rash, audacious hand, Which not repents its crime-Oh,glorious, happy! If by my ruin I can save your honour.
Tan. Such honour I renounce;with sovereign scorn Greatly detest it, and its mean adviser! Hast thou not dared beneath my name to shelterHast thou not, Beneath thy sovereign's name, basely presumed To shield a lie-a lie, in public utter'd, To all deluded Sicily? But know, This poor
contrivance is as weak as base. What! marry
her ! Constantia! her! the daughter
Of the fell tyrant who destroy'd my father!
The very thought is madness! Ere thou seest
The torch of Hymen light these hated nuptials,
Thou shalt behold Sicilia wrapt in flames,
Her cities razed, her valleys drench'd with slaugh-
Love set aside, my pride assumes the quarrel ; /
My honour now is up; in spite of thee,
A world combined against me, I will give
This scattered will in fragments to the winds,
Assert my rights, the freedom of my heart,
Crush all who dare oppose me to the dust,
And heap perdition on thee!
Sif. Sir, 'tis just.
Exhaust on me thy rage; I claim it all.
But for these public threats thy passion utters,
'Tis what thou canst not do.
Tan. I cannot! ha!
What shall arrest my vengeance? Who?
Tan. Away! dare not to justify thy crime !
That, that alone can aggravate its horror,
Add insolence to insolence-perhaps
May make my rage forget