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Sig. Away, my friend;
You flatter-yet the dear delusion charms.
Laura. No, Sigismunda, 'tis the strictest truth,
Nor half the truth, I tell you. Even with fondness
My brother talks for ever of the passion
That fires young Tancred's breast. So much it strikes
He praises love as if he were a lover.
Heaven, he says,
In lavish bounty form’d the heart for love;
In love included all the finer seeds
Of honour, virtue, friendship, purest bliss-
Sig. Virtuous Rodolpho!
Laura. Then his pleasing theme He varies to the praises of your
lover Sig. And what, my Laura, says he on that subject ? Laura. He says, that though he were not nobly
Nature has form'd him noble, generous, brave.
Chiefly one charm
He in his graceful character observes;
That though his passions burn with high impatience,
And sometimes, from a noble heat of nature,
Are ready to fly off, yet the least check
Of ruling reason brings them back to temper,
And gentle softness.
Sig. True, Oh, true, Rodolpho!
Blest be thy kindred worth for loving his !
He is all warmth, all amiable fire,
All quick heroic ardour!
Go on, my friend, go on, and ever praise him :
The heart of woman tastes no truer joy,
Is never flatter'd with such dear enchantment,
She hears the praises of the man she loves !
Laura. Madam, your father comes.
M H MO TE ME T H AL N M IF H
Sif. [To an ATTENDANT.] Lord Tancred
Attend. My lord, he quickly will be here.
Sif. 'Tis well-retire [Exit ATTENDANT.]-You
too, my daughter, leave me.
Sig. I go, my father-But how fares the King?
Sif. He is no more-Gone to that awful state,
Where kings the crown wear only of their virtues.
Siy. How bright must then be his !--This stroke
He was this morning well, when to the chase
Lord Tancred went.
Sif. 'Tis true. But at his years,
Death gives short notice-Drooping nature then,
Without a gust of pain to shake it, falls.
His death, my daughter, was that happy period,
Which few attain. The duties of his day
Were all discharged :-Calm as the evening skies
Was his pure mind, and lighted up with hopes
That open Heaven ;-when, for his last long sleep
Timely prepared, a lassitude of life,
A pleasing weariness of mortal joy,
Fell on his soul, and down he sunk to rest.
O, may my death be such!-He but one wish
Left unfulfill’d, which was, to see Count Tancred-
Sig. To see Count Tancred! -Pardon me, my
Sif. For what, my daughter?-But, with such
My doubts are but too true-a mutual passion
Has seized, I fear, my daughter and this prince,
My sovereign now-Should it be so ? Ah, there,
There lurks a brooding tempest, that may shake
My long concerted scheme, to settle firm
The public peace and welfare, which the King
Has made the prudent basis of his will.-
Away, unworthy views! you shall not tempt me!
Nor interest, nor ambition shall seduce
My fix'd resolve-Perish the selfish thought,
Which our own good prefers to that of millions !
He comes, my King, unconscious of his fortune.
Tan. My Lord Siffredi, in your looks I read,
Confirmed, the mournful news that fly abroad
From tongue to tongue-We, then, at last, have lost
The good old King?
Sif. Yes, we have lost a father! The greatest blessing Heaven bestows on mortals, A good, a worthy king!
Tan. A general face of grief o'erspreads the city. I mark'd the people, as I hither came, In crowds assembled, struck with silent sorrow, And pouring forth the noblest praise of tears. A mingled murmur ran Along the streets; and, from the lonely court Of him who can no more assist their fortunes, I saw the courtier-fry, with eager haste, All hurrying to Constantia.
Sif. Noble youth! I joy to hear from thee these just reflections, Worthy of riper years.—But if they seek Constantia, trust me, they mistake their course. Tun. How! Is she not, my lord, the late King's
sister, Heir to the crown of Sicily, the last Of our famed Norman line, and now our queen?
Sif. Tancred, 'tis true; she is the late King's sister,
The sole surviving offspring of that tyrant,
William the Bad-so for his vices styled;
Born some months
After the tyrant's death, but not next heir.
Tan. You much surprise me—May I then presume
To ask who is?
Sif. Come nearer, noble Tancred,
Son of my care:-I must on this occasion
Consult thy generous heart; which, when conducted
By rectitude of mind, and honest virtues,
Gives better counsel than the hoary head.-
Then know, there lives a prince, here in Palermo,
The lineal offspring of our famous hero,
And rightful heir of Sicily.
Tan. Great Heaven !-How far removed
From that our mighty founder?
Sif. His great grandson :
Sprung from his eldest son, who died untimely,
Before his father.
Tan. Ha! the prince you mean,
Is he not Manfred's son? The
Unhappy Manfred! whom the tyrant William,
You just now mention’d, not content to spoil
Of his paternal crown, threw into fetters,
And infamously murder'd?
Sif. Yes, the same.
Tan. But this prince,
Where has he lain conceal’d?
Sif. The late good King,
By noble pity moved, contrived to save him
From his dire father's unrelenting rage,
And had him rear'd in private, as became
His birth and hopes, with high and princely nurture.
Till now, too young to rule a troubled state,
By civil broils most miserably torn,
He in his safe retreat has lain conceal'd,
His birth and fortune to himself unknown;
But when the dying king to me entrusted,
As to the chancellor of the realm, his will,
His successor he named him.
Tan. Happy youth !
He then will triumph o'er his father's foes,
O'er haughty Osmond, and the tyrant's daughter.
Sif. Ay, that is what I dread—that heat of youth; There lurks, I fear, perdition to the state. I dread the horrors of rekindled war : Though dead, the tyrant still is to be fear'd; His daughter's party still is strong and numerous : Her friend, Earī Osmond, Constable of Sicily, Experienced, brave, high born, of mighty interest. Better the prince and princess should by marriage Unite their friends, their interest, and their claims; Then will the peace and welfare of the land On a firm basis rise.
Tan. My Lord Siffredi,
If by myself I of this prince may judge,
That scheme will scarce succeed.—Your prudent age
In vain will counsel, if the heart forbid it-
But wherefore fear? The right is clearly his :
All Sicily will rouse, all faithful hearts
Will range themselves around Prince Manfred's son.
For me, I here devote me to the service
of this young prince; I every drop of blood
Will lose with joy, with transport in his cause-
Then, find the prince;
Lose not a moment to awaken in him
The royal soul. Perhaps, he now desponding
Pines in a corner, and laments his fortune;
That in the narrower bounds of private life
He must confine his aims, those swelling virtues
Which from his noble father he inherits.
Sif. Perhaps regardless, in the common bane
Of youth he melts, in vanity and love.
But if the seeds of virtue glow within him,