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Sif. Oh, let it burst
On this grey head, devoted to thy service!
But when the storm has vented all its fury,
Thou then must hear-nay more, I know thou wilt-
Wilt hear the calm, yet stronger voice of reason;
Thou must reflect that there are other duties,
A nobler pride, a more exalted honour.
Yes, thou must,
In calmer hours divest thee of thy love,
These common passions of the vulgar breast,
This boiling heat of youth, and be a king,
The lover of thy people !
Tan. Yes, I will be a king, but not a slave;
In this will be a king; in this my people
Shall learn to judge how I will guard their rights,
When they behold me vindicate my own.
But have I, say, been treated like a king ?-
Heavens! could I stoop to such outrageous usage,
I were a mean, a shameless wretch, unworthy
To wield a sceptre in a land of slaves,
A soil abhorr'd of virtue; should belie
My father's blood, belie those very maxims,
At other times, you taught my youth -Siffredi !
[In a softened tone of voice.
Sif. Behold, my prince, thy poor old servant,
Whose darling care, these twenty years, has been
To nurse thee up to virtue ; behold him here,
Bent on his feeble knees, to beg, conjure thee,
With tears to beg thee to control thy passion,
To save thyself, thy honour, and thy people !
Turn not awayOh, is there not some part
In thy great heart, so sensible to kindness,
And generous warmth, some nobler part, to feel
The prayers and tears of these, the mingled voice
Of Heaven and earth?
Tan. There is, and thou hast touched it.
Rise, rise, Siffredi -Oh, thou hast undone me!
Unkind old man ! -Oh, ill-entreated Tancred!
soe'er I turn, dishonour rears Her hideous frontmand misery and ruin. Why have you raised this miserable conflict Betwixt the duties of the king and man? Set virtue against virtue ? -But hold, my soul, Thy steady purpose Toss'd by various passions, To this eternal anchor keep-There is, Can be, no public without private virtue Then, mark me well, observe what I command; To-morrow, when the senate meets again, Unfold the whole, unravel the deceit. Start not, my lord—This must and shall be done! Or here our friendship ends—Howe'er disguised, Whatever thy pretence, thou art a traitor.
Sif. I should indeed deserve the name of traitor, And even a traitor's fate, had I so slightly, From principles so weak, done what I did, As e'er to disavow it
Sif. My liege,
Expect not this-Though practised long in courts,
I have not so far learn'd their subtle trade,
To veer obedient with each gust of passion.
I honour thee, I venerate thy orders,
But honour more my duty.
Tan. You will not then ?
Sif. I cannot.
Tan. Away! begone!-Oh, my Rodolpho,
And save me from this traitor !-Hence,
say. No reply! away!
[Exit SIFFREDI. Enter RODOLPHO. Rod. What can incense my prince so highly Against his friend Siffredi ?
Tan. Friend ! Rodolpho ? When I have told thee what this friend has done, How play'd me like a boy, a base-born wretch,
Who had nor heart, nor spirit, thou wilt stand
Amazed, and wonder at my patience.
But this, my friend, this black, unheard-of outrage,
I cannot now impart-Till Sigismunda
Be disabused, my breast is tumult all.
Come, then, my friend, and by the hand of Laura,
Oh, let me steal a letter to her bosom,
And this evening
Secure an interview I would not bear
This rack another day, not for my kingdom.
Thought drives on thought, on passions passions roll;
Her smiles alone can calm my raging soul. (Exeunt.
SIGISMUNDA alone, sitting in a disconsolate Posture.
Sig. Ah, tyrant prince! ah, more than faithless
Ungenerous and inhuman in thy falsehood!
Hadst thou this morning, when my hopeless heart,
Submissive to my fortune and my duty,
Ah ! hadst thou then
Confess'd the sad necessity thy state
Imposed upon thee,
Since we must part at last, our parting soften'd ;
I should indeed, I should have been unhappy,
But not to this extreme.-
Is there, kind Heaven, no constancy in man?
Even Tancred is inconstant!
[Rising Hence ! let me fly this scene!-Whate'er I see, These roofs, these walls, each object that surrounds
Are tainted with his vows-
My father comes-How, sunk in this disorder,
Shall I sustain his presence ?
My dearest child ! I grieve to find thee thus
A prey to tears. I know the powerful cause
From which they flow, and therefore can excuse them,
But not their wilful obstinate continuance.
Awake to reason from this dream of love,
And show the world thou art Siffredi's daughter.
Sig. Alas ! I am unworthy of that name.
Sif. Thou art indeed to blame; thou hast too rashly Engaged thy heart, without a father's sanction, But this I can forgive; and, if thy heart Will now resume its pride, assert itself, And greatly rise superior to this trial, I to my warmest confidence again Will take thee, and esteem thee more my daughter.
Sig. Oh, you are gentler far than I deserve! It is, it ever was, my darling pride, To bend my soul to your supreme commands, Your wisest will; and though by love betrayed Alas! and punished too--yet I feel Ą sentiment of tenderness, a source Of filial nature springing in my breast, That, should it kill me, shall control this passion, And make me all submission and obedience To you, my honour'd lord, the best of fathers.
Sif. Come to my arms, thou comfort of my age, Come, let me take thee to a parent's heart;
There, with the dew of these paternal tears,
Revive and nourish this becoming spirit
Then thou dost promise me, my Sigismunda,
Thou wilt resign thy fond presumptuous hopes,
And henceforth never more indulge one thought
That in the light of love regards the king?
Sig. Hopes I have none !—Those by this fatal day
Are blasted all—But from my soul to banish,
While weeping memory there retains her seat,
Thoughts which the purest bosom might have che-
Once my delight, now even in anguish charming,
Is more, alas! my lord, than I can promise.
Sif. Absence, and time, the softener of our passions,
Will conquer this. Mean time, I hope from thee
A generous great effort.
Rouse thee, for shame!
Nor sink unequal to the glorious lesson,
This day thy lover gave thee from his throne.
Sig. Ah, that was not from virtue!—Had, my fa-
That been his aim, I yield to what you say.
Why did you drag me to a sight so cruel 2
Sif. It was a scene to fire thy emulation.
Sig. It was a scene of perfidy —but know,
I will do more than imitate the king—
For he is false !—I, though sincerely pierced
With the best, truest passion, ever touch'd
A virgin's breast, here vow to Heaven and you,
Though from my heart I cannot, from my hopes
To cast this prince—What would you more, my
Sis. Yes, one thing more—thy father then is
This world from thee, my honour and thy own,
Demands one step ; a step, by which convinced,
The king may see thy heart disdains to wear
A chain which his has greatly thrown aside.