« AnteriorContinuar »
Sif. No more -You are too warm.
Osm. You are too cool.
Sif. I wish Earl Osmond were as cool as I
To his own selfish bliss--ay, and as warm
To that of others. But of this no more-
My daughter is thy wife—I gave her to thee,
And will, against all force, maintain her thine.
But think not I will catch thy headlong passions,
Whirl'd in a blaze of madness o'er the land;
Or, till the last extremity compel me;
Risk the dire means of war - The king, to-morrow,
Will set you free; and, if by gentle means
He does not yield my daughter to your arms,
And wed Constantia, as the will requires,
Why then expect me on the side of justice-
Let that suffice.
Osm. It does-Forgive my heat !
My rankled mind, my injuries inflamed,
May be too prompt to take and give offence.
Sif. "Tis past-Your wrongs, I own, may well
Yes I have mighty matter of suspicion.
My honour is not safe, while here my wife
Remains -Who knows but he this very night
May bear her to some convent, as he mentioned
The king too--though I smother'd up my rage,
I mark'd it well will set me free to-morrow.
Why not to-night? He has some dark design-
By Heavens, he has !-I am abused most grossly;
Made the vile tool of this old statesman's schemes !
I will not wait his crawling timid motions;
I will convince him, that Earl Osmond never
Was form’d to be his dupe-
I will bear her off
This night, and lodge her in a place of safety:
I have a trusty band that waits not far.
Hence ! let me lose no time-One rapid moment
Should ardent form, at once, and execute
A bold design—'Tis fix'd—"Tis done!
The mine is laid,
And only wants my kindling touch to spring.
Enter SIGISMUNDA and LAURA.
Laura. Heavens ! 'tis a fearful night!
Sig. Ah! the black rage
Of midnight tempest, or th' assuring smiles
Of radiant morn, are equal all to me.
Leave me, my Laura.
Laura. Madam, indeed I know not how to go.
Indulge my fondness-Let me watch a while
By your'sad bed, till these dread hours shall pass.
Sig. Oh, that the fires
Of pitying Heaven would point their fury here!
Good night, my dearest Laura.
Laura. Oh, I know not
What this oppression means—But 'tis with pain,
With tears, I can persuade myself to leave you-
Well then-Good night, my dearest Sigismunda.
Sig. I said I did not fear-Ah me, I feel
A shivering horror run through all my powers !
What shall I do?
pass this dreadful night, so big with terror?Here with the midnight shades, here will I sit,
A prey to dire despair, and ceaseless weep
The hours away-Bless me!--I heard a noise-
No-I mistook—nothing but silence reigns,
And awful midnight round-Again !-Oh, Heavens!
My lord, the king!
Tan. Be not alarm’d, my love!
Sin. My royal lord, why at this midnight hour,
How came you hit her?
Tan, By that secret way
My love contrived, when we, in happier days,
Used to devote these hours so much in vain,
To vows of love, and everlasting friendship.
Sig. Why will you thus persist to add new stings
To her distress, who never can be thine?
Oh, fly me! fly! you know
Tan. I know too much.
Oh, how I could reproach thee, Sigismunda!
Pour out my injured soul in just complaints !
But now the time permits not, these swift moments-
I told thee how thy father's artifice
Forced me to seem perfidious in thy eyes.
E'er since-a dreadful interval of care!
My thoughts have been employ'd, not without hope,
How to defeat Siffredi's barbarous purpose.
But thy credulity has ruin'd all ;
Thy rash, thy wild-I know not what to name it-
Oh, it has proved the giddy hopes of man
To be delusion all, and sick’ning folly!
Sig. Ah, generous Tancred ! ah, thy truth destroys
Yes, yes, 'tis I, 'tis I alone am false!
Now is thy turn of vengeance-hate, renounce me!
At least, try to forget the worthless Sigismunda!
Tan. Forget thee ! No! Thou art my soul itself!
I have no thought, no hope, no wish but thee !
Ah, how forget thee! Much must be forgot,
Ere Tancred can forget his Sigismunda!
Sig. But you, my lord, must make that great ef-
Tan. Can Sigismunda make it?
Sig. Ah, I know not
With what success-But all that feeble woman
And love-entangled reason can perform,
I to the utmost will exert to do it.
Tan. Oh, barbarous Sigismunda!
And canst thou talk thus steadily! thus treat me
With such unpitying, unrelenting rigour?
Poor is the love that, rather than give up
A little pride, a little formal pride,
The breath of vanity, can bear to see
The man, whose heart was once so dear to thine,
By many a tender vow so mix'd together,
A prey to anguish, fury, and distraction !
Thou canst not surely make me such a wretch ;
Thou canst not, Sigismunda !-Yet relent.
Oh, save us yet!-Rodolpho, with my guards,
Waits in the garden-Let us seize the moments
We ne'er may have again-With more than power,
I will assert thee mine with fairest honour.
The world shall even approve; each honest bosom Swell’d with a kindred joy to see us happy.
Sig. The world approve! what is the world to me? The conscious mind is its own awful worldAnd mine is fix'd.-Distress me, thén, no more; Not all the heart can plead (and it, alas, Pleads but too much) Shall ever shake th' unalterable dictates That tyrannise my breast.
Tan. 'Tis well-No more I yield me to my fate-Yes, yes, inhuman ! Since thy barbarian heart is steel'd by pride, Shut up to love and pity, here behold me Cast on the ground, a vile and abject wretch ! Lost to all cares, all dignities, all duties ! Here will I grow, breathe out my faithful soul, Here at thy feet-Death, death alone shall part us! Sig. Have
then vowd to drive me to perdition ? Oh, leave me! fly me! were it but in pity!Then rise, my lord ; and if you truly love me, If you respect my honour, nay, my peace, Retire ! for though the emotions of my heart Can ne'er alarm my virtue; yet, alas! They tear it so, they pierce it with such anguishOh, 'tis too much!- I cannot bear the conflict!