Page images


I want some private conference with lord Tan- | And change might bring. A mingled murmur

cred. [Ercunt Sigismunda and Laura. My doubts are but too true—If these old eyes Along the streets; and from the lonely court Can trace the marks of love, a mutual passion Of hin, who can no more assist their fortunes, Has seized, I fear, my daughter and this prince, I saw the courtier-fry, with eager haste, My sovereign now-Should it be so ? Ah, there, All hurrying to Constantia. There lurks a brooding tempest, that may

shake Sif. Noble youth ! My long concerted scheme, to settle firm I joy to hear from thee these just reflections, The public peace and welfare, which the king Worthy of riper years—But it they seek Has made the prudent basis of his will

Constantia, trust me, they mistake their course. Away, unworthy views ! you shall not tempt me! Tan. How! Is she not, my lord, the late king's Nor interest, por ambition shall seduce

sister, My fixed resolve-Perish the selfish thought, Heir to the crown of Sicily? the last Which our own good prefers to that of millions! |Of our famed Norman line, and now our queen? He comes, my king, unconscious of his fortune. Sif. Tancred, 'tis true; she is the late king's

sister, Enter TANCRED.

The sole surviving offspring of that tyrant Tan. My lord Siffredi, in your looks I read, William the Bad-so for his vices stiled; Contirmed, the mournful news that fly abroad Who spilt much noble blood, and sore oppressed From tongue to tongue-We then, at last, have The exhausted land: whence grievous wars arose, lost

And many a dire convulsion shook the state ; The good old king?

When he, whose death Sicilia mourns to-day, Sif. Yes, we have lost a father!

William, who has, and weli deserved the nane The greatest blessing beaven bestows on mortals, Of Good, succeeding to his father's throne, And seldom found amidst these wilds of time, Relieved his country's woes-But to return; A good, a worthy king !--Hear me, my Tancred, She is the late king's sister, born soine months And I will tell thee, in a few plain words, After the tyrant's death, but not next heir. How he deserved that best, that glorious title. Tun. You much surprise me- May I then 'Tis nought complex, 'tis clear as truth and virtue.

presume He loved his people, deeined them all his chil- To ask who is? dren;

Sif. Come nearer, noble Tancred, The good exalted, and depressed the bad. Son of my care. I must, on this occasion, He spurned the flattering crew, with scorn re- Consult thy generous heart; which, when conjected

ducted Their smooth advice that only means themselves, By rectitude of mind and honest virtues, Their schemes to aggrandize him into baseness ; Gives better counsel than the hoary beadNor did he less disdain the secret breath, Then know, there lives a prince, here in Palermo, The whispered tale, that blights a virtuous name. The lineal offspring of our famous hero, He sought alone the good of those for whom Roger the First. He was entrusted with the sovereign power: Tan. Great Heaven! How far removed Well knowing, that a people, in their rights From that our mighty founder? And industry protected ; living safe

Sif. Ilis great grandson : Bencath the sacred shelter of the laws;

Sprung from his eldest son, who died untimely, Encouraged in their genius, arts and labours, Before his father, And happy each, as he himself deserves,

Tan. Ha! the prince you mean, Are ve'er ungrateful. With unsparing hand, Is he not Manfred's son. The generous, brave, They will for him provide : their filial love Unhappy Manfred? whom the tyrant William, And confidence are his unfailing treasure, You just now mentioned, not content to spoil And every honest man his faithful guard. Of his paternal crown, threw into fetters, Tan. A general face of grief o'erspreads the And infamously murdered? city.

Sif. Yes, the same. I marked the people, as I hither came,

Tan. By heavens, I joy to find our Norman In crowds assembled, struck with silent sorrow,

reign, And pouring forth the noblest praise-ot tears. The world's sole light amidst these barbarous Those, whom remembrance of their former woes,

ages, And long experience of the vain illusions Yet rears its head; and shall not, from the lance, Of youthful hope, had into wise consent

Pass to the feeble distafl.—But this prince,
And fear of change corrected, wrung their hands, Where has he lain concealed ?
And, often casting up their eyes to heaven, Sif. The late good king,
Gave sign of sad conjecture. Others shewed, By noble pity moved, contrived to save him
Athwart their grief, or real or affected,

From his dire father's unrelenting rage,
A gleam of expectation, from what chance And had him reared in private, as became


His birth and hopes, with high and princely nur- And animate his virtues-Oh, permit me

To plead the cause of youth— Their virtue oft, Till now, too young to rule a troubled state, In pleasure's soft evchantment lulled awhile, By civil broils most miserably torn,

Forgets itself; it sleeps and gayly dreams, He, in his safe retreat, has lain concealed, Till great occasion rouse it; then, all flame, His birth and fortune to himself unknown; It walks abroad, with heightened soul and vigour, But when the dying king to me intrusted, And by the change astonishes the world! As to the chancellor of the realm, bis will, Even with a kind of sympathy, I feel His successor he named him.

The joy that waits this prince; wlien all the Tan. Happy youth !

powers, He then will triumph o'er his father's foes, The expanding heart can wish, of doing good; O'er haughty Osmond, and the tyrant's danghter. Whatever swells ambition, or exalts Sit. Ay, that is what I dread—the heat of The human soul into divine emotions, youth;

All crowd at once upon him. There lurks, I fear, perdition to the state;

Sif. Ah, my Tancred, I dread the horrors of rekindled war:

Nothing so easy as in speculation, Though dead, the tyrant still is to be feared; And at a distance seen, the course of honour; His daughter's party still is strong and numerous : A fair delightful chainpaign strewed with flowers. Her friend, earl Osmond, constable of Sicily, But when the practice comes; when our food Experienced, brave, high-born, of mighty interest. passions, Better the prince and princess should by marriage Pleasure and pride, and self-indulgence, throw Unite their friends, their interest, and their Their magic dust around, the prospect roughens; claims;

Then dreadful passes, craggy inountains rise, Then will the peace and welfare of the land Clills to be scaled, and torrents to be stemmed; On a firm basis rise.

Then toil ensties, and perseverance stern; Tan. My lord Siffredi,

And endless coinbats with our grosser sense, If by inyself I of this prince may judge,

Oft lost, and oft renewed; and generous pain That scheme will scarce succeed — Your prudent For others felt; and, harder lesson still! age

Our bonest bliss for others sacrificed;
In vain will counsel, if the heart forbid it- And all the rugged task of virtue quells
But wherefore fear? The right is clearly his; The stoutest heart of common resolution.
And, under your direction, with each man Few get above this turbid scene of strife,
Of worth, and stedfast loyalty, to back

Few gain the summit, breathe that purest air, At once the king's appointment and his birth- That heavenly ether, which untroubled sees right,

The storm of vice and passion rage below. There is no ground for fear. They have great Tun. Most true, my lord. But why thus au

odds, Against the astonished sons of violence,

You seem to doubt this prince. I know him not; Who fight with awful justice on their side. Yet, oh, methinks, my heart could answer for hiin! All Sicily will rouse, all faithful hearts

The juncture is so bigh, so strong the gale Will range themselves around prince Manfred's That blows from Heaven, as through the deadest

soul For me, I here devote me to the service

Might breathe the godlike energy of virtue. Of this young prince; I every drop of blood Sif. Hear him, immortal shades of his great Will lose with joy, with transport, in his cause

Pardon my warmth--but that, my lord, will Forgive me, sir, this trial of your heart.

Thou! thou, art he!
To this decision come—Then find the prince; Tan. Siffredi !
Lose not a inoment to awaken in him

Sif. Tancred, thou !
The royal soul. Perhaps he now, desponding, Thou art the man of all the many thousands
Pines in a corner, and laments his fortune, That toil upon the bosom of this isle,
That in the narrower bounds of private lite By Heaven elected to command the rest,
He must confine his aims, those swelling virtuez To rule, protect them, and to make them happy!
Which from his noble father he inherits.

Tan. Manfred my father! I the last support Sif. Perhaps, regardless, in the common bane Of the famed Norman line, that awes the world! Of youth he melts, in vanity and love.

I, who this morning wandered forth an orphan, But if the seeds of virtue glow within him, Outcast of all but thee, my second father! I will awake a higher sense, a love,

Thus called to glory! to the first great lot That

grasps the loves and happiness of millions. Of human kind!_Oh, wonder-working hand, Tan. Why that surinise? Or should he love, That in majestic silence, sways at will Siffredi,

The nighty movements of unbounded nature ! I doubt not, it is nobly, which will raise Oh, grant me, Heaven, the virtues to sustain

gur ill?

[ocr errors]

This awful burden of so many heroes!

Tell me, what means this mystery and gloom Let me not be exalted into shame,

That lowers around ? Just now, involved in Set up the worthless pageant of vain grandeur ! thought, Meantime I thank the justice of the king, My father shot athwart me-You, my lord, Who has my right bequeathed me. Thee, Sif- Seem strangely moved—I fear some dark event, fredi,

From the king's death, to trouble our repose,
I thank thee-Oh, I ne'er enough can thank thee! That tender calm we in the woods of Belmont
Yes, thou hast been—thou art--shalt be my So happily enjoyed---Explain this hurry ;

What means it. Say.
Thou shalt direct my ivexperienced years, Tan. It means that we are happy!
Shalt be the ruling head, and I the hand. Beyond our most romantic wishes happy!

Sif. It is enough—for me--to see my sovereign Sig. You but perplex me more.
Assert his virtues, and maintain his honour. Tan. It means, my fairest,
Tan. I think, my lord, you said the king com- That thou art queen of Scily; and I

The happiest of mankind ! than monarch more!
To you his will. I hope it is not clogged Because with thee I can adorn my throne.
With any base conditions, any clause,

Manfred, who fell by tyrant William's rage, To tyrannize my heart, and to Constantia Famed Roger's lineal issue, was my father. Enslave my hand, devoted to another.

[Pausing. The hint you just now gave of that alliance, You droop, my love; dejected on a sudden, You must imagine, wakes my fear. But know, You seem to mourn my fortune--The soft tear In this alone I will not bear dispute,

Springs in thy eye--Oh, let me kiss it offNot even from thee, Siffredi !- Let the council Why this, my Sigismunda? Be strait assembled, and the will there opened: Sig. Royal Tanered, Thence issue speedy orders to convene,

None at your glorious fortune can like me This day ere noon, the senate : where those Rejoice; yet me alone, of all Sicilians, barons,

It makes unhappy. Who now are in Palermo, will attend,

Tan. I should hate it, then! To pay their ready homage to their king, Should throw, with scorn, the splendid ruin from Their rightful king, who claims his native

mc! crown,

No, Sigismunda, 'tis my hope with thee And will not be a king by deeds and parchments. To share it, whence it draws its richest value.

Sif. I go, my liege. But once again permit me Sig. You are my sovereign---I at humble disTo tell you—Now, is the trying crisis,

tanceThat must determine of your future reign. Tan. Thou art my queen! the sovereign of Oh, with heroic rigour watch your heart !

my soul ! And to the sovereign duties of the king, You never reigned with such triumphant lustre, The unequalled pleasures of a god on earth, Such winning charms, as now; yet, thou art still Submit the common joys, the common passions, The dear, the tender, generous Sigismunda! Nay, even the virtues, of the private man, Who, with a heart exalted far above Tan. Of that no more. They not oppose, but Those selfish views that charm the common breast, aid,

Swoped from the height of life and courted beauInvigorate, cherish, and reward each other. The kind all-ruling wisdom is no tyrant. Then, then, to love me, when I seemed of fortune

[Erit Siffredi. The hopeless outcast, when I had no friend, Tan. Now, generous Sigismunda, comes my None to protect and own me, but thy father. turn

And wouldst thou claim all goodness to thyself? To shew my love was not of thine unworthy, Canst thou thy Tancred deem so dully formed, When fortune bade me blush to look on thee. Of such gross clay, just as I reached the pointBut what is fortune to the wish of love? A point my wildest hopes could ne'er imagine A miserable bankrupt! Oh, 'tis poor,

In that great moment, full of every virtue, 'Tis scanty all, whate'er we can bestow! That I should then so mean a traitor prove The wealth of kings is wretchedness and want ! To the best bliss and honour of mankind, Quick, let me find her! taste that highest joy, So much disgrace the human heart, as then, The exalted heart can know, the mixed effusion For the dead form of flattery and pomp, Of gratitude and love! Behold, she comes ! The faithless joys of courts, to quit kind truth,

The cordial sweets of friendship and of love, Enter SIGISMUNDA.

The life of life! my all, my Sigismunda ! Tan. My fluttering soul was all on wing to find I could upbraid thy scars, call them unkind, thee,

Crucl, unjust, an outrage to my heart, My love, my Sigismunda!

Did they not spring from love. Sif. Oh, my Tancred!

Sig. Think not, my lord,

That to such vulgar doubts I can descend. By views of public good, whom shall I choose
Your heart, I know, disdains the little thought Só fit to grace, to dignify a crown,
Of changing with the vain, external change And beam sweet mercy on a happy people,
Of circumstance and fortune. Rather thence As thee, my love? Whom place upon my throne
It would, with rising ardour, greatly feel But thee, descended from the good Siffredi?
A noble pride, to shew itself the same. 'Tis fit that heart be thine, which drew from him
But, ah ! the hearts of kings are not their own. Whate'er can make it worthy thy acceptance.
There is a haughty duty, that subjects them Sig. Cease, cease to raise my hopes above my
To chains of state, to wed the public welfare, duty !
And not indulge the tender, private virtues. Charm me no more, my Tancred! Oh, that we
Some high-descended princess, who will bring In those blest woods, where first you won my soul,
New power and interest to your throne, demands Had passed our gentle days, far from the toil
Your royal hand-perhaps Constantia-

And pomp of courts! Such is the wish of love; Tan. She!

Of love that, with delightful weakness, knows Oh, name her not! were I this moment free No bliss, and no ambition but itself. And disengaged as he, who never felt

But in the world's full light, those charming The powerful cye of beauty, never sighed

dreams, For matchless worth like thinc, I should abhor Those fond illusions vanish. Awful duties, All thoughts of that alliance. Her fell father The tyranny of men, even your own heart, Most bascly murdered mine; and she, his daugh- Where lurks a sense your passion stifles now, ter,

And proud imperious honour, call you from me. Supported by his barbarous party still, 'Tis all in vain--you cannot hush a voice His pride inserits, his imperious spirit,

That murmurs here--I must not be persuaded ! And insolent pretensions to my throne.

Tan. [kneeling.] Ilear me, thou soul of all my And canst thou deem me, then, so poorly tams, hopes and wishes! Sn cool a traitor to my father's blood,

And witness Heaven, prime source of love and As from the prudent cowardice of state E'er to submit to such a base proposal ? Not a whole warring world combined against me, Detested thought! Oh, doubly, doubly hateful ! Its pride, its splendour, its imposing forms, From the two strongest passions; from aversion Nor interest, nor ambition, nor the face To this Constantia--and from love to thee. Of solemn state, nor even thy father's wisdom, Custom, 'tis true, a venerable tyrant,

Shall ever shake my faith to Sigismunda ! O'er servile man extends a blind dominion:

[Trumpets and acclamations heard. The pride of kings enslaves them; their ambition, But, hark! the public voice to duties calls me, Or interest, lords it o'er the better passions. Which, with unwearied zeal, I will discharge ; But vain their talk, masked under specious words And thou, yes, thou, shalt be my bright reward; Of station, duty, and of public good.

Yet-ere I go-to hush thy lovely fears, They, whom just Heaven has to a throne exalted, Thy delicate objections—[Writes his name.] To guard the rights and liberties of others,

Take this blank, What duty binds them to betray their own? Signed with my name, and give it to thy father : For me, my tree-born heart shall bear no dic- Tell him, 'tis my command, it be filled up tates,

With a most strict and solemn marriage-contract. But those of truth and honour ; wear no chains, How dear each tie, how charming to my soul, But the dear chains of love, and Sigismunda ! That more unites me to my Sigismunda! Or if indeed, my choice must be directed




SCENE I.--A grand Saloon.

May these dim eyes, long blasted by the rage

Of cruel faction, and my country's woes,

Tired with the toils and vanities of life, Sif. So far 'tis well-The late king's will Behold this period, then be closed in peace ! proceeds

But how this mighty obstacle surmount, Upon the plan I counselled; that prince Tan- Which love has thrown betwixt? Love, that discred

turbs Shall make Constantia partner of his throne. The schemes of wisdom still; that, winged with Oh, great, oh, wished event! whence the dire passion, seeds

Blind and impetuous in its fond pursuits, Of dark intestine broils, of civil war,

Leaves the grey-headed reason far behind. And all its dreadful miseries and crimes, Alas, how frail the state of human bliss ! Shall be for ever rooted from the land.

When even our honest passions oft destroy it.

I was to blame, in solitude and shades, The princess to the will submits her claims. Infectious scenes! to trust their youthful hearts. She with her presence meaus to grace the seWould I had marked the rising flame, that now

nate, Burns out with dangerous force! My daughter And of your royal charge, young Tancred's hand, owns

Accept. At first, indeed, it shocked her hopes Her passion for the king; she, trembling, owned of reigning sole, this new, surprising scene it,

Of Manfred's son, appointed by the king, With prayers, and tears, and tender supplica- With her joint heir—But I so fully shewed tions,

The justice of the case, the public good, That almost shook my firmness—and this blank, And sure established peace which thence would Which his rash fondness gave her, shews how rise, much,

Joined to the strong necessity that urged her, To what a wild extravagance he loves

If on Sicilia's throne she meant to sit,
I see no means it foils my deepest thought- As to the wise disposal of the will
How to controul this madness of the king, Her high ambition tamed. Methought, besides,
That wears the face of virtue, and will thence I could discern, that not from prudence merely
Disdain restraint, will, from his generous heart, She to this choice submitted.
Borrow new rage, even speciously oppose

Sif. Noble Osmond,
To reason, reason- -But it must be done. You have in this done to the public great
My own advice, of which I more and more And signal service. Yes, I must avow it ;
Approve, the strict conditions of the will, This frank and ready instance of your zeal,
Highly demand his marriage with Constantia; In such a trying crisis of the state,
Or else her party has a fair pretence-

When interest and ambition might have warped And all at once is horror and confusion

Your riews, I own this truly generous virtue How issue from this maze - The crowding ba- Upbraids the rashness of my former judgment. rons

*Osm. Siffredi, no. To you belongs the praise; Here summoned to the palace, meet already, The glorious work is yours. Had I not seized, To pay their homage, and confirm the will. Improved the wished occasion to root ont On a few moments hangs the public fate,

Division from the land, and save my country, On a few hasty moments--Ha! there shone I had been base and infamous for ever. A gleam of hope- -Yes, with this very paper 'Tis you, my lord, to whom the many thousands, I yet will save him-Necessary means,

That by the barbarous sword of civil war For good and noble ends, can ne'er be wrong.

Had fallen inglorious, owe their lives; to you In that resistless, that peculiar case,

The sons of this fair isle, from her first peers Deceit is truth and virtueBut how hold Down to the swain who tills her golden plains, This lion in the toil ? Oh, I will form it Owe their safe homes, their soft domestic hours, Of such a fatal thread, twist it so strong And through late time posterity shall bless you, With all the ties of honour and of duty, You who advised this will. I blush to think

That his most desperate fury shall not break I have so long opposed the best good man
The honest snare. Here is the royal hand- In Sicily With what impartial care
I will beneath it write a perfect, full,

Ought we to watch o'er prejudice and passion, And absolute agreement to the will;

Nor trust too much the jaundiced eye of party! Which read before the nobles of the realin Henceforth its vain delusions I renounce, Assembled, in the sacred face of Sicily,

Its hot determinations, that confine Constantia present, every heart and eve All merit and all virtue to itself. Fixed on their monarch, every tongue applaud- To yours I join my hand; with you will own ing,

No interest, and no party but my country. He must submit, his dream of love must va- Nor is your friendship only my ambition : nish.

There is a dearer name, the name of father, It shall be done-To me, I know, 'tis ruin; By which I should rejoice to call Siffredi. But safety to the public, to the king.

Your daughter's hand would to the public weal I will not reason more, I will not listen

Unite my private happiness.
Even to the voice of honour. No'tis fixed ! Sif. My lord,
I here devote me for my prince and country; You have my glad consent. To be allied
Let them be safe, and let me nobly perish! To your distinguished family and merit,
Behold, Earl Osmond comes, without whose aid I shall esteem an honour. From my soul
My schemes are all in vain.

I here embrace earl Osmond as my friend

And son.
Enter Osmond.

Osm. You make him happy. This assent,

So frank and warm, to what I long have wishery Osm. My lord Siffredi,

Engages all my gratitude; at once, I from the council hastened to Constantia, In the first blossom, it matures our friendship. And have accomplished what we there proposed. II from this moment vow myself the friend

« EelmineJätka »