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I will awake a higher sense, a love
thers ! Forgive me, sir, this trial of your heart. Thou ! thou art he!
Tan. Siffredi !
Sif. Tancred, thou ! Thou art the man, of all the many thousands That toil upon the bosom of this isle, By Heaven elected to command the rest, To rule, protect them, and to make them happy!
Tan. Manfred my father!—I the last support Of the famed Norman line that awes the world! I, who this morning wander'd forth an orphan, Outcast of all but thee, my second father! Thus called to glory ;-to the first great lot Of human kind! O, grant me, Heaven, the virtues to sustain This awful burthen of so many heroes ! Let me not be exalted into shame, Set up the worthless pageant of vain grandeur. Mean time, I thank the justice of the king, Who has my right bequeath'd me. Thee, Siffredi, I thank thee!—0, I ne'er enough can thank thee! Yes, thou hast been—thou art-shalt be my
father! Thou shalt direct my inexperienced years, Shalt be the ruling head, and I the hand.
Sif. It is enough for me--to see my sovereign Assert his virtues, and maintain his honour.
Tan. I think, my lord, you said the king committed To you his will. I hope it is not clogg'd With
base conditions, any clause, To tyrannise my heart, and to Constantia Enslave
hand devoted to another. The hint you just now gave of that alliance, You must imagine, wakes my fear. But know, In this alone I will not bear dispute, Not even from thee, Siffredi !- Let the council Be straight assembled, and the will there opened : Thence issue speedy orders to convene, This day, ere noon, the senate; where those barons Who now are in Palermo will attend, To pay their ready homage to the king.
Sif. I go, my liege. But once again permit me To tell you—Now, now is the trying crisis, That must determine of your future reign. 0, with heroic rigour watch your heart ! And, to the sovereign duties of the king, Th' unequalled pleasures of a god on earth, Submit the common joys, the common passions, Nay, even the virtues of the private man.
Tan. Of that no more. They not oppose, but aid, Invigorate, cherish, and reward each other.
[Exit SIFFREDI. Now, generous Sigismunda, comes my turn To show my love was not of thine unworthy, When fortune bade me blush to look to thee. But what is fortune to the wish of love ? A miserable bankrupt ! Quick, let me find her! taste that highest joy, Th' exalted heart can know, the mix'd effusion Of gratitude and love. Behold, she comes.
My fluttering soul was all on wing to find thee,
Tan. It means that we are happy!
Sig. You but perplex me more.
Tan. It means, my fairest,
throne. Manfred, who fell by tyrant William's rage, Was my father.
Sig. Royal Tancred,
Tan. I should hate it then !
No, Sigismunda, 'tis my hope with thee
Of circumstance and fortune.
power and interest to your throne, demands Your royal hand-Perhaps Constantia
Tán. She! 0, name her not! Were I this moment free, And disengaged, as he who never sigh'd For matchless worth like thine, I should abhor All thoughts of that alliance. Her fell father Most basely murder'd mine.And canst thou deem me then so poorly tame, So cool a traitor to my father's blood, As from the prudent cowardice of state E'er to submit to such a base proposal ? They, whom just Heaven has to a throne exalted, To guard the rights and liberties of others, What duty binds them to betray their own? For me, my free-born heart shall bear no dictates But those of truth and honour; wear no chains, But the dear chains of love, and Sigismunda !
Sig. Cease, cease to raise my hopes above my duty. Charm me no more, my Tancred !_0, that we In those blest woods, where first you won my soul, Had pass'd our gentle days; far from the toil And pomp of courts ! 'Tis all in vain—you cannot hush a voice That murmurs here-I must not be persuadedTan. [Kneeling.] Hear me, thou .soul of all my
hopes and wishes ! And witness, Heaven, prime source of love and joy! Not a whole warring world, combined against me, Shall ever shake my faith to Sigismunda! But now the public voice of duty calls me, Which with unwearied zeal I will discharge; And thou, yes, thou, shalt be my bright rewardYet, ere I go-to hush thy lovely fears,
Thy delicate objections [Writes his name]-take this
blank, Sign'd with my name, and give it to thy father : Tell him, 'tis my command, it be filled up With a most strict and solemn marriage contract. How dear each tie! how charming to my soul ! That more unites me to my Sigismunda. For thee, and for my people's good to live, Is all the bliss which sovereign power can give.
ACT THE SECOND.
A Grand Saloon.
Sif. So far 'tis well.—The late king's will proceeds Upon the plan I counsell’d ;-That Prince Tancred Shall make Constantia partner of his throne. But how this mighty obstacle surmount, Which love has thrown betwixt ?—My daughter owns Her passion for the king-she trembling own'd it, With prayers, and tears, and tender supplications, That almost shook my firmness—And this blank, Which his rash fondness gave her, shows how much, To what a wild extravagance he loves. On a few moments hangs the public fateOn a few hasty moments- -Ha! there shone A gleam of hope-Yes, with this very paper