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The sudden bound awaked the sleeping sire,
And shew'd a sight no parent can desire;
His opening eyes at once with odious view
The love discover'd, and the lover knew:
He would have cried; but hoping that he dreamt,
Amazement tied his tongue, and stopp'd the attempt.
The ensuing moment all the truth declared,
But now he stood collected and prepared;
For malice and revenge had put him on his guard.
So like a lion that unheeded lay,
Dissembling sleep, and watchful to betray,
With inward rage he meditates his prey.
The thoughtless pair, indulging their desires,
Alternate kindled, and then quench'd their fires;
Nor thinking in the shades of death they play'd,
Full of themselves, themselves alone survey'd,
And, too secure, were by themselves betray'd.
Long time dissolv'd in pleasure thus they lay,
Till nature could no more suffice their play;
Then rose the youth, and, through the cave again
Return'd, the princess mingled with her train.
Resolved his unripe vengeance to defer,
The royal spy, when now the coast was clear,
Sought not the garden, but retired unseen,
To brood in secret on his gather'd spleen,
And methodize revenge: to death he grieved;
And, but he saw the crime, had scarce believed.
The appointment for the ensuing night he heard,
And therefore in the cavern had prepared
Two brawny yeomen of his trusty guard.
Scarce had unwary Guiscard set his foot
Within the foremost entrance of the grot,
When these in secret ambush ready lay,
And rushing on the sudden seiz'd the prey:
Encumbered with his frock, without defence,
An easy prize, they led the prisoner thence,
And, as commanded, brought before the prince.
The gloomy sire, too sensible of wrong,
To vent his rage in words, restrain'd his tongue, And only said, Thus servants are preferr'd,
And, trusted, thus their sovereigns they reward.
Had I not seen, had not these eyes received
Too clear a proof, I could not have believed.—
He paused, and choked the rest. The youth,
His forfeit life abandon'd to the law,
The judge the accuser, and the offence to him
Who had both power and will to avenge the crime,
No vain defence prepared; but thus replied:
The faults of love by love are justified:
With unresisted might the monarch reigns,
He levels mountains, and he raises plains;
And not regarding difference of degree,
Abased your daughter, and exalted me.-
This bold return with seeming patience heard,
The prisoner was remitted to the guard.
The sullen tyrant slept not all the night,
But lonely walking by a winking light,
Sobb'd, wept, and groan'd, and beat his wither'd
But would not violate his daughter's rest;
Who long expecting lay, for bliss prepared,
List'ning for noise, and grieved that none she heard;
Oft rose, and oft in vain employ'd the key,
And oft accused her lover of delay,
And pass'd the tedious hours in anxious thoughts
The morrow came and at his usual hour
Old Tancred visited his daughter's bower;
Her cheek (for such his custom was) he kiss'd,
Then bless'd her kneeling, and her maids dismiss'd. The royal dignity thus far maintain❜d,
Now left in private, he no longer feign'd;
But all at once his grief and rage appear'd,
And floods of tears ran trickling down his beard.
O Sigismonda, he began to say:
Thrice he began, and thrice was forced to stay,
Till words with often trying found their way :-
I thought, O Sigismonda, (but how blind
Are parents' eyes, their children's faults to find!)
Thy virtue, birth, and breeding, were above
A mean desire, and vulgar sense of love;
Nor less than sight and hearing could convince
So fond a father, and so just a prince,
Of such an unforeseen and unbelieved offence.
Then what indignant sorrow must I have,
To see thee lie subjected to my slave!
A man so smelling of the people's lee,
The court received him first for charity;
And since with no degree of honour graced,
But only suffer'd, where he first was placed.
A grovelling insect still; and so design'd
By nature's hand, nor born of noble kind:
A thing, by neither man nor woman prized,
And scarcely known enough to be despised.
To what has heaven reserved my age? Ah! why
Should man, when nature calls, not chuse to die,
Rather than stretch the span of life, to find
Such ills as fate has wisely cast behind,
For those to feel, whom fond desire to live
Makes covetous of more than life can give !
Each has his share of good; and when 'tis gone,
The guest, though hungry, cannot rise too soon.
But I, expecting more, in my own wrong
Protracting life, have lived a day too long.
If yesterday could be recall'd again,
Even now would I conclude my happy reign;
But 'tis too late, my glorlous race is run,
And a dark cloud o'ertakes my setting sun.
Had'st thou not loved, or, loving, saved the shame,
If not the sin, by some illustrious name,
This little comfort had relieved my mind,
'Twas frailty, not unusual to thy kind :
But thy low fall beneath thy royal blood,
Shews downward appetite to mix with mud.
Thus not the least excuse is left for thee,
Nor the least refuge for unhappy me.
For him I have resolved; whom by surprise
I took, and scarce can tell it, in disguise;
For such was his attire, as, with intent
Of nature, suited to his mean descent:
The harder question yet remains behind,
What pains a parent and a prince can find
To punish an offence of this degenerate kind.,
As I have loved, and yet I love thee more
Than ever father loved a child before,
So that indulgence draws me to forgive:
Nature, that gave thee life, would have thee live.
But, as a public parent of the state,
My justice, and thy crime, requires thy fate.
Fain would I choose a middle course to steer?
Nature's too kind, and justice too severe :
Speak for us both, and to the balance bring
On either side the father and the king.
Heaven knows, my heart is bent to favour thee;
Make it but scanty weight, and leave the rest to me.—
Here stopping with a sigh, he pour'd a flood
Of tears, to make his last expression good.
She, who had heard him speak, nor saw alone
The secret conduct of her love was known,
But he was taken who her soul possess'd,
Felt all the pangs of sorrow in her breast:
And little wanted but a woman's heart,
With cries and tears, had testified her smart ;
But inborn worth, that fortune can controul,
New-strung, and stiffer bent her softer soul;
The heroine assumed the woman's place,
Confirm'd her mind, and fortified her face:
Why should she beg, or what could she pretend,
When her stern father had condemn'd her friend!
Her life she might have had; but her despair
Of saving his, had put it past her care:
Resolved on fate, she would not lose her breath,
But, rather than not die, solicit death.
Fixed on this thought, she, not as women use,
Her fault by common frailty would excuse;
But boldly justified her innocence,
And while the fact was own'd, denied the offence;
Then with dry eyes, and with an open look,
She met his glance mid-way, and thus undaunted
Tancred, I neither am disposed to make
Request for life, nor offer'd life to take;
Much less deny the deed; but least of all
Beneath pretended justice weakly fall.
My words to sacred truth shall be confined,
My deeds shall shew the greatness of my mind.
That I have loved, I own; that still I love,
I call to witness all the
Yet more I own; to Guiscard's love I give
The small remaining time I have to live;
And if beyond this life desire can be,
Not fate itself shall set my passion free.
This first avow'd; nor folly wrapp'd my mind,
Nor the frail texture of the female kind
Betray'd my virtue; for too well I knew
What honour was, and honour had his due:
Before the holy priest my vows were tied,
So came I not a strumpet but a bride.
This for my fame, and for the public voice;
Yet more, his merits justified my choice:
Which had they not, the first election thine,
That bond dissolved, the next is freely mine: