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This sight of this so horrid spectacle,
Which erst my eyes beheld and yet behold?
For dire imagination still pursues me.
But Providence or instinct of nature seems,
Or reason thought disturb'd, and scarce consulted,
To have guided me aright, I know not how,
To thee first reverend Manoah, and to these
My countrymen, whom here I knew remaining,
As at some distance from the place of horror, 1550
So in the sad event too much concern'd.
MAN.The accident was loud, and here before thee With rueful cry, yet what it was we hear not ; No preface needs, thou seest we long to know.
Mes. It would burst forth, but I recover breath And sense distract, to know well what I utter.
MAN. Tell us the sum, the circumstance defer.
MES. Gaza yet stands, but all her sons are fallin, All in a moment overwhelm'd and fall’n. [dest
MAN. Sad, but thou knowest to Israclites not sado The desolation of a hostile city.
1561 MES. Feed on that first, there may in grief be MAN. Relate by whom.
(surfeit. MES. By Samson.
MAN. That still lessens
The sorrow, and converts it nigh to joy.
Mes. Ah Manoah, I refrain too suddenly
To utter what will come at last too soon ;
Lest evil tidings with too rude irrupto 1569
Hitting thy aged ear should pierce too deep.
MAN. Suspense in news is torture,speak them out.
ves. Take then the worst in brief, Samson is
MAN. The worst indeed, O all my hopes defeated
To free him hence ! but Death, who sets all free,
Hath paid his ransom now and full discharge. 1575
What windy joy this day had I conceiv'd
Hopeful of his delivery, which now proves
Abortive as the first-born bloom of Spring
Nipt with the lagging rear of winter's frost !
Yet ere I give the reins to grief, say first
How dy'd he ; death to life is crown or shame.
All by him fell thou say'st, by whom fell he, 1580
What glorious hand gave Samson bis death wound ?
MES. Unwounded of bis enemies he fell.
MAN. Wearied with slaughter then, or how ?
MES. By his own hands.
MAN. Self-violence ? what cause
Brought him so soon at variance with himself
Among his foes ?
Mes. Inevitable cause
At once both to destroy and be destroy'd ;
The edifice, where all were met to see him,
Upon their heads and on his own he pull’d.
MAN. O lastly over-strong against thyself ! 1590
A dreadful way thou took'st to thy revenge
More than enough we know; but while things
Are in confusion, give us if thou canst,
Eye-witness of what first or last was done,
Relation more particularly and distinct,
MES. Occasions drew me carly to this city,
And as the gates I enter'd with sun-rise,
The morning trumpets festival proclaim'd
Through each high-street: little I had dispatch'd,
When all abroad was rumour'd that this day 1600
Samson should be brought forth to show ihe people
Proof of his mighty strength in feats and games;
I sorrow'd at his captive state, but minded
Not to be absent at that spectacle.
The building was a spacious theatre
Half-round on two main pillars vaulted high,
With sears where all the lords, and each degree
Of sort might sit in order to behold;
The other side was open, where the throng
On banks and scaffolds, undersky might stand; 1610
I among these aloof obscurely stood.
The feast and noon grew high, and sacrifice
Had fill'd their hearts with mirth, bigb cheer, and
When totheir sports they turn'd. Immediately[wine.«
Was Samson as a public servant brought.
In the state livery clad ; before him pipes
And timbrels, on each side went armed guards,
Both horse and foot, before him and behind
Archers, and slingers, cataphracts and spears.
At sight of him the people with a shout 1620
Rifred the air, clainoring their god with praise,
Who had made their dreadful enemy their thrall.
He patient but undaunted where they led him,
Came to the place, and what was set before him,
Which without help of eye mnight be assay'd
To heave, pull, draw, or break, be still performid
All with incredible, stupendous force, None daring to appear antagonist. Ar length for intermission sake they led him Between the pillars ; he his guide requested 1630 (For so from such as nearer stood we heard) As over-tir'd to let him lean a while With both his arms on those two massy pillars, That to one arched roof gave main support, He unsuspicious led Him: which when Samson Felt in his arms, with head a while inclin'd And eyes fast fix'd he stood, as one pray'd, Or some greater matter in his mind revolv'd: At last with head erect thus cry'd aloud, Hitherto Lords, what your commands impos’d 1640 I have perform’d, as reason was obeying, Not without wonder or delight beheld : Now of my own accord such other trial I mean to show you of my strength, yet greater; As with amaze shall strike all who behold. This utter'd, straining all his nerves he bow'd, As with the force of winds and waters pent When inountains tremble, those two massy pillars With horrible convulsion to and fro. 1619 He tugg’d, he shook, till down they came and drew The whole roof after them, with burst of thunder Upon the heads of all who sat beneath Lords, ladies, captains, counsellors, or priests, Their choice nobility and flower, not only Of this but each Philistian city round, Met from all parts 10 solemoize this feast
• Samson with these immix'd, inevitably
Pull'd down the same destruction on himself;
The vulgar only 'scap'd who stood without. : chor O dearly-bought revenge, yet glorious !
Living or dying thou hast fulfill'd 1661
The work for which thou wast foretold
To Israel, and now ly'st victorious
Among thy slain self-kill'd
Not willingly, but tangled in the fold
Of dire necessity, whose law in death conjoin'd
Thee with thy slaughter’d foes in number more
Than all thy life hath slain before. [sublime,
I SEMICHOR. While their hearts were jocund and
Drunk with idolatry, drunk with wine, 1670
And fat regorg'd of bulls and goats,
Chaunting their idol, and preferring
Before our living Dread who dwells
In Silo his bright sanctuary :
Among them he a spi'rit of phrenzy sent
Who hurt their minds,
And urg'd, them on with mad desire
To call in haste for their destroyer;
They only set on sport and play
Their own destruction to come speedy upon them.
So fond are mortal men
Fall'n into wrath divine,
As their own ruin on themselves to invite,
Insensate left, or to sense reprobate,
And with blindness internal struck.