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And with malicious counsel stir them up
Some way or other jet further to afflict thee.
Sams. He must allege some cause, and offered
Will not dare mention, lest a question rise'
Whether he durst aecept the offer or not;
And. that he durst not, plain enough appeared.
Much more affliction than already felt
They can not well impose, nor I sustain;
If they intend advantage of my labours,
The work of many hands which earns my keeping
With no small profit daily to my owners.
But come what will, my deadliest foe will prove
My speediest friend, by death to rid me hence;
The worst that he can give, to me the best.
Yet so it may fall out, because their end
Is hate, not help to me, it may with mine
Drew their own ruin who attempt the deed.
Char. O how comely it is, and how reviving
To the spirits of just men long oppressed I
When God into the hands of their deliverer
Puts invincible might
To quell the mighty of the earth, the oppressor,
The brute and boisterous foree of violent men,
Hardy and industrious to support
Tyrannic power, but raging to pursue
The righteous and all such as honour truth;
He all their ammunition
And feats of war defeats,
With plain heroic magnitude of mind
And celestial vigour armed:
Their armouries and magazines contemns,
Renders them useless; while
With winged expedition,
Swiflas the lightning glance, he executes
His errand on the wicked, who, surprised,
Lose their defence, distracted and amazed.
But patience is more oft the exereise
Of saints, the trial of their fortitude,
Making them each his own deliverer,
And victor over all
That tyranny or fortune can inflict.
Either of these is in thy lot,
Samson, with might endued
Above the sons of men; but sight bereaved
May chance to number thee with those
Whom patience finally must erown.
This idol's day hath been to thee no day of rest,
Labouring thy mind
More than the working day thy hands.
And yet perhaps more trouble is behind,
For I desery tliis way
Some other tending; in his hand
A sceptre or quaint staff he bears,
Comes on amain, speed in his look.
By his habit I discern him now
A public officer, and now at hand.
Qb message will be short and voluble.
Of. Hebrews, the prisoner Samson here I seek.
Char. His manacles remark him, there he sits.
Of. Samson, to thee our lords thus bade me say: This day to Dagon is a solemn feast, With sacrifices, triumph, pomp, and games: Thy strength they know surpassing human rate, And now some public proof thereof require To honour this great feast, and great assembly; Rise therefore with all speed, and come along, Where I will see thee heartened, and fresh clad, To appear, as fits, before the illustrious lords.
Sams. Thou knowest I am an Hebrew, therefore tell them,
Our law forbids at their religious rites
My presence, for that cause I can not come.
Off. This answer, be assured, will not content them.
Sams. Have they not sword-players, and every
Of gymnic artists, wrestlers, riders, runners,
Jugglers, and dancers, anties, mummers, mimies,
But they must pick me out with shackles tired,
And over-laboured at their public mill,
To make them sport with blind activity?
Do they not seek oecasion of new quarrels
On my refusal to distress me more,
Or make a game of my calamities?
Return the way thou cam'st, I will not come.
Off, Regard thyself; this will offend them highly.
Sams. Myself! my conscience and internal
Can they think me so broken, so debased
With corporal servitude, that my mind ever
Will condescend to such absurd commands?
Although their drudge, to be their fool or jester,
And in my miust of sorrow and heart-grief
To show them feats, and play before their god,
The worst of all indignities, yet on me
Joined with extreme contempt? I will not come.
'i.'.'. My message was imposed on me witb
speed, Brooks no delay: is this thy resolution?
Sams. So take it with what speed thy message needs.
Of. 1 am sorry what this stoutness will produce.
Sams. Perhaps thou shalt have cause to sorrow indeed.
,CAor. Consider, Samson; matters now ar»
Up to the height, whether to hold or break.
He's gone, and who knows how he may repoit
Thy words by adding fuel to the flame?
Expect another message more imperious,
More lordly thundering than thou well wilt bca.
Sams. Shall I abuse this conseerated gift
Of strength, again returning with my hair,
After my great transgression; so requite
Favour renewed, and add a greater sin
By prostituting holy things to idols t
A Nazarite in place abominable,
Vaunting my strength in honour to their Dagon!
Besides, how vile, contemptible, ridiculous,
What act more exeerably unclean, profane!
Char. Yet with this strength thou serv'st the
Idolatrous, uncireumeised, unclean.
Sams. Not in their idol-worship, but by labour
Honest and lawful, to deserve my food
Of those who have me in their civil power.
CAor. Where the heart joins not, outward acts defile not.
Sams. Where outward foree constrains, the
But who constrains me to the temple of Dogon,
Not dragging? The Philistine lords command.
Commands are no constraints. If I obey them,
I do it freely, venturing to displease
God for the fear of man, and man prefer,
Set God behind; which in his jealousy
Shall never, unrepented, find forgiveness.
Yet that he may dispense with me, or thee,
Present in temples at idolatrous rites
For some important cause thou nced'st not doubt.
CAor. How thou wilt here come off surmounts my reach.
Sonj. Be of good courage; I begin to feel
Some rousing motions in me, which dispose
To something extraordinary my thoughts.
I with this messenger will go along,
Nothing to do, be sure, that may dishonour
Our law, or stain my vow of Nazarite.
If there be aught of presage in the mind,
This day will be remarkable in my life
By some great art, or of my days the last.
CAor. In time thou hast resolved, the man returns.
Off. Samson, this second message from our lords To thee I am bid say. Art thou our slave, Our captive, at the public mill our drudge, And darest thou at our sending and command Dispute thy coming? come without delay; Or we shall find such enginos to assail And hamper thee, as thou shall come offeree, Though thou wert firmlier fastened than a rock.
.Sams. I could be well content to try their art, Which to no few of them would prove pernicious, Yet, knowing their advantages too many, Because they shall not trail me through their
Like a wild beast, I am content to go.
M>intera' commands come with a power resistless
To tuch as owe them absolute subjection;
And for a life who will not change his purpose?
(So mutable are all the ways of men;) •
Yet this be sure, in nothing to comply
Scandalous or forbidden in our law.
Off. I praise thy resolutions: doff these links:
By this compliance thou wilt win the lords
To favour, and perhaps to set thee free.
Sams. Brethren, farewell; your company along I will not wish, lest it perhaps offend them To see me girt with friends: and how the tight Of me, as of a common enemy, So dreaded once, may now exasperate them, I know not: lords are lordliest in their wines; And the well-feasted priest then soonest fired With zeal, if aught religion seem concerned; No less the people, on their holy-days, Impetuous, insolent, unquenchable: Happen what may, of me expect to hear Nothing dishonourable, impure, unworthy Our God, our law, my nation, or myself, The last of me or no I can not warrant [Bxit. ]
CAor. Go, and the Holy One Of Israel be thy guide To what may serve his glory best, and ttpread lus
Great among the heathen round:
Send thec the angel of thy birth, to stand
Fast by thy side, who from thy father's field
Rode up in flames after his message told
Of thy conception, and he now a shield
Of fire; that Spirit, that first rushed on thee
In the camp of Dan,
Be effieacious in thee now at need!
For never was from Heaven imparted
Measure of strength so great to mortal seed,
As in thy wondrous actions hath been seen.—
Bnt wherefore comes old Manoah in such haste
With youthful steps? much livelier than erewhile
He seems; supposing here to find his son,
Or of him bringing to ua some glao newa?
Man. Peace with you, brethren; my inducement hither
Was not at present here to find my son,
By order of the lords now parted hence
To come and play before them at their feast.
I heard all as I came, the city rings,
And numbers thither flock: I hnd no will,
Lest I should see him foreed to things nnsermlr.
But that which moved my coming now, was chicflv
To give ye part with me what Jiope I have
With good suecess to work his liberty.
CAor. That hope would much rejoice us to partake With thec; say, reverend sire, we thirst to hear.
Man. I have attempted one by one the lords, Either at home, or through the high street passing, With supplication prone andfathei's tears,
To aecept of ransom for my son, their prisoner.
Some much averse I found and wondrous harsh,
Contemptuous, proud, set on revenge and spite,
That part most reverenced Dagon and his priests;
Others more moderate seeming, but their aim
Private reward, for which both God and state
They easily would set to sale: a third
More generous far and cisil, who confessed
They had enough revenged; having reduced
Their foe to misery beneath their fears,
The rest was magnanimity to remit,
If some convenient ransom were proposed.—
What noise or shout was that? it tore the sky.
Chur. Doubtless the people shouting to behold Their once great dread, captive, and blind before
them, Or at some proof of strength before them shown.
Man. His ransom, if my whole inheritance May compass it, shall willingly lie paid And numbered down: much rather I shall choose To live the poorest in my tribe, than richest, And he in that calamitous prison left. No, I am fixed not to part hence without him. For hi s redemption all my patrimony, If need be, I am ready to forego And quit; not wanting him, I shall wont nothing.
Char. Fathers are wont to lay up for their sons, Thon for thy son art bent to lay out all; Sons wont to nurse their parents in old age, Thou in old age carest how to nurse thy son, Made older than thy age through eyesight lost
Man. It shall be my delight to tend his eyes. And view him sitting in the house, ennobled With all those high exploits by him achieved, And on his shoulders waving down those locks That of a nation armed the strength contain*!: And I persuade me, God had not permitted His strength again to grow up with his hair, Garrisoned round about him like a camp Of faithful soldiery, were not his purpose To use him further yet in some great service; Not to sit idle with so great a gift Useless, and thence ridiculous about him. And since his strength with eyesight was not lost, Hod will restore him eyesight to his strength.
Char. Thy hopes are not ill founded, nor seem
Of his delivery, and thy joy thereon
Conceived agreeable to a father's love,
In both which we, as next, participate.
Van. I know your friendly minds and—O what
Merey of heaven, what hideous noise was that'! Ilomoiy loud, unlike the former shout
dor. Noise call you that, or universal groan, As if the whole inhabitation perished! Eh• il, death, and deathful deeds are in that noiw, Ruin, destruction at the utmost point.
Man. Of ruin indeed methought I heard the
noise; Oh! it continues, they have slain my son.
Char. Thy son is rather slaying them; that
outery From slaughter of one foe could not ascend.
Man. Some dismal aecident it needs must be; What shall we do, stay here or run and see?
Chor. Best keep together here, lest, running
We unawares run into danger's mouth.
This evil on the Philistines is fallen;
From whom could else a general ery be heard?
The suflerers then will scaree molest us here
From other hands we need not much to fear.
What if, his eyesight (for to Israel's God
Nothing is hard) by miracle restored,
He now be dealing dole among his foes,
And over heaps of slaughtered walk his way?
A/an. That were a joy presumptuous to bs thought.
Chor. Yet God hath wrought things as ineredible For his people of old; what hinders now?
Man. He can, I know, but doubt to think he
Yet hope would fain subscribe, and tempt* belief. A little stay will bring some notice hither.
Chor. Of good or bad so great, of bad the sooner; For evil news rides post, while good news baits. And to our wish I see one hither speeding, An Hebrew, as I guess, and of our tribe.
Mess. O whither shall I run, or which way fly The sight of this so horrid spectacle, W hich erst my eyes beheld and yet behold t For dire imagination still pursues me. But providence or instinct of nature seems, Or reason though disturbed, and scaree consulted, To have guided me aright I know not how, To thee first, reverend Manoah, and to these My countrymen, whom here l knew remaining, As at some distance from the place of horror, So in the sad event too much concerned.
Alan. The aecident was loud, and here before
With rueful ery, yet what it was we hear not;
No preface needs, thou seest we long to know.
Mess. It would burst forth,' but I recover breath And sense distract, to know well what I utter.
Man. Tell us the sum, the cireumstance dek—.
Mess. Gozayet stands, but all her sons are fallen, All in a moment overwhelmed a?d fallen.
Man. Sod, but thou know'st to Israe,ites nut
saddest The desolation of a hostile city.
Mess. Feed on that first; there may m grief w surfeit.
.1/ui:. Relate by whom.
Mess. By Samson.
Man. That still lessens
The sorrow, and converts it nigh to joy.
Mess. All, Manoah, I retrain too suddenly To utter what will come at last too soon; Lest evil tidings, with too rude irruption Hitting thy aged ear, should pierce too deep.
Man. Suspense in news is torture; speak them out.
Mesa. Take then the worst in brief, Samson is dead.
Man. The worst indeed! O all my hopes defeated
To free hun hence! but death, who sets all free,
Hath paid his ransom now and full discharge.
What windy joy this day had I conceived
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 died he; death to life is erown or shame.
All by him fell, thou sayest; by whom fell he?
What glorious hand gave Samson his death's
Mess. Unwounded of his enemies he fell.
Man. Wearied with slaughter then, or how? explain.
Mesa. By his own hands.
Man. Self-violence? what cause
Brought him so soon at variance with himself
Among his foes?
Mess. Inevitable cause
At once both to destroy and be destroyed;
The edifice, where all were met to see him,
Upon their heads and on his own he pulled.
Man. O lastly overetrong against thyself!
A dreadful way thou took'st io thy revenge.
More than enough we know; but while things yet
Arc in confusion, give us, if thou canst,
Eyewitness of what first or last was done,
Relation more particular and distinct."
Men. Oceasions drew me early to this city; And, as the gates I entered with sunrise, The morning trumpets festival proclaimed Through each high street: little I had despatehed, When all abroad was rumoured that this day Samson should be brought forth, to show the people Proof of his mighty strength in feats and games; I rarrowed 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 seats 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 under sky might stand; I among these aloof obscurely stood. Tins fesrt and noon grew high, and sacrifice
Had filled their hearts with mirth, high cheer, and
When to their sports they turned. Immediately
Was Samson as a public servant brought,
In their state livery clad; before him pipes
And timbrels, on each side went armed guards,
Both hone and foot, before him and behind
Archers, and slingers, cataphracts, and spears.
At sight of him the people with a shout
Rifted the air, clamouring 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 might be assayed,
To heave, pull, draw, or break, he still performed
All with ineredible, stupendous force,
None daring to appear antagonist.
At length for intermission sake they led him
Between the pillars; he his guide requested
(For so from such as nearer stood we heard)
As overtired to let him lean a while
With both his arms on those two massy pillars,
That to the arched roof gave main support.
He, unsuspicious, led him; which, when Samson
Felt in his arms, with head a while inclined,
And eyes fast fixed he stood, as one who prayed,
Or some great matter in his mind revolved:
At last, with head erect, thus eried aloud;
"Hitherto, lords, what your commands imposed
I have performed, as reason was, obeying,
Not without wonder or delight beheld:
Now of my own aceord such other trial
I mean to show you of my strength, yet greater,
As with amaze shall strike all who behold.'
This uttered, straining all his nerves he bowed
As with the force of winds and waters pent,
When mountains tremble, those two massy pillan
With horrible convulsion to and fro'
He tugged, 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 to solemnize this feast.
Samson, with these immixed, inevitably
Pulled down the same destruction on himself;
The vulgar only scaped who stood without.
Char. O dearly-bought revenge, yet glorious'j
Living or dying thou hast fulfilled
The work for which thou wast foretold
To Israel, and now liest victorious
Among thy slain, self-killed,
Not willingly, But tangled in the fold
Of dire necessity, whose law in death conjoined
Thee with thy slaughtered foes, in number more
Than all thy life hath slain before.
1 Semichor. While their hearts were jocund acd
Urunk with idolatry, drunk with wine,
And fat regorged of bulls and goats,
Cl anting their idol, and preferring
Before our living Drerul who dwells
In Silo, his bright sanctuary:
Among them he a spirit of phrenzy sent,
Who hurt their minds,
And urged them on with mad desire
To call in haste lor their destroyer;
They, only set on sport and play,
Their own destruction to come speedy upon them.
So fond are mortal men,
FalU-n into wrath divine,
As their own ruin on themselves to invite,
Insensate led, or to sense reprobate,
And with blindness mternal struck.
2 SemteAor. But he, though blind of sight,
Despised and thought extinguished quite
With inward eyes illuminated,
Ills fiery virtue roused
I 'rum under ashes into sudden flame,
And as an evening dragon came,
Assailant on the perehed roosts
And nests in order ranged
Of tame villatic fowl; but as an eagle
His cloudlers thunder bolted on their heads,
So virtue, given for lost,
Depressed, and overthrown, as seemed,
Like that self-begotten bird
In the Arabian woods embossed,
That no second knows nor third,
And lay ere while a holocaust,
From out her ashy womb now teemed,
Revives, reflourishes, then vigorous most
W hen most unactive deemed
And, though her body die, her fame survives
A secuh - bird ages of lives.
Man. Come, come; no time for lamentation
\or much more cause; Samson hath quit himself
Like Samson, and heroicly hath finished
A life heroic: on his enemies
Fully revenged, hath left them years of mourning,
Am' lamentation to the sons of Caphtor
Through all PhiUstian bounds; to Israel
Honour hath left, and freedom, let but them
Find courage to lay hold on this oecasion;
To himself and father's house eternal fame;
And, which is best and happiest yet, all this
With God not parted from him, as was feared,
But favouring and assisting to the end.
Nothing is here for tears, nothing to wail
Or knock the breast; no weakness, no contempt,
Dispraise, or blame; nothing but well and fair,
And what may quiet us in a death so noble.
Let us go find the body, where it lies
Soaked in his enemies' blood; and from the stream
With lavers pure, and cleansing herbs, wash off
The clotted gore. I, with what Speed the while,
(Gaza is not in plight to say us nay.)
Will send for all my kindred, all my friends,
To feteh him hence, and solemnly attend
With silent obscquy and funeral train,
Home to Ms father's house; there will I build hun
A monument, and plant it round with shade
Of laurel evergreen, and branching palm,
With all his trophies hung, and acts enrolled
In copious legend, or sweet lync song.
Thither shall all the valiant youth resort,
Arid from his memory inflame their breasts
To matehless valour, and adventures high:
The virgins also shall, on feastful days,
Visit hia tomb with flowers; only bewailing
His lot unfortunate in nuptial choice,
From whence captivity and loss of eyes.
Char. All is best, though we oft doubt,
What the unsearehable dispose
Of highest Wisdom brings about,
And ever best found in the close.
Oft he seems to hide his face,
But unexpectedly returns,
And to his faithful champion hath m place
Bore witness gloriously; whence Gaza mourns
And all that band them to resist
His uncontrollable intent:
His servants he, with new acsvaist
Of true experience, from this great event
With peace and consolation hath dismissed
And calm of mind all passion spent.