« PreviousContinue »
Samson made captive, blind, and noiv in the prison at Gaza, there to labor as in a common work-house, on a festival day, in the general cessation from labor, comes forth into the open air, to a place nigh, somewhat retir'd, there lo sit a while and bemoan his condition. Where he happens at length to be visited by certain friends and equals of his tribe, which make the Chorus, who seek to comfort him what they can; then by his old father Manoah, who endevors the like, and withal tells him his purpose to procure his liberty by ranfome; lajlly, that this jeajl was proclam d by the Philistines as a day of thanksgiving for their deliverance from the hands of Samson, ivhich yet more troubles him. Manoah then departs to prosecute his endevor with the Philislian lords for Samsons redemption; who in the mean while is visited by other persons; and lastly by a public officer to require his coming to the feajt before the lords and people, to play or show his strength in their presence; he at first refuses, dismissing the public officer with absolute denial lo come; at length persuaded inwardly that this was from God, he yields to go along with him, who came now the second time with great threatnings to fetch him: the Chorus yet remaining on the place, Manoah returns full of joyful hope, to procure ere long his son s deliverance: in the midst of which discourse an Hebrew comes in haste, confusedly at first, and afterward more distinctly relating the catajtrophe, what Samson had done lo the Philistines, and by accident lo himself; wherewith the tragedy ends.
Manoah, the Father of'Samson.
D A L i L A, his Wife.
H A R A p H A o/Gath.
Chorus of Danites.
The Scene before the Prison in Gaza.
Sams. A Little onward lend thy guiding hand
-ay To these dark steps, a little further on; For yonder bank hath choice of fun or shade: There I am wont to sit, when any chance Relieves me from my task of servile toil, 5
Daily' in the common prison else injoin'd me,
But rush upon me thronging, and present
N 2 Times Times past, what once I was, and what am now.
O wherefore was my birth from Heav'n foretold
Twice by an Angel, who at last in sight
Of both my parents all in flames ascended 25
From osf the altar, where an offering burn'd,
As in a fiery column charioting
His god-like presence, and from some great act
Or benefit reveal'd to Abraham's race?
Why was my breeding order'd and prescrib'd 30
As of a person separate to God,
Design'd for great exploits; if I must die
Betray'd, captiv'd, and both my eyes put out,
Made of my enemies the scorn and gaze;
To grind in brazen fetters under task 35
With this Heav'n-gifted strength ? O gloriousstrength
Put to the labor of a beast, debas'd
Lower than bondflave! Promise was that I
Should Israel from Philistian yoke deliver;
Ask for this great deliverer now, and find him 40
Eyeless in Gaza at the mill with flaves,
Himself in bonds under Philistian yoke:
Yet stay, let me not rashly call in doubt
Divine prediction; what if all foretold
Had been sulfill'd but through mine own default, 45
Whom have I to complain of but mvself?
Who this high gift of strength committed to me,
In what part lodg'd, how easily bereft me,
Under the seal of silence could not keep,