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He's gone, and who knows how he may report
Thy words by adding fuel to the flame?
Expect another message more imperious,
More lordly thundering than thou well wilt bear.
Samson. Shall I abuse this consecrated gift
Of strength, again returning with my hair
After my great transgression, so requite
Favour renew'd, and add a greater sin
By prostituting holy things to idols?
A Nazarite in place abominable
Vaunting my strength in honour to their Dagon!
Besides, how vile, contemptible, ridiculous,
What act more execrably unclean, profane?
Chorus. Yet with this strength thou serv'st the
Idolatrous, uncircumcis'd, unclean.
Samson. Not in their idol-worship, but by labour
Honest and lawful to deserve my food
Of those, who have me in their civil power.
Chorus. Where the heart joins not, outward acts
Samson. Where outward force constrains, the
But who constrains me to the temple of Dagon,
Not dragging? the Philistian 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 need'st not doubt.
Chorus. How thou wilt here come off surmounts
Samson. 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 act, or of my days the last. Chorus. In time thou hast resolv'd, the man re
Officer. Samson, this second message from our
To thee I am bid say. Art thou our slave,
Our captive, at the publick mill our drudge
And dar'st thou at our sending and command
Dispute thy coming? come without delay;
Or we shall find such engines to assail
And hamper thee, as thou shalt come of force,
Though thou wert firmlier fasten'd than a rock.
Samson. 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 streets
Like a wild beast, I am content to go.
Masters' commands come with a power resistless
To such 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.
Officer. I praise thy resolution: doff these links
By this compliance thou wilt win the lords
To favour, and perhaps to set thee free.
Samson. Brethren, farewell; your company along I will not wish, lest it perhaps offend them To see me girt with friends; and how the sight Of me, as of a common enemy, So dreaded once, may now exasperate them, I know not: lords are lordliest in their wine; And the well-feasted priest then soonest fir'd With zeal, if aught religion seem concern'd; 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 cannot warrant.
Chorus. Go, and the Holy one
Of Israel be thy guide
To what may serve his glory best, and spread his
Great among the Heathen round;
Send thee 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 be now a shield
Of fire; that Spirit, that first rushed on thec
In the camp of Dan,
Be efficacious in thee now at need.
For never was from Heaven imparted
Measure of strength so great to mortal seed,
As in thy wonderous actions hath been seen.
But wherefore comes old Manoah in such haste
With youthful steps ? much livelier than ere while
He seems; supposing here to find his son,
Or of him bringing to us some glad news?
Manoah. Peace with you, Brethren ; my induce-
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 had no will,
Lest I should see him forc'd to things uns eemly.
But that, which mov'd my coming now, was chiefly
To give ye part with me what hope I have
With good success to work his liberty.
Chorus. That hope would much rejoice us to
With thee; say, reverend Sire, we thirst to hear.
Manoah. I have attempted one by one the lords Either at home, or through the high street passing, With supplication prone and father's tears, To accept of ransom for my son their prisoner. Some much averse I found and wonderous harsh, Contemptuous, proud, set on revenge and spite; That part most reverenc'd 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 civil, who confess'd They had enough reveng'd; having reduc'd Their foe to misery beneath their fears, The rest was magnanimity to remit, If some convenient ransom were propos’d. What noise or shout was that? it tore the sky.
Chorus. Doubtless the people shouting to behold Their once great dread, captive, and blind before
them, Or at some proof of strength before them shown.
Manoah. His ransom, if my whole inheritance May compass it, shall willingly be paid