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Went up with armed powers thee only seeking,
To others did no violence nor spoil.
Sams. Among the daughters of the Philistines
I chose a wife, which argued me no foe;
And in your city held my nuptial feast:
But your ill-meaning politician lords,
Under pretence of bridal friends and guests,
Appointed to await me thirty spies,
Who, threatening cruel death, constrain'd the bride
To wring from me, and tell to them, my secret,
That solv'd the riddle which I had propos'd.
When I perceiv'd all set on enmity,
As on my enemies, wherever chanc'd,
I us'd hostility, and took their spoil,
To pay my underminers in their coin.
My nation was subjected to your lords;
It was the force of conquest: force with force
Is well ejected when the conquer'd can.
But I a private person, whom my country
As a league-breaker gave up bound, presum'd
Single rebellion, and did hostile acts.
I was no private, but a person rais'd
With strength sufficient, and command from Heaven,
To free my country; if their servile minds
Me, their deliverer sent, would not receive,
But to their masters gave me up for nought,
The unworthier they; whence to this day they serve.
I was to do my part from Heaven assign'd,
And had perform'd it, if my known offence
Had not disabled me, not all your force:
These shifts refuted, answer thy appellant,
Though by his blindness maim'd for high attempts,
Who now defies thee thrice to single fight,
As a petty enterprise of small enforce.
They cannot well impose, nor I susʼain;
If they intend advantage of my labors,
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
Draw their own ruin who attempt the deed.
Chor. Oh how comely it is, and how reviving
To the spirits of just men long oppress'd!
When God into the hands of their deliverer
Puts invincible might
To quell the mighty of the Earth, the oppressor
The brute and boisterous force of violent men,
Hardy and industrious to support
Tyrannic power, but raging to pursue
The righteous and all such as honor truth;
He all their ammunition
And feats of war defeats,
With plain heroic magnitude of mind
And celestial vigor arm'd;
Their armories and magazines contemns,
Renders them useless, while
With winged expedition,
Swift as the lightning glance, he executes
His errand on the wicked, who, surpris'd,
Lose their defence, distracted and amaz'd.
But patience is more oft the exercise
Of saints, the trial of their fortitude,
Making them each his own deliverer
And victory over all
[roll'd, That tyranny or fortune can inflict.
Har. With thee! a man condemn'd, a slave en- Either of these is in thy lot,
Due by the law to capital punishment!
To fight with thee no man of arms will deign.
Sams. Cam'st thou for this, vain boaster, to sur
To descant on my strength, and give thy verdict?
Come nearer; part not hence so slight inform'd;
But take good heed my hand survey not thee.
Har. O Baal-zebub? can my ears unus'd
Hear these dishonors, and not render death?
Samson, with might endued
Above the sons of men; but sight bereav'd
May chance to number thee with those
Whom patience finally must crown.
This idol's day hath been to thee no day of rest
Laboring thy mind
More than the working day thy hands.
And yet perhaps more trouble is behind,
For I descry this way
Sams. No man withholds thee, nothing from thy Some other tending; in his hand
Fear I incurable; bring up thy van,
My heels are fetter'd, but my fist is free.
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;
His message will be short and voluble.
Har. This insolence other kind of answer fits.
Sams. Go, baffled coward! lest I run upon thee,
Though in these chains, bulk without spirit vast,
And with one buffet lay thy structure low,
Or swing thee in the air, then dash thee down
To the hazard of thy brains and shatter'd sides
Har. By Astaroth, ere long thou shalt lament
These braveries, in irons loaden on thee. [Exit. This day to Dagon is a solemn feast,
Chor. His giantship is gone somewhat crestfallen,
Stalking with less unconscionable strides,
And lower looks, but in a sultry chafe.
Off. Hebrews, the prisoner Samson here I seek.
Chor. His manacles remark him, there he sits.
Off. Samson, to thee our lords thus bid me say;
Sams. I dread him not, nor all his giant-brood,
Though fame divulge him father of five sons,
All of gigantic size, Goliah chief.
Chor. He will directly to the lords, I fear,
And with malicious counsel stir them up
Some way or other yet further to afflict thee.
Sams. He must allege some cause, and offer'd fight
Will not dare mention, lest a question rise
Whether he durst accept the offer or not;
And, that he durst not, plain enough appear'd.
Much more affliction than already felt
With sacrifices, triumph, pomp, and games:
Thy strength they know surpassing human rate,
And now some public proof thereof require
To honor this great feast, and great assembly:
Rise therefore with all speed, and come along,
Where I will see thee hearten'd, and fresh clad,
To appear as fits before the illustrious lords.
Sams. Thou know'st I am an Hebrew, therefore
Our law forbids at their religious rites
My presence; for that cause I cannot come.
Off. This answer, be assur'd, will not conten
Sams. Have they not sword-players, and every sort
Of gymnic artists, wrestlers, riders, runners,
Jugglers, and dancers, antics, mummers, mimics,
But they must pick me out, with shackles tir'd,
And over-labor'd at their public mill,
To make them sport with blind activity?
Do they not seek occasion 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 peace.
Can they think me so broken, so debas'd
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 midst of sorrow and heart-grief
To show them feats, and play before their god,
The worst of all indignities, yet on me
Join'd with extreme contempt? I will not come.
Off. My message was impos'd on me with speed,
Brooks no delay: is this thy resolution?
Sams. So take it with what speed thy message needs.
Off. I am sorry what this stoutness will produce. [Exit. Sams. Perhaps thou shalt have cause to sorrow indeed.
Chor. Consider, Samson; matters now are strain'd
Up to the height, whether to hold or break:
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.
Sams. Shall I abuse this consecrated gift
Of strength, again returning with my hair
After my great transgression, so requite
Favor renew'd, and add a greater sin
By prostituting holy things to idols?
A Nazarite in place abominable
Vaunting my strength in honor to their Dagon!
Besides, how vile, contemptible, ridiculous,
What act more execrably unclean, profane?
This day will be remarkable in my life
By some great act, or of my days the last.
Chor. In time thou hast resolv'd, 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 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.
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 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.
Off. I praise thy resolution: doff these links:
By this compliance thou wilt win the lords
To favor, 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 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 dishonorable, impure, unworthy
Our God, our law, my nation, or myself,
The last of me or no I cannot warrant.
Chor. Go, and the Holy One
Of Israel be thy guide
To what may serve his glory best, and spread his
Chor. Yet with this strength thou serv'st the Great among the Heathen round;
Idolatrous, uncircumcis'd, unclean.
Sams. Not in their idol-worship, but by labor
Honest and lawful to deserve my food
Of those who have me in their civil power.
Chor. Where the heart joins not, outward acts
Sams. Where outward force constrains, the sen-
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.
Chor. How thou wilt here come off surmounts my
Sams. 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 dishonor
Our law, or stain my vow of Nazarite.
If there be aught of presage in the mind,
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 rush'd on thee
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 wondrous actions hath been seen.-
But 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 us some glad news?
Man. Peace with you, brethren; my inducement
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 unseemly
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.
Chor. That hope would much rejoice us to partake This evil on the Philistines is fall'n : With thee; 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 and father's tears,
To accept 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 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.
Chor. Doubtless the people shouting to behold
Their once great dread, captive, and blind before
Or at some proof of strength before them shown.
Man. His ransom, if my whole inheritance
May compass it, shall willingly be paid
And number'd 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 fix'd not to part hence without him.
For his redemption all my patrimony,
If need be, I am ready to forego
And quit: not wanting him, I shall want nothing.
Chor. Fathers are wont to lay up for their sons,
Thou for thy son art bent to lay out all;
Sons wont to nurse their parents in old age,
Thou in old age car'st how to nurse thy son,
Made older than thy age through eye-sight 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 achiev'd,
And on his shoulders waving down those locks
That of a nation arm'd the strength contain❜d:
And I persuade me, God had not permitted
His strength again to grow up with his hair,
Garrison'd 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 eye-sight was not lost,
God will restore him eye-sight to his strength.
Chor. Thy hopes are not ill-founded, nor seem vain
Of his delivery, and the joy thereon
Conceiv'd, agreeable to a father's love,
In both which we, as next, participate. [noise!Man. I know your friendly minds and-O what Mercy of Heaven, what hideous noise was that, Horribly loud, unlike the former shout.
Chor. Noise call you it, or universal groan, As if the whole inhabitation perish'd!
From whom could else a general cry be heard?
The sufferers then will scarce molest us here;
From other hands we need not much to fear.
What if, his eye-sight (for to Israel's God
Nothing is hard) by miracle restor❜d,
He now be dealing dole among his foes,
And over heaps of slaughter'd walk his way?
Man. That were a joy presumptuous to be thought
Chor. Yet God hath wrought things as incredible
For his people of old; what hinders now?
Man. He can, I know, but doubt to think he will, Yet hope would fain subscribe, and tempts 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 bates. 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, Which erst my eyes beheld, and yet behold, For dire imagination still pursues me. But providence or instinct of nature seems, Or reason though 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, 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. Mess. 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. Mess. Gaza yet stands, but all her sons are fall'n, All in a moment overwhelm'd and fall'n.
Man. Sad, but thou know'st to Israelites not saddest The desolation of a hostile city. [surfeit. Mess. Feed on that first: there may in grief be Man. Relate by whom.
The sorrow, and converts it nigh to joy.
Mess. Ah! Manoah, I refrain 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.
Mess. Take then the worst in brief, Samson is dead.
Man. The worst indeed, O all my hopes de
To free him hence! but death, who sets all free,
Hath paid his ransom now and full discharge.
What windy joy this day had I conceiv'd
Hopeful of his delivery, which now proves
Abortive as the first-born bloom of spring
Blood, death, and deathful deeds, are in that noise, Nipt with the lagging rear of winter's frost!
Ruin, destruction at the utmost point.
Yet ere I give the reins to grief, say first,
Man. Of ruin indeed methought I heard the noise: How died he; death to life is crown or shame. Oh! it continues, they have slain my son.
Chor. Thy son is rather slaying them: that outcry
From slaughter of one foe could not ascend.
Man. Some dismal accident 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.
All by him fell, thou say'st: by whom fell he? What glorious hand gave Samson his death's wound?
Mess. Unwounded of his enemies he fell. [plain. Man. Wearied with slaughter then, or how? exMess. By his own hands. Man. Self-violence? what cause Brought him so soon at variance with himself Among his foes?
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! A dreadful way thou took'st to thy revenge.
Met from all parts to solemnize this feast.
Samson, with these inmix'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
More than enough we know; but while things yet The work for which thou wast foretold
Are in confusion, give us, if thou canst,
Eye-witness of what first or last was done,
Relation more particular and distinct.
Mess. Occasions drew me early 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 rumor'd that this day
Samson should be brought forth, to show the 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 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.
The feast and noon grew high, and sacrifice [wine,
Had fill'd their hearts with mirth, high cheer, and
When to their sports they turn'd. 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 horse and foot, before him and behind
Archers, and slingers, cataphracts and spears.
At sight of him the people with a shout
Rifted the air, clamoring 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 assay'd,
To heave, pull, draw, or break, he still perform'd
All with incredible, stupendous force;
None daring to appear antagonist.
At length for intermission's sake they led him.
Between the pillars; he his guide requested
(For so from such as nearer stood we heard)
As over-tir'd to let him lean awhile
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 awhile inclin'd,
And eyes fast fix'd he stood, as one who pray'd,
Or some great matter in his mind revolv'd:
At last with head erect thus cried aloud,
"Hitherto, lords, what your commands impos'd
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 mountains tremble, those two massy pillars
With horrible convulsion to and fro
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,
To Israel, and now liest 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,
1. Semichor. While their hearts were jocund and
Drunk with idolatry, drunk with wine,
And fat regorg'd of bulls and goats,
Chanting their idol, and preferring
Before our living Dread who dwells
In Silo, his bright sanctuary:
Among them he a spirit of frenzy 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.
2. Semichor. But he, though blind of sight,
Despis'd and thought extinguish'd quite,
With inward eyes illuminated,
His fiery virtue rous'd
From under ashes into sudden flame,
And as an evening dragon came,
Assailant on the perched roosts
And nests in order rang'd
Of tame villatic fowl; but as an eagle
His cloudless thunder bolted on their heads.
So virtue, given for lost,
Depress, and overthrown, as seem'd,
Like that self-begotten bird
In the Arabian woods embost,
That no second knows nor third,
And lay erewhile a holocaust,
From out her ashy womb now teem'd,
Revives, reflourishes, then vigorous most
When most unactive deem'd ;
And, though her body die, her fame survives
A secular bird ages of lives.
Man. Come, come; no time for lamentation now, Nor much more cause; Samson hath quit himself Like Samson, and heroicly hath finish'd
A life heroic, on his enemies
Fully reveng'd, hath left them years of mourning,
And lamentation to the sons of Caphtor
Through all Philistian bounds, to Israel
Honor hath left, and freedom, let but them
Find courage to lay hold on this occasion;
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 fear'd,
But favoring 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
Soak'd 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 fetch him hence, and solemnly attend
With silent obsequy, and funeral train,
The idle spear and shield were high up hung; The hooked chariot stood
Unstain'd with hostile blood;
The trumpet spake not to the armed throng; And kings sat still with awful eye,
As if they surely knew their sovran Lord was by.
Home to his father's house: there will I build him But peaceful was the night,
A monument, and plant it round with shade
Of laurel ever-green, and branching palm,
With all his trophies hung, and acts enroll'd
In copious legend, or sweet lyric song.
Thither shall all the valiant youth resort,
And from his memory inflame their breasts
To matchless valor, and adventures high:
The virgins also shall, on feastful days,
Visit his tomb with flowers; only bewailing
His lot unfortunate in nuptial choice,
From whence captivity and loss of eyes.
Chor. All is best, though we oft doubt
What the unsearchable 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 in place
Bore witness gloriously; whence Gaza mourns,
And all that band them to resist
His uncontrollable intent;
His servants he, with new acquist
Of true experience, from this great event
With peace and consolation hath dismist.
And calm of mind, all passion spent.
Wherein the Prince of light
His reign of peace upon the Earth began:
The winds, with wonder whist,
Smoothly the waters kist,
Whispering new joys to the mild ocean,
Who now hath quite forgot to rave,
While birds of calm sit brooding on the charmed
The stars, with deep amaze,
Stand fix'd in stedfast gaze,
Bending one way their precious influence;
And will not take their flight,
For all the morning light,
Or Lucifer that often warn'd them thence;
But in their glimmering orbs did glow,
Until their Lord himself bespake, and bid them go.
And, though the shady gloom
Had given day her room,
The Sun himself withheld his wonted speed, And hid his head for shame,
The new-enlighten'd world no more should need: He saw a greater Sun appear
Than his bright throne, or burning axletree, could