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Went up with armed powers thee only seeking, They cannot well impose, nor I sustain ;
If they intend advantage of my labors,
With no small profit daily to my owners. And in your city held my nuptial feast :
But come what will, my deadliest foe will prove But your ill-meaning politician lords,
My speediest friend, by death to rid me hence; Under pretence of bridal friends and guests, The worst that he can give to me the best. Appointed to await me thirty spies,
Yet so it may fall out, because their end Who, threatening cruel death, constrain'd the bride Is hate, not help to me, it may with mine To wring from me, and tell to them, my secret, Draw their own ruin who attempt the deed. That solv'd the riddle which I had propos'd.
Chor. Oh how comely it is, and how reviving When I perceiv'd all set on enmity,
To the spirits of just men long oppressid ! As on my enemies, wherever chanc'd,
When God into the hands of their deliverer I us'd hostility, and took their spoil,
Puts invincible might To pay my underminers in their coin.
To quell the mighty of the Earth, the oppressor, My nation was subjected to your lords ;
The brute and boisterous force of violent men,
Tyrannic power, but raging to pursue
And feats of war defeats,
With plain heroic magnitude of mind
Renders them useless; while
But patience is more oft the exercise
Of saints, the trial of their fortitude,
Har. With thee! a man condemn'd, a slave en- Either of these is in thy lot,
Samson, with might endued
Whom patience finally must crown.
Har. O Baal-zebub? can my ears unus'd And yet perhaps more trouble is behind,
A sceptre or quaint staff he bears,
Comes on amain, speed in his look, My heels are fetter'd, but my fist is free.
By his habit I discern him now
Sams. Go, baffled coward! lest I run upon thee, His message will be short and voluble.
[Enter Officer.] Or swing thee in the air, then dash thee down Off. Hebrews, the prisoner Samson here I seek To the hazard of thy brains and shatter'd sides. Chor. His manacles remark him, there he sits.
Har. By Astaroth, ere long thou shalt lament Off. Samson, to thee our lords thus bid me say; These braveries, in irons loaden on thee. [Erit. This day to Dagon is a solemn feast,
Chor. His giantship is gone somewhat crestfallen, With sacrifices, triumph, pomp, and games : Stalking with less unconscionable strides, Thy strength they know surpassing human rate, And lower looks, but in a sultry chafe.
And now some public proof thereof require Sams. I dread him not, nor all his giant-brood, To honor this great feast, and great assembly: Though fame divulge him father of five sons, Rise therefore with all speed, and come along, All of gigantic size, Goliah chief.
Where I will see thee hearten'd, and fresh clad, Chor. He will directly to the lords, I fear, To appear as fits before the illustrious lords. And with malicious counsel stir them up
Sams. Thou know'st I am an Hebrew, therefore Some way or other yet further to afflict thee.
Off. This answer, be assurd, will not content And, that he durst not, plain enough appear'd.
them. Much more ailliction than already felt
Sams. Have they not sword-players, and every sort
Of gymnic artists, wrestlers, riders, runners, This day will be remarkable in my life
Off. Samson, this second message from our lords To make them sport with blind activity ?
To thee I am bid say. Art thou our slave, Do they not seek occasion of new quarrels, Our captive at the public mill, our drudge, On my refusal to distress me more,
And dar'st thou at our sending and command Or make a game of my calamities?
Dispute thy coming? come without delay; Return the way thou cam'st: I will not come Or we shall find such engines to assail
Of. Regard thyself; this will offend them highly. And hamper thee, as thou shalt come of force,
Sams. Myself? my conscience, and internal peace. Though thou wert firmlier fasten’d than a rock. Can they think me so broken, so debas'd
Sams. I could be well content to try their art, With corporal servitude, that my mind ever Which to no few of them would prove pernicious Will condescend to such absurd commands ? Yet, knowing their advantages too many, Although their drudge, to be their fool or jester, Because they shall not trail me through their streets And in my midst of sorrow and heart-grief Like a wild beast, I am content to go. To show them feats, and play before their god, Masters' commands come with a power resistless The worst of all indignities, yet on me
To such as owe them absolute subjection; Join'd with extreme contempt? I will not come. And for a life who will not change his purpose ?
Of. My message was impos'd on me with speed, (So mutable are all the ways of men ;) Brooks no delay: is this thy resolution ?
Yet this be sure, in nothing to comply Sams. So take it with what speed thy message Scandalous or forbidden in our law. needs.
Off. I praise thy resolution: doff these links: Off. I am sorry what this stoutness will produce. By this compliance thou wilt win the lords
[Exit. To favor, and perhaps to set thee free. Sams. Perhaps thou shalt have cause to sorrow Sams. Brethren, farewell; your company along indeed.
I will not wish, lest it perhaps offend them Chor. Consider, Samson; matters now are strain'dTo see me girt with friends; and how the sight l'p to the height, whether to hold or break: Of me as of a common enemy, He's gone, and who knows how he may report So dreaded once, may now exasperate them, Thy words by adding fuel to the flame?
I know not: lords are lordliest in their wine; Expect another message more imperious,
And the well-feasted priest then soonest fir'd More lordly thundering than thou well wilt bear. With zeal, if aught religion seem concern'd;
Sams. Shall I abuse this consecrated gift No less the people, on their holy-days, Of surength, again returning with my hair
Impetuous, insolent, unquenchable : After my great transgression, so requite
Happen what may, of me expect to hear Favor renew'd, and add a greater sin
Nothing dishonorable, impure, unworthy By prostituting holy things to idols ?
Our God, our law, my nation, or myself,
The last of me or no I cannot warrant.
Send thee the angel of thy birth, to stand Idolatrous, uncircumcis'd, unclean.
Fast by thy side, who from thy father's field
Of thy conception, and be now a shield
(tence holds. Be efficacious in thee now at need.
With youthful steps? much livelier than erewhile God for the fear of man, and man prefer,
He seems; supposing here to find his son,
Or of him bringing to us some glad news?
[Enter MANOAH.] Present in temples at idolatrous rites
Man. Peace with you, brethren; my inducement For some important cause, thou need’st not doubt.
By order of the lords now parted hence
And numbers thither flock: I had no will,
Lest I should see him forc'd to things ungeemly. Nothing to do, be sure, that may dishonor
But that, which-mov'd my coming now, was chiefly Our law, or stain my vow of Nazarite.
To give ye part with me what hope I have If there be aught of presage in the mind,
With good success to work his liberty.
Chor. That hope would much rejoice us to partake This evil on the Philistines is fallin : With thee; say, reverend sire, we thirst to hear. From whom could else a general cry be heard ?
Man. I have attempted one by one the lords, The sufferers then will scarce molest us here ; Either at home, or through the high street passing, From other hands we need not much to fear. With supplication prone and father's tears, What if, his eye-sight (for to Israel's God To accept of ransom for my son their prisoner. Nothing is hard) by miracle restor'd, Some much averse I found, and wondrous harsh, He now be dealing dole among his foes, Contemptuous, proud, set on revenge and spite ; And over heaps of slaughter'd walk his way? That part most reverenc'd Dagon and his priests : Man. That were a joy presumptuous to be thought Others more moderate seeming, but their aim
Chor. Yet God hath wrought things as incredible Private reward, for which both God and state For his people of old; what hinders now? They easily would set to sale: a third
Man. He can, I know, but doubt to think he will, More generous far and civil, who confess'd Yet hope would fain subscribe, and tempts belief They had enough reveng’d; having reduc'd A little stay will bring some notice hither. Their foe to misery beneath their fears,
Chor. Of good or bad so great, of bad the sooner; The rest was magnanimity to remit,
For evil news rides post, while good news bates. If some convenient ransom were propos'd.
And to our wish I see one hither speeding, What noise or shout was that? it tore the sky. An Hebrew, as I guess, and of our tribe. Chor. Doubtless the people shouting to behold
[Enter MESSENGER.] Their once great dread, captive, and blind before them,
Mess. O whither shall I run, or which way fly Or at some proof of strength before them shown. The sight of this so horrid spectacle,
Man. His ransom, if my whole inheritance Which erst my eyes beheld, and yet behold, May compass it, shall willingly be paid
For dire imagination still pursues me. And number'd down: much rather I shall choose But providence or instinct of nature seems, To live the poorest in my tribe, than richest, Or reason though disturb'd, and scarce consulted, And he in that calamitous prison left.
To have guided me aright, I know not how, · No, I am fix'd not to part hence without him. To thee first, reverend Manoah, and to these For his redemption all my patrimony,
My countrymen, whom here I knew remaining, If need be, I am ready to forego
As at some distance from the place of horror, And quit: not wanting him, I shall want nothing. So in the sad event too much concern d.
Chor. Fathers are wont to lay up for their sons, Man. The accident was loud, and here before thee Thou for thy son art bent to lay out all;
With rueful cry, yet what it was we hear not; Sons wort to nurse their parents in old age, No preface needs, thou seest we long to know. Thou in old age car'st how to nurse thy son,
Mess. It would burst forth, but I recover breath Made older than thy age through eye-sight lost. And sense distract, to know well what I utter. Man. It shall be my delight to tend his eyes,
Man. Tell us the sum, the circumstance defer, And view him sitting in the house, ennobled Mess. Gaza yet stands, but all her sons are fallin. With all those high exploits by him achiev'd, All in a moment overwhelm'd and fall'n. And on his shoulders waving down those locks Man. Sad, but thou know'st to Israelites not saddest That of a nation arm'd the strength contain'u : The desolation of a hostile city.
(surfeit And I persuade me, God had not permitted
Mess. Feed on that first: there may in grief be Ilis strength again to grow up with his hair,
Man. Relate by whom. Garrison'd round about him like a camp
By Samson. of faithful soldiery, were not his purpose
That still lessens To use him further yet in some great service; The sorrow, and converts it nigh to joy. Not to sit idle with so great a gift
Mess. Ah! Manoah, I refrain too suddenly
To utter what will come at last too soon;
Chor. Thy hopes are not ill-founded, nor seem vain Man. Suspense in news is torture, speak them out. Of his delivery, and the joy thereon
Mess. Take then the worst in brief, Samson is dead. Conceiv'd, agreeable to a father's love,
Man. The worst indeed, 0 all my hopes de In both which we, as next, participate. (noise !
feated Man. I know your friendly minds and what To free him hence! but death, who sets all free, Mercy of Heaven, what hideous noise was that, Hath paid his ransom now and full discharge. Ilorribly loud, unlike the former shout.
What windy joy this day had I conceiv'd Chor. Noise call you it, or universal groan, Hopeful of his delivery, which now proves As if the whole inhabitation perish'd!
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.
All by him fell, thou say’st: by whom fell he ? Chor. Thy son is rather slaying them: that outcry What glorious hand gave Samson his death's wound! From slaughter of one foe could not ascend.
Mess. Unwounded of his enemies he fell. (plan. Man. Some dismal accident it needs must be ; Man. Wearied with slaughter then, or how ! er. What shall we do, stay here or run and see?
Mess. By his own hands. Chor. Best keep together here, lest, running Man.
Self-violence? what cause thither,
Brought him so soon at variance with himself We unawares run into danger's mouth.
Among his foes ?
Met from all parts to solemnize this feast.
Chor. O dearly-bought revenge, yet glorious !
To Israel, and now liest victorious
Not willingly, but tangled in the fold
Thee with thy slaughter'd foes, in number more The morning trumpets festival proclaim'd
Than all thy life hath slain before. [sublime, Through each high street: little I had dispatch'd, 1. Semichor. While their hearts were jocund and When all abroad was rumor'd that this day Drunk with idolatry, drunk with wine, Sarnson should be brought forth, to show the people and fat regorg'd of bulls and goats, Proof of his mighty strength in feats and games ; Chanting their idol, and preferring I sorrow'd at his captive state, but minded Before our living Dread who dwells Not to be absent at that spectacle.
In Silo, his bright sanctuary :
Among them he a spirit of frenzy sent,
To call in haste for their destroyer;
Their own destruction to come speedy upon them.
Insensate left, or to sense reprobate,
His fiery virtue rous'd
So virtue, given for lost,
Depress'd, and overthrown, as seem'd,
And lay erewhile a holocaust,
Revives, reflourishes, then vigorous most
Man. Come, come; no time for lamentation now, At last with head erect thus cried aloud,
Nor much more cause ; Samson hath quit himself “ Hitherto, lords, what your commands impos'd Like Samson, and heroicly hath finish'd I have perform'd, as reason was, obeying,
A life heroic, on his enemies Not without wonder or delight beheld :
Fully reveng'd, hath left them years of mourning, Now of my own accord such other trial
And lamentation to the sons of Caphtor
With God not parted from him, as was fear'd,
Or knock the breast; no weakness, no contempt,
Let us go find the body where it lies
Soak'd in his enemies' blood; and from the stream The idle spear and shield were high up hung ;
The trumpet spake not to the armed throng ;
As if they surely knew their sovran Lord was by. With silent obsequy, and funeral train, Home to his father's house : there will I build him But peaceful was the night, A monument, and plant it round with shade Wherein the Prince of light Of laurel ever-green, and branching palm,
His reign of peace upon the Earth began : With all his trophies hun and acts enroll'd
The winds, with wonder whist, In copious legend, or sweet lyric song.
Smoothly the waters kist, Thither shall all the valiant youth resort,
Whispering new joys to the mild ocean, And from his memory inflame their breasts Who now hath quite forgot to rave,
[ware. To matchless valor, and adventures high:
While birds of calm sit brooding on the charmed The virgins also shall, on feastful days, Visit his tomb with flowers; only bewailing The stars, with deep amaze, His lot unfortunate in nuptial choice,
Stand fix'd in stedfast gaze, From whence captivity and loss of eyes.
Bending one way their precious influence; Chor. All is best, though we oft doubt
And will not take their flight, What the unsearchable dispose
For all the morning light, Of highest Wisdom brings about,
Or Lucifer that often warn'd them thence; And ever best found in the close,
But in their glimmering orbs did glow, Oft he seems to hide his face,
Until their Lord himself bespake, and bid them gn. But unexpectedly returns, And to his faithful champion hath in place And, though the shady gloom Bore witness gloriously; whence Gaza mourns, Had given day her room, And all that band them to resist
The Sun himself withheld his wonted speed, His uncontrollable intent;
And hid his head for shame, His servants he, with new acquist
As his inferior flame Of true experience, from this great event
The new-enlighten'd world no more should need: With peace and consolation hath dismist.
He saw a greater Sun appear
(bear And calm of mind, all passion spent.
Than his bright throne, or burning axletree, could
The shepherds on the lawn,
Sat simply chatting in a rustic row;
Full little thought they then,
That the mighty Pan
Was kindly come to live with them below; It was the winter wild,
Perhaps their loves, or else their sheep, While the Heaven-born child
Was all that did their silly thoughts so busy keep. All meanly wrapt in the rude manger lies; Nature in awe to him,
When such music sweet Had doff'd her gaudy trim,
Their hearts and ears did greet, With her great Master so to sympathize :
As never was by mortal finger strook ;
As all their souls in blissful rapture took :
The air, such pleasure loth to lose, She wooes the gentle air
With thousand echoes still prolongs each heavenly To hide her guilty front with innocent snow; And on her naked shame,
Nature that heard such sound, Pollute with sinful blame,
Beneath the hollow round The saintly veil of maiden white to throw; Of Cynthia's seat, the aery region thrilling, Confounded, that her Maker's eyes
Now was almost won Should look so near upon her foul deformities. To think her part was done,
And that her reign had here its last fulfilling : But he, her fears to cease,
She knew such harmony alone Sent down the meek-ey'd Peace;
Could hold all Heaven and Earth in happier union She, crown’d with olive-green, came softly sliding Down through the turning sphere,
At last surrounds their sight His ready harbinger,
A globe of circular light, With turtle wing the amorous clouds dividing; That with long beams the shamefac'd night array'd; And, waving wide her myrtle wand,
The helmed Cherubim, She strikes an universal peace through sea and land. And sworded Seraphim,
Are seen in glittering ranks with wings display'd, No war, or battle's sound,
Harping in loud and solemn quire, Was heard the world around :
With unexpressive notes, to Heaven's new-born Heir.