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prosecute his endeavor with the Philistine lords With this Heaven-gifted strength ? O glorious for Samson's redemption; who in the meanwhile
strength, is visited by other persons; and lastly by a pub- Put to the labor of a beast, debas'd lic officer io require his coming to the feast be- Lower than bond-slave! Promise was that I fore the lords and people, to play or show his Should Israel from Philistian yoke deliver; strength in their presence; he at first refuses, dis- Ask for this great deliverer now, and find him missing the public officer with absolute denial to Eyeless in Gaza at the mill with slaves, come; at length, persuaded inwardly that this Himself in bonds under Philistian yoke: was from God, he yields to go along with him, Yet stay, let me not rashly call in doubt who came now the second time with great threat- Divine prediction ; what if all foretold enings to fetch him: the Chorus yet remaining on Had been fulfill'd but through mine own default, the place, Manoah returns full of joyful hope, to whom have I to complain of but myself? procure ere long his son's deliverance: in the Who this high gift of strength committed to me, midst of which discourse an Hebrew comes in In what part lodg'd, how easily bereft me, haste, confusedly at first, and afterward more dis- Under the seal of silence could not keep, tinctly, relating ihe catastrophe, whai Samson had But weakly to a woman must reveal it, done to the Philistines, and by accident to him- O’ercome with importunity and tears. self; wherewith the tragedy ends.
O impotence of mind, in body strong!
But what is strength without a double share
Proudly secure, yet liable to fall
By weakest subtleties, not made to rule,
But to subserve where wisdom bears command ! MANOas the father of Samson.
God, when he gave me strength, to show withal DALILA, his wife.
How slight the gift was, hung it in my hair. HARAPHA of Gath.
But peace, I must not quarrel with the will Public Officer.
of highest dispensation, which herein Messenger.
Haply had ends above my reach to know:
Suffices that to me strength is my bane,
So many, and so huge, that each apart
O loss of sight, of thee I most complain!
Blind among enemies, 0 worse than chains,
Dungeon, or beggary, or decrepit age! A LITTLE onward lend thy guiding hand
Light, the prime work of God, to me is extinct, To these dark steps, a litile further on;
And all her various objects of delight For yonder bank hath choice of sun or shade: Annull’d, which might in part my grief have easid There I am wont to sit, when any chance
Inferior to the vilest now become Relieves me from my task of servile toil,
Of man or worm; the vilest here excel me; Daily in the common prison else enjoin'd me, They creep, yet see; I, dark in light, expos'd Where I, a prisoner chain'd, scarce freely draw To daily fraud, contempt, abuse, and wrong, The air imprison’d also, close and damp,
Within doors, or without, still as a fool, Unwholesome draught: but here I feel amends, In power of others, never in my own; The breath of Heaven fresh blowing, pure and sweet Scarce half I seem to live, dead more than half. With day-spring born; here leave me to respire.- O dark, dark, dark, amid the blaze of noon, This day a solemn feast the people hold
Irrecoverably dark, total eclipse To Dagon their sea-idol, and forbid
Without all hope of day! Laborious works; unwillingly this rest
O first created Beam, and thou great Word,
Why am I thus bereav'd thy prime decree!
And silent as the Moon,
Hid in her vacant interlunar cave.
Since light so necessary is to life,
She all in every part; why was the sight
And not, as feeling, through all parts diffus'd,
Then had I not been thus exil'd from light,
To live a life half dead, a living death,
And buried; but, () yet more iniserable! Betray'd, captívd, and both my eyes put out, Myself my sepulchre, a moving grave; Made of my enemies the scorn and gaze;
Buried, yet not exempt. To grind in brazen fetters under task
By privilege of death and burial,
From worst of other evils, pains and wrongs ; Or the sphere of fortune, raises ;
But thee whose strength, while virtue was her mate, To all the miseries of life,
Might have subdued the Earth, Life in captivity
Universally crown'd with highest praises. (air Among inhuman foes.
Sams. I hear the sound of words; their sense the But who are these? for with joint pace I hear Dissolves unjointed ere it reach my ear. The tread of many feet steering this way;
Chor. He speaks, let us draw nigh.—Matchless in Perhaps my enemies, who come to stare
might, At my affliction, and perhaps to insult,
The glory late of Israel, now the grief; Their daily practice to afflict me more.
We come, thy friends and neighbors not unknown,
From Eshtaol and Zora's fruitful vale, [Enter Chorus.]
To visit or bewail thee; or, if better, Chor. This, this is he; softly awhile,
Counsel or consolation we may bring, Let us not break in upon him:
Salve to thy sores; apt words have power to swage O change beyond report, thought, or belief! The tumors of a troubled mind, See how he lies at random, carelessly diffus'd, And are as balm to fester'd wounds.
[learn With languish'd head unpropt,
Sams. Your coming, friends, revives me; for I As one past hope, abandon’d,
Now of my own experience, not by talk, And by himself given over;
How counterfeit a coin they are who friends In slavish habit, ill-fitted weeds
Bear in their superscription, (of the most O'er-worn and soil'd ;
I would be understood ;) in prosperous days Or do my eyes misrepresent? Can this be he, They swarm, but in adverse withdraw their head, That heroic, that renown'd,
Not to be found, though sought. Ye see, O friends, Irresistible Samson? whom unarm’d (withstand; How many evils have inclos'd me round: No strength of man, or fiercest wild beast, could Yet that which was the worst now least afflicts me, Who tore the lion, as the lion tears the kid; Blindness; for had I sight, confus'd with shame, Ran on embattled armies clad in iron;
How could I once look up or heave the head, And, weaponless himself,
Who, like a foolish pilot, have shipwreck'd
My vessel trusted to me from above,
To a deceitful woman? tell me, friends,
Am I not sung and proverb'd for a fool When insupportably his foot advanc'd,
In every street? do they not say, how well In scorn of their proud arms and warlike tools, Are come upon him his deserts ? yet why? Spurn'd them to death by troops. The bold Asca- Immeasurable strength they might behold lonite
In me, of wisdom nothing more than mean; Fled from his lion ramp; old warriors turn'd This with the other should, at least, have pair'd, Their plated backs under his heel;
These two, proportion'd ill, drove me transverse. Or, groveling, soil'd their crested helmets in the dust. Chor. Tax not divine disposal ; wisest men Then with what trivial weapon came to hand, Have errd, and by bad women been deceiv'd; The jaw of a dead ass, his sword of bone, And shall again, pretend they ne'er so wise. A thousand fore-skins fell, the flower of Palestine, Deject not then so overmuch thyself, In Ramath-lechi, famous to this day.
[bore Who hast of sorrow thy full load besides : Then by main force pulld up, and on his shoulders Yet truth to say, I oft have heard men wonder The gates of Azza, post, and massy bar,
Why thou shouldst wed Philistian women rather Up to the hill by Hebron, seat of giants old, Than of thine own tribe fairer, or as fair, No journey of a sabbath-day, and loaded so; At least of thy own nation, and as noble. Like whom the Gentiles feign to bear up Heaven. Sams. The first I saw at Timna, and she pleas'd Which shall I first bewail,
Me, not my parents, that I sought to wed Thy bondage or lost sight,
The daughter of an infidel: they knew not Prison within prison
That what I motion'd was of God; I knew Inseparably dark?
From intimate impúlse, and therefore urg'd Thou art become (0 worst imprisonment!) The marriage on; that by occasion hence The dungeon of thyself; thy soul,
(plain) I might begin Israel's deliverance, (Which men enjoying sight oft without cause com- The work to which I was divinely call’d. Imprison'd now indeed,
She proving false, the next I took to wife In real darkness of the body dwells,
(O that I never had! fond wish too late,) Shut up from outward light
Was in the vale of Sorec, Dalila, To incorporate with gloomy night;
That specious monster, my accomplish'd snare. For inward light, alas !
I thought it lawful from my former act, Puts forth no visual beam.
And the same end; still watching to oppress O mirror of our fickle state,
Israel's oppressors : of what now I suffer Since man on Earth unparallel’d!
She was not the prime cause, but I myself, The rarer thy example stands,
Who, vanquish'd with a peal of words, (O weakness)
Chor. In seeking just occasion to provoke
Thou never wast amiss, I bear thee witness ;
Yet Israël still serves with all his sons.
Sams. That fault I take not on me, but transfer And hath full right to exempt On Israel's governors and heads of tribes,
Whom so it pleases him by choice Who, seeing those great acts which God had done From national obstriction, without taint Singly by me against their conquerors
Of sin, or legal debt; Acknowledg'd not, or not at all consider'd,
For with his own laws he can best dispense. Deliverance offered: I on the other side
He would not else, who never wanted means, Us'd no ambition to commend my deeds :
Nor, in respect of the enemy, just cause,
Have prompted this heroic Nazarite,
Down, reason, then; at least vain reasonings down; Safe to the rock of Ethan was retir'd;
Though reason here aver, Not flying but forecasting in what place
That moral verdict quits her of unclean : To set upon them, what advantag'd best ;
Unchaste was subsequent, her stain not his.
But see, here comes thy reverend sire
Old Manoah : advise
Sams. Ay me! another inward grief, awak'd
[Enter MANOAH.] Their choicest youth ; they only liv'd who fled. Man. Brethren and men of Dan, for such ye seem, IIad Judah that day join'd, or one whole tribe, Though in this uncouth place; if old respect, They had by this possess'd the towers of Gath, As I suppose, towards your once gloried friend, And lorded over them whom they now serve: My son, now captive, hither hath inform’d But what more oft, in nations grown corrupt, Your younger feet, while mine cast back with age And by their vices brought to servitude,
Came lagging after; say if he be here. Than to love bondage more than liberty,
Chor. As signal now in low dejected state,
Man. O miserable change! is this the man,
The dread of Israel's foes, who with a strength How frequent to desert him, and at last
Equivalent to angels walk'd their streets, To heap ingratitude on worthiest deeds!
None offering fight; who single combatant Chor. Thy words to my remembrance bring Duell'd their armies rank'd in proud array, How Succoth and the fort of Penuel
Himself an army, now unequal match Their great deliverer contemn'd,
To save himself against a coward arm'd The matchless Gideon, in pursuit
At one spear's length? O ever-failing trust Of Madian and her vanquish'd kings:
In mortal strength! and oh! what not in man And how ingrateful Ephraim
Deceivable and vain ? Nay, what thing good
I pray'd for children, and thought barrenness
In wedlock a reproach ; I gaind a son, Had not his prowess quell'd their pride
And such a son as all men hail'd me happy ;In that,sore battle, when so many died
Who would be now a father in my stead? Without reprieve, adjudg’d to death,
O wherefore did God grant me my request, For want of well pronouncing Shibboleth. And as a blessing with such pomp adorn'd ?
Sams. Of such examples add me to the roll ; Why are his gifts desirable, to tempt Me easily indeed mine may neglect.
Our earnest prayers, then, given with solemn hand But God's propos d deliverance not so.
As graces, draw a scorpion's tail behind ? Chor. Just are the ways of God,
For this did the angel twice descend? for this And justifiable to men;
Ordain'd thy nurture holy, as of a plant Unless there be, who think not God at all : Select, and sacred, glorious for a while, If any be, they walk obscure ;
The miracle of men; then in an hour For of such doctrine never was there school, Ensnard, assaulted, overcome, led bound, But the heart of the fool,
Thy foes' derision, captive, poor, and blind, And no man therein doctor but himself.
Into a dungeon thrust, to work with slaves ? Yet more there be, who doubt his ways not just, Alas! methinks whom God hath chosen once As to his own edícts found contradicting,
To worthiest deeds if he through frailty err, Then give the reins to wandering thought, He should not so a'erwhelm, and as a thrall Regardless of his glory's diminution ;
Subject him to sa foul indignities, Till, by their own perplexities involv'd,
Be it but for honor's sake of former deeds. They ravel more, still less resolvid,
Sams. Appoint not heavenly disposition, father; But never find self-satisfying solution.
Nothing of all these evils hath befall'n me As if they would confine the Interminable, But justly: I myself have brought them on, And tie him to his own prescript
Sole author I, sole cause : is aught seem vile, Who made our laws to bind us, not himself, As vile hath been my folly, who have profan'd
The mystery of God given me under pledge Sam. Father, I do acknowledge and confess
To Dagon, and advanc'd his praises high
the heathen round: to God have brought But warn'd by oft experience : did not she Dishonor, obloquy, and op'd the mouths Of Timna first betray me, and reveal
of idolists, and atheists : have brought scandal The secret wrested from me in her height
To Israel, diffidence of God, and doubt Of nuptial love profess'd, carrying it straight In feeble hearts, propense enough before To them who had corrupted her, my spies, To waver, or fall off and join with idols; And rivals? In this other was there found Which is my chief affliction, shame and sorrow, More faith, who also in her prime of love, The anguish of my soul, that suffers not Spousal embraces, vitiated with gold,
Mine eye to harbor sleep, or thoughts to rest.
Me overthrown, to enter lists with God,
Will not connive, or linger, thus provok'd,
But will arise, and his great name assert :
Dagon must stoop, and shall ere long receive
And with confusion blank his worshippers.
Against all competition, nor will long
Or Dagon. But for thee what shall be done? But foul effeminacy held me yok'd
Thou must not, in the meanwhile here forgot, Her bond-slave; O indignity, O blot
Lie in this miserable lothesome plight, To honor and religion ! servile mind
Neglected. I already have made way Rewarded well with servile punishment!
To some Philistian lords, with whom to treat The base degree to which I now am fall'n, About thy ransom : well they may by this These rags, this grinding, is not yet so base
Have satisfied their utmost of revenge As was my former servitude, ignoble,
By pains and slaveries, worse than death, inflicted Unmanly, ignominious, infamous,
On thee, who now no more canst do them harm. True slavery, and that blindness worse than this Sams. Spare that proposal, father; spare the That saw not how degenerately I serv'd.
Shameful garrulity. To have reveald
Secrets of men, the secrets of a friend, Found soon occasion thereby to make thee
How heinous had the fact been, how deserving Their captive, and their triumph ; thou the sooner Contempt and scorn of all, to be excluded Temptation found'st, or over-potent charms, All friendship, and avoided as a blab, To violate the sacred trust of silence
The mark of fool set on his front? But I Deposited within thee; which to have kept God's counsel have not kept, his holy secret Tacit was in thy power: true; and thou bear'st Presumptuously have publish'd, impiously, Enough, and more the burthen of that fault; Weakly at least, and shamefully; a sin Bitterly hast thou paid, and still art paying, That Gentiles in their parables condemn That rigid score. A worse thing yet remains ; To their abyss and horrid pains confin'd. This day the Philistines a popular feast
Man. Be penitent, and for thy fault contrite; Here celebrate in Gaza ; and proclaim
But act not in thy own affliction, son; Great pomp, and sacrifices, and praises loud, Repent the sin; but, if the punishment To Dagon, as their god who hath deliver'd Thou canst avoid, sell-preservation bids; Thee, Samson, bound and blind into their hands, Or the execution leave to high disposal, Them out of thine, who slew'st them many a slain. And let another hand, not thine, exact So Dagon shall be magnified, and God,
Thy penal forseit from thyself: perhaps Besides whom is no God, compard with idols, God will relent, and quit thee all his debt; Disglorified, blasphem'd, and had in scorn
Who evermore approves, and more accepts, By the idolatrous rout amidst their wine;
(Best pleas'd with humble and filial submission, Which to have come to pass by means of thee, Him, who, imploring mercy, sues for life, Samson, of all thy sufferings think the heaviest, Than who, self-rigorous, chooses death as due; Of all reproach the most with shame that ever Which argues over-just, and self-displeased Could have befall’n thee and thy father's house. For self-offence, more than for God offended.
Reject not then what offer'd means; who knows After the brunt of battle, can as easy
Cause light again within thy eyes to spring, Home to thy country and his sacred house, Wherewith to serve him better than thou hast : Where thou may'st bring thy offerings, to avert And I persuade me so ; why else this strength His further ire, with prayers and vows renewid ? Miraculous yet remaining in those locks ?
Sams. His pardon I implore ; but as for life, His might continues in thee not for nought, To what end should I seek it? when in strength Nor shall his wondrous gifts be frustrate thus. All mortals I excell'd, and great in hopes
Sams. All otherwise to me my thoughts portend, With youthful courage, and magnanimous thoughts, That these dark orbs no more shall treat with light Of birth from Heaven foretold, and high exploits, Nor the other light of life continue long, Full of divine instinct, after some proof
But yield to double darkness nigh at hand : Of acts indeed heroic, far beyond
So much I feel my genial spirits droop,
In all her functions weary of herself;
Man. Believe not these suggestions, which proceed Of fair fallacious looks, venereal trains,
From anguish of the mind and humors black, Softend with pleasure and voluptuous life. That mingle with thy fancy. I however At length to lay my head and hallow'd pledge Must not omit a father's timely care Of all my strength in the lascivious lap
To prosecute the means of thy deliverance Of a deceitful concubine, who shore me
By ransom, or how else : meanwhile be calm, Like a tame wether, all my precious fleece, And healing words from these thy friends admit. Then turn'd me out ridiculous, despoil'd,
(Exit. Shaven, and disarm'd among mine enemies.
Sams. O that torment should not be confin'd
With maladies innumerable
Sams. Wherever fountain or fresh current flow'd And on her purest spirits prey,
As on entrails, joints, and limbs,
Chor. O madness, to think use of strongest wines But, finding no redress, ferment and rage;
To black mortification.
Dire inflammation, which no cooling herb
Or med'cinal liquor can assuage,
Sleep hath forsook and given me o'er
And sense of Heaven's desertion. My nation, and the work from Heaven impos'd, I was his nurseling once, and choice delight, But to sit idle on the household hearth,
His destin'd from the womb, A burdenous drone; to visitants a gaze,
Promis’d by heavenly message twice descending. Or pitied object, these redundant locks
Under his special eye
Above the nerve of mortal arm,
Against the uncircumcis'd, our enemies : Here rather let me drudge, and earn my bread; But now hath cast me off as never known, Till vermin, or the draff of servile food,
And to those cruel enemies, Consume me, and oft-invocated death
Whom I by his appointment had provok’d, Hasten the welcome end of all my pains. Left me all helpless, with the irreparable loss Man. Wilt thou then serve the Philistines with of sight, reservd alive to be repeated that gift
The subject of their cruelty or scorn. Which was expressly given thee to annoy them? Nor am I in the list of them that hope ; Better at home lie bed-rid, not only idle,
Hopeless are all my evils, all remediless : Inglorious, unemploy'd, with age outworn. This one prayer yet remains, might I be heard But God, who caus'd a fountain at thy prayer No long petition, speedy death, From the dry ground to spring, thy thirst to allay
The close of all my miseries, and the balm.