« السابقةمتابعة »
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 defeated
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
Nipt with the lagging rear of winter's frost !
Yet ere I give the reins to grief, say first,
How died he; death to life is crown or shame.
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.
Man. Wearied with slaughter then, or how ? explain.
Mess. By his own hands.
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.
More than enough we know; but while things yet
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 had I dispatch’d,
When all abroad was rumour'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 theater
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 ;
among these aloof obscurely stood.
The feast and noon grew high, and sacrifice
Had fill'd their hearts with mirth, high cheer, and wine,
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, clamouring 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 night be assay'd,
To heave, pull, draw, or break, he still perforin'd
All with incredible, stupendious force :
None daring to appear antagonist.
At length for intermission' sake they led him
1. Cataphracts:' i.e., men and horses in armour.
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,
Met from all parts to solemnise this feast.
Samson, with these immix’d, inevitably
Pullid down the same destruction on himself;
The vulgar only 'scaped who stood without.
Cho. O dearly-bought revenge, yet glorious !
Living or dying thou hast fulfilla
The work for which thou wast foretold
To Israel, and now ly'st victorious
Among thy slain self-killd,
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.
1st Semichor. While their hearts were jocund and sublime,
Drunk with idolatry, drunk with wine,
And fat regorg’d of bulls and goats,
Chaunting their idol, and preferring
Before our living Dread who dwells
In Silo, his bright sanctuary :
Among them he a Spirit of phrenzy 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,
Fallen into wrath divine,
As their own ruin on themselves to invite,
Insensate left, or to sense reprobate,
And with blindness internal struck.
2d 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 uests in order rang'd
Of tame villatick fowl ; but as an eagle
His cloudless thunder bolted on their heads.
1 Silo:' Shiloh, where the ark and tabernacle then were.
So Virtue, given for lost,
Depress’d, and overthrown, as seem'd
Like that self-begotten bird1
In the Arabian woods embost,2
That no second knows nor third,
And lay ere while a holocaust, 3
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 secular4 bird, ages of lives.
Man. Come, come; no time for lamentation now,
Nor much more cause ; Samson hath quit himself
Like Samson, and heroickly hath finish'd
A life heroick; on his enemies
Fully reveng’d, hath left them years of mourning,
And lamentation to the sons of Caphtor 5
Through all Philistian bounds; to Israel
Honour 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 favouring 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
1.Bird:' phænix. — 2 • Embost :' enclosed. — 3 · Holocaust :' an entire burnt-offering. — * • Secular: ' i. e., living a thousand years. - • Caphtor, or Crete : whence the Philistines originally came.