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Yet truth to say, I oft have heard men wonder
Why thou shouldst wed Philistian women rather
Than of thine own tribe fairer, or as fair,
At least of thy own nation, and as noble.
SAM. The first I saw at Timna, and she pleas’d
Me, not my parents, that I sought to wed 220
The daughter of an infidel : they knew not
That what I motion'd was of God; I knew
From intimate impulse, and therefore urg'd
The marriage on ; that by occasion hence
I might begin Israel's deliverance,
The work to which I was divinely call'd.
She proving false, the next I took to wife
(O that I never had ! fond wish too late)
Was in the vale of Sorec, Dalila,
229 That specious monster, my accomplish'd snare. I thought it lawful from
And the same end ; still watching to oppress
Israel's oppressors: of what now I suffer
She was not the prime cause, but I myself,
Who vanquish'd with a peal of words, (O weakness)
Gave up my fort of silence to a woman.
CHOR. In seeking just occasion to provoke The Philistine, thy country's enemy Thou never was remiss, I bear thee witness : Yet Israel still serves with all his sons. 240
SAM. That fault I take not on me, but transfer On Israel's governors, and heads of tribes, Who seeing those great acts, which God had done Singly by me against their conquerors,
Acknowledg’d not, or not at all considerd
Deliverance offer'd ; I on the other side
Us’d no ambition to commend my deeds,
The deeds themselves, though mute, spoke loud the
But they persisted deaf, and would not seem [doer ;
To count them things worth notice, till at length 250
Their lords the Philistines with gather'd powers
Enter'd Judea seeking me, who then
Safe to the rock of Etham was retir'd,
Not flying, but forecasting in what place
To set upon them, what advantag'd best :
Meanwhile the men of Judah, to prevent
The harrass of their land, beset me round ;
I willingly on some conditions came
Into their hands, and they as gladly yield me
To the uncircumcis'd a welcome prey, 260
Bound with two cords ; but cords to me were threads
Touch'd with the flame : on their whole host I Hew
Unarm’d, and with a trivial weapon felld
Their choicest youth ; they only liv'd who fled.
Had Judah that day join'd, or one whole tribe,
They had by this possess'd the towers of Gath,
And lorded over them whom they now serve :
But who more oft in nations grown corrupt,
And by their vices brought to servitude,
Than to love bondage more than liberty; 270
Bondage with ease than strenuous liberty ;
And to despise, or envy, or suspect
Whom God hath of his special favour rais'd
As their deliverer ; if he aught begin,
How frequent to desert him, and at last
To heap ingratitude on worthiest deeds ?
CHOR. Thy words to my remembrance bring
How Succoth and the fort of Penuel
Their great deliverer contemn’d,
The matchless Gideon in pursuit
Of Madian and her vanquish'd kings :
And how ingrateful Ephraim
Had dealt with Jephtha, who by argument,
Not worse than by his shield and spear,
Defended Israel from the Ammonite,
Had not his prowess quell’d their pride
In that sore battle, when so many dy'd
Without reprieve adjudg'd to death,
For want of well pronouncing Shibboleth.
SAM. Of such examples add me to the roll, 290 Me easily indeed mine may neglect, But God's propos'd deliverance not so. CHOR. Just are the
And justifiable to men;
Unless there be who think not God at all;
Of any be, they walk obscure ;
For of such doctrine never was there school,
But the heart of the fool,
And no man therein doctor but himself.
Yet more there be who doubt his ways not just,
As to his own edicts found contradicting,
Then give the reins to wand'ring thought,
Regardless of his glory's diminution ;
Till by their own perplexities involv'd
They ravel more, still less resolv'd,
But never find self-satisfying solution.
As if they would confine the Interminable,
And tie him to his own prescript,
Who made our laws to bind us, not himself,
And hath full right to exempt
Whom so it pleases him by choice
From national obstriction, without taint
Of sin, or legal debt ;
For with his own laws he can best dispense.
He would not else who never wanted means,
Nor in respect of th' enemy just cause
To set his people free,
Have prompted this heroic Nazarite,
Against his vow of strictest purity,
To seek in marriage that fallacious bride, 390
Down reason then, at least vain reasonings down,
Though reason here aver
That moral verdict quits her of unclean:
Unchaste was subsequent, her train not his.
But see here comes thy reverend sire
With careful step, locks white as down,
Old Manoah : advise
Forthwith how thou ought'st to receive him.
SAM. Aye me, another inward grief awak'd 330 With mention of that name renews th' assault.
MAN. Brethren and men of Dan, for such ye seem, Though in this uncouth place; if old respect, As I
suppose, towards your once glory'd friend, My son now captive, hither hath inform'd
Your younger feet, while mine cast back with age Came lagging after; say if he be here?
CHOR. As signal now in low dejected state, As erst in highest, behold him where he lies.
MAN. O miserable change ! is this the man, 340 That invincible Samson, far renown'd, The dread of Israel's foes, who with a strength Equivalent to angels walk'd their streets, None offering fight; who single combatant Dueld their armies rank'd in proud array, Himself an army, now unequal match To save himself against a coward arm'd At one spear's length. O ever-failing trust, Immortal strength ! and oh what not in man Deceivable and vain ? Nay what thing good 350 Pray'd for, but often proves our woe, our bane ? I pray'd for children, and thought barrenness In wedlock a reproach; I gain’d a son, And such a son as all men hail'd me happy ; Who would be now a father in my stead? O wherefore did God grant me my request, And as a blessing with such pomp adorn'd ? Why are his gifts desirable, to tempt Our earnest pray’rs, then giv'n with solemn hand As graces, draw a scorpion's tail behind ? 360 For this did th' angel twice descend ? for this Ordain'd thy nurture holy as of plant Select, and sacred, glorious for awhile, The miracle of men; then in the hour Insnar'd, assaulted, overcome, led bound,