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At Ascalon, who never did thee harm,
Then like a robber stripp'dst them of their robes ?
The Philistines, when thou hadst broke the league,
Went up with armed powers thee only seeking,
To others did no violence nor spoil.
SAMSON.

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 threat'ning 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.

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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,
Th' unworthier they; whence to this day they serve.

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I was to do my part from heav'n 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 enterprize of small enforce.

HARAPHA.

With thee a man condemn'd, a slave inroll'd,
Due by the law to capital punishment?
To fight with thee no man of arms will deign.
SAMSON.

O Baal-zebub! can my ears unus'd

Hear these dishonours, and not render death?
SAMSON.

No man withholds thee, nothing from thy hand Fear I incurable; bring up thy van,

My heels are fetter'd, but my fist is free.

HARAPHA.

This insolence other kind of answer fits.

Cam'st thou for this, vain boaster, to survey me, 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.

HARAPHA.

1222. Who now defies thee thrice] This was the custom and the law of arms to give the challenge and to sound the trumpet thrice. In allusion to the same practice Edgar appears to fight with the Bastard by the third sound of the trumpet, Lear, act v.

sc. 7.

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1231. O Baal-zebub!] He is properly made to invoke Baalzebub, as afterwards to swear by Astaroth, that is, the deities of the Philistines and neighbouring nations, of whom we have said something in the notes on the Paradise Lost, and the learned reader may see more in Selden.

SAMSON.

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 th' hazard of thy brains and shatter'd sides.
HARAPHA.

By Astaroth ere long thou shalt lament
These braveries in irons loaden on thee.
CHORUS.

His giantship is gone somewhat crest-fall'n,
Stalking with less unconscionable strides,
And lower looks, but in a sultry chafe.
SAMSON.

I dread him not, nor all his giant-brood, Though fame divulge him father of five sons, All of gigantic size, Goliah chief.

CHORUS.

He will directly to the lords, I fear,
And with malicious counsel stir them up
Some way or other yet further to afflict thee.
SAMSON.

He must allege some cause, and offer'd fight
Will not dare mention, lest a question rise
Whether he durst accept th' offer or not,
And that he durst not plain enough appear'd.

1248. Though fame divulge him &c.] So it plainly should be as Milton himself corrected it, and not divulged as it is in all the editions. Father of five sons &c. The story of Goliath of Gath is

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very well known: and the other four are mentioned 2 Sam. xxi. 15-22. These four were born to the giant or to Harapha in Gath, and fell by the hand of David, and by the hand of his servants.

Much more affliction than already felt

They cannot well impose, nor I sustain;

If they intend advantage of my labours,

The work of many hands, which earns my keeping 1260
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.
CHORUS.

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, th' oppressor,
The brute and boist'rous force of violent men
Hardy and industrious to support
Tyrannic pow'r, but raging to pursue
The righteous, and all such as honour truth;
He all their ammunition

And feats of war defeats

With plain heroic magnitude of mind
And celestial vigour arm'd,

Their armories and magazines contemns,
Renders them useless, while

1268. Oh how comely it is, &c.] 1 am of opinion, that Milton, in this chorus, is writing a pane gyric on the memory of Cromwell and his deliverance, instead

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of reflecting on the recent blessings of the restoration. Compare his Sonnet to Cromwell, T. Warton.

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 victor over all

That tyranny or fortune can inflict.
Either of these is in thy lot,

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Samson, with might indued

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, Labouring thy mind

More than the working day thy hands.

And yet perhaps more trouble is behind,
For I descry this way

Some other tending, in his hand
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.

OFFICER.

Hebrews, the pris'ner Samson here I seek.

1285. His errand] See the note, Par. Lost, b. iii. 652. E. 1303. quaint staff] Strange, unusual, as in Comus, 157. “ my

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quaint habits breed astonishment." Compare note on Arcades, 47. T. Warton.

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