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النشر الإلكتروني

Yet stay, let me not rashly call in doubt
Divine prediction, what if all foretold
Had been fulfilled but through mine own default,
Whom have I to complain of but myself,
Who this high gift of strength committed to me,
In what part lodged, how easily bereft me,
Under the seal of silence could not keep,
But weakly to a woman must reveal it,
O'ercome with importunity and tears?
O impotence of mind, in body strong!
But what is strength without a double share
Of wisdom? vast, unwieldy, burdensome,
Proudly secure, yet liable to fall

By weakest subtleties; not made to rule,
But to subserve where wisdom bears command!
God, when he gave me strength, to show withal
How slight the gift was, hung it in my hair.
But peace, I must not quarrel with the will
Of highest dispensation, which herein
Haply had ends above my reach to know;
Suffices that to me strength is my bane,
And proves the source of all my miseries;
So many, and so huge, that each apart
Would ask a life to wail; but chief of all,
O loss of sight, of thee I most complain!
Blind among enemies, O worse than chains,
Dungeon, or beggary, or decrepit age!
Light, the prime work of God, to me is extinct,
And all her various objects of delight
Annulled, which might in part my grief have

Inferior to the vilest now become

Of man or worm; the vilest here excel me;
They creep, yet see; I, dark in light, exposed
To daily fraud, contempt, abuse, and wrong,
Within doors, or without, still as a fool,
In power of others, never in my own;
Scarce half I seem to live, dead more than half.
O dark, dark, dark, amid the blaze of noon,
Irrecoverably dark, total eclipse

Without all hope of day!

O first created beam, and thou great Word,
"Let there be light, and light was over all;"
Why am I thus bereaved thy prime decree?
The sun to me is dark,

And silent as the moon,
When she deserts the night,

Hid in her vacant interlunar cave.
Since light so necessary is to life,
And almost life itself, if it be true
That light is in the soul,

She all in every part; why was the sight
To such a tender ball as the eye confined,
So obvious and so easy to be quenched?
And not, as feeling, through all parts diffused,
That she might look at will through every pore?
Then had I not been thus exiled from light
As in the land of darkness, yet in light,
To live a life half dead, a living death,

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Chor. This, this is he: softly awhile,
Let us not break in upon him:

O change beyond report, thought, or belief!
See how he lies at random, carelessly diffused,
With languished head unpropt,

As one past hope, abandoned,
And by himself given over;

In slavish habit, ill-fitted weeds
O'erworn and soiled;

Or do my eyes misrepresent? Can this be he,
That heroic, that renowned,

Irresistible Samson? whom unarmed

No strength of man or fiercest wild beast could withstand;

Who tore the lion, as the lion tears the kid;
Ran on embattled armies clad in iron,
And, weaponless himself,

Made arms ridiculous, useless the forgery
Of brazen shield and spear, the hammered cuirass,
Chalybean tempered steel, and frock of mail
Adamantean proof?

But safest he who stood aloof,

When insupportably his foot advanced,

In scorn of their proud arms and warlike tools, Spurned them to death by troops. The bold Ascalonite

Fled from his lion ramp; old warriors turned
Their plated backs under his heel;

Or, groveling, soiled their crested helmets in the


Then with what trivial weapon come to hand,
The jaw of a dead ass, his sword of bone,
A thousand foreskins fell, the flower of Palestine,
In Rameth-lechi famous to this day,

Then by main force pulled up, and on his shoul ders bore

The gates of Azza, post, and massy bar,
Up to the hill by Hebron, seat of giants old.
No journey of a Sabbath day, and loaded so;
Like whom the Gentiles feign to bear up Heaven.
Which shall I first bewail,
Thy bondage, or lost sight,
Prison within prison

Inseparably dark?

Thou art become (O worst imprisonment!)
The dungeon of thyself; thy soul,

(Which men enjoying sight oft without cause

Imprisoned now indeed,

In real darkness of the body dwells,
Shut up from outward light

To incorporate with gloomy night;
For inward light, alas!

Puts forth no visual beam.

O mirror of our fickle state,
Since man on earth unparalleled!
The rarer thy example stands,

By how much from the top of wondrous glory,
Strongest of mortal men,

In me, of wisdom nothing more than mean;
This with the other should, at least, have paired,
These two, proportioned ill, drove me transverse.
Chor. Tax not divine disposal; wisest men
Have erred, and by bad women been deceived;
And shall again, pretend they ne'er so wise.
Deject not then so overmuch thyself,
Who hast of sorrow thy full load besides;
Yet, truth to say, I oft have heard men wonder
Why thou should'st wed Philistian woman rather
Than of thine own tribe fairer, or as fair,

At least of thy own nation, and as noble.

Sams. The first I saw at Timna, and she pleased
Me, not my parents, that I sought to wed
The daughter of an infidel: they knew not
That what I mentioned was of God: I knew

To lowest pitch of abject fortune thou art fallen. From intimate impulse, and therefore urged

For him I reckon not in high estate

Whom long descent of birth,

Or the sphere of fortune, raises;

The marriage on; that by occasion hence
I might begin Israel's deliverance,
The work to which I was divinely called.

But thee whose strength, while virtue was her She proving false, the next I took to wife mate,

Might have subdued the earth,

Universally crowned with highest praises.

(O that I never had! fond wish too late)
Was in the vale of Sorec, Dalila,
That specious monster, my accomplished snare.

Sams. I hear the sound of words; their sense I thought it lawful from my former act,
the air

Dissolves unjointed ere it reach my ear.

Chor. He speaks, let us draw nigh. Matchless in might,

The glory late of Israel, now the grief;

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, vanquished with a peal of words, (O weak-

We come thy friends and neighbours not un- Gave up my fort of silence to a woman.


From Eshtaol and Zora's fruitful vale,

To visit or bewail thee; or, if better,
Counsel or consolation we may bring,

Salve to thy sores: apt words have power to swage
The tumours of a troubled mind.

And are as balm to festered wounds.

Chor. In seeking just occasion to provoke
The Philistine, thy country's enemy,
Thou never wast remiss, I bear thee witness:
Yet Israel still serves with all his sons.

Sams. 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 don

Sams. Your coming, friends, revives me, for I Singly by me against their conquerors,

Now of my own experience, not by talk,
How counterfeit a coin they are who friends
Bear in their superscription, (of the most
I would be understood;) in prosperous days
They swarm, but in adverse withdraw their head,
Not to be found, though sought. Ye see, O friends,
How many evils have enclosed me round:
Yet that which was the worst now least afflicts me,
Blindness; for had I sight, confused with shame,
How could I once look up, or heave the head,
Who, like a foolish pilot, have shipwrecked
My vessel trusted to me from above,
Gloriously rigged; and for a word, a tear,
Fool! have divulged the secret gift of God
To a deceitful woman? tell me, friends,
Am I not sung and proverbed for a fool
In every street? do they not say, how well
Are come upon him his deserts? yet why?
Immeasurable strength they might behold

Acknowledged not, or not at all considered,
Deliverance offered: I on the other side
Used no ambition to commend my deeds;
The deeds themselves, though mute, spoke loud
the doer:

But they persisted deaf, and would not seem
To count them things worth notice, till at length
Their lords the Philistines with gathered powers
Entered Judea seeking me, who then
Safe to the rock of Etham was retired;
Not flying, but forecasting in what place
To set upon them, what advantaged best:
Meanwhile the men of Judah, to prevent
The harass of their land, beset me round:
I willingly on some conditions came

Into their hands, and they as gladly yield me
To the uncircumcised a welcome prey,
Bound with two cords; but cords to me were


Touched with the flame: on their whole host I flew

Unarmed, and with a trivial weapon felled
Their choicest youth; they only lived who fled.
Had Judah that day joined, or one whole tribe,
They had by this possessed the towers of Gath,
And lorded over them whom they now serve:
But what more oft, in nations grown corrupt,
And by their vices brought to servitude,
Than to love bondage more than liberty,
Bondage with ease than strenuous liberty:
And to despise, or envy, or suspect
Whom God hath of his special favour raised
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 contemned,
The matchless Gideon, in pursuit
Of Madian and her vanquished 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 quelled their pride
In that sore battle, when so many died
Without reprieve, adjudged to death,
For want of well pronouncing Shibboleth.
Sams. Of such example add me to the roll;
Me easily indeed mine may neglect,
But God's proposed deliverance not so.

Chor. Just are the ways of God,
And justifiable to men;

Unless there be who think not God at all:
If any be, they walk obscure;

For of such doctrine never was their school,
But the heart of the fool,

And no man therein doctor but himself.

Down, reason, then; at least, vain reasonings, down;

Though reason here aver,

That moral verdict quits her of unclean:
Unchaste was subsequent, her stain 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.

Sams. Ay me, another inward grief, awaked With mention of that name, renews the assault.

[Enter] Manoah.

Man. Brethren and men of Dan, for such ye


Though in this uncouth place; if old respect,
As I suppose, towards your once gloried friend,
My son, now captive, hither hath informed
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,
That invincible Samson, far renowned,
The dread of Israel's foes, who with a strength
Equivalent to angels walked their streets,
None offering fight; who single combatant
Duelled their armies ranked in proud array,
Himself an army, now unequal match
To save himself against a coward armed
At one spear's length. O everfailing trust
In mortal strength! and oh! what not in man
Deceivable and vain? Nay, what thing good
Prayed for, but often proves our wo, our bane?
I prayed for children, and thought barrenness
In wedlock a reproach; I gained a son,
And such a son as all men hailed me happy;

Yet more they be, who doubt his ways not just, Who would be now a father in my stead?

As to his own edicts found contradicting,
Then give the reigns to wandering thought,
Regardless of his glory's diminution;
Till by their own perplexities involved,
They ravel more, still less resolved,
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 the 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,
Unclean, unchaste.

O wherefore did God grant me my request,
And as a blessing with such pomp adorned?
Why are his gifts desirable, to tempt

Our earnest prayers, then, given with solemn hand
As graces, draw a scorpion's tail behind?

For this did the angel twice descend? for this
Ordained thy nurture holy, as of a plant
Select, and sacred, glorious for awhile,
The miracle of men; then in an hour
Insnared, assaulted, overcome, led bound,
Thy foes' derision, captive, poor, and blind,
Into a dungeon thrust, to work with slaves?
Alas! methinks whom God hath chosen once
To worthiest deeds, if he through frailty err,
He should not so o'erwhelm, and as a thrall
Subject him to foul indignities,

Be it but for honour's sake of former deeds.
Sams. Appoint not heavenly disposition,* fa-


Appoint not heavenly disposition."-Arraign not-sum.

mon not to answer.

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Nothing of all these evils hath befallen me
But justly: I myself have brought them on,
Sole author I, sole cause: if aught seem vile,
As vile hath been my folly, who have profaned
The mystery of God given me under pledge
Of vow, and have betrayed it to a woman,
A Canaanite, my faithless enemy.
This well I knew, nor was at all surprised,
But warned by oft experience: did not she
Of Timna first betray me, and reveal
The secret wrested from me in her height
Of nuptial love professed, carry it straight
To them who had corrupted her, my spies,
And rivals? In this other was there found
More faith, who also in her prime of love,
Spousal embraces, vitiated with gold,
Though offered only, by the scent conceived
Her spurious first-born, treason against me?
Thrice she assayed with flattering prayers and

And amorous reproaches, to win from me
My capital secret, in what part my strength

Enough, and more, the burden of that fault
Bitterly hast thou paid, and still art paying,
That rigid score. A worse thing yet remains;
This day the Philistines a popular feast
Here celebrate in Gaza; and proclaim
Great pomp, and sacrifice, and praises loud,
To Dagon as their God, who hath delivered
Thee, Samson, bound and blind into their hands,
Them out of thine, who slewest them many a slain,
So Dagon shall be magnified, and God,
Besides whom is no God, compared with idols,
Disglorified, blasphemed, and had in scorn
By the idolatrous rout amidst their wine;
Which to have come to pass by means of thee,
Samson, of all thy sufferings, think the heaviest,
Of all reproach the most with shame that ever
Could have befallen thee and thy father's house.

Sams. Father, I do acknowledge and confess
That I this honour, I this pomp have brought
To Dagon, and advanced his praises high
Among the Heathen round; to God have brought
Dishonour, obloquy, and oped the mouths

Lay stored, in what part summed, that she might|Of idolists and atheists; have brought scandal know

Thrice I deluded her, and turned to sport
Her importunity, each time perceiving
How openly, and with what impudence
She purposed to betray me, and (which was worse
Than undissembled hate) with what contempt
She sought to make me traitor to myself;
Yet the fourth time, when, mustering all her wiles,
With blandished parleys, feminine assaults.
Tongue batteries, she surceased not, day nor night
To storm me overwatched, and wearied out,
At times when men seek most repose and rest
I yielded, and unlocked her all my heart,
Who, with a grain of manhood well resolved,
Might easily have shook off all her snares:
But foul effeminacy held me yoked
Her bondslave; O indignity, O blot,
To honour and religion! servile mind
Rewarded well with servile punishment!
The base degree to which I now am fallen,
These rags, this grinding is not yet so base
As was my former servitude ignoble,
Unmanly, ignominious, infamous,

To Israel, diffidence of God, and doubt
In feeble hearts, propense enough before
To waver, or fall off and join with idols;
Which is my chief affliction, shame and sorrow
The anguish of my soul, that suffers not
Mine eye to harbour sleep, or thoughts to rest.
This only hope relieves me, that the strife
With me hath end; all the contest is now
"Twixt God and Dagon; Dagon hath presumed,
Me overthrown, to enter lists with God,
His deity comparing and preferring
Before the God of Abraham. He, be sure,
Will not connive, or linger, thus provoked,
But will arise, and his great name assert:
Dagon must stoop, and shall ere long receive
Such a discomfit as shall quite despoil him
Of all these boasted trophies won on me,
And with confusing blank his worshippers.
Man. With cause this hope relieves thee, and
these words

I as a prophecy receive; for God,
Nothing more certain, will not long defer
To vindicate the glory of his name

True slavery, and that blindness worse than this, Against all competition, nor will long
That saw not how degenerately I served.

Man. I can not praise thy marriage choices, son,
Rather approved them not; but thou didst plead
Divine impulsion prompting how thou might'st
Find some occasion to infest our foes.

I state not that; this I am sure, our foes
Found soon occasion thereby to make thee
Their captive, and their triumph; thou the sooner
Temptation foundest, or over potent charms,
To violate the sacred trust of silence
Deposited within thee; which to have kept
Tacit, was in thy power: true; and thou bearest

Endure it doubtful whether God be Lord,
Or Dagon. But for thee what shall be done?
Thou must not, in the meanwhile, here forgot,
Lie in this miserable loathsome plight,
Neglected. I already have made way
To some Philistian lords, with whom to treat
About thy ransom: well they may by this
Have satisfied their utmost of revenge
By pains and slaveries, worse than death, inflicted
On thee, who now no more canst do them harm.
Sams. Spare that proposal, father; spare the

Of that solicitation; let me here,
As I deserve, pay on my punishment;
And expiate, if possible, my crime,
Shameful garrulity. To have revealed
Secrets of men, the secrets of a friend,
How heinous had the fact been, how deserving
Contempt, and scorn of all, to be excluded
All friendship, and avoided as a blab,
The mark of fool set on his front?

But I God's counsel have not kept, his holy secret
Presumptuously have published, impiously,
Weakly at least, and shamefully; a sin
That Gentiles in their parables condemn
To their abyss and horrid pains confined.
Man. Be penitent, and for thy fault contrit
But act not in thy own affliction, son:
Repent the sin; but, if the punishment
Thou canst avoid, self preservation bids;
Or the execution leave to high disposal,
And let another hand, not thine, exact
Thy penal forfeit from thyself: perhaps
God will relent, and quit thee all his debt;
Who ever more approves, and more accepts,
(Best pleased with humble and filial submission,)
Him, who, imploring mercy, sues for life,
Than who, self-rigorous, chooses death as due;
Which argues overjust, and self-displeased,
For self-offence, more than for God offended.
Reject not then what offered means, who knows
But God hath set before us, to return thee
Home to thy country and his sacred house,
Where thou may'st bring thy offerings, to avert
His further ire, with prayers and vows renewed?
Sams. His pardon I implore; but as for life
To what end should I seek it? when in strength
All mortals I excelled, and great in hopes
With youthful courage, and magnanimous thoughts
Of birth from Heaven foretold, and high exploits,
Full of divine instinct, after some proof
Of acts indeed heroic, far beyond
The sons of Anak, famous now and blazed
Fearless of danger, like a petty god

I walked about admired of all and dreaded
On hostile ground, none daring my affront.*
Then swollen with pride into the snare I fell
Of fair fallacious looks, venereal trains,
Softened with pleasure and voluptuous life;
At length to lay my head and hallowed pledge
Of all my strength in the lascivious lap
Of a deceitful concubine, who shore me
Like a tame wether, all my precious fleece,
Then turned me out ridiculous, despoiled,
Shaven, and disarmed among mine enemies.

Chor. Desire of wine and all delicious drinks,
Which many a famous warrior overturns,
Thou could'st repress; nor did the dancing ruby

• “None daring my affront"—to front or face in a hostile


| Sparkling, outpoured, the flavour or the smell,
Or taste that cheers the heart of gods and men,
Allure thee from the cool crystalline stream.
Sams. Wherever fountain or fresh current

Against the eastern ray, translucent, pure,
With touch ethereal of Heaven's fiery rod,
I drank, from the clear milky juice allaying
Thirst, and refreshed: nor envied them the grape
Whose heads that turbulent liquor fills with

Chor. O madness, to think use of strongest


And strongest drinks, our chief support of health, When God with these forbidden made choice to


His mighty champion, strong above compare,
Whose drink was only from the liquid brook.
Sams. But what availed this temperance, not

Against another object more enticing?
What boots it at one gate to make defence,
And at another to let in the foe,
Effeminately vanquished? by which means,
Now blind, disheartened, shamed, dishonoured,

To what can I be useful, wherein serve
My nation, and the work from Heaven imposed,
But to sit idle on the household hearth,
A burdenous drone; to visitants a gaze,
Or pitied object, these redundant locks
Robustious to no purpose clustering down,
Vain monument of strength; till length of years
And sedentary numbness craze thy limbs
To a contemptible old age obscure ?
Here rather let me drudge and earn my bread;
Till vermin or the draff of servile food,
Consume me, and oft invocated death
Hasten the welcome end of all my pains.

Man. Wilt thou then serve the Philistines with

that gift

Which was expressly given thee to annoy them?
Better at home lie bedrid, not only idle,
Inglorious, unemployed, with age outworn.
But God, who caused a fountain at thy prayer
From the dry ground to spring, thy thirst to allay
After the brunt of battle, can as easy
Cause light again within thy eyes to spring,
Wherewith to serve him better than thou hast;
And I persuade me so; why else this strength
Miraculous yet remaining in those locks?
His might continues in thee not for naught,
Nor shall his wondrous gifts be frustrate thus.

Sams. All otherwise to me my thoughts portend,

That these dark orbs no more shall treat with light,

Nor the other light of life continue long,
But yield to double darkness nigh at hand:

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