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That thine, while I preserved these locks unshorn, To wring from me, and tell to them, my secret, The pledge of my unviolated vow.
That solved the riddle which I had proposed. For preof hereof, if Dagon be thy god,
When I perceived all set on enmity, Go to his temple, invocate his aid
As on my enemies, wherever chanced, With solemnest devotion, spread before him I used hostility, and took their spoil, How highly it concerns his glory now
To pay my underminers in their coin. To frustrate and dissolve these magic spells, My nation was subjected to your lords; Which I to be the power of Israel's God It was the force of conquest : force with force Avow, and challenge Dagon to the test, Is well ejected when the conquered can. Offering to combat thee his champion bold, But I, a private person, whom my country With the utmost of his godhead seconded : As a league bearer gave up bound, presumed Then thou shalt see, or rather, to thy sorrow, Single rebellion, and did hostile acts. Soon feel, whose god is strongest, thine or mine. I was no private, but a person raised
Har. Presume not on thy God, whate'er he be: With strength sufficient, and command from HeaThee he regards not, owns not, hath cut off Quite from this people, and delivered up To free my country: if their servile minds Into thy enemies' hand, permitted them Me, their deliverer sent, would not receive, To put out both thine eyes, and fettered send thee But to their masters gave me up for nought, Into the common prison, there to grind The unworthier they; whence to this day they Among the slaves and asses thy comrades, As good for nothing else; no better service I was to do my part from Heaven assigned, With those thy boisterous locks, no worthy match And hath performed it, if my known offence For valour to assail, nor by the sword
Hath not disabled me, not all your force; Of noble warrior, so to stain his honour, These shifts refuted, answer thy appellant, But by the barber's razor best subdued.
Though by his blindness maimed for high atSams. All these indignities, for such they are tempts, From thine, these evils I deserve, and more,
Who now defies thee thrice to single fight, Acknowledge them from God inflicted on me As a petty enterprise of small enforce. Justly, yet despair not of his final pardon,
Har. With thee! a man condemned, a slave enWhose ear is ever open, and his eye
rolled. Gracious to readmit the suppliant:
Due by the law to capital punishment ! In confidence whereof I once again
To fight with thee no man of arms will deign. Defy thee to the trial of mortal fight,
Sams. Cam’st thou for this, vain boaster, to sur. By combat to decide whose god is God,
vey me, Thine, or whom I with Israel's sons adore. To descant on my strength, and give thy verdict ? Har. Fair honour that thou dost thy God, in Come nearer; part not hence so slight informed; trusting
But take good heed my hand survey not thee. Ho will accept thee to defend his cause,
Har. O Baal-zebub! can my ears unused A murderer, a revolter, and a robber!
Hear these dishonours, and not render death? Sams. Tongue-doughty giant, how dost thou Sams. No man withholds thee, nothing from thy prove me these?
Har. This insolence other kind of answer fits. Into our hands: for hadst thou not committed Sams. Go, baffled coward! lest I run upon thee, Notorious murder on those thirty men
Though in these chains, bulk without spirit vast, At Ascalon, who never did thee harm,
And with one buffet lay thy structure low, Then like a robber stripped'st them of their robes? Or swing thee in the air, then dash thee down The Philistines, when thou hadst broke the league, To the hazard of thy brains and shattered sides. Went up with armed powers thee only seeking, Har. By Astaroth, ere long thou shalt lament To others did no violence or spoil.
These braveries, in irons loaden on thee. (Exit.] Sams. Among the daughters of the Philistines Chor. His giantship is gone somewhat crestI chose a wife, which argued me no foe;
fallen, And in your city held my nuptial feast : Stalking with less unconscionable strides, But your ill meaning politician lords,
And lower looks, but in a sultry chafe. Under pretence of bridal friends and guests, Sams. I dread him not, nor all his giant brood, Appointed to await me thirty spies,
Though fame divulge him father of five sons, Who, threatening cruel death, constrained the All of gigantic size, Goliah chief. bride
Chor. He will directly to the lords, I fear,
And with malicious counsel stir them up
(Enter) Officer. Some way or other yet further to afflict thee. Of. Hebrews, the prisoner Samson here I seek. Sams. He must allege some cause, and offered Chor. His manacles remark him, there he sits. fight
Off. Samson, to thee our lords thus bade me say; Will not dare mention, lest a question rise This day to Dagon is a solemn feast, Whether he durst accept the offer or not; With sacrifices, triumph, pomp, and games: And, that he durst not, plain enough appeared. Thy strength they know surpassing human rate, Much more affliction than already felt
And now some public proof thereof require They can not well impose, nor I sustain; To honour this great feast, and great assembly; If they intend advantage of my labours, Rise therefore with all speed, and come along, The work of many hands which earns my keeping Where I will see thee heartened, and fresh clad, With no small profit daily to my owners. To appear, as fits, before the illustrious lords. But come what will, my deadliest foe will prove Sams. Thou knowest I am an Hebrew, thereMy speediest friend, by death to rid me hence; fore tell them, The worst that he can give, to me the best. Our law forbids at their religious rites Yet so it may fall out, because their end My presence, for that cause I can not come. Is hate, not help to me, it may with mine
Off. This answer, be assured, will not content Draw their own ruin who attempt the deed.
them. Chor. O how comely it is, and how reviving Sams. Have they not sword-players, and every To the spirits of just men long oppressed!
sort When God into the hands of their deliverer Of gymnic artists, wrestlers, riders, runners, Puts invincible might
Jugglers, and dancers, antics, mummers, mimics, To quell the mighty of the earth, the oppressor, But they must pick me out with shackles tired, The brute and boisterous force of violent men, And over-laboured at their public mill, Hardy and industrious to support
To make them sport with blind activity ?
Do they not seek occasion of new quarrels
Or make a game of my calamities?
Return the way thou cam’st, I will not come. With plain heroic magnitude of mind
Off Regard thyself; this will offend them And celestial vigour armed:
highly Their armouries and magazines contemns,
Sams. Myself! my conscience and internal Renders them useless; while
peace. With winged expedition,
Can they think me so broken, so debased
But patience is more oft the exercise And in my midst of sorrow and heart-grief
To show them feats, and play before their god, Making them each his own deliverer,
The worst of all indignities, yet on me And victor over all
Joined with extreme contempt? I will not come. That tyranny or fortune can inflict.
Of. My message was imposed on me with Either of these is in thy lot,
speed, Samson, with might endued
Brooks no delay: is this thy resolution ? Above the sons of men; but sight bereaved
Sams. So take it with what speed thy message May chance to number thee with those
needs. Whom patience finally must crown.
Of. I am sorry what this stoutness will produce. This idol's day hath been to thee no day of rest,
[Erit. Labouring thy mind
Sams. Perhaps thou shalt have cause to sorrow More than the working day thy hands.
indeed. And yet perhaps more trouble is behind,
Chor. Consider, Samson; matters now aro For I descry this way
strained Some other tending; in his hand
Up to the height, whether to hold or break: A sceptre or quaint staff ' he bears,
He's gone, and who knows how he may report Comes on amain, speed in his look.
Thy words by adding fuel to the flame ? By his habit I discern him now
Expect another message more imperious, A public officer, and now at hand.
More lordly thundering than thou well wilt bear. His message will be short and voluble.
Sams. Shall I abuse this consecrated gift
Of strength, again returning with my hair, And for a life who will not change his purpose ?
Yet this be sure, in nothing to comply
Scandalous or forbidden in our law. A Nazarite in place abominable,
Off. I praise thy resolutions: doff these links: Vaunting my strength in honour to their Dagon! By this compliance thou wilt win the lords Besides, how vile, contemptible, ridiculous, To favour, and perhaps to set thee free. What act more execrably unclean, profane! Sams. Brethren, farewell; your company along Chor. Yet with this strength thou serv'st the I will not wish, lest it perhaps offend them Philistines,
To see me girt with friends: and how the sight Idolatrous, uncircumcised, unclean.
Of me, as of a common enemy, Sams. Not in their idol-worship, but by labour So dreaded once, may now exasperate them, Honest and lawful, to deserve my food
I know not: lords are lordliest in their wines; Of those who have me in their civil power. And the well-feasted priest then soonest fired Chor. Where the heart joins not, outward acts With zeal, if aught religion seem concerned; defile not.
No less the people, on their holy-days, Sams. Where outward force constrains, the Impetuous, insolent, unquenchable : sentence holds,
Happen what may, of me expect to hear But who constrains me to the temple of Dagon, Nothing dishonourable, impure, unworthy Not dragging? The Philistine lords command. Our God, our law, my nation, or myself, Commands are no constraints. If I obey them, The last of me or no I can not warrant. (Erit.) I do it freely, venturing to displease
Chor. Go, and the Holy One God for the fear of man, and man prefer, Of Israel be thy guide Set God behind; which in his jealousy To what may serve his glory best, and spread his Shall never, unrepented, find forgiveness. Yet that he may dispense with me, or thee, Great among the heathen round: Present in temples at idolatrous rites
Send thee the angel of thy birth, to stand For some important cause thou need'st not doubt. Fast by thy side, who from thy father's field Chor. How thou wilt here come off surmounts Rode up in flames after his message told
Of thy conception, and be now a shield Sams. Be of good courage; I begin to feel Of fire; that Spirit, that first rushed on thee Some rousing motions in me, which dispose In the camp of Dan, To something extraordinary my thoughts. Be efficacious in thee now at need! I with this messenger will go along,
For never was from Heaven imparted Nothing to do, be sure, that may dishonour Measure of strength so great to mortal seed, Our law, or stain my vow of Nazarite.
As in thy wondrous actions hath been seen.If there be aught of presage in the mind, But wherefore comes old Manoah in such haste This day will be remarkable in my life
With youthful steps ? much livelier than erewhilo By some great act, or of my days the last. He seems; supposing here to find his son, Chor. In time thou hast resolved, the man re- Or of him bringing to us some glad news ?
(Enter) Manoah. [Enter) Officer.
Man. Peace with you, brethren; my induceOff. Samson, this second message from our lords ment hither To thee I am bid say. Art thou our slave, Was not at present here to find my son, Our captive, at the public mill our drudge, By order of the lords now parted hence And darest thou at our sending and command To come and play before them at their feast. Dispute thy coming ? come without delay; I heard all as I came, the city rings, Or we shall find such engines to assail
And numbers thither flock: I had no will,
Sams. I could be well content to try their art, To give ye part with me what hope I have
Chor. That hope would much rejoice us to parBecause they shall not trail me through their take streets
With thee; say, reverend sire, we thirst to hear. Like a wild beast, I am content to go.
Man. I have attempted one by one the lords, Masters' commands come with a power resistless Either at home, or through the high street passing, To such as owe them absolute subjection; With supplication prone and father's tears,
To accept of ransom for my son, their prisoner. Man. Of ruin indeed methought I heard the
outcry Private reward, for which both God and state From slaughter of one foe could not ascend. They easily would set to sale: a third
Man. Some dismal accident it needs must be; More generous far and civil, who confessed What shall we do, stay here or run and see? They had enough revenged; having reduced Chor. Best keep together here, lest, running Their foe to misery beneath their fears,
thither, The rest was magnanimity to remit,
We unawares run into danger's mouth. If some convenient ransom were proposed.- This evil on the Philistines is fallen; What noise or shout was that? it tore the sky. From whom could else a general cry be heard ?
Chor. Doubtless the people shouting to behold The sufferers then will scarce molest us here Their once great dread, captive, and blind before From other hands we need not much to fear. them,
What if, his eyesight (for to Israel's God Or at some proof of strength before them shown. Nothing is hard) by miracle restored,
Man. His ransom, if my whole inheritance He now be dealing dole among his foes, May compass it, shall willingly be paid
And over heaps of slaughtered walk his way? And numbered down: much rather I shall choose Man. That were a joy presumptuous to be To live the poorest in my tribe, than richest,
thought. And he in that calamitous prison left.
Chor. Yet God hath wrought things as increNo, I am fixed not to part hence without him.
dible For his redemption all my patrimony,
For his people of old; what hinders now? If need be, I am ready to forego
Man. He can, I know, but doubt to think he And quit; not wanting him, I shall want no- will; thing.
Yet hope would fain subscribe, and tempts belief. Chor. Fathers are wont to lay up for their sons, A little stay will bring some notice hither. Thou for thy son art bent to lay out all;
Chor. Of good or bad so great, of bad the sooner; Sons wont to nurse their parents in old age, For evil news rides post, while good news baits. Thou in old age carest how to nurse thy son, And to our wish I see one hither speeding, Made older than thy age through eyesight lost. An Hebrew, as I guess, and of our tribe.
Man. It shall be my delight to tend his eyes. And view him sitting in the house, ennobled
(Enter) Messenger. With all those high exploits by him achieved, Mess. O whither shall I run, or which way fly And on his shoulders waving down those locks The sight of this so horrid spectacle, That of a nation armed the strength contained: Which erst my eyes beheld and yet behold ? And I persuade me, God had not permitted For dire imagination still pursues me. His strength again to grow up with his hair,
But providence or instinct of nature seems, Garrisoned round about him like a camp Or reason though disturbed, and scarce consulted, Of faithful soldiery, were not his purpose To have guided me aright I know not how, To use him further yet in some great service; To thee first, reverend Manoah, and to these Not to sit idle with so great a gift
My countrymen, whom here 1 knew remaining, Useless, and thence ridiculous about him. As at some distance from the place of horror, And since his strength with eyesight was not lost, So in the sad event too much concerned. God will restore him eyesight to his strength. Man. The accident was loud, and here before Chor. Thy hopes are not ill founded, nor seem thee vain
With rueful cry, yet what it was we hear not; Of his delivery, and thy joy thereon
No preface needs, thou seest we long to know. Conceived agreeable to a father's love,
Mess. It would burst forth, but I recover breath In both which we, as next, participate.
And sense distract, to know well what I utter. Man. I know your friendly minds and—O what
Man. Tell us the sum, the circumstance defer. noise!
Mess. Gaza yet stands, but all her sons are fallen, Mercy of heaven, what hideous noise was that? All in a moment overwhelmed and fallen. Horribly loud, unlike the former shout.
Man. Sad, but thou know'st to Israelites not Chor. Noise call you that, or universal groan, saddest As if the whole inhabitation perished!
The desolation of a hostile city. Blood, death, and deathful deeds are in that noise, Mess. Feed on that first; there may in grief be Ruin, destruction at the utmost point.
Man. Relate by whom.
Had filled their hearts with mirth, high cheer, and Mess. By Samson.
That still lessens When to their sports they turned. Immediately The sorrow, and converts it nigh to joy.
Was Samson as a public servant brought, Mess. Ah, Manoah, I refrain too suddenly In their state livery clad; before him pipes To utter what will come at last too soon; And timbrels, on each side went armed guards, Lest evil tidings, with too rude irruption Both horse and foot, before him and behind Hitting thy aged ear, should pierce too deep. Archers, and slingers, cataphracts, and spears. Man. Suspense in news is torture; speak them At sight of him the people with a shout out.
Rifted the air, clamouring their god with praise Mess. Take then the worst in brief, Samson is Who had made their dreadful enemy their thrall. dead.
He patient, but undaunted, where they led him, Man. The worst indeed! O all my hopes de- Came to the place; and what was set before him, feated
Which without help of eye might be assayed, To free him hence! but death, who sets all free, To heave, pull, draw, or break, he still performed Hath paid his ransom now and full discharge. All with incredible, stupendous force, What windy joy this day had I conceived None daring to appear antagonist. Hopeful of his delivery, which now proves At length for intermission sake they led him Abortive as the first-born bloom of spring Between the pillars; he his guide requested Nipt with the lagging rear of winter's frost ! (For so from such as nearer stood we heard) Yet ere I give the reins to grief, say first,
As overtired to let him lean a while How died he; death to life is crown or shame. With both his arms on those two massy pillars, All by him fell, thou sayest; by whom fell he? That to the arched roof gave main support. What glorious hand gave Samson his death's He, unsuspicious, led him; which, when Samson wound?
Felt in his arms, with head a while inclined, Mess. Unwounded of his enemies he fell. And eyes fast fixed he stood, as one who prayed, Man. Wearied with slaughter then, or how? Or some great matter in his mind revolved: explain.
At last, with head erect, thus cried aloud; Mess. By his own hands.
“Hitherto, lords, what your commands imposed Man.
Self-violence? what cause I have performed, as reason was, obeying, Brought him so soon at variance with himself Not without wonder or delight beheld: Among his foes?
Now of my own accord such other trial Mess. Inevitable cause
I mean to show you of my strength, yet greater, At once both to destroy and be destroyed; As with amaze shall strike all who behold.' The edifice, where all were met to see him, This uttered, straining all his nerves he bowed Upon their heads and on his own he pulled.
As with the force of winds and waters pent, Man. O lastly overstrong against thyself!
When mountains tremble, those two massy pillars A dreadful way thou took'st to thy revenge.
With horrible convulsion to and fro More than enough we know; but while things yet He tugged, he shook, till down they came, and drew Are in confusion, give us, if thou canst,
The whole roof after them with burst of thunder Eyewitness of what first or last was done, Upon the heads of all who sat beneath, Relation more particular and distinct.
Lords, ladies, captains, counsellors, or priests, Mess. Occasions drew me early to this city; Their choice nobility and flower, not only And, as the gates I entered with sunrise, Of this but each Philistian city round, The morning trumpets festival proclaimed Met from all parts to solemnize this feast. Through each high street: little I had despatched, Samson, with these immixed, inevitably When all abroad was rumoured that this day Pulled down the same destruction on himself; Samson should be brought forth, to show the people The vulgar only scaped who stood without. Proof of his mighty strength in feats and games; Chor. O dearly-bought revenge, yet glorious ! I sorrowed at his captive state, but minded Living or dying thou hast fulfilled Not to be absent at that spectacle.
The work for which thou wast foretold
To Israel, and now liest victorious
Of dire necessity, whose law in death conjoined
1 Semichor. While their hearts were jocund and The feast and noon grew high, and sacrifice