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SAMS. 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.

HAR. This insolence other kind of answer fits.
SAMS. 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 the hazard of thy brains and shatter'd sides.

HAR. By Ashtaroth, ere long thou shalt lament These braveries, in irons loaden on thee.

CHO. His giantship is gone somewhat crest-fallen,
Stalking with less unconscionable strides,
And lower looks, but in a sultry chafe.

SAMS. I dread him not, nor all his giant brood,
Though Fame divulge him father of five sons,
All of gigantick size, Goliath chief.

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

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

CHо. O, 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, the oppressour,
The brute and boisterous force of violent men,
Hardy and industrious to support
Tyrannick power, but raging to pursue
The righteous, and all such as honour truth!
He all their ammunition

And feats of war defeats,

With plain heroick magnitude of mind
And celestial vigour arm'd;

Their armouries and magazines contemns,

Renders them useless; while

With winged expedition,

Swift as the lightning glance, he executes

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[Exit.

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His errand on the wicked, who, surprised,
· Lose their defence, distracted and amazed.
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,

Samson, with might endued

Above the sons of men; but sight bereaved
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 publick officer, and now at hand:
His message will be short and voluble.

Enter OFFICER.

OFF. Hebrews, the prisoner Samson here I seek.
CHO. His manacles remark him; there he sits.
OFF. Samson, to thee our lords thus bid me say:
This day to Dagon is a solemn feast,
With sacrifices, triumph, pomp, and games:
Thy strength they know surpassing human rate,
And now some publick proof thereof require
To honour this great feast and great assembly:
Rise therefore with all speed, and come along,
Where I will see thee hearten'd, and fresh clad,
To appear, as fits, before the illustrious lords.

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SAMS. Thou know'st I am an Hebrew, therefore tell them, Our law forbids at their religious rites My presence; for that cause I cannot come.

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OFF. This answer, be assured, will not content them. SAMS. Have they not sword-players, and every sort Of gymnick artists, wrestlers, riders, runners, Juglers, and dancers, anticks, mummers, mimicks, But they must pick me out, with shackles tired, And over-labour'd at their publick mill, To make them sport with blind activity? Do they not seek occasion of new quarrels On my refusal to distress me more, Or make a game of my calamities? Return the way thou cam'st; I will not come.

1309. Remark: Make him a mark, distinguish. 1324. Gymnick, i. e. Gymnastic.

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OFF. Regard thyself; this will offend them highly.
SAMS. Myself? my conscience, and internal peace.
Can they think me so broken, so debased
With corporal servitude, that my mind ever
Will condescend to such absurd commands?
Although their drudge, to be their fool or jester,
And in my midst of sorrow and heart-grief
To show them feats, and play before their god,
The worst of all indignities, yet on me
Join'd with extreme contempt? I will not come.

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OFF. My message was imposed on me with speed,
Brooks no delay: is this thy resolution?

SAMS. So take it with what speed thy message needs. 1345
OFF. I am sorry what this stoutness will produce.

holds.

But who constrains me to the temple of Dagon,
Not dragging? the Philistian lords command.
Commands are no constraints. If I obey them,
I do it freely, venturing to displease
God for the fear of man, and man prefer,
Set God behind: which in his jealousy
Shall never, unrepented, find forgiveness.
Yet that he may dispense with me, or thee,

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[Exit.

SAMS. Perhaps thou shalt have cause to sorrow indeed.
CHо. Consider, Samson; matters now are strain'd
Up to the highth, whether to hold or break:
He's gone, and who knows how he may report
Thy words, by adding fuel to the flame?
Expect another message more imperious,
More lordly thundering than thou well wilt bear.
SAMS. Shall I abuse this consecrated gift
Of strength, again returning with my hair
After my great transgression; so requite
Favour renew'd, and add a greater sin
By prostituting holy things to idols?
A Nazarite in place abominable
Vaunting my strength in honour to their Dagon!
Besides, how vile, contemptible, ridiculous!
What act more execrably unclean, profane?

CHO. Yet with this strength thou servest the Philistines,
Idolatrous, uncircumcised, unclean.

SAMS. Not in their idol-worship, but by labour

1347. Perhaps thou shalt have cause to sorrow indeed. Here the catastrophe is anticipated, as before, (lines 1266-7.) Such anticipations are usual with the best dramatic writers, who, knowing their

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Honest and lawful to deserve my food

Of those who have me in their civil power.

CHO. Where the heart joins not, outward acts defile not.
SAMS. Where outward force constrains, the sentence

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own plan, open it by degrees, and drop such hints as cannot be perfectly comprehended till they are fully explained by the event.-NEWTON.

Present in temples at idolatrous rites

For some important cause, thou need'st not doubt.

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CHO. How thou wilt here come off surmounts my reach
SAMS. Be of good courage; I begin to feel
Some rousing motions in me, which dispose
To something extraordinary my thoughts.
I with this messenger will go along,
Nothing to do, be sure, that may dishonour
Our law, or stain my vow of Nazarite.
If there be aught of presage in the mind,
This day will be remarkable in my life
By some great act, or of my days the last.

CHо. In time thou hast resolved; the man returns.
OFF. Samson, this second message from our lords
To thee I am bid say. Art thou our slave,
Our captive, at the publick mill our drudge,
And dar'st thou at our sending and command
Dispute thy coming? come without delay;
Or we shall find such engines to assail
And hamper thee, as thou shalt come of force,
Though thou wert firmlier fasten'd than a rock.

SAMS. I could be well content to try their art,
Which to no few of them would prove pernicious.
Yet, knowing their advantages too many,
Because they shall not trail me through their streets
Like a wild beast, I am content to go.

Masters' commands come with a power resistless
To such as owe them absolute subjection;
And for a life who will not change his purpose?
(So mutable are all the ways of men!)
Yet this be sure, in nothing to comply
Scandalous or forbidden in our law.

OFF. I praise thy resolution: doff these links:
By this compliance thou wilt win the lords
To favour, and perhaps to set thee free.

SAMS. Brethren, farewell; your company along
I will not wish, lest it perhaps offend them
To see me girt with friends; and how the sight
Of me, as of a common enemy,

So dreaded once, may now exasperate them,
I know not: lords are lordliest in their wine;
And the well-feasted priest then soonest fired
With zeal, if aught religion seem concern'd;
No less the people, on their holy-days,
Impetuous, insolent, unquenchable:
Happen what may, of me expect to hear
Nothing dishonourable, impure, unworthy
Our God, our law, my nation, or myself,
The last of me or no I cannot warrant.

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1384. This messenger, said in expectation of the return of the officer. 1410. Thy resolution, that is, of going.

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[Exit, with the Officer.

CHо. Go, and the Holy One Of Israel be thy guide

To what may serve his glory best, and spread his name Great among the heathen round;

Send thee the angel of thy birth, to stand
Fast by thy side, who from thy father's field
Rode up in flames after his message told
Of thy conception, and be now a shield
Of fire; that spirit, that first rush'd on thee
In the camp of Dan,

Be efficacious in thee now at need!
For never was from Heaven imparted
Measure of strength so great to mortal seed,
As in thy wondrous actions hath been seen.
But wherefore comes old Manoah in such haste
With youthful steps? much livelier than erewhile
He seems; supposing here to find his son,
Or of him bringing to us some glad news?

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Enter MANOAH.

MAN. Peace with you, brethren; my inducement hither Was not at present here to find my son, By order of the lords new parted hence

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To come and play before them at their feast.

I heard all as I came; the city rings,
And numbers thither flock: I had no will,
Lest I should see him forced to things unseemly.
But that, which moved my coming now, was chiefly
To give ye part with me what hope I have
With good success to work his liberty.

CHо. That hope would much rejoice us to partake
With thee; say, reverend sire; we thirst to hear.
MAN. I have attempted one by one the lords
Either at home, or through the high street passing,
With supplication prone and father's tears,
To accept of ransom for my son their prisoner.
Some much averse I found and wondrous harsh,
Contemptuous, proud, set on revenge and spite;
That part most reverenced Dagon and his priests:
Others more moderate seeming, but their aim
Private reward, for which both God and state
They easily would set to sale: a third
More generous far and civil, who confess'd
They had enough revenged, having reduced
Their foe to misery beneath their fears;
The rest was magnanimity to remit,
If some convenient ransom were proposed.
What noise or shout was that? it tore the sky.

CHO. Doubtless, the people shouting to behold
Their once great dread, captive and blind before them,
Or at some proof of strength before them shown.
MAN. His ransom, if my whole inheritance

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