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Which earst my eyes beheld and yet behold;
For dire imagination still persues me.
But providence or instinct of nature seems,
Or reason though disturb'd, and scarse consulted
To have guided me aright, I know not how,
To thee first reverend Manoa, and to these
My Countreymen, whom here I knew remaining,
As at some distance from the place of horrour, 1550
So in the sad event too much concern'd.

Man. The accident was loud, & here before thee
With rueful cry, yet what it was we hear not,
No Preface needs, thou seest we long to know.

Mess. It would burst forth, but I recover breath
And sense distract, to know well what I utter.

Man. Tell us the sum, the circumstance defer. Mess. Gaza yet stands, but all her Sons are fall’n, All in a moment overwhelm'd and fall’n.

Man. Sad, but thou knowst to Israelites not saddest 1560 The desolation of a Hostile City.

Mess. Feed on that first, there may in grief be surfet.
Man. Relate by whom. Mess. By Samson.

Man. That still lessens
The sorrow, and converts it nigh to joy.

Mess. Ah Manoa I refrain, too suddenly
To utter what will come at last too soon;
Lest evil tidings with too rude irruption
Hitting thy aged ear should pierce too deep.

Man. Suspense in news is torture, speak them out.
Mess. Then take the worst in brief, Samson is dead. 1570

Man. The worst indeed, O all my hope's defeated
To free him hence! but death who sets all free
Hath paid his ransom now and full discharge.
What windy joy this day had I conceiv'd
Hopeful of his Delivery, which now proves
Abortive as the first-born bloom of spring
Nipt with the lagging rear of winters frost.
Yet e’re I give the rains to grief, say first,
How dy'd he? death to life is crown or shame.
All by him fell thou say'st, by whom fell he,

1580 What glorious hand gave Samson his deaths wound ?

Mess. Unwounded of his enemies he fell.
Man. Wearied with slaughter then or how ? explain.

Mess. By his own hands. Man. Self-violence? what cause Brought him so soon at variance with himself Among his foes ? Mess. Inevitable cause At once both to destroy and be destroy'd; The Edifice where all were met to see him Upon thir heads and on his own he pull’d.

Man. O lastly over-strong against thy self! 1590
A dreadful way thou took'st to thy revenge.
More than anough we know; but while things yet
Are in confusion, give us if thou canst,
Eye-witness of what first or last was done,
Relation more particular and distinct.

Mess. Occasions drew me early to this City,
And as the gates I enter'd with Sun-rise,
The morning Trumpets Festival proclaim'd
Through each high street: little I had dispatch't
When all abroad was rumour'd that this day

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Samson should be brought forth to shew the people
Proof of his mighty strength in feats and games;
I sorrow'd at his captive state, but minded
Not to be absent at that spectacle.
The building was a spacious Theatre
Half round on two main Pillars vaulted high,
With seats where all the Lords and each degree
Of sort, might sit in order to behold,
The other side was op'n, where the throng
On banks and scaffolds under Skie might stand ; 1610
I among these aloof obscurely stood.
The Feast and noon grew high, and Sacrifice
Had fill'd thir hearts with mirth, high chear, & wine,
When to thir sports they turn'd. Immediately
Was Samson as a public servant brought,
In thir state Livery clad; before him Pipes
And Timbrels, on each side went armed guards,
Both horse and foot before him and behind
Archers, and Slingers, Cataphracts and Spears.
At sight of him the people with a shout

1620 Rifted the Air clamouring thir god with praise, Who had made thir dreadful enemy thir thrall. He patient but undaunted where they led him, Came to the place, and what was set before him Which without help of eye, might be assay'd,

To heave, pull, draw, or break, he still perform'd
All with incredible, stupendious force,
None daring to appear Antagonist.
At length for intermission sake they led him
Between the pillars; he his guide requested

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(For so from such as nearer stood we heard)
As over-tir'd to let him lean a while
With both his arms, on those two massie Pillars
That to the arched roof gave main support.
He unsuspitious led him; which when Samson
Felt in his arms, with head a while enclin'd,
And eyes fast fixt he stood, as one who pray'd,
Or some great matter in his mind revolv'd.
At last with head erect thus cryed aloud,
Hitherto, Lords, what your commands impos'd

1640 I have perform’d, as reason was, obeying, Not without wonder or delight beheld. Now of my own accord such other tryal I mean to shew you of my strength, yet greater ; As with amaze shall strike all who behold. This utter'd, straining all his nerves he bow'd, As with the force of winds and waters pent, When Mountains tremble, those two massie Pillars With horrible convulsion to and fro, He tugg’d, he shook, till down they came and drew 1650 The whole roof after them, with burst of thunder Upon the heads of all who sate beneath, Lords, Ladies, Captains, Councellors, or Priests, Thir choice nobility and flower, not only Of this but each Philistian City round Met from all parts to solemnize this Feast. Samson with these immixt, inevitably Pulld down the same destruction on himself ; The vulgar only scap'd who stood without.

Chor. O dearly-bought revenge, yet glorious ! 1660 Living or dying thou hast fulfill'd The work for which thou wast foretold To Israel, and now ly’st victorious Among thy slain self-kill'd Not willingly, but tangl'd in the fold Of dire necessity, whose law in death conjoin'd Thee with thy slaughter'd foes in number more

Then all thy life had slain before.

Semichor. While thir hearts were jocund and sublime, Drunk with Idolatry, drunk with Wine,

1670 And fat regorg'd of Bulls and Goats, Chaunting thir Idol, and preferring Before our living Dread who dwells In Silo his bright Sanctuary : Among them he a spirit of phrenzie sent, Who hurt thir minds, And urg'd them on with mad desire To call in hast for thir destroyer ; They only set on sport and play Unweetingly importun'd

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Thir own destruction to come speedy upon them.
So fond are mortal men
Fall'n into wrath divine,
As thir own ruin on themselves to invite,
Insensate left, or to sense reprobate,
And with blindness internal struck.

Semichor. But he though blind of sight,
Despis'd and thought extinguish't quite,
With inward eyes illuminated
His fierie vertue rouz'd
From under ashes into sudden flame,
And as an ev'ning Dragon came,
Assailant on the perched roosts,
And nests in order rang'd
Of tame villatic Fowl; but as an Eagle
His cloudless thunder bolted on thir heads.
So vertue giv'n for lost,
Deprest, and overthrown, as seen’d,
Like that self-begott'n bird
In the Arabian woods embost,

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That no second knows nor third,
And lay e're while a Holocaust,
From out her ashie womb now teem'd
Revives, reflourishes, then vigorous most
When most unactive deem'd,
And though her body die, her fame survives,
A secular bird ages of lives.

Man. Come, come, no time for lamentation now, Nor much more cause, Samson hath quit himself

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Like Samson, and heroicly hath finish'd
A life Heroic, on his Enemies
Fully reveng'd, hath left them years of mourning,
And lamentation to the Sons of Caphtor
Through all Philistian bounds. To Israel
Honour hath left, and freedom, let but them
Find courage to lay hold on this occasion,
To himself and Fathers house eternal fame;
And which is best and happiest yet, all this
With God not parted from him, as was feard,
But favouring and assisting to the end.
Nothing is here for tears, nothing to wail
Or knock the breast, no weakness, no contempt,
Dispraise, or blame, nothing but well and fair,
And what may quiet us in a death so noble.
Let us go find the body where it lies
Sok't in his enemies blood, and from the stream
With lavers pure and cleansing herbs wash off
The clotted gore. I with what speed the while
(Gaza is not in plight to say us nay)
Will send for all my kindred, all my friends
To fetch him hence and solemnly attend
With silent obsequie and funeral train
Home to his Fathers house: there will I build him
A Monument, and plant it round with shade
Of Laurel ever green, and branching Palm,
With all his Trophies hung, and Acts enroll'd
In copious Legend, or sweet Lyric Song.
Thither shall all the valiant youth resort,
And from his memory inflame thir breasts
To matchless valour, and adventures high:
The Virgins also shall on feastful days
Visit his Tomb with flowers, only bewailing
His lot unfortunate in nuptial choice,
From whence captivity and loss of eyes.

Chor. All is best, though we oft doubt,
What th' unsearchable dispose
Of highest wisdom brings about,
And ever best found in the close.
Oft he seems to hide his face,
But unexpectedly returns
And to his faithful Champion hath in place,

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